While Understaffed, National Park Service Offers Free Admission April 16-24

Apr 07, 17 While Understaffed, National Park Service Offers Free Admission April 16-24

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In celebration of its 101st anniversary, the National Park Service will be offering free entrance during National Park Week from April 16-24. Visitors can cure their spring fever by enjoying any of the nation’s 417 national parks. Forbes reports that the establishment of the national parks started with the Act of March 1, 1872 and the opening of Yellowstone. From there, the government commissioned national monuments throughout the western region of the country. The National Park Service now has parks in the continental United States as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and Saipan, according to Forbes. Fee free days at the parks cater to all outdoor lovers around the country. Much like 47% of adult campers who report enjoying camping simply for the joy of the activity itself, those seeking beautiful sights and fresh air can revel in the nation’s natural wonders without worrying about cost. For these campers, however, fees still apply. This year’s National Park Week follows a particularly popular year for the Park Service. National Parks Conservation Association reports that the parks saw a record-breaking 331 million visitors in 2016, showing a 13% visitor increase over the last two years. “Today’s report shows that our national parks are more popular than ever,” Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation said in a statement. “From the shores of Acadia to the peaks of Rocky Mountain and hallowed ground at Gettysburg, our national parks are dynamic places that visitors from around the world visit to have once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and as these numbers show, national parks are only becoming more popular.” This increase in visitation, however, comes with a drop in staff and funding, placing significant strain on park resources. She cited a $12 billion maintenance backlog. “But this popularity also means more stress on the staff charged with protecting our national parks. Greeting park visitors, giving tours, maintaining historic buildings, monitoring iconic wildlife and rescuing lost hikers require the dedicated efforts of tens of...

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Wells in Maine Contaminated With Arsenic; Scientists Urge Residents to Take Action

Apr 06, 17 Wells in Maine Contaminated With Arsenic; Scientists Urge Residents to Take Action

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In Augusta, Maine, concerns are being raised about potential contamination in tap water. Scientists shared their research last week at the Maine Sustainability and Water Conference held by Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions. Scientists are encouraging residents to test their water for invisible pollutants such as lead and arsenic. Their goal isn’t to frighten people, but rather to educate them about the potential dangers of contaminated tap water. “The major problem is that Maine has a high reliance on wells, but very few people test their wells,” said Anna Farrell of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor. “And knowing what to do with that information once you get it is also not known.” Arsenic is a toxic chemical that is naturally found in Maine’s bedrock and soil. According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It dissolves into the drinking water through the ground or as runoff, eventually making its way into the private wells that more than half of Maine residents solely rely on for drinking water. About 90% of our freshwater supplies lie underground, but less than 27% of the water Americans use comes from underground sources, which illustrates the underutilization of groundwater. But considering that an estimated 10% of wells in Maine have elevated levels of arsenic, perhaps those numbers are too high. Drinking arsenic-contaminated water can lead to the development of health issues such as skin damage, stomach pain, nausea, circulation problems, and tingling in the hands and feet. Long term exposure can increase the risk of developing cancers of the skin, bladder, and lungs, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In children, arsenic exposure can cause low birth weights and affect brain development. Ultimately, the Maine CDC highly recommends testing tap water every three to five years for arsenic, lead, uranium, radon, and fluoride levels. Tests are available at laboratories across the state and generally cost no more than $100. If high levels of arsenic are detected, the Maine CDC...

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Exploring Various St. Patrick’s Day Traditions Around the Country

Mar 14, 17 Exploring Various St. Patrick’s Day Traditions Around the Country

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If you’re looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the right way, you way want to consider taking a trip to one of these major cities all over the country, where officials are preparing for one of the year’s biggest celebrations. Savannah, Georgia holds the oldest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the country, and that’s why officials are expecting hundreds of thousands of visitors and a major economic boost. “Our expectations are, we are going to have a very busy weekend. Not only in Savannah, throughout the area,” said Joe Marinelli, president/CEO of Visit Savannah. “Whenever we talk about it, we are not talking about just the Historic District, because hotels and restaurants all throughout the Southside, Midtown, and so forth will be busy, and I know that many of the vacation rentals on Tybee Island are expected to be full as well.” The city is preparing for the population spike by keeping more hotel rooms available. As of spring 2014, nearly 21 million U.S. households owned a spa, pool, or hot tub, but during this time of year, they can visit Savannah and still be virtually guaranteed to find a hotel with a pool. “It will be fun to be in the city, we’ll have a lot of visitors, a lot of friends and family coming in. And I know everyone is going to have a good time,” said Marinelli. Motorcoaches account for 751 million passenger trips annually, moving more people in some years than commercial airlines do — that’s why they might be a great way to get from Savannah to Staten Island, where there are countless St. Patrick’s Day festivities to attend. Several residents in New Brighton and West Brighton are notorious for throwing annual pre-parade parties. Jim and Judy Logan from West Brighton are just one couple that’s known for their St. Patrick’s Day parties. The Logans’ home on Myrtle Avenue is just one block away from the parade site, so partiers won’t have to worry about the risks of drinking...

