Author Archives: PareAdmin

Rotaries, Circles, and Roundabouts–Oh My!

By Amy Archer, P.E., Transportation Division Project Engineer

People generally use the terms “traffic circle”, “rotary,” and “roundabout” interchangeably, and they seem to dread them all.  While by definition these all refer to the circular movement of traffic around a central island, there are distinct differences in both layout and function between modern roundabouts and their predominantly antecedent rotaries. The term “traffic circle” was simply coined by the public to reference rotaries and/or roundabouts, so this term does not actually identify a third type of configuration.

Rotaries were designed to accommodate relatively high speeds of travel to provide a transition between major intersecting roadways without the construction of an interchange. The size of a rotary’s central island ranges from 300 to 600 or more feet in diameter, providing room between each junction for the necessary weaving area. In addition to the central island that traffic flows around, the rotary has splitter islands on each leg to extend the separation between the opposing directions of travel, as seen in the image below. The traffic control for a rotary can vary.  Approaching vehicles may have to yield to traffic already in the rotary, or the opposite may be in effect.  Sometimes rotaries can even incorporate the use of a traffic signal at one or more junctions. Rotaries were intended to accommodate vehicular traffic and rarely incorporated pedestrian movements.

Courtesy of WCVB: https://www.wcvb.com/article/memorial-day-traffic-to-make-some-wish-which-way-to-the-cape-cod-tunnel/20901445

Roundabouts, though they may look similar due to the presence of splitter and central islands, are much smaller than rotaries, use approach angles to reduce vehicle speeds, and accommodate the movements of pedestrian and bicycle activity in addition to vehicular travel.  Roundabout outer diameters range in size from 90 feet for single-lane operation to 220 feet for double-lane operation. Mini-roundabouts and multi-lane operation roundabouts are less common but do exist. Roundabouts have minimal if any lane changing and always require entering vehicles to yield to those already in the circulating roadway.

Courtesy of BEHBG: http://behbg.com/idea/modern-day-roundabouts-in-the-city/

In addition to the differences between roundabouts and rotaries, noted above, roundabouts serve to reduce the extent of traffic incidents compared to both unsignalized and signalized intersections. Reports from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicate significant reductions in the volume and severity of incidents. Specifically, overall collisions are reduced 37%, while injury and fatality collisions are reduced 75% and 90% respectively. This reduction is the result of the circular flow of traffic which eliminates opposing movement conflicts, thus avoiding head-on and angular collisions. Almost all incidents occurring at roundabouts are sideswipe and rear-end incidents which are less severe in nature. The diagrams below illustrate the reduction in conflict points compared to a standard intersection.

Courtesy of Northeastern University: https://web.northeastern.edu/holland2017sustrans/?page_id=1266

Roundabouts are ideal for intersections with moderate vehicle volumes but cannot handle the same capacity as multi-lane signalized intersections. Roundabouts are also highly recommended for traffic calming and for intersection that have multiple approaching roadways.

Though there are great benefits to the installation of roundabouts, navigating one requires a different maneuver than we are used to. With better understanding of how to approach a roundabout, its benefits can be realized more quickly. The image below shows the intended operation of a roundabout.

Courtesy of flyAVP: https://flyavp.com/roundabout-information/

With the ability to handle a considerable volume of traffic, accommodate all users, and increase safety, roundabouts will likely continue to spread throughout the country and become more common locally.  A good local example of roundabouts is the entrance to Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI (pictured below). 

Pare performed extensive traffic studies and engineering design services for the expansion of the Twin River Casino located in Lincoln, RI.

The third week of September is designated as “National Roundabouts Week” by the Federal Highway Association (FHWA) to raise awareness of the benefits of this traffic-calming design measure.  The FHWA estimates that there are over 4,000 roundabouts in the United States (including the 125 in Carmel, Indiana!).

In Honor of National Roundabout Week, the Federal Highway Administration has compiled a series of resources from communities across the country.  Learn more at https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/nrw/.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Roundabouts move everyone safely, including trucks and large vehicles, as the Pennsylvania DOT explains https://youtu.be/uHrw-RfdfY8 
  • Scott County, Minnesota, proved that good things come in small sizes. Learn more about the mini roundabout next to the Community Center and Middle School campus in Shakopee https://youtu.be/idzt5hoDRhE 
  • The Minnesota Local Road Research Board shows drivers how to navigate a multi-lane roundabout and what to do when large vehicles and emergency vehicles are traveling through the roundabout https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEhNboz5GPk

An Update on Pare’s Earth Day Activities

Members of Pare’s Sustainability Committee have been busy helping communities design resilient and sustainable projects and encouraging our employees to incorporate green practices into our everyday lives. 

