ENVIRONMENT

Does Air Quality Matter to Young Workers?

As their due date neared last fall, Ryan Poling and his wife faced a difficult decision. Did they want to raise their daughter in Pittsburgh, the city in which they’ve built a life during the last nine years, or pick up and move across the country, near Poling’s family in…

Building the Buzz

On a brisk October morning, Dr. Bill Bookwalter dons a billowy, white beekeeping suit complete with veil and hikes up a hill behind his Fox Chapel home to harvest honey. Most days, you’ll find him in surgical scrubs, but during his downtime, Bookwalter, a neurosurgeon, practices apiculture: he maintains colonies…

A Modest Proposal

Mother Nature has a sense of humor and the soul of Monet. The change in the yard was startling. In just a week it went from being a crabgrass plantation to a breathtaking carpet of fluffy, soft-​white clover, a pastel hand-​delivered from the French master himself. But lawns are supposed…

The Scarlet Tanager

A bird on fire, a male scarlet tanager perched just above my eye level. He was in a tree at the edge of the Upper Fields Trail at Fox Chapel’s Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve. Normally high in the forest canopy gleaning insects in spring and summer, this avian migrant, roughly…

A Walk in the Woods

Cook Forest State Park, home to magnificent old-​growth forest, is a prime destination for anyone interested in scenic beauty, natural history and a variety of recreational opportunities.

A Belted Kingfisher

“From the porch at dusk I watched a kingfisher wild in flight he could only have made for joy…” —Wendell Barry (from his poem “Before Dark”)

Spring Hat Luncheon Welcomes 600 to Schenley Park

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy raised $530,000 during its annual Spring Hat Luncheon on May 6, welcoming more than 600 guests to Schenley Park.

A Waterway Renewed

A beautiful place to enjoy nature this spring is approximately two hours north of Pittsburgh along the banks of the Bennett Branch in Elk County. The Dr. Colson E. Blakeslee Memorial Recreation Area includes 24 acres of forested land, located off State Route 555 in Benezette Township, and provides direct…

Ode to an Ash

“When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder lions hunker down in tall grasses and even elephants lumber after safety…” —Maya Angelou

The Region’s Top 10 Air Polluters

Although the region’s air has improved dramatically from the height of Pittsburgh’s industrial past, southwestern Pennsylvania remains home to factories and power plants that release millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data to track toxic chemicals released…

Inconspicuous and Dangerous

The heavy smoke is gone. But particulates 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and gases formed by the reaction of sunlight and fossil fuels exhaust remain as the region’s most widespread, stubborn and dangerous air quality problems.

Up in the Air

Southwestern Pennsylvania and air qulity have long had a complicated relationship. For the better part of a century, the region had been a place so polluted from the soot of industry and homes heated by coal that street lamps were lit in the afternoon and walking a single block could…

The Blue-​Gray Gnatcatcher

One spring, I ventured south to Savannah, Georgia, for some sun and warmth. As a coastal locale and part of the Atlantic flyway, it was rich with avifauna heading back to nesting territories farther north in places like western Pennsylvania. It was March, and the streets of that wonderful city…

The Northern Cardinal

Winter puts birders in a different mood. There are birds about, but they are fewer and generally more muted — focused on finding food, staying warm and getting through. The birds that stick around for a Pittsburgh winter are hardier, more committed, the stalwarts. They are the loyalists of cold.

Old-​Growth Majesty

One of the most spectacular places to visit in western Pennsylvania is an old-​growth forest in the Hearts Content National Scenic Area within the Allegheny National Forest. A timber company gave the property to the U.S. Forest Service in the early 1920s, and today this area is home to one…
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