Archive for category 2012 Bioregional Quiz

Bioregional Quiz

18) Which (if any) geological features in your watershed are, or were, especially respected by your community, or considered sacred, now or in the past?

Carlisle, PA is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which encompasses 64,000 sq. mi. of land that covers parts of 6 different states and all of Washington D.C. This watershed is one of the larger ones found in the country, with over 17 million people living off it. A watershed, also known as a “drainage basin,” is an area of land that drains into a particular body of water, whether it is a river, bay or an ocean. Within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed that covers the part of Central, PA where Carlisle stands, there is the Lower Susquehanna-Swatara watershed, which locally drains the water in Carlisle towards the Chesapeake Bay. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program website, “Altogether, more than 100,000 streams, creeks and rivers (called tributaries) thread through the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Each one of us lives within a few miles of one of these local waterways, which are like pipelines from our communities to the Bay.” The largest river that drains into the watershed is the Susquehanna River, which passes through Harrisburg, providing nearly 50% of the fresh water that is deposited into the basin. Even though we could not find any specific indications of particularly respected geological features within this watershed, it was clear that the great diversity in fish within the Susquehanna and the Chesapeake Bay itself is recognized and heavily advertised. Due to the quality of the rivers that drain into this watershed and the abundance of fish within them, activities like fly-fishing have become extremely popular, bringing in a lot of the area’s yearly tourism and feeding the surrounding population.

Map of the entire watershed

I was able to find most of the information I needed to answer this question from the Chesapeake Bay Program website, a program dedicated to conducting scientific research and raising awareness about the condition, maintenance and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and the watershed. I was surprised and pleased to see how developed the program is and I can only hope that more local programs focusing on monitoring and maintaining the conditions of our bioregions water, like Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM), will grow to be as successful. From the little I read about it, this program empowers the residents of the Chesapeake Bay area to be more involved in their contact and aid to the bay, much like ALLARM, and provides basic yet valuable knowledge about the land we live on and how our lifestyles can affect the health of our water, and the people it nourishes. However, I could not help but ask: Even though successful programs like ALLARM and the Chesapeake Bay Program exist, what are other ways in which we can get the people to be more connected to the water sources and drains in their bioregion? What would we gain from creating such connections?

19) How many days is the growing season here (from frost to frost)?

The growing season in Carlisle is the same as the average growing season in all of Pennsylvania. As Lindsey Lyons and Heidi Witmer mentioned during their visits to our classroom, the growing season in Carlisle lasts from mid-April to as late as the beginning of November. This six-month growing season is considerably longer than growing seasons in other areas of the United States. However, every crop has its own particular growing season within a region, marking the part of the year in which a native crop will grow in that area.

At first I was surprised to hear the length of Carlisle’s growing season, since I usually associate Central PA with trucking and manufacturing plants. However, after learning more about the dense history of farming in the region carried on by people like Heidi Wilmer, I am impressed with their efforts to maximize food production within local farms. Like she mentioned, information about growing seasons is valuable to people in Carlisle that participate in CSA programs, like the one she and her father are hoping to start. Dickinson College Farm has its own CSA Program that lasts over a 24 week period (six months), in which over 130 families have access to a selection of crops that are in season. In other words, Dickinson’s CSA program provides fresh crops to families in Carlisle for the entirety of the growing season in this region. The longevity of the growing season in PA results in the access to fresh crops for a more prolonged period of time for the people in our bioregion. With current crises developing on our globe like the food crisis, these programs beg the question of what else we can do to improve our food production practices on the local and global levels.

20) Name five birds that live here. Which are migratory and which stay put?

1) American Kestrel

The American kestrel, also often called the sparrow hawk, is the smallest and most numerous falcon in North America. Partial Migrator – stays stationary primarily in areas of Central Pennsylvania and parts of southern Ohio

American Kestrel

2) The Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

“Linaetus of the East” are the most migratory – Fall Migration happens between mid October through mid November down into the south-east region of America.

3) Merlin

 

Migratory in the Southern region of Pennsylvania – Merlins disperse from natal (birth) sites and migrate in a broad range of North American habitats. Distance and direction of migration is unknown because there is no data available from banding, however scientists suggest that there is migration into mid-California.

Merlin

4) Wood Thrush

 

Migratory in the later fall months (mid October to late November) down into the southwestern points of Florida and along the Gulf Coast. However, for the most part, the species is stationary.

5.)  Bufflehead

Migratory and mainly dwell for a majority of the year in central Pennsylvania (particularly in lakes in the surrounding area) and migrate to the south-east in the winters.

The Kittatinny Ridge– A major flyway for birds around Hawk Mountain in Central Pennsylvania. During peak visitation (October), the Sanctuary can host up to 3,000 visitors per day. A comprehensive biological survey has been completed as well as two of the longest running Breeding Bird Censuses in the state. Development along the Kittatinny Ridge/Blue Mountain corridor east of the Susquehanna River is a conservation threat. The construction of communication towers is being studied as a possible risk for migrating birds. Although few formal studies exist, more work in this area is anticipated in the next few years.

Kittatinny Ridge

There is also the Sheets Island Archipelago, which is a series of low islands in the Susquehanna River just outside the city of Harrisburg. It harbors large concentrations of migrating birds and is the site of the state’s largest egret colonies. The dominant vegetation on the islands is Poison Ivy, River Birch, Silver Maple, Sycamore and Tulip Poplar (on some islands). Aster-like Boltonia, Flat-leaved Pondweed, Umbrella Magnolia, Blue-eyed Grass, and Umbrella Flatsedge are all rare or threatened species that are found on the islands. In addition to rare plant species, the archipelago is home to the River Otter, Frosted Effin, Midget Snaketail Dragonfly, and Spring Blue Darner.

