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[1THING] Blog: Archive for June, 2012

[ What’s Up With Fracking? ]

What's Up With Fracking?


Fracking in the Marcellus Shale / Wikimedia Commons

Despite the fact that natural gas from hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as “fracking”)  is playing a newly prominent role in America’s energy mix, a recent study reported that 63% of Americans still don’t know what this process is.

We gathered the latest information on fracking to bring you up to speed:

What is fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing is a method of drilling for natural gas (and oil) that involves digging a deep well and pumping a mixture of water and chemicals at high pressure into the ground, “fracturing” the rock, to force the methane out.

Why am I just hearing about fracking now?

Fracking is a relatively new method of drilling that unlocks natural gas reserves that were previously inaccessible. In 2001, shale gas made up 2% of the natural gas supply in the U.S. It now constitutes 30%. As fracking is increasingly used as a method of extracting natural gas, more communities are paying attention to the impacts. Josh Fox’s 2010 film Gasland also raised public consciousness about fracking.

Where is fracking happening in the U.S.?

Much fracking is occurring in the rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale, which runs through northeastern states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, but fracking is happening in other shale deposits across the country from Texas to Utah and North Dakota, too. Here’s a map of shale gas deposits.

Why are people concerned about fracking?

Water Consumption and Pollution: The fracking process requires large amounts of water: 70 to 140 billion gallons in the US each year, competing with humans and agriculture for resources. The fracking waste water contains many chemicals that are toxic to humans and wildlife and has been known to reach the groundwater supply of nearby communities. Even if the wastewater is “properly” disposed of, through treatment, recycling or road application, it still presents a risk to living things. Surface gas spills have also been documented.  

Air Pollution and Climate Impacts: Natural gas is often touted as a cleaner fuel than oil or coal because it releases lower levels of harmful chemicals like CO2 and sulfur dioxide when burned. But the lifecycle costs of natural gas should also be considered. Methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, is routinely flared from drilling sites and may also escape from storage tanks. The Environmental Defense Fund says that if these leaks aren’t contained, natural gas will be little better than coal when it comes to climate impacts.  

In some areas, fracking also produces ozone at ground level which causes health problems like asthma and lung damage. Pollution from the fracking production process is also a concern as many machines and vehicles that run on diesel service drilling sites.

What can be done?

Some environmental groups such as Earthworks, Clean Water Action, Food & Water Watch, Earthjustice and others say that the risk to communities and the environment from fracking is too great, industry safety records too lax, and that unsafe fracking should be stopped. The state of Vermont has recently banned fracking.

Organizations like Environmental Defense Fund and Rocky Mountain Institute think that fracked natural gas has a place in America’s energy supply and are working to ensure that the problems associated with fracking are reduced through better regulations and oversight.

All agree that the current situation is neither safe nor sustainable, and are giving the public a voice in the direction of the country’s energy future.


Learn more:

Hydraulic fracturing and the FRAC Act: Frequently Asked Questions, EarthWorks*

Natural Gas, Rocky Mountain Institute*

Science and the Fracking Boom: Missing Answers, NPR

Fracking, Food & Water Watch*

The Fracking Fuss, Natural Resources Defense Council*

The No Fracking Campaign, Center for Health, Environment, and Justice*


[ Using water wisely ]

Although Madison is not experiencing a water shortage (at least not yet), the city’s Water Utility advises residents to be smart about how they use water in their homes and yards during the current heat wave and dry conditions.

Water Supply Manager Joe DeMorett says the utility is monitoring water demands and coordinating with neighboring water utilities as needed.

“People need to keep themselves well hydrated by drinking plenty of healthy tap water, but they can conserve water in other ways,” DeMorett said.

DeMorett offers these tips for using water wisely:

• Water your garden and flower beds early in the morning or later in the evening to prevent excess evaporation.

• Water the lawn only when needed. Step on the grass; if it springs back up when you move your foot, it does not need water. Established, healthy lawns can survive several weeks of dormancy during summer with little or no water.

• If you must use a sprinkler, adjust it so you’re not wasting water by sprinkling the house, sidewalk, or street.

• Use a broom rather than a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios.

