Assignment Earth

Assignment Earth, Destinations, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection / 11.08.2010

Among the rolling mountains of Southern New Mexico lies Fort Stanton Snowy River National Conservation Area. Once home to Billy the Kid, occupied by both Union and Confederate Armies, the Buffalo Soldiers and the Apache Mescalero tribe, its history and culture are rich. Today it remains largely as it existed 150 years ago, offering new opportunities above and below ground. Directly beneath this postcard New Mexico Landscape is fort Stanton Cave, an obscure recreational caving site since the 1960s. But in 2001 spelunkers investigating signs of additional caves revealed Snowy River Passage, an endless series of tunnels whose floors are lined with white calcite deposits, the longest formation of its kind in the world.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Protection / 01.08.2010

About the size of a human child Hector’s Dolphins are among the smallest dolphin species in the world. Found only in the coastal waters of New Zealand, where there is a very active fishing industry, they are also among the most endangered.

“At the moment there are about 27 percent of the numbers there were in the 1970s,” said Liz Slooten a marine biologist at the University of Otago. “Many Dolphins you’d expect there to be tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of individuals. But Hector’s Dolphins? There’re just over 7,000 individuals.” Hector’s Dolphins and a subspecies called Maui’s Dolphins are frequently killed when they are inadvertently trapped in the fine mesh of gill nets. Despite resistance from the fishing industry researches working with the National Institute for Water and Atmosphere aim to create protection zones to prevent the extinction of this threatened species.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection, Interview / 27.07.2010

Field producers for Assignment Earth arguably have the coolest job in the world. Reporter Rebecca Huntington blends exploring wild places, her favorite pastime, with storytelling to educate the general public on events and issues at the forefront of environmental conservation. Born in Billings Montana, Rebecca, 38, now lives in Jackson, Wyoming. With a degree in Spanish and Journalism from the University of Montana and as a Ted Scripps fellow of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder she, brings a wealth of knowledge and training to her production work. Reporting for Assignment Earth since 2007 Rebecca connects with researchers and activists to offer viewers an on-the-ground perspective of efforts to protect and preserve the natural world. What follows is a Q&A interview conducted for Assignment Earth
Assignment Earth, Environmental Protection / 20.07.2010

The Sage Grouse is a candidate for designation as a threatened or endangered species. As the Interior Department considers the bird’s fate, several research projects are underway across the west to study its behavior, movements and nesting patterns. Wildlife biologist Bryan Bedrosian locates the birds at night. Sage Grouse sleep out in the open so they can see predators coming. But this also blows their cover. “The way we see them is by a really powerful spotlight we bring out," Bedrosian said. "And through binoculars we can pick up the shine, the reflection of their eye." Using this common technique researchers can spot a group of sleeping grouse for 800 meters. To capture them Bedrosian deploys rock music and what looks like an over-sized butterfly net. “We go up to them playing loud music so it distracts them, covers up our foot steps, disorients them a little bit to what’s happening,” he said. With almost 44 percent of Sage Grouse habitat lost to agriculture, urban development, road construction, energy production and other causes, scientists like Bedrosian are providing vital information that may help this chicken-sized desert bird from going extinct.  What researchers discover could restrict future land usage, especially in Wyoming where sagebrush, the birds’ primary environment, covers more than half the state.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Protection / 28.06.2010

For millennia, water has spread across the broad expanse of the Florida Everglades. But in the last 100 years or so man has blocked its path with roads and dug canals to drain and reroute its course. Now some parts of the Everglades have too much water and some have too little. "The problem is the Everglades are our water supply." said Eric Buermann of the Southern Florida Water Management District. "And there's only 40 percent of the natural Everglades left after man's drainage and decimation of the natural environment." Investing almost $1 billion the state for Florida has instituted a research program to correct the growing problem. Engineers hope to apply what scientists learn to get water running again where there's too much of it and let it flow into places where there's much too little of it, like the Everglades National Park.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Protection / 11.06.2010

“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – Winston Churchill. When it comes to oil spills no one knows this better than Native Alaskans.  Indigenous Arctic tribes learned their lesson during the Exxon Valdez debacle of 1989. In this edition of Assignment Earth several leaders of the Inupiaq Tribe came south to tour the devastation of the recent British Petroleum disaster that continues to spew toxic crude into the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast. “We had many miles of our beaches like this,” said Alaskan native Earl Kingik. “ A lot of our shore birds fly away and don’t come back to Point Hope due to this kind of oil activity, this oil spill.” [caption id="attachment_3336" align="aligncenter" width="472" caption="Native Alaskan/Exxon Valdez survivor Earl Kingik tours the Gulf Oil Spill"][/caption]