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TPI Presents EPA with Concerns about Artificial Turf

Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) has presented the Environmental Protection Agency a document titled “Serious Questions About the New-Generation Turf that Require Answers,” developed at the behest of the TPI Board of Directors. The TPI states it is concerned about the health, safety and environmental risks of the newest artificial turfs.

The TPI wants the EPA to examine the consequences of human exposure to silica dust and cadmium particles. Artificial turf infill includes silica sand and ground tire rubber that contains cadmium, a heavy metal. TPI believes the EPA should establish maximum exposure levels for these materials. TPI also has concerns for the environmentally safe disposal of large quantities of silica sand and ground rubber.

“What toxic gases would be released into the atmosphere in the event of an artificial turf fire?” TPI asked in a recent press release.

What, the TPI asks, is the environment impact to an area where artificial turf is used to replace natural grass? Natural grass, the TPI points out, “reduces temperatures, traps and bio-degrades airborne pollutants, filters rainwater and facilitates the recharge of groundwater and aquifers.”

TPI asserts that field sanitation, including removal of human bodily fluids--spittle, blood, sweat, vomit, urine--and animal wastes are problematic, because the antiseptic cleansers generally being used, according to the TPI, do not properly sanitize artificial turf.

The “Serious Questions about the New-Generation Turf that Require Answers” document can be found at www.turfgrasssod.org/pressroom.html



Grand Theft Shrubbery






Thieves are targeting rare cycads such as this rather uncommon one, ceratozamia miqueliana, a Mexican native growing in Florida.


A homeowner in a suburb of Los Angeles woke up just as thieves took off in the middle of the night with two of his plants worth $3,500, and this is not an odd or isolated incident. They were after certain rare cycads, palm-like plants that sometimes fetch $20,000 on the international black market. These plants have been targeted in a wave of thefts in California and Florida, and botanical gardens and nurseries are no longer talking about what they have because they’re afraid of being hit. Almost everyone involved with growing cycads has been targeted and has a story of theft. Some have added very expensive security measures or locked their plants in greenhouses, while several have even given up on growing the plants altogether. There are over 300 species of cycads, which are related to pine trees, and most are threatened with extinction. They are generally tropical or subtropical, with some of the rarest found in southern Africa, Australia and South America. International treaties restrict their import, and several are so priceless they couldn’t be displayed if stolen. It’s become the equivalent of having a Picasso sitting unprotected on the lawn.



State Utility Protecting Threatened Plant






There are fewer that 100 populations of Georgia Asters (Symphyotrichum georgianum) in the world.


EnergyUnited, the third-largest provider of residential electricity in North Carolina is out to protect a stand of Georgia Asters (Symphyotrichum georgianum), a threatened herbaceous perennial found on the company’s right-of-way. The Georgia Aster grows in only 20 locations in the state and in only three other states, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Its purple blooms appear from October to mid-November.

“Good stewardship of natural resources and our environment is a high priority at EnergyUnited,” said Jimmy Brown, director of the company’s right-of-way maintenance.



2004 Perennial Plant of the Year






Pictum fronds grow to 18 inches, are metallic silver with hints of red and blue.


And the envelope, please. The Perennial Plant Association’s (PPA) “Perennial Plant of the Year” goes to…the Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum,’ a showy, low-maintenance Japanese painted fern that prefers shade and is hardy in all zones but northernmost zone 3 and the desert.

The PPA notes that among the popular garden combinations for Japanese painted fern are hosta ‘Patriot,’ ‘ginko Craig’ and Tiarella (foam flower). For something different, says the PPA, try Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans,’ or mixing the fern with Carex (sedges), Carex morrowii ‘Variegata’ or Carex siderosticha ‘Silver Sceptre.’

The fern needs compost-rich soil and does best in moist humid conditions. A well-grown plant can be separated in early spring into 3-4 divisions and replanted.



New Turf Insecticide Is Approved

San Francisco-based Arvesta Corporation has received federal approval for the company’s new ARENA Insecticide, which targets grubs, chinch bugs, webworms and other damaging pests in turf. ARENA, a new-generation insecticide, also offers suppression of cutworms and mole crickets.

ARENA Insecticide works through contact and ingestion to stop damaging pests immediately. It also works systemically providing season-long, residual control of some insects, which is important when maintaining beautiful, healthy turf.