• Wash cars and boats with a bucket and a sponge, using the hose only for the rinse.

• In the house, repair leaks in faucets, shower heads, and toilets to avoid wasting water.

• Install water-saving devices: aerators for kitchen and bath taps, flow regulators for shower heads and toilet tanks, and high-efficiency toilets to reduce the amount of water used in every flush. The Water Utility offers a rebate for high-efficiency toilets.

• Turn off the tap when you’re not actively rinsing (toothbrush or razor as well as in the kitchen) or washing hands.

• Use the most efficient settings for dishwashers and clothes washing machines. Full loads are often the most efficient. Consider shorter showers to conserve water.


[ America’s Great Outdoors Congressional Champions ]

Several members of Congress and Senators were honored as America’s Great Outdoors Congressional Champions during Great Outdoors America Week or GO America Week (June 26-June 28, 2012 in Washington DC).

In the heart of Great Outdoors Month, GO America Week brought outdoor enthusiasts from all walks of life — high school students and adults, active members of the military and veterans, conservationists and business leaders, hunters and anglers, bikers and boaters — together to celebrate America’s great outdoors, and ask their elected officials to protect our natural heritage. 

Great Outdoors America Week offered an opportunity for advocates to take direct action on a number of conservation issues, ranging from wilderness and national monument protection to reconnecting inner-city kids to the great outdoors. Great Outdoors America Week serves as another example of the long-standing, bipartisan tradition of conservation in the United States.

America’s Great Outdoors Congressional Champions


• Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
• Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

• Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) 
• Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)

• Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)

• Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
• Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

• Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
• Senator Jon Tester (D-MT)

• Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)

• Senator Jean Shaheen (D-NH)

• Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

• Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)

• Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

• Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)

• Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

• Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
• Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

• Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)


• Representative Raul Grijalva (D-7th/AZ)

• Representative Judy Chu (D-32nd/CA) 
• Representative Sam Farr (D-17th/CA)
• Representative John Garamendi (D-10th/CA)
• Representative Mike Thompson (D-1st/CA)

• Representative Jared Polis (D-2nd/CO)

• Representative Chris Murphy (D-5th/CT)

• Representative Robert Dold (R-10th/IL)

• Representative Edward Markey (D-7th/MA)
• Representative John Olver (D-1st/MA)

• Representative John Sarbanes (D-3rd/MD)

• Representative Mike Michaud (D-2nd/ME)

• Representative Dale Kildee (D-5th/ MI)

• Representative Betty McCollum (D-4th/MN)

• Representative Charles Bass (R-2nd/NH)

• Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th/NJ)
• Representative Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd/NJ)

• Representative Martin Heinrich (D-1st/NM)
• Representative Ben Ray Lujan (D-3rd/NM)

• Representative Nan Hayworth (R-19th/NY)
• Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-22nd/NY)

• Representative Steve LaTourette (R-14th/OH)

• Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-3rd/OR)

• Representative Charlie Dent (R-15th/PA)
• Representative Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8th/PA)

• Representative Jim Moran (D-8th/VA)
• Representative Rob Wittman (R-1st/VA) 

• Representative Norm Dicks (D-6th/WA)
• Representative Rick Larsen (D-2nd/WA)
• Representative Dave Reichert (R-8th/WA)

• Representative Ron Kind (D-3rd/WI)
• Representative Tom Petri (R-6th/WI)

• Representative Nick Rahall (D-3rd/WV)


[ Great Outdoors America Week 2012 ]


More than 200 people are pounding the pavement in Washington DC during Great Outdoors America Week or GO America Week.  As National Great Outdoors Month comes to a close, people from all walks of life – veterans, kids, business leaders, sportsmen – are in letting their lawmakers know how important it is to protect and reconnect people to the great outdoors.

The people coming to our nation’s capital are as diverse as the places they are trying to protect. It ranges from business leaders like Chris Miller from outdoor footwear company Vasque, whose company is part of the $650 billion outdoor recreation economy; to armed forces veterans group Vet Voice Foundation, which is bringing in veterans to support conservation efforts.

They will be joining many more people in urging Congress to act on more than two dozen bills that would protect open spaces that belong to all Americans.

