Hydrofracking Continues to be Discussed by Citizens

WHSV TV3 is reporting that a citizen meeting today in Broadway focused on the status of hydrofracking in Rockingham County.  While a special use permit to allow hydrofracking remains tabled by the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors and Carrizo, the company proposing the drilling, decided to leave the area, citizens and community organizations met to discuss actions and legislation needed in case hydrofracking is revisisted in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As noted in the story, an aid to Delegate Tony Wilt says his office, “has not yet been contacted by either side about bringing the hydrofracking issue up in the General Assembly’s next session.”

The hydrofracking story is within the first 2:30 of the embedded video.

The Hydrofracking Challenge

The good news is that there is valuable, comparatively clean natural gas in the eastern U.S. The bad news is that the process for getting it is so new, so complex and so dangerous that states which have drilled first and then scrambled to regulate later have found themselves overmatched by a highly industrialized process which turns out to be highly hazardous.

Field and Stream magazine says drilling has exploded so suddenly Continue reading “The Hydrofracking Challenge” »

This post was submitted by Ruth Stoltzfus Jost.

Bishop Dansby’s Global Warming Presentation

See presentation on Global Warming given by H. Bishop Dansby to Bridgewater Rotary Club on June 15, 2010. Entire presentation lasts 20 minutes, and includes a number of video excerpts.  Go to the following link:http://www.bendansby.com/bridgewater/.

This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.

Earth Day Bird List from Hillandale Park

Downey Woodpeckers are identified in Hillendale Park in Harrisonburg

As part of Earth Week in Harrisonburg this year, a walk to see and hear birds in Hillandale Park took place Saturday April 24th at 8 am. Twenty-five species of birds were heard and/or seen even with gray skies. We did see a Crow but could not definatively identify the bird since it did not give either the characteristic Fish or American Crow call.

If you are interested in birds or “birding,” both Rockingham and Augusta counties have local bird clubs. The Audubon Society and American Birding Association are other sites for more information.

Here is the full list of birds identified on Saturday:

  • American Goldfinch
  • American Robin
  • Blue Jay
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Carolina Wren
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Common Grackle
  • Crow species
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Field Sparrow
  • Green Heron
  • Mourning Dove
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Northern Flicker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler

Submitted by Robyn Puffenbarger, Associate Professor of Biology, Bridgewater College and Earth Day Birding Walk Guide

This post was submitted by Robyn Puffenbarger.

Alternative Health: Help For Allergy Season

My son was wheezing as he ran across the soccer field last fall. The increase of Singulair and Claritin did not help to control his allergy symptoms. For him, like many people, spring, summer and fall brought the same old battle against pollen and ragweed. Thankfully, I met Jennifer Parker, M.S., R.D., a registered dietician who gave me great advice to help him find relief.

Parker works at DaVita Dialysis Center and takes a very holistic approach to overall health and to fighting allergies. Parker and her two daughters had allergy related symptoms for many years when she came across a magazine article about Vitamin B12. “Rock stars and movie stars were taking it to increase energy, when they started to realize that it was helping their allergies, too ” she said. “B12 improves your immune system. It retunes your system so that it can work effectively. You can take it sublingually (tablet under the tongue), there is no dangerous dosage and it is more effective than over-the-counter medication.”

Parker also fought back against allergens in her home. She took out any carpet that was not wall to wall. She also vacuums high traffic areas every other day. Her vacuum has a HEPA air filter attached. (HEPA filters capture smaller particles than regular vacuum filters.) She washes bedsheets very regularly and keeps pets out of the sleeping areas.

“I got rid of things that harbor dust mites,” she said. “I limit the amount of stuffed animals in my children’s room and encourage them to give some to charity.”

Recently on NPR’s Morning Edition, Dr. Phillip Gallagher of Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northwestern Pennsylvania gave this advice for allergy sufferers:

It’s very difficult to avoid pollen. You can keep your windows shut and, if you have to, run your air conditioning. If you’re spending time outdoors, you can rinse your nose with a little saline when you come in and take a shower. If there are tasks outside that seem to bother you, you can try wearing a mask to see if that will help, because the pollens are relatively large particles and so usually, mechanical masks will hold them back. It’s just a regular dust mask you might find at a hardware store.

The author, Tracey Brown, is a massage therapist in Harrisonburg, VA.

And as for my son? Although the B12 can be taken anytime, Parker suggested that I start him on a regimen three weeks before allergy season begins. I started him on 5,000 mg daily in February. And we have seen no allergy symptoms this spring.

