Giving Back to Girl Scouts: Water Drop Patch Inspires Young Stewardship

By Michele Drennen

Some of the happiest times I experienced during my childhood in St. Joseph, Mo., were spent as a Girl Scout in St. Francis Xavier Troop #1385. As I look back, memories of going to campouts and field trips, making crafts, earning merit badges and patches, and volunteering to help others provided a positive influence in my life.

EPA team members Jessica Hing, Michele Drennen, and Margarete Heber

EPA team members Jessica Hing, Michele Drennen, and Margarete Heber

When I saw a posting on the One EPA Skills Marketplace website seeking employees who could assist the Girl Scouts organization, I jumped on it!

The Skills Marketplace is a voluntary program that expands professional development opportunities by allowing EPA employees, with supervisor permission, to spend up to 20 percent of their time working on a project in any part of the agency, without leaving their home office.

Before leaving work late one evening in July 2015, I checked the Skills Marketplace website to see if there were any projects related to the field of graphic design. I was excited to see a position for individuals to work with EPA’s Office of Water and the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian wanted to offer a “Waterway” link on their website, which would include free lesson plans for K-12 teachers on water topics, and they recruited EPA as a partner in this endeavor.

The Waterway program is a six-year education and awareness initiative to promote and encourage good stewardship of water. For the program to be successful, it is essential to connect with the public and educate them on the importance of protecting our waterways.

Water Drop Patch with five “rockers”

Water Drop Patch with five “rockers”

The anticipated outcome of this Skills Marketplace project was a completed revision and posting of an updated Girl Scouts Water Drop Patch on the Girl Scouts Council of the Nation’s Capital (GSCNC) website, along with requirement guides to engage Girl Scouts in grades K-12.

I applied for the position right away because I knew I could make a tremendous contribution to this project. In addition, I wanted to learn more about the Waterway program and reconnect with the Girl Scouts program that I had remembered so fondly as a child.

I was contacted the next morning by EPA’s Water Data Project Lead, Margarete Heber. After a phone interview, Margarete said she wanted to partner with another EPA applicant, Jessica Hing, whose outreach experience would combine perfectly with my graphic art background to work on the GSCNC Water Drop Patch. Margarete also added a NASA Communication Specialist, Dorian Janney, to the Skills Marketplace team. Dorian brought a vast amount of children’s education outreach experience.

Over the next several months, our team assembled content for requirement guides for each of the Girl Scout levels, containing hands-on projects that were age-appropriate for each level. Once we determined the content for each guide, I designed a draft guide for the GSCNC to approve.

Hands-on learning about Water Drop Patch at Girl Scouts 2016 Maker Day

Hands-on learning about Water Drop Patch at Girl Scouts 2016 Maker Day

I also had the privilege of designing the Water Drop Patch along with five “rocker” patches that fit under the main patch, which could be earned at each Girl Scout level. The rocker patches encourage Girl Scouts to continue to expand their knowledge of their water environment at each program level. Daisies learn about the water cycle; Brownies learn about groundwater; Juniors learn about watersheds; Cadettes learn about careers in the field of water; and Seniors/Ambassadors learn about water laws and water ethics.

On May 7, 2016, I flew to Washington, D.C., to join Margarete and Jessica at the rollout of the Water Drop Patch at Girl Scouts 2016 Maker Day. This event promotes hands-on learning across all levels and provides a place to explain, demonstrate, and share their projects with each other. The One EPA Skills Marketplace team, joined by two Senior Girl Scouts, generated enthusiasm and interest in the Water Drop Patch among the Girl Scouts and their leaders by offering demonstrations of the requirements for each level.

Water Drop Patch information, along with other patches Girl Scouts can earn, is available on the National Girl Scouts website.

