50 Years After Silent Spring: Minnesota’s St. Louis River Showcases Environmental Success and Challenge
In 1962, when Rachel Carson wrote about the impacts of DDT in her landmark book Silent Spring, many people were skeptical of her warning that future years might bring spring without birds’ songs. How could a product that was so widely used be so dangerous? Today, Carson’s counterparts are asking the same question about products that we use every day.
Following in Carson’s footsteps, the Environmental Contaminants program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting an “early warning” investigation looking at contaminants whose effects are widely used, not well known, and currently unregulated. These substances, called Contaminants of Emerging Concern, tend to be contemporary, but may also include more traditional chemicals (such as some pesticides) that have altered releases or new detections in the environment. Some CECs include hormones and pharmaceuticals, as well as herbicides and pesticides.
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Silent Spring 50th Anniversary Essay Series
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Minnesota Endangered Species Youth Art Contest Winners Chosen (June 2012)
Ethan Raatz, awarded first place in the 2012 Minnesota Endangered Species Youth Art Contest - K to 2nd grade category, used pieces of recycled magzines to create his colorful picture of a Topeka shiner. The Topeka shiner, an endangered species, is a small fish of prairie streams in southwestern Minnesota.
Thirteen young Minnesota artists are winners of the 2012 Minnesota Endangered Species Day Youth art contest, sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The contest is designed to showcase student art and raise awareness of Minnesota’s rarest animals and plants, and to highlight Endangered Species Day on May 18, 2012.
"We were amazed at the number of entries and skill displayed by Minnesota’s young artists," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Office Supervisor Tony Sullins. "Art and conservation have always had a strong connection, and we want our contest to build on that heritage."
Winners were chosen by a panel that included two high school art teachers, a high school art student, a naturalist, and a fish and wildlife biologist.
Winners of the contest were chosen from four grade categories, with an overall winner selected. Each winner received a plaque and Visa gift card. Visa gift cards were awarded in $100, $50, and $25 denominations for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each category. The contest’s grand prize winner will receive a $250 Visa gift card and plaque.
Money for the prizes was provided by a donation from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
The winners are:
Grand Prize: Karner Blue Butterfly by Sky Waters, Eagan, MN
First Place (K – 2): Topeka shiner by Ethan Raatz, Champlin, MN
First Place (3 – 6): Whooping Crane by Jane Oh, Maple Grove, MN
First Place (7 – 9): Topeka shiner by Reese Marks, Danube, MN
First Place ( 10th – 12th): Whooping Crane by Corynn Chan, Shoreview, MN
This was the first annual Minnesota Endangered Species Youth Art Contest. Over 570 entries were received from students in public, private and home schools throughout Minnesota.
Started in 2006 by the United States Congress, Endangered Species Day is a celebration of our nation’s imperiled plants and wildlife and wild places.
To see the winning artwork, and find out more about the art contest, and Endangered Species Day, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/twincities/artcontest/.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq
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Early Warning Program to Detect and Identify Contaminants of Emerging Concern and Their Effects to Fish and Wildlife - Twin Cities Field Office Biologist Presents at Conferences (May 2012)
At the 2012 St. Louis River Estuary Science Summit in Superior, Wisconsin, Zachary Jorgenson explains Remediation-to-Restoration projects started in the St. Louis River. Zachary is an Environmental Contaminants Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Photo Credit: Michael K. Anderson
The "Early Warning Program to Detect and Identify Contaminants of Emerging Concern and Their Effects to Fish and Wildlife" and “Remediation to Restoration” Projects in the St. Louis River were topics of recent presentations by Fish and Wildlife Service staff at a conference and a science summit.
Early Warning Program
The "Early Warning Program to Detect and Identify Contaminants of Emerging Concern and Their Effects to Fish and Wildlife" is a Great Lakes-wide investigation of the sources, routes to exposure and impacts to fish and wildlife and their habitats of new contaminants or of older contaminants with a newly expanded distribution, altered release, or a newly detected presence in the environment.
Biologists are collecting water and sediment samples at locations around the Great Lakes to determine the concentrations of chemicals of emerging concern. In conjunction with water and sediment sampling, biologists are also collecting fish and analyzing them for multiple endpoints to determine if there are any adverse effects. We are currently reviewing data to determine if effects seen in fish are correlated to chemical concentrations measured at associated locations. We collected samples in the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2011 and we plan to continue in the spring and fall of 2012.
The "Early Warning Program to Detect and Identify Contaminants of Emerging Concern and Their Effects to Fish and Wildlife" is funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
“Remediation to Restoration”
The St. Louis River, a river that flows between Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin, is the focus of two “Remediation to Restoration” projects - also funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Remediation involves removing pollution or contaminants from the environment; often from soil or waterway sediment. Restoration usually involves restoring the affected area in terms of water quality but also in terms of physical structure and quality of fish and wildlife habitat. Often, the two steps are conducted separately and sequentially with the goal of first removing the contamination and then repairing damage done by contamination. Remediation to Restoration is an effort to tie remediation efforts to restoration goals. Using this process, we can fine tune remediation by customizing the methods based on site-specific characteristics. This process also improves efficiency by ensuring that if opportunities for restoration become available during remediation, they can be capitalized on at the time without having to wait until the remediation is completed.
While “Remediation to Restoration” generally follows the Superfund cleanup process, it is guided by the ecological vision and remains adaptive to take advantage of opportunities and to allow for differences in desired outcomes for each location. There are two ongoing “Remediation to Restoration” projects in the St. Louis River. For both projects, the Fish and Wildlife Service and partners are preparing an Ecological Design Report that will characterize current conditions at project locations based on sediment chemistry, vegetation community, benthic invertebrate community and substrate type. The Ecological Design Report will also include possible design scenarios using a Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Modeling program that the Service and local partners are developing. The Ecological Design Report will help the ongoing projects as well as future planning for continued work in these locations that will ultimately lead to remediation of contaminated sediment and the restoration of fish and wildlife habitats in the most efficient way possible.
Project summaries and results to-date were presented at the 2012 Midwest Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Conference which was held March 20-21 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and at the 2012 St. Louis River Estuary Science Summit held March 8-9 in Superior, Wisconsin.
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March 12, 2012: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Two Freshwater Mussels as Endangered: sheepnose and spectaclecase found in Minnesota
Information about Listing the Sheepnose
Information about Listing the Spectaclecase
Feb. 13, 2012: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Two Freshwater Mussels as Endangered: snuffbox found in Minnesota
Information about Listing the Rayed Bean
Information about Listing the Snuffbox
February 03, 2012: Ultralight-led Whooping Cranes will head to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
Jan. 9, 2012: Reward Fund Started for Indiana Whooping Crane Case
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