This year’s annual Great Outdoors America Week runs from June 25-27 in Washington D.C., but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help be a champion for America’s wild places.

You can follow along our efforts to protect our America’s wild places and green spaces on our Flickr page – check out some of pictures, and share some of your own that show what your favorite part of America’s great outdoors is.  We’ll also be honoring lawmakers and agency officials that have stood up for America’s Great Outdoors and pushed to keep our wild places protected and open to all Americans.

Make sure to follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #GOAmericaWeek and check in our Facebook page for updates of what you can do to help protect America’s great outdoors!


[ Race to the Sun ]

President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to be the global leader in space exploration in 1961. “This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth,” he said at the time. The moon race was on and, decades later, it can be said that our victory provided knowledge that benefited the entire world. Today, it’s a race to the sun and, once again, the U.S. has issued a challenge to its countrymen in the form of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative.
The goal of SunShot is to have solar energy achieve cost parity with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. If the cost of installed solar systems can be reduced by up to 75%, it will ensure widespread adoption of this renewable energy and position the U.S. as a global leader in clean energy.
The Energy Department has issued a series of grants to facilitate its objective (PennFuture was the beneficiary of one such grant in 2011), focusing on photovoltaics and concentrating solar power, systems integration, and market transformation projects. These funding opportunities seek to foster collaboration among industry, universities, national laboratories, federal, state, and local governments and non-government agencies and advocacy groups.
This past week, the SunShot Summit and Technology Forum was held in Denver, Colorado. Over two days, leaders from government, academia and industry worked together to address the scientific, technological and market barriers facing renewable energy. Among the speakers at the summit was Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a champion of clean energy.
“The United States is in a fierce fight to be the leader in innovation and invention,” noted Chu. Even so, progress is being made. Solar modules, which were going for $4 per watt three years ago, are now averaging 85 cents per watt.
The next logical step is streamlining the solar permitting process, which is unwieldy, to say the least. More than half the cost of a solar system is related to permitting, and there are a staggering 18,000 jurisdictions with different zoning and permitting processes in the U.S. In Germany, a global leader in solar, the process is far simpler: sign a contract with an installer and follow it up with a fifteen-minute online registration process. Mused Chu, “Why can’t the installation of a rooftop PV system be handled like the installation of a gas water heater? guess which one is more dangerous?”
If SunShot’s goals are reached, says Chu, the cost of solar will be eight cents per kilowatt hour. Clearly, the race is on. One SunShot incubator was able to leverage $17.5 million into $32 billion in private investment. These programs are working and there’s no going back: halting Energy Department loan programs would cost taxpayers $250 million per year in returns on those loans.
Who knew the race to the sun could be such fun?

[ Green Quiz Challenge: Fracking ]

Green Quiz Challenge: Fracking


Laurie Barr/Wikimedia Commons

Hydraulic fracturing (otherwise known as “fracking”) is a method of drilling for natural gas (typically) that  involves digging a deep well and pumping a mixture of water and chemicals at high pressure into the ground to force the methane gas out.

Fracking has been used more frequently since 2005 after loopholes exempted the process from important federal environmental laws like the Safe Drinking Water Act. Many communities and environmental organizations are worried about the air and water pollution caused by the process. Fracking wastewater contains many unknown chemicals that have been known to contaminate groundwater supplies.




In this green quiz, we test your knowledge of the fracking process.

How is the wastewater used in fracking disposed of?

A. Stored in tanks above or underground indefinitely
B. Recycled for use in another fracking well
C. Returned to the water supply
D. Purchased by towns to de-ice roads
E. All of the above

The correct answer is E. All of the above. Congrats to our green quiz winners for guessing the correct answer.

From the Natural Resources Defense Council: "The most common management options currently in use are recycling for additional hydraulic fracturing, treatment and discharge to surface waters, underground injection, storage in impoundments and tanks, and land application (road spreading). All of these options present some risk of harm to health or the environment, so they are regulated by the federal government and the states. But many of the current regulatory programs are not adequate to keep people and ecosystems safe."


[ America’s Great Outdoors Agency Champions ]

A diverse group of people from across the country came together to honor and celebrate America’s Great Outdoors Champions during Great Outdoors America Week (GO America Week).  These Agency champions were honored for their on-going work to protect America’s wild places and green spaces, and reconnect Americans to the great outdoors. 

