Articles (in reverse chronological order)

Update on LTLT / UGA ICON Partnership

Science, Public Policy, Community: Update on LTLT/UGA ICON Partnership

A healthy stream is a functioning stream

How do you know if a stream isn’t healthy? Do you take its temperature? Check to see if it’s in pain? Or do you simply notice that something isn’t right? Unusual stream flows can indicate a stream is unhealthy. If a stream is not flowing normally, that usually indicates it is unhealthy. Maybe the water is gushing faster than usual. Perhaps where there were once schools of fish there are now none. Changes like this would most likely be evident to anyone who spent a lot of time with the stream. But what if the stream change took place over decades instead of days?

Beauty is in the eye of the... fish?

We’ve all heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The truth behind this well-known phrase is obvious when you visit some of the many streams of the southern Appalachian Mountains, because each person’s idea of beauty determines the state of their land and streams. Do streams that appear “pretty” or “clean” to us also function as “healthy” streams? The answer to that question is a matter of perspective. To gain some perspective, let us consider a “beautiful” stream from the eyes of a fish.

What is a stream, anyway?

If you have been following our recent columns, you already know about a new partnership between students from the University of Georgia’s Integrative Conservation (ICON) program, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee (LTLT), and the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Project this spring.

Visual Assessment Protocol defined

We hope you had a chance to read our last column, and if you did, you’ll know that Ph.D. students from the University of Georgia’s Integrative Conservation (ICON) program are working with the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee (LTLT) and the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Project this spring to develop a plan for implementing a new southern Appalachian Stream Visual Assessment Protocol (saSVAP) specific to this region, adapted by Jeremy Sullivan, a Ph.D. candidate at UGA. But what is a Stream Visual Assessment Protocol, and why is it important for the region?

Collaboration: LTLT and UGA students form partnership

A new partnership is expected to strengthen the existing relationship between the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee (LTLT ) and the University of Georgia (UGA). Eleven PhD students from UGA’s Integrative Conservation (ICON) Program have commit-ted their academic spring semester to help LTLT and ICON partner, extending the existing relationships between the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Project and local community members. The new collaboration, initiated by Jason Meader and Bill McLarney of LTLT and Drs.

The economics of conservation

The majority of lands in western North Carolina are under private ownership. In Macon County, for example, private owners control 64 percent (180,000 acres) of the land. Land owners can play an important role in ensuring the benefits of nature, such as maintaining water quality, connecting natural areas, and providing wildlife habitat. In North Carolina there are options available that help keep private land intact as conserved natural areas or as working farms and forests through tools that include conservation easements and by enrolling land to be taxed at its “present use value.”

How America is preparing for a changing climate

A new study by researchers from the health, environmental, business and university sectors has concluded that America is doing “more than before” when it comes to climate preparedness, “but less than needed.” Given that some degree of climate change is inevitable, even if we halt all new green-house gas emissions today, they conclude that we need to do more to ensure that America’s health, economy, and environment will be safe in a changed future.

Invasion: Japanese Stilt-grass

Here in southern Appalachia, we have an interesting invasive plant invader that Coweeta LTER Scientists have been studying. Japanese Stilt- grass — also known as Nepalese Browntop or porcelain packing grass — (Micorstegium vimineum) is a shade-tolerant annual grass in our forests that we think deserves more attention given some of the changes it is causing within local ecosystems.

Climate, weather and human adaptation

“Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.” This saying, often attributed to Mark Twain, provides an entry to thinking about climate adaptation. Weather is directly felt and seen and it’s easy to plan for. We look at the five-day forecast, we see that it’s going to be cooler, and we pull that box of sweaters down from the attic. But climate is different. It refers to long-term temperature and precipitation averages for a given region, which we can’t directly experience through our senses.