This year’s theme for Earth Day (April 22, 2019) is Protect Our Species, a message that provokes us to consider the ways in which we can help endangered species on our planet.
Biodiversity — or the amazing variety of plants, animals and microorganisms that live and interact on the earth’s surface — is essential to the sustainability of all life forms. In fact, the rich variety of species on our planet is a key part of what makes Earth habitable for human beings. The air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat all rely on multiple organisms interacting with each other every day.
Here are some of the reasons why biodiversity is essential for human survival:
• Food. The plants and animals we consume are products of Earth’s biodiversity. For example, without insects to pollinate crops or bats to control pests, the agriculture industry as we know it wouldn’t exist. Plus, hundreds of millions of people rely on wildlife for sustenance. When a species dies out, many other species may lose a food source.
• Air. Humans and other animals depend on photosynthesizing organisms to produce the oxygen we breathe. Different plant species also absorb pollutants from the air, including excess carbon emissions.
• Water. Our fresh water supply also depends on diverse ecosystems. For instance, wetland ecosystems perform a process called phytoremediation, which naturally removes toxic chemicals from water and soil. Waterways with more species have also been shown to be more effective at removing nitrogen pollution.
• Raw materials. Biodiversity gives access to a wide range of raw materials, including wood, biofuels, fibers and plant oils. Materials from different species offer different benefits, such as harder or softer woods or cooking oils with different smoke points.
• Medicine. Medical researchers study different plants, animals, fungi and bacteria in order to make discoveries and uncover new medicines and vaccines. When a species becomes extinct, the possibility that it could be used to produce new medical resources disappears forever.
Unfortunately, Earth’s biodiversity is under threat. Scientists believe that a mass extinction brought about by the effects of human industrialization is currently underway. However, we can take steps to stop it. To learn about what you can do to help conserve biodiversity in the United States and around the world, visit earthday.org.
Medical marijuana: what you need to know
As the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis become more common worldwide, research into its medical uses has developed considerably. In particular, scientists are interested in which ailments cannabis can relieve and how it should be administered for maximum therapeutic effect. Here’s an overview of what we know so far.
Cannabis can’t cure any diseases. However, research indicates that some cannabinoids can offer symptomatic relief, although results vary from one patient to the next.
In particular, the drug has been shown to reduce neuropathic and cancer pain. It’s proven particularly effective at reducing nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
Furthermore, people with multiple sclerosis report that cannabis can both mitigate the spasms associated with the condition and reduce inflammation. It can also improve the quality of life of patients in palliative care by reducing anxiety, pain, nausea, and insomnia.
It’s important to note that the majority of studies on the therapeutic value of cannabis aimed to measure its effect on symptoms that were difficult to manage using other treatments. According to many such studies, patients typically report that cannabis is at least as effective as standard treatments, if not more so.
Although further research is needed to establish the medical benefits of cannabis, it’s been shown to be an effective complementary therapy for many patients.
Even if you live in an area where cannabis is legal, you shouldn’t self-medicate. Suppliers who sell recreational cannabis typically don’t have the medical background needed to provide patients with reliable advice.
Medical cannabis must be prescribed by a healthcare professional who can determine dosage and monitor your use. If you’d like to know more, be sure to speak to your doctor.
Get up to speed on fishing regulations
Fishing regulations play an important role in aquatic conservation, biodiversity and habitat preservation. Before you head out on the water, consult your regional fishing regulations for any updates and to ensure that you’re fishing legally and sustainably.
Get your license
A fishing license is almost always mandatory if you’re between the ages of 18 and 64. Requirements for younger and older anglers vary by state. If your area offers a variety of licenses, they may be subject to different fishing quotas.
The right equipment
Before you head out on the water, ensure your fishing tackle complies with regional regulations. Depending on where you intend to fish, there may be restrictions on the use of live bait and barbed hooks. There may also be a limit on the number of hooks and lines permitted.
When and where
Fishing may be restricted to certain periods of the year in your state. There might also be different regulations in place for specific bodies of water or regions based on local populations and conservation efforts.