“We’re very excited to offer this new chemistry to the golf course and lawn care markets,” said Bill Liles, turf and ornamental business manager for Arvesta. “ARENA provides professional turf managers another tool for controlling multiple pests. As regional pest variations exist, we are proud to provide a broader-spectrum insecticide that delivers greater value to our customers.”



Experiments May Prevent Water Wars






The ability to lessen the amount of water needed for agriculture could greatly reduce the possibility of international conflict and that could pay of for US and world security.


The Sandia National Laboratories of Albuquerque, N.M. has been experimenting with a method that uses roughly one-hundredth the amount of fresh water needed to grow forage for livestock and this may leave much more water available for human consumption. As a byproduct, it may also add formerly untapped solar energy into the electrical grid. A total of 42 wireless sensors are being installed in a hydroponic greenhouse under the supervision of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Sandia Labs because, as Ron Pate, a lab researcher says, “Disputes over water are possible, if not likely, causes for war in the 21st century.” Underground water supplies are dipping lower and lower because of increased pumping for agricultural use in many third world countries such as China, India, the Middle East and Mexico–not to mention the American southwest. Conventional farming methods in dry regions lose huge amounts of water through evaporation and over-absorption by soil. Preliminary indications are that hydroponic greenhouses in New Mexico could reduce the current 800,000 acre-feet of water to 11,000 acre-feet of water to produce an equivalent amount (dry weight) of livestock forage and do this on less then 1,000 acres instead of 260,000 acres. In addition to avoiding soil salination, hydroponic greenhouses do not require high-quality arable soil.



Modesto City Council Votes to Privatize Park Maintenance






The Modesto Arch, built in 1911, still stands. It reads: “Water Wealth Contentment Health.”


The Modesto City Council has voted to begin soliciting bids for a five-year contract for the maintenance of 66 parks and 150 other landscaped sites, according to the Modesto Bee. The city expects to pay about $1.2 million a year for the services.

Modesto is a central Calif. city on the Tuolumne River in the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley. It’s a farming and fruit-growing area with a population of about 175,000.

Tightening city budgets prompted the privatization plan, developed and presented to the city council by parks director Jim Niskanen and Duane Frederick, superintendent of park operations. The city already pays private companies to maintain 10 city parks.

The city council also approved beginning negotiations with the unions representing the dozen or more employees who will lose their jobs to the privatization.



Fertilizer Shortages Mean Use Supplies Carefully

Continued worldwide demand for fertilizer could result in limited supplies for the 2005 growing season, according to Bob Hoeft, soil fertility specialist with University of Illinois Extension. “With potentially short supplies, it is important for producers to make the best use of available fertilizer to ensure maximum production on their fields,” Hoeft said. “Growers who have not had a recent soil test should consider having a sample from each 21/2 acres of their fields analyzed for pH, phosphorus and potassium.” He suggests applying lime, which will not be in short supply, to any field with less than 6.0 soil pH. Growers should also consider adding phosphorus and potassium to low-testing fields first.

Hoeft said. “Research has shown that application of an amount equal to about 11/2 times crop removal will often optimize yields, even on low-testing soils. If supplies are limited, growers should think about delaying the buildup portion until the quantities are more plentiful.” Hoeft advises growers to spread limited supplies of fertilizer over all the acres rather than adding full rates to some fields and none to others. He notes that nitrogen will likely not be in short supply, although prices could be higher than normal.



NFL Selects Winner of Toro Super Bowl
Sports Turf Training Program






Stephen Sayrs, onbord the equipment, will assist the grounds crew for Super Bowl 2005.


BLOOMINGTON, Minn.–Stephen Sayrs, turf student at the University of Tennessee, is winner of the third annual Toro Super Bowl sports turf training program. In February 2005, Sayrs will travel to Jacksonville, Fla. to help the grounds crew maintain practice facilities and the game field of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Alltel Stadium, for Super Bowl 2005.

Sayrs is pursuing a master of science in plant sciences with a concentration in turfgrass management at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

“Part of the research we are conducting at UT is to help K-12 schools and municipal fields select proper species of turfgrasses,” said Sayrs. “We are also working on the best cultural practices that will enhance the fields' performance and ensure safe playing surfaces.”

Toro equipment and representatives have been involved in preparing the stadium and practice fields since the first Super Bowl in 1967.



Fertilizer Ban Challenged By Lawsuit






Madison, the Wisconsin capital, sits on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Menona, prompting concern for the city’s fertilizer use and its impact on algae growth and water quality.


