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Cara J

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5 Has posted some good stuff

About Cara J

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    Central Hardwoods Joint Venture
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    United States
  1. Tagen Baker’s organic farm in California is bustling with life. It’s not just the historic acres of walnut trees on the property, or the fields of lavender, or the heirloom vegetables coming up out of the ground. It’s lots of bees and bats, butterflies and hummingbirds, which are attracted to the lavender and California wildflowers she’s planted in her pollinator garden. “I’ve seen more than I ever thought,” said Baker. The inspiration for the farm came in part from graduate work she is conducting at Utah State University in the Department of Environment and Society. Its name, Bitton Farm, came from her great-grandfather, who started a family ranching legacy in southeast Idaho. With a Feed a Bee grant from Bayer Bee Care, Baker created a half-acre pollinator garden, with lavender and wildflowers to lure birds and butterflies. The Feed a Bee initiative focuses on planting forage for pollinators and offers grants to support the establishment of additional sources of nutrition and habitat across the country. Projects must promote pollinator health, include an education or outreach component and provide a tangible solution to the current lack of forage. Since 2015, the program has helped to plant some 3 billion flowers, from [...] View the full article
  2. The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee reported the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill, with a 20-1 roll call vote. The 2014 Farm Bill expires at the end of September, and members of both parties on the committee stressed the importance of passing a new five-year Farm Bill before the old one expires. Title II of the Farm Bill authorizes the Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program. These voluntary programs provide technical and financial assistance to landowners who follow sound stewardship practices on their lands to improve wildlife habitat, reduce erosion and improve soil and water quality. The programs can help take less productive or ecologically sensitive land out of production to benefit wildlife but still allow landowners to make money. “This bill has no overall cuts to the conservation title, which helps our farmers be more productive and protects our land and water for outdoor recreation,” said Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan. The Senate version of the bill, which was marked up June 13, would raise the cap on the Conservation Reserve Program from 24 million to 25 million acres and sets rental rates [...] View the full article
  3. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Michigan, introduced a bill (H.R. 6013) that would designate Jan. 31 as the end of the federal duck hunting season by modifying the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The 2018-2019 hunting season framework released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this month specified the last Sunday in January as the end of the season. The bill in the House of Representatives would add an additional four days to the end of the 2018-2019 federal season. It would also designate special hunting days for youth, veterans and active military personnel on the first weekend in February. Learn more about the bill at congress.gov. View the full article
  4. On Thursday last week, the Senate Committee on Appropriations unanimously approved a $32.6 billion Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year (FY) 2019 (S. 3073) Only one amendment was adopted during the markup session, which included a provision that directs the Interior Department and Forest Service to maintain updated five-year deferred maintenance plans. Committee members did not offer any other new amendments to the introduced bill. The legislation also largely rejects many of the spending cuts in the president’s proposed FY2019 budget. The spending bill will now move out of committee and onto the Senate floor for a vote. The Senate has not voted on a stand-alone Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies spending bill since 2010. “It is time to return to regular order where we vote appropriations bills out of committee with bipartisan support and take them to the floor,” said Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in her opening statement. “I look forward to moving the Interior bill through the process in a fashion which allows all members of the Senate to have an opportunity to debate the bill and offer amendments.” The bill provides the Interior [...] View the full article
  5. As climate change disrupts wildlife around the world, protected lands in Quebec might actually see higher biodiversity, researchers found, creating challenges for managers as they deal with wildlife leaving warmer climes. “We wanted to really get a feel for what climate change would mean for our biodiversity,” said Frieda Beauregard, a curator at the McGill University herbarium and a co-author of the study published in Scientific Reports. “We have a long border. It’s a big province containing several biomes. We wanted to try to get some parameters on what we can expect.” Beauregard and her colleagues created niche models for what projected changes in climate would mean for 529 species that make up about one-third of the protected areas in southern Quebec. They studied birds, amphibians, trees and vascular plants. The team used government data, including extensive surveys done at the provincial level, and projected future climate change scenarios to make their predictions. The results showed that climate change could push wildlife from more southern regions of North America into protected areas in the Quebec by 2071 to 2100. Species gain could range from 12 to 530 percent, researchers found, depending on the area, while a few parts of the [...] View the full article
