News Article | March 2, 2017
The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present the 2017 awards recognizing outstanding contributions to ecology in new discoveries, teaching, sustainability, diversity, and lifelong commitment to the profession during the Society's Annual Meeting in Portland, Ore. The awards ceremony will take place during the Scientific Plenary on Monday, August 7, at 8 AM in the Oregon Ballroom, Oregon Convention Center. Learn more about ESA awards on our home website. The Eminent Ecologist Award honors a senior ecologist for an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit. Soil ecologist Diana Wall, the founding director of the Colorado State University's School of Global Environmental Sustainability, is world-renowned for uncovering the importance of below-ground processes. Best known for her outstanding quarter century of research in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica, one of the more challenging environments of the planet. Her research has revealed fundamental soil processes from deserts and forests to grasslands and agricultural ecosystems to New York City's Central Park. Dr. Wall's extensive collaborative work seeks to understand how the living component of soil contributes to ecosystem processes and human wellbeing--and to in turn uncover how humans impact soils, from local to global scales. In landmark studies, she revealed the key role of nematodes and other tiny animals as drivers of decomposition rates and carbon cycling. The biodiversity in soils, she found, influences ecosystem functioning and resilience to human disturbance, including climate change. She demonstrated that the biodiversity belowground can at times be decoupled from biodiversity aboveground. Her focus on nematodes in soils in very harsh environments, from the cold, dry Antarctic to hot, dry deserts, opened up a perspective on how life copes with extreme environments. She has a laudable record of publishing excellent papers in top-ranked scientific journals. Dr. Wall has played a vital role as an ecological leader, chairing numerous national and international committees and working groups and serving as president of the Ecological Society of America in 1999. She is a Fellow of ESA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Society of Nematologists. In 2013, she received the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for her outspoken efforts as an ambassador for the environmental and economic importance of soils and ecology. Currently, she is scientific chair of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, which works to advance soil biodiversity for use in policy and management of terrestrial ecosystems. Dr. Wall is well-respected in her role as mentor of young scientists, over several generations, and as a communicator of science outside the usual academic arenas. Odum Award recipients demonstrate their ability to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs through teaching, outreach, and mentoring activities.? Kathleen Weathers is a senior scientist and the G.Evelyn Hutchinson chair of ecology at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, where she focuses on freshwater ecosystems. For more than a decade, she has been dedicated to advancing bottom-up network science, creating training opportunities for graduate students and tools for citizen science engagement. Her efforts strive to equip the next generation of ecologists and managers with the skills needed to protect freshwater resources. Dr Weathers played a guiding role in the formation of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), and currently acts as co-chair. A part of this international grassroots collaboration she helped develop Lake Observer, a crowd-sourcing App that streamlines the way that researchers and citizen scientists record water quality observations in lakes, rivers, and streams. Dr. Weathers has made it a priority to mentor students and early-career scientists participating in GLEON, with an eye toward diversity, inclusion, and instruction. She helped empower GLEON's student association, which contributes meaningfully to governance and training within the broader network. She also spearheaded the development of the GLEON Fellows Program, a two-year graduate immersion in data analysis, international collaboration, effective communication, and team science. The GLEON Fellows Program has emerged as a model for training initiatives in macrosystem ecology, and will affect the ecological community positively for decades to come, as participants carry their training forward to other institutions and endeavors. The Distinguished Service Citation recognizes long and distinguished volunteer service to ESA, the scientific community, and the larger purpose of ecology in the public welfare. Debra Peters is the founding editor-in-chief of ESA's newest journal, Ecosphere, created in 2010 to offer a rapid path to publication for research reports from across the spectrum of ecological science, including interdisciplinary studies that may have had difficulty finding a home within the scope of the existing ESA family of journals. In her hands the online-only, open-access journal has claimed a successful niche in the ecological publications landscape, expanding to publish over 400 manuscripts in 2016. Dr. Peters, an ecologist for the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research service's (USDA-ARS) Jornada