Category Archives: wildlife

Do’s and Don’ts for Erosion Control Article with a Preface from Howard Bright of Ion Exchange, Inc. aka: Earthyman

In controlling erosion, one must start looking to the headwaters of the watershed. Sheet and rill erosion are the major contributor to siltation of our rivers. Even gently sloping land can have severe erosion if the surface is not protected by a vegetative umbrella. Native grasses are the ultimate solution to these two types of erosion.  It’s too late if we are already in the river up to our knees in mud and looking for a solution after the fact.  Always look upstream first and then work your way down the watershed taking care of erosion problems on your way to the main river or watercourse.

Howard Bright, President Ion Exchange, Inc.
Native Wildflowers & Seeds from Ion Exchange, Inc.
aka:Earthyman

Here’s the Complete Article “Do’s and Don’ts for Erosion Control”

By Susan Boyd
Shoreline Management Ranger, J. Strom Thurmond Lake

Did you know that silting can reduce the long-term depth of your cove? Silting is a natural process caused by soil erosion. Our shoreline management team is here to help permit holders and adjacent property owners resolve these issues within the laws and regulations that apply. Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts for how you can control erosion and prevent silting in your cove.

Do:

1. Reduce the potential for erosion by maintaining vegetated buffers around properties and bodies of water. While grassed lawns may help hold soil in place, trees, shrubs and native herbaceous plants can significantly slow the rate of erosion, as well as benefit native wildlife. (Herbaceous plants are fleshy, herb-like plants, many of which die back during the winter. They can be annuals, biennials or perennials).
2. If erosion gullies begin to develop, placing natural, woody debris in the gullies can slow the flow of water, subsequently slowing the rate of erosion. On public land, however, only dead, fallen vegetation originating on public land can be placed in gullies and ditches. Woody debris and materials from private land cannot be placed on public land. All material placed in gullies should be placed in such a manner to slow erosion, but not creating a large mound or pile.
3. Installing waterbars, drains and other diversionary measures on private land can re-direct water away from gullies and dissipate the flow of water, reducing the potential for further erosion and soil loss. Diversionary measures should be placed on private land.
4. If clearing private land adjacent to waterbodies or public land, utilize silt fences and other erosion control measures, and always obtain the necessary state and local soil erosion control permits for land-disturbing and construction activities.
5. If soil erosion has already occurred along the shoreline, it is possible to limit the extent of the erosion by stabilizing the existing shoreline. Permits can be obtained from the Corps of Engineers to place rip-rap, natural stone, and/or bioengineered materials along eroded shoreline to stabilize the shoreline and reduce the potential for future erosion.
6. If silt has accumulated in coves and along the shoreline, adjacent property owners can obtain permits from the Corps of Engineers to excavate the accumulated silt and restore natural depths within the cove.

Don’t:

1. Don’t place non-natural materials and debris in gullies and ditches. Placing non-natural materials (including treated wood) in gullies can constitute illegal disposal of waste materials and can result in water and soil pollution and contamination as materials decompose.
2. Don’t plant non-native plants and trees to control erosion. When possible on private land, always try to plant native vegetation. Many non-native plants, including the ornamentals commonly found in gardens and landscaping, can be invasive and can negatively impact natural plant and animal communities. Invasive species often out-compete and choke out native plants and trees. Only native vegetation may be planted on public land and must be approved by the Corps of Engineers.
3. Don’t clearcut buffers along streams, waterways and waterbodies. Vegetated buffers naturally slow the flow of water and reduce erosion and siltation within waterbodies.
4. Don’t conduct any shoreline stabilization, excavation or install soil erosion control measures on public land without the appropriate permits and approvals. Always contact your shoreline ranger or nearest Corps office prior to activities on public land. While many options are available for controlling erosion and removing silt from coves, all actions on public land require approval and permits.

For more information regarding shoreline management at Thurmond Lake, please contact the Thurmond Operation Project Manager’s Office toll free at 1-800-533-3478 or email us at CESAS-OP-T@usace.army.mil. For information on Hartwell Lake, please contact the Hartwell Operations Project Manager’s Office toll free at 1-888-893-0678 or email CESAS-OP-H@usace.army.mil.

