The The 61-mile Long Conveyor Belt, Butterflies and Megafauna, and a Tree Paradox

The The 61-mile Long Conveyor Belt, Butterflies and Megafauna, and a Tree Paradox

I have been pushing out blog posts for several years.  Occasionally, readers have sent me various comments and also additional resources on the blog topics.  I thought it would be timely to share some of the more interesting resources I have received on particular posts.  Thus, I bring you:

Peak Phosphorus and the 61-Mile Long Conveyor Belt

Pawpaws, Zebra Swallowtails, and Furry Megafauna

The Paradox of the Ubiquitous Red Maple

Up Close in the Distance

Up Close in the Distance

Adhering to the social distancing mandate, Garnett and I decided to head up to the Blue Ridge this past weekend.  The weather was cold and foggy.  We headed to a spot called Humpback Rocks, which would normally be crawling with people on a fair weekend day, as its rocky escarpment offers spectacular views of the Piedmont to one side and Great Valley to the other.  But on this cold morning, the top of the ridge was shrouded in fog and mist, and the crowds had stayed away.

An Environmental Restoration Workforce for the Future

An Environmental Restoration Workforce for the Future

by Lori Lilly, Howard EcoWorks

I lead an organization called Howard EcoWorks (EcoWorks) in Howard County, MD.  We empower communities and diverse workforces to respect and restore our natural systems for future generations.  For the first several years, we focused on one thing – building rain gardens.  As our relationship with the County, our primary funder, grew, we started performing maintenance on the County’s stormwater and stream restoration practices.  Our organization and its programs have been growing quickly and succeeding in many ways.  However, I have also witnessed our County seat, Ellicott City, devastated by a series of freak, high intensity storm events.  With each successive storm, my professional assumptions about how to restore a watershed, and my organization’s role in that, have changed.

Canal Boats, Locomotives, Interstate Highways. . .A River Runs Along It

Canal Boats, Locomotives, Interstate Highways. . .A River Runs Along It

Last fall, I rode my bike along the C&O towpath and the Great Alleghany Passage, following rivers for most of the journey.  The C&O traces the banks of the Potomac River from Georgetown in Washington D.C. to Cumberland, MD.  Travelling at the “speed of bike” is suitably slow to allow one to ponder the landscape, how it got to be the way it is today, and how transportation infrastructure has intersected with the river corridor over the years.

Little River Time Machine

I learned to love rivers and appreciate stormwater while living in a wikiup. A wickiup you say? A hut made of brushwood or covered with mats. . .any rude hut. That’s the internet definition. I built my wickiup along the banks of the Little River on land that my cousin owned in northern Durham County, NC. It consisted of a circle of saplings dug into the ground and bent to the middle to form a dome. The whole thing was covered with tarps, and I had a door and a window to look out on the river. My wickiup residency lasted a year and spanned all four seasons. This was 35 years ago, before that part of the County became more crowded with subdivisions as the Durham area expanded.

Way Down Yonder in a Very Large Pawpaw Patch

Pickin’ up paw-paws, puttin’ ‘em in her pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, puttin’ ‘em in her pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, puttin’ ‘em in her pockets,
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

In this traditional folk song, the pawpaw patch was “way down yonder.” It seems the patch is expanding, becoming the dominant shrub along floodplains of major river systems.

Nixon, My Birthday, and the Clean Water Act that Almost Never Was

The main thing I remember about Richard Nixon is that he ruined my 13th birthday. It was August 8, 1974. My parents took me to a restaurant. TV screens lined the walls, and all eyes were on Nixon delivering his resignation speech. The atmosphere was quiet, somber, decidedly un-birthday-like.  As a 13-year old boy, it was evident that my birthday celebration was being subsumed by more critical events.

Naughty Nitrogen

Nitrogen didn’t start out naughty. It comes from a good home: a blue planet that I hear is very nice. It constitutes 78 percent of our planet’s atmosphere and enjoys cosmic notoriety as the sixth most abundant element in the universe. Way to go number 7 (check your periodic table). Life wouldn’t be much good without it, and it finds its way into many products: food, fertilizer, explosives, refrigerants, metals, and jet and rocket propellants. If you’ve had the good fortune to witness the aurora borealis, you have Nitrogen to thank, at least in part, for the experience.  Oh. . .but Nitrogen has a naughty side.