In a comprehensive follow-up to a 2009 compilation, a new State of the Birds Report has been released (available in full as a PDF or summarized in their news release here). In a collaboration between 23 government agencies and conservation organizations, this extensive analysis of long-term monitoring data is the bearer of both good and bad news for U.S. birds. Restoration and preservation of wetland habitats has reversed declines in waterfowl populations while habitat loss and fragmentation in arid regions has lead to steep declines in bird populations of the Southwest and deserts of the western United States. Analyzing trends in seven key habitat categories, the report identifies 240 species that are either endangered or are likely to become endangered if current trends continue.
Meanwhile, the Audubon Society has released its own report about the shifting landscape bird populations are facing due to climate change. Data can be explored on an interactive map by species or by region, showing which birds will face habitat loss due to global warming over the next 65 years. While some species will face little to no challenge, others are expected to face nearly complete loss of their summer or winter habitats. The Eared Grebe, which is now the most abundant grebe species in the world, is projected to lose the entirety of its current summer range. The Golden Gate Audubon Society, using data from this report, offers a look at what’s in store for Bay Area birds. Further up the west coast, the Audubon Society of Portland is doing work to preserve the habitat of the endangered Marbled Murrelet.
An Eared Grebe in Lake Merritt
For those interested in making the country a more habitable place for birds, The Audubon Society has put together a list of things you can to help birds
and Cornell Bird Labs offers a guide to planting bird-friendly berries in your yard
With the tail end of a rain storm currently passing over California’s northern coast and another expected to arrive on Wednesday, good news has arrived for the region’s ecology, fisheries and agriculture. However, the exceptionally dry water year and complete depletion of snowpack in the state have taken a toll. Extremely low flows and warmer water in the Klamath River have contributed to the outbreak of a parasitic infection capable of killing adult salmon before they spawn. Nearly half the Chinook salmon caught in recent fishing expeditions were infected with the ich parasite. To combat the spread of the disease, the Bureau of Reclamation has begun to release water into the Trinity River, a tributary of the Klamath.
During dry years, many of California’s farms rely on pumping ground water to irrigate their crops. During this extended drought, some regions of San Joaquin Valley have extracted groundwater to the point that the ground level has sunk significantly. With a commonly used resource in danger of running out in some regions, California has joined the rest of the western states in adopting rules for extracting groundwater.
In response to pressure from groups associated with the urban farming movement, the city of Oakland is changing its zoning regulations to facilitate growing, harvesting and selling food within the city. Making use of blighted properties and normally unproductive residential yard space, urban farmers aim to produce food with a significantly smaller carbon footprint than large-scale commercial agricultural operations while avoiding wasteful and ecologically damaging irrigation, fertilizing and pesticide application practices that are widespread in the industry.
The Chaparral Institute, working with The John Muir Project and the Center for Biological Diversity, has announced a lawsuit against the Stanislaus National Forest to prevent the logging of recently burnt trees. Citing primarily ecological concerns, they’ve offered a six-point explanation of why the planned “salvage logging” should be stopped.
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