Sunday, December 31, 2006

No Frog Zone? Pesticide Database Released

Pesticide effects database released
by Nathan Rushton, 12/31/2006

The Eureka-based Californians for Alternatives to Toxics has unveiled on its Web site an assembled database of hundreds of scientific studies and research documents related to the harmful effects of pesticides and herbicides on amphibians and reptiles.

CAT Executive Director Patty Clary said the database project began about six years ago when a CAT member in the Southern Humboldt County area alerted the group that swimming holes in several local rivers and creeks were no longer populated by frogs where frogs had always been observed.

“This was a very frightening situation,” Clary said.

The Reptile, Amphibian and Pesticides database, or RAP, builds upon an earlier database covering literature up to 1998, which was assembled by the Canadian Wildlife Service.

CAT’s updated data pool is searchable by species and genus, location of research, pesticide studied and toxicological effect and includes a list of 327 scientific papers published since 1999 on the effects of pesticides on amphibians.

Another 128 research papers on pesticides’ impacts on reptiles is also included.

The database, which will be updated as new information becomes available, can be found on CAT’s Web site at

The release of the database follows on the heels of last week’s action by CAT, which joined with several environmental groups and organic farmers in announcing that a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals over the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent ruling change on how it permits pesticide applications near water.

The groups, which also included Bay Area water-quality watchdog group San Francisco Baykeeper, sued the EPA for its decision that spraying of pesticides into the nation’s waters should no longer be regulated by the Clean Water Act and will now be regulated under the more obscure Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

With declining amphibian populations linked to pesticides already well documented, Clary said she is concerned about the health of amphibians and reptiles and the “deregulating” of pesticides by the EPA in its ruling change, which the groups say allows contamination of waterways without agency oversight.

Although Clary said pesticides and herbicides are not usually the primary cause of the decline of amphibian populations, they are an additional stress that makes them more vulnerable to disease.

Amphibians are often referred to as the “canary in the coal mine” of the environment, which Clary said should cause people to be “worried about our own skins” when amphibian populations decline.

Of particular concern locally, Clary said, is the use by area timber companies of the weed-killing herbicide atrazine on its properties, which she said is known to leach into watersheds and have serious effects in reptiles and amphibians.

Scientists from Pacific Lumber Co. said the use of atrazine, which is done by licensed applicators, is non-standard application typically done in 3-foot circles, away from streams already protected by buffers, to deal with heavy grasses that compete with replanted trees.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry lists atrazine as a non-volatile, inflammable, odorless white powder herbicide that dissolves readily in water.

Typically used on farms, along highways and on railroad rights-of-way, the DHHS literature states atrazine may wash from the soil into streams or groundwater, where it will stay for a long time because breakdown of the chemical is slow in water, although the DHHS states atrazine does not accumulate in living organisms such as algae, bacteria, clams or fish.

In “Effects of atrazine on embryos, larvae, and adults of anuran amphibians,” by researchers J. W. Allran and W. H. Karasov in the 2003 Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry publication, which is found in the CAT’s database, the report stated “direct toxicity of atrazine is probably not a significant factor in recent amphibian declines.” However, frogs exposed to the highest atrazine concentration stopped eating immediately after treatment began and did not eat during the 14-day experiment, according to the scientific document.

Washington not on the same page with environmentalists

EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles said he disagrees with the environmental groups’ s assertions that the ruling change is a departure from the agency’s obligation under the Clean Water Act.

Instead, Grumbles said the narrowly crafted rule, which he said was done with Congress’ help over the past two years, will boost public health by reducing the risks from mosquitoes and invasive plant and animal species.

But Clary takes issue with the EPA’s decision and said the FIFRA, which is a broad and general law that does not directly address water quality, has more to do with registering pesticides and was meant to complement, not compete, with the Clean Water Act.

“We believe that what they have done is wrong and made a mistake in having FIFRA dominate the Clean Water Act,” Clary said. “It is what the chemical companies wanted and the EPA delivered it.”

Under the Clean Water Act, Clary said provisions required pesticide and herbicide applicators to set up a process by which they had to take steps to reduce and eliminate those pesticides from getting into the water.

Grumbles characterized the ruling as an important clarification of a position the agency has already taken in the last few decades, which is that there isn’t a need for Clean Water Act permits for pesticide applications if they are covered under FIFRA.