Department of the Interior – Will Shafroth 

Will Shafroth, a land conservationist executive and founding director of the Colorado Conservation Trust and Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund is currently serving as Councilor to the Secretary for America’s Great Outdoors.

America’s Great Outdoors Accomplishments

  • DOI worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to designate 41 National Recreation Trails stretching across 17 states, adding 650 miles to the national trails system.
  • DOI and USACE worked together to designate three new National Water Trails including the Lake Michigan National Water Trail in Illinois and Indiana, the Quinebaug River Water Trail in Connecticut, and the Susquehanna River Water Trail in Pennsylvania.
  • Led by EPA, USDA, DOI and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 11 agencies came together to form the Federal Urban Waters Partnership, leveraging Federal funds to revitalize urban waters and surrounding communities through pilot projects in seven initial cities.
  • Released a 50-state progress report outlining 100 locally-supported outdoor initiatives aimed at reconnecting people to the great outdoors. 

Department of Agriculture (U.S. Forest Service) – Robert Bonnie

Robert Bonnie is a Senior Advisor to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for environment and climate change.  At USDA, Bonnie works closely with the Farm Service Agency, Forest Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service on a variety of natural resource and climate related issues.

America’s Great Outdoors Accomplishments

  • USDA announced $100 million in landowner agreements with farmers and ranchers to restore wetlands and permanently conserve nearly 24,000 acres of agricultural land in the Northern Everglades.
  • USDA improved access for hunting by enrolling eight additional states and one tribe in the “Open Fields” Voluntary Public Access Program, which works with states to provide landowners with incentives to expand lands available for hunting.
  • Led by EPA, USDA, DOI and the Department of Housing and Urban Developmen, 11 agencies came together to form the Federal Urban Waters Partnership, leveraging Federal funds to revitalize urban waters and surrounding communities through pilot projects in seven initial cities.
  • USDA worked with other Federal agencies to launch new landscape-scale projects in Saginaw Bay, Michigan; Monterey Bay, California; and the Lake Champlain area in New York and Vermont, investing $3.5 million to underwrite conservation activities on working lands based on extensive stakeholder input.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Terrence “Rock” Salt

Terrence “Rock” Salt is the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army. Salt was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in June 1966. He is a graduate of the Army’s Airborne and Ranger Schools, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the National War College. 

America’s Great Outdoors Accomplishments

  • DOI worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to designate 41 National Recreation Trails stretching across 17 states, adding 650 miles to the national trails system.

Environmental Protection Agency – Bicky Corman

Bicky Corman is currently the Deputy Associate Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Policy. Corman has handled environmental litigation and policy at the state and federal levels, previously serving in EPA's New York office and in the Department of Justice's Environmental Enforcement Section, and in the District of Columbia's Department of the Environment, where she served as the General Counsel.

America’s Great Outdoors Accomplishments

  • EPA awarded nearly $30 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants, including funds to groom Chicago’s to 24 beaches on a daily basis and build a protective barrier to make swimming areas cleaner. These actions should result in fewer swimming bans and advisories due to contamination.
  • Led by EPA, USDA, DOI and the Department of Housing and Urban Developmen, 11 agencies came together to form the Federal Urban Waters Partnership, leveraging Federal funds to revitalize urban waters and surrounding communities through pilot projects in seven initial cities.

White House Council on Environmental Quality – Jay Jensen

Jay Jensen is the associate director for Land & Water Ecosystems at White House Council on Environmental Quality.

America’s Great Outdoors Accomplishments

  • Coordinated the efforts of the other agencies to ensure maximum success for Americans nationwide


[ Land grab masked as a national security measure passes U.S. House of Representatives ]

Anti-wilderness package also allows logging in California roadless areas, clear-cutting of old growth forests in Alaska and virtually rent-free grazing on public lands

Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of anti-wilderness bills (H.R. 2578), including H.R. 1505, the “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act.” 

