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The Importance of Protecting Our Costal Lands and Oceans

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When the groundbreaking documentary TV series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau first ran it was an eye opening experience for many people. Few knew how diverse the underwater ecosystems were and how everything we do on the land ultimately impacts our oceans.

Today, there are nearly 1,800 protected marine areas in the U.S. President Obama took a huge step earlier this year by creating the largest protected marine reserve in the Pacific Ocean. The decision to expand the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument created 490,000 square miles of protected waters. While this was monumental, there is still much that needs to be done to protect our expansive world under the ocean surface.

Top Problems Plaguing Our Coasts and Oceans

There are many manmade problems that are causing harm within the oceans and along coastlines. The three issues below are the most pressing concerns that need to be addressed immediately.

Overfishing

Expanding the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument meant that commercial fishing was no longer possible within the area. This is a huge win for the ocean given that marine ecologists have identified overfishing as the biggest threat to underwater ecosystems.

When fish and other marine wildlife are caught at a faster rate than they can reproduce, species begin to be depleted. The animals are also less likely to grow to full size, which can impact biodiversity. Natural habitats will begin to break down and cause complete destabilization. For centuries fisheries used responsible practices that limited the number of animals caught, but today large vessels are using GPS technology to snag entire schools of fish at once. They can also process and refrigerate the catch right on board allowing them to travel to deeper waters and spend more time out on the ocean. As a result, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization has estimated that 70% of the ocean has reached full exploitation, has been over exploited, or been depleted.

Pollution

Trash is generated on land, but tons of it finds its way to the coastline and out into the water. These pollutants are known as marine debris. You’ve probably heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that is floating out in the Pacific Ocean. There’s an estimate 1.9 million microplastic bits per square mile of the patch. But far more is likely sitting on the ocean floor since scientists have found 70% of marine debris sinks.

Plastics are particularly problematic because they can entangle animals and destroy habitats. Oil, nets, and random debris left on the coastline are also top pollutants.

Climate Change

U.S. officials have stated that marine ecosystems and coral reefs are among the most vulnerable to the affects of climate change. The ocean contains 97% of our water supply and generates 50% of the oxygen we need to breathe. Even the slightest change to our climate can have a ripple effect that impacts the ocean in countless ways.

The most obvious impact of climate change has been the warming of ocean waters. Constant monitoring has shown that every decade since 1970 the temperature in the shallowest waters has risen by 0.18 degree Fahrenheit. That may not seem like much, but it has changed the way fish migrate, bleached coral leading to weakening and destruction, raised the sea level, and caused wetlands to become “drowned”. Because the ocean absorbs roughly 30% of carbon emissions, ocean acidification is now 30 times higher than it naturally would be.

There is much that we can learn and so much left to explore in our oceans. The unique biodiversity could hold answers to curing diseases, lessening the affects of climate change and easing world hunger. That can only happen when we preserve our oceans and interact with the ecosystems responsibly.

 

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Water Conservation Efforts in the US

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Water is undoubtedly the most precious resource on the planet. Without it no living thing would survive. Even though the Earth’s surface is 71% water that doesn’t mean a shortage isn’t possible.

In areas of the country like Texas and California years of drought has taken its toll, bottled water production is depleting natural water supplies and rising salinity levels are compromising delicate ecosystems along the coast. All around water conservation has become a pressing issue in the U.S. As a result, the federal government, states and individual citizens are taking action to protect and preserve our water sources.

Today there are hundreds of programs and organizations across the country that are solely focused on water conservation. Below are some of the top initiatives that are making huge waves in protecting our water supplies.

The Water Conservation Field Services Program

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been responsible for helping settle the western portion of the country, and in doing so they have helped to establish water supplies and irrigation systems. Today the Bureau helps to oversee water management and ensures that water use efficiency is as high as possible, particularly for irrigation users.

The Water Conservation Field Services Program brings all entities together to promote a comprehensive approach to responsible water management. Through the program the Bureau provides assistance and water planning solutions for states and residents in the western region of the U.S. where there is typically lower levels of precipitation. Just as the Bureau helped early settlers survive by improving the water supply, their program is now helping to educate people on how to protect this vital resource.

