Preserving Cumberland County’s Rural Landscape and Natural Resources

The Cumberland Conservation Collaborative (CCC) will host its first community forum at the Penn Township Volunteer Fire Department’s Social Hall from 5:30 to 8 p.m. May 11. The forum, entitled “Preserving Cumberland County’s Rural Landscape & Natural Resources,”

The forum will be divided into two segments. From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., attendees can enjoy light refreshments while looking over displays set up by the CCC’s member organizations.  The Clean Air Board, the Yellow Breeches Watershed Association, the Cumberland Valley Appalachian Trail Club and other organizations will have table displays that explain who they are and what they do. If attendees are interested in learning more or volunteering, each table will also have a sign-up sheet. A panel discussion, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will feature four panelists whose combined experience covers government, nonprofit and business interest in conservation and environmental issues. It will include the following panelists:

  • Troy Truax, an engineer with Michael Baker International Inc., is the planning officials development officer for the American Planning Association, Pennsylvania chapter, as well as chairman of South Middleton’s planning commission.
  • Bill Chain is the former vice president of the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, a former agricultural educator with Future Farmers of America and the senior agriculture program manager for The Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA.
  • Andy Williford is the vice president of human resources for Volvo Construction Equipment Operations Americas. Mr. Williford has a degree in public management as well as certificates in human resources.
  • Jonathan Pinkerton is vice president of Susquehanna Heritage, which seeks to preserve and promote the history and well being of the Susquehanna River. Pinkerton is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

The forum will be moderated by Shippensburg geography professor Dr. George Pomeroy. The form will be held at Penn Township Fire Hall is located at 1750 Pine Road, Newville PA 17241

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Trees, Clean Air, and Quality of Life

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by Tami Biddle, Clean Air Board member

The trees around us perform many functions; some of these are well-known and appreciated, others less so.  Trees add beauty to our environment.  Tree-lined streets, because they are a delight to the eye, add value to neighborhoods.  But those trees are doing more than creating pleasurable scenes for residents.  They are helping to clean the air, they are reducing temperatures created by paved surfaces, and they are assisting in the reduction of human stress.

Cleaning the Air

In an exchange of gases, trees take in carbon dioxide, convert it to food, and release oxygen into the air.  The exchange occurs through pores on the surface of leaves, or stomata.  But stomata can also take in gaseous pollutants from the air, including ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide.  Leaves can trap particulates as well.  Spines or hairs on a leaf’s surface can trap pollutants.  Some leaves have waxy surfaces that work the same way.  Naturally, larger groupings of trees can have the most significant effect on the environment.   Pollution bearing winds passing through a tree canopy lose speed and some of their pollution load.  But smaller collections of trees, including woodland glens, roadside parks—even trees along highways—can aid in improving local air quality.

Cooling the Air

Trees can also aid the environment by cooling air.  California Forest Service researchers found that trees in parking lots could lower air temperature by up to three degrees. Those few degrees can reduce temperatures on the surface of cars, and inside the cabins of cars.  Most importantly, gas tank temperatures can be lowered by up to seven degrees.  Fewer hydrocarbon emissions result from gas that evaporates out of tanks and hoses with reduced temperatures. Paved spaces without trees create high temperatures, increasing pollutant emissions and, therefore, the formation of smog and ozone.

For trees to have a net positive effect on energy usage in buildings, proper placement is key. Well-placed trees can lower temperatures in buildings by shading them.  But poorly placed trees can increase energy needs by shading in the winter or blocking summer breezes. With proper placement, trees can create significant energy savings. Homeowners and building owners see a reduced energy bill, and the entire local community benefits from lowered energy demand and usage. When energy demand decreases, pollutant emissions from the power plants supplying  energy also decreases, and this helps improve air quality.  It is also important to select long-lived trees so that minimal energy expenditure is required for planting and removal. And low maintenance trees are essential in urban environments so that the energy cost of tending them with motorized vehicles or tools (watering, trimming, etc) does not outweigh their positive environmental effects.

Reducing Stress and Violence

Research from a number of different universities has made a strong case for the stress-reducing effect of trees.  A research team led by Dr Bin Jiang at the University of Illinois subjected 158 volunteers to mildly stressful scenarios.  Afterwards the volunteers used a VR headset to view one of a selection of six-minute 360-degree videos featuring urban areas with variable amounts of visible tree canopy coverage.  The participants’ stress levels were measured by physiological tests and by questionnaires; the results revealed a positive, linear association between the density of trees and recovery from stress. The study is one of many demonstrating positive psychological benefits from natural landscapes. Researchers at Glasgow University found that being around trees and grass lowered brain stress levels in humans.  Similarly, a study done in Edinburgh, Scotland used lightweight, portable electroencephalograms to measure the brain patterns of volunteers while they were outside in different environments. In tree-barren urban settings, participants were more aroused and frustrated than they were in parklike settings, where their brain activity patterns became calmer and more meditative.

Studies in three American cities—Portland, Baltimore, and Philadelphia – indicated that well-placed trees can help people feel less stressed, safer, and more committed to the care of their local environments. In Philadelphia, a 2011 study found a substantial reduction in crime, including a 7 percent to 8 percent decrease in gun assaults across most of the city—as the result of a program to clean up vacant lots and plant trees on them.  The study in Baltimore provided the strongest connection yet between trees and crime.  Comparing neighborhoods that were otherwise similar in density and income level, it revealed that the ones with more trees had significantly lower crime rates.  While the researchers did not claim causation, they did claim a strong association that was not explained by other socioeconomic and housing factors.  Across the entire area of study, neighborhoods with 10 percent more tree canopy were shown to have nearly 12 percent less crime than comparable neighborhoods.