So what’s your allergy story? Please share in the comments section below.

This post was submitted by Tracey Brown.

Film: Four Local Profiles of Real Sustainability

Sustainability has been a hot topic in Harrisonburg in recent years. Many groups and causes have developed to raise awareness about issues, ranging in focus from JMU’s Institute for Stewardship of the Natural World to the Voluntary Gas Tax to EMU’s planned solar power project and much more.

Each of these projects are championed by individuals or small groups that provide the vision and drive to create new opportunities to learn about and implement ways to live that decrease environmental impact and, many times, increase quality of life.

Cyndi Gusler is featured in Pathways to Whole.

This Saturday, four such leaders will be profiled in the premiere of the 2010 Documentary Production Class film entitled, “Pathways to Whole – Stories from the Journey.”  Admission to Court Square Theater is free, and donations are accepted.  Paulette Moore, EMU professor, was a lead producer in the film.  From the press release:

This documentary focuses on the lives of 4 main characters and how each one has found a way to address the smaller and larger issues within the systems they live in through biking, gardening, art and peace building, among other things.

Tom Benevento is from Harrisonburg, Virginia and an active member of Our Community Place (OCP) and New Community Project. He loves to garden and bike and is involved in a bike movement project that is starting up. Recently Tom traveled to Davis, California with others from Harrisonburg, including Mayor Kai Degner, to learn about how they’ve made biking a sustainable system in their town. Tom and the others hope to make Harrisonburg more bike-friendly and incorporate a similar system here.

Skip Bracelin, member of Our Community Farm in Harrisonburg, Va, has done and seen a lot of things in his lifetime. Skip spent over half a year traveling the Appalachian Trail with his wife and two dogs. He currently lives and works on Our Community Farm and is an active participant in the daily activities there. He is a talented gardener and loves taking care of plants and animals, as they are all connected to us and each other in some way.

Cyndi Gusler is chair of the Visual and Communication Arts department at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). Cyndi has been studying and creating art since her undergraduate studies at EMU. She considers using found materials her main art form. Cyndi recently went on a trip to Guatemala to learn about and study permaculture and how it relates to art. She currently works and lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with her husband Chad and two kids Aaron and Lily.

Titus Peachey currently works for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) as the director of Peace Education. An EMU alum, Titus has spent time living and serving overseas in Laos with MCC after serving in Vietnam as a conscientious objector during the war there. In Laos he became interested in working at removing cluster bombs that were left in the ground from the silent air war over 40 years ago. He currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania but continues to work at peace building and speaking out against the dangers and harm of cluster bombs in Laos and other countries. He is also a member of the board for the group Legacies of War, based in D.C. and works closely with the director, Channapha Khamvongsa.
Date: Saturday April 24, 2010 (tomorrow)
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Court Square Theater, Downtown Harrisonburg
Duration: 2 hours
Intended audience: general public

Fish Kills in Shenandoah Begin (Again)

The lesion mainly impact young small mouth bass and red-breasted sunfish.

Since 2004, the spring season has marked the beginning of fish dying in the Shenandoah River.  The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries released yesterday a press release indicating they are receiving early and isolated reports of fish kills.

The public is being urged to help the investigation by reporting fishkills with location, date, any unusual water conditions, types and numbers of fish, and photographs.  According to yesterday’s release,

The impacts appear to be most severe among smallmouth bass and sunfish, although other types of fish also have been affected. Outbreaks often are accompanied by open sores, or skin lesions, in many of the diseased fish. Typically these events have begun in the spring when water temperatures rise into the 50s and have continued until water temperatures reach the mid-70s, generally running from early April until mid-May.

While the Shenandoah River Fish Kill Task Force has been studying the issues for years, no “smoking gun” has been found as cause for the fishkills.


Full release from the DEQ:

When the water temperature is right, sunfish in the Shenandoah River and beyond have been impacted by bacterial lesions.

April 19, 2010

Contact: Bill Hayden, DEQ
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. — The Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries continue to track and investigate springtime fish disease and mortality events that have occurred in several rivers in the western part of Virginia in recent years. Only a few isolated problems have been reported to date this spring, but as the period begins when these events have occurred in past years, the state agencies are enhancing their investigation by seeking input from the public.

