Our production team is working behind the scenes to finalize the third season of our conservation news series for PBS, bringing viewers compelling stories on issues that impact our landscapes, waters and wildlife.
We'll feature a school in Oregon, the Albany Options School, that is working on a bioswale project, which uses a specifically-designed landscape of native plants to limit water pollution. You can read more about this project at the Captain Planet Foundation website, and also in the Albany Democrat Herald.
This American Land returned to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument for the third season in a row, this time to film a story on native plant restoration in Kanab, Utah. Kanab High School Natural Resource Management students are growing native plants in a greenhouse and on experimental plots at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. You can read more about their efforts, featured in the Southern Utah News.
Executive Producer Gary Strieker worked with the USDA National Resource Conservation Service to highlight Texas farmers who are committed to conservation in their agricultural efforts. You can learn more about this story on the USDA-NRCS website.
As always, you can keep up with the latest news from This American Land by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, and visiting the "In the News" page on our website.
At This American Land, we are committed to showcasing efforts to protect our natural resources--our landscapes, waters and wildlife. One of the ways non-profit organizations around the United States are working to protect these resources is through volunteer efforts.
If you represent a nature or wildlife conservation non-profit, and your organization offers volunteer opportunities, we would be happy to help promote those opportunities through our blog and other social media outlets. Please contact us via our website, or leave a comment on this blog with details.
The United States now has five new national monuments!
President Barack Obama used the Antiquities Act, designed to protect unique and historic landmarks, to add special protections to some stunning places from coast to coast.
The sites include some areas you have seen us report on in episodes of “This American Land.” We have showed you the vibrant region of New Mexico that is now “Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.” This 240,000- acre area will continue to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Visitors can find petroglyphs, bird and other wildlife habitat, and archeological sites. The area around Ute mountain in northern New Mexico includes habitat for elk, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and great horned owls.
The other locations include First State National Monument in Delaware. This encompasses about 1,100 acres near Wilmington. Vice President Joe Biden, former senator from Delaware, has been a longtime supporter.
The other new monuments are the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland; and San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington state.
Also designated is the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument near Xenia, Ohio. It celebrates the work of Col. Charles Young, a West Point graduate and the first African American national park superintendent. He was also the highest -ranking African American officer in the U.S. Army until his death in 1922.
The president took the executive action after Congress failed to act on bills that would protect and preserve these natural resources. According to the Congressional Research Service, “The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to create national monuments on federal lands that contain historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest.” U.S. presidents have proclaimed about 130 monuments.
Series Producer Marsha Walton shares some information on wolverines, as seen on episode 202 of This American Land.
Our season two, episode two story on wolverines introduced a lot of viewers to a scrappy, mysterious, tough-as-nails mammal that few of us will ever see in the wild.
Producer-photographer William Campbell spent some cold, snowy days with Wildlife Conservation Society biologist Bob Inman and his team. They have been tracking wolverines in the greater Yellowstone region for more than a decade.
“Some of the things that we have learned that they do just kind of blow your mind,” said Inman. “The terrain that they live in, the way they can travel across snow. Their home ranges are gigantic-- Nearly 500 square miles for an adult male. That's a vast area for a 30 pound animal,” he said.
On February 1, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing wolverines as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48 states. Lawsuits by The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and several other conservation groups led to the proposal.
If made final, the wolverine will join polar bears and a couple of species of coral as animals gaining protection because of the impacts of global climate change. More often, animals and plants are listed because of threats like predators or habitat destruction.
Wolverines need heavy spring snowpack for successful breeding. Female wolverines use birthing dens that they create in deep snow, providing protection from the elements for their newborns.
Climate modeling shows that the wolverine’s habitat will be greatly reduced in coming years because of warming temperatures.
As part of the Fish and Wildlife proposal, experimental populations of wolverines could be introduced into the southern Rockies.
William Campbell and executive producer Gary Strieker captured the fragile future of this tenacious animal in our story:
“The wolverine is a barometer of the health of the high mountains. What happens in the icebound watershed above the forests and valleys of the arid west is crucial to the wolverine’s survival, and the survival of other, more common species, including our own.”
Series producer Marsha Walton takes a look at the many wonderful stories featured on the first two seasons of This American Land on birds, and exciting news from our friends at Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology.
We cover all types of outdoor activities on our show. Any guesses on the most popular? Hiking? Fishing? Mountain biking?
For the answer—look up! Birding is the number one sport in America. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says there are more than 50 million birdwatchers out there.
So it’s no surprise some of your favorite stories have featured exotic, endangered, and engaging birds. In season one, Sharon Collins of Georgia Public Broadcasting showed us “Herons and Heroes,” a look at how wading birds have recovered from over-hunting.
