My East Coast colleagues don't have to worry much about reforestation; leave the land alone and it will reforest itself naturally. You might want to select what is allowed to come up, and perhaps plant species that you prefer, but even then it's usually "plant and forget".
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Category: Places for Cover
Required points: 2
Suggested sources: Wooded Area • Bramble Patch • Ground Cover • Rock Pile or Wall • Cave • Roosting Box • Dense Shrubs or Thicket • Evergreens • Brush or Log Pile • Burrow • Meadow or Prairie • Water Garden or Pond
The Places for Cover credit requires a little explanation to differentiate it from the Places to Raise Young credit (to be described in a future post). National Wildlife Federation describes the cover credit:
Wildlife need places to hide to feel safe from people, predators, and inclement weather. Native vegetation is a perfect cover for terrestrial wildlife. Shrubs, thickets and brush piles provide great hiding places within their bushy leaves and thorns.
Bat box: Bat boxes are rather like bird nesting or roosting boxes, only entry is through the bottom. A typical bat box also includes some parallel interior walls. Bats don't need much personal space, but they do need a surface to cling to. I picked-up my bat box, ready-made at Lowe's, for about $20. Installation was a matter of a stepladder, a cordless drill to bore a pilot hole and start the screws, and fifteen minutes of my time. My then 12-month-old son was enthralled by this process.
Alas, no bats have yet taken-up residence in my bat box. In fact, I haven't been certain that I've seen a single bat all season. What troubles me is that I don't think that this is simply a matter of probability and the fact that getting my son ready for bed means that I spend less time outside in the evening than I used to. I'm concerned that this is indicative of white nose syndrome, the fungal plague that is apparently decimating Eastern bat populations. It seems that there just aren't any bats around.
Evergreen trees: Since I like to exploit some of the features that were already in my yard before I started gearing-up my habitat, I'm leaning on the two (likely exotic) evergreen trees that crowd the west wall of my home for one of my Cover points. Evergreens provide a place for birds to roost and evade predators, year-round.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Twelve and a half years ago our region suffered a destructive mid-winter snow and ice storm that knocked out power to a wide area for three days. It was our first winter in our house and our only alternative source of heat was an open fire place. It kept us from freezing, but it was a very unpleasant three days. So early the next fall we invested in a large size kerosene heater and a five gallon drum of kerosene.
However, we did not have another winter time power outage until this year, which lasted two days, but they were unseasonably warm days despite being in February, and we only needed the fireplace in the evening to take off the chill. So here we are twelve years later with five gallons of kerosene which have taken on moisture and gone bad, and cannot be safely burned in our kerosene heater.
I started calling all over our county trying to find someone who would accept kerosene for environmentally sound disposal. Everyone was very quick to say "no" -- some even vehemently, including the major distributor of kerosene in the area. I got discouraged and stopped searching for a while.
Last week, I decided to try the web, and ended up with Kentucky's state department of hazardous waste. I sent an e-mail, and got a quick response telling me that they would refer me to the regional hazardous waste office. Two days later, I got an informative e-mail from the regional office. The regional official said that "most" places that accept used motor oil will also accept kerosene, and he provided me a list with phone numbers of four or five locations within 40 miles of my home that accepted motor oil. I called all of them and each of them said, in no uncertain terms "NO," they only accept used motor oil, and would not accept kerosene.
One person I talked to suggested that I use the kerosene up by burning brush on my property. [First I don't have that much brush, and second we try to leave brush in place to provide habitat for wild critters.]
Back, by e-mail, to my regional office. The response was quick and informative -- kerosene can be disposed of in a properly contained landfill, but only after it is "solidified" by mixing it with something like kitty litter, and leaving it open to the air to evaporate. Only when it is totally dry can you dispose of it, and only in properly lined and sealed landfill. Since I am not yet certain we have one of those, I'm still not certain whether I will be able to dispose of my ancient and contaminated kerosene.
The point of my narrative is this: how can citizens be the solution and act in environmentally responsible ways with toxic wastes if there is no one within any reasonable travel distance who will accept those wastes? I now have at least a smidgen more sympathy for the local oil distribution company that has just been stacking old diesel fuel tanks on an empty lot -- with the not too unexpected outcome of leakage into the regional water supply.