Thursday, May 19, 2011

GSU researcher discovers new method to provide better understanding of plant life

A Georgia State University scientist has found a new way to simulate data in examining processes during photosynthesis, a method which will lead to a better understanding of how plants work.

Gary Hastings, professor of physics, has developed a way to better interpret measurements that investigate the molecular interactions involved in photosynthesis. By using the data provided through Hastings' method, scientists will be able to more accurately develop a mathematical model of photosynthetic processes in plants.

The research appears in a journal article released Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In photosynthesis, plants capture sunlight and use it to produce carbohydrates used as energy. In the process sunlight is used to transfer electrons across a membrane, Hastings explained. There is a positive terminal on one side of the membrane and a negative terminal on the other.

"Essentially, a plant is a solar-powered battery," he said. "The process is remarkably efficient, much more so than in artificial materials. The question is: 'How do electrons get across this membrane with such efficiency?'"

Plants contain pigment molecules, such as chlorophyll and quinone, which give them their colors. In the process of photosynthesis, electrons "hop" from one pigment to the next to get across the membrane. Proteins interact with these pigments, and this gives them special properties allowing them to move electrons quickly and efficiently across the membrane.

"The burning question is, what is it about these protein interactions that modify the properties of the pigments to help get electrons across the membrane? This is really a structural biology question, and everything we do is geared towards understanding how proteins modify these pigment properties," Hastings said.

The new method Hastings shows in his article provides an approach using numerical, or quantitative, data to describe the results of research using a process called Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Previously, the norm for the field was to use a more descriptive, or qualitative, approach.

This research, in time, may lead to ways to predict how new plant strains might function more efficiently - something with implications in many fields, including biofuel research.

Hastings' research was made possible by powerful supercomputing resources at GSU. Hastings and his team used the university's IBM p5 supercomputer, called URSA, which allowed for the efficient processing of huge calculations in days, instead of the months it would have taken on even the fastest desktop computers.

GSU recently increased its supercomputing power by acquiring an IBM p7-755 supercomputer, named CARINA. It can run calculations at more than 14 trillion calculations per second.

Hastings' article, "Calculated Vibrational Properties of Pigments in Protein Binding Sites," appears online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, located online at www.pnas.org.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Outbreak of strange moth posing danger to oak trees

Researchers at the University of Georgia are tracking an outbreak of caterpillars that can eat and strip the leaves off oak trees, potentially affecting the tree’s health for a year or more. The leaf-eating caterpillars have been confirmed in several counties surrounding Athens, including Clarke, Madison, Oglethorpe and Oconee. They are also possibly in both Barrow and Gwinnett counties, but UGA researchers fear they are also spreading throughout the state.

Kamal Gandhi, an assistant professor of forest entomology in the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, said home- and landowners began bringing her caterpillars last year for help with identifying the insects. The grayish-brown caterpillars had black heads and thin white lines down each side and were moving into the oak canopies at night to feed on leaves and seemed to favor white oaks. And they weren’t in the book on moths in North America that Gandhi could find, so she sent them to moth expert David Wagner with the University of Connecticut for help identifying them using DNA coding. That’s when they found that Georgia is now experiencing what appears to be an outbreak of the Black-dotted Brown moth (Cissusa spadix) that until now weren’t considered pests. They even found that this caterpillar defoliated a large white oak tree growing in Athens’ Whitehall Forest in just four days last year. This year, Gandhi said its spring leaves were delayed, and the caterpillars have returned in higher numbers.

Gandhi and Jacqueline Mohan, an assistant professor of terrestrial ecosystem ecology in the Odum School of Ecology, speculate that the moths went into an outbreak phase because of much warmer weather conditions with abundant autumn rainfall in 2009 and 2010, which stimulated the development and growth of both oak trees and leaves, and caterpillars. Entomologists living in Athens for decades and across eastern North America have never witnessed an outbreak of this moth species before.

What should homeowners look for? Gandhi said the specific signs that those caterpillars have possibly made themselves at home include:
- Oak trees on a homeowner’s property that have been stripped of leaves;
- Dark grayish-brown caterpillars with thin white lines on both sides that feed on the leaves mostly at night;
- A yard covered in the small black insect frass (excrement); and
- Caterpillars that come into the house at night and vomit reddish-brownish liquid.

