There are few regular meetings that I am not willing to miss. The biannual SCSCB conference is one that I try to make come hell or high water. Conservationists and educators from around the Caribbean meet every two years to discuss Caribbean birds and what needs to be done to ensure their futures.
Like many of you, we are concerned about our place on the planet. Shoal Creek, like so many that we have worked around over the years, is scarred from a history of disinterest and misuse. Our creek flows too little at times, the result of development impinging on the aquifer and springs. At other times the creek flows too much, as rainwater from surrounding neighborhoods rushes to the Colorado River rather than settling slowly into the soil. Our creek is polluted in places, with E.coli counts that spike due to animal waste from pets. In places garbage litters the bank.
There is a new report analyzing the value of protected open space in SE PA that should interest you. The study, commissioned by the GreenSpace Alliance and Delaware Valley Regional Planning, reports the following:
Approximately 300 square miles, or 14%, of the five-county region is protected open space. The study found that this area:
- Adds $16 billion to the value of southeastern Pennsylvania’s housing stock – an average property value increase of $10,000 per household;
- Saves local governments and taxpayers more than $132 million a year in costs associated with provision of environmental services such as drinking water filtration and flood control;
The flight from Houston to LA is earth toned. From 30,000 feet the earth below is a Wheat Chex, a neatly gridded oil-and-gas field once prairie, bison, and surface life rather than subsurface petroleum. We will eventually suck this planet dry, every drop of oil and every whiff of gas. From my airborne vantage point Texans look well on their way in the Trans-Pecos.
After an interminably taxing campaign, the Americans who cared to vote have spoken. Billions were spent; a few listened. Simple messages of anger, hate, and desperation, endlessly repeated, inspired the susceptible (try 25% 65 and older) to give the keys back to rubes that wrecked the country in the first place. If you liked the profligacy of the past, laissez les bons temps roulez!
The weather heads salivated for days. Nothing provokes a Pavlovian response in weather geeks more than another storm of the century (How many are we allowed in one century?). I knew Pittsburgh to be in the path, but we glided into town with little trouble. Deplaning I watched the frontal system sweep the runway, and by the time we entered the terminal spitting rain and raging winds shook the building. Scheduled to speak in West Virginia the following day, I sprinted to my rental car and headed west toward the interstate. I made the mistake of following the directions dictated by my iPhone, and soon I left the interstate far behind and slid toward Appalachia on a narrow, serpentine two-laner.