Friday, April 20, 2012

Hug a Tree This Earth Day, It's Saving You Money

Urban trees account for millions of dollars in benefits by promoting energy savings, air and water filtering, moderating climate, improving air quality through carbon storage, and conserving water. According to the U.S. Forest Service, a single urban tree in Florida returns over $90,000 of direct benefits during the lifetime of that tree. The city of Jacksonville operates the largest urban park system in the U.S. with roughly 80,000 acres located throughout the City. Given Jacksonville’s extensive park system, its urban trees are doing a lot to give back to citizens. Trees can help us save energy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the net cooling effect of a healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day and can save 15%-50% in air conditioning and heater costs. Trees can increase residential property values by 20%. Local businesses benefit too. It has been found that the public preferred to patronize commercial establishments and spend up to 12% more where those structures and parking lots were beautified with trees and other landscaping. Urban trees serve as mini retention ponds by helping to control runoff as the rain falls, increasing infiltration and storage of rainwater and reducing soil erosion. Jacksonville's urban trees provide stormwater storage of 928 million cubic feet, as found in a 2002 study by American Forests. Without these trees, the cost of building stormwater retention ponds and other infrastructure to handle the City’s stormwater runoff would be in the billions of dollars. Jacksonville's urban trees are helping to fight climate change by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The National Tree Benefit Calculator ( indicates that a 12-inch diameter live oak can generate $107 worth of benefits annually. In Jacksonville, trees sequester 69,000 total pounds of carbon a year. This carbon storage may not solve climate change in its entirety, but it shows that trees can be a part of the solution. In 2007, a study commissioned by the city of Jacksonville determined that for every dollar invested in tree planting by the City, there was a $4.51 return in benefits from storm water retention, energy conservation, cleaner air and increased property values. And these valuations don't even consider the aesthetic value of having streets and parks lined with live oaks, dogwoods, and crape myrtles. But, Jacksonville’s urban trees are more than just ornaments. The services they provide are invaluable. -Elizabeth Barron, Legal Intern

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Cinco De Mayo River City Challenge

On Saturday, May 5th 2012, Jacksonville will be holding its first paddle race to benefit the North Florida Land Trust. The event will take place in downtown Jacksonville on the St. Johns River. There will be a three-mile race as well as an eight-mile race, along with a festival and some great music! There are three divisions based on age and six race categories. The cost to paddle in the race is $40 per person which gets you entry into the race along with a T-Shirt and a goodie bag. There will also be a cash prize of $500 awarded to the fastest overall boat, and a cash prize of $200 to the fastest boat in the remaining two age divisions. Not only will there be a race, but there will also be something for everyone, from kids to seniors to bystanders! Friday, May 4th will kick off the celebrations with a captain’s party at River City Brewing Company. The day of the race will be filled with paddle races, festival vendors, fly-fishing clinics, a MOSH kids animal clinic, a stand up paddle board clinic, and a Guana Preserve presentation. After the last racers pass the finish line River City Brewery will feature the sounds of Mobros and the local band Saltwater Grass. There will also be an awards ceremony at the end of the day and a sea kayaking clinic. Parking will also be available at River City Brewing Company so you don’t have to hassle with trying to find a parking spot downtown! Want to get involved but aren’t too keen on joining the racers? Volunteers are always needed! To learn more about the event and to sign up to volunteer or paddle visit -Ashley Geary, Legal Intern

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Earth Day - 2012

When is Earth Day? Every day is Earth Day! But, it’s officially celebrated on April 22nd. It is hard to believe, but prior to 1970 it was perfectly legal for a factory to spew clouds of black smoke into the air or dump toxic waste into a nearby stream. A polluter could not be taken to court because there were no legal or regulatory mechanisms in place to protect the environment. Recognizing the need to force this issue onto the national agenda and inspired by the student anti-war movement and the effects of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, Senator Gaylord Nelson established Earth Day with the intent to create a mass environmental movement. The idea for the day began as a "national teach-in on the environment" and was held on April 22, 1970, to maximize the number of student participants. The intent was to raise public awareness of air and water pollution and bring environmental causes into the national spotlight. As a result, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive nationwide rallies. Senator Gaylord’s efforts to force environmental issues into the national agenda worked. In December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since Earth Day started, environmentalism has moved from a fringe issue to a mainstream concern. The focus of Earth Day now is to “think globally, act locally” as environmental stewards have never been more timely or important. Every person shares the responsibility to ensure that finite natural resources are protected for today and for future generations. So, what can you do for Earth Day? Earth Day is about uniting voices in support of a healthy planet. Make a public commitment to take environmental action and attend an Earth day event, organize your own Earth Day event, organize a day of service, or pledge an act of green on April 22, 2012. Earth Day Jacksonville, a pre-Earth Day event that features more than 80 booths of educational and interactive displays and live entertainment throughout the day, begins at 10:00 a.m. on April 21, 2012, and takes place at the Jacksonville Landing. In coordination with Earth Day Jacksonville, Earth day Inc. will award grants of up to $500 to groups who implement environmental education programs. Visit for more information on both the annual Earth Day event and the Earth Day Mini Grants. -Elizabeth Barron, Legal Intern