The subject of bird migration was very interesting to research because it shows the fluctuation and adaptation that animals, native to central-Pennsylvania, have to their surroundings. Originally, when I went into the project research, I was expecting just to get a few species of birds that resided in Pennsylvania. I was expecting this because when I look around Carlisle, I mainly see sparrows, robins, and the occasion hawk. However, with further research, I found that there were a number of different ducks, sparrows, hawks, and even falcons that are native to central Pennsylvania. I chose the five birds that I researched because they seemed to be a good combination of stationary and migratory species. At first, I had a difficult time finding bird species native to Carlisle, because when I went to research species of birds, they were all species that periodically spend their time dwelling in the surrounding Central Pennsylvania area. However, I called my grandfather, an avid birdwatcher, and he gave me a reference to the Audubon Society online homepage. I was also impressed when he referred me to the homepage of the Cornell College Lab of Ornithology, because the school dedicates an entire lab and website to the study of birds and where to find specific species. I found that most of the species were migratory towards the South east coast, but spent their time mostly in Carlisle and the surrounding flyways and archipelagos (The Kittatinny Ridge and the Sheets Island Archipelago in particular). Merlin and the American Kestrel were the two most migratory of the species I researched for this project and they spend most of their winters in the northern points of Florida, whereas the Wood Thrush, Bufflehead, and the Red-Shouldered Hawk spends their time mostly in the surrounding areas of Carlisle/Harrisburg in heavily wooded areas (Wood Thrush and the Red-Shouldered Hawk) and the low islands of the Susquehanna (Bufflehead).

21) What was the total rainfall here last year?

After much research, I discovered the total rainfall in Carlisle in 2011 was 64.2 inches. This in no way came as a shock to me. I live in Carlisle throughout the academic year, where I’m definitely aware of how many days I can’t leave my dorm without a raincoat. Through my research I discovered that April is historically the rainiest month of the year in Carlisle; however, in 2011 it was September by hundredths of an inch. I was not surprised with this statistic either. I almost forgot my raincoat when I came back to Carlisle to start classes in late August; it was the last thing I packed. I felt incredibly grateful that I had remembered it considering the immense rain we got in the first weeks of school. It’s safe to say that none of my group members were surprised by this amount of rain either. Despite the beautiful spring days, rain is the first thing that comes to mind when we thing Carlisle weather.

22) Where does the pollution in your air come from?

Oftentimes air pollutionis associated with other naturally occurring phenomena such as acid rain, smog, and greenhouse gases.   While the above is true, air pollution can also be caused by external sources in our communities that release unnatural emissions into the air causing problems for humans, plants, and animals. Such is the case in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where the majority of the pollution in the air comes from the diesel engines released by trucks that pass through the town while on Interstate 81.

Map of Interstate 81

Carlisle’s notorious reputation as one of the top 20 most polluted counties in the country can be attributed to the mass track industry present in the town.  Interstate 1 cuts right through this small Cumberland Country town attracting thousands and thousands of drivers and most importantly, truckers, each day.  Trucks are responsible for emitting particulate matter, also referred to as ‘PM’.  PM consists of soot and metal particles that pose the most serious threat to human health as they travel through respiratory system straight to the lungs. Specifically, PM2.5 is the highest contributing cause of air pollution in the county. Not only does Carlisle’s high levels of  “diesel engine exhaust and open burning of waste” directly affect the community and its members, but it also contributes to Cumberland County’s overall high level of diesel PM ranking it in the 96th percentile of highest levels of diesel PM nationwide.

Mobile emissions also contribute (though not as ubiquitous) to Carlisle’s air quality and pollution.  Mobile emissions can be separated into two categories: off-road, which includes heavy construction equipment like bulldozers and cranes; farm equipment similar to tractors; and lawn and garden equipment.  On-road mobile emissions classify as heavy-duty diesel vehicles such as trucks, buses and other transports of gasoline.

Visible contamination

It is also important to keep in mind the chain reaction effect that occurs along with the release of biodiesel into the air.  Diesel fuel is comprised of several other pollutants such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and sulfur (just to name a few of the ‘big’ ones), all of which have their separate (but even more potent collectively) affect on the environment.

As a part-time resident of Carlisle, the facts concerning the air quality in the community were quite daunting.  I consider the research process a valuable experience and only wish that full-time members within the community have access to at least half of the information I uncovered when reading through sources.  Studying the history of air pollution in quality could potentially unveil some current speculations regarding community health; thus, implementing civic education within the community (yay ecofeminism!) would lead one step closer to reducing the presence of air pollutants in Carlisle, one individual at a time.

 

23) If you live near the ocean, when is high tide today?

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is not home to any oceans. However, finding this information was surprisingly easy. I was originally concerned about

Susquehanna River

Carlisle’s lack of ocean, however after little research it became clear that there are other bodies of water that have tides. This is not something I was surprised by, but it is not something I often thought about. When talking about oceans, Pennsylvania is a landlocked state. Upon reading this question, I was thoroughly confused. I never thought about how close Pennsylvania is to the Atlantic Ocean. I know that many families travel to the shore over the hot summers, but I didn’t really ever consider the fact that it’s not possible to go swim the ocean while still

in Pennsylvania. It is just not something I ever thought about. This all being said, I knew that the tides I would be looking for to answer this question would not be those of an ocean. This is where I began researching the major rivers in Pennsylvania and narrowed it down to the Susquehanna River and the Schuykill River. The Susquehanna River is closer to Carlisle than the Schuykill River, so I observed the tides here. The first high tide on April 24, 2012 is at 1:11 AM and the second is 1:23 PM. I previously had no knowledge of ocean or river tides, so I was surprised that they were almost 24 perfect hours apart.

 

 

Group 4: Diana Morales, Krysten Peck, Annabelle Gould and Kylie Logan

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Bioregional Quiz

1. Point north.

When asked to point north, I immediately looked to the sky. It was cloudy, so I couldn’t use the sun to determine which way was north. Even if I could, modern technology has allowed me to have a horrible sense of direction, so the likelihood of me getting it right was still iffy. Since technology created this problem, technology could solve it. I clicked on the compass app on my phone to figure out north. I felt a bit silly using a phone for something so simple, but I am not exactly in the habit of carrying around a compass. North on campus is facing Old West with Weiss behind  me.

2. What time is sunset today?

April 24, sunset is at 7:57 pm in Carlisle. I discovered this information by a simple Google search – again, relying on technology to find out something relatively simple. It seems like not too long ago sunset was happening around 5 pm, not 8. Although we live in the middle of town, there are plenty of places to watch a nice sunset. For example, the roof of Tome provides a good view, or a walk to the Carlisle high school’s field.

