No other options

  Bill had been driving all over the Adirondacks since early Friday morning.  I was in my car heading north to meet him.  I’d get occasional calls from him about the wintry conditions and iced-over lakes that he found.  Ice-out was late this year, so our original plan to canoe into the St. Regis Wilderness Area for a few days was scrapped.  Bill kept driving south and lower in elevation until he found open water.  We finally decided to fish Rock Pond, which is in the Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness Area.  Bill had been wanting to fish the pond for years, and he was sure that we had a chance to get some big brook trout.  We met around 11:00am and headed to the boat launch for Putnam Pond.  From there, we’d paddle about two miles to the canoe carry trail on the opposite end of the lake, and hike about[read more]

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national park, shorebirds, conservation, plovers

Taking the people out of the National Park

Too often, environmental policy makers and park managers consider the natural environment without including humans as part of that environment. They seem to assume that a high level of human use always has a negative effect and that, to successfully manage a sensitive area, people have to be excluded from that area. By restricting human activities to protect species and areas of interest, regulators can lose the most important aspect of conservation–the empathy of the population. For example, consider Cape Cod National Seashore, a place that I visit at least twice a year. There is a program to protect shorebird nesting sites during certain times of the year. Certain areas of the dunes have been closed to protect nests from people and dogs; which is good. However, I have noticed a slow expansion of the project over the years, culminating last year when the beach I was walking on was[read more]

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flood, flood insurance, climate change, policy

Under the Flood…Can we save the flood insurance program?

The hurricane season of 2017 has reminded us again about the flaws in our federal flood insurance program. What was a law that was originally written to discourage development in flood prone areas has instead encouraged development in these areas by protecting property owners’ otherwise risky investments. A simple well-meaning policy decision has impacted thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage in places like Houston, where floodplains and other low lying areas that should never have been developed now have thousands of homes and businesses on them. It’s time to modernize this program. We know the flood insurance program operates on a deficit, we know it’ll never be a profitable or beneficial system, and to continue it in its current form is a waste of taxpayer money. It is a program that encourages people to build and live in unnecessarily risky areas. The post-storm destruction causes environmental[read more]

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$100 Blog Post

What really makes a good school “good”?

It seems a little weird that schools within the same state are labeled “good” or “bad” when the standards for qualified teachers are the same throughout the state. It’s not like the “bad” schools are full of incompetent, poorly educated teachers—often, these schools get the teachers fresh out of college who are taught all the latest methods, and I would think that most new teachers are eager to make a difference. Could one of the biggest factors in whether or not a school is “good” have nothing to do with the school itself? Maybe it’s who goes to the school—the students and their families. Most people want their kid to attend a good school. A lot of parents are willing to pay a premium for this. People who care about education tend to be well-educated themselves, or grew up with parents who cared about education. This education leads to a[read more]

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Are fisheries management programs too passive?

After I graduated college, I spent 3 years bouncing around as a fisheries research assistant with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  Of 18 total months of seasonal work, I can remember 3 days where we did work related to improving an area’s ecology.  Two of those days were spent sampling fish populations after habitat restoration work was completed.  One was spent helping a volunteer group remove invasive plants from a pond and river system.   That means that the other approximately 17 months and 28 days were spent either monitoring a fish population, stocking fish or talking to people about stocking fish, analyzing data collected when monitoring fish populations, or fixing equipment used to monitor fish populations.  Oh, and sometimes we monitored water quality, or repaired equipment used to monitor water quality.   This type of management regime relies on collecting population data using the same methods every[read more]

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