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Documerica Returns with State of the Environment!

2011 May 2

Documerica captured our way of life and environment shortly after EPA’s creation. State of the Environment is your chance, 40 years later, to mark the change.

Join this global documentary of our lives and our environment today. Challenge yourself with Documerica Then and Now.

Sharing photos with State of the Environment is closed. See the photos shared in Flickr.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Dawn’s Early Light

2013 November 22

Today’s featured photo is a stunning scene from Oregon. We hope you’ll share your view where you live. Next week, we’ll compile the best and the brightest of the season to share with you. When we step back to enjoy our natural surroundings, what we find can be truly wonderful.

The Glowing Tree by Nina

Congratulations to Flickr user “alpenglowtravelers” for today’s picture, captured in Washington Park Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon.

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Individual scenes, shown together, build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

- Jeanethe Falvey, State of the Environment project lead, writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Photo Theme: A World with Less Pollution

2013 September 23

Imagine a world with less pollution. Can you? Clean water. Clean air. Cross those concerns off your list of life worries. How about a world without litter or less trash? Not only would our environment be more beautiful, it would be healthier for all of us.

Join us as we celebrate Pollution Prevention Week. The 1990 federal Pollution Prevention Act states that “pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible”. We can all help meet this goal by throwing out less stuff, landscaping with native plants and using as little fertilizer as possible, and using more energy efficient products. For other ideas, we’ve got tips for preventing pollution at home and work.

We know that many of you are doing your part, so share the good news: what’s being done in your community to prevent pollution? We’ll spread the goodness around for more to see. State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Each individual scene, taken together, will build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome. Individual scenes, taken together, build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to on Flickr.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Today’s Snapshot: Beargrass Blast

2013 September 19

What is beargrass? It’s a curious name. One has to wonder, was it the shape that inspired the nomenclature? Or did the first botanist to note its existence have a run-in while pondering a fitting designation?

Either way, the botanist seems to have lived to tell the tale, and today we can all enjoy this moment captured by ‘alpenglowtravelers’ on Flickr.

Beargrass Blast by Nina, Willamette National Forest, Oregon, July 15, 2013

Beargrass Blast by Nina, Willamette National Forest, Oregon, July 15, 2013

It makes you want to take a hike, as many of our featured photos often do. Just watch out for the bears.

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome. Individual scenes, taken together, build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to on Flickr.

- Jeanethe Falvey, State of the Environment project lead, writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Gold Lining on a Silver Day

2013 September 17
Sunset at Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park 10.1.11

Sunset at Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park 10.1.11

Congratulations to Cat Conner for this second featured photo, taking our group by storm with her stunning landscapes.

This project is not just about the beautiful, it’s about what’s real. What do you see around you? Is the scenery inspiring or does it beg for change? We can only show off what you submit. Consider sharing the simple and the shocking, as much as the splendid. Our world is the combination of all these things.

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Individual scenes, taken together, build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

- Jeanethe Falvey, State of the Environment project lead, writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Eureka! Picturing the Past, Today

2013 September 12

Then and Now” entries have come in from Boston, Oregon, Maine, and even outer space. California has yet to get in the game, so today’s spotlight is on the Golden State. Help us create Then and Now scenes from this part of our world. You can look up any Documerica photo or get others involved through bitly.com/DiscoverDocumerica. Documerica covered the 50 U.S. states, as well as select territories and international locations from 1971-1977. Beware, you might just think you’re back in bell bottoms.

‘Then’ is DOCUMERICA. ‘Now’ is your chance with State of the Environment. The size of this project, image diversity, and topics that emerge, depends entirely on what you share.  Our ‘Then and Now’ challenge showcases the changes in our lives and environment, but it takes your photos! Matches will be shared across EPA social media and displayed alongside the greats of the Documerica Project: Charles O’Rear, Erik Calonius, David Hiser, and Boyd Norton to name just a few.

The Documerica Returns exhibit remains on display at the San Francisco Public Library’s Wallace Stegner Environmental Center. It will be in the main library’s Skylight Gallery through October 1, 2013. Map and Directions

DOCUMERICA: U.S. #1 near the Pacific Ocean north of Malibu, California, on the northwestern edge of Los Angeles County. The Santa Monica Mountains are located nearby, the last semi-wilderness in Los Angeles County. The area is threatened with development. May, 1975 by Charles O'Rear.

