Posts Tagged ‘nature’

New nature center springing to life

The main floor of the two-story house is being converted into the nature center. One of the two primary rooms will become a lecture hall, and the other will be dedicated to Whiteside County area nature displays, including that of a male cougar that was shot in November on a farm near Morrison.

Kopf, a former Motorola engineer and manager in Florida, has experience as a volunteer with a nature center in Maryland. As the center’s caretaker, he will live upstairs rent-free in lieu of a salary.

Local artisans and the Whiteside County Soil and Water Conservation District are lending mounts and exhibits, and the Fulton High School Science Club, with the help of a grant from the conservation district’s foundation, is creating displays.

Although the center still is under renovation, lectures geared toward schoolchildren (and interesting to adults) are set to begin there this summer, Kopf said.

No admission will be charged, but donations will be “graciously and aggressively accepted, hopefully in that order,” Kopf said.

A grand opening is planned, once the cougar is mounted and ready to display. Hours have yet to be set, although plans call for the center to be open at least Friday evenings and weekends year-round, and for special events as needed.

“We have big plans for a little facility!” he wrote.

That, no doubt, would please Miss Andresen tremendously.

You can volunteer

The Andresen Nature Center is guided by a volunteer committee, and a few more members are being sought.

The panel is looking for members “who would more fully represent the younger children of the area,” caretaker and Executive Director Kyle Kopf said in an email. “The parent of a home-schooled child would be greatly welcome, as well as a parent who is involved in one of the local scouting organizations.”

Volunteers also are needed to staff the center.

The center also has an evolving wish list. To make tax-deductible donations of money or items, get updates, and follow the center’s progress, go to or contact Kopf at or 815-499-5869.

Lectures planned

Three lectures have been scheduled at the new Andresen Nature Center. All will begin at 1 p.m., and will be presented by Dave Harrison, resource conservationist for the Whiteside County Soil and Water Conservation District.

On June 11, the topic is birds; on June 21, predators; and on July 30, general habitat.

June 21 also is the date of the second annual Bluegrass Festival at Heritage Canyon.

Lectures geared toward adults will be scheduled in the fall.

The Andresen Nature Center is guided by a volunteer committee, and a few more members are being sought.

The panel is looking for members “who would more fully represent the younger children of the area,” caretaker and Executive Director Kyle Kopf said in an email. “The parent of a home-schooled child would be greatly welcome, as well as a parent who is involved in one of the local scouting organizations.”

Volunteers also are needed to staff the center.

The center also has an evolving wish list. To make tax-deductible donations of money or items, get updates, and follow the center’s progress, go to or contact Kopf at or 815-499-5869.

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It could be a messy weekend

PORTLAND CREEK  Port Saunders RCMP said Thursday afternoon that Rte 430-28 is now open to one lane of traffic between Port Saunders and Port Aux Choix after it was temporarily closed due to a washout earlier in the day. 

Police are asking drivers to proceed with extreme caution and reduced speeds if travelling in the area.

Provincial work crews have been busy today after a section of Route 430 near Portland Creek washed away.

Scott Barefoot, Transportation and Works communications director, said in a statement that warm weather and rapid waters damaged the road. Although the water has receded significantly, crews are still backfilling at the site in an attempt to stem the damage.

The incident is one of several around the province as the spring thaw has created havoc after a snowy winter.

Similar incidents could be on the way, as Environment Canada has issued a statement in anticipation of spring snowfall expected to impact much of the island Saturday.

Motorists are urged to drive with caution as crews work to repair Route 430.


(Earlier story)


It looks like Mother Nature will be messing with the weather this weekend, so if you were planning on having an outdoor Easter egg hunt, you better move it inside.

A washout has already been reported south of Portland Creek on the Viking Trail. Crews are currently working on the strech of highway.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement that’s covering most of the island for Saturday.

The weather agency is calling for a “significant spring snowfall” on Saturday.

Areas affected include Deer Lake, Port aux Basques and Burgeo.

Environment Canada says a low pressure system will bring a spring snowfall to most of the island on Saturday. Over southeastern Newfoundland, the snow may mix with ice pellets or change to rain Saturday afternoon before changing back to snow Saturday night.

With some uncertainty in the track and intensity of the low, Environment Canada says it’s too soon to determine exactly where the highest snowfall accumulations will occur. But current indications show that between 15 to 30 centimeters of snow may fall over parts of eastern Newfoundland.

While Corner Brook is not included in the special weather statement it will still see some snow on Saturday.

But for now, it’s some sun and cloud for today and Friday with a high of 1 C today and 4 C on Friday.

The snow on Saturday will be followed by sun and cloud on Sunday with a high of -3 C.

Deer Lake will see much the same conditions for today and Friday.

Port aux Basques will also see some sun and cloud today and Friday. Temperature highs out there will range from 1 to 2 C.

And according to The Weather Network Stephenville will experience some sun and cloud today. Temperature is currently at -3 C.

