Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Katrina VanDeusen, Ecological Engineer

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Description: What is phytoremediation? It’s plant-based solutions to healing toxic spills on our land. Katrina, ‘Kat’ VanDuesen explains how our invaluable plants clean up toxic waste and contamination whether metals, radiation, oils and other contaminants. Serious health issues, as well as health issues within our soil, water, and air, are well documented from some of these very toxic spills. Ecological environmental applications work. Kat tells us how nature has solutions.

About My Guest: Katrina. VanDeusen is an Environmental Scientist with over 20 years of broad-based professional experience in environmental applications developing multi-media remediation strategies for both public and private sector clients in the New York City metropolitan area.  Her technical experience includes Phase I, Phase II Site Investigations, Preliminary Assessments, Ecological Evaluations, Remedial Investigation, Remedial Alternatives Analysis, Environmental Site Assessments, design of bioremediation systems, due diligence, legal support, wetland delineation, hydrology assessments, sensitive habitat multimedia sampling, community and habitat surveys, ecological engineering/restoration for both hazardous and non-hazardous sites.  Ms. VanDeusen’s technical writing skills include Preliminary Assessment reports, Remedial Action Workplans and reports, Site Investigation and Remedial Investigation reports, NEPA reports, Phase I and Phase II technical reports, environmental liability assessments, Vapor Intrusion Reports, wetland delineation and ecological restoration reports.

Transcript: #27 Kat VanDuesen 

Blog: Ocean Sound Pollution Affecting Our Friends

 

The ocean world is dependent on sound more so than vision. Sound travels differently in a watery medium. It moves faster and can travel longer. Water can bend sound waves too, diverting a straight line into a zigzag type of path. What is our noise, from boats, oil rigs, deep water testing, and sonar, doing to our friends who live in the sea?

A lot.

My guest this week, Dr. Leesa Sklover, ocean activist, musician, and composer, says that whales, dolphins, shrimp, turtles, and zooplankton cannot escape harm from these practices. It’s disorienting, and if a whale cannot hear it’s basically dead. Disorientation causes stress chemicals and hormones to increase which has the potential to enter our food supply. She inspired me through her writing, her songs and passion to share with you the seriously detrimental effects noise pollution has on our ocean friends.

“The speed of sound in pure water is 1,498 meters per second, compared to 343 meters per second in air at room temperature and pressure.” Sound travels faster in the ocean because there are more molecules — specifically salt molecules — for waves to interact with, as well as higher surface temperatures.”(Sciencing)

Noise pollution has increased dramatically over the years. Increased shipping, advanced military sonic testing technologies, commercial boats, huge liners all contribute to noise pollution. Echolocation, finding prey becomes harder. Populations are diminishing, not only whales, dolphins, and other sea life but food for the larger species is scarce too. Factor in the inability to hear the click of a salmon due to noise pollution and we are finding whales who are malnourished and some cannot bring a fetus to full term

Legislation is against them too. The Cetacean Society states:

ACTION NEEDED: The newly released Presidential FY 2019 budget has taken direct aim at programs that are critical for the conservation of whales and dolphins. The Marine Mammal Commission (MMC), an independent government agency that provides science-based reviews of U.S. ocean policies that impact marine mammals and their environment, has been targeted for elimination. The cost of the MMC’s work to the US taxpayer? One penny per person per year.

The budget also looks to cut overall funding to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by 14 percent. Even worse, the NMFS enforcement budget would be slashed by 25 percent putting cetaceans at risk from a variety of illegal activities. There are also serious cuts proposed to critical research on protected species, and habitat conservation and restoration.

If holism means the whole is only as strong as its parts, what’s happening in the oceans affects us. Ocean species are suffering and what are we doing to protect them? Do we have some responsibility to them as part of this world? Are we at a tipping point and seduced in thinking all is okay?

My Native elders would point to nature over and over again as precious, invaluable to life, and in a sense, nature’s operating system mirrors ours. If one part is dying, are we dying? In Earth Calling, by Ellen Gunter and Ted Carter, we are poked and prodded with facts to look around and feel something for the destruction going on and take action. Many of us enjoy these creatures from the sea. But are we doing enough to protect them from harm?

Enjoy Dr. Sklover’s song: See Me As I Am:  

What are you doing? I enjoy hearing your comments/your stories. Please share. Thanks.

Judith

 

Blog: Land Trusts: Preserving, Protecting Woodlands and Wildlands

 

 

 

The forests here are in full bloom. Bright green leaves unfurl into their fullness. Sex is in the air as birds give birth, toads finish their mating song and tadpoles abound in our pond. New life, new vigor, warmth, and breezes. We get out more too, finishing our home chores before we head out onto trails, lakes, ponds for fishing, canoeing.

