Monday, December 10, 2012

Greening your Christmas Tree

The blog below, written by Caitlin Finnerty, can be found on the Chesapeake Bay Program website (, and since the information is appropriate for all of us at this time of year, I thought it worth re-posting and sharing with all of you.     Happy holidays!

From shopping bags and gift wrap to the train, plane and car trips that we take to visit family and friends, our carbon footprints get a little larger during the holidays. So when it comes to choosing a Christmas tree, why not do so with the environment in mind? While the "real" versus "fake" debate rages on, we have sifted through the arguments to find four tips that will make your Christmas tree "green."

Image courtesy Jo Naylor/Flickr

1. Avoid artificial. As deforestation becomes a global concern, an artificial tree might seem like a green choice. But some researchers disagree. Most of the artificial Christmas trees sold in the United States are made in China using polyvinyl chloride or PVC, a kind of plastic whose petroleum-dependent manufacturing, processing and shipping is a serious emitter of greenhouses gas. And while one study did find that reusing an artificial tree can be greener than purchasing a fresh-cut fir each December, that artificial tree would have to be used for more than two decades—and most end up in a landfill after just six to nine years.

Image courtesy Dave Mathis/Flickr

2. Don’t be a lumberjack. While going artificial might not be the greenest choice, neither is hiking up a local mountain with an axe in hand. When a tree is removed and not replaced, its ecosystem is robbed of the multiple benefits that even a single tree can provide. Trees clean our water and air, provide habitat for wildlife and prevent soil erosion. Instead of chopping down your own Christmas tree, visit a farm where trees are grown, cut and replanted just like any other crop.

Image courtesy macattck/Flickr

3. Choose a tree farm wisely. Millions of Christmas trees are grown on farms across the United States, emitting oxygen, diminishing carbon dioxide and carrying some of the same benefits of a natural forest. And some of these tree farms are sustainable, offering locally-grown, pesticide-free trees and wreaths. Find a tree farm near you.

Image courtesy Klara Kim/Flickr

4. Go “balled and burlapped.” Real Christmas trees are often turned into mulch once the season is over. But some farmers are making Christmas trees even more sustainable! Instead of cutting down a tree at its trunk, a tree’s roots are grown into a ball and wrapped in a burlap sack. Once the tree is used, it can be replanted! If your yard doesn’t have room for another evergreen, look for a company that will return for its tree after the holidays.

About Caitlin Finnerty - Caitlin Finnerty is the Communications Staffer at the Chesapeake Research Consortium and Chesapeake Bay Program. Caitlin grew up digging for dinosaur bones and making mud pies in Harrisburg, Pa. Her fine arts degree landed her environmental field work jobs everywhere from Oregon to Maryland. Now settled in Baltimore, she is eagerly expecting her first child while creating an urban garden oasis on her cement patio.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Protecting Drinking Water Resources in the Lakes Region

The Lakes Region Planning Commission, in collaboration with the NH Department of Environmental Services, is pleased to present:


A workshop highlighting innovative local efforts to preserve drinking water resources and protect public health

Friday, September 21, 2012, 8:45 AM – 3:30 PM
Meredith Community Center, 1 Circle Drive, Meredith, NH

You are invited to join local and state experts speak on a wide variety of Sourcewater Protection topics including:

·        Salt and Groundwater, Jeffrey Marts, Emery and Garrett Groundwater, Inc.
·        Three Recent Initiatives to Protect Drinking Water in the City of Laconia, Shanna Saunders, City of Laconia
·        Meredith’s Innovative Approach to Managing Septic Systems, Angela LaBreque, Town of Meredith
·        Site-level Residential Stormwater Management, Jillian McCarthy, NH DES and Andrea Lamoreaux, NH Lakes Association
·        Building Awareness through Public Well Testing Events in Tuftonboro, Steve Wingate, Tuftonboro Conservation Commission and Pierce Rigrod, NH DES

Please take a look at the full AGENDA at

·        Admission is only $10 (includes refreshments and lunch).
·        Attendees are eligible to receive 5 technical credit hours under the NH Water Works Operator Certification Program
·        To register, simply fill in our registration form at or give us a call at 279-8171.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fall Clean Up - don't P in the water!

