Tag Archives: wetland

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/

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

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

Created and Restored Wetlands Are Unexpectedly Efficient for Storing Carbon

Copyright Trout Headwaters Inc 2013

THI-restored Montana wetland

At THI we work hard to raise awareness about the ecological value of wetlands. The ecological services wetlands provide, including water storage, water filtration, flood prevention, and aquatic habitat are becoming better understood and appreciated, however, another critical ecological service has, until now, been overlooked.  The American Society of Agronomy reports wetlands also excel at pulling carbon dioxide out of the air and holding it long-term in soil.

According to Bill Mitsch, director of the Everglades Wetland Research Park at Florida Gulf Coast University and an emeritus professor at Ohio State University, writing in the July-August issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality with co-author Blanca Bernal,  two 15-year-old constructed marshes in Ohio accumulated soil carbon at an average annual rate of 2150 pounds per acre—or just over one ton of carbon per acre per year.

The rate was 70% faster than a natural, “control” wetland in the area and 26% faster than the two were adding soil carbon five years ago. And by year 15, each wetland had a soil carbon pool of more than 30,000 pounds per acre, an amount equaling or exceeding the carbon stored by forests and farmlands.

What this suggests, Mitsch says, is that researchers and land managers shouldn’t ignore restored and manmade wetlands as they look for places to store, or “sequester,” carbon long-term. When created wetlands are discussed in agricultural circles, it’s almost always in the context of water quality. “So, what I’m saying is: let’s add carbon to the list,” Mitsch says.

To discuss your wetland creation or restoration project, contact THI today.

Read more: https://www.agronomy.org/story/2013/jun/mon/farming-carbon-study-reveals-potent-carbon-storage-potential-of-man-made-wetlands

Trout Headwaters Started with a Customer Before a Company

Michael Sprague.Oceanographic Museum.Submarine

Michael Sprague in an early submarine, Monaco Oceanographic Museum.

by THI President and Founder, Michael Sprague

At Trout Headwaters (THI) we have a “customer-first” philosophy.  But considering our firm’s fortuitous beginnings, we really couldn’t have done it any other way.  You see, THI started with a customer first.

For any business having a customer before it officially offered products or services would be unusual, but ours enjoyed such fortune.  I remember the day in 1995 that I met with the new owner of a Montana ranch.  I was just happy to be out of the office on a warm summer day; the kind of day every Montanan waits for after a long winter.  As the owner and I walked the property and examined the condition of Brackett Creek, I made a few notes on the pad I carried. This stream had been a lounging place for cattle, and it showed, but I could feel its potential for trout.

”Well,” Mr. Enrico asked me, “what would you do with this stream if it were on your property?”  I told him that I’d start by trying to figure out what he had, what was working, and what wasn’t.  This process, called assessment, or “baseline-assessment” to be precise, would eventually become the backbone of THI’s turn-key approach to stream, river and wetland restoration and repair.

“So, you’ll send me a proposal?” he said.  And without ceremony, Roger Enrico, the soon to be Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo, would become my new firm’s first customer.  Having a customer before we had a business has served us well.  We didn’t have a preconceived idea of what we would do for our customer, which gave us special insight into the importance of the customer’s needs, wishes and dreams.  From our first customer, our  “customer-first” philosophy has directed our firm, products, and processes.  From such a beginning, maintaining focus on our customers has remained our top priority.

Mr. Enrico was the first of many customers who would teach our firm how to provide value.  We’ve listened carefully to the men and women who have supported the company as customers, employees and affiliates, letting their combined vision, goals and expertise help guide our initiatives and meet each set of challenges.  Contact THI today to discuss your freshwater restoration or enhancement needs.

Learn more: http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/?page_id=648

10 River Films You May Want to Stream

Some of the best documentary films about rivers and streams are never seen by a major audience.  Maybe they are screened at an independent film festival, or at a conservation-related event.  Even after rave reviews, they may shelved, often never to be viewed again.  Here’s a short list of some interesting river films you may want to download or stream to your personal computer, tablet or smart phone.  In some cases only the trailer is available, and you may need to contact the filmmaker for a copy.

