Problems of the Rich and Famous

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Partying in Hamptons Could Get Harder If One Village Has Its Way

I'm very curious about how municipalities on the East End of Long Island will balance the requirements of wealthy tax payers' entertainment and their impact on the environment. On any given summer day, it’s nothing to see cars lined up on residential roads as far as the eye can see. Shindigs with over a hundred people are common. The main reason why wealthy New Yorkers and others by properties in the Hamptons is to have the space to have big parties. Cracking down on residents by limiting the amount of guest they can have before they need a permit sounds a little risky. The municipalities and the businesses in the area benefit greatly from the steady flow of monied folks looking to have some fun. Upset that and those same people might choose to go elsewhere.

Could a tiny little creature save us humans?

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Scientists stumbled upon a plastic-eating bacterium

I’m looking forward to learning more about this plastic eating bacterium. All I know is that there is a massive area in the ocean filled with floating plastic waste. This waste has found its way into digestive systems of wildlife and ensnares aquatic animals constantly. The proper thing to do is to clean it up, but the problem is the cost would be astronomical and who would pick up the tab. Being able to naturally breakdown these elements might save us from burying ourselves in a mountain of plastic junk. It would be amazing for mealworms and waxworm caterpillars could save mankind.

Wake-up Signs: Is it too late to repair the damage?

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Once a species is gone, that’s it.

With funding being cut for environmental sciences it seems like we’re setting ourselves up for a major catastrophe. I’ve notice personally that critters and insects that were plentiful when I was a child are harder to find now. I remember summers in Ohio when bats and fireflies could be seen everywhere, now just a few fireflies and virtually no bats. Praying mantises were the top insect in every garden, today I see them occasionally. On any warm, humid night a fisherman could search any patch of grass to find nightcrawlers for the next day. Now you must hunt for nightcrawlers in my neighborhood. To see changes like these in ones’ lifetime is a little startling. Are we going to leave our descendants a world dominated by noxious weeds, roaches and rats to consume?

Paper from Manure, That's an Idea I Could Stand Behind!

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Instead of Using Trees, Scientists Are Making Sustainable Paper Out of Manure

Shout out to the scientist still out there grinding and innovating new ways to make out lives better. I understand it’s a bit of an uphill battle right now with under-funding of projects and all, but you are appreciated.


It gives me hope that they have found a use for elephant manure as paper in our everyday lives. The only problem is, I don’t think we have a big problem with elephant dung. If they could come up with other uses for animal wastes from food production that would be great. All I know is that some industrial pig farms have large ponds full of toxic excrement that overflow during floods, contaminating nearby watersheds.


You would think after figuring out how to go to the moon and the smartphone that we could come up with a sustainable way to deal with human and all livestock waste.

Snow and Ice Management: Think about the Environment

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Be Careful with Your Salt Use

Being in the landscape industry in the northeastern part of the US, I’ve always been concerned or involved with snow and ice management. It’s always an expensive, yet very seldom perfect service for property owners. After walking through my neighborhood in downtown Silver Spring recently, I’ve noticed environmental disasters all over the place. I understand that the area doesn’t get much snow and ice, but we must do better. It’s been weeks after the last snow events and I’m still seeing piles of salt and ice melting chemicals on the sidewalks and streets. Much of it was applied after the precipitation as an insurance for pedestrians. I understand why; unless you’re from a place that gets a lot of snow and ice, you don’t even know that there is an industry and professionals that focus on the safest and most efficient management methods.

Montgomery County does a pretty good job on environmental regulation and is strict on individuals that cut down trees and regrade land without permission. So, to see inches of salt being left at intersections in a central business district is a bit shocking. With the climate changing it’s time for municipalities to start hiring snow and ice management consultants from areas that get the stuff regularly. They already know to use salt and chemicals sparingly. Until then here’s a pretty good article about snow and ice management.

SUNY Purchase College Project Comes Back to Life


Sometimes in our lives, good things come back from the dead.

I finished the design drawings for this project back in 2011. It was the first “big” project I landed for my one-man firm a ran out of my living room in Huntington Village on Long Island. I remember being deep in the belly of the Great Recession in 2010 when I was awarded the job along with the landscape renovation for the campus dining hall. I was elated that I had won both projects, but I was also terrified that I had to produce conceptual drawings, preliminary budgets, design development, construction drawings and field review for two medium sized institutional landscape projects in a short amount of time without any help. I spent many late nights and weekends grinding on the projects along with tough meetings with State officials, but every deadline was met.

Both the gymnasium and the dining hall projects involved major landscape renovation to provide better access and to bringing the sites up to current ADA standards. The dining hall construction started almost right away, the gymnasium sat idle for so many years I was convinced it was never going to happen.

The original main entrance to the building was dark, enclosed and inaccessible (I referred to it as ‘The Gladiator Pit’). To enter the building a person in a wheelchair would have to go down a steep driveway to get to the loading dock area in the rear. My first thought on my initial site visit was that I needed to provide access, so friends don’t have to separate to enter the same building. With that said, I’m proud to announce that the State University of New York, Purchase College Gymnasium Project Lives. Check out the construction photos to prove it.

Congratulations to the students, faculty, staff and the State of NY!

Environment: We Need Our Leaders to be Looking Forward



Time For a New Day

It's great to dream about the good old days. Back when our factories were cranking out products the world needed. We believed we had endless resources, and faced no cost for consuming them. After decades of black lungs and poisoned water supplies, we can now make coal a thing of the past. We don't have to blast off the tops of mountains and send poor laborers deep into the earth to keep the lights on. The thought of bringing back 'King Coal' whether it's clean or not, doesn't sound like a good idea any way you slice it.   

LED Lighting Concerns

Streetlights May Be Hurting Public Health

Municipalities are going all out on LED installations throughout the US. Only a few have had push back from their citizens. Will the economic benefits outweigh the environmental damage? I have seen the difference in the quality of life for city dwellers. Can you imagine the need to buy blackout curtains for your bedroom, because it's seven times brighter than before LED lights? I would like to see more studies on the effects these lights have on plants and animals. Are we spending millions of dollars on fixtures that will bad for us in the not too distant future? 

Why an Unmowed Capitol Lawn Could Be a Sign of Good Management

State Capitol Leads the Way in Sustainable Landscape Maintenance 

Washington State Capitol leads the way in changing the perception of the ideal landscape. I'm from the mid-West and I grew up seeing acres and acres of manicured lawns in the suburbs and rural areas. I'll admit it's beautiful to see rolling hills of well-maintained Kentucky bluegrass. But, there's a price to pay for that kind of beauty. The environmental damage is likely the highest cost we pay. Herbicides and fertilizers needed to have the perfect lawn end up in our streams. The fuel burned by mowers and trucks pollutes the air. Add in the cost of labor and large areas of maintained lawn are a luxury. 

I recommend reduction of maintained lawn areas to my clients both commercial and residential. If they have acres of lawn, I suggest they let a certain amount of area go unmaintained and allowed to go natural. Invasive plants would need to be removed though. If we all did this we would save money and we wouldn't have so many chemicals flowing into our waterways. At the same time we would create more habitat and migration corridors for wild animals.