Tag Archives: ecology

From the Field Today – Red Eft

RedEftNCTHICopyright

This eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) is  common to eastern North America.  This land dwelling bright orange juvenile, known as a red eft, paid a visit to a Trout Headwaters technician during recent site work in North Carolina.  The newts frequent small lakes, ponds, and streams or near-by wet forests. They can coexist in an aquatic environment with small, noncarnivorous fish, as their skin secretes a poisonous substance when the newt is threatened or injured. They have lifespans of 12 to 15 years in the wild, and may grow to five inches in length.

A Strategy for Saving Planet Earth – Doug La Follette

It was my pleasure recently to spend the afternoon with Doug La Follette, Secretary of State in Wisconsin for a tour of some of his work and achievement.  He holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Columbia, has worked as Public Affairs Director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, and has been board member of Friends of the Earth and other nonprofits.  He was a member of the 1970 National Earth Day organization and continues to speak about the importance of our environment.

As La Follette shared some of his photos and memories with me in his Madison, WI office recently, it became clear that his interests are centered on the outdoors.  Nature is the strong current that flows through his seemingly divergent world-wide adventures.  It follows that La Follette’s “The Survival Handbook – A Strategy for Saving Planet Earth” would remain a pertinent outline for those wishing to help their state (or the Earth) improve its natural, healthy condition.   And despite the 25 years since first published, the environmental issues and approaches in the book remain some of the most significant of our day.

While Doug La Follette would be the first to tell you that some of the specifics of his book may be dated, much remains sadly the same for planet Earth.  This carefully crafted discourse on the true meaning of ecology,  its connection to the economy and humanity’s dependence on a healthy environment deserves a place on every community leader’s bookshelf.  Buy via Amazon.com

Unintended Consequences May Have Created a “Point of No Return” for Commercial Fisheries

Graphic courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

Graphic courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

In Conservation Magazine’s recent good read, “Point of No Return: Why Aren’t Fish Populations Recovering?” author Natasha Loder examines why fishery management policies may have resulted in an insurmountable “Darwinian Debt.”

In the 1940s, cod in the northeast Arctic had an average size of 95 cm. Today they average only 65 cm. And average size and age of fish at maturation have been decreasing for decades in many commercially exploited fish stocks. Size limits may be the culprit.

A controlled, peer-reviewed study published in the journal Science in 2002, turned conventional thinking about fisheries management on its head.
“In most commercial fisheries, fish are removed on the basis of size. There are minimum, not maximum, size limits. But the study’s results show that this approach may have results that are exactly the opposite of what is intended. Within only four generations, taking out larger fish produced a smaller and less fertile population that also converted food into flesh less efficiently,” writes Loder.

Read more: http://conservationmagazine.org/2008/07/point-of-no-return/?utm_source=Conservation+Magazine&utm_campaign=7582ac4c87-This_Week_s_Good_Read_Nov+30_2013_10_19_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d0cc46f2ab-7582ac4c87-294168197

At TEDxCharlottesville: Ushering in the Age of Natural Capitalism

“There are two great joys in life: the tilling of the land, and the cultivation of character. One anchors us and one elevates us,” said conservation capitalist Chandler Van Voorhis late last year at TEDxCharlottesville.

Chandler Van Voorhis is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of GreenTrees, which plants, grows, and sells permanent forests. He is working to make sure people see what he sees: carbon, water, habitat, air filtration, and soil building mulch – all of the valuable ecological services a tree provides while it is a living part of the ecosystem.

Quipping that his family calls him “The Lorax with a Calculator,” Van Voorhis discusses the evolution of conservation in America from the notion of using our resources wisely, to conservation as a national duty, and now, to an ecosystem marketplace where we attach price and value to nature’s assets.

 

Coastal Wetlands Continue to Be Gobbled Up by Development

Copyright Trout Headwaters Inc 2013 WetlandWetlands in the U.S. are still taking a hit, and human activity, urban, suburban, and rural development, is the cause.

A new study released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) says between 2004 and 2009, wetland area in the coastal watersheds of the U.S. declined by an estimated 360,720 acres. The worst part: The rate of loss is on the increase. More than 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands are being lost on average each year, up from 60,000 acres lost per year during the previous study.

A strategy of achieving “no net loss” by offsetting wetland acreage losses with wetland creation or reestablishment does not appear to so far to have been effective for coastal watersheds.  Both freshwater and saltwater coastal wetlands are absolutely critical to the health of our bays and estuaries.  As we saw with Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, continuing losses of wetlands in coastal watersheds have direct costs for people and longer-term resource implications for fish, wildlife and other natural resources.

Despite this terrible truth, the only major news organization to cover this story was NPR.

Read the press release: http://www.fws.gov/news/ShowNews.cfm?ID=7B8CB057-90CD-5C03-6EA2F94520ED3BF1

Read the full study: http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Documents/Status-and-Trends-of-Wetlands-In-the-Coastal-Watersheds-of-the-Conterminous-US-2004-to-2009.pdf

Study Says Mammals Respond to “Field of Dreams” Strategy for Restored Wetlands

Photo courtesy of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Restoration of wetland ecosystems has typically focused on hydrology, soil, and vegetation, but mammals are drawn to restored wetlands at even higher levels than expected. A study led by Princeton researcher David J. Kurz, and published recently in The American Midland Naturalist, showed that a strategy of “if you build it they will come” is beneficial to not only wetland species, but also to mammals dependent upon wetlands for food, water and shelter.

“Restored wetlands – if managed correctly – can harbor mammalian communities as rich as those found in [natural, existing] wetland habitats. Our results support the “Field of Dreams” hypothesis which suggests, among other things, that if the necessary physical conditions are present then desired [wildlife] will subsequently colonize the patch. For small to midsized mammals in our study area, this appears to be the case,” said the study.

