Tag: wetlands

Citizen Science Tuesday: Otter Spotter

If you care about otters and water conservation, try Otter Spotter. See nature, do science, and learn why “Healthy watersheds make healthy ottersheds!”

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A Renter’s Market: BirdReturns Offers Innovative Conservation

How can conservationists protect one million acres of migratory bird habitat in Central California, particularly when that property is highly valuable agricultural land? The solution: Pop-up wetlands.

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Spring’s Top 10 Wildlife Spectacles

Looking for a great wildlife road trip, or just a reason to explore the neighborhood park? Our blogger offers top 10 wildlife experiences for spring, from baby bison to mayfly madness.

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Coastal Wetland Restoration: One of the Smartest Investments We Can Make

For centuries, wetlands were considered worthless, regularly filled and paved. A new piece in Ensia magazine by Mark Tercek and Jane Lubchenco argues that restoring coastal wetlands benefits not only ecology but also our economy, our safety and our quality of life.

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Of Drones and Cranes: UAV Technology Aids California Bird Conservation

Sandhill Cranes congregate in great numbers at night, crowded together in flooded fields. How can California conservationists accurately count them. Enter a new tool in bird monitoring: the drone.

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10 Fish Conservation Success Stories to Celebrate

Looking for a good fish story? We look back at some of the year’s best conservation results for fisheries, from alligator gar reintroduction to salmon recovery, with a side dish of fish and chimps.

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Re-Branding Nature: From Dismal Swamp to Constructed Wetland

Swamps were once considered disease-ridden, alligator-infested places. Now they’re hailed for the ecosystem services they provide–but for that image to stick, constructed wetlands have to be based on the best-available science.

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Restoring Coastal Wetlands: Complex Problems Need Multiple Solutions

Dredging or diversions: which is best for restoring Louisiana’s coastal wetlands? The debate is passionate, but Bryan Piazza says it overlooks the reality of restoration: we need both.

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Are We Losing Our Wetlands Conservation Legacy?

Wetlands conservation has been one of the greatest successes of the conservation movement. But are we at risk of draining that legacy away?

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Review: The Wild Duck Chase

One of the most successful conservation efforts in world history was created by a political cartoonist and is funded by a stamp purchased at your local post office.

That may seem improbable. If you don’t hunt ducks, you likely haven’t even heard of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, a federal program that has conserved millions of acres and saved species once considered doomed for extinction.

This often-overlooked conservation success is the subject of Martin J. Smith’s well-reported and entertaining The Wild Duck Chase: Inside the Strange and Wonderful World of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest.

Smith expertly traces the beginnings of the Federal Duck Stamp, an episode in conservation history that may read like a far-fetched fantasy given recent headlines of gridlock and sequestration.

In the early 1900’s, due to professional market hunting and the destruction of wetland habitats, populations of ducks, geese and other water birds had crashed. Conservationists raised alarms and succeeded in passing some significant conservation legislation, but many recognized that there needed to be funding for wetland protection and restoration.

The problem? By the 1930s, Americans found themselves in the midst of the Great Depression. Certainly no one would care about ducks and wetlands when many Americans were out of work and struggling to support their families, right?

Not quite. In the forefront of the waterfowl conservation movement was Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper cartoonist Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling. Conservation, especially wetland conservation, was a frequent subject for Darling’s cartoons in the Des Moines Register.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened a committee to address waterfowl conservation, he appointed Darling, considered by many to be an odd choice. After all, he was not a scientist or land manager.

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Experiment: Freshwater Mussel Restoration

Tharran Hobson dons a wetsuit and wades into the wetland. Soon he is swimming, diving, fishing around—“pollywogging,” he calls it—finally emerging with his muddy bounty, a small wire cage.

As underwater treasures go, it doesn’t look like much: A wire structure with a silt-covered tray in the bottom.

But this contraption may hold the key to restoring some of the least understood and most abused creatures in the Mississippi River system: freshwater mussels.

Conservancy scientists and partners are currently testing whether restored wetlands might be suitable sites for freshwater mussel propagation efforts. If it works, it could be another important tactic in the restoration of freshwater mussels that once existed in Midwest rivers by the millions.

I’m joining these scientists at the Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve, a 6800-acre restored floodplain along the Illinois River (a significant tributary of the Mississippi). This project has already been successful in drawing in thousands of migrating waterfowl, and in restoring 30 native fish species.

Could it also serve as a breeding project for mussels?

That’s what I’m here to find out.

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Feature: Building Wetlands for Clean Drinking Water

Can building wetlands reduce dangerous high nitrate levels and thus provide clean, safe drinking water for thousands of people?

Yes.

But, when it comes to ensuring clean water, not all wetlands are created equal.

Biologists know how to restore great wetlands to draw in ducks and shorebirds. Restoring wetlands to also help people may require a different approach.

That’s the focus of an intensive research effort conducted by Nature Conservancy scientists on the Mackinaw River watershed in central Illinois. The wetlands—while providing wildlife habitat and healthier rivers—are being designed and tested to provide safe drinking water for the 90,000 residents of Bloomington, Illinois and surrounding communities where the town’s primary reservoir has had a history of high nitrate levels.

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Salmon Cam Returns

We’re pleased to return Salmon Cam, a live view of spawning Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout.

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