In honor of Earth Day, they held an office-wide Jeans Drive to support the “Blue Jeans Go Green” (https://bluejeansgogreen.org) program to help us become more green.  This recycling program manufactures building insulation using repurposed denim.  To date the program has diverted over 1,230 tons of donated denim, which is approximately 2,500,000+ articles of clothing to produce more than 4,830,000- SQ FT of insulation.  Fifty-six pairs of jeans and denim scraps were collected for this great cause as a result of our office drive.  To learn where you can recycle your denim or organize a community drive, please go to https://bluejeansgogreen.org/recycle-denim/

The Sustainability Committee also organized the Annual Pare Earth Day Photo Contest.  The winner of this year contest was Project Engineer Dave Caouette with his photo “Honeybee.”

Providing an estimated $20 billion to US crop production, honeybees are an indispensable asset to our food production economy, bio-diversity, and way of life. Keep this in mind when self-performing or contracting pest/weed control services and make sure that you are using bee friendly products.

This photo was one in a series that he took in his garden on April 17th.

He commented, “These grape hyacinth were taking over and I decided to go out and remove a few to regain my garden.  Instead I found myself in a prone position watching scores of honeybees hard at work.  Live and let live.” 

He also shared a few great resources to help us all learn how we can all help the bees!

  • Info on Bees (bee 101): thehoneybeeconservancy.org
  • Honeybee alternatives (easy to make and very safe to have around as they don’t sting): gardeners.com/how-to/about-mason-bees/8198.html
  • Things to know before you spray (to minimize impact to bees): armn.org/2016/02/19/how-to-control-mosquitoes-without-killing-pollinators-and-other-important-wildlife
  • The impact of spraying: valleybreeze.com/2019-06-26/cumberland-lincoln-area/backyard-mosquito-treatments-impacting-local-beekeepers 

For helping us remember that bees are essential for food production, bio-diversity, and our way of life, Dave has won a $50 B-Good Gift Card. Congratulations and thank you on behalf of the bees, Dave!

2019 Earth Day Photo Contest

This year’s Earth Day has a theme of “Protect our Species.” The theme calls for us to be aware of the many forms of life that contribute to a healthy environment. In the words of Rachel Carson, “Nothing in nature exists alone.” As such, we are called to protect endangered species and appreciate the value of all species.

In that spirit, the Sustainability Committee at Pare is pleased to share our 8th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest.   Please enjoy the photos submitted by Pare’s staff below, and vote using the poll located at the top of this post. The winner of the 2019 Earth Day Photo Contest will receive a Gift Card to B-Good. Voting will close on Wednesday, May 8th and the winner will be announced in the next blog post.

PHOTO 1 – Lunch Buddy

On a pretty summer day, this young bunny deemed it safe enough to come out for lunch as I was enjoying mine. While it is hard to distinguish between the Eastern and New England cottontails, I am hopeful that this little rabbit is part of the efforts to restore the species. Learn more at https://newenglandcottontail.org.

PHOTO 2 – Wild Turkey

By the nineteenth century, the species of eastern wild turkey which had been plentiful prior to the arrival of the first colonists in the seventeenth century was virtually non-existent due to hunting and destruction of habitat for agriculture. In the 1980s the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management reintroduced wild turkeys. Their population has since flourished. While some view wild turkeys as a nuisance, their presence is a symbol of a thriving ecosystem and reminds us that we share a common home.

PHOTO 3 – Grizzly Bear

The largest predator in the western plains and still a protected species, the grizzly’s recovery from near extinction in the lower 48 has made its presence in ranching areas ubiquitous. Contrary to most paradigms, grizzly bears do not account for a large percentage of cattle deaths. In ranching areas such as Tom Miner Basin, cattle deaths attributed to actual grizzly attack are few. Most grizzly bear encounters with cattle are bears coming upon cattle winter weather deaths or sickened animals. Attacks on humans are rare too, and are usually the result of hunters and grizzlies happening upon each other purely by accident and scaring each other, especially during elk bow hunting season in the fall. And grizzly bears are not the most dangerous animal in the western plain states, by far. In fact, more people are killed by moose, than all other predatory animals (grizzly bears, black bears, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions) combined.

