Friday, July 31, 2015

The Real Cost of Disposable Plastic Water Bottles

An average bottle of water only costs about $1.21 but what else does that bottle cost us?

Some scary facts about bottled water:
  • In 1976 the average American consumed 1.6 gallons of bottled water each year
  • In 2008 the average American consumed 28.3 gallons of bottled water each year 
  • Americans are the world's leading consumers of bottled water, consuming four billion gallons per year.
  • Sixty million plastic bottles end up in US landfills every day.
  • Bottling water has produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.
  • It takes three liters of water to produce just one liter of bottled water.
  • 1.5 million tons of plastic is used to manufacture water bottles each year.
  • Only one out of every five water bottles is recycled.
  • You can get approximately 450 gallons of tap water for the price of one bottled water.
  • In the United States alone plastic bottle production consumes approximately 17 million barrels of oil per year.
  • Disposable water bottles make up one third of all trash dumped in America’s national parks.
Since 2008 nearly 20 of our nation's national parks have banned the sale of plastic water bottles at their vending machines and concession stands in an effort to reduce park based greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of litter in the parks.

-Zion National Park banned the sale of bottled water in 2008 eliminating more than 60,000 bottles from the waste stream in the first year alone.

-In 2012 Grand Canyon National Park banned the sale of water packaged in individual disposable containers and began a "Reduce, Reuse, Refill!" campaign after finding that disposable bottles comprised 20% of the park's waste stream and 30% of the park's recyclables. Estimates indicate that over 40,000 bottles were removed from the waste stream in the first year.

These parks and almost 100 other parks are members of the Climate Friendly Parks Program, a collaboration between the National Park Service and the US Environmental Protection Agency to reduce the green house gases being generated by our national parks.

Save money and protect our public lands by ditching the bottled water habit and switching to reusable water bottles.

*photo by Leonard John Matthews

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Exploring Bighorn Crags in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

Stretching across six(!) National Forests, is the incomparable Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. At 2.367 million acres, “the Frank” is the second largest protected wilderness area in the contiguous United States, just behind Death Valley. Established in 1980 as the River of No Return Wilderness, it was renamed after Senator Frank Church, who played a key lead role in passing 1964’s landmark Wilderness Act.

Coursing through this picturesque land is the Wild and Scenic Salmon River, named the River of No Return by pioneers due to its high speed and one-way only travel. Today the Salmon is one of the most popular areas for experiencing a whitewater thrill, with runs of both the middle fork and main fork barreling down deep canyons with gorgeous scenery.  The river is fast as it drops steeply through towering canyons 1000’ deeper than the Grand Canyon.

High above lies the remote and jagged Bighorn Crags, a rugged collection of granite peaks and alpine lakes offering spectacular vistas for which it is widely known.  Recreation opportunities abound here, with incredible fishing for native salmon and steelhead trout, miles upon miles of hiking, and a photographer’s dream of sweeping views surrounded by rugged peaks in this undeveloped forest. 

Indeed, the area does see high traffic (for Idaho standards anyways) and our service project, set for August 15 - 22, is assisting wilderness rangers on the North Fork Ranger District with needed trail maintenance on the Mirror Lake Trail. This will include building a turnpike through a bog, creating and installing log waterbars, and retreading a section of trail. We’ll start with a 9. 5 mile scenic backpack via Birdbill Lake to a picturesque base camp at Mirror Lake. The Forest Service will provide pack animals to carry our group food, commissary and tools. Free day activities might include day hiking to Ship Island Lake, Big Clear Lake basin or other remote lakes or peaks, picking and eating in season huckleberry, fishing, swimming or just relaxing beside alpine lakes & streams.

Feel free to check out pictures from previous years of WV projects over on the gallery to see some examples of this incredible area. Click here to learn more and signup for the Bighorn Crags, FCRONR Wilderness service project, August 15 - 22!