Salmon On Northeastern USA Rivers

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American shad in fishlift in Holyoke Dam on Connecticut River in Holyoke, MA. Courtesy of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Of all North America’s Atlantic salmon rivers none compared in size or productivity with the 407-mile-long Connecticut River that drains Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. But early in the 19th century all strains of salmon uniquely adapted to this sprawling system (at least 25) had been rendered extinct by dams. Continue reading

Rethinking Protected Areas In China

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Gretchen Daily. COURTESY OF STANFORD UNIVERSITY

We have shared stories from time to time about the challenges and about related opportunities for protected areas in countries around the world. Thanks to Yale360’s Diane Toomey for this interview in which an ecologist describes her work with the Chinese government as they re-conceive their national park system and their other protected areas in a country where little land remains undisturbed:

For Stanford University ecologist Gretchen Daily, nature isn’t only to be preserved for its own sake, but also for the value of the ecological services it provides, such as water filtration, carbon sequestration, and soil retention. Daily helped pioneer the concept of “ecosystem services,” and these days she applies those principles as she works with countries to develop land management strategies and determine which natural areas to prioritize for protection. Continue reading

Preparing For Global Big Day On May 13, 2017

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Global Big Day map painted by Luke Seitz, a Bartels Science Illustration intern and member of the Redheads student birding team.

We have about two months to prepare, and this third year of Global Big Day could be epic. When we started participating in this annual event in 2015 our work still mostly focused on the Western Ghats region of southwest India, but we were migrating back to the Mesoamerica region so our attention has been shifting. Now we are all in at Chan Chich Lodge and we want to help ensure that this year Belize is as strong a contributor as possible to the goals of this program:

In our ongoing effort to push the boundaries of a Big Day, we’re inviting everybody around the world to join together and participate in our Global Big Day to support global conservation.

How to Participate

Submit Your Data to eBird on May 13

It’s that simple. If you submit your birds to eBird they count. Learn how to take part. Don’t worry — you don’t need to be a bird expert, or to go out all day long. Even a half hour checklist from your backyard will help. Of course, you are welcome to spend the entire day in the field, but know that it is not required! Please enter your data as soon as you can, preferably by Tuesday, May 16. Continue reading

Please Support Sierra Club On This Initiative

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Photo credit: B. Bartel/USFWS

We know that most of our readers on this platform, and most guests we serve at the various properties we have developed and managed over the years, care deeply about primary forests and the ecosystems they support. Here is a chance to vocalize together with one of the influential organizers of vocalization:

Help Protect Tongass National Forest: Stop the Clearcutting

They’re about to start their chainsaws. Timber companies are trying to clearcut one of the most primeval wild places — and this is our last chance to stop them.

Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is nothing short of magical: it contains centuries-old trees and one-of-a-kind wilderness, home to animals like Alexander Archipelago wolves and bald eagles. Your voice is needed to pressure Congress to bring an end to old growth logging and save the Tongass for our children and grandchildren.

Take action today to save the Tongass National Forest.

Responsible Fish-Sourcing, 2.x

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Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch App best choice recommendations for cod. Screenshot by NPR

Rules change. Guides get updated. Staying on top of this topic requires effort. But it is worth it. Thanks to the folks at the salt for an acknowledgement that choosing fish in a responsible manner is no easy task, even for those regularly paying attention:

This month, I ventured to ask the man behind the counter at a Whole Foods Market what kind of shrimp he was selling. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I think they’re just normal shrimp.” I glanced at the sustainable seafood guide on my phone. There were 80 entries for shrimp, none of them listed “normal.”

What about the cod? Was it Atlantic or Pacific? Atlantic. How was it caught? I asked. “I’m not sure,” he said, looking doubtfully at a creamy fish slab. “With nets, I think. Not with harpoons.” Continue reading

Vermontini & Other Delicacies

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Braun Hughes, a cook, center, stokes a fire while another cook, Andy Risner, keeps watch. Drew Anthony Smith for The New York Times

Last week at Chan Chich Lodge we had guests from Vermont who were on their 6th visit, the first having been back in 1998. This couple started at dawn each day and while primarily birding they witnessed plenty of the other wildlife. Each sunset they enjoyed a classic dry martini with olives, and some conversation with Migde (yes, that is the spelling, pronounced mig-day) the bartender.

