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Celebrating the value of trees


Look outside – do you see a tree or two? In Greater Kansas City, more than 249 million trees provide a wealth of services and benefits. From removing pollution and storing carbon from CO2 emissions (also known as carbon sequestration) to providing shade to lower cooling costs, each tree provides hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in benefits to our region. It would cost tens of billions of dollars to replicate the benefits that our trees and forests provide to us virtually free of charge. In addition to the eco-services they provide, trees are also a natural source of beauty and provide shelter for both people and wildlife.What do trees do for you? Online advertising art.

MARC worked with professionals and scientists from the U.S. Forest Service, Davey Resource Group and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to publish “Assessing Urban Forest Effects and Values: the Greater Kansas City Region,” which takes a scientific approach toward calculating the value of our region’s trees. Some key findings show:

  • Trees remove 37,000 tons of pollution from our region’s air every year.
  • 1 million tons of carbon are stored within our trees each year through carbon sequestration.
  • The region’s 249 million trees save $14 million in energy costs annually.

Young girl holding sapling at City MarketTo draw attention to the findings of the report and help educate the community on the value of trees, MARC has given away more than 300 bur oak saplings and educational materials at area farmers markets. Bur oak trees are native to our region and can grow more than 70 feet tall and live for up to 300 years, all while cleaning our air, cooling our homes, and providing food and shelter to wildlife.
Consider planting a tree in your yard today. For information about proper tree selection and planting, check out Missouri Department of Conservation’s web resources. Visit our website for more information about the MARC’s Regional Forestry Initiative and to read the iTree report.

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Fireworks, AirQ and You

firework

By Luke Pitts

Each year, Americans gather on July 4 to celebrate our nation’s independence and fireworks are one of the most popular ways to celebrate. Americans bought more than 185 million pounds of personal fireworks in 2012.

Beautiful and powerful as they are, fireworks do contribute to air pollution. Smoke from fireworks poses a health risk — particularly for those with asthma — and traces of accelerants and heavy metals used to create colors can stay in the air and water for weeks. You don’t have to cut out fireworks completely to reduce pollution. Watch this short video on what London researchers have learned about the health effects of fireworks and what you can do prevent your exposure.

Fewer fireworks equal less pollution. For a beautiful, healthy Independence Day, try attending a community fireworks display. Many cities and nearby attractions have planned celebrations that are open to the public. See the Kansas City Star’s Fourth of July event list here. Rather than spending money on your own display, pack a picnic and a blanket and go with friends or family to one of these events.

If you do celebrate at home, try exploring alternatives. Biodegradable confetti, glow sticks, glow jewelry and noisemakers can all be fun ways to celebrate our nation’s birthday. You can even create your own laser show and set it to music. There are numerous guides on the Internet and electronic devices that can help. Just pick a playlist and start your spectacle of lights.

Protect yourself, your family and our air quality — and have a great Fourth of July!

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You’re caring for more than your lawn

It has rained a LOT in recent weeks, and with the rain comes every homeowner’s favorite task — maintaining the lawn.

Are you prepared for the summer ahead? Do you know how your lawn care is affecting not only your patch of land, but also the air, water and wildlife surrounding it?

This video from the University of Michigan covers the basics of your lawn’s impact on our earth. Professor Steve Skerlos explains different methods of mowing and basic lawn treatments that are kinder to the air, soil and water around you.

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Celebrate National Trails Day, Saturday June 1!

National Trails Day art, by Mid-America Regional CouncilCommunities around the Greater Kansas City region will celebrate National Trails Day 2013 on Saturday, June 1, bringing together outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds to celebrate the U. S. trail system.

Traditionally held each year on the first Saturday in June, National Trails Day was established to recognize the value of recreational trails and the people involved in building and maintaining them.

Local cities and municipalities mark National Trails Day by holding public events such as walking and biking activities, trail openings, family entertainment and educational seminars.

To view regional event details, visit the MetroGreen NTD page.

Have photos from your community’s event? Add them to our Flickr MetroGreen pool!

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Spring water quality campaign: “If it’s on the ground — it’s in our water”

WQedPrintAd-blogThis month we concluded our spring water quality public education campaign — an effort to increase awareness about proper storm drain use, healthy lawn care and other water quality issues within the region.

Our message, “If it’s on the ground — it’s in our water,” was featured in regional newspapers, on news websites and social media, network TV and two outdoor billboard advertisements targeting the general public in the Kansas City region, with an emphasis on communities that participate in MARC’s regional water quality program.

The commercial that was featured on network TV is also available online. It explains water quality issues and provides tips that everyone can use to help keep our water clean. With nearly 200 ad placements across four types of media, the campaign reached more than 2 million residents across the metro from April 8 to May 5.

Did you see our message in print, online, on TV or on a billboard? What did you think? Take our survey.

WQedBillboardBlogTo stay up to date on MARC news and events, subscribe to this blog, follow @MARCKCMetro on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook. And watch for our next water quality campaign this fall!

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Wrap Up: Missouri River Charette

This is a part of a series of posts for attendees and blog visitors interested in the fall 2012 Missouri River Bed Degradation Charette.

Thanks so much to all of the stakeholders and staff that stuck with the charette all of last week. It was, at times, a tedious process, but the outcome was agreement on an abbreviated time and money-saving study. In fact, charette participants committed to a savings of one year and $1.4 million.  Here is an attempt to summarize the outcome.

The team is assuming that the Mobile Bed Model, developed by John Shelley (USACE), will not require any significant modifications upon review, and therefore, it can be used now to model alternative modifications to the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project (BSNP) structures. USACE engineers are developing three scenarios, for modifying the BSNP to attempt to arrest or slow degradation, of which one will rise to the top. The best scenario will then be combined with other potential measures and modeled with a final array of alternatives identified July, 2013. This is the next major milestone for the study. This will be the time for a public and agency scoping meeting.

