Tag Archives: river

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

Service and Conservation Corps Will Soon Add “Waders in the Water”

THI-TCN photo 1

The Corps Network is working with Trout Headwaters, Inc. on a new training program to put “Waders in the Water.” THI president Michael Sprague (pictured) says his company is looking forward to readying America’s youth and veterans for work along our waterways. Photo credit: Trout Headwaters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 22, 2014—America’s Service and Conservation Corps have always been known for training a ready and able workforce of Americans, but today’s Corpsmembers will not only provide “Boots on the Ground,” they will also soon have “Waders in the Water.”

Thanks to a new public-private partnership between The Corps Network and Trout Headwaters, Inc., a national innovator in restoring the protective qualities of streams, rivers and wetlands, members of The Corps Network will gain enhanced capacity to complete aquatic restoration projects. Simultaneously Corpsmembers will obtain industry-recognized credentials and additional pathways to a conservation career—all while improving the health, beauty, and climate-resiliency of our public streams, rivers, and wetlands.  Functioning and healthy floodplains, wetlands, and marshes reduce flooding, storm damage, protect infrastructure, and improve water quality and quantity.

Trout Headwaters, Inc. will work with The Corps Network to develop projects and train Corpsmembers, whose 127 member Corps programs engage 27,000 young people and veterans in all states and the District of Columbia.  The partnership, and its nationwide opportunities for workforce development and learning, will be formally announced at The Corps Network 2014 National Conference to be held February 9 – 12, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

“Thanks to the expertise of Trout Headwaters, Inc., Corpsmembers will have another vehicle to obtain valuable experience and industry-recognized credentials while working directly on projects that help conserve and protect waterways, lakes, parks, and other important resources for current and future generations. In addition, it will help us fulfill the goal of the recently-launched 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, which aims to have 100,000 young people and veterans working to improve public lands and waters every year,” said Mary Ellen Ardouny, President & CEO of The Corps Network.

California Conservation Corps

The California Conservation Corps works to restore salmon habitat, while supplying veterans with transitional job opportunities. Photo credit John Griffith.

“We believe deeply in the work of The Corps Network and its focus on creating more opportunities for youth to serve their country while they are likewise trained to be the next great generation of conservation and community leaders,” says THI President Michael Sprague. “As a private company we look for the best opportunities to give back, and what could be better than training young people to love, protect and restore our nation’s natural resources?”

 The Corps Network

The Corps Network’s 127 members operate in all states and the District of Columbia. Each year they collectively enroll over 27,000 Corpsmembers from ages 16-25. Corps organize an additional 289,000 community volunteers who work alongside Corpsmembers to generate 638,684 additional hours of service annually, at an estimated value of $14,140,463. It is the mission of The Corps Network to provide national leadership and promote the growth and quality of its member Corps as they provide education, workforce development, and an ethic of stewardship to diverse youth who address important community and conservation needs.

Trout Headwaters, Inc.
Trout Headwaters, Inc. is the industry leader in sustainable approaches to stream, river, and wetland renewal and repair.  As one of the oldest firms in the industry, THI has pioneered approaches using natural materials and native vegetation that can reliably replace hard, invasive treatments that often damage our nation’s streams and rivers.  Besides developing and refining new techniques THI is a staunch advocates for greater sharing of information and more consistent use of assessment and monitoring tools, providing greater certainty of environmental benefits to restoration.

 

Media Contacts:

Michael Sprague, President, Trout Headwaters, Inc.
(800) 218-8107 mike@troutheadwaters.com

Levi Novey, Director of Communications & Marketing, The Corps Network
(202)737-6272 lnovey@corpsnetwork.org

 

 

 

My Top Water Wishes for 2014

THIProjectSite2013Water alerts continued to receive notice throughout 2013. Both drought and flooding again topped the nation’s headlines. 

My Top Water Wishes for the New Year include a quick look back at some of the important water stories that streamed our network this past year.

Top Ten Water Wishes for 2014:

#10: Wishing that our nation recognize the growing importance of water to our economy. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/two-reports-reinforce-link-between-environment-and-economy/

#9: Wishing that extreme and invasive strategies to resource management be shelved. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/rotenone-1952-called-and-wants-its-fisheries-management-strategy-back/

#8: Wishing that we harness green infrastructure – not pour more concrete. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/why-we-must-harness-green-infrastructure-not-concrete-to-secure-clean-water/

#7: Wishing that stream, river and wetland restoration efforts consider practical and low­-cost  approaches.  http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/the-johnny-willowseed-approach-to-stream-restoration-is-both-practical-and-low-cost/

#6: Wishing that solid economic analysis be applied to the environmental impacts we are creating in our pursuit of progress (insuring our respect and reinvestment in the basic ecosystem services which provide us life)  http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/none-of-the-worlds-top-industries-would-be-profitable-if-they-paid-for-the-natural-capital-they-use/

#5: Wishing that the U.S. continue to increase transparency and available public information relating to implementation of its environmental programs. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/obama-directs-agencies-to-make-more-data-public/

#4: Wishing that we work together to restore more resilient landscapes in response to increased frequency and intensity of storm events. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/the-science-behind-colorados-catastrophic-floods/

#3: Wishing that our cities may become more like forests. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/how-a-city-can-be-more-like-a-forest/

#2: Wishing that policy makers, land owners and resource managers respect the importance of conserving small streams. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/study-focus-on-smaller-streams-can-save-big-river-fish/


#1: Wishing that all water users will increase their conservation efforts so that healthy flows may be returned to our rivers. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/how-to-keep-trout-streams-cool-in-a-warming-climate/

Greenwashing Takes “Green” Industries to the Cleaners

greenwashingThey used to mean something. Words like “sustainable,” “eco-friendly,” “green,” “low-impact,” and “natural” set apart products and services that were better for our environment.  But once these terms became trendy, the practice of “greenwashing” (so rampant now it has its own Wikipedia page) has rendered these words virtually meaningless.