Experimental Range and lead principal investigator for the Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research program in Las Cruces, New Mexico, has served on the editorial boards of ESA's journals Ecological Applications, Ecology and Ecological Monographs. She chaired the society's Rangeland Section, was a founding member and chair of the Southwest Chapter, and has served as member-at-large on the Governing Board. As program chair for the 98th Annual Meeting of the society, she inaugurated the wildly popular Ignite talks, which give speakers the opportunity to present conceptual talks that do not fit into the standard research presentation format. Dr. Peters has greatly contributed to the broader research enterprise as senior advisor to the chief scientist at the USDA, and as a member of the National Ecological Observatory Network's (NEON) Board of Directors. She has provided this quite amazing array of services in support of the society and her profession while maintaining an outstanding level of research productivity and scientific leadership in landscape-level, cross-scale ecosystem ecology. Many of her more than 100 research publication have been cited more than 100 times. Her fine record of research led to her election as a Fellow of ESA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In all respects, Debra Peters exemplifies distinguished service to the ESA, and to science. ESA's Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology award recognizes long-standing contributions of an individual towards increasing the diversity of future ecologists through mentoring, teaching, or outreach. Gillian Bowser, research scientist in Colorado State University's Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, is honored for her joyful and successful recruitment and retention of under-represented students to the study of ecology, to public service in support of the natural world, and to empowerment of women and minorities worldwide. The Cooper Award honors the authors of an outstanding publication in the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. William S. Cooper was a pioneer of physiographic ecology and geobotany, with a particular interest in the influence of historical factors, such as glaciations and climate history, on the pattern of contemporary plant communities across landforms. University of Waterloo, Ontario professor Andrew Trant and colleagues at the University of Victoria and the Hakai Institute in British Columbia revealed a previously unappreciated historical influence on forest productivity: long-term residence of First Nations people. Counter to a more familiar story of damage to ecosystems inflicted by people and their intensive use of resources, the activities of native people on the Central Coast of British Columbia enhanced the fertility of the soil around habitation sites, leading to greater productivity of the dominant tree species, the economically and culturally valuable western redcedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don). Through a combination of airborne remote sensing and on-the-ground field work, the authors showed that forest height, width, canopy cover, and greenness increased on and near shell middens. They presented the first documentation of influence on forest productivity by the daily life activities of traditional human communities. The Mercer Award recognizes an outstanding and recently-published ecological research paper by young scientists. Biological invasions, and migrations of native species in response to climate change, are pressing areas of interest in this time of global change. Fragmentation of the landscape by natural and human-made barriers slows the velocity of spread, but it is not known how patchy habitat quality might influence the potential for evolution to accelerate invasions. Jennifer Williams, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues implemented a creative experimental design using the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana that allowed them to disentangle ecological and evolutionary dynamics during population expansion. Some plant populations were allowed to evolve, while others were continually reset to their original genetic composition. The authors convincingly demonstrate that rapid evolution can influence the speed at which populations spread, especially in fragmented landscapes. The Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of the scholarly work that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences. Sustainability challenges like air pollution, biodiversity loss, climate change, energy and food security, disease spread, species invasion, and water shortages and pollution are often studied, and managed, separately, although they the problems they present are interconnected. Jianguo Liu and colleagues provide a framework for addressing global sustainability challenges from a coupled human and natural systems approach that incorporates both socioeconomic and environmental factors. They review several recent papers that have quantified at times conflicting efforts to provide ecosystem services, when these efforts are examined in a global perspective. The authors argue for the need to quantify spillover systems and feedbacks and to integrate analyses over multiple spatial and temporal scales. This will likely require the development of new analytical frameworks both to understand the social ecological