  6. As the water in Utah’s Pariette Wetlands evaporates in the June heat, manager Darren Williams wonders what its future holds. Encompassing 9,204 acres, including 2,529 classified as wetlands or riparian, Pariette is the Bureau of Land Management’s largest wetland development in Utah, but tucked out of the way in the desert, even many locals have never seen this marshy expanse. “A lot of people born and raised here say they didn’t know it was here,” Williams said. Pariette Wetlands sits in eastern Utah’s high desert, 50 miles southwest of Vernal. The country is naturally dry, but in the early 1970s, BLM biologists noticed a water impoundment, created by ranchers with permits to graze cattle on the land, had begun to take on the characteristics of natural wetlands. By 1972, the agency had installed a system of dikes and dams to create 25 ponds from a perennial stream to improve waterfowl production and seasonal habitat for other species. The ponds began attracting an abundance of birds: American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos). White-faced ibis (Plegadis chihi). Herons and egrets. Diving ducks and dabbling ducks. In recent years, wood ducks (Aix sponsa) began appearing. “Just about every species that is known to occupy the [...] View the full article
  7. The House Appropriations Committee has approved a $35.25 billion spending bill for the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and related agencies for fiscal year 2019. The committee approved the bill by a roll call vote of 25-20 on June 6 and adopted 13 amendments, some of which carry implications for wildlife management. An amendment put forth by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) added language to the bill that would explicitly allow the Bureau of Land Management to use chemical or surgical sterilization to manage growing populations of wild horses and burros. The use of sterilization provides the Bureau of Land Management with an additional tool to manage the 82,000 horses and burros on western rangelands. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) put forth an amendment that would prohibit Interior from using funds to reintroduce grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) into Northern Cascades areas of Washington state. In April, Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke announced his support for plans to reintroduce grizzly bears there. The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been reviewing 126,000 public comments received on a draft environmental impact statement for grizzly reintroduction. The committee also adopted an amendment from Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) that prohibits Interior [...] View the full article
  8. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will review the status of 38 southwestern species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Under review are species found in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma, including the endangered jaguar (Panthera onca), the endangered Mexican wolf (Canus lupus baileyi) and the endangered ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). Every five years, USFWS conducts status reviews to ensure species continue to have adequate and appropriate levels of protection under the ESA. Five-year status reviews use the best scientific data available to determine if a species’ status has changed since the time it was listed or since the previous status review. After conducting a review, the Service can reclassify the species, remove it from the list or maintain its current classification. The USFWS is requesting the submission of any relevant and/or new information on these species that has become available since the previous reviews of these species. Read the notice in the Federal Register. View the full article
  9. Conservationists have long called for restoring landscapes as much as possible to the way they were before humans altered them, but they’ve started embracing the idea that nonnative plants can sometimes help sustain native wildlife. Looking at two of these novel ecosystems, the grasslands of Oregon and the city gardens of Australia, researchers recently demonstrated that endemic birds take advantage of the resources offered by the nonnative vegetation comprising these modified habitats. “This is not rocket science,” said Patricia Kennedy, first author on the study published in Ecosphere. “Some animals utilize nonnative vegetation. Some do not. We need to think more critically about restoration priorities. Some nonnative plants are providing resources for birds, and the birds are doing fine.” To test the prediction that native wildlife use novel ecosystems when they provide structure and resources similar to the original habitat, Kennedy, a professor with Oregon State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and her collaborators looked at breeding birds in two habitats. They examined how plant origin and vegetation structure related to nesting success on the vast Zumwalt Prairie Preserve in northeastern Oregon and to the presence of birds in 2,000 gardens across the western Australian city of Perth. As [...] View the full article
  10. Every spring in New England seems to bring stories of poorly located raptor nests resulting in conflicts with humans. At Westover Air Reserve Base, Wildlife Services-Massachusetts had its first peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) relocation this year. It wasn’t easy, but we hold great hopes for its success, and for the adults to find a better site than an airplane hangar to raise their young. When a pair of peregrines arrived at the base in Chicopee, Massachusetts last year, they selected a pull-through hangar for a massive C-5 military transport plane, building a nest in the pocket where the gigantic doors retract. Massachusetts lists the federally-protected peregrine as a threatened species, so when a chick was crushed as the doors were opened, it was particularly difficult for me to watch. The other chick fell to the ground, prompting Joe Rogers, the Wildlife Services airport biologist, to take it to a rehabilitator. This year we attempted to bar the pair from the crevice and encourage them to nest elsewhere, but the exclusion was unsuccessful. The birds laid four eggs. We started working collaboratively with the airbase and Tom French of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to find a solution to successfully [...] View the full article