Conodiguinet Creek

3. Trace the water you drink from rainfall to your tap.

As Carlisle’s town website states, after rainfall the rain that falls into the Conodoguinet Creek and is treated to meet the Federal and state standers of safe drinking water. This action is done twenty four hours a day for 365 days and is tested for taste and color to assure is upheld according to the “Safe Drinking Water Act.”

4. How many feet above sea level are you?

Carlisle is 473 feet above sea level (Socolow 7). The information is from the article “Elevations in Pennsylvania” done by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania department of Environmental Resources under the Bureau of Topographic and Geologic survey. Cumberland valley has some high points though with the Ridge and Valley Section including the Blue Mountain which is much higher than Carlisle at 1100-2200 feet (Socolow 7). The lowest point in Cumberland County is the Susquehanna river at the junction of Cumberland, York and Dauphin counties at only 291 feet. Also the other two boroughs in Cumberland County which are Mechanicsburg and Shippensburg are 456 and 654 feet above the sea-level respectively (Socolow 7). Given that Carlisle is surrounded by the Ridge and Valley section including the Blue Mountain which is much higher than Carlisle might play a role in the high amounts of air pollution due to the existence of the trucking industry. The fact that Carlisle is located in a valley there must be a link between the geographic landscape and the air pollution that is one of the worse in the nation. Also the recent flooding in Harrisburg and surrounding areas in 2011 due to the overflowing Susquehanna river raises the question that is Carlisle being at 473 feet safe from flooding? The flooding received massive press coverage and National guards were employed. A lot of people were evacuated and lot of property was damaged.

5. When you flush, where do the solids go? What happens to the waste water?

When we flush the toilet, everything goes to the Carlisle Regional Water Pollution Control Facility, which serves all of Carlisle, PA. “Wastewater received at the plant is subjected to a three-stage treatment and purification process which includes: (1) the settlement of solid matter, (2) the degradation of organic impurities through biological processes and, (3) filtration and chlorination.” The wastewater is purified, and then discharged into the Conodoguinet Creek. On the other hand, solid waste is condensed into sludge. Lime is added to the sludge to stabilize it and then it is trucked to farm field, where it is used as fertilizer.  This bio-solid fertilizer can either be applied to the surface of farm land or injected into the soil. This process is monitored by the Department of Environmental Protection and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, to ensure that facilities are meeting pollutant concentration standards.

The Carlisle Water Pollution Control Facility is an advanced wastewater treatment facility, which allows for the recycling of bio-solid waste. The Carlisle Water Pollution Control Facility current has an operational flow of on average 4.2 million gallons per day. The facility has been recycling bio-solids through land application since August 1981. “The program initially included five farms with a total of 395 permitted acres and has grown to include 25 permitted farms with approximately 1,845 acres. The borough land applies an average of 1,900 dry tons of lime stabilized bio-solids per year, while making sure that every effort to inform the public is taken.”

“During the past 20 years, the Department of Environmental Protection has permitted more than 1,500 sites for the application of bio-solids. However, the DEP has strict guidelines and regulation for land application of bio-solids. This number has not resulted in any water quality impacts on surface or groundwater. This shows that when properly managed, bio-solids do not pose a threat to human health and the environment.”

Queen Ann's Lace

6. What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom here?

Spring is a time of mass transition in Carlisle from the cold weather to much nicer weather. Early spring is usually considered between end of February to the start of March when still parts of Carlisle is covered in snow. The most common spring wildflowers to appear are Dandelion, Queen’s Ann’s Lace and Skunk cabbage. Dandelion and Queen Ann’s Lace are very common and can be seen often around a casual walk around the Dickinson campus and surrounding areas. Spring wildflowers are like a sign that shows the end of harsh cold winters and the start of much charming and sunny summer ahead. Also it is quite fascinating that these wildflowers appear by themselves and are thus natural. But sadly the National Garden Association cites Dandelion as a weed epidemic that leaves no place in Carlisle and suggests that pulling, digging, organic herbicides and reduce reseeding as solutions to get rid of the problem. From the knowledge from Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber, we should never use chemical herbicides to get rid of unwanted plants and weeds because of their disastrous effects on humans and bio-diversity in general.

Reflection

As kids growing up in the 21st century, we have greatly distanced ourselves from nature. People have stopped thinking where the tap water comes from or what happens every time we flush or the origin of the food on our table. We are concerned more about the timing of our favorite TV show rather than when the sun rises or sets. May be this is pure ignorance or the curse of modernity but this Ecofeminism course along with the Bio-regional quiz asks us to be aware of what is really happening in this consumer oriented capitalistic culture where nature and people are continuously exploited to run the economy and produce goods that most of us do not even need. Both Vandana Shiva in “Soil Not Oil” and Wangari Maathai in “The Green Belt Movement” stress the importance of local community building in solving the food, energy and climate crisis that is upon us. Most importantly, all three are greatly intertwined and to solve one we need to change another. Fossil fuel is virtually used in every process of business and agricultural production and is the root cause of global warming. Hence we need to focus on our local community. But it is a pity that even though we made Dickinson College our home for 4 years we know very little about Carlisle and Cumberland County in general. This bio-regional quiz greatly helped us to acquaint with Carlisle and its surrounding areas.

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Bioregional Quiz

30. How many days till the moon is full? (Andrea)

The moon will be full on May 5, 2012 or eleven days from now. I found this information over the internet, on the website for the Farmer’s Almanac. It was surprising to me that the Almanac split up the moon schedule by state and then by town within the state, giving the exact date of the full moon. The full moon for each month, several years in advance was shown, illustrating the fact that the Almanac has the moon cycles down to a science where they can predict it for a very long time.

