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Conservation News

A list of news items relating to Conservation

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Conservation News

Never go hungry - food in your backyard!

Wild Edibles Foraging Workshop

We are fortunate in the Appalachian Mountain Club chapters to be able to apply for funds for Special Projects like trail work and conservation-oriented events. We recently received funds for a conservation workshop like this, foraging for wild edibles in the heart of the Hilltowns.

Earthworks Programs offer classes and workshops that are experiential and teach true sustainability… how to live with nature in a way that benefits us and our environment. This creates a natural balance in our lives. Some of the foundational skills include: fire making, natural cordage, animal tracking, wilderness living skills, wildcrafting, wild edibles and more.

AMC participants lucky enough to be able to attend came away with skills in correct identification of wild edibles and medicines you can find right outside your back door. We learned a bit about how and when to harvest by season and in what habitat to seek out our favorite wild edibles. Additionally, we learned how to harvest with intention; keeping in mind the importance of the responsibility we have as foragers and earth stewards.

We started out by learning about the wealth of plants in the “edges”, between forest and field, or next to the barn or shed. We found that we could eat thistle (known as survival celery), and Autumn Olive, two edible plants we normally consider invasive. Therefore, while we can eat them and perhaps make a delicious frappe from the red berries, we need to be careful not to let these plants spread.

Some of us were surprised to find that we could eat Burdock roots, which you can shred and eat like potatoes, and sumac berries for lemonade (early in the season). We trekked through the forest in search of ramps (wild garlic), and found a good patch of them to take home. We were helping to spread this good native plant, which seeds in clusters that fall while harvesting the delicious root.

After harvesting, we took turns at the hand-cranked apple press and pounded a mortar and pestle, which gave us some delicious apple and hickory nut juice. Frank Grindrod, our instructor, said at the end that it’s all about connection - with neighbors, people and animals.

We will be presenting a more detailed presentation about this at Noble View Outdoor Center later in the fall, and hope to bring Frank as well. He had also shared some animal tracking knowledge with us, and might be able to do more if there happens to be snow on the ground. Stay tuned!
http://earthworkprograms.com/
www.nobleviewoutdoorcenter.org

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Outsmart Invasive Species Project

This summer, individuals from UMass, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Nature Conservancy are collaborating on the Outsmart Invasive Species Project in an effort to stop the spread of non-native plants and insects that jeopardize the health of our environment. The Outsmart team, partnering with the Nature Conservancy's Don't Move Firewood program, will be visiting a number of music festivals, farmers' markets, and other events throughout the summer to conduct in-person training in invasive species identification. The Outsmart Invasive Species smartphone application helps users report invasive plant and insect species quickly and easily.

Invasive species pose serious environmental and economic threats to communities throughout Massachusetts. In Worcester in 2008, an outbreak of Asian longhorned beetle resulted in the destruction of nearly 30,000 trees, a loss that will take decades for the community to recoup. Last summer, the first adult emerald ash borer was found in Dalton, Massachusetts, and Berkshire County is currently defined as a quarantine area. Early detection and continual monitoring are key to stopping new invasive insect threats like the Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer, whether in a forest or an urban neighborhood, and the same is true for invasive plant species. This summer, the Outsmart Project is focusing on five such plants: glossy buckthorn, Japanese knotweed, multiflora rose, autumn olive, and invasive honeysuckles.

The good news is that anyone with a smartphone or a digital camera is ready to help. Join the Outsmart Invasive Species Project and help scientists cover more ground by looking for invasive species anytime - while walking the dog, hiking, fishing, gardening, or working outdoors.

If you have an iPhone or Android: Download the FREE Outsmart Invasive Species application through iTunes or Google Play, and you’ll be prepared to identify and report invasive species anytime. If you have already downloaded the application last year, we encourage you to update the application to take advantage of new functionality and identification training videos.

Stay up to date: Visit the Facebook page, follow Outsmart on Twitter @outsmartapp, and for regular updates, sign up for the Outsmart e-mail listserv. For more information, go to www.masswoods.net/outsmart.

You can also email the project team directly for more information: outsmartinvasivespecies@gmail.com.

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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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