mechanisms involved and to inform management and policy decisions for global sustainability. The Innovation in Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of a peer-reviewed paper published in the past five years exemplifying leading-edge work on solution pathways to sustainability challenges. One of the biggest challenges facing development of effective policy to address sustainability issues is that the concepts and vocabulary used by scientists to define and promote sustainability rarely translate into effective policy, because they do not include measures of success. This challenge is particularly apparent in the concept of stability and resilience, terms which are frequently used in policy statements and have long been the subject of empirical and theoretical research in ecology, but for which there are no easily defined and quantified metrics. Ian Donohue and colleagues argue that much of the fault for this disconnect lies with the academic community. They summarize and analyze a number of examples to support their claim that ecologists have taken a one-dimensional approach to quantifying stability and disturbance when these are actually multi-dimensional processes. They argue that this has led to confused communication of the nature of stability, which contributes to the lack of adoption of clear policies. They propose three areas where future research is needed and make clear recommendations for better integrating the multidimensional nature of stability into research, policy and actions that should become a priority for all involved in sustainability science. The Whittaker Award recognizes an ecologist with an earned doctorate and an outstanding record of contributions in ecology who is not a U.S. citizen and who resides outside the United States. Petr Pyšek, the chair of the Department of Invasion Ecology at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, is honored for his pioneering and insightful work in invasion ecology. Dr. Pyšek is editor-in-chief of Preslia (Journal of the Czech Botanical Society) and serves on the editorial boards of Biological Invasions, Diversity and Distributions, Folia Geobotanica, and Perspectives on Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. The Shreve award supplies $1,000-2,000 to support ecological research by graduate or undergraduate student members of ESA in the hot deserts of North America (Sonora, Mohave, Chihuahua, and Vizcaino). Daniel Winkler, a PhD student with Travis Huxman at University of California Irvine, studies the invasion of Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii) in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts. His dissertation focuses on determining the source populations of Sahara mustard and whether plasticity in functional traits is allowing the species to spread. Funds from the Forrest Shreve Student Research Fund will be used to process samples for leaf stable isotopes and elemental stoichiometry, allowing for a comparison of functional traits indicative of local adaptation and the species' plasticity. Daniel was a National Park Service Young Leaders in Climate Change Fellow and a NSF EAPSI Research Fellow. Learn more about the August 7-12, 2017 ESA Annual Meeting on the meeting website: http://esa. ESA welcomes attendance from members of the press and waives registration fees for reporters and public information officers. To apply, please contact ESA Communications Officer Liza Lester directly at email@example.com. The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world's largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society's Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at http://www. .
Duriscoe D.M.,National Park Service
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific | Year: 2013
Anthropogenic sky glow (a result of light pollution) combines with the natural background brightness of the night sky when viewed by an observer on the earth's surface. In order to measure the anthropogenic component accurately, the natural component must be identified and subtracted. A model of the moonless natural sky brightness in the V-band was constructed from existing data on the Zodiacal Light, an airglow model based on the van Rhijn function, and a model of integrated starlight (including diffuse galactic light) constructed from images made with the same equipment used for sky brightness observations. The model also incorporates effective extinction by the atmosphere and is improved at high zenith angles (>80°) by the addition of atmospheric diffuse light. The model may be projected onto local horizon coordinates for a given observation at a resolution of 0.05° over the hemisphere of the sky, allowing it to be accurately registered with data images obtained from any site. Zodiacal Light and integrated starlight models compare favorably with observations from remote dark sky sites, matching within ± 8 nL over 95% of the sky. The natural airglow may be only approximately modeled, errors of up to ± 25 nL are seen when the airglow is rapidly changing or has considerable character (banding); ± 8 nL precision may be expected under favorable conditions. When subtracted from all-sky brightness data images, the model significantly improves estimates of sky glow from anthropogenic sources, especially at sites that experience slight to moderate light pollution. © 2013. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific. All rights reserved.