PHOTO 4Sandy Can’t Read

Photo taken after Superstorm Sandy at Misquamicut Beach. Notice the sign in the location of a former dune that reads “Please Help Protect the Dune Area Please Keep Off” It’s a reminder that we need to do more to Protect All Species.

PHOTO 5 – Flowering Cherry Tree

Flowering trees are beautiful to look at in the springtime, but also provide a necessary function in our food chain. Flowering trees like the cherry tree (pictured) provide a much needed food source for bees and other pollinators after a long winter. In turn, those pollinators provide a service to the human species by pollinating many of the fruits and vegetables we eat in the summer and fall. If you enjoy your summer and fall harvests, plant a tree that flowers in the spring.

PHOTO 6 – Condor over the Grand Canyon

It is easy to lose track of a giant condor when faced with the enormity of nature’s beauty. But never forget that the beauty of nature comes alive through the species that call it home.

PHOTO 7 – Honeybee

Providing an estimated $20 billion to U.S. crop production, honeybees are an indispensable asset to our food production economy, bio-diversity, and way of life. Keep this in mind when self-performing or contracting pest/weed control services to make sure that you are using bee friendly products.

PHOTO 8 – Backyard Lake View

This lake provides not only a beautiful backyard view, but an incredibly diverse ecosystem for species including beavers, ducks, herons, and pickerel. Ecosystems with a large number of species tend to be more resilient to climate change, so protecting them protects us too!

PHOTO 9 – Butterfly Walk

It is estimated that Monarch butterfly populations have declined 90% in the last 20 years, largely due to development and agricultural practices that are wiping out Milkweed, their only source of food. A friend had an abundance of milkweed in her yard and gave me several bags of seeds. On a windy fall day, two tots and I went on a “butterfly walk” to set the seeds free at our favorite park. We kept the last bag to start a backyard butterfly garden of our own, and hope to pay it forward one day.

PHOTO 10 – Bridge of Flowers

This is the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, MA. In 1929, this old trolley bridge was converted into a public garden with many species of flowers and trees that bloom from early spring to late fall. These flowers support bees and pollinators who need nectar and pollen all season long.

PHOTO 11 – Spotted Turtle

The Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) was once listed as a “Species of Special Concern” and today remains a species of greatest conservation need in Massachusetts. Protecting wetlands, upland corridors between wetlands, and potential nesting areas will be vital to the continued existence of one of the state’s most charming reptiles.

PHOTO 12 – Sunset

Sunset a few evenings ago.

PHOTO 13 –Hardy Blackstonian turtles

Hardy Blackstonian turtles. Conditioned to survive in Blackstone stone river. Adaptation or the effects of water quality improvements? Either way more work is required to save these creatures.

Save a Tree (or a Forest) By Reducing Your “Junk” Mail

Victoria Howland, P.E., LEED AP, Project Engineer and a member of Pare’s Sustainability Committee

and

Amy Gerhard, Communications and Marketing Coordinator

  • Do you feel weighted down by the amount of paper mail you receive every day?
  • Are you frustrated because you don’t know how you were added to a company’s mailing list after you receive the umpteenth catalog for products you will never use? 
  • Do you feel guilty about immediately throwing almost all of your mail in the recycling bin every day? 
  • Did you know that 2.4% of America’s municipal waste stream comes from mail?
  • Are you unsure of how to make it stop??? 

It is estimated that only 42% of the 9.8 billion catalogs that were mailed in 2016 within the United States were actually read.  Furthermore, only approximately 53% of mail actually gets recycled. 

The Sierra Club estimates that a hardwood tree can produce 10,000 to 20,000 sheets of paper.  If the average catalog is 50 sheets and the average tree produces 15,000 sheets of paper, it would take 33 million trees to produce the catalogs that were mailed in 2016.  Of the 33 million trees, 19 million would produce catalogs that weren’t even opened.  Imagine the impact if those trees were left standing!

Ideally all of that mail would be recycled to reduce the impact of that much paper contributing to our landfills.  But a better solution is to reduce it before it becomes junk mail. 

The good news is that there are a few resources to help with that process.

