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Basic Botany for Wetland Assessment | 2017

Conducting Effective Ecological Risk Assessments | 2017

Principles of Wetland Design | Pittsburgh | July 2017

Certified Wetland Botanist

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Principles of Wetland Design | Pittsburgh | July 2017

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USACOE | 1987 Manual | Regional Supplements
Pittsburgh, PA
September 18-21, 2017

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Latest Newsletters

Posted on

What is Costing the Agricultural Industry Billions?

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 29

A new report published on Thursday, May 18th claims that the global agriculture industry could be losing $540 billion a year due to the spread of pests and pathogens that damage plant life.

The report was published by the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) at Kew in London. The report claimed that due to an increase in international trade and travel, flora has been left facing rising threats from invasive pests and pathogens. The report calls for greater biosecurity measures.

“Plants underpin all aspects of life on Earth from the air we breathe right through to our food, our crops, our medicines,” said Professor Kathy Willis, RBG Kew’s director of science.

“If you take one away, what happens to the rest of that ecosystem – how does it impact?”

The report also tries to determine what traits would help plant species cope with the climate changes.

The report finds that plants with deeper roots and higher wood density are more capable of withstanding a drought, while thicker leaves and taller grasses are better able to cope with higher temperatures.

The researchers were surprised to find that the traits that are likely to help species thrive appear to be transferable across different environments.

“The interesting fact to emerge is that the suite of ‘beneficial’ traits are, on the whole, the same the world over and are as true in a temperate forest as in a desert,” Professor Willis said in a statement.

The report was worked on by 128 scientists in 12 countries and found that 1,730 new plant species were discovered last year.

Of the 1,730 new plant species discovered, nine were of the climbing vine Mucuna which is used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The species were found and named across South East Asia and South and Central America.

Source: Hanrahan, Mark, and Matthew Stock. “Pests and Pathogens Could Cost Agriculture Billions: Report.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 18 May 2017. Web. 18 May 2017.

Posted on

EPA, U.S. Army Move to Rescind 2015 “Waters of the U.S.”

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 28

WASHINGTON – (June 27, 2017) The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Army, and Army Corps of Engineers (the agencies) are proposing a rule to rescind the Clean Water Rule and re-codify the regulatory text that existed prior to 2015 defining “waters of the United States” or WOTUS. This action would, when finalized, provide certainty in the interim, pending a second rulemaking in which the agencies will engage in a substantive re-evaluation of the definition of “waters of the United States.” The proposed rule would be implemented in accordance with Supreme Court decisions, agency guidance, and longstanding practice.

“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.’ and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”

This proposed rule follows the February 28, 2017, Presidential Executive Order on “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.” The February Order states that it is in the national interest to ensure that the Nation’s navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of Congress and the States under the Constitution. To meet these objectives, the agencies intend to follow an expeditious, two-step process that will provide certainty across the country.

The proposed rule would recodify the identical regulatory text that was in place prior to the 2015 Clean Water Rule and that is currently in place as a result of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s stay of the 2015 rule. Therefore, this action, when final, will not change current practice with respect to how the definition applies.

The agencies have also begun deliberations and outreach on the second step rulemaking involving a re-evaluation and revision of the definition of “waters of the United States” in accordance with the Executive Order.

“The Army, together with the Corps of Engineers, is committed to working closely with and supporting the EPA on these rulemakings.  As we go through the rulemaking process, we will continue to make the implementation of the Clean Water Act Section 404 regulatory program as transparent as possible for the regulated public, ” said Mr. Douglas Lamont, senior official performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

For the pre-publication Federal Register Notice and additional information: http://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule

Source:  USEPA

(press@epa.gov)

Posted on

Coal Mine Turned Thriving Garden

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 26

Just five short years ago, where the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is currently located, was water polluted with high concentrations of aluminum from a nearby coal mine that was abandoned decades ago.

With the help of an underground treatment system, which removes the acidity from the water, the pond is one attraction seen by 25,000 annual visitors. The other hope garden creators have is that the pond represents that money spent on reclamation projects can reap economic rewards.

“Here they’ve turned a liability into an asset, and that’s the goal,” said Robert Hedin, president of Mt. Lebanon-based Hedin Environmental, which installed the treatment system.

“You can spend on things that have a priority because there’s economic development,” he added. “This place has been the talking point for the last five years about making that money available.”

Before old mining land was restored to how it was before the mine took over, but14 pilot projects in Pennsylvania using $30 million are creating sites that have the potential to add value. Two of the projects are a waterline construction that cleans up acid mine drainage while extending water to a community and construction of a geothermal pool that draws energy from the earth’s natural heat.

The botanic garden is one of a kind. No other project on the state’s list is like it.

“The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) also awarded funds to the Allegheny County Airport Authority to reclaim 54 acres of abandoned mine land as part of its World Trade Center Business Park development. Airport planners have envisioned more than 1 million square feet of office space, research and development facilities and a hotel with convention space on a bluff overlooking Pittsburgh International Airport” (Moore).

The pond cleanup in the botanic garden was funded through the Growing Greener fund — $250,000 from the state DEP and another $100,000 from the federal Office of Surface Mining.

This was before Congress authorized coal mining states to pull from a new pot of money set aside for mine cleanup with a focus on community development. In July, the DEP announced the 14 sites across the state that would receive $30 million.

“By targeting projects that have an economic development aspect, more funding can be leveraged and more projects completed without additional state dollars,” said Patrick McDonnell, DEP acting secretary. “That’s government that works.”

The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden was awarded $716,000. This money will be spent on reclaiming more land in order to expand to make more gardens available to the public. Officials announced that over the summer, crews will smooth out the cliffs left behind by strip mines and fill in the subsidence pits.

“Generally, there are sites more dangerous than this,” Mr. Hedin said. “But now you throw a botanic garden on top of it … now it becomes a bigger concern.”

“This is a neat place, all the reclamation people want to be part of the botanic garden,” Mr. Hedin said. “There’s lots to clean up but lots of good resources.”
Do you think that Congress is putting this $30 million to good use? Do you think other states should start turning their mines into projects that add value or should they keep restoring mining lands to their original condition? What other mining sites would you like to see refurbished to add value?

Source: Moore, Daniel. “Where Coal Was Once Mined, a Garden Now Thrives.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 01 May 2017. Web. 01 May 2017.