My guests this week, Paul Pribula and Julia Roger, both GIS experts, continue to map Joshua’s Land Trust parcels and trails, ultimately for our benefit. My interest in Land Trusts and Joshua’s Trust, in particular, helped me understand the great value they contribute toward protecting land here in CT and throughout our country. Land Trusts, in general, serve many purposes.

“According to the report, New England is seeing its forestry vanish at a rate of 65 acres a day, with trees in Connecticut disappearing at 3,700 acres a year to development — the fourth fastest rate out of the six New England states.” (The Hour )

How do Land Trusts help? They are charitable organizations who acquire land for one or more purposes.

  1. Conservation: they protect natural habitat, watersheds and water quality, scenic views and ensure land is available for farming, forestry, and recreation.
  2. Depending on the purpose/intent of the land in trust will depend on its public or private guidelines. Some provide trails, education, and recreation benefits. Some are left alone.
  3. Most are independent, tax-exempt 501 (c) (30 of the Internal Revenue Code
  4. They follow the Land Trust Standards. They were first developed in 1989 and recently revised.
  5. Land Trusts cooperate with landowners for real estate transactions.

Many communities do not seem to have any forestry guidelines in place for preserving invaluable ecosystems. I mentioned in a couple of podcasts, I watched a hill

Landscape with the sun shining through the foliage with a clear turquoise lake behind the trees

being bulldozed down for apartment development. Hundreds of oaks and other species were removed. But the dot we have not connected yet is that an intricate ecosystem was damaged and the trees left will struggle for survival. Not to mention habitat was destroyed for innumerable species and many species lost their lives or cannot sustain life with what remains. This dot needs to be connected in town planning and development along with environmental committees.

Organizations like wildlandsandwoodlands.org have a vision for forest conservation here in New England:

“New England forests are at a turning point. Following a 200-year resurgence, forest cover has begun to decline in every New England state. Public funding and the rate of conservation have followed suit in recent years, even as landowner interest in protecting land increases. What will we do with this challenge and opportunity?”

That’s a good question. As Paul and Julia mentioned, visit and use your trails in your area. Get out and explore a different part of the state.

Here in CT, we have a weekly column, Paths Well-Traveled, featured in the Hartford Courant by Peter Marteka, who goes out and explores our trails, historic landmark areas and gives us a detailed account. Have you checked your local resources? I encourage you to do so. The more we get out to use our trail systems, support land trust efforts such as the Joshua’s Trust, we contribute to conservation efforts that again benefit all of us including non-human species, as well as preserve water, soil and air quality.

Do you have a favorite trail? Are you involved in your Land Trust system in your neck of the woods? Drop me a line. Tell your stories. Today we can make a difference.

Enjoy. Judith

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Joshua’s Trust: Benefits of Land Preservation

Description: My guests this week, Paul Pribula and Julia Rogers, members and volunteers with Joshua Tract Conservation and Historic Trust here in Eastern Connecticut share the geographic developments and benefits of land trusts preserving woodlands, watersheds, and more for future generations. Joshua’s Trust is the largest in Connecticut, protecting over 4000 acres within fourteen towns.

“Generous landowners who donate conservation easements to Joshua’s Land Trust are inspired by many things: they love Eastern Connecticut, they feel connected to their land, and they wish to leave a legacy of protected land for future generations. This inspiration is at the heart of our work to permanently protect valuable natural resources here in northeastern Connecticut.”

About My Guests: Paul Pribula is a re-tread music educator (band and orchestra), application systems programmer/analyst/designer, and recently retired as a senior project manager and VP at RBS Citizens. Subsequent to moving to Connecticut from the south side of Chicago, Paul became an avid hiker, backpacker, whitewater kayaker and snowshoer, which led to a great respect and need for the forests and rivers, which in turn led to a 15 year stint with the Willington Conservation Commission and an associated interest and developed skill set in GIS mapping technology. He is now GIS mapping team lead, Board of Trustees member and VP at Joshua’s Trust, a Land Trust Alliance accredited land trust dedicated to preserving natural landscape through collaborations with landowners and our communities.

Julia Rogers is a master’s degree candidate at the University of Connecticut, and a volunteer at Joshua’s Trust. At the Trust, much of her work is focused on using geographic information systems (GIS) to enhance the regional planning capability of the Trust. She also works with interns from UConn to update trail maps and management plan maps. Julia is currently a member of the Mansfield Conservation Commission, and a high-value volunteer for Joshua’s Trust, assisting with GIS mapping and training, UConn intern coordination and supervision, and is currently drafting our 5-year Strategic Land Conservation Plan document.