H.R. 1505 would hand over “operational control” of federal public lands within 100 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders to the U.S. border patrol, and could open national parks, wildlife refuges, wilderness and other public lands to development, such as construction and road building. Rep. Raul Grijalva’s (D, AZ-7) amendment to strike H.R. 1505 from the package was unfortunately defeated. This package of bills now awaits movement in the Senate.

Prior to the House vote, a coalition of Hispanic and immigration reform advocates, Native American tribal organizations, sportsmen, businesses and conservation groups, sent a letter to members of Congress voicing their opposition and asking members to vote against the bill.

“H.R. 1505 is an overreach that would adversely affect everyone who enjoys America’s public lands,” said David Moulton, senior legislative director at The Wilderness Society. “The bill would allow road building, construction and development on lands that are loved for hunting, fishing, hiking and other recreational activities. This vote was not in the best interest of the people who enjoy the land for its natural beauty.”

H.R. 1505 is part of an anti-wilderness package that includes, among other destructive bills:

The Sealaska bill would give away tens of thousands of acres of high-value public land from the Tongass National Forest to the Sealaska Corporation. This would allow the corporation to clear-cut valuable forest land and take ownership of the best recreation sites at the heads of bays or mouths of salmon streams. This land giveaway would effectively prevent a long-planned transition out of old growth logging on the national forest, and privatize prime recreation spots that are currently open to the American public for fishing, hunting, and recreation and are relied upon by many small tourism, outfitter and fisheries businesses.

• Title XI, the “Grazing Improvement Act,” is a virtual giveaway of over 247 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest rangelands to the approximately 27,000 livestock producers who have grazing privileges on the lands managed by these two agencies. The bill would change the term of federal livestock grazing leases from the current ten years to 20 years.  No other government entity in the U.S. issues 20-year livestock grazing permits.   In addition, Title XI reduces the level of environmental scrutiny of livestock grazing practices on BLM and National Forest lands by allowing these agencies to exempt the issuance of grazing permits from National Environmental Policy Act review.

The Quincy Library Group bill would take an unsuccessful and outmoded forest management pilot program and expand it across much of northern California, while simultaneously authorizing logging in roadless areas, spotted owl habitat, salmon habitat and other areas of critical environmental importance and mandating minimum annual timber cuts. 

Opposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), H.R. 1505 could endanger personal freedoms by closing without notice our lands to hunting, fishing, tourism and recreation, all multi-million dollar industries that support small businesses.  DHS Secretary Napolitano testified before Congress in opposition to H.R. 1505, saying it "is unnecessary, and it’s bad policy." DHS benefits from their close collaboration with law enforcement counterparts in the land management agencies. In addition to threatening lands, the bill threatens this collaboration.

H.R. 1505 is an extreme and radical measure that would put at risk 49 million acres of public lands in 17 states, sweeping away 16 bedrock environmental and land management laws in Joshua Tree National Park, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Acadia National Park and any other protected land that sits within 100 miles of the border.

The Wilderness Society recently updated the report, “Wilderness Under Siege,” to reflect the movement of these and other bills and what they would mean to America’s lands, waters and natural legacy. Also mentioned in the report is H.R. 4089 — a Trojan horse bill that includes a sneak attack on wilderness. H.R. 4089 recently passed the House, and awaits passage in the Senate. 

The bills profiled in “Wilderness Under Siege” are out of touch with the American people’s conservation values.

To view Wilderness Under Siege, please visit: http://wilderness.org/content/wilderness-under-siege-act-now-stop-attacks-updated-april-2012


[ Building Green with EarthShare Members ]

Building Green with EarthShare Members

It’s late Spring: bees are buzzing around an abundant, painterly patchwork of sedum flowers below. A breeze ruffles a flag on a flag pole. It’s so blue-sky serene up here atop the 8-story World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters building, you could almost forget all the worries and responsibilities that await you below.

The green roof our member organization WWF sports (the third largest in Washington, DC) retains enough stormwater each year to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, preventing polluted runoff from entering the vulnerable Potomac River watershed. It also serves as a haven for wildlife like birds, butterflies and bees, and keeps the building cool on hot summer days.


