Lorrie Otto in the News

The Godmother of the modern day Natural Landscaping Movement, Lorrie Otto was inducted into the WCHF in 1991. Photo by Ney Tait Frasier.

Bill Berry is a WCHF Governor and he is also a columnist for the Madison Capital Times. He recently wrote a column featuring Lorrie Otto entitled “Will we survive the current batch of ‘environmental terrorist’?” He talks about the heroes of the environmental movement started in the 1960s like Lorrie Otto and the Citizens Natural Resources Association (CNRA), and about the terrorists who are today dismantling Nixon’s EPA.

It’s a good read. I especially liked the final para which reads “Will we survive the current batch of “environmental terrorists”? Maybe. Personally, I wish Lorrie Otto was still alive so I could watch her tear Pruitt apart.” I would, too!

August is National Water Quality Month

Summer view of the WILD Center’s backyard made up of three rain gardens which filter the runoff before it gets to the Guckenberg Marsh which is part of Little Lake Butte des Morts which is part of the Fox River Waterway which is part of the Lake Michigan Watershed.

August is National Water Quality Month. The end of the summer is a good time to reflect upon this valuable resource and how important it is to our daily lives. Indeed, there are some who are concerned World War III will be fought over water.

Our bodies are 60% water, so we need non-contaminated water to stay healthy and to be vital residents of this Earth. Unfortunately, maintaining water quality is not an easy undertaking because of the huge amount of pollution which occurs from its use by manufacturing and the oil industry, and from the collateral damage often caused by farming. Non-Point source pollution is one of the largest water quality problems in the USA.

What can we do?

Although we can have little impact as one household, as a group of households we can have a big impact. Here is a list of things we can do to make a difference; some of them surprising:

  • Plant native trees, shrubs, forbs and grasses*
  • Replace non-porous paving with porous paving where appropriate
  • Avoid using antibacterial soaps and cleaning products; use non-toxic household products
  • Repair leaky faucets
  • Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth and in between rinsing dishes and fruits and vegetables
  • Do not hose down; sweep driveways, sidewalks, gutters and patios
  • Do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides on lawns and gardens unless absolutely necessary
  • Install cisterns and rain barrels to collect water for use on your lawn and gardening
  • Install cisterns, rain barrels and rain gardens to collect water to keep it from overflowing into sewers**
  • Reduce lawn area
  • Mow grassy areas responsibly and only as necessary***
  • Irrigate and water responsibly****
  • Make certain all hoses have shut-off nozzles to prevent leaks and unnecessary water use
  • Mulch traditional non-native plantings
  • Group plants according to their water needs; use drought-tolerant plants
  • If you wash your own car, do so over grass or gravel to prevent contaminated water from going directly into sewers
  • Do not pour anything other than water down storm sewers;
  • Do not flush unused and outdated medications down the toilet; take to a disposal center
  • If you change your own car’s oil, do not drain on the ground; dispose at the local landfill
  • Scoop up and discard into garbage receptacles your pet’s poop
  • Do volunteer to help your community keep the streets, rivers, wetlands and beaches clean of debris
  • Do spread the word about the importance of clean water. Water is life!
  • Remember — water that enters storm sewers goes into our waterways before the treatment plants!
  • Remember — the more contaminated water goes into the treatment plant, the more it costs to make it potable again!

*Native plants evolved with the environment in which they are native. Hence they require no additional water, no fertilizers, no pesticides. But remember! A native plant out of place is no longer a native plant.

**Cisterns, rain barrels and rain gardens help collect excess runoff from roofs, driveways and sloped yards. That water can then be used to irrigate lawns and gardens; even wash cars. There are countless ways this saved rain water can be used instead of using potable drinking water.

***The taller the grass is allowed to grow, the deeper the roots. The deeper the roots, the more efficient the nutrient and water intake. Tall fescue, bluegrass, ryegrass and some of the warm season grasses will endure heat, drought and other environmental stresses easier if they are maintained at 3″ or 4″ all year. Never cut off more than 30% off the grass blade. More than 30% will reduce its photosynthesizing surface area too much and it will direct nutrients and energy toward rebuilding its leaf blades instead of growing its root system. Mow only when your lawn needs mowing and with a sharp blade, so grass leaves stay healthy. Most of the nutrients in the grass blades are concentrated in the tips; mow so you’re recycling the clippings as fertilizer instead of bagging them to prevent thatch.

