Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Decorah, IA Eagle Camera is black online (with an egg)!

The egg was spotted first on February 23.

Live streaming video by Ustream

Sunday, February 23, 2014

South Branch and Cacapon reached "Action Level" this week

This is one of the most interesting times of year for phenologists.  Weather is even less predictable than in hurricane season, yet some predictable things like crocuses and daffodils and robins and tree buds are appearing on schedule.

This is the third time recently when the South Branch reached "Action Level", which is when low-lying areas become vulnerable.  Functionally, in a healthy river bed this is when all of the regular expansion areas are full and the river is at risk of expanding onto the flood plains. There is an interesting correlation/causation exploration here.  It's not so much a coincidence of similar precipitation events, but instead it's likely

Meanwhile the Cacapon exceeded it's Action Level and Minor Flooding level near the mouth at Great Cacapon.

Monday, February 17, 2014

It's almost that time...

Perhaps some of you are ready to start things in the greenhouse. (We still need a few weeks to get our act together.)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Forest over a year.

Over 40,000 images from Samuel Orr's East-facing camera contribute to this documentation of the forest's change over a year.

Monday, February 3, 2014

1936 Flood Photo

I learned of this photo through Charlie Walbridge.   Chain Bridge connects the northernmost points of Arlington with the westernmost points of the District of Columbia.  It also happens to be the site (and at the time pictured below) of the highest water velocity recorded in nature.  

Chain Bridge spans the outflow of the Little Falls rapid, one of the few large rapids among those in the Mid-Atlantic affected by tides.

At high tide and summer levels, you can attain up the Virginia side of the rapid and run the Maryland or Virginia channels, and then repeat the process without getting out of your boat.  Of course, at the record level pictured here, you'd be lucky to make it upstream in a jet boat with a racing hull.  Even if you overcame the current, the partially submerged tree trunks speeding by would likely get you. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Diesel spill along Rt. 50 threatens Mill Creek and the South Branch

Thanks to Anna for alerting us to this for the Times-News.
January 31, 2014

Diesel spill forces Romney water plant shutdown

VANDERLIP, W.Va. — The city of Romney pump station ceased pumping water from the South Branch of the Potomac River around 3:15 p.m. due to an accident in Mechanicsburg Gap on U.S. Route 50.

Rick Davis, chief operator of the Romney water plant, said he received a phone call from the 911 center and was told about the accident.

The concern was that either diesel fuel or gasoline was leaking from a tractor-trailer that lost control and went sideways leaning into Mill Creek.

“We stopped pumping when they called. We were about finished for the day anyway,” Davis said.

The pumping station pumps water every day until late morning or early afternoon to fill the tanks.

 Romney Mayor Dan Hileman said, “It sounds like the system worked. 911 called the water plant and they were able to shut down. For today, we’re safe.”

West Virginia State Police closed U.S. 50 while the truck was being removed, according to the Romney Volunteer Fire Company.

Sources said the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection was on scene, as was the Romney Rescue Squad.

Hileman said before the city pumps Saturday, “We’ll test to make sure there is nothing in the water supply.

“It’s a bad scene. We’re lucky. This accident makes it very clear what can happen to a water supply. If this were some sort of chemical spill it could have far-reaching health issues.”

It was just this week that Hileman spoke with the Times-News regarding his concern about the city’s water supply.

Hileman said there should be long-term planning in case the city’s water source disappears or becomes contaminated.

Also this week, Sen. Joe Manchin said he was equally concerned and that he would do whatever he could to help keep a potable supply available for residents not only in Hampshire County but across the nation.

Mill Creek flows directly into the South Branch, which is the only water supply to Romney and much of Hampshire County.

Contact Marla Pisciotta at marlapisciotta@frontier.com.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Fawns along the road video.

I don't know where this was filmed. It's a few years old.   -  Jim

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sunrise will get earlier beginning tomorrow!

While the winter solstice (December 21) is the shortest day of the year, sunrise continues to get later until January 8-11.  Starting tomorrow, sunrise will get earlier, initially by less than 1 minute per day, but the change will get more dramatic by March.

You can build customized calendars for your location at http://goo.gl/m2CzhH

Estimating Remaining Daylight

During the late afternoon, you can determine the remaining daylight on your fingers using this simple trick to measure the remaining daylight without a watch. Count the finger widths between the sun and the horizon. Each finger is equivalent to 15 minutes, with each hand totaling an hour.

