“In this season of Thanksgiving, we are grateful to have a bipartisan group of Senators at the grown-ups’ table showing real leadership by advancing legislation to permanently reauthorize
Today federal legislation to protect and enhance the Yakima River basin’s fisheries, ecosystem and water supply was passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Securing Clean Water for D.C.
By Daniel White
Potomac River water flows to the faucets of more than 4 million people in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Ensuring clean water means keeping a close eye on what goes into our streams and rivers.
One of the people keeping tabs on local waterways is Kahlil Kettering, director of urban conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Maryland and D.C. After joining the Conservancy in March, Kettering took a boat trip down the Anacostia River. Some of the sights were sobering.
“You see what’s happened to communities over the years due to how stormwater runoff is channeled into the river,” Kettering says. “You see people fishing, you know their families are eating that fish and you worry about those fish carrying carcinogens.”
At the same time, he adds, you also see signs of nature’s resilience. “Thanks to concerted clean-up efforts and the protected tree canopy at the National Arboretum, bald eagles have returned to nest along the river,” Kettering says. “Imagine the difference we can make by solving our stormwater challenge.”
The challenge D.C. faces is common to many urban centers. When rain washes off paved surfaces — streets, parking lots and driveways — and from construction sites, golf courses and lawns, it picks up pollution. This stormwater runoff then flushes into drains, which empty into streams that flow to larger waters such as Rock Creek and the Anacostia and Potomac rivers.
A portion of the city’s stormwater flows to Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant, where it is treated and then discharged into the Potomac. In many parts of the city, however, stormwater is funneled directly into streams and rivers, untreated.
Stormwater runoff affects not only drinking water downstream, but also the health of the Chesapeake Bay. “The end of the line for our stormwater pollution is the Chesapeake Bay,” Kettering says. “In fact, stormwater runoff from our cities and suburbs is the only source of pollution in the bay that is still increasing.”
Kettering explains that the Conservancy’s solution is to balance pavement with green infrastructure — features such as constructed wetlands and rain gardens that absorb and filter polluted stormwater. Besides recreating natural processes in urban areas where stormwater now flushes directly into streams and rivers, these conservation projects also produce social benefits such as creating green jobs, reducing flood damage and beautifying neighborhoods.
The Conservancy will identify its first site and break ground on a green-infrastructure pilot project in spring 2016. In the meantime, Kettering says, the organization has been working to raise awareness of water issues through a dedicated website (connectthedrops.org) and to engage more residents in cleaning up local lands and waters.
During Earth Month, for instance, Kettering returned to the Anacostia for a volunteer clean-up day. Held in conjunction with the Anacostia Watershed Society, the event drew families from across the area. “Restoring the Anacostia River is an opportunity to work together, benefit everyone’s quality of life here and set an example for the rest of the nation,” Kettering says.
Student Comes Alive in Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat
By David Lavis, National Wildlife Federation
At the National Wildlife Federation, we know that nature nurtures. Since 1973, the National Wildlife Federation’s Schoolyard Habitat® Program has promoted creation of certified Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats in schools all across America. These school gardens are learning laboratories and outdoor classrooms where students engage in active, hands-on learning as they design, plant, and tend gardens. In the process, kids discover and connect with nature and, sometimes, even with themselves.
One teacher’s experience at Lanier Middle School in Fairfax County, VA, is especially moving. A troubled young student was living in a homeless shelter—his mother dead, father in jail, and sister a drug addict. He was smart but disengaged from the learning process. He was showing up at school sporadically but not participating.
The discerning teacher put him to work in the garden, where he joined her every day after school to clear weeds, plant native plants, apply mulch, and more. The student had never planted a thing before, and over time he became more open and communicative. They talked about his life and about his goals and future. He gradually came alive through working in the garden and started to engage with his teachers and peers. He began to excel. He went from being a failing student to earning straight A’s, all because of a caring teacher and that Schoolyard Habitat.
This student’s story is mirrored in schools across the country. The National Wildlife Federation currently has 5,100 certified Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats, making it the single largest school gardening program in America. More than a million students and 22,000 teachers tend and enjoy these gardens in schools in every state. There is no question that these school gardens impart lasting benefits. Research shows that humans are innately drawn to nature, and that contact with other living things has enduring positive mental health and social benefits. The National Wildlife Federation has found that participation in these school garden experiences, especially for urban youth who might not otherwise be exposed to nature, has a tremendous effect on children’s connection with the earth and how they view themselves in relation to the environment.