 

31. What species once found here are known to have gone extinct? (Kristina)

There are many species that used to present in Pennsylvania that have gone extinct. Most of these extinctions occurred a long time ago. For example the American lion went extinct so long ago that most residents of the US do not even know there ever were lions in North America. However, there are some Pennsylvanian species that have gone extinct more recently. Two examples of such species are the Carolina Parakeet and the Passenger Pigeon.
The Carolina Parakeet was the only parrot native to the United States. These birds populated deciduous forests including those in Pennsylvania. When not in breeding season, these birds formed large flocks that fed on crops, upsetting farmers. They were labeled as a menace, leading farms to kill many of these birds. Hunting of these birds combined with habitat loss caused this parakeet to go extinct some time in the 1920s.
Another species formerly found in the Carlisle area was the Passenger Pigeon. These birds were so numerous in the United States, that when they began to decline, no one was really alarmed. The only people that seemed concerned was a small group of Ohio citizens who attempted to petition a panel of state legislators to protect this bird. The panel’s report recommended: “The passenger pigeon needs no protection. Wonderfully prolific, having the vast forests of the North as its breeding grounds, traveling hundreds of miles in search of food, it is here today and elsewhere tomorrow, and no ordinary destruction can lessen them, or be missed from the myriads that are yearly produced.”

A drawing of a Passenger pigeon.

The story of the passenger pigeon now serves as a warning to all conservation biologists. By the 1880s these birds were becoming extremely rare in Pennsylvania, only nesting here sporadically when there was no where else to go. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, “Although reports in Pennsylvania and elsewhere had some passenger pigeons being observed into the early twentieth century, it is widely believed that the last wild passenger pigeon was shot and killed by a boy in Ohio in 1900. The Cincinnati Zoological Garden held the last three known to the world, two males and a female named Martha.” The last male Passenger Pigeon died in 1910, leaving Martha as the last Passenger Pigeon in the world. Martha died September 1, 1914 at 1PM. She was 29 years old. The Passenger Pigeon is the only species in the word for which we know the exact date and time of its extinction.
In Birds of Western Pennsylvania, W.E. Clyde Todd described the extinction of this bird perfectly, “…one is imbued with the sense of the irreparable loss suffered by the naturalists of the country in the passing of the pigeon….The story of its passing is a shameful record of human cruelty, avarice and indifference – a story one wishes had never been told.”
Sources:
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/conservation/extinctions/carolina_parakeet
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/conservation/extinctions/passenger_pigeon/document_view

32) What other cities or landscape features on the planet share your latitude? (Mana)

Carlisle, Pennsylvania has a latitude of 40.2025˚. Carlisle shares the same latitude with many other countries, cities and towns. For example, if someone wants to be very exact with the coordinates, one could find out that Carlisle lies on the same latitude as the town of Castellon de la Plana in Spain. It is located by the Mediterranean Sea and when one compares the climate, one sees that the Spanish town of Castellon de la Plana tends to be consistently warm and tends to have higher temperatures than Carlisle.
Carlisle also shares the same latitude with many other countries including; Italy, Greece, Sardinia, South of Albania, Iran, Turkey, China, Armenia, North Korea, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Northern Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

An image of Carlisle from Google Earth.

33) What was the dominant land cover plant here 10,000 years ago? (Kristina)

To approach this question, my first thought was to use the internet to look up information about what the earth was like 10,000 years ago. I am familiar with the plants near Dickinson present day, but I had no idea how they climate here might have shifted. When I began researching this online, I was really frustrated by a lack of information. I found websites about the earth 10,000 years ago, but very little talked specifically about Pennsylvania. I decided to reach out to my biology professors for help.
I contacted Professor Gene Wingert via email to see if he could send me in the right direction. According to Professor Wingert, “Our core borings at Kings Gap a few years ago indicated this part of PA was in transition from tundra to taiga. I suppose the farther north one went they would have expected tundra until the glacial front.”
This information helped a lot since the climate of an area can give you a good idea of the plants that might be found there. From his email, I can assume that at this time period, Pennsylvania was at the end of a glacial period, or ice age. Since the area near Dickinson was tundra/taiga, the plants would have been very different from today.
If the tundra 10,00 years ago was similar to the tundra we have today, there would be no forests like we have in Pennsylvania now. Instead the majority of plant life would be composed of shrubs, sedges, grasses, mosses, and lichens. These plants are specially adapted for the extreme cold of the tundra.
Sources:
Professor Gene Wingert, Dickinson College, via email
http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/biomes/tundra.htm

34) Name two places on different continents that have similar sunshine/rainfall/wind and temperature patterns to here. (Julian)

Two different places on two different continents that have similar weather and climate patterns as our bioregion are Kiev, Ukraine and Asahikawa, Japan.  In order to find out what places had similar climates to our bioregion, I had to first find out the weather patterns of our region.  For this, I used a variety of sources.  For amounts of rainfall, I attempted to use a variety of sources, but the most reliable one I found was set up by the Carlisle Barracks, who collected data for Cumberland County.  Here, I was able to find information regarding rainfall and total precipitation in the region.  I found that the average amount of precipitation for Cumberland County in April is 3.58”.

Group Reflection
Our group found that we relied heavily on the internet to find the answers to our questions. Although some of us contacted professors to help point us in the right direction, the internet was the main source of our information. Some of the questions took a long time to research. For example, question ?? was difficult to answer because there was little reliable information on plants 10000 years ago specifically in Pennsylvania. A lot of information about animal species was available, but not much on plants. Also the information about plants in this time period was not specific to this bioregion.
Our group used a variety of technologies ranging from new internet applications like Google Earth to more traditional sources of information like the Farmer’s Almanac. We found Google Earth much easier to navigate than maps for the question about latitude. However, the Farmer’s Almanac was used to find the date of the next full moon. Combining these old and new techniques helped us to find the information we needed to answer these questions and learn more about our bioregion.
This assignment encouraged us to engage aspects of our bioregion we had no knowledge of previously. Now we are more familiar with Carlisle and its surrounding community. Learning about environment in this bioregion has strengthened our connection to the land. Before this project we never could have imagined that we are on the same latitude as Spain! Also by analyzing our bioregions climate we are now able to view Carlisle in a global context with regards to weather and climate. This was a very positive experience for all of us. We feel that we have learned so much about Carlisle. None of us had taken courses that analyzed Carlisle’s environment and natural surroundings until now. It is interesting to look at Carlisle, a place where we all spend so much time, in a new light.

