This American Land
A unique series of magazine-style episodes hosted by Bruce Burkhardt, former environmental reporter for CNN, and Caroline Raville. Each episode links 5 or 6 stories, sometimes in a theme, showing how conservationists, fishermen, hunters and outdoor recreationists are sharing responsibilities for protecting America's natural heritage for future generations.
Critical Aquifer, Trout in the Classroom, Grizzlies Return, Dragonflies (#301) Duration: 26:46 STEREO TVG
Underneath the Great Plains, the Ogallala Aquifer holds a vast expanse of prehistoric water reserves, a vital source of moisture and a key asset for America's agricultural economy. But the Ogallala is now threatened by overuse in places like the Texas Panhandle, where farmers and ranchers now work with advisers from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to find ways to maximize their efficiency in irrigation and protect their water for future generations. Students in the Sierras in California help to restore threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout by raising the fish from eggs and releasing them in an approved trout stream; in the process, they learn about the life cycle of the fish, its value as a native species in the local ecosystem, and how invasive fish are crowding it out of its habitat. Students also learn how to monitor water quality and raise awareness about protecting native trout streams. In the Yellowstone Ecosystem, grizzly bears have made a dramatic recovery since they were federally listed in 1975 as a threatened species in the lower 48 states, increasing from 146 bears at that time to at least 602 in 2010. Grizzlies have reoccupied areas where they had been absent for decades, and are now considered to be at ecological carrying capacity with subadults emigrating to areas outside Yellowstone National Park. In a partnership production with Wyoming's Game and Fish Department, this success story is described by leading bear experts. Just how do dragonflies pull off complex aerial feats, hunting and reproducing in midair? These four-winged insects pre-date dinosaurs and can fly straight up, straight down, or hover like helicopters. Researchers are getting some inspiration from these insects to improve small- scale aircraft design.
Artificial Bat Cave, Rocky Mountain Gas, Backpacking with Llamas (#302) Duration: 26:46 STEREO TVG
There comes a point during a wildlife crisis when scientists are compelled to stop studying, and do something. That's what prompted researchers who have been studying the deadly white nose fungus in bats to develop the idea of an artificial bat cave. Built right next to a huge natural cave, this underground Tennessee facility was built to try to slow the spread of the disease. After bats leave following their hibernation, the human-built cave can be disinfected. Experts say white nose disease is likely to be the worst wildlife disaster of our time, and that the human-built bat cave is an experiment that must continue. Rich deposits of oil shale in Colorado's Garfield County are yielding 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 from drilling and hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"). Residents in communities like Rifle, Parachute and Battlement Mesa argue that oil and gas operations have gone out of control, and they're demanding more regulation of the industry to protect their homes and lands. In central Colorado's North Fork Valley, amid dozens of organic farms, orchards and ranches, the federal government has shelved plans to lease thousands of acres of public lands for oil and gas drilling. It was a victory for local residents, who came out overwhelmingly against the idea of drilling, saying it threatens a new economy rooted in tourism, wineries, and organic produce. Like the backcountry but can't carry a heavy pack? Try a llama! Monica Drost and her friends have been backpacking together since they were in college. But now, in their 50s, they can't carry their loaded packs anymore. Luckily, they found a llama outfitter and can now enjoy the Oregon wilderness without the aches and pains. Monarch butterflies, up to two billion of them, have to fly hundreds of miles to get to their wintering site in Mexico. So even a tiny impact on their migration ability could mean the difference between survival and death. Researchers study how long-distance migration in flying animals may also affect the spread and evolution of infectious disease. These beautiful insects face many threats, including habitat destruction but their winter home is one of the most stunningly beautiful sights in nature!
Prairie Chickens and Bog Turtles, Watershed Filtering, Bycatch Survival (#303) Duration: 26:46 STEREO TVG
Maintaining extensive tracts of open, well-managed prairie is critical to the conservation of greater prairie chickens, a species of grouse found in parts of 10 states. In Kansas, where 97 percent of the land is privately owned, ranchers are the most important stewards of the prairies, and they get assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to clear their land of invasive trees like the eastern red cedar, improving grassland habitat for prairie chickens as well as for cattle. A similar program helps landowners protect wetland habitat for threatened bog turtles in Delaware and other areas on the East Coast. In an Oregon high school, students design and develop a "bioswale", a strip of land with plants that filter silt, oil and grime out of the runoff from the school's parking lot - "hands-on" learning about pollution, watershed management and environmental impacts. Off the coast of San Diego, marine biologists test a new device for increasing the survival rate of fish caught as bycatch by sport fishermen. Entered in a competition sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, the SeaQualizer is proving effective as a solution to the problem of barotrauma with bottom-dwelling fish that are released at the surface as bycatch. The expanded bladder prevents the fish from returning to their original depth when released at the surface as bycatch, and mortality is very high. The SeaQualizer employs a non-invasive method of returning fish to depth and is highly effective at increasing the survival rate. "If it can't bite you, it's not interesting," laughs Mississippi State University biologist David Ray, who does very interesting studies on alligators, crocodiles, bats, and flies, among other creatures. Mapping alligator and crocodile genomes is helping scientists with everything from trying to save the odd-looking Indian gharial, to tracing the links between modern reptiles, dinosaurs, and birds.