Volunteers Helping to Save a Valley

Through the TreesPhoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

There are numerous ways that volunteers can get involved to help preserve and protect nature and the environment. One motivating factor for many to get involved is planned development, whether residential or commercial. Oftentimes, the development plans spark passionate emotions about the preservation of the land and the need to stop whatever developers are planning. This article from Delaware County News Network tells the story of one such effort, started by two organizations, The Beaver Valley Conservancy and Save the Valley. These groups are fighting to stop development in an area known as Beaver Valley, along the Pennsylvania/Delaware border, and volunteers are playing an important role.

Check out the websites for

Save the Valley


Beaver Valley Conservancy

For more information about how their efforts to protect the land are going and  how you can help, especially if you live in that area.

Crowdsourcing for Invasive Species

ID-1005975Photo by Liz Noffsinger, Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Robert Barossi

This is one of the most exciting and fascinating volunteer stories I’ve come across recently. I had never even heard of eco-crowdsourcing until now, but in this day and age, modern technology being what it is, it makes perfect sense. As this story details, there is a project underway in Hawaii that allows volunteers to use an online crowdsourcing platform to pinpoint invasive species. By pouring over images taken from above, these volunteers are able to tag locations where invasive species are occurring, which gives organizations like The Nature Conservancy an exact location to focus their efforts. The work of these volunteers amounts to “20% of the users do 80% of the work, spending hours on the platform, scouring images for the invasive plants,” according to the article. There is exciting potential in this kind of crowdsourcing, from mapping invasive species to helping protect endangered species, and it’s clear evidence that not only can today’s technology help achieve environmental goals, it can and must be an essential and integral aspect of achieving those goals.

The page specifically for the initiative in Hawaii, called “The Hawaii Challenge,” can be found here, at Tomnod

After the Flood

Underwater LeavesPhoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

On the radio this morning, there was a conversation about potential flooding in the middle of the United States, especially places like Nebraska and Iowa. There are a number of things that can go wrong for our rivers and flooding is just one of them, but it’s one that people don’t often think about until it happens to their own river, in their own backyard. It’s often, if not always, volunteers who are doing the work to lessen the impact of floods, piling sandbags along a riverbank, for example. Volunteers are also the ones who go back to the river after the floods recede, picking up the trash and debris left behind. Here’s one such story, from the Little Thompson River in Colorado. A similar article from a local news station describes how the Little Thompson River Corridor was ravaged by floods in 2013 and how volunteers now work to repair the damage.

Mountain in the City

IMG_2222Photo by Robert Barossi

By Robert Barossi

In cities and urban areas, green spaces are undeniably essential. They provide city dwellers with the chance to spend time in nature, or in a natural setting, no matter how small, for a chance to relax and reconnect with the natural environment. City planners increasingly add green spaces into their plans for new city sections or developments. Existing green spaces have become more and more of a focus and a priority for those who have lived in urban areas and enjoyed those spaces for their entire lives. One such space is Mount Sutro in San Francisco. As described in this great article from Synapse, the UCSF student newspaper, the oasis in the middle of the city by the bay is largely maintained by volunteers, especially a group called Sutro Stewards.

The website for Sutro Stewards can be found here.

Go here for more information about the Mount Sutro forest.

and UCSF has information about the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve

In the Land We Trust


Photo by Robert Barossi

By Robert Barossi

When I was working on my book about environmental volunteers, many of the organizations interested in participating where land trusts. During the course of that work, I visited with volunteers who worked with land trust large and small, rural and suburban. These kinds of organizations, dedicated to protecting and preserving the land, are everywhere and are often made up completely of volunteers. Even if they do have some paid staff, they all rely on volunteers in many ways, to help them achieve a wide variety of goals. This article from the Shreveport Times tells a great story about the Finger Lakes Land Trust, an organization which has been doing great work in upstate New York for 25 years.

Finger Lakes Land Trust’s website can be found here.

For the Bird

ID-1002937Photo by Tom Curtis, provided by FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Robert Barossi

Ok, I admit it, I’m partial to birds of prey. I’ve always had a fascination with hawks, falcons, osprey and the like. So I just had to take a closer look at this great volunteer story out of Syracuse, NY. Volunteers are working as part of a “fledge watch” group, monitoring a baby peregrine falcon, to make sure it survives and thrives. The article, from Syracuse.com also has a link to a camera that monitors the bird constantly as well as a link to the Facebook page dedicated to the Syracuse peregrine.

The efforts to protect the peregrines are being led by the New  York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

And you can look here to learn more about peregrines in general.