CatalogChoice was founded on the principle of stopping junk mail for good, and over the past eight years has helped over two million users reduce unwanted mail.  It provides a centralized service that sends opt-out requests to merchants based on a household’s mailing address.  After creating an account, the user searches for the company/catalog/magazine to cancel and confirms the basic information including the name and mailing address printed on the label to unsubscribe.  Account holders can also block most free trial subscriptions to magazines through this account, otherwise the website will outline the publication’s removal process.  Because this is household-based, this provides a simple way for multiple family members to reduce unwanted mailings.  Visit www.catalogchoice.org to learn more. 

The Consumer Credit Reporting Companies—consisting of Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion, under the auspices of the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—provide the national “Opt Out” program for offers of credit or insurance.  There are two separate processes that give consumers the choice to “opt out” for five years or permanently.  Consumers need to provide some basic information— including name, telephone number, social security number, and date of birth—all of which is how the credit organizations track consumers.  The five-year program can be completed by phone or online, but the permanent process needs to be done online or by mail as it requires a form to be signed. Learn more at www.optoutprescreen.com.

Another program that can greatly reduce the quantity of mail you receive is the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) consumer website.  For a small processing fee of $2 (credit card online) or $3 (mail-in option), you can enroll three individuals or three variations of one name at the same address to be removed for ten years from the mailing lists of approximately 3,600 organizations, including direct mail companies.  This applies for credit offers, catalogs, magazine offers, and other mail offers such as donation requests and retail promotions. 

DMA also offers an opt-out service to enable caregivers to stop the mail being sent to their ward and the opportunity to flag someone as deceased.  DMA reports their service can reduce mail volume by up to 80% and prevents most new direct mail solicitations.  As of last year, they have reduced direct mail by 930 million pieces.  For more information about these services, go to www.DMAchoice.org. 

The benefits of saving trees, preventing landfill waste, and reducing the time spent sorting through unwanted mail far outweigh the few minutes it takes to create an account and confirm the opt-out process, or the few dollars spent on registrations using these services. 

Reduce your mail—Save a tree!

To learn more,

  • www.catalogchoice.org
  • www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0148-prescreened-credit-and-insurance-offers
  • www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0262-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email
  • www.DMAchoice.org
  • www.optoutprescreen.com
  • www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2014-4-july-august/ask-mr-green/how-much-paper-does-one-tree-produce
  • https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2018/paper-catalogs-print-ikea-williams-sonoma-restoration

Is solar power a viable alternative to fossil fuels in New England?

By: Jessica Damicis, Senior Engineer at Pare Corporation and a member of Pare’s Sustainability Committee

Solar power is increasing in popularity as a renewable energy resource.  Reasons for the surge in popularity of solar power include rising energy costs, improved and more cost-effective solar panel technology, widespread interest in sustainability, and the need for resilient electricity.

Photovoltaics (PV) which use receptor panels to produce energy from the sun can be placed on open land or roof areas to produce energy for businesses or residences, which may then sell excess energy back to the electric utility. The use of these PV systems can reduce dependency on fossil fuels, the electric grid infrastructure, and reduce risk of power outages in strong storms. The reduced dependency on non-renewable energy can help the business or residence become more sustainable, lessening their impact on the environment through carbon emissions. Unlike other renewable energy sources such as wind and hydroelectric, solar panels require little maintenance and their productive life can be 25 years or more.

A common belief is that PV’s are only effective in regions with bright, year-round sun. While it is true that solar power potential is more modest in New England compared to other sunnier regions of the United States, the total solar power potential easily exceeds the entire electric needs of the New England region. For example, Rhode Island’s State Energy Plan suggests the state could develop over 1,800 MW of solar energy by 2035.

For residents and businesses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island there are several options for solar power—even for those who do not own their property!

Homeowners and businesses who own the building they occupy can do an assessment to see if solar power is viable for their property. Many solar companies offer these assessments to interested property owners and provide quotes for initial cost and payback period.  Owning the PV panels is a greater cost advantage to the property owner, and loans are available to aid in the initial upfront cost.  Property owners can also elect to lease panels for minimal upfront costs.  Leasing is a great option for a property owner who is unable to afford the upfront costs, does not want to wait a year for tax incentives, or who wants to avoid dealing with maintenance of the panels.

