I am American Beachgrass

Call me Ammophila. Long, flexible stems, like strong limbs, withstand the force of powerful winds—winds that stimulate root growth, rhizomatous—a sprawling system to stabilize dunes. My clones and I anchor windblown sand, guard against the highest full moon tides that might otherwise flood the land. Dare to tread “barefoot” over my tall blades, and my gritty green leaves become daggers, laid on their edges. We live in a foredune community, closer to the sea than our inland neighbors.

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American beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata)

To them, we are pioneers. We are “ecosystem engineers.” After we have established our colony, our flowering neighbors can take root, too, in this shifting sand dune community: Beach-pea, red raspberry, bristly gooseberry, poison ivy. Sometimes, I get the sense—through my auricles, ear-like lobes that do not listen—but receive information nonetheless, that golden heather or little blue stem, or tufts of reindeer lichens have grown here before, but they’re not here now. My ramets and I dominate the dunes.

Native to Maine, I have lived here perennially for the past three summers. I am hardy, salt-tolerant and adaptable. Terns return, every year, and nest here. Sometimes, I see the rare oystercatcher, or piping plover, but there are many gulls and a few short-eared owls; they soar high above my florets. Owls swoop down over my spikelets—never close enough to study more than a silhouette against a blue sky. Right now, my spikelets have reached an impressive height of fourteen millimeters, that is, when my stems stand upright. One might think that I lack subtlety but up close, I am not so easily seen. Look closely, and note that my flowers are not so obvious. This is a trait of strength—in my community. Weirdly enough, we do have a noneventful relationship with the sea rocket, its lobed leaflets resembling “rocket ships,” and we like that it’s not very abundant. Sea rocket typically gives an aggressive root reception to strangers—anyone not in the mustard family,—and this is not community gossip—we get along just fine. But the neighbor I mind the least—poison ivy. She/he/they—the pronouns elude me, keep the two-legged kind away and minimize the chances of getting trampled.

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Path through beachgrass

Rays of sun revitalize me. But I am always a little rough and sandpapery. Supporting us, somewhere deep beneath all that shifts and blows, we adapt and send runners and build our defenses; we thrive even when no one knows. Together, we repair the damage done by trampling and storms. It may appear to others that we are too shifty, or that we “take over.” I’ve been called a “bulldozer,” but I don’t know what that means; I suppose it is a compliment. Our foundation is unlike—theirs. Ours is spread out, and spreading, rhizomatous, unseen so it cannot be buried or carried away with the winds.

If I were to dream, —and I do not dream, I might have some deeply-embedded geological urge to fear replacement. (Some of my neighbors might say that I overanalyze, but we are engineers, after all.) One day, perhaps, the two-legged rangers shall come and replace me with Virginia wild rye! Morphologically speaking, she may be similar in many ways—my inflorescence is not obvious—and I am hairless; she has a hairy inflorescence!

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Beachgrass along stream bank, Kettle Cove State Park

For coastal management resource information on American beachgrass in the Northeast, click here for NRCS Plant Materials Program – Coastal & Shoreline plants. For more technical information on coastal sand dune coastal management topics, click here for the Maine Natural Areas Program.  For two scholarly journal articles on Ammopila breviligulata (American beachgrass), see Cheplick’s discussion paper on “Patterns in the Distribution of American beachgrass,” in Plant Ecology and “Non-target effects of invasive species management,” (Zarnetske, Seabloom and Hacker, 2010) in Ecosphere.

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Collecting Micro-Algae in the Gulf of Maine

On several cold, windy days this past winter, I did something strange. With fingers puckered bright pink from bitter cold saltwater, I maneuvered what looked like a child’s “butterfly net,” called a No. 2 plankton net, dipping it into saltwater off of the pier at the college, and over the sides of rocks at Kettle Cove with one goal:  to collect micro-algae. 29512469_10215096996719687_200223694655488735_n

I’ve been studying marine botany–the first time experiencing SMCC as a student, rather than as a member of the adjunct faculty. I collected phytoplankton (micro-algae) using No. 2 plankton nets (see below), both at Kettle Cove State Park and off the pier and docks at SMCC this past winter (January-March).