About the Author: Michele Drennen serves as an Environmental Protection Specialist at EPA Region 7. She is also on the Process Excellence Team and serves as Skills Marketplace Coordinator for EPA Region 7. Michele has a degree in english with an emphasis in technical communication and a minor in business from Missouri Western State University.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

It’s a Lawn Mower! It’s a Weed Whacker! No…it’s a Herd of Goats!

By Sara Ernst

EPA’s research facility in Narragansett, Rhode Island recently enlisted the help of a highly skilled landscaping team to create more pollinator-friendly habitat on the premises.  The team doesn’t use chemicals or pollute the air with carbon emissions, can work on just about any terrain or slope, and loves to eat poison ivy.  So, who is this slightly peculiar dream team? A herd of goats from Laurel Hill MicroFarm in Hope, Rhode Island!

Before the goats and their herders arrived, the facility had a maze of invasive plants plaguing the perimeter of the property, however, over the course of 10 days, these impressive eaters were able to safely consume all the poison ivy and invasive vegetation in the area.

My family always says I have a hole in my foot because of how much I can eat, but let me tell you, I’ve got nothing on these goats!  One goat can eat about 100 square feet of vegetation a day, varying with density – and we were working with a team of 16!  The goats were constantly frolicking back and forth between various plants, small trees, and shrubs, eating to their hearts content and only stopping when they needed short digestion breaks.  When a designated area was cleared, they’d look at their herder as if to say, “Okay what’s next? We’re hungry!”

a herd of goats take on a big plant

goats hard at work eating plantsa white goat reaches up to take a bite out of a leaf

 

Habitat loss is one of the main reasons pollinators such as bees, birds, and butterflies have declined in abundance over the past few decades.  By removing overgrown landscaping and nuisance plant species from our property, the goats are protecting native plants that serve as pollinator habitat from invasive vegetation that could have easily disturbed their growth and threatened their survival.  Space has also been created so new pollinator-friendly vegetation has room to grow, and areas have been left free of plant life to provide habitat for ground-nesting pollinators like bumble bees.

Taking steps to protect and increase habitat for pollinators helps to mitigate their decline and strengthen their numbers.  These efforts are essential in protecting the health of the environment and in ensuring the sustainability of our food production systems, as well as their continued economic contribution to the agriculture industry.  EPA is committed to helping restore pollinator populations to healthy levels, consistent with the June 2014 Presidential Memorandum “Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators”.

This is the first time EPA has used conservation grazing or “goatscaping”, and I doubt it will be the last.  Goats are efficient workers, environmentally-friendly, and able to work safely and easily in areas that may be dangerous or difficult for humans and heavy equipment.  Best of all, by using goats to clear overgrown landscaping, especially invasive plant life, we are helping pollinators prosper.  Visit EPA’s pollinator protection page to learn more about pollinator health, what EPA is doing, and how you can help!

About the Author:  Sara Ernst is an Oak Ridge Associated Universities contractor and works as the Science Communications Specialist in the Atlantic Ecology Division of EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Forum Targets Basic Water Needs in Appalachia

by Lori Reynolds

Courtesy: Eric Vance, EPA

Courtesy: Eric Vance, EPA

Big Stone Gap, Virginia is about as far as you can go in EPA’s mid-Atlantic Region.  But it was worth every mile of travel to help communities in Appalachia find ways to pay for badly-needed water and wastewater infrastructure.  The EPA Water Finance Forum was all it was intended to be – and so much more.

The forum held in mid-June was designed as a peer-to-peer type of transfer with panels of local presenters sharing information about funding opportunities, innovative solutions, and success stories.

I was anxious to meet the many people I had spoken to and corresponded with over the prior four months while planning for the forum.

Upon arriving, I was pleasantly greeted by mountains which seemed to rise up at my feet; the beauty of the area is undeniable.  Some from the EPA regional office asked, “Why Appalachia?”  The answer was simple.  Appalachia is a big part of EPA’s mid-Atlantic Region, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and all of West Virginia.  And it’s an area where the water and wastewater infrastructure needs are great and the challenges complex (rural area, with low population density, mountainous terrain, difficult geology, and limited water and economic resources).

