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Green Travel

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Conservation Efforts in the Masai Mara

Mara is Swahili for “dotted hillside,” aptly named for the wealth of wildlife roaming the valley, especially during the fall when vast hordes of wildebeests are making their annual migration from the Masai Mara to the Serengeti. Yet, it wasn’t so long ago that this same wilderness area was rife with poachers aiming to bag their rhino, Maasai warriors spearing male lions as their gateway to manhood, villagers killing ostriches and impala for their meat, and mass tourism unchecked as 20 to 30 land rovers could often be found viewing that same lone leopard. Haji Ogle, who spent the bulk of his life working for the Kenya Wildlife Service battling poachers in the bush, still has his concerns.  He worries about mass tourism and would like the number of visitors to the park each day to be limited by a national government agency, not the local county council that runs the reserve now. Yet he insists that the Masai Mara be open to everyone, keeping the admission price at a reasonable 500 Kenya Schillings or $6.25 US for adult residents of the country.  Ogle is also uneasy about the growth of large wheat farms that are encroaching on the land from the east, yet he can’t help but remain optimistic. “Coming from where I was and where I am today, this is one of the enterprises that has been a success,” say Ogle.  “Kenyan conservation is now widespread.”
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/10/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, November 08, 2010

Voluntourism in Kenya

I’m in Kenya the next two weeks researching a handful of stories. I’d like to share with you the pitches that were accepted as assignments. Given the current worldwide recession, visiting Masai Mara merely to spot the Big Five from your open-air Jeep or quaff sundowners from your luxury tent seems slightly self-indulgent. That’s why luxury tour operator Micato Safaris offers its clients a chance to give back by participating in its partnership with AmericaShare, a nonprofit foundation Micato Safaris established twenty years ago that supplies education, food, clothing and shelter to thousands of children living in the Mukuru slum in Nairobi. Clientele who arrive or depart from Nairobi participate in Micato’s “Lend a Helping Hand on Safari” program. During these one-day philanthropic excursions to the Mukuru slum, travelers visit the community, plant trees, and donate much-needed supplies. More often than not, the inspiration and urge to help out doesn’t end that day. Many Micato Safaris veterans have become involved in AmericaShare’s School Sponsorship program, which enables needy children to attend boarding school in Nairobi. One recent visitor even helped fund the Harambee House and Women’s Centre, a community center and boys’ dormitory run in part by women with HIV.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/08/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Stop and Pick the Strawberries

Ever since my wife and I moved to Boston over a decade ago, we made the wise decision to join Lindentree Farm, a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm located in nearby Lincoln. Every week in the summer and fall, we pick up our small share of organic vegetables, fruits, and flowers grown on the farm. We pay a small fee and also have to work some 8 hours each year harvesting or planting for the following summer. Wow, can you taste the difference eating just picked veggies and fruit! But the best part is spending extra time at the farm picking the goodies straight off the bush. Yesterday, we picked strawberries, blueberries, and sugar snap peas, and feasted last night. This is my idea of heaven.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/01/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, June 04, 2010

Paved a Lot, Put up Paradise

Last summer, I wrote a story for Outside Magazine on the transformation of abandoned oil plants, railroad yards, even elevated railroad lines (the High Line Park in Manhattan) into popular urban parks. Now The Trust for Public Land’s Peter Harnik has written a book on the subject called “Urban Green: Innovative Parks for Resurgent Cities.” A must read for any urban visionary, the book not only delves into examples, but is a primer on how to create parks from space that not long ago was thought of as unusable. Grab lunch at Chelsea Market and have a picnic on the High Line, like I recently did, and you realize the brilliance of this concept.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/04/10 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Camping Area Conserved on Cape Cod

One of the last items the late Senator Kennedy worked on was protection of the North of Highland Camping Area. Located in Truro, this is an area of Cape Cod that still retains the charm of yesteryear, with its wild dunes, stretch of sublime coastline, and patches of forest. Unlike much of the Cape these days, Truro has resisted overbuilding. In 2005, North of Highland’s owner expressed interested in retiring and selling the 57-acre property, which the family had owned for over 50 years. The Trust for Public Land stepped in to prevent its sale for residential development and just announced they secured a conservation easement that will be managed by the National Park service. This makes perfect sense since the property lies inside the Cape Cod National Seashore, a half-mile walk from Head of the Meadow Beach.
 