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Kettle Cove State Park, Maine

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No. 2 plankton net for collecting micro-algae

In addition, I accompanied Prof. Megan McCuller to learn how to scrape algae off of the side of the dock and floats in order to obtain a sample of benthic diatoms (and dinoflagellates) that were attached to the side of the dock. I learned how to use the dissecting microscope (my favorite part) in the lab, and I transferred a number of samples to a wet-mount slide to examine the tiny organisms that were drifting and even swimming through slimy green algae. When I say “benthic,” I’m referring to the life found at the bottom of the sea, or in this case,
the bottom of the littoral, or shoreline zone, and sublittoral, also known as the “spray zone,” where the waves crash on the rocks between the high and low tide.

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Dissecting algae scraped off the side of the dock, looking for benthic diatoms and dinoflagellates

The benthic scrape method yielded the most results (mostly pennate diatoms and one dinoflagellate) while my final plankton tow at the floats on March 20th yielded more results (centric, pennate diatoms and two dinoflagellates) than my previous plankton tows at Kettle Cove or off the pier January-March. My observation was that collecting phytoplankton during the weeks of nor’easters yielded fewer diatoms, or I only collected very tiny diatoms (mostly Navicula sp.). My hypothesis was that ephemeral run-off from storms, high winds and choppy conditions had an impact on those plankton tows.

Is your head spinning? Mine did.

First, it’s important to know that phytoplankton are the “plant” variety of plankton, whereas zooplankton are the “animals,” such as copopods. Here’s a copepod (below), swimming through some Phaeocystis pouchetti, which is not a diatom, but in the genus of algae belonging to the division of Haptophyta. It blooms in March and April, so it dominated several of my samples from plankton tows off of the SMCC pier in early to mid-March. A copepod, however, is an example of zooplankton, a microscopic crustacean found in both marine and freshwater habitats. As an aside, COPEPOD is the Coastal and Oceanic Plankton Ecology database with an interactive atlas on plankton. Pretty cool! Copapod by Pouchetti

 

For the basics of plankton, see “Plankton 101: the Basics on Gulf of Maine Plankton and Why You Should Thank Them,” by Sally Mack, UNH Sea Grant.

Below are a few images captured using the Leica microscope at 100x and 400x magnification, calibrated to microns for measurements. I identified fifteen diatoms and three dinoflagellates, some of which I’ll show in a series of posts yet to come. (Side note: I got a 100 on the micro-algae project, which made the cold, challenging plankton tows certainly worth the effort, besides the pure joy of learning.) Phytoplankton are microscopic, photosynthetic organisms. There are two main groups of diatoms and these are pennate (Pennales) and centric (Centrales). For identification purposes, I used a number of guides, including this one developed by my professor, Charles Gregory, at SMCC, and University of Maine Sea Grant. Once under the microscope, these diatoms (micro-algae) are quite dynamic, distinctive and fun to examine.

The golden “bracelet” pattern below is a pennate diatom called Licmophora lyngbyei.  I collected several Licmophora during the benthic scrape from the side of the SMCC dock/float on March 20, and identified them under the microscope at 40x magnification. Since it is a colonial, epiphytic type, it is often observed attached to other plants/macro-algae such as in the image below. The cells are characteristically wedge-shaped, with fine striations separating parts of each cell. Cells are united in fan-shaped colonies. To me, it looks like a great idea for a charm bracelet for a marine scientist!

Lots of Lichmyflora from benthic scrape

Licmophora lyngbyei – a pennate diatom growing in a colony

Real Gyrosigma to Use Final

Gyrosigma sp. collected during benthic scrape off dock at SMCC, March 2018

One of my favorite of the pennate diatoms that I collected is Gyrosigma, a canoe-shaped pennate diatom, shown below. It’s very common in the Gulf of Maine. But when we look at these microscopic diatoms, it’s important to note the scale; these are measured in microns because they are so small. In the specimen below, the end of the organism had broken off, and it had begun to disintegrate. That’s why it appears to have jewel-like features, when in actuality, these are other things–including bacteria, that have gotten inside its cellular structure. Another pennate diatom I collected at Kettle Cove had a “bracelet” pattern (at least to my untrained eye); in Thalassiosira nordenskioldii  have drum-shaped cells connected by barely-visible gelatinous strands to form a chain. According to Dr. Gregory’s Field Guide to Phytoplankton in the Gulf of Maine, some species of Thalassiosira have been known to cause mechanical damage to fish gills, copopods and invertebrates. For example, this study details several examples, including the impacts of toxins found in Thalassiosira rotula on sea urchins. (Many types of diatoms are examined as part of that study by Gary Caldwell, in Marine Drugs, 2009.)