Elder W.P.,National Park Service
Marine Geology | Year: 2013
Local watersheds may contribute over half of the sediment load coming into San Francisco Bay today. The bedrock underlying these watersheds is the ultimate source for most of this sediment. This paper outlines the geologic history of this bedrock, which records the complex tectonic history of the San Francisco Bay Area over the last 200. Ma. The Jurassic to Eocene Franciscan Complex in the Bay Area is the most widespread bedrock. The local Franciscan can be broken into nine tectonic terranes that represent pieces of seafloor that were accreted to the North American margin in over a 100. Myr period of subduction. Each terrane has a unique age range, sequence of seafloor rocks, and metamorphic history. The Franciscan rocks were thrust eastward under the Great Valley Complex. The Great Valley Complex reflects a forearc basin comprised of Jurassic ocean crust-the Coast Range ophiolite-and overlying Jurassic and Cretaceous turbidite-dominated sedimentary rocks of the Great Valley Group. By the beginning of the Cenozoic Era, shallowing of the angle of subduction along the continental margin led to uplift and infilling of the forearc basin to shelf depth. Recorded at this time are sedimentary sequences governed by eustatic sealevel changes and evidence of the first unroofing of Franciscan rocks. Marine sedimentary rocks dominate the region through the Miocene and unconformities within the Early Tertiary sedimentary record reflect periods of tectonic activity and uplift. Middle to late Miocene sedimentary rocks are extensively deposited throughout the Bay Area. In the late Miocene, the Mendocino triple junction passed northward through the area and transform tectonism commenced. A slab window developed behind the triple junction resulted in volcanic activity that produced the Sonoma Volcanics in the North Bay and volcanics of the East Bay Hills. By Pliocene time, terrestrial sedimentary rocks were being deposited in many parts of the Bay Area. Faulting associated with the San Andreas system led to the development of small basins, the displacement of local bedrock blocks, and the transport of the Salinian Complex from the southern Sierra to the western margin of the Bay Area. The modern topography of the region started emerging by about 6. Ma to 4. Ma, when compression across the San Andreas system increased and uplift of the Coast Ranges began. The first estuarine influence in San Francisco Bay is recorded in ~. 600. ka rocks, about the same time as the modern Sacramento River system started flowing through the San Francisco estuary/valley.Today's local San Francisco Bay watershed is comprised of numerous small stream systems around the Bay with headwaters in the surrounding hills and mountains. Active tectonism produces relief in these watersheds of typically 500. m or more, with the ridgelines typically supported by more resistant bedrock units. Steep topography leads to rapid bedrock erosion, particularly of the finer-grained sedimentary rocks. Landslides provide a significant portion of the sediment carried by the streams and several of the bedrock units are more prone to landslides, particularly the Central and Novato Quarry terranes of the Franciscan Complex, and finer-grained units of both the Great Valley Group and Tertiary rocks. Many of the larger streams have dammed reservoirs that trap much of their sediment load before it can reach the bay. © 2013.
Barber J.R.,Colorado State University |
Crooks K.R.,Colorado State University |
Fristrup K.M.,National Park Service
Trends in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2010
Growth in transportation networks, resource extraction, motorized recreation and urban development is responsible for chronic noise exposure in most terrestrial areas, including remote wilderness sites. Increased noise levels reduce the distance and area over which acoustic signals can be perceived by animals. Here, we review a broad range of findings that indicate the potential severity of this threat to diverse taxa, and recent studies that document substantial changes in foraging and anti-predator behavior, reproductive success, density and community structure in response to noise. Effective management of protected areas must include noise assessment, and research is needed to further quantify the ecological consequences of chronic noise exposure in terrestrial environments. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.
Miller-Rushing A.,National Park Service |
Primack R.,Boston University |
Bonney R.,Cornell University
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment | Year: 2012
Members of the public have for centuries recorded their observations of the natural world, including plant and animal distribution and phenology, water quality, weather data, and astronomical phenomena. Given the relatively recent growth of ecological research as a professional field of study, the historical contributions of amateurs to ecology can be easily overlooked. To better understand long-term changes in ecosystems, researchers are now revisiting many of these historical datasets collected by non-professionals. Over the past 100 years, scientific organizations have increasingly included volunteers in large-scale monitoring projects to broaden the geographical extent and sample size of observations. We believe that a renewed interest in citizen science, enriched with the perspective and data provided by the long tradition of public participation in science, will broaden the engagement of the public in ecological research and lead to new scientific insights. © The Ecological Society of America.
