Category Archives: environment

Carbon Sequestration Is a Happy By-Product of 20 Years of EcoBlu Restoration

Wetland Restoration and Enhancement (MT)When a study came out earlier this year in the Journal of Environmental Quality showing that constructed wetlands were excellent at sequestering carbon from the atmosphere we were intrigued.

At Trout Headwaters, we’ve worked to create, enhance and restore significant numbers of wetland acres over the last two decades. The study reported that constructed wetlands sequester carbon at an average annual rate of 2,150 pounds per acre.  So, we did a little calculating, and it turns out that a conservative estimate of atmospheric carbon our work has helped to sequester is around 1,000 tons. That’s a lot of carbon!

To be fair, we’ve emitted some of our own carbon as we drove to and from project sites, and used equipment, but even being generous with our emissions, we’ve had a 10-times higher sequestration rate than emissions rate.  That’s a happy by-product of freshwater resource restoration.

As the head research scientist of the journal article suggested, we shouldn’t ignore restored and man-made wetlands as we look for places to store carbon long-term.  If you have a wetland creation, enhancement, or restoration project you’d like to discuss, contact THI for a free initial consultation.

You may also like: Created and Restored Wetlands Are Unexpectedly Efficient for Storing Carbon

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6 Latest Trends in Corporate Sustainability

We're Your EcoPartnerEarlier this month Ernst & Young and GreenBiz Group released a new study, entitled ‘2013 Six Growing Trends in Corporate Sustainability.’ Based primarily on a survey of the GreenBiz Intelligence Panel of executives and thought leaders engaged in sustainability, this study reveals that “companies are increasingly connecting the dots between risk management and sustainability by making sustainability issues more prominent on corporate agendas.”

While the study shows companies in general move forward when it comes to sustainability, it seems that they still make progress incrementally rather than taking the fast lane. Nevertheless, it is still interesting to learn about the current trends in sustainable business and this report presents six of them that are shifting now the business landscape.

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How to Add Excitement to Sustainability!

Raz Godelnik, the co-founder of Eco-Libris and an adjunct faculty at the University of Delaware’s Business School, wrote a blog post for Triple Pundit that explores why sustainable topics are sometimes ho-hum.

“While it would be hard to guess what specifically makes you excited, it’s probably not a sustainable product, brand or culture phenomenon,” he writes.

Godelnik identifies 4 points to think about when adding the secret sauce of excitement to sustainability:

1. There’s nothing exciting about being less bad – Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart wrote more than a decade ago in Cradle to Cradle how “less bad” is a depressing vision of our species’ role in the world. “…To be less bad is to accept things as they are, to believe that poorly designed, dishonorable, destructive systems are the best humans can do,” they wrote.

2. Reimagine the sustainable horizon – Companies need not just to think in a creative and disruptive way, but also to think about the sustainable horizon as the place where science fiction, Hollywood, playfulness and personal dreams meet.

3. Give consumers Beckham, not Vanessa – Most companies keep selling their old unsustainable products while trying to advance lines of products that are more sustainable. H&M, a fast fashion company with sustainability ambitions, launched an eco-friendly Conscious Collection and this year, with Vanessa Paradis.  But H&M’s other campaign, for its bodywear line featured David Beckham. ‘Nuff said.

4. Be aware of the curse – In his report, The Curse of Innovation: Why Innovative New Products Fail, Harvard Business School Professor John Gourville explained that innovative new products fail many times because consumers systematically undervalue and firms systematically overvalue the innovation relative to what an objective analysis would suggest. He called this phenomenon, the “curse of innovation.”

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Flowing Rainbows Capture the Natural Migration of the Mississippi

the-alluvial-valley-of-the-lower-mississippi-river-harold-fisk-01These incredible maps of the Mississippi River were created in 1944 by Cartographer Harold Fisk and in  Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River.  In great detail he mapped the twisting and changing path of the river over time in these swirling rainbow colors.  The result is the most amazing set of info-graphics presented in a beautiful way.  The high resolution files can be downloaded from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


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Norfolk Southern and GreenTrees: Trees and Trains Project to Plant 6 Million Trees in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley

NORFOLK, VA. – Norfolk Southern has made substantial progress on its Trees and Trains reforestation program, planting 2.4 million trees on 4,000 acres in four states in the ecologically important Mississippi Delta.

The Trees and Trains project is a five-year reforestation and carbon sequestration project to plant six million trees on 10,000 acres in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) with GreenTrees®, the leading reforestation program on private lands in the U.S. The $5.6 million project, in its third year, is the largest carbon reforestation project in the nation. Over time, the trees will generate 1.12 million tons of carbon-offset credits, significantly offsetting the railroad’s CO2 emissions.