  11. Birds that specialize on eastern hemlock forests have been declining as a result of an invasive insect devastating the trees, according to new research. Researchers knew from past studies that eastern hemlock is important for some bird communities. There had also been previous data looking at hemlock conditions and extrapolating the differences in habitat after insect infestation. But until recently, there hadn’t been any long-term research looking at these effects on the bird community before and after infestation of the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae). “We were fortunate that previous researchers had collected baseline data in the year 2000 at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which borders Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” said Matt Toenies, a former graduate student in the ecology program at Pennsylvania State University and lead author of a recent study published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications. The East Asian insects had arrived when the data was collected, Toenies said, but they hadn’t yet affected the trees. Researchers were able to compare that data with what they found some 15 years later. The team determined that birds specialized to hemlock — such as the Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens), blue-headed vireo (Vireo solitarius), hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus), [...] View the full article
  12. Twenty-eight Forest Service scientists and land managers, along with a suite of collaborators, are sharing the distinguished Research Partnership Award, one of four Wings Across the Americas awards. Every year, the Forest Service recognizes outstanding work by agency personnel and their conservation partners in conserving birds, bats, butterflies and dragonflies. The Wings Across the Americas awards acknowledge projects or program that enhances the conservation and concern for migratory wildlife and their habitat needs in an urban environment. Since 1983, an interagency team of researchers and managers led by the Rocky Mountain Research Station has worked cooperatively to understand the ecology of the Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) and translate the results into management recommendations. This research has collectively influenced management across millions of acres of forests in the American Southwest and Mexico. The management approaches recognize the importance of balancing the short-term need to conserve existing habitat while ensuring the long-term sustainability of owl habitat in the future. The success of this project is due in part to the inter-disciplinary efforts to assess disturbance, forest ecology, landscape, and impacts to wildlife habitat, and to the close collaboration between wildlife ecologists and managers to ensure habitat well into the future. The Forest [...] View the full article
  13. Gail Patricelli, a biologist at University of California, Davis, has a unique approach to studying greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) mating. It involves what she calls a “fembot” — a taxidermy female sage-grouse turned robot on wheels. The contraption, which can appear to forage, look alert and turn its head, is surprisingly successful at luring males to mate, she says. “I do my best to try to make it look realistic,” Patricelli told Wired, which wrote about her unusual approach and her unusual study — applying economic models of negotiation to understand sage-grouse mating on the lek. Read the Wired story here and see a video from Patricelli’s lab of the “fembot” here. View the full article
  14. Contaminants in the environment can have a range of harmful impacts on threatened wildlife, but without extensive field work, it’s hard to gauge what those impacts are. A group of Australian biologists have validated a lab method to help evaluate how different toxins affect animals in the wild. Stephanie Chaousis, a Griffith University doctoral candidate leading the project, used cells cultured from green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) to spot multiple molecular signals called biomarkers, which point to alterations within their bodies following toxic exposure. Although her work focused on sea turtles, Chaousis said her technique could be used on other species to determine how they may be affected by pollutants. “All living organisms have cells, so in theory, we could apply it to all wildlife,” she said. Instead of collecting samples from animals in the wild to see how pollutants might be affecting them, Chaousis’ technique performs experiments in the lab using cultured cells and known environmental contaminants. Cells cultured from green sea turtle skin are viewed under a microscope. ©Steph Chaousis “It’s challenging to go out in the field, collect blood samples nondestructively, analyze those for different molecular markers and then correlate these markers with the effects of contaminant [...] View the full article
  15. Collaboration between the Tallcree Tribal Government, Nature Conservancy Canada, Syncrude Canada and the governments of Alberta and Canada has led to the establishment of the Birch River Wildland Provincial Park. The 1,274-square-mile area abuts other protected areas including Wood Buffalo National Park, a world heritage site. Together these areas form the world’s largest contiguous boreal forest. The park itself is home to three species at risk and 65 species of special concern protected under the Canadian Species at Risk Act. The site also makes up a large portion of the habitat in the Red Earth caribou range, one of the areas where Alberta manages herds of boreal woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou). Read more about the park and how it was established here. View the full article