Tag: ecology

National Aquarium Launches Effort to Protect the Baltimore Canyon

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Courtesy National Aquarium
Courtesy National Aquarium

The National Aquarium has launched an effort to protect a natural asset 70 miles off the coast of Maryland.

(Cough) Forbes Ranks Baltimore One of Top Dirtiest Cities (Again)

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Once again clever energy expert Christopher Helman at Forbes.com has compiled a list of the top 20 dirtiest cities* in America — highlighting big towns with higher levels of ozone and air-borne particulates, and particularly nasty contaminated tap water — and once again Baltimore makes the unpleasant cut. But it’s not quite as bleak as last year…

Inspired Habitat: Oh Tannenbaum…Eco-Friendly Tree Alternatives

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Maybe you don’t have the space. Maybe you’re going on vacation so you can’t do a “real” tree, and just don’t want to purchase and put up an artificial one. Or, maybe you want to go really green and forgo the traditional options in favor of something… alternative. We’ve scoured the web to find some great ideas for festive tree alternatives. Done right, these could all be very green indeed. Swap out regular lights for LEDs, add some eco-friendly ornaments and you’re good to go!

Green Day: Baltimore to Plant Promised Grand Prix Trees at Taxpayers’ Treat

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We didn’t think we’d see the (green) day, but Baltimore City earlier this month commissioned a contractor to plant 150 trees in (or near) those downtown plots the Baltimore Racing Development group had plucked bare but guaranteed to replenish. These 150 trees – bankrupt Baltimore Racing has officially stiffed us on the 198 they promised – are worth $41,500 according to Erik Dihle, city forester, as reported by Tim Wheeler in The Baltimore Sun.

Just as this pricy plan comes as fresh dig to us at Baltimore Fishbowl, citizen activist (and tree-hugging lawsuit-filer) David Troy’s also surprised. He told The Sun he’s pleased that trees are being planted, but ticked by the taxpayers’ burden.

“The thing that everybody was also annoyed about and afraid of was that taxpayers were going to end up footing the bills for this,” he said, “and that’s exactly what has happened.”

Garrison Forest School Sixth Graders Create Clean Water PSA

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Check out this video that the sixth grade at Garrison Forest School created to raise awareness about the lack of clean water in developing countries. Every GFS sixth grade girl was involved in some way with the creation of the video.

 

Baltimore to See Trees Planted After All!

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Okay, so we’ve accepted that the trees promised by the Grand Prix’s penniless — and since dismissed — Baltimore Racing Development company probably aren’t coming through (the ground). But we’re breathing easier to hear about the State Highway Administration’s upcoming efforts to plant a whopping 28,000 trees — plus, the additional plantings in store by another vital program, TreeBaltimore. In light of a new study by the U.S. Forest Service, revealing that 17 of 20 U.S. cities have lost tree cover, with Baltimore’s leafy loss among the worst of the bunch, we need good green news just now.

Ciclovia: Baltimore Cycles into the Future

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Biking wins. It’s stylish — Bill Cunningham, beloved 80-year-old fashion photographer at The New York Times shoots from his cycle, his sartorial subjects frequently snappy dressers on bikes themselves. It’s environmentally sound and free of charge — thanks to The Atlantic, we know that bike commuting is on the rise in Baltimore, and around the country. It’s rock ‘n’ roll. And globally adored. In Baltimore-native David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries, we learned that many international cities — Buenos Aires, Istanbul, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Manila, New York — are quite bicycle-friendly. And better enjoyed (and more closely observed) on two wheels, the breeze in your hair.

Unfortunately, biking’s still dangerous, even when you’re coasting in the designated bike lane. Earlier this year, 20-year-old Nathan Krasnopoler was struck on University Parkway — he later died. We were glad to read at least that police in Anne Arundel County have recently begun cracking down more strictly on motorists who threaten cyclists’ safety. (We hope to see more much-needed safety lanes painted for cyclists in years to come, as well as stronger laws to protect them.)

