News from our member organizations

2014 SFI Annual Conference Leaves a Lighter Footprint for Forests

News from The Conservation Fund - Fri, 08/22/2014 - 11:01am

By Alterra Hetzel, Forest Carbon Business Development Manager for The Conservation Fund.

Every day, The Conservation Fund works to prevent the loss of America’s last large and intact privately-held forests. With a core belief that environmental protection and economic vitality fundamentally reinforce one another, we strive to ensure the forests’ vital role in providing clean air, water and wildlife habitat, while guaranteeing they also benefit people in communities across America.

For each working forest property we protect, we develop and implement sustainable management plans, placing conservation safeguards on the most sensitive lands so the forests will always remain forests. We then return them to private ownership or public agency stewardship. In this way, each forest is protected, but remains working, boosting the local economy by maintaining jobs for decades to come.

Third-party forest certification is an essential criterion to ensure that long-term forest stewardship is responsible. One of those certification standards, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), has over 250 million acres certified to its forest management standard and promotes sustainable forest management, including measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat and species at risk.

“When it comes to conservation of forests, third-party certification has become the essential stamp of credibility that both supports sustainable practices and drives positive results on the ground. The SFI standard protects conservation of biodiversity, sustainable harvests, communities and much more,” said SFI board chair and Conservation Fund president, Larry Selzer.

Here is an example: the Northern California redwood region is known for its raw beauty and rich wildlife, but decades of unsustainable harvesting and increased development have threatened these lands. To help protect and restore them, The Conservation Fund acquired 24,000 acres of redwood and Douglas fir forest surrounding Garcia River Forest. The Nature Conservancy holds a conservation easement on the property. The Fund implemented sustainable forestry practices across these forests to restore water quality and protect habitat for species like coho salmon, steelhead trout and spotted owl. These lands are certified to several forestry standards, including SFI.

Sustainable management of these towering stands of trees does more than ensure good logging practices. The redwood trees that aren’t cut trap carbon dioxide (CO2), reducing emissions that contribute to climate change. In fact, redwood forests store more carbon per acre than any other forest type. The Conservation Fund’s North Coast forests can store up to 500,000 tons of CO2 annually. This enables Garcia River Forest to produce carbon offsets verified to the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) standard. Both SFI and CAR certifications are important components of a strategy to protect, restore and manage forests.

A commitment to communication and planning is important too. That is why each year SFI brings together the forest community to discuss emerging research, forge new partnerships and exchange ideas. The 2014 SFI Annual Conference in Montreal from September 16th -18th will offer session topics on everything from the Economic, Social and Ecological Drivers of Change in Forested Landscapes to Aboriginal and Tribal Business Relations.

To reduce the impact on the climate, and to help build awareness about the importance of good forest stewardship, SFI is offsetting the CO2 emissions resulting from attendee travel, hotel stays, and all of the major sessions at the 2014 SFI Annual Conference through a donation to The Conservation Fund’s Go Zero® program. The carbon offset donation, sponsored by Resolute Forests Products, will benefit future projects in The Conservation Fund’s Garcia River Forest, in part, by keeping the lands working sustainably for people and wildlife.

Town Bans Land Application of Sewage Sludge, or Biosolids

News from Beyond Pesticides - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2014) The Town Board in Wheatfield, New York unanimously voted last month to amend its biosolids law to ban any application of sewage sludge and other similar materials from the treatment of municipal wastewater to any land in town, even for those who already have permits from the state. The law […]

Take the Lane, Veronica

This post was first published on Marc’s Medium page.

My friend, Veronica posted on Facebook:

I feel like I’m a respectful cyclist. I use hand signals, wear a helmet and road ID, I ride during the daytime and have lights for dusk, I stay on the shoulder or as far over to the right as possible to allow for passing cars even though I technically can take the whole lane as a moving vehicle. I can’t understand people who drive within inches from me, at normal speed, and don’t give any space when there are NO cars in the oncoming lane. I know you might not care for cyclists and think that you’re invincible in a car… But you’ll be singing a different tune if you kill somebody’s sister, daughter, mother, or wife (or anyone). Please take a few extra seconds of your day to be conscientious and create a chain reaction for the cars behind you to do the same.

