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Crosswalks in Idaho Falls

August 7, 2010

Being a pedestrian is hazardous in Idaho Falls, particularly for people in wheelchairs, people pushing strollers, and runners. Why, you might ask? Because the sidewalks are cracked and uneven, the newly seal coated streets have bumps at the edges and in the middle, and there aren’t enough crosswalks.

It has come to my attention that there is a need for another crosswalk across 1st Street between Holmes and Yellowstone Highway. I am considering a variety of ways to push for this. What do you think would be the best way? Let me know in the comments.

Also, where would you most like to see a crosswalk? Tell me in the poll below.


Teton River Named Model Watershed

May 24, 2010

From the Friends of the Teton River newsletter:

Friends of the Teton River is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Portland, Oregon-based Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF). FTR was awarded the funding as a part of a “Model Watershed” designation the Teton Basin received from BEF earlier in the year. FTR is the seventh Model Watershed project in the nation funded through BEF’s Model Watershed Grant Program. The grant will be used to support FTR’s efforts over the next decade to restore habitat, stream flow and native trout populations in the upper Teton and upper Snake River Watersheds.

Earth Day Celebration Last Saturday

April 26, 2010

The Earth Day Celebration last Saturday went very well. Thank you to those who came and sat with us at the booth. We had many good discussions with people about our display featuring ideas for making an Idaho Falls neighborhood friendlier, healthier, and safer. There may be some concrete actions growing from these discussions, which is very exciting.

Spring, the Urge to Garden and Landscape

April 14, 2010

The sun rises earlier and sets later. The days become warmer. The birds flit here and there and chirp. There are those occasional warm breezes. The snow melts away and now we can see our dull looking yard, but at least we can see what we have missed all winter.

Spring has arrived and we are in the mood to be outside and see pretty flowers in bold colors and green shrubs.

Gardening can be difficult and frustrating in our cold and dry climate, but the way to ensure plants will survive is to go NATIVE.  There are many beautiful flowering native plants, such as Larkspur, Buckwheat, Paintbrush, Scotch Broom, Butter Lupine, Blue-pod Lupine, Columbine, Penstemon, and many more that not only tolerate the cold but thrive in this dry climate.  Native plants don’t require nearly so much water nor soil amendments as the non-native plants.  You have the flexibility of designing a formal or informal yard that is much healthier for the environment.

To learn about landscaping with native plants, view  The website, provides information on plant hardy zones.  If you are looking for groundcovers, shrubs, deciduous trees, or conifers, check  These plants can be purchased from the University of Idaho at very reasonable prices.  Trail Creek Nursery, near Victor, sells native plants. See their website, h, for contact information.  Town and Country Nursery, south of Idaho Falls on Yellowstone Hwy. also sells native plants.

Happy Spring, Everyone. I know I am ready for Spring.

What if we had an economy based on cooperation?

March 29, 2010

What would the world look like if our economy were based on cooperation? Is that possible? Could we avoid the tragedy of the commons? Read an interview with Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Prize winner and start thinking.

Strawberries Rotting

March 28, 2010

The price of strawberries has dropped, and some farmers are choosing to let the fruit rot in the field instead of bothering to pick it. At least one farm has invited people to come pick, and thousands showed up, but most farmers are not choosing to do that.

I understand that it may sometimes not be worth it for farmers to pick the crops, and they need to cut their losses as soon as possible, and harvesting will only add to those losses. Letting food rot is just wrong, though. More farmers should consider letting outsiders come and harvest the strawberries.

Watch the ABC News video

Read the transcript of the ABC News video

Newspaper Column on Endocrine Disruptors

March 26, 2010

My latest newspaper column:

I want to tell you all about an event occurring tomorrow. You don’t need to go anywhere, each of us can participate in our own homes. At 8:30 pm, turn off all the lights for an hour. It is Earth Hour. On March 27, from 8:30 to 9:30 pm, local time, all over the world, people will turn out their lights to symbolize the impact that each person’s actions have on the world. As lights go out, the night will be truly dark, just as it was before humans invented artificial light.

I want to talk about endocrine disruptors. They are found in many human-made substances, including plastics, farm chemicals, particularly herbicides, cosmetics, cleaners, anything with artificial fragrance, stain protectors, and more. Why should we worry about these chemicals?

Well, if you’re a man, I think you should be very worried. Endocrine disruptors, even in very small quantities (as small as 1 part per billion) are being shown to interfere with proper development in animals. Males are affected first, because endocrine disruptors usually mimic estrogen, a female hormone. The problems showed up first in fish and amphibians, as intersex individuals. Males started acting like females, putting out female hormones, and even having female physical characteristics. Now similar problems have started showing up in mammals, and even humans. There are more baby boys being born every year with undescended testicles and hormone problems. There are increasing numbers of new cases every year of testicular cancer.

As well, spina bifida and other cases of birth defects peak every year at a certain time, corresponding to babies conceived between April and July each year. Between April and July is the time when levels of chemicals from farms peak. The chemicals found in the highest concentrations are nitrate fertilizers (which are a column in themselves), followed by atrazine, a weed-killer or herbicide. Atrazine is an endocrine disruptor. It is also the chemical most often found in higher quantities than legally allowed. The US Environmental Protection Agency has set the limit for atrazine at 3 parts per million, much higher than the levels shown to cause problems (which begin with levels in parts per billion). The EPA considered banning atrazine a few years ago, but decided against it. New information on its role as an endocrine disruptor has since come to light.

What can be done? I think the United States should institute a review of all chemicals used in industry and agriculture. Limit as much as possible (without obsessing about it) your use of plastics, artificial fragrances, and stain protectors. If you farm, try to limit the runoff of chemicals from your fields, which will probably save you money in the long run as well.

This essay was previously published in the (Idaho Falls) Post Register on March 26, 2010.

cross-posted at Lizbeth’s Garden

Earth Hour Tomorrow

March 26, 2010

Tomorrow, March 27, at 8:30 pm is Earth Hour. Sign up to turn off the lights for an hour and symbolize the impact we can each have on the Earth.

Don’t Buy Cypress Mulch

March 25, 2010

Cypress mulch is made by clear-cutting the cypress forests of Louisiana and other Southern states. Preserve the ecosystems, say no to cypress mulch in the garden.

Should Atrazine be Banned?

March 24, 2010

An article in the February 27, 2010, Science News makes the case that atrazine, an agricultural weed-killer, should be banned for its effects on amphibians’ endocrine systems, and possible similar effects on humans. The EPA reviewed it recently, but it was allowed to keep its registration.

One possible effect of atrazine that I found interesting was its possible correlation with seasonal peaks of birth defects. It has been shown that rates of birth defects peak each year in children conceived between April and July when concentrations of agricultural chemicals also peak in farm runoff and water supplies. Atrazine is the chemical in those water found in the highest concentration.

The studies that focus on atrazine’s effects in humans did not, for the most part, pass the EPA’s strict requirements for the studies in its review. It is also very difficult to establish the effects of chemicals on humans, because it is usually not ethical to set up true double-blind studies, where one group is exposed to a chemical, and the other is not. Instead, researchers rely on data from actual exposures, which makes it much more difficult to establish correlation.

Read the entire article.