“Environment is no one’s property to destroy; it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect.” Mohith Agadi
Clinging to a snag in a saltmarsh in coastal Mobile County, an egret surveys his kingdom. (Look for tiny white dot in the middle of the picture.)
Daily choices have consequences for the environment. For example, runoff from lawns and gardens can carry toxic chemicals that harm wildlife in the above saltmarsh. Herbicides and pesticides should be used judiciously, if at all. Look for environmentally friendly choices and read all labels carefully.
One may say, “I don’t live near a saltmarsh, so what does that have to do with me?”Everyone lives in an area of land called a watershed, meaning that all water that flows across or under that area travels to the lowest body of water. For a large part of Alabama that body of water would be Mobile Bay. So one doesn’t have to live near Mobile Bay to affect it.
Too many of Alabama’s citizens are not aware of something called non-point source pollution. NPS is water and air pollution that comes from many sources (diffuse or dispersed) such as runoff. A more easily identified source of pollution is called single source, such as a pipe from a factory. A picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at this article to help identify common non-point sources .
An example of a watershed can be found at this link. It’s not an Alabama watershed, but you’ll get the idea. The next time you’re out and about, look for those signs that identify the creek or stream to where the water flows in an area. These signs are little reminders that all water travels to larger and larger bodies of water and eventually into saltmarshes, bays, gulfs, and oceans-even the water in storm drains goes there too. So you see, we all have a responsibility to protect the environment, because we all affect the environment.
“Our challenge for the future is that we realize we are very much a part of the earth’s ecosystem, and we must learn to respect and live according to the basic biological laws of nature.” Jim Fowler
Great blue heron hunting in salt marsh in South Mobile County
The great blue heron certainly understands the need to preserve wetlands. In a wetland, this marshland king finds food, water, shelter, and space in a suitable arrangement. In other words, a wetland is a habitat or home for this heron and countless other living things.
Wetlands are the third most productive ecosystem in the world, surpassed only by tropical rainforests and coral reefs. While everyone should be appreciative of wetland benefits, coastal residents should be especially appreciative due to its sponge-like characteristic which contributes to the reduction of flood damage. Refer to the NOAA website to gain a greater perspective of the benefits of coastal wetlands, the need for preservation, and how individuals can help. This a must read for coastal residents!
Well, what is this ecosystem thing? Are there many ecosystems or just one as Jim Fowler’s quote may suggest? Check out this easy-to-understand explanation at ESchoolToday.
It is time for a field trip! Visit a wetland, observe this wondrous ecosystem, and communicate to legislators Jim Fowler’s advice, “we must learn to respect and live according to the basic biological laws of nature.” There are far too many powerful agents, acting through hubris and financial greed, arguing otherwise. The future belongs to you, your children, and your grandchildren. Help make it bright and healthy. Would anyone want something less?
“The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery not over nature but of ourselves.” Rachel Carson
Monarch on tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica
According to a news article published in Cottage Life magazine in 2017, Jennifer Tremeer of the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory attributes the drastic decline in the monarch butterfly population to the planting of genetically modified crops resistant to herbicides, habitat loss, and severe weather. This pollinator population, tracked by scientists since 1994, teeters on the verge of extinction. While some may see the loss of one species as a triviality, the reality is this species is representative of all pollinator species that may face the same fate. The US Fish and Wildlife Service reminds us that these diminutive creatures pollinate 75% of the food we consume, including chocolate and coffee! Well, that’s certainly worth one’s attention!
Remember John Muir’s observation, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” Individual efforts to help the monarch can be accomplished through avoiding the use of pesticides, planting milkweed plants, found at local garden centers; and by maintaining wild milkweed varieties in the landscape. Milkweed serves as the host plant for monarch caterpillar larvae as well as a nectar source for adult monarchs. Learn more about this fall visitor by clicking here.