California

Should U.S. Military Ranges Double as Wildlife Refuges?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | September 27th, 2013 | 4 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Army’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord, California, desert tortoises, endangered-species, environment, extinction, forests, Fort Irwin, island night lizard, killer whale, marine mammals, military, military ranges, National Marine Fisheries Service, national park, nature, NatureServe, navy sonar, orca, Oregon, Pentagon, prairies, Puerto Rico, San Clemente Island, San Clemente Island lizard, San Clemente Island loggerhead shrike, threatened species, travel, U.S. Defense Department, U.S. Forest Service, Vieques, Washington State, western snowy plovers, wetland restoration, wildlife, wildlife refuges

Orca in Washington State

When you think of endangered species in this country, struggling to survive in their native habitats, you probably picture them on national park or U.S. Forest Service lands. But according to NatureServe, a nonprofit conservation organization that tracks wildlife, U.S. Defense Department properties have the highest density of threatened and endangered species of any federal land management agency. The Pentagon states that on average, military lands boast 15 threatened and endangered species per acre — nearly seven times more per acre than on U.S. Forest Service tracts.

Our nation’s military lands, however, are first and foremost dedicated to preparing for armed readiness, meaning that military exercises, such as target practice, are routine. Is this the kind of environment in which we want threatened species to play out their last-ditch efforts for survival?

Family-Friendly Spa Vacations to Rejuvenate All Ages

Wendy Worrall Redal by Wendy Worrall Redal | July 30th, 2012 | 5 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Family Health, Green Living, Health & Wellness | tags: acne, Arizona Grand Resort & Spa, Austin, baby massage, beauty, body wrap, California, children, Chocolate Spa, dad, Disney Aulani Resort, facial, family vacation, Fitness, Grand Wailea, hawaii, Hawaiian lomi lomi treatment, Hotel Hershey, Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, Hyatt Regency Lost Pine Resort, hydrotherapy, kids, Laniwai Spa, manicure, massage, Maui, mom, nail polish, North Carolina, Oahu, Painted Sky, parents, pedicure, Pennsylvania, Phoenix, Pinehurst Resort, relaxation, San Antonio, san diego, scrub, Sea Spa at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, skincare, Spa at Pinehurst, Spa Grande, spa package, spa vacation, spray-tanning, stress-relief, teenagers, teens, Texas, The SPAhhhT, wellness, Wild Hare Youth Spa, Windflower: The Hill Country Spa, Yoga

Family Spa Vacation

Sometimes I almost regret introducing my 14-year-old daughter to the delights of massage therapy, since she’s now as avid as I am to enjoy the relief and recalibration that come with a good professional treatment, which rarely comes cheap. Yet as a dancer, runner and dedicated student, she benefits as much as I do from the health advantages of bodywork, or even an occasional pedicure treat for her tired feet.

Lately, I’ve found myself thinking that a mother-daughter spa getaway might be refreshing for both us, and a fun way to connect outside our usual daily routine of overly packed schedules.

Traditionally, spa vacations have been romantic retreats for couples or escapes for harried women who juggle too much. Today, however, as kids’ lives get ever busier and stress becomes an issue that even preteens are dealing with, a family spa experience in a restful setting can accomplish two purposes: vacation time together while nurturing wellness for all ages.

Photo Essay: San Francisco Yoga Journal Conference

Elena Brower by Elena Brower | January 30th, 2012 | 4 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Fitness, Yoga | tags: Amanda Giacomini, Big Sur, California, Elena Brower, heart votive candle, MC Yogi, meditation, photo essay, photography, photos, rodney yee, San Francisco, San Francisco Airport, sunrise, sunset, yoga classes, Yoga Journal Conference, Yoga Room at SFO, yoga teacher, yoga workshop

Elena Brower - Yoga Journal ConferenceThe 9th Annual San Francisco Yoga Journal Conference was January 12-16. What a great way to start the new year! Gaiam was a sponsor, Rodney Yee was the keynote speaker, and yoga blogger Elena Brower was there teaching and sharing her yoga knowledge with hundreds of students and other attendees. Although many of us couldn’t be there in person, it almost feels as if we were, thanks to Elena’s gorgeous photo essay, below. Like what you see? Learn about next year’s event here.
- Editor

Where the Sky Is Blue, Ojai!

Elena Brower by Elena Brower | November 29th, 2011 | 1 Comment
topic: Eco Travel, Relationships, Yoga | tags: asana, Bhakti, California, Courtney Grueschow, Elena Brower, Erich Schiffman, International Ojai Yoga Crib, Kira Ryder, magic, meditation, Mijanou Montealagre, nature, photo essay, photography, prayer flags, Saul David Raye, sitar, The Gratitude Gathering, travel, yoga conference, yoga event, yoga teachers

Ojai Collage

This fall, Elena Brower was one of 19 yoga instructors asked to teach at the 2011 International Ojai Yoga Crib in Ojai, California (along with fellow Gaiam blogger Jill Miller). In this photo essay, Elena shares her experience at this life-affirming event.