A lawsuit filed in federal court on Dec. 15 aims to quash new Madison, Wis. ordinances banning the use of phosphorus fertilizers.

The lawsuit, filed by a group of fertilizer retailers, lawn-care businesses and trade groups, claims that the ordinances, which are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, are pre-empted by federal and state laws and violate the equal protection and free speech clauses of the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions.

The group wants U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to declare the ordinances null and void and stop the city and county from implementing and enforcing them.

Spokesmen for Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk vowed they would fight the lawsuit, saying the reduction of phosphorus is important to the restoration of Dane County lakes.

“(The ordinance) will help us control the phosphorus going into the lake,” said Falk spokesman Topf Wells, “which will help us reduce the noxious algae blooms that make our lakes less attractive to use and, to a degree, less safe.”

“The ordinance is an important part of protecting the Madison-area lakes and starting them on the road to recovery,” said Cieslewicz spokesman George Twigg.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: CropLife America, a Washington, D.C., fertilizer trade association; Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, another Washington fertilizer trade association; the Wisconsin Fertilizer and Chemical Association; the Midwest Hardware Association; and the Wisconsin Landscape Federation. Businesses include Berry Hill Farms and Landmark Services Cooperative, both of Cottage Grove; Keyman Lawn Care of Verona and Midwest Lawn Care of Middleton.
Wisconsin State Journal



Playground Contractors Association
Announces First Playground Construction School








The International Playground Contractors Association (formerly the National Playground Contractors Association) will premiere its Playground Construction School February 10-12, 2005 in Orlando, Florida. The organization asserts this is the first time an industry-wide national school has been held.

The curriculum was designed to create a standard of installation to help ensure that commercial playgrounds are installed correctly and safely. The topics covered will include:

  • site analysis
  • job site safety
  • reading blueprints
  • working with common materials and hardware
  • working with general contractors, manufacturers and their reps
  • guidelines and standards
  • installation techniques
  • tools of the trade
  • surfacing installation and requirements
  • finishing the job
  • playground construction as a business
  • state requirements

The school will conclude with an installation of a playground structure.
The association plans to offer certification testing.

For more information, call 888-908-8519, or download an enrollment form at www.playground-contractors.org



National Park Service Mobilizing North Carolinians for Adelgid Fight






A wooly adelgid-infested hemlock branch.


The National Park Service, Friends of the Smokies, and the Western North Carolina Alliance have scheduled a public workshop Oct. 28 to mobilize western North Carolinians for the “fight” against the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an Asian aphid-like insect introduced into North America around 1924. The insect sucks sap from young hemlock twigs and retards or prevents tree growth. The insect has already devastated hemlocks on the Appalachian range north of here.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said the hemlock trees would succumb to the insect without collaborative intervention.

The U.S. Forestry Service estimates half the range of hemlock in the eastern United States is infested and the entire range at risk. Insecticide use in the forest is not considered viable. Biological controls are being tried. Importing the natural enemies of the HWA from Asia began in 1992. Four predators have been identified, imported and released to attempt to control the HWA populations. This effort is not considered an immediate remedy, but only part of a long-term solution. The search for other natural predators of the HWA are being sought.



Cut Flowers Only, Cemetery Decrees






Most cemeteries post their policy regarding appropriate plot decorations, yet people often disregard them. Hint: Christmas trees are not allowed in this cemetery.


Over-decorations of plots, including toys, lights and balloons, in what is now called the children's garden at Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall, Los Angeles County, became offensive enough for one family to disinter a daughter. With all the paraphernalia in the children's garden, simply mowing the area became untenable and led to complaints.

Eternal Valley now has a “cut flowers only” policy, which not only brings a more dignified look to the cemetery, but allows for proper maintenance of the grounds.
Source: Santa Clarita’s the-signal.com



Flu Shot Shortage May Boost Absences

This year’s shortage of influenza vaccine may produce many more lost work hours as thousands of workers are forced to skip their seasonal flu shot. The shortage is due to the closure of British vaccine maker Chiron Corp., which has cut the U.S. supply nearly in half. The move is restricting shots to the elderly and other high-risk groups. Many large companies have offered yearly flu shots to employees in the hope that the shots, which cost $20 to $25 each, will pay for themselves in reduced absences. One study reported 43 percent reduced sick days for vaccinated employees. Between 10 percent and 20 percent of the U.S. population catches the flu during an average season.



EPA Issues Voluntary Water and Wastewater Guidelines






The EPA urges greater use of online monitoring to protect against potential misuse of contaminants, and the guidelines include tips on placement of sensors and instruments.