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Bioregional Quiz: # 24-29

24. Professor Niemitz was extremely helpful to this groups research. As a geology professor in the Environmental Science Department, he was immediately able to tell us what primary geological processes and events that shaped the Carlisle landscape.When the tectonic plates of North America and Africa collided slowly during the Devonian period, 250 million years ago, they created folding of the Earth’s crust which formed mountains in this area. It also, through friction, heated up the area, creating the temperate climate we see today. This heating up led to increased rainfall and therefore erosion of the easily dissolved limestone, creating limestone and shale valleys, and the freezing and thawing cracked the sandstone. All of these eroded layers of stone created a lot of loose soil that was washed into the watersheds near by. Thus this is how the hills and valleys of central PA formed, Carlisle lying snugly in one of these valleys.

Earth-folds_full_size_landscape.jpgwater_kitt.jpg

25. Name three wild species that were not found here 500 years ago.

 

 

With at least 948 Naturalized Non Native Plants there are plenty of wild species to be analyzed in Pennsylvania though discovering the specifics of when they were brought here can be difficult to discover. Canadian Thistle, or creeping thistle, is a species native to Europe and Asia but was brought to North America in the 1800s. Even in its homeland it’s general considered an alarmingly fast growing weed. Johnston Grass is native to the Mediterranean but likewise has a reputation of growing fast and being difficult to regulate in this state since the 1800s. The Multifloral Rose came to Pennsylvania in 1866 after travelling all the way from Asia- but it’s still considered next to impossible to properly cultivate as it strangles the local wildlife in open woodlands, forest edges, successional fields, savannas and prairies.

Name one exotic species that has appeared in the last   ___5 years

We tried looking these exotic species up, as none of the Professors, Howard and Niemitz, we talked to had very clear answers, so the internet decided to make me look at maggots and gave me very little genuine information. Brown marmorated stink bugs (ick gross why) were found in Lehigh County in about 1998 and have been causing trouble every winter since. The warmer the weather the quicker they reproduce and in the wintertime they try to get inside homes. These little pests from East Asia with no natural U.S enemies damage fruits, vegetables and farm crops while also being very difficult to control. Some farmers have lost up to 50% of their crops.

 

 

26. According to Dickinson geology professor, Professor Niemitz, limestone, sand and gravel are three minerals found in the ground here that are economically valuable. Limestone is made up of calcite and aragonite. Limestone is used in many ways like in building material, the base of roads, chemical feedstock and even in products like toothpaste. Sand is the combination of various types of minerals. It is used in many instances in building materials and is used to ensure traffic safety since it is beneficial to traction. Gravel is used in construction and is also largely used in the production of other materials.

 

quarry.jpg

27. According to the official website 100% of the College’s electricity consumption and associated CO2e emissions are offset with wind power. However when asked Professor Niemitz, who we consulted, guessed it was more like 20%, though the website also asserts the campus electricity has been using 50% wind power since 2007. There is a large nuclear power plant in Harrisburg that supplies a large, but unspecified, percentage of our electricity. We apparently buy coal as well— though it’s difficult to find any such information on our website.

 

ph_three_mile_island500.jpg

 

28. After the rain runs off Dickinson’s roof, it goes into the Conodoguinet Creek, then into the Susquehanna, then the Chesapeake Bay, and finally into the Atlantic Ocean. The Conodoguinet Creek is 104 miles long located in south central Pennsylvania. The name is Native American and translates to “A Long Way with Many Bends”. It is a tributary of the Susquehanna River and the two join just upstream of Harrisburg.

 

River.jpg

29. Professor Howard, Niemitz, and our group had a lot of difficulty nailing down a “wilderness” in central PA, however we did discover some local forests and sanctuaries: Tuscarora state forest gets its name from Tuscarora Mountain.  The forest has 95,780 acres of land and includes tracts in Cumberland, Franklin, Huntingdon, Junita, Mifflin, and Perry counties.  After some research, we have found that there haven’t been any forest fires in Tuscarora recently. But back in the 19th century, Lumber and Iron companies would clear the forests and leave behind dried treetops. These treetops were dry enough to catch on fire by the sparks that came off of passing locomotives, which prevented the growth of the forest. There is also Saint Anthony’s Wilderness (State Game lands 211) in Dauphin County.  It is 54,000 acres and road less. No fires have burned there in the last 50 years or if so burned more than a few acres.

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Summary:

Our groups strategy epitomized the use of our Professors here at Dickinson and their knowledge of the Carlisle region where we all live. We went to each of their respective office hours and sat down with them to go through the questions. These conversations were very informative and we even learned some unrelated facts about Carlisle that are pretty cool. We divvied up additional internet research for each question between the four of us and are quite excited with everything that we have found out.

-Jessica Libowitz, Annamaria Santini, Zil Shroeder, Zachary Petersen

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Bioregional Quiz Group 2

As a group, we set out to investigate about the Carlisle bioregion and land around us. We’ve all lived here for at least a year, and we discovered that we don’t know a whole lot about the land and environment. Researching about watersheds, soil, the previous inhabitants of the land, edible plants, and storms helped us each individually to broaden our knowledge about the Carlisle bioregion.

 

After completing this research, we understand that we could live self-sufficiently. The previous inhabitants of this land lived healthily and successfully, and there are numerous, nutritious edible plants in the Carlisle area.

Today, we sustain ourselves through resources all over the United States and even throughout the world. People that live in the United Sates often make decisions that are harmful to the environment because of money and time. In the our bioregion, Carlisle residents and Dickinson College students alike should look at the larger picture and make decisions with the future, our resources, and the preservation of the land in mind.

 

We can make a difference as a community if we choose to examine what is most beneficial to the world and land we live in and make the right decisions. We are confident that, with education and time, Carlisle can grow to be a more sustainable, healthier, and happier place to live.

 

1) How far do you have to travel before you reach a different watershed? Can you draw the boundaries of yours?

 

In exploring the question of watersheds, I decided to look at Cumberland County only. Carlisle falls within the Conodoguinet Creek Watershed, named after a tributary of the Susquehanna River. To reach a different watershed, you could go north and leave Cumberland County. But the nearest separate watershed to us is the other watershed in Cumberland County: the Yellow Breeches Watershed which is also named after a tributary of the Susquehanna. The Yellow Breeches Watershed is not far from our current location; it falls partially within easy driving distance. It flows through the nearby town of Boiling Springs as well as Messiah College.

