Friday, April 29, 2016

Thinking Globally and Acting Locally

by Anthony Lowndes, The Groundwater Foundation
The City of York, Nebraska recently earned Groundwater Guardian Green Site designation for the York City Parks and ballfields. The program recognizes managers of green spaces, such as college campuses, golf courses and parks, for their environmental stewardship. But York used the program as more than just recognition. Managers of the City’s green spaces took the application process as an opportunity to evaluate their maintenance practices and realized more could be done to further conserve and protect water resources for their community. The Green Site designation is a part of ensuring the City is dedicated to protecting the community’s water resource as the  Wellhead Protection planning process continues. 
The steps Green Sites take to protect and conserve groundwater are crucial to the future use of the resource. There is no substitute for dedication, which is why we are pleased to acknowledge the efforts of         all Groundwater Guardian Green Sites. You don’t have to be a green space manager to follow the basics of groundwater protection and conservation! Try implementing these practices at home:

1.      Water in the early part of the day to reduce evaporation.
2.      Follow the label recommendations for fertilizer and pesticide applications and be sure to clean excess off sidewalks and driveways so it does not get washed into surface waters.
3.      Choose native or drought tolerant plants when replacing landscaping.
4.      Don’t be afraid to get your hands a little dirty and control weed the old fashioned way by pulling them. I always find it to be more satisfying too.
5.      Check out The Groundwater Foundation website for more tips and tools to conserve and protect water resources.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day Resolutions

by Jamie Kelley, Pioneers Park Nature Center

April means rain showers, morel mushroom hunting, spring cleaning, early season flowers blooming, goslings hatching, prescribed burns on the prairie, and celebrations of Earth Day and Arbor Day. To me, all of these things are signs of spring. Signs that the winter months have passed and the warmer weather and longer days are upon us. Windows are open letting in fresh air and sunshine, work is being done in our lawns and gardens, and our porches and patios are filled with friends and family, spring has arrived. 

Is there something that you look forward to each spring, something that tells you, spring is here? 

From gardens to goslings, all things spring has got me thinking. If this season brings so much newness and we are celebrating Earth Day, why not have springtime be a time of year to evaluate our sustainable goals? Our homes and gardens get spruced up, maybe our goals should too.  

Let’s make an Earth Day Resolution! You know, like a New Year’s resolution but one that is good for the earth. Start with something you’ve been wanting to do, such as adding a rain barrel to your home, or planting native plants that attract pollinators to your garden and use less water. Start small if that works best for you, and make it your sustainable goal for this spring, make it your Earth Day Resolution. 

So as you see more and more signs of spring, let that be a reminder to look at what you can do, what is that one thing you will do in your life to help move towards achieving a more sustainable lifestyle. Share your Earth Day Resolution with your friends and family, and together, let’s make our lives more sustainable this spring!


Jamie Kelley is a Naturalist at Pioneers Park Nature Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, which includes 668 acres of tallgrass prairie, woodlands, wetlands and a stream. Since 1963 the Nature Center has served the Lincoln area as an environmental education center and wildlife sanctuary. Eight miles of hiking trails wind through various habitats and take visitors past non-releasable raptor exhibits, as well as bison, elk, and white-tailed deer.

Pioneers Park Nature Center

Thursday, April 14, 2016

6 Reasons to Install a Rain Garden

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Spring is here, and along with it comes spring yardwork. Spruce up your landscape and help control stormwater runoff by installing a rain garden in your yard this spring. 

Here are 6 reasons to install a rain garden at your home or business:

1. They help improve water quality.
Rain gardens collect and hold rainwater runoff from roofs, driveways, and other impvervious surfaces, allowing the water to be filtered by the vegetation.

2. They help recharge groundwater.
Since rain gardens collect rainwater, rather than allowing it to run off into storm drains, the water has time to percolate into the soil, recharging groundwater.

3. They are low maintenance.
Rain gardens typically incorporate native vegetation, which requires no fertilizer and minimal maintenance after the first year or so.

4. They look nice.
Rain gardens are an attractive addition to any landscape, generally featuring a mix of perennials, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and wildflowers.

5. They help with flood control.
During heavy rain events, rain gardens help reduce the load on existing stormwater infrastructure, while decreasing the nutrient load.

6. They attract beneficial birds, butterflies, and insects.
The plants included in rain gardens provide habitat for these creatures that are crucial to the ecosystem.

Want to know more and find out how to install a rain garden? Go here.