Considered North America’s “Amazon,” the MAV is the nation’s largest watershed and a vital habitat for numerous wildlife species. Forest once covered 25 million acres of the valley, but most of the land was converted to agricultural production, and today only four million acres of forest remain. Trees and Trains calls for creating a permanent forest. Under the program, landowners receive carbon payments for planting trees instead of crops on marginal or frequently flooded land.

GreenTrees Managing Partner Chandler Van Voorhis explains, “Landowners retain the use of their acreage and can earn additional income through recreational usage, conservation tax benefits, and timber sales. These agreements encourage long-term storage of carbon dioxide in the trees, roots, and soil on the land.”

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You might also enjoy: Restoring Nature’s Water Filter: How Streamside Vegetation Can Save the Gulf of Mexico

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Tribes’ win to restore salmon habitat may go way beyond $1B in culvert repairs

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Seattle Times reported that a federal judge has ordered culvert repairs to ensure tribes have fish to catch, as guaranteed by their treaty rights. The ruling could have broader impact on other types of development.

A long-awaited tribal fishing-rights decision by a federal judge means the state must immediately accelerate more than $1 billion in repairs to culverts that run beneath state roads and block access to some 1,000 miles of salmon habitat.

The ruling comes out of the landmark 1974 Boldt decision, which upheld the rights of tribes to fish, and could result in other court-ordered restoration work, according to tribal leaders and policy experts.

“This culvert case is a ringing of the bell, OK you got to wake up,” said Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. “We have to protect and restore the environment while we continue to look creatively for ways to develop new job and industry opportunities.”

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Drought Still Threatens Mississippi River

Caption: U.S. Army Corps of Engineer vessels dredge chunks of limestone from the Mississippi River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, Wikimedia Commons)

Discovery News recently reported that due to drought conditions, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warned that the Mississippi River could become unnavigable by mid January. However, efforts by the USACE to blast away rocks have bought more time for barge shipping, according to a press release from the American Waterways Operators (AWO) and Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) The river will now likely stay open through January.

In times of drought or flood, healthy floodplains can mitigate the negative impacts of either extreme.  Healthy floodplains act as a sponge to store water in times of drought and absorb excess water during flood events.  That’s why at Trout Headwaters we tirelessly advocate for healthy, functioning floodplains for rivers and the smaller tributaries that feed them.

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The Nation’s River

From the Huffington Post

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson called the Potomac River, polluted with sewage and riddled with algae blooms, a “national disgrace.” Forty years ago this year, the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA) was signed into law, and resulted in expansive, real improvements in the health of the Potomac River.

The CWA is critically important and has made a real difference, but has it gone far enough? Perhaps the new documentary about the Potomac River and the challenges facing it will help shine a light on how successful the law has been or, more importantly, has not.



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Overall, Drought May Reduce Gulf of Mexico ‘Dead Zone’ in 2012

The Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone will likely be smaller this year due to drought conditions throughout the Mississippi River watershed.

A team of NOAA-supported scientists is predicting that this year’s Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone could range from a low of approximately 1,197 square miles to as much as 6,213 square miles. The wide range is the result of using two different forecast models. The forecast is based on Mississippi River nutrient inputs compiled annually by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The smaller dead zone forecast, covering an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island, comes from researchers from the University of Michigan. Their predicted size is based solely on the current year’s spring nutrient inputs from the Mississippi River which were significantly lower than average due to drought conditions throughout much of the watershed. In 2011 Dead Zones in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay were reportedly the largest on record due to higher than normal rainfall events. Read more:

In an article released by Trout Headwaters, Inc. called Restoring Nature’s Water Filter: How Streamside Vegetation Can Save the Gulf of Mexico we discussed of how nature’s water filter of diverse, streamside, woody vegetation slows and purifies water before it enters streams and   Restoring nature’s water filter is the only permanent, sustainable solution to protecting our nation’s estuaries. 

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Washington Post Reports “Little Substance” at Rio+20 Earth Summit

The Washington Post reports on the Rio+20 EarthSummit in Rio de Janeiro, “The actual negotiations in Rio have produced little of substance, beyond an abstract commitment to craft ‘sustainable development goals’ in the future.  The Brazilian government, which is hosting the meeting, took out language which would have committed countries to reaching three U.N. goals by 2030: ensuring universal access to electricity and heating; doubling the global rate of energy efficiency improvement; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.”

According to the Post, Rebecca Lefton, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress wrote in an email: ‘The text is disappointing to many who were hoping that Rio would be a once-in-a-lifetime event redirecting the world with a clear plan for a clean and prosperous future.’

On a brighter note the article says there is, “much evidence that both political and business leaders are finally accepting the idea that a healthy environment is good for the economy.”

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