 

2) Is the soil under your feet more clay, sand, rock, or silt? Are there contaminates in the soil? How does this affect agriculture and industry in your region?

 

The soil content in Carlisle is the following breakdown: 20% clay, 24% sand, and 56% silt. This information comes from the US Soil Conservation Service. However, when I think of soil, I also tend to think of the rocks beneath us. I knew about the rocks below us, that there is a limestone quarry nearby, and this is reflected in the rocks that make up Dickinson’s buildings (minus Denny Hall). My dad taught me that, since he is a geologist. In fact, the thing that comes to mind is that everything comes from geology. If you extrapolate this, then this could also mean that everything comes from the earth. I think that sometimes, we lose sight of the fact of how much we depend upon soil, as well as rocks below our feet. I am lucky to be reminded of this every time I spend time with my dad and brother (both of whom are geologists). This has made me realize that even those of us who are closer to the earth sometimes are quite detached, because my dad did not even know about soil information, and he is a geologist.

 

3) Before your tribe lived here, what did the previous inhabitants eat and how did they sustain themselves? How has this changed?

 

Before my ancestors or the beginnings of my “tribe” came to America from Europe, there were countless groups of Native Americans living in the United States. When researching Native American tribes in Pennsylvania, I discovered that there a great variation of Native American peoples lived in this very bioregion. I focused my research on the Susquehannok tribe, which was one of the main tribes that resided where we live today.

A map dividing where some of the Native American tribes have lived in Pennsylvania in the past.

Susquehannok tribe members lived in as many as 20 large, fortified villages along the Susquehanna river, across Pennsylvania to New York. The villages were composed of sixty to eighty foot long, bark-covered loghouses and several families. The majority of the Susquehannoks were farmers who grew large crops of corn, beans, and squash along the river because it was fertile and optimal for growing crops. In the Spring, they planted maize, beans, and squash near the villages. In the summer, many groups moved South to temporary sites on the Chesapeake Bay to fish and gather shellfish. In the fall, they returned to harvest crops and hunt. The Susquehannoks were apt hunters and gatherers, they collected wild-plant foods, seeds, nuts, insects, reptiles,  mollusks, fish, birds, and mammals.

The Susquehannoks established their villages along the branches of the Susquehanna because the location was ideal for travel, trade, and the region also provided the Indians with a consistent and reliable supply of water and fish. They had many allies as well as trading partners that they communicated with that helped them to survive.

Learning about the Susquehannok tribe made me think about how I sustain myself and eat daily. One plate of food from the Dickinson cafeteria probably contains ingredients and elements from all around the United States, maybe even beyond. The Susquehannoks show that people can survive happily eating locally in the Cumberland County bioregion. A lot of the ingredients in my food should not have to be and do not have to be trucked across the United States, emitting toxins and damaging our natural resources as well as our bodies. The question is: Will people start to make the effort to eat locally to sustain our environment?

 

 

4) Name five native edible plants in your neighborhood and the season(s) they are available.

 

After talking with Professor Gene Wingert for a period of time last week, I began to understand that there are other viable food options in Carlisle other than simply the grocery store or farmer markets.  The Cumberland County and Carlisle area home to many edible plants.

One edible plant is Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). Pokeweed is a nutritious plant rich in vitamin A that sprouts in the spring, grows during the summer when they can reach heights of up to ten feet, and in the winter they finally die.  Pokeweed berries are the only edible part of the plant, as the leaves, stems, and roots are the most poisonous parts of the plant.  Pokeweed berries must be cooked or made into tea before consuming, as they can be poisonous if not used correctly.

Another edible plant is Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) and sprouts in the spring.  Only the matured fruit of the Mayapple is edible and must be eaten once they are soft and yellow (will ripen come mid-July or early August).  The Mayapple fruit can be poisonous if eaten while still green colored.

The Wild Turnip (Brassica rapa ssp sylvestris) is another edible plant that can be found in the late fall.  Mostly every part of the turnip can be eaten; the leaves, seeds, roots, flowers, and flower buds alike.  If you dry the seeds in the sun for an extended period of time, you can put salt on them and consume them just like sunflower seeds.  These turnip roots are rich in fiber and can be eaten raw or after cooking them for a short period of time.

The Asiatic Daylily is another plant that can be found locally in Carlisle and is available in the summer.  The roots of the Asiatic Daylily are best eaten after cooking and are the most nutritious part of the plant.  The bulbs and leaves can also be eaten; none of the Asiatic Daisy is poisonous.

Wild Asparagus can also be found in Carlisle in the mid-spring.  It is commonly found throughout the Cumberland County area and is very similar (if not identical) to asparagus found in grocery stores or farmers markets.  After you find Wild Asparagus, all the preparation that needs to be done before consuming it is to wash with water and then cook.  All parts of the Wild Asparagus are edible and it is not poisonous.  If done correctly, one can find and eat plants in Carlisle during all seasons of the year.

 

5) What direction do storms generally come from?

 

According to this live Wind Map the wind in the Pennsylvania area blows from North East to South West.  Wind is the main device in transporting clouds, meaning that storms will be coming from the northeastern part of Pennsylvania and even New York before reaching Carlisle and the Cumberland County.

(map showing wind direction and speed)

 

 

 

-Betsy Mullally, Patrick Superko, Evan Camara, Nina Geller.

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Bioregional Quiz

12. Where does your garbage go?

Garbage is a word that must be culturally defined in order to be quantified.  Garbage within a Western context usually means the unwanted, useless, or outdated.  In other words, garbage is composed of products in which we have no consumptive use for.  In our society we produce a lot of it and most of it goes unseen and unacknowledged.  The waste products of finished goods which we consume veraciously are written off as externalities and go unclaimed as someone’s.  Thus, the question of “my” garbage is simply not composed of the things which I consciously consume, but the total products that are used to create anything I use or own.  To place this in a more concrete context I am currently drinking coffee out of a paper cup from the Biblio.  This coffee cup is made from natural materials that were processed to make a finished product.  The waste-products of this process should thus be considered in the answer of where my garbage goes.  But, I have no idea where this cup came from.  As only one state in the US produces coffee (Hawaii) the waste associated with harvesting and shipping coffee is likely located in either Central or South America.  I have no idea what kind of waste it is, or if it was placed in a specific place.  But, it is mine.

