A Sampling of River News
Climate Change Flight
Changing rainfall, temperature and the timing of seasons will have devastating effects on the birds of North America, according to an Audubon report published in September.
Some species will adapt to shifting climates, but many familiar and iconic species will not be able to. Of 588 bird species examined in the seven-year study, 314 species are thought to be at risk. Of those, 126 will face severe declines by 2050 and another 188 will decline by 2080. These include the American white pelican, the trumpeter swan, the sharp-tailed grouse, the common loon and, surprisingly, the mallard.
The bald eagle will see a 73 percent increase in its summer breeding range and a 12 percent decrease in its winter range by 2080. The mallard is expected to lose 75 percent of its summer range and 9 percent of its winter range. The blue-winged teal is expected to lose 62 percent of its summer range and 19 percent of its winter range.
For the study, Audubon scientists used three decades of citizen-scientist observations from the Christmas Bird Count and the North American Breeding Bird Survey to define the range of temperatures, precipitation and seasonal changes each species needs to survive. Then they used internationally recognized greenhouse gas emissions scenarios to map how each bird’s climatic range will shift as the climate changes. These maps show how each bird’s current range could expand, contract or shift by 2020, 2050 and 2080.
Audubon’s new website charts the possible changes and explains the links. To take action against these devastating effects, Audubon says, people should reduce their carbon footprint and work to protect the places that birds need today.
Year of Fishing
The 2015 Year of Fishing will get off to a good start this January with ice-fishing on the Upper Mississippi.
Mississippi River Connections Collaborative (MRCC), an informal network dedicated to connecting people to the river, is busy planning a series of events for the “YOF2015” celebration. The group includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi River Trail and the Mississippi River Parkway Commission. It will encourage state and county parks, city recreation departments, fishing clubs and others from all ten states bordering the Mississippi River to host fishing events.
MRCC hosted the Summer of Paddling in 2012, when more than 17,700 people participated in 300 events. In 2013 the group sponsored the Year of Cycling, then it took a break in 2014.
Its goal is to get people out paddling, biking and fishing on their own. MRCC officials hope the events will create a lifelong interest in fishing by teaching the basics: safe fishing with the right equipment, how to identify fish and how to be a responsible angler who will conserve Mississippi River resources. Check the group’s website for scheduled events and information.
Newton, Mass. — The Civil Society Institute has released a 48-page research report on sand mining titled “Communities at Risk: Frac Sand Mining in the Upper Midwest.” It analyzes key concerns, including water issues, air quality issues and financial issues, and points out that while Wisconsin and Minnesota are now the states most heavily mined, “it is possible that mining will expand to sand deposits in at least 12 other states: Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.”
Wisconsin is on track to sell about 50 million tons of frac sand per year, enough to fill the tallest building in the nation, the Willis Tower of Chicago (formerly known as Sears Tower), 21 times annually. Another report: "Danger in the Air" from the Environmental Working Group.