The credible case for a resilient water supply in Texas

The credible case for a resilient water supply in Texas

In this time of crisis and deep uncertainty, one thing we must be able to depend on is our water supply. Access to water is critical to public health, fragile local economies, and food production. And the benefits are also intangible. Confined to our homes, many of us are realizing that time spent along the banks of a lake or clear flowing creek offers much-needed respite. Now, more than ever, we must protect our water resources. The world is a…

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Farms that sell directly to consumers are thriving amid Coronavirus downturn

Farms that sell directly to consumers are thriving amid Coronavirus downturn

“We feel pretty lucky,” Chris Newman admits. Newman is the owner and operator of Sylvanaqua Farms, a small permaculture operation that sells and delivers directly to consumers. Meat may be running low in grocery stores as farmers across the country face dire decisions about their animals but, in the midst of the coronavirus downturn, farms like Sylvanaqua are managing to thrive. Sylvanaqua delivers meat across a pretty wide area beyond the farm—surrounding areas in Virginia as well as north to…

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Analysis: Coronavirus could threaten local property tax limits

Analysis: Coronavirus could threaten local property tax limits

A law passed less than a year ago requires cities and counties to get approval from voters any time they’re increasing property tax revenue by more than 3.5%. The old restriction was 8% — an increase that lawmakers decided was too generous, especially at a time when voters were boiling mad about rising property taxes. They did leave open some exceptions, though. Local governments don’t have to seek voter approval for increases of more than 3.5% that are attributable to…

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Congress could put Americans back to work through conservation

Congress could put Americans back to work through conservation

Why post-COVID economic recovery efforts should include investments in our public lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation infrastructure Across the federal government, there are a suite of habitat restoration programs designed to benefit fish and wildlife and enhance the resiliency of our natural systems, including the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the National Fish Habitat Partnership, and the Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trails Program. These on-the-ground restoration programs infuse important resources into local communities, generate construction jobs,…

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Covid-19 crisis could decimate water utility revenue, worsen affordability problems

Covid-19 crisis could decimate water utility revenue, worsen affordability problems

The widespread closure of restaurants, manufacturing facilities, theaters, dentist offices, and universities will reverberate not only in jobs reports. The shutdown will also have immediate and potentially long-lasting consequences for America’s water utilities and the people they serve. Not all of the country’s roughly 50,000 public water systems share the same vulnerabilities, analysts say. But all will be affected in some way by changes in water use patterns and prohibitions on turning off water service. They will have customers who…

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As food supply chain breaks down, farm-to-door CSAs take off

As food supply chain breaks down, farm-to-door CSAs take off

From California to Maine, the movement known as community supported agriculture (CSA) is booming. Members buy a share of a farm’s often organic harvest that gets delivered weekly in a box. CSA programs almost everywhere report a surge in memberships and growing waiting lists. “The interest in getting local, fresh, organic produce just has skyrocketed during this crisis,” Redmond said. Read more from Eric Westervelt with NPR here. 

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Our need for the outdoors: The role of nature during COVID-19

Our need for the outdoors: The role of nature during COVID-19

Research on the connection between human health and exposure to nature started to get a foothold in the early 1980s. The renowned biologist E. O. Wilson hypothesized that humans had an innate connection to nature. At the same time, Roger Ulrich, a professor of architecture at Texas A&M University, was looking at how surgery patients with a view of a natural scene out of their windows recovered compared to those with a brick wall outside. He found that patients with…

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Quarantined for the very first time

Quarantined for the very first time

Nearing the line of demarcation for achieving “octogenarian,” it has been a shock to the system to face the necessity of “quarantined.” Even as a youngster in a household of several children and on a city block populated by many more suffering from measles I remember being “one of the ones” able to go and come. With so many others, my spouse, Karen, and I have honored the urgent requests of our adult sons that we take all deliberate precautions and significantly modify our…

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Food supply anxiety brings back Victory Gardens

Food supply anxiety brings back Victory Gardens

“Small things count,” read a headline in the tiny, insistent pamphlet published by the National War Garden Commission in 1919. The pitch made gardening a civic duty. The victory garden movement began during World War I and called on Americans to grow food in whatever spaces they could — rooftops, fire escapes, empty lots, backyards. It maintained that there was nothing more valuable than self-sufficiency, than working a little land, no matter how small, and harvesting your own eggplant and…

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COVID-19 relief for farmers, ranchers

COVID-19 relief for farmers, ranchers

The Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University in College Station has developed a briefing paper that identifies provisions most applicable to agricultural producers in the three recent Congressional interventions to stimulate the economy and provide COVID-19 relief. “Texas A&M AgriLife is providing information and marshaling its resources to help agricultural producers through this difficult time to ensure consumers have access to healthy food and other essential agricultural products, ” said Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., vice chancellor for…

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