Courtesy: Eric Vance, EPA

Courtesy: Eric Vance, EPA

Although progress has been made, there are still homes and families in Appalachia that do not have public water and reliable sewage treatment.  Yes, in the year 2016, there are citizens living in the United States of America where raw sewage runs directly into streams.  I can hardly imagine a life without readily available water from the tap and indoor plumbing to flush away waste.

A presenter at the forum complemented the challenges by describing the “mountain ethic” as “see a problem, come together and find a solution,” which put into words what I sensed.  Highlights about the value of water and stories about its impact on the quality of life recalled for me why I dedicated my career to water protection.  I’m excited about the Water Finance Forum marking the beginning of a longer relationship and commitment to help people and communities, who often feel forgotten, not only acquire, but sustain reliable water and wastewater services.

In the coming weeks and months, we will have an opportunity to strengthen the connections we made through the Water Finance Forum.  As one presenter put it, “the work takes commitment, dedication, and a willingness to work hard.”  Since these are the very same qualities demonstrated by the people who proudly call Appalachia home, I’m confident that our investments in the Appalachian Region will succeed.

 

About the Author:  Lori Reynolds works in the region’s Office of Infrastructure and Assistance, which provides funding to states for water and wastewater infrastructure.  She is naturally drawn to water, working in the Water Protection Division, swimming in pools and open water as part of a Master’s swim team, and as an Aquarius.

 

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Communities and Schools: Your Ash Trees are on the Menu

By Marcia Anderson

I was recently in a conference of Certified Tree Experts representing many northeast and north-central states to discuss the invasion and progressive devastation of our nation’s ash trees by the emerald ash borer.

Yes, we have another pest focused on annihilating our community forests. Think back. First, it was Dutch elm disease.  Later, chestnut blight, the gypsy moth, followed by the Asian longhorn beetle.  Now, the emerald ash borer (EAB) is here. While common in urban landscapes across much of the continental U.S., native ash trees (Fraxnus sp.) have little natural resistance to this most recent pest. In addition, EAB, which is native to Asia, has no natural enemies in the U.S.

EAB NYS DEC

Emerald ash borer adult.
Photo: David Cappaert. www.forestryimages.org

A major problem with an emerald ash borer infestation is that most people do not see it coming, and by the time the trees begin to show signs of decline, it is too late. The really bad news is that 95% of ash trees hit with EAB will be dead within five years.  The only way to save your favorite ash tree is to prepare and be proactive in your response.

Range. Ground zero for the EAB invasion was near Detroit, Michigan in 2002.  EAB has already swept through the Midwest and devastated almost every ash tree in its path. In Ohio, nearly all ash trees (over 20 million) suffered close to 100% mortality.  EAB is now present in 34 states and 2 Canadian provinces. In infested areas, 90-100% of ash trees will be dead within 4-5 years.

How does EAB kill trees?  EAB attacks ash trees of all sizes. EAB starts with large trees, but then goes down to smaller ones, devouring the insides of every ash tree in its path. EAB first attacks stressed trees, such as those with a portion of bark removed. The females lay 30+ eggs in the cracks of bark, beginning toward the top of the tree. The eggs hatch and the larvae bore in and feed on the phloem that conducts nutrients throughout the tree. Gradually, the infestation moves into the inner layers of the tree.  The larvae spend one or two years feeding inside the tree before emerging as adults in the spring.  If you see the adults exit holes at eye-level of a tree trunk, the infestation is heavy and has probably been there for several years. Symptoms that aid in early detection are yellowing or orange tinged leaves, loss of leaves in the canopy, sections of death in the canopy and eventually a weak, dying tree.

