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New Evidence Concerning the Dinosaurs’ Extinction

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18, Issue 25

The extinction of the dinosaurs has been a mystery that has gripped the attention of people of all ages, from children with plastic dinosaur figurines to adults eagerly awaiting the release of the next Jurassic Park film. Recently, scientists have uncovered some clues that may help lead to obtaining the full story of how the dinosaurs went extinct, but these clues lie in a much more familiar animal than dinosaurs: birds.

Birds trace their ancestry all the way back to the dinosaurs. Many, including chickens, can trace their ancestry to a specific species of dinosaur, Archaeopteryx. Scientists have now begun to classify birds as being related to either ancient ground-dwelling or tree-dwelling species. They also discovered that the tree-dwelling birds, discovered via fossils, all became extinct due to the asteroid that killed the other dinosaurs 66 million years ago. In other words, all the birds that we see outside today, from cardinals to penguins, can be traced back to only ancient ground-dwelling birds. What does this tell us about the mass-extinction event that killed the dinosaurs? It also killed all the trees!

This deforestation is further confirmed by the species of ferns that exist today. Paleobotanist Antoine Bercovici of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC studied the spores and pollen of ferns found in rock layers that formed in the years after the asteroid impact. He discovered that all these ferns could be traced back to only two species of ferns. This indicated that there was a mass extinction of ferns species, resulting in rapid recolonizing by the two surviving species of ferns. Bercovici says this is seen today as well “when ferns recolonize lava flows in Hawaii or landslides after volcanic eruptions.”

This new evidence may seem small, but it is another piece in the giant puzzle that is the extinction of the dinosaurs. Scientists may now know why tree-dwelling birds living in the Cretaceous period died after the asteroid hit, but they still cannot explain why certain species of ground-dwelling ancient birds also died in this event. Scientists are excited to continue piecing together the evidence that will one day, completely answer the question, “What really happened when the dinosaurs went extinct?”

Sources:

Pickrell, John. “How did Dino-Era Birds Survive the Asteroid Apocalypse?” National Geographic. National Geographic. May 24, 2018. Web. May 30, 2018.

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Wetland Biologist

Ecology and Environment, Inc. is seeking an experienced Wetland Biologist in our Chicago, IL office. This position will perform, lead and manage environmental field studies including wetland delineations, threatened and endangered plant surveys, and habitat assessments. Our successful candidate must have a strong understanding of the federal, state, and local permitting and environmental review processes for energy projects including pipelines, transmission facilities, and renewable energy projects and demonstrated abilities at project management, project-related research, and technical writing.

Responsibilities:
•Wetland field team lead and project management
•Coordinate and lead field teams in performing biological surveys for wetlands and waterbodies
•Manage environmental impact assessments and habitat mitigation tasks / projects
•Ensure that project teams work together to achieve results; set performance targets for staff, provide inspiring leadership and direction, and actively identify and resolve issues
•Understand and account for project contract requirements, assuring that commitments are met in accordance with deliverables, schedules, and with the appropriate level of quality
•Prepare NEPA documents and obtain the necessary environmental and other required local, state, and federal permits including Clean Water Act 401/404 permits and jurisdictional determinations
•Provide expertise current regulatory and scientific standards
•Lead federal and state agency coordination and negotiation
•Understand and stay current with appropriate regulatory requirements and scientific standards
•Provide advice and guidance to E & E staff on regulatory requirements and scientific standards
•Business development
•Seek out and identify potential project opportunities and develop client relationships
•Assist in preparing proposals, work plans and cost estimates

Requirements:
•Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, Biology or a related discipline
•5+ years of wetland delineation/evaluation/classification; environmental consulting experience preferred
•Experience in project management and performing, managing and leading field surveys, and teams
•Experience in delineating and permitting impacts to wetlands pursuant to federal, state, and local regulations
•Demonstrated knowledge of the USACE Wetland Delineation Manual and Regional Supplements
•Experience with tablet-based field data collection and Trimble hand-held GPS units
•Excellent leadership and interpersonal communication skills
•Strong organizational, analytical, and strategic planning skills with attention to detail and a high quality of work in a pressure environment
•Strong project management and technical writing skills
•Ability to elicit cooperation from a wide variety of, disciplines, and experts including senior management and clients
•Ability to travel to support business needs, walk for several miles, work in extreme temperatures, rough terrain and work independently in remote areas