14 Stellar Spots to See the Stars

Wendy Worrall Redal by Wendy Worrall Redal | August 19th, 2011 | No Comments
topic: Eco Travel | tags: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, archaeoastronomy, Arizona, astronomy, astrophotography, Atacama Desert, Australia, Bryce Canyon National Park, California, camping, celestial, Chaco Canyon, Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Cherry Springs State Park, Chile, conservation, Eco Travel, ecotourism, europe, Flagstaff, galaxies, Galloway Forest Park, Goldendale Observatory State Park, Green Living, Haleakala National Park, hawaii, hiking, Hungary, International Dark Sky Association, International Dark Sky Community, Lake Tekapo, light pollution, Mackinaw City, Maui, Mauna Kea, Milky Way, Mont-Megantic International Dark Sky Reserve, Mount Cook, Mount Haleakala, National Park Service, New Mexico, New Zealand, NSW, Pennsylvania, planets, protection, Quebec, Scotland, stargazing, Starlight, stars, telescope, The Headlands, trip, UK, UNESCO Starlight Reserve, United Kingdom, urban sprawl, Utah, vacation, Washington, Wiruna, Zselic Starry Sky Park

Milky Way from Atacama Desert, Chile

Ecotourism often focuses on vanishing natural resources, such as rainforests and glaciers. It’s not often, though, that we think of looking up when we ponder the fate of the natural world under threat. Yet the starry night sky is disappearing as rapidly from human experience as vast tracts of the Amazon or the Arctic ice cap.

Light pollution is growing at the rate of four percent per year, according to the International Dark Sky Association. It is so pervasive that if you were to stand on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, you would see less than one percent of the stars that Galileo Galilei saw through his telescope in 1610.

Part One of this series explored the movement to protect the earth’s natural nightscapes. Here in Part Two, you’ll find suggestions for stargazing destinations that will open up the universe to whole new realms of perception. Escape the orange glow of interstates, car dealerships and mall parking lots, and discover the wonders of our twinkling galaxy!

Restore or Protect: Which Environmental Choice Would You Make?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | June 10th, 2011 | 10 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: California, dams, earthquake, earthquake eco restoration, eco restoration, environment, environmental awareness, grassland restoration, Hetch Hetchy Valley, John Muir, nature, pandas, polar-bears, San Francisco, Sierra Club, Tigers, Tuolumne River, wetland restoration, Yosemite National Park

Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite

The Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park was once described by naturalist John Muir as, “A grand landscape garden, one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain mansions.”

But in 1913, the U.S. Congress authorized the city of San Francisco to construct a dam and reservoir on the Tuolumne River in Hetch Hetchy to ensure that San Francisco would have a dependable water supply. It is said that the act broke John Muir’s heart, and some have even suggested that this great sadness hastened his death in 1914. By 1923, the dam was completed and the valley was flooded under several hundred feet of water.

Today, the Hetch Hetchy Valley, like many of America’s natural landscapes, is at the center of a restoration debate. But is trying to turn back the clock on natural areas we altered long ago the best way to spend environmental funds, especially in these cash-strapped times? Or would working to protect those wild places we still have in their original state be a better use of scant resources?

8 Nature Outings to Celebrate the Solstice Full Moon

Wendy Worrall Redal by Wendy Worrall Redal | December 17th, 2010 | 3 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Arkansas, boulder, calendar, California, Colorado Springs, Cropseyville, cruise, flashlight, Frog Bayou, full moon, Garden of the Gods, Laguna Beach, Lake Fort Smith, Lake Tahoe, Long Island, lunar event, Mountainburg, nature, New York, night hike, Oklahoma, Quogue Wildlife Refuge, Sawhill Ponds, skiing, snowshoeing, Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center, state park, The Old Farmer's Almanac, Winter-Solstice

Full moon over the lake

‘Tis the season when many cultures and traditions herald the return of the light into the dark winter world — and this year’s winter solstice promises to do that in a big way, with a full moon on Dec. 21.

Since 1793, when The Old Farmer’s Almanac began tracking heavenly events and seasonal changes, the moon has been full on the first day of winter just nine times.

Five Islands That Insist You Leave Your Car — and Your Cares — Behind

Wendy Worrall Redal by Wendy Worrall Redal | October 7th, 2010 | 1 Comment
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Avalon Bay, bed-and-breakfast, bicycle, boats, Boothbay Harbor, California, car-free, Catalina Island, Chesapeake Bay, coast, Eco Travel, Fire Island, fishing, Great Lakes, hiking, horse-drawn carriage, hotels, islands, kayak, lobster, Los Angeles, Mackinac Island, Maine, Michigan, Monhegan Island, New York, ocean, Sailor’s Haven, seafood, Sunken Forest, Tangier Island, trip, vacation, Virginia, wharf

Avalon Bay, Catalina Island

Avalon Bay, Catalina Island. Credit: Catalina Chamber of Commerce

Though eco-travelers may be enthused about renting greener cars or making their road trips more environmentally friendly, sometimes it feels best to leave the car behind altogether. To that end, I’ve put together this introductory list of “car-free islands” in the U.S. There’s no better time than fall to discover them, when summer crowds have flocked back to the mainland, and these idyllic isles welcome slower-paced travelers yearning for a serene getaway.

It’s Great Pumpkin Season! Where to See Gargantuan Gourds

Wendy Worrall Redal by Wendy Worrall Redal | September 30th, 2010 | 4 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: autumn, California, Circleville, cook-off, county fair, fall, giant pumpkin festival, Half Moon Bay, halloween, jack-o-lantern, Keene, New Hampshire, October, Ohio, pie eating contest

Giant pumpkin festival

What says “fall” more than big, luscious, bright orange pumpkins? October is the season to celebrate them, and many communities do so in a big way. As autumn marks harvest time, so, too, do a slate of festivals that focus on fall’s bounty from the fields.