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FMSA Sponsors BioBlitz

FMSA Sponsors BioBlitz

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. -- Twenty-six students at First Montessori School of Atlanta recently participated in a BioBlitz. Assisted by Eric King, owner of King Landscaping, and Jillian Elleby, an FMSA science teacher, the students worked in two-person teams using a camera and log book to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi and other organisms as possible in a natural area on the school campus.

FMSA's seven-acre campus is located in a residential area in Sandy Springs and includes open as well as wooded property.

"The BioBlitz was a fun and exciting way for our students to learn about biological diversity and how best to protect an ecosystem," said Upper Elementary School Teacher Livia Osorio.

Also known as a biological inventory or a biological census, the primary goal of a BioBlitz is to get an overall count of the plants, animals, fungi and other organisms that live in a place.

15 counties must clean their air

15 counties must clean their air

ATLANTA -- Air Quality Awareness Week recently came to a close, and 15 metro Atlanta counties didn't quite make the clean air cut.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently changed its standards of attainment for ozone standards from .08 parts per billion to .075 parts.

The change means that 15 formerly compliant counties were re-designated at nonattainment for ground-level ozone: Bartow, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Newton, Paulding and Rockdale.

To clean up the air, residents can try carpooling to work or taking MARTA if possible; fewer cars on the roads means more breathable air for everyone in metro Atlanta.

Learn more about how to reduce emissions and cut down on ozone at www.cleanaircampaign.org.

FEMA encourages Chattahoochee-area residents to learn flood risks

FEMA encourages Chattahoochee-area residents to learn flood risks

ATLANTA -- As 2011 draws to a close, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages all Americans to understand the risks that surround them -- and for residents of the Upper Chattahoochee River Region, those risks include the possibility of flooding.

FEMA worked with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to create maps of the 107-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River between the Buford Dam and Coweta County, which includes Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

These updated maps detail flood hazard and risk data with the ultimate goal of protecting homeowners from flooding.

Maps for those who live in the Chattahoochee flood region are available at www.georgiadfirm.com. Learn more about steps to prevent flood damage at www.ready.gov/floods.

Deal appoints new Ga. EPD director

Deal appoints new Ga. EPD director

ATLANTA -- Jud Turner has been appointed director of the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR board made the appointment official this week after Gov. Nathan Deal nominated Turner for the post.

Turner replaces F. Allen Barnes, who is leaving to work in the private sector.

Turner is a founding partner in the law firm Turner, Bachman & Garrett LLC and public affairs firm Georgia360 LLC. He was former Gov. Sonny Perdue's lead attorney and represented the governor during negotiations with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service during the state's severe drought.

Turner has also served as general counsel to the Georgia Department of Education.

Drought spreads into North Georgia

Drought spreads into North Georgia

ATLANTA -- Georgia's state climatologist says extreme drought conditions have now spread into North Georgia and cover most of the state south of the mountains.

Climatologist David Stooksbury says all of Georgia's counties are now classified as being in moderate, severe or extreme drought.

In his most recent reports on the drought, Stooksbury said the outlook for relief in the short-term is not promising. Unless Georgia sees some tropical weather over the next few months, the state can expect below-normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures.

Without tropical rain, Georgia's soil is expected to continue to dry out. Stream flows, groundwater levels and reservoir levels are expected to continue to drop, and wildfire potentials are expected to remain high to extreme.

Droughts signals bad news for peanut butter lovers

Droughts signals bad news for peanut butter lovers

ATLANTA -- It's been 30 years since so few acres of peanuts were planted in Georgia.

The shortage and ongoing drought are bringing higher prices for peanuts and their favorite cousin -- peanut butter.

The acreage is down because farmers chose to plant cotton, which was commanding higher prices. It was thought plenty of peanuts would still be available, but many of the plants have not come out of the ground due to drought.

The situation has peanut butter manufacturers bracing for tighter supplies, according to Don Koehler with the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Georgia is the nation's largest producer of peanuts, producing 46 percent of U.S. peanuts.

LOCAL PROFILE: The LGBT Community in Atlanta

LOCAL PROFILE: The LGBT Community in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- According to The Advocate, the U.S. based national gay and lesbian newsmagazine, Atlanta holds the title of “America’s gayest city” and Gay Atlanta, a subsidiary of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau says that Atlanta is the “epicenter of the LGBT South” but according to Phillip Rafshoon of Outwrite Bookstore, Atlanta is just a “progressive city in a conservative state, that’s in a conservative region of the United States. The city serves as a place where people from small, southern towns can come to be who they want to be” which is why the LGBT community loves to call this city, home.

In the nook that is Tenth Street and Piedmont Road, Outwrite Bookstore has been a staple in the Atlanta LGBT community for about 18 years.