Article from Balancing The Basin Website
US Army Corps of Engineers *Savannah District

House “Sodsaver” Measure Would Protect Native Prairie Habitat

Protect Our Prairies Act would limit taxpayer-funded incentives to destroy native grasslands

02-14-2013 // Aviva Glaser
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Representatives Noem (R-SD) and Walz (D-MN) today introduced legislation to save America’s grasslands through a national sodsaver provision. The Protect Our Prairies Act, which has the support of eight bipartisan co-sponsors, is common-sense legislation that would reduce taxpayer-funded incentives to destroy vital grassland resources.

Aviva Glaser, Legislative Representative for Agriculture Policy at National Wildlife Federation, said today:

America is at risk of losing one our most iconic ecosystems. Native prairies, along with the wildlife that are dependent upon them, are disappearing at an alarming rate. The Protect Our Prairies Act will help protect this vital resource by promoting management practices that conserve native grasslands.

“Without a national sodsaver provision, we will continue to see native prairie habitats converted to cropland, despite the fact that this vulnerable land is often marginal, highly erodible, or prone to flooding. It’s time we get rid of the perverse incentives that encourage farmers to destroy native prairie for marginal financial gain.

“With this legislation we can protect vital habitat for declining wildlife and save taxpayer dollars while ensuring that some the riskiest land for crop production is kept in grazing use. It is critical that the House Agriculture Committee include this national sodsaver provision in the 2013 Farm Bill.”

Link to The National Wildlife Federation

News Release Global Great Backyard Bird Count Shatters Records

News Release Global Great Backyard Bird Count Shatters Records

February 21, 2013–From Antarctica to Afghanistan, bird watchers from 103 countries made history in the first global Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 15–18, 2013. In the largest worldwide bird count ever, bird watchers set new records, counting more than 25.5 million birds on 120,000+ checklists in four days—and recording 3,144 species, nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species. The data will continue to flow in until March 1.

Building on the success of the GBBC in the United States and Canada for the past 15 years, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada opened the count to the rest of the world for the first time this year, powered by eBird, a system that enables people to report birds globally in real-time and explore the results online. Bird watchers are invited to keep counting every day of the year at www.eBird.org.

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Common Redpoll by Missy Mandel, Ontario, 2013 GBBC

Cornell Lab director Dr. John Fitzpatrick says:
“This is a milestone for citizen science in so many respects—number of species, diversity of countries involved, total participants, and number of individual birds recorded. We hope this is just the start of something far larger, engaging the whole world in creating a detailed annual snapshot of how all our planet’s birds are faring as the years go by.”

Audubon Chief Scientist Gary Langham:
“People who care about birds can change the world,” said Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. “That’s why this year’s record-setting global participation is so exciting. Technology has made it possible for people everywhere to unite around a shared love of birds and a commitment to protecting them.”

Other Key Preliminary Findings:
Top 5 Most Reported Species (reported on highest number of checklists): Northern Cardinal; Dark-eyed Junco; Mourning Dove; Downy Woodpecker; House Finch
Top 5 Most Common Birds (most individuals reported): Snow Goose; Canada Goose; Red-winged Blackbird; European Starling; American Coot
Finch Invasion: A massive number of northern finch species moved into the U.S. including the Common Redpoll, reported in a record 36 states. Scientists believe these periodic movements are related to natural fluctuations in crops of conifer cones and other seeds in Canada.
Hurricane Sandy: The weather system that caused Sandy’s landfall also blew some European birds to North America and evidence of this is still showing up in GBBC results. The colorful, crested Northern Lapwing was reported in Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts during the GBBC.
GBBC First: A Red-flanked Bluetail has wintered at Queens Park, Vancouver, and was also reported for the GBBC’s first record ever. This British Columbia bird has been drawing bird watchers from all over the U.S. and Canada hoping to see this rarity. This little thrush is one of the only birds in the world with a striking blue tail and is native to Asia; the other GBBC report of this species this year was from Japan.
For more information, visit www.birdcount.org.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part thanks to founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

