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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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
Bison Homecoming: The buffalo are back! One hundred years after Native American Michael Pablo sent his captive bison herd to Canada to help preserve the dwindling species, dozens of their direct descendants were released into the bison herd on the American Prairie Reserve in northern Montana. The World Wildlife Fund has been collaborating with the American Prairie Reserve to help restore the grasslands habitat for the bison, birds, and other important native species that roamed the region when Lewis and Clark arrived in 1805.
Preserving Tribal Languages: The passion of tribal elders and 21st century video technology are merging to bring new life to the Ojibwe language. Using “home movies” that depict everyday scenarios, experts at the University of Minnesota-Duluth are helping new generations learn and appreciate the language and culture.
Peregrine Protection: Peregrine falcons are making a comeback—in some most unusual places. With help from bird lovers in Iowa, this once nearly extinct raptor has a new place to call home—atop an Iowa skyscraper! Once nearly wiped out by DDT, local falconers and the state Department of Natural Resources helped design a nest box that’s keeping peregrine parents safe and cozy, and helping provide for a healthy new generation.
Soaring with Paragliders: Jumping off a cliff has never been so spectacular! Daredevils in Oregon use thermal currents in a sort of “yacht race in the sky.” 160 pilots joined the “Rat Race” in the intricate sport of paragliding. Their only source of power is the thermal lift from hot air. Even the crew of “Oregon Field Guide” at Oregon Public Broadcasting got in on the act during this breathtaking event.