Thank you to Westchester County Legislator Francis Corcoran and Rob Astorino, Westchester County Executive, for awarding The Great Healthy Yard Project the Westchester County Soil and Water Conservation Award. Hopefully this will make more people aware of the project and informed that the choices they make in their yards can make a big difference in our water quality. This is so important in Westchester NY where the northern part of the county stewards the New York City Croton Watershed, and the southern part of the County stewards the Long Island Sound Watershed. Much of the county is also in the watershed for the Hudson River. Not using synthetic chemicals on our yards and not disposing of pharmaceuticals down the drain keeps these chemicals our of our waterways, out of our drinking water, and out of our fish.
Thank you Audubon NY for the wonderful review of The Great Healthy Yard Project! The same things that harm birds harm our children and ourselves, so protecting our birds is also protecting our families. First step: stop using synthetic pesticides, weedkillers and fertilizers in your yard and garden so they don’t wind up on your children or pets or in your drinking water. Next step, try Audubon’s native plant data base to help you choose native plants that will attract birds in your area to your yard and nourish them. These native plants don’t need chemicals to thrive.
And since water is a shared resource it is so important to get your friends and neighbors to stop using chemicals and start using native plants, too.
The EPA has scheduled public meetings about updating its classification of the carcinogenic potential (no mention of endocrine disruption) of glyphosate for October 18th to 21st in Washington DC.
2002 was the first time the US Geologic Survey looked for glyphosate and its biologically active breakdown product AMPA in streams. Glyphosate was found in 36% of streams tested and AMPA was found in 69%. But this is not our only exposure to this herbicide. It is everywhere.
Tests in 2014 by scientists from Boston University and Abraxis labs found that 45% of samples of organic honey and 62% of conventional honey had glyphosate. Glyphosate isn’t used on beehives or honey. It gets into honey because bees forage in areas where it has been used.
An article in the Huffington Post by Carey Gillam reveals that the FDA was pressured into testing food for glyphosate this year. He showed emails that it has had trouble locating honey without glyphosate that is introduced by the bees, not the bee keepers. He said both the FDA and USDA have found glyphosate widely distributed in basic foods and even processed foods.
It is not just bees. Studies in Germany found glyphosate in the blood of most people tested.
While the EPA has not come to a final decision on the classification of glyphosate, in a paper they released September 12th they said they do not believe glyphosate is carcinogenic in amounts that people are exposed to. This position differs from the International Agency for Research on Cancer and considers it a probable carcinogen.
While industry can affect regulation, we can all use common sense in our backyards and stop using glyphosate and other synthetic chemicals that we know can harm us, especially because there are other good choices.
Mid Atlantic states are seeing the worst of rising sea levels because the Gulf Stream is shifting northward bringing higher temperatures and higher sea levels. The rising ocean water is progressing inland and killing trees that line the coasts, leaving standing dead forests according to Climate Central. This includes cedars dying along the Bass River in New Jersey and marshes overtaking forests on Virginia’s Goodwin Island. As these trees die and salt water encroaches on fresh water marshes we loose habitat for birds and forest animals. We also loose the carbon capturing and water filtering the trees would provide.
This is a good reason to plant more trees in our backyards, schools, and streets. Especially native trees that support our birds and wildlife.
To find trees native to your area use the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant data base.
22 species of birds have lost half their population in 40 years and are predicted to loose another half in the next 40
Today Partners in Flight released their 2016 Landlord Conservation Plan.150 partner organizations including the National Audubon Society worked on this project. The thrust of the project is that climate change, habitat destruction, and environmental degradation have brought us to a tipping point. Without these problems they estimate we would have 1.5 billion more birds in the skies. But the report is not doom and gloom, it is a call to action. “We know that when we use the best science to develop conservation plans, and commit to the implementation of those plans, we can make a difference. Thriving populations of Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and Wild Turkeys today are a testament to what we can do if we work together.”
How we take care of our yards matters a lot to our water quality, our families health, and our birds. They are more vulnerable, but what is bad for them is bad for us. It is easy for us to make a big difference if we all work together. Pledge to take care of your yard without synthetic pesticides, weedkillers, and fertilizers, and not to flush pharmaceuticals down the drain. Protect our children and our birds. And get your friends and neighbors to pledge, too.
