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This American Land
Home Page: http://www.thisamericanland.org
Channel: KWSU

Friday, August 22, 2014
2:30 AM
Navajo Conservation, Brokeoff Mountains, Bycatch Survival
After decades of yearning for lost ancestral lands, the Navajo Nation in Utah is sponsoring a proposal for a national conservation area that would preserve Cedar Mesa and adjacent areas. Just outside the Navajo Reservation, Cedar Mesa has a rich history - occupied by ancestral Anasazi for thousands of years and now filled with some of America's oldest archaeological treasures that need urgent protection. Facing the formidable challenge of winning support from a wide range of local and state interests, the Navajo's mission would benefit all Americans if it succeeds. Off the coast of San Diego, marine biologists test a new device for increasing the survival rate of fish caught as bycatch by sport fishermen. Entered in a competition sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, the SeaQualizer is proving effective as a solution to the problem of barotrauma with bottom-dwelling fish that are released at the surface as bycatch. The expanded bladder prevents the fish from returning to their original depth when released at the surface as bycatch, and mortality is very high. The device employs a non-invasive method of returning fish to depth and is highly effective at increasing the survival rate. Between Carlsbad Caverns in southeastern New Mexico and Guadalupe National Park in Texas, the Brokeoff Mountains are a little-known stretch of rugged canyons and peaks that are still relatively untouched by development. In a classic Chihuahuan Desert landscape of steep cliffs, caves, shelters and stunning rock formations, limestone canyons cut through the mountains and empty onto plains full of an unexpectedly wide variety of plants and animals. Local advocates want federal authorities to extend wilderness protection to the Brokeoffs while there's still time to avoid intrusion by oil and gas drilling and other invasive threats. The unusual body shape of a snake may seem like quite a disadvantage compared to other creatures. But boas, pythons and pit vipers have a secret weapon when it comes to sensing both predators and prey: they can



Friday, August 29, 2014
2:30 AM
Backyard Wilderness, Switchgrass Biofuel, Restoring Native Plants
In Iowa and Tennessee, we see a new energy future where gas comes from grass. Researchers are working with different types of grasses and other cellulosic plant material, learning more about what it's going to take to grow our own fuel. In the first of a series of stories about the biofuel revolution, host Bruce Burkhardt takes us to the frontlines where farmers grow switchgrass, sourgum and miscanthus specifically as renewable fuel sources. Unlike most wilderness areas that are remote and hard to access, the San Gabriel Mountains are within easy reach of the Los Angeles urban sprawl. Less than an hour from downtown, the San Gabriels are home to alpine forests, chaparral hills, clear trout-filled streams and the often snow-capped 10,068-foot Mt. Baldy, L.A. County's tallest peak. Most of the range is in the Angeles National Forest, which gives L.A. County more than one-third of its drinking water, 70 percent of its open space, and scenic and critical natural habitat. The mountains are now the centerpiece of an imaginative plan for a 600,000-acre national recreation area with large portions of the National Forest, 36,000 acres of additional wilderness, 44 miles of wild and scenic rivers and creeks, and park-poor lower river urban areas, an idea that would bond L.A.'s 17 million residents even closer to the natural wonders in their backyard. Many students in the frontier-like setting of Kanab, Utah are from families who have been in the region for generations. But some are learning for the first time the importance of protecting native plants, tackling invasive species, and coming up with a balance for the human needs of farming and raising livestock. Targeting the invasive-threatened and protein-rich "winter fat" plant, they harvested seeds, sprouted them in their high school greenhouse, then transplanted them to an acre-sized test exclosure in the magnificent Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. With instruction from experts, they mapped each plant with portable GPS devices so they could track their progr