The Plight of the Pallid Sturgeon – 2013, 59 min.
A review of the life history of the pallid sturgeon, a fish species with an ancestry dating back 80 million years when dinosaurs were walking the shores of the ancient Missouri River.
Full film: http://watch.montanapbs.org/video/2365025510/

Where the Yellowstone Goes – 2012, 88 min.
Where the Yellowstone Goes follows a 30-day drift boat journey down the longest “undammed” river in the lower 48. Intimate portraits of locals in both booming cities and dusty, dwindling towns along the Yellowstone River, illustrate the history and controversies surrounding this enigmatic watershed leading to questions about its future. Connect with colorful characters, get lost in the hypnotic cast of a fly rod, and experience silhouetted moments of fireside stories on this heartfelt river adventure.
Trailer: http://www.wheretheyellowstonegoes.com/
Buy: http://www.troutheads.org/where-the-yellowstone-goes-dvd-or-bluray-p-9.html

Lost Rivers – 2012, 72 min.
(French with English subtitles) Once upon a time, in almost every industrial city, countless rivers flowed. We built houses along their banks. Our roads hugged their curves. And their currents fed our mills and factories. But as cities grew, we polluted rivers so much that they became conduits for deadly waterborne diseases like cholera, which was 19th century’s version of the Black Plague. Our solution two centuries ago was to bury rivers underground and merge them with sewer networks.
Trailer: http://rivieresperdues.radio-canada.ca/en

Valley Maker – 2011, 70 min.
Part documentary, part personal travelogue, Valley Maker follows the travels of filmmaker Sean Kafer as he navigates 1600 miles down the Mississippi River, from Prescott, Wisconsin to New Orleans, in a hand crafted barrel raft.
Trailer: http://seankafer.net/pages/valleymaker.html
Contact the filmmaker: http://www.seankafer.net/pages/contact.html

Return of the River – Still in development
The official ceremony heralding the long-awaited start of dam removal on the Elwha River was held on September 17, 2011. The decommissioning of the two Elwha River dams is both symbolic and meaningful, as salmon will again return to the protected river inside of Olympic National Park.
Trailer: http://www.elwhafilm.com/trailer.htm

Saving America’s Wildest River – 2010, 54 min
In the summer of 2008, George Wolfe, a satirical writer and avid boater decided to paddle the entire 52 miles of the Los Angeles River, from the headwaters in Canoga Park to its mouth in Long Beach. He organized an expedition and, together with a dozen other ragtag locals he changed the course of the river forever. This film tells their incredible story, the story of the embattled waterway, and the story of Los Angeles’ past, present and potential future.
Trailer: http://www.rocktheboatfilm.com/
Buy: http://www.rocktheboatfilm.com/shop

Rivers to the Sea – 2009, 46 min
This documentary looks at the beauty and the pollution of tidal Atlantic rivers. The rivers’ closeness to the sea makes them ideal spawning grounds for many kinds of marine fish that require fresh water to complete some part of their life cycle.
Full film: http://www.online-documentaries.com/documentary/rivers-to-the-sea/

Rediscovering the Yangtze River – 2006, 33 Episodes
This documentary created by China Central Television follows a 1984 documentary film named “The Story of the Yangtze River.” It is China’s first documentary shot entirely in 1080i HDTV. Filming began in 2004 and the first episode aired in July 2006. The series has a total of 33 episodes with a run time of 30 minutes per episode.
Watch all episodes online: http://english.cntv.cn/program/documentary/special/yangtze_river/
Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Rediscovering-Yangtze-River-Lived-Rhythm/dp/B006VA40HC/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1376257480&sr=1-1&keywords=rhythm+of+the+river

Planet Earth Freshwater – 2006, 50 min
Freshwater show us the course taken by rivers and some of the species, Venezuela’s Tepui, where there is a tropical downpour almost every day, the vastness of Angel Falls, the world’s highest free-flowing waterfall, the two-metre long giant salamander, salmon undertake the largest freshwater migration, and are hunted en route by grizzly bears, the Grand Canyon, created over five million years by the Colorado River, Nile cousin ambushing wildebeest as they cross the Mara River, Roseate spoonbills, cichlids, piranhas, river dolphins and swimming crab-eating macaques.
Trailer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00mrvbp
Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Freshwater-HD/dp/B00321QLS4

Rivers of Destiny – 2003, 25 min
Journey to Planet Earth examines the health of four of the world’s river systems — the Mississippi, the Amazon, the Jordan and the Mekong. The first stop is the small town of Grafton, Illinois, one of the many to suffer devastating damage when the upper Mississippi River flooded its banks in 1993. Journey to Planet Earth shows how massive construction efforts earlier in this century to control the river’s flooding have profoundly affected the entire Mississippi basin.
Trailer: http://www.ovguide.com/tv_episode/journey-to-planet-earth-season-1-episode-1-rivers-of-destiny-407728
Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Planet-Earth-Destiny-Edition/dp/B008Y0O3JM