Hunter R.B.,University of San Francisco |
Callaway J.C.,University of San Francisco |
Rayburn A.P.,River Partners |
Coffman G.C.,University of San Francisco
Invasive Plant Science and Management | Year: 2016
The exotic shrub red sesbania is an increasingly problematic weed in riparian and wetland ecosystems of California. Current control methods focus on manual removal, followed by herbicide application. Although this method effectively removes mature stands, the control is temporary because the presence of a large seed bank results in rapid germination and growth of new seedlings. We measured the density of seed banks beneath stands of varying densities and evaluated the potential of tarping and inundation for control of red sesbania seed banks. As expected, the abundance of viable red sesbania seeds in the soil was significantly greater beneath high-density stands than it was beneath low-density stands. Results for inundation and tarping experiments were mixed. Sustained inundation significantly decreased survivorship of germinated seeds compared with the control, as well as causing a statistically significant reduction in germination. Seven months after tarping, during the fall/winter growing season, there was no significant effect on red sesbania seedling abundance, stump resprout abundance, or height. Germination in the laboratory was significantly reduced by extended exposure to temperatures of 60 C, although lower temperatures did not reduce germination. Red sesbania appears to be resilient to tarping as a control method, at least in the settings studied.
News Article | April 20, 2017
Roanoke River Partners (RRP) is marking a milestone with its 20th anniversary this spring. Incorporated in 1997, RRP was formed in response to a declining economic climate for the counties that border the Roanoke River in North Carolina. Since then, RRP has cultivated partnerships and garnered support to develop and market the region as a destination for outdoor adventures and small town experiences, capitalizing on the area’s natural and cultural assets as a source for new enterprise. RRP’s signature achievement has been the development and promotion of the Roanoke River Paddle Trail, encompassing more than 200 miles of waterways featuring 16 rustic camp sites along the river. A pioneer of this type of development in North Carolina, RRP is considered the “grandfather” of water-based trails incorporating a system of camping platforms along a multi-county stretch of connected waterways. “For much of the past 20 years, the Roanoke River Partners have been raising public awareness of this great river and its astonishing system of swamps, islands and tributaries, which supplies most of the fresh water in Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds,” said Bland Simpson, author of “The Inner Islands” and “Litter Rivers & Waterway Tales.” “This wonderful group has inspired, and led, thousands onto the Roanoke’s many waters and made it possible for adventurous boaters to find their way into the lower Roanoke’s most remote retreats and spend a night or two on well-made tent-camping platforms there. What made them do all this grand conservation work? Nothing but the deepest love of the beautiful, powerful, haunting Roanoke River – our Amazon.” As intended, the trail has attracted outdoor enthusiasts from across the United States as well as other countries. RRP’s reservation system books more than 1,200 overnight stays each year. An estimated 5,000 paddlers access the river for day trips annually. This visitor traffic helped spur the opening of outfitters like Williamston-based Roanoke Outdoor Adventures, which contributes to the local economy. Trail users also spend money on gas, groceries and needed supplies in local towns. A recent study by NC Growth showed that RRP’s operations return over $550,000 to the regional economy each year. “RRP had the vision, creativity and perseverance to develop a natural network of paddle trails, cultivate a successful economic development plan and, ultimately, empower a community,” said Sammy Cox, regional paddler and coordinator for Pocket Guide to the Albemarle Sound. “Their foresight and sweeping efforts have contributed to making the region of the Roanoke more livable, desirable and sustainable.” In addition to the nationally-recognized water trail, RRP also has spearheaded the preservation of the former Hamilton Colored School with plans to repurpose it as the Rosenwald River Center in Martin County. The school will serve as a community center and interpretive site to highlight the region’s Rosenwald history and the Roanoke River’s role in the Underground Railroad. A master plan for development is nearly complete – and with it, RRP is kicking off a $300,000 capital campaign to support this historic preservation project. Over two decades, RRP has cultivated partnerships and garnered both public and private support from state and national organizations, county and town governments, regional tourism and media partners, outfitters, other small businesses and organizations, and many dedicated individuals. The Roanoke River Mayor’s Association and 15 member towns have provided leadership and support as well. “RRP is a wonderful example of a grassroots partnership that has come together because of a shared love for the natural world and the many unique wonders of our area,” said Pam Wingrove, natural resource planner with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Northeastern North Carolina’s Balancing Nature and Commerce Initiative. In the future, RRP hopes to attract even more visitors to the region while fostering community pride among residents. “RRP will continue to join forces with compatible interests to expand the regional brand cultivated over the past 20 years,” said Carol Shields, director of RRP. Roanoke River Partners connects the five North Carolina counties (Northampton, Halifax, Martin, Bertie and Washington Counties) which border the Roanoke River from the Virginia state line to the Albemarle Sound through its rural development initiatives. For more information, visit http://www.roanokeriverpartners.org or call 252 798-3920.
