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Invasive Animal Species: Investigative Report

python

Introduction

“The Office of Law Enforcement is responsible for enforcing the injurious wildlife provisions of the Lacey Act. This law authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to list as ‘injurious’ any wildlife deemed to be harmful to ‘human beings, to the interests of agriculture, horticulture, forestry, or to wildlife or the wildlife resources of the United States.’ It prohibits import and interstate transport of any live specimen of a listed species without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The maximum penalty for violating the injurious wildlife provisions of the Lacey Act is six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.”  (FWS)

Despite the Lacey Act, which was enacted by Congress in 1900, invasive species have become a major environmental and economic challenge in the United States.  Currently, the U.S. F&WS lists the constrictor, Asian carp, zebra mussel, Indian mongoose, and the European starling on its current list of injurious wildlife.

This paper will address the ways in which these species arrived in the United States, the  environmental impact on our ecosystem, the economic significance and cost, as well as efforts to remediate/eradicate these harmful invasive species

Preventing invasive species from becoming established is the first step in insuring that they do not become established.  Prevention can be difficult but by creating effective mechanisms to stop them from entering the United States, developing creative monitoring systems for detecting their presence and quickly eradicating those that we find are essential steps in our remediation efforts.

The following framework would guide agencies and involved parties in their remediation efforts.   By setting objectives based upon the level of impact of each individual invasive species, monitoring progress towards those objectives, and either continuing the current management, if effective, or changing the management if ineffective, is one method that can be used to oversee remediation efforts.

Invasive Species 

An invasive species is an organism that is not indigenous to a particular area and causes great harm to the economy and environment.  All non-native species are not invasive.  To be considered invasive, a species must reproduce quickly, must adapt easily, must harm property, native plants or animals and impact the economy.

Many of these invasive species have arrived in the United States accidentally.  For example, the zebra mussel came in attached to ships that arrived from Central Asia.  Other species, however, may be brought in on purpose, as was the starling, for example.  The Indian mongoose was brought in to eradicate snakes and rodents in the fields.  The boa constrictor was brought in as a pet and later let loose when it grew too large.  The Asian carp was introduced to help clean the commercial ponds in fish farms in the South.  (Invasive Species) (see Table 1)

Constrictor

Any snake that kills its prey by constriction is classified as a constrictor.  The Boa constrictor, Burmese python, and anaconda are constrictors.

The python originated in the tropical waters of Southern and Southeast Asia, and is, therefore, has easily adapted to the Florida Everglades.  They grow up to 20 feet long and are very popular as pets.  As they grew, their owners were unable to care for them and, not realizing their danger, released them into the waters of south Florida.

The economic cost of the python is estimated to be $123 billion a year in control and eradication; the ecological cost is difficult to measure.  Pythons are able to battle alligators, and often win, and consume enormous quantities of small mammals and lizards.  Some species of small mammals have lost 95-100% of their population to due the predatory python. (Gunther 2013)  Python destroy native wildlife and their ecosystems, and threaten endangered species – for example, the Key Largo woodrat.

Since it is extremely difficult to control these snakes, preventing their invasion is essential. Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned the importation of four species of large constrictors that have been determined to pose a risk to our ecosystems.   However, reptile breeders and their lobby put pressure on the FWS to have five constrictors that could present an invasive risk to be excluded from the ban. Thankfully the National Wildlife Federation has made including these constrictors as injurious species a top priority.

Currently, the system designed to assess and limit imports of invasive species is outdated.  Several bills introduced in Congress would correct or update our screening policies and give the Fish and Wildlife Service more authority to determine control policies   The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of the Interior have the responsibility to see that invasive species do not enter the United States. The Department of Commerce,   Department of Defense, U.S. Customs Service and the EPA all have limited roles in the prevention of invasive species. (Stein)

As global climate change occurs, scientists predict a worldwide contraction of habitat that would be suitable for the python.  Southern Texas and South Florida will be affected by rising sea levels in the next century and constrictors may find a new habitat in the northwestern United States.

Asian Carp

The term Asian carp refers to a number of invasive species of carp – silver, Big Head, black, and grass – that are now dominating many lakes, streams, and rivers in the United States. The Asian carp are native to Southeast Asia and have been used for thousands of years to clean wastewater from fish farms.  They were originally brought into the United States in the 1970s for the purpose of using to help clean the water in southern catfish farms. However, when flooding occurred the carp escaped quickly invaded waterways, eating their way through local ecosystems.  Asian carp have now been found in four of the five Great Lakes, the Mississippi River and its tributaries and many other smaller rivers and streams.   (Gunther, 2013)

Recently, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has tested the water of the Ohio River between Wheeling, WV, and Pittsburgh, PA, and found DNA from Asian carp. State wildlife officials are warning boaters and fisherman to thoroughly clean and inspect boats and gear before entering new waters.  (Charleston Gazette, 2013)

Asian carp are fast-growing and aggressive and compete with native fish for food and habitat.  They are taking over ecosystems and making boating and recreational activities on the water difficult.  Scientists are concerned that Asian carp will eventually enter the Great Lakes, where, because of its vast area, would be nearly impossible to eradicate.

Because they can consume up to 20 percent of their body weight each day and potentially weigh as much as 100 pounds, many species native to the Great Lakes would be decimated.  Additionally, the Great Lakes support a $7 billion dollar fishing industry that would be severely impacted and cause economic harm to the surrounding states.

A recent scientific report has confirmed that DNA from the carp has been found in and near the Great Lakes.   However, government scientists believe that the samples of DNA found may have come from bird droppings that fed on carp in other waterways and dropped excrement in the lakes.  Some scientists have seen evidence that Asian carp are present in the southern part of Lake Michigan, the Chicago Area Waterway System and western Lake Erie.  Some Asian carp DNA was found in nearby Lake Calumet. (Breyer, 2013)

Nevertheless, Army Corps officials are debating whether to erect an electric barrier from Lake Michigan to the Chicago River to screen out any possible Asian carp.  This would be a tremendous undertaking costing billions of dollars, but would dwarf the cost of an invasion of Asian carp in local waterways.  (Breyer, 2013)  To date, the economic cost of preventing the spread of the Asian carp is in the billions of dollars.

New technologies and tools are being used to detect invasive species in our aquatic ecosystems.  Environmental DNA, or eDNA, which is dissolved DNA or fragments of tissues containing DNA, can be detected in water samples after periods lasting from days to weeks.  Researchers have determined that eDNA is more accurate than traditional   netting and electrofishing sampling methods.  (Mahon, 2013)

Zebra Mussel

Hitchhiking in the ballast water of ships from the Caspian and Black Seas, zebra mussels were first found in the Great Lakes more than twenty years ago.  Before long, they had colonized in shallow water, on beaches, and in water intake pipes.