How does EAB spread to other areas? EAB is often found near highway rest stops. As a matter of fact, as I was driving through Pennsylvania to New Jersey in November, one landed on my car’s windshield at a rest stop. It was the first time I had seen one, and marveled at its small size and metallic green color. EAB’s are carried along railroad and other transportation thoroughfares, wherever ash trees or wood are transported. Adult EABs can hitchhike on truck beds, barges, and cars. Utility workers are often the first to find them in newly infested areas. Female beetles can disperse up to three miles from the source tree.

EAB_combo_thumb NYS DEC

Emerald ash borer adults.
Photo: www.nyis.info

EAB is coming to an ash tree near you. New Jersey, New York, and the New England states are now the latest targets of this pest.  According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, less than 5% of the state’s 900 million ash trees are currently infested. However, because black and green ash are keystone species in the regions’ wetland ecosystems, their loss could mean the loss of the entire ecosystem. In New York and New Jersey’s hardwood forests, one in every 10 trees is an ash. The entire state of New Jersey is under an EAB quarantine and under federal and state regulation to minimize the spread to non-infested areas. All ash wood must remain in municipal boundaries unless it is chipped or the bark removed.

Strategies to hamper the spread of EAB.  1) First and foremost quarantine all ash wood, including firewood.  2) Replace ash trees with a diameter of 12” or less.  If your community decides not to treat, figure that those ash trees will die, and become hazardous. Do you remove the trees now or later at a higher cost? 3) Remove infected trees – they are already hazardous. Dying trees dry out very fast and become unpredictable because they can crack and fall, even on calm, clear days. Removals should begin with the largest ones first. What to do with all of that ash wood? Chip or kiln dry the wood, which kills the bugs. Ash makes good pellets for wood burning stoves and can also be used in industry, furniture, and baseball bats.

Management options. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for trees helps to create a healthier environment by reducing both pests and unnecessary pesticide use. IPM stresses the use of monitoring, maintenance, and sanitation. The use of pesticides, when needed, is also part of the IPM toolbox. Treating proactively for EAB falls into this “when-needed” category, in lieu of removing all of your ash trees.

If your trees are within 10-15 miles of known infestations, they are at risk. Success in treatment is ultimately determined by both the tree’s health and in initiating treatment before EAB has begun its demise. By the time people notice thinning in the canopy, EAB has already caused considerable damage to the vascular system of the tree. Even large ash trees can be protected from EAB by treating with systemic insecticides. Milwaukee saved most of its trees by treating because they decided that it was more economically beneficial than removal and replacement. Considerations in every town and situation are different.

There are three options for urban ash tree management:  Removal and replacement; treatment with insecticides until they can be removed; and treatment with insecticides for the duration of the infestation. New York State and the North Central IPM Center offer good publications that describe the insecticide options for protecting ash trees from EAB.  While some options are available to homeowners, others require professional application.

Dr. Jason Graboski of Rutgers University says that the states on the front lines, such as NJ, NY, MD and those in New England can benefit from the lessons learned by MI, OH, IN and PA. He shared with us information from the New Jersey EAB webpage that both informs residents and tracks EAB sitings across the state.  New York also has an EAB website with reference maps. In addition, there is a national Emerald Ash Borer Information Network with detailed information for the entire U.S.

About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

E-Manifest: Sustaining the e-Manifest National System through User Fees

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus

By Mathy Stanislaus

Recently, I blogged about the selection of members for our e-Manifest Advisory Board, an exciting step in the creation of an electronic system for tracking hazardous waste shipments from “cradle-to-grave.” This system, known as e-Manifest, will improve access to timely hazardous waste shipment data and will reduce burdens associated with the current paper manifest system.

How are we funding this system? In the e-Manifest Act, Congress required that EPA recover all of the costs of developing and operating the system. E-Manifest will be entirely supported by user fees charged to those who use manifests to track shipments of their hazardous wastes. Congress directed EPA to create a system for collecting user fees, which makes lots of sense. After all, the cost of handling and tracking hazardous waste ought to be borne by those who generate it, not the tax payer. After all, maybe they will generate less!

