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Al Alborn

I think everyone has finally agreed that our planet is experiencing a dramatic environmental change. People can argue about the cause, but the effect is hard to ignore. Forest fires rage in the West. Rivers and reservoirs are drying up. Temperatures are rising.   

When the government addresses these problems, it tends to think of big solutions and sweeping public policy. I support these big solutions; however, I also recognize that small solutions matter.  Homeowners make decisions every day that affect the environment. Awareness about choices is key. What flowers and shrubs should I plant? What products should I apply to my lawn?  

Douglas W. Tallamy makes the point in his book, “Bringing Nature Home,” that everything in nature is connected. Our environment has evolved to create a tightly coupled food chain among all the plants, bugs and animals that live there. Simply put, every living thing is some other living thing’s lunch. If you disrupt this food chain with non-native plants, which displace native species, critters suffer and disappear.  

Virginia Cooperative Extension-Prince William has several classes and programs to help homeowners contribute to improving our environment and water quality.  The Best Lawn Program is a good place to start for advice and questions about your yard. 

But what about the critters who hang out there? The extension service has a program that helps create an environmentally friendly property that supports our native critters. The service partners with the Northern Virginia Audubon Society to train Master Gardeners to be Audubon Ambassadors advising residents about the Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuary program. Master Gardeners offer clients the opportunity to participate in Audubon at Home as part of a Best Lawn Program visit.

Certifying properties as wildlife sanctuaries is a volunteer-driven project of the Northern Virginia chapter of the National Audubon Society and its partners. It promotes citizen participation in conserving and restoring local natural habitats and biodiversity.  

A commitment to create and maintain a healthy property is required to participate. Those wanting to be certified generally have to reduce pesticide and fertilizer use, conserve water and protect water quality, remove invasive non-native plants, plant species native to our area, reduce area covered by lawn grass, and support birds and other wildlife.

To learn more, I contacted Leslie Paulson, a Master Gardener for the extension service and lead for our county’s Audubon at Home program. She invited me to join a couple of Audubon ambassadors, Ellen King and Christina Hastings, on a visit to Dr. Cindy Smith’s property.

As an associate professor in George Mason University’s Department of Environmental Science and Policy, Smith is unusually qualified as a candidate for the Audubon at Home program.  Her property proved to be ideal for certification. It is 10 mostly wooded acres allowed to go to natural succession for the past 22 years.  

One of the roles of an Audubon ambassador is to find out what improvements the clients want and advise accordingly. Smith is interested in more native fruit trees and specific native plants. If you want professional help, her family business, MowCow, offers native plant installations and maintenance plans.

 

Richard Carlson’s book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” makes the point that it’s all small stuff.  That applies to the many decisions homeowners make regarding their yards, woods and gardens. Properties of all sizes small and large are candidates for certification. If you are interested in taking the first small step toward a better world, apply for the Audubon at Home program here: audubonva.org/aah-consultation-request-form.

Al Alborn is an award-winning columnist and member of the Virginia Press Association. His column appears every other week. You can learn more about Al on LinkedIn.

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(33) comments

Duke Nukem

BP invented the term carbon footprint to push the blame to the little guy. The left eats it up to push their agenda. Increase division. Carbon offsets. Now if your neighbor has a nice yard you are supposed to "get in their face" they are destroying the earth. Especially Americans. The left controls big business, big oil, big government, big military, big solar, big wind, big law enforcement, big prosecution, big vaccine, big education, big media, big "news", and then their minions go around the internet shaming soccer moms for driving their kids to activities in SUVs.

John Dutko

Damn skippy!

Those soccer moms are gonna need those SUVs since Republicans got rid of Roe and have voted against contraceptives.

Gotta keep popping those entitled brats out.

Dick Grayson

You are the stupidest s o b to ever $hit behind two shoes

John Dutko

Sure, call me stupid. Your party is hyper-focused on sex and wants to control women. You must be an ugly mofo who can't get laid.

Dick Grayson

Well John I am sure I hit either your momma, wife, sister and maybe even your daughter if she is over 18, d bag

Duke Nukem

The lefts attack on the suburbs continues. You soccer moms need to wake up before we are all living in concrete jungles.

Paul Benedict

Once again Mr. Alborn, you really don't know what you are talking about. Droughts today are no where near as bad today as they were before Europeans settled the Americas: https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/pt.6.1.20180801a/full/

Also, lightning strikes and "controlled burning" by indigenous peoples burned way more acres each year before Columbus than fires do today:

https://www.npr.org/2020/08/24/899422710/to-manage-wildfire-california-looks-to-what-tribes-have-known-all-along

Global temperatures are not rising to record levels. Global temperatures have been flat since about 1997 in spite of significantly higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today. Temperatures were higher 5,000 years ago: https://reason.com/2013/03/07/earths-average-temperature-lower-than-it/

Do not believe everything the so-called experts tell you. Use judgment and discernment. Most of all follow the money.

Allen Muchnick

Follow the Exxon-Mobil money or the climate change skeptic kooks?

