Friday, May 29, 2009


WOW! Just for fun, I googled my blog and over a thousand references came up! I was really glad I did because I followed one to a comments thread from back in last October, over at Mudflats Forum (

I had posted a comment to AKMuckrakers column regarding Palin's war on wildlife, but didn't check back afterwards. Then this morning, after I retrieved a reference from the googling, I went back and found there were all sorts of thoughtful responses. I wish I'd read them at the time but better late than never. I haven't followed the links yet but I'm looking forward to it when I get more time. First comes my comment and then several responses (one I loved was: "Rant On, Gail Zawacki!")

To AKMuckraker, October 17 2008:

I do appreciate your fondness for wildlife, and the horrible loss we are facing.
I live in New Jersey and although I am not an expert scientist by any means, I am a life-long devoted observer of nature and particularly trees.
It appears obvious to me that ALL the trees in this region are dying, however, everyone but me seems oblivious. It makes me feel like I am going crazy! From what I see these past 8 weeks or so, every type of tree is horribly stressed. Hickory, locust, ash, sycamore, and black walnuts look particularly bare.
I recently took a trip to Newport, Rhode Island and all the way there I saw the same thing – trees whose leaves are scorched, crowns are thin or gone entirely. The vast majority of evergreens have yellowing needles and are bursting with cones, a signal of impending demise.
The decline is so prevalent and is affecting every age and every species of deciduous and coniferous tree. I believe no one disease or pollutant can be the cause, which most likely is the lack of water due to climate change. Assuming this is true, the situation will only worsen. From what I have read, once a tree exhibits the clear symptoms of decline, such as are readily evident and ubiquitous already, it cannot be reversed and it is only a matter of time before it dies completely.
I have contacted the state drought monitoring agency and they claim there is no drought. However, their measurement of aquifers does not reflect the change in rainfall patterns, which have gone from more frequent, gentler showers to infrequent heavy downpours. The state officials seem to willfully wish not to expand their criteria of what constitutes a threat.
It seems to me the trees are dying of thirst. When they are all dead, a few years hence, they will present an enormous fire risk, as well as fall all over power and telephone lines, greatly disrupting the business of daily life. All the birds that nest in trees will die. The insect population will explode. And I’m sure there are countless other negative effects, not to mention, the tragic loss of natural beauty.
I personally live on a small farm with hundreds of dying trees and from past experience I know it costs easily $1000 to have a good sized tree removed. I certainly can’t afford that!
It is amazing and frightening to me that there is not even any discussion about what is happening in plain view.
Thank you for reading my rant.
Gail Zawacki
Oldwick NJ

@witsendnj (16:18:31) :

Dear witsendnj – you aren’t going crazy…below are some links verifying that our trees are indeed dying at an unprecedented rate:
From Publishers Weekly
In a thoroughly researched book, Little (Hope for the Land) documents the depressing state of U.S. forests. Individual trees are dying at unprecedented rates, numerous woody species are at risk of extinction and the country’s forests are disappearing as intact ecosystems. The devastation stretches across the land and is eerily similar to losses observed in Europe. Although the immediate cause of death varies, Little and the numerous ecologists and foresters whom he interviewed argue convincingly that the best explanation is ultimately the environmental havoc humans have wrought. Acid rain, heavy metal contamination, smog, increased ultraviolet rays streaming through the growing hole in the ozone layer and atrocious management of forests?from clear-cutting to fire suppression?have so weakened individual trees, as well as ecosystems, that once-routine pests may now be responsible for destruction on an unprecedented scale. This book should significantly alter the way we think about our relationship to the natural world.
Trees dying trend in USA and Germany:
Trees dying in Virginia:

Trees dying in California:

@ witsendnj (16:18:31)
“The vast majority of evergreens have yellowing needles and are bursting with cones, a signal of impending demise.”
Thank you for the information and your concern. I have been confused about the state of the evergreens around me. I’m distressed to hear they may be past help, but at least glad to have some understanding of the situation.

Debbie aka Commando Coalfire Palin (21:39:44) :
Someone mentioned dying trees in New Jersey. I think you are probably right, here is what I know from the other side of the country. While I believe we are contributing heavily to global warming I am also aware based on fossils that the area where I live was once much warmer than it is now. I base this on fossil evidence, I have a counter top made of slices of a petrified palm tree that a friend of mine found buried on his land while he was excavating to build his house, apparently they are very common in this area not far from the Canadian boarder.
I have seen a number of trees tyoes dying off on my land near a river in southern puget sound. mainly it has been hemlock which has a semi shallow root system but requires alot of water. I have come to believe the water table is dropping, while we still get lots of rain it is also getting warmer so more water evaporates. I have been kicking around the PNW for over 40 years the difference is noticable when I was in my teens it was unheard of for tempetures to hit 90 now it happens often, in fact we have plenty of days over 100. On the family farm is a pond where my 88 year old mother skated every winter when she was young, in my life time it has frozen over twice. The world has been heating up for awhile now.
Perhaps the most interesting thing i have seen is an ancient city off the coast of southern Mexico that, at it’s shallowest is under 40 feet of water, that is how far the sea has risen since this city was built around 2500 years ago.
I am not sure there is anything we can do to stop it, anyone who has ever been in an earthquake knows when the earth decides to do something it does it. Much as fleas have no control over the dog they live on we have very little contol over our hostess. We may be able to slow things down a bit by cleaning up our environment but in my opinion that horse has done left the barn.

