06/28/18

Salamander from the Rainforest painted on Catch Basin

Update from the corner of Bleecker Street and Central Avenue in Jersey City Heights!

 

Jersey City’s adopt a catch basin program is thriving! It’s very simple. Sign up to take care of a catch basin (storm drain) and the City of Jersey City will assign an artist to paint something original for you. It’s a win-win situation! The city receives help from the public to keep these drains clear of garbage and snow/ice in the winter and we get beautiful artwork that passers by admire. In addition, because they are of an environmental nature, it helps remind the public to keep the streets clean.

Swati Rastogi and Susan Newman salamander catch basin jersey city heights

Last year I noticed a beautiful artwork done by artist Swati Rastogi and requested her as the artist for my second corner (opposite last year’s frog). I was so excited when she contacted me this week because it was time for her to paint the corner.

Here’s what Swati wrote about this project:

“I never knew what a Salamander was until I was asked by the city to paint one at the corner of Central Avenue & Bleecker Street in Jersey City.

Susan Newman who adopted this catch basin has proudly named it “Biodiversity Matters” and is actively letting the residents know about the program.

Honestly this “adopt a catch basin” campaign is making the city much more vibrant and creating awareness for how important it is to keep the sewers clean.

Thank you for choosing me as your artist!.”

– Swati Rastogi

 

I wrote about this program last year in greater detail, so check out the article about the program and why it’s so important.

Adopt a Catch Basin Frog Art

04/22/18

Protecting Amphibians Through Correct Silvicultural Practices

Recent findings indicate that frogs could be going the way of the dinosaurs. Studies by scientists from the US Geological Survey (USGS) depicted that the number of amphibians is shrinking by an average rate of 3.7% yearly. Despite environmentalists championing for the protection of frogs, hosting amphibian themed art exhibitions and releasing publications to educate, among many other efforts, there is still a significant decline in the number of amphibians, especially frogs. Blame pollution, diseases, climate change and more importantly incessant deforestation.

Protecting amphibians and frogs through the correct silvicultural activities in forests helps in ensuring their continuity. While tree harvesting is essential for electricity poles, fuel, the paper industry, and construction, it should not be done in a way that it leads to the loss of amphibian habitats.

Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash

The Right Pruning Tools

In forest activities such as pruning, trimming, and the harvesting of firewood, chainsaws are preferably the best tools. Why? Unlike harvesters which fell many trees at a time, chainsaws cut down one tree at a time. This ensures animal habitats are not destroyed during the operation and that seedlings and saplings are protected. These machines are portable making pruning among other activities in various locations easier.

While chainsaws come in different sizes, small chainsaws are preferably the best, especially chainsaws powered by a lithium-Ion battery. These particular type of chainsaws are eco-friendly since they don’t release noxious fumes into the atmosphere when pruning or trimming trees. Furthermore, they don’t cause noise pollution and can be operated easily since they are not heavy. However, when operating a chainsaw it is very important to have the knowledge on how to operate one safely. Other brilliant tools you can use when pruning a tree post include loppers and pole pruners.

Correct Pruning

Pruning is done to remove any overgrown tree branches, stems, and any deformed tree parts. When pruning is done in the correct manner it results in high-quality timber which directly reflects on value and price. Correct pruning, according to A-Absolute Tree Services, involves making sure that a third of the living branches are left after pruning. Right timing on when to prune is critical especially if the area to be pruned is a wildlife shelter. Furthermore, it should be done in a proper way such that the game cover is not destroyed.

Recommended Pruning Techniques

Target pruning is one the best methods of pruning, as stated by Research Gate, since one is able to leave tree parts intact and minimize bole’s tissue damage. Canopy pruning is another recommended pruning technique as it enables light penetration. This allows for the growth of grasses and other plants and this encourages survival of amphibians and frogs. During pruning, the windward side should be taken into consideration as amphibians especially frogs which breathe through their skin, could be easily affected by debris-carrying wind.

Utility Poles

In the United States, most utility poles are made of wood, despite the emergence of steel utility poles. This is because wood is a good insulator and is relatively cheap due to the high availability of trees. Among the trees popularly used are red cedars, Southern yellow pines, and Western yellow pines as they produce straight poles. Poles are selected while still standing in the forest, then the felling process begins.