Ed Moseley

You should really watch something besides Fox News. The things Alborn and others suggest result in a healthier environment, cleaner water, and a better food chain (to name a few benefits) regardless of whether you are right or wrong on climate change. You may do nothing if you wish, but I am not sure why anyone would do that. Doing nothing is a foolish choice.

I'm not willing to bet my grandchildren's future on doing nothing.

Paul Benedict

What in the world are you talking about Ed? What I wrote has nothing to do with Fox News. In fact I link to a far-left NPR article, along with a link to a professional organization (you should join at least one) article and a link to an opinion piece, but it has nothing to do with Fox News, Follow the science Ed. Your mind is mush from watching too much fake science on MSNBC I suspect.

No, there is nothing inherently wrong with Al's suggestions for people improving their small piece of the planet, but he starts off his article with false climate claims. And I intend to challenge fake information every time I see it. It's my job.

John Dutko

https://www.climate.gov/teaching/climate

https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/climate/climate-change-impacts

Paul Benedict

Hey John, your link to climate change impacts is on a government site run by information gatekeepers. I personally know very much about information gatekeepers. It is one reason why I am retired. Follow the science instead.

John Dutko

@Paul

You need to pull some miracle out of your ass with the overwhelming amount of peer reviewed studies and physical evidence that supports mans impact on global warming.

Go ahead and provide those sources at your leisure. Maybe even do your people over at USGS: https://www.usgs.gov/centers/western-fisheries-research-center/news/research-addressing-climate-change

But you have your work cut out for you. I could throw some curveballs like this article: https://theconversation.com/what-big-oil-knew-about-climate-change-in-its-own-words-170642

and then go over all the hyperlinked references and ask "Why did oil companies seek to cover-up findings about fuel consumption and man and the direct result that is a heating of the planet WAY back in 1957? And why did they obfuscate these findings and push a global disinformation campaign in order to reap profits at the expense of the health of people and the earth?"

Show me the science that disproves climate change.

Duke Nukem

California does nothing about forest fires. Costing billions... Destroying lives but I guess it's all good to you. Let's vote in Newsom he is a Democrat.

dave strut

"Global temperatures are not rising to record levels"

LMAO. Climate change deniers are literally the worst people on this planet. The hottest years on record for the world are the past 10 years, what are you smoking?

Duke Nukem

Worse than rapists, murders, child predators... I see where your priorities are wacko. Are you a degrowther?

Al Alborn

This issue screams for a variation of Pascal’s wager. Maybe there is a climate emergency, maybe there isn’t.

There is no downside to betting there is an emergency and working to forestall it by encouraging Government and individuals to make changes which improve our environment and our world. On the other hand if we bet there is no emergency, do nothing, and are wrong, we destroy nature and humanity as we know it, and enter the predicted Sixth Epoch.

Pick one. Think of your children and grandchildren when you choose.

George Lawton

Al:

The coldest temperature in the US was in MT in 1954 -69. The hottest was Death Valley in 1913. You’re going to be okay and so will our children and grandchildren. Don’t be afraid of the weather.

John Dutko

George: What is the difference between weather and climate?

Are you familiar with data and trend analysis?

Paul Benedict

Are you John? I suspect George understands the difference better than the average leftist.

John Dutko

@Paul

Yes. I make money doing just that. What is your point? Do you want me to bore everyone with stats? Throw in a couple of pivot tables? Do some Python scripting?

How about combining that information with DTED and floodplain data and incorporate some funky maps for our topographical nerds out there?

Duke Nukem

"this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal ..."~~Barack Obama upon winning the Democratic nomination for presidency. Tuesday, JUNE 03, 2008

John Dutko

@Duke

https://www.politico.com/story/2010/10/the-gops-no-compromise-pledge-044311

Maybe if Republicans actually did something instead of being obstructionist, then we wouldn't be in this position.

Dick Grayson

Notice the dramatic rise in seasonal temp averages from about 1970 onward? About the same time weather and temp reporting was shifted to no green zone/heat islands like airports? Coincidence, nah just framing the narrative for generstions!

George Lawton

Yes Al the climate changes. We have four seasons, and water is wet. Boiling oceans and ice ages mark the past. Grow up and find something worthy to write about instead of eco left wing politics.

Ed Moseley

Why are Conservatives so consistently rude? It's amusing for a while, but grows old quickly.

Harry Morant

Because we are completely burned out by the constant lies and deceit of the Left.

dave strut

Strange how republicans are on track for lying the most.

Gaslight

Obstruct

Project

Paul Benedict

Conservatives are consistently rude? You don't get out much do you? Have you ever read the comments by the leftist loons that comment?

dave strut

Dumb republican climate change deniers are ruining this planet.

Dick Grayson

Who gives a f*€k

John Dutko

Definitely not republicans.

So damn cheap that they would use both sides of the toilet paper.

Harry Morant

Clueless democrat climate change fanatics, the same people who believe you can actually change your gender through sheer force of will, and "feelings". That is the kind of pseudo-science nonsense they advocate for. Stupid is a stupid does!

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