Very little is known about how to manage these insects, Gandhi said, but if a landowner does have an infestation, there is a simple way to help thwart their efforts to feed on oaks: Put burlap bands on high value trees to stop them from moving into the canopy. Burlap bands can be made by tying a piece of twine, rope or string around the tree and then slipping a foot-wide piece of burlap between the rope and tree, folding it in half over the string. The band should circle the entire tree, and the bottom part should be duct-taped to stop caterpillars from crawling under and through the bark cracks. The caterpillars should become caught in the burlap and can then be disposed of using soapy water after capture. Burlap bands are only partially effective, however, and Gandhi said it is unclear how effective pesticides are as well.

This insect is a bit of a mystery to scientists. They’re not even sure where the insects lay their eggs. What they do know is that the hatched caterpillars typically spend a day in leaf litter on the ground and under bark cracks and furrows, especially on white oaks. They then climb into the trees for feeding, pupating in early May in the litter layer until emerging as an adult the following year.

Gandhi and Mohan have launched both individual and collaborative research projects into the strange insect. Gandhi and her post-doctoral researcher, David Coyle, are working on determining what host plants the caterpillars prefer, its life-cycle, the extent and scale of defoliation this moth can inflict, and insecticide options to guide home-owners. Mohan and her students, Fern Lehman, Shafkat Khan and Paul Frankson, also are using the caterpillars to determine how herbivorous insects might respond to oaks grown in higher temperature conditions.

Based on the their 2010 research, they are finding that oak leaves grown under the higher temperature conditions predicted over this century lead to higher rates of caterpillar herbivory as the foliage becomes less nutritious and the insects need to consume more of it.

Gandhi and Mohan need to know how widespread the moth is in Georgia. Any calls and emails from homeowners from other counties will assist in research and management activities. Anyone with questions or information about this caterpillar can contact Gandhi at kgandhi@warnell.uga.edu.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

100 Young Birders Seek, Find Scores of Bird Species in Annual Contest

Conservation, birds and about 100 young Georgia birders all benefited from the 2011 Youth Birding Competition.

The 24-hour birding event held Saturday and Sunday, April 16-17, drew some 25 teams of contestants from preschool-ages to teens. They spotted scores of bird species and raised nearly $1,500 for conservation organizations. Fundraising is a voluntary component of the competition.

The Country Cuckoos, four brothers and a first cousin from Bainbridge, saw or heard 133 species to win the overall competition, checking birding hotspots across the state and overcoming a windy Saturday evening that kept many birds quiet. Member Josiah Austinson found a silver lining in the blustery weather. “It saved us from the mosquitoes,” he said smiling.

The reward for competition coordinator Tim Keyes, a Georgia Wildlife Resources Division biologist, is the “increase of new faces every year … (and) the return of repeat teams, which shows they’re getting hooked!”

The Youth Birding Contest is aimed at cultivating an interest in wildlife and conservation. Sponsors include The Environmental Resources Network Inc. (TERN), the Audubon Society, the Georgia Ornithological Society and others.

T-shirts worn by birders and team leaders at the banquet and awards ceremony at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center Sunday featured the artwork of Rosemary Kramer of The Rock community in Upson County. The red-breasted nuthatch by Kramer, an eighth-grader at Upson Lee Middle School, proved the grand-prize winner in the event’s T-shirt Contest.

Coordinator Linda May said judges chose four division winners from among 166 drawings and paintings of native Georgia birds. Kramer’s entry led the middle school category. “I'm so excited to see all of these kids enjoying birds, whether it's through birdwatching or creating artwork,” May said. “They're gaining a much better understanding and appreciation of nature than I had at that age.”

The 2012 Youth Birding Competition is set for April 27-28. The annual competition and art contest are free. This year’s bird-a-thon started at 5 p.m. Saturday and ended at 5 p.m. Sunday. Groups used as much as of that time as they wanted to count bird species throughout the state. But teams had to arrive at the “finish line” at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield by 5 p.m. Sunday.


