15 Life on Land (77)
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
UT grounds planned butterfly release but festival will fly
OAK RIDGE — The University of Tennessee Arboretum canceled a planned release of painted butterflies originally scheduled for its upcoming annual butterfly festival, but the pollinator-positive educational event will go on to the joy of families and nature enthusiasts across East Tennessee.
“While the fun-filled and educational event is still scheduled for Sept. 9, a mass release of painted lady butterflies is no longer scheduled as part of the event,” according to the UT Arboretum Society.
The 8th annual festival will occur from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center and Arboretum, 901 S. Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge. Plenty of activities will provide educational opportunities for the public to learn how we can all protect our pollinators, according to the UT Institute of Agriculture.
“The butterfly species previously planned for release at the festival was the painted lady, Vanessa carduii. Butterfly releases have been held at past festivals with the intention that the more people understand an organism, the more they are inspired to help protect it. Though there has not been definitive scientific research about the impact of painted lady butterfly releases, the UT Arboretum Society has decided to join many other scientific organizations, such as the North American Butterfly Association and the Smithsonian Institute, in not promoting this practice,” according to a release.
- ut arboretum
- tennessee naturscapes
- north american butterfly association
- ut arboretum society
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- painted butterfly
- ut institute of agriculture
- oak ridge arboretum
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- nature for kids
- things to do around knoxville september 9
- teach kids about nature knoxville
- vanessa carduii
- donna edwards
- stephen lyn bales
- laura russo
Volunteers nurture life in an Oak Ridge cemetery
OAK RIDGE — The northern corner here is a small place teeming with treasures, including the Worthington Cemetery Ecological Study Area.
Elza Gate Park off Oak Ridge Turnpike, also known as Tennessee Highway 95, is the starting point for walking trails taking visitors through a cedar barren, a somewhat open habitat including eastern red cedars. The barrens include plants more similar to a prairie than many East Tennessee forests. The trail reaches a cemetery dating before the founding of Oak Ridge.
Woven together in this small area there is a natural mix of wildlife and historical preservation. Visitors to the loop trail will encounter a pine forest and a wetland area complete with a boardwalk to observe birds. Tennessee Valley Authority designated the land as both an Ecological Study Area and Small Wild Area.
- elza gate park
- oak ridge
- tennessee valley authority
- samuel worthington
- global ecology and conservation
- tennessee citizens for wilderness planning
- jimmy groton
- melton hill lake
- nature conservancy
- worthington cemetery ecological study area
- tva oak ridge
- red cedar barren
- tennessee prairie
- invasive plant control
- exotic species
- ann hewitt worthington
- citizen pest plant control
Opposition mounts to Pisgah/Nantahala national forest management plans
ASHEVILLE — An alliance of conservation groups notified the U.S. Forest Service of its intent to sue the federal department unless officials fix what it calls glaring deficiencies in the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Plan.
Potential plaintiffs allege the Forest Service’s management plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests is flawed. They maintain the Forest Service plan favors commercial logging, ignores the best science available, and puts several endangered bat species at risk of extinction.
The endangered species potentially affected are the northern long-eared bat, Indiana bat, Virginia big-eared bat, and the gray bat. Two species that are being considered for the endangered species list — the little brown bat and the tricolored bat — would also be adversely affected.
MountainTrue, its lawyers at the Southern Environmental Law Center, and coalition partners — the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, Defenders of Wildlife, and Center for Biological Diversity — sent a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue (NOI), which is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act. The letter alleges the Forest Service relied on inaccurate and incomplete information during the planning process, resulting in a plan that imperils endangered wildlife.
The 32,000-acre reservation serves as a vast laboratory for wildlife-protection efforts
Stephanie Seay is a senior science writer and communications specialist in the ORNL Communications Division.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers developed a model framework that identifies ways to ensure wildlife can safely navigate their habitats while not unduly affecting infrastructure.
The project centered on the 32,000-acre Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee, home to Department of Energy facilities and several at-risk species like the four-toed salamander.
Scientists identified habitats and simulated solutions like conservation buffers and open-bottom culverts to allow safe passage for salamanders and other wildlife, which cost far less than large-scale barrier removal and similarly boost ecological connectivity.
“Development and environmental sustainability don’t have to be at odds,” said ORNL’s Evin Carter. “Our collaborative approach with project managers and engineers shows wildlife management can be an integral part of land-use planning without introducing undue cost or delays.”
ORNL doctoral student Bryce Wade said the model also benefited from 30 years of high-resolution data available because of the reservation’s history and management as a National Environmental Research Park.
What city birds around the world have in common
This story was originally published by The Revelator.
Why do some bird species seem to flourish alongside humans, eating our crumbs and nesting in our backyards, while others prefer to live as far as possible from dense human populations?
