Russia Creates New Nature Reserve in Urals Steppe

Saturday, Oct. 18

Broaden your literary horizons during Reading Time at the British Book Center. An assigned text will be discussed with a native speaker on hand to guide the conversation. The chosen text for this session is H.G. Wells’ 1903 children’s tale “The Magic Shop.”

Cirque du Soleil’s latest foray into the art of acrobatics is iD, which premieres in the city this evening. Blending street dances and culture with electronic rock music, the show promises to be a modern marvel encompassing various aspects of today’s culture. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles ($25) and can be reserved by calling 800-555-07-70.

Sunday, Oct. 19

Today is the final day of the October Fur Trade Fair at the Lenexpo exhibition center. The latest styles will be on display while wholesalers will be on hand to discuss industry techniques and offer up for sale the finest winter wear.

Monday, Oct. 20

Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphoto’s exhibition “On Both Sides,” chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).

Tuesday, Oct. 21

The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organization’s office.

Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.

Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Center’s series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this month’s lessons being “visual arts.”

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Eustis commissioners should stop fighting Trout Lake Nature Center

Trout Lake Nature Center refused to knuckle under and absorb the low blow when Eustis city commissioners moved to rezone city-owned land around the environmental gem to allow for various uses from group homes to restaurants to day-care centers.

Instead, the nonprofit center’s officers spoke out against the change and gave their permission for a couple preservation-minded citizens to challenge the city’s unilateral decision.

Result? Vindictive Eustis commissioners took away their donation to Trout Lake, stomped their feet and went home. What a bunch of babies.

Climate Isn’t Changing Forests as Much as We Thought

Researchers frequently mention how climate change is playing a heavy hand in the drastic changes forests are going through in the Northern Hemisphere, where cold-loving pines and firs are being bullied out by more adaptable species.

Nature World News recently reported how the state of Minnesota alone is experiencing a major overhaul of its forest populations, where tree likes the American basswood, black cherry, red maple, sugar maple, and white oak are becoming increasingly prevalent, while species more characteristic to the region like the white spruce and balsam fir tree struggle to adapt to increasing temperatures and wet winter storms.

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However, a researcher from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences is arguing that climate change is a mere secondary factor for forest overhaul, at least among forest in the eastern United States. Forest ecology expert Marc Abrams stipulates that these forests are still struggling to recover from a state of “disequilibrium” that arose from the clear-cutting and large-scale burning that occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s – long before “Smokey the Bear” was a household name.

“Looking at the historical development of Eastern forests, the results of the change in types of disturbances – both natural and man-caused – are much more significant than any change in climate,” Abrams said in a recent statement.

“Over the last 50 years, most environmental science has focused on the impact of climate change. In some systems, however, climate change impacts have not been as profound as in others. This includes the forest composition of the eastern US.”

In a study recently authored by the researcher, and published in the journal Global Change Biology, Abrams compared presettlement – original land survey data – and current vegetation conditions in the eastern United States.

Surprisingly, it revealed that the “change” that many eastern forests are experiencing resembles the still ongoing tumultuous results of European disturbances on what was once a balanced forest system.

However, Abrams is quick to add that this does not mean climate is not having its own influences. It is simply that, “land-use change often trumped or negated the impacts of warming climate, and this needs greater recognition in climate change discussions, scenarios and model interpretations.”

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11 Natural Phenomena to See This Autumn

Fall is arguably the most beautiful season of the year, with thousands of people flocking to see the annual displays of colorful leaves all over the world.

However, there’s much more to autumn than the traditional brilliant colors associated with these leaf shows. Mother Nature offers up some stunning phenomena during the fall months that must be seen to be believed.

Here are some unusual, beautiful and memorable sights that can only be found in fall. Put some or all of them on your bucket list, and prepare to be amazed.

