States: North Carolina
In southern Oregon, a little-known wilderness called Kalmiopsis is a source of clear water for downstream communities and a core for surrounding wildlands that conservationists want to protect from and mining. Changes in cropland management in Kansas can make a big difference for the survival of bobwhite quail and other wild species. Gunnison County in Colorado offers stunning mountain scenery, thriving agriculture, and outdoor recreation – and residents there support more wilderness protection for public lands including wilderness and special management areas. Following lead contamination of the water supply in Flint, Michigan, scientists in North Carolina reveal another dangerous chemical making its way through water pipes to thousands of homes.
Beaver Builders: Beavers are nature’s engineers. It turns out they are also good at restoring ailing ecosystems. In eastern Oregon, researchers are doing some extreme fieldwork (snorkeling in rivers and streams in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter!) to learn more about how beaver dams are helping create healthier streams and rivers for salmon, trout, songbirds, and for nearby communities.
Wrangling Water: Cattle are not the only things being rounded up at some Florida ranches. Residents are also herding water! And it’s proving to be a good thing both for the economy and the environment. A pilot program pays ranchers to use their low-lying lands to store water. Water that’s captured during the wet season can then be slowly released during dry months into the tributaries of Lake Okeechobee.
Body Electric: Ever listen to a fish? It’s possible with an electric knifefish! While better known electric eels use electricity to stun their prey, these creatures use electricity to navigate and communicate. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are intrigued by this sixth “electro sense,” and are learning more about how these fish use this tool to find their way around— and locate their next meal.
Census in the Smokies: This nature audit has been going on for 10 years and gives scientists a good idea about the trends of life in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A small army of “citizen scientists” help researchers collect specimens, and then analyze their findings.
Volunteers clean up and restore a desert wilderness in Oregon. Local residents campaign to protect a mining-scarred but still spectacular landscape in Colorado’s San Juan Range. “Animal magnetism” guides loggerhead turtles across thousands of miles of open ocean. With a rich population of raptors, a conservation area in Idaho draws visitors eager to learn about hawks, eagles and falcons. Invasive insects destroy countless majestic hemlock trees in the southern Appalachians. A feisty bald eagle survives a horrific highway crash.