The Environmental Protection Agency has issued new voluntary guidelines that rely on industry to secure drinking water and wastewater treatment plants against attack. The guidelines for improving designs and operations were written by industry groups with EPA financing. Jeanette Brown, a water pollution official in Stamford, Connecticut who led an industry task force that developed the guidelines, said another danger from underground wastewater and stormwater facilities is their possible use as conduits for covert attacks on other infrastructure or sensitive locations at other buildings. Benjamin Grumbles, the agency’s top official for water issues, said, “Americans should feel confidant, when they turn on the tap, they have access to some of the cleanest, safest water in the world.”



ICPI Publication Takes Gold








The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute's latest publication, The Patio Portfolio: An Inspirational Design Guide has been recognized as a Gold (First Place) winner in the Association Trends 2004 All-Media Contest. In place for the last 27 years, the contest recognizes excellence in association media in 30 different categories. Winning entries will be honored February 10, 2005 at the capital Hilton in Washington D.C. For more information on ICPI or to order a copy, please visit www.icpi.org



Streams and Recycled Water Filled With Not so Nice Surprises






Water released from recycling plants has some alarming compounds that result from mixing chlorine with pharmaceuticals - and some of them are highly toxic.


Have you ever wondered what happens to painkillers, antibiotics, hormones, caffeine and antibacterial soap they end up in the wastewater? The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is researching what happens when they mix with chlorine. Scientists around the world are finding many drugs in their wastewater, but little is known about the byproducts of those drugs created during chlorine treatment or time spent in the environment. Among the concerns is possible damage to the environment, animals and people from bioactive compounds. NIST chemists selected four pharmaceuticals and found that the reactions are complicated and often produce unexpected products. For example, acetaminophen forms multiple products, two of which are highly toxic. All the drugs transformed significantly and their products were more hydrophobic than the parent chemicals. Hydrophobic compounds are more likely to stay in the body, but it isn’t known whether these reaction products pose any health or environmental hazards. The U.S. Geological Survey did a separate study targeting 95 organic wastewater contaminants of which 82 were found in one stream. In 35 percent of the streams the scientists found 10 or more compounds with a surprisingly high prevalence of mixtures. The chemicals included cotinine, a nicotine breakdown product, caffeine, cholesterol, steroids, the insecticide DEET, flame retardant, and a detergent breakdown product with endocrine disruptive properties. For most of these chemicals, drinking water standards, human health advisories or criteria to protect aquatic life do not exist. However previous research has shown that exposure to levels reported can illicit deleterious effects in aquatic species. All the more reason for making sure that stormwater run-off and water restoration projects are handled with care and energy. For more information go to: http://toxics.usgs.gov/regional/emc.html



Reduced Price For School Fire Ant Programs

Bayer Environmental Science’s School program is offering a reduced product price for TopChoice purchased by school districts. If the school has a licensed chemical applicator, contact the local distributor and order enough to treat half the area. The other half of the product will be delivered free of charge once the voucher has been received by Bayer. If the school uses a lawn care or pest control company, the supervisor simply has to ask for a TopChoice application estimate when they inform them that Bayer will ship half the product directly to the school unless otherwise directed. Some 126 southern schools have a red imported fire ant problem that is especially dangerous on sports fields and other irrigated lawn areas frequented by children. For more information call Bayer Customer Service at 1-800-331-2867



Symposium 2005 Expects 30% Greater Attendance

The Snow & Ice Management Association’s (SIMA) 2005 Snow & Ice Symposium heads south to Louisville, Ky., June 8-11. SIMA’s projected attendance figures are over 1,200 attendees, easily the largest to date. “It’s not just the increasing number of attendees that we’re excited about,” said Trina Cragle, SIMA’s event coordinator. “Most of them are presidents of companies or own their own businesses. They generate bigger and better educational seminars and draw more exhibitors to the trade show.” The four-day event will focus on professional snow and ice management companies. It features educational seminars, a two-day trade show, extensive roundtable discussions and Certified Snow Professional testing. For more information visit www.sima.org



Southwest Palms Have Sudden Crown Drop






A fungus is responsible for sudden crown drop, which will send the two-ton crown hurtling down into the street.