Support from National Wildlife Federation members and generous gifts from federal employees via the CFC campaign make it possible for the National Wildlife Federation (CFC# 10622) to grow the number of Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats across the nation and implement other environmental education programs, such as National Wildlife Federation Eco-Schools USA. This schoolwide program helps K-12 schools model environmentally sound practices and provides support for greening the curriculum and enhancing students’ academic achievement. Our goal is to reach as many students as possible, to instill a curiosity and reverence for wildlife – connecting them to nature, one garden at a time.
To learn more about National Wildlife Federation and their Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat program, visit them at www.nwf.org!
Preserving History At Pullman
Many Americans have fond memories of a national park experience. Whether it’s taking a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains with a friend, being amazed by the Grand Canyon on a family trip, or receiving a history lesson at Gettysburg, the experiences parks provide are incomparable. For that reason, nearly all Americans agree these sites—which embody the nation’s beauty, culture, and history—need to be protected. Though the parks face a number of threats—a lack of funding, environmental degradation, and urban development, just to name a few—the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) works every day across the country to protect these public lands so they can continue to educate and inspire for generations to come.
How do we do this? By speaking up on behalf of parks to keep them safe from threats, preserving and promoting the history they house, and conserving the lands that define and exemplify the greatest aspects of our nation.
NPCA is made up of more than one million park lovers devoted to advocating for and protecting our country’s favorite places. The nationwide team of activists, advocates, volunteers, community organizers, lobbyists, communicators, and more are on the forefront of the fight, providing opportunities for citizens to understand the threats facing parks and act against them. NPCA’s mission is to defend and strengthen parks. We encourage others to join the movement and lend their voices to protecting America’s favorite places.
This goal is no more apparent than in the Pullman District of Chicago, one of the most recent additions to the National Park System. This location, site of the Pullman strike of 1894, represents the diversity and interconnectedness of American history, being a place where significant advancements were made in American industrialization, black civil rights, and the labor movement.
In 1894 the Pullman Company laid off workers and cut pay while refusing to lower rents in their company town. George Pullman, president of the company, turned away workers who sought to raise concerns, and in return, they organized a strike. In an effort to support the strike, the American Railway Union—led by Eugene Debs—called for a massive boycott of Pullman railcars. The boycott grew to include more than 100,000 railroad workers who refused to work with Pullman cars. A federal injunction was issued against the ARU, and President Grover Cleveland sent in federal troops. By mid-July, the strike ended. While the workers did not achieve concessions from Pullman, it was during the time of the strike that President Cleveland created the national holiday known as Labor Day.
Later, in 1925, the Pullman Company became home to the first black labor union recognized by the American Federation of Labor, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BCSP). Black porters at Pullman had to pay for their food, lodging, and uniforms and perform unpaid preparatory work. After fighting against the combative Pullman Company, as well as racism both in the labor movement and in greater American society, the BSCP—led by A. Philip Randolph—was recognized by the National Mediation Board and the AFL in 1935. Finally, in 1937, they were able to sign their first collective bargaining agreement with Pullman.
In February 2015, Pullman was declared a national monument following NPCA’s efforts to build and amplify support for the designation among citizens and within Congress. Establishing Pullman as part of the National Park System solidifies its importance to America’s history, and ensures the site will be preserved for years to come. NPCA’s efforts lent power to the community voices that called for this designation, and pushed the call before Congress and the president, resulting in an outcome that all Americans and park lovers can celebrate.
Pullman is just one of hundreds of sites within America’s National Park System that tell our country’s story. This is what NPCA fights to protect. We dedicate every day to preserving and protecting our national parks future generation can enjoy the same park experiences and stories that so many Americans already hold close. Next year is the centennial of the National Park System’s creation, and we hope you can help the NPCA (CFC# 12069) protect America’s most precious places for the next 100 years.
Visit www.npca.org to learn more about the Pullman District and all of the sites the NPCA is working to preserve!
Public lands need to be a focus in the weeks leading up to the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21). The event is an annual meeting for all countries that want to take action on climate. This year’s conference, taking place Nov.