****If using spray irrigation, do not water lawn except in the cool morning to avoid evaporation. Do not water pavement. Use drip irrigation so water goes directly to the roots of the plants.

EPA Water Topics

Clean Water Act

Proposed Changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

The Environmental Protection Act

In the 1960s, smog was killing Americans, lakes were so low on oxygen they sustained little life, and there was a 400 square mile oil spill off the coast of California that killed bird and other wildlife. Nixon had just become president with a mandate to find some way to fix the environmental problems and stop pollution.

Shortly after taking office, Nixon set up the Environmental Quality Council with the mission to solve these problems. The Environmental Policy Act of 1969 was signed into law on January 1, 1970. Later he signed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act into law. The Environmental Protection Agency which was the administration arm of these Acts became effective December 2, 1970 with William D Ruckelshaus at its head.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA)

The ESA has been amended many times during the past 45 years. But it was not until this administration that it could become the instrument of extinction for endangered and threatened wildlife and destruction of fragile habitat. This administration’s goal of deregulation would allow logging, drilling and other human activities at risk to the environment.

Gray wolves were listed as endangered in 1974. Photo courtesy of Northland College’s Timber Wolf Alliance.

There have already been a number of changes made to the ESA by the current administration, but there are more than 100 proposals before Congress now which would weaken the ability of the federal government to protect endangered and threatened species and habitat even more. They reduce the USFWS’s ability to secure the protection of plant and animal species in peril, and at the same time make it easier to remove species from the protection of the Act.

According to the the Defenders of Wildlife, there are three main ways in which the current proposals would affect the protection of vulnerable wildlife and habitat and give the upper hand to exploitive industries — developers, oil companies, mining companies and big game/trophy hunters. By:

  • Injecting economics into what should be purely science-based decisions about listing imperiled species;
  • Depriving threatened species from automatically receiving protections from killing, trapping, and other forms of harm and commercial exploitation; and
  • Limiting what wildlife experts can look at in their reviews of federal activities.
Green pitcher plant (Sarracenia oreophila) is listed as endangered under ESA since 1979. Photo by James Henderson, USFWS Forestry Images.

If these proposals are enacted, wolves along with other endangered and threatened wildlife and plants will be left to the mercy of the more economically-minded states.

See also the Senate’s Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018

Concern for the American Bald Eagle resulted in its protection in 1967 and was one of the original species protected by the ESA when it was enacted in 1973. After a successful recovery, it was delisted in 2007. Photo by Jack Bartholmai.

What to do?

This Administration’s goal to deregulate the federal government seems to be without regard for the environment or how this might impact the future of the Earth and its residents. If you feel strongly one way or the other about the ramifications of the changes to the Act, please contact your congressman as soon as possible. Go to House.gov and Senate.gov to find their contact information.

Or send comments to the USFWS before September 24, 2018 through the Federal Register system as listed below.

Federal Register Info

“The changes are contained in three major ESA rulemakings currently being conducted by the Department of the Interior and/or the Department of Commerce and announced in the Federal Register on July 25, 2018. They are:

  • Revision of the Regulations for Prohibition to Threatened Wildlife and Plants. 83 Fed. Reg. 35174 (July 25, 2018) (Department of the Interior only);
  • Revision of Regulations for Interagency Cooperation 83 Fed. Reg. 35178 (July 25, 2018) (Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce); and
  • Revision of the Regulations for Listing Species and Designating Critical Habitat, 83 Fed. Reg. 35193 (July 25, 2018) (Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce).” (Defenders of Wildlife)

See also History of the Endangered Species Act

Natural Resources Foundation has New Website

WCHF Board of Directors member Natural Resources Foundation has a new update website. It is the Foundation’s hope the new design will be easier to navigate and will do a better job showing the big picture of everything they do. Feel free to let them know you like it! Email Caitlin Williamison

The Natural Resources Foundation has been a member of the WCHF Board of Directors since 2016.