outdoors (2)

The wildfire tragedy in Arizona took away the life of 19 firefighters on Sunday, June 30, the last Day of National Safety Month, is a shocking & hurting news and a deep grieve for all of us, and compels me as a member of American Grove and a urban forester to write about it before July 4th, the day often associates with fires and damages caused by fireworks. The 19 worriers protecting the communities are members of a specially trained outfit, an elite team of "Mountain Hotshots". Their deaths, most of them in the prime of their lives, marked the greatest loss of life from a U.S. wildland blaze in eight decades, since 25 men died battling the Los Angeles' Griffith Park fire of 1933. This deadliest U.S. wildfire tragedy is the nation's biggest loss of firefighters since 9/11. The fire reportly started after a lightning strike on Friday June 28 and spread to at least 2,000 acres on June 30. If it were an arson, in my opinion, the arsonist is a criminal. 
The fire was fused with, as usual in recent years, symptoms of climate change - triple-digit temperatures, low humidity, and windy conditions, and of course fed by dried vegetation caused by drought. As of today, July 3rd, nearly 600 firefighters are battling the mountain blaze, which had blackened about 13 square miles (35 sq. kilometers) and destroyed an estimated 50 to 200 structures, most of them homes, in and around Yarnell, a town of about 700 people. Yarnell and the adjacent community of Peeples Valley, which together are home to roughly 1,000 people, have been evacuated. With a 8% containment, the fire fighting command cautioned that plenty of dense, drought-parched scrub oak and chaparral was left unburned on the ground, providing ample fuel for creeping embers and hot spots to reignite. 
As this sad incident taken place at the very end of June, it should be noted that June is the Great Outdoors (GO) Month, a time when America celebrates its natural resources and treasures such as forests, parks, refuges, and other public lands and waters, and the time to go outdoors to enjoy and protect the nature. June also is the National Safety Month. We at CIEDM supported and participated in both awareness events, held workshops in Arcadia EcoHome on urban forest & toured the home grove, visited Angeles National Forest & met US Forest Services officers, and called for public attentions to the issues such as wildfires. At the eve of July 4, we also want to remind the public that wildfires, mainly caused by human outdoor activities, have become more frequent in recent years all over the world due to longer dry weather resulted from climate change. While we celebrate and enjoy the national holiday especially with fireworks, we also need to be alert with the weather conditions and prevent fire hazards. Let us have a Fire Independence Day tomorrow.

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By Gail Meads, Soil Scientist, GSM Services and Thomas Macfie, Soil Scientist, Soil Science, Inc.

(reprinted with permission from Tree Talks, Georgia Urban Forest Council's monthly newsletter)


Soil Scientists and other outdoor professionals in Georgia are exposed to deer ticks for many months of the year. Walking about in dense woods, briars, old fields, and kudzu patches are obvious places of tick infestations. However, relaxing in the backyard or working in the garden also expose us to many of nature’s little creatures.

The Deer Tick is the carrier for Lyme Disease. The disease is actually caused by the bacteria Borrelia bugdorferi which attacks the central nervous system. The tick usually takes 24 hours to attach and another day or two to feed. The bacteria is transmitted towards the end of this feeding period. An unattached or flat tick does not transmit Lyme disease. The infection does not show up immediately. Sometimes, but not always, a distinctive bulls-eye circles the tick bite.

Another two to six week into the cycle takes place before medical tests can detect Lyme Disease. Often, medical personnel do not detect Lyme’s Disease until later stages when it is much more difficult to control and cure. Early symptoms are fever, malaise, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint aches.  Typical later symptoms may mimic multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalalgia, fever and even Alzheimer's Disease.

Feeding Deer Ticks, top.  Note larger mouth parts


  • Tick checks when coming in from the outdoors
  • Bathing with a washcloth to dislodge ticks
  • Insect repellent
  • Protective clothing such as high socks, long sleeved shirts, and long pants.

Safe Tick Removal

  • Use fine tweezers to grasp tick as close as possible to the skin.
  • Pull backwards gently but firmly, using an even, steady motion.  Do not jerk or twist.
  • Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick as body fluids transmit.
  • Wash the skin wit soap and water
  • Leave Remaining body parts alone, the skin will naturally expel them.  Removal may cause signsignificant skin trauma.


  • Seek professional medical help immediately and point out possible Lyme Disease exposure.  Be persistant! Igenex Testing often finds infection that other tests miss. There are over forty types of Lyme Disease and they vary in available detection and severity.

For more information, visit http://www.ilads.org or contact Gail Meads at gm@plantationcable.netGail is the secretary for the Soil Science Society of GA.

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