This cyclist is positioned to take the lane.

The problem isn’t that motorists aren’t conscientious—most are. It’s that they don’t know. They often don’t know how close they are. They don’t know what it feels like to be passed by a car so close when you’re on bicycle. They don’t know how dangerous it is. They don’t know they should get over much farther.

And we don’t do ourselves any favors riding so far to the right. It invites close passes by motorists who really don’t intend us any harm and would be surprised to discover how their close passes unnerve us.

Take the lane! That means riding far enough left in the lane to ensure passing motorists have to change lanes to go around.

When I take the lane I’ve discovered I get far fewer close passes. Do I get angry shouts from motorists who think I should be riding farther right? Surprisingly, no more shouts than I get when I am riding farther right. And they are the same shouts, “Get off the road!” Never, “Ride to the right!”

Why? Because the typical motorist, seeing there’s no room to pass in the same lane, does what they’re supposed to do—they get in the other lane to pass, slowing down and waiting for oncoming traffic if necessary. And knowing they have to get in the other lane, they get all the way over.

When you’re riding farther to the right, many motorists approach thinking there’s adequate room to pass. Even if they realize there’s not enough room to pass safely, they may not realize it until it’s too late, until after they’re committed and slowing or moving left would seem an even more dangerous move to them—a swerve or dangerous brake jamming maneuver. So they pass within inches. Afterwards, many are as unnerved as the cyclists.

This is especially true when there is oncoming traffic. The motorist approaches the cyclist from behind. It looks like there’s enough room to get by, so they don’t slow down. Suddenly, there’s oncoming traffic and they’re going too fast. In this situation, they often speed up in an attempt to get around sooner, increasing the danger.

When you take the lane, the same motorist sees from a distance they can’t pass without changing lanes. They slow to accommodate oncoming traffic. And they change lanes, passing with plenty of room.

It’s counterintuitive to think cyclists politely riding to the right result in worse behavior by motorists than the seemingly less polite and more disruptive practice of taking the lane. But in my experience, it doesn’t. Taking the lane is the safest practice and results in the best motorist behavior.

In general, I encounter three types of dangerous motorists while riding. There’s the hostile motorist most cyclists fear. This driver doesn’t want bikes on the road. Doesn’t matter whether or not you ride far right or take the lane. This driver’s response is the same: pass close, shout, or worse.

When a cyclist is riding far right, it lets the hostile motorist buzz by dangerously close, with ease. When you take the lane, it forces the hostile motorist to move over and go around. And the mere fact they have to move over means they’ll usually, even if unintentionally, give you more space! It’s not so easy for them to line up from half a mile away to buzz you. If they can’t see far enough ahead to change lanes, for their own safety they’ll slow down and wait. They’ll cuss and fume and shout when they go by—just like they would if they didn’t have to move over!

So even the worst behaved motorists actually behave better when you take the lane.

The second type of dangerous motorist is the inattentive driver. This driver doesn’t even notice you’re there until they’re too close. This driver kills and injures more cyclists than any other. And this driver is much more likely to hit you when you ride far right. They tend to only be looking straight ahead. They drift right without realizing it. They aren’t aiming for you—they just don’t see you.

The only thing you can do to protect yourself from this motorist is to be more visible! Taking the lane makes you more visible. It puts you directly in their line of sight. Taking the lane, a flashing tail light, wearing bright colors, and anything else that makes you more visible is the best way to handle this motorist.

The third, and most common dangerous motorist is the driver who just doesn’t know. Doesn’t know how to pass a cyclist. Doesn’t know the pass is too close. Doesn’t know how dangerous it is. Would be surprised to learn how you feel after a close pass.

This motorist does know how to pass another automobile. When you take the lane, this motorist will know there’s not room to pass without getting over. Will get over. Won’t be bothered by getting over. Would have gotten over anyway had they known! They just didn’t know. And by taking the lane, you make it clear.