Congratulations to Millbrook Garden Club. Led by their Conservation Chair Lea Cornell they have pledged close to 3,000 acres. They are leaders in their community and in their region, protecting the drinking water for many, many families. Thank you MGC!
In the photo: wearing MGC aprons; Maureen Bateman, Lea Cornell and Claire Reid with a newly pledged Millbrook resident and bookstore owner Kira Wizner.
See my oped in the Journal News.
Exposure to water with Blue Green algae has been linked to long term neurologic disorders that don’t show up for years, such a ALS and Alzheimers. So it is important to prevent algae from growing rampant by not using synthetic fertilizers on our yards and gardens because they wash into our waterways. Even certified organic supplements should only be used when they are replacing a nutrient that is lacking. Simple measures with big long term health benefits for our families.
So thrilled to receive the EPA’s Environmental Champion Award on Friday in New York City. The award was presented by EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enke.
Thank you for the recognition, I hope it get’s more people to stop using chemicals on their yards and disposing of drugs down the drain. Such a simple thing to do to make such a vast improvement in our drinking water!
This spring is shaping up to be a heavy tick season in the northeast. Lots of moisture and a relatively warm winter can cause populations to swell. And this past fall was a banner year for acorns, meaning more mice and deer this season.
But broadcast spraying for ticks is not the answer.
Broadcast spraying for ticks and mosquitoes exposes our families to chemicals that can cause long-term harm both directly and by contaminating our drinking water. Moreover, an ongoing study by the Center for Disease Control shows that spraying does not decrease the incidence of Lyme disease. Pesticides also kill the beneficial bugs and birds, some of our biggest allies in combating nuisance bugs, and actually makes the problem worse in the long run. Instead, try these natural methods that work surprisingly well.
• Clean up leaves that collect in piles, especially near stone walls. Mice love to hide under them, and mice bring ticks. Mulch or compost these leaves.
• Mulch the leaves on your lawn into the lawn. Ticks that hide under those leaves are protected from drying out. Mulching the leaves into your lawn also feeds your lawn naturally, for free.
• When possible avoid wandering through tall grasses where ticks can hide.
• If you need to, then cover up. Tuck your pants into your socks and wear long sleeves and a hat. Wear light colored clothing to make it easier to see and remove ticks.
• If you will be in a high tick area use repellants in addition to covering up.
Herbal repellants include geraniol, an alcohol found in citronella, lemongrass, and rose oil. Herbal repellants need to be reapplied frequently, about every two hours.
Deet is more effective, but not recommended for young children. It only needs to be applied every five hours. But put it on clothing rather than skin.
Don’t use any repellants near the eyes, cuts, or mucous membranes.
• When you come inside check yourself and your children and pets thoroughly for ticks. Catching any ticks early and removing them is important.
• When you have been in areas with ticks take your clothes off and throw then right into the washer and dryer. Dry them for at least an hour on high. Washing the ticks doesn’t kill them, but drying them out does.
Lyme disease can cause a rash, but sometimes there are just flu like symptoms following a bite. Early treatment is curative, and preventative therapy is occasionally recommended when a tick is removed, so speak with your doctor if you get a tick bite.
In the meantime researchers are studying whether use of a naturally occurring fungus found in forest soils that kills ticks could be used to protect properties, and homeowners and pets. A strain of Metarhizium anisopliae, Met52, is a bio insecticide manufactured by Novozyme, is being studied to see if it is safe and effective.
An article in the Burlington Free Press says a University of Vermont research scientist has found pharmaceuticals in Burlington’s wastewater discharge. This goes directly into Lake Champlain, the source of drinking water for tens of thousands of people.
We now know that very small amounts of these chemicals can disrupt our hormonal systems. In fact, the article acknowledges that the drugs are having a measurable effect on aquatic life in Lake Champlain.
Drugs from urine will go into the water, but we can all decrease the amount of drugs that go into our drinking water by disposing of our drugs responsibly, not down the drain.
Burlington is not alone. This is a nationwide problem. The USGS found 80% of streams tested have pharmaceuticals in them, and the EPA found drug residue in all of the large wastewater systems they tested.
National Drug Takeback day is April 30th. That is a great time to remind your community not to dispose of pharmaceuticals down the drain, but to bring them to a drug take back site (possibly your local police station!).