DOCUMERICA: U.S. #1 near the Pacific Ocean north of Malibu, California, on the northwestern edge of Los Angeles County. The Santa Monica Mountains are located nearby, the last semi-wilderness in Los Angeles County. The area is threatened with development. Some 84 percent of the state’s residents live within 30 miles of the coast, and this concentration has resulted in increased land use pressure several commissions have been set up to restrict coastal developments and recommend future guidelines to the state legislature, May 1975, by Charles O’Rear.

DOCUMERICA: Access to Niguel Beach Park along the ocean in Orange County, is through an area that was scheduled for development, May 1975, by Charles O'Rear.

DOCUMERICA: Access to Niguel Beach Park along the ocean in Orange County, is through an area that was scheduled for development however, construction was halted when the state passed the Coastal Zone Conservation Act in November, 1972. State and regional regulatory commissions must present a finial report to the legislature by January, 1976, recommending passage of laws affecting future coastal development. Some 84 percent of the state residents live within 30 miles of the coast, May 1975, by Charles O’Rear.

Read about our chat with Charles O’Rear about this day in the field.

DOCUMERICA: Surfing Along Malibu Beach, California. 10/1972 by Erik Calonius.

DOCUMERICA: Surfing Along Malibu Beach, California. 10/1972 by Erik Calonius.

DOCUMERICA: Flowers planted around spyglass homes built on a terraced hillside [Southern California], May 1975, by Charles O'Rear.

DOCUMERICA: Flowers planted around spyglass homes built on a terraced hillside [Southern California], May 1975, by Charles O’Rear.

You can search for 1970s images in two places:

1. A selection of Documerica is available on Flickr. Check out the 1970s in:
San Francisco; California; Hawaii; Nevada; Arizona; New Mexico or click one of those and change the search field to: Documerica [your state / location / topic]

2. Search the full Documerica Collection housed by the National Archives. Search by state, landmark, year or topic within the OPA database. You will see a search page like this. Simply type in your state or key word to start searching.

Example of search results OPA Database

 

All Then and Now entries will be shared far and wide. Check out this entry from the other LA – Lewiston, Auburn, Maine:

If you have trouble finding photos, please let us know as a comment here and we will get back to you!

Enjoy, have fun, and we look forward to your contributions to this historic project.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Today’s Photo: Ospreys Find New Home

2013 August 27
Langley ospreys find new home, photo by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton, July 22, 2013

Langley ospreys find new home, photo by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton, July 22, 2013

Years ago, while rescuing an injured duckling from further harm, I was asked by an acquaintance, “What happened to letting nature take its course?” I understand that this is a valid debate, yet I quickly replied, “Do tell me, what does this parking lot full of cars have to do with nature?” The duckling lived many more days in the care of a rehabilitation center, thankfully, and I could sleep the nights following.

There is much about nature that isn’t pleasant, but it is nature’s way. There is also much about the exchange of resources and space between wildlife and humans that makes this increasingly challenging for the former. Luckily, many of us do our part to lend a helping hand when we can for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Today’s featured photo is an example of the U.S. Air Force doing exactly that, while preserving necessary human needs at the same time.

Thank you to Jarad Denton for today’s featured moment. Here’s more from him about his photo:

A fledgling osprey sits patiently in its nest on the waters of Langley Air Force Base, Va., as its mother prepares to fly off in search of food, July 22, 2013. Since 2001, the 1st Fighter Wing’s Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard Team has monitored and translocated several ospreys in an attempt to reduce the risk of bird strikes to aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton/Released)

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Individual scenes, taken together, build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

- Jeanethe Falvey, State of the Environment project lead, writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Photo Theme: Whole New Habitats

2013 August 23
Inspecting the tidal pools, Red Rock Park, Lynn, Massachusetts, July 14, 2013

Inspecting the tidal pools, Red Rock Park, Lynn, Massachusetts, July 14, 2013

As a kid, I was fortunate enough to be able to check out tidal pools. This was incredibly fun for me. In these little places, it was an entirely different world. There I found periwinkles, sea anemones, even sea stars. It was an accessible experience of life in the ocean, and it is my first memory of realizing that different life lived in different conditions. It was my first real understanding that certain creatures can live only in certain habitats.

The interdependence of life within a place as small as a tide pool is a reminder to all of us about the balance that’s necessary for all life to thrive around our planet. This weekend, I encourage you to get out and look around. What’s your habitat look like? What do you depend on to thrive? Alternatively, is there another accessible habitat that inspires you?

Congratulations to ‘Paul’ on Flickr for today’s picture, captured in Red Rock Park in Lynn, Massachusetts.