It is interesting to think and unpack the way in which we view waste.  If you were to ask me to quickly explain the garbage created by me drinking a cup of coffee, my immediate thought would be this cup (and of course I would feel the environmental studies major guilt of not bringing my sustainable cup).  The cup is a physical object that I can quantify.  I have one cup and it goes in the garbage can.  This will be emptied and brought to a local landfill.  I can follow the process of disposing of a finished product.

I would like to answer this question in it’s entirety and discuss where the waste products from the process of producing a finished good are, but I cannot.  As a consumer in a globalized marketplace I have little conception of where this product was made and how.  Even if I wanted to discuss the waste by-products of this cup I couldn’t.  Thus, in my answering of this question I will look only at the disposal of the finished product.

Finished products such as household wastes from Dickinson College are brought to the Cumberland County Landfill, 21 miles away in Newburg, PA.  While Dickinson creates all three types of waste, we probably most readily think of our impact in terms of Municipal Solid Waste (i.e. the coffee cup), though we directly and indirectly contribute to all types of waste.

An Overview of the Landfill and "Buffer Area" (Forests and Protected Farmland)

Professor Howard explained this to me last year when he took our class to the landfill to see the way it was run.  Waste is categorized and then weighed by the Scale House at this landfill.  Each landfill has a specific capacity and when it is full, waste must be transferred to another facility.  Cumberland County Landfill has a limited capacity of about 2,500 tons per day (about 150-160 truckloads per day).  As denoted by the chart below, each facility accepts only certain types of waste.  According to the EPA,

Solid waste means any garbage or refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or an air pollution control facility and other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semi-solid, or contained gaseous material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations, and from community activities. Solid waste does not include solid or dissolved materials in domestic sewage, solid or dissolved materials in irrigation return flows, industrial discharges that are point sources subject to permit under 33 U.S.C. 1342, or source, special nuclear, or by-product material as defined by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (68 Stat. 923).

The EPA further defines municipal solid waste as: durable goods, non-durable goods, containers and packaging, food wastes and yard trimmings, and miscellaneous inorganic wastes.

Construction and Demolition Waste is defined by the EPA as: the waste material produced in the process of construction, renovation, or demolition of structures (both buildings and roads). In addition, it includes the materials generated as a result of natural disasters. Components of C&D debris include materials such as concrete, asphalt, wood, brick, metals, wallboard, and roofing shingles.

Sewage Sludge refers to the solids separated during the treatment of municipal wastewater. The definition includes domestic septage.

REGIONAL DISPOSAL FACILITIES & MATERIAL TYPES

FACILITY
Cumberland County Landfill
135 Vaughn Road
Shippensburg, PA 17257
Phone: 717-423-5917
Scale House: 423-9953
MATERIAL TYPE

Municipal Solid Waste
Construction/Demolition Waste
Sewage Sludge

FACILITY
Harrisburg Materials Energy & Recycling Recovery Facility
1670 South 19th Street
Harrisburg, PA 17104
Phone: 717-525-7677
MATERIAL TYPE

Municipal Solid Waste
Construction/Demolition Waste

FACILITY
Boyd E. Diller, Inc. Municipal Waste Transfer Station
6820 Wertzville Road
Enola, PA 17025
Phone: 717-766-6403
MATERIAL TYPE

Municipal Solid Waste
Construction/Demolition Waste

FACILITY
IESI Blue Ridge Landfill
P.O. Box 399
Scotland, PA 17254
Phone: 717-709-1700
MATERIAL TYPE

Municipal Solid Waste
Construction/Demolition Waste
Sewage Sludge

FACILITY
Modern Landfill & Recycling
R. D. 9, Box 317, Mt. Pisgah Rd.
York, PA 17402
Phone: 717-246-2686
MATERIAL TYPE

Municipal Solid Waste
Construction/Demolition Waste
Sewage Sludge

FACILITY
Mountain View Reclamation
9760 Letzburg Road
Greencastle, PA 17225
Phone: 717-597-5666
MATERIAL TYPE

Municipal Solid Waste
Construction/Demolition Waste
Sewage Sludge

FACILITY
ONYX Lancaster, LLC Milton Grove Construction &
Demolition Landfill & Tire Processing Site
2487 Cloverleaf Road
Elizabethtown, PA 17022
Phone: 717-653-4686
MATERIAL TYPE

Construction/Demolition Waste

FACILITY
York County Resource Recovery Center
2700 Blackbridge Road
York, PA 17406
Phone: 717-845-1066
MATERIAL TYPE

Municipal Solid Waste

In addition to questions of daily capacity, the question of long term storage capacity arises.  The Hopewell Disposal Area at the county landfill was filled at capacity in the 1970s. The North Newton disposal area has been in use since 2001. It was designed to hold 4 million tons, it now houses about 5 million due to compacting.

There are no hazardous waste landfills in Pennsylvania. Counties run hazardous waste disposal programs, yet many people do not take advantage of it. Although the Cumberland County Landfill runs a radiation monitor over the incoming garbage, there is no doubt that some hazardous material finds itself in the landfill.

The landfill does employ a Methane Gas collection system to capture gas that is released. Additionally, leachate, a liquid that holds dissolved harmful chemicals, filters down through the trash is collected and treated at the landfill facility. Yet some leachate is released into the Conodoguinet Creek. Carlisle is downstream from the Conodoguinet.

Another aspect of waste is food waste from our meals in the Cafeteria. Dining services collects about 900lbs of food waste a day from Campus Dining Services. This waste is transported seven miles away to the Dickinson College Organic Farm, located on 553 Park Drive in nearby Boiling Springs. There the food waste, a source of nitrogen, is mixed in the compost bin with wood chips and leaves, sources of carbon. Worms decompose the waste, turning it into lush, fertile compost. The compost is then used to fertilize crops on the farm, which in turn are dispersed into the Dickinson and Carlisle community through the CSA and served in the Dining Hall, creating a circular system.