Source: http://www.pinterest.com/source/groovymatter.com/

Monday, January 6, 2014

Might the cold snap affect invasives?

Excerpted from Minnesota's


MPR News Weather and its underlying science       

Extreme cold may wipe out high percentage emerald ash borer larvae

Here’s one resident who may welcome the extreme cold wave headed for Minnesota. Your local ash tree.

The extreme temperatures moving in with Sunday’s arctic blast may kill off a significant percentage of emerald ash borer larvae, according to one of the premier forestry experts in Minnesota.


Monday, December 30, 2013

South Branch reaches 11.24 feet downstream

And in the end, the level exceeded the predictions:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

WV Funding Priorities Survey

   SURVEY LINK:  Click here  

2014 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Funding Priorities Survey
In anticipation of the 2014 round of Specialty Crop Block Grant Program-Farm Bill (SCBGP-FB) funding, we would like to request assistance from the agriculture community to determine funding priorities. The funding agency, USDA, provides general priorities but allows states to add their own topics based on needs as long as the selected projects meet the criteria of solely enhancing specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, horticultural products, honey, maple syrup and value added products manufactured in the state that contain at least 51% of eligible specialty crops. For a complete list, visit here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

South Branch still rising downstream

The Moorefield gage shows the South Branch crested overnight, but river levels continue to rise downstream at Springfield and on the main stem of the Potomac at Paw Paw.  The original prediction of 8 feet for Springfield was reduced to 7 feet yesterday and then 6 feet overnight, but the actual level may approach 7 feet.  The river will only reach the Action Level downstream at Little Falls, where special gates are raised to protect riverfront restaurants in Georgetown.

Moorefield (South Branch)

Springfield (South Branch)

Paw Paw (main stem of the Potomac)

Little Falls (Washington D.C. / Arlington, VA)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pilgrim's Pride and Localities Cooperate to Protect the South Branch

from the WV Chesapeake Bay Update:

Pilgrim's Pride, Localities Unite to Build Wastewater Plant
Reprinted from the Bay Journal
written by Rona Cobell on Oct. 23, 2013
The Moorefield wastewater treatment plant became operational in October of this year.

Moorefield, WV, is a small town that faced a problem many small towns encounter: How to pay for a new, expensive wastewater treatment system when residents' wallets are already stretched by high taxes and low salaries.

But the way it solved its problem makes Moorefield unique. The town of 5,000 residents partnered with a company, Pilgrim's Pride, and two other nearby systems, all of which needed to improve their waste treatment.

Together they built a $40 million treatment system that will reduce total nitrogen loads by 90,000 pounds a year and total phosphorus by 93,000 pounds a year. The system will compost much of its own waste and sell the products, as well as reuse some of its water to save money.

The system prepares to go online this month, after 13 long years in the making. West Virginia environmental officials say it is the first enhanced nutrient removal system in the state. Another is likely coming to Martinsburg in the next few years. Many environmental activists say, it's long overdue.

 To read full article and visit the Bay Journal website, 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Water Through the Lens of Faith

Join us for Living Waters: An Interfaith Summit Nov. 19!
Photo by Krista Schlyer, iLCPPhoto by Krista Schlyer/iLCP.
Click Here to Register
Living Waters: An Interfaith Summit: celebrating our environment, community, and faith.

At this Interfaith Summit you will join others from the faith and conservation communities to examine water through the lens of faith.

Throughout the day, people will reconnect with the wonder of water and continue their journey of faith while helping to restore and protect Virginia's rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. It will be a day of learning and collaborative discussion to develop "next steps" to improve water quality in our communities through the coming year. 

When: Tuesday, November 19, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 

Where: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Opequon Creek Project Team is Watershed Assn of the Year

This group is supported by our own Alana Hartman of WV DEP.

Watershed Association of the Year
The 2013 Watershed Association of the Year was awarded to Opequon Creek Project Team.  This is a group that is out and about and very busy.  They sponsor Make It Shine stream clean ups that provide improved recreational experience for the local residents who use the creek to canoe, kayak, wade, and fish.