Although it’s dangerous to draw generalizations along gender lines, I’ve noticed a pattern. When riding far right, it is often women who pass too close. They pass within inches of me, even though there’s no oncoming traffic and they could get over. Often, I even get a little I’m sorry hand wave from these ladies after they’ve passed.

I think that’s because women, more than men, tend to follow the rules. These particular ladies don’t want to cross that double that yellow line. If they can get past without hitting me and without crossing over the yellow line, that seems the best compromise to them. When I take the lane, these ladies choose to pass safely. I get a friendly smile and wave instead of theI’m sorry wave.

In a followup comment to her Facebook post, after I’d suggested she take the lane, Veronica said:

I ride more in the lane while riding with groups Marc, and I know it sounds pansy-ish, but as a girl riding alone without the same strength in numbers I just don’t have the same cahones. Literally.

I think female cyclists often have an advantage here. I notice when riding with my wife motorists generally give us more room. And when I ride with my five year old granddaughter on the Trail-a-Bike, we get plenty of room. Many people, men and women alike, give women and children on bikes more room on the road.

There are even more reasons to take the lane! Watch this visualization to see some of them. When you ride far right, leaving enough room for an automobile to pass you in the same lane, that vehicle blocks you from the view of oncoming traffic. Suppose an oncoming vehicle is preparing to make a left turn. They see the car passing you, but they don’t see you. They start their turn as the car, now just ahead of you clears the intersection, and BAM!—there you are! If you take the lane, you are clearly visible to both the car behind you and the oncoming vehicle preparing to turn left.

Of course, some motorists will be irritated when you take the lane. They’ll insist it’s rude and disrespectful to do so, that it’s your duty to ride as far right as possible. In fact, in the comments to Veronica’s Facebook post, one did just that. But which behavior is more rude and disrespectful: taking the lane forcing faster traffic to go around, and perhaps wait a few seconds; or pass dangerously close risking the death or injury of a cyclist?

A few words to motorists

The irritation you feel when a cyclist takes the lane, potentially delaying you a few seconds is misplaced. Most of the time, you won’t be delayed at all. You’ll be able to change lanes and continue on your way, without delay. When you are delayed, it will likely be a very short delay. You’ll just arrive at the next red-light a few seconds later than you would have otherwise, and you’ll wait just a bit less at that light. And because there was a bicycle in front of you that you were able to get around, instead of a car, you’ll have one less vehicle ahead of you at that light so you’ll get through it sooner. When you arrive at your destination, there might just be one more available parking space.

When cyclists take the lane, it isn’t to cause you irritation or delay. It isn’t to be rude, disrespectful, or arrogant. It’s for our own safety. It’s because whether you know it or not, without taking the lane, we unintentionally invite close, dangerous passes. Perhaps you would give us the room we need if we rode far right, but many others would pass too close endangering us.

So, please, don’t be irritated. Smile and wave. We’ll smile and wave back.

 

The post Take the Lane, Veronica appeared first on Washington Bikes.

Conservation Tools: Africa’s Tech Boom Could Aid Farmers, Sustain Ecosystems

News from Conservation International - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 7:00am
A new partnership will lead to better data and decisions — for people and for nature.

Antibacterial Soap Exposes Health Workers to High Triclosan Levels

News from Beyond Pesticides - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 4:59am
(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2014) In case there wasn’t enough news about the hazards of the ubiquitous antibacterial chemical triclosan in the past week, another study published Tuesday finds additional risks associated with exposure to the pesticide. The study, Health Care Worker Exposures to the Antibacterial Agent Triclosan, led by researchers at University of California […]

I LOVE MY COMMUNITY!!

“I LOVE MY CITY!”