2011 Youth Birding Competition Winners

Birding
Overall and high school division – Country Cuckoos (133 species)
Middle – Chaotic Kestrels (116)
Elementary – Eagle Maniacs (94 species)
Primary – Little Chickadees (38 species)

Fundraising
1. Birding Brothers, raising $516.
2. Country Cuckoos ($360)
3. Atlanta Wood Thrushes ($200)

The money goes to conservation groups chosen by the teams.

Top Rookie Teams (first-year teams)
High school – G’Nats 1 (90 species)
Primary – Daisy Ducks 1/prime time (37 species)

Birding Journal
High school – Anna Hamilton
Middle – Emmilyn Wade
Elementary – Madeline Studebaker
Primary – Dalton Gibbs

T-shirt Art Contest
1. Primary division (out of 54 entries): Jordan Beam of Newborn, second-grader at Piedmont Academy (barn owl drawing)
2. Elementary school division (89 entries): Hanka Kirby of Cumming, fifth-grader at Chattahoochee Elementary (cardinal drawing)
3. Middle school division (19 entries): Rosemary Kramer of The Rock, eighth-grader at Upson Lee Middle School (red-breasted nuthatch painting). Kramer also was the grand-prize winner.
4. High school division (four entries): Taylor Green of Covington, 12th-grade homeschooler (white-eyed vireo painting)

Art contest division winners received $50 gift cards to Michael's. The grand-prize winner received a $100 gift card to Michael’s and their artwork was used for the 2011 Youth Birding Competition T-shirt.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Georgia Forestry Commission Urges Prevention in Wake of South Georgia Wildfires

Georgia Forestry Commission crews have successfully contained fires in south Georgia, where tens of thousands of acres have been scorched since early March. Recent rainfall helped firefighters gain the upper hand on the blazes, which had prompted a weekend restriction on outdoor burning throughout the state. Firefighting resources are now being released to their home districts, and the Georgia Forestry Commission is again issuing burn permits when local weather conditions allow.

Burn restrictions were lifted April 1, 2011,  in the GFC Ogeechee District (Wilcox, Pulaski, Bleckley, Laurens, Dodge, Telfair, Wheeler, Treutlen, Montgomery, Emanuel, Toombs, Tattnall, Evans, Candler, Jenkins, Screven, Effingham, Bulloch, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Bryan and Chatham counties), with the exception of Long County, where permits will not be issued until further notice. The GFC Satilla District (Jeff Davis, Appling, Wayne, Glynn, Coffee, Bacon, Pierce, Brantley, Camden, Charlton, Ware, Atkinson, Berrien, Lanier, Clinch, Echols and Lowndes counties) has extended the restriction on permits for outdoor burning at least through Monday, April 4, when conditions will be reevaluated.

Despite the rain's temporary relief, fire authorities say a severe drought is expected to persist this summer, raising the risk of wildfire and posing a threat to property and lives.

"Now is the time to take steps to protect your home from fire," said Troy Floyd, Incident Management Team Commander of the Georgia Forestry Commission. "Getting a burn permit for any outdoor debris burning is an absolute must, but there are actions residents can take around the home to minimize damage from wildfire."

Cleaning flammable materials from a 30-feet barrier around the home is extremely important, according to Floyd.

"Homeowners should break the chain of ignition from the forest to the home," he said. "That includes clearing yard debris and firewood and moving gas tanks. Pine and leaf litter should be removed from roofs, gutters and eaves regularly."

Floyd said water is an obvious tool to have close by, and recommending that hoses with faucets be installed on each side of the home. Other tools comprising an emergency kit include a rake, shovel, bucket, garden hose, axe and a ladder that will reach the roof.

Floyd said summer staples such as barbecue grills and lawnmowers are also possible sources of ignition and should be used carefully, especially in times of drought.

"The number one cause of wildfire is escaped debris burning," said Floyd. "When weather conditions are appropriate, burn permits for hand piled natural vegetation are issued online at GaTrees.org." Permits for machine piled or area burns can be obtained by contacting a local office of the Georgia Forestry Commission, he said.