WWF Green Roof / Photo: Erica Flock


The WWF roof is just one component of the organization’s captivating green building design. Every piece of the building’s remodel was made with human and environmental health in mind: from the Forestry Stewardship Council-certified wood in the workstations and flooring to the bike lockers, solar hot water heaters and efficient lighting, it’s one of the city’s prized sustainable buildings.

Across the country, EarthShare member organizations are showing their communities what buildings of the future will look like.


National Wildlife Federation HQ / Photo: Erica Flock


The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) headquarters in Reston, Virginia took the green roof concept and went vertical: their south-facing façade is covered with climbing native vines that keep the building cool and shelter wildlife. True to their mission, NWF made sure the structure reduced impact on local habitat by wreathing the building and parking lot in native plants, and maintaining the integrity of the existing forest on the site. They even keep track of all the creatures that share the land with them.



Amory Lovins' Home / Photo: Rocky Mountain Institute


For an organization like the Rocky Mountain Institute, whose founder Amory Lovins is one of the world’s most renowned energy efficiency advocates, you’d expect nothing less than the most cutting-edge building design. Their facilities don’t disappoint: their Boulder, Colorado headquarters remodel cut energy use by 50% from the previous tenants. Lovins' own home is, in his own words, “a giant science experiment”: whatever energy consumption isn’t eliminated from the design is supplied by roof-top solar panels. Lovins’ home is so smart that it actually generates more electricity than it uses!

Workplace sustainability is about more than just technical features like low-flow water fixtures. Buildings should also be places where employees are energized and inspired by their surroundings. The World Resources Institute headquarters in Washington, DC, shares space with the building owner, the American Psychological Association. In 2008 they jointly installed a green roof and labyrinth which has been used since ancient times for meditation. The building is also LEED Gold certified.


WRI Green Roof / Photo: Laura Lee Dooley


Buildings like these inspire the rest of us to think intentionally about the kinds of environments we want to live and work in. They also show us that sustainability doesn’t mean we have to give anything up—in fact, green buildings are usually healthier, more enjoyable places to work than the alternative.

For more green building projects by our member organizations, check out the resources below or visit our Pinterest gallery of EarthShare member group green buildings. Also, search the green roof database or visit the U.S. Green Building Council home page to find a project in your area—many building owners offer tours to help educate the public on the benefits of sustainable buildings.



Earthjustice’s Green HQ (Oakland, CA)

Arbor Day Foundation Green Roof Demonstrates Downtown Green Space (Lincoln, NE)

NRDC’s Green Offices (New York, NY; Santa Monica and San Francisco, CA; and Washington, DC)

The Green Building Student Conservation Association (Charlestown, NH)

Green Practices at the National Zoo (Washington, DC)

Union of Concerned Scientists Green Headquarters (Cambridge, MA)


[ Green Day Trip: Horicon Marsh ]

Horicon Marsh is the largest fresh water cattail marsh in the United States. It is over 32,000 acres, with opportunities for  biking, hiking and auto tours. If you love the outdoors, wildlife, are a bird watcher or just a nature lover, you will enjoy coming to watch over 300 species of birds and migrating geese to congregate on their travels north and south.

Horicon Marsh is located about an hour away from Madison, on Highway 28 between of Horicon and Mayville in Dodge County.  There’s a brand new education center that’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.

When you’re there, check out the children’s Discover Area where hands on activities are fun for all ages! Weekends through the fall there are programs that are free and open to the public. In July, there are summer camps offered for kids.

Outside on Horicon Marsh you can hike on several trails around the marsh and see the osprey platform, ducks, geese and maybe even a muskrat or otter. Canoe or kayak the 6.5 mile canoe route through the state portion of Horicon Marsh, search for local and rare birds. Over 300 different species of birds have been identified. The marsh is famous for its waterfowl, supporting huge numbers during migration, including some 250,000 Canada geese and 100,000 ducks in the fall. Significant numbers of shorebirds also use Horicon as a migratory stopover. Horicon hosts the largest breeding population of redhead east of the Mississippi River. It also supports significant breeding populations of waterbirds such as least bittern, American bittern, great blue heron, great egret, black-crowned night-heron, American white pelican, Forster’s tern, and more.

Click here to start planning your trip. And don’t forget your binoculars!