The ecosystem of Lake Michigan has been permanently changed.  Previous to the invasion, the lake water was cloudy and filled with millions of tiny microorganisms that were food for native fish.  Since zebra mussels filter the microorganisms, today the water is clear.  This allows light to reach deeper areas of the lake which promotes an abundance of algae blooms.  (Zebra mussels, 2009)

“Zebra mussels live in large colonies in the Great Lakes in the United States, and they are a huge problem. They need something hard to attach themselves to and often they find a suitable surface on the inside of the pipes carrying water from the Great Lakes into factories and other industries along the lake. Often they sit so close that they block the water intake,” explains Claudia Wiegand, associate professor in the Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark. (Invasive mussel, 2013)

Efforts to prevent the zebra mussels from attaching themselves to the pipes and remove those attached have already cost several million dollars.  Researchers are planning to use Round Up to determine how zebra mussels react in the hope that the pesticide can be used to reduce their presence. (Invasive mussels, 2013)

Since they were discovered, the zebra mussel has invaded many waterways in the eastern United States.  So far no invasion has been found in New England, the mid-Atlantic Piedmont, the Coastal Plains, and the Southeast.  “Our preliminary assessments suggested that current mussel distributions in North America appear to be associated with calcium concentrations in surface waters,” said Thomas Whittier, of Oregon State University. Calcium is an important in creating basic metabolic functioning in the mussel. (Ecological Society, 2007)

US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program recently used data from the Wadeable Streams Assessment to classify mussel invasion risks into ecoregions based on levels of calcium concentrations. Twenty one percent of land assessed was classified as very low or low risk.  Almost sixty percent of the land area was classified as high risk.

“One must take into account the entire ecology for the species. The case of the zebra mussels in Arkansas River in the very low risk areas, reflects the water source rather than the local conditions. The other key requirement for zebra mussels in river systems is the presence of an invaded upstream lake or reservoir to maintain a supply of larvae,” said Whittier. (Ecological Society, 2007)

The researchers developed a map which shows the relative risk of invasion and can help determine which states should target resources to combat invasive zebra mussels. (Ecological Society, 2007)

There are economic costs associated with the zebra mussel as well as environmental costs.  Researchers have assessed the total damages at $138 million per year, not including the damages to sportfishing that may possibly exceed $800 million.

Indian Mongoose

“The mongoose is a classic case of biological control run amok. Beginning in 1872, it was introduced into Jamaica, Puerto Rico, other West Indian Islands, and Hawaii for control of rats in sugarcane; it preyed heavily on native reptiles, amphibians, and ground nesting birds, causing extinction and endangerment of many species.”  (Economic and Ecological, 2013)  “The Indian mongoose is to blame for the presence of many birds, turtles, lizards and rabbits on the endangered species list worldwide.” (Alien Species, 2010)

When the introduction of the Indian mongoose backfired, instead of controlling the rat population and protecting crops, it preyed on a variety of birds and their eggs, and native populations of reptiles and small mammals.  The economic impact of the Indian mongoose can be seen by significant crop damage to banana and papaya crops, and the cost of remediation efforts.  They are also known to carry diseases such as leptospirosis, which is a disease that is transferred from animals to humans and is characterized by flu-like symptoms at first but if not treated can move into the second phase where serious damage to the liver and kidneys can occur.  The Indian mongoose is also a carrier of rabies and is a rapid reproducer, with females able to produce as many as 5 pups per year.  The mongoose is thought to cause economic damages around 50 million dollars annually. (Alien Species, 2010)

Remediation efforts have proven to be very difficult for the small and cunning Indian mongoose, but trapping, poisoning, and hunting are currently the most common eradication techniques in place today.  “New techniques are being developed and show promise for eradication. The mongoose can be eradicated with current approaches on small islands with the aim of benefiting endemic species or preventing further introductions. More efficient methods and strategies are needed for successful eradication on larger islands and may facilitate containment of mongoose on the European and South American mainlands.” (Barun, 2011 p 1)

Box trapping with meat bait has been successful in the past, eradicating a breeding population of Indian Mongoose in the Virgin Islands.  “The Virgin Islands Division of Fish and Wildlife eradicated a breeding population of mongooses in the 1970s from Leduck Island using 19 x 19 x 48 cm Tomahawk box traps with meat bait (Nellis 1982) and another population from Buck Island in the 1980s also with box traps.” (Barun, 2011 p 2)  Using a combination of trapping and poisoning has proven successful as well. “A campaign on the French West Indian possession of Fajou Island used box-trapping for mongooses and possibly secondary poisoning from a simultaneous rat (Rattus rattus) and house mouse (Mus musculus) eradication effort using 50 ppm bromadiolone paraffin baits (Lorvelec et al. 2004).” (Barun, 2011 p 2)

Choosing the right remediation technique is dependent on the size of the island, the abundance of the mongoose population, and many other variables that exist in each unique situation.  Sometimes hunting is a tactic that a local government may employ for eradication.  In this case the local population is able to hunt the nuisance mongooses under an established criterion.  The public may employ tactics such as poisoning, trapping, or shooting as established by the local government.  One example of this is occurred in the Adriatic region of Europe. “Two private mongoose control campaigns are being conducted by local hunters on Hvar and on Čiovo. On Hvar, under the guise of predator control, hunters are required annually either to pay a fee (equivalent to C. $US100) or to submit three mongoose tails or one tail of a native stone marten (Martes foina). Most mongooses are trapped there in locally made cages or leg-hold traps. On Čiovo, the only Adriatic island with the mongoose and not the stone marten, the regional hunting organization distributes “rat” poison for mongoose control during the annual autumn meeting.” (Barun, 2011 p 3)

European Starling

Starlings are robin-sized birds with light and dark speckles on their feathers. The bill of both sexes is yellow during the reproductive cycle and dark at other times. Juveniles are pale brown to gray.   They are mostly chunky, shaped that a meadowlark.  The starling is swift and its flight is direct, unlike many blackbirds.

We could blame Shakespeare for their introduction. In 1890s they were brought to New York by Shakespeare lovers recalling that Shakespeare used to watch starlings who nested near his home in England. Since then starlings have spread across the UnitedStates, even to Alaska, the southern part of Canada, and south into northern Mexico. Starlings are native to Eurasia, but can also be seen in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere.   (All about birds, n.d)

Starlings are found in a wide variety of habitats. Ideal nesting areas include trees or other structures that have cavities.  Ideal winter habitat include areas with structures and/or tall trees for daytime resting and nighttime roosting; and grazed pastures, open water areas, and livestock facilities for foraging.   (Johnson, et al. 1994)

European Starlings are often labeled as very destructive birds especially when they gather in flocks which can number into the thousands.  They can destroy a field of crops quickly by uprooting young plants and feeding off of the seeds. European Starlings also pose a threat by contaminating food and water sources on farms when a large flock gathers to feed at troughs or grain silos.  Once they find a food source they often roost nearby creating sanitation problems from their bird droppings.  Starlings can also carry diseases that can be transferred to livestock or humans.  Starlings have also been known to feed in large groups near airports where in past they have collided with planes causing air disasters.  (Adeney, 2001)

European Starlings have also been known to impact native species of birds by competing for roosting areas or food.  Some native birds that they are known to compete with are the woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Tree Swallow, Eastern Bluebirds and the Purple Martin.  In many cases the Starling has transformed the native ecosystem very quickly, only to move on to another area with the same consequences.  “Invasive European starlings were reported to the USDA’s Wildlife Services program as causing damage in every state except North Dakota and Alaska.” (Economic and Ecological, 2013)

“Over the 8-year period, 1990-1997, starlings accounted for more than $13.5 million in damage to all resources, ranging from $235,067 to $4,137,119, with an average of $1,694,170 and a median of $1,457,014 per year.” (Economic and Ecological, 2013)

Many remediation tactics have been utilized to control the effects from the European Starling.  Some of these include the use of nets to physically block the starling from accessing crops, elimination of roosting sites or food and water sources, scaring the starling away using loud noises or recordings of distress calls, shooting, trapping, or poisoning the birds have also been implemented.