Green power programs are another great option and are available for those who do not own their property or who are unsure if they are ready to install PV’s. These programs do not have the same cost savings benefit or property resiliency benefits that installing panels on-site provides, but it is a great way to promote green jobs locally and to support sustainable power. These programs— such as the ones offered through Mass Energy (www.massenergy.org) in Massachusetts and through People’s Power and Light (www.ripower.org) in Rhode Island—allow energy users to switch to renewable energy by paying a few cents more per kW on their energy bill. For an average residential household this might be around $10-20 per month. The green energy programs use the revenue made to invest in new renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, and to maintain existing infrastructure. While this is an extra cost instead of savings compared to owning PV’s, these payments into green energy programs are 100% tax deductible.

With so many great options to utilize solar power, there are many ways to “green” your electricity with photovoltaics. Ultimately, the best option depends on the goals a property owner or renter is looking to achieve. It is clear, however, that even in New England solar power has many benefits for power consumers.

To learn more about solar power, please visit

 






Supporting a Community to Build a Rain Garden

By: Marc F. Weller, P.E., Pare Project Engineer, a member of Pare’s Rising Professionals Committee, and on the New England Water Environment Association Young Professionals Committee

Two Pare engineers recently participated in the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) Young Professionals Committee’s first annual Community Service Project.  The Committee’s goal was to build green infrastructure that would have an impact on a community and promote environmental sustainability.  It was decided to construct a rain garden at the Common Fence Point Community Center  in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Funding for the project was generously provided by the Van Beuren Charitable Foundation through the Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Coalition; and was supported by the Eastern RI Conservation District.

Once the project and location were determined, the members of the Young Professionals worked tirelessly to design and organize the details of the raingarden.  All of this work paid off the day of the event!  More than 45 volunteers gathered at the Common Fence Point Community Center, with most of the help coming from residents in the community. Six residents stood out for their dedication to the project by donating their professional expertise and use of heavy equipment for the project.  Without the media outreach, excavation equipment, and horticulture expertise, we would not have been able to construct the raingarden.  Many residents helped move loam and mulch, build a rip-rap spillway, and plant various shrubs and flowers.  It was an incredible display of community camaraderie.  The rain garden project was completed in about seven hours, which was much faster than expected and solely attributed to the amazing community support.

A rain garden is a depressed area in the landscape that collects and allows rain to slowly infiltrate into the ground, minimizing runoff and filtering the water. The 760-SF rain garden was designed to capture 50% of the runoff from the community center roof that would otherwise infiltrate into the ground and eventually discharge into the Mt. Hope Bay without any kind of treatment.  Two roof leaders were tied together with new PVC drain pipe and discharged into to the rain garden.  The rain garden was constructed using four inches of 50/50 loam/compost mix and 3-inches of pine bark mulch.  Native plants are preferred in the rain garden because they have already adapted to local environmental conditions and require far less water.  With this in mind, over 400 plants native to Rhode Island, including bearberry, milkweed, and azaleas, were planted within the garden bed.  A small rip-rap spillway was also constructed to allow for the release of water that may build up in the garden during heavier rain events.

Since the day of the event, the community has taken a special interest in the rain garden and have added approximately $4,500 of additional plants and material! In addition to adding new flowers along the perimeter, large stones have been installed to help stabilize the slopes.  The rain garden has really become a reflection of the camaraderie of the Common Fence Point community.

The project was a great experience to help a community that was engaged and willing to help …and we had fun doing it!  Several residents shared how the community center used to be the focal point of the neighborhood.  Movie nights, dances, and impromptu neighborhood parties used to be a staple at the community center, but for one reason or another, those activities have become few-and-far-between in recent years.  This event helped revitalize that sense of community, and we are optimistic that this construction will help inspire the return of those community events.

From an engineering point of view, we enjoyed putting the design skills cultivated on other projects at Pare into use on this community project. It was a great experience to actually get our hands dirty planting this raingarden side-by-side with our neighbors.

Click here to learn more about raingardens on the Environmental Protection Agency Rain Garden Information Website and how you can install one in your own community.






Pare’s Sustainability Committee Has Been Invigorated

By: Lindsey Machamer, LEED AP, Senior Engineer and Chair of Pare’s Sustainability Committee

Pare’s Sustainability Committee is a group of committed professionals enthusiastic about incorporating innovative sustainability into our business operations, local community, and design practices. Over the past year, we have attended conferences, been involved in organizations, and studied the nuances of the newest sustainability rating systems.  Those activities have influenced our goals for the future.  We are excited to help guide planning and engineering within the Pare community into a future where we can create a better built environment. We are excited to share our efforts and goals.