Desired Qualifications:
•Possession of a Professional Wetland Scientist Certification
•Strong botanical skills
•Experience in agency (State Lands) consultation in the Midwest
•Knowledge of major federal statutes and implementing regulations (NEPA, CWA, CAA, etc.)
•Experience developing client relationships and identifying business opportunities

We are a global network of innovators and problem solvers, dedicated professionals and industry leaders in scientific, engineering, and planning disciplines working together with our clients to develop technically sound, science-based solutions to the leading environmental challenges of our time. E & E offers opportunities for growth in a team-oriented environment. Candidates must be eligible to work in the U.S.; Visa sponsorship will not be provided. Please view our website at www.ene.comto apply on-line. Local candidates preferred.

Ecology and Environment, Inc. is an EO and AA employer – M/F/Vets/Disabled/and other protected categories.

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The Nicaragua Canal: Economic Opportunity or Environmental Catastrophe?

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18, Issue 24

In June of 2013, the Nicaraguan National Assembly approved of the construction of a canal to be built through Nicaragua by the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Group. The canal is expected to cost around $40 billion, provide Nicaragua with 250,000 jobs and significantly increase the national GDP. On the surface, one can understand why the government of the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, with nearly 45% of its citizens below the poverty line, may find this deal attractive. However, the canal’s construction, which has already been postponed twice, has raised concerns by conservation scientists, environmental activists, and indigenous Nicaraguans about the environmental and social impacts the canal may have on the country.

The 173-mile long canal is currently projected to bisect Nicaragua starting from the mouth of the Brito river on the Pacific coast, where it will cut through to lake Cocibolca and on eastward through the Tule and Punta Gorda rivers to the Caribbean sea. Lake Cocibolca is Central America’s largest freshwater lake and is not only Nicaragua’s primary source of fresh water, but is also home to a variety of endemic fish species as well as thousands of indigenous families who fish the lake for subsistence. Conservationists fear that the introduction of saltwater from the ocean entering the lake via the canal could disrupt the lake’s ecosystem, threatening not only its biodiversity but also the livelihoods of thousands of people. There is the additional possibility of invasive ocean species being inadvertently transported into the lake from ships passing through and wreaking havoc on endemic populations.

The canal would also cut through the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, a reserve stretching from southern Mexico to Panama that allows endangered mammals, such as jaguars, to migrate from north to south across their native habitat. Experts at Panthera, a group of scientists dedicated to the protection of large cats, warn that such a disruption could do significant harm to the already small jaguar population (500 individuals) in Nicaragua. Perhaps the most troubling consequence of the canal would be the displacement of some 120,000 farmers and members of the indigenous Rama, Ulwa, Garifuna, and Miskitu communities that live along the canal’s proposed route. This displacement would not only unjustly confiscate land from indigenous groups that have been marginalized since Spanish colonial times, but would also threaten their unique languages and cultures, representing a net loss of human cultural diversity.

Sources:

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Goldilocks Wetlands

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18 Issue 23

Based on Kepler Space Telescope data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way, 11 billion of which may be orbiting stars like our own sun. These are the “Goldilocks Planets,” planets at just the right distance from its Sun to allow temperatures for liquid water. They would be not too hot and not too cold and could potentially allow life to evolve.

On Earth, it is not just the presence of liquid water that gives our planet Goldilocks status. Our orbit, the percentage of reflective surfaces, and the chemical composition of our atmosphere all contribute. The energy Earth receives from the Sun is in balance with the energy our planet loses to space.

In speaking of the “habitable” zone surrounding a star, the word is a bit misleading. Habitable for what? Life found on Earth? We don’t really know what a planet needs to harbor life. Worlds inhospitable to human life could be teeming with life we can’t even begin to understand. All we know is that for the kind of life that exists on Earth, liquid water is a necessity – at least intermittently. With current technology, we don’t have the capability to conclusively detect liquid water on the surface of any worlds outside our own solar system, so we use the temperature of the star and the distance of the planet’s orbit. Even though water can be liquid on the surface, various geophysical aspects, such as atmospheric pressure, radiation, and planet chemistry must be taken into account.