Pursang (22:14:43) :
To a degree I can understand people’s desires to use the Earth’s natural resources. Especially when you see the developing countries being lectured by the developed West. After all we’ve used all of ours and made our economy strong in doing so. Now we sit here and lecture developing countries for doing the same thing so you can see why they would think of us as hypocrites. Sort of like we had our but you can’t have yours.
This goes along with Alaska’s desire to use their natural resources to make themselves a better state and then to have the Lower 48 put up hurdle after hurdle must upset them tremendously.
I guess though that we’ve learned from our mistakes and are trying to make retributions by stopping the mining practices that cause enviromental disasters or protect the animals that are rapidly becoming extinct. Still perhaps we need to make monetary exchanges to developing countries to keep them from doing what we did, to help them become properous without killing the environment. Worth looking at I suppose.
The health of the animal population is a way to determine how our planet is doing. With animals becoming extinct and vast portions of forest dying Earth is trying to tell us that something is wrong, that it is sick. It’s time we start to listen for the sake of the children and grandchildren out there or they won’t be able to save her no matter what they do.
I wish the whales, moose, polar bears, and wolves the best of luck. You deserve your part of this planet and if we don’t help them the world will be the worse for it.

Pat (05:12:44) :
Fedupnj & Susie in NJ……….I used to live onthe edge of the Pine Barrens. When I came to coastal, Downeast Maine 17 years ago, NJ was already exeriencing, 4 FULL months of summer weather. And I remember from my childhood in the 40’s, ice skating for a good portion of the winter…..enough snow to be given skis for Christmas……… later in the early 70’s I tried to take my kids skiing one day; we wound up renting horses because it was too warm to even keep the manufactured snow from melting!
In the 60’s, 70’s my parents lived in Albany, NY. I remember the dire condition of the trees along the NY Thruway, and the Garden State Parkway, yellowing browning leaves, conifers as well. Earth Day happened along with a major effort to reduce the acid rain…………..It worked, the trees survived, looked healthy again…..BUT we have just endured 8 years of Bush’s disastrous pandering to the BIG polluters. I watched ( on cspan) the Kyoto Treaty meeting in the spring of 2001, BEFORE 9/11 even happened. WE DIDN”T SIGN,,, THE TREATY and a lot of countries were pretty peeved with us.,
Yes my trees on the coast of Maine look pretty sickly too……………I have Hemlock wooley adalged on my 2 hemlock trees……………..which are killing them ( unless the Safer soap works) and something really weird devouring the cones on my beautiful little spruce tree I dug up and brought home about 14 years ago! I have to drag a ladder out teeter on the slope and take a photo for the co-operative extension……
The choke cherry trees just look sick, limp yellowish spotty leaves……….and a black fungus. It wasn’t like this 17 years when I first moved here……………..
( I am a landsape painter……….critically observant!)
fedupnj; have you gone to the New Brunswick Rutgers Campus with questions? They had a wonderful collection of exotic trees there last time I looked, 1983, they would know. I see Oldwicke is not too far from there.
Pat (05:15:42) :
Forgot to say, the garden was a disaster this year…… every pest known to man, too dry too wet…………Imagine a zuccinni plant that only produces 2 squash in a season.unheard of. Every gardener has a good recipe for zuccinni bread to take up the overage!

TewksburyObama (06:27:24) :
To: witsendnj
I think I know your property. Have you had someone from either URWA, as you’re in their watershed, or NJCF, as you’re also in the Black River Greenway, come in to look at your trees and make suggestions as to how to manage them?
Also, if you need to take the black walnut trees down the wood might sell for more than what it cost to remove the tree.

DrChill (16:46:46) :
witsendnj (16:18:31) :
Gail -
Have you contacted local colleges that offer environmental studies, or the EPA –
Sometimes it takes someone like you to make a few calls…
Good luck.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Gail,

    Have you ever heard Lewis Black's comments on the United States' refusal to sign the Koyoto treaty? Mr Black is of course a vulgar man (some people find this of putting) but his comments are to the point and are also quite funny (in my oppinion).

    Patrick (bluetwinky)


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