"Our number one concern is for the protection of people and property from wildfires," said Floyd. "We depend on the cooperation of every Georgian to make that happen."

For more information about fire safety and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit GaTrees.org.

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Conserve water with compost

Recycling paper and bottles is good for the planet. Recycling food waste into compost is good for your garden, saves water and makes your plants happier, according to a University of Georgia expert.

Compost is decomposed organic matter. In heavy clay soils, compost reduces compaction, increases aeration and helps water seep better into the soil. In sandy soils, it helps retain both water and nutrients, said Bob Westerfield, a horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“Incorporating finished compost into vegetable garden beds or plant beds amends the soil and allows water and air to filter more easily through the soil,” he said. “This can help prevent run-off and adds nutrients to the soil.”

Wait to add compost to gardens until the soil is dry enough to be worked. He suggests tilling finished compost into the soil 6 to 8 inches deep.

Nearly finished compost can be used as mulch. It helps plants retain moisture and prevents weeds.
To make compost, mix brown and green organic materials. Brown compost material includes dry dead plants, leaves, grass clippings, shredded paper and wood chips. Brown compost provides carbon. Green compost material includes fresh-plant products, coffee grounds, tea bags and fruit and vegetable waste from the kitchen. It provides nitrogen.

Westerfield says to include more brown items than green. The ratio should be 3 to 1. Materials should be added in layers, alternating brown and green. Don’t add meats, bones, grease or other animal-based food waste. They can smell bad and attract rodents.

A pile of compost can take three weeks to six months to process, depending on the care. Adding fresh material to a pile can cause the process to take longer.

“The composting cycle will work faster if the pile is kept moist and turned frequently,” he said. “The more you agitate the pile, the faster it will compost.”

Along with turning the pile a few times a month, rainwater helps maintain moisture. Water should be added only to keep the pile moist, not wet.

“It is nice to have two or three bins so you can have several stages of compost,” he said.

Remove finished compost from the pile and put in a separate bin for use. “Some people are disappointed because they fill the bin up. And when it becomes compost, they end up with 10 to 20 percent of what they put in,” he said. “As it biodegrades, its volume drastically reduces.”

Fertilizer can be added to the pile. A little 10-10-10 mixed fertilizer and a few scoops of garden soil are suggested. Don’t add lime.

Composting provides organic material to plants and is a valuable type of recycling. “It’s a way to recycle waste and save money by producing a product from trash you would otherwise have to buy,” Westerfield said.


By April Reese Sorrow
University of Georgia

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Georgia Natural Gas® to Give Away Trees in Celebration of Earth Day at Atlantic Station

Atlantic Station Earth Day Celebration (Central Park) April 22, 2011 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

 /PRNewswire/ -- For the second year in a row, the first 200 visitors to Georgia Natural Gas' (GNG's) venue at Atlantic Station's Earth Day Celebration will receive a free sapling (one per household) to celebrate the event. GNG acquired the young trees from the Georgia Forestry Commission. The saplings are native to Georgia and ideal for planting and cultivation immediately. The trees will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Plus, visitors can enjoy a close-up view of the Honda Civic GX natural gas vehicle, "powered by GNG." The vehicle will be displayed next to the GNG booth.

GNG representatives will be available on Earth Day to discuss weatherization tips with the public and to share It's a Natural -- the company's guide to free or low-cost energy efficiency solutions for the home. The company's representatives also can discuss GNG's internal and external sustainability efforts. The company received the Clean Air Campaign's Pace Award in 2009 and in late March was awarded the Atlanta Business Chronicle's 2011 Environmental Award in the "Ennovation" category.

The Ennovation Award recognizes GNG's landfill gas initiative and its Recycled Natural Gas program now powering the Honda Civic GX.