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Thalassiosira nordenskioldii, a pennate diatom collected at Kettle Cove State Park, February 2018

Thalassiosira is also described as a “harmful species” on AlgaeBase, an awesome resource for those studying algae. It’s a global database with the taxonomic, distributional and other information about micro and macro algae, as observed by scientists all over the world. As a student new to the study of algae, I found it an incredibly helpful resource, even if it helped to direct me to other sources on a species that I had collected for my class project in Maine.

Finally, I will end this post with my favorite discovery–a cool pennate diatom called Chaetoceros gracilis, which looks like something between a Star Wars X-wing fighter and one of the Cylon ships from BSG, if only…in a galaxy far, far away.  In many ways, this microscopic marine world is another dimension that’s just as deserving of our fascination. I will post a few more diatoms (and dinoflagellates!) in my next post.

Chaetoceros gracilis Star Wars Fighter

This pennate diatom has an oval-shaped cell in valve view, with distinctive spines that diverge at oblique angles to form an “X” shape. I collected this specimen at Kettle Cove in February 2018. 

Rarity and Ocean Conservation: Endangered Sawfish, Final Listing on ESA

On 8th Grade “Career Day,” my classmates and I were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. I remember looking at a giant phonebook-sized directory of “careers” with code-keys for filling out a handout in class. I chose “marine biologist,” “oceanographer,” and asked my teacher, “where’s the code for “Ichthyologist?” Admittedly, I also wanted to write down on my sheet that I

Rachel Carson, marine biologist, author of The Edge of the Sea, Under the Sea Wind, and Silent Spring. Alfred Eisenstaedt photo, Time Life Picture

Rachel Carson, marine biologist, author of The Edge of the Sea, Under the Sea Wind, and Silent Spring. Alfred Eisenstaedt photo, Time Life Picture

considered “mime” and “poet” to be future, possible careers, but only one of those was true. Poetry remains a constant passion for me, and so does ocean conservation. I grew up reading poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay and essays by Rachel Carson, including her book, A Sense of Wonder and later in high school, The Edge of the Sea, which remains one of my favorite books of all time. In 9th grade, I bought a text book on marine biology with babysitting money and studied it outside of school, over the summer, while I studied biology at Gould Academy. Years later, at College of the Atlantic (COA), I studied conservation biology, island ecology and environmental sciences as an undergraduate student. During a summer field course, my COA classmates and I explored over 30 Maine islands and visited Gran Manan, where we saw a 30-foot basking shark in the Bay of Fundy. Studying at COA, usually in a salt-sprayed hammock overlooking the ocean, definitely helped to shape my early passion for islands, oceans and wetlands into a career in conservation.

Sharks, rays and sawfish have always been fascinating to me. (Ocean conservation nerd alert: I even have a notepad from the American Elasmobranch Society on my desk.) I’ve spent some significant time on wetlands in my career, but I’ve also followed ocean conservation with great interest, never leaning too far away from my coastal roots. One area of ocean conservation that has kept my interest over the last two decades has been rare and endangered marine species, such as sawfish, which is the first sea fish to be listed on the U.S. Endangered Species list.  In recent years, there’s been some hope for sawfish populations in South Florida (see this video). Yet, rules published by the National Marine Fisheries Service listed five species of sawfish as endangered this past month in its final ruling.

Smalltooth sawfish. NOAA image

Smalltooth sawfish. NOAA image

“The final rule contains the Service’s determination that the narrow sawfish (Anoxypristis cuspidate), dwarf sawfish (Pristis clavata), largetooth sawfish (collectively, Pristis pristis), green sawfish (Pristis zijsron) and the non-U.S. distinct population segment (DPS) of smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) are endangered species under the ESA.” (Miller, December 2014)  (See info on the rule in the Federal Register here.)

What makes a thing like the sawfish rare?

