Daily Archives: September 19, 2012

The 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act

   The 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act is October 18, 2012.

                                  by Ted Beringer

Prior to passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, over 60% of the lakes, rivers and coastal water along the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts were judged unsafe for swimming and fishing. Although a forerunner of the Clean Water Act was essentially passed in 1948 as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, it was not adequately enforced.  In the 1960s a group of blue-collar fisherman became incensed by flagrant disregard for the original law by corporations that caused fish to die or taste like motor oil in the Hudson River. They organized the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association and successfully brought the Penn Central Railroad to court and stopped them from dumping oil into the Hudson River. They collected $2,000 under a 19th century statute forbidding pollution of American waters that also stipulated a reward for reporting violations. The ability of citizens to bring such lawsuits was given greater leverage by passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972. The Clean Water Act intended to achieve “zero discharge of pollutants into navigable waters by 1985, and fishable and swimmable waters by 1983”. As a result, many of the nation’s waterways have been significantly improved. Nevertheless many lakes, rivers and estuaries remain polluted while continuing attempts to weaken the Clean Water Act intensify by mining and agricultural organizations as well as by many land developers and energy companies. In 2001, the Clean Water Act was weakened by a stunning Supreme Court decision that effectively exempted many creeks, rivers and streams in the United States from protection under the Clean Water Act. Protection of wetland habitat used by migratory birds was particularly undermined by the Court decision that exempted “isolated wetlands” from protection.

In the local context of Kansas, the American Rivers organization has named the Kansas River as one of the ten most endangered American rivers for the year 2012. The fear is that unabated sand and gravel dredging could cause severe harm to clean water and wildlife. For a complete the list of endangered rivers visit http://www.americanrivers.org/our-work/protecting-rivers/endangered-rivers/.

Waterkeeper Alliance, the organization that evolved from the original Hudson River Fisherman’s Association, has placed its magazine issue commemorating the Clean Water Act online at http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/2a5dd268#/2a5dd268/1.

Moms & Children Getting Outdoors

How Moms and Their Children Can Stay Fit Outside in a Busy World

by Len Saunders

A vast majority of moms want to maintain a healthy lifestyle through a regimented wellness program, but their time is limited. Once a mom starts juggling so many obligations, exercise, sadly, gets a low priority on her “to do” list. At the same time, they want to get their children involved in physical activities since so many of our youth have developed a sedentary lifestyle. So, how does a mom satisfy and balance all her needs?

Fear not, as all of us share one common ‘workout’ gym – The Great Outdoors – and there are no monthly fees to join.

Going outside with your children is a very positive and rewarding experience, while also being beneficial to a child’s normal growth and development. Many parents are now taking the “lead by example” approach with regards to playing in the great outdoors with their children. Olympic gold medalist and mother,Shannon Miller, agrees, saying, “Vitamin D and fresh air are always a plus when you play outside with your children. Getting outdoors is a good way to vary the terrain and try new things. There are endless games and activities that you can enjoy to keep it fresh and exciting.  In addition, outdoor play is typically very inexpensive. Hiking, biking, swimming, or even morning yoga is a perfect way to squeeze in exercise without making it feel like work.”

Parents are so influential in the health of their children.

If a parent leads a sedentary lifestyle, this is what the child sees as the “norm.” If a parent is active outside on a regular basis, going for walks or hikes, then a child sees this as the standard. In the latter scenario, both parent and child will benefit performing activities together outside that promote physical activity. Sadly, playing outside is slowly becoming a lost art for kids for many reasons:

• Parents want their kids supervised 24/7 for safety

• Technology is becoming a child’s number one choice for play

• Too much homework to finish

• Social responsibilities

• Lack of outside “play creativity”

• Weather/climate issues

A parent that successfully gets their child outside on a regular basis is teaching their child a valuable lesson about a healthy lifestyle, and creative positive, lifetime habits that will carry on well into adulthood.

The Benefits of Outdoor Play

Countless individuals do not understand the value of playing outside. In fact, the EPA estimates that most Americans spend an average of 90% or greater of their time indoors. In our busy world, getting outside sometimes gets pushed to the curb. Tina Vindum, the author of “Outdoor Fitness- Step Out of the Gym and into the Best Shape of Your Life,” suggests some great health advantages to exercising outside.

• Learn a new degree of body/mind awareness by using a variety of movement patterns over varied terrain- building muscle, burning fat, and increasing joint stability.

• Be truly in the company of Mother Nature, where all your senses come alive; leaving you feeling refreshed, invigorated, and motivated.

• Lose more body fat on colder days- Outdoor Fitness enables people to use up to 12% more calories and burn up to 32% more fat than a typical indoor workout.

• Nature-based exercise not only builds physical fitness, but also strengthens our senses, our intellectual capacity, and our emotional health.

• Mood elevation and stress relief that leaves you feeling alert, refreshed, and alive through the intake of fresh air and natural light- called the “Biophilia Effect.”

