Time is Running Out to Save up to 10% on Solar

If you have thought about solar energy for your home, business, or pergola, time is running out for you to save up to 10%! This program is called Solarize Bloomington Phase 2.

Monroe County residents will need to take part in an informational session which will take place this Thursday, August 17 at 7:00pm at the Ellettsville Public Library. If you can not make this session, there are only two more before the September 15th deadline! 

This program is run by the City of Bloomington and SIREN.

Green Parking Garage

Great picture of the Monroe County Employee parking garage at this morning’s farmers market. You can see the solar panels on the roof soaking up the sun, and the living wall on the right of the building is looking colorful! Just another example of the green efforts of County Government!

Top 5 Green Events for March

As Monroe County, Indiana seemed to start spring early, March 20th is still the official Spring Equinox. There are plenty of opportunities to learn about and enjoy emerging spring this month, and we have whittled it down to our Top 5 Green Events in March. For even more, make sure to visit the regularly updated Green Events Calendar.

Frog Watch Spring peepers are starting to call. Curious about frogs and toads? Learn more at a Frogwatch workshop, March 20-21, 6-8:30 PM at Karst Farm Park. We’ll talk about the value of wetlands, amphibian biology and life cycles, population declines, and the species found in our area. You’ll find out how to become a volunteer frog monitor and collect data to submit to Frogwatch USA. Cost is $5 for both nights and registration is required.

Marsh Madness The Marsh Madness Sandhill Crane Festival is a community-based event timed to coincide with the peak Sandhill Crane and waterfowl migration at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County, Indiana. Events include a kick-off banquet, craft fair, live birds of prey on display, informational and educational presentations, bus tours, self-guided tours, kids activities, and much more. March 03rd and 04th.

bgm_herb_gardenBetter Preparation, Better Results in the Spring Garden Ready to get started in your garden? By putting in a little effort at the beginning, you’ll save time and work, enjoy a better looking garden, and have a more productive harvest. Learn how to test and prepare your garden soil, pick up tricks that will help prevent weeds, disease, and pest problems, acquire strategies around watering and nutrient delivery, become a savvy mulcher, and make the most of your available space. March 25th at 1pm.

Green Drinks Green Drinks Bloomington is a lively, informal social networking event for people from all walks of life who are interested in making a greener world.  Folks gather every month to share libations and ideas, discuss, debate, explore and make new friends and business connections. March 22nd at 5:30pm.
Ducks and Donuts Come join us at our 8th installation of Ducks & Donuts on Saturday, March 25th, 2017 at the Stillwater Marsh Overlook, off State Road 46, east of Bloomington. We will serve coffee and donuts and hopefully there will be plenty of waterfowl and other birds to look at. We will start at 8am and finish at 11am.

Members of the Monroe County Environmental Commission compiled this list. Their charge includes “educating the community and engaging residents and businesses in supporting initiatives which will help ensure a healthier and more economically viable future for the County.” The public is welcome to attend these meetings the second Wednesday of every month at 5:30pm.

Affordable Solar is Here

solar_panels_on_house_roof_winter_viewInterest in Solar power is growing even stronger in Monroe County! Solarize Bloomington is the latest effort to help residents afford solar panels on their homes.

The good news is that there are upcoming information sessions for interested home owners who wish to begin saving money or want to expand their current array. The next sessions will be:

  • February 16 (noon at the Monroe County Public Library),
  • February 18 (10:30am at Monroe County Public Library) and
  • February 25 (10:30am at City Hall).

While an RSVP here would be nice, interested parties can also simply show up.

Monroe County is already home to one of the highest concentrations of residential solar panels. A searchable map of existing panels is maintained by SIREN, and while it is already an impressive array, efforts by Solarize Bloomington will only increase the points on the map.

With the improved technology of household batteries, the rational for installing solar panels is on the upswing. Tesla recently announced their Powerwall 2 battery, and the German firm Sonnen recently entered the US market. This competition will help drive innovation and further reduce costs.

Members of the Monroe County Environmental Commission compiled this post. Their charge includes “educating the community and engaging residents and businesses in supporting initiatives which will help ensure a healthier and more economically viable future for the County.” The public is welcome to attend these meetings the second Wednesday of every month at 5:30pm.

Top 5 Green Events for February

As Monroe County, Indiana heads toward World Water Day and Valentine’s Day, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about and enjoy local nature. Here are our picks for the Top 5 Green Events in February. For even more, make sure to visit the regularly updated Green Events Calendar.

