Thursday, April 9, 2015

Lowe's takes steps to protect pollinators

Thanks to pressure from thousands of people like you, Lowe’s is finally taking action on bee-killing pesticides! Today, Lowe’s announced that it’s making a public commitment to phase out neonicotinoid pesticides - the most significant public commitment so far for a retailer of its size. 

So what does this mean? Here’s what Lowe’s had to say in their just-released 2015 Corporate Social Responsibility Report1:
Lowe’s is committed to regularly reviewing the products and information we offer customers and we’re taking the following actions to support pollinator health:
  • Including greater organic and non-neonic product selections
  • Phasing out the sale of products that contain neonic pesticides within 48 months as suitable alternatives become commercially available
  • Working with growers to eliminate the use of neonic pesticides on bee-attractive plants we sell
  • Encouraging growers to use biological control programs
  • Educating employees and customers through in-store resources such as brochures, fact sheets and product labels
CFS members sent thousands of emails, prodded Lowe’s on social media, and even rallied in front of Lowe’s stores to urge the company to protect our pollinators. While this is not a silver bullet solution, this is a major step and you should be very proud of your role in this fight.

This progress would not have been possible without the thousands of emails and calls from members like you, and the hard work of our allies like Friends of the Earth and others.

Thank you for all that you do for bees,

Center for Food Safety

(Lowe’s Home Improvement, 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility report, page 27)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Proposed wind farm near Springdale subject of March 31, 2015, public meeting

Proposed Wind Farm In Elm Springs Raises Questions, Concerns

MARCH 23RD, 2015
A town hall meeting slated for 6:30 p.m. on March 31 in Elm Springs aims to answer questions and concerns regarding a proposed wind farm just outside of Springdale.
Elm Springs Mayor Harold Douthit has a few questions about a proposed 80-megawatt wind farm planned for development in unincorporated Washington County, about a mile west of this small city in Northwest Arkansas. That’s why the city administration has called meeting.
“The CEO of Dragonfly Industries International will be here to answer the concerns of folks around the site,” Douthit said. Some residents have said they are concerned about the project being harmful and unsafe.
Dragonfly officials told The City Wire they aren’t prepared to discuss specifics of the project until they complete preparations for the town meeting. The company is wanting Elm Springs to annex the 311 acres west of town for the wind farm. Published estimates are the project will cost about $100 million to develop. Dragonfly has not said how many jobs might be created in the construction and operation of the wind farm or the overall economic impact of the project.
“This is cutting edge technology, clean air, environmentally friendly,” Douthit said, “It’s what the green movement is all about.”
If developed as planned, it could be the first wind farm in Arkansas.
A spokesman at Ozarks Electric Cooperative Corp. in Fayetteville said the electricity generated by 80 megawatts could power about 20,000 homes, “if all conditions were right.” The land where the farm would be built is in the Ozarks service area.
But others have said it is likely Dragonfly would sell the electricity generated from the wind farm to American Electric Power, the parent company of SWEPCO, which has a distribution plant about a mile away as “the crow flies” in neighboring Tontitown, Douthit said.
Another option could be a partnership with Clean Line Energy Partners, a Houston-based company seeking permission from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a 3,500-megawatt, direct current line that would transmit power generated on wind farms in western Oklahoma through Arkansas to Tennessee. This line would furnish electricity to the Tennessee Valley Authority for distribution in southern and southeastern states.
Opposition to the proposed wind farm has been organized around a Facebook page, named “Stop the Elm Springs Wind Farm.” The main opponent is Jonathon Hamby. Douthit said he is concerned opposition is coming from outside the Elm Springs community because there are only about a dozen residents who live around the property where the farm would be built.
If the property is annexed into the city, the benefits would include police and fire protection and a lower tax base but the company would still have to get the proper approvals from federal and state agencies. Dragonfly has not made an official request to the city for annexation of the property.
“The city’s voice is moot in the issue now,” Douthit said.
Douthit said the planned site is on a hill and according to what he has been told by Dragonfly officials, the site would be surrounded by a 25-foot berm with trees planted on top of the earth barrier.
Douthit said he has learned that the turbine itself looks like a jet engine without the visible blade of the traditional windmill-style turbine. A computer atop a 100-foot pole the turbine is on controls each turbine remotely. The computer can move the turbine to pick up the wind flow. As the wind passes through the enclosed turbine, it picks up speed. Each pole is designed to hold two turbines.
“It doesn’t make the ‘whoosh whoosh’ noise that the propellers make,” he said.
His information comes from a meeting he and other city officials had with Dragonfly in December. He said he also looked at the company’s website.
“It appears to me there will be a wind farm. The question is whether it will be in Elm Springs or Washington County,” Douthit said.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hasn't anyone mentioned the wisdom of building trails outside the riparian zone of urban streams?