By the end of the week watching their sunset ritual, I had the image of a martini we might create in their honor. Instead of their favored olives we would put a few small cubes of chilled Harrington’s of Vermont smoked ham. Perhaps just to humor me, they said they would like to try that during their next visit. In the last few days I have been looking into the matter and I can find no evidence that this is a good idea.

I can also find no evidence that it is a bad idea. So I am continuing the investigation. And today I am happy to see a review related to another form of smoked meat, quite different from that of Harrington’s, in this case at a restaurant in Texas. Pete Wells now holds my attention better than any reviewer, on any topic. Anthony Lane, for a long time, held it on the residual strength of the laughter produced by one film review in 2005; his predecessor Pauline Kael also held it a long time before that. In the era of crowd-sourced reviews, the professional is still relevant for a reason. Today’s restaurant review is a case in point:

AUSTIN, Tex. — “How much brisket are you having?” Continue reading

Images Of Immigrants’ Things

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The C.B.P. considers rosaries to be potentially lethal, non-essential personal property, and agents dispose of them during intake. THOMAS KIEFER / INSTITUTE

This story, and these images, would maybe have less impact at another time, but during what seems like an assault on all immigration (hidden behind the veil of fighting illegal immigration) in the USA this exhibition is exceptionally moving:

Tom Kiefer was a Customs and Border Protection janitor for almost four years before he took a good look inside the trash. Every day at work—at the C.B.P. processing center in Ajo, Arizona, less than fifty miles from the border with Mexico—he would throw away bags full of items confiscated from undocumented migrants apprehended in the desert.

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In addition to backpacks, shopping bags are used to transport food and belongings. Many are durable though non-biodegradable and adverse to the desert environment. THOMAS KIEFER / INSTITUTE

One day in 2007, he was rummaging through these bags looking for packaged food, which he’d received permission to donate to a local pantry. In the process, he also noticed toothbrushes, rosaries, pocket Bibles, water bottles, keys, shoelaces, razors, mix CDs, condoms, contraceptive pills, sunglasses, keys: a vibrant, startling testament to the lives of those who had been detained or deported. Without telling anyone, Kiefer began collecting the items, stashing them in sorted piles in the garages of friends. “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he told me recently. “But I knew there was something to be done.”

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Personal hygiene items such as toilet paper is disposed of during intake.When migrants are apprehended, Customs and Border Protection agents dispose of personal-hygiene items such as toilet paper during intake. THOMAS KIEFER / INSTITUTE

Kiefer, who is now fifty-eight, had moved to Ajo from Los Angeles, in 2001, hoping to simplify his life, purchase a home, and focus on his passion: taking pictures. (Previously, he’d been a collector and dealer of antique cast-iron bed frames, and, before that, a graphic designer.) He took the C.B.P. job, in 2003, for purely practical reasons: it paid ten dollars and forty-two cents an hour, and it seemed unlikely to steal mental space away from his photography projects. Now he began photographing his C.B.P. collection in his studio, arranging and rearranging items, sometimes putting Continue reading

Herbal Patrimony Saved For Posterity, And For The Health Of Present Generations

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Black cohosh is a valuable commercial medicinal plant, used to treat symptoms of menopause. TOM POTTERFIELD/FLICKR

Thanks to Nancy Averett at Yale360 for this:

Seeds of Commerce: Saving Native Plants in the Heart of Appalachia

In southern Appalachia, botanist Joe-Ann McCoy is collecting the seeds of thousands of native plant species threatened by climate change. But in this job-scarce region, she also hopes to attract an herbal products company to cultivate the area’s medicinal plants. Continue reading

Model Mad, Enlightened

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The true élite of modern societies is composed of engineers, mechanics, and artisans—masters of reality, not big thinkers. Illustration by Leigh Guldig

One of our favorite essayists (for exemplary reasons, see here, and here, and here) makes a compelling case for our taking a good look at the foundation of our assumptions, in this age of model mad.

