Archive for the 'Trees and plants' Category

NYT op-ed nails it: Wolves matter in more ways than you might think

A New York Times op-ed on Sept. 28 lays out in very clear terms why wolves are an important and necessary part of our world and of their habitats and why the lifting of the endangered species protections could spell their doom in Wyoming.

And with a headline like this — ‘Why the Beaver Should Thank the Wolf’ — the piece, by author Mary Ellen Hannibal, should be the most-read online item this week.

It turns out, no surprise here, that wolves aren’t the worst of the food chain, valued only for their hides. They are an integral part of maintaining the ecosystem.

Since wolves were returned to Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s (they were wiped out in the early part of the 20th century), “scientists have noted an unexpected improvement in many of the park’s degraded stream areas.”

Animals behave differently when wolves are around, and that helps the vegetation and waterways. With predators around, for example, elk don’t have time to browse vegetation down to the ground, so the plants can reproduce, and the vegetation in turn stabilizes stream banks.

This is a good line: “The wolf is connected to the elk is connected to the aspen is connected to the beaver.”

That sounds fun, but it’s very serious.

The extinction of top predators, like the endangered wolf, will have repercussions far beyond the loss of one species. Their place in the planet’s ecosystem matters.

— Linda J.


Buying spring plants at a big box store? Beware the signs.

I have had two experiences this spring with buying plants at box stores that I want to pass along as a caution:

1. At one store, the hostas were sitting in the bright sun, in front of a sign that said “SUN.” Hostas are, of course, shade lovers, as the little plastic label that came with them said.

2. I bought a small weeping willow tree at another store. It and all the other weeping willows had a paper label around the trunk that said “SHADE.” Nope, the Google verified that weeping willows like a spot that gets a lot of sun.

The stores are tempting this type of year with their bountiful greenery, but make sure you know what you’re getting and where to plant it when you get home. If you do research after you get home and find that that willow really won’t work in the shady spot you had in mind, take it back.

By the say, I tried telling the sales clerk at the store where I bought the hostas that the sign was wrong and that the plants should be moved to a shady display area.

Her reply: “Nobody here knows anything about plants.”

Fight invasive species, help a Lexington creek

Volunteers are invited to participate in a restoration project for Wolf Run Creek in the Roanoke Drive greenway area, near Alexandria Drive.

Activities are planned for Saturday, March 13 and Saturday, March 20.

The Port Royal Neighborhood Association and Friends of Wolf Run are working cooperatively on the restoration project. A 2009 Neighborhood and Community Sustainability Grant was awarded by the city of Lexington to the Port Royal Neighborhood Association for the project aimed at improving water quality in Wolf Run Creek.

On Saturday, March 13, volunteers are needed to remove Bush Honeysuckle, an invasive plant that has overrun the creek bank in many areas. Volunteers are asked to bring work gloves and hand tools such as saws and loppers. Workers will meet Bruce Hutcheson, with the Port Royal Neighborhood Association, on site at 10 a.m. Saturday.

On Saturday, March 20, the restoration work will continue with the installation of creek-side native plants. Workers will be needed to install trees, shrubs and perennial plants from pots to replace the Bush Honeysuckle. Volunteers are asked to bring work gloves and digging tools such as shovels and trowels. Wendy Haven, also with the Port Royal Neighborhood Association, will coordinate the work that begins at 1 p.m.

For more information on the Wolf Run Creek project call 859 940-8234 or send an e-mail to

Native plants get a boost in the Bluegrass

Bluegrass PRIDE just handed out a bouquet of grants for area native plant beautification projects. Here’s the release:

[Lexington, Ky.] – Bluegrass PRIDE (Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment) has awarded 10 grants to communities and agencies throughout its 18-county service area. These will be used to fund beautification projects using Kentucky native plants as part of Bluegrass PRIDE’s Celebrate Kentucky Plants program. Grants range from approximately $800 to $1,000 and the awardees include:

City of Cynthiana

City of Sadieville

City of Wilmore

City of Winchester

Estill County Fiscal Court

Frankfort/Franklin County Tourism Commission

Garrard County Farmers Market

Harrison County

Historic Georgetown, Inc.

Woodford County Conservation District

The awarded funds will be utilized to place native plants along roadways and corridors into each community. In addition, these plantings will serve as teaching tools to engage community stakeholders and local students, educating them on the importance and environmental benefits of using native plants in landscaping.

Bluegrass PRIDE developed the grant program to focus on native plants because of their numerous environmental benefits. Once established, these plants require little maintenance, support insects, birds and wildlife, and can help to prevent soil erosion.

“Bluegrass PRIDE is happy to be able to award these grants for such outstanding projects,” said Amy Sohner, executive director of Bluegrass PRIDE. “Not only will the funding enable these communities to enhance their inherent natural beauty, it will facilitate hands-on environmental education and promote an appreciation for native plants.”

