Do you think of yourself as a visitor in Nature, or a part of it?

In our fast-paced society, we seldom make time for Nature. When we do, it is a quick visit to a park or a short trek along a favorite trail. These brief intervals surrounded by the natural world refresh and relax us.

Then, we return to our “real” lives. Deadlines, commitments, paperwork, phone calls. What a strange way to view the world. People are, and always have been an integral part of Nature. The more removed from Nature we are, the more removed we are from our true selves.

Too often, environmentalists implicitly underwrite and perpetuate the false assumption that humans are trespassers or interlopers. Granted, we as a species have wrought horrific terrors upon the earth, and taken many concepts to extremes which threaten the health of the earth. The answer to that, however, is not a strict preservationist’s “hands off” attitude. The answer to that problem is moderation and a realization that what we do to the earth, we ultimately do to ourselves.

Living in balance, there are many uses we can make of our natural endowment that can enhance our lives and still leave the system healthy. This ultimately brings us closer to Nature, and to our own ultimate reality. Check out “Thumping Hickories,” a new essay from naturalist William Hudson, and then get outside, learn something, and refresh your soul.

 

Good Plants Gone Bad: Invasive Plants of Southeast Ohio

Want to learn about ways to combat nuisance plants, network with others interested in controlling invasives, and enjoy a great workshop? Try this Ohio Invasive Plants Council program. You could not ask of for a better value. The council always has well-informed experts presenting at these workshops.

Check it out:

When?
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Registration: 8:45 – 9:30 am
Workshop Program: 9:30 – noon
Lunch (provided) 12:00 – 12:45 pm
Workshop Program (cont.): 12:45 – 3:15 pm

Where?
710 Colegate Dr.
Community Room, Administration Building
Washington State Community College, Marietta, OH

What?
-Aren’t Invasive Plants Just Weeds by Another Name?
-Breakthrough! A Biological Control for Mile-a-Minute
-Should YOU Be Part of a Cooperative Weed Management Area?
-The Story of What Happened When One Yard Went Native
-2009: The Year the Vine-that-ate-the-South Met Push-back in Ohio
-Funding Your Invasive Battle

How?
Registration: $10.00/person, those registered by Sept. 4 receive a free lunch
Register at: oipc.info.

Who?
For more information please contact:
-Marilyn Ortt, marilynortt@suddenlink.net, 740-373-3372
-Cheryl Coon,ccoon@fs.fed.us, 740-753-0558

 

Upcoming Class- Living Rivers!

Living Rivers–Arteries of the Eastern Forest, August 16-21, 2009

A five day field course in aquatic ecology & the global significance of the Eastern Forest led by five outstanding field biologists; held at the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System in southern Ohio. David Johnson Microbiologist from Ohio Wesleyan; Greg Lipps, herpetologist; Roger F. Thoma, Eastern US crayfish expert; Mark Kibbey, Curator of Fishes, OSU Museum of Biodiversity; and G. Thomas Watters, freshwater mussels expert, Research Associate, OSU Museum of Biodiversity.

This course will further participants’ appreciation of the Eastern forest by studying its lifeblood — its rivers and streams, and the myriads of life forms that watersheds support. Experts in the fields of botany, mussels, crayfish, fish and salamanders will be leading this course – giving participants a global, cross-disciplinary foundation of knowledge. America’s Eastern Forest shares many tree and mammal genera with closely-related forest centers located in Europe and Eastern Asia. However, our native forest has one major feature that, when compared to its sister forests, distinguishes it globally. Quite simply, America’s Eastern temperate forest claims the highest aquatic life diversity in the temperate world.

Conservation challenges now make waterways one of the most imperiled of the forest’s components throughout the temperate world, so it behooves Eastern US citizens to gain knowledge quickly in this important realm. This course is suitable for any person interested in living systems, regardless of formal educational background and vocation. Limited to 16 participants. For full information: http://www.highlandssanctuary.org/WE/Waterways/waterways.htm

 

Do your Part

Comment on pending decisions in your National Park!

Ever wonder how major environmental decisions are made? Well, the National Park Service, and other federal agencies, must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when deciding about “major federal actions having a significant effect on the environment. Essentially, a federal agency has to consider reasonable alternatives to any proposal that might significantly effect the environment, and gather public input while doing so.

They are not necessarily constrained to choose the alternative with the least impact. They are, however, required to make a statement about it and are subject to public scrutiny. Such statements are called Environmental Impact Statements. They are created when it is fairly clear that there will be significant impacts. When the implications of an action are not as clear, and Environmental Assessment (EA) may be completed. An EA is less comprehensive than an EIS, but analyzes whether an EIS must be done or not.

When preparing an EA or EIS, agencies are required to seek public input, both early in the process (called scoping) and when they have formulated the alternatives and are ready to make a decision. How does the public get involved? How can you and I make a difference?

Well, since this blog is mostly interested in parks, here is a link to the National Park Service’s site where you can find opportunities to comment on current decisions being considered. For those of you in northeast Ohio like me, here is a link to find what decisions are being made at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

If you care about parks and the environment, you have an obligation to keep up on the decisions our public employees are making, and to tell them how you feel. If you support the decisions they are making, tell them so. If you don’t support their path, tell them that too, and tell them what they ought to do and why. After all, maybe your comment will be the one that saves a precious resource that would otherwise have been lost.

So, keep tabs on what is going on in your National Park, and get outside and get to know the nature of the parks so that when the time comes to defend it, you know what you value about your parks!

 

Volunteers Needed for Watershed Stewardship

From a National Park Service Press Release:

In celebration of the “Year of the River,” the National Park Service is launching a new Volunteers-in-Parks (VIP) opportunity – Watershed Steward to celebrate the recovery of the Cuyahoga River.

The stewardship of Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) resources is a shared responsibility because many of the resources the park protects extend beyond the jurisdictional boundaries. Land-use decisions made by 46 local communities in the park’s watersheds affect downstream park resources. Increased flooding, degraded water quality, and poor stream health can result from changes in park watersheds.
Watershed Stewards will help promote watershed stewardship principles by regularly attending and participating in their community’s monthly public decision-making meetings and, as they become more comfortable with the content, to engage in watershed policy discussions. Stewards will receive educational opportunities and reference materials on key aspects of watershed policy. Stewards will also be encouraged to participate in local watershed activities in their communities. Our goal is to supplement and enhance existing watershed protection efforts in order to better preserve downstream park resources. Stewards are expected to volunteer from four to six evening hours a month.

An informational meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 26 at Happy Days Lodge, located at 500 West Streetsboro Road (SR 303), Peninsula. Attendance is not required to apply.

Visit the National Park Service’s web site for an application and program details, and to read more about the Cuyahoga River Watershed. For more information contact Kevin Skerl at 330-650-5071 ext. 4. or kevin_skerl@nps.gov.

 

2009 Stewardship Network Conference

2009 Stewardship Network Conference – The Stewardship Network: "land managers, researchers, volunteers, private contractors, ecologists, homeowners, restorationists, students, outdoor enthusiasists, nonprofit staff and volunteers, and nature lovers of all kinds…" will gather for the for 2009 conference, Practice, & Art of Restoring Native Ecosystems conference."

What a great way to learn more about the care and feeding of nature. It looks like this will be a very exciting and informative gathering.