When the crown of a very large palm tree unexpectedly drops into traffic in Beverly Hills, then people start to take notice. A new disease is attacking Canary Island date palms. The fungus responsible for the disease, Thielaviopsis paradoxa, enters through wounds in the trunk causing rot and decay in the interior of the trunk. Usually there are no signs on the exterior of the trunk, however there is still enough sound healthy tissue to keep the crown of leaves looking normal even though there isn’t enough structural strength to keep the crown attached for long. When the disease has advanced enough, the weight of the crown is too much and it simply snaps off. This is particularly dangerous because the crown and attached portion of the trunk can easily weigh a ton or more, and when they crash unexpectedly people have been killed. In Beverly Hills alone there are over a thousand Canary Island date palms. Fortunately, sudden crown drop rarely affects true date palms, the California fan palm or the queen palm. The disease can be controlled through prevention by limiting the use of chainsaws when trimming the “ball” just below the leaves. It is easy to knick the trunk or cut too deeply when using a chainsaw, therefore avoid using chainsaws and check frequently for damage. For more information, contact Donald R. Hodel of the University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles, California at: drhodel@ucdavis.edu



“Gray Market” Machines Illegal






John Deere Telehandlers are among the gray market machines that are being imported back into the U.S. without authorization by the manufacturer.







Kubota initiated legal action against distributors pedaling “gray market” machines in the U.S. because their reputation for selling high quality machinery was being adversely affected.


The International Trade Commission has ruled that it is illegal for importers to sell “gray market” machines, or machines that were developed for the international market, and customs officials have been notified to stop these machines at the border and not allow them to enter the United States. These machines are being shipped back into the U.S. and because they aren’t authorized for sale here, they do not have the full safety features required nor will they qualify for warranty under U.S. guidelines. This action was originally initiated by Kubota because the unauthorized importation, distribution and sale of Kubota “gray market” tractors by individuals and companies independent of Kubota adversely affected their reputation in the United States and with the United States consumer. The ITC affirmed an original finding by the Administrative Law Judge that the sale of these machines infringed on Kubota’s registered trademark. They issued a General Exclusion Order prohibiting further importation and issued various Cease and Desist Orders against various respondents. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Commission decision.

In addition, John Deere has had a similar difficulty. Third party representatives are selling Self-Propelled Forage Harvesters and Telehandlers originally designed for the European market to U.S. dealers, independent retailers and end-users. The gray market machines in question are designed with specific product features for the European market, making some parts and attachments unavailable in the United States. John Deere’s gray market machines are not built in the United States and also do not have warranty coverage or availability of parts or service. These machines are being imported back into the country without the authorization of John Deere. Both John Deere and Kubota value customer safety. Gray market machines, however, are not equipped with important safety equipment such as ROPS and seatbelt, PTO shield, safety decals or operators manual.

Kubota has issued a set of tips to identify Gray Market tractors which are:

  • Model Number (refer to list on website)
  • No safety or operation labels are written in English.
  • If an Operator Manual is provided the model number on the face of the manual will differ from the model number on the tractor.
  • If a serial number plate is on the tractor, the information on the plate is written in Japanese.
  • The tractor may be equipped with Japanese rice paddy tires (much higher thread lugs than U.S. agricultural tires) and information on the tire is written in Japanese.
  • Some models have no over-running PTO clutch.

John Deere encourages its customers to work with their local John Deere dealer for the right product to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction, service and support. Kubota intends to continue its efforts to ensure that the Orders of the United States Government in this regard are fully enforced. If you have any questions, or require further information, please contact either www.kubota.com or www.deere.com



2005 Indiana Flower & Patio Show








The 46th Annual Indiana Flower & Patio Show, one of the largest and most prestigious in the Midwest, comes to the Indiana State Fairgrounds West Pavilion and Expo Hall in Indianapolis, Ind., March 12-20, 2005.

This year’s theme is “Heirlooms” and the show will feature more than 30 life-sized and fully landscaped gardens, floral design demonstrations, gardening lectures and myriad floral displays.
Visit www.hsishows.com



Weed Triggers Plants to Self Destruct






Spotted knapweed, a highly invasive thistle, releases a natural herbicide that kills native plants.