Most of the times the right procedures and techniques are not used in this process. Unfortunately, flush cutting is observed on pruned trees that are meant for utility poles. Tree topping is also another wrong technique that not only gives an ugly view of the forest but also, has zero considerations for potential wildlife habitats. If the right equipment is not used, the forest environment could be adversely affected. This is why knowledge on the right way of pruning and harvesting trees is key, especially with the high demand for poles and timber.

Amphibians and reptiles make the environment greener. They help in natural pest control and act as food for other wildlife. The contribution of frogs to modern medicine is another reason why frogs are so important. With the above-given statistics, it is evident that more needs to be done in order to care of and protect them. Proper environmental care, especially in the forest, and curbing pollution will go a long way in preserving these species for generations to come.

Written and researched by Jennifer Dawson

11/19/17

Colorful Catch Basins around Jersey City Star a Red-eyed Tree Frog

Jersey City, have you seen all the colorful images painted on catch basins all around town?

Our city wants residents and business owners to “adopt a catch basin.” When Frogs Are Green heard about this program, in which artists decorate these basins with whatever images you suggest, we claimed a drain, and now the corner of Central Avenue and Bleecker Street boasts a gorgeous, colorful red-eyed tree frog. We also just claimed the opposite corner which we call Biodiversity Matters. Environmental themes make the most sense.

Red-eyed Tree Frog artwork for catch basin in Jersey City Heights.

Red-eyed tree frog artwork for catch basin in Jersey City Heights.

As you walk around Jersey City, you’ll see a lighthouse, fish, turtles, sea turtles, an octopus, and many other original artworks by different artists. When you join the program and adopt a drain, you get to name it and request a certain image.

This is a great way to give artists work, clean up the streets, and show citizens where rain water goes. Once you claim a drain, you become responsible for keeping it clear from trash and, in the colder months, ice and snow. It’s a useful reminder not to throw garbage down there. Year after year I’ve walked around my neighborhood and seen trash and leaves piling up at these catch basins and trees, like a new sign post for trash. Since the city has a limited amount of street cleaners–actual people who only work main streets and only certain days– getting the public involved will help.

 

About the “Adopt a Catch Basin” program from the Jersey City Office of Innovation’s website:

“Catch basins or sewer drains collect storm and rain water from streets and sidewalks, which then travels into the sewer system. Any debris in the street and on the sidewalk can clog and block a catch basin, causing local flooding and potentially polluting our waterways. Our ‘Adopt a Catch Basin’ program empowers local residents and other volunteers to help keep catch basins clean and expand awareness of our sewer system.”

 

Once I made this commitment, I started researching what does go down the drain besides rain water and have discovered some unbelievable facts.

NJ’s sewage systems are old and in serious need of repair. Just read this article about what happened to the Middlesex County Utilities Authority in New Jersey. They were just starting to repair the main pump when Hurricane Sandy hit.

 
…Hurricane Sandy triggered flooding that knocked out the Passaic Valley Utility Authority in Newark—the fifth-largest wastewater treatment facility in the country—for weeks, sending some 840 million gallons of untreated sewage into Newark Bay, according to a 2013 report by the independent research organization Climate Central.

The federal EPA in 2008 estimated the cost of upgrading New Jersey’s CSOs statewide at $9.3 billion.

…Environmentalists warn that the high cost of fixing New Jersey’s ailing sewer systems pales beside the cost of doing nothing. While our ocean waters were deemed swimmable in a July 2013 DEP assessment, 73 percent of the state’s non-ocean waters tested failed due to bacteria indicating the presence of fecal matter. And only 3 percent of 952 watersheds were judged safe to eat, with 38 percent containing dangerous levels of mercury or toxic PCBs…

Please read the entire article here:
https://njmonthly.com/articles/jersey-living/down-the-drain-njs-sewage-system/
 

Just imagine what this means to wildlife. Let’s all do our part in helping the environment be safe for all.

 

12/3/16

How To Get Safer And Cleaner Drinking Water For Your Home

Are you concerned about the safety of your drinking water? The Flint water crisis has brought issues of drinking water quality into sharp focus. We all need water to live – so how can you make sure the water you drink is safe and healthy for your body and the environment?

Earth’s Most Precious Resource

Water is the most precious resource on earth. Around 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water – that’s the same as the amount of water in our bodies. Without water, there would be no life. From growing crops to drinking to bathing, water is an integral part of our lives.