Fun Floats are a part of their community education program to introduce residents to the beauty of the Creek and part of the effort to increase membership. Education Hollis Oak brings extra money and the knowledge of the importance of buffers to stakeholders throughout the watershed during the “Hollis Oak” tree sale.  They also have found value in presentations. At every buffer planting the president, briefs the participants on the value of the creek, the watershed, and organization’s mission. Members also have used the Project WET program to educate the young people attending events.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Eastern Panhandle Regional Farm Gathering

per Steve M.:

You're Invited!
to the... 
Eastern Panhandle
 Regional Farm Gathering

We are excited to extend an invitation to you to take part in the upcoming Eastern Panhandle Regional Farm Gathering, to be held at the South Branch Inn on December 4th, 2013 from 9:00AM - 3:30 PM!   
At this event, you will have a chance to network with peers, meet service providers, and have training opportunities in, marketing, post-harvest handling, getting started with farmers market vending and more! Qualifying WV farmers will also have the opportunity to win a high tunnel package, while qualifying WV farmers markets or farm to school programs will have the opportunity to win a marketing/promotion package courtesy of Change the Future and the WVDE. 
This event is hosted by the WV Farmers Market Association and Change the Future WV with support from the WVDE's Farm-to-School program and in partnership with WVU Extension Services.  The registration deadline is November 25th, and spots are limited, so be sure to respond quickly! 
Workshops Offered:In addition to the group activities we will be doing, we will also offer the opportunity for some training during our break-out sessions.  These

Monday, October 28, 2013

Supporting Potomac RiverKeeper

SpeakeasyDC’s Swimming Upstream: Stories about going against the current




SpeakeasyDC returns to Patagonia Georgetown on Thursday, November 7, 2013  with six humorous, heartfelt, and personal true stories on the night’s theme – Swimming Upstream: Stories about going against the current. 50% of proceeds go to support  Potomac Riverkeeper and SpeakeasyDC.


8PM @ Patgonia Georgetown
1048 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007

Monday, October 21, 2013

Updated – Register for Watershed Academy Webcast on the “National Stormwater Calculator”

--Webcast rescheduled due to Government Shutdown

              Join us for a Watershed Academy Webcast on Oct. 23, 2013 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm Eastern on the new “National Stormwater Calculator.”  This new calculator is designed for anyone interested in reducing runoff from a property including: site developers, landscape architects, urban planners, homeowners and others.  It can help users decide which stormwater management practices to install such as a rain garden or a green roof.  This calculator is a desktop application that estimates the annual amount of rainwater and frequency of runoff from a specific site anywhere in the United States (including Puerto Rico). Estimates are based on local soil conditions, land cover, and historic rainfall records.

                The Webcast presentation slides are posted on the Website and archives of the Webcast will be available after the Webcast for those that cannot attend the live Webcast.

You can download the Stormwater Calculator at www.epa.gov/nrmrl/wswrd/wq/models/swc/

Register for the Webcast at  www.epa.gov/watershedwebcasts

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Heirloom Seed Suppliers

 Here's a List of Over 100 Heirloom Seed Suppliers

Natural Cures Not Medicine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/naturalcuresnotmedicine

Image: Raw For Beauty
Here is a useful list of 100+ companies supplying heirloom / non-GMO / organic seeds. If health is wealth, then this page is solid gold! Please share this important information. If you have any additions or corrections for this list, please let us know! We welcome genuine suppliers based anywhere in the world. Let’s make the biggest and best list we can!

 Click "read more" to see the list (it's and image, so it may load slow):

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Measuring Chestnuts on Mine Reclamation Sites

from the West Virginia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation:

As part of our Conservation Innovation Grant to plant American chestnut and other mixed hardwoods on reclaimed mine lands, WV Chapter members and students from Glenville State College planted 625 chestnuts on each of two sites this past spring for a total of 1,250 seeds in the ground!  These plantings serve the purpose of reclaiming an altered ecosystem to benefit water quality and wildlife, act as a cornerstone for restoration of the American chestnut, and help evaluate the genetic lines that were used on site to improve the quality of trees being bred at our research farms in Meadowview, VA.

Now we need YOUR HELP to get back to the two sites to check on the success of each planting. I will be providing a brief, classroom based training that will review the background of the plantings and go over how to take various measurements within a TACF progeny planting.  Aspects of mine land planting, what to look for regarding general tree health, and chestnut specific issues will also be covered. There will be plenty of time for questions and participants of any knowledge or experience level are encouraged to attend. We will then visit each site on separate dates to assess the plantings. Attendance at the training is not required to participate in measurements, but it is encouraged. Actual time spent measuring in the field should be two hours or less.

