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Beavers Step In To Save Dry California Creek Bed From Dangerous Wildfire Risk

Another summer season brings with it wildfires throughout the state of California. The annual tragedies have become so normal that they have become an expected aspect of the year, a specter that looms over all until it inevitably arrives. As drought, climate change, and human negligence continue to contribute to the many wildfires throughout the West Coast, some of our natural friends in the animal kingdom are stepping in to do their part.

Creekbed of Placer County

A creekbed in Placer County was located in a floodplain. Having dried out completely, ecologists were open and honest about what they were facing. They needed to either spend big money on bringing in heavy machinery to develop and cultivate a healthy habitat or they had to let the beavers step in to do the job. As it turns out, rejuvenation with nature works best when you work alongside the animal kingdom.

After enduring decades of erasure due to heavy agricultural use, the dried-out creekbed located in Placer County had become something of a local hotspot for fear that a wildfire would take hold. Thankfully, the beavers worked faster than anyone could have expected. After being brought in, the beavers went to work creating dams and building them all over the area. Pretty soon, the creek bed was back to retaining water.

The Doty Ravine Project

Lynette Batt is a Conservation Director for the Placer Land Trust. The Placer Land Trust does work in and around the Doty Ravine Preserve. Batt said of the work that the beavers did, “It was insane! It was awesome!” She went on to describe how the beavers helped to convert the dry grassland into something truly unique, diverse, and thriving with life. Now brimming with wetland plants, willow trees, and meandering streams, the place looks alive all over again.

The Doty Ravine Project would end up costing close to $60,000 rather than the initial million dollar estimate. The money went largely toward preparing the site for use by the beavers, a project that has been echoed with support by the Fish and Wildlife Program. Damion Ciotti is a restoration biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and his initial estimates of the beaver’s work required more than ten years to get the area thriving and alive again. To Ciotti’s surprise, the efforts moved along quite nicely, finishing restoration in just under three years.

Due to the success of the Doty Ravine Project, restoration ecologists like Ciotti are continuing to work with beavers in a number of areas around the nation. Currently, Ciotti is working on projects located in Plumas County as well as Tehama County. Ciotti goes on to suggest that there could be several dozen more projects of smaller sizes throughout the state of California in the near future.

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Father+Kids Time Increases in Modern Years Versus Prior Decades

Renee Yates

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The typical pattern of a father’s relationship with his kids in the past decades has been a distanced one at young ages to develop into a closer stabilizing contact as kids go into their later teens and become young adults. That pattern has been around for decades. And prior to that, kids barely had a relationship at all with their fathers until adulthood altogether. However, in recent years, a very different trend has developed. Young fathers are spending an incredible amount of time with their kids, far greater than ever before, which is a huge paradigm shift.

A Father’s Role

Psychologists and educators have long premised that a father’s role is a critical component to raising a child. For many households, the primary caregiver and role model for decades has been the mother, either because of a distanced father or no father figure at all. Many social scientists have also attributed society’s woes to the same issue as well. Whoever is right, they all agree on one point – a father figure has an impact on how kids grow up and see the world around them, just as a mother does.

Ground-Shift in Father Involvement

In the last few years, studies and researchers have noted fathers are not just increasing their time with kids, they are tripling it. The energy involved and activities have gone through the roof, from very early basic care such as diaper-changing to behavior and norms development as kids grow older. Everything from feeding to school and homework support to guidance has been getting invaded by the presence of more and more fathers. The mothers generally aren’t complaining, given the amount of work involved anyways.

Millennial fathers in particular have a very different view of their role in a family, quite a contrast from their fathers and grandfathers, who were distant at best or not present at worst. It’s not a perfect world though; Millennial fathers are still dealing with many of the same issues as their predecessors, including marriage challenges, divorce and child support differences. Nonetheless, they actively want to be involved with their kids, especially at young ages. And the involvement is not gender-specific either. The stereotype was that fathers focused on their sons the most. Millennial dads, however, are spending an incredible amount of time with their daughters as well, as well as redefining cultural rules about which gender does what work. Dishwashing, cleaning, child-rearing and clothing aren’t just a mother’s role in their minds. And their kids are learning this different perspective firsthand.

Recent Years Pushed Fatherhood Change Over the Top

2020 and the COVID pandemic really pushed things over the top as well. The fact that so many people had to work from home and remotely gave fathers far more exposure and time with their home life and kids. And that seems to have made an impact. Now, many are questioning why they can’t continue to keep working remotely and still be involved with their kids at home. How well that change sticks will depend on employers accommodating the shift or fighting it with demands to return or pay cuts for working remote.

