New England’s Economy Depends on Its Vast but Threatened Forests
More than 80 organizations across the region urged lawmakers on March 7 to help meet New England’s economic challenges by investing in the region’s forests, outlining seven critical federal funding opportunities to conserve this vital resource and the green infrastructure it provides.
The organizations submitted to Congressional leaders A Policy Agenda for Conserving New England’s Forests at a time when forest cover is declining in all six New England states, according to the science-based report, Wildlands and Woodlands: a Vision for the New England Landscape. According to the 85 groups, federal conservation funding is a vital strategy to retain the many economic and environmental benefits of the region’s forests.
“Organizations representing New Englanders in recreation, forestry, agriculture, conservation and wildlife have endorsed these policies because of the profound value the forests have for our economy, our health and well-being and our future, as well as the futures of the other species that rely on the forests,” said Andrew Finton, director of science and conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts. “The value of forests in Massachusetts is immense and so is the significance of Congressional support for them.”
"Forests define the nature of Massachusetts and the region, maintaining clean air and water, wildlife habitat, recreation, and a strong economy. We must halt forest loss and fragmentation to protect the quality of life that makes our communities so attractive and vibrant,” said Laura A. Johnson, president of Mass Audubon.
New England is the most densely forested region in the nation, and its communities depend heavily on the forested landscape to fuel the economy, including monies from tourism and outdoor recreation, and heating fuel and timber from sustainably managed forests.
New England’s forests protect the headwaters for all of the Northeast’s major rivers; filter drinking water for millions of people; and shelter fish, wildlife, and rich biodiversity. The region’s 33 million acres of forest clean the air and store vast quantities of carbon, slowing climate change.
“The daily benefits to human life, or ‘ecosystem services,’ that our forests provide are truly priceless—invaluable at both a regional and national scale,” according to Dr. David Foster, director of Harvard University’s Harvard Forest in Petersham, Mass. “There is no cheaper way to mitigate climate change or produce clean water than widespread forest conservation.”
The 85 organizations urged Congressional leaders to adopt seven key actions to protect New England’s forests as Congress moves forward to review and finalize the president’s budget for Fiscal Year 2013.
- Fund working forest conservation by continuing to fund the Forest Legacy Program at the levels in the president’s recently released budget. Since the program’s establishment in 1990, it has protected 996,000 acres from development in New England, sustaining the region’s forests that contribute tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to states’ economies. Forest Legacy funds have helped protect the forested Quabbin Reservoir watershed, which provides the drinking water for Greater Boston’s 2.2 million residents, as well as the Connecticut River watershed, one of the region’s largest most important waterways.
- Conserve large New England landscapes to protect water quality, farmlands, recreational spaces and habitat corridors in a time of climate change by including the priority landscapes in the implementation of America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) with any competitive funds matching state, local, and private funding for FY13. In Massachusetts, the Blackstone River Valley Greenway and an effort to designate part of the Connecticut River as a National Blueway have been highlighted as AGO priorities.
- Connect forests and communities by continuing programs such as the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program; Urban and Community Forestry; Recreational Trails Program; Rivers, Trails; and Conservation Assistance Program.
- Protect special places through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program, which have previously protected New England treasures including the Green and White Mountain National Forests and the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
- Provide incentives for forest landowners and forest businesses by funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development Programs, which provide crucial assistance towards preserving the partnership between New England private landowners, forest businesses, and the federal government.
- Develop sustainable community-scale thermal biomass energy by funding the Community Wood Energy Program.
- Protect fisheries and wildlife and mitigate climate change by funding wildlife protection programs including the North American Wetland Conservation Act; State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program; the North Atlantic Conservation Cooperative; the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund; the Habitat Conservation Plan; the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants; the National Fish Habitat Action Plan; and the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.
Despite substantial differences in population, development, and geography across the six New England states, 85 representative organizations from across the region have come together to call on Congress to keep intact the nationally significant and economically vital green infrastructure of New England’s forests.
The unprecedented regional unity of these 85 organizations reflects increasing recognition of New England’s fundamental reliance on its forested landscape, and a rising crescendo of voices in support of reversing the escalating forest loss. The New England Governors Conference recently issued a major report that advocates a “Keep Forests as Forests” strategy, and has called for a new federal-state partnership in New England to better address conservation of the region’s invaluable forests and forest-based economy.
The organizations urging action are listed in A Policy Agenda for Conserving New England’s Forests. Additional voices from around the region in support of this Agenda are appended to this release.
Regional Voices in Support of the FY13 Forest Conservation Policy Agenda:
- “Farmers own nearly 2 million acres of New England woodland,” according to Cris Coffin, New England director for American Farmland Trust. “Federal farm conservation programs not only help farmers protect and manage their farmland, but their woodlands, too, helping them diversify their farm operations and generate additional income.”
