Volunteers Restore a Riverbank

Roaring_Fork_from_backyard(photo courtesy of MarcelBeauchamp94 at English Wikipedia) 

by Robert Barossi

Man-made changes to the land sometimes lead to man’s returning to try to change it back. Just outside of Aspen, Colorado, along the Roaring Fork River, volunteers are working to restore the land along the river’s bank to something similar to what it once was. The area, part of the North Star Nature Preserve, was once used for agriculture, which wiped out the plant life along the river. Now mostly barren, a number of organizations, led by the Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, are working to restore the land. Volunteers from near and far came together for the event, which included planting “about 1,200 willow and cottonwood seedlings and clippings along the banks of the Roaring Fork River,” according to the article.

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Composting Volunteers

Underwater Leaves

(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Food waste is a huge problem in the United States and across the globe. Some of the facts and figures, all of which are shocking and rather depressing, can be found here and here. In Maine, a number of stakeholders have come together to provide composting services for the community, through the Farmington Compost Cooperative. As this story details, the effort is being spearheaded by University of Maine professors, current and retired, as well as members of the community. The new compost cooperative is open to the public and the people working there are volunteers, including students from the University. Hopefully this kind of project, with cooperation from government, businesses, the University and the public, will be a model for other composting efforts in other parts of the country.

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International Coastal Cleanup 2015

by Robert Barossi

International Coastal Cleanup Day took place over this past weekend. I’ll let these stories speak for themselves in describing just how many volunteers showed up, how many  miles of coast they cleaned and the incredible amounts of trash they collected.

Here’s a story from Miami.

Another one from Guam.

Two stories about preparations for the event in India and South Africa.

A story about volunteers in Jamaica.

A story about the work of rowers in Virginia.

And back to Florida for a story about mangrove  planting in conjunction with the event.

All of these stories and many more like them demonstrate the success of the Ocean Conservancy’s 30th annual International Coastal Cleanup Day. Much of that success comes from the inspiring and amazing work of volunteers (according to the Conservancy’s website, 560,000 volunteers in 91 countries.)

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Great Ways to Get Involved and Volunteer

Sunset on Lake Michigan(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

I thought I’d start this week off with something a little different. Although every story on this blog includes ideas for how you can get involved in your own area, I don’t often post stories that specifically offer advice for getting involved. This is a great list that I found this morning, with some fantastic ways that anyone can work for the planet, no matter where they live. While you’re there, check out some of the other great stories on One Green Planet.

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Volunteers Keeping Wales Beautiful

Through the Trees(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Short on time this morning but came across this story from Wales and wanted to share it. In the town of Barry, volunteers are working to rebuild and restore an urban garden near a church. Their work will help to keep a patch of green space alive and well in this highly developed seaport. What’s also notable about this story is that the garden project is being funded by a grant from Keep Wales Tidy, a grant which is funded through a partnership with Tesco, a British retail giant (it’s akin to Target in the U.S., judging from their website). These kinds of environmental organization/business partnerships are essential and invaluable as we continue to work towards preserving and protecting our planet. And it’s often volunteers who are the “boots on the ground,” benefiting from the partnerships and the resources they can provide.

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Volunteers Protecting Grey Seals

1024px-Grey_seal_animal_halichoerus_grypus(Photo by Amanda Boyd, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

by Robert Barossi

As animals live their lives, migrating, feeding, breeding, etc., they come into frequent, if not constant, contact with us humans. And we are often the ones who have to protect the animals from ourselves. This story out of Horsey Village, in Norfolk County, England, demonstrates how environmental volunteers are working to protect a colony of grey seals along the Horsey coast. As the seals come ashore, up to 500 of them, according to the article, volunteers will work to keep onlookers from interfering with the seals. The volunteer effort, led by Friends of Horsey Seals, will also include educating the public about the seals and the dangers of disturbing their natural and necessary activity on the beach.

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Volunteers and Birds of Prey

P1000369(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Two fantastic volunteers stories this morning, both detailing how volunteers are playing an essential role in monitoring and protecting birds of prey.

The first story comes from the east coast, where volunteers in Delaware are counting hawks. Over the fall months, volunteers will take place in a “Hawk Watch,” where they will spend time at monitoring stations, watching and recording the many hawks who fly by as they migrate south. The volunteers have, over the years, observed 18 different hawk species and have collected data which helps local experts “better understand the timing, movement and behavior of these birds as they pass over Delaware,” according to the article.

Three thousand miles away, on the west coast, volunteers in this second story are doing a similar kind of work for another important bird species. As this story from the San Fransisco area details, volunteers are an integral part in the ongoing recovery of the California condor. The volunteers take part in many tracking and monitoring activities related to these birds who have made a comeback but still need more of our help to continue thriving. That help will come largely from environmental volunteers and their efforts.

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Volunteers in the Wilderness

IMG_0847_1(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Environmental volunteers do their work in every kind of natural setting. Some are on boats out on the open seas. Others are in canoes on tiny lakes and ponds. Some are in wide open fields and meadows. While still others are deep in the heart of dense wilderness, like the volunteers who participated in this effort to clear trails in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. This enormous area of wilderness, 1.3 million acres of land, spans parts of Idaho and Montana, with roughly 1,800 miles of trails winding through it. Two different groups of volunteers were brought in for the trail work, one led by the American Hiking Society and the other by the Sierra Club, both hosted by the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation. The article quotes the Foundation’s program director, Coby Gierke, who says, in part, “The issues that we face here are not that much different from other wilderness areas. After experiencing it for themselves, they [the volunteers] become great stewards and help tell this story nationally.” Hopefully, they will do just that and continue to do this kind of work in whatever wilderness surrounds them, no matter where they live.

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Volunteers in the Water

IMG_1584(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Bodies of water all over the world are in need of regular monitoring to ensure the health of the natural ecosystem as well as the humans who live in the local watershed. In countless places, it’s environmental volunteers who do the monitoring. This story, out of Delaware, features a volunteer team who are a prime example of the kind of work these citizen scientists are doing. They offer a great example of not just the kind of work, but how it benefits both them and the organizations they volunteer for. Check out this link for more info on the University of Delaware’s Citizen Monitoring Program and all of the work being done by their dedicated volunteers.

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Volunteers and Drones

367(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

This volunteer story jumped out at me immediately this morning. The topic of drones and their use, whether military, commercial or personal, is a hotly debated one these days. Drones have become one of the primary means through which the U.S. military does its job. And corporations like  Amazon are trying to use them to revolutionize the way they do business. There are countless other ways drones can be used, including humanitarian efforts. In Great Britain, both drones and volunteers are being used to survey and study the impacts of sea level change and coastal erosion. Working together, drones and volunteers will gather information and data that will indicate how the changing sea is impacting the coast and important historical sites along the shore.  There are many other potential uses for this kind of drone/volunteer work related to the environment, such as surveying populations of endangered species or finding areas of pollution in bodies of water. While using drones is highly controversial, it can have both positive and negative impacts and is an issue that likely won’t be settled any time soon.

If you have enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, download my eBook – Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day. Available at the following links:

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