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iNaturalist: Explore, Learn and Record

December 10, 2012 in ACT, Communications, Environment, Toolkiit

A black-capped chickadee, recorded on iNaturalist near Blake Road in Guilford Township (Medina County) on Sunday, December 2, 2012.

“iNaturalist is a place where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers, and learn about the natural world.”

iNaturalist (http://www.inaturalist.org/) is a smartphone and web-based data gathering program designed to provide an ecological learning and teaching platform for amateur and professional naturalists alike. The world is full of naturalists and many hikers, hunters, birders, and beachcombers record their observations of the environment around them. If the record of observations is comprehensive enough, it may be possible for scientists and land managers to monitor changes in biodiversity, and allow anyone to use the comprehensive record of life to learn more about nature. A comprehensive record of nature is the primary purpose of iNaturalist.

According to its website, iNaturalist began as the Master’s final project of Nate Agrin, Jessica Kline, and Ken-ichi Ueda at the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Information in 2008. Nate and Ken-ichi continued working on the site, along with Sean McGregor, post-graduation. Currently, Ken-ichi Ueda maintains the site in collaboration with Scott Loarie, a climate change researcher at the Carnegie Institution.

A presentation about iNaturalist headlined the most recent meeting of the Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership (LEAP) at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on November 14. Naturalist Marlo Perdicas, of Metro Parks Serving Summit County, introduced iNaturalist as an innovative tool for data sharing, citizen science, and learning. Perdicas illustrated the potential for iNaturalist as a means to vastly expand natural survey capabilities while fostering a stronger sense of community among iNaturalist users and park staff. She provided examples of how the program is currently utilized in Northeast Ohio, particularly Summit County, and also explored potential for expanded use through an energetic and interactive discussion with the audience.

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Parks, Parks and more Parks

November 12, 2012 in Conditions and Trends, Environment, News

Mill Creek Park, Mahoning County

One of the most interesting findings in the Conditions and Trends Platform is that 90% of NEO populations is within 1 mile of a park or a green space.

The highest concentration of parks and protected spaces is in the center of the region, around the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Ravenna Arsenal in Summit and Portage Counties.

There are, however, areas concentrated along the edge of the region that are further than two miles from a park or protected space. These areas include western Lorain and Medina counties, southern Wayne and Stark Counties, and parts of Ashtabula, Trumbull, and Mahoning counties.

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Explore, Live and Transform at Green City Blue Lake

November 5, 2012 in Communications, Environment, Toolkiit

NEOSCC Consortium Member, the Green City Blue Lake Institute has launched a wonderful new website:

 

The new site is based on a three-step process:

  • Explore: Until you experience Northeast Ohio and the natural systems that support life here the soils, the water, the plants and animals, the climate it’s hard to know how to take care of this place. So the first step is to explore the bioregion, root yourself here, learn to love your home territory.
  • Live: Empowered with the intimate knowledge of place, you can begin to improve your own life. You can lead a healthier, more fulfilling life that has less environmental impact.
  • Transform: Beyond the changes you can make in your own life, we all need to work together on big, complicated things like the design of more sustainable cities, buildings, and transportation systems. We need a sustainability policy agenda and projects that transform the region.

 

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Learn and Share: Are environmental conditions in Northeast Ohio getting better or worse?

October 31, 2012 in Conditions and Trends, Environment

Photo by Peggy Turbett, The Plain Dealer

With the weather, rainfall and flooding in the news, we thought it an appropriate time to discuss the Environment Work Stream findings.  Are environmental conditions in Northeast Ohio getting better or worse? The answer to that question depends a lot on the type of environmental issue being considered.  Here is a bit of a summary for rainy day reading.

Since the 1970s, the region has made a lot of progress cleaning up what is typically thought of as “pollution.” Industry has reduced emissions from smokestacks and effluent pipes. Wastewater treatment plants are doing a much better job treating sewage. And some of dirtiest sources of industrial pollution have closed down or moved to places with lower environmental standards. As a result, the air and water are cleaner than they used to be.

But other types of environmental issues have been harder to address. These are “nonpoint” sources of pollution — sources that are numerous and dispersed rather than a single point that is simple to regulate and control. For example, the region’s lakes and streams are impacted by polluted stormwater runoff, which flows off countless streets, parking lots, and farm fields. Similarly, the big problem affecting the region’s air quality now is the motor vehicle pollution from more than two million cars and trucks.

Environments Work Stream

These nonpoint sources are a big reason why the region struggles to make further environmental progress. Most Northeast Ohio counties still fail to meet federal air quality standards for ozone and fine particulates. Flooding from stormwater runoff is a persistent and costly problem. And there are disturbing signs that the health of Lake Erie, which had been improving for several decades, may be deteriorating again (lack of data further frustrates understanding of potential trends).

It is important to note that these environmental problems are related to patterns of land use. As development has spread out over more land, there are more paved surfaces and rooftops to shed rain, and people have to drive farther to reach far-flung destinations. The spread of development also affects the diversity of plants and wildlife. And it impacts emerging environmental issues, such as the rising level of carbon emissions that impact the region’s future precipitation patterns and conditions for agricultural production.

Visit our Conditions and Trends Platform to Learn More!

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