- “A commitment to the conservation of New England’s forests is a key to the future health of the New England economy, the integrity of our air and water, and the availability of natural landscapes that provide recreational opportunities for the region’s residents and visitors.” - Susan Arnold, vice-president for Conservation for the Appalachian Mountain Club, the nation’s oldest conservation and recreation organization.
- "The U.S. Forest Service estimates that by 2050, 60-70 percent of Rhode Island and Connecticut could be urbanized. We are working hard in Connecticut to stem the relentless development pressure on our imperiled natural resources, but we cannot do it alone; federal collaboration is central to our success." - Amy Paterson, executive director of the Connecticut Land Conservation Council.
- “New England’s forestlands are mostly privately owned and up for grabs due to escalating development pressure. Federal monies must play a key role in conserving our invaluable forested landscape while we still have this spectacular chance.” - Emily Bateson, conservation director of Highstead; coordinator of the New England Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative.
- "Forests define the nature of Massachusetts and the region, maintaining clean air and water, wildlife habitat, recreation, and a strong economy. We must halt forest loss and fragmentation to protect the quality of life that makes our communities so attractive and vibrant.” - Laura A. Johnson, president of Mass Audubon.
- "New England's forests are the backbone of our culture, economy, and well-being. Federal matching funds through programs like Forest Legacy and the Community Forest Program will match strong efforts from New England's states and communities to conserve these nationally significant public assets." - Rodger Krussman, Vermont and New Hampshire State director for The Trust for Public Land.
- “Forest fragmentation is afoot in Vermont because of our proximity to three major metropolitan areas, and the transfer of land associated with an aging population of forestland owners. We have an urgent need for new forest conservation funding, especially to support landscape-scale and community-connected forest protection.” - Gil Livingston, president of Vermont Land Trust.
For more information, click here.
OlgaMiltsova / iStock / Getty Images Plus
By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.
1. Fragrance – Avoid It<p>One of the fastest ways to narrow down your product options is immediately eliminating any product that promotes a fragrance, or parfum. That scent of "fresh breeze" or lemon might initially smell good, but the fragrance does not last. What does last? The concoction of various undisclosed and unregulated chemicals that created that fragrance.</p><p>Many fragrances contain phthalates, which are linked to many health risks including reproductive problems and cancer.</p>
2. With Bleach? Do Without<p>Going scent-free should have narrowed down your options substantially – now, check the front of the remaining packaging. Any that include ammonia or chlorine bleach ought to go, as these substances are irritating and corrosive to your body. While bleach is commonly known as a powerful disinfectant, there are safer alternatives that you can use in your home, such as sodium borate or hydrogen peroxide.</p><p>While you're at it, check if there are any warnings on the label – "flammable," "use in ventilated area," etc. – if the product is hazardous, that's a red flag and should be avoided.</p>
3. Check the Back Label<p>Flip to the back of the remaining contenders and check out that ingredient list. Less is more, here. Opt for a shorter ingredient list with words you recognize and/or can pronounce.</p><p>You may notice many products do not have ingredient lists – while this doesn't necessarily mean they contain toxic ingredients, transparency is key. Feel free to look up a list online, or stick to products that are open about their ingredients.</p>
4. Ingredients to Avoid<p>We already mentioned that cleaners containing fragrance or parfum, and bleach or ammonia should be avoided, but there are other ingredients to look out for as well.</p><ul><li>Quaternary ammonium "quats" – lung irritants that contribute to asthma and other breathing problems. Also linger on surfaces long after they've been cleaned.</li><li>Parabens – Known hormone disruptor; can contribute to ailments such as cancer</li><li>Triclosan – triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals are registered with the EPA as pesticides. Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor and can also impact your immune system.</li><li>Formaldehyde – Causes irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; studies suggest formaldehyde exposure is linked with certain varieties of cancer. Can be found in products or become a byproduct of chemical reactions in the air.</li></ul>
Cleaning Products and Toxics: The Bottom Line<p>Do your research. There are many cleaning products available, but taking these steps will drastically reduce your options and help keep your home toxic-free. Protecting your home from bacteria and viruses is important, but make sure you do so in a way that doesn't introduce other health risks into the home.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649054624#/" target="_self"></a></p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
JasonOndreicka / iStock / Getty Images
Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
- Climate Crisis: What We Can Learn From Indigenous Traditions ... ›
- 10 Organizations Honoring Native People on Thanksgiving ... ›
- Biden Vows to Ax Keystone XL if Elected - EcoWatch ›
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.