News Article | May 3, 2017
A 1-megawatt solar farm opened this month at the Charleston International Manufacturing Center in Goose Creek. The solar farm is operated by Cooper River Partners, owner of the industrial park. Start the conversation, or Read more at Post and Courier.
Golet G.H.,The Nature Conservancy |
Brown D.L.,California State University, Chico |
Carlson M.,California State University, Chico |
Gardali T.,PRBO Conservation Science |
And 17 more authors.
San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science | Year: 2013
Large-scale ecosystem restoration projects seldom undergo comprehensive evaluation to determine project effectiveness. Consequently, there are missed opportunities for learning and strategy refinement. Before our study, monitoring information from California's middle Sacramento River had not been synthesized, despite restoration having been ongoing since 1989. Our assessment was based on the development and application of 36 quantitative ecological indicators. These indicators were used to characterize the status of terrestrial and floodplain resources (e.g., flora and fauna), channel dynamics (e.g., planform, geomorphology), and the flow regime. Indicators were also associated with specific goal statements of the CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program. A collective weight of evidence approach was used to assess restoration success. Our synthesis demonstrates good progress in the restoration of riparian habitats, birds and other wildlife, but not in restoration of streamflows and geomorphic processes. For example, from 1999 to 2007, there was a > 600% increase in forest patch core size, and a 43% increase in the area of the river bordered by natural habitat > 500 m wide. Species richness of landbirds and beetles increased at restoration sites, as did detections of bats. However, degraded post-Shasta Dam streamflow conditions continued. Relative to pre-dam conditions, the average number of years that pass between flows that are sufficient to mobilize the bed, and those that are of sufficient magnitude to inundate the floodplain, increased by over 100%. Trends in geomorphic processes were strongly negative, with increases in the amount of bank hardened with riprap, and decreases in the area of floodplain reworked. Overall the channel simplified, becoming less sinuous with reduced overall channel length. Our progress assessment presents a compelling case for what needs to be done to further advance the ecological restoration of the river. The most important actions to be taken relate to promoting river meander and floodplain connectivity, and restoring components of the natural flow regime. © 2013 by the article author(s).
News Article | October 12, 2016
Early this month, a federal judge forced discussion of a radical step to save endangered salmon: taking out four somewhat large hydroelectric dams on the Lower Snake River in Washington State. These four dams include Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite Dams. They are fairly old dams and were not optimized for salmon survival. They were built primarily for navigation of barge and various river traffic, for low-carbon power, and to lesser degrees for flood control and irrigation. And despite millions of dollars spent on fish passage improvements, adult salmon still die in the reservoirs behind the dams, especially as the water can get quite warm sitting there during the summer. In addition, the Snake River is the gateway to thousands of square miles of pristine, high-elevation habitat in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, essential for salmon survival in a warming climate. Significantly, the necessity of these dams for navigation has fallen since the region’s rail system has dramatically improved and truck transport can handle the rest. But it’s the power generation of these dams that gives us an environmental conundrum. Which is more important, salmon or carbon emissions? Ice Harbor Dam produces 1.7 billion kWhs/yr, Lower Monumental 2.3 billion kWhs/yr, Little Goose 2.2 billion kWhs/yr and Lower Granite 2.3 billion kWhs/yr, which total about 4% of the State’s electricity generation. For comparison, the nearby nuclear power plant at Columbia Generating Station produces over 9 billion kWhs/yr. Grand Coulee Dam, the largest electricity generating station in the State, and the second largest on the nation, produces 20 billion kWhs/yr. So the electricity lost by taking out these dams can be replaced by other sources, but if you care about the environment, it matters what you build to replace this power: - a single large nuclear plant like those being built in Georgia, - a small modular nuclear plant with 12 modules from companies like NuScale, - five solar plants the size of the biggest solar plant in the country, or - seven thousand MW wind turbines, as many as presently exist in the entire State. Even though a small modular nuclear plant would replace both the low-carbon power and the grid flexibility of these dams, natural gas is the obvious choice for the utility. Regulators are eager to approve gas plants, natural gas fuel costs are low, and the initial construction costs for gas are the lowest of any energy source. Most importantly though, like hydroelectric and small modular reactors, natural gas is a source