Tree Tenders Basic Training

Sat., Jan. 31. 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Farming for the Future Conference

Wed., Feb. 4 to Sat., Feb. 7. 

Intro to Backyard Chickens

Sat., Feb. 7. 10 to 11 a.m.

 

  




 

 

Entries in environment (46)

Friday
Jan232015

Mobile App Helps Improve Transparency of Unconventional Drilling

FracTracker’s free mobile app gives users the power 
to share the impact of fracking

As New York State’s decision to ban high volume hydraulic fracturing continues the conversation on the dangers of fracking to the environment, the public is actively moving forward in recording and sharing the effects of drilling throughout the United States.

The FracTracker Alliance, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase transparency of, and access to, data and information relating to unconventional oil and natural gas development, has created a free mobile app to accomplish just that. The FracTracker app is designed to give users the ability to “Share a Shot,” or submit photos of oil and gas production, “Report an Issue,” regarding near-by drilling and “Check the Map,” to view an interactive interface of oil and gas wells drilled in your area.

According to FracTracker’s “Pennsylvania Shale Viewer” map, there have been 1,365 wells drilled in 2014, all of which can be seen on the app. The map has several data layers where you can click and see the sites that have received violations such as “the failure to contain a pollutional substance in a lined pit or tank” and “potential pollution to waters of commonwealth” as well as the location of drilled unconventional wells and areas that were approved for permits.

“FracTracker’s app contributes to the collective understanding of oil and gas impacts and provides a new opportunity for public engagement,” says Brook Lenker, Executive Director of the FracTracker Alliance. “We hope that our mobile app will revolutionize how people share oil and gas information.”

This map, along with others, such as the “The PA Beer and Unconventional Drilling Map” that shows drilled and permitted wells and their proximity to breweries and brewpubs throughout Pennsylvania, can be seen and shared with the FracTracker app with just a few swipes on your smartphone.

The FracTracker app is available for iPhones and Androids and can be downloaded at fractracker.org/apps.

 

Monday
Nov172014

Hard-Working Mussels

A new effort brings the mysterious mussel
back to a Philadelphia waterway

The lack of mussels in the Tacony-Frankford Creek made the stream a desirable target for the reintroduction of the hardy Elliptio complanata species. | Photos by Brian Rademaekers

When you think of mussels in Philadelphia, your first thought might be of ordering moules-frites, Belgium’s signature dish, from Monk’s Café. Ecologist Danielle Kreeger and a team of volunteers is trying to add another association. They want you to think of the Tacony-Frankford Creek, whose swampy terminus is at the Delaware River in Northeast Philadelphia, where the once plentiful mussel is being reintroduced.

In late August, Kreeger and her helpers took coolers with 50 mussels, scrubbed clean and fitted with tiny radio transmitters, to the creek. Carefully selecting spots along the streambed where they’ll be able to weather storm surges, Kreeger, a scientist working for the nonprofit Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE), and her team gently placed them in small clusters. A GPS location and basic water quality data were recorded at each new mussel bed. The mussels will be monitored periodically. If the mussels survive, Kreeger and others will measure shell growth to determine how healthy the new beds are.

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Sunday
Nov162014

Bug Net

An innovative project studies urban insect biodiversity

Isabelle Betancourt fished bugs out of Swann Fountain three times a week. | Photos by Jen Britton

"Most of the things I catch are drowning or dead,” says Isabelle Betancourt, curatorial assistant of Entomology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, as we stood next to Swann Fountain in Logan Circle, surrounded by some of Center City’s great landmarks: the Academy itself, the Franklin Institute, the Free Library and the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Some may picture entomologists dressed like 19th century explorers, decked out in khaki with pith helmets and butterfly nets. Betancourt was dressed like a casual office worker—sweater and jeans—the day in early October that I accompanied her. As for her sampling equipment, Betancourt carried two collecting vials and “a fishnet that I borrowed from my fish at home.”

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Wednesday
Oct292014

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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Monday
Oct202014

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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