First, we have revisited an analysis of our own company’s impact on the environment.  Our analysis includes Pare’s waste generation, transportation impact, and buying practices.  To advance this initiative, we will continuously review our options to reduce our impact on the environment. As part of this, we encourage Pare employees to expand our sustainability efforts beyond the walls of our office.  For World Environment Day last June, we led our coworkers on a lunchtime nature walk on the outdoor trails nearby and shared recommendations of nearby hiking trails for employees to explore with their families.

Pare’s lunchtime nature walk for World Environment Day

And, of course, we encouraged everyone to appreciate biodiversity this year with our 7th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest. You can review the photo entries here.

Congratulations to Brian Dutra, an engineer in Pare’s waterfront group, who won the contest this year with his photo “Green Sea Turtle”!

Looking outward in addition to inward, we’ve spent time this past year giving back to our local communities through education, service, and activism. We have made presentations this year at local schools to show how new development can be kind to our water resources and nature. For example, we led an activity at Lincoln High School to demonstrate how mindful site selection can reduce the impact of a new building on the surrounding environment. We also shared with the 11th and 12 grade students at Blackstone Valley Prep High School how the rain that falls on their new school reconnects into local drinking water supplies. We tried to help them see the role that engineers have in design for the environment. In 2018, we are building on the momentum we have created to encourage students, the community, and ourselves to think sustainably. We have a distinct interest in helping create a future world of bright minds and friendly spaces.

Finally, to further our dedication to provide quality services, we have compiled what we’ve learned at building industry and infrastructure events and are adapting them in ways to share with our peers at Pare.  For example, at the ASCE International Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure  in October we learned from leading cities in the world about how they are using the Envision rating system and other sustainability tools to guide development.  At the Greenbuild International Expo, in Boston in November, we joined in on the enthusiasm of the motto, “all in for green buildings.” We attended presentations on natural alternatives for resilient infrastructure, soils restoration, and water neutrality, among many others. We are committed to staying current with the most innovative case studies and design practices.   Our goal is to help guide our communities and clients to make decisions and pursue development that consider wholistic impacts on environment, society, and economic factors.

Greenbuild International Conference and ABX2017 Expo

Our efforts over the past year have outlined a three-pronged approach in our current goals. We will endeavor to apply innovative sustainable design concepts in our projects, to inspire and enrich our community through outreach, and to improve internal operations to make the work place more sustainable. While we will be working hard to achieve our goals, we will be having fun and enjoying nature on the way.  We look forward to sharing some of the details with you!






Exploring Foxborough’s Biodiversity for the 2018 City Nature Challenge

By: Lauren Gluck, Senior Environmental Scientist and a member of Pare’s Sustainability Committee

This past weekend, Pare’s Sustainability Committee hosted two BioBlitz events in Foxborough as part of the Boston Area City Nature Challenge (CNC). It was a great opportunity to get outside and explore biodiversity in a town that Pare calls home! The events were open to Pare staff, family and friends, and to the public.

Exploring the Canoe River Wilderness

The CNC is an annual international competition to see which metropolitan area can photograph and document the most species in one weekend using this iNaturalist app.

Screenshot of iNaturalist City Nature Challenge 2018 App

None of us had used iNaturalist prior to the CNC; however it is safe to say we are hooked. Not only does it let you record your observations, but it also assists in species identification using photo recognition and input from the iNaturalist community! We highly recommend it for nature lovers of all experience levels.

Screenshot from the iNaturalist app. Check out our observations!

The Foxborough Conservation Commission has an excellent “Guide to Conservation Land & Open Spaces” which we used as a resource to plan out our BioBlitz destinations.

On Saturday we explored the Canoe River Wilderness, an expanse of diverse conservation land that extends into several neighboring towns. We followed the trail around Greeley’s Pond on East Street, where we explored forested uplands, wetlands, and riverine habitats bordering the pond.

Capturing some plant observations by the Canoe River

We veered off the trail to explore a vernal pool. we found spotted salamander egg masses and a newly hatched wood frog tadpole.

Discovering vernal pool wildlife in the Canoe River Wilderness

On Sunday, we visited the site of the Lincoln Hill Camp on Oak Street, a former children’s camp which is now protected as a conservation area. Remnants of the past were found throughout the property, making it a very intriguing site to explore.

