Presentation on theme: "Green Yards and a Blue Casco Bay Friends of Casco Bay South Portland, Maine."— Presentation transcript:
Green Yards and a Blue Casco Bay Friends of Casco Bay South Portland, Maine
Our lawn care practices are changing the ocean in our lifetime
Since 2001, Friends of Casco Bay has been testing for pesticides and fertilizers in stormwater runoff in coastal communities
Are pesticides getting into Casco Bay? Friends of Casco Bay has found pesticides in stormwater runoff at 13 sites. Some pesticide levels exceeded what EPA has determined as “safe for aquatic life.” Synthetic pyrethroids – used for lawn insect, tick, and mosquito control, have been found in sediments along the Bay. These chemicals have been shown to affect shell formation in small aquatic animals.
Are fertilizers getting into Casco Bay? Friends of Casco Bay has tested for nitrogen at 60 sites around the Bay. Nitrogen and phosphorus were found everywhere we sampled with the highest concentrations where stormwater runs off and at river mouths
Marine life needs nitrogen
Just not too much… The ocean is overdosing on nitrogen. Nitrogen pollution leads to
Here in Maine we are experiencing… Low dissolved oxygen Loss of eelgrass Green slime Fish kills Red tides Marine mammal deaths More jellyfish Ocean acidification
What is ocean acidification? Offshore: Excess carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels dissolves in ocean Nearshore: Excess nitrogen promotes algae blooms and die-offs
Why is this happening? When carbon dioxide mixes with water, it forms carbonic acid. This makes sea water more acidic. More acidic conditions make it harder for marine life to build their shells.
“Death by Dissolution” As a result, Shells of baby clams dissolve or are pitted Clam spat won’t burrow into mud -- get eaten Stunted growth in adults Similar effects in mussels, oysters, scallops
Ocean acidification makes it harder for shellfish to survive! Excess nitrogen in Casco Bay mud is affecting shell production in juvenile clams.
Where does nitrogen pollution come from?
Excess nitrogen comes from runoff from streets and yards
That ends up in the ocean
How is Friends of Casco Bay approaching the problem? Monitoring nitrogen levels in Casco Bay since 2001 Developed a model to track nitrogen levels in the Bay over time Established protocols for other researchers to sample elsewhere in coastal Maine Lobbied State to require DEP to set a limit on nitrogen discharges into coastal waters Work to increase awareness of Nitrogen pollution
BayScaping was started to create a cultural shift among homeowners In collaboration with Maine Board of Pesticides Control
“Weed’n’Feed isn’t fish food”
What is BayScaping? Landscaping that recognizes the connection between your backyard and Casco Bay A six-step lawn care plan to minimize reliance on pesticides and fertilizers
The Elements of BayScaping Education promotes low-impact horticulture, especially lawn care Water quality monitoring demonstrates that pesticides and fertilizers are entering Casco Bay Recognition rewards residents, businesses, and municipalities that adopt BayScaping practices
BayScaping’s Six Steps Lay the groundwork Water deeply Mow high Control thatch & compaction Fertilize frugally Use common-sense pest control
1. Lay the groundwork Think about how you use the yard. How much lawn do you need? Plant shrubs and trees to buffer runoff Don’t try to grow grass where it won’t flourish. Plant a rain garden, bushes, patio instead
Lush lawns At least 3-6 inches of top soil At least six hours of sun a day, best in AM Good drainage A good mix –There are no native Maine grasses –Choose fescues & rye grass Add clover Avoid grass in high traffic areas
2. Water deeply Water infrequently –Water times a week –Water early in the morning between 6 & 10 AM Apply 1 inch of water a week –Add enough water to soak into the ground 6 to 8 inches –Use a rain gauge Allow grass to go dormant in the summer –Apply 1/4 - 1/2 inch water every 3 weeks
3. Mow high Mow lightly and often Remove no more than a third of the leaf blade at a time Mow grass to 3 to 3.5 inches high Vary your mowing pattern Keep mower blades sharp
Root length is a reflection of blade length Cutting too low makes the grass put more energy into growing the leaf blade, and takes away from its roots
4. Loosen up! Rake, de-thatch, or aerate in spring or fall Keep thatch, that decaying layer of dead grass, under 1/2 inch thick
5. Fertilize frugally Test the soil to see what—and IF—you need to add amendments Best time to apply is August/September Maine soil rarely needs phosphorus Maine soil usually needs lime to reach pH Apply after a rain, not before Use slow-release organic fertilizers Sweep up fertilizer from driveways and sidewalks
6. C ommon sense pest control Accept a few weeds or insects Identify the pest Pull it out or mow it off Encourage biological controls
How can you help? at home and around the Bay
You—and your neighbors— ARE making a difference. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead