On the Continental Divide in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, residents support a plan to create new wilderness and wildlife conservation areas, including the nation’s first national historic landscape to honor veterans of the Second World War. In southern Utah, the remote and untamed Escalante River faces a major threat from invasive plants as it winds through spectacular redrock canyons; volunteers chop their way through choking stands of Russian olive to unblock the river and keep it wild and free. A training program in Georgia educates teachers in a new approach to science teaching called 3-D Science – getting teachers and students outside to observe their own surroundings and letting kids’ natural curiosity lead them to learn more.
Commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico are now using individual fishing quotas to manage their catches of red snapper, a fish population that has made a remarkable recovery after years of overfishing. With federal government support, landowners in Pennsylvania are managing their forests for diversity, providing better habitat for declining species of songbirds like the golden-winged warbler. In Georgia, a program on Lake Lanier for school kids teaches them the importance of water quality.
A farmer in southwestern Iowa has a mission to develop his farm as an example to others, using no-till seeding, multi-crop and pasture rotation, minimal fertilizing, and runoff filtering to keep the nutrients in his soil and prevent runoff. The backlog of deferred maintenance in national parks is a growing problem that needs Congress to act: we see the need for urgent maintenance and repairs at the Grand Canyon, the National Mall, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site in Atlanta. Rafting down the river through the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument.
Seamount of Life: Using special recording technology to document the spawning of endangered fish like the Nassau grouper, scientists in the Caribbean study spawning aggregation sites that are critically important for the survival of many ocean species. We follow them to one of these sites off the western coast of Puerto Rico that has been severely impacted by overfishing; conservationists say an effectively enforced marine protected area is urgently needed there.
Arctic Traffic: Climate change is causing a rapid loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, opening the region to more shipping traffic, oil exploration and other industrial activities that were never possible before. This is creating growing risks to whales, walruses, seals and seabirds – especially in the narrow migration corridor in the Bering Strait. The traffic also poses new risks to the region’s local native people who hunt and fish in small boats. Conservationists are pressing for new measures to protect the marine environment, wildlife and welfare of local residents in the changing Arctic.
Altamaha River Pollution: The Altamaha River in southern Georgia is a major waterway, still undammed, flowing in its natural state more than a hundred miles to the Atlantic and its spectacular estuary. But there’s a large pulp mill on the river that has been operating for decades, and critics say it has been discharging pollution into the river which they allege the pulp company refuses to clean up, and which the state of Georgia has been slow to address. We go to the river to see for ourselves.
Diatoms and Climate Change: In another story on the warming Arctic, we meet researchers in Greenland who gather samples of fossilized microscopic algae in lake sediments, discovering vital clues about past and current climate change in the region.
Future Conservation Leaders: Santa Cruz Island, off the coast of California, is home to bald eagles, scrub jays, and the most adorable foxes you may ever see! This summer, the island is also home to high school students from the Los Angeles area, working side by side with scientists. Co-host Caroline Raville spent some time with these young people to learn about LEAF, Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future. This Nature Conservancy program not only gives high school students a chance to enjoy nature, but provides a spark for many of them to pursue careers in science and conservation.
Natural Resources Revival: A county in eastern Oregon has transformed from being dependent on timber, to being a pioneer in using its natural resources. Lake County is known as the “Saudi Arabia” of geothermal power. Its schools and hospitals are already taking advantage of sustainable energy sources including solar and wind power as well. Folks who used to be at odds, from the lumber industry and conservation groups, have put aside their differences to come up with sustainable answers for the future.
A Fight for Frogs: A third of the world’s amphibians face extinction, with more than 400 animals listed as “critically endangered.” Habitat loss is one major threat, and that’s the challenge for the gopher frog. Their population is now at an alarming low. These amphibians need both sandy, forested areas, and wetlands in order to breed. But development is making it tougher and tougher for them to survive. Sharon Collins of Georgia Public Broadcasting shows us how scientists are working to save these animals.
Canyon Mysteries: A canyon can be an inspiring classroom, whether you are eight or 80. The stories behind two Georgia canyons could not be any different: Cloudland Canyon in the north is a natural wonder. But Providence Canyon in the southwest is now a tourist destination, in spite of the way earlier residents abused the land. Both intriguing stories come from Georgia Public Broadcasting.
Ailing Alligators: It’s hard to imagine many threats that alligators can’t handle. But in one Florida lake, chemical pollution is devastating these big reptiles with genetic birth defects. A disease sleuth is trying to get to the bottom of this bio-medical mystery, and his findings could help humans as well. We’ll take you to Lake Apopka in Central Florida for some daring scientific discovery.
Lights, Camera, Photosynthesis: Ready for your close-up? Some crops in Wisconsin are getting more than their 15 minutes of fame. As they sprout, hundreds of corn plants will have thousands of photos taken, to help researchers learn precisely how they grow. Researchers can track the function of specific genes, with the goal of creating hardier plants that can stay healthy in harsh conditions.
Wild Horses: There’s a romantic notion of wild mustangs, running free across the American West. The reality is more complicated. Horses are long-lived and don’t have many natural predators, so their populations can quickly get out of control. Adopting one of these magnificent animals can change the lives of horses, and humans. In eastern Oregon and across the West, a lot of animals are looking for loving homes. Find out what’s happening to protect them as well as the other wildlife in this beautiful landscape.
While shuttle missions are no longer taking off from the Kennedy Space Center, scientists are still making discoveries at central Florida’s Space Coast: the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge is a rich ecosystem. Protecting the upper Rio Grande is important for both Hispanic and Native American culture. Recovering from near extinction, California condors now face poisoning by lead bullets as wildlife authorities educate hunters about alternative ammunition. Urban “heat islands” are taking some clues from Mother Nature: green roofs in big cities are helping cool things off, recycle water, and offer a resting place for birds and butterflies.
Paleontologists find new dinosaur species in nearly two million acres of deep canyons at Grand Staircase Escalante Monument in Utah and Arizona. Fly-fishing is almost a spiritual endeavor for some Georgia anglers, and keeping waters clean is one of their
aims. Clean water is hard to find around the port of San Diego — decades of shipbuilding have left a toxic mess. In Wyoming, energy companies contribute to a fund that preserves migratory pathways. Rising sea levels threaten the delicate balance of fresh and salt-water marshes around the world.
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
Grande Staircase Escalante Partners
San Diego Coastkeeper
Natural Gas Drilling Supports Conservation
The Conservation Fund
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Marshes and Sea Level Rise
Teens from big cities join a new program to recruit them for careers in the National Park Service. In an emergency effort like Noah’s Ark, researchers rescue endangered frogs, toads and salamanders from a deadly fungal disease. Are there too many snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park? Saltwater fishermen in Georgia offer quick lessons on protecting habitats needed by the most popular fish species.