Here are the details for the training and the two measurement work parties:

TRAINING: September 18:
Room 234 at the new GSC Waco Center on Mineral Road in Glenville from 1-3pm. Please RSVP to help with planning, though anyone can “walk-in” for this training. RSVP to matt@acf.org or 434-906-9312

Measure site 1: September 25.
A group will be leaving Glenville at 8am to arrive at the mine entrance gate by 9:30 am. You can meet us in Glenville or at the mine entrance. The mine entrance is just a few miles from Cowen, WV. RSVP to matt@acf.org or 434-906-9312 if interested in participating and further instructions will be provided.

Measure site 2: TBA
I need a few motivated volunteers to join me on the mountain. This will be a great opportunity to see mine reclamation on an active surface mine site (don’t worry, we will not be working within an active part of the mine!). The site is roughly 15 miles West of Oak Hill as the crow flies. I will be giving away a Restoration Chestnut 1.0 B3F3 containerized seedling to the first 5 individuals who sign up and make it out to measure with me. Contact me with interest and we will figure out a date and time – matt@acf.org or 434-906-9312.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

USA-NPN Tree color watch

from the USA National Phenology Network:

Special Focus: Maples, Oaks, and Poplars 
 Nature's Notebook logo
Start watching for leaf color change
Fall is just around the corner! Now is the time to start watching for color change on your trees. This is an important change that we would like you to document, so keep those observations coming! Your reports will be valuable for documenting "the beginning of the end" - of the growing season, that is. 

New to Nature's Notebook? Learn more about the 
MOP campaign. It's not too late to contribute valuable observations on these trees. Leaf color change is one of the most important events to document!

Through this effort, you are contributing directly to scientific discovery and your participation is truly appreciated.

Thank you for helping out on this important project! 
Quick Links

Tree Tracker badge
Learn more...

Why do leaves change color?
Where are leaves changing color now?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Livestock wading in the river

I'm puzzled that so many South Branch farmers reject programs that protect wetlands and riparian zones.  This gives me hope.  - Jim E.

Reposted from the Center for Justice Blog:

State of the Creek

In a ruling with broad ramifications for how effectively Washington can regulate water pollution, the state Supreme Court rules to protect a contaminated waterway from “wallowing” livestock.

Lemire v. Ecology, a case decided earlier today by the Washington Supreme Court, is among the most important state environmental cases in recent years.

At issue, simply, is whether Washington regulators can effectively take action to stop what is known as “nonpoint” water pollution. “Point source” pollution is that which comes out a discharge pipe in to a waterway. “Nonpoint” is basically everything else, including polluted run-off from agricultural operations, or massive shopping mall parking lots. Because of the diversity of sources and investments needed to curtail polluted run-off, getting a handle on nonpoint pollution is often the largest headache in achieving compliance with state and federal water quality standards.

A Lemire cow at Pataha Creek. (Photo Courtesy Washington Department of Ecology.)
A Lemire cow at Pataha Creek. (Photo Courtesy Washington Department of Ecology.)

In the Lemire case, it was cows. Cattle rancher Joseph Lemire has been allowing his cattle unguarded access to Pataha Creek, a tributary to the Tucannon River not far from where the Tucannon joins the Snake River in the southeast corner of the state. Lemire’s ranch was identified a decade ago by Ecology as having a detrimental effect on Pataha Creek, which flows through the ranch. After trying to work collaboratively with Lemire for six years, the agency finally issued an order to compel the rancher to better protect the creek from the cattle that were trampling the stream banks, “wallowing” in the water, and, as you might expect, defecating into and near the polluted creek.

Lemire lost a challenge to the state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board but then challenged the board’s ruling in Columbia County Superior Court. The superior court judge overruled Ecology and the hearings board, finding that the enforcement action was unwarranted and that it also represented an unconstitutional “takings” of Lemire’s economic rights to use his land.

But in an 8-1 opinion authored by Justice Debra L. Stephens, the state Supreme Court today reversed the lower court’s decision, upholding Ecology’s regulatory authority under state law. In the decision, Justice Stephens wrote that the “plain language” of Washington’s Pollution Control Act “give Ecology the authority to regulate nonpoint source pollution discharge.”

As for Lemire’s contention that his actions do not require a permit under the federal Clean Water Act, Justice Stephens wrote, that “is irrelevant to the question of Ecology’s authority to regulate his activity under state law.

