Monthly Archives: April 2016

EPA not Protecting Drinking Water Supplies

USA Today reported on April 13, an article titled “Audit: EPA Lax in Making Water Safe” . The article states that oil and gas companies are not adhering to safe practices in disposing of waste water from oil and gas wells all across the United States. The article states that a review by the U.S. Government Accountability Office shows the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to provide proper oversight of injection wells where oil and gas companies put their waste water and chemicals. This is a huge environmental and human safety problem because most of our drinking water comes from underground aquifers which are threatened by these injection wells.

This news in the wake of the Flint water drinking water problem and other municipal water supplies that are contaminated by lead shows that our nations’ water supplies are in danger and need greater oversight by our environmental protection agencies. I get angry when there is a call to reduce our national regulations by politicians, make government smaller and cutting the funds that are used to oversee and maintain our environmental programs and agencies. The failure of the U.S. Environmental protection Agency to adequately oversee all the injection wells being drilled by oil and gas companies probably stems from lack of personnel and staff to do their jobs. The damage done to our environment and clean up efforts once the damage is done is far more costly than preventing the unsafe practices in the first place.

 

 

 

Wildflowers in Florida

Click on any picture to enlarge

Florida is home to thousands of wildflowers that give color and beauty to the gardens, parks,  preserves, roadsides and beaches of our state. I became interested in plants and wildflowers after I moved to Florida because I realized that they were an integral and important part of the culture, history and economy of the state. Florida was named by its first early Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon, in 1513, who named it “ La Florida” or “The Flower”.

There are many flowers and plants that are native to Florida or ones that have existed here for over 500 years and many which have been brought here from other countries. There are also many that have also been hybridized or changed to enhance their color and characteristics. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, wildflowers grow in several geographic localities in Florida including Coastal Uplands, Hardwood Forests, Pine Flatwoods, Ruderals, Sandhills and Wetlands.

I have made a hobby of learning about the names of these wildflowers and taking pictures of them. I have had to use a field guide and internet resources to identify them. There are many companies and nurseries who sell these flowers and help gardeners keep their yards looking beautiful. There are also some non-profit organizations such as the Florida Wildflower Foundation and Florida Native Plant Society whose mission it is to preserve, and enhance the native flower communities in Florida and to educate the public about the importance in keeping these wildflower populations healthy and growing. The Florida Wildflower Foundation actually made a license plate tag which it sells through the Dept. of Transportation and has raised over $3 million dollars so far. The mission of the Florida Native Plant Society is “ to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plant communities of Florida. They have chapters throughout the state and people can join and participate in conservation and educational programs.

The pictures that I took which are shown above were in parks and roadside areas in Ft. Myers, Sanibel Island and Naples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Cardinal

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The Northern Cardinal in these pictures were photographed  at Lakes Regional Park in Ft. Myers, FL  and were seen over a period of several days either perched in a tree or scavenging along the ground for twigs and grasses for its’ nest.  The Northern Cardinal is an impressive bird to look at because of its’ bright red color, short sharp beak, rectangular black patch on its’ face and pointed top of its’ head. The Cardinal is a song bird and it makes a series of calls to other birds to either communicate its need for food for its young in the nest, to warn away intruders in its territory or to communicate to other birds. I have found Lakes Regional Park to be a good place to view a variety of birds.  There are over 278 acres in this park with ample tree cover and freshwater lakes that provide good habitat for birds.

The All About Birds website has a good collection of sounds and songs that the Cardinal makes. Click on the Sound Tab and scroll down to the audio clips to hear the Cardinal songs and calls.

The Northern Cardinal is a year round inhabitant of mostly southeastern states and does not migrate unlike many other birds. Its’ habitat  includes mixed hardwood forests, pine flatwoods, urban and agricultural environments and in the backyards of homeowners. Its’ diet consists of mostly seeds and fruits but eats insects as well. The female Cardinal can produce up to 3 broods of offspring per year. Seven states have named the Cardinal as its state bird.