Friday, April 27, 2007

Outdoors in Your Neightborhood

When most people envision the outdoors they see mountains, rivers, lakes, hot springs, an array of wildlife and wild flowers. So many forget that nature exsists in our own backyards. In many cities there are miles of trails for you to hike and enjoy the local flora and fauna. Check out the links below to see what might be in your neck of the woods.

Ridge to Rivers: Boise

Forest Park Wildwood Trail: Portland

Salt Lake City, UT

Seattle, WA

Spokane, WA

There are so many more than what I have listed here. Be adventerous and try to find your own paths. Happy hiking!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bonneville Hot Springs

Travel up HWY 21, winding your way through mountain roads. You'll arrive at the namesake campground for Bonneville Hot Springs. Take a short hike (.25 miles in the summer) to find a hillside soak shack and several pools along the river. The shack houses an old tub, which is in pretty good shape and barely holds two. If you're looking for privacy, that's the place to soak. Down by the river you'll see the silt bottomed user built pools. They vary in temps, but are all usually a fairly nice soak. However, depending on water levels you may have to stir the water to keep the temps even (not my fav, but works nicely).

During summer months these springs are extremely popular. You'll have difficulty getting them to yourselves, and will definetely be sharing the campground. Winter months offer a bit more solitude, however it is a prevalant snowshoe/nordic area. The campground is closed from first snow fall through mid May, which leaves you to park along the highway in designated areas. Swim suits are a definite must, unless using the shack.

My last visit was January of this year. It was the ideal time. The hike was quite enjoyable. With only the sound of our boots crunching the crystalized snow and the wind whispering through the pines, all was quiet. I did pass another couple, he was on snowshoes, she was on skies, both were friendly. I patronized the shack, as the air was very crisp. Despite the popularity of this area, it holds extreme beauty, wild flowers, and the occasional wild life sighting. In the past I've seen deer, elk, and a few families of turkeys. As usual, please step with a light foot and leave as little trace as possible. While the trash levels are normally fairly low, many like to leave their garbage where it doesn't belong. Thank you in advance for taking care of Mother Nature.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Today is Day of Action for Elephants!

My heart contains many passions. The greatest is for the environment and all that comprise and live in nature. Today my heart is filled with compassion for the elephants. Please take a few minutes to take actions. If we speak as one voice, then a difference can be made.
Thank you, ~ Soker Grrl

Today, Wednesday, April 18th, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is taking to Capitol Hill for its "Congressional Leadership Day."

This is a great opportunity for us to speak up and bring attention to the plight of elephants in zoos!

While AZA seeks increased federal support, let's remind Congress that elephants are suffering in zoos and it's just not right!

Today we are asking everyone to call, fax, or email your Senators and Representatives in Congress to demand that the zoo industry make big changes for Earth's largest land mammal.

The U.S. Animal Welfare Act requires zoos to provide adequate space and conditions to maintain elephant health and well-being. Zoos are violating this federal law by holding elephants in cramped and inadequate conditions that cause them to sicken and die prematurely.

IDA has submitted a Citizen Petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act at zoos holding elephants.

Ask your Senators and Representative to support the IDA petition by calling the Secretary of Agriculture and the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.

It's time for zoos to stop violating the Animal Welfare Act. If zoos cannot provide the vast space and naturalistic conditions that elephants need to thrive, they should not hold elephants.

The Capitol Hill Switchboard is (202) 224-3121. For email and fax information for your representatives, see and

Please use the talking points below:

In the wild, elephants:
- Walk for miles every day on soft ground and grasses.
- Live in large, tightly-knit extended families in which females live together for life.
- Possess a sophisticated ability to communicate, intricate social structure, and mourn their dead.

In zoos, elephants:
- Spend their entire lives in tiny yards of only a few acres or less.
- Live in small groups of unrelated elephants.
- Cannot exercise adequately and are forced to stand on damaging hard surfaces, such as hard-packed dirt and concrete, for years on end.
- Are confined to concrete-floored barn stalls for extended periods of time, especially during the winter.
- Develop painful problems with their joints and feet, as well as other disorders, due to zoo conditions.

Recent surveys document that a majority of elephants in zoos suffer from painful and often fatal arthritis and foot disease -- a direct result of spending their lives in cramped, unnatural and inadequate zoo exhibits.

Elephants need large, naturalistic habitats to thrive. The two U.S. elephant sanctuaries provide the model for zoos to follow.

"As a scientist who has studied elephant behavior and communication among free-living individuals for 30 years, I am stunned that the AZA is not able to perceive the empirical evidence that elephants need much more space than what is currently allotted to them."
- Joyce Poole, Ph.D.

"Small enclosures with a subsequent lack of exercise causing poor muscle tone, therefore poor joint support, lead to osteoarthritis and eventually degenerative joint disease. Enclosures made with concrete, or other unyielding substrates where elephants cannot avoid standing in their own urine and feces, predispose elephants' feet to toenail cracks, sole abscesses, and eventual osteomyelitis which leads to death."
- Mel Richardson, DVM

For more information, visit or call (919) 732-8983.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Murder King gone Veg?

I recently patronized my local Burger King to find quite a surprise item on the menu. They are now offering a veggie burger. Which I might add, is quite tastey.

Burger King is not only broadening their horizons, but they continue to lead the fast-food industry towards improving animal welfare.

Visit for the full story!