Know your limits
Not all fish are created equal, and they may be subject to different size restrictions and bag limits. Some species may be off limits altogether. To ensure compliance with local regulations, you need to be able to identify the species you catch.
Specific fishing regulations vary by location. Fishing inland and within three miles of marine shorelines is regulated at the state level. Saltwater recreational fishing more than three miles off the coast is managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries). Be sure to consult the appropriate department of fisheries website for more details.
The village that time forgot
In 1732, John Branson obtained a 1,000-acre grant from George Bowman along Cedar Creek. He sold a parcel of land sometime later to John Kountz. In August of 1745, Lewis Stephens, a local land speculator, and developer, purchased a 195-acre property from Kountz on Cedar Creek. The tract lay on both sides of Middle Road (State Route 628), about seven miles to the southwest of what is now Stephens City and 5 miles northwest of Middletown.
Around 1755, Stephens built a house and a water-powered grist mill on the property at the confluence of Cedar Creek and Fawcett Run. His mill successfully ground wheat, rye, oats, and barley into flour and meal.
Sometime in 1752, before the French and Indian War (1754–1763), Stephens constructed a unique hexagonal-shaped stone powder magazine adjacent to his house and mill. Local lore maintains that the building, which still stands today, was “Stephens Fort.” This structure is mentioned in accounts of frontier happenings, many of which included Stephens’s offering protection and shelter for neighbors during several Native American raids. The building has limestone walls that are eight feet high, one foot thick and measure fourteen feet across the center. From the ground level, the cellar floor lays nineteen feet below and has a circular limestone foundation. Troops from Washington’s Regiment were garrisoned in a stockade here in the fall of 1757. The building was later used as an office or counting-house, a lodging room, a storeroom, and an ice house.
After the war, Stephens contracted for one furnace and forge, named New Work Furnace and Forge, to manufacture pig and bar iron on his tract at Cedar Creek. These crude production units produced basic commodities like frying pans, nails, hinges, musket barrels and agricultural implements during the early 1760s.
Stephens continued to live on this tract and work on the iron furnace, however, he gradually found his debts too excessive and had to form partnerships to share his costs. In 1767, Stephens sold his 195-acre tract and ironworks share to ironmaster Isaac Zane. Zane subsequently bought out his associates in 1768 and began to make significant improvements to his Marlboro Furnace and Iron Works. He retained the old forge and furnace established by Stephens but immediately began building a modern and sophisticated complex. This forge and furnace would become Zane’s most significant achievement.
The Shenandoah Valley had an abundance of the three ingredients needed to make iron: rich beds of brown hematite ore, abundant tracts of woodland and huge deposits of limestone. Limestone, iron ore and charcoal were layered into the furnace. There was a wood fire at the bottom to get things going, then a layer of charcoal, a layer of iron ore and a thin layer of crushed limestone. The limestone acted as a flux. A colonial furnace produced heat of iron once a week.
Zane built a two-story stone mansion, bathhouse, stone ice and spring houses, orchards, barns, and stables. Nearby were the forge, furnace, a two-hundred-gallon whiskey still, stone mill, sawmill, blacksmith and stone smith’s shops, company store and counting-house. In addition to the mining and industrial activities, Marlboro was also a prosperous network of farms producing wheat, barley, oats, clover, and timothy.
By all accounts, Zane’s furnace and the forge were the largest operations of its kind in the Valley. As he expanded his holdings, a small village named Marlboro (due to extensive deposits of marl that are found there) developed within close proximity of the ironworks. Marlboro became a bustling community with a steady stream of settlers (furnace men, colliers, blacksmiths, wood wrights, timbermen, and other skilled workers) searching for a better life. Near the location of the Cedar Creek Church was the Marlboro waterfall, a 25-foot cascade which tumbled down from Marlboro Spring into Cedar Creek and provided an enormous and continuous water flow. In colonial times, this water was piped east from the top of the fall by gravity to the village below. This natural water source contributed to the growth, health, and well-being of the Marlboro area. Marlboro had private homes, two churches, a mill, a country store, a post office, and two blacksmith shops. Marlboro was a mini-village and as a colonial ironworks was the most developed industrial system of its time. Zane’s colonial iron plantation supplied the village with stored goods, iron wares and agricultural products.