After exploring the ruins of the camp, we found a trail down through the woods to a certified vernal pool on the property. There was an abundance of species to be found here, from salamander egg masses to fairy shrimp!

Spotted Salamander egg mass found in the vernal pool

Next, we wandered down toward the Rumford River, where we found a variety of different environments including a beautiful Atlantic White Cedar swamp.

Our team of observers contributed 117 observations to the challenge throughout the weekend. I am proud to say that the Boston area ranked consistently high in the CNC competition! Of the 69 participating regions, we had the 10th highest number of observations, the 13th highest number of species, and the 3rd highest number of people participating in the challenge! Not bad when you consider that the growing season has just begun here in Massachusetts.

Thank you to those who participated, and we encourage everyone to give the iNaturalist app a try during your next walk in the woods.






Celebrate Earth Day with Pare by Voting in the 7th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest

By Victoria Howland, P.E., LEED AP, a Project Engineer at Pare Corporation and a member of Pare’s Sustainability Committee

This year for Earth Day, Pare is participating in the Boston Area City Nature Challenge. Join us April 28th or April 29th for a BIODIVERSITY competition with cities around the globe! We are hosting events where we will explore Foxborough’s open spaces to identify as many species as possible. Nature lovers of all ages and experience levels are welcome to join. Register here to join us.

The City Nature Challenge is a fun competition with cities across the country to document the most species during April 27 – 30, 2018 and anyone can participate by joining an event or documenting the plants, animals, and fungi they see anywhere in the greater Boston area with the iNaturalist app. The iNaturalist app is a downloadable app that allows the general public to record and submit their observations that will contribute to scientific databases like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility  and help scientists find and use data.  Learn more at: Boston Area City Nature Challenge.

In that spirit, the Sustainability Committee at Pare is pleased to share our 7th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest.   The theme of the contest this year is “Biodiversity!”

Please enjoy the photos submitted by Pare’s staff below, and vote using the poll located at the bottom of this post. The winner of the 2018 Earth Day Photo Contest will receive a Gift Card to B-Good. Voting will close at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 27th and winner will be announced in our next blog post.

Photo 1: Flowering Tree

This photo of a flowering dogwood tree was taken in Krakow, Poland.

Photo 2: Biodiversity in a Bucket

Vernal pools host an incredible amount of biodiversity. These wetlands, which dry up every summer, provide a nursery of sorts for a wide variety of species from wood frogs to dragonfly nymphs. Species in this photo include yellow spotted salamander eggs, fairy shrimp, water mites, and caddisfly larvae.

Photo 3: Water

Water plays a significant role in any ecosystem.  Although Mother Nature tries to keep herself balanced, we humans don’t always help. We tap into the resource and, at times, take more than our fair share. During a water ban last summer, nature tried all it could to find the water it needed; it’s obvious Mother Nature is teaching her children to read.

Photo 4: Beehives

One hundred and fifty beehives pollinate flowers and provide raw honey to support both the ecosystem and the local farmers’ markets on Oahu, Hawaii.

Photo 5: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

It is inspiring to see a coexistence of nature – plants, species and beauty – all in an initially manmade environment: Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Additional fact, the park opened on Earth Day in 1998.)

Photo 6: Hyacinth Macaw

The hyacinth macaw exhibit near the center of the Brevard Zoo in one of many unique close encounters with the more than 550 animals at the zoo.  The zoo, whose mission is “Wildlife conservation through education and participation,” boasts diverse ecosystems across its 75 acres including tropical grasslands, tropical forest, tropical hardwood, grassy plains, savannahs, and estuarine lagoons, amongst others.

Photo 7: Townshend, VT

Taken in Townshend, VT this picture shows multiple ecosystems coexisting next to each other. In the foreground the Townshend lake (outside of the frame the Townshend dam) and in the background Stratton Mountain, part of the beautiful Green Mountain Finger Lakes National Park.

Photo 8 Guatapé, Colombia

When a hydroelectric complex was built in Guatapé, Colombia in the 1970’s the landscape changed radically from agricultural fields to a lakes region made up of hundreds of islands.  This photo shows how the people and ecosystem of Guatapé adapted to this man-made flooding.

Photo 9: Hypopitys Monotropa

Most plants make their own food, but those lacking chlorophyll steal from their neighbors! Pinesap (Hypopitys monotropa) absorbs its nutrients from fungi in the soil.