The Lacey Act

“Under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to import, export, sell, acquire, or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken, possessed, transported, or sold: 1) in violation of U.S. or Indian law, or 2) in interstate or foreign commerce involving any fish, wildlife, or plants taken possessed or sold in violation of State or foreign law. The law covers all fish and wildlife and their parts or products, plants protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and those protected by State law. Commercial guiding and outfitting are considered to be a sale under the provisions of the Act.” (US Fish and Wildlife, n.d)

John Lacey, a republican from Iowa, introduced the Lacey Act and President William McKinley signed it in May 1900.  It was the first federal law that protected wildlife. In 2008 it was amended to include plants and plant products and certain woods.  Currently, the Lacey Act regulates the import of any species protected by international or domestic law and is designed to prevent the spread of invasive, or non-native, species.

Table 1

 

Invasive Species

Year of Invasion

 

Arrival Method

 

Place of Origin

 

 Where  Found

Approx Nos.

Est.Yearly Cost

 

Constrictor

 

 unk

As pets who grew too large and were released in the wilds of South Florida

Burma, India, Southern China, Southeast Asia

Florida Everglades, South Florida, Southern California

(warm climates)

 

10,000-100,000

 

$100-125 million

 

Asian Carp

 

 

1970s

Brought in to clean waste water from farmed catfish in the South

 

  Asia

Great Lakes, Illinois & Mississippi  River,

Mississippi River Basin

 

  unk

 

 

Zebra Mussels

 

 

1980s

In ballast water from ships entering Great Lakes

Eastern Europe

Black Sea

Caspian Sea

 

Great Lakes

 

  unk

$138 –800 million

 

 

Indian Mongoose

 

 

 

1872

Brought in to help eradicate rats in sugar cane fields in Hawaiian Islands

India

 

Hawaii

 unk

 

European Starling

 

 

late 1800s

Shakespeare lovers who brought bird from England

 

England

throughout the United States

 

 unk

$13.5 million

The National Invasive Species Council (NISC) was created by President Bill Clinton on February 3, 1999, to ensure that Federal programs and activities to prevent and control invasive species are coordinated, effective and efficient.Thirteen federal government departments and agencies work together to provide coordination and oversight of the National Invasive Species Management Plan, the Interdepartmental Invasive Species Performance Budget, the Five Year Review.Members of the NISC include U.S. Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Interior, Transportation, Defense, State, Treasury, Health and Human Service, NASA, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Homeland Security, Office of U.S. Trade Representative and Agency for International Development.

Remediation

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) Invasive Species Science Branch provides research and technical assistance including management issues, identifying vulnerable areas, and developing methods of control. FORT scientists, in partnership with Colorado State University, have developed websites to share this information with others. FORT scientists are working to construct models to understand and predict invasive species distribution in order to provide more effective management techniques.Technology is proving to be a huge asset in the remediation of invasive species.  DNA barcoding is a new diagnostic tool for determining the identity of invasive species.  It can classify a species and diagnose or identify new species.(Bennett, 2011)  Imapinvasives, another new technology used by the Nature Conservancy, underwater Google, Google Street View and Maps, underwater electronic barriers/fences, adding CO2 and rotenone (pesticide) to water, mapping and remote sensing, GIS, and the World Bank’s Global Invasive Species Programme are all used to help in the remediation of invasive species.

Conclusion

It is known that invasive animal species can negatively impact the ecology of an environment sometimes decimating entire animal or plant populations.  My training in environmental geography enables me to say that prevention of harmful invasive animal species entering the wrong environment is the best way to prevent impact.After invasive species arrive they can quickly and adversely affect an environment.  Often once they make contact with their new environment it is impossible to eradicate them.  Also ethical treatment of the invasive species comes into play which further impacts remediation efforts. If prevention is not an option, a reasonable remediation technique should be applied based on the type of invasive species, the current level of impact, and the type of environment.As a geographer interested in the environment, in order to preserve our fragile ecosystem, protect our native species, and maintain an environmental balance, it is my hope that we – individuals and as a group – continue our efforts to prevent and eradicate harmful invasive species.As an avid kayaker and fisherman I am acutely aware of how fragile an ecosystem can be.  After exploring many waterways in the eastern United States, and locally the Greenbrier River, I have grown to have an appreciation of our waterways and the aquaticlife that live there.  It is my goal as a geographer to identify relevant issues that could impact our environment and do everything in my power to keep our planet  clean.

March on Washington: 50 years later

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I am so proud of my dad, Clifford Taylor Lee, Sr.   Even at the age of 81, he was determined to be in attendance at the 2013 March on Washington.  On August 28, 1963, my dad attended the historic first March on Washington. Dad said that “nothing could have stopped me from attending in 1963 or 50 years later where I was one of several thousands who marched from the steps of Georgetown Law School to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.” Relying on the aid of a cane and a rolater, dad’s tenacity to complete the entirety of the 1.6 mile march inspired others to ignore the rain and to push on to complete the commemorative march.

In 1963, dad was a student at Howard University School of Law.  In those days, Howard was a hotbed of social and legal activism.  He tells me that his call to action was greatly impacted by his many peers who were students from the deep south and who were intimately familiar with the civil rights movement. Many had been in the trenches and on the front line of the movement of the civil rights battle in their home states. With them they brought to Howard specialized training, passion and a wealth of civil rights knowledge. Upon graduation, he said, most students intended to return home better armed with new skills, advanced education and more determined to continue the fight.

So on Wednesday, August 28th, dad went to the March with a heavy heart knowing that many of the foot soldiers with whom he had been active in the 1960’s civil rights movement were no longer around and had never been given the proper respect due them. So in addition to marching to keep the dream alive and passing the torch to a new generation of activists, dad was also motivated to honor those soldiers no longer with us but upon whose shoulders we all stood to get where we are today.

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While at the March, Dad was interviewed by several news outlets and was featured on CBS Evening News.  I was so proud of him when he said, “Dr. King’s dream has not been fully realized. We still have lots of work to do.”  As the younger generation has been passed the torch, we must first hold the ground that others have worked so hard to achieve through the sacrifice of blood, sweat and tears. We must address ongoing issues of employment, high incarceration, renewed voter suppression, immigration, providing a living wage, and equal rights for LGBT.  All of us, regardless of our background, sexual orientation, and our ethnicity deserve a shot at the American dream.

I have hope for the future.  With people like my dad, Clifford T. Lee Sr., and my young son, Clifford III, as inspiration, I know that we shall, indeed, overcome.  But, as dad says, “the struggle continues…”

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Europe in 2062

 

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A borderless Europe, except for the Basque Region. A stronger, more resilient Euro.  Birth rates unable to sustain an ever ageing population.  Reduction in unfunded social programs that Europeans have come to rely upon.   Fewer ethnic conflicts over religion and culture and a better ability to cope with the millions of immigrants flooding the new Europe.  Drought and food shortages due to continuing climate change.  These are some of the issues that Europe might face in the year 2062.

Demographics

Some demographers believe that Europe will face a declining population which continues to age as fewer and fewer births occur.  In some places, life expectancy for males is more than 10 years lower than for women.  As the death rate exceeds the birth rate, it is predicted that the population of the current 28 European Union members (on July 1, 2013 Croatia became the 28th and newest member of the European Union.) will decline about 5% or nearly 2.5 million people in the years leading up to 2050.