Georgia Natural Gas serves nearly half a million residential, commercial and industrial customers. GNG is part of SouthStar Energy Services, a Georgia-based joint venture between AGL Resources (NYSE: AGL) and Piedmont Natural Gas Co. (NYSE: PNY). SouthStar also operates in Ohio as Ohio Natural Gas, in Florida as Florida Natural Gas, in New York as New York Natural Gas, in the Carolinas as Piedmont Energy, and in other parts of the Southeast as SouthStar Energy Services. For more information, visit www.onlygng.com.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner reminds residents about termite control and prevention this spring

Springtime is in full swing and with it comes many insects we have not seen since last year. This month, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black would like to remind residents of the importance of protecting their homes and businesses against termite infestation.

“Every year, termites invade homes and cause billions of dollars worth of damage while compromising the structural integrity of the residences they infest. The Southeast has a very high termite presence due to our climate and soil conditions,” said Commissioner Black. “It is important for Georgians to prepare a plan of action to help prevent damage from occurring.”

Properties are generally protected by either liquid termiticide barrier treatments or termite monitoring and baiting programs, which help protect a building’s structure. Additionally, disturbance to the foundation soil or flooding can affect the protective measures and a licensed pest management professional can confirm whether a home or business is still protected against termites.

“Now is a great time to have your home or business checked out to determine if it’s necessary to re-establish termite control measures,” said Commissioner Black. “And termite inspection and control is one homeowner project that is best left to the professionals.”

For an average-sized home, a termite inspection from a licensed professional should take about one hour. To ensure Georgia’s consumers receive proper termite treatments, the Georgia Department of Agriculture provides free inspections of treated structures to confirm the treatment meets established standards and is safe and effective. If residents have a termite control contract that is active, or no more than two-years expired, they can set up this free service. State field agents can also inspect structures that have a Georgia Wood Infestation Inspection Report, or termite letter, as long as the letter is no more than 90 days old.

Homeowners can also take simple, preventative actions by keeping damp areas away from the home, because termites prefer damp wood. Wood debris and piles of wood (including firewood) are feeding grounds and should not be left near the home. Most professional liquid termite treatments are effective for five years, and a quick follow-up plan with your service provider will ensure steady protection for the life of your home.

Property owners should review their termite control contract to determine who is responsible for the reestablishment of the termite protection, which should be listed under the ‘terms and conditions’ within the contract.

Consumers are urged to only seek advice and use licensed professional pest control companies. If a company is not licensed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, it is illegal for them to practice termite control work. Residents can find a list of all licensed professional pest management companies by visiting www.kellysolutions.com/ga/structural or by contacting the Structural Pest Control Division at (404) 656-3641.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture is responsible for licensing the professional pest management companies who perform termite control. There are approximately 1,200 of these companies operating in Georgia. Consumers can learn more about the Department’s Structural Pest Control Division by visiting www.agr.georgia.gov.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Carpenter bees work on wooden structures

As enthusiastic, bored children, we would try to hit them with baseball bats. A tennis racket would have been a better choice, but there were no tennis courts on our farm. Nonetheless, carpenter bees were a lot of fun for growing boys.

Adults, though, usually aren't into fun things like that. People who live in cedar-sided or log homes see no humor at all in these obnoxious bees. They just want to get rid of them.

About this time every year people see large, black bees hovering around their heads and homes.
They're probably carpenter bees. We get very little pollination benefit from them, but we do get some headache.

Look similar to a bumblebee

Carpenter bees resemble bumblebees but have a couple of noticeable differences. The upper surface of the carpenter bee's abdomen is bare, shiny and black. Bumblebees have a hairy abdomen with at least some yellow markings.

The other difference is where they nest. Bumblebees usually nest in the ground. Carpenter bees build their nests in tunnels they create in wood. They chew a perfectly round hole about the size of a dime into soft, untreated, unpainted weathered wood.

Male carpenter bees seem to be mean. But it's all an act. They'll hover in front of people who are near, even dive-bombing occasionally. But the males are harmless. They don't even have stingers.

Females hurt, damage most

Female carpenter bees do have stingers, though, and their sting can be quite painful. I had to be stung several times before I learned to leave them alone. The females seldom sting unless they are handled or disturbed.

Even if they don't sting, female carpenter bees aren't harmless. It's the fertilized females that excavate the tunnels and lay eggs in a series of small cells.