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 315.27K | Year: 2012
The Arctic is changing rapidly, and it is predicted that areas which are today tundra will become tree-covered as warming progresses, with, for example, forest spreading northwards to the coast of northern European Russia by 2100. In some parts of the Arctic, such as Alaska, this process, commonly referred to as greening, has already been observed over the past few decades; woody shrubs are expanding their distribution northwards into tundra. Such vegetation changes influence nutrient cycling in soils, including carbon cycling, but the extent to which they will change the storage or release of carbon at a landscape scale is debated. Nor do we fully understand the role that lakes play in this system although it is known that many lakes in the tundra and northern forests are today releasing carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere in significant amounts, and a proportion of this carbon comes into the lake from the vegetation and soils of the surrounding landscape. Lakes form an important part of arctic landscapes: there are many thousands of them in our study areas in Russia and west Greenland, and they act as focal points for carbon cycling within in the wider landscape. It is vital that we understand the interactions between plants, soils, nutrients, and lakes because there are massive carbon stores in the high northern latitudes, particularly in frozen soils, and if this carbon is transferred into the atmosphere (as carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane) it will create a positive feedback, driving further global warming. For this reason, the Arctic represents a critical component of the Earth System, and understanding how it will it respond to global environmental change is crucial. Lakes are a key link in this process. As lakes are tightly coupled with terrestrial carbon cycling, changes in the flows of carbon to a lake are faithfully recorded in lake sediment records, as are changes in the biological processing of that carbon within the lake. We also know that similar vegetation changes to those observed or predicted today occurred in the past when climate was warmer than today, and thus past events can provide an analogue for future changes. This project will examine lake sediment records, using techniques that extract a range of chemical signals and microscopic plant and animal remains, to see how vegetation changes associated with past natural climate warming, such as migration of the tree-line northwards, affected lake functioning in terms of the overall biological productivity, the species composition, and the types of carbon processing that were dominant. Depending upon the balance between different biological processes, which in turn are linked to surrounding vegetation and soils, lakes may have contributed mostly to carbon storage or mostly to carbon emissions ?at a landscape scale. Changes in vegetation type also influence decomposition of plant remains and soil development, and this is linked to nitrogen cycling and availability. Nitrogen is an important control over productivity and hence of carbon fixation and storage, and thus it is important to study the dynamics of nitrogen along with those of carbon. Due to the spatial variability of climate and geology, the pace of vegetation development (and of species immigration) and the types of plants involved have not been uniform around the Arctic. By examining several lakes in each of three regions (Alaska, Greenland, Russia) we will be able to describe a broad range of different vegetation transitions and the associated responses of the lakes. Our results can be used to inform our understanding of the likely pathways of recently initiated and future changes. They can also be up-scaled to the whole Arctic and so contribute to the broader scientific goal of understanding feedbacks to global warming.
News Article | February 22, 2017
The iconic Washington Monument is celebrating its 132nd birthday today. Learn how it took 40 years to complete the project, and the surprising connections it has to the Pope, Abraham Lincoln, and the Constitution. The Monument before the Civil War The Washington Monument has endured after its rather lengthy planning process, and it recently an earthquake. The monument is now dealing with a man-made problem, an elevator renovation, that will keep it closed until early 2019. In May 2014, almost three years after a 5.8 magnitude struck on Washington on August, 22, 2011, the obelisk reopened. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, philanthropist David Rubenstein, and National Mall & Memorial Parks Superintendent Bob Vogel were at the reopening ceremony. Rubenstein’s generous contributions helped moved the restoration project forward. He is also funding the current elevator project The Washington Monument officially was dedicated on February 21, 1885. In a speech written for that event by Robert Winthrop, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony in 1845, there was one memorable line: “An earthquake may shake its foundations … but the character which it commemorates and illustrates is secure.” That’s not the only interesting fact or coincidence about the iconic monument. Here are 10 more fascinating facts about this American symbol. 1. James Madison had an early role in getting the monument project started. In 1833, the Washington National Monument Society, a private organization, came up with the idea for the tribute to the first President. Madison along with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall started the society. 2. The first monument design featured a rotunda and a Roman-like George Washington. The initial winning bid came from architect Robert Mills, whose designed a flat topped obelisk with a statue of Washington in a chariot, along with statues of 30 Founding Fathers. The current obelisk design was proposed in 1876. 3. The Masons, and the Pope, were involved with the monument. Yes, the Free Masons were involved in the cornerstone ceremony and they used Washington’s masonic symbols in the ceremony. At the 1848 ceremony were 20,000 people, and a container that held copies of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and other objects was buried in the cornerstone. 4. Abraham Lincoln was at the 1848 cornerstone ceremony. The eclectic guest list included three James Buchanan, Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Dolley Madison and Alexander Hamilton’s widow, Betsey Hamilton, and of course, the then-current President, James K. Polk. 5. So how does the Pope fit into all of this? The Society asked for people to donate ceremonial stones as part of the construction process. Pope Pius IX donated a memorial stone of marble, which infuriated the anti-Catholic Know Nothing Party. The Know Nothings got their revenge by rigging the leadership election for the Washington National Monument Society. Congress cut off monument funding for 5 years until the Know Nothings left the group. 