Contacts:

Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 607-254-2137, pel27@cornell.edu

David J. Ringer, Director, Media Relations, National Audubon Society, Office 212-979-3062 / Mobile 601-642-7058, dringer@audubon.org

Dick Cannings, Bird Studies Canada, 250-493-3393 (Pacific Coast time), dcannings@birdscanada.org

Article From Great Backyard Birdcount Website

News Release: Great Backyard Bird Count Goes Global Feb. 15-18

Bird watchers worldwide invited to participate online

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February 5, 2013—For the first time, anyone anywhere in the world with Internet access can participate in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) February 15-18. Participants simply watch birds at any location for at least 15 minutes, tally the numbers of each species they see, and report their tallies online at www.BirdCount.org. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.

This year, anyone visiting the GBBC website will be able to see bird observations pouring in from around the world and contribute their own tallies. Global participation will be made possible thanks to eBird, a real-time online checklist program that the Cornell Lab and Audubon are integrating into the GBBC for the first time this year. The GBBC is open to anyone of any skill level and welcomes bird observations from any location, including backyards, national parks, gardens, wetlands, and urban landscapes. The four-day count typically receives sightings from tens of thousands of people reporting more than 600 bird species in the United States and Canada alone.

“We’re eager to see how many of the world’s 10,240 bird species will be reported during the count this year,” said Cornell Lab director John Fitzpatrick. “We’re looking forward to this historic snapshot of birds that that will be reported from around the world. We need as many people as possible to help build the wealth of data that scientists need to track the health of bird populations through time.”

Participants will be able to view what others are seeing on interactive maps and contribute their tallies for ongoing bird research and conservation efforts. For the first time, participants will also be able to upload their counts from the field using the eBird BirdLog app for Apple or Android smartphones. To celebrate the new global reach of the count, developers of the eBird BirdLog app are offering regional versions of the app for just 99 cents through February 18. Learn more

Just how big is this year’s irruption of northern finches and other species such as the Red-breasted Nuthatch? GBBC reports will help define the answer. Photo by Christine Haines, 2012 GBBC. “This count is so much fun because anyone can take part, whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher,” said Gary Langham, Audubon’s Chief Scientist. “Invite new birders to join and share the experience. Once you get involved, you can continue with eBird year round.”

“The popularity of the Great Backyard Bird Count grows each year,” said Dick Cannings, Senior Projects Officer at Bird Studies Canada, “and with the new features, participation will be even more exciting.”

Participating is easy. To learn more about how to join the count, get bird ID tips, plus downloadable instructions, web buttons, and flyers, visit www.BirdCount.org. The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter at least one bird checklist online. Portions of the GBBC site are also now available in Spanish at www.ContandoAves.org.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

 

The Prairie Ecologist Article Photo of the Week A red-bellied woodpecker – January 3, 2013

By Chris Helzer/The Nature Conservancy

This photo was taken several years ago outside the house of my in-laws in eastern Nebraska.  I don’t usually photograph birds, but I was there and the birds were there, and one thing led to another…

A red-bellied woodpecker pauses near a feeder during a snowstorm. Sarpy County Nebraska

It was snowing, but the mid-day light was still bright enough for photography. As the snow fell, I stood in my coveralls near several bird feeders, hoping the birds would ignore me. I had covered my camera in a plastic bag and wrapped my lens in cardboard (held on with rubber bands) – only the best technology for me! While the snow piled up on my camera, eyebrows, and beard, I pivoted the camera around on my tripod, attempting to focus on bird after bird as they came near the feeders. Most of the time, of course, the bird either landed in a non-photogenic spot or moved away before I could get a bead on it. In spite of that, I eventually managed to get a few useable shots.

This one is my favorite from the day – mainly because of the completely white background. It would look like a studio shot except for the blurry snowflakes coming past the tree trunk. In reality, the snow on the ground and in the air behind the bird just blurred together into a pure white background.