“It is important to note that the rule does not pre-empt state and local laws governing pesticide applications,” Grumbles said.

Suggesting that many local agencies have been caught in “regulatory limbo” in recent years, Grumbles said public health officials have run into problems where there is uncertainty if they need to get a permit under the Clean Water Act.

Humboldt County Senior Agricultural Biologist Jeff M. Dolf recommended that anyone applying pesticides who is uncertain about permitting should “err on the side of caution” and contact the county agriculture department or the regional water quality board.

In speaking with a local pest control business that does the vast majority of the herbicide work for area timber companies, Dolf said that the EPA’s ruling change will not impact the habitat of the California Department of Fish and Game’s species of special concern, the Northern red-legged frog, in Humboldt County.

From Eureka Reporter 12/31/2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

50 Ways To Green The New Year

Here is a good summary of practical small steps to ecologically inspired life. Read On!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Plant A Million Trees In LA

Some sanity to the south: a campaign to plant a million trees in LA.

Subtropical Trees of California by Mike Lee see at Good Nature

SWIM in LA: Water Run Off in Big City-- Ideas for Puget Sound

Fine series multi media story in LA TIMES on how to stop killing our oceans with our effluent -- city and rural run off. Read some fine writing here.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Courage me: Stop Climate Crisis & Help Africa, Help Yourself

BBC Green room give you something to ponder: If you give goats to poor children, don't kid yourself.

Roll up dem sleeves pardner and help stop climate crisis we are creating here in US of A.

What are you doing going against those nice people at Oxfam?

Read on!

Oxfam's offering to buy goats and farm animals for poor farmers is in their best interests short term. What Menghestab Haile with World Food Programme is asking for is for follow up -- sure you are politically silenced-- bought off with convenience and way laid from caring because you too have the busy busy bee thing going. -- read on.

Yes-- I want someone to hire us to make ecosystem posters in Africa. Have you ever sung under baobab tree? Have you seen stars when there are no lights for hundreds of miles?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Good news on Darfur: Sudan Says Yes To More UN Troops

Read BBC for whole story. All we are saying is give peace a chance. Stop saying the holocaust was something in the past. It is happening right now in Darfur.

And except for Nicholas Kristoff in the NYT, you'd never know Africa existed in most American press.

Of course -- most American whites don't think of Africa as Mother Africa from where we came. We are somehow different than our brothers and sisters in Africa. They got it wrong. How else to explain the famine, disease, pestilence of war? Let me count the ways I keep myself separate from thee. Skin color is just the start.

I mean-- most of them are making a $1 a day. So whassup with dat?

What is the common bond of all wars that break out in Africa? Drought-- no rain.

Good to read about this breakthrough in afforable water filtration.

Thanks to BBC for creating Science and Nature.

Good Natured Writer Interview Grist Feature: Jenny Price

From Grist -- via Google News Alert "Green Cities" I found kindred spirit Jenny Price.

Price looks at the world we inhabit the way I do. Nature is not outside us-- we are Nature-- and cities are full of nature. Not just flora and fauna, but plastic flamingos, cars, strip malls, Costco-- the plastic shell of an iMac I transmit my pulses of nerve fibers through to this page you are reading.

The ecosystem posters I make at Good Nature are beautiful, educational, and speak to urbanistas craving for some scrap of wilderness to remind them where they are living.

Read Price on nature in LA heron

You're Pond Scum! An Epithet or where life begins? Scientists Fine Smallest Organisms Ever!

You find treasure in the most interesting places.

From the fine science writers of the NYT

Scientists think they've found the smallest organism ever -- a microbe many times smaller than bacteria. And they're living in stuff that's worse than battery acid.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Urban Biodiversity Corridors aka Hedgerows

Developers reminded ‘wildlife needs good neighbours’
18 December 2006

Town planners should make biodiversity a core consideration within urban and suburban regeneration plans and purposefully create ‘green networks’, reveals the Wild About Gardens Discovery Survey, carried out by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) in partnership with Ribena.

According to the findings, garden owners are responding to wildlife gardening advice and taking action but there is still considerable room for improvement even among the most wildlife-friendly gardeners. The survey’s findings that mini-habitats are spread between different gardens emphasises the importance of making it easier for wildlife to move within a connected network of ‘green corridors’ by using trees, ponds and hedgerows, and providing a greater variety of food sources from nectar, berry and seed-producing plants.