Scientists have always thought that invasive plants take over other natives by being more efficient in their use of resources. But the spotted knapweed has a truly homicidal use of chemistry. Catechin, a chemical released by this plant, was documented by researchers at Colorado State University. A natural herbicide, it causes plants to self-destruct, allowing the spotted knapweed to take over. Jorge Vivanco, Colorado State Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture professor says, “It actually triggers a genetic response within other plants, causing them to create oxidants-free radicals–as well as triggering genes that cause the plant’s cells to die, and it’s dead in a short period of time.” The new research combines horticulture, biology, chemistry, weed science and genetics. The spotted knapweed is native to Europe. When soil levels of catechin in Colorado and Europe were compared, catechin levels were four to five times higher than in Europe. Potted plants native to Europe exposed to those same levels of catechin weren’t affected. “There is strong evidence that chemistry can play a role when weeds invade non-native soil,” said Vivanco.
For more information go to: www.colostate.edu



PREV-AM(R) Approved

A new fungicide, pesticide and miticide with 12-hour REI and PHI was approved by the California Department of Pesticide Registration for commercialization. PREV-AM(R) is unique in the fact that it can be used as an integrated pest management (IPM) tool for immediate knockdown. Although the initial effort will be aimed at use on fruits, nuts, tomatoes and other vegetables, it has been given diverse crop approvals. The California DPR ID also approved it for use against many pests including mites, aphids and thrips and given the extensive efficacy data submitted, ORO-AGRI plans to apply for label inclusion of other federal EPA approved uses on pests such as whitefly, mealy-bug, lygus-bugs, beet army worm, leafhopper and other bugs. On the disease side, PREV-AM(R) is also approved for powdery mildew, downy mildew, botrytis and late blight. Again, ORO AGRI is submitting for label inclusion of bunch rot, brown rust, anthracnose, dollar spot and fairy ring. Initial tests on other molds/fungi are promising. Now used internationally, PREV-AM(R) is known as effective and affordable. Founded in l998, ORO-AGRI is an agricultural solutions company based in Texas with distribution in the US, Europe and South Africa.
For more information go to: www. Citrusoilproducts.com



NEW LAW REQUIRES
Urban Water Meters






The CLCA supports measuring water to conserve its use and imposing higher rates on customers who use excessive amounts of landscape water.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed into law a measure that requires urban water suppliers to install water meters on all municipal and industrial service connections by January 1, 2025 and to bill for the water based on volume of use. Assembly Bill 2572, authored by Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), also requires urban water suppliers to base water charges by volume of use by January 1, 2011 for customers who have meters by that date. AB 2572 affects Sacramento, Modesto, South Lake Tahoe, Woodland, Lodi, Elk Grove, Galt, Marysville, Oroville, and several other small communities that are not yet required to meter their water. Gov. Gray Davis signed a Kehoe-authored bill that required water suppliers receiving water from the Central Valley Project to install meters and bill customers by volume of use by 2013. That measure left only a few urban communities without a water meter mandate, and this year’s AB 2572 took care of them. CLCA lobbied on behalf of AB 2572.



Landmark Court Case Turns on Floodplain Development






The court ordered FEMA to adhere to the Endangered Species Act process, which could result in sweeping changes in federal development standards for floodplain activities.


In a landmark decision, a federal judge found the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in violation of the endangered species act because it has ignored the impacts of its activities on threatened Chinook salmon in Puget Sound. The decision hinged on the fact that FEMA is, in effect, encouraging filling in floodplains by making federal flood insurance a prerequisite to floodplain development. The judge ruled that FEMA’s regulations and the sale of insurance enable development in the floodplains. This reduces the amount of habitat available while creating additional impermeable surfaces that produce polluting runoff. This is the second legal win for salmon in as many weeks.



Blower Bans Are Blowing in the Wind






Big Blow Off: At least 44 California cities restrict or ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. More municipalities across the country are pondering restrictions.


Many communities across the country have laws limiting leaf blower use. Some 44 California cities restrict their use. Berkeley, Calif., no stranger to activism, banned gas leaf blowers altogether in 1990, and the 90210 haut community (Beverly Hills) followed suit. Other cities have instituted partial bans, like Mamaroneck, N.Y, which forbids the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from June 1 to Sept. 30.

More and more communities are joining in. Just this October the Vancouver City Council voted to ban leaf blowers in the city's West End; stateside, the Chapel Hill, N.C. town council proposed a similar ban.

Clearly people are fed up with noise, and some are concerned about the pollution of the small gas engines. The EPA estimates that the small gas engines, like the ones used by leaf blowers, are responsible for 10 percent of the nation's hydrocarbon emissions.

But where there is a complete ban on the blowers, as in Berkeley, landscapers say they’ve had to hire more groundskeepers to make up for the loss of efficiency of the leaf blowers.



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December 7, 2019, 3:33 am PDT

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