solar + pollinators

We’ve been working on developing a bed of blooming native species underneath the first phase of our solar arrays. I overseeded them last winter & this is the first growing season.

I hope we can really use this as a test site to enable other institutions to do the same, and do it well. I adapted frmo this great guidance document from Minnesota DNR. But the overall concept is simple enough: pick native, low-growing species that bloom throughout the growing season, use very occasional mowing/spraying to keep woodies & invasives out, and sit back and enjoy the ecological benefits!

I’m submitting and abstract for an upcoming ecological conference. They’ll be more data & details in time. But I want to just show off some of the plants that are still blooming as of Oct. 7th, and the many small visitors they are supporting. Our pastures have lots of grass – which is obviously great for the intended purpose of grazing – but almost nothing in bloom right how. Hopefully these little flower islands can make a difference.

news round up (fall edition)

Ok, this is truly a grab-bag of various things I’ve been reading. Enjoy!

Virginia saves our kids; becomes the catalyst for electric school buses (Electrek)
Chicago startup will help test hyperlocal electric vehicle incentive in California (Energy News Network)

The City of Goshen has purchased its first electric vehicle in an effort to further test alternative fuel cars and their impact to the City’s budget and the environment.

Greta Thunberg: Why the Right’s Usual Attacks Don’t Work on Her (Vox)

Ash tree species likely will survive emerald ash borer beetles, but just barely (Phys.org)

Huge decline in songbirds linked to common insecticide (Nat Geo)

Jeff Bezos is quietly letting his charities do something radical — whatever they want: Is that good? Is that bad? It’s definitely unusual. (Vox)

Indigenous Plant Agriculture – great insights from a pioneering restoration ecologist in OH.

Effect of Prescribed Fire on Timber Volume and Grade in the Hoosier National Forest (Purdue University Research) … ” Our results suggest that prescribed fire has a minor economic impact on standing timber, particularly when timber is harvested within two decades of the first fire. “

Prairie Resilience on Display (The Prairie Ecologist)

Indigenous Maize: Who Owns the Rights to Mexico’s ‘Wonder’ Plant? (Yale Environment 360)

How Solar Got Cheap (Planet Money podcast on NPR)

Bringing Together Young And Old To Ease The Isolation Of Rural Life (NPR)

be water: river education in the flow

Twice in September I had the privilege of being an educator & raft guide on an incredible, collaborative ecological education initiative on the Tippecanoe River. Arrowhead County Resource Conservation & Development celebrated its 25th year of bringing hundreds of local school kids out on the river to learn about forestry, water quality, and river ecosystems. It was my first year volunteering with the group.

Here’s some local press coverage of the event. I’ll let you read all about it there. It’s hard for me to overemphasize the importance of getting people – especially kids – out on the land and in the water. This is what we were made to do, and it’s almost always how we learn best. Without initiatives like these, some kids have such a limited experience with the beautiful, wild world around them.

My hat is off to Arrowhead County RC&D, their education committee, and all the dedicated volunteers. What a program!