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My wildlife corridor would be used to connect a highway with a valley floor. The highway could be considered to be a “semi-human” habitat. I would use that term since while humans travel on the highway, there would be no one living in the area. The valley floor would be in a desert area. This area, while appearing barren to the average passerby, is actually a habitat for many species. These include animal species such as carnivores, herbivores, and many small animals. There are also many plant species, which are highly adaptable to extreme desert conditions (so are the animals). Many insect and reptile species call this area home as well.

My primary target species would be the Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea Gigantea). While not being an animal species, it is nevertheless important to the area. This cactus serves as an umbrella species for many bird and animal species, including the Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes Uropygialis), the Lesser Long-Nosed Bat (Leptonycleris Yerbabuenae), and the House Finch (Carpodacus Mexicanus). Insects benefit as well, such as the butterfly (Lepidoptra).

I believe a corridor is needed for the Saguaro because while it is protected by state law (the Arizona Revised Statutes), it is nevertheless becoming more and more scarce to see in between the California border and Phoenix. On my first trip that way in 1990, I noticed a lot more cacti in this particular area than in recent years. The Saguaro provides food, water, and shelter for the several species mentioned above. This would mean a diverse species population continuing to live where they have adapted quite well. The cacti would also be pleasing to the sight of the highway travelers, as well as benefitting that local environment. The Lesser Long-Nosed Bat would benefit the most, due to the fact that it is listed as “vulnerable” on the Endangered Species list. I believe this corridor would be a “win-win” situation for the connecting habitats.

The corridor would provide several things for the benefit, well-being, and safety of all the species within it. Starting at the highway’s edge, there would be wire fencing with Mesquite (Prosopis) and other shrubs on either side of the fence. These would prevent the animals from venturing onto the highway and the probable injury and/or death that could result. It would also keep people from entering the corridor area (no one wants to be stuck by a Mesquite thorn). The Mesquite could also be placed at various areas within the corridor, as they are “nurse trees” for the Saguaro, especially for the young cacti. There could be a body of water for animals to drink from, shaded by larger tree-like bushes. I would post “No Hunting or Trespassing” signs so travelers would clearly see them. The corridor would be 1,000 feet wide to allow ample movement of all species within. I would propose that no housing or buildings would be constructed within 30 miles of all perimeters of the corridor. I would also include and encourage the use of culverts along the highway.

The location would be alongside highway 10 in the area around the California and Arizona state line border. It is in La Paz County, Arizona, in the Desert Southwest part of the country. The area has an elevation of approximately 900 feet above sea level, in which the Saguaro can do quite well. They can live in elevations up to 3,500 feet above sea level. There is plenty of sunshine throughout the year in this region (over 300 days/year). The landscape is varied, with flat valley floors rising to hills and mountains all around. At first, this desert area may look uninteresting, but upon closer observation, one will find beauty in the flowers, shrubs, cacti, and other plants that survive so hardily here.

WORDS DEFINED

Temporal: extreme climate fluctuations.

Abiotic: non-living chemical and physical environmental factors that affect ecosystems.

Diversity: the number and abundance of species in a community.

Ecotonal features: that which are in boundaries between different ecological communities.

Habitat fragmentation: disruption of said habitat into small, isolated sections.

Mitigate: to make less severe.

Inbreeding: the mating of genetically related parents, resulting in reproduction.

Extirpated: also called extinct; where a species ceases to exist in a habitat; it can be existing in another.

Critical core: a single environmental factor in the main or central part of a habitat or area.

Impediments to movement: obstacles that prevent species’ mobility.

Light pollution: too much (excessive) and/or obtrusive artificial light.

Conservation easements: legally enforceable land preservation agreements.

Wildlife Corridor Sign

        SOURCES

www.wikipedia.org

Accessed: December 4, 2011

www.blueplanetbiomes.org

Accessed: December 4, 2011

www.yahoo.com

Accessed: December 4, 2011

THE WILDERNESS ACT OF 1964

        The Wilderness Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88-577) is a Federal law. It came about to protect the United State’s wilderness areas, as well as establish a wilderness preservation system. It was first proposed in 1956, and then-president Lyndon B. Johnson in September of 1964. This law is still in effect today; Congress oversees the legal portion, and different environmental groups oversee the practical (hands-on) aspects.

        This Act has largely been successful. As with any venture such as this, money and staff are required to keep it going. The Act stated off protecting 9 million acres, and now protects over 109 million acres of wilderness. Like many environmental issues, this has had its share of political lines being drawn. Democrats, sometimes called “Liberals”, tend to support it. Republicans, sometimes called “Conservatives”, tend to oppose it. There are exceptions, but this is the general pattern of support and opposition.

        The idea to set aside some land to remain in as natural a state as possible is a good one. This Act provides plenty of places where different animal, fish, reptile, insect, and plant species can live with little to no human interference. These varied organisms might otherwise be at risk if excessive building and construction were allowed to happen without reasonable restrictions. At the same time, people can still enjoy camping, fishing, and hunting in these areas.

