I have taken up a new, positive social media practice and every Friday I am posting a conservation success story on my Facebook page. Unfortunately, environmental protection has come under attack the last few years. These stories are a reminder of what can be accomplished when creative and committed people apply on science, economics, and sound policy to conserve the natural world.
These are links to the success stories I have highlighted this year.
December 8 Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN). This coalition of stakeholders work collaboratively to protect the environment of Michigan's largest watershed and build sustainable communities. I am proud that the Cook Family Foundation is a long time member of the funders group that supports this effort. http://www.saginawbaywin.org/win_overview/
December 1 Federal Duck Stamp. It is required of all waterfowl hunters, but anyone can buy the stamp, and the revenues go to protect wetlands, purchase easements, and expand National Wildlife Refuges. If just 10 percent of bird watchers would buy the $25 Federal Duck Stamp, an estimated $125 million per year would be raised for wetlands. Learn more, and buy a stamp online here https://www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp.php
November 24 #OptOutside for this week's Conservation Success Story. Three year's ago, outdoor retailer REI closed its stores on Black Friday and encouraged all of us to take time to get outside. In Michigan, the weather will be fine and State Parks have no admission fee. Great day to get out with family for a hike, maybe even a bike; in Shiawassee County, try a walk on the James Miner Walkway or a trip to DeVries Nature Conservancy. https://www.usatoday.com/…/5-ways-optoutside-and…/885432001/
November 17 The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was created by the widow of the founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya. They work to fight elephant poaching and help rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife. Follow them on Facebook or Instagram for warm stories, videos, and photos. Thank you Bailey for first telling me this story and Abbie for championing elephants. More here https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/
November 10 Environmentalists have a reputation for saying "No" but this week's conservation success story is about saying 'Yes" to infill, higher density development. My planning career began as a professional YIMBY in the Bay Area http://grist.org/article/san-francisco-environmentalists-housing-development-fight/
October 26 Green infrastructure in Detroit See a slideshow about the why and what of green infrastructure in Detroit. Many of the photos are from Owosso's very own Michael David-Lorne Jordan https://www.nature.org/.../howwework/det-gi-slideshow.xml
October 19 Buffalo. This week's Conservation Success Story comes from, yes, Buffalo. I spent some time there this week and was impressed by how this declining industrial city has turned itself around by cleaning up a very polluted river, increasing access to Lake Erie, using green infrastructure, and promoting clean energy. One key to this has been a strong local environmental organization, the Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. Read their Five Guiding Principles of building a blue economy https://bnwaterkeeper.org/projects/blue-economy-initiative/
October 12 OktoberForest is this week's conservation success story. “Water is a critical ingredient in beer production. Without quality water, our beer will not taste great" says Tyler Glaze of Short's Brewing, one of many beer providers teaming up with The Nature Conservancy to highlight the connection between healthy forests and clean water. www.oktoberforest.org
October 5 Burmese Star Tortoise. In Myanmar the attractive Burmese Star Tortoise almost became extinct due to the illegal wildlife trade. A rescue effort, captive breeding, and new wildlife sanctuaries have brought this creature back, and in a time and place where this must not have been an easy task. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/04/science/burmese-star-tortoise-myanmar.html?smid=tw-nytimesscience&smtyp=cur&_r=0
September 29 Environmental education has a local champion. in Flint, MI. I have had the good fortune to meet Jef Johnson who has taken an upbeat, creative approach to teaching conservation to young people. This powerful video tells his story https://vimeo.com/214923222
September 22. Live Waste Free. This week's Conservation Success story is all the people who take the extra effort to avoid using plastic bags, minimize the amount of waste they produce, and otherwise reduce, reuse, or recycle. I posted a video on Wednesday that explains how this really can make a difference. It featured a young lady that lives a zero waste lifestyle; here is her blog full of tips and videos http://www.trashisfortossers.com. We all don't have to be that extreme, but as more of us take more small steps we can fight climate change.
