The Nature Conservancy (www.nature.org) is a charity that I support. In fact, it is the only charity where I have an automatic deduction taken out monthly. The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to conserve the lands and waters upon which all life depends. They “address the most urgent conservation challenges at the largest scale by pursuing nonconfrontational, pragmatic, market-based solutions.” That last part is what I think differentiates them from The Sierra Club, who I feel does a lot of protesting and lobbying, but not much actual conservation.
So, I receive a bimonthly magazine and I just got around to reading the March/April issue today. So much interesting content, both within the US and around the world. Here are some of the more interesting and important things I learned from reading this issue.
- There is a new book out called Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature, by Mark R. Tercek and Jonathan S. Adams. It looks quite interesting.
- “Wolf Trap,” in Vienna, Virginia is the nation’s only National Park for the Performing Arts.
- 40% of the continental US is in the Mississippi River Basin. It enters the Gulf of Mexico at 600,000 cubic feet per second.
- Scent dogs (including border collies) are trained to sniff out hard-to-find species of salamander. Dogs can also pick up the scent of mice and orcas(!)
- The Nature Conservancy owns and operates one guest ranch, in Choteau, Montana.
- Lead story: The Palmyra Atoll is just south of Hawaii, and has quite a history. It was discovered by a US ship in 1802 and soon after a Spanish pirate ship wrecked carrying a load of Incan gold (reputedly). It has not be discovered yet. Hawaii annexed the island in 1862 and it was sold to a private family in 1922. The US Navy commandeered the island during WWII. In 1968 two sailors went missing near the island and in 1975, the bones of one were found stuffed in a metal trunk on the island (a marijuana grower was convicted of the murder). That mystery is the subject of Vincent Bugliosi’s book, And the Sea Will Tell. The island has since drawn proposals for a spaceport, nuclear waste dump, and casino. In 2000, the Nature Conservancy bought the island and the extensive reefs that surround it for $30 million. The deal stipulated that the several resident cats and a shark-eating dog named Dadu be permitted to continue living on the island. Today it has no permanent residents but is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service and is used as a nature reserve for research.
- Blacktip sharks look really cool!
- There is a small island twelve miles off of Rhode Island called Block Island. This island has large-scale preservation of open space and public access for both residents and visitors. There is an island tradition called “walking cross lots,” an agreement that private property is open to everyone with the understanding that you leave nothing and take nothing from land that isn’t yours.
- Some species of trees talk to each other. When attacked by insects, they emit chemical signals on the wind to nearby trees. Just two hundred trees can produce a cumulus cloud. These and other facts can be found in a new book,The Power of Trees.
It has been about ten days since my last blog post. I will have another one up soon, probably tomorrow. The topic will be a trip I am planning for next month.
And, by the way, if you are anywhere near West Virginia, you might want to enter this contest. The prize is a five-person canopy tour and overnight cabin stay in the New River Gorge.