June 8, 2018
Farm Bill Key to Protecting Potholes, Wetlands
By Bill Antonides/Agri-Pulse
Photo by carol mitchell/flickr
It’s not an exaggeration to say I have spent nearly my entire life—all six-plus decades of it—wandering South Dakota’s fields, wetlands and prairie potholes. Like many Dakotans, I first discovered our wetlands during hunting season. As I grew up, I chose a career in wildlife biology to allow me to get up close and personal with our state’s natural places year-round.

The changes I’ve seen over the decades are heartbreaking. Many of the wetlands I used to hunt in are now gone—drained and filled and turned to cropland. This means fewer waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wildlife. This means more fertilizer and more of our state’s precious soil is washed away, harming water quality in the Missouri, James and Sioux Rivers and on to our downstream neighbors. It means bigger floods and fewer opportunities to share with my grandchildren the wonders of wetlands wildlife – from dragonflies and fireflies to minnows and mallards.

The Farm Bill, with its wetlands and grasslands conservation easement and conservation compliance provisions, is the most important tool we have to protect wetlands and wildlife habitat on the nation’s private lands. 
‘The Greatest Birding Day of My Life’
By James Gorman/The New York Times
Photo by John Sutton/flickr
Ian Davies got hooked on birds when he was 12. He went to a site near Plymouth, Mass., where volunteers were putting bands on migrating birds.

“They let me release a Canada warbler,” he said, “and that was just game over.”
Recently, he saw an estimated 700,000 warblers and set the birding world all atwitter with a posting on  the site eBird describing the astonishing event .
The posting begins simply:

“Today was the greatest birding day of my life.”

He may one day top it, because he is 26. But he has a good deal of experience to look back on already. In 14 years of dedicated birding, he has been to 35 countries, and is a project coordinator of eBird, a citizen science project for gathering data from the worldwide community of birders, who contribute data on about 100 million sightings a year.
Fewer U.S. Species Than Ever are Overfished
By the Associated Press
Photo by Florida Sea Grant/flickr
The number of American fish stocks that can be described as "overfished" has hit an all-time low, the U.S. government announced.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made the statement as part of its annual Status of Stocks Report to Congress. Six populations of fish are being removed from its list of overfished stocks, including the popular commercially fished stocks of Gulf of Mexico red snapper and Georges Bank winter flounder, the agency said.

NOAA Fisheries classifies jeopardized fish stocks as "overfished" or experiencing "overfishing." The agency's report stated that 35 stocks out of 235 are overfished, which is the lowest number since the agency started tracking fish populations in this way in 2000.
In Africa, Modern-Day Noah’s Ark Saves Wildlife
By Kevin Seiff/The Washington Post
Photo by Brian Ralphs/flickr
Two decades ago, this patch of Malawian forest was almost emptied of wildlife. The last elephants had been poached. The lions had been caught in snare traps. Other species died off as their range was diced by machete-wielding farmers.

Now the animals have returned in a modern-day Noah’s ark — a bold attempt by private philanthropists and environmentalists to move wildlife from other parts of the continent.

Hundreds of miles from this dense forest, the animals were scooped up in harnesses dangling from construction cranes. They were carried into white metal storage containers, with the occasional elephant trunk peeking out. Then they crisscrossed southern Africa in commercial planes and flatbed trucks.
Vacant Lots Can be Islands of Nature in the City
By Brandon Keim/Anthropocene
Photo by habeebee/flickr
Vacant lots are islands of wildness in the urban jungle: small and scraggly yet bountiful and biodiverse, a place to enjoy nearby nature and a home to city creatures. Yet there’s a tension inherent to them. Unless people protect vacant lots, they’ll eventually be developed — and they are “often considered a neighborhood eyesore, a place for crime and trash,”  write researchers in the journal Sustainability . “Vacant lots are usually deemed a local problem for neighborhood residents.”

How, then, to cultivate natural richness while also satisfying the needs and wishes of people living nearby?

Led by urban ecologist Christine Rega-Brodsky of Pittsburg State University, the researchers surveyed 150 lots in Baltimore, Maryland, quantifying their vegetation and bird life and physical features. Then they distributed questionnaires to local community groups, asking what features they preferred and what they wanted for their lots.

“I came by there five years ago and where I shot that pheasant there was a hotdog place and filling station and the north prairie, where we hunted snipe in the spring and skated on the sloughs when they froze in the winter, was all a subdivision of mean houses, and in the town, the house where I was born was gone and they had cut down the oak trees and built an apartment house close out against the street. So I was glad I went away from there as soon as I did.”  

-- Ernest Hemingway

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