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With fast population growth in the Denver area and fierce competition for water, investors are behind a plan to import water from a Colorado mountain valley hundreds of miles away, a plan largely opposed by farmers and ranchers who depend on water in that valley.
In Louisiana, a diverse coalition of fishermen, chefs, restaurateurs, environmentalists and retailers have come together to add their voices to the polarized fight for shares in the natural resources of the Gulf Of Mexico. In Utah, the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument has become an iconic symbol of the Antiquities Act that dates back to President Theodore Roosevelt who started a tradition of using it to protect vast American landscapes. In the Lower Mississippi Valley, a federal program funds the creation of wetland reserve easements to convert flooded farmlands back to the original wetland habitats that were unwisely cleared decades ago.
On the Continental Divide in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, residents support a plan to create new wilderness and wildlife conservation areas, including the nation’s first national historic landscape to honor veterans of the Second World War. In southern Utah, the remote and untamed Escalante River faces a major threat from invasive plants as it winds through spectacular redrock canyons; volunteers chop their way through choking stands of Russian olive to unblock the river and keep it wild and free. A training program in Georgia educates teachers in a new approach to science teaching called 3-D Science – getting teachers and students outside to observe their own surroundings and letting kids’ natural curiosity lead them to learn more.
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.
In Montana, conservationists, landowners, business leaders and government officials consider the importance of the most important yet least-known and understood conservation and access program in the U.S. – the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Farmers in Oklahoma use cover crops and smart pasturing of livestock to reduce their use of chemical fertilizers, improve water quality, and increase their bottom line. Researchers are finding useful purposes for recycled urine.
With Louisiana’s coastline sinking and washing away, projects to restore the Mississippi Delta aim to reverse decades of mismanagement that has blocked the depositing of sediment at the river’s mouth. Pollution in Lake Erie has focused attention on nutrient runoff from Ohio’s farms, and government advisors are assisting farmers to develop solutions. With nutrient runoff also a problem where farms use poultry litter to fertilize fields, researchers are finding ways to recycle litter into nitrogen and other useful chemicals.
To protect one of Arizona’s last perennially flowing rivers, conservationists practice smart stewardship to minimize irrigation and clear invasive plants. Taking advantage of open areas in crowded cities, urban farmers are growing healthy foods and making profits. Studying iconic sandstone arches in the Southwest, researchers learn how these formations vibrate and gather data to help understand their architectural health.
Commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico are now using individual fishing quotas to manage their catches of red snapper, a fish population that has made a remarkable recovery after years of overfishing. With federal government support, landowners in Pennsylvania are managing their forests for diversity, providing better habitat for declining species of songbirds like the golden-winged warbler. In Georgia, a program on Lake Lanier for school kids teaches them the importance of water quality.