They provision each cell with a ball of pollen, on which the larvae feed until emerging as adults in late summer. The adults will overwinter in abandoned nest tunnels to return again the next year.

Prefer bare softwoods

Carpenter bees prefer bare softwoods, especially redwood, cedar, cypress and pine. They don’t typically bother painted or pressure-treated wood.

Common attack zones are eaves, window trim, fascia boards and decks. Sawdust beneath the hole is an easily recognizable sign of attack.

Control can be a combination of things. A fresh coat of oil-based paint is very effective. They don't like paint. Wood stains and preservatives are less reliable, but better than bare wood.

Where the bees have already attacked, spraying insecticide on the wood surface won't work. You have to inject it into each burrow to be effective. An aerosol spray for wasp and bee control will work if you direct it into the hole. Applications of cypermethrin or permethrin may provide short-term control when applied to wood surfaces, but will have to be reapplied after 1 to 2 weeks to maintain control.

Plug the hole

After a couple of days, plug the hole with a piece of wood dowel coated with carpenter's glue, wood putty or your choice of filler. This last step protects against future use of the old tunnel and reduces the chance of wood decay.

It's best to spray at night to kill the adults and the brood. If you spray during the day, the adults may be gone. And they may just start a new colony.

Remember, the females can pop you pretty good, so treating towards sunset or at night helps. Or you could make it a two-person job and arm the other with the tennis racket.

By B. Wade Hutcheson 

(Wade Hutcheson is a county Extension agent with UGA Cooperative Extension serving Spalding County.)

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Cooper Lighting Pays it Forward

Cooper Environmental Excellence Award

Cooper Lighting, Peachtree City, GA, has been awarded its company’s prestigious Environmental Excellence Award in recognition of innovative product design. The local facility has chosen to pay it forward by donating the $7,500 award grant to Southern Conservation Trust for much needed improvements to Line Creek Nature Area.

Cooper’s annual Environmental Excellence Awards are presented to Cooper facilities that best demonstrate significant, lasting and measurable excellence in such areas as process improvement, pollution prevention, and innovative product design and resource conservation. Cooper employees at these facilities drive environmental efforts and have proven that doing the right thing can lower costs, improve performance and create direct financial benefits for both the customer and Cooper. The scope of this award program is broad enough for all major environmental and conservation accomplishments of any Cooper operation to be eligible. Nominations can relate to a specific accomplishment or to a group of projects demonstrating continuous improvement. Cooper honors top performers on an annual basis with grants to local programs promoting environmental stewardship. Top performers have the freedom to select which community programs benefit from the grant.

The Cooper LED Innovation Center in Peachtree City, GA, identified energy saving measures that could be molded into innovative products that help customers reduce their environmental impact. Cooper Lighting designed and developed the new Halo LED H7 collection at the Cooper LED Innovation Center. This new lighting collection offers energy savings to customers by providing the same quantity and quality of light as traditional light sources while operating more efficiently. Cooper Lighting also designed the Halo LED modules to have a longer lifespan, which also minimizes relamping maintenance costs. The Halo LED H7 1200 series exceeds light output of a 90-watt PAR38 halogen lamp, a 120-watt BR40 incandescent lamp and a 32-watt compact fluorescent luminaire, while consuming less than 25 watts. These LED fixtures also provide 70% of their initial light output after 22 years of use. The new Halo LED H7 collection is just one of the innovative lighting solutions Cooper is creating at its new LED Innovation Center.

Southern Conservation Trust is a nonprofit land trust, based in Fayette County, which conserves land to enhance the quality of life in our communities, for today’s and future generations. Working closely with landowners, the Trust works to protect land in Metro Atlanta’s Southern Crescent and the Upper Flint River basin. The Trust’s mission includes preserving land and our “rural” character, protecting habitats and natural resources, and enhancing greenspace for education and passive recreation. Environmental education and fun outdoor events are also provided as part of the Trust’s ongoing efforts to encourage stewardship in our community.

