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globalbriefs News and resources to inspire concerned citizens to work together in building a healthier, stronger society that benefits all.

Home Range

Restoring Native Prairies, Yard by Yard From Canada south to Texas and from Indiana west to Colorado, nearly 600,000 square miles of grassland once contributed to this continent’s complex ecosystem, supporting a diverse and teeming web of life. Today, less than 1 percent remains intact. The good news is that farmers and residents have been making inroads toward restoring this native landscape, converting suburban yards and rural fields to expanses of tall grass and fallow pastures that welcome native species. Government agencies and conservation groups, aided by volunteers, have undertaken numerous restoration projects across U.S. and Canadian prairieland, some of them comprising thousands of acres. The initial investment in time and money starts with removal of invasive or even cultivated species and the planting of native grasses. Substantial benefits include low-maintenance ecosystems that require less water and no fertilizer while supporting diverse wildflowers and wildlife. But it’s not as simple as planting a few seeds. In semi-rural and more urban areas, neighbors and zoning laws don’t always see eye-to-eye with these “new pioneers”, especially in deed-restricted communities. Concern over perceived property value deterioration and a potential influx of vermin sometimes wins the day. Farmers have been known to plow under an entire restoration project upon news of rising grain prices due to the ethanol industry, in order to cultivate it for financial gain. It is evident that social and economic policies must support the effort if it is to succeed. Source: Yale Environment 360

Cowabunga Dude All-Natural Boards Bring Sustainability to Surfing

Surfers count themselves among the most ardent environmentalists. Yet their sport is awash in petrochemicals and carcinogens, from neoprene wetsuits and urethane surfboard leashes to polyurethane boards and epoxy resins. So surfboard shaper Danny Hess is adopting salvaged woods, natural finishes and organic resins to transform how they are made. His boards are built to last, an anomaly in a sport in which enthusiasts’ boards may break once or twice every season. He uses Super Sap, the first U.S. Department of Agriculture BioPreferred Certified liquid epoxy resin, and is experimenting with organic foam and salvaged redwood in seeking to build a truly green surfboard. “What I’m trying to do is build heirloom surfboards that are passed on from father to son over many generations, rather than these disposable things that we’re just consuming,” Hess says. Before founding Hess Surfboards, Hess lived in a straw-bale house in Colorado, studied sustainable architecture at the San Francisco Institute of Architecture, built tree houses and worked as a licensed contractor. “One day I had this ‘Aha!’ moment when I realized I could create these molds, like the ones I was using to bend wood for cabinet doors, for surfboards,” he says. Hess has since expanded into also making sustainable skateboards. Learn more at HessSurfboards.com.

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West Michigan Edition

NaturalWestMichigan.com

Natural Awakenings Magazine ~ June 2013  

Natural Awakenings Magazine is West Michigan's premiere natural health, holistic living, green magazine focusing on conscious living and sus...

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