Read more: http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1674/0003-0031-170.2.260

The Society of Wetland Scientists Formally Supports Wetland Mitigation Banking to Save American Wetlands

Copyright Trout Headwaters Inc 2013 FrogThe Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS), in a position paper on the organization’s website, formally supports wetland mitigation banking to improve mitigation success and contribute to the goal of no net loss of wetlands.

For more than a century, the U.S. has been losing wetlands at an alarming rate. When wetlands are impacted by development, usually dredged and filled, developers are required to replace the same acreage within the same geographical area. “Banking” wetlands, before those impacts occur, is emerging as a preferred alternative, something we at THI support wholeheartedly.

Banked wetlands are systems that have been restored or created for compensatory mitigation in advance of unavoidable impacts to wetlands permitted by regulatory authorities. The banked wetlands should be managed, protected in perpetuity, functionally similar to the altered systems and within defined geographical areas.

SWS states in its position paper that, “Successful wetland mitigation requires agreement among the regulatory authorities and the proponents on size, type, timeline, required and desired functions, management, funding and oversight. Good science, design, construction and maintenance must support all this.”

Our nation’s wetlands provide critical ecological services that cannot be duplicated artificially.  Wetland protection and restoration should be one of our top priorities as we understand the critical importance of freshwater resources.

Read more: http://www.sws.org/wetland_concerns/banking.mgi

Cold-water Fish Food Not Adapting to a Warming World, Study Says

macroinvertebrates“Tiny sea creatures that play a big role in the ocean food chain are unable to adapt to warming oceans, according to a new study that may have profound ramifications for fisheries,” this according to a recent NBC news report about an Australian study.

Does this point to a similar problem for cold, freshwater fisheries, and the macroinvertebrates that are staples of fish such as trout, salmon and grayling?

In the ocean, the cold-water plankton lives for one year or less. Researchers examined a 50-year dataset from the North Atlantic to determine how this creature and another plankton that thrives in warmer water fared over half a century.

“Lots of people have speculated that animals with short generation times will simply adapt to change,” Graeme Hays, a marine scientist at Australia’s Deakin University, told NBC News in an email. “We show that is not the case.”

Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/cold-water-fish-food-not-adapting-warming-world-study-says-8C11432387

Big Data Tools for the Environment – Experience EcoBlu™ Analyst

NPDESDataSetDisplayTHICOPYRIGHT2013The EcoBlu Analyst  is a new tool developed by Trout Headwaters, Inc. that provides project managers, investors, non-profits and government with the power of big data in a secure, low-cost and customizable interface.  First deployed for use by the National Mitigation Banking Association NMBA Mitigation Analyst Announcement, the product easily transforms hundreds of thousands of lines of raw data into useable information.  The powerful system enables rapid ‘mash-ups’ of multiple databases from USGS, USEPA, USACE, and more.  Even add your own proprietary data.  Rapid visualizations like charts, graphs, and maps take only seconds to create, enabling fast, accurate data analysis and output.  To learn more  Contact Us or email info@troutheadwaters.com or phone 800-218-8107 toll-free nationwide.

The “Johnny Willowseed” Approach to Stream Restoration Is Both Practical and Low Cost

Johnny Willowseed approach to restorationJust as Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) made practical and lasting contributions to apple production in the U.S., our firm strives to make practical and lasting contributions to stream and river restoration, often through plantings of willow and other native riparian species.

In 1995, Trout Headwaters, Inc (THI) was founded to provide service to private, non-profit, and government clients.  At a time when fewer than a handful of entities across the U.S. were providing stream, river or wetland restoration services, the company quickly became a recognized leader in “soft” biostabilization and riparian restoration strategies.

For many years the company has teamed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others to develop and refine these environmentally superior techniques for stream stabilization and restoration.  A state regulator, reviewing one of THI’s early landmark projects remarked that we had used a “Johnny Willowseed” approach.  Working WITH nature has indeed been a precept of the firm since its founding and one that we’re immensely proud to continue through today.

Proven, Practical Innovation  

In 2001, THI began developing and testing proprietary technologies for river, stream and wetland inventory, assessment, design, and monitoring.  Ultimately, several of these processes were commercialized by sister company THI RiverWorks.  U.S. Patents for restoration methods, processes, and computer software were received beginning in 2006.

So while Trout Headwaters continues to offer the same services it did when first founded, the company has constantly changed and improved its process and its products.  This commitment to improving quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness has resulted in now more than 450 successful projects all across the U.S.  The company’s work has been featured in diverse publications including Land & Water, Erosion Control, Landscape Architect, Outdoor Life, and many others.

Customer Focus

Expect however our hallmark to remain always unchanged: A dedication to serving the nation’s most discriminating clients by delivering cost-effective and ecologically beneficial restoration products and services.

At THI our guiding principle is always to stay customer-focused. Each one of our clients has helped us achieve what we believe to be the lead position in the aquatic restoration industry.   But why take our word for it, listen to a sample of what our clients are saying:

“We have received award-winning attention for our sustainable, green design and development efforts, much of which is directly attributable to THI.” – Cielo Falls (NC)

“You and your team were nothing short of spectacular! Great communication on all projects and their status, along with an attitude that reflects your sincere care and passion for your profession consistently exceeded my expectations.” - 3 Peaks Ranch (MT)

“As you know I’ve worked with other firms on river restoration projects, prior to engaging THI.  As such, I have come to appreciate the quality of your firm’s work in an industry where many firms offer dramatic results but fail to deliver.”- River Ranch Restoration LLC (CO)

“Simply put, Trout Headwaters, Inc. is the transition captain, adding value by enhancing natural attributes of these ecologically important ranches.”- Live Water Properties (WY)

To learn more or contact us – Visit www.troutheadwaters.com