Trail only 18 inches higher than flow of Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River under S. School Avenue. Whose idea was this? Rain had slacked off but more could come. Video at 8:23 a.m. Tuesday, September 2, 2014. Ever drive South College when was was flowing over the bridge and bridge was temporarily closed? Now there is less room for water under the bridge.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mary Virginia Robins Ferguson obit: A heroine of Arkansas environmental conservation

Hubert and Mary Virginia in Fayetteville for Buffalo River Celebration.

Service Details Guestbook Note to Family
Mary Virginia Robins Ferguson 

Mary Virginia Robins Ferguson
March 20, 1927 - May 8, 2014
Mary Virginia Robins Ferguson, of Boxley, Arkansas, died Thursday, May 8, in Conway, Arkansas, from complications of a stroke suffered in late March.

Mary Virginia was born March 20, 1927, in Conway, Arkansas, to Frank E. Robins Jr., and Virginia Warren Robins. She is survived by her husband of 67 years, Hubert L. Ferguson of Boxley, Arkansas, her two sons, John (Gloria) and Bill Ferguson of Conway, Arkansas, her daughter, Francie Bolter (Brian) of Mayflower, Arkansas, and 17 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her parents and her brother, Frank E. Robins III, preceded her in death.

Mary Virginia loved history and had a wonderful memory for names and dates. Born into a newspaper family—her grandfather was the publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat at the time of her birth—“Arney” began her love affair with history, absorbing the people, places and events of Conway as they were reported in the daily newspaper. She retained a wealth of information about her hometown, including its recovery from the Great Depression, its experience of World War II, and its accelerated growth in the post-war years. Her family both enjoyed and relied on her wonderful memory for facts and details. “Ask Mama--she’ll know” was a phrase her family uttered countless times.

Mary Virginia’s love of history influenced her educational pursuits. She attended Hendrix College, Randolph Macon College for Women, and Arkansas State Teacher’s College and received her undergraduate degree in History from George Washington University. Upon completing a Master’s in History from State College of Arkansas (now UCA) in 1968, she began teaching American History and American Government at Conway High School, where she taught for a decade.

MV was an early political activist as well as a proponent of historic preservation. She was an early member of the Conway League of Women Voters and was asked to join the Committee of 100, a state-wide women’s group formed in 1974 to support the newly established Ozark Folk Center. She was a member and officer of the Faulkner County Historical Society and played an important role in the establishment of the Faulkner County Museum.

Inspired by her mother who was a passionate gardener and her father, an avid fisherman, Mary Virginia grew up loving the outdoors. She attended Camp Kiwanis as a Girl Scout and later became a counselor there. She encouraged all three of her children to participate in scouting, and at various times she was a Cub Scout, Brownie Scout, and Girl Scout troop leader. She conceived of and directed a Girl Scout Day Camp on Cove Creek in northern Faulkner County for several summers, served on the board of the Ouachita Girl Scout Council, and was president of this Council for two terms.

Before “environmentalism” became a household word, Mary Virginia was an activist for respecting the natural world. She was an avid birdwatcher and an early member of the Arkansas Audubon Society; she obtained a license to band birds, an activity which produced important data about bird distribution. Mary Virginia credited Harold Alexander, of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and Ruth Thomas, a columnist for the Arkansas Gazette, with heightening her concern for the environment. The Arkansas Council of Garden Clubs of which she was a member became the first statewide organization to publicly petition to cease damning Arkansas streams and drowning rivers with deep impoundments. In 1971, MV rode the “Jubilee Bus” to Washington, D.C., with her son John and other Ozark society members where she testified before Congress in support of designating the Buffalo River as America’s first national river.

Mary Virginia loved canoeing, camping, and hiking with family and friends. She hiked notable canyons in Utah, rafted many western rivers, and hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim. A goal she cherished was that she had hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at various times with each of her children and grandchildren. She and Hubert participated in Earthwatch trips to Utah, Australia, and Costa Rica and enjoyed many memorable birding trips in Central America, Africa, and India.