In season two, our colleagues at Oregon Field Guide captured amazing pictures of Arctic white geese by the tens of thousands, and healthy new populations of bald eagles in the northwest.
We also showed you the almost unbelievable “Miracle Eagle,” a female bald eagle that crashed into a truck driver’s windshield in Idaho and fought back to a healthy recovery. From a haven for hawks in Idaho, to the birds of Dyke Marsh near Washington, D.C., to a most unusual peregrine falcon home in Iowa, birds and their habitats constantly mesmerize us.
But birds and other wildlife can be pretty mercurial. On a typical video shoot we aren’t always lucky enough to get pictures of all the birds or other critters we report on.
That’s where our friends at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology (known by most as “The Lab of O”) come to the rescue! Ask just about any birder in the country, and chances are they have checked out the live nest cams, or taken part in citizen science projects on the Lab of O website to learn more about our feathered friends.
The Macaulay Library at the Lab of O is the world's largest and oldest scientific archive of biodiversity audio and video. And they’ve just reached a milestone!
All the archived recordings at the lab, dating back to 1929, have been digitized and can now be heard at www.MacaulayLibrary.org.
That’s nearly 150,000 digital audio recordings of about 9,000 species. While birds are by far the stars, you can hear, (and in many cases see) recordings of whales, elephants, frogs, and primates. And on many of these recordings, you’ll hear the scientists on site discussing their work.
So set aside some time to check out these treasures. And our sincere thanks to the folks at Macaulay for providing sounds and video to help us out on “This American Land.”
Series Producer Marsha Walton shares some information about Pinnacles National Park in California.
A few of our favorite stories on “This American Land” fall under the umbrella of “some of the most beautiful places you’ve never heard of…”
We have not visited this California spot yet, but wanted to let all our viewers know about the country’s 59th National Park. Pinnacles National Monument, established in 1908 by President Teddy Roosevelt, has just been elevated to Pinnacles National Park!
The area is a volcanic field, rising out of the Gabilan Mountains east of central California's Salinas Valley, with beautiful monoliths, spires, cave passages and canyons.
The folks at the National Park Service say many visitors from the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas visit Pinnacles to rock climb, and to view wildlife and wildflowers. It’s a park that is most popular in cooler months. Last year Pinnacles hosted more than 343,000 visitors.
Pinnacles is also well known for its high-flying residents, the California condors. While on the rebound, the condor population is still very fragile. Pinnacles has been a partner of the California Condor Recovery Program since 2003. The park is one of three condor release sites in the country, and currently has 31 free-flying condors.
You can learn more about these smart, fascinating birds in a story by our Bruce Burkhardt in episode 112 from the first season of “This American Land.” Bruce and producer Jay Canode looked at another threat to these birds: lead ammunition in the dead animals they feed on. In that story you’ll also meet some of the dedicated biologists and bird lovers working to increase the condor population in the west.
Pinnacles National Park is a day-use park, with occasional full moon hikes and dark sky astronomical observations led by ranger-interpreters.
If you’re a Pinnacles visitor—send us an e-mail and let us know some of your favorite trails and memories!
Photo:West-bound view of the Balconies on the Old Pinn trail.
Episode 210 of This American Land features compelling stories on bald
eagles and invasive lionfish, as well as a story on efforts to protect
forest-related jobs and outdoor recreation opportunities in Montana.
Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) has introduced a bill that would establish
protection for Montana’s wild places, establishes and promotes
“stewardship logging” to restore economic and forest health, and also
creates the potential for new, clean energy jobs in the region.
Read more about this bill on the MontanaForests.org website, and watch the episode below for the full story.
THIS AMERICAN LAND is the leading conservation news magazine program on public television stations nationwide. Opening windows to our country’s amazing natural heritage, we report compelling stories on America’s landscapes, waters and wildlife, taking our viewers to the front lines of conservation, science and outdoor adventure with stories that inform and entertain.
Full episodes of THIS AMERICAN LAND can be viewed here.
THIS AMERICAN LAND AND SCIENCE NATION
We are proud to partner with the National Science Foundation to bring our viewers exceptional reports from its SCIENCE NATION series in many of our episodes. Fast-paced and informative, each of these stories explores new scientific efforts to understand and conserve our natural resources.
PARTNERS IN EDUCATION
In partnership with highly regarded national educational organizations, we develop our story materials for teachers to use as a curriculum resource. Experienced educators on our Advisory Board provide direction and commentary on our reporting, offer story ideas, and join with us in shaping our content for educational purposes.