Here, the court cited an amicus brief filed by Waterkeepers Washington (including the Spokane Riverkeeper.)

“As amici Waterkeepers Washington explain,” she wrote, “Lemire’s actions may not be subject to a permit requirement under the Clean Water Act, but his actions are well within the state’s jurisdiction to prevent and control pollution within its borders.”

Today’s decisions got an enthusiastic response from Rick Eichstaedt, the Center’s executive director, who was the lead author on the Waterkeepers Washington amicus brief in the case.”

“This will have giant implications to address pollution across the state of Washington,” Eichstaedt said.
“We think this decision makes sense,” added Spokane Riverkeeper Bart Mihailovich. “We can’t simply place onerous requirements on cities and industries. Everyone needs to share the responsibility for cleaning up our water bodies. Lemire thought he was immune from the law and the Supreme Court rightfully found he was wrong.”

Lemire can appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, Eichstaedt noted. But, Eichstaedt points out, the U.S. Supreme Court would have the discretion of whether to hear the appeal and it usually reserves review to cases involving interpretation of federal law or the Constitution, not matters solely of state law as were involved in this case.

–Tim Connor for the Center for Justice

Monday, August 19, 2013

Webinar - Harmful Algal Blooms and Nutrient Pollution

flyer front cover 

Summer Webcast Series to Build Awareness About Harmful Algal Blooms and Nutrient Pollution

Don Anderson from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Steve Morton from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will continue the series with a discussion of innovative methods for identifying algae and their blooms, and how government and research institutions and even the public can help to monitor their outbreak and spread.

To register, visit www.epa.gov/watershedwebcasts

1 1/2 hour Webcast

1 p.m.-2:30 pm Eastern  12 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Central     11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Mountain   10 a.m.- 11:30 am Pacific

Sunday, August 18, 2013

TACF Recognizes James R. Egenrieder

Even though I'm a graduate of the PSU School of Forestry, it was my dad's involvement with TACF that led to the BC3 generation Chestnut Research at the Wood House Research Farm here in Hampshire County.  

When we were little kids, my dad was frustrated with the chaos of the first day of trout season and for a couple of years he and my uncles stocked Fishing Creek with trout so we could have a more peaceful experience.  Fly fishing is certainly part of my identity, and my youngest brother Tim is a professional, captaining boats up to 50 tons but mostly taking is own boat out into Boston Harbor for enormous Striped bass on light tackle.

Set good examples for your kids and include them in your interests.  You'll be surprised how much they're watching.


American Chestnut Foundation PA

Honoring Jim Egenrieder

Honoring Jim Egenrieder

This month, we honor Jim Egenrieder (seen above on left) who has generously served as the chapter treasurer for the past 5 years. Jim will be taking on greater responsibilities with the Manada Conservancy and transferring his duties as treasurer to PA-TACF member John Civitts. Jim is just seven decades old and is a life-long resident of the Harrisburg area. He is retired from AMP Incorporated and a career in systems engineering. Jim and his wife, Ann, have four sons- Jim, Rick, Brian, and Tim.

Jim is the manager of the Boyd (chestnut) Orchard at the Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area since 2002, a board member since 2004, and the Chapter’s Treasurer since 2008. He has assisted at other orchards at PSU and in Dauphin, Cumberland, Lancaster, and York counties.
In addition to his PA-TACF responsibilities, Jim currently serves as a Penn State Dauphin County Master Gardener, and he also serves as a board member and volunteers on several committees for the Manada Conservancy.

Jim’s current interests are keeping abreast of environmental issues, working (some say he is a workaholic), reverse engineering, thinking beyond the box, landscaping, visiting his grandchildren, and playing sports games with his border collies.

Join us in wishing Jim well in all of his future endeavors. He has made lasting improvements and contributions in his time here and we are grateful for his willingness and dedication. He will be missed!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tomato Plant Problems

With the unusual rainfall we've had this year, we're likely to see a variety of tomato plant ailments.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A useful perspective on bees and CCD

Reposted from Quartz:

Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

The media is abuzz once again with stories about dying bees. According to a new report from the USDA, scientists have been unable to pinpoint the cause of colony collapse disorder (CCD), the mysterious affliction causing honey bees to disappear from their hives. Possible factors include parasites, viruses, and a form of pesticide known as neonicotinoids. Whatever the cause, the results of a recent beekeeper survey suggest that the problem is not going away. For yet another year, nearly one-third of US honey bee colonies did not make it through the winter.