1. Staircase to the Moon

Along the coast of Australia, the reflection of the full moon rising over mudflats creates a stunning optical illusion: that of a staircase rising in the sky. It can be seen for three nights every month from March through October, and is an especially big deal in the town of Broome.

2. Snow Geese Migration

In the fall, snow geese begin their annual migration from the Arctic Tundra to the southern east coast of the United States. Flocks can easily number into the thousands, making for a stunning visual display. The best place to see them touch down is at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri.

3. Tallulah Gorge Dam Release

Scheduled dam releases at the Tallulah Gorge in Georgia in September, October and November create a stunning whitewater river. Visit Tallulah Gorge State Park to see this man-made phenomena from the various trails or the suspension bridge. The gorge itself is two miles long and 1,000 feet deep, and offers gorgeous views in the fall.

4. Swallow Massing

During their fall migration, tree swallows gather in large masses at Goose Island in Connecticut. At dusk, these birds flock in huge spiral and funnel shapes in the sky before landing on the island in communal roosts.

5. Shadow of the Bear

In the mountains off of Highway 64 in North Carolina, a shadow forms from mid-October to early November that resembles that of a bear. It only makes its appearance for 30 minutes beginning at 5:30 p.m. as the sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain.

6. Caribou Migration

Every fall, beginning in late August to mid-October, the North American caribou—aka reindeer—begin their annual migration as temperatures drop in northern Alaska. They travel to the south and then make their return trip as temperatures begin to rise—a loop of about 1,600 miles.

7. Black Sun

During the months of October and November in Denmark, the migration of the European starling literally turns the sun black. During their annual journey home, millions of these birds appear in the sky at sunset, blocking the sun’s light.

8. Coral Spawning

The Caribbean island of Bonaire is host to coral spawning during the months of September and October. The coral begins spawning in the days following a full moon, filling the waters with pink, orange and white polyps that float with the currents.

9. Monarch Butterfly Migration

Beginning in October, monarch butterflies begin their migration from the cold regions of the United States and Canada to the warmer climes of Mexico and southern California. They travel in huge flocks by day and roost in pine, cedar and fir trees overnight. The best place to see them is at the in Mexico.

10. Cano Cristales River Colors

Every fall, an aquatic plant turns the Cano Cristales River, located in Serrania de la Macarena National Park in Columbia, into beautiful shades of red, orange, blue, green and yellow. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the liquid rainbow.

11. Sunrise and Sunset

The Brunswick Islands in North Carolina offer the rare opportunity to see both the sunrise and sunset over the same horizon. These islands run east to west parallel to the shore, making it possible in late fall to see this phenomena from Oak Island, Ocean Isle or Holden Beach.

Whether you venture to one of these locales to see these phenomena or stay closer to home to view those changing leaves, be sure to make the most of what this stunning fall season has to offer.

Photo by bark

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Fungus-foraging gangs stripping New Forest of wild mushrooms

With the onset of the wild mushroom season, gangs of commercial foragers are reported to be making as much as £2,500 a day by raiding the National Park on an industrial scale, say forest officials.

Rangers the forest are now on “high alert” over the alleged raiders, who are breaking a civil bylaw against collection for than 1.5kg per visit to the National Park, according to the Southern Daily Echo.

The Official Verderer, Dominic May, who is head of the ancient Verderer Court which governs the forest, said the problem was worse than usual and blamed groups of workers from Eastern Europe.

However the National Trust, which owns much of the common land in the area, said none of its staff had reported any problems or spotted any gangs, while a Forestry Commission spokesperson was unable to confirm the size of the problem.

Others have questioned how likely the claims are. Wild mushrooms are worth up to £50 per kilo, meaning commercial foragers would need to be picking up to 50 kilos per day.

Across Britain though, foodie foragers have been spurred on by celebrity chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Antonio Carluccio, who have encouraged people to pick field mushrooms and other delicacies.

