Ways to help environment

How to help the environment - even in a small way - after a disaster?

BY SUSAN KIM | JACKSON, MS | October 21, 2005



"It's a guy's livelihood, offering canoe trips down that stream."

—Cathy Shropshire


Cathy Shropshire, executive director of the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, offers six straightforward ways people can help the environment following a disaster.

1. Advocate for continued monitoring and accurate assessment of environmental damage. "We are trying to figure out the pollution problems," said Shropshire. "Because of the saltwater intrusion, how much corrosion will occur in gas pipelines? This might go unnoticed until the pipelines start leaking. Exactly when will it happen? What is the extent of monitoring? We need continuation of it."

2. Spread the word about environmental hazards. "After Katrina hit, we heard the Department of Environmental Quality saying 'we don't want people to get in the water.' " But by the time that message got out, she said, people were swimming in the Wolf River because that was the only way to get cool in the 100-degree heat. "They went swimming every day. They didn't even hear the warnings. Communication was just nil. Well, how do we connect that next time?"

3. Join a stream team. "We have a group in Missouri that wants to adopt a stream or do some stream testing. I can't get anybody to say we need them down here yet - but we are looking to match up those needs in the future."

4. Support non-intrusive nature tourism. Environmental groups throughout Mississippi wrote a letter to Gov. Haley Barbour requesting funding to do an assessment of nature tourism - such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking, bird watching and camping - in the wake of Katrina. "There hasn't been much emphasis on that," said Shropshire, "but it's something that can come back quickly. Locally, a canoe and kayak club went down to one of the frequently used steams and cleaned it out. It's a guy's livelihood, offering canoe trips down that stream."

5. Provide education materials for classrooms."Some groups provided educational materials to teachers on the coast. They worked with the Department of Environmental Quality to give teachers Adopt-A-Stream kits and testing kits to use in classroom."

6. Give away a birdhouse. "One store - Wild Birds Unlimited - gave 500 bird feeders to people on the coast who said after the water went down, within a day or two, the hummingbirds came back, looking for food. They said it gave them a sense of hope."


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