Segment 204

Fiddler Crabs, Disappearing Chincoteague, California Desert, Hurricane Sleuth

State(s) featured in this episode: California/Virginia

Fiddler Crabs: Between their digging and mating rituals, fiddler crabs can amuse us endlessly! That big, odd claw on the male can be a weapon or an enticement to a female. But these little crustaceans also have a big impact on their environment. From watching them surround their burrows with mud balls, to viewing a parade of thousands of crabs scurrying across the wetlands, scientists are still trying to understand just where these animals fit into the coastal ecosystem.

Disappearing Chincoteague: Virginia’s Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge gets 1.4 million visits a year, making it one of the most popular in the country. The refuge is part of Assateague Island, home of the world famous Chincoteague ponies, and also 300 species of birds. But this tourist destination is changing rapidly. Rising sea levels will likely turn grasslands into marshes, drown the wetlands, and erase parts of the island completely. We’ll show you how the island is preparing for this dramatic change in landscape.

California Desert: The rugged desert around Death Valley, California is teeming with life. But you need the proper guide to make sure you see it all. 75 year-old Tom Budlong knows this wild place better than just about anyone. And he wants to protect the junipers, the Joshua trees, and the piñon trees from mining and other development. Nearby, date farmer Brian Brown helps eco-tourists learn more about the rich history of the land. They are working with many others to protect this stark but dynamic ecosystem.

Hurricane Sleuth: Not all hurricane hunters need to stand out in a storm to understand these powerful weather events. Geologists are taking a look back, using core samples to study deposits that were washed in during hurricanes. These archives from Mother Nature can paint a picture of the drama that took place hundreds of years ago. Researchers are also exploring the link between climate change and hurricanes—to help determine whether warmer oceans will mean tropical storms will get more intense.

Related Segments

Segment 805

Where the Colorado River approaches the Sea of Cortez, a new agreement between the U.S. and Mexico shares the river’s water during times of drought and surplus and dedicates water to the environment, restoring flows and habitat along the river and at the Delta. Conservationists are working hard to re-plant forests and promote wildlife habitat to revive the Delta after years of neglect and desertification. On the leading edge of agricultural technology, young farmers are using data to minimize costs, improve yield and increase profits; a fourth-generation farmer in Illinois shows how it’s done.

State(s) featured in this episode: Arizona / California
Segment 704

From recent episodes of THIS AMERICAN LAND, these brief summaries of stories highlight major repair and maintenance issues affecting America’s national parks.

State(s) featured in this episode: Arizona / California / New Mexico / Pennsylvania / Washington D.C.
Segment 705

With new water rights and a major irrigation project under construction, the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona is gearing up for a revival of an agricultural heritage that sustained them for centuries before white settlers arrived. Public-private partnerships in national parks are saving taxpayers money while supporting critical services, maintenance and repairs. With individual fishing quotas for red snapper, charter boat captains on the Gulf Coast adopt new sustainable practices that provide them with more income and safety.

State(s) featured in this episode: Arizona / California / Louisiana / Mississippi / Texas
Segment 704

A farmer in southwestern Iowa has a mission to develop his farm as an example to others, using no-till seeding, multi-crop and pasture rotation, minimal fertilizing, and runoff filtering to keep the nutrients in his soil and prevent runoff. The backlog of deferred maintenance in national parks is a growing problem that needs Congress to act: we see the need for urgent maintenance and repairs at the Grand Canyon, the National Mall, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site in Atlanta. Rafting down the river through the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument.

State(s) featured in this episode: Arizona / California / Georgia / Iowa / New Mexico / Washington D.C.
Segment 702

In Wyoming, there’s wide support for protecting wilderness study areas offering a wide range of recreational opportunities and stunning landscapes. Residents in Norfolk, Virginia, use education and innovation to defend their neighborhoods from rising sea levels. In the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina, the public is playing a major role in shaping the complex future of the forest. Researchers in Idaho study the difficult lives of pygmy rabbits, providing insights to managing and saving threatened sagebrush landscapes in the West.

State(s) featured in this episode: Idaho / Virginia / Wyoming
Segment 602

Virginians have a plan to create protected wilderness and scenic areas that allow for abundant recreation on their beloved Shenandoah Mountain.

State(s) featured in this episode: Virginia
Segment 605

In northern California, residents in five counties work to protect and restore wild public lands and rivers that provide enormous economic benefits for the region. A summary report recaps how conservationists in 25 states are working together to restore grassland habitat for the bobwhite quail, an iconic game bird that has declined dramatically in recent decades. In Idaho, a wide coalition of local groups support federal wilderness designation for the remote Scotchman Peaks roadless area, one of the last and the largest wild landscape in the region. Scientists face the engineering challenge of harnessing the energy of ocean waves to generate electric power.

State(s) featured in this episode: California / Idaho / Washington
Segment 505

Local residents support a bill in Congress to designate new wilderness areas and wild & scenic rivers to ensure permanent protection of treasured public lands in the vast Los Padres National Forest.

State(s) featured in this episode: California
Segment 602

Protecting the Chenier Plain: On the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana, a wildlife-rich wetland and critically important industries are threatened by erosion and tidewater flooding. Cattle and bobwhite quail manage to coexist on grazing lands in south Texas – how does that work? Residents in Virginia have a plan to create protected wilderness and scenic areas in the George Washington National Forest, allowing a variety of recreational activities including mountain biking, hiking and fishing.

State(s) featured in this episode: Louisiana / Texas / Virginia
Segment 505

Local residents support a bill in Congress to designate new wilderness areas and wild & scenic rivers to ensure permanent protection of treasured public lands in the vast Los Padres National Forest. Farmers and ranchers in Louisiana add cover crops and rotational practices to improve soil health and keep their upstream runoff from contaminating the Gulf of Mexico. A small community in West Virginia was promised a recreational dream, but instead got a power plant’s coal ash dump that poisons their drinking water (co-produced with Earthjustice).

State(s) featured in this episode: California / Louisiana / West Virginia