March 22, 2019
Listen: Potter on
the Mississippi River
and Its Issues
Photo by Army Corps of Engineers/flickr
Charlie Potter, McGraw’s president and CEO, devoted a recent episode of his “Great Outdoors” radio show to discuss the pressing issues facing the lower Mississippi River and its tributaries. 

Among the issues: How the Army Corps of Engineers has constructed structures to control the Mississippi and prevent flooding (see photo), with unforeseen results such as the ongoing loss of wetlands and unprecedented upstream flooding.

Other problems include more and faster runoff from agricultural intensification and urban and suburban development.

Reintroducing Wolves … by Helicopter
By Katharine Gammon/PSMag
Photo by Erik Kilby/flickr
At a remote national park, four Canadians were recently airdropped into a dizzying new life in America.

They are expert moose hunters, accustomed to cold climates, and covered in fur.

A quartet of Canadian  wolves  was transported by helicopter from their home in Ontario to Isle Royale National Park, covering an 894-square-mile island in the United States Great Lakes, to deal with the burgeoning moose population. Scientists also hope to bolster a dwindling population of wolves that already exists on the island.

Historically, ice bridges have connected Isle Royale to the mainland for more than 50 days a year, allowing wolves ample time to migrate. But over the last two decades, these bridges have been far less common and consistent, in effect stranding the two last wolves at Isle Royale and preventing newcomers. The four new ones will join two others introduced in 2018. The National Park Service is planning to introduce 20 to 30 wolves to the park over the next five years.

How Fire Can Help the Bobwhite Quail
By Curtis Niedermier/Quail Forever
Photo by cuatrok77/flickr
The longleaf pine plantations within the Red Hills and Albany regions along the Florida-Georgia line comprise the heart of Southeastern bobwhite quail hunting, a bastion of upland tradition where quality habitat is managed on a large scale (both public and private lands) by folks such as Bill Palmer, the president and CEO of Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy. Palmer is one of the leading experts in quail restoration and one of the most experienced habitat managers in the country.

His team at Tall Timbers engages in practices ranging from cooperative upland habitat management agreements for large public land parcels to providing landowner assistance to planning mixed-use resource management strategies. Chief among its research focus has been the use of prescribed fire and other forest disturbance tactics to manage for wildlife species dependent on early succession habitat – namely, quail.

Recently, we spoke with Palmer to learn more about the lessons learned by Tall Timbers researchers and about modern land management strategies that might work across the bobwhite quail range. 

Atlantic Striper Outlook Worse than Thought
By Karl Blankenship/Bay Journal
Photo by Chesapeake Bay Program/flickr
A new status review has found the striped bass population to be in worse shape than previously thought, a result that will almost certainly trigger new catch restrictions for the prized species next year in the Chesapeake Bay and along the East Coast.

A preview of a soon-to-be-released stock assessment presented in February to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission indicates that the striped bass population is overfished and has been for several years.

Members of the commission, a panel of East Coast fishery managers, knew that the migratory species has been in coastwide decline for more than a decade, but the new assessment paints a bleaker picture than many expected, including data that show recreational catches are significantly higher than previously estimated.

Forecast: Rain, Followed by Butterflies
By Julia Jacobs/The New York Times
Photo by Rodney Campbell/flickr
Swarms of any other insect might provoke fears of a coming apocalypse, but clouds of butterflies migrating through Southern California are captivating onlookers who are relishing the otherworldly spectacle.

The orange butterflies, called painted ladies, are known to travel annually from the deserts of Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. This month, people are taking notice because of the sheer size of the migration: Scientists estimate the teeming painted ladies number in the millions.

Substantial rainfall in the deserts near the Mexican border, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, is the reason for the unusually large swarms. The rain caused plants to thrive, giving the painted lady caterpillars plenty of food to fuel their transformation, said  Arthur M. Shapiro , a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside 24 hours"

-Mark Twain
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