that can be cycled up and down rapidly to buffer the increasing amount of renewables coming onto the grid. Dams presently provide almost all of that flexibility in the Pacific Northwest so losing these dams necessitates a replacement that can also cycle quickly. Elsewhere in the region, Washington State’s last coal plant is shutting down in 2025, which will result in almost a 50% drop in energy sector emissions overnight. But replacing these Snake River dams with natural gas would completely offset that reduction in emissions. The Bonneville Power Administration says it would replace these Lower Snake River dams with two modern gas turbines. Such a replacement would cost an additional $274 million to $372 million each year, and would increase carbon emissions by almost 3 million tons per year. U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon sided with the State of Oregon, the Nez Perce Tribe, fishing groups, and environmentalists, saying that federal plans for protecting fish were not adequate, and ordered the agencies to prepare a new plan by early 2018. Moreover, Simon stated that federal agencies had "done their utmost" to avoid even considering breaching the Snake River dams, against the court’s previous suggestions to do so. While Simon said he wouldn't dictate what options agencies should consider, he said a proper analysis under federal law "may well require" considering breaching, bypassing or removing one or more of the four Lower Snake River dams. "Scientists tell us that removing the four Lower Snake dams is the single most important action we could take to restore salmon in the entire Columbia-Snake river basin," said Sam Mace of Save Our Wild Salmon. But Terry Flores, executive director of Northwest River Partners, representing public utilities, port districts and farm groups, disagrees, saying "We think those dams need to stay in place because of the multiple benefits they provide. They provide clean, carbon-free energy. We think they're an important part of the Northwest economy and the environment.” Taking out dams might sound easy, but there are some tricky issues. We have not yet decommissioned a huge hydroelectric dam, so it’s not easy to claim it will go as planned. Many positive effects like increased quality and quantity of fish species are offset by some adverse effects like decrease in mussel and other invertebrate species downstream. The relative dominance of good and bad depends strongly on how well the plan is designed and carried out. As a geologist, I have long worried about what to do with the huge sediment wedges behind the large dams. There are many upstream and downstream issues that have to be handled very well in order not to suffocate everything downstream and to protect the habitat upstream from gullying. Big dams must be decommissioned in stages in order to allow the sediments to be slowly eroded, hoping that most will not migrate downstream for decades. An excellent discussion of dam removal can be found at the U.S. Forest Service website and by Gordon Grant. Whatever is decided about the Lower Snake River dams, we can do it right if we want. Dr. James Conca is a geochemist, an energy expert, an authority on dirty bombs, a planetary geologist and professional speaker. Follow him on Twitter @jimconca and see his book at Amazon.com
Poulos J.M.,Utah State University |
Rayburn A.P.,River Partners |
Schupp E.W.,Utah State University
Plant Ecology | Year: 2014
There is increasing recognition that both competition and facilitation are important drivers of plant community dynamics in arid and semi-arid environments. Decades of research have provided a litany of examples of the potential for shrubs as nurse plants for establishment of desirable species, especially in water-limited environments. However, interactions with the existing understory community may alter the outcome of interactions between shrubs and understory plants. A manipulative experiment was conducted to disentangle interactions between a native forb species (Penstemon palmeri A. Gray), a native shrub (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.), and a diverse understory of exotic and native forbs and grasses in a semi-arid shrubland of Northern Utah, USA. Seedlings of P. palmeri were transplanted in a factorial design: (1) beneath shrub canopies or into their interspaces and (2) with understory interactions retained or removed. Transplant survival was tracked for roughly 1 year. Shrubs appeared to facilitate P. palmeri survival while interactions with the existing understory community were equivalently negative, leading to overall neutral interactions. Further, positive shrub interactions and negative understory interactions appeared to operate independently and simultaneously. While the debate over the importance of facilitation and competition in driving plant community dynamics continues, our observations strongly suggest that both have considerable effects on plant establishment in A. tridentata communities. Furthermore, our results inform the conservation and restoration of P. palmeri populations, and suggest the utility of nurse shrubs and/or understory thinning as strategies for increasing the diversity of desirable species in the arid and semi-arid western United States shrublands. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.