Contacts: Alex Demas and Sarah Haymaker, USGS – Soil Erosion News Today – June 22, 2016

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have published a new studyThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. that demonstrates that agricultural conservation practices in the upper Mississippi River watershed can reduce nitrogen inputs to area streams and rivers by as much as 34 percent. The study combined USDA's Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) data with the USGS SPARROW watershed model to measure the potential effects of voluntary conservation practices, which historically have been difficult to do in large river systems, because different nutrient sources can have overlapping influences on downstream water quality. For full story, click here.

By Christina Jedra – Capital Gazette – June 14, 2016

Scientists estimate this year's Chesapeake Bay low-oxygen "dead zone" will be roughly the volume of 2.3 million Olympic-size swimming pools —about average. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that the hypoxic, or low-oxygen, zone will be approximately 1.58 cubic miles, close to the long-term average since 1950. "The low oxygen levels are insufficient to support most marine life and habitats in near-bottom waters and threaten the Bay's production of crabs, oysters and other fisheries," NOAA said. For full story, click here.

Eurek Alert – June 9, 2016

Decades of unregulated industrial waste dumping in areas of the Great Lakes have created a host of environmental and wildlife problems. Now it appears that Lake Michigan painted and snapping turtles could be a useful source for measuring the resulting pollution. For full story, click here.

By John Upton – Climate Central – May 31, 20 16

Few people will see the marshland that Beth Moseley helps spruce up during her volunteer outings to an industrial stretch of bayfront. Its hidden solitude from San Francisco’s hustle and bustle is one of the reasons she often visits the restored wetland to watch birds. “Most of the work we do is pulling weeds,” said Moseley, a 61-year-old resident of the city’s Mission district, who has been joining the Audubon Society’s monthly work days at the Pier 94 wetland for several years. “It’s kind of like the bay is taking care of itself.” The fruitful growth of the salt marsh over the last decade offers a germ of briny hope in a region where wetlands have been paved, diked and invaded by weeds at a rate unmatched elsewhere in the U.S. An exhaustive assessment released by the EPA this month based on more than 1,000 wetland surveys conducted in 2011 concluded that while nearly half of the remaining wetlands in the Lower 48 are in “good” condition, just one-fifth of the wetlands in the West are doing that well. For full story, click here.

By Joshua Emerson Smith – The San Diego Union-Tribune – May 16, 2016

As birds sing and lizards scuttle in the lush vegetation of the Tijuana River Valley, helicopters circle overhead, and Border Patrol agents on all-terrain vehicles comb the area looking to stop illegal border-crossers. Two big metal fences and stadium lighting divide homes in Mexico from this largest intact coastal wetland in Southern California. For full story, click here.

By Will Houston – Times Standard News – May 20, 2016

A first-of-its-kind report card on the nation’s wetland habitats shows the western U.S. is not doing a good job at keeping these disappearing ecosystems in good condition. The report, released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this month, found only 21 percent of the 146 surveyed wetlands west of the Rocky Mountains were in “good” condition compared to about 61 percent in poor condition and 18 percent in fair condition. Common impairments for these western wetlands and those throughout the nation are ditches and draining systems, nonnative plants, loss of native plants, and surface hardening such as road paving and other development — all of which have occurred in Humboldt County, according to Humboldt Baykeeper Director Jennifer Kalt. “The public lands wetlands are being treated much better than they used to be and the private land wetlands are continuing to be abused and destroyed,” she said. For full story, click here.

By Jim Robbins – environment360 – May 12, 2016

In the mountains of western Washington, Oregon, and northern California, the Cascades frog lives most of its life cycle buried beneath deep, wet snow. When summer rolls around, though, it emerges into alpine wetlands to mate and emit its signature call, which sounds a lot like a person chuckling. The habitat of these chuckling frogs, though, and other amphibians, is being squeezed by what researchers call a climate vise. Receding glaciers here left the mountains pockmarked with thousands of lakes and ponds, some the size of a car and some acres in size. Originally fishless, 19th and 20th century managers introduced fish to 95 percent of the lakes, carrying them in on horseback or dropping them from airplanes. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But the invasive trout have hammered the frog and salamander populations: They not only gobble up the tadpoles and juveniles, they limit the production of invertebrates, essential amphibian food. Amphibians can often escape the fish-filled ponds for nearby fishless wetlands, but as temperatures warm and snowpack shrinks, these survival outlets are waning and disappearing. For full story, click here.