Archive for the ‘Urban Nature’ Category

Here is a group I want to find out a lot more about: The Center for Land Use Interpretation. I discovered them from a little sidebar in the New York Times on the Hudson River which mentioned their new book, Up River: Man-Made Sites of Interest on the Hudson from the Battery to Troy. According to their website, the CLUI:

is a research organization involved in exploring, examining, and understanding land and landscape issues. The Center employs a variety of methods to pursue its mission – engaging in research, classification, extrapolation, and exhibition.

But that seems to be putting it mildly. They seem to have a fascination for all the many ways that man and landscape intersect for good or for bad. And their medium is based in the visual. They have many other books, online features, newsletters (going back to 1995!), and exhibitions on everything from trash to parking spaces. I’m going to have to spend a lot more time checking them out.


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Last week I was on the Georgia coast for a work trip. I stayed an extra day to tag along on a couple of field trips arranged by one of my colleagues and got to visit a huge nesting colony of Federally Endangered Wood Stork, Mycteria americana at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.

Here are a couple of my photos from the visit, taken from the bird observation tower that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists use to study the birds:

Wood Storks nesting at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Wood Storks nesting at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Wood Stork at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Wood Stork at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Earlier in the week, an article appeared in The Brunswick News about the Wood Stork in Georgia:

Wed, Jul 9, 2008

Perched in a towering thin tree on Jekyll Island, a colony of tall slender birds sits above the sand.

It is an unusual site, causing passersby to stop and take a second look.

What the spectators are seeing is more than a striking scene. It is proof of nature restoring itself.

When wood storks began nesting on the Georgia coast about 50 years ago, the endangered species was seeking refuge. In the decades since the birds have been nesting in the area, their numbers have steadily increased, although they are still listed on the federal endangered species list.
In recent years, the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Interior, as well as other private entities, in an attempt to restore the wood stork population by monitoring the birds, creating protected wildlife areas and artificial nesting platforms.

It seems these efforts have paid off.

This year, the Coastal Resources Division has declared that the birds are making a strong comeback. When counting nests throughout the region, the CRD tallied an estimated 2,225 nesting wood stork pairs, said Brad Winn, program manager for the DNR Nongame Conservation Section.

More than 500 pairs of nesting birds were found in the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge in McIntosh County, making up about a fourth of the state’s entire wood stork population.

Because the refuge can manipulate water levels, it makes nesting and feeding easier for the bird, allowing them to thrive, Winn said.

“Those are impressive numbers,” Winn said. “But I wouldn’t give us the credit. That belongs to the birds. They are most responsible for their own growth.”

Historically, the long, skeletal-looking birds made their home in the Florida Everglades. But development and massive changes to water sources created harsh conditions for the birds, pushing them to find a new home on the Georgia coast.

The recent high count of wood storks is proof that the birds have successfully adapted to their Peach State habitat, Winn said.

How long that will hold remains to be seen. The draining of wetlands along the coast to make room for development is threatening the habitat and nesting areas of the birds.

“Humans are taking water off the marshes and wetlands, and they can’t successfully nest,” Winn said.

Despite the disturbance of human development to nesting grounds, Winn has hopes the creatures will continue to thrive.

“Wood storks have a long life, about 20 years,” he said. “As long as we can maintain a healthy wetland system and as long as they are able to reproduce, we expect the wood stork numbers to increase.”

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I have been waiting to post on this for over a week while I became inspired to add some value to simply linking to Green Maps Around the World, but I really can’t add anything to their own self-description:

Green Map ® System promotes inclusive participation in sustainable community development around the world, using mapmaking as our medium.

GMS supports local Green Mapmakers as they create perspective-changing community ‘portraits’ which act as comprehensive inventories for decision-making and as practical guides for residents and tourists.Mapmaking teams pair our adaptable tools and universal iconography with local knowledge and leadership to chart green living, ecological, social and cultural resources.