His several essays in the months preceding and following the 2016 Brexit referendum and the USA election were impassioned, but this one in the form of a triple-book-review hits the mark the best, reminding us of the basic premises of the Enlightenment and how that matters now more than ever:

Of all the prejudices of pundits, presentism is the strongest. It is the assumption that what is happening now is going to keep on happening, without anything happening to stop it. If the West has broken down the Berlin Wall and McDonald’s opens in St. Petersburg, then history is over and Thomas Friedman is content. If, by a margin so small that in a voice vote you would have no idea who won, Brexit happens; or if, by a trick of an antique electoral system designed to give country people more power than city people, a Donald Trump is elected, then pluralist constitutional democracy is finished. The liberal millennium was upon us as the year 2000 dawned; fifteen years later, the autocratic apocalypse is at hand. Thomas Friedman is concerned. Continue reading

Model Mad, Musical

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Timbers specializes in offbeat revisionist fantasies about historical figures.Photograph by Pari Dukovic for The New Yorker

Our goal, linking out to stories like this, is not to politicize this platform; it is to showcase creative problem-solving, akin to our fascination with and commitment to entrepreneurial conservation. That is what we mean by model mad. We are wary, and weary of the name of the polarizing figure, but resolutely curious to read about how others are dealing with it. Even with a title like A PROTEST MUSICAL FOR THE TRUMP ERA we know it will deliver on the creative side rather than the political. Thanks to Rebecca Mead for a well-focused message:

Five actors gathered in a room on Lafayette Street, in downtown Manhattan, to start rehearsing a new work for the Public Theatre, “Joan of Arc: Into the Fire.” Written by David Byrne, formerly of the Talking Heads, the show recast the enduring, improbable story of Joan—a teen-age girl in medieval France who experienced divine visions, led an army to defeat an occupying power, and was burned at the stake for heresy—as a rock musical that spoke to the current political moment. Continue reading

Accentuate The Positive

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On the flip side, the study found that diets containing low amounts of nuts and seeds were linked to about 9 percent of deaths from heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. John Lawson/Belhaven/Getty Images

All things in moderation. If you follow that general rule, this article may not be of interest to you. But for most of us, the salt’s (thank you National Public Radio, USA) item for us today is worth a glance. After you collect some stardust, sprinkle it on a handful of nuts:

…We know, it may be tough to cut back on foods you love. Bacon is so alluring to many that it has even been called the ‘gateway’ to meat for vegetarians!

But, here’s the flip side: The researchers also found there’s a significant risk in eating too little of certain healthy foods. So, think of it this way: You can start consuming more of the foods that are protective… Continue reading

Music That Inspires On Multiple Notes

Musicologist and conductor Laurie Stras

While I personally don’t focus on organized religion, I can’t deny the power of sacred music to uplift my spirit. This story of inspired Renaissance composition and modern-day curiosity resonates with historical sleuthing and musical puzzle solving.

Click on the Sound Cloud musical links, close your eyes and breathe deep.

Sisters doing it for themselves: radical motets from a 16th-century nunnery

Eight years ago, leafing through a bibliography of 16th-century music prints (like you do), my eye was caught by the title of a motet: “Salve sponsa Dei.” “Bride of Christ,” I thought. “Must be for nuns!”

It was one of 23 anonymous motets published together in 1543, so I did what any self-respecting nunologist would do, and ordered a reproduction of the book. As I put the motets into a usable edition for modern singers, I found they were unlike any other 16th-century music I’d ever seen. They were dense, intense and sometimes startlingly dissonant.

The music – for five equal voices (of unspecified sex) – is astonishingly beautiful and yet strange, radical even. These works had lain unsung and unloved for almost four centuries, mostly because they were anonymous. These days, anonymity suggests that whoever created the book, music, painting or whatever was not important enough, or the product is not good enough, for anyone to care who made it. But in the 16th century, anonymity was also an important way for members of the nobility to disguise their participation in commercial ventures that were considered beneath them (which is why Gesualdo, a prince, published his madrigals anonymously).

But Virginia Woolf was right when she said: “Anonymous was a woman.” Continue reading

Heavenly Particles Made Visible

9780760352649This is among the more unusual book reviews in a while, thanks to the Science section of the New York Times, and William J. Broad. We appreciate a radically new perspective every now and then:

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Varieties of space dust, barely the width of a human hair. These photomicrographs were made with a special camera setup that magnifies the dust grains nearly 3,000 times. CreditJan Braly Kihle/Jon Larsen

After decades of failures and misunderstandings, scientists have solved a cosmic riddle — what happens to the tons of dust particles that hit the Earth every day but seldom if ever get discovered in the places that humans know best, like buildings and parking lots, sidewalks and park benches.

The answer? Nothing. Look harder. The tiny flecks are everywhere.

An international team found that rooftops and other cityscapes readily collect the extraterrestrial dust in ways that can ease its identification, contrary to science authorities who long pooh-poohed the idea as little more than an urban myth Continue reading