Condors, Wild & Scenic Rivers, Carp, Urban Infill, and Motorcycles

A whole passel of news today! First off: From Meera Subramanian, a piece in Nature about the trouble North America's largest bird currently faces.

California condors face lead menace

After more than three decades on the brink of extinction, the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) — the largest and most threatened wild bird species in the United States — is making a modest recovery, thanks to intensive captive breeding and medical intervention. But troubling data reported this week suggest that unless hunters change their practices, the condor will require extensive support in perpetuity if it is to survive in the wild.

The cause of the problem is that the condors ingest lead when they feed on the carcasses of animals that hunters have shot. A multidisciplinary study published on 26 June (M. Finkelstein et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA; 2012) shows that chronic lead poisoning persists among condors, despite a 2008 California ban on the use of lead shot in regions where the birds are being reintroduced... Read more.


One of our newest alumna, Deanna Lynn Wulff, explores in Bilingual Weekly the slippery slope of water and politics in California:

Will the Senate Sacrifice American Wild and Scenic Rivers for a Drop of Water?

California has hundreds of irrigation districts and more than 1400 dams, which divide, divert and route water all over the state, but one district in particular is garnering national attention.

The Merced Irrigation District (MID) is in a relatively small town of 80,000 people, but it manages the famous Merced River, which runs through Yosemite Valley and is formed from its world-renowned waterfalls. The river has long been protected by federal Wild and Scenic status, which means it can’t be encroached on by a dam, as Yosemite’s Tuolumne River was long ago. But that status is now threatened due to bill H.R. 2578, a measure that among other things would amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to make way for a spillway project. The project would flood 1700 linear feet of the wild river, a small section, but in doing so could rollback protections on all Wild and Scenic Rivers... Read more.


In an article that grew out of IJNR's recent trip to the Maumee River, Kristina Smith Horn of the Port Clinton News Herald takes a look at a marsh that could play a big role in the region's Asian carp issue.

Marsh vulnerable to carp

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Ohio and Indiana wildlife officials have agreed to form a response plan for potential flooding in a wetland that is considered the second-greatest threat for allowing Asian carp into the Great Lakes.

Nearly two years ago, Indiana put up a chain-link fence at Eagle Marsh in Fort Wayne, meant to keep the invasive fish from moving from the Wabash River system into the Maumee River system and ultimately Lake Erie. Officials from both states met at the end of May and decided the rapid response plan was necessary, said Doug Keller, aquatic habitat coordinator for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources... Read and watch more.


Francesca Lyman at The Sacramento Bee wonders whether developers should be focusing on suburban development or urban infill.

The Conversation: Our new lots in life?

Blame it on Ozzie and Harriet, or Hollywood, but California's culture seems inextricably bound up with the boundless American dream of suburbia. Judging from the glossy real estate brochures still selling spacious villas and oversize homes, it seems as though success, for many, remains the fantasy of driving down a wide, palm-tree-lined boulevard among the big lawns and mansions ofBeverly Hills, just like the character in Woody Allen's famous scene in "Annie Hall."

This latest burst of the housing bubble, however, has exposed the dark underside of the suburban dream – with its cascading foreclosures, shuttered malls and shopping centers – on an enormous scale. In California, as well as in Arizona, Florida and Nevada, vast numbers of tract houses, with swimming pools under perpetually sunny skies, have turned, suddenly, as one Realtor put it, "into entire neighborhoods under water."...Read more.


And finally, Ashley Ahearn with KUOW in Oregon asks some important questions about national parks, noise, and motorcycle culture (of which, she confesses, she is a part).

The Call (And Noise) of the Open Road

Karen Trevino’s job safeguarding the natural sounds of America’s national parks took on a personal dimension when she brought her son to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Two motorcyclists were sitting on their bikes idling near the visitor’s center when Trevino and her toddler walked by.

“And one of them winked at the other and thought it would be pretty funny. He throttled a couple of times pretty hard. I swear my son must have jumped three feet sideways,” Trevino recalled. “He’s only 3 so of course he started crying. He was really upset.”

Motorcycles are among the largest sources of noise pollution in national parks. The park service has been getting complaints about motorcycle noise from citizens and park superintendents around the country... Read, see and hear more.