Daily Archives: October 25, 2015

Mobilizing the Biosphere to Restore Ecosystems: Four World-Class Examples[10/25/2015]

 

Guests:

  • James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, Pioneer, Biological Remediation of Wastewater, “Perennial Grasses and Mycorrhizal Fungi: Keys to Deep Spongy Soils”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*
  • James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, Pioneer, Biological Remediation of Wastewater, “Herds of Moving Ruminants Feeding Billions of Dung Beetles”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*
  • James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, and Pioneer, Biological Remediation of Wastewater, “Rehydrating Texas: Planned Grazing and Prairie Dogs Restore Western Grasslands”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*
  •  James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, and Pioneer, Biological Restoration of Wastewater, “Leave it to Beavers: A Solution for 21st Century Drought”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*
Segment 1

スクリーンショット 2015-10-27 12.31.55

James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, Pioneer, Biological Remediation of Wastewater, “Perennial Grasses and Mycorrhizal Fungi: Keys to Deep Spongy Soils”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*

Segment 2

スクリーンショット 2015-10-27 12.32.28

James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, Pioneer, Biological Remediation of Wastewater, “Herds of Moving Ruminants Feeding Billions of Dung Beetles”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*

Segment 3

スクリーンショット 2015-10-27 11.57.04

James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, and Pioneer, Biological Remediation of Wastewater, “Rehydrating Texas: Planned Grazing and Prairie Dogs Restore Western Grasslands”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*

Segment 4

スクリーンショット 2015-10-27 12.30.51

 James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, and Pioneer, Biological Restoration of Wastewater, “Leave it to Beavers: A Solution for 21st Century Drought”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*

Program Summary:

The EmeraldPlanet weekly television programs are broadcast and distributed via Channel 10 TV in Fairfax, Virginia USA. The programs are being simulcast to 532 stations around the United States and then overseas by the Internet and C-SPAN television. The EmeraldPlanet programs are currently available in all countries and territories around the world.  The Emerald Trek and companion The Emerald Mini-Treks are identifying the 1,000 “best practices” on location from the 143 nations, 750 cities, and 50,000 communities by Internet TV, local television stations, main stream media outlets, YouTube, Facebook, The EmeraldPlanet Meetup, Twitter, among other social media networks, and all manner of print media.

The EmeraldPlanet TV is broadcasting weekly a number of the “best practices which are identified through collaboration with:  major non-governmental organizations (NGOs); United Nations, universities and colleges; research institutes; government ministries and agencies; Embassies; banking and micro-lending organizations; Chambers of Commerce; World Trade Centers, international bodies such as The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Inter-American Development Bank, African Development Bank Group, Asian Development Bank, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), citizens groups; multimedia organizations; among others by utilizing the most advanced broadcasting hardware and software along with an outstanding television Production Crew to reach an ever expanding global audience. The Emerald Trek is focused upon linking principals identified among the 1,000 ‘best practices’ in the 143 nations being visited through this world-wide movement. The Emerald Trek is encompassing over 300,000 miles, visiting 750 major cities, and 50,000 suburban and rural communities in the identified nations.

Our featured guests are:

  • Segment ‘1’: James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, Pioneer, Biological Remediation of Wastewater, “Perennial Grasses and Mycorrhizal Fungi: Keys to Deep Spongy Soils”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*
  • Segment ‘2’: James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, Pioneer, Biological Remediation of Wastewater, “Herds of Moving Ruminants Feeding Billions of Dung Beetles”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*
  • Segment ‘3’: James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, and Pioneer, Biological Remediation of Wastewater, “Rehydrating Texas: Planned Grazing and Prairie Dogs Restore Western Grasslands”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*
  • Segment ‘4’:  James (Jim) H. Laurie, Restoration Ecologist, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Biologist from Rice University, and Pioneer, Biological Restoration of Wastewater, “Leave it to Beavers: A Solution for 21st Century Drought”, (By Skype)* with Special Guest Dr. Jose Colucci Rios, B.S., CH.E., Professor (Ret.), University of Puerto Rico, (In-Studio Skype Back-Up)*

Program overview

The continents are drying out according to Michal Kravcik of Slovakia who spoke at our Tufts conference last week.  The run off from the land has exceeded the rain coming from the oceans for the last 60 years.  The annual loss of water is more than the volume of Lake Erie every year.  