This was the first sentence in my August 7th Facebook post. Why do I love my city? There are many reasons, but among the top is the newly resurfaced/restriped road in front of my house. As I left for work on the morning of August 7th I noticed the street crews preparing for, what I assumed was “striping day” for the street upgrade project in my neighborhood. I remember making a mental note to myself, “Ugh!! I should have called the Planning Department to ask about the possibilities of striping bike lanes on this new surface.” I did not act on that intuition, yet arrived home that evening to discover my thought turned into reality! On the street, in front of my house, next to my driveway are honest to goodness markings that designate space for me and my bicycle. Specifically, the street now has a bike lane in the eastbound, uphill lane and sharrows in the westbound, downhill lane. For rural North Central Washington, this is progress!!

I moved to East Wentachee in 2006 and it didn’t take very long for me get involved in bike advocacy. I joined the newly re-energized Greater Wenatchee Bicycle Advisory Board (which eventually became the Regional Bicycle Advisory Board) because I was interested in increasing bicycle safety and awareness in the valley. I knew my new communities (the collective valley) had much to offer cyclists, after all, this is the home of the Apple Capital Loop Trail (the envy of my former Eastern Washington community) and bicycles are a visible component of this valley. Yet, the valley had a long way to go to become a Bicycle Friendly community. Bicycles are an accepted “norm” on the loop trail, yet haven’t always received the same warm fuzzy welcome out on the streets and roads of the communities.

One of the early tasks of the Regional Bicycle Advisory Board was to update the previous Bicycle Master Plan, a long and arduous task for me personally, yet a necessary step to get to the work I am interested in. The Greater Wenatchee Bicycle Master Plan was adopted by the Wenatchee Valley Transportation Council in May of 2013 and since its adoption I am beginning to see road improvements that accommodate bicycles, such as the street upgrade project in front of my house and the newly extended Eastmont Avenue that includes the valley’s only buffered bike lanes.

Today I am celebrating the Greater Wenatchee Metropolitan Area application to the League of American Bicyclists to be designated a Bicycle Friendly Community. After reviewing the application that was written and submitted by the Wenatchee Valley Transportation Council, I feel a sense of pride for the time and efforts so many bicycle enthusiasts have contributed and continue to contribute to balancing transportation options in the valley. The progress we have made, and which are noted in the application, in the few years I have lived here are gentle reminders to me of the value of these efforts, no matter how big or small, simple or arduous, that are truly making a difference! I LOVE MY COMMUNITY!

Deb Miller is a bicycle advocate extraordinaire in Wenatchee valley. Watch for future blog contributions from her.

The post I LOVE MY COMMUNITY!! appeared first on Washington Bikes.

‘WildLeaks’ Encrypted Website Protects Wildlife Crime Whistle-blowers

News from Conservation International - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 7:00am
To fight the illegal wildlife trade, ensuring the safety of those who want to help is crucial.

5 Actions Needed to Save the Colorado River

News from American Rivers - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 4:00am

Co-authored with Bart Miller, water program director for Western Resource Advocates, and originally published on the Arizona Republic

Colorado River | Bureau of Land Management

The majestic Colorado River cuts a 1,450-mile path through the American West before drying up well short of the sea — its natural finish line at the Gulf of California.

Reservoirs once filled to the brim from the Colorado and its tributaries are at historic lows due to an unprecedented drought and growing human demands. Shrunken stream flows now pose serious challenges for wildlife and recreation, as well as cities, farms and others who rely upon the river.

Reports come out every week, pointing to the critical condition of the Colorado River — Lake Mead, the work-horse reservoir for the region, is at a historic low; groundwater supplies for the river’s basin are dramatically shrinking; and Lake Powell water levels are low enough that there is concern the generators that supply enough electricity to power 350,000 homes might be shut down.

Steps currently being taken to improve the situation are not up to the task of bringing the river system back into balance and providing a reliable water supply.

We need bold and powerful measures. Fortunately, we have practical, affordable, common-sense solutions that can be applied today to protect the flow of the river, ensure economic vitality and secure water resources for millions of Americans.

As we look at the specific solutions that can save the Colorado River and our water supply, it helps to know the facts: The demand for water from the Colorado River exceeds the supply.