Given the variety of crops that rely on honey bees for pollination, the colony collapse story is an important one. But if you were to rely on media reports alone, you might believe that honey bees are in short supply. NPR recently declared that we may have reached “a crisis point for crops.” Others warned of an impending “beepocalypse” or a “beemageddon.”

In a rush to identify the culprit of the disorder, many journalists have made exaggerated claims about the impacts of CCD. Most have uncritically accepted that continued bee losses would be a disaster for America’s food supply. Others speculate about the coming of a second “silent spring.” Worse yet, many depict beekeepers as passive, unimaginative onlookers that stand idly by as their colonies vanish.
This sensational reporting has confused rather than informed discussions over CCD. Yes, honey bees are dying in above average numbers, and it is important to uncover what’s causing the losses, but it hardly spells disaster for bees or America’s food supply.

Consider the following facts about honey bees and CCD.
For starters, US honey bee colony numbers are stable, and they have been since before CCD hit the scene in 2006. In fact, colony numbers were higher in 2010 than any year since 1999. How can this be? Commercial beekeepers, far from being passive victims, have actively rebuilt their colonies in response to increased mortality from CCD. Although average winter mortality rates have increased from around 15% before 2006 to more than 30%, beekeepers have been able to adapt to these changes and maintain colony numbers.

Source: USDA NASS Honey Production Report

Rebuilding colonies is a routine part of modern beekeeping. The most common method involves splitting healthy colonies into multiple hives. The new hives, known as “nucs,” require a new queen bee, which can be purchased readily from commercial queen breeders for about $15-$25 each. Many beekeepers split their hives late in the year in anticipation of winter losses. The new hives quickly produce a new brood and often replace more bees than are lost over the winter. Other methods of rebuilding colonies include buying packaged bees (about $55 for 12,000 worker bees and a fertilized queen) or replacing the queen to improve the health of the hive.

“The state of the honey bee population—numbers, vitality, and economic output—are the products of not just the impact of disease but also the economic decisions made by beekeepers and farmers,” economists Randal Rucker and Walter Thurman write in a summary of their working paper on the impacts of CCD. Searching through a number of economic measures, the researchers came to a surprising conclusion: CCD has had almost no discernible economic impact.

But you don’t need to rely on their study to see that CCD has had little economic effect. Data on colonies and honey production are publicly available from the USDA. Like honey bee numbers, US honey production has shown no pattern of decline since CCD was first detected. In 2010, honey production was 14% greater than it was in 2006. (To be clear, US honey production and colony numbers are lower today than they were 30 years ago, but as Rucker and Thurman explain, this gradual decline happened prior to 2006 and cannot be attributed to CCD).

Source: USDA NASS Honey Production Report

What about the prices of queen bees and packaged bees? Because of higher winter losses, beekeepers are forced to purchase more packaged queen and worker bees to rebuild their lost hives. Yet even these prices seem unaffected. Commercial queen breeders are able to rear large numbers of queen bees quickly, often in less than a month, putting little to no upward pressure on bee prices following CCD.

And what about the prices consumers pay for crops pollinated by honey bees? Are these skyrocketing along with fears of the beepocalypse? Rucker and Thurman find that the cost of CCD on almonds, one of the most important crops from a honey bee pollinating perspective, is trivial. The implied increase in the shelf price of a pound of Smokehouse Almonds is a mere 2.8 cents, and the researchers consider that to be an upper-bound estimate of the impact on fruits and vegetables.

There is, however, one measure that has been significantly affected by CCD—and that’s the pollination fees beekeepers charge almond producers. These fees have more than doubled in recent years, though the fees began rising a few years before CCD was reported. Rucker and Thurman attribute a portion of this increase to the onset of CCD. But even this impact has a bright side: For many beekeepers, the increase in almond pollination fees has more than offset the costs they have incurred rebuilding their lost colonies.

Overcoming CCD is not without its challenges, but beekeepers have thus far proven themselves adept at navigating such changing conditions. Honey bees have long been afflicted with a variety of diseases. The Varroa mite, a blood-thirsty bee parasite, has been a scourge of beekeepers since the 1980s. While CCD has resulted in larger and more mysterious losses, the resourcefulness of beekeepers remains.

