Some Interesting Things We’ve Been Reading

Breakthrough in Turtle Genetics Sends 27 Stolen Alligator Snapping Turtles Back to their Home Rivers in Texas

Aug. 16, 2021, Turtle Survival Alliance

  • Twenty-seven Alligator Snapping Turtles seized from illegal trafficking returned to the wild in Texas.
    • Turtle Survival Alliance and Tangled Bank Conservation collaborated on an innovative genetic map to guide wild repatriation.
    • Genetic database will serve as a tool for state and federal agencies to determine turtle origin.
    • Turtles will be monitored post-release to record movements, quantify survival, and qualify release efficacy.

TEXAS— Along with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) last week announced the release of 27 Alligator Snapping Turtles (Macrochelys temminckii) into waters of East Texas. This release represents a return to the wild for the turtles five years after their seizure from illegal traffickers and exemplifies a public-private partnership to re-wild animals with the use of innovative genetic mapping and DNA technology.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Completes 22 years of Work Restoring Curves to the Florida River They Destroyed 80 Years Ago

Aug. 15, 2021, Revitalization

The Kissimmee River once meandered for 103 miles through central Florida. Its floodplain, reaching up to 3 miles wide, was inundated for long periods by heavy seasonal rains.

Native wetland plants, wading birds and fish thrived there. Then, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers destroyed it.

On July 29, 2021 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District (USACE) hosted a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the completion of the construction for the Kissimmee River Restoration Project. The Kissimmee River Restoration Project restores more than 40 square miles of the river floodplain ecosystem, 20,000 acres of wetlands, and 44 miles of the historic river channel.

Now, after 22 years of work, they have repaired much of the structural damage they inflicted. It’s a good example of the dynamic stated in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity: “80% of the revitalizing, resilience-enhancing work done by urban planners and civil engineers in the 21st century will undo 80% of the work done by their predecessors in the 20th century.”

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Native Seed Study Laying Roots for a More Sustainable Tomorrow

Press Release from the Harris County Flood Control District, August 2021

The Harris County Flood Control District is sowing seeds for a more sustainable tomorrow. The Flood Control District is partnering with Texas Native Seed (TNS) on a new project that studies native grasses in an effort to develop a genetically improved seed mix. This study will benefit future Flood Control District site stabilization, as well as green infrastructure projects throughout the region.

Native grass seeding on Flood Control District projects has been a long-sought-after goal. However, identifying a commercially available and locally adaptable species suitable for the region has been challenging. Recently, the Flood Control District in conjunction with TNS, part of Texas A&M Kingsville, broke ground in April of 2021. TNS has a proven track record of producing seed varieties  adapted for various parts of the state. Uniquely, instead of randomly seeding test plots with existing seed varieties, they will be starting with known species native to the region to produce a seed mix more inclined to thrive in the local environment.

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