Today, I’m pleased to highlight another important step toward our goal of deploying the e-Manifest system in the spring of 2018. We have released a proposed rule that explains how we propose to establish and revise the system’s user fees. Now it’s your turn; we want your input. We are looking forward to getting informed and insightful public comment. The proposal covers:

  • Who must pay e-Manifest user fees,
  • The types of transactions that will incur fees,
  • The formula we’ll use to set fees,
  • Options for paying fees electronically,
  • A process for periodically revising user fees, and
  • Sanctions for non-payment.

Our proposal plans to levy user fees on the facilities that receive manifested waste shipments, with the fees tailored to whether paper or electronic manifests are submitted to the system. Paper is a lot more expensive to handle and process. At EPA we’re advocates of reduce, reuse, recycle. The bottom line is that we’re trying to set this system up so that paper becomes the choice of last resort. If we are successful the system will be more efficient, cost less and save more.

I encourage you to tell us what you think. Comments on this proposal will be accepted for 60 days following publication of this rule in the Federal Register. EPA is requesting commenters to use the new comment platform, which can be found at https://epa-notice.usa.gov/. Information on the new platform can be found in the Federal Register Notice for the proposed rule, as well as on the EPA e-Manifest proposed rule Web page. You may follow progress on EPA’s development of the e-Manifest system on our website. If you subscribe to the e-Manifest ListServ, you will receive project updates in real time and information about opportunities to provide feedback. EPA will also conduct an upcoming webinar to discuss the user fee proposals under consideration and encourage all interested parties to participate.

Once we’ve reviewed the public comments and feedback from the Advisory Board, EPA will finalize the user fee methodology and establish user fees for the e-Manifest system, which we expect to do in late 2017. We are excited about the strides we are making in realizing this national system, and remain dedicated to maintaining open dialogue and continuing collaboration. For more updates, visit our e-Manifest website.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Check out EJSCREEN 2016!

Untitled-2By Matthew Tejada

When I travel the country for work, I have the privilege of meeting incredible people who work tirelessly to protect overburdened communities and bring in more resources and opportunities to their neighborhoods. From my own experience, I know how critical it is to have access to data to describe the conditions on the ground and to serve as a common starting point for conversations and collaborations. Yet a lot of the critical information that the government creates and makes available, like cancer risk or proximity to traffic, are stored in huge datasets that are hard to access and even harder to interpret.

One of the ways that the EPA is working to assist folks working on the ground to advance environmental justice is with EJSCREEN, our environmental justice screening and mapping tool. EJSCREEN provides environmental and demographic information in easy-to-access reports and maps to give users a way to measure impacts to better understand areas in need of environmental protection, health care access, housing, infrastructure improvement, community revitalization, and climate resilience.

Click here to watch a 5 minute video on how the EJ Indexes are constructed.

Click here to watch a 5 minute video on how the EJ Indexes are constructed.

EPA released EJSCREEN to the public in 2015. Since the release, EPA has worked extensively to conduct hundreds of outreach events to a broad range of stakeholders in order to answer questions, conduct presentations, and educate the public generally about how to use the tool. EPA has also worked with other federal and state partners to assist in incorporating EJSCREEN into various activities, analyses, and programs.

After a year of public engagement to collect feedback from stakeholders, we are proud to announce the release of the latest version of EJSCREEN, which has an abundance of new features – all of which were requested by our public users – including:

  • inclusion of the National Air Toxic Assessment environmental indicators for cancer risk, respiratory, and diesel PM;
  • scalable maps, that summarize data at the Census block group, tract, or county-level;
  • new layers such as parks/green spaces and unemployment rates;
  • the ability to save sessions and print maps from the home screen;
  • a side-by-side view that allows you to look at different datasets simultaneously; and
  • inclusion of data for Puerto Rico.
CDC Report

CDC’s Public Health Report is one of the new features in EJSCREEN

We know that you are as excited as we are to start using this new updated version of EJSCREEN. To answer your questions about the new data and design of the tool, we will be hosting three webinars! We will be providing you with a basic overview of the tool, demonstrating the new features in EJSCREEN, and answer your questions about EJSCREEN 2016.

