ONLY IN ALABAMA: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken another step to protect the habitat of the vermilion darter, a small, multi-colored fish found only in Alabama. The FWS has designated a little over 13 stream miles of the Turkey Creek watershed in or near Pinson in Jefferson County as critical habitat for the fish. The FWS announced the move in a news release December 7. The darter was listed as a federal endangered species in 2001. Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act that identifies geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and that may require special management or protection, according to the release. The designation does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge or preserve and has no impact on landowners doing things on their property that do not already require federal permits. The darter is endangered due to the effects of urbanization, such as road, pipe and bridge construction and decreased water flow and quality. The vermilion darter survives only in small, isolated populations in the Turkey Creek watershed and is highly vulnerable to habitat destruction or fragmentation. For more information, visit www.fws.gov.
WELCOME TO WALKER COUNTY: Ten young whooping cranes made a pit stop in Walker County on December 2 during their annual migration from Wisconsin to Florida, according to a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Only six to seven months old, the cranes had traveled 756 miles and had another 530 miles to go. This is the 10th group of birds since 2001 to take part in a project led by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, a coalition of public and private groups that is reintroducing this endangered species in eastern North America. There are now about 106 whooping cranes in the wild. The cranes are accompanied by pilots in three ultralight aircraft and travel through Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia to reach their wintering grounds in wildlife refuges along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Whooping cranes were on the verge of extinction in the 1940s, according to the release. There are currently only about 570 birds in existence, about 400 of them in the wild. Whooping cranes, named for their loud, penetrating calls, live and breed in wetlands and feed on crabs, clams, frogs and aquatic plants. They stand five feet tall, with white bodies, black wing tips and red crowns on their heads. Learn more about the Eastern Partnership at www.bringbackthecranes.org.
THE MAN’S STILL GOT IT: Plug In America identifies itself in a recent news release as a nonprofit organization working to accelerate America’s shift to plug-in electric vehicles. They say that they want to help reduce our nation’s dependence on petroleum and improve the world’s environment. To spread the word about this ostensibly good and noble work, Plug In America has produced a series of seven PSAs. Nothing unusual there. But guess who’s starring in one of the spots. That’s right, Fabio, the hunky romance-novelmodel dude. So why Fabio? “We needed someone who was the epitome of handsome, manly and suave,” says former Baywatch babe Alexandra Paul, who produced the spots. “George Clooney is an EV owner, but was working when we filmed,” she says in the release. (Aren’t you glad that casting for movies doesn’t work this way? “Hey, we’re doing Oceans 14, but Clooney is busy, so we’ll get Fabio to play Danny Ocean.”) According to Paul, Fabio is a car and motorcycle junkie and was impressed by the performance of the Tesla electric car. And that’s not all. “And yes, he still has that magnetism,” Paul says. “I cannot explain it, but the man’s still got it.” Oh, PUH-LEASE, Alexandra, you little tramp. All of the PSAs, we’re told, link to Plug In America’s website, which includes information regarding global production and delivery of plug-in vehicles and electric vehicle supply equipment and chargers, state and federal purchasing incentives, common plug-in vehicle myths and congressional support for plug-ins. For more information, visit www.pluginamerica.org.
NUKE THAT FROZEN CRAP! Consumers who are looking for ways to save time may also have an opportunity to save energy when preparing pre-packaged meals, according to the non-profit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) of Palo Alto, Ca. So what’s the hot tip? When possible, use the microwave or toaster oven instead of the conventional oven. According to a news release from the EPRI, time-starved Americans increasingly rely on frozen or prepared meals instead of cooking from scratch. If you eat pre-packaged meals, a microwave is the most efficient way to cook it. For example, it requires only 70 watt hours of energy to zap a single-serve French bread pizza in a microwave, whereas to cook the same item in a toaster oven would take 308 watt hours and 504 watt hours in a conventional oven. And those yummy breakfast burritos stuffed to the breaking point with nitrate-loaded sausage and cholesterol-rich reconstituted egg material? It takes only 54 watt hours to nuke one of those babies, as opposed to 320 watt hours in a toaster oven. For cooks in a hurry, the time savings can add up. For example, cooking a frozen submarine sandwich that required 2 minutes 45 seconds in a microwave required 23 minutes in a toaster oven or conventional oven. Hell, yeah, and I’ve got LOTS of important stuff to do in that extra 20 or so minutes. By making these small choices, according to the release, we can save a lot of energy. For example, if the 34 million American households estimated to regularly consume singleserving frozen pizzas cooked two of them per week in a microwave instead of an oven it would save 1.5 billion kilowatt hours of electric energy per year, or enough to power New York City’s 3.2 million residential electricity customers for one month. WOW! Learn more about the EPRI at www.epri.com.
EVERGLADES NATION: There
are lots of good reasons to fight to protect Florida’s Everglades. More
than seven million people live in the Everglades watershed and depend
on it for their drinking water. Florida’s agriculture, boating, tourism,
real estate, recreational and commercial fishing industries all depend
on a healthy Everglades ecosystem, which supports tens of thousands of
jobs and contributes billions to the state’s economy. To help generate
support for the Everglades and the ongoing state and federal efforts to
restore them, the non-profit Everglades Foundation has launched a
marketing campaign meant to identify and unify diverse voices in support
of the restoration, according to a news release from the group.
Everglades Nation is an effort to identify and unite anyone who has a
relationship with the greater Everglades ecosystem through hobbies,
business activities, recreational pursuits or place of residence. The
Everglades Nation campaign will feature online and social media as a way
for Everglades-connected stakeholders to communicate ideas, network,
socialize and engage in advocacy. The latest wrinkle is a logo design
contest. The logo design competition will be decided by a panel of
judges. Deadline for submissions will be Feb. 28, 2011. For more
information or contest details, visit www.evergladeslogocontest.org.
The Everglades Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit group dedicated to
protecting and restoring the glades.