The Trust now owns, manages, or holds conservation easements on more than 1300 acres throughout Fayette, Clayton, Meriwether, and rural South Fulton counties. The Trust currently has three popular public nature areas; Line Creek Nature Area and Flat Creek Nature Area in Peachtree City and Sams Lake Sanctuary in Fayetteville. The Trust’s fourth public preserve, Morgan Grove Nature Area is currently in development and will open to the public in late 2011. All public nature areas owned or managed by the Trust are free and open to the public from dawn to dusk.

“We are excited to have Cooper Lighting as a conservation partner,” says Pam Young, Trust Executive Director. “This grant allows the Trust to make needed improvements to Line Creek Nature Area, including a new driveway, stone edging for the parking lot, additional parking lot safety barriers, and erosion control with decorative landscaping at the entrance to the nature area.” Young adds, “With more than 23,000 annual visitors to Line Creek Nature Area there are always maintenance needs. This grant has provided the financial support for supplies, making it possible to complete these projects with the help of volunteers who contribute their time and effort to make the improvements.”

For more information about land preservation, supporting conservation efforts, or to volunteer visit our website, www.sctlandtrust.org, call 770-486-7774 or email info@sctlandtrust.org.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Now Open! New Fishing Pier Completed at Morgan Falls Dam

Anglers that frequent the Morgan Falls Dam portion of the Chattahoochee River should be excited about the completion of a new fishing pier. The pier, built by Georgia Power as a recreational improvement for Morgan Falls Dam, will provide great additional angler access below the dam according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division.

“We are very pleased with the construction results,” says WRD Fisheries Management Region Supervisor Chris Martin. “This pier is in a great location, it provides increased angler access - including handicapped access - as well as giving anglers great places to get to the fish.”

The construction of the new pier began in October 2010 and concluded this past week. During construction, the boat ramp located at this area was unavailable. Since the pier is now complete, the entire area, including the boat ramp is now fully open for the public.

For more information on fishing in Georgia, visit www.georgiawildlife.com.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Georgia Income Tax Checkoff Helps Conserve Rare Animals, Plants

Georgia’s rare animals and plants need your help.

Conservation of this state’s nongame wildlife – from sea turtles to southeastern American kestrels – as well as native plants and natural habitats is supported largely by the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund. In turn, the fund depends on public contributions.

One main source of contributions is the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff. Yet giving through the checkoff has declined sharply since 2005.

The $205,000 donated in fiscal year 2010 marked the least amount since the 1990s.

What’s at stake? The checkoff and the Wildlife Conservation Fund have played a role in Georgia’s wildest success stories, such as the rebound of bald eagles and the acquisition of thousands of acres of prime habitat along the Altamaha River. This past year, fund-supported projects included the first coast-wide census of American oystercatchers and Wilson’s plovers in 10 years, surveys that discovered rare amber and freckled darters in the Coosawattee River, and hands-on conservation that reached nearly 50,000 students at six regional education centers.

By using the Wildlife Conservation Fund to attract and match federal and private grants, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section also gains about $1 for every 25 cents spent from the fund.

Nongame Conservation Assistant Chief Jon Ambrose has called the state income tax checkoff critical in “providing the match we need to get additional funding from other sources.”

More than 1,000 Georgia plant and animal species are species of conservation concern. This spring, make your mark to help them: Fill in any amount more than $1 on line 26 of the state’s long tax form (Form 500) or line 10 of the short form (Form 500EZ).

Visit www.georgiawildlife.com/node/338 for more information, or call Nongame Conservation Section offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218). State income tax forms are available online at https://etax.dor.ga.gov/.

The Nongame Conservation Section receives no state appropriations for its mission to conserve nongame wildlife – native animals not legally hunted, fished for or trapped – and native plants and habitats. The sales of bald eagle and hummingbird license plates also benefit the agency and the Wildlife Conservation Fund. Details at www.georgiawildlife.com.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New software puts forest ecology in public hands

The U.S. Forest Service and its partners released this morning (March 10) the newest version of their free i-Tree software suite, designed to quantify the benefits of trees and assist communities in gaining support and funding for the trees in their parks, schoolyards and neighborhoods.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell unveiled the new software suite in a ceremony at the Fairmount Horticultural Center in Philadelphia.

i-Tree v.4 , made possible by a public-private partnership, provides urban planners, forest managers, environmental advocates and students a free tool to measure the ecological and economic value of the trees in their neighborhoods and cities.