But did you know? Biking’s also very Roland Park. R.P. boasts the oldest, safest, and most picturesque biking paths in the city, and has four years running hosted Ciclovia, a bike movement that began in Bogota, Colombia, where the majority of citizens do not own cars and instead cycle to work. (See video on our homepage.)

Yesterday’s local Ciclovia brought several hundred cyclists–kids and adults–and walkers and runners, too, many with gleeful dogs on leashes, everybody moving together along the southbound side of Roland Avenue, between Cold Spring and Northern Parkway, which was officially closed to motorists between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Easy tunes were provided by Mambo Combo and Teachers for Sale, the latter consisting of actual instructors from area schools. (Teachers drew a healthy crowd of listeners, who may or may not have exercised beyond swaying their hips.) Cute how both bands stationed their gigs in front of the library. Another charmer: Joe’s Bikes was on hand filling tires free of charge.

Neighborhood volunteer Maria Salvato told us she saw more training wheels in motion this year than in years past. She said the only overall snag involved some frustration by drivers trying to reach a lacrosse clinic at Roland Park Country School, and having to make a long detour. “We cost 50 drivers 20 minutes each,” Salvato said. “I do wish they’d been able to U-turn.”

Here’s hoping nobody’s too put out by the very cool event, and that Ciclovia rolls many years to come. May those cyclists-in-training continue to teach our town to share the road and aim to save the planet.

The World Is Your Oyster, Unless You’re an Oyster

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A new study of the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population revealed that there are currently only three oysters for every thousand that once populated the bay before their commercial fishing began in earnest in the 19th century.

According to an article in The Sun, several reefs have already been declared oyster sanctuaries, but the scientists who conducted the study are calling for an outright ban on oyster harvesting throughout the entire bay.

Overfishing isn’t the only culprit in the animal’s dwindling population. Two different diseases have been plaguing oysters in the bay since the 1980s. Watermen, who harvest the oysters, blame the diseases primarily for the low numbers, and consider the protected reefs as a suitable measure.

But are we okay with driving oysters to extinction everywhere but those sanctuaries? Baltimore’s identity cannot be separated from the ecological reality of the Chesapeake Bay. Oysters and blue crabs are more than a convenient Baltimore mascot (like Mr. Boh or the Utz girl), they are integral to our cultural history, and important partners in our eco-system.

If left to its own devices, nature usually does a good job of recovering, even after catastrophe (check the mutated but thriving animal populations living in the Chernobyl blast zone). Maybe we ought to cease harvesting oysters for a few years and see what happens.

Become an (Official) Master Naturalist; Impress Everyone

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Maybe you’re like me, and you walk around the woods and remark, “Look at all those pretty… plants!” but you couldn’t tell a white cedar from a poplar if your life depended on it. Or maybe you already know a lot, but your family is tired of your dinnertime speeches against invasive species.  Or maybe you just want more learning in your life.

In any case, you may want to consider becoming a Maryland Master Naturalist. It has a nice ring to it, right? Master Naturalists are specially trained volunteers who have gone through 48 hours of instruction and field training in the ecology, flora, and fauna of Maryland. The classes are taught by university professors and environmental specialists, so you’ll quickly become one of those cool people who walk through the forest and say things like, “Ah! A rare [whatever whatever],” and all your friends and family will be most impressed.

Of course, the intention of the program is not to allow you to lord it over everyone you know. The idea is to provide training to dedicated volunteers who can then organize their own volunteer groups and projects, lead tours, or do other helpful things. In fact, once you’ve been decreed a Master Naturalist, it’s up to you to provide 40 hours a year of volunteer service.  Previous projects have included a children’s book about bluebirds, a tree survey of Howard County parkland, among others.

The fall class in Chevy Chase is already full; registration for the Oct. 6-Nov. 12 course at Oregon Ridge Nature Center ends this week, so apply fast! Or you can hold out for spring classes in Columbia, Frederick County, and Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills.

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