But distance isn’t everything. When it comes to the temperature on a planet’s surface, the atmosphere has an enormous effect. Too thick (think Venus), the planet is too hot. Too thin (think Mars), the thin atmosphere might cause the planet’s store of ice to sublime directly into water vapor, yet both of these planets are considered to be within the habitable zone of our sun.

So, are we going to eventually find swamps, marshes, bogs, fens, lagoons, vernal pools, and pocosins on Goldilocks planets? Wetlands are areas that must meet three important factors: hydric soils, wetland vegetation, and wetland hydrology. By that definition, we already have a good chance of finding two criteria, soils and hydrology. But life on another planet, well, that’s the big question.

Since wetlands tend to be on larger bodies of water because of their topography and used for water retention and filtration, we would be looking for more than just a trace of water or ice. Liquid water would have to be at least intermittently present for the chemical processes that are required to make most hydric soils. Natural ponds and wetlands most often occur as lowlands or depressions, so the surface of the Goldilocks planet must also be compatible with these landforms.

Would seasons be a requirement for soil/wetland production? Perhaps not if there was still a significant period of liquid water through a “Goldilocks” year. A “day” corresponds to one rotation of a planet. Could wetlands survive a constant sun-oriented model with no rotation at all, or a whirlwind of day and night caused by a fast rotation?

Life originated in our seas on Earth. Would it do the same on “Goldilocks” or would it be so different that life would develop directly on land? Would there be wetland plants just because we had water? Maybe water is not essential to our new “exo-plants”. Depending on the density of the atmosphere and specifics of the sun, radiation could be strong and constant. Would this affect the evolution of plant life, causing mutations, or premature death of the plants? Would trace elements not usually found on Earth affect growth or spread of plants? Would the chemical processes of life not work, or would they just be different?

When it comes to the organic component of soils, we need plants! The plants characteristic of ponds and wetlands include moisture-loving plants, some of which are totally submerged, partially submerged, float on the surface or favor the shoreline and commonly include algae, grasses, sedges, rushes, water lilies, and forbs. On Earth, plants can grow and prosper in a variety of mediums from water to cracks in rocks. It seems that if life were to evolve then plants should do well if our Earth is any type of example.

At some point, the Army Corps of Engineers might have to come up with a brand-new set of indicators for the new “Exoplanet Regional Supplement,” but at least for hydrology, (the study of water), the presence of water on a planet would naturally give us many of the same indicators like standing water, saturation, etc. Would we see moss trim lines or evidence of aquatic fauna though?

For soils, would there be redox features without free oxygen in the atmosphere? Where would we be without our F3 indicator! Since so many of our soil indicators are based on the presence of plant life in some form or another, A indicators might be problematic.

In all likelihood though, it seems as if indicators would be found on a Goldilocks planet. They may not be the same on earth, but they would do the job. Maybe a pristine exo-wetland might even help us develop new and better wetlands on Earth!

Now, if we can only keep Earth invasives like Phragmites and Reed Canary Grass out, we’d be golden.

References:

https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/education/Pages/PlantListWetland.aspx
https://sos.noaa.gov/datasets/earth-our-goldilocks-planet

https://www.coursera.org/learn/global…/the-goldilocks-planets

Cosmos 72 – Dec-Jan 2017, “‘Goldilocks’ planets might not be so nice,” issue 72, by Kate Mack https://cosmosmagazine.com/issues/parallel-worlds-science-or-sci-fi
https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/education/Pages/PlantListWetland.aspx
http://www.usace.army.mil/

NASA, Chromospheric variations in main-sequence stars, Jan. 01, 1995

E. E. Mamajek; L. A. Hillenbrand (2008). “Improved Age Estimation for Solar-Type Dwarfs Using Activity-Rotation Diagnostics”. Astrophysical Journal. 687 (2): 1264

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Zero Waste: An Emerging Reality

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18 Issue 22

“Paper or plastic?” It’s a question often heard at the checkout line at the grocery store. For some, this question is insignificant, just another part of the customer service process. But for others, this question is very important, a step needed to help end the mass production of trash that is choking our planet.

