Tuesday, February 6, 2018 | By Kitty Dunn | No Comments
Wisconsin has more than 84,000 miles of rivers. What are we doing to protect them?
One organization in Wisconsin is doing a lot. The Rivers Alliance of Wisconsin is celebrating 25 years of empowering people to protect and restore Wisconsin’s waters. Membership includes over 2,000 individuals and businesses and more than 80 local watershed groups.
There’s plenty for them to work on. The list of issues includes keeping aquatic species out of our rivers, protecting groundwater, fighting back against efforts to allow toxic mining pollution into our rivers, and keeping runoff from out of rivers that may come from factories, farms, sewage treatment plants or urban areas.
The Alliance also works with 80 watershed groups throughout the state. The Local Groups Program helps Wisconsin’s river and watershed groups organize in their communities, and provides them the tools and training to be effective.
Just because it’s cold and/or snowy outside, that’s no excuse to crawl under the covers and hibernate.
There are lots of ways to explore nature in all its winter glory, right here in Madison!
The UW Arboretum has educational and fun programs year-round. Educational lectures offer a wide variety of topics–from monarch butterfly migration, the nature of snow and more. And if you want to get outside and tromp around a bit, they always have nature walks led by arboretum naturalists. More info here.
The City of Madison offers plenty of winter opportunities as well. Even if there isn’t a lot of snow on the ground, they make snow at Elver Park so you can skate, sled and ski to your heart’s content. More info about Madison outdoor winter fun here.
Don’t feel like freezing your tootsies off? You can still get in touch with nature indoors at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Browse the gardens or enjoy some tunes during their winter concert series. More details here.
And here’s a link to Wisconsin snow conditions and other winter events. Click here.
Our featured charity this month is the American Hiking Society. Founded in 1976, it’s the only national organization that promotes and protects foot trails, the natural areas surrounding them and the hiking experience.
Hiking has long been an important outdoor activity, whether as a means of exploration, exercise or reflection. The act of setting foot down a path through natural areas provides unparalleled opportunities to build the human spirit, improve physical fitness and increase environmental awareness. Hiking offers all Americans a healthy, enjoyable and relatively simple way to deepen their connections to nature, people and place.
AHS champions conservation issues, builds public and private partnerships, supports volunteer stewardship, and provides critical resources to help plan, fund, and develop trails.
Since 1976, American Hiking Society has worked with Congress, federal agencies, and many recreation and conservation partners on policy issues and legislation to ensure funding for trails, preservation of natural areas, and protection of the hiking experience.
Mark your calendar for National Trails Day on June 2, 2018! This is another one of several successful events the American Hiking Society supports!
Find out more about the American Hiking Society and how you can get involved here.
Thursday, November 30, 2017 | By Kitty Dunn | No Comments
This month’s featured organization is Pure Earth, an international non-profit organization dedicated to solving pollution problems in low- and middle-income countries, where human health is most affected by pollution. Pure Earth devises clean-up strategies, empowers local champions and secures support from national and international partnerships. Since its inception in 1999, Pure Earth has completed more than 80 clean-up projects in 20 countries. This has reduced exposure to toxins for local populations, especially children.
Toxic pollutants at contaminated sites affect the health of more than 200 million people worldwide. Women and children are especially at risk suffering neurological and immune system damage and an early death. The number of people affected is comparable to HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria combined. Plus, solving pollution problems usually promotes, rather than inhibits, economic growth. Yet, pollution is one of the most under-reported and underfunded problems in the world.
Share Pure Earth’s posts on social media. Use Twitter @PureEarthNow, Facebook, and LinkedIn to raise the profile of toxic pollution, which disproportionately kills those in low and middle-income countries.
Make a donation. Better yet, organize a group of coworkers to make donations. Ask your employer to match it.
Join the Pure Earth Corps of volunteers. Work solo, with a group of colleagues or friends, adopt a project, and raise funds.
Host a “Toxic Cocktail Party” educational event. Pure Earth does the work; you create the guest list. Artisanal “toxic” cocktails are created just for you!