Rarity is driven by scale—how many, how much, how big an area. Rarity means that something occurs infrequently, either in the form of endemism, being restricted to a certain place, or by the smallness of a population. In conservation biology the proportion or percentage of habitable sites or areas in which a particular species is present determines the rarity of a species.[1] In addition to the areas in which a particular species is present, the number of individuals found in that area also determines its rarity. There are different types of rarity which can be based on three factors: 1) geographical range – the species may occur in sufficient numbers but only live in a particular place, for example, an island; 2) the habitat specificity – if the species is a “specialist,” meaning it might be confined to a certain type of habitat, it could be found all over the world but only in that specific habitat, for example, tropical rainforests; 3) the population size – a small or declining population might cause rarity. [2] Generally a species can be locally very common but globally very uncommon, thereby making it rare and furthermore, valuable. A species can also be the opposite, globally common but spread out few and far between so that individuals have a hard time sustaining their populations through reproduction and dispersal.

But usually when a person thinks of rarity, they are probably thinking about a species that occurs in very low numbers and lives in only one place, as in many of the endemic creatures on the Galapagos Islands. It is this latter-most perception of rarity that plays a critical role in conservation work. People value rarity because it makes a living thing special—even if it had intrinsic value before it became rare, if it ever lived in greater numbers or more widespread populations.

Sawfish illustration by NOAA

Sawfish illustration by NOAA

Sawfish are a rare, unique—and critically endangered group of elasmobranches—sharks, skates and rays, that are most known for their toothed rostrum. Once common inhabitants of coastal, estuarine areas and rivers throughout the tropics, sawfish populations have been decimated by decades of fishing and survive—barely—in isolated habitats, according to the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida. Seven recognized species of sawfish, including the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), are listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union. In addition to the extensive gillnetting and trawling, sawfish are threatened by habitat degradation from coastal development. Sawfish prefer mangroves and other estuarine wetlands. Currently the sawfish population is believed to be restricted to remote areas of southwest Florida, particularly in the Everglades and the Keys. Sawfish are primarily a freshwater-loving creature but they occasionally go out to sea. Lobbyists proposed to add sawfish to Appendix 1 of CITES in 1994 (as part of the first Shark Resolution) to stop the trade in saws but the proposal was defeated in 1997 because it could not demonstrate that stopping trade would provide the necessary protection in wild populations. [See Petition to List North American Populations of Sawfish, 1999, here.] Subsequent proposals in 2007 and 2013 were successful, according to Shark Advocates International. According to the Mote Marine Laboratory conservation biologists, “even if effective conservation plans can be implemented it will take sawfish populations decades, or possibly even centuries, to recover to post-decline levels.” This is the fundamental crux of rarity in conservation biology: even if we do perfect conservation work, once a species is rare and critically endangered, it can take much longer for a species to recover than the time it took to reach the brink of extinction.  In November 2014, all sawfish species were listed on Appendix I & II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

Sonja Fordham of Shark Advocates explains to me:  The listing of smalltooth sawfish is therefore the most relevant; it has resulted in critical habitat designation, a comprehensive recovery plan, cutting edge research, and encouraging signs of population stabilization and growth.

See this NOAA Fisheries video on smalltooth sawfish conservation.

Several different organizations, in addition to federal and state agencies, are working to protect and conserve sawfish habitat and the endangered species. Here are some links to a few of these organizations and their fact sheets on sawfish:

Save the Sawfish

Sawfish Conservation Society

Shark Advocates, Fact Sheet on Smalltooth Sawfish

Florida Museum of Natural History, Sawfish Conservation

Save our Seas, Conservation of Sawfish Project

Fact sheet for the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP11) to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) on Sawfish (5 species)

IUCN Global Sawfish Conservation Strategy 

[1] Begon, Michael, John L. Harper, Colin Townsend. Ecology: Individuals, Populations, and Communities. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, London, et. al. 1990. Glossary pp. 859..

[2] Pullin, Andrew. Conservation Biology. Cambridge University Press, 2002. pp.199-201.

A New Year, A New Challenge: Writing 30 Poems in 30 Days

On January 1st, I joined eight other poets from around the world to write 30 poems in 30 days of January as part of Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Challenge. The challenge is twofold: 1) it pushes the poets to write a poem each day for a month, marathon-style, and 2) it engages readers of poetry (and those newish to poetry) in a variety of styles and voices–with the goal of prompting readers to support the literary wonder, Tupelo Press, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in California. Readers can support the poets, including me, by doing one of two things: 1) donate to Tupelo Press or 2) subscribe to one of its fine publications. There is a whole catalog of poetry journals. Think of it like community-supported agriculture since poetry is organic–grown from the fruits of our labors.