Transcript:  #15 Julia Rogers

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Jen Frey: Music From the PLants

Description: Did you know we can hear the plants sing? Science and technology have advanced so we can capture a plant’s vibrations and translate it into music. As a healer, mentor, earth advocate, and voice of the plants my guest, Jen Frey, does just that. Their music stirs us to fall in love again with this mysterious realm. And, at the end of this interview, Jen offers us a treat: we hear music from red roses.

About my Guest: Jen Frey is a Healer, Mentor, Earth Advocate and Voice of the Plants. She is the Founder of Heart Springs Sanctuary, where she helps people deepen their connection with nature through plant communication. With over 20 years of experience with plant essences, energy work, and herbal practices her private consultations and plant-based protocols are known for helping clients through emotional life transitions, physical health crises, and chronic conditions. Jen has dedicated her life to the spiritual path of plant work. Her apprenticeship certification programs, ceremonies, retreats and workshop offerings are designed for people wanting to open their hearts, fall in love with plants and deepen their relationship to the planet.
Visit www.Brigidsway.com to learn more.

TranscriptsTranscript Jen Frey 

Blog: Arbor Day: Trees: Our Allies, Our Partners, Our Hope

 

 

“To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, and to live as a people, we must have trees.” Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

 

 

 

Trees, tall and majestic, as a species, are profoundly connected to us. We value their wood for fire, warmth, cooking and creating tools, cooking implements, crafts. We use their leaves, barks, fruits, and roots for food and medicine. They provide shade in the summer, reducing cooling costs. They break the winds from the north providing protection from the cold. They offer habitat to diverse species.

My podcast guest this week, Dana Karcher, Program Manager for the ADF Alliance for Community Trees, says tree science is relatively new. I’ve been reading, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben from Germany. His research and others are beginning to show how holism principles apply to the forest, though many indigenous cultures knew/know this. Science is catching up.

Let’s look at the concept of holism: it is defined as: “the theory that the parts of any whole cannot exist and cannot be understood except in relation to the whole.”

Scientists are discovering that members of the forest are interconnected. What happens to one can affect the whole. If one part is weak, then through an intricate underground network, messages are sent, received with help on the way. Fungi connect the dots and seem to help by receiving chemical signals through their networks that are connected to root tips. Fungi seem to be mediators, too seeking to distribute information and resources equally. The well being of our forests depends on their community. Isolated trees can actually lose their biodiversity and disappear. Therefore we can no longer go in with our machines, look for the best trees, cut them down often injuring others anymore. All parts are connected. Irresponsible logging destroys ecosystems which can take several years to recover if that is even possible.

” ..a tree is not by itself a forest. Together they actually create an ecosystem that can moderate extremes in temperature and generate humidity.” ( The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben.) And its complexity is just beginning to be understood.

I saw trees near where I lived completely cut down for apartment development. A beautiful rolling hill was grazed of its trees, many of which were oaks. Oaks alone support over 500 species, versus a Bradford Pear which has now become invasive and supports little wildlife. Our insects need homes, and if we continue to take habitat away, then we see declines and even extinction up the food chain.  What are the implications then of removing trees for development?

First, trees give us oxygen.  “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.” U.S. Department of Agriculture

Second, they help retain rainwater. When removed from our landscapes we see an increase in stormwater. Stormwater collects all manner of garbage and pollutants which end up in our waterways. “The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of the groundwater supply. Wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams.” USDA Forest Service

Third, trees improve our health and add economic value to a property. “Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value.” USDA Forest Service

HoliHo / Pixabay

 

Fourth, trees help keep carbon in the soil.  With development like I mentioned above, acres of trees were removed and the soil dug up for housing development. This act alone sends carbon into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. “There are about 60– to 200-million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year and saving $4 billion in energy costs. National Wildlife Federation

 

Trees are a part of our world and therefore a part of us. They create intricate ecosystems that I hope will be valued again.

Please plant a tree and if you cannot, support the wonderful work that the Arbor Day Foundation, ADF, offers around our world. If you live in communities with rules, find out which ones support habitat and diversity and if they don’t, get involved and change them. ADF’s Alliance for Community Trees helps individuals and communities replant.

What stories do you have about adding diversity to your landscapes? Have you been able to make a difference in your community? I would enjoy hearing your stories.

Enjoy. Judith

 

 

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