Foraging expert Fergus Drennan, who gave up commercial foraging after he couldn’t meet the “insatiable demand” from restaurant while preserving wildlife, said that he doubted claims that there were commercial gangs in operation in the New Forest.

He said i: “These gangs may exist or they may be based in over-imagination and fear, but there’s not a quick buck to be made out of foraging and it tends to attract people who are aware and respectful of the natural world. Either way the most important rule of foraging is not to over exploit your patch, but otherwise it won’t be there next year.”

Foragers across the country are being warned to be careful of toxic mushrooms though. Earlier this month Public Health England (PHE) said more than 80 cases of mushroom poisoning have been reported so far this year.

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Nature trail the first of its kind in Mathews County | With Video

Nestled amongst some of Mathews County’s most pristine natural landscape of woods, marsh and wetlands is what some are calling one of the county’s best-kept secrets.

For months volunteers led by seventh grade science teacher Jerry Ligon have been transforming the wooded area surrounding Thomas Hunter Middle School into a nature trail — the first of it’s kind in Mathews County.

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“When I heard he was doing a nature trail, I was so excited,” said Mathews resident and avid runner Nelda Gibbs. “It is just the best kept little secret in the world. My husband and I love running the trail.”

About half of the mile-long trail has been cleared and Ligon has plans for more.

“The big reason we have done this project is about four years ago when I started teaching science everything we talk about is in the classroom. And while the kids love coming to school, they like being outside. Outside is the world’s largest laboratory,” Ligon said. “Sort of like we can talk about going to the moon or exploring the oceans in the classroom, but if we have the opportunity to go to the moon let’s go. If we have the opportunity to go to the bottom of the ocean, why not go? So here we have the opportunity to talk about and see things as they actually are in the environment.”

The trail is full of sights and sounds from toppled trees all laying in the same direction, indicating some sort of event, to club moss encircling tree trunks, a cycle of dependency, as well the changing of the seasons. Ligon recently watched a cardinal build a nest.

“The leaves are starting to fall now, which adds another aspect to the trail, and makes it a little harder to see,” Ligon said.

Gibbs said she has often enjoyed the peace and quiet the trail has to offer on her lunch break.

“It’s awesome,” she said.

Before the Thomas Hunter Middle School Trail was developed, Gibbs said, she had to go to Beaverdam Park in Gloucester to run a trail.

Mathews High School’s cross-country coach, Drew Greve, said his team often either had to run on the road or at Beaverdam as well. The new trail has given the team additional space to train.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” Greve said. “It’s been great to run on a local trail. We don’t have close access to any other local trails. It’s been a great addition to help us prepare for our competitions.”

The cross-country team uses the entire one and a quarter mile to train, some of which is not complete.

The trail runs around the edge of the school property connecting to the sidewalk along Church Street in front of both the middle school and Lee-Jackson Elementary School.

It includes non-tidal and tidal wetlands, a three-acre protected meadow environment, two outside classrooms and a natural reclamation area.

Ligon said they are planning to add a wildlife observation deck, saltwater marsh observation deck and classroom, and a bio-retention pond exhibit.

A local scout is working on building an amphitheater classroom as his Eagle Scout project. Another scout built a bridge on the trail for his project.

Ligon would like to see the trail extend across Church Street beside the Boys and Girls Club building and connect through the woods to the courthouse facility on Buckley Hall Road. The sidewalks would then allow access to Mathews High School.

Ligon said that would add another mile to the trail making it a four-mile round trip.

He plans to add educational signage throughout the trail, which has been paid for mostly by donations and fund-raisers.

Local grant requests have accounted for about $4,000. Metal collection and aluminum can recycling have contributed over $5,000. A community yard sale for the project raised about $1,200.

Ligon estimates that it could cost around $100,000 to fully complete the vision for the trail.

Ligon has partnered with the scouts, Mathews Women’s Garden Club, Local Native Plant Society, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Mathews School Board and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Volunteers from the Coast Guard station at Milford Haven pitched in to build additional bridges and a bench.