Every week on some assigned day, almost all of us perform a necessary ritual. It is the day where we take our trash to the street. It is almost second nature at this point: take the trash outside to the street and by the end of the day, it will have all disappeared. But that trash goes to a landfill and that landfill does not completely break the trash down into non-harmful substances that can go back into the earth. Much of that trash cannot be broken down and can sometimes leak chemicals that poison groundwater that eventually makes its way to the ocean. What follows is often the destruction of ocean habitats and damage to our ecosystems. True, there are a plethora of regulations in place that try to prevent this from happening and they are helpful to a degree. However, a better way would be to just reduce the amount of trash that we produce.

The so-called “zero-waste movement” aims to reduce the amount of trash created each year. This movement is headed primarily by a group of women who have been able to cut down on the amount of trash that they create so much that their yearly trash is able to fit into a Mason jar. The zero-waste movement has five main principles: refuse, reduce, reuse, compost, and recycle. The first principle (refuse) is considered the most important. In order to minimize waste, zero wasters do not buy food that comes in packaging. And if they do, they buy in bulk. The small wrappers on vegetables we buy may seem insignificant, but the amount of plastic really adds up over the course of a year. Additionally, buying in bulk not only cuts down on the plastic waste, but it also saves zero-wasters lots of money. Kathryn Kellogg, a proponent of the zero-waste movement from Vallejo, California, states, “We also saved about $5,000 a year by purchasing fresh food instead of packaged, buying in bulk, and making our own products like cleaners and deodorant.”

Kellogg and other supporters of the zero-waste movement realize it is not an easy task to go from producing an average of 1,500 pounds of trash a year to zero pounds. However, they believe that every act which reduces trash is important. They point out that making even the simplest of changes can help the planet, such as switching out paper napkins with a cloth towel. When people hear of the zero-waste movement, they often initially believe it is some new radical idea. Kellogg says. “But it’s not a radical act to clean up a kitchen spill with a cloth towel instead of a paper towel.” Every little action counts.

You may not be able to limit yourself to a Mason jar’s amount of trash, but even producing one pound of trash less per person on earth could be extremely significant. The zero-waste movement may not radically change your life, but it does make you think about the importance of the tiny plastic wrappers that cover our vegetables and other unnecessary packaging. Just changing one wasteful habit could start to change the world.

Sources:

Leahy, Stephen. “How People Make Only a Jar of Trash a Year.” National Geographic. National Geographic. 18 May 2018. Web. 22 May 2018.

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The Cost of Horseshoe Crab Blood

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18 Issue 21

Horseshoe crabs are fascinating animals. They may look like prehistoric crabs but are actually more closely related to scorpions and spiders. They also happen to be one of the most important animals when it comes to keeping humans alive. Much more than the strange looking arthropods your children can pet in an interactive tank at the local aquarium, these animals are vital to human medicine.

The pale blue blood that circulates within the bodies of horseshoe crabs is extremely sensitive to bacterial pathogens. This has allowed biomedical scientists to use the blood of horseshoe crabs to test whether or not potentially life-saving medicines and medical devices are safe for humans. While this is extremely helpful for humans, it may not be so for horseshoe crabs. Scientists extract blood from the horseshoe crabs and then return them to the ocean. This is relatively safe; however, around 50,000 horseshoe crabs die during this process every year. Additionally, Asian horseshoe crabs have experienced dramatic population losses from habitat loss, as well as overfishing. In order to keep the horseshoe crab populations constant, some change needs to occur. If not, the biomedical industry could be seriously threatened.

Jeak Ling Ding is one scientist who has decided to expedite the change needed to preserve horseshoe crabs. Thirty years previously, Frederick Bang had discovered the amebocytes (or blood cells) in horseshoe crabs were especially resistant to bacteria. Over the course of thirty years, Bang standardized a way to remove these amebocytes in order to test if the certain medical equipment was sterile. Ding worked in a hospital attempting to discover the reason for the death of in-vitro fertilization embryos and she needed one of the kits developed by Bang. However, they were too expensive for her. So, she decided to make her own.