The Forest Service partnered on the project with The Davey Tree Expert Company, the National Arbor Day Foundation, the Society of Municipal Arborists, the International Society of Arboriculture and Casey Trees. The Forest Service and its partners will offer free and easily accessible technical support for the i-Tree suite.

“Urban trees are the hardest working trees in America,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Urban trees’ roots are paved over, and they are assaulted by pollution and exhaust, but they keep working for us.”

Urban trees provide temperature control, clean water, clean air and mitigate climate change by sequestering tons of carbon, said Tidwell.

The i-Tree suite of tools has helped communities of all sizes gain funding for urban forest management and programs by quantifying the value of their trees and the environmental services trees provide.

One recent i-Tree study found that street trees in Minneapolis provided $25 million in benefits ranging from energy savings to increased property values. Urban planners in Chattanooga, Tenn., were able to show that for every dollar invested in their urban forests, the city received $12.18 in benefits. New York City used i-Tree to justify $220 million for planting trees during the next decade.

“Forest Service research and models on the benefits of urban trees are now in the hands of people who can make a difference in our communities,” said Paul Ries, director of Cooperative Forestry for the Forest Service. “The work of Forest Service researchers, the best in the world, is not just sitting on a shelf, but is now being widely applied in communities of all sizes, around the world, to help people understand and leverage the benefits of trees in their communities.”

Since the initial release of the i-Tree tools in August 2006, more than 100 communities, non-profit organizations, consultants and schools have used i-Tree to report on individual trees, parcels, neighborhoods, cities, and even entire states.

"I am proud to be part of a project that is doing so much good for our communities," said Dave Nowak, lead i-Tree researcher for the Forest Service Northern Research Station. " i-Tree will foster a better understanding of the importance of green space in our cities and neighborhoods, which is so important in a world where development and environmental change are stark realities."

The most important improvements in i-Tree v.4:

i-Tree will reach a broader audience in educating people on the value of trees. i-Tree Design is designed to be easily used by homeowners, garden centers, and in school classrooms. People can use i-Tree Design and its link to Google maps to see the impact of the trees in their yard, neighborhood and classrooms, and what benefits they can see by adding new trees. i-Tree Canopy and VUE with their links to Google maps now also make it much easier and less expensive for communities and managers to analyze the extent and values of their tree canopy, analyses that up to this point have been prohibitively expensive for many communities.

i-Tree will also expand its audience to other resource management professionals. i-Tree Hydro provides a more sophisticated tool for professionals involved in stormwater and water quality and quantity management. Hydro is a tool that can be applied immediately to help communities evaluate and address the impacts of their urban forests on stream flow and water quality that could be helpful in meeting state and national (EPA) clean water and stormwater regulations and standards.

With each new release of i-Tree, the tools become easier to use and more relevant to the users. i-Tree developers are continually addressing feedback from users and adjusting and improving the tools so that they are easier to use by a much broader audience. This will only help to increase its use and impact not only in the United States but around the world.

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Click to read MORE news:
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Electronic, Paint Recycling, Paper Shredding Event Mar 26

Get a jump on spring cleaning by being GREEN for secure disposal! Electronics & Paint Recycling, Paper Shredding Event Saturday March 26 at Hapeville Charter Career Academy at 6045 Buffington Road, Union City (9am-3pm). Hosted by Keep South Fulton Beautiful, www.ksfb.org. Electronics: Laptops, Computers, (Hard drives are securely wiped clean of all data.) Printers, Copiers, Scanners, Fax Machines, Power/Network Cables, Batteries (no automotive), Stereos, VCR’s, etc. (A $15 charge for TVs & a $10 charge for Computer Monitors for proper disposal of hazardous materials including lead, cash only.) Paint & Stains: $1/gallon (no aerosols). Paper shredding: $5/box. Help keep hazardous materials from our landfills!