I am posting my portion of the 30/30 challenge poems on my Adventures of Fen Fatale blog here. Please check out the fine work of my fellow 30/30 poets at the Tupelo Press blog here. To make a donation to the Tupelo Press, click here. Thank you for supporting me in this unique challenge. I am sure to write a number of wetland-inspired poems this month!

Climate Change, Wetlands & Mitigation: A Workshop at Stetson University

Last week I traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida for the first time and walked along the beach in the dark. Moonlight sparkled on the waves, which I couldn’t see because it was pitch-black. The strange sound of chirping birds at my feet caught me off guard because I couldn’t see them; I spun around shining the Assistive Light app on my smartphone to light my path through the dark sand.

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Ed Thomas spoke about climate change adaptation and flood mitigation in a wetlands context

The Environmental Law Institute partnered with Stetson University College of Law to hold a workshop on the legal and scientific responses to a Supreme Court case known as Koontz. Nearly 70 people attended the workshop. For a local radio coverage of the workshop, click here.  I posted live Tweets for @ELI_Wetlands throughout the workshop, while the speakers, including renown wetlands ecologist, Dr. William Mitsch, Director of the Everglades Wetlands Research Park in Florida, and Ed Thomas, President of the National Hazard Mitigation Association, led the discussion. Royal Gardner, a professor of environmental law at Stetson and author of the book, Lawyers, Swamps and Money, framed the issues. (I’m reading his book now, thanks to Ed!) A series of panel discussions rounded out the day, ending with a pool-side reception, where the conversation about wetlands continued. It was a lively discussion enriched by student and audience participation during the small group break-out sessions. In my group, a number of participants discussed the NGO perspective of wetlands implications of the Koontz case. For more information about the Koontz case, see this SCOTUS blog post. (Supreme Court blog)

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Strange Wetlands: Preventing a Lesser Known Tick-Borne Illness, Anaplasmosis

My trusty dog, Sophie-Bea, a dachshund-pointer, and I frequently walk through wetlands. First, my land is rich in wetlands: a black ash seep, which I call “Fern Gully,” a vernal pool with wood frogs and sallies, and a perennial stream that flows into Raymond Pond. We like to walk along a pine-needled path from my woods down to the pond and back. Lately, a thick mustard yellow froth of pollen coats the surface of the pond. If I had let the dog wade in the water, she would have come out looking more like a yellow lab, albeit a weirdly shaped one. (She’s black and white.) At the edge of the pond, she sniffed the water and it turned her pointy black nose into a clownish canary blotch.  IMG_0295

This time of year, we’re more mindful of ticks. In addition to treating her with Frontline, I pat her down with a natural bug repellant called Skeeter Skedaddle™ – the kind that’s dog-friendly. I love how it smells. I wear it, too, and slathered it on that day, like any other day. I made the mistake of wearing sandals though and by the time I got home, I unstrapped the sandals to find a fat tick stuck to the top of my foot. It glowed red in its belly. I pulled it off and noticed two bite marks. After disposing of the tick, which is unwise to flush into the toilet I’ve learned, but to burn the tick with a match (carefully in the sink), I applied witch hazel and hydrogen peroxide onto the bites, along with a dab of antibacterial ointment. It doesn’t itch. It did worry me.

A year ago this month, I came down with a terrible flu-like illness called Anaplasmosis. It’s a tick-borne illness caused by a tick bite from a tick infected with the germ called Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Last summer, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention sent out an alert about Anaplasmosis. The alert explained that cases of Anaplasmosis are on the rise in Maine. Previously, it was rare for someone to contract this illness from a tick bite in the Pine Tree State. Even in summer 2012, hospitals misdiagnosed people with “the flu,” when in some cases, it was actually this Anaplasmosis. In my case, it was most likely Anaplasmosis, since I walk through the woods often and come into contact with areas known to inhabit ticks. I occasionally find ticks in my home.

