Assignment Earth

Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism, Video / 23.01.2011

Fossil Creek is a conservation success story. This river that flows through the Mazatzal Mountains of Central Arizona has been reclaimed for the preservation of species habitat and recreation for the residents of nearby Phoenix. The removal a dam built at the turn of the last century has made it possible for Fossil Creek to return to its natural state of pristine beauty. Unfortunately the influx of human visitors has put the newly restored Fossil Creek at risk. The impact of automobile and foot traffic, plus a proliferation of garbage could very well undo the scenic and ecological features that make this conservation land worth protecting.

Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection / 10.12.2010

Fossil Creek is a newly preserved wild and scenic river  that may again be at risk due to the very efforts meant to protect it. In a video from Assignment Earth producer Jay Canode tells the story of a beautiful body of water that flows through the Mazatzal Mountains of Central Arizona.  With the removal of a hydroelectric damn put in place at the turn of the last century Fossil Creek has been reborn to provide habitat to scores of fish and animal species and recreation opportunities to thousands of human visitors.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection, Video / 06.12.2010

Chad Pregracke is on a serious mission to get things out of the Mississippi River that don’t belong there. Since 1998 his non-profit Living Lands and Water has organized clubs, groups and ordinary citizens to haul trash and other debris off the shoreline of the Quad Cities near his home in Moline, Illinois. The annual Mississippi River Xtreme Cleanup draws more than 1700 volunteers inspired to make a difference in their community.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism / 25.10.2010

Fall-out from the housing market bubble isn’t just affecting the suburbs of major metropolitan areas. Rural communities throughout the Rocky Mountain west are suffering too. Teton County Idaho with a population of fewer than 10,000 now has an astonishing 7,000 vacant lots, rural farms now converted to cul-de-sacs to nowhere. It’s a surplus some say could take anywhere from 70 to nearly 300 years to build out even if the economy picks up.

“It really looks like a wasteland. Its blight and we have zombie sub-divisions just like this all over our valley,” said Anna Trentadue of Valley Advocates for Responsible Development. “And some of them appear to be in some of our most sensitive habitat areas.”

Trentadue works for a non profit that deals with growth. With a diminished market making it tough for developers to finish what they started, here the group is ceasing an opportunity to try to reshape rural development. The hope is to avoid building on all the vacant lots which would create sprawl, a development pattern that’s expensive for tax payers who maintain the roads bridges and school bus routes that serve these far flung sub divisions. The group also aims to avoid carving up all the farmland and this valley’s rich wildlife habitat, bordering the southern end of the great Yellowstone ecosystem.

Teton Valley is home to Grizzlies, wolves, moose elk and many other species. To reshape growth, this non-profit is teaming up with developers, national experts and local government to see if some unfinished subdivisions can be redesigned to reduce the number of vacant lots, leaving more open space.

Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection / 09.09.2010

The Colorado River and its tributaries sustain nearly 30 million people across seven states and Mexico. It is the most controlled river in the world and has created fertile land and large cities where there was once desert. Agriculture, wildlife, local tourism, recreational businesses and big cities all count on water from this coveted river. Hard times however have caught up with the Colorado. Drought coupled with increasing development in the Southwest has created a new reality. In this edition of Assignment Earth we take a look at efforts to save the threatened Colorado River.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection, National Monuments / 20.08.2010

At Trackways National Monument, experts have excavated the best examples of Paleozoic era plants and animals on the planet. “These different types of fossils are the best preserved and the most significant of their kind in the world,” said Jerry MacDonald of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History. MacDonald has made his life’s work searching for and excavating prehistoric fossils in the Robledo Mountains just outside Las Cruces, New Mexico. His discoveries, starting in the early 1980s helped to establish the area as the 5,200-acre Trackways National Monument in 2009. “It’s a concentrated fossil deposit that not only has track-ways but it has petrified wood, fossil leaves, marine fossils, he said And all of these things represent a window to the past.” This public land in the American Southwest desert is one of the few places on Earth where evidence of the Permian period is exposed. The creatures who left these tracks in the mud almost 300 million years ago occupy a much different version of New Mexico.