Simon Thornton-Wood, Director of Science & Learning for the RHS, explains, “Developers should be careful not to create ‘token gesture’ green spaces in anticipation they might provide real benefit for wildlife. From our preliminary findings we looked at the gardens that recorded sightings of all five of our key species and found that they nearly all had tall trees, but only a third shared other important features such as ponds, woodpiles and long grass. Not everyone, especially those with small gardens, has the room for the ultimate checklist of features which means that neighbours need to pull together to help improve wildlife communities as well as social ones. Individuals who have created a wildlife oasis in a conservation desert provide a welcome refuge but its value multiplies when connected to neighbouring habitats, as last month’s Stern Report touched upon by calling for greater linkage of ‘green’ habitats to better accommodate species movement.”

Over 1,500 garden owners responded to the survey between 2 and 17 September to help investigate links between garden habitats, gardening practices and key garden species. Participants were asked to complete an inventory of types of plants and features in their garden including the garden’s location, their gardening practices, and whether the following species visited their garden within the two-week survey period: Hedgehog, Goldfinch, Common frog, Toad, Bumblebee, and specifically the Brown Bumblebee. The data is being analysed in depth with more comprehensive findings to be released next year.

Stephanie Hilborne, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, added, “The survey showed whilst wildlife gardeners are busy supporting the ‘attractive’ species such as birds, hedgehogs and frogs, they’re not so aware of the need to encourage invertebrates, with the possible exception of butterflies, through planting buddleia and sedum. The importance of varying ground cover and shrubs should not be underestimated in supporting the less popular ‘creepy crawlies’ which play a vital role in the food chain and in making gardens effective as self-sustaining wildlife habitats. These are the sort of perceptions the RHS and The Wildlife Trusts hope to change through Wild About Gardens or through”

Giles Coode-Adams, Treasurer of the RHS and a blackcurrant grower whose family has grown blackcurrants for the popular soft drink for 16 years, added, “Our farm is made up of a patchwork of fields. During the last few years, we have implemented a wildlife-friendly conservation plan to help protect the creatures that inhabit the farm. We used to think of each field in isolation, but we quickly realised that in creatures’ eyes, trees and hedgerows aren’t boundaries: they are vital sources of food and shelter. I’d like to encourage people to take a similar approach to their gardens – the principle is exactly the same, and the difference it will make for wildlife is tremendous.”

Other preliminary findings from the survey include:

Gardens with seed or nut-producing plants were over three times more likely to attract goldfinches than those with none (72% compared to 22%).

Nearly twice as many participants who owned a garden pond spotted frogs during the survey period than those without.

Gardens with a larger area of long grass (over foursquare metres) were more likely to attract brown bumblebees.

London gardens recorded the lowest average number of sightings of hedgehogs and frogs compared to the rest of the UK.

Toads were found to be in gardens frequented by frogs but seldom in gardens without frogs (toads were spotted by 25% of garden owners, frogs by 58%).

(All five key species were chosen due to their decline or fluctuation in number over the past few years.)

For more information and hints and tips on creating a wildlife-friendly garden, visit

From Easier

Orvis, REI, LL Bean -- Got Recycled Paper Catalogs?

Orvis, REI, L.L. Bean browner than Victoria's Secret? See Environmental Defense's report on the not so green and some surprising catalog companies that have made the switch to recycled here

The NW Native Conifers poster we make at Good Nature are printed on 100% post consumer fiber -- Thanks to Fraser Papers.

But I have to say that coated white papers print just as well as any virgin paper I work with...what is Victoria's Secret, REI & Orvis?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Craig's List: Model of Real American Values

Fine story in NYT on the successful Craig's List folks explaining to Wall Street that they just aren't going to go there -- there being the monetized, advertised, web strip mining of information -- hammering you day in and out with commercials. Think about it.

People before Profits? There are many businesses-- mine included -- where work's value is in the creation. Happiness is the circle of people you can serve with your efforts.

The Capitalist Pigs on Wall Street want everyone to tow the profit line -- so their financiers can get $50,000,000 payouts as Christmas bonus.

I think there ought to be a confiscatory tax on that kind of "monetizing".