• Spending time in greenery and forests increases the production of Natural Killer Cells- anti cancer proteins. Studies show that this boost can last 7-30 days.

The most important thing: just get your kids outside and play with them whenever you get the time. The benefits will lead the way to a healthier lifestyle for your children.

Activities Parents and Children Can Do Outside:

Playing with your children outside helps them develop physically, mentally, and socially. Many of those activities you used to do as a child still work today. A little creativity can take you a long way. Personal trainer Nicole Palacios gives these suggested activities for you and your child while playing outside.

♦ Running- Place your young child in a stroller and job, or if they are bigger, have them run alongside you at the park or playground. Make a game out of it if the child is too old to go running the stroller. Catch, chase, tag, etc. Everyone gets their exercise!

♦ Obstacle courses- Step up an obstacle course in your home yard or outdoors at a park. Run, jump, crawl, and go over and under.

♦ Outdoor baby or toddler fit exercise class- Mom works out for her needs, child gets to spend time with mom and interact with other babies/toddlers.

♦ Hiking- Hike with your baby in a backpack or have your toddler/child hiking with you. Take in nature and make a scavenger hunt where you look for certain nature items along the way. Enter your zip code in NatureFind to find great outdoor places near you.

♦ Go Geocaching- If your kids are 6 or older, kick up the hike a notch with Ranger Rick’s Geocache Trails, an outdoor treasure hunt using GPS technology to find items hidden in the great outdoors.

♦ Pick-up sports- Playing soccer, badminton, hockey; whatever you enjoy doing with your kids that takes you outside.

Find out more ways to get outside in the great outdoors. Sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter.

License Plate Birdhouse

With a few pieces of scrap wood and a recycled license plate,

you can make an inexpensive birdhouse

By Dottie Baltz,

PennellvilleNew York

What You Will Need

• 2 pieces of pine, 3/4 x 4-1/2 x 4-1/2 inches

• 1 piece of wood or plywood, 1/2 x 4-1/4 x 4 inches

• 1 piece of thin wood or plywood, 1/2 x 4 x 4 inches

• 1 piece of pine, 3/4 x 3/4 x 7 inches

• 12 1/4-inch brad nails or small siding nails

• 4 1-inch pan-head screws or roofing nails

• 2 1/4-inch screw eyes

• 1 12-inch piece of chain for hanging

• 1/4-inch drill bit

• 1-1/8-inch hole saw

• Primer and outdoor paint (optional)

• License plate

• Wood glue

Recommended Tools

• Saw

• Hammer

• Drill

• Ruler

• Pencil

• Needle-nose pliers


1. To start with, cut two pieces of 3/4-inch-thick pine into a square, 4-1/2 x 4-1/2 inches. These will be the front and back of the birdhouse.

2. Take a ruler and mark off a 3/4 x 3/4-inch square on one of the corners of each block of wood. Use a small hand saw to cut out the corners.

3. With the notched corner at the top, use the 1/4-inch drill bit to drill two air holes, about an inch apart, just under the notched portion of one of the blocks of wood. This will be the back of the birdhouse.

4. On the other block of wood, measure approximately 2-1/2 inches down from the notch. This is where you will drill the entrance hole, using the 1-1/8-inch hole saw.

5. Taking a piece of 1/2-inch-thick wood, cut two pieces, 4-1/4 x 4 inches and 4 x 4 inches.

6. Place the back of the birdhouse, which contains the air holes, flat on your work surface, and apply a small bead of glue along the two bottom edges. Attach the thinner pieces of wood, finishing off the piece with the front of the birdhouse that has the entrance hole.

7. After the glue sets, hammer in some brad nails. If you use four on each side, this should secure the house nicely.

8. Take the 3/4 x 3/4 x 7-inch piece of wood and center it over the notched corners. This will be a support for the roof, as well as a place to put the screw eyes for hanging.

9. Secure this piece with a little wood glue and a couple of nails on each side.

10. Once the glue is completely dry, you can prime and paint your birdhouse. Or use a stain and sealer instead. Just be careful not to get any paint inside the birdhouse where it could harm the birds.

11. Find the center of your license plate and bend it to a 45-degree angle. Center it over the roof support on the house.

12. Using a pencil, mark where the holes of the license plate will be on the edge of the birdhouse. Drill holes for the pan-head screws or roofing nails; this will prevent the wood from splitting when you put in the hardware. If you don’t have pan-head screws, find a screw or nail with a large enough head to secure the license plate.

13. Put the plate back on top of the birdhouse and attach with the large screws or nails.

14. About 1/2 inch from the edge of the roof support, attach a screw eye, one on each end. These will hold the chain you will use to hang your birdhouse.

15. With the needle-nose pliers, open a link at each end of the chain and attach it to the screw eyes. Now your birdhouse is ready to hang.