I just spent over 24 hours away from my family and my blog. I was about 90 miles away attending our biannual regional Fisheries work meeting, which turned out to be more interesting than my name for it suggests. We had a good mix of area office and hatchery updates, which was interesting considering two of the three hatcheries in our region sustained considerable damage from the August floods in southeastern Minnesota. And we had some very good research updates and invited speakers. My favorite was Paul Wotzka, a former hydrologist for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, who was fired for testifying to the state Legislature about the dangers of atrazine, a commonly used and very profitable pesticide. For background info on the dangers of atrazine, please visit Tyrone Hayes' Web site. Think cancer, endocrine disruption, et cetera.
I am concerned about atrazine on a local level. Wotzka spoke about how quickly chemicals reached the groundwater in areas of karst topography. We have a slightly different kind of karst topography here, sandstone replacing limestone, but still the fast movement of rainfall into groundwater has been demonstrated. Not to mention the fact that atrazine occurs in rainfall, and has been found in Lake Harriet, a very urban water far from any corn fields. I don't live in a very agricultural area, but I did notice many more acres planted in corn this year. And does the atrazine rainfall reach me?
In Minnesota, we are experiencing an ethanol boom. Farmers are growing corn for higher prices, and ethanol plants are springing up everywhere under the (ahem. misguided.) promise that ethanol will solve our nation's dependence on foreign oil. So, since the year 2000, the number of acres treated with atrazine has steadily grown, farmers are taking acreage out of conservation programs like CRP to grow a suddenly profitable crop, while all the evidence shows that the production of ethanol shows little to no net gain in energy, not to mention soil erosion and pesticides getting into the water we drink.
I could go on and on about this. I think the rush towards ethanol is wrong on so many levels. Where does "doing with less" fit into the picture? All of the ATV's, snowmobiles, and overpowered boats are a luxury use of fuel that should be scrutinized.
I also roomed with Jean, my office secretary and the Best Office Professional In the World!, and maker of the best baked goodies (except for Dave our regional Project Administrator who makes a killer carrot cake!). I found out that she and I probably have a lot more in common than I ever thought. I just need to work on the State Fair award winning jams, jellies, and pickles part. :) Anyway, she is a real sweetheart, really knows how to enjoy life, and I hope she never retires! :)
But, I am glad to be home, humble as it is.