May 3, 2019
How farm technology can protect our water
By Emma Bryce/Anthropocene
Photo by IBM Research/flickr
A newly-applied technology could help farmers identify consistently low-yielding parts of their cropland, and dramatically reduce the needless application of fertilizers there, a  new study  finds.

Using remote-sensing technology to identify unproductive land, researchers from Michigan State University have found that this could save US corn and soybean farmers an estimated $500 million in fertilizer costs, and stop 6.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent escaping from unused nitrogen fertilizer into the atmosphere. That’s roughly the same as the emissions generated by 1.5 million cars in a year.

This is especially important in regions like the American Midwest, where the existence of a vast and lucrative cornbelt means fertilizers are extensively used to boost crop growth. But because farmers can’t predict where crops will be successful and where they won’t, fertilizer is applied uniformly across the land. So in low-yielding areas, a certain amount of fertilizer will always be left behind in the soil instead of being taken up by growing crops. This makes its way into waterways, and ultimately reaches the Gulf of Mexico, where the nutrient-rich substance fuels algal growth that causes growing dead zones in the ocean .

The McGraw Center for Conservation Leadership’s Heartland Waters Initiative also promoted precision technology to protect water. Read our report here
Will new restrictions save the striped bass?
By Scott Dance/Baltimore Sun
Photo by Chesapeake Bay Program/flickr
It’s trophy season for Chesapeake Bay rockfish, the only few weeks on the calendar local anglers can hunt for the 40-pound specimens visiting the estuary to spawn. But this year, it’s not as celebratory as it sounds.

Three decades after an outright ban on fishing for the species properly known as Atlantic striped bass helped it recover from near-extinction, scientists, anglers and the commercial fishing industry are raising alarms that the bay’s supreme and delectable swimmers are again being overfished. And about half of the fish that anglers are killing aren’t even being eaten — they’re caught and thrown back, only to die from their wounds.

The concerns prompted Virginia to cancel its trophy season six days before fishing was set to begin in some Potomac River tributaries. Authorities there said emergency action was needed to allow as many of the females to spawn as possible.

Maryland officials said they have no plans to make a similar decision this spring. But commercial and recreational fishermen around the state’s rivers and creeks are nonetheless hoping, and bracing, for new restrictions to stabilize the striped bass population once again.

Read the Center for Conservation Leadership’s newly updated report on the economics of striped bass fisheries here .
Stories of mentoring new hunters, anglers
Outdoor Life
CLfT photo
I bet some of your best hunting and fishing memories come from the very beginning. It's true for me. I can recall every detail about the first deer I killed. I remember how that morning smelled—hot chocolate and burnt gun powder. My 20th deer? Not so much.

You know about the decline in hunter numbers and how it's critical for us to recruit new people in order to preserve the future of our sport and fund the conservation of wild places. But these stories aren't about that. These are about those firsts.

Memories are as close as you'll get to your own first few magical seasons, but now as a veteran sportsman or -woman, you can recreate that same excitement, surprise, and joy for someone else. When you recruit someone new into hunting and fishing, it's no longer just another deer or another fish. It's the deer. It's the fish. It's a life-changing moment. It's why you fell in love with hunting and fishing in the first place.

So we've compiled stories about our own successes and failures in converting new hunters and anglers. 

Great white sharks are afraid of something
By Kayla Epstein/Washington Post
Photo by Elias Levy/flickr
Jaws is afraid of Free Willy.

A new study  published in Nature demonstrated that when pods of orcas entered an area around South Farallon Island off the coast of San Francisco, the great white sharks in the area cleared out — and didn’t return for months.

No ocean predator is more fearsome in the public imagination than the great white shark, but even they appear to steer clear of orcas, highly intelligent pack hunters that  have been observed on rare occasions to attack great whites  — and  eat their livers.

“On one occasion, we had 17 sharks that we were tracking simultaneously at the island when a group of orcas showed up,” said Salvador Jorgensen of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, who led the study that involved Stanford University and Point Blue Conservation Science.

“We were able to see from the data all the sharks leaving the side of the island the orcas had arrived on,” he said, “and within a few hours had vacated the island completely.”

Save the planet – eat more seaweed
By Melissa Clark/New York Times
Photo by Jonathan Kriz/flickr
It was a sharp, windy March day, but the gray water of Maine’s Casco Bay glimmered green in the sun. On his lobster boat, the Pull N’ Pray, Justin Papkee scanned the surface of the ocean, searching for his buoys. But he wasn’t looking for lobster traps.

Mr. Papkee was farming, not fishing: His crop, clinging to ropes beneath the cold waves, was seaweed, thousands of pounds of brownish kelp undulating under the surface. Growing at a rate of 4 to 6 inches per day for the past six months, it was nearly ready to be harvested and sent to restaurants like Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Houseman,  Saint  and Luke’s Lobster in New York, and Honey Paw, Chaval and the Purple House here in Maine.

He pulled a blade of kelp from his line and handed me a long, translucent strip. I took a bite, and then another, seawater running down my chin.

“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” 

- Harriet Ann Jacobs
To read past McGraw Reports click here.