Friday, September 19, 2014
Idaho Wilderness, Loggerhead Turtles, Sandfish Lizard, Wrangling Water
Idaho Wilderness: Its wild residents could fill a volume of some of the most iconic American wildlife: From elk and moose to spawning salmon, mountain goats and sheep to black bears and cougars. Efforts are underway to protect central Idaho's Boulder-White Clouds Mountains, designating 330,000 acres as wilderness. The proposed federal legislation would both protect these lands, and ensure economic sustainability. Loggerhead Turtles: These animals make one of the most treacherous journeys of any creatures, without any parental involvement. Human development is making their survival even more dangerous. Sharon Collins of Georgia Public Broadcasting shows us how these amazing reptiles struggle in an epic journey. These large sea turtles are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Sandfish Lizard: The sandfish is a little lizard that lives in the Sahara Desert. Scientists are fascinated by its slithering moves. It can tuck its limbs close to its body, and literally "swim" through the sand, just like an eel wiggles its way through water. Physicists are studying this little creature, and using it to inspire new robotic moves that could one day help search-and-rescue crews find survivors in piles of rubble, left from disasters like Hurricane Katrina. The little sandfish is teaching us a lot about what it takes to worm through rugged terrain and debris. Wrangling Water: Cattle are not the only things being rounded up in Florida. Ranchers are also herding water! For years, experts have searched for answers about how to increase water storage in the northern Everglades, and reduce the pollution levels. A pilot program pays ranchers to use their low-lying lands for "environmental services" - namely to store water. Water that's captured during the June through October wet season can then be slowly released during dry months into the tributaries of Lake Okeechobee. And it's proving to be a good thing both for the economy and the environment.
Friday, September 26, 2014
Rio Grande Del Norte, Climate Adaptation, Flying Aces of the Insect World, Peel Watershed, Indigo Snakes
Saving the Upper Rio Grande: In northern New Mexico the Rio Grande runs through a spectacular gorge formed by a rift in the Earth's crust. This river corridor is a critical flyway for migratory birds, and the arid plateau on either side of it is a major migration habitat for elk and deer. A pending bill in Congress would protect these areas as the Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area, in addition to designating two majestic cinder cone mountains east and west of the plateau as protected wilderness. The bill has widespread support among local Hispanic farmers and ranchers because it would allow their traditional hunting, grazing, fishing and wood-gathering to continue, preserving the culture that developed there over hundreds of years. Facing Climate Change with Wind Power: Severe drought has taken a toll on farming and ranching communities in Eastern New Mexico. Residents are trying to adjust for prolonged dry times, and some are finding salvation in wind turbine projects that generate revenue for them as well as power for the Southwest. Flying Aces of the Insect World: Just how do these insects pull off complex aerial feats, hunting and reproducing in midair? These four- winged insects pre-date dinosaurs, and can fly straight up, straight down, or hover like helicopters. Researchers are getting some inspiration from these insects, to improve small- scale aircraft design. Peel Watershed: A hundred miles from the Alaska border in Canada's Yukon Territory, the Peel Watershed is a huge area of wild and pristine rivers, arboreal forests and mountain ranges. Caribou from Alaska migrate to and from the region, but they face threats from a modern day gold rush that also threatens other wildlife including grizzly bears and wolverines. Efforts are underway to protect this land, and these fragile ecosystems. But it looks like a fight is brewing with miners and developers. Indigo Snakes: Known as the "Lord of the Forest", the eastern indigo snake is the largest native snake in North America, averaging six to seve