If you are Bill Gates or any other billionaire -- I don't care how great your foundation is-- and you are sitting on billions -- you got your money by overcharging your customers, underpaying your workers or both. There is so much corruption with money that instead of revulsion, we have Golden Calves to idolize.

We just call them corporations. This too shall pass.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Top Native Plant Picks For Natural Yard

What a treat to find a well organized government website that provides easy to use information on what native plants to pick.

For folks like me with a small yard-- this guide provided by King County DNR is perfect for U pick without a lot of work.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Straight Pitches Key To Happy Customers: Turning Delayed Order to Your Customer's Advantage

Good Nature Publishing is a niche publisher of fine art.

I design and publish original poster size field guides to help people connect with nature -- and have a side of love for Dugald Stermer's Anatomy of Baseball, Knuckleball, and Slider.

We usually get orders right -- I assume silence is golden with most customers. As a small publisher, it sometimes happens that I am in between editions on a print and there are delays getting art sent to a customer as promised.

And we have fine friends who just write me once in a while saying "Where's my art?"

So it was a treat to get this love note from a customer on the East Coast regarding her order for Good Nature's baseball art:


I just want to thank you for the wonderful customer service you afforded me with my recent order from your company.

The prints I ordered took longer than I expected but were no doubt worth the wait. I did inquire about the order and you told me they were backordered (or something of that nature) and that I would receive them soon.

I did received them but you went above and beyond by sending me an additional set of prints AND a larger print of the Anatomy of a Baseball.

I just want you to know that in doing that you have enabled me to make what was to be a good Christmas gift an AWESOME Christmas gift for my 12 year old baseball star.

By going that extra step you let me know that there is still wonderful customer service in this world. Since my son is an avid baseball player and fan we have contact with MANY other baseball families and once I get these framed I am going to take a picture of the finished product and email all of our baseball contacts and let them know where to go to get their own set for their baseball stars.

Being in retail you know that word of mouth is the best advertising you can get and it comes free. So I hope that by paying forward your good deed that you will reap the rewards of these other families business now and in the future. Thank you again.


Michele H.

What I aspire to with all people ordering at Good Nature's website who order:

1. Mutual respect

2. Practice golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

3. Be candid in communications when things are not going as expected.

4. If you change delivery of a promised product or service, see 1, 2, 3.

5. Send some love - in this particular case an extra print to communicate that while I couldn't deliver the art Michele wanted immediately, I add something to her original order to let her know I cared. Fun how things turn out.

Victoria's Secret: 1,000,000 a day Catalog Goes Greener

Good news for boreal forest fans-- and anyone interested in FSC certified forests being the source of paper for the milions of catalogs sent out every day.

Companies like Victoria Secret have a huge effect on decisions by foresters, paper mills, and printers of paper.

So the parent company Limited's decision to phase in recycled content will force changes to greener waste stream.

This is a step -- but the next time you get a catalog -- check and see what it is made of-- recycled or FSC certified bugs should be on the paper. Or ask the catalog company what Victoria's Secret is...

Photo credit

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Gardenener Gifts for Christmas: Hummingbird Garden Botanic Art by Jean Emmons Paints Portrait of 7 Hummers & Top 22 Hummingbird Plants

(Click on picture to enlarge)
Jean Emmons won Gold Medal at Kew Botanic Gardens for best botanic artist last winter.

And she won best of show for the recent American Society of Botanic Artists annual conference in Seattle.

Ms. Emmons work original art cost thousands of dollars. You can get great art and teach at the same time by ordering her seven hummingbirds and 22 of their favorite plants Hummingbird Garden from Good Nature in December with my Buy 2 Get 2 FREE Sale.

Great Garden Gifts for your favorite green thumb. You can grow the plants in this scene and bring your yard to life all year.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Top Ten Blog Writers

I enjoy lists that start with "Top Three ALL TIME..." and "Five Best Reasons to..."

The title offers seduction-- and romances us at the same time you know there is a wink.

But if you have an interest in improving your writing -- and the subspecies of blog writing evolving today -- I recommend you check out Copyblogger.

Some yahoo put a list of their Top Ten Blog Writers -- folks wrote in -- and you can flip through the links here to decide for yourself.

Design appeal for me is Copyblogger's use of the old fashioned typewriter font, the screaming red, and good understanding of the reader's context -- reading on computers is difficult. Coyblogger shows you how to make it easier on your readers.

basta. Go read.

best fishes,