Compost Workshop

Sat., Nov. 1, noon to 1 p.m. 

Your Yard, Their Home: Bee, Bird, and Bat Houses

Sun., Nov. 2, 1 to 3 p.m.

Lundale Farm's Farm to Feet Trail Run

Sun., Nov. 2, 9:30 a.m.  





Entries in environment (43)


Another Big Reason to Head to the Polls 

The continuation of the Office of Sustainability will be up to voters on Nov. 4 | Photos by Albert Lee

This Election Day, voters will decide whether Philadelphia's
Office of Sustainability Will Stay or Go

When Philadelphians head to the polls on Tuesday on Nov. 4, they'll likely have their minds made up about whether they're pulling the lever for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett or Democratic challenger Tom Wolf.

But to the right of the main attraction, there will also be a separate section, labeled "Questions." In the first box will be a proposed amendment to the city's charter, seeking to "establish and define the functions of the Office of Sustainability, headed by a Director of Sustainability."

Since its inception in 2008 at the start of the Michael Nutter administration, most Philadelphians probably thought the Office of Sustainability had become a permanent fixture in city government. But as the proposal suggests, that isn't necessarily the case. We interviewed the office's director, Katherine Gajewski, to find out what's at stake for her office in next week's election.

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Drinking It In

The marshy middle basin provides a hunting spot for herons and foxes. | Photos by Christian Hunold

The East Park Reservoir provides home for birds,
and in 2017, a nature center

The pied-billed grebe flying south along the Atlantic Flyway can see the water in the East Park Reservoir right away, but you, looking at the embankments from the ground, could be forgiven for thinking it was all just a forested hill in Fairmount Park. But then you might notice that the sides of the hill are straight lines, and that off of Reservoir Drive, a blue brick road cuts into the woods, blocked by a Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) gate.

Back when the East Park Reservoir was built in the late 1800s, its four basins held only water, and its embankments were covered in blue brick—sterile and uninviting to any but engineers. Over time, woods took over where they could. Philadelphia’s population shrank and stopped using three of the basins, which over 200 species of birds have been happy to take over. 

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Schuylkill Center to Host Green Town Meeting This Week

Fracking (and how to tax it) has been a major issue in the Pennsylvania governor's race between incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett and his challenger, Tom Wolf, but what about all the other environmental problems you care about: Clean water? Bicycling infrastructure? Alternative energy?

From 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9, the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is hosting a Green Town Hall Meeting with panelists including Michael Krancer, Governor Corbett’s first DEP chief, environmental attorney Robert Fox; the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s Sarah Clark Stuart; and Jamie Gauthier, executive director of the Sustainable Business Network of Philadelphia.

“Understanding the relationship between the environment and politics is as important as understand the interactions of water, soil, and plant life," says Mike Weilbacher, executive director of the Schuylkill Center. "The Green Town Meeting fits into our work to encourage environmental stewardship."
And if the the fate of our Commonwealth's air, land, and water isn't enough to bring you out, there will be Yards beer too. 
Tickets are free, but please RSVP.



Butterflies Count

This Silver-Spotted Skipper was one of many butterfly species that were documented during a July count around Bryn Mawr. | Photo by Jen Britton

Volunteer efforts across the region keep track
of our fine fluttering friends

The flashy colors of butterflies are matched only by their names: red admirals, great spangled fritillaries, tiger swallowtails, painted ladies and summer azures. On July 10, 13 volunteers at the North American Butterfly Association (NABA)’s annual Fourth of July butterfly count spotted all these species in all their regalia. The volunteers, who identified 18 other species too, visited six sites in a 15-mile radius around Bryn Mawr, Pa., to document all the butterflies they could find. More than 400 teams (including one at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge) participated in NABA’s three seasonal counts to provide snapshots of butterfly populations.

Volunteers included butterfly enthusiasts and parents looking to connect their kids to nature. Butterfly volunteer Jan Clark-Levenson says that walking through fields and forests to see what flutters by is “a child-friendly sort of thing.” Claire Morgan, community garden and volunteer coordinator for the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education—one of the stops for the Bryn Mawr team—says the butterfly census is an opportunity to engage non-scientists in important research. It is also a chance to promote butterfly-friendly practices. But if Philadelphians want to help, “the biggest thing they can do is plant native plants,” Morgan says. Natives not only offer flowers to adult butterflies but serve as hosts for their caterpillars.

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Class Action


Haddington Woods is the first place students of a free land management class will test what they've learned. | Photo by Jen BrittonFree land management course teaches citizens
to take care of their forests

Twenty-five Philadelphians gathered this past June to learn how to manage their forest. But many of those who met at the Haverford Avenue branch of the Free Library in West Philadelphia had no technical background in restoration, ecology or anything else you’d expect for land managers.

The “Short Course in Land Management,” taught by David Hewitt, research coordinator for the Wagner Free Institute, was a “highly distilled version of an ecology course I teach to city planners at Penn,” Hewitt says. The free, six-week course is part of an innovative experiment to engage local residents in managing the city’s forests, meadows and waterways, and is open to anyone. The laboratory is Haddington Woods.

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