6. Nothing happened to the monument for a 22-year period. After the Know Nothing takeover in the 1850s, the monument became stalled to the point that it was used as a slaughter yard and cattle pen during the Civil War. Congress took over the project in 1876. 7. It took the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get the job done. The Engineers were called in to work with Lt. Col. Thomas Lincoln Casey to modify the original ornate plans. The monument’s stripped-down, lean look was part of a cost-cutting effort. On December 6, 1884, an aluminum cap, used as a lighting-protection, device was placed on top. In February 1885, the dedication ceremony took place. 8. The Monument was the world’s tallest building when it was dedicated. The Washington Monument as dedicated stood at 555 feet 5 inches tall. The Cologne Cathedral had been the world’s tallest man-made structure. The Eiffel Tower soon surpassed the Monument. 9. The Monument is an engineering marvel. The Washington Post recently pointed out an interesting fact in an on-going debate about the Monument as the world’s tallest free-standing masonry structure. The Monument’s marble blocks are held together by just gravity and friction, and no mortar was used in the process. 10. The Washington Monument: Movie star. Nothing says “location shot” in a film like the Washington Monument, especially when the icon is under attack from aliens and terrorists, or used as a backdrop in a thriller or mystery. But maybe the most memorable appearance, in a real-life moment, occurred in August 1963, when the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on the mall in Washington, with the Lincoln Memorial stage facing the Monument. 10 facts about Thomas Jefferson for his 273rd birthday
News Article | February 28, 2017
In the news release, National Park Service Awards Michael Baker International $30 Million Contract for Environmental and Safety Management Services, issued 28-Feb-2017 by Michael Baker International over PR Newswire, we are advised by the company that the press release references open and...
News Article | February 27, 2017
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, the world's largest ecosystem restoration project, has made little progress since it was launched in 2000 (AFP Photo/RHONA WISE ) Miami (AFP) - Rising seas, polluted coastlines and the specter of more frequent droughts and storms have lent new urgency to efforts to restore the ecosystem of the Florida Everglades, the largest freshwater wetland in the United States. The Everglades' sawgrasses, swamps, tree islands and mangroves are home to a host of fascinating species, from American alligators to endangered hook-billed birds known as snail kites to invasive Burmese pythons. Until now, the world's largest ecosystem restoration project -- a massive plan expected to spend some $10.5 billion, known as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan -- has made little progress since it was launched in 2000. "Our goal was to have much of it done in 20 years," said Steve Davis, a wetlands ecologist with the Everglades Foundation, who led reporters on an airboat tour of the Everglades this month. "We are almost 20 years in and we don't have a single project completed." Even though the Everglades is known as the River of Grass, the water has not properly flowed through it in the past 70 years or so, because human development cordoned off the freshwater which used to spill over from Florida's massive Lake Okeechobee toward the south. As millions of people poured into the Sunshine State, a dike was built to protect against hurricane flooding and swamps were drained to make way for sugar cane farms. About one third of the Everglades' original three million acres (405,000 of 1.2 million hectares) became farmland, and 1.5 million acres were designated a national park. "We altered the ecosystem back in the '40s and '50s when we didn't know any better," said Bob Johnson, a hydrologist with the National Park Service. "Now we have to fix it." The consequences of diverting Lake Okeechobee's water -- much of it polluted by agricultural discharge -- to the east and west have grown increasingly dire. Last year, algae blooms coated the coastline with smelly, guacamole-colored sludge, and swimmers were warned to stay out of the water due to outbreaks of poisonous bacteria. Meanwhile, the spread of hot and salty water off the southern tip of Florida killed fertile fish breeding grounds known as seagrasses, threatening tourism and fishing -- two key drivers of the state economy. "There is simply not enough water coming in from the north to keep the entire system hydrated from top to bottom," said Davis. The movement of freshwater from the lake toward the south must be restored if the area's tourist economy, drinking water and natural and developed lands are to be sustained in the years to come, he said. Without some two million more acre feet -- an old measure devised by imagining a foot of water on an acre (0.4 hectare) of land -- of freshwater to drench the Everglades, the marshes dry out, the thin layer of peat covering the porous limestone ground dissipates or even burns under the hot sun, and the landscape flattens making it easier for saltwater to invade, Johnson told a meeting of the Tropical Audubon Society this month. Saltwater intrusion is already making its way into parts of Florida's aquifers -- which provide drinking water -- and could forever alter the Everglades' fragile ecosystem. Having more freshwater in the system could help because it "pushes against the saltwater and keeps those marshes wet," explained Johnson. "It helps stave off the effects of sea level rise." Scientists like Davis and Johnson say the solution requires having more land south of the lake -- an area filled with sugar cane farms -- to use as storage reservoirs where water can be cleaned before flowing south. "If we don't figure out how to store more water, we can't get through the problems to come. We can't get through long droughts and then very intense rainfall," said Johnson. After years of political squabbles, there are signs that lawmakers are motivated to fix the problem. Bills have been newly introduced in the Florida House and Senate to authorize over one billion in state dollars to acquire 60,000 acres of land for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that would hold 120 billion gallons (454 billion liters) of water. But more than a dozen farming companies in the area have dug in their heels, including sugar giants US Sugar and Florida Crystals, saying they are not willing to sell, questioning the science behind the proposals, and warning of job losses if land acquisition goes ahead.
