This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrickresearch_recap_GI_shark

Need a break from Shark Week? Check out the latest in EPA science.

Goats Help EPA Protect Pollinators
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: a herd of goats! Learn more about ‘goatscaping’ in the blog It’s a Lawn Mower! It’s a Weed Whacker! No…it’s a Herd of Goats!

EPA Researchers at Work
Meet EPA Researcher Richard Judson! Dr. Judson develops computer models and databases to help predict toxicological effects of environmental chemicals at EPA’s National Center for Computational Toxicology. Read more about his research in this Researchers at Work profile. And meet more of our scientists on our Researchers at Work page.

EPA’s Net Zero Program
Researchers with EPA’s Net Zero Program are working with the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas Unified School District 475, and others to test and demonstrate green infrastructure technology, such as permeable pavement, at Fort Riley in Kansas. Read more about the program in the Science Matters article Leaving the Gray Behind.

Toxic Substances Control Act
Last Wednesday, President Obama signed a bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the first update to any environmental statute in 20 years. Read EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s blog, and the President’s remarks at the signing, during which he mentioned research being done on zebrafish.

White House Impact Report on Science, Technology, and Innovation
Last week the White House issued a list of 100 examples of leadership in building U.S. capacity in science, technology, and innovation. Some of EPA’s work was highlighted—our use of challenges and incentives,  citizen science and crowdsourcing efforts, the Wildfire Science and Technology Task Force Final Report, and the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Comprehensive Research Plan.

Shout Out to EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program
Before Ecovative became a leading biomaterials company, they were just two recent college graduates with a big idea—to use mushrooms to grow an environmentally-friendly and sustainable replacement for Styrofoam. Early in their business, they were awarded with one of EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program contracts. Gavin McIntyre, co-founder and Chief Scientist at Ecovative Design, recently wrote the letter thanking all their supporters along the way. Read the letter: Investing in the Growth of our Collective Future.

Green Infrastructure Research
EPA has been helping the city of Philadelphia advance innovative urban stormwater control. Researchers with EPA’s Science to Achieve Results program are working with the Philadelphia Water Department to place sensors in the city’s rain gardens, tree trenches, and other green infrastructure sites to monitor and measure soil and water changes. The Philadelphia Inquirer recently highlighted the research in the article Philadelphia Keeps Stormwater out of Sewers to Protect Rivers.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a 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.”

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.

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatricknatdonutday

Long week? Donut worry—it’s Friday (and National Donut Day)! Here’s some sweet science to go along with your treat.

The iCSS Chemistry Dashboard
EPA has released the Interactive Chemical Safety for Sustainability Chemistry Dashboard—or the iCSS Chemistry Dashboard—a new web application to support scientists in chemical research. Read more about this new tool in the blog The iCSS Chemistry Dashboard – The First Step in Building a Strong Chemistry Foundation for 21st Century Toxicology.

EPA Researcher Recognized for Outstanding Work
EPA’s Dr. Gayle Hagler was a winner of this year’s Arthur S. Flemming Award. Dr. Hagler was nominated for her leadership in research projects to quantify dynamic air pollution on a neighborhood scale. This includes developing a mobile air monitoring platform, conducting field and modeling studies of air pollution near sources, and developing a data visualization tool supporting citizen science. For more information on the award read this press release.

What Does a Scientist Look Like?
EPA Scientist Lisa Donahue recently shared what it’s like to be a scientist with a group of elementary school students at their Girls in Science Day. Read about the experience in her blog What Does a Scientist Look Like?

Elwha River Dam Removal
The recent National Geographic article River Revives After Largest Dam Removal in U.S. History is about the Elwha River dam removal. The goal was to remove unneeded, outdated dams and restore a natural river system. The project was completed in 2014, and now fish are thriving and the environment has been reshaped. EPA’s Scientific Dive Team studied the impact of the Elwha River removal and wrote about the research in these blogs.

Coming up Next Week: Small Business Innovation Research Webinar
Are you interested in applying for an EPA Small Business Innovation Research contract? Then join us for an informational webinar on June 14th to learn about the program, this year’s solicitation topics, and how to apply. Register for the webinar here.

Goats Hard at Work to Help Pollinators

goats in an overgrown field

EPA has enlisted some volunteers to help clear the overgrown landscaping at their facility in Narragansett, Rhode Island—a tribe of goats! “Goatscaping” is consuming poison ivy and invasive vegetation from the area, creating space for new pollinator-friendly species to grow—and all without the roar and air pollution of small gas engines.

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.”

 

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.