August 17, 2018
This is How Levees Increase Flooding
Photo by Bob White/flickr
Anyone who has spent time along a major river or even small ones such as the Des Plaines knows that at some point the levee that is supposed to stop your house, or farm field from flooding has a high probability of not doing so.

Why? The link below summarizes the hydrology of levees and moving river water nicely.

For a century levees have been built to protect property. The old adage that water flows downhill is true in nature, but once the U.S. Corps of Engineers constructs a levee this all changes. The natural laws of nature are compromised. The water still has to go somewhere.

This is why the levees that line most of our major rivers often do not work and building them ever higher is certainly not the answer. What is to one person’s benefit will be to another’s detriment.

Just ask any farmer or duck club owner along a river how it has worked out for them. 
 – Charles S. Potter Jr., McGraw

Reversing Habitat Losses in Duck Country
By Dustin Lynch/TRCP
Photo by Sergei Yeliseev/flickr
Arkansas’ famed Delta region has historically been home to the largest continuous system of wetlands in North America and now serves as critical seasonal habitat within the Mississippi Flyway. Hunters kill more mallards in Arkansas than in any other state, and only Louisiana has a greater overall annual waterfowl harvest. What’s more, the Delta’s lowland rivers and lakes draw anglers in pursuit of bass, crappie, and catfish.

Hunting and fishing are woven into the fabric of life in this region, and money generated by sportsmen and women is crucial to the well-being of wildlife populations throughout the state. But the Delta also has a long agricultural history that has resulted in the serious degradation of some of its best habitat, requiring the committed work of conservationists to restore its waterways and wetlands, thus preserving the wealth of hunting and fishing opportunities found in the region.

Last year saw the completion of a five-year effort to support the area’s biodiversity, improve wildlife habitat, enhance water quality, and encourage the restoration of native vegetation. Now, this project could offer a model for similarly degraded waterways and wetlands throughout the region and across the country.
Red Snapper Program Could Ripple Across Nation
By Ledyard King/USA Today
Photo by Florida Fish and Wildlife/flickr
An unusual experiment playing out in the Gulf of Mexico not only is helping defuse the nation’s most politically charged fishing dispute but also advancing a new way of managing one of the country's most popular pastimes.

Federal regulators and the five Gulf states – Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas – are sharing oversight of red snapper, the reef fish prized by private anglers and seafood lovers across the United States.

Congress last year created the two-year pilot program,  known as the "exempted fishing permit"  program. It grants states the day-to-day authority to manage red snapper seasons for recreational fishing in U.S. waters as far as 200 miles from the shoreline. Normally, state jurisdiction extends to no more than 9 miles off the coast.

The catch: States are in charge, but they must follow strict federal fisheries rules and close the season once they’ve reached their quota.
Colorado's Whitewater
is Becoming
Low Water
By Jennifer Oldham/The Washington Post
Photo by Scrubhiker/flickr
In the state known as the “mother of rivers,” the third-warmest and driest period in more than a century is wreaking havoc on waterways that provide the economic lifeline for rural communities and high-alpine habitat for Colorado’s signature fish, the  greenback cutthroat trout.

The extremes of temperature and precipitation — too much of one, too little of the other — have grounded rafting companies in places that usually offer white-knuckle rides. With water barely lapping over jagged rocks, some outfitters have moved operations to rivers fed by reservoirs higher up in the parched Rockies.

“Boats can get piled up and people can get hurt if they flip, and guides were having to use their backs to pull the rafts off of rocks,” said Alan Blado, owner of Liquid Descent Rafting, which is based about 40 miles west of downtown Denver. “We didn’t want them to get injured.”
Yellowstone’s Iconic Birds Face Possible Collapse
By Todd Wilkinson/National Geographic
Photo by Ron/flickr
Doug Smith doesn’t remember the moment he realized that a serious ecological crisis was under way in Yellowstone National Park. But as more and more birds began to dwindle, what appeared before him was, he says, “an expanding picture of avian collapse.”

One of the first signs Smith spotted presented itself on the normally tranquil Riddle Lake   in 2014. There, floating upside down, was a young trumpeter swan killed by a  bald eagle . The cygnet was the last of an entire clutch of five siblings eaten by the mighty white-crowned raptors, an act that in one fell swoop wiped out all of the park’s newborn swans for the year.

Smith discovered other grim clues while paddling a canoe across the southern reaches of Yellowstone Lake. Littering the glassy surface were patches of waterfowl feathers. Eagles were attacking entire flocks of ducks. They also tore apart and ate double-crested cormorants and American white pelicans.
“Wilderness is not a luxury but necessity of the human spirit.”  

- Edward Abbey

To read past McGraw Reports click here.