Tag Archives: protection

What is the Price Tag for Nature’s Defenses?

Carl Zimmer writes recently in the New York Times that levees are not the only things that protect coasts from storm damage.  “Nature offers protection, too” he says.  “Coastal marshes absorb wind energy and waves of storms, weakening their impact farther inland.”  These coastal ecosystems and their services provide significant value he notes, shielding us from storms, reducing soil erosion, soaking up greenhouse gases and more.  In 1997 these ecosystems services were valued by a team of scientists at twice the gross national product of every country on Earth or in today’s dollars approximately $49 trillion. Since 1997 the release of hundreds of new studies, and the increased damage to these ecosystems across the world, have caused the team to reevaluate their estimate of these services, concluding that their earlier number was far too low.  >Read more via http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/05/science/earth/putting-a-price-tag-on-natures-defenses.html?hp

The Yellowstone River – Still the Longest Undammed River in the Lower 48?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Montana Department of Environmental Quality have issued a joint notice advising plans currently being considered by the District Engineer at Omaha, Nebraska.  According to the notice NOW-2008-02556-MTB the applicant is intending to “conduct periodic placement of rock” on the existing diversion dam and to enable full flows to the applicant even in the event of severe water shortages in the Yellowstone.

The project reach at Intake Dam east of Glendive, Montana is occupied habitat for Pallid Sturgeon, an endangered species presently under federal and state protections.  According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks:  “It’s present range in Montana includes the Lower Yellowstone River where damming, channelizing and diking has destroyed much of its habitat.”  More http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/species/endangered/pallidSturgeon/

Photo below of the dam on the Yellowstone River at Intake proposed for yet more rock.

Dam across Yellowstone-IntakeMT

Read a copy of the Public Notice:  NWO-2008-02556-MTB or via

http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Portals/23/docs/regulatory/publicnotices/MT/NWO-2008-02556-MTB.pdf

The Public Comment period is open through June 6, 2014 by writing the US Army Corps of Engineers, PO Box 2256, Billings MT 59103 or calling direct to Cathy Juhas at USACE (406) 657-5910.

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.

 

Sustainability Execs Faced with Managing Risk of Mother Nature’s Fury

Arizona Canal Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Arizona Canal photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

It wasn’t so long ago that the job of a sustainability executive was to make a company more “green” or “eco-friendly.”

But as GreenBiz.com producer Joel Makower points out in a recent blog post things are changing.

“Risk and resilience haven’t typically been part of most companies’ sustainability vocabularies,” writes Makower, “But Mother Nature’s fury is changing that, as droughts, floods, hurricanes and wildfires disrupt companies and their supply chains.”

Hurricane Sandy, so close to a huge metropolitan area, was a huge wake up call to the kind of disruption a major weather event can cause. But Sandy was far from the only weather event that upended business and society. Among the worldwide increase in extreme weather, the most obvious areas of vulnerability are food, fuel and water.

When we started Trout Headwaters nearly 20 years ago “climate change” was just coming to the fore.  The frequency with which we now see extreme weather events has infused our company with a renewed sense of urgency.

Nature offers us a most effective protection against weather extremes, if we would only recognize these protections.  Marshes, wetlands, and riparian buffers naturally protect against wind and water erosion, flooding, and drought.  These margins between land and water serve as barriers, sponges and filters to regulate water levels and filter pollutants.  But we have to take care of them, so they can take care of us.

Businesses, which think regularly about risk mitigation, are just beginning to think about climate change and resource constraints like other business risks.  “Keeping an eye on this is becoming part of the job of a growing handful of sustainability executives in global companies,” writes Makower… As the World Economic Forum wrote in a paper, “Global Risks 2012,” “rising greenhouse gas emissions” and the “failure of climate change adaptation” are in the same risk quadrant as food shortages and terrorism.”

Read more: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/02/25/state-green-business-sustainability-becomes-matter-risk-and-resilience

10 Cities That Could Run Out Of Water

watershortageTopping Trout Headwaters’ list of water wishes for the new year was: “Wishing that all water users will increase their conservation efforts so that healthy flows may be returned to our rivers.”

Securing access to plentiful, renewable sources of fresh water is among the biggest struggles large cities around the world face. Growing populations and declining fresh water supplies – from rapidly depleting aquifers as well as drought-stricken reservoirs and rivers – mean that cities are scrambling to find solutions.

“The ultimate price for not taking care of our streams and rivers is chronic water shortage,” says THI President Michael Sprague. “These shortages are upon us.  We need to work even harder to reverse this trend by protecting and restoring our freshwater resources before many suffer the consequences.”

The Weather Channel looked at 10 major U.S. cities facing some of the nation’s most acute water shortages, and the hurdles they face in obtaining enough water to meet their citizens’, and industries’, needs.

The list begins with the driest major city in Texas.

Read more: http://www.weather.com/news/science/environment/10-cities-could-run-out-water-20131212?utm_source=Water+Headlines+for+December+18&utm_campaign=Water+Headlines+Dec+18&utm_medium=email

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

“Emergency Response” for Streams and Rivers Becoming More Common

A scientifically-based assessment can aid quick, sound decision-making in an emergency.

A scientifically-based assessment can aid quick, sound decision-making in an emergency.

With unpredictable weather patterns becoming the new normal, it may be time to take a fresh look your flood risk.  At Trout Headwaters we are definitely seeing a distinct increase in the number of emergency calls we receive.  When a structure or critical resource is under threat of flooding time is of the essence.

Streams, rivers and wetlands do flood, most often during spring runoff or summer rain storms. An emerging pattern in the West of drought, followed by fire, followed by rain, can wreak havoc on the stability of streambanks. High spring runoff or heavy rain events can very quickly turn a peaceful stream into a raging torrent eating away at unstable banks.

Lush streamside vegetation and a healthy stream hydrology mean resilient streambanks, but if you do find yourself in an emergency situation, our firm’s expert team of engineers, hydrologists and biologists can  deploy quickly to provide an assessment of the damage and potential threat to your property.  Our patented RiverWorks Rapid Assessment System allows us to complete a thorough stream or river assessment quickly, even turning around a report and suggested remedies within 24 – 48 hours.

THI’s “green” approaches to streambank stabilization not only stave off further damage, but also strengthen over time as banks recover the type of deep-rooted, woody vegetation that means stability long term, along with added habitat values for fish and wildlife.

For more information or to discuss your concerns, contact THI today.

You may also like: For Builders, Architects, and Homeowners – Building Near a River or Stream?

Wyoming Water Tests in Line With EPA Finding on Hydraulic Fracturing

From Bloomberg Businessweek

Tests of drinking water near a natural-gas drilling site in Wyoming back up findings that established the first link by the federal government between hydraulic fracturing and tainted water, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

The EPA recently issued its follow-up analyses of two test wells it drilled in Pavillion and of five residents’ water wells, saying the pollutants it found were “consistent” with the results last year used to establish that connection to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Read: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-10/epa-says-test-of-wyoming-water-consistent-with-prior-results

Read More: Chemicals Found in Wyoming Drinking Water May Be From Fracking