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Conservation News

A list of news items relating to Conservation

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conservation_news

Work of 1000 Program, Westfield, MA

Stoddart civic engagement flyer

Conservation leaders from the Appalachian Mountain Club Berkshire Chapter and Westfield Transition Towns are presenting the Work of 1000 Civic Engagement Program at the Westfield Athenaeum on Wednesday, March 27th at 6:30 PM.

This program, a 30-minute film complemented by a personal discussion with the film’s central figure, citizen activist Marion Stoddart - provides a gripping profile of an ordinary citizen who realized her power to make a difference. The film, The Work of 1000, shares Marion’s exhilarating story of her work to clean up the Nashua River, once one of the most polluted rivers in America.

Our communities are facing real challenges. Economic uncertainty, global climate change, and other critical social issues are literally right at our doorstep. And now, more than ever, we need stories of hope, grit, empowerment and change. We need an inspirational model that engages people to make a difference in the world.

The presentation at the Westfield Athenaeum is part of Work of 1000’s campaign to help nurture a strong corps of engaged citizens, raise awareness, build leadership skills and give people confidence that they can make a difference. Come view the film, participate in the discussion and see how you can take specific actions to improve Westfield’s quality of life.

Call Sabine Prather at 413-949-3914 or see http://www.workof1000.com/ for more information.

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Visibility Volunteers Program

In an effort to increase its air quality database and educate its members about air quality concerns, AMC launched its Visibility Volunteer (VizVol) program in 2003. The program, part of AMC's "citizen scientist" Mountain Watch program, is designed to collect ozone and haze data from the peaks that AMC members frequent. Participants record ozone levels using a simple, credit card-sized device, and document visibility using a digital camera. AMC researchers will combine these measurements with weather data to track air quality trends in the Appalachian region.

Ready to become a visibility volunteer?

VizVols FactSheet (PDF): Impress your friends with VizVols facts.
VizVols Instructions (PDF): How to be a VizVol.
VizVols Data Sheet (PDF): For collecting VizVol data while on a hike.

These are PDF files.

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Greenhouse Gases

In an effort to address the effect of greenhouse gases on global climate change, nine northeast and mid-Atlantic states are developing a regional strategy to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

There is broad consensus among climate scientists that human activities have contributed to the observed increase in global surface temperatures. In the Northeast, average annual temperature has risen 1.4o F in the last 30 years alone. While uncertainties exist in predicting the global response to climate change, our region has already experienced reduced snowfall, earlier ice-out dates on New England lakes, and fewer days with snowcover as a result of this warming.

The recent warming trend is attributed to an increase in heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), that are generated during combustion of fossil fuels. A continued increase in greenhouse gases poses major environmental, public health, and economic risks. Lacking a national plan to address this issue, nine northeast and mid-Atlantic states are developing a regional strategy to reduce emissions of CO2 from power plants, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

RGGI is designed to achieve reductions in CO2 emissions from power plants in its member states (CT, DE, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT) in a cost-effective manner. Under this cap and trade system, an overall regional CO2 emission limit will be established and divided among power plants into "right to emit" permits, which possess financial value. The plants may then purchase and sell permits, establishing a market-based strategy for reducing overall emissions. The proposed goal of RGGI is to stabilize current regional CO2 emission levels by year 2015, and achieve a 10% reduction of those levels by 2020. Combined, RGGI states emitted more CO2 than all but five industrialized countries in 2000; therefore, such a regional initiative has the potential to considerably reduce the global atmospheric concentration of heat-trapping gases.

AMC is encouraging its members to contact their governors to urge the strengthening and finalizing of the RGGI draft rule. AMC members may also adopt personal measures to reduce CO2, such as:

Personal energy use. Reduce gasoline consumption by carpooling, using mass transit, walking, or biking. Reduce the amount of electricity used at home, and ask a local utility company to perform an energy audit of your home.
Energy-efficient purchases. When in the market for a vehicle, consider gas mileage efficiency. If purchasing a new appliance, look for models that are energy-efficient.
Take action! Promote carpooling and bike lanes in your community. Write to senators and congressional representatives to support actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Contact governors, state legislators and public utility regulators to promote energy efficiency measures.
Stay informed. You can join AMC's Conservation Action Network for monthly updates on RGGI and other important conservation issues.