The United Kingdom is projected to increase its population by 25% to 77 million in 2060.  Britain will overtake Germany as having the largest population in Europe.  As Britain is one of the most densely populated areas in Europe, this might put pressure on their government to curb immigration.  That, in turn, might be a benefit to the rest of Europe as immigrants will seek other places to live.

  Eurostat, whose main responsibility is to provide statistical information to the institutions of the European Union, has predicted that the EU as a whole will increase its total population by 3.7%, or roughly 516 million, by 2060.  They report that Ireland will have the highest growth rate at 46% while Germany will decrease 18.8% and Bulgaria at 26.9%.   However, Eurostat agrees that the ageing population will be a major factor in most of the EU.

We do know that if this ageing trend continues into the future, Europe will find not only a shortage of workers to support this ageing population, but economic stagnation.  The concept of raising taxes, reducing government pensions and benefits, increasing the retirement age, and other such austerity measures will be proven inadequate.

 The solution to the problem of an ageing Europe is complicated, but not insurmountable.  Encouraging immigration, especially of younger individuals, perhaps with relaxing immigration requirements, financial incentives, and providing housing and meaningful work opportunities might be useful tools to increase population.  Government policies, somewhat like the opposite of China’s one child policy, could be implemented to encourage a higher birth rate.  Financial incentives could be provided to those families who choose to have more children, while health care could be more focused on the ageing population with incentives – including free medical training – to doctors and health care professionals who devote their careers to improving the lives of the ever growing geriatric population.

Economic Issues

The economy of Europe in 2062 will continue to be agricultural and service based.  Modernization and “corporatization” of farming will change the agricultural landscape and require fewer workers to produce an ever-growing need for an abundance of crops.  As the agricultural industry needs fewer workers, these workers will flock to urban areas in search of employment and better opportunities for themselves and their families.

            Greece, Cyprus, Portugal and Spain have continued to strain the coffers of the wealthier areas in Europe to the point that extreme austerity measures have been implemented.  The liberal social services that have prevailed in Europe are now underfunded and have been drastically curtailed.  Free college tuition, free health care, free day care, liberal maternity and family leave, and generous public pensions have been restricted.

            After aid from the Chinese government, the Euro is stronger than ever.  European debtors refused to bail out struggling governments, so the EU was forced to turn to China for financial assistance.

Urbanism

As cities continue to grow, become more crowded, and housing becomes more difficult to find and afford, many cities will become gentrified.   As the old “Paris model” – the affluent living in the cities and the less well-off living in the suburbs – changes in Paris, the well-off are relocating to the suburbs and commuting to the city center while the poor are forced to live in substandard housing in the city.

            However, the other major cities of Europe who formerly housed their citizens in barrios, or tenements, find the reverse is occurring.  Gentrification, or the process by which wealthier people move into, renovate, and restore housing in inner cities or other deteriorated areas formerly home to poorer people, will continue to be a factor, affecting the rural poor significantly as they move from the countryside into the urban areas seeking work and a place to raise a family.

Environmental Issues

            Despite the European Union’s strong stance for environmental regulation, the lack of stringent environmental policies in countries such as India, China, Russia, and Africa have taken their toll on Europe.  Industrial pollution continues to affect millions of residents, urban smog hovers over most major cities, lack of clean water to supply the population, and a heavily polluted Mediterranean Sea, continue to be concerns for the government and environmentalists.   The scarcity of water has produced a drought lasting many years.  This drought has affected crop production, increasing food prices, and has caused friction among rural farmers and in cities, where water has been severely restricted.

            On the positive side, wind power from turbines continues to    dot the landscape, providing an abundance of power to the rural areas.  Europe has been a leader in wind farming since the late 20th Century and has pioneered offshore wind farming.  Offshore turbines in the Mediterranean, the Black and BalticSeas, and the very windy North Sea have become ubiquitous.

Religion and Culture

The role of Christianity is diminishing in the areas of northern Europe, especially in the United Kingdom, France, and Scandinavia where secularization is more predominant.  Currently, Poland has the highest level of religiosity – nearly 91% identify themselves as Catholic – but the continued outmigration of Poland is likely to change the influence of religion in the lives of the Poles, as in the rest of northern Europe.   The trend of secularization will move southward as 2062 approaches.

However, the role of Islam will continue to rise in Europe, due to non-radical Muslims wanting to escape their home countries in to order to live a freer life and continue to practice Islam.   By 2060, Europe’s Muslim population is projected to increase from 6% to 11%.  This change is likely to have far-reaching consequences, or ramifications, including a possible rise in terrorism, paradoxically, coupled with a greater acceptance of others’ cultural values, an influx of new job seekers competing for employment opportunities, and an increased tolerance for Muslims, especially in northern Europe.

Political Landscape and Borders

            We might be looking at the “United States of Europe”, its capital situated in Brussels, with a single president and a dual legislature system, representative of each European state.   Modeled after the United States, some believe that the borders between the countries in Europe will vanish by the year 2062.

            The consequences of a borderless Europe are enormous.  Civil wars not unlike the United States Civil War, where states ceded from the Union over government policies they viewed as unfavorable towards them, may break out.  After years of rebellion the Basque people and their separatist movement are finally granted independence, forming their own country called Basqueland.  Finland, Scotland, Greece and the area of Catalonia continue to have major disagreements with a unified Europe, but have been unable to form independent states.

Globalization

              In order for the new European economy to compete with the world economies, it has an increased sense of globalization with more linkages to the major economic centers across the globe.   Since the stagnant economy of the past has been revamped, the new economy, brought on by the elimination of borders between countries, has reinvigorated Europe and helped to create prosperity and stability.  By 2062, the new Europe will move into 3rd place in the world economies,   behind the United States and China.

Conclusion 

  Tourism has become a major source of revenue in the new Europe. Especially in the State of Portugal, where economic benefits have increased so that tourism now contributes nearly 20% of the revenue the government receives.

Spain, however, has finally succumbed to the outcry of protests from animal rights activists to cease the tradition of the running of the bulls and bull fighting.  Although this has affected tourism, Spain has capitalized on its beautiful Mediterranean coast and begun the arduous task of cleaning up the Mediterranean Sea.

In England, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, who is now 49, has been an international symbol of the new Europe.  Prince Alex has become an Ambassador to the World and, along with Pope Makumba of Kenya, has brought an enthusiasm and star-quality not seen in many years.   The Prince, still a bachelor, is adored by millions of women and is considered somewhat of a “rock star.”

            The State of Germany, along with its luxury car production, has begun to produce environmentally friendly economy cars and has catapulted Europe to the number one car producing country in the world.

            The tax haven in Switzerland, where so many wealthy people used to hide their earnings and maximize their profits, has ended.   Many overseas investors have lost billions and the economy of Switzerland continues to struggle.   Tourism and a strong reputation as a worldwide shopping mecca for watches, cheese, fine chocolate, and an advanced technology sector have replaced the easy-money culture made from offshore banking.

Europe has become more “Americanized” while America has become more European.   Many of the European liberal social policies that have been reduced or eliminated have been adopted by the Americans.  Europe has become more capitalistic, taking its cue from the ever prosperous United States.

The World In 2050

 

           Over 9 million people seeking a place to live, South Floridians living behind tall dikes, most of Bangladesh underwater, a few conglomerates supplying genetically modified foods to the masses, universal health care and free education, burials at sea (already happening in China in 2013), the Northern latitude countries of Canada, Greenland, Sweden, Norway, Russia gaining significance due to their richness of natural resources, megacities with high-speed rail transportation linking most major cities, a water shortage and exorbitant costs for water prompting strict regulations, the California coast rising nearly 2 feet, no snow on Mt. Kilimanjaro, India and China economies outpacing the United States, the extinction of polar bears due to melting permafrost, more international cooperation and less global conflict – this is what the world might look like in the year 2050.  Or it might not.