WaterSMART Program

The Department of the Interior heads up the WaterSMART Program. The Department is charged with protecting the country’s natural resources so it is only logical that they would take the reigns on water conservation. In 2010 the WaterSMART initiative was begun with the main objective of finding new solutions for shoring up and protecting water supplies across the U.S.

WaterSMART is focused on tackling issues at the federal level so that there is a trickle down effect. The program has established water conservation goals, created partnerships with state and local governments, conducted studies and provided strategies for all water users to implement daily. In the first three years of the program over 500,000 acre-feet of water was conserved.

National Water Census

If you don’t know what the current circumstances are and track the changes, it is very difficult to come up with solutions that address the problem. That was the exact thinking of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The department’s scientists developed the National Water Census to assess water availability and find ways to use that data to create tools that will aid water conservation. Their research is also addressing the issue of water quality and how it pertains to water availability.

Water Conservation Plan Guidelines

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with protecting all natural environments whether they are rural or urban. They have helped to launch successful initiatives like the Energy Star Program, which addresses increasing energy efficiency. The agency is also tackling the issue of water conservation. As part of their effort, the EPA has createdwater conservation plan guidelines for states to implement. These guidelines help explain ways that water conservation strategies can be implemented within water systems that serve populations of all sizes.

Water Conservation Solutions for Small Businesses

The Small Business Administration (SBA) was created to provide support and assistance to the small business owners that make our economy thrive. The administration operates dozens of programs including education on how small businesses can reduce their energy and water expenses. The SBA is encouraging the thousands of business owners in the U.S. to practice water conservation in their offices, stores, and buildings.

Water shortages threaten the livelihood, health and security of every U.S. citizen. Conservation is an issue that affects us all and will require the efforts of everyone to solve. All of the conscious effort in recent years is paying off. A 2014 report from the USGS found that water use in America had reached its lowest level in 45 years. Changes in electricity generation, irrigation systems and public use all contributed to the improvement in water conservation.

 

Dumpsters.biz is doing its part to protect our water supplies by ensuring safe disposal of hazardous materials that have the potential to pollute our waters. It’s just one more way we can all protect our country’s most precious resource.

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4 Ways You Can Support U.S. Land Conservation Efforts

Serenity lake in tundra on Alaska

Protecting land within the U.S. is a big task. At the turn of the 20th Century then-president Theodore Roosevelt became a champion for land conservation to protect wildlife species, ecosystems, and precious landmarks. He saw certain swaths of land as public spaces that belonged to all Americans, and recognized that their existence was in danger.

In a time when many people thought that our natural resources were limitless, President Roosevelt saw things for what they really were. He knew that expansion came at a cost, and without protecting land our country was at risk of depleting our precious natural environments. In an effort to correct the problems, President Roosevelt created the United States Forest Service (USFS) and enacted the 1906 American Antiquities Act.

Now as our country faces new environmental threats, conservation is more crucial than ever. Each and every one of us can take action to protect our public lands and follow in the footsteps of our “conservationist president”.

Visit National and State Parks

Anytime you visit a national or state park you are showing your support. The funds that you pay for entrance fees, camping fees, and necessities go back to the National Park Service (NPS) and state departments so that they can continue maintaining preserved land. Park visitors also help to establish that there is a demand for conserving our public spaces so that they can continue to be enjoyed for future generations.

Become Familiar With the American Antiquities Act

Most Americans have never heard of the American Antiquities Act even though it helped to establish 150 national forests, 18 national monuments, and five national parks among other many other conversation lands. The sole purpose of the act is to protect natural resources and public spaces that are scientifically and/or culturally important. It was most recently used by President Obama to further expand the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument, which was established by President George W. Bush.

Support the National Parks Conservation Association

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) provides additional support for our National Park System. The NPCA is responsible for a variety of valuable services and keeps the public updated on the condition of parks as well as the most recent happenings that impact conservation. The group serves as a powerful advocate for the preservation of our national parks, often lobbying on Capitol Hill to establish bills that further conservation of public land.

