Make Ecological Concerns Foremost in Newport’s Strategic Plan
December 11, 2023
As the City Council develops a strategic plan for Newport, primary importance must be placed on ways to mitigate our impact on the climate. For example, when considering the number of fossil fuel-powered city-owned vehicles and other machines, consider the acres of grass on public land that must be mowed for at least half a year.
Why not replace the grass on Memorial Boulevard’s median strip with ground cover that includes evergreen varieties?
If varieties of beach grass that don’t need mowing were planted on the Easton Pond’s berm and surrounding areas, geese would not be visiting and dropping their “calling cards,” which end up polluting the ocean.
Replace city-owned gasoline-powered leaf blowers with electric-powered ones, or even better, rakes and brooms.
More than 100 U.S. cities and California have banned gasoline-powered leaf blowers, including Washington, D.C. The pollutants emitted from one hour of deploying a gasoline-powered leaf blower are equal to a car driving 1,057 miles, or driving 18 hours and 33 minutes.
Aside from the deafening noise and harm to one’s hearing that these machines cause, they add carbon monoxide and non-methane hydrocarbons 一 toxic chemicals that contribute to ozone pollution. This air pollution affects people’s health, including by worsening lung diseases.
Recognizing the expense to landscapers in buying electric landscaping equipment, the Newport Chamber of Commerce could identify low-interest loans for small businesses. Large property owners, including those who have recently come to the area, could help their gardeners make the transition to electric-powered tools. I bought a powerful electric lawn mower along with a cordless trimmer for just over $600 with tax that will need virtually no maintenance.
As for our cemeteries in Newport and on Aquidneck Island in general, we could deploy flocks of sheep to eat the grass. They air the sod with their hooves while fertilizing as they graze without harming the gravestones, unlike what lawn mowers do sometimes.
Elizabeth “Lisette” Prince grew up all over the world, but has called Newport, R.I., home for decades.
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