Factor C is a specific molecule in horseshoe crab amebocytes that detects the bacterial toxins. So, if she could find the gene that made factor C and could manipulate the DNA, she could make the factor C without the need to harm more horseshoe crabs. After many trials and errors, Ding discovered she could splice the DNA from the horseshoe crabs into insects that would then manufacture the factor C. This meant it was no longer necessary to bleed horseshoe crabs.

Although Ding has arrived at a solution, biomedical companies have been slow to adopt her method. They could potentially lose money if they adopt the factor C method and drop the traditional way of bleeding horseshoe crabs. But the population numbers of horseshoe crabs are dwindling, and they will continue to dwindle if nothing is done to help them. Additionally, many other species of animals rely on horseshoe crabs to survive, such as the red knot, a threatened species of bird. If we want to save the horseshoe crab, other threatened species, and our own biomedical industry, the factor C method should be adopted. By continuing to use the old method of blood extraction, horseshoe crabs may become fascinating animals of the past.

Sources:

Zhang, Sarah. “The Last Days of the Blue-Blood Harvest.” Atlantic. Atlantic. May 9, 2018. Web. May 15, 2018.

https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Horseshoe-Crab

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Glowing Puffin Beaks Surprise Scientists

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18 Issue 20

We know that light in the visible spectrum is necessary for humans to be able to see. Since our eyes are able to observe only a relatively limited number of wavelengths on the entire light spectrum, we must rely on artificial lighting to guide us when the sun is down or we are in enclosed areas with no additional lighting. However, many other animals in our world use light in different ways. Some we know about and some have yet to be discovered. The Atlantic Puffin is just one example of an organism that utilizes light in a very interesting way.

Jamie Dunning, a research student at the University of Nottingham, was more than surprised to turn on a black light over a deceased Atlantic puffin and discover that its beak glowed. Now, the Atlantic puffin is considered to be one of 180 animals considered “biofluorescent,” meaning they reflect blue light and reemit another color—the most common being green, red, or orange.
This is different from bioluminescent animals who are able to create their own light which they emit through chemical reactions in their bodies. In other words, biofluorescent animals use light and bioluminescent animals create light.

Most of the animals that are able to be used or create light live in the world’s largest habitat: the ocean. Animals like fish and squid that live so far below the ocean’s surface where light cannot reach, use light in a variety of ways. Most of the time, light is used as a way of defending oneself from a predator. Deep sea squids use light to startle and distract predators before they quickly dart away back into the darkness. Other creatures, such as dinoflagellates, light up to summon a predator of the predator attempting to eat them. Additionally, some species of shrimp and dinoflagellates, who live near the surface of the water, may light up to blend in with the silhouettes created in the water by the sun at dusk. This makes these creatures invisible to predators, as their light matches the light on the water.

But why would a puffin’s beak light up? Tony Diamond, an ornithologist at the University of New Brunswick, had observed the same glowing orange light from a deceased puffin as Dunning, so they have put their data together. Right now, the team is aiming to discover whether living puffins also have glowing beaks, but they had to develop “puffin sunglasses,” first, so as not to harm the puffin’s eyes under the blacklight. The team hopes to be able to observe whether the beaks glow on live birds and hopefully discover why the beaks glow. Is it for the purpose of preventing predation or is it something else? This question has no answer yet, but researchers are hoping to find this out soon.

Sources:

Arnold, Carrie. “Puffin Beaks Glow in Surprising Discovery.” National Geographic National Geographic. 27 April 2018. Web. 4 May 2018.

Judson, Olivia. “Luminous Life.” National Geographic. National Geographic. March 2015. Web. 4 May 2018.

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Educational Sales Consultant

Position Announcement: Educational Sales Consultant

The Swamp School (SwampSchool.org) is an inspired environmental training institution headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina. We offer state of the art online eLearning and classroom programs for environmental professionals around the world. Many of our courses are based upon US Army Corps of Engineers and US EPA Clean Water Act compliance programs. We currently maintain a student body of more than 700 participants in our programs annually. We are celebrating our 16th year in business this year.