We’re looking at a more crowded urbanized world with new places holding economic power.  The BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have emerged.  People are older and richer across the world.  Countries are searching for new sources of water and energy.

 

            The NORC countries are water rich and are the envy of the world.  Milder winters and new resources have brought scads of newcomers to their cities.  Canada has become the United States’ number one trading partner and millions of Americans have crossed into Canada to find employment in the new north. Canada, Iceland, and Norway’s populations have grown by more than 20%, the highest growth in the world.  People are buying fur coats again.  PETA is still protesting the slaughter of animals for those coats.

 Demography

 Demography is defined as the ups, downs, and movements of different population groups within the human race.  Its measures include birth rates, income, age structure, ethnicity, and migration flows.

In 1999 this planet produced our sixth billion person.  By 2050, it is projected that this earth will have more than 9 billion people, 9.2 in fact.  In the mid 21st century our fastest population growth left the OECD countries (30 highly developing countries) and went to the developing world, including India.

By 2050 our planet’s northern latitudes will undergo radical changes due to the melting of polar ice, making them a place of increased human activity and greater economic importance.  New North “NORC” is where this will happen.  It includes all land and oceans lying 45̊̊ N latitude or higher currently held by the United States, Canada, Iceland, Greenland (Denmark), Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.  Population in these countries will soar as the world seeks the rich natural resources of the region.

Sometime in 2008, we don’t know exactly when, there were the same numbers of people living in urban areas as in rural areas.  Since that moment, the world has become more urban, and will continue this trend into the middle of this century. Therefore, there will be fewer farmers and less ability to feed ourselves.  Thus, there is more dependence upon large corporations to produce our food to provide for our ever growing and prosperous populations.  Monsanto, a multi-national corporation is producing more and more genetically modified foods.

            Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, usually through the introduction of a gene from a different organism. Currently available GM foods stem mostly from plants, but in the future foods derived from GM microorganisms or GM animals are likely to be introduced on the market. Most existing genetically modified crops have been developed to improve yield, through the introduction of resistance to plant diseases or of increased tolerance of herbicides.  Currently, corn, soy, sugar, aspartame, and papayas are GMO foods many advise us to avoid.  The future of genetically modified yellow rice is estimated to save many on the planet from starvation.

This urban shift is driving major demographic changes around the globe. City dwellers are projected to double in number by 2050, rising from 3.3 billion in 2007 to 6.4 billion in 2050.  However, the geography of urbanization is not uniform.  This new trend is most dramatic in the developing world, especially in Asia and Africa, the two most populous places on Earth.  Asia is only about 40% urban today. But by 2050 China will be more than 70% urban.  Africa will triple the size of its cities over the next 40 years.  At 1.2 billion people, Africa will hold nearly a quarter of the world’s urban population.

In 2007 there were nineteen megacities in the world having populations of 10 million or more:  The top 5 were Tokyo (35.7), New York-Newark (19.0), Mexico City (19.0), Mumbai (19.0), and Sao Paulo (18.8), totaling 111.5 million.  By 2025, the United Nations Population Division projects that the top 5 – Tokyo (36.4.), Mumbai (26.4), Delhi (22.5), Dhaka (22.0) and Sao Paulo (21.4) – will reach 128.7 million. Of the eight new megacities anticipated over the next fifteen years, five are in Asia, two in Africa and just one in Europe.

Not all of these cities will be prosperous and good places to live.  While Nigeria is expected to reach 15.8 million residents, most will live in poverty and corruption.  Singapore, however, has become one of the world’s most globalized, stable and prosperous countries in the world.  Its population is projected to increase from nearly 5 million people today to 6.1 million by 2030.  Singapore is a good example of how rapid population and economic growth can grow a city into an enjoyable place to live. Megacities should take a page from Singapore’s playbook.

Forms of Government

Singapore’s “socialistic democracy” is likely to be a model for the more progressive nations as they struggle to find ways to remain prosperous and remain a clean and inviting place to live.  Despite Singapore’s lack of natural resources, and the fact that much has to be imported, it has not only prospered in the 21st century but has become a place where multinational corporations are welcomed, and its population highly educated and richer.  When Singapore became a nation in 1965 it put a prime minister in complete control.  Births were limited, education was stressed, the poverty rate dropped to 0.3% (in the U.S. in 2013 it is near 20%), people were forced to save 25% of their salary, and anti-social behavior not tolerated.  Interestingly, its citizens consistently report being happy and satisfied with their government making so many decisions for them.  No one knows exactly what will happen to Singapore in the future if its prime ministers fail to keep control of the people, but in 2013 it seems to be a model that the world will look to in the future.

Natural resources

            With the growing population, demand on the world’s natural resources will increase. Our natural resources include assets such as hydrocarbons (petroleum, coal, oil, natural gas), minerals, and fossil groundwater plus renewable assets like rivers, arable land, wildlife and wood.

Four fifths of the world’s land surface (excluding Antarctica) is now directly influenced by humans.  The exceptions to this are very remote places like northern forests and tundra, shrinking rain forest of the Congo and Amazon, and certain deserts of Africa, Australia and Tibet.  By 2050 even these remote areas will see a surge in population growth.

The 20th century saw extraordinary growth in American consumption of iron, nickel, diamonds, water, softwood, salmon, etc.  This consumption is expected to happen rapidly in the rest of the world by 2050.   If the rest of the world is to live as Americans, Western Europeans, Japanese, and Australians do today, then the world must provide enough natural resources to support the future population.  Global modernization and prosperity are raising our demands upon the natural world now more than ever.

The findings of plentiful natural resources in the northern United States – including natural gas and tar sands – plus the enormous resources in the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding countries has produced a new-found sense of prosperity and less reliance on the need for oil from the Middle East countries.  Thanks to the effects of climate change – the warming of the planet – these northern resources, though still difficult to access, are benefiting the world markets.

Globalization

Globalization is defined not only as international trade and capital flows, but political, cultural and ideological dimensions.  Very broadly, globalization is a set of economic, social, and technological processes make the world more interconnected and interdependent.  However, globalization can have negative as well as positive consequences.

 Thomas Friedman wrote in 2006 that The World is Flat or is becoming globalized.  Eventually, we will all be potential rivals, as well as potential friends as the world becomes “flatter”.  Today the IMF (International Monetary Fund), World Bank, and WTO (World Trade Organization) are the prime actors making and enforcing the rules of our global economy.  By 2050, these institutions will be replaced by others that consider the well-being of the world – not just the poorest countries. With the expansion of trade deals with most of the world’s countries, the U.S. will discover – albeit slowly – that as countries become more prosperous and their standards of living become higher, producing goods offshore will become more costly.

          The environmental damage caused by globalization in the emerging countries will take its toll, producing rising cost of goods. Manufacturing will return to the United States at levels not seen since the 1950s and 60s and companies will be clamoring for people to fill these jobs.  Competition will be stiff and job recruiters will be recruiting from all parts of the globe to fill positions.