Over 300 vibrant Green Maps have published to date, and hundreds more have been created in classrooms and workshops by youth and adults. Both the mapmaking process and the resulting Green Maps have tangible effects that:

  • Strengthen local-global sustainability networks
  • Expand the demand for healthier, greener choices
  • Help successful initiatives spread to even more communities

Green Map System has been developed collaboratively since 1995, and is now active in 400 cities, villages and neighborhoods in 50 countries. GMS and its network of regional hubs and community-led Green Map projects share the award-winning outcomes through their online profiles, blogs, Green Map books and media productions, workshops and other public presentations.

This website is the gathering point for both the makers and users of Green Maps, and offers many inspiring resources including our new organizational booklet to anyone interested in a sustainable future.

Online since 1995, GreenMap.org was re-launched in May 2007, with an exciting new presentation-collaboration-resource center for Mapmakers (we named this content management system the Greenhouse for its ability to cultivate and preserve our diverse ‘garden of Green Maps’). At that point, there were 400 registered Green Map projects from 51 countries. Find a List of all at About the Mapmakers along with more background. In the continually expanding Maps section, find fresh, new locally-authored illustrated profiles and Green Maps from all parts of the world!

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via GeoLounge (check out this link to see some sample maps):

 Haringey Council (located in London, England), is using heat mapping to highlight energy inefficient homes within their jurisdiction. The city council hired an aircraft fitted with a thermal imager to fly over all the homes in the jurisdiction to capture heat loss. The houses were then color coded based on a heat loss scale with bright red for the highest level of heat loss and bright blue indicating the lowest loss of heat. All of the data is available online for the public to see. Any visitor to the Haringey Interactive Heat Loss Map can hover their mouse over individual homes to get the address. The hope of the council is that a public display will shame some homeowners into insulating their homes to bring down heat loss. The original thermal mapping was down back in 2000 but new flights were taken this past March and now a 2000 and 2007 version of the heat loss map are available from the Home Heat Loss page of the Haringey Council web site. If the side by side comparison (see below) is any indicator, the heat loss map is making a difference in the reduction of energy loss in at least some of the homes. The mapping and processing was done by www.hotmapping.co.uk.

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I saw this article in the NY Times over the weekend and remembered a colleague telling me about this odd southern pastime.

The Catfish Are Biting (and It Hurts)

COWDEN, Ill., July 22 — Stripped to the waist and armed with nothing but his bare hands, John Burns plunged headfirst into a half-submerged hollow log in the Kaskaskia River, hoping to encounter a male catfish guarding its nest inside.

Mark Ramsey, waist-deep in the Kaskaskia River, caught a catfish with his bare hands.


If all went as planned, the fish would attack and Mr. Burns would grab its powerful lower jaw and, with the help of his friend Howard Ramsey, hoist it to the surface of the river, just outside Cowden.

Mr. Burns and Mr. Ramsey were noodling, or hand fishing, a popular pastime on the lakes and rivers of the Southeast and Midwest. Noodling dates to the first American Indians. Depending on who is doing it and where, it may be called hogging, tickling, grabbling or stumping.

Then, there was a whole show about it on the GA DNR spot on public television on Sunday. Maybe somebody is trying to tell me something – not sure what.

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Fish Depression

I apologize for my lack of posting here lately. As I mentioned a while ago, I started my new job working for a large conservation non-profit about a month ago and it has taken most of my time and energy. During that time there have been some wonderful news items and crafty creations that I thought, “I should post this to Visualize Whirled Peas!” but obviously never did. There are some potential changes afoot for this blog, including the possibility of adding a second blogger and joining a prominent blog network. Stay tuned for news on that front.

In the meantime, here is a comic from the wonderful Stephanie McMillan of Minimum Security:

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I have just returned from vacation #2 for the summer – to the Peaks of Otter area of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Much soul refreshment was to be had in the wilds of western Virginia. We saw four snakes (three species) in one day on one trail!

Timber rattlesnakes (Croatalus horridus)

Northern copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen)

Eastern gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)

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