More Maumee, Troubling Turbines, Fire Follow-up, and Lousy Legislation

A whole bunch of Nooze for you today! First, another follow-up on our recent Maumee Valley Institute, this one brought to you by Chris Kick of Farm and Dairy.

 Maumee River Watershed up close and personal

Sometimes the best way to understand something is to experience it first-hand. I had that experience last week as I set out on an expedition-style journalism event with a dozen other journalists from across the country and Canada.

Our focus was the Maumee River Watershed — a nearly 5 million acre expanse of farmland and urban areas connected to a series of wetlands and streams, and lesser rivers, that eventually feed into the Maumee River and Maumee Bay of Lake Erie. The area has entered the national spotlight in recent years due to nutrient runoff and sedimentation — and the consequential blooming of harmful algae.

When overly abundant, these algae have a negative impact on the fish and plant life in the lake, and can make the water unsafe for human use and consumption... Read More.


Meera Subramanian writes in Nature about scientists who are trying to keep the skies safe for wildlife:

The trouble with turbines: An ill wind

Marc Bechard turned a worried eye skywards as he walked among the limestone hills at the southern tip of Spain. It was October 2008, and thousands of griffon vultures — along with other vulnerable raptors — were winging towards the Strait of Gibraltar and beyond to Africa. But first they had to navigate some treacherous airspace. The landscape on either side of the strait bristles with wind turbines up to 170 metres high, armed with blades that slice the air at 270 kilometres per hour.

Bechard, a biologist at Boise State University in Idaho, and colleagues from the Doñana Biological Station in Seville, Spain, had been hired to help the birds make it safely past 13 wind farms in Cádiz province. Each time the researchers spotted a raptor heading towards a turbine, they called the wind farm's control tower. Within minutes the blades slowed to a stop, and one more migrating bird soared past unharmed. Then the turbine swung back into action... Read more.


The West isn't the only part of the country that's dealing with the effects of wildfire right now.  Chris Engle of the Petoskey News reports on the aftermath of the Upper Peninsula's Duck Lake Fire:

Aftermath of fire could have mixed results for fish, wildlife

The 21,000-acre Duck Lake Fire in Luce County is contained and officials with the Department of Natural Resources say the fire’s impact on the region’s fish and wildlife will be both good and bad.

In the years following a wildfire, game animals like deer, bear, turkey, grouse and rabbit prosper, according to Brian Mastenbrook, wildlife biologist at the DNR office in Gaylord. He referred to prescribed burns, where the DNR intentionally sets fire to relatively small areas in order to generate new growth of aspen, jack pine, grasses and shrubs.

“Generally, the years afterward are positive,” he said, noting the fire releases a “flush of nutrients” into the soil that fuels new growth and creates food and shelter for animals. “It’s just like putting fertilizer on the garden ... All of our major game species will use those areas.”... Read more.


And High Country News' Sarah Gilman sounds off about politics, the environment, and the toxic relationship the two currently enjoy in America, especially as evidenced by the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, which just headed to the floor of the House:


Welcome back to my coverage of “race-to-the-bottom 2012,” wherein I gripe futilely about this year’s toxic politics (see past editions here and here), which appear to be completely allergic to anything that protects the environment or public health.

Our story today begins in March of 2009, when Congress passed the landmark, years-in-the-making Omnibus Public Lands Management Act. As HCN Senior Editor Ray Ring reported at the time, the measure “felt like a ghost from the golden age of the environmental movement, the 1970s, when Republicans and Democrats worked together to pass major environmental laws.”... Read more.