Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Program on Water

There will be a program about water at the monthly League of Women Voters of Wichita Falls meeting on December 2 at noon at Luby's Cafeteria.

The speaker is Larry Lambert. I have heard Larry speak many times. He does good research and I always enjoy his presentations. Larry will be talking about water as a scarce resource and some of the possible social and economic repercussions of scarce water resources on a global level.

The local League did a study on water resources in the area and developed an action position from that study. They are actively involved in water planning.

League meetings are open to the public. No RSVP is required. If you are interested in hearing this presentation, please go through the line (either in the front or the back buffet line) and be seated by noon, when the program starts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Don't Forget Electricritters

Electricritters opened at River Bend Nature Center last weekend and will continue on Friday and Saturday nights through December 19. Electricritters is the primary fundraiser for River Bend and is a fun family event, with lots of lights, s'mores and hot chocolate. Come out and bring the kids (or grandkids) for a treat.

Interview on Recycling

I just finished an interview with Everyday Experiences on recycling. Everyday Experiences is an online radio station. I am not sure when the program will actually air, but I expect within a week or so.

For this and other programs, see Jennifer Thomas' website at http://everydayexperiences.com

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Basic Bird ID Course

Want to learn some of the common winter birds in the Wichita Falls area? Here's an opportunity at River Bend Nature Center.

For those interested, bring your binoculars and we'll take a short bird walk in Lucy Park following.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wichita Falls MTP Bicycle Master Plan

I stopped in to the Transportation Master Plan Public Meeting tonight, primarily because I was interested in the biking portion. The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) plans for transportation for more than Wichita Falls proper (although that is the major portion.)

Usually at a public meeting, you sit through a presentation and then have an opportunity to ask questions and make comments. However, at this meeting, they had maps and reports on various parts of the plan set up around the room with people top answer questions. So I was able to go directly to the portion I was interested in and get one-on-one attention, especially as I arrived early and they were already set up and ready to go.
I've put a map to the left on the proposed bike plans. The green circle is the circle hike/bike trail system already underway. I did ask the representative what a "bike facility" was. It is a dedicated bike lane on a street or a dedicated bike avenue separated from the road. A Class 3 bike route is a sign posted route on the road for bikes to use.
I left my comments at the meeting. I encourage others who want to see the city encourage greener transportation options to chime in as well. The full bicycling plan is 101 pages, but worth a quick scan and more in-depth study by those interested in this issue. My reasons for supporting more biking options in the city:
- Fewer cars on the road; better air quality
- Fewer cars on the road; reduce wear and tear on infrastructure
- Improved health for those riding bikes
- Opportunity to capitalize on our biking reputation with Hotter 'n Hell
-- Add additional short events during the year (tourism dollars)
-- Encourage other biking related businesses (training facilities, manufacturing, etc.)
If you have thoughts on this topic, please send your comments to the MPO.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Public Meeting on Transportation

I received a notice from the city of Wichita Falls concerning a public meeting on transportation planning tomorrow. There are usually so few people who show for these things, it is easy to have an impact. The flyer for them meeting has all of the information.

Of special interest to those of us with a green bent will be bicycle projects and public transit.

Hope you can make it!

Follow-up on BPA in Food Can Liners

Monday I wrote a blog entry concerning BPA in food can liners. This morning I see an article from Consumer Reports on this very thing, and the news isn't good. The amount of BPA in food from a can is can easily be above safe limits, if you eat much canned food. Personally, I don't eat a lot of food from a can, with the exception of tomatoes. In one canned soup, the contents contained more than double the amount of BPA considered safe for an adult male.

The article ends with the following pointers to reduce exposure to BPA:
  • Choose fresh food whenever possible
  • Consider alternatives to canned food, beverages, juices and infant formula
  • Use glass containers when heating food in a microwave

Consumer reports recommends frozen fruits and vegetables over canned, if you can't get fresh.

Another reason to take up gardening.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I've been fortunate to be outside around 6:45 yesterday and today. What glorious sunrises we have had.

It seems to me that if more people were outside at sunrise and when the stars are out at night, we would be far less arrogant about our place in the environment.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BPA in Food Can Liners

I was looking at the Fall issue of Green American and came across an article on bisphenol-A in food cans. I then looked up the report from As You Sow about the response of food companies to a request from them to eliminate BPA from food packaging. I encourage you to do the same.

For now, here is a short summary:

- Why we don't want BPA: this chemical has been associated with hormone disruption, cancer, neurological defects, infertility, obesity, and heart disease (in women.) Because women respond to estrogen and estrogen mimickers like BPA, women are at higher risk for heart arrhythmias than men.
- Current regulatory status: Several states have passed laws to eliminate BPA from children's products; other states are considering such legislation. The FDA is reassessing the safety of BPA. Several food industry groups insist BPA is safe and food companies continue to line cans with BPA.
- Status: As You Sow and Green America surveyed 20 major food companies about their use of BPA.
-- 14 companies responded. All use BPA to line food cans: Hain Celestial, Heinz, Nestle, Kellogg, ConAgra, General Mills, PepsiCo, Campbell, CocaCola, McCormick & Company, Kraft, Hershey, JM Smucker, Del Monte.
-- 6 companies did not respond: Chiquita, Dean, Hormel, Sara Lee, Sysco, Unilever
-- Best: Heinz as it has already moved to a less toxic alternative to BPA in baby-food can linings. Heinz, Hain Celestial, Nestle all indicate they are working to phase out BPA.
-- The following companies indicate they intend to take no action concerning BPA: Del Monte, Hershey, and JM Smucker.

Note: Although Green America posts the magazine to its website, the Spring issue is still up as the current one, so I cannot provide a link to the referenced article.

Sierra Club Meeting Tonight

The Red River Group of the Sierra Club meets tonight.

For those interested, we will be meeting at El Chico's on Southwest Parkway for drinks and appetizers to help with the Cartwright fundraiser. Then we'll head over to the Thai Orchid for dinner and to discuss upcoming projects and events. Following this, we'll head out to The Prairie for stargazing. Dress for the weather and bring a lawn chair and binoculars.

Come for any or all.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Always a Good Time at Texas Master Naturalists

Tonight was the monthly Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalist meeting. Among the topics was a proposed project for next spring monitoring bat populations under bridges. Sounds like another interesting project.

Lila Arnold brought the information back from the TMN Annual Meeting (which I had to miss this year). Bats are apparently adapting to habitat loss by appropriating space under bridges and TXDOT is cooperating in the survey effort. As usual, our area has a paucity of information about bat populations.

A related story in the November issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine is very interesting.

If you have seen bats near a bridge in the area, please let me know, so we can check it out come spring and add it to the monitoring project.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sierra Club Meeting

The next meeting of the Red River Sierra Club will be Tuesday, November 10, 7:00 PM.

The group will meet at the Thai Orchid for a meal and the meeting. Then the group will caravan to the rural green housing development, the Prairie, for a guided star walk.

Dress for the weather and bring binoculars (if you have them) and a lawn chair (with a blanket, if you think you'll need one.)

See you all there!