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Protected by federal law, wild horses and burros in the West are breeding out of control on public lands, damaging habitats and competing with wildlife for food and water – a problem that is now a crisis that needs a solution. With new water rights and a major irrigation project under construction, Arizona’s Gila River Indian Community is reviving an agricultural heritage that sustained them for centuries before white settlers arrived. A pilot project in Minnesota for immigrant families shows how small-scale sustainable farming with poultry and perennial crops can provide extra income with little investment of time.
California’s largest lake is shrinking and migratory birds are disappearing as its water is now too salty for fish – an environmental disaster and a health hazard for humans. In Iowa, activists use faith to mobilize farmers in a movement to adopt new measures like perennial crops to sequester carbon in their soils, and to get paid for doing it. With federal government support, private landowners in Pennsylvania are managing their forests for diversity, providing better habitat for declining species of songbirds like the golden-winged warbler.
After decades of underfunding, America’s national parks face a backlog of repairs and maintenance now totaling nearly 12 billion dollars. Alarmed by advancing urban sprawl, conservationists in South Carolina rely on the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire land needed to protect the natural wonders of a coastal landscape. Researchers in Minnesota are developing perennial food crops that could revolutionize American agriculture.
For more than half a century, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund has been supporting the purchase of land for public ownership and recreational access. The Appalachian Trail is just one of the beneficiaries. In Colorado, where climate change means less snowmelt and higher temperatures in rivers like the Yampa, residents are determined to do what they can to save the river by cooling it down. Unlike in the past, a young girl’s future role in taking over the family farm in Texas is accepted and welcomed. Scientists study spadefoot toads to learn more about the role of “plasticity” in evolution.
With fast population growth in the Denver area and fierce competition for water, investors are behind a plan to import water from a Colorado mountain valley hundreds of miles away, a plan largely opposed by farmers and ranchers who depend on water in that valley. A mother’s tasks in a Texas farm family shows how the role of women in agriculture is now vitally important in managing the business of farming and using best practices to conserve soil and water.
Another good example of how the Land and Water Conservation Fund enables protection of iconic landscapes nationwide: the Blue Ridge Parkway stretching 469 miles through breathtaking scenery from Virginia to North Carolina. Researchers explore the role of tiny marine animals in the movement of ocean waters.