It's Bike Month! Get Out and Ride!It's true -- Americans do love bikes. Did you know that bicycle commuting in the U.S. increased by 40 percent between 2000 and 2010? And ridership increased by 77 percent in those places where bike riding is the norm. Yet, even though biking and walking account for 12 percent of all trips in the U.S., they receive just 1.6 percent of the federal transportation spending.
Do you support creating roads in your town that are only for biking and walking? Baltimore Inner City Outings kids from Digital Harbor High School do, and they're pedaling their way to action. These young activists are linking accessible bike lanes to help lift the communities they live in out of poverty. Please do your part by taking their pledge.
Free Parks and Public Lands Passes for Active-Duty Service Members and Their FamiliesJust in time for Armed Forces Day, the Department of Interior has announced plans to offer free National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands passes to active-duty soldiers and their families. The passes will allow military families to enjoy the beautiful public lands our service members have fought so hard to protect. The passes are good for a year and allow service members and their families to enjoy over 2,000 public land sites all around the nation.
We believe this is an investment in our military and in military families. A big thank you to the Obama administration for honoring and serving those who serve.
The Kids in Raleigh Sure Know How to PartyTriangle Inner City Outings treated its young participants to a night at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to celebrate Earth Day weekend. "24 Hours at the Museum" commemorated the grand opening of a new wing of environmental education exhibits, including local habitats in North Carolina, invasive animal and plant species, reuse and recycling, and biological diversity. As part of the 24-hour event the ICO students got to interact via Skype with Jane Goodall, who talked about the biggest environmental challenges facing the new generation and discussed her lifelong research in Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park.
After the museum the group spent the afternoon at William B. Umstead State Park, enjoying a picnic lunch and hiking around the lake. Students saw several blue-tailed skinks around the lake, and the surprise of the day was a group of Northern water snakes that all got to observe (from a distance!).
A Very Long One Day HikeEven in Georgetown, a town familiar with late-night revelry, the group of about 100 hikers raised eyebrows as well as questions. They had gathered on May 1 at the DC end of the C&O canal in the middle of the night. Just before 3 am, the hikers aimed their headlamp beams toward the center of the group to receive last-minutes instructions before beginning a 100-kilometer (62-mile) trek along the canal's towpath to Harpers Ferry, WV.
This hike, known as the "100K," has been a spring tradition for 37 years! It is part of the One Day Hike (ODH) organized by the Sierra Club's Potomac Region Outings. At 10 am, a substantially larger group of hikers would join the 100K'ers at White's Ferry for the ODH's 50-kilometer version -- a mere 31 miles that also ends at Harpers Ferry.
With the help of over 100 volunteers, the ODH provides support stations that dispense food, drink, first aid, and encouragement to the hikers. Patrollers on bikes help ensure the hikers' safety between stations. Preparation for the hike needs to start months in advance, though, so Potomac Region Outings organizes training hikes beginning in early January. Still, each year many do not manage to finish the ODH and will have to return the next year if they want to try again.
Read more about it.
National Environmental Education Week, and We Were Present for DutyIn late April, we attended the first-ever White House Summit on Environmental Education. During the summit, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the reconvening of an Inter-Agency Federal Task Force on Environmental Education. This is a great step forward, because unfortunately, environmental education has seen better days, at least financially speaking. Approximately $35 million in funding for three environmental education programs was cut out of the White House's budget recommendations to Congress just a few months ago. The Sierra Club recognizes that the federal government is facing very tough budget times and that difficult decisions are being made across the board, but environmental education is too important to let slip through the cracks. We need to make a stronger commitment to funding these critical programs. Read more.
Later that month our National Representative participated on a panel called "Overcoming Environmental Injustice: Getting Latino Kids Outdoors." This was part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 2012 Young Latino Leaders Summit, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Graduate Summit. Read more about the panel and some of the unique barriers Latino kids face to connecting with nature.