News Article | March 2, 2017
Tickets go on sale to the public March 18; Wolf Trap members are buying now Special promotion on March 18 and 19 only: $10 lawn tickets and $20 rear orchestra tickets for all National Symphony Orchestra performances, plus Gustavo Dudamel and the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and Pilobolus Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts has announced the first performances of Summer 2017 at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Tickets go on sale to the general public beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 18; Wolf Trap members (donors of $75 and up) have access to presales and are purchasing tickets now. A complete calendar of performances may be found at wolftrap.org/calendar and a press release dedicated to Wolf Trap Opera, Symphony and Dance is here. Ticketing information and links to print-ready photography are below. As America’s only national park for the performing arts, Wolf Trap is deeply committed to diversity in programming, access points for music lovers of all kinds, and affordability. The 17-week summer season at the 7,028-seat Filene Center is made possible through a public-private partnership between the nonprofit Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and the National Park Service. “Summer in the Washington-area means packing a picnic, getting your crew together, and enjoying a great show at Wolf Trap,” said Arvind Manocha, president and CEO of Wolf Trap Foundation. “Whether you’re a classical or classic rock fan, everyone at Wolf Trap shares the same great experience – a night under the stars with friends and family and a chance to leave formality at the office. We have more shows to announce in April, and can’t wait to welcome music fans back to the Park in May.” Tickets for all announced performances go on sale to the public on Saturday, March 18 at 10:00 a.m. Opening weekend specials include $10 lawn and $20 rear orchestra seats for all performances by the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as Gustavo Dudamel and the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and Pilobolus. Young At Arts, Wolf Trap’s accessibility initiative which offers free youth tickets to select performing arts events, will continue in 2017. A roster of eligible performances will be announced on March 28. Additional performances at the Filene Center, and all performances at Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, will be announced April 6, 2017. Wolf Trap’s 2017 season is made possible by generous support from the following Wolf Trap Foundation Official Sponsors and Partners: The PNC Foundation, Premier Sponsor, 2017 Summer Season The Boeing Company, Major Sponsor, Rock Legends Series American Airlines, Official Airline Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, Official Hotel Steinway, Official Pianos Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, produces and presents a full range of performance and education programs in the Greater Washington area, as well as nationally. Wolf Trap features three performance venues: the outdoor Filene Center and Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, both located at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, and The Barns at Wolf Trap, located down the road from the national park and adjacent to the Center for Education at Wolf Trap. The 7,028-seat Filene Center is operated in partnership with the National Park Service and annually showcases an extensive array of diverse artists, ranging from pop, country, folk, and blues to classical music, dance, and theatre, as well as multimedia presentations, from May through September. The Barns at Wolf Trap is operated by the Wolf Trap Foundation year round, and during the summer months is home to the Grammy-nominated Wolf Trap Opera, one of America’s outstanding resident ensemble programs for young opera singers. Wolf Trap’s education programs include the nationally acclaimed Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, a diverse array of arts education classes, grants, and a nationally recognized internship program.