Monte Neate-Clegg began to ponder the question while attending the American Ornithological Society’s 2019 conference in Anchorage, Alaska. “I was staying at an AirBnB and two of the birds I wanted to see in Anchorage, white-winged crossbills and boreal chickadees, were just in the yard,” said Neate-Clegg, at the time a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah. Although new and beautiful to him, the species are common in Anchorage and so omnipresent they’re typically ignored by residents.
“I started thinking, what is it that makes these ‘trash birds’ here, and not elsewhere?”
Neate-Clegg sounds sheepish about using the pejorative-sounding term “trash bird,” but it’s a phrase commonly used by birdwatchers to refer to species ubiquitous to a given location they cease to become interesting and can become irritating. Classic examples include pigeons in city centers and snack-stealing gulls on beaches.
One man’s trash bird is another’s research query. Neate-Clegg wondered if specific traits make certain species more able to thrive in cities around the world. After joining ornithologist Morgan Tingley at his lab at UCLA as a postdoctoral researcher in 2021, he proposed a lab-wide project in an attempt to answer the question.
The research drew on data providing clues which may eventually reveal a roadmap making our cities more bird friendly.
- monte neateclegg
- american ornithological society
- boreal chickadee
- whitewinged crossbill
- morgan tingley
- rebecca heisman
- peregrine falcons nyc
- urban bird
- functional trait
- bird specimen
- natural history
- trash bird
- big data science
- urban biodiversity
- threatened species
- concrete jungle
- city rewilding
- urban microrewilding
- city bird
TWRA wants you to help build research on USA’s second bird
NASHVILLE — Benjamin Franklin only joked (we think) about making the wild turkey the national bird, but this summer you can help Tennessee with research on the turkey’s national history and renaissance.
Turkeys and bald eagles both grace the state and Southeast and have a notably parallel history of climbing from dire straits nationwide.
The bald eagle became the national symbol on the U.S. seal in 1782.
Declaration of Independence signer Franklin said he would have preferred a different bird. While he may have been joking, he never lobbied for it publicly. His comments in a letter to his daughter, Sarah, have become infamous.
“For my own part I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labour of the fishing hawk; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him, and takes it from him … the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.”
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- stephen bales
- thomas fraser
- ben pounds
In Hellbender Press interview, heralded writer describes the way natural sounds shape our world
David George Haskell encourages you to pay attention to the sounds of the natural world.
It’s what led him to write four books; two have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, including his latest book, “Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity, and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction.”
A link on Haskell’s website provides a gateway into natural sounds he describes in the book through the essay “The Voices of Birds and the Language of Belonging.” Visitors to this essay’s page can read the piece or listen to a recording of Haskell reading it, accompanied by recorded bird songs providing a soundtrack for the topic.
Haskell is fascinated by sound. His dissertation, written in the 1990s, was a study of bird sounds. Predators hunt birds largely by ear, which has influenced the evolution of birdsong. His writing is a powerful and beautiful way to understand our relationships with the world through bird sounds.
Help protect an Oak Ridge graveyard dedicated to the study of life
OAK RIDGE — Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning will for the second year host a group of volunteers from Transformation Church on July 15 at the Worthington Cemetery Ecological Study Area to remove Dahurian buckthorn and other invasive species. This is the second year of help at the site from church members, and is one of several service projects church members will conduct throughout the Knoxville area. Volunteers will also help pick up litter and do some trail work.
— Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning
TDOT joins with Tennessee Aquarium to pollinate our pathways
CHATTANOOGA — With their distinctive orange and black patterns, gossamer wings and harrowing 3,000-mile migrations, few insects are as charismatic or beloved as the monarch butterfly.
Just imagine how tragic it would be if they disappeared.
So it was with alarm in 2022 that the world received news that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had declared the monarch an endangered species, citing population numbers that had fallen 80 percent since the 1980s.
Similar anxiety met reports in the mid-2000s of colony collapse disorder. This sudden phenomenon dramatically imperiled the survival of European honey bees, whose activity directly or indirectly affects roughly one of every three bites of food we eat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Pollinators are undoubtedly critically important to plants and humans alike, whether they’re investigating our Irises, calling on our Columbine, or buzzing our Blueberry bushes. This week, June 19-25, the world celebrates Pollinator Week, which recognizes the wondrous, vital contributions of butterflies, bees, moths, bats, and other pollinators.
Help TWRA save our pine snakes
NASHVILLE — If you see a vanishing northern pine snake, biologists with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) want to know.
One subspecies of the pine snake, (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus), lives in Tennessee. The snake is considered “threatened” by TWRA due to habitat loss and fragmentation, road mortality, and humans who kill the snakes because they mistake them for timber rattlesnakes.