Please register for the event via the EventBrite page.

EJSCREEN webinar dates:

June 28 (2 pm EST)
June 30 (4 pm EST)
July 11 (3 pm EST)

We hope that you will participate in using the tool and provide us feedback on how we can continue to improve for use by everyone in the United States. You can also subscribe to the Environmental Justice ListServ so that you can receive updates on our upcoming EJSCREEN activities this summer.

Additionally, we will be launching the EJSCREEN Impact Survey. Your support and continued feedback on EPA’s environmental justice screening tool is invaluable, and we want to hear from you on how EJSCREEN is impacting your work. Again, keep up-to-date with all of these opportunities by subscribing to our EJ ListServ.

We look forward to hearing from you – and in the meantime, we hope you enjoy the new version of EJSCREEN as much as we do!

About the Author: Matthew Tejada is the Director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

research_recap_250It’s National Pollinator Week! One of EPA’s lab is promoting pollinator health by creating an amazing habitat for honey bees and other pollinators right in their backyard. Read about it in the blog Promoting Pollinator Health at the EPA Western Ecology Division.

And here is some more of the latest buzz:

Underwater Science
Did you know that EPA has a team of scientists that work underwater? The EPA scientific diving program helps Superfund sites go from contaminated to clean – and keeps them that way! Read about what it’s like to be on the EPA Dive team in the blog Over 30 years of Wyckoff Superfund Site Diving Science.

Living Shoreline Project
EPA is assisting with a project to protect the eroding shoreline at the Felix Neck Wildlife Refuge on Martha’s Vineyard in Edgartown, Massachusetts. A living shoreline was created with 10-foot logs, each made of dense coconut fibers and held firmly in place with wooden stakes. The living shoreline will serve as a laboratory for a number of projects in the coming years, while also stabilizing and restoring the marsh in the face of storms and rising seas. Read more about the project in the article Coconut Fiber to the Rescue: Island’s First Living Shoreline Installed at Felix Neck.

Homeland Security Research
EPA researchers recently collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security to study what would happen if terrorists introduced pathogenic spores, like anthrax, into the New York City subway system. This study is part of the DHS and EPA collaborative Underground Transport Restoration Project.  The overall goal of the project is to develop capabilities to enable the rapid return to service of subway systems following a chemical or biological attack. BBC wrote about the study in the article Meet New York City’s Anthrax Detectives.

How your breath could help doctors diagnose illness
EPA Researcher Joachim Pleil’s expertise in breath research was recently highlighted in the Boston Globe article How your breath could help doctors diagnose illness.

Wildfire Smoke Guide
EPA has updated its Wildfire Smoke: A Guide for Public Health Officials that provides information on the health effects of wildfire smoke and populations potentially at greatest risk from wildfire smoke exposure. The guide provides recommendations for public health action to reduce risks. EPA researchers provided their expertise on health effects from air pollutants generated by wildfires. The guide is available on the AirNow web site, which provides air quality forecasts and includes information on Smoke and Your Health.

Evaluating Urban Resilience to Climate Change
EPA is releasing an external peer review draft report that describes an assessment tool to help cities identify climate change risks. The tool  to eight sectors managed by municipalities: water, energy, transportation, public health, economy, land use, natural environment and telecommunications. A Federal Register notice of the report titled Evaluating Urban Resilience to Climate Change: A Multi-Sector Approach provides information for public comment.

