Well, I usually wait longer than this to post news round-ups, but there’s just a lot!
Summer is only 1 month away. The threat of frost is past, and we’ve got a week of nighttime lows in the 60’s forecast.
Which also means… the tick nymphs are out. Ugh.
Even after several layers of protective measures, my kid still came back from the woods with this tick attached. We’ve dealt with Lyme disease once and it wasn’t fun. It’s a depressing thought, but I’m thinking of restricting certain outdoor activates for them in late spring.
For a refresher on ticks and tickborne diseases, here’s a good piece by MN Dept of Health.
As I was doing some invasive species control yesterday, I came upon this Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) sprout and took this blurry photo. It was in a ditch that was burned this spring along with the adjacent oak woods. Anyone out there remember cutting these from roadsides in the spring? My dad did (northern Iowa in the 50’s and 60’s) but it doesn’t appear to be a common practice anymore.
Anyway… I’ll write a grab-bag post of goings-on from the spring at another time. Now, the news:
Governor Signs Bill Repealing Most State Protections for Wetlands into Law (Indiana Environmental Reporter) New law removes state protections and permitting requirements for more than half of all state wetlands and weakens protections for most remaining wetlands.
South Bend’s new invasive plant ban includes Bradford pear (AP) Dozens of invasive plant species, including a commonly planted flowering tree, will be banned from being sold or planted in South Bend starting this fall under a new ordinance.
Pollinators Are in Trouble. Here’s How Transforming Your Lawn Into a Native Wildflower Habitat Can Help (Discover Magazine) Biologists are recruiting everyday gardeners to save pollinators, with a little help from a smartphone app.
Recovering from “Fortress Mentality” (Strategies for Stewards blog) a great reflection on the challenge of maintaining ecosystems in the Corn Belt.
20-Megawatt St. Joseph Solar Farm Unveiled Today; Local Clean Energy Now Flowing (PR Newswire) Executives from American Electric Power, Indiana Michigan Power and the University of Notre Dame, along with Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, officially flipped-the-switch for I&M’s largest solar array; South Bend Mayor proclaims Thursday, May 6, to be Solar Energy Day in South Bend and the President of Commissioners of St. Joseph County declares it to be Solar Energy Day in St. Joseph County
Add Layers to Garden Beds for Beauty and Sustainability (Houzz) You can renew nature at home by filling in gaps with native plants and extending the bloom season
New Law Restricts Local Governments’ Ability to Address Climate Change (Indiana Environmental Reporter) House Bill 1191, now Public Law 180, takes away local governments’ power to restrict natural gas or set energy-saving regulations on buildings.
South Bend ban on invasive species to start in September (WSBT) The city council voted 8-0 Monday to approve a ban on the future sale or planting of invasive species in the city limits, including the Bradford pear tree. The measure fills the gap of 47 species of land-based plants that the state had left off of a ban that it created in 2019 against 44 species.
The enemy no more, fire helps regenerate forests (Faquier Now) On the warmest day of 2021 yet, the fire swept over Summers Mountain in a remote corner of Highland, a Virginia county so lightly populated that cattle outnumber humans by almost seven times. At times the fire moved with startling rapidity, fast as an arrow of flame. Watching it spread along the southeast slope, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources forester Kent Burtner quoted the Bible: “The devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.”
Deepening Drought Holds ‘Ominous’ Signs For Wildfire Threat In The West (NPR) After one of the most destructive and extreme wildfire seasons in modern history last year, a widening drought across California and much of the West has many residents bracing for the possibility this season could be worse. Anemic winter rain and snowfall has left reservoirs and river flows down significantly, even as the state experiences its driest water year in more than four decades. Today, wildfire fuels in some parts of California are at or near record levels of dryness.
In Colombia, Indigenous Lands Are Ground Zero for a Wind Energy Boom (Yale e360) The northernmost tip of South America, home to the Indigenous Wayúu people, is the epicenter of Colombia’s nascent wind energy industry. But Wayúu leaders are concerned that the government and wind companies are not dealing fairly with the inhabitants of this long-neglected land.
Idaho Senate approves bill to kill 90% the state’s wolves (AZ Family) The Idaho Senate on Wednesday approved legislation allowing the state to hire private contractors to kill up to 90% of the wolves roaming Idaho. The agriculture industry-backed bill approved Wednesday on 26-7 vote includes additional changes intended to cut the wolf population from about 1,500 to 150.
The Untold Story of Grasses (by South African prof Dr. William Bond) 7 min video on the history of grass evolution)
Megadrought’ and ‘Aridification’ — Understanding the New Language of a Warming World (The Revelator) New research reveals a creeping, permanent dryness expanding across the United States. It’s much more than “drought,” and researchers hope more accurate descriptions will spur critical action.
Northern Indiana Utility NIPSCO To Close Half Of Its Schahfer Coal Plant Early (WFYI) The northern Indiana utility NIPSCO has announced it will shut down half of its R.M. Schahfer coal plant in Wheatfield by the end of this year. That’s about two years earlier than when the whole plant is expected to shut down in 2023.
Species or Ecosystems: How Best to Restore the Natural World? (Yale e360) What’s the best way to protect nature and restore what has been lost? A series of new scientific papers offer conflicting views on whether efforts should focus on individual species or ecosystems and point to the role human inhabitants can play in conserving landscapes.
240-pound sturgeon caught in Detroit River among biggest ever recorded in US (Detroit Free Press) How’s this for a big fish story? A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crew caught a 240-pound sturgeon last week. It is 6-foot-10, with a girth of nearly 4 feet. It is a native — and threatened — species to Michigan, and one of the largest lake sturgeon ever caught in the United States.
A burning passion for the good kind of forest fire (U of Missouri) With the help of tree rings, an MU researcher is on a mission to show the world that not all fires are harmful.
Who Owns Appalachia’s Greatest Natural Light Show? (Atlas Obscura) Many viewers want to bask in synchronous fireflies’ glow. Ecologists want to ensure that the insects aren’t hurt in the process