Photo 10: Rooftop Garden

Up on a rooftop in the city, a garden in a planter attracts local wildlife, becoming a part of the local ecosystem.

Photo 11: Hikin’ the banks of the Mighty Mo

This photo includes a boy reflecting on the wonders of nature – the Missouri River –  sustaining life for the fish, tadpoles, and snapping turtles within the muddy water, allowing wildflowers an opportunity to flourish along its banks in the shadows of a magnificent tree grove, and providing nourishment for millions and millions of acres of farmland just out of view.

Photo 12: Children Walking

An appreciation for nature and its biodiversity begins at a young age.  Curiosity and wonder about the world around us is natural for children and must be encouraged and fed.

Photo 13: Green Sea Turtle

This photograph of a green sea turtle was taken at a coral reef off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. Coral reefs are home to over 25% of marine life, making them one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet.

The polls are now closed–We will soon be announcing the winning entry that best represents our theme of “Biodiversity!” 

 

 

 

 

 






A Seawall for All: The Seattle Waterfront Project as a Model for Future Redevelopment

By Brian Dutra, Engineer at Pare Corporation and a member of Pare’s Sustainability Committee

Coastline Along Marblehead, MA

New England’s coastline is home to some of the Nation’s first and largest waterfront communities, with nearly 6,100 miles of tidal shoreline in the region. Unfortunately, the nation’s coastal infrastructure is deteriorating, which greatly impacts these communities.  According to the 2017 ASCE Infrastructure Report Card, Ports and Inland Waterways were given a grade of “C+” and “D”, respectively, with a need to modify or replace structures that have far exceeded their design life.  The need to rehabilitate or replace these structures is further emphasized as the infrastructure along the coastline continues to age and deteriorate.

As we evaluate and rehabilitate New England’s coastal infrastructure, an ongoing project in Seattle, Washington can provide a template for innovative and sustainable design improvements.

The billion dollar “Waterfront Seattle” project is a total waterfront reconstruction along Elliot Bay that began in 2013 and is scheduled for completion in 2023. Similar to a number of New England’s Ports, The Elliot Bay Seawall was built between 1916 and 1934 and has exceeded its original design life. The original concrete seawall was built on approximately 20,000 timber piles.  Deterioration of the structure had led to instability of the seawall and the development of sinkholes behind it. The design and reconstruction of the new Elliott Bay Seawall incorporates several sustainable features, providing ancillary benefits to the area’s infrastructure, tourism, and environment.

The Waterfront Seattle Project replaces more than just the failing seawall; it improves quality of life for both marine life and humans, including a salmon migration corridor and new pedestrian access to the water. The budget for the project includes nearly $350 million for the following:

  • Stabilizing the existing soil and foundations with jet-grouted columns.
  • Installing precast concrete textured walls for the salmon migration corridor.
  • Installing a habitat bench along the wall to increase fish and marine life habitat.
  • Installing a sidewalk and pedestrian space with light-penetrating surfaces

Overview of the Textured Wall and Concrete Shelves (currently behind a temporary coffer dam) from https://waterfrontseattle.org/

What makes this engineering project truly unique is the focus on promoting sustainable and natural environmental growth. The new textured concrete walls will create a salmon migratory corridor where one has not existed for over 100 years. Textured shelves cast into the concrete walls allow plant and marine life to adhere to the wall. The walkway above the new corridor consists of glass bricks installed into precast concrete sidewalk panels that are able to support pedestrian traffic and allow sunlight to penetrate the sidewalk, promoting plant and marine growth below the walkway and on the wall. An intertidal bench, located in shallow water, will also be constructed to simulate a nearshore habitat.

Now fish, crustaceans, and plant life that would typically be found in and around the shallow natural shoreline of Elliot Bay can find their way back to an area that was previously inaccessible. Plants that could not grow in the deep waters along the original wall can thrive on the textured shelves and intertidal benches creating aquatic food for the marine life in the bay. Juvenile salmon that would typically avoid the shoreline of the previous wall due to the lack of light will use the new seawall as a migratory corridor.

As we look to rehabilitate our aged coastal infrastructure in New England, the Waterfront Seattle Project is a prime example of how we can sustainably build and rehabilitate an already established waterfront. A thoughtful and innovative approach can update critical infrastructure while simultaneously benefiting businesses, people, and marine life for years to come.

For More Information: