Post and Courier. April 26, 2022.
Editorial: Welcome steps to protect horseshoe crabs, but SC needs yet another
It’s been a good week for those concerned about the health of South Carolina’s horseshoe crab population — and also about the viability of the endangered red knot shorebirds that depend on the crabs’ eggs for sustenance during their annual migration along our coast. But we need still more action from the state to put all our related concerns to rest.
First, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources decided not to issue a special permit to harvest horseshoe crabs in part of the ACE Basin, a pristine coastal habitat south of Charleston — a decision that never should have been in question but unfortunately was. Just days later, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would not permit contractors for Charles River Labs to collect horseshoe crabs in Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, another pristine habitat just north of Mount Pleasant.
The latter decision was especially welcome because protecting shorebirds is one of the main reasons that the Wildlife Refuge was established here in the first place. Two environmental groups had sued the Fish and Wildlife Service when it allowed harvesters to collect crabs there; a judge stopped the practice temporarily, and federal officials eventually decided to require permits for crab harvesting, ending the lawsuit. Just recently, the agency concluded that issuing such a permit would not be appropriate.
While both the state and federal steps were laudable and prudent, the state still needs to do more to distance our wildlife regulators from Charles River Labs, a pharmaceutical and animal breeding company that pays contractors to harvest crabs. The company bleeds the crabs to obtain a lucrative ingredient in an extract that can detect deadly toxins in vaccines and medical equipment. The main problem with this is that the state agency that regulates the company has no definitive data about whether crab harvesting has dipped below a sustainable level. While bled crabs are returned to the ocean, their survival rates are unclear, and the Department of Natural Resources doesn’t even release information on how many horseshoe crabs are collected.
But, as we mentioned earlier, there were some head-scratching moves in Frankfort. And this was one of them: The bill failed to exclude pregnancies caused by rape or incest, which could cause a victim to be forced under the law to carry her rapist’s child to term.
“Those are violent crimes,” Democratic Rep. Rachel Roberts said. “This bill forces those women to be violated again.”
We certainly agree on that point. That needs to be rectified.
In overriding another bad decision from the Democratic governor, Republicans were correct again to shoot down Beshear’s veto of legislation that would prohibit transgender athletes from competing in sex-segregated sporting events from sixth grade through college. Under the new law, a student’s gender will be determined by the “biological sex” indicated on the student’s certified birth certificate “as originally issued at the time of birth or adoption.”
Republican Sen. Robby Mills, the bill’s lead sponsor, has said the measure would ensure girls and women compete against other “biological females.”
That makes perfect sense.
Last, but certainly not least, was a bill that thankfully didn’t reach the governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 63 – which the Daily News, Kentucky Press Association, the ACLU of Kentucky and many others opposed – would have restricted Kentuckians’ freedom of speech and made it impossible for local news outlets to report accurate information about some of the highest-ranking government officials in the state.
If Senate Bill 63 had become law, public agencies would not have been allowed to release “personally identifiable information” if government officials and their family members requested the protection. That would include records disclosing birth, marriage, property ownership and vehicle registration records as well as email addresses. If it had become law, newspapers wouldn’t have been allowed to do advance stories that an elected official is coming to Bowling Green on a certain day nor could we have said before trial what judge was going to be hearing the case.
Sadly, this bill actually passed the Senate and a House committee. Fortunately, it got no further.
Republican Sen. Danny Carroll, the bill’s sponsor, has tried to push this legislation into law in past sessions as well.
Fortunately for free speech, he came up short again.
Again, as the door closes on this session, we believe many good things for Kentucky came out of this General Assembly. But ugly (and likely unconstitutional) legislation like SB 63 is going to pop up now and then, and that’s why vigilance is always needed when the lawmakers are in session.
Times and Democrat. April 28, 2022.
Editorial: Time outdoors logical as way to improve life
Akey debate during the pandemic has been just how much danger a person is in while outdoors. It seems clear that being outdoors has benefits in fighting the coronavirus, but there is much more.
The news from Anderson University in Anderson and professor Dr. Travis “Rocky” Nation, is information we all need. The professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences and his students are looking at ways to combat stress -- naturally.
Nation used his own experiences as a springboard to further study on how to recognize stressors and to manage how they’re internalized.
“Several years ago I had come to the realization and acknowledged that stress and anxiety were friends or acquaintances. It’s probably something that had been there for a really long time. I never really dealt with it,” he said. “Finally like it does with a lot of people, it came to a head and — long story short — I ended up in the emergency room. It was just kind of a reckoning time, an assessment of ‘what am I doing and what I need to work on.’”
It’s a given in life that there are always going to be things out of our control. That said, Nation focuses his studies on the best ways to respond when things go wrong.
“The big overarching message is that stress is universal; you can’t run from it; you can’t eliminate it; but you can learn to manage it,” he said. “One of the big central themes is the concept of resilience and being able to respond to disturbances and stressors and returning to some normal, healthy state.”
For much of his life, Nation has enjoyed being outdoors. He feels anyone can benefit from intentional time spent outside. With his students, Nation studies how individuals’ heart rate and blood pressure are affected by spending increased time outdoors.
Taking his class outdoors to the nearby Rocky River Nature Park, he’s conducted research with his students. Students sit in folding outdoor chairs and do nothing but take in the sights and sounds.
“We’d do a set of measurements. Even after 20 minutes, it’s pretty remarkable. You see an average drop in heart rate and blood pressure and increase in heart rate variability,” he said.
Nation advocates that exercise, a healthy diet and disconnecting from devices (phones, tablets, computers) help individuals become more resilient under pressure.
He established Carolina Wilderness Renewal (carolinawildernessrenewal.org), an organization offering programs aimed at helping those who help others by promoting the therapeutic value of nature. He hopes to make presentations during seminars, continuing education and professional development activities. He also hopes to publish a book.
“The wheels of creativity started turning and I came up with this idea to start a project to talk about stress and physiological aspects of it, but also how to manage it all in the context of being outdoors and incorporating some of those elements of forest bathing or ecotherapy. I tend to refer to it as nature-based stress management,” he said.
So, what are some things anyone can do?
Nation says the simple act of going for a walk introduces the element of exercise.
“There’s a whole lot of research that suggests there’s something about being outdoors, whether it’s away from man-made noise or the actual parts of the environment like colors and textures and sounds that have been demonstrated to knock down those stress responses. Even just going for a walk in a natural area if it’s not a wilderness area can have therapeutic benefits. There are tons of papers that show that. Just going for a walk sometimes 15-30 minutes is good. Even more is better,” he said.
“This isn’t a silver bullet. It’s not a cure-all. You’re not going to cure certain illnesses by spending 30 minutes a day outdoors. It’s good for you and it can help eliminate some of the issues we have. But it’s fairly easy, it’s fairly accessible, and in most places it’s free.”
Whether you are an “outdoors” person or not, Nation’s approach is worth a try.