2905337_653c8afbLearn how to Keep Animals Are you interested in keeping chickens or alpacas, but don’t know where to start? There are three events this month to help you get started with your own backyard menagerie! Find Chickens 101 on February 04. Alpaca 101 on February 11. Getting Started with Backyard Chickens on February 18

ifalogotextur-e1453754207896Indiana Forest Alliance Rally at the Statehouse At this rally, the Indiana Forest Alliance will ask our new governor and our legislators to protect our state forests from the 400% increase in logging. We’ll be asking to lower logging in our state forests, and to set aside “Wild Areas,” which comprise 23% of our state forests that would NOT be logged, and would be allowed to return to old growth, for the people that use it and the animals that need it.

bgm_herb_gardenPlanning Your 2017 Garden The first step to take in any garden venture is planning. Participants in this class learn what plants will succeed in this part of Indiana, and the organic method for giving plants what they need to thrive. Discover how to start plants indoors for different types of gardens, plan a layout of your garden area, and learn what materials and tools will be useful as you get going.

indiana-prophetstown-state-park-barn-on-farmlandAg-vocate Training The Indiana Agvocate Program is to help those interested in promoting agriculture to the general public more effectively discuss industry topics, break through industry jargon and learn how to tell their agriculture story using social media, presentations, events and more. Consumers and farmers have choices regarding how food is grown/produced. A goal is this program is to provide information regarding how to share this information without speaking negatively about others in agriculture who may not share those views. This event is sponsored by the Indiana Dairy Producers and takes place in French Lick.

lake_monroe_from_clear_creek_townshipFriends of Lake Monroe is a group of people interested in supporting Lake Monroe and its watershed. We like to swim, paddle, sail, boat, hike and enjoy the lake and its watershed. We support clean water and sustainable recreation. Find out more on their Facebook page. They meet the third Thursday of the month at the Monroe County Public Library.

Members of the Monroe County Environmental Commission compiled this list. Their charge includes “educating the community and engaging residents and businesses in supporting initiatives which will help ensure a healthier and more economically viable future for the County.” The public is welcome to attend these meetings the second Wednesday of every month at 5:30pm.

New Year of Environmentalism in Monroe County

urban_forestry_center_arboretum_portsmouth_nh_-_img_8236Happy New Year!

I can’t believe it’s been a month; time really flies around the holidays. I hope yours went as well as my family’s!

It’s 2017 and the Monroe County environmental blog is back with exciting changes to the way this county is working to protect the environment and to educate the public about ways we are moving forward.

Of course, how can you ignore the national news as the President-elect works to put together his team ahead of his inauguration? But we’ll leave those developments for a future post. Now, the local stuff…

First, to kick off the new year a new slate of County officials were sworn into office, including our new commissioner Amanda Barge. The Herald Times had good coverage of the event.

Second, the wheels are churning on the Monroe County Urbanizing Plan which will modernize zoning in the county while setting out clear environmental protections for Karst features and best practices for approaches to stormwater and urban runoff. There are also provisions to continue the County’s development of greenways.

Third, the name of this body has changed to better reflect the work we do. Instead of the Environmental Quality and Sustainability Commission, we are now simply the Environmental Commission.

With the New Year you can expect to see the commission encouraging the County toward urban forestry, increasing energy efficiency in County buildings, and publishing an annual report detailing energy savings.

Members of the Monroe County Environmental Commission wrote this post. Their charge includes “educating the community and engaging residents and businesses in supporting initiatives which will help ensure a healthier and more economically viable future for the County.” The public is welcome to attend these meetings the second Wednesday of every month at 5:30pm.

 

Water Quality: An Ongoing Concern Locally

5099477424_7c2cbd3d4e_b“Too many pipes in Indiana are at or near the end of their useful life”. That was a conclusion by the Indiana Finance Authority in their November 2016 report.
Water quality is on the minds of Hoosiers in Monroe County. The water that streams into every one of our residential or public buildings has a direct correlation to our health, and the water in our county is valuable for recreation. When I go out, a question I now ask is “What local environmental issues concerns you the most?” Time and time again I hear that water quality is a top concern.
Local water quality issues gives credence to this anecdotal evidence. Beginning in January 2016, increased testing began for Disinfectant Biproducts (DBPs). I’ll let you investigate the level of depth you want to learn about DPBs, but for those that want to track this issue the Herald Times’ GovTracker blog reports on water quality trends, and the City of Bloomington regularly publishes DPB and other water quality data at data.bloomington.in.gov/group/utilities. The bottom line is that water quality was enough of a concern that local leaders took action.
Additionally, the Indiana Finance Authority published a report detailing the problem of aging water pipes. The report was based on a survey conducted with every water utility across the state. Cost and infrastructure problems were reported regionally (see p. 21 of the report) and statewide as the report concluded that, “Too many pipes in Indiana are nearing or at the end of their useful life.”
It is important to protect our water quality, and Monroe County Government plays a large role in this protection. Monroe County Stormwater Quality staff work to control stormwater which can otherwise threaten public health and aquatic life, negatively affect recreational activities, increase costs of water treatment, contribute to flooding events and cause erosion of valuable land. The Monroe County Soil and Water staff work to provide leadership and education in the conservation of Monroe County’s natural resources: soil, water, air, wildlife, forests and lakes. The Monroe County Environmental Quality and Sustainability Commission advises the County Commissioners and educates the public on local environmental issues.
The above report and recent water quality issues highlights the necessary work of local and state government and its leaders to invest in infrastructure. It also suggests the need for greater regional collaboration to preserve shared resources for all residents.