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LISTEN: The Most Overlooked Piece of the Environment

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|Source=http://photogallery.nrcs.usda.gov/ |Date=1999 |Author=Lynn Betts |Permission={{PD-USGov-USDA}} }}

Ben Grumbles says soil is one of the most under-appreciated components of the environment.

“It’s right under our feet, and it’s often neglected,” he said. “It’s just real easy to forget about it. Yet it’s so important. It links healthy planets, healthy watersheds all together.”

Grumbles is a Louisville native who’s built an impressive career as an environmental regulator. He’s worked on the Clean Water Act, headed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water, and currently serves as Maryland’s secretary of the environment.

Grumbles will be back in Louisville on Saturday, speaking at an event sponsored by Botanica, the group planning a botanical garden near the Ohio River. His talk is called “The Dirt on Soil, Water and Climate."

Soil and water are inextricably linked — if soil has too many nutrients, they can leach into the water. Also, unhealthy soil or soil disrupted by development can erode into waterways and cause huge pollution problems, Grumbles said.

“I think one of the most important messages is what someone once said: The history of the land is written in the water,” he said. “And essentially what that means is how we live our lives, the choices we make, our land-use decisions directly impact our watersheds. And in turn, watersheds depend tremendously on healthy soils and systems.”

Soil also can have an effect on climate change, Grumbles said.

“Soil stores three times as much carbon as in the atmosphere. Soil and trees, those are the biggest natural carbon banks,” he said. “So the basic point is that soil is a critically important component to any successful strategy to deal with climate change.”

Grumbles will be speaking at noon Saturday. For details, click here.

Featured Image: Courtesy Lynn Betts/USDA.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.