In Montana, conservationists, landowners, business leaders and government officials consider the importance of the most important yet least-known and understood conservation and access program in the U.S. – the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Farmers in Oklahoma use cover crops and smart pasturing of livestock to reduce their use of chemical fertilizers, improve water quality, and increase their bottom line. Researchers are finding useful purposes for recycled urine.
A widely based coalition of local interest groups campaigns for permanent protection of forests, watersheds and wildlife habitat in a critical northern Montana landscape. Small-scale farmers in Montana learn how to grow crops organically with helpful support from advisers with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Crop dusters commonly spray a toxic brew of pesticides on farmworkers in the fields, and the impact on the environment and the health of many people in Lake Apopka, Florida is obvious (co-produced with Earthjustice).
With waste from a new industrial hog farm threatening the purity of the nation’s first national river, citizens raise the alarm and score a victory with a lawsuit. Farmers in Iowa and Illinois adopt new practices to prevent runoff of chemicals and waste that would pollute the Mississippi River. Running out of space in Yellowstone National Park, bison are re-located to Indian reservations in Montana where they can build new populations of wild herds (produced with Earthjustice).
Wilderness Anniversary: Marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we explore its origins and success in protecting more than 100 million acres of unspoiled natural wilderness, a distinctly American achievement. There are still many more areas of wild nature that deserve protection, and the Wilderness Act remains an essential law in the cause of conservation.
Arkansas Oil Pipeline: In March, 2013, a rupture in a buried oil pipeline surprised suburban homeowners in Mayflower, Arkansas by flooding their streets with crude oil. Many of them didn’t even know there was a pipeline under their yards. To find out more about this event, we offer a two-part investigative story co-produced with Inside Climate News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting unit.
Fungi Fuel: We meet a scientist in Montana who searches the globe for botanical specimens, discovering fungi and bacteria in the tissues of some plants that can be converted into a diesel-like fuel.
Critical aquifer underneath the Great Plains
Farmers and ranchers work with NRCS advisers to find ways to conserve the Ogallala Aquifer, a vast expanse of prehistoric water now threatened by overuse
Trout in the classroom
Students in the Sierras in California help to restore threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout by raising the fish from eggs and releasing them in an approved stream
Yellowstone grizzlies achieve dramatic recovery
While the need for continued listing under the Endangered Species Act is still debated, grizzly bears have multiplied under federal protection since 1975, re-occupying areas where they had been absent for decades
Montana Wilderness: There’s an ambitious plan to protect 700,000 acres of new wilderness in Montana. And after many years of argument, it looks like local residents, loggers, hikers, and conservation groups have put aside their differences so nature is the big winner. You’ll meet one veteran outdoorsman, Smoke Elser, who’s almost as comfortable in this back woods as the elk and the bears are!
Bald Eagle Recovery: It was almost a national tragedy. The bold symbol the United States, the bald eagle, was nearly wiped out when pesticides interfered with their breeding. Our national bird has made quite a comeback, but there are still mysteries to solve in keeping the population healthy. Oregon Field Guide takes us to a “convocation,” a gathering of these regal birds, and introduces us to some of the heroes who saved them from extinction.
Lionfish Derby: It’s one of the most dramatic displays of how an invasive species can upset an ecosystem. Lionfish, originally from Asia, have found a comfortable home in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Government and conservation organizations have come up with some sporty ways to control these aggressive fish, because they are competing with commercially important species like snapper and grouper. We’ll take you to one “Lionfish Derby.”
Bison Homecoming: The buffalo are back! One hundred years after Native American Michael Pablo sent his captive bison herd to Canada to help preserve the dwindling species, dozens of their direct descendants were released into the bison herd on the American Prairie Reserve in northern Montana. The World Wildlife Fund has been collaborating with the American Prairie Reserve to help restore the grasslands habitat for the bison, birds, and other important native species that roamed the region when Lewis and Clark arrived in 1805.
Preserving Tribal Languages: The passion of tribal elders and 21st century video technology are merging to bring new life to the Ojibwe language. Using “home movies” that depict everyday scenarios, experts at the University of Minnesota-Duluth are helping new generations learn and appreciate the language and culture.
Peregrine Protection: Peregrine falcons are making a comeback—in some most unusual places. With help from bird lovers in Iowa, this once nearly extinct raptor has a new place to call home—atop an Iowa skyscraper! Once nearly wiped out by DDT, local falconers and the state Department of Natural Resources helped design a nest box that’s keeping peregrine parents safe and cozy, and helping provide for a healthy new generation.
Soaring with Paragliders: Jumping off a cliff has never been so spectacular! Daredevils in Oregon use thermal currents in a sort of “yacht race in the sky.” 160 pilots joined the “Rat Race” in the intricate sport of paragliding. Their only source of power is the thermal lift from hot air. Even the crew of “Oregon Field Guide” at Oregon Public Broadcasting got in on the act during this breathtaking event.
Among the most solitary and elusive mammals in North America, wolverines were wiped out decades ago by fur traders and poison in the lower 48 states. Now these mammals with a ferocious reputation are making a slow comeback, migrating south from Canada. It takes rugged and dedicated scientists—and photographers!—to sneak a peek into their world! See how they are working to understand and preserve the wolverine’s habitat.
For decades U.S. soldiers headed for battle spent weeks in training at Fort Ord, California. Trucks, tanks, grenades and artillery—they spread over this land on the Pacific Coast. When the base was shuttered in the early 1990s the community nearby was devastated economically. But residents, the military and local businesses put their heads together to give a re-birth to these tens of thousands of acres. Now it attracts hikers, mountain bikers, researchers, even young school kids who can share and enjoy this land. Host Bruce Burkhardt takes us on a tour.
What do casino executives, Moapa Paiute Indians and nature photographers have in common? They are all eager to protect an area known as Gold Butte in Nevada. The group “Friends of Gold Butte” is working to add the highest federal protection to the region, by designating it a wilderness. This could help add law enforcement to this huge acreage, to protect ancient cultural sites and prevent vandalism in this stark and beautiful desert.
It’s a detective story that has unfolded in the waters off Key West, Florida. What’s been killing the Elkhorn coral? Biologist Kathryn Sutherland has identified human sewage as the source of the coral-killing pathogen that causes white pox disease. Elkhorn coral was listed for protection as an endangered species in 2006, largely due to white pox disease. Sutherland works with water treatment facilities in south Florida to try to make sure water is cleared of this pathogen before it goes back into the Atlantic.