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/17/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, April 09, 2010

Yoga Atop New England’s Tallest Peak

Carlene Sullivan, owner of Symmetree Yoga in North Conway, New Hampshire, has just introduced a 2-night Yoga Adventure, where you take a guided hike or drive to the top of 6,288-foot Mount Washington, and top it off with yoga and meditation on the summit surrounded by the other ridges of the White Mountains. Prices start at $260 per person and include two nights' accommodation, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, yoga class, breath work, and meditation, and transportation to the site from North Conway. Carlene also offers day-trips, where you hike to a serene spot in the Whites and have your own private yoga session next to a waterfall or rambling stream. 
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/09/10 at 12:59 PM
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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Neutralizing the Carbon Footprint of Pearl Jam

How does a rock band offset its carbon emissions from a 32-date world tour in 2009? Well, if that rock band is Pearl Jam, they plant 33 acres of trees around Puget Sound in Washington. The band just donated $210,000 to Cascade Land Conservancy to provide the plantings, which will help to make up for the 5.474 metric tons of carbon used during last year’s tour. The group has been mitigating its carbon output since 2003 and plans to do just that after this summer’s tour. When Pearl Jam rocks out to “Force of Nature,” they mean it.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/07/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Davis, California, Leading the Way in Cutting Carbon Emissions

Located near Sacramento, Davis, California, is a city of just over 65,000 people that’s perhaps best known as the first city in the country to create bike lines on their streets. Well, yesterday, they just upped the ante by announcing their intent to cut the community’s carbon emissions by up to 50 percent by 2013. Using the tenets of David Gershon’s book, “Low Carbon Diet: A 30-day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds,” Davis is creating EcoTeams, peer-support groups to help households reduce their emissions. Cool Portland (Oregon), Gershon’s first pilot program, helped reduce carbon emissions of each household by 22 percent or 6,700 pounds. 50 percent seems ambitious, but kudos to Davis and Gershon for giving it a shot!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/17/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, February 05, 2010

Urban Renewal Awards, Vento Nature Sanctuary, St. Paul, Minnesota

On the banks of the Mississippi River, Vento Nature Sanctuary is now home to bald eagles, blue herons, and acres of restored wetlands. It’s also popular with rock and ice climbers who like to propel themselves up the steep walls that rise from the river.  Yet, Vento was once a dying rail yard, left to rust by the Burlington National Railroad. Thanks to a grant from the city’s Metropolitan Council and private donations, all contaminated soil was removed and the boundaries of the park were expanded so folks can have more green space to play.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/05/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Urban Renewal Awards, Spectacle Island, Boston Harbor

One of 34 Boston Harbor Islands that dot the waterfront and are part of a National Historic Park, Spectacle Island had its heyday in the 1840s as a large gambling resort and brothel. As of late, the island was merely a dumping ground for garbage. Then someone had the brilliant idea to create a dike to contain the trash and use the dirt from The Big Dig to reshape the island, providing topsoil for planting trees and other shrubbery.  Today, the heaping mound of soil has created the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard south of Maine. Leaving its smelly past behind, the 105-acre park has a trail system weaving through the interior, beaches to comb for sea glass, and public access by ferry. Local naturalist and Walden author Henry David Thoreau didn’t have Spectacle Island in mind when he spoke of preserving America’s “wild spaces,” but it’s refreshing to see good ole Yankee ingenuity at work.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/04/10 at 02:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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