We are looking for an experienced and outgoing sales person who enjoys the outdoors and loves working with people. If you are looking to work with a cutting-edge leader in online environmental education, this is the place for you!

The duties include:

1. Present, promote and sell our programs to help our customers become better stewards of the environment and at the same time, satisfy regulatory program needs.
2. Identify new customers and customer markets
3. Look for ways to help our customers maximize the effect of their training dollars.
4. Establish, develop and maintain positive and fun business and customer relationships
5. Achieve agreed upon sales targets and outcomes within schedule
6. Make exciting presentations to large and small groups
7. Prepare for and attend interactive trade shows
8. Provide product demos online and in-person using state of the art Swamp School systems

The ideal candidate:

1. Has a great personality and is fun and engaging
2. Has prior experience as a sales representative
3. Has knowledge of MS Office systems
4. Is familiar with cloud-based CRM systems
5. Is energized and target driven with the ability to stay focused
6. Has excelling selling, communication, interpersonal and negotiation skills
7. Is very good a prioritizing their time and has strong organizational skills
8. Has the ability to create and deliver engaging presentations tailored to the audience needs
9. Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent experience
10. Is a veteran
11. Driver’s license

This position includes a competitive base salary and commission bonuses based on sales. There are no commission caps and no limit to what you can earn. We will also provide you with a product orientation program and ongoing support to help you make more sales. Our goal is to make you as successful as you can be. The more you grow the more we grow!

To apply for this position, send an email to: jobs@swampschool.org and include the job title “Educational Sales Consultant” in the subject line. No phone calls please.

The Swamp School is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and protected veterans are encouraged to apply.

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Preserving our Wetlands on Earth Day

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18 Issue 19

With the arrival of spring comes one of the most underrated holidays: Earth Day. Although potentially talked about in schools as the day arrives, Earth Day is hardly the type of holiday that gathers media attention or is used for mattress sales like Christmas or Mother’s Day. However, Earth Day is a very important holiday, and it is also a relatively new holiday.

In 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, a book that became so much more than an expose on pesticides. This book aroused public attention for environmental welfare and public health, not just in the United States, but in 24 different countries. Enter Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin with a particular interest in the 1969 Santa Barbara, California oil spill. Seeing the passion that college students across America had for issues such as the Vietnam War, Nelson believed that he could put this passion to use in helping our environment. Nelson organized a committee, and on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated by over 20 million Americans. Various environmental groups from around the country with interests in pollution, wildlife, and many other issues realized their common goal: to protect the planet. By the end of 1970, the EPA was formed and the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act were passed as a result of this new concern for the environment.

Almost 50 years later, Earth Day is still very relevant. Groups around the country put in extra effort on Earth Day to clean up our environment. Instead of having great parties, clean-ups are organized at rivers, lakes, parks, and forests around America. One such clean-up taking place this year is at the Potomac and the Anacostia River. Located in the Washington DC area, both these rivers suffer from concerning amounts of pollution. Loaded with trash and chemicals from the great metropolitan area, the Anacostia an F for its level of health from the Anacostia Watershed Society. The Potomac received a D+ in 2007, but today, due to efforts of clean-up crews, it has a B rating. Crews kayak up and down these rivers, cleaning out the trash, and truly making a difference.

Rivers like the Potomac and the Anacostia are crucial to the environment as part of wetlands. Although not often picked as tourist destinations, wetlands are homes for thousands of organisms and are important for water quality. Just some functions of wetlands include feeding downstream waters, recharging groundwater supplies, and removing pollution from the habitats of plants and animals. In addition, many endangered species make their homes in wetlands. Economically, wetlands are beneficial, as well, due to being popular destinations for fishing and other recreational activities.

Unfortunately, wetlands have seen increasing exploitation in recent decades. Because they have valuable resources, they are often harmed in order to obtain these resources. Also, they are often deemed “unproductive” and drained for the use of developers. Not only is this dangerous for the many endangered species that live in these wetlands, but this is also harmful to us as humans who need water to be alive. Without wetlands, our ability to obtain clean water is seriously threatened.