What does this mean to stakeholders? The abbreviated timeline means that, in order to provide the necessary match for a faster moving PDT, we will have to agree on an expedited fundraising schedule for the $260,000 required in FY 2013. Here are the targets that we’re looking at:

  • January, 2013 — $60,000
  • April, 2013 — $100,000
  • July, 2013 — $100,000

I do have an idea about how we can achieve this and will be in touch with each of you individually to discuss it. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.

Several of you have asked about availability of presentations from the charette, as well as some of the working documents (ie. decision log). These will be available on the web soon and I will let you know when they are.

Thanks again!

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Day 3: Missouri River Charette

This is a part of a series of posts for attendees and blog visitors interested in the fall 2012 Missouri River Bed Degradation Charette.

You may have noticed that these posts are a day behind, and basically that is because I’m basing the post on the morning recaps that summarize the previous day’s discussions.

Day 3 of the charette (Wednesday) consisted of participants in small groups discussing the next major planning decision – the development of an array of potential solutions. Groups were asked if there were any potential measures to be screened out initially and if any alternatives immediately rose to the top. Four groups reported the following points, summarized and compiled:

There is some dissent among engineers and non-engineers. Some engineers felt comfortable that they could come up with an array of solutions with a bit more time. Others felt that, while the intent of structural solutions can be understood fairly immediately, we don’t know their level of performance or how they will work together – synergistic or in opposition.

Once the model is operational, different solutions can be tested – BSNP adjustments, reduced dredging and other structural solutions. The model will help with answering level-of-performance questions. There is still a lot of work to do. As of now, no alternatives have risen to the top.

There was much discussion about performance measurement – what does success look like? A recognition that a return to pre-degradation levels may not be feasible, but a return to some level of equilibrium might be.

The main efforts for day 4 are focused on development of the decision management plan and the risk register. If you don’t remember – Friday is the other important session for stakeholders to participate in, or at least listen in on, if possible. Otherwise, I’ll post one last entry before the weekend.

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Day 2: Missouri River Charette

This is a part of a series of posts for attendees and blog visitors interested in the fall 2012 Missouri River Bed Degradation Charette.

Day 2 began with PDT members (CORPS technical staff) presenting quick overviews of their work thus far. Most stakeholders have already seen these presentations in even greater detail than they were presented here at the charette. John Shelley presented the mobile bed model and the data that shows degradation as a more recent problem, coinciding with recent flooding and recent increases in dredging.

Alan Schlindwein presented his work studying the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project (BSNP), the series of dikes and other structures constructed to narrow the channel for navigation. Adjusting the BSNP to allow for river widening continues to be a potential solution for degradation.

Brian Kelly, United States Geological Survey (USGS), presented groundwater impacts of degradation. USGS modeling is quantifying these impacts and indicates preliminarily that 93 percent of wetlands in the Kansas City area are showing an increase in depth to groundwater. Essentially, wetlands adjacent to the Missouri River are drying up. Ground water wells are at risk, as are collector wells, where filter packs are shrinking and increasing the potential for contamination.

The remainder of the morning focused on questions and discussions about these PDT presentations. Many of the questions indicated that many participants did not read the materials provided by the local district, so the afternoon was dedicated to examining the summary report, linked here on mobeddeg.org.

The facilitator provided a brief summary of the day’s discussions as follows:

  • Project Re-scoping: Consensus around study scale, and to NOT shift to a watershed study that would include a systems/sediment study.
  • Study Authority: Emphasized 216 authority, which is to study existing federal infrastructure, in this case the BSNP. There was a lot of discussion that clarified to study reviewers that even though local interest is protecting local infrastructure — and the study may look at impacts to local infrastructure — the federal interest does not include modification to local infrastructure.
  • Goal of Study: There was quite a bit of consensus to add to the goal of the study an emphasis on NOT causing adverse impacts down or upstream.
  • Future Without Project: More technical work is needed to determine this.
  • Root Cause of Degradation in Kansas City Reach: Understanding completely the root cause of degradation may not be necessary to develop appropriate solutions.
  • Other Missouri River Studies: Reviewers asked about these other studies. Corps staff is putting together a short list of relevant studies to share.

Here is a link to some cool river model videos that we watched this morning.

Any thoughts?

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Day 1: Missouri River Charette

This is a part of a series of posts for attendees and blog visitors interested in the fall 2012 Missouri River Bed Degradation Charette.

Day 1 consisted of stakeholder presentations from WaterOne of Johnson County, KCP&L, Missouri Department of Transportation, Kansas Water Office, Holliday Sand & Gravel and city of Kansas City, Mo. All presenters communicated very clearly their interests in the study and provided real costs already incurred to modify infrastructure and operations to deal with bed degradation.

After lunch, charette participants took a tour of four sites on the Kansas and Missouri rivers to get a first-hand look at infrastructure impacts.

All participants are encouraged to comment or ask questions in the comment section. So far, it is moving pretty quickly and I’ll try to post another update today.

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Charette Morning Briefings

This is a part of a series of posts for attendees and blog visitors interested in the fall 2012 Missouri River Bed Degradation Charette.

Beginning Tuesday, November 6, at 9:00 am stakeholders can tune into morning briefings in person or remotely. Tuesday morning will feature Corps technical staff, who will give an overview of study elements.

Morning briefings will last approximately one hour and will include a recap of the previous day and an agenda for the coming day.

Conference information is as follows:

Phone Number: 888-675-2535
Access Code: 9738730
Security code: 415161
Web Meeting Address:  https://www.webmeeting.att.com Meeting Number: 8886752535 Access Code: 9738730
See you all Monday!

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