 

13. How many people live in your watershed?

The LeTort Spring Run flows through the easter part of the Borough of Carlisle. The LeTort flows into the Conodoguinet Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River. The Susquehanna drains into the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay watershed stretches over 64,000 square miles. A watershed is defined as an area of land that drains into a particular river, lake, bay or other body of water.The watershed is home to over 17 million people. The choices that we as residents of Carlisle make can affect people living as far away as Annapolis, MD.

Currently, there is an alarming phenomenon known as a “dead zones” present in the Bay. Because of unusually high nutrient levels in the water caused by fertilizer run-off, algae blooms grow and create deoxygenized zones that cannot sustain life. With a watershed whose health is at the mercy of 17 million people, the choices made by these people have traumatic effects.

14. Who uses the paper/plastic you recycle from your neighborhood?

Recycled materials (paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum) in the Cumberland County Area are collected at three various drop off sites (North Newton, New Hope, and West Pennsborough Township) and transported to a consolidated are that is managed by the Interstate Waste Services (IWS). This entity is owned by the Cumberland County Landfill. Alongside the consolidation area, recycling trucks weigh the recyclables at the landfill scale. Once the materials are weighed, the trucks unload their contents into open-top walking floor transfer trailers. These trailers then transport the recyclables to Greenstar Recycling in Allentown, PA where the materials are sorted by material type, processed and sold within domestic and global markets.

 

At the Greenstar Recycling plant, paper, glass, and plastic are finely sorted within each respective group. Glass is sorted into three primary colors, flint, amber, and green. An optical sorter machine is able to detect these colors and non-glass materials such as ceramic and Pyrex so that specific types of glass can be sold to partners. Greenstar also contains a glass manufacturing plant that crushes glass into tiny beads that are mixed with road paint to give it a reflective quality.  Greenstar was established in 2007 and since then it has formed economic relations with various businesses and companies. Much of their separated recycled materials are sold to Alcoa; the world’s largest producer of aluminum, Anheuser Bush; an American brewing company, Bio Pappel; Mexican based paper product company, and KW Plastics.

In class we talked about the community organization, Project Share. Along with their initiative to feed 1,000+ families every month, provide parents of newborns and infants with the supplies they need, and prevent unhealthy eating habits and hunger for middle school children on the weekend, the organization also collects recycled cardboard boxes from Dickinson College and compress these boxes and sell them for $145 per ton of corrugated cardboard. The funds from this entrepreneurship are recycled back into the organization, to purchase food and supplies.

15. Point to where the sun sets on the equinox.  How about sunrise on the summer solstice?

This is a diagram that shows the progression between the equinoxes and the solstices.

There is a common misconception that the sun rises due east and sets due west.  While this is true most days of the year, there is an exception! The sun actually only rises due east and sets due west two days of the year: the spring and fall equinoxes.  The other two noted days on which the rise and setting of the sun is noted are the winter solstice and summer solstices; the winter being the longest day of the year and the summer the shortest. On the summer solstice, the sun rises due northeast and sets due northwest. On this day, the sun rises the furthest due northeast and sets the furthest due northwest, thus explaining why it is the only day of the year with the most daylight.

 

 

 

16. Where is the nearest earthquake fault? When did it last move?

Our first real recognition of an Earthquake is when we feel the ground shake or we are given a warning over the news. But what is going on beneath us that causes this sudden ground tremor? The Earth consists of several layers: the crust, mantle, outer core and inner core. Within these layers of the Earth, there are tectonic plates. When these plate tectonics move, the specific area where the plates move along one another is called the fault line. Thus, when fault lines are active, we have knowledge that plate tectonics are moving and an earthquake is on its way.

The nearest fault zone to Carlisle, PA is the Ramapo Fault. Spanning over a massive 300 kilometers (180 miles). The Ramapo Fault zone affects New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania regions. Often recognized as one of the best faults in the Mid-Atlantic Region, the Ramapo Fault is located in between the Appalachian Mountains and the Piedmont region. Earthquakes in the United States are much more prevalent in California because the west coast contains highly active fault lines that are continuously shifting such as the famous San Andreas Fault. While they are rare in the North Eastern region, Earthquakes can still occur if the fault lines shift. The last time the Ramapo Fault was active is said to be around 200 million years ago. However, a study was conducted in 2008 that showed possibility for a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake to occur (bestsyndication.com). So while earthquakes are a rarity among the east coast, it is still important to be aware!

Sources Used:

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/glossary/?term=plate%20tectonics

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/kids/eqscience.php


17. Right here, how deep do you have to drill before you reach water?

According to Pennsylvania’s Geological Survey, fresh groundwater is located within a hundred inches of the ground.  Fresh water is abundant in Pennsylvania, which has more miles of streams per square mile of area than most other states.  If one were to extract all of the fresh groundwater contained below the surface of Pennsylvania, it would cover the entire state in 8 feet of water!  Ultimately everyone depends on groundwater for drinking water.  Public water companies use wells and springs to supply almost one million Pennsylvania households with at least part of their water. Almost one million homes use private wells and springs. Half of Pennsylvania’s 12 million residents get at least part of their drinking water directly from groundwater. Nationally, Pennsylvania ranks second for total number of wells, second for number of household wells, and third for number of public-water-supply wells.  While each well drilled will have a different depth, all of these wells will be drilled within the freshwater table (100 inches).

A Shaded Relief Map of Geological Formations in PA

Reflections:

To begin answering these questions, our group found it most helpful to start with the Internet and gain some background knowledge on the questions. We were able to use our knowledge from a visit to the Cumberland County Landfill. During the visit, Amber and Jordan received a tour from the director and learned about different types of waste and how it is manged. Amber and Jordan have also talked to Jen Halpin, the Director of the Dickinson College Farm, about composting and more localized and natural approaches to waste management.  In addition to Jen, EJ reached out to the Municipal Recycling Consultant of the Greenstar Recycling Company, where Cumberland County sends its recycling materials to be separated.

Overall, this project helped our group gain a better understanding of the components of our bioregion.  Since we are all natives of places other than Carlisle, this assignment was helpful in teaching us more about our surrogate home during the academic year.  Now that we are all more knowledgeable on fault lines, waste disposal, local watersheds, etc. we have become more aware and conscious of where our waste goes and how we impact our environment on a local level.

 

 

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