 This was not true 20,000 years ago when wooly mammoths roamed the land. The biodiversity slowed the water cycle and created the Ice Ages.  The loss of biodiversity in recent centuries has increased run off and reduced the small water cycle.  CO2 levels exceed 400ppm for the first time in 2 million years and the the continents continue to dry out.  Before the 1800’s, the American soils were deep and moist from biodiverse activity.  Rainfall infiltrated the soil.  It didn’t run off as it does now. 

 Deep rooted grasses like Big Bluestem dominated the grasslands and savannas.  These grasses shared the sugars they made from photosynthesis with mycorrhizal fungi and soil microbes.  The sticky slimes that these organisms create form aggregates and make lots of air spaces where water can flow and soil critters can breathe. 

 

 Grazing ruminants roamed vast areas in herds to protect themselves from wolves and other predators.  Buffalo alone numbered perhaps 60 million animals.  When a herd of 100,000 went through an area it had enormous impact with tons of dung and urine along with trillions of hoof prints creating tiny infiltration channels for water.  All this poop caused the herds to constantly move on the sweeter grass.  They didn’t return till the grass had recovered and was sweet again. 

 Dung beetles thrived in these grasslands and rolled the dung patties into tiny balls and buried them 2 to 3 feet deep.  Female dung beetles lay one egg per each little ball and the baby dung beetles are born inside and have plenty to eat.  The dung beetle activity creates billions of mini pores to help water infiltrate the land adding to the impact of the aggregates made from the fungi activity.   Dung beetles were once found found everywhere in the world except in the permafrost.

 

 The American West has lost much of its Biodiversity.  The Red River in West Texas is completely dry for much of the year.  Use of nitrogen fertilizer kills the mycorrhizal fungi.  Insecticides and animal antibiotics kill dung beetles and much of the soil life.  The soil is compacted and water runs off in flash floods instead of infiltrating the ground.  Crops are grown but often need irrigation.  Livestock doesn’t contribute to soil building because they are sequestered in feed lots creating waste lagoon nightmares.

 The soils of Texas and most of the midwest North America are dying.  The Red River Basin was once home to a Prairie Dog town of 400 million Prairie Dogs.  This one dog town was the size of Ireland in 1901.  Can you imagine how much water could infiltrated millions of prairie dog holes?  Flash floods would have been unlikely.  The land management policy in the 20th Century was to poison prairie dogs.  They were competing for grass, it was thought.  I have heard several ranchers say, “Prairie Dogs are always where the best grass is.”  Think about that.  Texas is suffering from terribly droughts and then flash flooding.  The soil is gone in many places and the water can’t infiltrate.

 At the Cheyenne River Lakota Reservation, they still have some prairie dogs, but they are trying to help the return of the dung beetles.  Dugan Bad Warrior is reducing his chemical treatments on his animals.   He still has watering issues and occasional flash flooding, so he is wanting to increase his water infiltration and make every drop count.  There is another possibility, too.  Beaver!

 

 One of the most exciting happenings for the 21st Century, is watching Beaver return to areas it hasn’t been seen in hundreds of years.  There were perhaps 100 million beaver or more in the lower 48 states, but they were trapped out so early that settlers never knew their importance to the landscapes of the West.  

 California is still killing beavers, which were once found along the coast, in the Central Valley, and high into the Sierras.  Climate change has reduced storage of water as snow pack in the mountains and beaver could create thousands of water storage areas in the mountains and slow the water cycle.  If the Central Valley was 10% beaver wetlands, there would not be a water problem in California, I believe.  

 In Nevada, the driest state in the realm, ranchers have been working with a BLM biologist, Carol Evans, for decades to improve their water situation.  They have improved their grazing strategies and many of the streams have water in them most of the year.  In 2003, the beaver returned to Susie and Maggie Creeks.  The water retained there has been improving and water table have remained high in spite of recent terrible droughts. Jon Griggs, the ranch manager at Maggie Creek Ranch, is thrilled at the abundant wildlife and cut-throat trout retuning to the area.  The combination of planned grazing and beaver activity has restored the landscape in an are that get 10 inches of rain per year.

 Bringing beaver back can restore fish habitat and removing human dams can also bring back freshwater mussels which depend on fish moving upstream.  Freshwater mussels once were found in great numbers in most North American streams, filtering the water and keeping it clean. 

 You can learn about these water cycle possibilities in two books that I use in my Homeschool Biology and Ecology classes.  “Water: A Natural History” was written by Alice Outwater and “Cows Save the Planet” was written by Judy Schwartz.  These kids are learning how to restore the biodiversity of the land.


 

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