By 1772, the ironworks produced hundreds of portable ten-plate heating stoves and plate castings for the large open fireplaces common in colonial times. The forge and blacksmith shop also produced cooking pots, salt pans, tea kettles, skillets, mortars and pestles, ovens, stove plates, and flat irons. The 10-foot-square furnace roared, the two-hammer forge pounded, the water wheels groaned and the cacophony carried across the entire industrial complex. The operation ran 24 hours a day with laborers working 12-hour shifts. An acre of hardwood was needed to feed the furnace for each 24-hour period. At night the brilliance of the furnace illuminated the sky for many miles. The products of this industry were hauled by wagon to Alexandria on the Potomac and Falmouth on the Rappahannock and sold through merchants in Philadelphia.
The Marlboro Iron Works transitioned from casting iron ingots for export to casting full-size cannon to support the fight for American independence on land and sea. During the Revolutionary War, Zane’s Marlboro Iron Works became a munitions factory and evolved into one of the largest suppliers of ordnance to the Continental Army and Navy producing four and six-pound cannon, boxes of shot, swivel balls and chain shot. Shipments also included everything from cooking utensils, camp kettles, and stoves to a caboose (a free-standing deck house where seamen cooked meals in a galley). The Marlboro Furnace was the life-blood of the village as the ironworks peaked at 200 employees.
The iron furnaces and other production facilities that had geared up to manufacture munitions in 1776 reverted back to civilian production after 1782. The production of iron commodities at Marlboro Furnace became greatly diminished due to the declining health and death of Isaac Zane in 1795. The downsizing had an immediate effect on the blacksmiths, wood wrights, wagon wrights and other skill-mixes employed there. History reflects that some of the families from the Marlboro community later became directly associated with the wagon-building industry in Stephensburg (now Stephens City).
In 1810, Marlboro Iron Works was still being operated by Zane’s executors. However, in 1812, the furnace was transferred to a group of well-known investors and iron makers. These owners managed more modern ironworks like Columbia Furnace near Edinburg and these facilities eventually led to Zane’s Furnace becoming obsolete and abandoned in 1828.
Mill operations situated on the partial foundation of earlier mills continued to ground feed at this location until the 1950s in spite of at least two fires that seriously damaged the facility, one in the late 1800s and the other in 1930. The fire on May 15, 1930, did heavy damage to the mill and burned the covered bridge that connected Frederick and Shenandoah Counties. Mill owner L.L. Link rebuilt the mill and offered the remaining stone from the ancient furnace to the State Department of Highways for rebuilding the bridge in 1932. The current concrete bridge on Middle Road is located slightly east of the former covered bridge. All that remains of the legendary smelting furnace stack are small piles of rubble that lay alongside this rugged and historic stream.
During the height of the American Revolution, the Marlboro Furnace and surrounding village became one of the most important industrial centers in the Valley, benefiting both Frederick and Shenandoah counties. But by the mid-twentieth century, the village had faded into a quiet stop on Middle Road and the centuries-old buildings only footnotes in our valley history. The once prominent village of forge, furnace, mills, and farm became lost to time, a remnant of our colonial past.
Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia
Cannabis in America: what travelers should know
As the steady march toward decriminalization and legalization continues, marijuana is becoming increasingly available in the country. What’s more, cannabis tourism outside the U.S. is continuing to grow in popularity. Nonetheless, you should be careful when traveling with marijuana. Here’s what you should know.
If you’re coming back from a cannabis-friendly destination while under the influence, it may result in a few extra questions at the border. However, it won’t lead to serious trouble unless you’re carrying the drug itself. Note that it doesn’t matter which state you arrive in, as security checkpoints are under federal jurisdiction.