In 1980, Mary Virginia and Hubert achieved the dream of passing on the family printing business to their sons and purchased a farm in the Boxley valley of Newton County, Arkansas, through which the Buffalo River runs. This chapter of her life allowed her a deep enjoyment of her values: living a life tied to the rhythms of the natural world, connecting with the folkways of the Ozarks, enjoying the bounty of their farm and garden, and being a faithful steward of the natural environment.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, May 13, at 2 p.m. at the amphitheatre located next to the Ferguson Chapel at UCA. The service will be moved to the chapel in case of rain.

A gathering of remembrance will be held Saturday, May 24, at 11 a.m. at the Scroggins-Villines house in Boxley, Arkansas.

Memorial opportunities include the Ferguson-Robins Honors College Scholarship at the University of Central Arkansas or the Halberg Ecology Camp of the Arkansas Audubon Society.

Video of visit to the portion of the West Fork of the White River, featuring Sandi Formica

Restored portion of West Fork of White River, a tour with Fayetteville AR Environmental Action Committee with Sandi Formica

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

St. Louis, Missouri, takes responsibility for providing habitat for the dwindling population of Monarch butterflies

Milkweeds for Monarchs Initiative Update

The St. Louis Butterfly Project
Published: 04-22-2014

Update 6.4.2014

The Milkweeds for Monarchs Initiative is underway.  Mayor Slay has committed to the City planting 50 monarch gardens, and is challenging the community to plant an additional 200 monarch gardens in 2014 to commemorate the City's 250th birthday year.

The City has created an online registration. Once your Milkweeds for Monarchs garden is planted, register your garden with us so we can track our progress toward the goal. Your personal information will not be displayed.  Registered gardens will appear on the Milkweed for Monarchs Map.

There are a variety of plants that will make your garden a success for attracting Monarchs. In partnership with community plant and butterfly experts, the City has created a STL Monarch Mix Brochure to serve as a reference in establishing your monarch garden. These plants have been carefully selected to provide the best combination of features for the butterflies and your personal enjoyment. These varieties were chosen to flower at different times of the growing season, offering seasonal color and important butterfly food and nectar sources.

The STL Monarch Mix consist of: (Photos courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden and Monarch Watch)

Whorled-Milkweed Common-Milkweed  

Swamp-Marsh-Milkweed Purple-Coneflower

New-England-Aster Bee-Balm-Bergamot

Goldenrod Butterfly-Weed

Original Post:

Famous for their remarkable annual migrations between Mexico and Canada, monarch butterflies are important participants in pollinating plants in our ecosystem. Yet, their population has declined 90 percent over the last two decades. Female monarchs depend on milkweed to lay their eggs and feed their caterpillar larvae. While other flower species can serve as nectar sources for butterflies, only milkweeds play host to monarch caterpillars enabling the monarch population to grow.
In honor of this year's Earth Day, Mayor Slay announced a new City sustainability initiative called 'Milkweeds for Monarchs.'
Mayor-planting-milkweeds"The goal of this project is to both increase the dwindling monarch butterfly population and to better connect people and urban nature," said Slay.
Mayor Slay has committed to the City planting 50 monarch gardens, and is challenging the community to plant an additional 200 monarch gardens in 2014 to commemorate the City's 250th birthday year.
"I will be planting one at City Hall and in my own yard at home. But, I'd like to see these butterfly gardens everywhere. They can go in your neighborhood's community garden, in front of your business or in your own yard," said Slay.
Access to nature can reduce stress and anxieties, nourishes the imagination, and provide important learning opportunities. STL Milkweeds for Monarchs also aligns with the City's Sustainable Neighborhood Initiative. Creating monarch gardens is also an opportunity to enhance a community's sense of place and to build relationships between neighbors.
In partnership with community plant and butterfly experts, the City has created a STL Monarch Mix Brochure to serve as a reference in establishing your monarch garden. These plants have been carefully selected to provide the best combination of features for the butterflies and your personal enjoyment. These varieties were chosen to flower at different times of the growing season, offering seasonal color and important butterfly food and nectar sources.
For updated information on the STL Milkweeds for Monarchs initiative and to receive recognition for creating a monarch garden, please visit