Exceptional Scientific Publication
A paper by EPA researcher Robert M. Burgess, Ph.D. and co-authors entitled “The Gellyfish: An in situ equilibrium-based sampler for determining multiple free metal ion concentrations in marine ecosystems” was honored as one of 2015’s “Exceptional Papers” by Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

And coming up next week:

Webinar on Air Quality and Community Science
June 29th, 3-4 p.m. EDT
Learn about air quality monitoring and community science at a free webinar next week! EPA researcher Ron Williams will talk about our online Air Sensor Toolbox, which provides a one-stop place for information and guidance on how to evaluate the performance of air sensors available in the marketplace, what to consider before conducting an air monitoring project, and what others are doing to monitor air quality. Register for the webinar here and learn more at our Air Sensor Toolbox page.

Honey bee pollinating flower

Honey bee pollinating flower

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She is a regular contributor to It All Starts with Science and the founding writer of “The Research Recap.”

 

Happy National Pollinator Week!

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Promoting Pollinator Health at the EPA Western Ecology Division

By Randy Comeleo

This week two years ago, acknowledging that pollinators are struggling to survive and are critical to the Nation’s economy, food security, and environmental health, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to create a Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. Under the leadership of EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Strategy has three goals:

  1. Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels;
  2. Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration; and
  3. Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.

Here at EPA’s Western Ecology Division in Corvallis, Oregon, we responded to the President’s “all hands” call to promote pollinator health by planting over 650 native flowering plants, bunchgrasses, and shrubs in a Pollinator Habitat Garden during spring 2015.  A “bee hotel” was also constructed to accommodate mason bees and other solitary nesting bees.

A honey bee and a milkweed flower

A honey bee gathers pollen from showy milkweed flowers in the EPA Western Ecology Division Pollinator Garden.

lots of honey bees gather around the hive entrance

Honey bees at the hive entrance in WED’s Milkweed Meadow.

honey bees swarm in and around mason bee housing

Mason Bee housing in the WED Pollinator Garden.

This spring, we installed a honeybee hive and our pollinator garden is flourishing! We’ve also started one hundred milkweed seedlings—a plant that monarch butterflies are dependent on—from the seeds we collected last fall and will plant them next week to create a milkweed meadow surrounding the honey bee hive.  In the future, we plan to create a small Willamette Valley native prairie seed and install hummingbird feeders and bat boxes to nurture avian and mammalian pollinators.

100 milkweed seedlings

Milkweed seedlings await planting in WED’s Milkweed Meadow.

a rare flower: pink petals and long green stem

Cusick’s Checkermallow, a rare and endangered plant in the Pacific Northwest, thrives in the WED Pollinator Garden.

 

The USDA and the U.S. Department of the Interior have designated this week as National Pollinator Week. It’s a great time to celebrate pollinators and consider what you can do at home and work to protect them!

About the Author: Randy Comeleo is an Ecologist for EPA’s Western Ecology Division research lab. He works primarily with the Air, Climate, and Energy research program as a Geographic Information System Analyst.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

When in Bear Country, Stay Bear Aware

By Marcia Anderson

As a former Scout leader I’ve spent a lot of time in places visited by black bears. I often taught bear-safe practices. As Scouts, my daughter and sons learned about bears at an early age and continue to put into practice prevention lessons they learned.

Adult black bear Photo: Pam McIlhenny, fws.gov

Adult black bear
Photo: Pam McIlhenny, fws.gov

Today, I educate schools and communities about preventing pests through Integrated Pest Management, a sensible and sustainable approach to controlling pests. The main principle is prevention. Every pest needs food, water and a safe harbor to survive. If one of these is denied, the pest will no longer thrive and will move on. So yes, just think of bears as very big pests.

As bear populations increase and more people live and recreate in areas occupied by bears, human-bear conflicts also increase. Most of these conflicts are caused by our lack of knowledge.

Bears have made a comeback throughout New England. although Maine has the largest bear population, the American black bear, the largest predator in the Northeast, rose more dramatically in Massachusetts, where the numbers of native bears grew nine-fold since 1980s, from a few hundred to more than 4,500.