This also applies to state lines. You can’t carry cannabis between states, even if both states have legalized it.
Regardless of a traveler’s point of origin, their destination and the quantity of cannabis they’re carrying, the Transport Security Administration (TSA) has to report infractions to local law enforcement. Because of this, repercussions can vary widely.
In states where marijuana is legalized, officers may allow travelers to go through security with a small amount of pot. Alternatively, they may ask them to leave it in their car or in an amnesty box located at the security checkpoint.
However, in states like Idaho, South Dakota, Kansas, and a few others, attempting to carry marijuana through security could mean serious trouble.
The bottom line is that traveling with cannabis is likely more trouble than it’s worth.
CBD and paraphernalia
As long as it’s extracted from hemp, CBD is legal, which has been the case since December 2018. However, TSA officials aren’t trained to differentiate between hemp- and cannabis-derived CBD, so carry it at your own risk. As for paraphernalia, you’re likely to run into trouble, or at least to have to sit through a few questions, if it’s found in your possession.
Americans reluctant to invest
More than half of Americans (55%) say they don’t invest in the stock market, according to a survey by MetLife.
The company surveyed 8,000 U.S. adults over the age of 18. Those ages 18 to 34 are more likely to opt out of investing.
More women (59%) than men (44%) don’t invest.
But, according to CNBC, Americans who have a retirement plan don’t seem to realize they are actually investing, not just saving. A third of people surveyed by MetLife said they had a retirement plan.
Fear is one factor for people avoiding investing. Everyone knows the markets go up and down. The fear is you put your hard-earned savings into the market and lose it all. But, the fact is, the stock market has returned 10 percent annually over the last 100 years. Compare that to a savings account that returns much less than 1 percent.
To start investing, set goals. If you need the money in five years or less, use high-interest savings accounts or CDs.
For long-term goals, buy ETFs or Index funds.
April celebrity birthdays!
Do you share an April birthday with a celebrity?
1 – Ali MacGraw, “Love Story” actress, Pound Ridge, N.Y., 1939.
2 – Christopher Meloni, TV, movies, Washington, D.C., 1961.
3 – Eddie Murphy, “Beverly Hills Cop,” Brooklyn, N.Y., 1961.
4 – David Blaine, magician, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1973.
5 – Max Gail, “Barney Miller” actor, Grosse Point, Mich., 1943.
6 – Merle Haggard, singer, songwriter, Bakersfield, Calif., 1937.
7 – Russell Crowe, “Gladiator” actor, New Zealand, 1964.
8 – Patricia Arquette, “Medium” actress, Chicago, Ill., 1968.
9 – Cynthia Nixon, “Sex and the City,” actress, New York, 1966.
10 – Steven Seagal, “On Deadly Ground,” Lansing, Mich., 1951.
11 – Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize, Newton, Mass., 1948.
14 – Loretta Lynn, singer, Butcher’s Hollow, Ky., 1935.
16 – Pope Benedict XVI, church leader, Germany, 1927.
17 – Jennifer Garner, “Alias” actress, Houston, Texas, 1972.
18 – Conan O’Brien, TV host, Brookline, Mass., 1963.
19 – Kate Hudson, “Almost Famous” actress, Los Angeles, 1979.
20 – Jessica Lange, two Academy Awards, Cloquet, Minn., 1949.
22 – Jack Nicholson, Academy Awards, Neptune, N.J., 1936.
23 – Lee Majors, “Fall Guy” actor, Wyandotte, Mich., 1940.
25 – Renee Zellweger, “Cold Mountain”, Katy, Texas, 1969.
26 – Joan Chen, “Twin Peaks” actress, China, 1961.
27 – Jack Klugman, “Quincy, ME” actor, Philadelphia, 1922.
28 – John Daly, golfer, Carmichael, Calif., 1966.
30 – Kirsten Dunst, “Spider-Man,” Point Pleasant, N.J, 1982.