In the past, trees and vegetation have sometimes been implicated in crime because it was thought they provided hiding spaces for criminals. This prompted some urban planners to eschew them.  The result, though, was barren urban space devoid of the calming effect of trees and plants — and devoid of the lower temperatures and community-bonding opportunities provided by summertime shade.  Tree-lined neighborhoods reduce stress and encourage local pride.  The shade they offer entices people outside, and being outside encourages people to build social relationships that, of themselves, can aid in crime reduction.

Sources:

Boult, Adam, “Being Around Trees Makes You Less Stressed – Study,” The Daily Telegraph (London), 6 May 2016

Conniff, Richard. “Trees Shed Bad Rap as Accessories to Crime” Environment, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. 2012. http://environment.yale.edu/envy/stories/trees-shed-bad-wrap-as-accessories-to-crime

Downing, Adam, “Air: What’s a Tree Got to Do With It?” 2 September 2011, at http://www.ecology.com/2011/09/02/air-and-trees/

Forrest, Sharita, “Watching 3-D Videos of Trees Helps People Recover from Stress, Researchers Say” 21 Oct 2014, at https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/204489

How Trees Help Clean the Air, Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture Bulletin No. 412 (December 1977)

Nowak, David J., The Effects of Urban Trees on Air Quality, USDA Forest Service, Syracuse, NY (2002)  http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/units/urban/local-resources/downloads/Tree_Air_Qual.pdf

Reynolds, Gretchen, “Easing Brain Fatigue with a Walk in the Park,” The New York Times, 27 March 2013

 

 

Clean Air Board meeting Jan. 5

The Clean Air Board will be meeting Jan. 5, 7 pm at the Second Presbyterian Church in Carlisle.   Join us to discuss new development around Carlisle and the steps municipalities can take to ensure a healthy quality of life.

The Second Presbyterian Church is located at 528 Garland Drive, Carlisle, PA  17013.

 

Breathe less … or ban cars: cities have radically different responses to pollution

When thick smog recently hit, Londoners were advised to avoid exercise, while Parisians got free public transport. Which is the best solution?

When a thick cloud of air pollution settled in over London last week, experts warned those with health problems to avoid strenuous exercise. The advice to Londoners essentially boiled down to this: breathe less.

Meanwhile, as Paris suffered a similar pollution episode – its worst in a decade – officials swung into action, waiving charges for public transport and restricting the number of cars allowed on roads, alternately barring those with odd and even license plates.

At the same time Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo joined officials from Madrid, Athens and Mexico City in announcing plans to get all diesel vehicles off the roads by 2025. Diesel is highly polluting, emitting far greater amounts of dangerous nitrogen dioxide and tiny pollution particles than petrol, and can cause cancer to heart attacks.

Read more … The Guardian

Widener Law School holds event on Practical Sustainable Development – Tools for Municipalities

Practical Sustainable Development: Tools for Municipalities
November 18, 2016; 1:00–4:30 p.m.
Widener University Commonwealth Law School
Administration Building, Room A180
3737 Vartan Way, Harrisburg, PA

3 Continuing Legal Education credits available (2 substantive, 1 ethics) – $20.00 non-CLE and CLE attendees

A growing number of municipalities are looking for ways to make economic development, social well-being, and environmental protection work together for improved quality of life.
This program will showcase eight model sustainability ordinances drafted by Widener
Commonwealth law students under the close supervision of Widener Commonwealth
faculty and in coordination with representatives of the Pennsylvania State Association of
Township Supervisors and Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs. Building on these
presentations, the program also includes an explanation of the ethical responsibility of
lawyers to analyze legal problems through the lens of sustainable development.

Sponsored by Widener University Commonwealth Law School;
PA State Association of Boroughs; PA State Association of Township Supervisors

To register, go to Widener Commonwealth Law School events:
http://commonwealthlaw.widener.edu/prospective-students/why-widener/events/register-for-events/
For more information, please e-mail: CLEcwlaw@widener.edu

President Obama follows Pennsylvania’s lead

Letter from David Masur, PennEnvironment Director

Four years ago, PennEnvironment activists helped convince state officials to set tougher emissions standards for cars and trucks in Pennsylvania, securing a historic victory for Pennsylvania’s environment and public health.

Last week, the White House followed our lead. On April 1, the Obama administration announced landmark auto emission standards based on the state-level standards in Pennsylvania and 13 other states.

PennEnvironment applauded these standards, as did the New York Times. [1] The new standards will save Pennsylvania roughly 400 million gallons of gasoline by 2016 as compared to previous federal regulations, while cutting global warming pollution and providing a net economic savings to consumers.

But last week’s federal victory for clean cars couldn’t have happened without the leadership of states like Pennsylvania — a point our energy and clean air advocate, Nathan Willcox, made in an opinion piece in the Harrisburg Patriot-News. And the Pennsylvania victory would not have been possible without the support of activists like you. Now we all get to reap the rewards: less pollution, decreased dependence on oil, and savings at the pump!

So pat yourself on the back and join me in savoring this victory. And as always, thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

David Masur
PennEnvironment Director
http://www.pennenvironment.org

P.S. Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family and friends. You can follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PennEnvironment, or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PennEnvironment.