Thursday, November 2, 2017 | By Kitty Dunn | No Comments
True and lasting change happens when the power of the law is on your side. That’s why the earth needs a good lawyer.
And that’s where Earthjustice comes in.
Today’s environmental challenges are greater than ever. But we live in a country of strong environmental laws—and Earthjustice holds those who break our nation’s laws accountable for their actions.
They’ve been the legal backbone for more than a thousand organizations across the country, large and small. And they represent every one of their clients free of charge.
Behind nearly every major environmental court battle—from protecting gray wolves from slaughter to representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight against the Dakota Access pipeline- you’ll find an Earthjustice attorney.
As the nation’s largest nonprofit environmental law organization, we’re committed to the vision of a just and sustainable future.
The Surfrider Foundation is a community of everyday people who passionately protect our playground – the ocean, waves, and beaches that provide us so much enjoyment.
Our ocean faces growing challenges from pollution, offshore development and climate change. At the same time, expanding industries, such as offshore oil drilling, threaten to crowd our ocean and degrade its health, and those who call it home.
Every day poses new threats to our oceans and beaches. Our ocean and special places must be proactively protected before they are threatened and stem the tide before further damage is done to the ocean’s health.
This is precisely why Surfrider has built a network of passion-driven people who are on the ground and are the voice for our ocean and beaches. With one foot in the sand and the other in the water, Surfrider is the only non-profit organization who is 100% focused on our coasts.
Monday, September 11, 2017 | By Kitty Dunn | No Comments
Even if you don’t live on the shoreline, there are things you can do to help improve the quality of Madison’s lakes, especially in the fall.
According to information from the Clean Lakes Alliance, leaves release phosphorus when they break down, representing one of the largest sources of urban phosphorus pollution. When left in the street, leaves make a phosphorus-rich tea that washes down storm drains and directly into our lakes. It only takes one pounds of phosphorus to produce 500 pounds of algae in our lakes. Yikes!
Here are some things you can do:
Your neighbors might think you’re crazy, but rake leaves that have blown into the street. This prevents the leaves from going into the gutter and storm sewers into our lakes. If you have a mulching lawn mower, then mulch the leaves with the rest of them on your lawn!
Get into composting.
Use leaves as garden mulch. You’ll save money because you won’t have to buy mulch at the store, and your plants will thank you!
In fact, species have been going extinct for millions of years from geological and climate changes. The issue now is from overconsumption, pollution, and habitat destruction brought on by humans causing more species to needlessly become extinct.
So why should we care about sea turtles extinction in particular?
For starters, sea turtles help maintain the health of sea grass by eating it. Healthy sea grass allows other oceanic species such as crustaceans, fish, and shellfish to be able to breed. This would impact a huge source of food for humans.
In addition, when sea turtles lay eggs in dunes, the shells and unhatched eggs left behind provide nutrients that facilitate vegetation growth. This strengthens the beach’s ecosystem as a whole and helps prevent erosion.
How many of these places have you visited in the Madison area?
UW Arboretum: Did you know the Arboretum has its roots in the Great Depression? Much of the land was purchased or donated during that time, and there was plenty of labor available to work it! The Arboretum now has more than 1200 acres, bigger than New York’s Central Park.
Owen Conservation Park: Located on the west side of Madison on Old Sauik Road, this park is a great place for a short hike. You can see the state capitol as you look beyond the trails and fields filled with wildflowers. You may even see a wild turkey or two.
Lakeshore Nature Preserve: Folks with the UW say this undeveloped area along Lake Mendota is as important to the university as the classrooms! The preserve is located between the the Union Terrace and Eagle Heights Woods—12 miles in all. It’s also great place for a bike ride!
Pheasant Branch Conservancy: What a treasure so close to Madison! There are a few places to enter the trail, including Century Avenue in Middleton. A great place to go for a run or bike ride with a paved trail and wooden bridges that cross Pheasant Branch Creek.
Pope Farm Conservancy: Located in the Town of Middleton heading out of Madison on Old Sauk Road, this is the place thousands of people visit each year to take photos of a never-ending sea of sunflowers! Sunflower Days this year is scheduled for August 12-20.