Savannah hosts Senator, Energy Secretary

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm along with U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) toured several clean energy sites in and around Savannah Friday. Both were upbeat about the future of clean energy in Georgia, noting the state is already ninth is solar installations, with solid manufacturing already in place for solar panels and electric vehicle batteries.

As if to make their point, the roof of modest house behind the site of their solar roundtable at Pennsylvania Avenue Resource Center was covered with solar panels. And Mayor Van Johnson made the city’s commitment clear by announcing Savannah is adding solar panels to 22 of its buildings. A request for proposals is expected by the end of the month.

Solar panel covers the roof of this home near Savannah High School Credit: Mary Landers/The Current

E-waste recycling comes to Chatham

If you have a drawer of old cell phones and other electronics, you know how difficult it can be to dispose of them properly. In the past, much of the recycling has been done overseas, and not always under the best circumstances for workers.

Now, Igneo Technologies, a New York-based e-waste recycling company, is opening its first U.S. electronics recycling facility in Savannah at SeaPoint Industrial Terminal Complex. SeaPoint was also a stop on Secretary Granholm’s and Sen. Ossoff’s tour Friday to see the 1 megawatt solar field here.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Tuesday the $85 million e-waste recycling plant will create at least 150 jobs in Chatham County. 


Golden Ray finally departs

The spectacle that was the capsized Golden Ray stuck in St. Simons Sound is nearly gone, at least what’s visible. More than two years into the job, a salvage crew is removing the last section of the South Korean car carrier.

Now the concern focuses more fully on what’s below the surface.

Environmentalists are pressing for more details on what will come next to clean marshes and shores of the remaining oil and other contaminants that aren’t so easy to see.

Read the details, including the case for a formal damage assessment, in Stanley Dunlap’s report.


This bird’s a first in Georgia

And now, a story of a welcome visitor. Out for a hike near Fort Pulaski with his dog, Tiger, Randy Tate didn’t even have binoculars with him when he spotted an unusual bird last week. Just his cell phone.

“I thought it was a scissor-tailed flycatcher because I’ve seen them before and they’ve kind of looked like that,” said Tate, a biologist who retired only a few days earlier from the Longleaf Alliance. “I put it up immediately on Georgia Rare Bird Alert Facebook page and Richard Hall, who I don’t know, immediately came back and said that’s a fork-tailed fly catcher and that’s the first state record.”

Randy Tate captured this image of a fork-tailed flycatcher near Fort Pulaski on Oct. 5. It was the first time the species was recorded in Georgia. Credit: Randy Tate

That means it’s the first time the species was documented in the state.

“Wow what a find!” wrote one birder on Facebook. “Congrats on the first state record! Hope it sticks around for a while!”

Alerted by Tate’s post, other birders lined up at Fort Pulaski the following day, hoping the wet weather would keep the bird in place. But nobody else reported seeing it.

These flycatchers are native to the tropics and end up here accidentally, according to Audubon.org.

“Most fork-tailed flycatchers reaching our area probably come from southern South America: long-distance migrants that have made major errors in navigation,” Audubon states.

Tate studied short-eared owls and northern harriers as a graduate student. But he felt a little out of practice when he stumbled on this rare find and had only his phone available to document it. He vowed to start carrying binoculars and a camera.


Want more birds? Plant native species

Binoculars will help find more birds while hiking, but you could lure more birds to your own backyard.

Professor and author Doug Tallamy spoke at The Landings at Skidaway on Sunday, pitching the idea of planting part of your yard in native plants to create what he’s calling a “home-grown national park”  across the U.S.

“It’s a cure that it’ll take small efforts from lots of people,” he said. “But those efforts deliver enormous physical, psychological and environmental benefits to everybody.”

Caterpillars are the main food of many nestling birds, like these house wrens. Credit: Doug Tallamy

More native plants mean more insects, especially bees and butterflies, many of which are highly specialized to live on a particular plant.

“If we can save her insects we can save our birds and we can save nature itself,” Tallamy said. “But we’re gonna have to change the way we landscape to do it.”

More butterflies ensures more bird species can survive, because most birds are highly dependent on fat, juicy caterpillars to feed their young.

“Ninety-six percent of our terrestrial birds are rearing their young on insects and most of those insects are caterpillars,” Tallamy said.

Caterpillars are the baby food of choice for birds because they’re like a jumbo package of nutrients in an easy to digest wrapper, unlike say beetles that have a hard shell or aphids that are too tiny.

Natural plantings aren’t the norm across America. Instead, about 40 million acres of the U.S. is planted in lawns. Make half of that into natural landscape and it would be bigger than the sum of the Adirondacks, Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Tetons, Canyonlands, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Badlands National Park, Olympic National Park, Sequoia National Park, the Grand Canyon, Denali, and the Great Smoky Mountains, Tallamy said.

Skidaway Audubon brought Tallamy to Savannah for the talk, attended by about 50 people. Tallamy is a professor in the department of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware. His books include “Nature’s Best Hope,” which “urges home-owners to take environmental action into their own hands, one yard at a time.”


BEACH ADVISORIES: As of this writing, there are no new bacteria-related beach water advisories at Georgia beaches.

Permanent advisories are in place for 3 beaches in the Coastal Health District. They are:

Clam Creek Beach on Jekyll Island – this area is on the back side of the island at the end of Clam Creek Road.

St. Andrews Beach on Jekyll Island – this area is also on the back side of the island, around the St. Andrews Picnic area.

King’s Ferry County Park – this inland beach area is off Highway 17 on the Ogeechee River at the Chatham/Bryan County line.

Before you head to the beach, check the link to see current notices.

SHIP WATCH

Ships are still backed up at many of the nation’s ports, including Savannah, a situation that caught the attention of the New York Times. In a story posted Sunday, Georgia Ports Authority CEO Griff Lynch is quoted about the 700 containers stacking up at the port.

“We’ve never had the yard as full as this.”

Here’s the latest look at the traffic jam offshore:

A screen shot from vesselfinder.com shows the backup of cargo vessels waiting to be unloaded in Savannah. Credit: https://www.vesselfinder.com/

If you have feedback, questions, concerns, or just like what you see, let us know at thecurrentga@gmail.com.


Mayor announces new solar for Savannah buildings, arena

Savannah will soon start the process of adding solar panels to 22 municipal buildings, Mayor Van Johnson said Friday. Requests for proposals will be posted by the end of the month.

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Savannah’s SeaPoint to add electronics recycling plant

Plant will extract reusable metal components from e-waste while eliminating organic matter from the material. The resulting product, a concentrate of copper and precious metals, is then delivered to metal smelting companies through the Port of Savannah.

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Golden Ray wreck fished out of St. Simons Sound, leaves pollution questions in its wake

Environmentalists press for details on next stages of shoreline cleanup, worry the government agencies will drop project before project is done.

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