September 15 Michigamme Highlands. In Michigan's UP The Nature Conservancy has created a magnificent 6,100 acre forest reserve. This action protects an iconic landscape with 26 lakes, headwaters, and stretch of the North Country Trail. The land will continue to be sustainably logged and thus provide both economic and environmental benefits. Read more here https://www.nature.org/…/…/newsroom/michigamme-highlands.xml
September 8 NOAA This week's Conservation Success Story is about the invaluable science done by the people that work at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the portion of the federal government that includes the National Weather Service. We recognize them now for their work on tracking, studying, and sharing information about hurricanes, but they also protect our oceans, coasts (including the Great Lakes) and the life that thrives there. Without the data and knowledge they compile, we could not do effective conservation. Read this story about the 100 year history of the most dedicated people of NOAA, including those who fly into hurricanes https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/noaa-corps-a-small-group…/…
September 1 Green Infrastructure is the use of landscape-aware planning to manage the flow of water, control urban runoff, and reduce flooding. As we have seen in Houston, we need to plan for more rain and extreme weather. Read more and see 30 examples of naturally resilient communities. https://www.citylab.com/…/a-guidebook-for-city-plan…/522396/
August 25 Chicago Restoration a short bike ride from the Loop in downtown Chicago is Northerly Island, a restoration site with prairie grasses, a coastal wetland, and lots of wildlife. Such urban places of beauty support both humans and the natural world. Over 250 species of birds have been sighted here. https://www.dnainfo.com/…/northerly-island-bird-paradise-me…
August 18 Schoolgirls Glen Today's conservation success story comes from Ann Arbor, where the growth of the University imperiled a place of beauty and where the skill and concern of several of its staff taught us much about stormwater, restoration and the power of nature. We make mistakes, but we can make amends. http://heritage.umich.edu/stories/the-vanishing-of-schoolgirls-glen/
August 11 The Cook Family Foundation has worked with many partners to help address run-off pollution in the Shiawassee River watershed and Saginaw Bay. http://www.cookfamilyfoundation.org/saginaw-bay-conference…/
August 4 Electronic Vehicles. In July, the sale of gas-powered cars were down 7%, the sale of EVs were up 20%, the 22 consecutive month of increased sales. EVs, by using more efficient electrical power, emit much less pollution and have a much smaller carbon footprint. We love our Chevy Volt, and the rest of the world has already been catching on to EVs. http://insideevs.com/july-2017-plug-electric-vehicle-sale…/…
July 21 River Up! The Huron River Watershed Council has been working to restore and promote water and recreation as a community development tool. Impressive http://www.hrwc.org/our-work/programs__trashed/riverup/
July 14 Friends of the Shiawassee River. The community comes together to care for its natural resource. For more than 20 years, the Owosso Rotary Club has been one of several organizations, along with hundreds of people, who volunteered and contributed to make the Friends of the Shiawassee River a success. Read more about this partnership here http://www.shiawasseeriver.org
July 7 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) - there are now over 12,000 CSAs in the US. They provide healthy food grown in a way that honors the environment and supports the local community. My CSA is from Owosso Organics http://owossoorganics.com You can read more about CSA's, how they work, and the many benefits here http://magazine-mn.com/…/how_community_suppo…/2017-06-25-443
June 23 The Nature Conservancy- It's appropriate that this week's Conservation Success Story is the Nature Conservancy, the 65 year old environmental organization I joined in 1983, walked across the UP in 2006 to raise money for, and yesterday became the chair of the council of the many advisory boards that guide and support its work. If you don't already support this group, you should learn more about its work. Visit their website https://www.nature.org google them or ask me about it. I've included the Nature Conservancy in my estate plans.
June 16 Get Outdoors. This week's conservation success story is right outside your door. Your tree-lined neighborhood street, local park, public pathway, or accessible nature preserve is a resource not only for the environment, but also for the maintenance of your own physical and mental health. Read more here.
June 10 Heart of the Lakes. Meet Maurice. Hailing from Saginaw, MI he spends his time on the waters off Tawas Point. Moe doesn’t consider himself an environmentalist, but he tries to teach others the necessity of being conscious of their environment. Watch the video
June 2 Global Leadership This week's conservation success story takes notes of the progress made in the last two decades to create a sustainable planet. Yesterday, Donald Trump reminded me that governments don't lead, they follow. Read my thoughts
May 26 Lake Superior This week's conservation success story is Lake Superior, whose substantial presence stands as an assurance that "humans haven’t yet tamed or destroyed everything wild." This long read from Outside magazine presents several samples of what makes this Great Lake special. The article only briefly touches on the many local, state, national, and International efforts that work to protect Lake Superior, but they are all critical to the health and future of our Greatest Lake. Read and enjoy
May 19 Kirtland's Warbler This week's conservation success story is Michigan's own rare songbird, which has been brought back from extinction by the efforts of dedicated, smart scientists, government wildlife officials, and lots of volunteers and advocates. Check out the extraordinary video in this story that tracks their migration route to and from the Bahamas.