Nationalism

           Globalization will have reached its tipping point and countries will become more protectionist. This is due partly to a shortage of natural resources in many countries and abundance in others.  If tariff wars break out and global trade becomes exorbitantly expensive, countries will be forced to produce goods locally and protect their own resources.   Nationalism will become popular, although, immigration will be necessary in order to fill the millions of new jobs that this protectionism and nationalism will produce.

           As countries reinforce borders, enforce complex and lengthy customs clearing processes, and raise protectionist barriers, global trade will be down and technological development will be at a standstill.  Scarce resources lead to more international conflicts over resource deposits. Regionalization of supply chains has emerged leading to strong regional providers, and, thus, excellent relations with government and public services.

Because of the increase in natural disasters due to climate change, there is demand for more relief operations as well as services. This has created a new sense of nationalism and community, as neighbors help neighbors, and communities help each other.

Climate Change


          The world’s atmospheric CO2 levels in 2012 mirror those eight hundred thousand years ago.  In 2050, CO2 levels will continue to be a concern because they have risen ever higher. There is no international effort to reduce the 3.5 °C temperature increase.  Naysayers have failed to realize that renewable energy and new resources can produce new avenues of profits, more employment and a sense of protecting the future of the planet.

         The United States continues to lag behind the world in recognizing the severe effects of climate change.  This continues in part because of a stubbornness borne out of fear and distrust of change.  The Kyoto Protocol, which many countries had signed on to, and pledged to reduce carbon emission, has been abolished because of a lack of cooperation between countries.  However, individual countries are working to minimize the effects of what its now called global warming.

          Zero-emission plants cut carbon emissions, lessening the effects of climate change. The United States has finally enacted a carbon tax on emissions and recognized that so-called “cap and trade” is a viable alternative to even harsher regulations.  As emissions from automobiles have decreased, due to electric cars, the world’s air has become slowly cleaner, and climate change – global warming – has been reduced. This is the good news.

Coal continues to be produced, mostly in China, to fuel its industries and heat its homes. China, realizing that the carbon emissions from coal have severely polluted its air and is making its cities uninhabitable, has finally begun pursuing other forms of energy.  China is looking towards the United States and Canada to model their energy programs.   Wind power, in its infancy in the early 21st century, has reached far into the oceans where the wind currents produce the greatest amount of wind energy.  Wind turbines are spotted off shore from every vantage point in the U.S. and Canada.  As wind in the northern latitudes has more force, wind turbines are as common on plains of South Dakota and Montana as they are in the oceans of the north Atlantic, Pacific and Antarctica.

          Solar energy, though it produces less energy than originally believed, is still widely used throughout the world.  Solar, of course, produces no carbon emissions, and is relatively inexpensive.  Solar panels can be seen atop government buildings across the world and are a common practice on most homes, except for those homes that use wind power.

The world continues to recycle.  In fact, new growth industries have captured huge profits in recycling products.  Trash has become the new oil.

Technology  

 

High tech is now easily accessible. Cell phones, tablets, PCs, smart phones are everywhere. In 2013, the number of mobile phone accounts in use around the world is expected to match the number of people on the planet. Demand in so-called “emerging markets” is outstripping that in mature economies and driving rapid growth. The shift is accompanied by dynamic high-tech trends, which together have profound implications for the entire technology sector.

           By 2050 this is what technology is going to look like:  consumers create, design, and develop their own products thanks to 3D printers; airplanes can fly on solar power; all television is seen through your computer’s internet provider; no landline telephones or telephone poles carrying lines to homes.

Robots are a powerful source of concern – both because in some places enough workers cannot be found to fill the empty manufacturing slots to keep up and robots fill the void and because in some other places, robots are taking the place of workers who continue to become unemployed because a robot has taken their job.

          As the debate on the future of this planet continues, the United States will remain the world’s largest economy.  The United States will continue to have the world’s most capable armed forces; however, its military will be used more as a peacekeeper.  Global war and violence will decline as nations have become more reliant upon each other.  The natural resource shortage will encourage cooperation among nations.  The world will become more tolerant of differences in ethnicity and religion and culture as people more easily communicate with each other, thanks to technology.

                                The future of the world is bright.  Twenty fifty is only thirty-seven years away.  My daughter will be 42 and my son will be 40.  I wonder what their lives will look like. I’m looking forward to that day.

Tracking Tiger at the Greenbrier Classic

Tiger Woods was scheduled to make an appearance at the 3rd Greenbrier Classic PGA Tour event here in my place of residence, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.  It just so happens that Tiger Woods is my favorite athlete so I guess I’m a little excited.  My plan is to get Tiger’s autograph and say a few words to the iconic golfer.

I’ve always admired Tiger after seeing him dominate the PGA tour year after year, and identified with Tiger because we have so many similarities.  We were both born in 1975, we are both biracial, we have two children about the same age a boy and a girl, and we both love the game of golf.  As I grew up and transitioned from a teenager to an adult, I did so watching Tiger Woods, a guy that looked like me, breaking record after record, year after year, and hitting unbelievable and historic golf shots on a regular basis.

I’ve been playing golf since I was a young boy, my grandfather Luke Martin introduced me to the sport when I was about 10.  By the way, Granddaddy Luke would have been 100 years old this past July 4th, which also happens to be my 3rd wedding anniversary too!  The celebrations took place with an extra jolt this year because of my favorite golfer making an appearance in my town, on a course that is practically in my backyard.

After watching Tiger Woods on TV so much over the years I needed to see the actual person to confirm his true existence.  An autograph will do, along with a few close encounters with him on the golf course.  If I can succeed in doing this I will be forever content.  How will I do this, and will I accomplish my goals or be left disappointed that I was so close to getting that signature but could not close the deal.

I had purchased a weekly grounds package online for 189 bucks.  So I had a ticket to each day of the tourney, which started on Monday with player practice rounds and a pro-am event.  I wasn’t sure if Tiger would even be there on Monday being that a “Derecho”, an unbelievable wall of sustained wind storm had just passed through White Sulphur Springs and also D.C. where Tiger was on Sunday when he won the AT&T National at the famous Congressional course .

I arrived at the Old White course on Monday with my new Taylor Made hat and sharpie, in hopes of spotting this Tiger Woods guy.  No luck on Monday, so I arrived on the scene Tuesday morning to find Tiger, and catch a glimpse of the man.  As I entered the grounds around 9:30 a.m. an information ambassador told me that Tiger teed off on hole #6 at 7:00 a.m., so I thought to myself start on the 18th hole and backtrack and I’ll be sure to run in to him!  After walking in my flip flops 9 or 10 holes and asking around…”where’s Tiger”, it seemed like each person was telling me something different…he’s on the front 9…he’s not even here yet from D.C…I think he teed off on #1 at 7…he has a press conference at 1:00 at the clubhouse!!!  I soon realized that this hunt for Tiger would not be as easy as I thought!

I headed back toward the clubhouse and the practice range, and soon learned that Mr. Woods was indeed having a press conference at the clubhouse at 1 p.m. sharp.  When I saw my friend Justin Bostic he confirmed this tale to me with the utmost confidence, and then confidently said Tiger will then come down to the range and hit balls before his practice round later on that afternoon.  I sat in the perfect position to be as close as possible to Tiger after he exited the press conference down to the range.  I sat in my claimed position for almost an hour when Tiger emerged in the distance.  I finally got a glimpse of my boy Tiger Woods! As he crossed the walking bridge and headed down the red carpet to the practice range  I took this pic.

