Recent Articles

The Drought Fighter

March 9, 2015By
The Drought Fighter

One afternoon last March, on a small vegetable farm that Paul Kaiser runs in a particularly chilly valley in Sebastopol, California, a group of agriculture specialists gathered around a four-foot steel pole.

The experts had come to test the depth and quality of Kaiser’s top-soil, and one of them, a veteran farmer from the Central Valley named Tom Willey, leaned on the pole to push it into the dirt as far as he could.

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Reclaiming Broken Places: Introduction to Civic Ecology

March 9, 2015By
Reclaiming Broken Places: Introduction to Civic Ecology

The actions of ordinary people are often absent in studies of urban renewal and urban ecology. Around the world, people who are fed up with environmental degradation and the breakdown of their communities come together to transform blighted vacant lots, trashed-out stream corridors, polluted estuaries, and other “broken places.”

Civic ecology practices—such as community gardening, wetlands restoration, river cleanups, and tree planting…

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Planting a future for monarch butterflies

March 9, 2015By
Planting a future for monarch butterflies

I have a confession to make. A few years ago, on a farm I own in eastern Nebraska, I took 44 acres out of production, on purpose. That’s a lot.

Where corn and beans once grew, I planted tall, native grasses and wildflowers. Among area farmers, this was seen as nothing short of scandalous.

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4 Million People Demand Obama Administration to Protect Bees from Toxic Insecticides

March 9, 2015By
4 Million People Demand Obama Administration to Protect Bees from Toxic Insecticides

Today, a coalition of more than 125 conservation, beekeeping, food safety, religious and farming advocacy groups rallied in front of the White House and delivered more than four million petition signatures calling on the Obama administration to put forth strong protections for bees and other pollinators.

The rally coincided with both a D.C. metro ad campaign, and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and John Conyers’ (D-MI) reintroduction of the Saving America’s Pollinators Act…

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Milkweed of human kindness

March 9, 2015By
Milkweed of human kindness

The migration of monarch butterflies is one of the natural world’s most epic journeys. Weighing only about as much as a paper clip, they fly up to 3,000 miles from their summer homes in America’s backyards and grasslands to wintering grounds in Mexico’s mountain forests.

But in recent years, the monarch butterfly populations have dwindled alarmingly.

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Home Is Where the Habitat Is

March 9, 2015By
Home Is Where the Habitat Is

It was a snowy March day in 1995, and I had just purchased a house in an old St. Paul neighborhood. As I surveyed the back yard, which had been occupied by two large dogs all winter, I tried to imagine how I could convert the torn-up turf grass into the kind of yard that people and wildlife would want to visit.

It was a stretch to picture a new landscape, but I was determined to try. With my background as a plant ecologist and gardener, the yard project felt like my kind of challenge.

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Monarch Butterfly Population Rejuvenated After Last Year’s Record Low

March 4, 2015By
Monarch Butterfly Population Rejuvenated After Last Year’s Record Low

Monarch butterflies have arrived in Mexico, and conservationists are applauding the country’s crack down on illegal loggers who contributed to habitat loss and decline of the species.

Now they are turning their attention to the U.S. to help save the migratory insect.

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Will Monsanto Save the Monarch Butterfly?

March 4, 2015By
Will Monsanto Save the Monarch Butterfly?

Monarch butterflies are in trouble. These popular insects, which have captured the public imagination with their several-thousand mile migrations, have been steadily disappearing for the past 20 years. Now, Monsanto says it wants to help turn the tide.

Can the seed and pesticide giant seen by many as responsible for the monarchs’ decline make a difference for these pollinators? Or will its next batch of genetically engineered (GE) crops make matters worse?

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