Friday will look much the same and there’s some snow in the forecast for Saturday.

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Scientists sniff out new species of garlic in Israel

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The world of nature in our small country continues to provide scientists with periodic surprises, with one of the most recent being a new species of garlic found in the Mount Hermon area. This strain joins the 46 other species of garlic that grow in Israel.

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‘Thank you’ for gazetting Piasau Camp

Maketab (second left) together with Musa and Ting in this recent photo receiving preserved carcass of Faridah the partner of Jimmy (hornbill) who was killed by a poacher on Sept 26, 2013.

MIRI: Nature enthusiasts worldwide have every reason to rejoice now that Piasau Camp has been gazetted as a nature reserve effective April 3.

Assistant Minister of Environment, Datu Len Talif Salleh announced the gazeting on Monday in Kuching.

This paves way for conservation efforts and greater appreciation of the rich flora and fauna at the historical camp, which is now famous for its hornbills, a totally protected species in Sarawak.

Sarawak Forestry Honorary Ranger, Musa Musbah, who was among those entrusted to conduct studies on the camp especially its hornbills, were among those happy with the government’s decision to gazette the camp a nature reserve.

“Of course I am very, very happy. If I die now I can rest better… (laughing). I would be resting peace. Thank you to the Sarawak government and relevant bodies and other people in and outside Miri who supported us,” said Musa when contacted yesterday.

Musa, chairman of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Miri Chapter and deputy chairman of Piasau Camp Miri Nature Park Society (PCMNPS) was among those who actively initiated campaigns to protect hornbills at the camp.

Other active campaigners, Datuk Sebastian Ting (president of PCMNPS) and Professor Dr Maketab Mohamed (MNS National president) were also very thankful that the camp has been gazetted.

Maketab also said a big ‘thank you’ to Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Miri Branch especially Musa Musbah and Joyce Sivalingam  who together with local stakeholders such as (Sebastian) Ting, Karambir Singh, worked hard to get the Piasau Camp converted into a public park. He said MNS would assist in whatever ways possible to make the nature reserve a success.

Ting said the gazetting was indeed an excellent news for the people of Miri and all those who have helped in one way or another in what he called the journey to request the Sarawak government, Shell and Petronas to preserve the historical Piasau Camp as a nature park.

“This is a wonderful and memorable legacy for the people of Miri and for that matter, the people of Sarawak. Our future generations will greatly benefit from this historical event.

The Head of State Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is scheduled to perform the earth breaking ceremony of the newly gazetted camp on May 10.

Piasau Camp, besides having hornbills and other protected animals and plants, is synonymous with Miri’s oil and gas industry and having matured forest which acts as the green lung for Miri City and buffer zone against any tidal wave.

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Kids encouraged to go back to nature

Kids encouraged to go back to nature

Climb a tree. And for extra credit, play in the mud!

Here’s some homework! Explore the woods, climb a tree, race through a field, build a fort. Splash in the water, catch a fish, explore a city park, turn over a log. Sleep in a tent, gaze up at stars, follow a trail, listen to birds. Play in the mud, hold a frog, plant a garden, follow animal tracks.

These once-common activities – from back in the days when parents sent their kids outside and told them not to come home until dinner – may not be real school assignments. But they could be if some New Jersey legislators get their way!

Exploring, running, climbing, and more are part of the “Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights,” introduced recently by the New Jersey Senate. The bill encourages children – and their parents and teachers – to spend more time outdoors, discovering the joys and wonders of the natural world.

Not playing outside, the Senate resolution noted, has been shown to have adverse physical, social, and emotional consequences. Conversely, students who play outdoors perform better in the classroom, show increased interest in learning, and are less likely to create disciplinary problems.

“Go outside and play” is a message that’s spreading across the nation.

In March, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced an ambitious federal initiative to reconnect America’s young people to the outdoors.

“If Americans are going to continue to have healthy lifestyles, healthy lands, and a healthy economy, one of the steps we must take is to bridge the growing divide between young people and nature,” Jewell declared.

“The next generation of scientists, wildlife biologists, tribal experts, park managers and conservation leaders are now in school or just entering the workforce,” she added. “This is the time we need to invest in creating meaningful connections between young people and the great outdoors.”

Under Jewell’s initiative, the Department of Interior will create new opportunities for outdoor play for over 10 million youngsters, provide opportunities to bring information about public lands into the classroom, recruit a million new volunteers annually on public lands, and provide 100,000 outdoor-related work and training opportunities for young people and veterans.

Nonprofit groups including Food Day and Youth Service America are also connecting more young people to the outdoors. This year, they’re encouraging kids, parents, and teachers to plant a garden on Global Youth Service Days, April 11-13, and harvest their crops on or around Food Day on Oct. 24.

Richard Louv, author of the 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, coined the term “nature deficit disorder” to describe the affliction of kids who spend too much time glued to TVs, computer screens, and electronic gadgets.

