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Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally

ERIC P. ORFF
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer - Wildlife Photographer
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983
nhfishandwildlif@aol.com

NH Nature

New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff

Tuesday 01/06/2009 Global Warming Article: Are You a Bear or a Bobcat? What’s Your Carbon Paw Print?

I have been a life-long hunter, fisherman and conservationist. As a conservationist I believe in treading lightly on this earth as I believe most on hunters and anglers believe. And this is nothing new, as sportsmen, like me, have been in the forefront to protect and conserve fish and wildlife for a century. Just as importantly we have protected the habitats that supports these species. The shores along our rivers and lakes help keep the waters clean and the forests that serve as wildlife habitat also helps keep our air clean and remove tons of carbon from the air and replenish our oxygen supply.

We sportsmen, by nature, are constantly concerned with our environment and have been for decades. Thanks to our efforts and funding through license fees and federal taxes, which we called for, fish and wildlife numbers in New Hampshire are at levels not seen in over 100 years. Deer numbers at 80,000 are twice what they were 40 years ago. Moose numbers are up ten times from fewer than 500 fifty years ago to over 5,000 today. And bear numbers are up four times from 1,200 bears in the mid 1980’s to 5,000 today. And turkeys went from zero to over 35,000! And we have helped to permanently protect tens of thousands of acres across the state not only at the state level but more importantly at town levels by pushing for and supporting local conservation issues.

As sportsmen we know how important it is not to squander these resources and how important it is for us to pass this wonderful heritage on to our children and grandchildren. After-all it was this nation’s hunters and anglers who first pushed for laws and regulations that helped to protect and restore this natural heritage. We disdain those within our ranks who may be game hogs, or worse yet poachers. And it is our license fees that support the law enforcement efforts needed to curb such activities.

But what about your carbon foot print? Are you a bear whose gluttonist behavior would drain every bit of energy it can from the environment? Bears feed ravenously just before going into their winter dens eating over 10,000 calories a day if they can find it. Of coarse bears then use up zero calories from the environment when denned. But I see plenty of people who gobble up the energy around me year round. To me they are just squandering our natural resources as did the market hunters with game a hundred years ago. We need a conservation shift with energy similar to the awakening brought on by the sportsmen conservationists like me a hundred years ago.

I think of myself as more like a bobcat when it comes to using energy. I use only what is needed to go about my daily life conserving energy constantly. This is something I have naturally done for decades; it is not some new fad for me. For instance when I bought my house in 1979 I chose a house under construction that had six inches of insulation in the walls and a foot in the attic. Even then I added storm windows and doors all around the house to further conserve energy.

But here are some of the steps I have taken over the last five or six years to further reduce my carbon foot print. While my house was well insulated by today’s standards with a foot in my attic, I spent a few cool evenings and a couple hundred dollars doubling the insulation in my attic. Plus I insulated the floor joices in my cellar, the cellar walls and even the duct work carrying the hot air from my furnace. Since I started this process I have cut the amount of fuel I use by over half. Oh yes my hot water tank has a nice added blanket of insulation as well and is kept at just the right temperature for our household.

I have recycled for decades. While I see many of my neighbors who have a private company pick up three and four barrels of trash per week, I separate all my trash and take it to the local recycling center every couple of weeks. I know I am recycling upwards of 90 percent by weight of my trash. Not only that but I personally collect and recycle over a ton and a half of aluminum cans each year for the Friends of the Suncook River supporting this organization with over $1,500 a year from this program.

All my outside lights as well as my garage lights are on automatic sensors. These lights only come on when needed and shut off a few minutes later when activity has stopped. I drive light too, driving a four cylinder pickup. And I converted nearly all my lights to compact fluorescent or regular florescent ones several years ago.

Within the past three year I replaced my original worn and drafty outside doors with thicker much tighter fitting ones. And this summer I began to replace my thirty year old windows with high efficiency ones. And three years ago I installed a gas stove in my living room. Now my furnace thermostat is set much lower and I heat only the rooms we are currently using each winter’s evening. The unused rooms, such as the spare bedroom, have been shut off and are heated only when used.

As a sportsmen and conservationist I am constantly searching for ways to curb my energy use. After-all it was this nation’s hunters and anglers who drove the culture shift that brought about the abundant fish and wildlife and pristine habitats common today. I believe through our conservation ethics we can lead this nation into a better energy future. We can lead by example in reducing our energy needs. We can continue to protect pristine environments, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, by curbing our energy uses. We can leave our children a better place to raise their children and pass on the heritage of hunting, fishing and conservation. We need to be bobcats.

Eric Orff
Epsom, NH
July 28, 2008


   

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