Symptoms of Anaplasmosis include fever, headache, malaise, severe body aches, cough, joint pain, stiff neck and confusion.  In June 2012, I thought I’d eaten a bad avocado, or been exposed to the bad kind of an algae bloom while swimming in the lake. (I wrote about the algae bloom in my Adventures of Fen Fatale series.) At the time, I was working for ASWM and I started to feel sick on a Monday–sweaty, coming down with a fever, nausea. Images of globs of algae clung to me as I suffered through a fever of 102 degrees for two days. On Tuesday night, I called 911 and the EMTs came to my house, since I was convinced I was dying of some kind of poison,  tetanus or some other ill fate. It felt like my organs had seized up and everything hurt.  Chills all over. The body aches were so severe that I had to crawl down the stairs to let the EMTs into my house (rather than let them bust in the door). The EMTs found me delirious from the fever. Even after the fever came down on Wednesday, I couldn’t walk for a few days; my relatives came to take care of me, since I was bedridden. (This is highly unusual for me, since I have an almost superhuman immune system.) It was frightening, too.

See fact sheets, prevention info and notices to Maine residents from the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention here. 

Since then, I’ve done some research on how to prevent this from happening again. The reality is that Anaplasmosis is treated differently than that of Lyme Disease. When a person suspects that a tick bite has left that tell-tale sign, a bull’s eye shaped bite, that person has an option of getting an anti-biotic to prevent the onset of Lyme Disease. The same is not true for those who might have contracted Anaplasmosis. The main “prevention” is to reduce exposure to ticks by wearing appropriate clothing and checking clothes and skin for ticks. Apparently, in cases of people contracting Anaplasmosis, they often don’t remember getting a tick bite, and there is no tell-tale bull’s eye mark. For specific prevention and treatment information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/anaplasmosis/ . If you do get a tick bite, pay attention to symptoms if they occur. If you get a fever, and think you might have come into contact with a tick, contact your doctor or a health professional. Treatment is important. Anaplasmosis can be serious, or fatal, in babies, toddlers, elderly people and those with a compromised immune system. For others, it can mean a week of severe body aches, fever, malaise, etc. It certainly knocked the wind out of my sails.

Read these related blog posts:

Mosquitoes, ticks and bees are summer hazards, as are sunshine and poison ivy – Washington Post Blog – June 17, 2013

Drs. Oz and Roisen: Tick, tick, tick  – June 2013

Tick-borne disease is on the rise in Maine and Anaplasmosis in particular – May 2013

Visiting the U.S. Botanic Garden for the National Wetlands Awards Ceremony

Last week I started my new job as Editor of the National Wetlands Newsletter, a bi-monthly publication of the Environmental Law Institute, based in Washington, D.C. It was the first time I visited Washington as an adult (not counting changing planes at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA). My grandfather, Rufus Stetson, brought me to Washington when I was 13 and we stayed at his “club” and visited the Washington Zoo. Bebop, as I called him, was a U.S. tax attorney for the federal government (Justice Department, U.S. Treasury, etc.) in the 1950s and ’60s, and so it seemed fitting to me that I would begin this new role at the Environmental Law Institute while walking in his old stomping grounds in the NW quarter.

I stayed on E Street, a few blocks from the Smithsonian museums–although I worked until after 6pm most evenings, and the museums closed at 5:30pm (except for Fridays and weekends) so I didn’t get a chance to see any of the Smithsonian museums during this trip. On May 9th, I attended the National Wetlands Awards ceremony at the U.S. Botanic Garden, which I loved exploring. Severe allergies gripped me as soon as I arrived in D.C. on Sunday evening, and I couldn’t breathe well most of the week. As I walked around the exhibits of various ecosystems in the Botanic Garden, I breathed easiest in the “Hawaii” exhibit.  I confess that I went to “Hawaii” every chance I got (a few times) throughout the evening’s activities en route to the ladies’ room or just to catch my breath. The ceremony recognized seven leaders in wetland categories, e.g. State/Tribal Program Management, Community Leadership, Education/Outreach. ELI’s President John Cruden gave the keynote address and all of the speakers, including the presenters and the award winners, inspired us with stories about protecting and restoring wetlands. Starting in a couple of weeks, I will become the Manager of the National Wetlands Awards program.  I’ll be responsible for planning the ceremony for May 2014, the program’s 25th anniversary.

If I don’t write much in this blog for the next few weeks, it’s only because I’ve taken the helm at the National Wetlands Newsletter, and I’m focused on setting up my new office. I will also be working on the two new websites for the National Wetlands Newsletter and the National Wetlands Awards in the coming weeks. If you’re an avid reader of the NWN, please reach out to me with feedback or suggestions as I work on the new website and summer issue.