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Spring is an excellent time to begin bird watching in earnest. Eugenio Marongiu / Cultura / Getty Images

The coronavirus has isolated many of us in our homes this year. We've been forced to slow down a little, maybe looking out our windows, becoming more in tune with the rhythms of our yards. Perhaps we've begun to notice more, like the birds hopping around in the bushes out back, wondering (maybe for the first time) what they are.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Cathy Chapman uses various types of groundcover and native plant species for the backyard of her South Portland home instead of having just a grass lawn. Photographed on June 6, 2018. Gregory Rec / Portland Press Herald / Getty Images

Americans take great pride in their lawns. A centuries-old practice adopted from Great Britain and Northern France, lawns have become a status symbol; a standard fixture of American communities.

In the United States, more than 40 million acres of land are covered in grass, making it the single largest irrigated crop in the country, requiring more labor, fuel, toxins, and equipment than industrial farming. These vast areas of monoculture (the practice of planting only a single crop) do ultimately have devastating consequences for ecosystem health.

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waterlust.com / @tulasendlesssummer_sierra .

Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.

Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.

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From this overlook 1,400 feet above the the river, one can understand why the New River Gorge is known by many as the Grand Canyon of the East. Sky Noir Photography / Moment / Getty Images

By Mary Caperton Morton

The only thing "new" about West Virginia's New River Gorge is its national park status: In 2021, the New River Gorge became our latest national park, but in geologic terms, the New River is anything but new. Dating back to the days of the supercontinent Pangaea, it is one of the oldest rivers in the world and one of the few waterways in North America that runs north.

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Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day on Capital Pathway in Ottawa, Ontario with Camille Bérubé. Daniel Baylis

The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.

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Yosemite Firefall at Sunset, Yosemite National Park, California. heyengel / iStock / Getty Images Plus

There are very few places that capture the essence of American beauty better than Yosemite National Park. Millions of people visit each year to explore its mountainous terrain, or to experience Yosemite's unique natural wonders such as the giant sequoia groves or the hundreds of waterfalls that nourish the protected landscape.

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A fallen tree in Yosemite National Park following a Jan. 18 windstorm. Yosemite National Park

California's iconic Yosemite National Park will remain closed until at least Saturday, Jan. 30 after a windstorm caused millions of dollars of damage in the park and toppled two giant sequoias.

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Milkyway from Segara Anak - Rinjani Mountain. Abdul Azis / Moment / Getty Images

By Dirk Lorenzen

2021 begins as a year of Mars. Although our red planetary neighbor isn't as prominent as it was last autumn, it is still noticeable with its characteristic reddish color in the evening sky until the end of April. In early March, Mars shines close to the star cluster Pleiades in the constellation Taurus.

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By Michael Svoboda, Ph.D.

Despite a journey to this moment even more treacherous than expected, Americans now have a fresh opportunity to act, decisively, on climate change.

The authors of the many new books released in just the past few months (or scheduled to be published soon) seem to have anticipated this pivotal moment.

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A wolverine in Finland on June 19, 2019. yrjö jyske / CC BY 2.0

A Yellowstone National Park trail camera received a surprising visitor last month.

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Panorama of Horseshoe Bend from Grandview at New River Gorge National River, West Virginia. National Park Service

The U.S. is beginning the new year with a new national park.

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A painted bunting in Florida, one of its common habitats, on Jan. 14, 2014. Andrew Morffew / CC BY 2.0

The news that a rare, bright bird had touched down in a Maryland park drew more than 1,000 visitors over the weekend, as birders flocked to catch a glimpse of the unusual event.

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Lehigh Gorge State Park with River and cyclist on Lehigh Gorge Rail Trail path, Poconos Mountains, near Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Jumping Rocks / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Natalie Marchant

  • The Great American Rail-Trail will be almost 6,000km when complete, and will serve 50 million people within 80km of the route.
  • Trails have proved invaluable for recreation and transport during lockdown.
  • Cycling and safe routes are vital for cities planning their post-pandemic recovery.

Stretching almost 6,000km and crossing 12 states, the Great American Rail-Trail will enable cyclists, hikers and riders to traverse the entire US.

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