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Ecological Reserves

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA), with research help from The Nature Conservancy, is proposing to designate eight large tracts of state-owned lands, totaling 52,000 acres, as ecological reserves. The reserves are part of a larger effort to achieve "green certification" for the lands under the Forest Stewardship Council, which would require the state to 1) develop and implement sustainable forestry management plans for those places where logging is practiced and 2) create ecological reserves on state lands that are set aside from logging and managed for mature forest habitat. Existing recreational activities would continue on the reserves, but new motorized recreation and logging would not.

AMC's conservation website contains more information on potential reserves, or visit EOEA's Forest Management website to find out more about the proposal.

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Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace™ (LNT) is a philosophy of backcountry recreation that stresses leaving the wilderness as untouched as possible by your visit. It’s also a program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts understand and minimize their recreational impacts on the land.

AMC partners with Leave No Trace, Inc. to promote responsible outdoor recreation. Leave No Trace, Inc. has established the seven Leave No Trace Principles that serve as guidelines for those who enjoy outdoor recreation.

You can learn more about AMC’s committment to LNT on the AMC Leave No Trace web page.

Leave No Trace principles for paddlers

Story by Karen Ingraham

AMC Outdoors, March/April 2013

DID YOU KNOW?
A downed tree can provide a valuable ecological service in a river. It can serve as a bridge or a basking area, and can create shade for fish.
When I paddled on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway a few years back, I hadn’t expected to find a mowed lawn at our first “primitive campsite.” We had driven 50 miles on logging roads to our put-in and paddled another 8 on one of Maine’s northernmost rivers. Yet there was not only ample room for tents on the cut grass, but a picnic table and, at a discreet distance, an outhouse.
It certainly beat pulling our boats out and “creating” our own campsite, an act prohibited on the Allagash and, according to Alex DeLucia, AMC’s Leave No Trace program manager, on most Northeast waterways. “Utilizing those designated campsites helps to minimize impact,” DeLucia says—a key goal for the agencies charged with managing these ecosystems. It’s also a cornerstone principle of Leave No Trace (LNT), a program founded by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and advocated by AMC. DeLucia, who is currently developing a paddling LNT trainer course with AMC’s New Hampshire Chapter, outlines how each principle applies to water-based recreation.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
It may be tempting to open a gazetteer and choose a put-in spot, but much of the shoreline in the Northeast is privately owned, so determine ahead of time where vehicles can be left legally and safely, DeLucia advises. “You have to check permits; you have to check regulations,” he adds. “With a lot of the designated sites, especially in the Northeast, you have to make reservations.”
Dispose of Waste Properly
The “pack it in, pack it out” mantra applies to paddling as well as to hiking. DeLucia says many designated campsites have outhouses. If not, human waste—like all other waste—should be packed out. Some campsite regulations may allow for human waste to be buried. Check before you go.
Boaters packing rod and reel should also pack out fish guts and bones, unless paddling through bear country makes doing so unsafe. DeLucia then recommends burying the waste.
Leave What You Find
Protecting aquatic ecosystems means leaving natural objects, like downed trees or limbs, undisturbed, as well as preventing the spread of non-native or invasive species.
Didymo, or “rock snot,” is invasive freshwater algae that blooms on rock beds in rivers and streams and chokes out native species. It’s a growing threat in the Northeast as boaters and fishermen unwittingly pick up the microscopic algae, which can be spread in a single drop of water. Washing gear, paddles, and boats between trips is essential to containing the spread.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
“We really recommend you bring stoves,” DeLucia says. “Be independent, be self-sufficient, and don’t rely on fires.” If you choose to have a fire (check if it’s permitted), know that heavily used campsites will yield little to no wood. On certain bodies of water it is illegal to harvest wood, dead or alive, so you must bring it.
“What’s important is where you get your wood from,” DeLucia cautions. “Wait until you get where you are going” to buy it. Wood brought across state lines could harbor invasive and destructive insects, such as the emerald ash borer.
Respect Wildlife
Paddling grants us intimate access to wildlife, but we need to be unobtrusive. DeLucia suggests using binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens to observe from a safe distance. “It’s very enticing to paddle right up to a moose,” he says, “but that’s where they live, where they are trying to eat, where they are breeding.” The same applies to nesting loons.
To prevent wildlife from visiting your campsite, you should securely stash all food. Coolers, for instance, may deter rodents but what about bears?
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Noise travels farther over water, DeLucia says. “I could be a mile away, and I may hear people as clear as day. The sense of wildness that you have…just disappears.” Keep a check on the noise level, especially music.
Water is also public space. “You can’t ignore the fact that other people are using that resource,” DeLucia says. “We have to be accepting of a lot of different forms of recreation.”

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