That’s why threats to water are so serious. Contamination of water supplies can damage human health, and have a negative impact on the earth’s creatures, especially amphibians, such as frogs and toads, and fish, for whom water is a key part of their habitat.

water tap

Water Is Good For You

For the human body, water is a fantastic healer. As experienced water engineer James Boyce of Home Water Filter Guide points out, water isn’t just about quenching your thirst. Water can also:

  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve the condition of skin and hair
  • Help stabilize weight
  • Provide a mood boost
  • Relive fatigue
  • Promote fresh breath
  • Flush out toxins

Experts recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and healthy. But what if you’re concerned with the quality of your water?

What’s In Your Water?

Since 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act has stipulated that all water for public consumption in the USA must be safe to drink. However, even safe water can still contain some pretty nasty things:

  • Heavy metals such as lead
  • Volatile organic compounds such as pesticides
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals

There are literally hundreds of chemicals that could be in your tap water right now. Although there are regulations as to the quantities that are allowed in tap water, that’s still a lot of chemicals going into your body. Exposure to contaminants in water can lead to a range of health problems from sickness and fatigue to cancer.

Making Water Safe Again

Purer water with less chemicals is a healthy choice for your body. Many people turn to bottled water, but this isn’t really the best option. As well as costing you hundreds of dollars a year, bottled water can be contaminated by compounds from the bottles themselves. Not to mention the environmental impact of throwing away all those plastic bottles afterwards.

If you want to drink safe, it’s best to filter your water. Which method is best? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular methods.

Carbon Filters

Carbon filters are a popular water filter choice. Water passes through activated carbon which acts to filer out all kinds of unwanted compounds. They cost around $40 up front, but work out to be a cost effective option in the long run.

Pros: Removes all kinds of chemicals, heavy metals, fluoride and pesticides. In fact a carbon filter can make most water into safe drinking water including water from ponds, rain or even the sea, so it can certainly make your tap water safe to drink.

Cons: Not as effective against bacteria as other filters. They’re also quite bulky, but if you have plenty of counter space, they are a good option.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis filters use a membrane that filters out compounds as water passes through it. Reverse osmosis was originally designed to transform saltwater into freshwater, and is very effective at filtering out chemicals and other things.

Pros: Highly effective at filtering. a good reverse osmosis filter can filter out up to 98% of bacteria, chemicals, and heavy metals, and will also remove fluoride.

Cons: Wastes a lot of water, as for every usable gallon produced, three or more gallons are washed down the drain. It also removes minerals from the water.

Distillation

Distillation makes use of heat to purify water. The water is heated until it becomes team, then cooled until it reverts to a liquid state, minus many contaminants.

Pros: Distillation removes many contaminants, including heavy metals, arsenic and fluoride, resulting in very pure water.

Cons: Doesn’t reduce many chemicals. Home distillation filters are expensive (around $100 for a small one) and can be large and bulky. Like reverse osmosis, it removes minerals.

Under Sink Filters

Under sink filters put water through a multi-stage filtering process which removes many chemicals and contaminants.

Pros: Filters out a wide range of contaminants. Once it’s installed it’s very easy to use with no need to refill or wait for the water to be filtered.

Cons: You may need to hire a plumber to install it under the sink, and you do need the under sink space for the unit as it can’t go anywhere else.

As you can see, there are several options for making your water cleaner and safer to drink. Each has its pros and cons, and each will be more suited to some households than others. Depending on your budget and your needs, you should be able to find the right solution for you so you and your family can enjoy healthier, cleaner water.

___________________________________________________

(Guest Blogger): My name is Toni Stan and I am a blogger and the owner of www.homewaterfilter.guide. I have a passion in all things related to water conservation and I spend most of my time educating people on how to make water clean and safe for consumption.

05/5/16

7 Garden Maintenance Tips in Autumn

watering garden

As Autumn approaches in Melbourne, many householders are starting to prepare their gardens for the colder months and taking care of the little jobs that may have passed them by. The season plays an important role in how well your plants, trees and foliage will do during the winter time, so with 7 simple preparation tips, you can have a clean, lush and bumper garden before the cold weather kicks in.

1. Have a good clear out of your garden

racking leaves in garden

One of the best ways to prepare your garden for Autumn is to clean your garden of any leaves or tree branches that may have built up over the last few months. Autumn is a great time to start to clear out the main base of your garden, allowing you to see and tend to flowers of shrubs in the winter. If you have lots of items to remove, why not start your garden waste removal with the help of a skip bin hire company to handle the majority of the heavy lifting.