The Prairie Ecologist

 

 

Sand Dunes Video Explained by Earthyman on the South Padre Island in Texas

Earthyman views the relationship of Sea Oats in the stabilization of sand dunes on the South Padre Island in Texas

To Purchase Your Native Wildflowers & Prairie Plants Visit Our Nursery Website At  Ion Exchange, Inc.

UNI student helps return cropland to native prairie Article from The Gazette

Researchers assessing benefits of converting grasses to biofuel

Tall Grass Mix

WASHBURN — University of Northern Iowa professor Mark Myers considered it a “theoretical exercise” when he assigned his wildlife ecology and management students to develop a habitat management plan for a local site.

But, said Myers, Jarrett Pfrimmer, 25, of North Liberty, “took the assignment to heart,” and a year later, prairie grass was growing on 20 acres of former cropland along a Cedar River tributary.

“I did not think he could make it happen in that short a time,” said Myers, who is working with Pfrimmer on another major project with the potential to restore natural functions of the Cedar River watershed — research to determine the feasibility of native prairie as a biofuel.

Pfrimmer, who will complete work on his master’s degree next month, said he worked with the Black Hawk County Soil and Water Conservation District to line up cost-share funding for the stream buffer project.

The Boone native said he also took advantage of expertise at UNI’s Tallgrass Prairie Center to plan and execute the 120-foot wide buffer strips on both sides of Dry Run Creek, which flows past the UNI campus en route to the Cedar River.

Seeded a year ago, the native vegetation will become well established next year, greatly reducing erosion from the former farm fields, improving the quality of the water flowing into the Cedar and providing habitat for songbirds, pheasants and other wildlife.

The absorbent grass also will play a small role in reducing the crest of future Cedar River floods.

“Every little bit helps” when it comes to watersheds’ ability to store and slowly release floodwaters, said State Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, a leader in legislative efforts to improve watershed management.

Small-scale improvements like the two Black Hawk County projects can help create a mindset and policies “that will help buy down flood peaks for those of us downstream,” Hogg said.

In addition to the Cedar Falls stream buffer project, Pfrimmer has worked with Myers and others to assess the benefits of converting cropland into a prairie biomass production site at the 593-acre Cedar River Natural Resource Area about 10 miles south of Waterloo.

On flood plain land that had formerly been leased for row crop production, the researchers established 48 test plots, each seeded with one of four types of native vegetation ranging from switch grass alone to a mix of 32 species of grasses, legumes, forbs and sedges.

Those plantings were equally distributed among three distinct soil types, enabling the researchers to control all key factors contributing to the productivity of native grass not only as a source of energy but also as habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife.

The research got off to a rocky start with the historic Cedar River flood of 2008 wiping out the initial seeding. The plots were reseeded in 2009, burned in 2011 and finally harvested in April, compressed into 550-pound rectangular bales, with an average yield of 4 tons per acre.

About 150 of those bales were later pelletized for an upcoming test burn by Cedar Falls Utilities. “We’re looking to find out how well it burns for energy generation,” said Daryl Smith of the UNI Tallgrass Prairie Center, a partner in the research.

Researchers have suggested that cultivation of low-input, high-diversity grassland biomass could have significant energy and environmental advantages over corn-based ethanol, according to Myers.

While it remains to be seen whether the energy yield would justify conversion of marginal farmland to production of native vegetation for use as an energy source, biofuel production with diverse mixtures of native prairie vegetation “contributes to the maintenance of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes,” the researchers concluded.

Grassland birds and butterflies quickly found and colonized the test plots, according to Myers.

Pfrimmer, who has led bird data collection efforts, will soon complete his master’s thesis on “Bird Use of Heterogenous Native Prairie Biofuel Production Plots.”

In each of the past two years, he has found at least 100 delicate nests hidden among the grass stems by species such as the sedge wren, dickcissel, grasshopper sparrow and lark sparrow. Pheasants and turkeys also have moved into the grass, he said.

“We are starting to see different bird communities established in the plots in accordance with their preferences for the vegetation mix and even the soil types,” Pfrimmer said.

Article taken From The Gazette Newspaper

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