Earth Day may lie on April 22, but what it represents should be celebrated throughout the year. Wetlands, as well as many other ecosystems across America, need to be protected for the health of our environment. We need to protect these ecosystems for the sake of ourselves and for the sake of the organisms that do not have a voice.

Sources:

Elasar, Dara. “This Earth Day, Head to the River.” Washington Post. Washington Post. April 16, 2018. Web. April 19, 2018.

“The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day Network. Earth Day Network. Web. April 19, 2018.

“Why are Wetlands So Important to Preserve?” Scientific American. Scientific American. Web. April 20, 2018.

 

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Arbor Day and its Roots

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18 Issue 18

Over the past few weeks, the landscape seems to have finally begun to make the transition from a cold, bleak winter to a bright and colorful spring. The world is starting to become green again and for this, we must certainly thank one group of organisms especially, the trees. Earth Day is on April 22nd, but just as important is Arbor Day which lies on April 27th this year. Slightly less well known or celebrated than Earth Day, Arbor Day is dedicated to the propagation and preservation of one of our most important resources, trees.

Arbor Day’s origins begin in 1854 when a man from Detroit moved to the Nebraska Territory. His name was J. Sterling Morton, and he was very passionate about trees. As editor of a prominent Nebraskan newspaper, Morton constantly wrote articles concerned with environmental and agricultural issues. He was especially concerned with the need for trees. He and his fellow pioneers certainly missed the aesthetic beauty of the trees they remembered from the east, but they also needed them for fuel, building materials, and windbreaks to help prevent soil erosion. He strongly advocated the planting of trees throughout the Nebraska Territory.

On January 4, 1872, Morton proposed that April 10, 1872, be “Arbor Day” to honor the importance of the trees he cared about so much. The new holiday was so popular that it is estimated that over one million trees were planted in the Nebraska Territory on that day. Arbor Day became a yearly celebration, but the date has moved around several times since. Soon, other states and territories began to adopt the holiday until it became a nationwide event. Today, Arbor Day is nationally celebrated on the last Friday in April and celebrated locally whichever weekend is the best for tree planting. Similar events now take place around the world.

Sterling Morton recognized the vast importance of trees which is still relevant 146 years later. Trees are an integral part of any ecosystem. Their leaves filter pollutants, improve air quality and help manage the effects of erosion, thereby improving water quality.  Without trees, we would be much hotter and spend a lot more money on our energy bills. It has been shown that shade can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 3o% in certain situations. Shade trees significantly decrease the temperature of asphalt by up to 36 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature of car interiors by up to 47 degrees Fahrenheit. “All up, the shade provided by trees can reduce our physiologically equivalent temperature (that is, how warm we feel our surroundings to be) by between seven and 15°C, depending on our latitude. (The Conversation -2018) Additionally, without trees, many animals including birds, insects, and small mammals would be homeless. Psychologically, some studies have even shown that areas with more trees have less crime and that children with ADHD benefit from living in areas with more trees. The benefits trees bring to our environment are many. A world without trees would be very different from the world we now know.

Arbor Day is just as important today as it was on April 10, 1872. Local environments and ecosystems everywhere can still benefit from new trees being planted. The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation and education organization founded in 1972 in Nebraska, by John Rosenow and it is the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to tree planting. The Foundation’s stated corporate mission is “to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.” The Foundation programs are supported by members, donors, and corporate sponsors that share the same vision of a healthier and greener world. The Arbor Day Foundation has many different resources available to help you celebrate this important holiday at arborday.org. Simple as it may sound, every tree counts.

 

Sources:

“The History of Arbor Day.” Arbor Day Foundation. www.arborday.org/celebrate/history.cfm. Accessed 16 April 2018.

“How Trees Make a Difference.” National Wildlife Federation. www.nwf.org/Trees-for-Wildlife/About/Trees-Make-a-Difference. Accessed 16 April 2018.

“Can trees really cool our cities down?” The Conversation. http://theconversation.com/can-trees-really-cool-our-cities-down-44099 Accessed 19 April 2018