Since 2004, fish disease outbreaks and mortality have occurred in the Shenandoah River basin. In spring 2007 similar events began in the upper James and Cowpasture rivers. The impacts appear to be most severe among smallmouth bass and sunfish, although other types of fish also have been affected. Outbreaks often are accompanied by open sores, or skin lesions, in many of the diseased fish. Typically these events have begun in the spring when water temperatures rise into the 50s and have continued until water temperatures reach the mid-70s, generally running from early April until mid-May.

In 2005, DEQ and DGIF formed the Shenandoah River Fish Kill Task Force, a group of stakeholders, including university and government scientists, environmental groups, fishing guides, and volunteer monitors – all with the goal of finding the cause of the annual spring die-off events. This coordinated approach helped state agencies set priorities, identify, conduct and evaluate research into causes of the springtime outbreaks.

Studies by state and federal scientists and several university researchers have focused on water chemistry, general health of fish and other aquatic life, and fish diseases. Water quality studies to date have not identified any individual chemicals at levels that would be expected to cause fish disease or mortality. Fish health studies indicate that fish are subjected to multiple stresses, with evidence of damaged skin, gills and internal organs. Fish appear to have a high number of internal parasites, and a high prevalence of a condition called fish intersex also has been observed in some species.

Biological pathogens, especially bacterial fish diseases, have come under greater focus during the past two years. Initial findings suggest links between certain bacteria and the disease outbreaks. Ongoing studies involving DEQ, DGIF and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Leetown, W. Va., Science Center, continue to explore the role of bacterial communities, along with environmental and contaminant factors that may cause immune suppression.

The public has made a significant difference in this investigation. State officials and environmental leaders have learned of many of these outbreaks from reports provided by fishermen, land owners and other river users. Knowing the timing and distribution of these events will help scientists focus on the areas where incidents are active, and will help generate the most meaningful data. This information also allows DEQ and DGIF to post current information on locations and severity of fish disease and mortality and share this information with the public through updates on the agency websites.

The public is encouraged to continue to provide reports on observations of diseased, dying or dead fish. Helpful information includes location, date, unusual water conditions, types and numbers of fish, and photographs. Anyone with information on dead or dying fish is encouraged to contact the DEQ regional office in Harrisonburg at (540) 574-7800, or toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-592-5482. Information also can be emailed to fishreports@deq.virginia.gov.


Harrisonburg Earth Week 2010 Begins!

Harrisonburg Earth Week 2010, which began Saturday, April 17th, will feature a variety of workshops, talks, movies, and other events addressing the central theme “Celebrating Earth: Building a Sustainable Community”.

Over 35 events will take place at a variety of locations, including downtown Harrisonburg, JMU, EMU, Bridgewater College, Harrisonburg High School, local churches, and city parks.

Workshops will include sessions on growing mushrooms, building a greenhouse, gardening, and making a rain barrel. Outdoor activities include walks in the Arboretum and working to remove invasive plants in the parks. Talks will touch on moutaintop removal mining, sprituality, energy efficiency, and a variety of other topics.

The week began officially with the kick-off event, “Four Views on Community Sustainability”, which took place Sunday, April 18th, 4:00 PM, at Harrisonburg High School with a panel of community leaders including Loren Swartzendruber, Erik Curren, Kai Degner, and Kathy Holm presenting different perspectives on building a sustainable community.

Earth Week 2010 was organized by a steering committee including representatives from local environmental and community organizations, led by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV). For more information visit http://hburgearthweek.weebly.com.

FULL SCHEDULE REPRODUCED HERE VIA http://hburgearthweek.weebly.com

April 22, 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. To celebrate this anniversary, the Harrisonburg Earth Week Coalition has planned a wealth of activities throughout Earth Week, April 17th to April 24th. Activities for all ages will take place all over town: movies, workshops, live performances, bird walks, scavenger hunts, and more. The week-long series of programs, entitled Celebrating Earth, Building Sustainable Communities, has been organized by a coalition made up of representatives of local colleges, universities and government entities, as well as citizens’ and environmental groups (visit the Sponsors link for more information).

All plans are subject to change, so be sure to check back here for final information.

Earth Week Events Calendar
Saturday, April 17th

Sunday, April 18th

Monday, April 19th

  • noon: The Shenandoah Mountain Proposal: Land Protection in the GW National Forest, with Carol Lena Miller, Clementine Cafe
  • 7:00 pm: Mountain Top Removal, with Judy Bonds of Coal Mountain River Watch, JMU Miller Hall
Tuesday, April 20th

Wednesday, April 21st

Thursday, April 22nd – HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Friday, April 23rd

Saturday, April 24th

This post was submitted by Ralph Grove.