2015 Environmental Wins
EarthShare’s 500+ member organizations are working every day to protect wildlife, fight climate change, and build healthy communities in the US and around the world. In fact, you’ll find our members behind some of the biggest environmental victories of the past year. With your help, we can keep up the fight for a healthy future — please consider making a tax-deductible year-end gift today to support the work we'll be doing in 2016!
Let’s celebrate everything our members accomplished in 2015, including:
- Saw the passage of California’s SB 350 bill that significantly increases the state’s renewable energy mix and doubles the efficiency of existing buildings (Environmental Defense Fund).
- Successfully pressured companies like McDonald’s and KFC to eliminate unsustainable palm oil from their products (Union of Concerned Scientists).
- Launched a program that gives low-income households and communities better access to and funding for clean energy resources (Rocky Mountain Institute).
- Worked with the White House to implement a new national strategy to protect pollinators, a federal plan to fight honeybee and butterfly declines through habitat conservation and other measures (Xerces Society; NatureServe).
- Won fight to tighten water discharge limits at a BP oil refinery in Washington state (Friends of the Earth)
- Pressured the government of Alberta, Canada to conserve more than 250,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat in one of the most biologically rich landscapes in the country (Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative).
- Provided capacity-building support to small cocoa farmers through a partnership with NYU Stern (Rainforest Alliance).
- Achieved an environmental justice victory by helping EPA close loopholes that allowed industry to emit massive amounts of air pollution in low income communities and communities of color (Sierra Club).
- Affirmed the right of citizens in South Africa to access environmental information from corporations (Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide).
- Got Lowe’s stores to eliminate toxic phthalates from their flooring products (Center for Health, Environment, and Justice).
- Successfully advocated for the State Department’s denial of the Keystone XL tarsands pipeline (Sierra Club; Natural Resources Defense Council; Defenders of Wildlife).
- Protected the final 100 acres of the largest stretch of unfragmented forest in Appalachia: Rocky Fork in Tennessee (The Conservation Fund).
- Protected the Buffalo National River in Arkansas from the polluting hog industry through legal challenges (National Parks Conservation Association).
- Opposed the oil industry’s attempts to drill in the Arctic Ocean. In 2015, Shell announced it would no longer explore for oil off the coast of Alaska (Ocean Conservancy).
- Won a legal fight that protects the Tongass National Forest in Alaska from development and logging (Earthjustice).
- Supported Portland, Oregon’s ban on toxic bee-killing pesticides (Beyond Pesticides).
- Convinced Boston’s City Council to take a moral stand on climate change and pass a resolution calling on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to divest all of its assets from fossil fuels (Alliance for Climate Education).
- Published a roadmap for doubling US energy productivity by 2030 (Alliance to Save Energy).
These victories for our air, land, water and wildlife wouldn’t be possible without donor support like yours. Please join Team EarthShare and help support our incredible member groups by giving a year-end gift to help us continue our work. Thank you!
“We’re alarmed this bill will only further threaten America’s national parks. It would effectively dismantle one of America’s most successful conservation tools on the cusp of the Park System Centennial. We Urge Chairman Bishop to reconsider this damaging prop
This is happening on the Discovery Channel on December 2nd! It’s worth watching for sure!
“On Wednesday, December 2nd, Discovery will present a global broadcast of Racing Extinction, a powerful eco-thriller fromAcademy Award®–winning director, Louie Psihoyos. Inspired by the message in the film, #StartWith1Thing is a call-to-action to each and every one of us across the globe to make small changes in our lives that will have a huge impact on the world.” Click here! You can ‘Join the Race’ & ‘Stand Up & Be Heard!’
Chick-fil-A came up with a solution to the styrofoam cups they use for their beverages. It’s a story and journey of the cup to a bench. It’s pretty cool how the process creates a much better ending. For all..including Mama Earth!
In 2012, Chick-fil-A became the first fast food restaurant to take on polystyrene. Agile entrepreneurs helped us find our way in creating the large-scale foam recycling program we use today. Now Chick-fil-A foam cups make up park benches, writing pens, and even team member name badges.
The process is complex. The journey requires three facilities located across the country. So go ahead, toss your cup – lid, straw, liquid and all – into a foam cup recycling bin, and pull up a seat to see the fascinating process that gives your cup a second life.” More here.
You drink. You toss. You leave. But have you ever wondered what really happens to your Chick-fil-A cup after you leave the restaurant? Click here to see the journey of cup to bench!