September – it never ceases to amaze me!  Labor Day arrives and Mother Nature turns off the heat bringing cool nights, and pleasant warm days; poof! summer’s over.
While it’s sad to see long warm summer days fade, fall brings its own unique and welcoming sights, colors and scents.  And with the fall, many homeowners will turn their attention to the yard, raking leaves, pruning, and planting flower bulbs for spring bloom.

No matter what your lawn care practices are, there are some things to keep in mind to help protect water quality of lakes, ponds and streams.  Yard waste makes really good fertilizer, which is why many people compost it.  If you rake leaves, consider mulching them, and put the mulched leaves around your trees and shrubs to help protect the roots through the winter months.  If you live along a stream, pond, or lake, don’t rake the leaves into the water; it adds excess nutrients, such as phosphorus, which feed aquatic plants like algae.  It also makes for good leech habitat, so unless you, your children, or grandchildren want to swim with leeches, don’t rake the leaves into the water.
If you’d like to learn more about yard composting, check out the Backyard Conservation information sheet “Composting” which can be found at 

Also, for a little humor about our lawn care habits, continue reading the discussion below found online  . . .
GOD: Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.
ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.
GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.
GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?
ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
ST. FRANCIS: No Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
GOD: Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.
GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.
ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?
ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
GOD: And where do they get this mulch?
ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.
GOD: Enough. I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have they scheduled for us tonight?"
ST. CATHERINE: "Dumb and Dumber", Lord. It's a really stupid movie about.....
GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Protecting Lake Winnipesaukee's water quality - one lot at a time!

Managing and treating stormwater is an important and critical strategy for lake protection.  Stormwater’s impact is cumulative; as it travels from the top of a hillside or mountain downstream toward the lake, it collects the runoff from each area and adds to the total volume of flow, thereby increasing the pollution load that the lake receives.

To help homeowners learn about some simple and effective ‘Do it Yourself’ stormwater improvement projects, the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association is holding their Annual Meeting on August 2nd at the Dockham Shore Estates beach in Gilford, NH from 6:30pm to 8:00pm.  The program will feature simple but effective practices that the NH Lakes Conservation Corps is installing this summer at the beach area on Dockham Shore Road to address erosion issues and help the association reduce their stormwater footprint.

Improvements planned include installing a rain garden, removing an asphalt swale and apron, planting low growing shrubs along the road frontage, and redirection of stormwater into vegetated areas. 

The program is free and open to the public; please bring a lawn chair as the program will be held outdoors.  Pre-registration is requested.  For more information visit LWWA’s website: or contact the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association at 581-6632 or email at to register. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Septic Sense Workshop

It's not sexy.  It's not pretty.  It's not a riveting topic of conversation.  And it smells bad.

So why would we want to blog about it?  Poop, pee, waste - one flush or two, and it's gone.
Forget about it, right?  As long as it's 'left the building' we don't really care.  But if you live on the lake you should care and you should know what happens to that 'stuff', because chances are that you have an on site wastewater disposal system, or what's more commonly referred to as a septic system.

The majority of folks on Lake Winni have septic systems; the Winnipesaukee River Basin Program sewer line runs from Center Harbor down along the shorefront of Meredith (does not include Meredith Neck) to Laconia, picking up both sides of Paugus Bay and continues to Franklin.  From the southern part of the lake, it starts at Ellacoya State Beach and picks up most of the lake front of Gilford, before connecting with the pipeline in Laconia.

For the majority of folks not on sewer, care and maintenance of their septic system should be a priority, because it is a critical component of your home and a failing septic system is not only costly to repair or replace, but can potentially impact your health and that of your neighbors.

To help people better understand how septic systems work, the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association (LWWA) and the Town of Meredith are hosting a "Septic Sense" workshop on July 16th at the Meredith Community Center, Room A, from 6:30pm to 8 pm.  Professionals and experts will be on hand to explain about the different types of systems out there, proper maintenance and care, "Do's and Don'ts", the signs of a failing septic and what to do about it, alternatives to traditional systems, and the water quality and public health impacts. 

Although the workshop is free, pre-registration is required.  Please contact LWWA at 581-6632 or the Town of Meredith at 677-4228 to register. 

It's sure to be a septic stimulating evening!