Hannah Nordhaus, author of The Beekeeper’s Lament, warned that the scare stories evoked by CCD should serve as a cautionary tale to environmental journalists. “By engaging in simplistic and sometimes misleading environmental narratives—by exaggerating the stakes and brushing over the inconvenient facts that stand in the way of foregone conclusions­­—we do our field, and our subjects, a disservice,” she wrote in her 2011 essay “An Environmental Journalist’s Lament.”

“The overblown response to CCD in the media stems from a failure to appreciate the resilience of markets in accommodating shocks of various sorts,” write Rucker and Thurman. The ability of beekeepers and other market forces to adapt has kept food on the shelves, honey in the cupboard, and honey bees buzzing. Properly understood, the story of CCD is not one of doom and gloom, but one of the triumph and perseverance of beekeepers.

Monday, July 29, 2013

TROUT UNLIMITED AmeriCorps Position: Water Quality Monitoring

AmeriCorps Position: Water Quality Monitoring Program Coordinator
September 2013 – August 2014
Location: Thomas, WV

Trout Unlimited is partnering with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Association and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition to offer this AmeriCorps position opportunity. To find out more about the project position, the AmeriCorps program, and for instructions on how to apply for the position, please visit the Appalachian Forest Heritage Association website. Please note: the application process for the TU position closes August 9, 2013.

Trout Unlimited’s (TU) mission it to conserve, protect, and restore North America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. Founded in 1959 in Grayling, Michigan by a group of anglers who successfully sought to change the state’s reliance on hatchery production of trout into a program that focused on protecting and restoring fish habitat, today TU is the nation’s largest grassroots coldwater fishery organization. TU’s vision is to ensure, by the next generation, that robust populations of native and wild coldwater fish once again thrive within their North American range, so that our children can enjoy healthy fisheries in their home waters.

To accomplish this vision, TU employs a comprehensive strategy to protect the highest quality trout and salmon habitat, reconnect high quality habitats with restored areas downstream through the augmentation of instream flows and barrier removals, restore degraded habitats so that they again support healthy trout and salmon populations, and sustain progress by educating and motivating a future generation of environmental stewards. TU works on a local, state, and national level through an extensive volunteer network and dedicated staff. TU has approximately 150,000 members organized into more than 400 local chapters across the country. The AmeriCorps member will be located at our Thomas, West Virginia office.

Monitoring potential gas development impacts in coldwater trout streams is paramount for measuring the overall health of Appalachia’s water sources in West Virginia and Virginia. This is because many of these trout streams are the headwaters of the region’s major rivers, the rivers that supply millions of people with

Monday, June 24, 2013

Open Space Institute Focuses on the South Branch and Cacapon Watersheds

June 22, 2013
Conservation group target's state's Potomac headwaters region for protection as habitat for climate change transition

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Algae monitored in the Cacapon and South Branch

Reposted from the Cumberland Times-News

Algae being monitored on two local rivers
It’s not toxic, but a hindrance to recreationists

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

 CUMBERLAND — Filamentous algae — its presence, location and cause — is being monitored in the South Branch of the Potomac and Cacapon rivers this summer in response to complaints by those who recreate in and on those waterways.

 “We have contracted with the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin to do the field work,” said Kevin Coyne, director of the Water Quality Standards program for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

 Field work by the commission’s Adam Griggs began this month and will continue into October, according to Coyne.

 “On the South Branch we are monitoring from Moorefield downstream to a location below The Trough,” Coyne said. The upstream boundary is in Hardy County, W.Va., and the downstream in Hampshire.

 There are eight monitoring stations throughout the Cacapon River drainage.

 Filamentous algae, also called string algae, isn’t toxic, but hinders water activities such as fishing, swimming and canoeing, according to Coyne. DEP began monitoring the algae in 2006 in the Greenbrier River drainage and is expanding the investigation to other parts of the Mountain State, including the Shenandoah River in Jefferson County.

 “It’s that green substance you see on the water’s surface,” Coyne said. “We also get complaints from home owners who have waterfront acreage.”

 Background about the algae, as well as Coyne’s contact information, is available online at http://www.dep.wv.gov.

 Coyne said there are also some drinking water quality concerns because of the algae. Some suppliers have had to modify treatment to improve taste and smell.

 The commission reports that high, muddy flows have prevented Griggs from finding much algae during the early portion of the study.