Brian Flock, biodiversity coordinator for TWRA, said the reports will help the agency find out about the threatened snakes’ habitat and behavior.
“For years we’ve tried to find them. Because of their secretive nature, they’re hard to find,” he said. “We don’t know in Tennessee where they live, how they move around, those kinds of things.” He said they mostly seem to exist in West Tennessee but have been spotted as far east as Knoxville. TWRA, he said, may use the public’s information to add radio tracking devices to the snakes.
Quaff some brews and pour some out on Endangered Species Day
Friday, May 19 is Endangered Species Day. Not just in Knoxville. The U.S. Postal Service is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act by releasing a collection of stamps featuring endangered animals and fishes. All 4,000 of the Endangered Species Limited Edition Collector's Sets are already sold out, but other collector items are still available. The fish were photographed by Joel Sartore, a friend of local nonprofit Conservation Fisheries. His National Geographic Photo Ark collection also features boulder darters, which are native to the Elk River in Middle Tennessee and have been federally listed as endangered since 1988.
Here’s another link to the celebration: Endangered Species Day in the Old City.
Join in various festivities, ranging from Riverside Tattoo Flash Day to Pint Night at Merchants of Beer to honor those critters who may not be with us much longer.
Chestnut researchers rally to fight the blight for good
Chestnut trees disappeared from 200 million acres of forest from northeast Mississippi to southern Maine 100 years ago. The social and ecological significance of such an event, which led to the loss of at least 1 billion trees, can be hard to understand today.
The massive die-off of the American chestnut left a big hole in the ecological fabric of Southern Appalachia and beyond. The tree dominated the forests in size and in the ecological and human services it provided.
While no tree could fully substitute an American chestnut in providing food for wildlife, naturally increasing acorn production from oaks served as a major food source bridge for wild turkey, bobwhite, white-tailed deer and squirrels. The oaks helped fill in the so-called “chestnut gap.”
Try as they might, the oaks never produced the same bountiful harvest.
Now with the work of the 3BUR (Breeding, Biotechnology and Biocontrol United for Restoration) the fight to protect the American chestnut and restore it to the throne of the forest is again in motion.
Got sprawl? It’s past time to help young farmers access land
I’m not a farmer, I’m a hiker. I live in a shady mountain gap and can’t grow a fully ripe tomato in the summer — not to mention that the half-acre parcel of land that I call home includes a significant portion of river bed. But as a 20-year resident of rural Blount County, a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I’ve watched the steady disappearance of farms over time, and I have wondered what can be done.
This is why I rose at 4 a.m. for a trip to Nashville, planning to arrive before my alarm would normally sound. It will be my first time lobbying the state legislature and my first time meeting in person with the organizers of the Southeast Tennessee chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition — known as “Young Farmers” — who I’ve been Zooming with for the better part of the year. We are all headed to Ag Day on the Hill to advocate for young and beginning farmers and the preservation of farmland for future generations.
- farmland consercation
- urban sprawl in blount county
- blount county
- farm bill
- national young farmers
- young farmers coaltion
- farm inheritance
- american farmland trust
- ag day in nashville
- loss of farmland
- losing farmland to development
- developer vs conservationist
- consequence of development
- citizens against the pellissippi parkway extension
- citizens for sustainable growth
- elan young journalist
- tennessee farmland loss ranking
- blue goose winery
The State of Bats: Grim news for our winged mammals
North America’s first State of the Bats report gives a sobering outlook for the winged mammals. According to the North American Bat Conservation Alliance report:
- More than half of the 154 known bat species on the continent could face severe population declines over the next 15 years.
- During that time, up to 82 percent of bat species will be negatively affected by climate change, especially extreme drought and temperatures.
- The scope and severity of threats — including habitat loss, wind turbines and the deadly bat disease white-nose syndrome — are increasing.
The news isn’t all bad. The report outlines ways to help and emphasizes the wide-ranging benefits of bats, from improving crop yields to eating insect pests. It also highlights the promise of focused, collaborative conservation efforts.
Case in point, the lesser long-nosed bat was once endangered in Mexico and the U.S. But thanks to international efforts, it is now delisted and recovered in both countries.
The North American Bat Conservation Alliance is another example. The coalition involving the U.S., Mexico and Canada created the 2023 State of the Bats report with Bat Conservation International and others.
“Bats face many challenges and the conservation landscape is increasingly complex,” said Dr. Jeremy Coleman, alliance co-chair and white-nose syndrome coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “While there is more to do, the level of international collaboration we have achieved for bat conservation in North America is a bright spot and a cause for optimism going forward.”
— Georgia Department of Natural Resources