        A man who directed The Wilderness Society by the name of Howard Zahniser first wrote the language for the Act in 1956. The following year, Senator Hubert Humphrey and U.S. Representative John Saylor introduced the Act to Congress. This was a good example of a Democrat (Mr. Humphrey) and a Republican (Mr. Saylor) working together for a common goal. After being rewritten numerous times, President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law in 1964. Mr. Zahniser passed away not long before his idea came to fruition.

        I think an Act such as this is a good one. It can benefit more than just one side of a political “fence”, as well as an opinion, etc. Both major political parties have their pros and cons. I think the Wilderness Act can continue to be implemented in a sensible way that appeals to both sides. For example, those in charge can see what benefits the species and environment. This would appeal to the Democrats. At the same time, the powers that be could look for money-saving ways to achieve this. This would be similar to taking an approach like if a person or family were deciding on a major purchase. This would appeal to the Republicans. Finding ways to “meet in the middle” would benefit many aspects of endeavors such as these.

SOURCES

www.wikipedia.org

Accessed: December 5, 2011

www.wilderness.org

Accessed: December 5, 2011

       

The Great Blizzard of 1978

What us who lived there at the time called “The Blizzard of ’78” happened in February of that year. It was a Nor’easter storm that affected most of New England, especially Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The storm originated near South Carolina, bringing snow to Massachusetts and the surrounding area that lasted from February 5th to the 7th; our area saw about 3 feet of it. There were also winds that were hurricane level (86-111 mph) with a structure similar to an ‘eye’ in the middle. About 100 people died and about 11,000 homes were destroyed, mainly along the coast. While the storm itself lasted a couple of days, major cities like Boston were completely shut down for several days, driving was prohibited, and President Carter declared a state of emergency, along with the governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Many schools were closed for 2 weeks, so we had no school for 3 weeks, including our February vacation. It took months for the snow to melt. I remember seeing piles of it in late March and some areas had it until May.

Massachusetts has temperate forests and North Atlantic Marine ecosystems, which were greatly affected. The forests (we call them ‘woods’) are all over the state, mostly inland, while the marine area is right along Boston, Cape Cod, and other places. The marine area was affected by 12 to 16 foot waves. There was flooding, beach erosion, and many people who became stranded. The storm caused over $520 million in damage.

Lobsters, shellfish, and fish were affected, being thrown onto shores. Seaweed and dune grass were either displaced or destroyed, as a lot of beach was washed away by erosion. Animals such as domestic pets (mainly dogs and cats) and birds were affected as well. Many of the inland animals (and people) froze to death in the extreme cold.

With the help of the New England Aquarium, a lot of ocean life was able to recover. Spring came late inland, as the snow took a long time to melt. Those animals that weren’t frozen to death eventually foraged out. The beaches, especially around Scituate and Hull, were changed permanently.

The area as a whole recovered, although it took time. Trees came back, lobsters and other sea life came back, and houses were rebuilt. The inland forests were able to ‘bounce back’ over the years following. The main area that is affected to this day would be the shoreline, which most likely won’t ever be the same as it was before the storm.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeastern_United_States_blizzard_of_1978
accessed November 13, 2011

http://www.quahog.org/factsfolklore/index.php?id=63
accessed November 13, 2011

http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=45
accessed November 14, 2011

Some facts about Chromium

Chromium is a metal element that became popular in the use of manufacturing steel. Its hardness and resistance to corrosion and discoloration made it attractive in the metal forming industries. Besides being used in steel, it is also used in jet engines, dyes and pigments, wood preservatives, kilns and furnaces, catalysts, and as an herbal supplement. Some chromium has found its way into the air we breathe and our water supplies. This has caused concern for environmentalists, as well as state and federal agencies.

There are health risks involved from the wrong kind of exposure, as well as too much of it. Chromium fumes are known to cause lung cancer. The kidneys are at risk, since they filter all harmful substances from our blood. Skin and eye irritation can occur. Chromium exposure can also cause intestinal problems such as anorexia, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea.

Chromium is regulated by several California regulatories and many federal ones. These include OSHA, the Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation & Recovery Act, Superfund, Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Clean Water Act. It is regulated as a hazardous substance and constituent and hazardous air and water pollutant. Arizona is the state which has released the most into the environment, at 1,198,190 total pounds to date.

Since chromium wasn’t included in the EPA’s 1998 study, it could be said that the eight basic types of health and ecological testing hasn’t been done.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromium, accessed October 31, 2011

https://lbblackboard.yc.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tabGroup=courses&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fcontent%2FcontentWrapper.jsp%3Fcontent_id%3D_777200_1%26displayName%3DLinked%2BFile%26course_id%3D_39346_1%26navItem%3Dcontent%26attachment%3Dtrue%26href%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fscorecard.goodguide.com%252Fchemical-groups%252Fone-list.tcl%253Fshort_list_name%253Dtri00ry, accessed October 31, 2011

http://scorecard.goodguide.com, accessed October 31, 2011

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