That shortage could jeopardize the drinking water for 36 million people, our agricultural communities, future ­economic growth and the $26.4 billion river-based recreational economy, which supports more than 234,000 jobs.

In addition, the river’s imbalance is wreaking havoc on the West’s natural ecosystems, harming world-class fisheries and unique natural wonders.

There is no single solution — or magic infrastructure project — that will produce enough water to overcome the imbalance of supply and demand. Our research shows there are five common-sense solutions that can help improve the health of the Colorado River, grow the economies of the seven basin states and protect essential Western natural habitats:

  1. Municipal conservation, such as improved landscaping techniques, rebate programs that incentivize water-saving devices and standardized water audits.
  2. Municipal reuse through gray-water treatment and reuse for irrigation, industrial uses and other purposes.
  3. Agricultural efficiency and water banking, which are voluntary, compensated improvements in irrigation efficiency and technology, crop shifting and other measures that avoid permanently taking agricultural lands out of production.
  4. Renewable energy and energy efficiency, including wind, rooftop solar and geothermal energy solutions, and new water-efficient thermoelectric power plants.
  5. Innovative water opportunities, such as invasive-plant removal, dust-on-snow mitigation and targeted inland desalinization.

When used together, these five solutions can do more than ensure we have enough water; they can actually provide us with a surplus.

Nearly Half of All U.S. Adults Seek Out Organic Food

News from Beyond Pesticides - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2014) According to a new Gallup poll, nearly half of all U.S. adults “actively” seek to add organic food to their diets. Many who eat and incorporate organic foods into their diet are from city areas, whereas those who eat the least organic foods are described as coming from rural areas. […]

Snohomish County Bikes: WSDOT Advisory – Stay Safe SR 530

Snohomish County Bikes: an ongoing series highlighting great Snohomish County bike rides and issues.

Snohomish County offers numerous great riding opportunities – from trails to country rides. One highlight includes enjoying SR 530 up the Stillaguamish Valley to Darrington and beyond.

WSDOT is working hard to reconstruct SR 530. In the meantime, no stopping or pulling over. Photo courtesy of WSDOT, some rights reserved.

Since the tragic SR 530 landslide this spring, the state road – and WSDOT’s ongoing construction activities to rebuild the damaged roadway – travels directly through the landslide’s devastation. Unfortunately, WSDOT is receiving some reports that bicycle riders are stopping in locations that lack shoulders. WSDOT would like to remind all riders that without shoulders, the road isn’t wide enough for motor vehicles or bicycles to stop safely.

More from WSDOT:

State Route 530 between Oso and Darrington is a popular spot for summertime cycling, but with the highway reconstruction project in full swing, riders should be extra cautious. Please be aware that there are no shoulders through the slide area. For the safety of all roadway users, no stops are allowed unless directed by flaggers or law enforcement. Project information and upcoming traffic detours can be found on the WSDOT SR 530 project website. Please contact SR530SlideInfo@wsdot.wa.gov with any additional questions.

Keep on visiting the Stillaguamish Valley and be safe out there!

Sign Up to Receive Updates on Biking in Snohomish County First name * First Last name * Last Email * City * Postal Code * Check here if you haven't ridden your bike in Snohomish County yet Not yet What types of information do you want us to provide to make your bike visit to Snohomish County fantastic? Tell us about your biking interests in general (check all that apply) Travel Rides/events Safety Education Policy/advocacy Infrastructure/connections

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Bringing Kidical Mass to Tacoma

By the spring of 2012, I had a 1st grader and a pre-schooler that were both riding solo on two wheels when they weren’t hitching rides on our cargobike for daily errands. I knew a few other pedal parents through our school and neighborhood who liked to ride with their kids, and when I pitched them the idea of Kidical Mass, they agreed that Tacoma was ready for an organized group ride for kids and families. There was talk, but another summer came and went.