If you live in, or visit bear country here are a few things you should keep in mind.

As I said, pest management includes removing whatever attract pests – in this case, food for bears. Garbage is the biggest offender Bears can smell food from more than a mile away. They travel great distances to track down smells, crossing roads and bridges and placing themselves and people at risk.

Bears will eat just about anything they deem to be nutritious. The calories a bear can consume by picking through garbage can surpass the forage they can find in nature. Problems arise when bears have access to food sources such as garbage, barbecue grills, pet food, or bird seed. Normally, black bears are too shy to risk contact with humans, but their need to find food can overwhelm this fear.

Once a bear finds a food source, such as school dumpsters or neighborhood garbage cans, it will continue to forage until the food is removed. It may take weeks for the bear to understand the food source is no longer available. Once a bear is dependent on human food, its chances of survival are reduced.

If your school, home, or business is in an area that attracts bears, build a shed to protect your garbage cans or secure garbage in a bear-resistant containers. Tightly tie all bagged garbage and keep lids closed to reduce odors.

Teach your children to respect, not fear bears. Black bears are typically not aggressive and usually flee when confronted. Make a plan identifying safe areas, noting clear escape routes for the bear, and collecting noise-making items to scare off the bear.

After a bear visit, look around to see what might have attracted it.

BearBlog2If you live in or work in bear country, encourage surrounding neighbors and your local government, to pass ordinances to keep potential bear food sources secure. It is illegal in many states to place food or garbage out that attracts bears and causes conflicts.

Feed pets indoors or bring in dishes after feeding. Remove bird feeders from late spring through early fall and when they are up, empty them nightly. Keep outdoor grills clean and stored securely. Keep areas under fruit trees clean. Better yet, if you don’t want bears, don’t plant fruit trees! Compost also attracts bears so don’t keep compost in unsecured areas.

If you live in bear country, adopt preventative measures that will help you and the bears avoid unwanted encounters. For more visit the National Park Service bear safety webpage.

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Marcia Anderson, who has a doctorate in environmental management, works with EPA’s headquarters on issues related to pest management in schools. She formerly worked in pesticides for EPA Region 2 and has a home in Lyman, Maine.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Connecting Citizens to the Ocean

by Kristin Regan

zoo-editedSummer is here, school is out and it is time to go to the beach!  June is National Oceans Month and is the perfect time to learn about the resources our oceans offer as well as the struggles they face.

I recently had the opportunity to attend an Oceans Day event at a local zoo and share with visitors how we can help to protect the ocean.  The event drew crowds of energetic children and their families.  Luckily for me, I was in front of an exhibit with a bobcat that slept most of the day, so keeping groups of interested spectators was an easy task.

I spoke to the children and their families about ocean acidification and how it impacts marine life.  The children were initially attracted to the display by an interactive game in which they had to help their favorite orange clown fish safely find its way to its sea anemone home.  As they played, I explained the effects ocean acidification has on marine life such as confusion of fish and impacts to their habitat.  I then talked about how the things that we do here on land actually affects the ocean and the organisms that live in it.

The ocean is a so large and vast that it is difficult to grasp that the things we do on land could actually have an impact on it.  The idea that the biospheres that make up our planet are all connected is a concept that is key to really understanding all of the stresses that our oceans face.  I told the visitors how using electricity and driving cars all contribute to our carbon footprint and air pollution, and that eventually these pollutants are absorbed into the ocean and contribute to ocean acidification.

Looking back on that outreach effort, I am hopeful that this full circle connection helped visitors realize that even though the ocean may not be a part of their daily lives, what they do every day has an effect on it.

 

About the Author:  Kristin is a member of the Ocean and Dredge Disposal Program at EPA Region 3.  She enjoys spending her free time by the water, whether it’s sitting on the beach or fishing in Pennsylvania state parks.

 

 

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.