Funding for the Celebrate Kentucky Plants Grant program was made possible through a partnership with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Bluegrass PRIDE provides resources and education to empower Central Kentuckians to foster positive environmental change in their communities. For more information, please visit

Coal costs nation $62 billion a year, mostly in premature deaths, National Research Council says

Posted on Mon, Oct. 19, 2009
Report: Pollution from burning coal costs $62 billion a year
By Andy Mead

Pollution from burning coal to generate electricity costs the United States $62 billion a year, according to a report being released Monday by the National Research Council.

The report, Hidden Costs of Energy, attempts to put a dollar value on the true costs of various energy sources. Most costs were calculated in people dying from the pollution, the study’s authors said.

The report was requested by Congress. It concentrates on putting a value on the damage to human health, crops, timber yields, buildings and from major pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

Coal accounts for about half the electricity produced in the country, and more than 90 percent in Kentucky.

The report does not attempt to put a monetary value on coal mining. But it notes the environmental problems associated with underground and surface mines.

Mountaintop removal mining “shares the negative externalities of other types of surface mining and has other externalities as well,” the report says.

It lists a report by the Environmental Protection Agency that looked at more than 1,200 stream segments in the southern Appalachians impacted by mountaintop removal and the associated valley fills.

That EPA report found increased levels of minerals such as zinc and selenium in the water, increased stream flow below the valley fills, slow regrowth of forest because of compacted soils.

The research council report also looks at the dollar impacts of oil, natural gas, nuclear and alternative energy sources.

The report is linked from the article here:

Standing up for trees

With various pests and such killing off the city’s pin oaks, ashes, and pear trees, Lexington’s trees need all the help they can get.

After a year of planning, reports Karen Angelucci, a non-profit called the Lexington Tree Foundation got started with a Sunday afternoon meeting at McConnell Springs. The goal, she says, it to increase the city’s tree canopy “through education and example.”

“The mission of the Lexington Tree Foundation is to provide community-wide education for all ages regarding the benefits of trees and their care. LTF believes that trees are an important community resource to be preserved, protected, maintained, and replaced for future generations. LTF promotes compliance with recognized standards of arboricultural practices.”

The 25 founders are:

Karen Angelucci
Sue Beard
Sharon Ben David
Ann Bowe
Scott Clark
Kathleen Esser
Tom Fielder
Scott Gleeson
Charlie Gorton
Linda Gorton
Jim Gray
John Hartman
Sara Hesley
Cora Hurt
Yvette Hurt
Andrea James
Michael Johnathon
Dave Leonard
John Michler
Dorotha Oatts
Cindy Rullman
Russ Turpin
Frank Whitehouse
Mary Witt
Judy Worth

Mountaintop removal sculpture, sculptor at Lexington church

The Agony of Gaia

The Agony of Gaia

Artist Jeff Chapman-Crane will be at St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church in Lexington Thursday to discuss his sculpture, The Agony of Gaia, which depicts Mother Earth as a mountain, lying on her side in agony, as heavy equipment tears into her to remove coal.

Chapman-Crane, who is from Letcher County, spent years on the sculpture. It debuted 2004 at a Kentuckians for the Commonwealth meeting. The discussion, which begins at 6:30 p.m., is the first of a series of forums held each Thursday during September.

Moderating the forums will be Father Johnnie E. Ross, the priest and rector at St. Raphael’s, who is a retired state environmental scientist.

The life-size sculpture will on display throughout the month at the church, 1891 Parkers Mill Road.

Tomato lovers beware: Blight found in Kentucky

A fungus that caused the Irish potato famine of the late 1840s is hitting Kentucky tomatoes this year.

Yes, tomatoes.

The disease, called late blight or Phytophthora (Latin for “plant destroyer”) infestans, is rarely found in Kentucky, and it usually doesn’t show until later in the growing season. But it’s been causing problems in the eastern United States this summer and has shown up in several places in Kentucky.

It likes cool, wet weather, which we’re had plenty of, said Kenny Seebold, an extension plant pathologist with the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture.

Most of the cases have been from Eastern Kentucky, he said.

The first reports, from back-yard gardeners, started coming in right after the Fourth of July. The first case from a commercial grower came in Monday, Seebold said. It involved a farmer near Morehead who was growing a half-acre of tomatoes and lost about 90 percent.

“It was pretty severe, so we’re worried it’s taking hold,” Seebold said.

The leaves of infected tomato plants wither and die quickly, he said. Most diseases start at the bottom of a plant, but late blight can attack the entire plant or start at the top.

Look for nickel-size olive green or brown spots on leaves and slightly fuzzy white fungal growth on the underside. Lesions appear on stems. Firm, brown spots develop on tomato fruit. To see photographs, go to

Farmers and gardeners are advised to inspect tomato and potato plants for signs of trouble. Seebold suggests preventative applications of chlorothalonil or mancozeb. Because the disease is rare here, most suppliers don’t carry the chemicals necessary to treat a plant that already is infected.

Growers who suspect that the blight is already present should take samples of the plants to their local extension office so UK plant pathologists can diagnose them.

Reach Andy Mead at (859) 231-3319 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3319.