You can help the NPCA meet its goals by becoming a member, making a donation, attending a regional event or sharing your story.

Support the National Park Foundation

Another noteworthy organization is the National Park Foundation. The foundation supports initiatives that protect over 400 parks and the treasures they contain. They provide essential funding for projects that range from restoring wetlands to erecting monuments for 9/11 victims. Without the support individual donors the National Park Foundation’s work wouldn’t be possible. In addition to donations you can show support by becoming a member or joining the Stewardship Circle.

 

You can also do your part to protect our precious lands by reducing your waste generation and practicing safe waste management. If you have a large project or clean up that will create a significant amount of debris Dumpsters.biz can help you keep the trash contained with dumpster rentals. Check online to find affordable rates in your area.

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How Different Types of Trash Affect Wildlife in Your Community

Portrait of majestic powerful adult red deer stag in Autumn Fall forest

The wildlife roaming our planet doesn’t generate trash, but all too often they come in contact with it. When debris is not disposed of properly it becomes harmful litter that pollutes our environment and puts wildlife at risk. The problem is so significant that the Humane Society estimates their organization alone helps more than 14,000 animals a year that come in contact with debris.

All trash has the potential to do harm, but each one does so in different ways.

General Municipal Waste

The things we throw out in the trash on a daily basis pose countless problems for wildlife. Nets and fishing wires that are left behind in oceans are a perfect example of how debris can turn deadly for wildlife. Even larger animals like whales can become entangled. Another indirect way that litter negatively impacts wildlife is by putting animals in harm’s way. Curious creatures will venture closer to dangerous roads, developed areas, and boat paths to check out debris.

Cigarette butts are one of the top litter pollutants. So it comes as no surprise that every year animals are poisoned by the butts’ nicotine, which is toxic when consumed. What’s worst is cigarette butts don’t break down and can build up in an animal’s system.

When litter is significant it can impact the ecosystem and cause alterations that indirectly affect the wildlife. In some cases animals will have to find new habitats to live in or alter their migration routes.

Plastics

Plastic is the most prominent type of garbage polluting our oceans, and it is one of the most harmful pollutants on land as well. Plastics wreak havoc in a number of ways from entangling animals to blocking sunlight that grows the plankton that many marine creatures feeds on. Plastic six-pack rings are especially dangerous since it’s easy for many animals to get them looped around their neck and choke to death.

Another danger comes from animals eating plastic. When consumed plastic often causes deadly blockages in the intestines. One of the most famous cases was in 1993 when a pygmy sperm whale was rescued off the New Jersey coast. Rescuers discovered the whale had three square feet of plastic in her stomach. Balloons, plastic bags, and more can travel much further than their place of origin, putting animals across an expansive area at risk.

Metal

Sharp metal shards can cause significant injuries to a variety of wildlife. Sea birds have been blinded by hooks, and raccoons have sliced their skin open on metal containers. Curious creatures can even get their limbs stuck in the opening of cans. These cuts can turn to infections or weaken the animal to the point that they can’t eat enough to survive.

Glass

We all know that glass can quickly become unsafe once it’s broken. The same danger that glass poses for people rings true for all wildlife. Animals out in the wild often cut open their paws by unknowingly walking over broken glass. Animals can also be impaled by glass, which often leads to death. Another common problem is wildlife getting their heads or paws stuck in glass jars.

Paper

Paper isn’t as dangerous as other types of trash, however it still can become a threat. Wrappers quickly become chocking hazards for hungry animals. Chinese lanterns are another paper product that can harm wildlife both from ingestion of the paper and impalement or being trapped by the wires.

Hazardous Waste

Chemicals, toxins, poisons – they are all components of hazardous waste. These materials pose a serious threat to both animals and humans. Lead products are life threatening when consumed by animals. Old coolant that’s been removed from vehicles has the potential to kill unsuspecting pets around the neighborhood. Hazardous materials can leach into the ground and water causing untold dangers for every living thing.

 

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