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The Agriculture Industry is Changing Thanks to Technological Advancements and Major Spending

Mar 10, 17 The Agriculture Industry is Changing Thanks to Technological Advancements and Major Spending

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Agriculture has been around for longer than just about every other major industry. Although some things never change in farming and agriculture production, thanks to some highly advanced technological inventions (and billions of dollars of global spending), the agriculture industry can expect to see a lot of major changes in the near future. Some pieces of equipment, like the full-circle hammer mill, can handle 15% higher capacity and produce a 20% coarser grind compared to half-circle hammers. That’s just one common piece of farming equipment improved by modern technology. Although these types of tools are still necessary, the industry could soon see some of their equipment go digital. “The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), working in synergy with other EU policies and funds, is prioritizing innovation and digitisation in agriculture as never before,” said Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. “This is essential not only to keep our farmers competitive and profitable but also to protect our precious environment and contribute to EU climate targets and sustainable development goals.” According to a Euractiv Agriculture 4.0 policy paper, the digitalisation on its way will assist farmers and agricultural producers who are stuck in old ways of only using conventional and mechanical pieces of equipment. And with better tools, farmers worldwide will be able to increase output while decreasing labor. The United Nations states that the demand for more technologically advanced agricultural equipment is driven by the increase in global population, as more than 9.7 billion are expected to walk the earth by 2050. Perhaps that’s why the global farm equipment market is actually projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 10.2% over the next decade. The global farm equipment market is expected to reach $368 billion by 2025. Market officials also attribute the rising growth to the increase in public spending, the rising adoption of precision farming techniques, and favorable government policies on farming...

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3D Scanning Technology Saves Queen Elizabeth II’s Wedding Cake

Mar 01, 17 3D Scanning Technology Saves Queen Elizabeth II’s Wedding Cake

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Traditionally, the wedding cake has served as a symbol of the union of love between a bride and groom, as well as the main centerpiece for the reception. A wedding cake can even be kept for years after the fact; couples typically enjoy part of their frozen wedding cake to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, and there’s a cake that’s survived for over a century (and even withstood a World War II bomb blast!). But in the past, when iconic cakes were destroyed, there wasn’t much hope for resurrection — until now. When Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip in 1947, Peek Frean designed a multi-tiered confection aptly fit for a queen. Over six feet tall and weighing 600 pounds, the colossal cake was actually put on display at the Peek Frean and Co. factory until 1989. When the factory closed, a South London museum planned to make a permanent exhibit about the factory that would house the cake. However, it was later deemed too fragile to transport and was left at its original location. In 2015, the famous cake was vandalized almost to complete devastation. It was turned upside down and splattered with red paint. All seemed lost for the historic dessert until Professor Mark Williams and the Warwick Manufacturing Group stepped in with their 3D scanning technology. Williams and his team were able to scan the cake within a 0.1mm accuracy and reproduce it as a 3D model. This model will be used to digitally repair the existing cake. It’s an immensely long process. The cake has been coated and is now ready for decoration, which will occur next month and throughout the early spring in various workshops. The cake will be fully assembled during the late summer. Williams stated, “It was fantastic to apply our technology to such an exciting project and help restore such an iconic cake to its former glory, especially in the year of the Queen’s Golden Anniversary.” The Warwick Manufacturing Group worked closely with the British Sugarcrafting...

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Number of Construction Fatalities on the Rise Nationwide

According to a study completed by the Ohio Safety and Health Administration, 20.2% of all workplace deaths were due to construction related incidents. Unfortunately, this trend, though lower than in previous years, is on the rise. According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction worker fatalities have hit an all-time high since the recession of 2009. These numbers come from 2015 when there were 937 fatal injuries in the construction sector. This sad increase was even worse in New York State. The New York Committee for Occupational Health and Safety (NYCOSH) has found that construction worker deaths are on the rise throughout the state simply because employers are consistently violating safety protocols. Their report, titled Deadly Skyline: An Annual Report on Construction Fatalities in New York State, found that within the past two years, there have been 30 construction fatalities in New York City alone. Unfortunately, within the past decade, there have been more than 500 deaths on construction sites. Of these fatalities, 59% were caused by falls. Part of the reasoning for this high percentage was that in 2015, NYCOSH found that 68% of all construction sites failed their inspections. Not to mention that in the same year, 90% of construction sites did not pass inspection by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In particular, non-union sites were deemed especially dangerous to workers. Included in the report is a petition to add 10 bills that will require immediate, updated training for construction workers across the state. They also are requiring the implementation of more extensive guardrail and netting requirements in hopes to potentially curb fatalities caused by falling. There also is also a call for more monitoring of construction sites in order to enforce these safety standards. Jumaane D. Williams, Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee of New York City explains its importance to Insurance Journal: “There is no other industry where workers die at such an alarming rate without significant preventative recourse. It is the responsibility...

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