Bob Caulk invites volunteers to plan native species along of the upper portion of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River upstream on the UA campus in portion renamed by the UA as Mullins Creek in honor of a former Chancellor of the UA

Volunteers Needed to Help Plant 5 Rain Gardens 
We are planning to plant the U of A Rain Gardens along Mullins Creek on Tuesday, 
June 17 from 9 - 11:30 AM  There will be a pizza lunch following the planting! 
We hope to have lots of volunteers help plant 5 rain gardens on site!! It would 
be great to have 8-10 people for each site. 
We will be meeting at the south end of the Mullins Creek Stream Restoration 
project.  Lori Linn will have a registration table nearby.  Parking:  You can 
park in the parking lot there (Lot 56 at Razorback and Martin Luther King).  
Lori will provide you with a parking permission sign that you will need to place 
on the dash board of your car on the driver’s side (needs to be visible, so you 
do not get a ticket). 
Please bring planting tools and gloves if you have them. Thank you and we look 
forward to the planting!!! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Milkweed for Monarch butterfly caterpillars and as nectar plants for many other species of pollinators by Kansas City resident

Please click on image below for wider, enlarged view.
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on June 7, 2014.

Mary Nemecek Aubrey James Shepherd- here is the text if that helps. You are welcome to copy/share it.

Dear Eldon, MO City Council,

As a fellow Missourians, I have been following the issue with the area referred to as the 'airport wetland'. 

Today municipalities across the country are looking for ways to decrease mowing, which decreases city expenses and carbon emissions, and increasing native habitat. In Europe, this summer, fear is rising that there are not enough pollinators to pollinate their crops. In China, children are climbing to the top of apple trees to hand pollinate apple blossoms because they do not have enough pollinators to do so. Pollinators in North America are not exempt and efforts are underway all across America to increase habitat and hopefully reverse their sharp decline.

The concern has reached such a level of alarm that during the last week of April this year the first ever White House Pollinator Initiative Stakeholder Meeting was held in Washington, DC. It was attended by 60 conservationists, researchers, educators, farmers, beekeepers and corporate representatives. Dr. Michael Stebbins of the White House Office of Science Policy.
said that “there are many different stressors impacting various pollinators: habitat loss, pesticides, parasites and climate change. Because of that, we need a hands-on approach to better leverage everyone's investments to reverse the loss of pollinators.” The Xerces Society reported, "he (Michael Stebbins) also noted that pollinators are a diverse group—including bumble bees, monarch butterflies, and even beetles—and that President Obama is interested in this issue himself".

Kansas City is working to decrease roadside mowing and increasing native planting along roads. New shopping centers are using native plantings along drainage ditches and back lots. Businesses are creating rain gardens in low areas and Kansas City launched a 10,000 rain garden campaign several years ago to help resolve some of the burden on it's aging sewer system. Many of these are large, public ones maintained by the city and they are all to now include Swamp Milkweed.

My understanding of your wetland is it has native swamp milkweed. In 2013 the World Wildlife Federation declared the Monarch migration endangered. The caterpillar stage of Monarchs can feed only on milkweed. A precipitous decrease in milkweed due to habitat loss has meant this ambassador of pollinators may soon no longer be gracing the backyards and delighting children and adults from Canada to Mexico. 

Large nationwide campaigns asking homeowners to plant milkweed and nectar plants have been launched across the US. A recent study suggested Americans would contribute $4 billion from their household incomes to save the Monarch migration. Native plant sales in Kansas City this spring have sold thousands of native plants to go into homeowners yards as nectar and host plants for pollinators, especially the Monarch butterfly. Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) was also one of two species of milkweed planted in the new pollinator garden on the White House lawn by Michelle Obama.

Much of the state and country is stretching to find more habitat for Monarch butterflies and all pollinators. You have a gem in an area that naturally supports this. Something a community can rally around and school children can learn from. Grants can be gotten and positive attention can be garnered. I'm asking as a city council member you consider yourself not only a public servant of Eldon, MO, but also part of a larger picture. 

Eldon City Council, please re-consider your view on the airport wetland and capitalize on the gift you have, in a time when areas like this are becoming of more and more critical importance. I'm sure I share this view with many others outside of Eldon- please decide for the benefit of Eldon and all Missourians. We can make a difference now. It's not too late.

Mary Nemecek, MBA
Missouri Master Naturalist
Burroughs Audubon Conservation Chair
Monarch Watch Volunteer