These new initiatives are great first steps toward putting more “Vitamin N” – nature, of course – into our children’s lives, improving their physical, mental, and spiritual health!

But kids need places to play … ideally, parks and natural area close to home. Unfortunately New Jersey has run out of funding for park and open space preservation, and we need our legislators to take action.

Please urge your state senators and Assembly representatives to support legislation that would allow voters to decide on a sustainable source of preservation funding. To find your legislators, go to

To see Sally Jewell’s video about engaging a new generation in the outdoors, go to

And to learn more about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at or contact me at

Michele S. Byers,

executive director,

New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

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What Colombia's Kogi people can teach us about the environment

Deep in Colombia‘s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, surrounded by jungle (and guerrillas, tomb raiders and drug traffickers), live 20,000 indigenous Kogi people. A culturally intact pre-Colombian society, they’ve lived in seclusion since the Spanish conquest 500 years ago. Highly attuned to nature, the Kogi believe they exist to care for the world – a world they fear we are destroying.

In 1990, in a celebrated BBC documentary, the Kogi made contact with the outside world to warn industrialised societies of the potentially catastrophic future facing the planet if we don’t change our ways.

They watched, waited and listened to nature. They witnessed landslides, floods, deforestation, the drying up of lakes and rivers, the stripping bare of mountain tops, the dying of trees. The Sierra Nevada, because of its unique ecological structure, mirrors the rest of the planet – bad news for us.

The Kogi don’t understand why their words went unheeded, why people did not understand that the earth is a living body and if we damage part of it, we damage the whole body.

Twenty-three years later they summoned filmmaker Alan Ereira back to their home to renew the message: this time the leaders, the Kogi Mama (the name means enlightened ones), set out to show in a visceral way the delicate and critical interconnections that exist between the natural world.

The resulting film, Aluna, takes us into the world of the Kogi. At the heart of the tribe’s belief system is “Aluna” – a kind of cosmic consciousness that is the source of all life and intelligence and the mind inside nature too. “Aluna is something that is thinking and has self-knowledge. It’s self-aware and alive.” says Ereira. “All indigenous people believe this, historically. It’s absolutely universal.”

Many Kogi Mama are raised in darkness for their formative years to learn to connect with this cosmic consciousness and, vitally, to respond to its needs in order to keep the world in balance. “Aluna needs the human mind to participate in the world – because the thing about a human mind is that it’s in a body,” explains Ereira. “Communicating with the cosmic mind is what a human being’s job is as far as the Kogi are concerned.”

The Kogi people believe that when time began the planet’s ‘mother’ laid an invisible black thread linking special sites along the coast, which are, in turn, connected to locations in the mountains. What happens in one specific site is, they say, echoed in another miles away. Keen to illustrate this they devised a plan to lay a gold thread showing the connections that exist between special sites.

They want to show urgently that the damage caused by logging, mining, the building of power stations, roads and the construction of ports along the coast and at the mouths of rivers – in short expressions of global capitalism that result in the destruction of natural resources – affects what happens at the top of the mountain. Once white-capped peaks are now brown and bare, lakes are parched and the trees and vegetation vital to them are withering.

“The big thing in coastal development in this area is the ‘mega-projects’, especially the vast expansion of port facilities and associated extensive infrastructure to link new ports to large-scale coal and metals extraction and industrial plant such as aluminium smelters,” says Ereira.

In a poignant scene in the film, CNN footage from September 2006 shows the Kogi walking for miles to protest against the draining of lagoons to make way for the construction of Puerta Brisa, a port to support Colombia’s mining industry.

What happens at the river estuary affects what happens at the source, they say, over and over again. “The Kogi believe that the estuary provides evaporation that becomes deposited at the river source. So if you dry up the estuary you dry up the whole of the river source,” says Ereira.

In the film, the views of the Kogi are backed up by a specialist in ecosystem restoration, a professor of zoology and a world leader in marine biology. “Along this stretch of coastline, you have a microcosm for what is happening in the Caribbean and also on the rest of the planet,” says the latter, Alex Rogers, of Oxford University, on camera. “Their view that all these activities are having an impact at a larger scale are quite right.”

It’s not all doom and gloom: the Kogi end the film on a message of hope: don’t abandon your lives, they say, just protect the rivers. But how to do that? One way forward is to engage the Kogi (and other indigenous communities who have an understanding of environmental impacts) in environmental assessment plans. The Tairona Heritage Trust has also been set up to support projects proposed by the Mamas. But Ereira stresses, “The Mamas are very clear about how we should take notice of what they say. Listen carefully, think, make our own decisions. They don’t want to tell us what to do.”

“I would hope that ordinary people will come away from the film feeling empowered to express what they already know – which is that the planet is alive and feels what we do to it,” he says.

“Everybody who is a gardener in this country already has a Kogi relationship to the earth but they don’t necessarily have a language to express that. They have an empathetic relationship to the land and what grows on it, and that empathy is what we have build on.”

For more information visit the Aluna film website.

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