May 12 The DeVries Nature Conservancy was established over a decade ago as the legacy of Jack and Fran DeVries. The 135 acres along the Shiawassee River provide over 4 miles of trail and lots of ready opportunity for the exploration of nature. Get outside and take in wildflowers, abundant birds, and the children's playscape. See a schedule of events and learn more here http://devriesnature.org
May 5 This week's conservation success story comes from the Great Lakes of Africa, where scientists from Michigan are--this week--working with colleagues from several nations to share their knowledge to help protect natural resources while providing development opportunities. Read more about The Great Lakes of Africa conference https://www.greatlakesofafrica.org/#
For several years, The Nature Conservancy has been working in several villages on the shores of Lake Tanganyika https://www.nature.org/.../wherewework/tuungane-project.xml
April 29 A bi-partisan initiative to fight climate change is this week's conservation success story. Thirty-four members of congress (17 Rep. and 17 Dem.) have formed the Climate Solutions Caucus, another sign of the diverse, common sense responses to climate change supported by most Americans. I am looking forward to a Michigan legislator joining this group soon. Read more here
April 22 "Why I Am Marching for Science" my thoughts and blogpost on the March for Science and The Nature Conservancy
April 14 This week's success story highlights the work of the the US Geological Survey, one of several government science agencies that provides the knowledge and research necessary for conservation success. Among other important tasks, the USGS manages gauging stations that provide data on stream flow; in the case of the Shiawassee River they have collected data for 86 years at Owosso. John Wesley Powell, second director of USGS, first explored the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…/United_States_Geological_Survey
April 7 Lake Onondaga teaches us much about clean water. Fifty years ago, many bodies of water, including the Shiawassee were quite polluted. The successful efforts to restore lakes and rivers has been long and expensive; we cannot afford to go backward. https://ensia.com/voices/onondaga-protect-environment/
March 31 The Final Floor highlights sustainable forestry in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Wood harvested in The Nature Conservancy's Two-Hearted Forest Reserve was used to construct the basketball floor used in this year's Final Four NCAA championship game. Read more here.
March 24 Sandhill Cranes have made an amazing comeback in Michigan and the rest of the Midwest thanks to restrictions on hunting and habitat preservation. Read more here.
March 17 The Clean Air Act has been one of our nation's most significant conservation success stories. The changes in automobile technology and the fuel economy standards have not only been essential in improving public health, they have also reduced carbon emissions and spurred engineering advances in Michigan's automobile industry. Mark Tercek has a clear and strong summary.
March 10 The Big Two Hearted River in Michigan's UP has been improved thanks to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Many bridges, culverts, and other road-stream crossings throughout the watershed were upgraded to reduce erosion and facilitate fish passage. Read more here.
March 3 "Piper" is the short animated movie that won an Oscar, and appropriate for this World Wildlife Day. It features sanderlings, the small sandpipers found on both coasts. Read an account here of how Pixar folks became birdwatchers to make the movie; a short clip of the movie is included.
February 24 "The Accidentals," a relatively new band formed by three young people from Traverse City, performs a benefit concert on March 25 in Owosso. They have had a big hit with their song "Michigan and Again." Read an interview here about their environmental roots and connection to the Great Lakes.
February 17 The Sage Grouse is the largest grouse in North America. It is endangered, but not officially so. Rather, there is a bold and comprehensive effort underway to protect its habitat in the western US. This protects other plants and animals and the cowboy (and cowgirl) way of life. The Endangered Species Act spurred this effort, but the partnership of government agencies with local people helps ensure success. Read more, and find many links, here. Read here to learn "Five Things You Need to Know About the Greater Sage Grouse and the Endangered Species Act."
February 10 Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia was unknown to me until a birding trip I made there with an old friend recently. It has everything: diverse habitats, interesting cultural history, and good birding. There's now a move to make it a National Park, something the local community strongly supports because it would boost the local economy. Read more here.
February 3 The Saginaw Bay RCPP effort of the Nature Conservancy is an innovative effort to use science and work with farmers, crop advisers, and others to reduce polluted runoff. Read more and watch a video here.
January 27 Lake Erie Watersnake is a conservation success story because one person learned a lot of natural history (i.e. science) and then became inspired to take action. Read more here.
January 20 Theodore Roosevelt is a conservation success story from history. Teddy was raised as a birdwatcher and naturalist, was redeemed from depression by a stint on a ranch in North Dakota (now a national park that bears his name), and, as President, passed the law to establish National Monuments, set aside national bird sanctuaries and created the US Forest Service. Read some his still timely thoughts about conservation here.
January 13 Lake Ontario, the last (or first) of the Great Lakes is the site of a conservation success. A new management plan based on natural systems will restore 64,000 acres of wetlands and improve the health of the lake. This, like many conservation efforts, requires good science and a solid governmental agency to balance both environmental and economic needs. Read more here.
January 6 You can be a conservation success story. Don't despair, take action, says Jon Foley, the smart engaging director of the California Academy of Sciences. He offers easy, straightforward device on what you can do to meet global challenges. Read more, and see some nice photos, here.
December 30 The Endangered Species Act was signed into law this week 10 years ago. Here are 10 conservation success stories of animals saved by this federal legislation.
December 23 President Obama carried through on the bi-partisan tradition of all the Presidents back to Teddy Roosevelt. All of them, Republican and Democrat have established national parks and national monuments. Read more and watch a video here that recaps President Obama's legacy.
December 16 Sparks of Hope, 2016 There were many conservation success stories last year. Read here about 12 signs of progress as reported by The Nature Conservancy.