WV Using Radio Technology to Track Wildlife Migratory Patterns – Public News Service

UNION, W.Va. — West Virginia researchers are utilizing old-school radio technology to study the migratory patterns of wildlife in remote areas of the state.

West Virginia’s Division of Natural Resources (DNR) recently installed a radio telemetry system at Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory in Monroe County, which collects data on migratory animals that pass in the vicinity of the tower.

The project is part of an international animal tracking network called Motus, and picks up the movement of any wildlife that has been radio-tagged.

Mack Frantz, state zoologist for the DNR, said the project will help answer ecology questions about rare or threatened species.

“There are also other animals we are interested in, such as the northern long-eared bat,” Frantz explained. “There happens to be large summer populations of the bat, but then in the fall when they migrate, we don’t know exactly where they go, so there’s just some basic questions like that we hope that when we start to put more towers online, that we’ll be able to answer.”

As part of the network, researchers will have access to data from other states and learn if a bird traveling from Pennsylvania, for example, is passing through West Virginia.

Frantz pointed out the data can help inform important areas of the state for conservation efforts.

Part of why the DNR chose Hanging Rock was a 50-year history of environmentalists tracking raptor migration there.

Frantz noted the group of volunteers has one of the longest data sets in the United States for raptor migration, and emphasized in collaboration with the group, the state will get to learn even more about raptor movements in West Virginia and beyond.

“We’ll be able to track those movements and know more specifically what kind of habitat they’re using and important areas in the landscape,” Frantz outlined. “And so we’ll have an additional layer of information that’s going to help us to be able to conserve these species.”

The DNR plans to install antennas at the Fox Forest Wildlife Management Area in Randolph County before the end of this year. Frantz added they hope to install antennas throughout the state.

get more stories like this via email

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Due to the recent tropical weather systems threatening the region, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is seeking an emergency court hearing to transfer control of the troubled former phosphate processing plant at Piney Point from its owners to avoid another environmental disaster.

In court filings, lawyers for DEP said owner HRK Holdings “has demonstrated its inability to continue to maintain, repair or close the stack system.”

Glenn Compton, director of the environmental group ManaSota-88, said the state’s urgency is decades overdue, but he is glad to see something is being done to protect Tampa Bay.

“We’re just one more storm away from another catastrophic event at Piney Point,” Compton asserted. “And also we need to realize that we’re not just talking about one holding pond that has leaked, but we have two other holding ponds that are at critical stage.”

In April, the ongoing issues with the fertilizer processing plant garnered national attention when a leak in a holding pond, called a phosphogypsum stack, forced operators to release 215 million gallons of nutrient-loaded wastewater into the bay.

The DEP stated it remains committed to overseeing HRK’s management of Piney Point and the eventual closure of the site, through the emergency hearing.

Compton added he hopes the state will do more to protect the environment beyond the issues at Piney Point.

“The state of Florida will hopefully realize there’s a true cost to the environment and to the public health and the taxpayers when it comes to permitting phosphate mining and not linking the phosphogypsum waste disposal to the mining that’s approved at the beginning of the process,” Compton contended.

Many groups already have linked recent red-tide outbreaks in the region, which killed more than 1,700 tons of marine animals, to the Piney Point discharges. Groups have been able to pinpoint the trail of dead fish through the Florida Fish and Wildlife’s red tide map.

If a judge agrees with the state and appoints a receiver, the Department of Environmental Protection said it will pay for costs with funds from the Legislature.

get more stories like this via email

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Wildlife Federation wants residents to pick up trash in their neighborhood, and swap out the litter for trees. Participants can challenge their friends and family to pick up one bag of trash over a week.

Tara Moore, director of conservation partnerships for the Federation, said clearing out trash will make room for tree seedlings.

“For every 25 pounds of trash that we pick up, one tree is going to be planted,” Moore explained. “This is part of a larger effort to really impact and improve the habitats for all of the wildlife species in the state.”

She added trash in the environment can entangle, suffocate and poison animals and aquatic life, and leaches toxic chemicals into waterways and drinking water.

The World Economic Forum estimates by 2050, there will be more trash than fish in the ocean.

Residents can upload their pictures of trash collected or before-and-after pictures to Facebook and Instagram and tag the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.

Moore noted participants have already picked up about 80,000 pounds of trash across the state.

“If folks want to get on board with this, hopefully we can reach the goal of picking up over 100,000 pounds of trash, which is very doable,” Moore contended. “It’s sad that there’s so much trash out there, but it’s a doable goal, and we can all be a part of it.”

She added because more people have been spending time outdoors over the past year and a half during the pandemic, it has led to an increase in outdoor trash.

“This is a great time for us to one, get outside, but two, also clean up all of the trash that we inevitably just find on a walk outside,” Moore urged. “It’s a good opportunity for people to be out there with family, be out there with friends.”

The state spends millions of dollars each year cleaning up litter. According to the North Carolina Department of Safety, heavily littered neighborhoods have reduced property values and experience more vandalism and other crimes.

Disclosure: North Carolina Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email

DALLAS, Texas – As the largest investment in the country’s infrastructure inches forward, Texas stands to benefit considerably from new jobs and clean-energy initiatives that could grow local economies.

According to the Biden administration, there are more than 19,000 miles of highway in poor condition in the Lone Star State. In addition, commute times have increased by 11% in the past decade, with each driver paying approximately $700 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.

Colin Leyden, Texas political director at the Environmental Defense Fund, said attention to overdue infrastructure needs will improve quality of life for Texas residents.

“Replacing lead pipes, some money for electric vehicle infrastructure,” said Leyden. “These are all infrastructure investments that really are going to benefit Texas and put us on a path towards a clean-energy economy.”

According to the White House, a quarter million Texans were working in clean energy as of 2019.

Following passage of the infrastructure bill in the Senate last week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg toured a modernization project at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The House of Representatives is now considering the massive infrastructure bill.

Some Texans still are recovering from the power grid outage last April, which Leyden said must be improved for resiliency and efficiency.

At the same time, he said Texas leads the nation in wind energy and expects major growth in solar energy while the electric automaker, Tesla continues building a $1 billion manufacturing facility near Austin.

“We need to make sure that the electric vehicles that we are going to be building here can actually be charged,” said Leyden. “So we need charging infrastructure, and all of this is vital to Texas and will help solve some of the problems that we’re encountering right now with our electric grid.”

Based on a White House infrastructure funding formula, Texas stands to gain nearly $27 billion for highway projects, more than $3 billion for public transportation, $537 million for bridges and at least $100 million for broadband coverage.

Disclosure: Environmental Defense Action Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email