Astronauts scheduled to head to the International Space Station in an historic launch tomorrow

Not exactly ecological (though at some level, everything is…) but I thought many of you readers might want to watch this launch tomorrow live, online. Launch time is 3:22 pm EST tomorrow (Saturday).

More details here. Check SpaceX’s twitter page for updates.

SpaceX’s commitment to learning from failure is something I’ve watched & appreciated for some time. It’s allowed them to do some pretty amazing stuff. And if it eventually means human boots on the surface Mars, well… what can even be said of that?!

I’ll end with a picture of the steam trail I saw this January of a SpaceX rocket launch, from the other coast of Florida.

the start of something new

Marshall County has taken the first steps towards developing a Parks System for the residents of the county. It’s my great pleasure to be serving on the board! The county already owns a couple parcels, one of which has been used as a long-term timber harvesting demonstration site. So much potential.

I featured the Mill Pond Woods in an episode of Get Outside! This is just 5-8 miles from the home of one of our co-workers who was telling me about a bobcat that had been hanging around their property.

I’m excited about all the possibilities before us to safeguarding the land community for future generations and make it available to the public.

the energy transition continues: in Plymouth & nationwide

Electricity consumption is down big, due to COVID-19, but renewable energy installations continue each year. (I’ll be providing a half-year update on our system sometime shortly).

Renewable energy production surpassed coal for the first full-month ever in April 2020. Renewables keep grabbing more and more marketshare as fossil systems enter a death spiral, even though it looks like the public will have to pick up much of the ecological & financial clean-up tab for the ruination done to the public good by slash-and-burn development. Indiana is looking at a clean energy “pipeline” filled with lots of solar gigawatts.

It’s time to keep pushing at all individual and institutional levels for the future that we want for our children.

I’m very happy to pass along this press release from the REES Theatre (photos from their Facebook page). Enjoy this gallery and the news!

Click here to see some drone footage/film.


REES Solar Donation Goes Through the Roof!
Submitted by The REES

Co-chairs: Bill Langdon & Jim Hartung

It has been a busy three years for The REES Project Committee and through the generosity of many, this project continues to move forward with sights set on a celebratory re-opening in the Spring of 2021 which is some good news to look forward to.

The REES is nearing the completion of Phase 3 and it has taken the project to new heights with a new roof, rooftop heating/air-conditioning units and now, we are pleased to announce that an advanced technology solar energy system is in operation.

Thanks to the generosity of a philanthropic Marshall County family, 100% of the cost of the system has been underwritten. Solar committee co-chairs, Bill Langdon and Jim Hartung agreed: “We are ecstatic about this donation from a donor that shared our vision for an efficient, responsible and sustainable electric source. This project ‘checks all the boxes’ even a lobby monitor that will give patrons a “real-time view” of its performance. It will be a teaching tool as it will show each panel’s kilowatt hours of energy output as well as the total system’s electric production!” The donor wished for The REES to be a model in clean renewable energy. This is undoubtedly a first of this magnitude in downtown Plymouth and in consideration with other decisions that makes this project ‘green’ driven.

The REES solar committee has spent the past year analyzing a system’s economic feasibility. Langdon and Hartung, along with a committee of three others, researched several solar installations and interviewed numerous installers and owners. The group also attended the Michiana Area Council of Governments’ (MACOG) solar education seminar and gathered information from a solar expert panel discussion at Ancilla College’s solar project ribbon cutting. Director of Ecological Relationships with The Center at Donaldson, Adam Thada, consulted with the committee as well as Leah Thill, Senior Environmental Planner of MACOG and Kelley Davies, Commercial Account Manager of NIPSCO.

After considering a half-dozen solar companies, The REES solar committee requested proposals and presentations from the ones they considered the top three. The committee ended up unanimously choosing Green Alternatives of Kokomo, a company they felt represented The REES’ best value due to outside-the-box thinking, a customer focus and a proven track record. According to Thada and Thill, this application would not even have been possible ten years ago, but significant solar efficiency increases, solar cost decreases and NIPSCO’s net metering have ‘changed the game’. Net metering allows The REES to produce energy credits that goes out on NIPSCO’s energy grid and then allows The REES to utilize them at any given time. “This generous donation will allow The REES to produce energy credits over this next year putting the theater in a great situation for sustainability,” said project co-chair Randy Danielson.

The new rooftop system, consisting of 76 portrait mounted panels and two inverters with optimizers is expected to produce about 35,000 KWH annually – the majority of the electricity needed to run everything from the air conditioning and lighting to the popcorn machine. The one-week installation was recently completed by the Green Alternatives crew in conjunction with Banner Electric and energized on Monday.

According to Langdon, “The bottom line is: The REES will have an environmentally friendly solar energy system that will offset most of the multi-purpose venue’s annual electric usage and a system that will serve as both an example and an educational resource for area citizens and students. The REES solar committee thanks the donor family, the City of Plymouth, MACOG, and NIPSCO for their commitment to sustainable energy in naming Plymouth a SolSmart-designated community. “

REES Project co-chair, Donna Pontius concluded saying; “Let the sun shine brightly on everyone, but especially The REES!”

Having been named a primary project on the list of the Marshall County – Crossroads Stellar Initiatives, The REES project is moving closer to its interior completion in Phase 4 that is expected to be underway in the Fall of 2020. Support is yet needed and those wishing to learn more or add their names to the donor list may do so through the website: or through the Marshall County Community Foundation, 2680 Miller Drive, Suite 120, Plymouth, IN 46563.

prescribed fire summary, spring 2020

Add to the many things that COVID-19 has disrupted: prescribed fire.

This dormant season, we were able to take advantage of 3 good days where conditions were ideal for the units we had intended to burn. Humidity, wind speed, wind direction, and available staff all impact where and how we burn each time.

On those 3 days (March 13, 17, and 22), we attempted to burn 7 units comprising 24 acres. We had several more units prepped, but the statewide stay-at-home order prevented us from being able to safely proceed.

One of the wooded units was being burned for the first time and so I ended up being too conservative with the burn conditions. The humidity was too high for the litter layer to burn well. So we quickly shifted over to an open grass wetland that did much better. In a grassland, the fuel is higher off the ground with more air (oxygen) mixed in. The fuel is also less shaded than a wetland and so dries out more quickly.

Rather than re-posting all the photos & videos inside this blog, I will provide a link to my public folder that has the majority of the fire photos. I have added comments to most of the photos for explanation.

Click here to see the photo/video folder online.

After the burns were completed, I put up a drone to get another perspective on the land. It always adds new insights.

For those units that we had prepared for, we will likely just shift those to early winter 2020 or spring 2021.

Enjoy the media. Stay safe!