Mathews resident Ricky Wiatt of the architectural firm Carlton Abbott and Partners volunteered to help develop a conceptual plan for the trail. Residents Wayne Lewis and Rick Andrews have also contributed surveying and design services.

“Anybody that wants to will have the opportunity to use the trail,” Ligon said. “Everybody benefits from it. From having a quiet walk on the nature trail early on a Sunday morning or Saturday afternoon to students going out and making observations. It generates questions and when you have questions you seek answers and you get answers that help build on future knowledge.”

Hubbard can be reached by phone at 757-298-5834.

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Epson Sponsors Nature's Best Photography Awards for Third Consecutive Year

LONG BEACH, Calif., Oct. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Epson today announced it is a global sponsor of the 2014 Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards Exhibition for the third consecutive year. As the official inkjet printer and paper partner for the ongoing print exhibition, Epson’s professional printing technology allows visitors to celebrate the beauty and diversity of nature through the art of photography. On the second floor of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., museum guests will see award-winning photographs displayed from one of the world’s most prestigious nature photography competitions.

“The annual Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards program began as a creative tool to celebrate the beauty and diversity of nature and encourage greater public interest in outdoor enjoyment and conservation stewardship,” says Awards Director, Steve Freligh. “The high caliber of photographic prints we are able to achieve through using Epson printers, inks and papers bring these images to life in a way that truly showcases the spectacle of nature and the creative talent delivered by photographers in the field.”

The Smithsonian exhibition opens on Oct. 24, 2014, and features winners from the annual Windland Smith Rice International Awards program. Chosen from more than 20,000 entries from photographers in 50 countries, the exhibition will showcase the Grand Prize winner, the Photographer of the Year and the Youth Photographer of the Year, as well as finalists selected in 13 separate categories. The images are displayed as large format prints ranging in size from 2×3 feet to nearly 4×6 feet in the nation’s most visited museum, which welcomes more than eight million visitors annually.

“We are honored to be supporting one of the most highly-respected and visually compelling nature photography competitions in the world,” said Larry Kaufman, product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc. “Our goal is to provide these photographers with access to the most advanced printing technology and pro-quality papers to produce true-to-life output that accurately and completely conveys the true vision and story behind their photographs.”  

The exhibition-quality prints were created with Epson’s award-winning 44-inch wide Epson Stylus® Pro 9900. With the precision of its Epson MicroPiezo® TFP® printhead and the performance of Epson UltraChrome® HDR ink, the printer delivers superb photographic prints with an extremely wide color gamut and incredible sharpness. Used with Epson Professional Papers, this advanced printing technology produces the richest blacks and smooth tonal transitions.

The exhibition will be viewed by millions of visitors at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and is open daily, free to the public. The annual photo competition is open to the public and encourages submissions from photographers at all levels of expertise – pros, amateurs and youth. For more information, visit For more information about Epson professional printers, visit

About Epson
Epson is a global innovation leader dedicated to exceeding expectations with solutions for markets as diverse as the office, home, commerce, and industry. Epson’s lineup ranges from inkjet printers, printing systems and 3LCD projectors to industrial robots, smart glasses and sensing systems and is based on original compact, energy-saving and high-precision technologies.

Led by the Japan-based Seiko Epson Corporation, the Epson Group comprises more than 73,000 employees in 94 companies around the world, and is proud of its ongoing contributions to the global environment and the communities in which it operates. Epson America, Inc. based in Long Beach, Calif. is Epson’s regional headquarters for the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. To learn more about Epson, please visit:

You may also connect with Epson America on Facebook (, Twitter ( and YouTube (

Note: EPSON, Epson Stylus, Epson UltraChrome, MicroPiezo, and TFP are registered trademarks and EPSON Exceed Your Vision is a registered logomark of Seiko Epson Corporation. All other product brand names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Epson disclaims any and all rights in these marks.

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