First reported by Forbes and Business Pundit, now the web-based Greenwashing Index, developed by the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, is a clearinghouse for dishonest greenwashing in the media.

But greenwashing products like soda, coal and bottled water may be the most damaging to genuinely “green” companies, practices and products.  As these terms are devalued, how does a company, like Trout Headwaters, for example, set itself apart?

One word we’ve used quite a bit to describe our services is “sustainable.” Once an important identifier, sustainable and sustainability have become junk words that can mean whatever people want it to mean, from environmental perfection to, well, nothing.   As a recent article in a Charleston newspaper pointed out, when Smithfield, the U.S.’s largest factory hog processor announces, “Sustainability is integral to the way we conduct business at Smithfield Foods every day,” and Monsanto, the giant multinational maker of chemicals and genetically-engineered seed, declares it is “A Sustainable Agriculture Company,” all we can say is, “Really?!”

How are consumers to know if products and practices are truly sustainable, green, and eco-friendly, or if they are just being duped by a greenwashed marketing campaign?  We all just have to be more vigilant, and do our homework.

In our industry of freshwater resource renewal and repair, we define sustainable as “works with nature,” “adds multiple values,” “self-sustaining,” “maintenance-free,” and “improves over time.”  Maybe we’ll have to coin a new term.

You may also like: 10 Questions to Ask Before Restoring Your Stream or Wetland

“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?

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

UNGC Corporate Sustainability Report Ranks Education and Poverty as the Top Global Sustainability Challenges

global_corporate_sustainability_reportThe United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) recently released its 2013 Global Corporate Sustainability Report on the state of corporate sustainability.

From the UNGC press report, “Findings show that companies committed to the UN Global Compact – the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative – are moving from good intentions to significant actions… However, while progress is being made, there is a long journey ahead for companies to fully embed responsible practices across their organizations and supply chain.”

Following are two key findings:

  • There is a clear gap between what companies “say” and what they “do”. Companies are making commitments, defining goals and setting policies at high rates, but still have much work to do to on the action steps.
  • When companies were asked to rank the top global sustainability challenges, education and poverty eradication were the leaders. These challenges speak to the importance of meeting the basic needs of the all the world’s residents. These responses are in line with the broader mission of the UN Global Compact for Sustainability.

Read the full report: http://www.unglobalcompact.org/AboutTheGC/global_corporate_sustainability_report.html

Father of Floodplain Management Said, “Build Away from Floodplains”

When rivers flood severely enough that there is loss of life, it’s not too long before emergency meetings are held to discuss new flood control measures.  Often these measures include armoring riverbanks.  Although a tragedy, the recent floods near Boulder, Colo. could have been worse.

Some of Boulder’s protection could be attributed to Gilbert White, the late University of Colorado professor known as the “father of flood plain management,” who believed that people should move structures out of flood-prone areas instead of relying on dams and levees.  White advocated  for adaptation to, or accommodation of, flood hazards rather than the “structural” solutions (dams, levees, and floodwalls, for example) that dominated policy in the early 20th century.

Dams, levees and floodwalls, developed by engineers, are designed to modify flooding hazards so that humans are protected and can continue to live in areas that are periodically subject to flooding (i.e. floodplains). White’s thought governing bodies (local, regional, or national) should restrict the use of floodplains. In his influential dissertation entitled “Human adjustment to floods,” published in 1945 by the University of Chicago Department of Geography, White argued that an over-reliance on structural works in the United States had actually increased damage by flooding, rather than decreasing them, and famously said, “Floods are an act of God, but flood losses are largely an act of man.”

Despite his many honors and accolades, including the National Medal of Science from the National Science Foundation (2000), during White’s lifetime, public confidence in structural works significantly increased building in floodplains.

You may also like: Know Your Risk: Floodwaters Can Transform Small Streams into Raging Rivers

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-flood-risks-20130920,0,7805513.story

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_F._White

How to Keep Trout Streams Cool in a Warming Climate

BrownTrout.Patrick Fulkrod PhotoThis month National Geographic reported that anglers who flock to Montana in search of their own authentic A River Runs Through It experience are out of luck. “On September 4, the Blackfoot River, centerpiece of Norman Maclean’s beloved story…was closed to fishing by in an effort to protect fish from the stress of low stream flows.”

Such river closures have become more common in recent years, in Montana and beyond.  Lower flows and warmer waters may be exacerbated by changes in climate, but the underlying problem cannot be solved by river closures.  A reduction in angler days won’t add more water to the stream.

At Trout Headwaters, Inc. we think the only solution to the rapid shifts brought on by climate change with regard to our rivers and streams is protection and restoration of these resources.  Cooler water will be achieved through conservative water use for agriculture, and healthier, well-vegetated floodplains to add shade.  Healthy streamside vegetation and protected flow levels act as a hedge against temperature extremes, drought, fire, floods, and pollutants from headwaters to deltas.

The time is now to restore these resources to their fullest potential for water quantity and quality and associated aquatic life.  To discuss your water conservation, or stream restoration project, contact THI today.

Read more: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/09/130918-angling-fishing-climate-change-global-warming-science/