He looked like a robot and seemed to have a glow as he passed by me.  The energy level in the area went sky high as the spectators cheered and clapped for Tiger, as I’m sure for most of them it was their first time setting eyes on the celebrity.  Tiger’s PR guy Glenn Greenspan spoke to the crowd and informed everyone that Tiger would be signing autographs after his practice round on the 18th green.  The range was flooded with spectators watching Tiger’s practice regiment.  He then walked back to the first tee to start his practice round, but the second after he hit his tee shot the weather horn sounded to clear the course because of nearby thunderstorms.  As I hung out by the clubhouse for over an hour I realized Tiger would probably not make another appearance on Tuesday.

Wednesday came and Tiger was scheduled to play in the pro-am along side Jim Justice with a tee time at 7:00 a.m.  As I arrived bright and early to the course for the third straight day my plan was to follow Tiger for the entire 18 hole round and then meet him on the 18th green to get that autograph.  As Tiger neared the end of his round I was able to find a pretty good spot amongst hundreds of fans right by 18 green.  I was hoping I had positioned myself in the right place to get that autograph.  As he made his way off the 18th green toward the clubhouse it was a chaotic situation with people basically pushing and shoving,  jockeying for position to get close to the man.  He started signing autographs about a foot to the left of where I had my hat and sharpie extended, as I shouted “Tiger, I’m Your biggest fan!” he inched further and further away.  I had come so close and I immediately thought I would never get another chance to get Tiger’s autograph.  Oh well at least I had a chance to follow Tiger Woods for 18 holes of golf with relatively small crowds, that was cool.

(Tiger Woods signing autographs on the 18th green)

Day 4 was Thursday and the 1st round of the actual tournament.  The crowds were enormous following Tiger so I decided to skip a few holes ahead and get into position around a green or a tee box to view Tiger close up.  I knew I had little or no chance to get his autograph this day, especially if he wasn’t playing well.  I positioned myself on the back edge of the 9th green because since Tiger teed off on #10, the 9th would be his last hole of the day.  He walked right past my outstretched hand holding my hat and sharpie as his PR guy Glen stated to the crowd “no autographs please, we’re headed to the scorers tent to sign his card”.  Shit outta luck again!  But I had an idea…Since Phil Mickleson was teeing off on #1, I figured the majority of the crowds would be following him.  And Tiger almost always heads to the practice range after his round of golf to work on his swing.  Maybe If I headed to the practice range Tiger would be there.

So off I went walking from the 9th green to the range.  Sure enough Tiger was there hitting balls with his caddy Joe LaCava and Arjun Atwal.  Unbelievably no one seemed to know Tiger was there because the crowd was very sparse.  As I stood by the roped off area watching Tiger hit balls, methodically starting with his wedges and then taking that final swing with his driver, I knew this was my chance!  I stood right against the rope about 4 or 5 people deep when Tiger slowly approached.  Yes!  he would be signing autographs.  As he inched closer to me I was so excited…what would I say to him?  When he finally grasped my Taylor Made hat and started signing it I said “thanks so much Tiger, this means the world to me”; he responded, “No problem bud”…so exciting, Tiger spoke to me!  As he returned my hat I patted Tiger on the shoulder and thanked him again.  Mission completed!  Tiger’s autograph on My hat!!!  What a feeling.

Tiger Woods autograph, pic by taylor

Cranberry Glades WV is good for you

If you live where I do, you might as well go to a place like this:

Cranberry Glades, taylor

Cranberry Glades, taylor

Cranberry Glades,  taylor

Cranberry Glades Ferns, taylor


The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area protects the largest area of bogs in West Virginia. The Bogs here are acidic wetlands more commonly found in the northern areas of this country and in Canada. The ground in a bog is spongy and consists largely of partially-decayed plant material known as peat. Because of the bog’s unique conditions, some unusual plants grow here, including carnivorous or insect-eating plants like the pitcher plant. This life spread southward with the changing climatic conditions that allowed glaciers to creep across the northern part of our continent during the last ice-age.  Several species ended their migration here, and the Cranberry Glades are now the southern-most point in North America where some of these life forms are found.  Many of these unique plants are descended from seeds that took root here over 10,000 years ago!  The Botanical Area encompasses 750 acres.

Pitcher Plant Flower, taylor

The Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea venosa) is a native perennial which may live up to 20-30 years. They have adapted to the acidic bog water with roots that now function mainly as support. The nutrients normally obtained from the soil come from insects, amphibians and snail prey. The red veined lip of the “pitcher” is apparently attractive to insects and guides them downward to fall into the rain water and a digestive enzyme. These enzymes, along with a community of bacteria living in the vase of the pitcher, slowly dissolves the victim so the nutrients can be absorbed by the plant’s cells.  The flower is solitary and rises one to two feet above the rhizome. It is suspected that this arrangement keeps the bee pollinators from falling victim to the vase below.

Vase of the Pitcher Plant, taylor

young visitors

If you step off the boardwalk you’ll find yourself in a SPONGY situation, no need to panic though, that’s just how it is here in the bog! A half-mile boardwalk has been constructed through two of the bogs so you can enjoy the area without disturbing this fragile community.  The bog is actually a wetland covered with all sorts of decaying vegetation, this is the reason for the spongy ground. The peat and decaying organic matter is more than ten feet thick! under the dense plant cover. Some describe the ground like quicksand or swampy, but it’s actually just plain spongy.

The natural history of the Glades has been traced back at least 12,200 years. Apparently, a forest of conifer-northern hardwoods replaced tundra with the end of the last Ice Age. Over time the Glades formed into what it is today. Now, most of the bog is underlain by that ten foot layer of peat with a layer of algal ooze underneath. Since a limestone source in the surrounding rocks is found here, an ample amount appears to be present in the underlying  formation, a circumstance that contributes to the interesting Glades’ flora.

 Coal enjoying the view

Many animals that live in the Glades are at their southernmost breeding grounds, including birds such as the Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes, Nashville and Mourning Warblers, and Purple Finches. Other, less exotic, birds like ravens and hawks are common as well. Other familiar animals including white tail deer inhabit the Glades.  Black Bears have been seen in the skunk cabbage growing along the boardwalk. In the evening, you have a good chance of hearing beavers working; they are mostly inactive during the day. It is hard to see the beavers because of little light, and their dark color. They also reside submerged or are building their homes.

small beaver dam on yew creek, taylor

Many of the plants found in the Glades resemble those in the northern region of North America. They are descendants of seeds that took root over ten thousand years ago before the last glacial retreat. Among these are two unusual species of carnivorous plants that thrive in the area — the pitcher plant which I’ve already discussed and the native sundew. They evolved carnivorous habits because of the scarce root food in the spongy soil. Much of this area provides a home for many species of mosses. These include a cover of sphagnum moss, bird-wheat moss, bog moss and reindeer lichen. Over top of these grow prostrate cranberry vines that bloom nice pink flowers in the summer and a bunch of fruits in late September.

sundew image by squirrel

cranberries

young fern

300 year old tree

I’ve been to many beautiful areas throughout this region, but I can say that Cranberry Glades is one of the most unique and special places I’ve visited.  I keep coming back to this place time and time again.  If you’re ever in this area this is a MUST visit.  It feels like your taken back in time or on another planet while you’re here in the bog, deep in the wilderness amongst all these exotic plants.  Other treasures await you on this mountain top as well, like the picturesque  Hills Creek Falls,  just 6 miles away, and the beautiful Scenic Highway with it’s endless views and trail heads.  Happy Trails!