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Each individual scene, will build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

- Jeanethe Falvey, State of the Environment project lead, writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Nature in Black and White

2013 August 15

It’s interesting how the feeling of a place changes when you view it without color. Sometimes the scene appears more stark in black and white, other times more serene. For me, there is something about a black and white photograph that truly captures a moment in time.

Recently we have received several striking photos of nature depicted in black and white that we wanted to share here. Thanks to Jared Kofsky, Danny Hart, and Paul (StraightRazR100 on Flickr) for sharing these photographic moments with us.

 Black and white photograph of Passaic River Wetlands by Jared Kofsky.

 Passaic River Wetlands by Jared Kofsky
West Essex Park, Livingston, New Jeresy
August 14, 2013

Black and white photo of a Carroll County Cornfield by Daniel Hart.

 Carroll County Cornfield by Daniel Hart
Carroll County, Maryland
August 10, 2013

A black and white photo of Arabia Mtn Nature Preserve by Paul (StraightRazR100 on Flickr).

 Arabia Mtn Nature Preserve by Paul (StraightRazR100 on Flickr)
August 7, 2013

What does our environment look like to you in black and white? Share your photographs with us today!

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Each individual scene, will build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to our group on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Galaxy Gazing: Today’s Featured Scene

2013 August 12

Isn’t it odd – when we look at the stars they appear as specs in our sky, but is there anything else in our environment that can make us feel so small?

They say we’re made of stardust. Everything is. A recent issue of National Geographic taught us that the farther away we look, the more we learn about ourselves – and our own universe.

In the summertime it’s easier to stargaze. The outdoors calls. When s’mores and storytelling eventually quiet down, there’s that magical moment when you sit back and look up at those other possible worlds. Perhaps you find yourself wondering more about this one too.

Photograph of Mobius Arch & Milky Way

Mobius Arch & Milky Way, Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California, by Cat Connor on Flickr, July 27, 2013.

Congratulations to Cat Conner for today’s picture, Mobius Arch & Milky Way – Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA July 27, 2013.

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Each individual scene, will build the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted to our group on Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Green Water or Clean Water?

2013 August 6

Have you been affected by or noticed algal blooms near you?

July 12, 2013, Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland by Eric Vance.

July 12, 2013, Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland by Eric Vance.

I remember the first time I became painfully aware that fish, although aquatic creatures, needed to breathe too. As a child, I was lucky enough to have a pond at home. I caught frogs, watched pollywogs and tadpoles until the sun went down, screamed in terror when leeches affixed themselves to my shins, and did my best to reverse evolution and grow my own fins. This particular pond was connected by a culvert to a smaller pond, allowing spring rains to overflow. Our ‘family bass’ often found themselves venturing into this smaller pond and most of the time, back out.

One mid-summer day I ambled down the driveway and my nose noticed the thick, pond-muck smell that really can only be described as such. I soon found that the smaller pond was seemingly drained of its water, so thick with algae that the bass couldn’t move. They had clearly gotten themselves overcrowded, trapped, and were visibly gasping at the air. I quickly became a one-girl bucket brigade, shuttling as many as I could across the road, but it was of little use.

In this extremely small body of water, any change in level and any bit of runoff from our nearby garage and driveway, was going to have a major impact. In larger ponds, rivers, and coastal areas, the runoff from a variety of sources, including a number of land-based, human activities, still make their impact, but the effects are not always so obvious.

Nutrient pollution is one of America’s most widespread, costly, and challenging environmental problems, and is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the air and water. Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients that are natural parts of aquatic ecosystems, but when too much nitrogen and phosphorus enter the environment, the air and water can become polluted. Nutrient pollution has impacted many streams, rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters for the past several decades, resulting in serious environmental and human health issues, and impacting the economy.

Algal blooms are overgrowths of algae and can occur in lakes, reservoirs, rivers, ponds, bays and coastal waters, and become harmful by producing toxins that harm human health and aquatic life. These blooms cause thick, green, muck that impact recreation, businesses, and property values.

This weekend, as summer is here for those of us in the northern hemisphere, we’re asking if you have seen an algal bloom. If so, submit your photos and also feel free to include your personal stories on how these blooms may have affected you.

State of the Environment is open to pictures of our lives and planet as you see it. Each individual scene contributes to the larger picture of our environment today. Photos taken from 2011 until the end of 2013 may be submitted through Flickr. All levels of photography experience and skill are welcome.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.