 Water chemistry sampling continues, though, and can point to sources of nutrients, according to the commission.

 The presence or absence of algae in a given area can be hard to understand, Griggs noted.

 Some river segments hold algae for part of the year and aquatic vegetation at other times. Other segments can hold high nutrient loads but still not foster excessive algal growth, he reported.

 Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mostly wind, little rain

Yesterday's storm provided less than 0.2 inches of rain in our area, and the same was true downstream, although the winds became tornadoes in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC.

Photo from the Washington Post.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

WV Scholar Finalists - Please vote

It turns out I know two of the 10 finalists for the West Virginia Wesleyan WV Scholar Competition.  Both are uncommonly wonderful people.  And most importantly, both aspire to be biologists!

Please  VOTE  for either (one vote per email address):

 Rachel Elaine Fulks
    Parents' Interview >>     Video >>

Rachel Fulks is a junior at Bridgeport High School, where she maintains a 4.125 GPA and is a member of the varsity cross country team, varsity track team, National Honor Society, and the online newspaper staff; she will be co-editor of the 2013-14 yearbook. Her favorite subjects in school are Chemistry and Biology, but she also enjoys creative writing. Rachel is a member of Bridgeport United Methodist Church, where she serves as youth representative on the Executive Board and is a member of the youth planning team and the youth group. She is actively involved in the United Methodist Conference and serves as vice president on the West Virginia Conference Council on Youth Ministries. She has a passion for participating in service projects. In her free time, Rachel enjoys reading, playing the piano, running, and working as a sales associate at The Gap. In the future, Rachel plans to major in pre-medicine and later become a pediatrician as a reflection of her love for helping others.


Cayla Leann Collett
    Parents' Interview >>     Video >>

Cayla Collett is a 16 year old junior at Elkins High School. She resides in Elkins, WV on her family farm with her parents, Alan and Tricia Collett, and her three sisters, Alayna, Jeyna, and Sydney. She is active in school, where she is a part of the Cross Country team, Student Council, Class Council, National Honors Society, and a tutor for elementary school students. Outside of school, this young lady is a 12 year member of 4-H and a lifelong member of Degree of Honor through which she spends many hours volunteering her time to the community. In Degree of Honor alone, Cayla organizes the annual collection of Christmas gifts and person care items for the Salvation Army. Trough the Ronald McDonald house, Cayla actively collects pop tabs and organizes fund raisers. For many years, she has participated in the Walk for Women, bringing awareness to breast cancer. Her dream is to see a cure for breast cancer in her lifetime. Because of her commitment to community service, she was the recipient of the Teen Volunteer of the Year award in 2013. As a member of the 4-H teen leaders Organization, Cayla has been a camp counselor, served as an officer, and involved in other community activities with the club. Cayla's long term aspirations are to continue professional dancing, and pursue a degree in chemistry and biology, with a goal in becoming a Molecular Cellular Biologist.     

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oak Leaves, Lilacs and Morels

Joel Sampson shows you when and where to find morels. At just over an ounce, and @ $15 per pound, it's like hunting for dollar bills in the woods.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Another free Homesteading book

Free right now on Amazon.

FREE for Kindle at time of posting----> http://amzn.to/14R4r1a

If you don't have a Kindle or other tablet (e.g., iPad), you can download a free app for your PC

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Audubon’s New Online Bird Guide Now Available

from Audubon Magazine:

 Photo by Katey Nicosia / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

For the days when hauling around a tome for identifying birds just won’t do, Audubon comes to the rescue with its new online guide to North American birds, available for $2.99 on the iPhone, Android, iPad, NOOK or Kindle through the Audubon Birds app. One screen pretty much holds it all, displaying information about birding, conservation, even avian anatomy. The guide categorizes more than 800 species by family, common name, or general shape, allowing users to pick the most appropriate identification route.

The third display option is particularly innovative. This category directs users to the quick guide, offering the ability to search the stout, slim, long-legged, and sleek-beaked contours of many birds. It presents a gallery of shapes: There are duck-like birds (think ducks, grebes, loons, pelicans, and swans), perching birds (groups like larks, flycatchers, thrushes, and wrens), or my favorite, chicken-like marsh birds (encompassing rails, coots, jacanas, and gallinules). Others include those cut like sandpipers, birds with the arrow-like anatomy of swallows, and those that feature the same, watchful upright stance as a hawk.