2. Maintain your lawn
mowing the lawn

Lawn and garden maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult, as with the right tools and the right approach you can enjoy a lush and green garden all year round. Instead of waiting until the grass is a little too long, why not get the mower out and keep it at the height you best prefer. That way the grass will be at full health and you will minimise the risk of seeing bald patches as the old grass is left covering the newer turf.

3. Clean up your borders

trimming hedges and bushes

Tidying up your borders is a great way to have your garden looking fresh and in top shape. Clear out any foliage that shouldn’t be there and inspect the soil accordingly. If you have any plants that you feel are poorly placed, autumn is the perfect time to get in there and replant them. If any perennials have faded slightly, cut them back to around 5cm to provide them the best health over the coming months.

4. Start your compost harvest

composting

If you have any deciduous trees that are in or overhang your garden, don’t worry about all of the leaves that have fallen and start a leaf mould to add to your compost. The leaves make amazing quality compost in a year or two, so store away all you can and you will have your very own compost to recycle in your garden.

5. The best time to plant evergreen

planting evergreen

Autumn is the best time to plant evergreen varieties due to the soil being still warm and with ever so slightly cooler weather. This greenery makes up the backbone of any quality garden, providing the green backdrop that many gardeners aim for. Plant your evergreen varieties in a way that brings bulk to your shrub borders and adds colour and depth to your main focal point plants.

6. Lift out timid species before the frost
lift out fragile plants in autumn

Autumn is the time when you will need to lift out your most fragile plants such as Dahlias or Begonias and place them into storage in a cool and dry place. Use sand or compost to keep them healthy and ensure that you replant them when spring arrives the coming year. Ensure they are fully covered with just the crowns visible to keep them healthy and happy.

7. Take care of your gardening tools

take care of gardening tools

Autumn is a great time of the year to ensure your gardening equipment is well maintained and in good working order. If you need to purchase replacement tools, check out your local garden hardware store to see if they have anything new and exciting in stock. Oil and clean any motorised equipment you might have, and get yourself ready for the busier months to come!

If you feel that gardening in Autumn is a little too much to handle all by yourself, why not hire a garden waste removal company that allows you to clear out your garden of foliage, branches, cut grass and soil and create for yourself a fresh and bright new garden. Simply have the skip bin delivered at a time of your choosing, fill it up and call for removal for a weekends work, your garden can get a full makeover.

 

02/16/16

Caring For Stray Frogs in the Winter

Every winter, frog lovers around the world write to us about stray frogs that wander inside. Last week a man from Maryland wrote about finding a grey tree frog.

Dear Susan,
“I found a gray tree frog hopping around inside our gym here in Maryland. I guess he was drawn inside by the heat. Well, I took him home and have him in a fish tank with water, crickets and artificial leaves for shelter. I’ve got a heating pad that sticks to the back of the tank. I was wondering how cold I could keep my home and still have the frog be ok?” – Gianni

Gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) by Robert A. Coggeshall on Wikipedia

Gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) by Robert A. Coggeshall on Wikipedia

For those of you not familiar with grey tree frogs, here’s some information and to read more, a page on Wikipedia:

The gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) is a species of small arboreal frog native to much of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada.[2]

As the scientific name implies, gray tree frogs are variable in color owing to their ability to camouflage themselves from gray to green, depending on the substrate where they are sitting. The degree of mottling varies.[3] They can change from nearly black to nearly white. They change color at a slower rate than a chameleon. The female does not croak and has a white throat; however, the male does croak and has a black/gray throat. The female is usually larger than the male.

The gray tree frog is capable of surviving freezing of their internal body fluids to temperatures as low as -8 °C.[9]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_tree_frog

 

When we find stray frogs who haven’t found a place to hibernate, it’s usually because we continue to build within the areas of their habitat, and they may get lost or confused. Going inside where the heat is on shows that this frog is trying to survive through the winter. It’s wonderful when people care enough to help them.

Rescued Grey Tree Frog in Winter

We’ve found a great site with tips on how to care for frogs and get them through the colder months, so they’ll be healthy and ready to go back outside come spring.

How to Take Care of a Pet Frog

 

Here are two of our previous posts that help explain what happens to frogs in the winter:

Winter is Coming: How Do Frogs Avoid Freezing

and

How Frogs and Toads Adapt To Winter’s Chill