At the beginning of 2013, my wife and I decided to launch Kidical Mass Tacoma ourselves that spring with a kickoff ride in May as part of the City’s Bike Month promotion. I put up a placeholder on my personal blog and started brainstorming ride ideas. We needed fun places to start and finish with a calm and flat route in between.

The only minor complication with Bike Month is that the City requires a certificate of liability insurance for any event that is promoted on their calendar. The Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club was sponsoring several of the Bike Month rides with a special event rider on their own policy by having a club member act as ride leader. I had recently renewed my family membership and they we’re happy to cover our event, too.

Our first ride was a huge success. We had nearly 60 riders, including a few volunteers to help as arterial crossing guards and Jeff’s Ice Cream, a local small business. Jeff had built his own bicycle ice cream trailer which he pedaled through Tacoma neighborhoods peddling made-in-Washington ice cream bars. It was a scorcher of a day and the free ice cream (paid for by a few families) was a huge hit. I asked Jeff if he could be available for our monthly rides for the rest of the summer and, it turns out, a tradition was born.

The TWBC liked what they saw. Getting the youngest demographic involved in biking is tricky and there simply wasn’t always a venue to support it in Tacoma. Kidical Mass was a program that fit well with their club goals so they offered to continue insuring the events for the rest of the first summer at the club’s expense. It was important that the ice cream remain free to our participants and a few parents quietly volunteered to pay for everyone’s treats.

We rotated the rides through various neighborhoods that summer, blogging the details and placing posters in bike shops and libraries and community centers. Each ride brought 20-40 folks and more free ice cream. We learned how to make spoke cards! Even MetroParks Tacoma was hearing good things about our rides, so they asked us to lead a short ride for kids and families during Downtown to Defiance, a first-of-its-kind event for Tacoma. It was a very wet and rainy day, but 100 riders of all ages and abilities still showed up to ride a brand new section of trail near Point Defiance Park. Tacoma families were more eager to ride than anyone expected.

I presented the results of our first Kidical Mass summer at the quarterly TWBC meeting to say thanks for their support. Club members were blown away at our attendance numbers and smiling heartily at all of the anecdotal things I’d heard from kids about how much they enjoyed riding together in the street. And Jeff’s Ice Cream! Club members understood the importance of the ice cream as a snack, a reward and an element of fun.

The Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club wanted Kidical Mass Tacoma to continue under their banner of sponsorship. Our cost proposal was quickly approved at their winter board meeting. Not only were they going to pay for ice cream and promotional items like spoke cards, but they wanted to grant complimentary club memberships to participating families so that we could continue to have additional liability insurance coverage for our rides. The need for insurance coverage isn’t a large concern to a group that only rides four or five miles each month, but the TWBC board members have logged thousands of miles and have too many stories to leave this issue to chance.

For the 2014 season, we started a separate Kidical Mass Tacoma blog where we post details for upcoming rides. We promote those rides through Facebook, Twitter and Bike253.com, a local bike event calendar. Jeff continues to ride along with us and we’ve also partnered with other organizations and businesses in the neighborhoods where we ride. The Tacoma Public Library did a thorough job of helping us with a ride to promote summer reading and an appearance by FabLab Tacoma’s FabLorean pedal car time machine at the end of our Hilltop ride was fantastic.

Parents seem understanding of the insurance requirement when they sign-in at the beginning of each ride. As they take a clipboard, the kids grab an I Bike Tacoma bandana to decorate, some of the leftover Bike Month swag donated by the City of Tacoma. The bandanas are handy for keeping riders cool on hot days, and for wiping the melted ice cream from a grinning chin.

For more information about how you can organize a Kidical Mass family bike ride in your community, visit kidicalmass.org.

The post Bringing Kidical Mass to Tacoma appeared first on Washington Bikes.

FDA Questioned Triclosan’s Safety in Colgate’s Total Toothpaste in 90′s

News from Beyond Pesticides - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2014) Newly released documents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reveals that regulators expressed concerns over the safety of triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste during the product’s registration in the mid-1990s. This information was provided to the public by FDA after a Freedom of Information Act request by the […]