Retracing The Marshall Expedition of 1812

photo of a Batteau (shallow draft, flat bottomed boat) on the banks of the Greenbrier River by taylor .

While putting my kayak in the Greenbrier River at Caldwell today I ran in to some cool dudes with an awesome boat.  After chatting for a while I soon came to realize that they were doing something very special, an expedition or something.  Later on in the day after some research I found out the magnitude of what they were trying to accomplish.  More about their journey here!

(John Marshall)

At the request of the Virginia General Assembly in 1812, 56-year old Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall led a group of commissioners on a journey to discern the feasibility of navigational improvements between Lynchburg, Virginia and the Great Falls of the Kanawah.  A reliable commercial route to the Kanawah would open trade with the Ohio River Valley and ultimately access to the Mississippi.  They departed Lynchburg September 1, 1812.(vacanals.org/marshall)

Now in 2012, the crew of the Batteau “Mary Marshall” aim to retrace the original journey that John Marshall completed in 1812. The goal of  the Marshall Expedition project is to commemorate the Bi-Centennial of John Marshall’s journey, giving tribute to Marshall’s courage and vision by retracing the length of the original intended  canal line.  Construction of the 43′x 7′ batteau is now complete (above pic).  The trek began in Richmond, and follows this path:  To ascend the James to the Jackson, all the way to Dunlap Creek in Covington.  A batteau ascent of this length has not been attempted in at least 150 years and is bound to be an extremely arduous undertaking.  The 23-mile section between Snowden and Lynchburg is impassable because of dams built since Marshall’s journey. So from Covington, the crew will cross the Allegheny Mountains and descend the Greenbrier and New Rivers.  Close to the end of the journey they will descend the New River Gorge, a significant series of class IV rapids.

The Batteau Crew of the Marshall Expedition are all native sons of the James River.  After personally meeting the crew, I can tell you they are dedicated and excited to have the opportunity to do this, wouldn’t you!  They want to put a spotlight on our Nation’s founding river, as well as the other amazing Appalachian Rivers that they explore.  The James River Batteau Festival has given much inspiration to these guys,  the eight-day, 120-mile festival features over a dozen batteaux and hundreds of canoers and kayakers each year, making the historic trip from Lynchburg to Richmond.  This unique event provides participants an opportunity to revel in both the critical role of riparian transit in Virginia’s history and the pleasure of traveling down the beautiful James.

Our region’s rivers are tremendous historical and ecological resources.  This expedition of 2012 is meant to inspire people to become more engaged in utilizing and protecting them.  This remarkable voyage is the crews  tribute to the bold men whose steadfast resolve to establish commercial links across the rugged and unforgiving Appalachian Mountains helped make this Nation what it is today.  To learn more about this historical event follow the expedition here!

Blue Bend, A Timeless Oasis In The Mountains Of West Virginia

In Greenbrier County, close to the small little village of White Sulphur Springs, you can find a piece of heaven hidden deep in the mountains of West Virginia.  Blue Bend is a spot the locals know well and is a place that makes this sleepy area of North America worth living in.  First, a little history about Blue Bend.  Anybody from around here knows that the water at blue bend stays COLD all year round, even in the heat of summer this water stays cool and crisp as it passes over the very deep ‘bend’ in Anthony creek.  This creek will eventually empty into the Greenbrier River at Anthony about 4 miles (google earth) from here.  Blue Bend was probably a favorite cooling-off spot long before the Civilian Conservation Corps developed this area during the Great Depression. It is still a great place to swim and Blue Bend Campground has evolved into a place where campers return time and again to pitch their tents under the tall hemlock forest. The forest service also has a great system of trails in the immediate area. Rhododendron forms the primary understory, which makes for good campsite privacy.  Anthony Creek flows off in the distance, with eight campsites lined up along the creek. (trails.com).

The trees that envelope this timeless oasis are spectacular.  Some of the Great White Pines that are found here look like redwoods that you might encounter in Muir Woods.

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One of the shelters here at Blue Bend has a plethora of carvings that have added up over the years.  Some are fresh and recent while others are from years past symbolizing the timelessness of this area.
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On the way out we cross a cool little suspension bridge that bounces up and down as you pass over Anthony Creek.  We will be back soon to enjoy the great outdoors of the Wild and Wonderful State of West Virginia!
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Stay tuned for an article about Cranberry Glades, another hidden treasure here in West Virginia.  Happy Trails!

Take Me Out To The Ballgame – Nats Home Opener

It was Thursday April 12th, a blustery day at Washington Nationals Park for their home opener.  The Nationals had started their season on the road with a 4 & 2 record, not too shabby for the Nats.  My daughter and I hope this is the year the Nats do something good and bring sports happiness back to D.C.  because the Redskins and Wizards seem to disappoint each year.  Abby and I hit the center field gates in hopes we would be one of the first 20,000 fans so we could get that free Washington Nationals Hat!  As we entered the stadium I spied a tall stack, a thousand hats or so, I knew then we would be receiving our Nats Hats.

After 5 innings in our seats we decided to explore the stadium and indulge on the grandiose of food selections  like Jamming Island BBQ  in center field. This place is the real deal, offering excellent jerk ribs and jerk chicken, plus sides of cole slaw, potato salad and corn on the cob. After exploring every corner and level of this beautiful stadium many times since its opening in 2008, I finally found my secret spot  perched atop the upper deck in the left field corner under the sun.  In this spot you get a complete view of the ballpark and you hear  the broadcast of 106.7 the fan radio station instead of the ballpark announcer.  This place is like an oasis.  Out of 40,000 plus fans there were only a small group of patrons in this area.

The ballpark has approximately 41,000 seats and features 79 suites on three levels, but somehow through the expanse of all this territory I ran into a couple of my best buds, and two of my daughters favorite mascots! George and Honest Abe!

After the Nationals gave the home crowd a scare by blowing their lead late in the 9th inning.  They finally won the game in overtime sending relief throughout the stadium.  As the fans left Nationals Park there was a buzz in the air like I’ve never experienced at a Nats game before.  I have a feeling this season will be good! GO NATS!

That’s the Tiger I know

So if you’re not already aware, Tiger Woods won today on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2009.  To all of you that have followed Tiger during his hall of fame career this win surely brings fourth a plethora of emotions.  For me, Tiger’s win makes me feel like a weight has been lifted from my hypothalamus. I’ve been a big Tiger fan since his pro career started right about the time I started my college years.  Tiger and I have much in common, we are practically the same age (he was born Dec.1975 and, I July 1975), we both have two children about the same age, a boy and a girl, we are both biracial, and both have a love for the game of golf. Tiger obviously makes more money than me and is a much better golfer, but I feel a unique connection with him.I have watched Tiger grow over the years and accomplish things no golfer in history has ever achieved.  The public became aware of Tiger’s dark side when the media went crazy over the tumultuous events that occurred in Tiger’s life after the 2009 season.  We have all made bad decisions in life and so did Tiger. Like Chubbs (Carl Wethers) told Happy (Adam Sandler) in the movie “Happy Gilmore”, “go to your happy place”. Sometimes it’s hard to get to our “HappyPlace” on the golf course and only the sad places we’ve been come to mind in our backswing. We fight these thoughts in our minds on the golf course at times. And we try to make up for the past and be better men all the time.  The media came down hard on Tiger, and I’m proud he was able to stay strong enough to fight back to the top again and get his 7th win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  Keep it going Tiger! Next stop Augusta.

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