2023 was a “nutty” year for the Potomac River - Here’s why —

From late September through October, volunteers collected more than 3,311 pounds of acorns and seeds from locally evolved trees — more than five times the amount collected in the 2022 season! Acorns and tree seeds from White Oaks, Northern Red Oaks, and Black Walnuts topped the list of donations, while 27 varieties of tree seeds were donated in total. More than 200 volunteers contributed to the regional effort, delivering acorns to eleven collection sites scattered throughout Maryland, Virginia

Fall foraging along the Potomac River — Potomac Conservancy

Flowing more than 400 miles from the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia to Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River shapes a wide variety of habitats, winding through a landscape rich in biodiversity. For centuries, the wide array of plant communities along the river has been vital for sustaining regional wildlife, from monarch butterflies to black bears. The seasonal availability of wild fruits, grains, seeds, and nuts provides essential calories for wildlife at critical times of the year—for instance

The Southeast’s Disappearing Grasslands

These native habitats, and their ecological benefits, are nearly gone. But there are efforts to save what’s left. Nestled in the suburbs of Baltimore, there’s a scrap of land that could be the backdrop for a classic Western film, a patchwork of rock-riddled grasslands and savannahs studded with stunted blackjack and post oak trees. This swath of habitat contains the largest intact barrens remaining on the East Coast. Now protected as the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, this strip of

5 ways trees are affected by the climate crisis – and how they help combat it — Potomac Conservancy

Trees and forests are at the forefront of the climate crisis. Forced to contend with increasingly frequent droughts, wildfires, and severe storms, forests are profoundly affected by the warming planet. But, they are also one of the best ways to help combat the effects of a changing climate—locally as well as globally. In the Potomac River region, the climate crisis is already altering weather patterns, causing heavier precipitation and higher seasonal temperatures. For instance, in Washington,

Tackling Heat Inequity: For many US cities, building climate resilience also requires reckoning with their racist past

DURING THE SUMMER OF 1995, a sluggish air mass settled over the Midwest for a week, smothering the region with a stifling combination of high dew points and blistering temperatures. For five days in mid-July, temperatures hovered around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat index peaked at more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicago was the epicenter of the disaster. At the end of the heatwave, more than 700 of the city’s residents had died of heat-related illness. The majority of the fatalities were

Red Wolves: Hanging in the Balance

Gravel crackles under my tires and horseflies ping off the windows as I slow to a stop beside a mound of black bear scat, near the northeastern edge of North Carolina’s 152,000-acre Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. I turn off the engine and scan the dew-slickened pasture beside the road, hoping to see the flash of a cinnamon-colored coat. But other than the turkey vultures circling overhead, it’s still. Just as I’m about to start the engine, I notice some movement. In the distance, three dark blotches hover at the edge of a grove of loblolly pine. When I blink, the smudgy splotches sharpen into distinct shapes, a black bear and two cubs, ambling toward the road. I watch them for a moment, but they are not who I’m after. I’m looking for one of the rarest creatures on earth — the red wolf.

The Roving Dolphins of the Potomac River

The Roving Dolphins of the Potomac River A significant number of bottlenose dolphins frequent recovering East Coast waterways, but researchers still know little about them. In the early 1600s, English explorer John Smith described the Potomac River as an Edenic waterway teeming with wildlife. Early colonists also reported gargantuan sturgeon and massive schools of fish – and at his waterside estate, Mount Vernon, George Washington himself had three commercial fisheries on the Potomac River. O

In the midst of a prolonged drought, Zimbabwe is undertaking a massive wildlife relocation

In the midst of a prolonged drought gripping southern Africa, Zimbabwe is undertaking a massive relocation in an effort to save imperilled wildlife plagued by water scarcity. The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority reported that more than 200 elephants have died over the last two months at drought-afflicted protected areas, including Hwange and Mana Pools national parks. In mid-November, the agency announced plans to move 600 elephants along with 2,000 impalas, 50 buffalo,

Climate change could subtly drive Madagascar’s greater bamboo lemur closer to extinction

Rising temperatures have been charged with driving some of the planet’s most devastating natural disasters, but sometimes the impacts of climate change appear more subtly – as in the case of the greater bamboo lemur. Thought to be extinct in the wild just a few decades ago – until researchers discovered a remnant population in 1986 — Madagascar’s largest bamboo-noshing lemur still faces challenges like habitat loss and subsistence hunting. And now, climate change could gradually push the already

America’s national parks are hit harder by climate change than the rest of the country

Driving glacial retreat, sea-level rise, and loss of forest diversity, global climate change is already affecting ecosystems across America – especially in the country’s national parks. Now, a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters suggests America’s national parks are being more intensely impacted by climate change than the country as a whole, becoming both warmer and drier. Led by Patrick Gonzalez, adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley, the stu

Climate change could spark human-wildlife conflict in some of Africa’s critical lion areas

Like other large carnivores around the world, Africa’s lions are disappearing. Lions once wandered practically the entire African continent, absent only from the Sahara Desert and the tropical forests of the Congo Basin — but today, the cats roam only about 8% of their historic range. Over the last two decades, Africa’s lion population is estimated to have decreased by 43%. The bulk of the continent’s lions now live in just six stronghold countries in eastern and southern Africa. One of the prim

Africa’s Great Green Wall: Building resilience on the frontlines of global climate change

While the region has contributed the least to global greenhouse gas emissions, Africa’s Sahel is on the front lines of climate change. A band of semi-arid savanna skirting the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, the Sahel has regularly been struck by extreme droughts over the last half century – including in 2005, 2010, and 2012 – and climate projections predict rainfall in the region will continue to be erratic. The Sahel is also warming faster than anyplace else on earth, and temperature incre

Five species threatened with climate extinction

In the midst of the planet’s sixth mass extinction, species worldwide are disappearing at an alarming rate – and climate change will only exacerbate the situation. Unlike extinctions of the past, which resulted from natural phenomena like asteroids and volcanoes, this one is triggered entirely by humans, driven by factors habitat destruction, the introduction of invasive species, and climate change. A significant portion of the earth’s imperiled species are already being impacted by rising tempe

Discovering One of the East Coast's "Last Great Places"

Every summer, countless Washingtonians speed through Dorchester County, located in the middle of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, on their way to the beach, anxious to sink their toes into Atlantic-lapped sands. But in their quest for the coast, these over-eager vacationers bypass one of the state’s most magical ecological treasures: the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Considered one of the "Last Great Places" by the Nature Conservancy, this protected area is home to nearly a third of the state’s

Proposed route for interstate natural gas pipeline crosses Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway

An interstate gas pipeline proposed for the Mid-Atlantic could impact two of America’s most beloved recreational thoroughfares – the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway – triggering opposition from multiple citizen-advocacy groups and regional environmental organisations. The 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline would transport fracked natural gas from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia, crossing the Appalachian Trail just south-west of Peters Mountain Wilderness in Virginia,

Analysis: Who is Myron Ebell?

Amidst projections from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) identifying 2016 as the warmest year on record, America’s new president-elect, Donald Trump, has tapped one of the country’s most vociferous climate change deniers to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team.  While 97% of climate scientists agree on the facts of global climate change, Trump’s selection for the EPA, Myron Ebell, remains one of the country’s most outspoken opponents of climate science consen
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