Segment 305

Grass for gas: new frontiers in growing biofuels

State(s) featured in this episode: Iowa/Tennessee

In Iowa and Tennessee, researchers and farmers are on the front lines of the biofuel revolution where switchgrass, sourgum and miscanthus are grown specifically as renewable fuel sources.

Related Segments

Segment 704

To avoid contributing to the “Dead Zone” far downstream in the Gulf, this Iowa farmer manages his land to keep nutrients in the soil and prevent polluting runoff.

State(s) featured in this episode: Iowa
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 503

With waste from a new industrial hog farm threatening the purity of the nation’s first national river, citizens raise the alarm and score a victory with a lawsuit. Farmers in Iowa and Illinois adopt new practices to prevent runoff of chemicals and waste that would pollute the Mississippi River. Running out of space in Yellowstone National Park, bison are re-located to Indian reservations in Montana where they can build new populations of wild herds (produced with Earthjustice).

State(s) featured in this episode: Illinois / Iowa / Montana
Segment 402

New technology could lead to an advanced biofuel from algae with a boost from corn ethanol.

State(s) featured in this episode: Iowa
Segment 401

Farmers in Iowa are harvesting corn stover – stalks, leaves, husks and cobs – as biomass for production of cellulosic ethanol.

State(s) featured in this episode: Iowa
Segment 402

Owyhee Canyonlands:
Much of Oregon is a desert; and in the dry, remote southeastern corner of the state there’s a wild and captivating canyon landscape carved by the Owyhee River. It’s been described as the largest intact, unprotected stretch of the American West, but it needs more protection from development pressure, including mining. A robust campaign for wilderness designation is making progress.

Sustainable Alaskan Village:
We travel to a remote Alaskan village, Igiugig, where young native Alaskans are adopting new technologies and green ethics to build a healthy, sustainable future while keeping true to their traditions.

Algae Power:
With another report on emerging biofuels, we learn about new advances in converting algae into a wide range of useful products, including oil, growing the algae with by-products from corn ethanol distilleries.

Climbing Fish: Researchers study a type of Goby fish in Hawaii that climbs up steep waterfalls to reach its freshwater spawning areas, an amazing story of adaptation and evolution over time.

State(s) featured in this episode: Alaska / Hawaii / Iowa / Oregon
Segment 401

Tiny Fish: Big Deal:
Researchers on the Oregon coast study the role that forage fish play in the food chain. Sometimes called “bait fish”, sardines, anchovies, smelt and other small fish are vitally important in sustaining larger species – including sea birds, salmon, and marine mammals like sea lions. Humans also catch forage fish, mainly for animal feed, and there’s growing concern that large-scale commercial harvesting of forage fish comes at the expense of other marine life, potentially with catastrophic results.

Wild Olympics: Spectacular Olympic National Park is the centerpiece of the verdant Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington State, right up against the Canadian border. There’s now a bill in Congress that would add more protection to the forests and watersheds around the park, and we explore why there’s wide support for the proposal among the people living there.

Biofuel from Cornfield Residue: In another report on emerging second-generation biofuels, we travel to Iowa where farmers are discovering there’s growing demand for the residue in their cornfields – stalks, leaves, husks and cobs – left on the ground after the corn is harvested, That residue, called “corn stover”, is biomass that can also be converted into ethanol.

Fire Ants: Everybody wants to eradicate biting, invasive fire ants, but scientists say they can learn a great deal by studying the social structure of these insects. New research shows that the widespread success of fire ants has been assisted when humans disturb natural areas with roads and development.Tiny Fish: Big Deal, Wild Olympics, Biofuel from Cornfield Residue, Fire Ants

State(s) featured in this episode: Florida / Iowa / Oregon / Washington
Segment 302

White nose fungus is likely to be the worst wildlife disaster of our time, and researchers in Tennessee hope that a human-built cave can attract enough hibernating bats to slow the spread of the infection.

State(s) featured in this episode: Tennessee
Segment 305

Grass for gas: new frontiers in growing biofuels
In Iowa and Tennessee, researchers and farmers are on the front lines of the biofuel revolution where switchgrass, sourgum and miscanthus are grown specifically as renewable fuel sources

Backyard wilderness in Los Angeles
Unlike most wilderness areas that are remote and hard to access, the San Gabriel Mountains are within easy reach of the L.A. urban sprawl, forming the centerpiece of an imaginative plan for a 600,000-acre national recreation area

Restoring native plants in Utah
High school students in Kanab learn the importance of protecting vanishing native plants and tackling invasive species. Harvesting native seeds, sprouting them in a greenhouse and transplanting them in acre-sized test plots, they track the plants’ progress with GPS technology

State(s) featured in this episode: California / Iowa / Tennessee / Utah
Segment 302

Artificial cave fights deadly bat disease
White nose fungus is likely to be the worst wildlife disaster of our time, and researchers in Tennessee hope that a human-built cave can attract enough hibernating bats to slow the spread of the infection

Rocky Mountain fracking riles Colorado residents
Rich deposits of oil shale in Garfield County yield huge amounts of natural gas and oil for energy companies, but local residents are pushing back against intrusive air and water pollution, noise and traffic

Colorado farmers and ranchers win fight against drilling
The federal government shelved plans to auction leases for oil and gas drilling in the North Fork Valley after local residents came out overwhelmingly against it as a threat to their new economy rooted in tourism, wineries and organic produce

Backpacking with llamas in Oregon
Older hikers have an alternative to carrying heavy backpacks: an outfitter providing sturdy, affable llamas loaded with chairs, tables, wine and other luxuries that allow full enjoyment of wilderness treks without aches and pains

State(s) featured in this episode: Colorado / Oregon / Tennessee