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The Ex-Felon Bakery Program is A Great Success

Kelly Taylor

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No one is ever too old to learn something new, at least that’s the concept for a particular bakery in Glasgow, Scotland. Freedom Bakery is more than just a name; it’s a second chance for ex-convicts working to get back to normality in civilian life and pick up some viable job skills in the process. Not to mention, they’ve developed quite a reputation for their high quality bakery goods ending up in some of the fanciest Scottish restaurants as well.

Sitting in Glasgow, Freedom Bakery was an idea first cooked up by Matt Fountain from his own family experience. His own stepfather had had a rough time trying to get back to normality and be self-sufficient after having spent his own time in jail. Matt had to visit his stepfather at the time in that prison, and the boy never wanted to go through that day again. When he became an adult, Matt spent time in university in a number of different towns, from Manchester to Cambridge and he did a stint in Glasgow as well. During that phase, something connected with Matt, and he went back to the Scottish city later on with a purpose.

Fountain decided to put all his energy into a project that would continuously help ex-prisoners get back on their feet after incarceration, and in 2014 Matt secured his first business permits for a small kitchen operation in town. He kept the operations as simple as possible, focusing on baking bread, which would give the workers a path towards a certification in craft baking, a key skill that could produce a functional income in society without being tied to one’s past. Within three years, the operation became a feeding channel for prisoners prepping to leave Barlinnie Prison, matching each prisoner taken on with a working baker to train hands-on for a certification and qualifying craft baking skill.

The operation is not all fun and games though. Matt and all the trainers are well aware whom they are dealing with, and every employee is fully versed in self-defense capabilities because of the prisoner status of the trainees. The current operation now has 16 fulltime workers, of which at least one-third were former convicts themselves. These aren’t white collar candidates either; a number of the prisoners trained were convicted of killing people, drug crimes and fraud.

Given his education path and abilities, one has to wonder why Matt Fountain chose this bakery path in the first place, but it was personal. Fountain didn’t feel any connection to Cambridge and the graduate studies life he was in. His ivy league degree proved empty as well, failing to translate into a viable career he thought it would. Utility and purpose drove Matt to find another path where he had meaning and could see positive results of his work and efforts. Freedom Bakery was the product of that work.

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Club Patrons’ Energy Being Harvested in Glasgow as Pilot Sustainable Project

Kelly Taylor

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In recent years, different private and public entities have been unleashing their creativity to develop environmentally sustainable projects.

Many look forward to displaying their projects at the annual environmental conferences in a bid to lead the charge in whatever department their focus is aligned.

This year might be a shocker for many, as a team from Glasgow is using energy gathered from its patrons and staff members to create its electricity. Sounds strange? It’s a fact. Pretty soon, you might all be supplying power to multiple business entities across the globe.

This year’s COP26 climate symposium will take place in Glasgow, beginning on October 31st. As a result, we can anticipate the Scottish municipality to launch many innovative sustainability programs in the following months as the light shines on it.

The iconic Glasgow club SWG3 will be piloting an innovative method that attempts to produce electricity from its dance floor to run the establishment more efficiently, according to a recently announced initiative.

The device, dubbed BODYHEAT, captures the energy generated by workers and patrons inside the facility and transforms it into a primary energy source and cooling outlet. The plan’s test run comes as the world’s first component of the UN-backed summit.

According to a statement on the club’s website, “BODYHEAT uses heat pumps and liquids to absorb the enormous quantities of human heat generated by SWG3’s attendees, sending their cumulative energy into dozen 150m-deep boreholes drilled underneath the venue.”

The captured body heat can subsequently be transformed into energy, allowing the lights to stay on and the music to play all night. It’s also possible to store the heat for months until it’s needed. SWG3 predicts that the project could save 70 tonnes of co2 emission per year from previous yearly attendance data.

Because the club is always at capacity, many people anticipate that the project will be successful. Reports around the globe are that many nightclub operators and other business establishments are keen on seeing how this plays out.

A positive result could see many of them revamping their business to see how they too could save on energy costs while playing their part in protecting the environment.

Now, if that’s not news to get the adrenalin pumping or make you dance, then what is? In the meantime, all eyes are on Glasgow to see if this project will revolutionize how we harvest energy.

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Tiger King Animals to be Turned Over to the Feds

Kevin Wells

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Tiger King as a TV show, docu-series drama and live-reality glimpse into business insanity took the cable and streaming world by storm. It was a classic Greek tragedy of a pumped-up king of his own world destroyed by his own acts and turned on by his closest people and partners. By the end of the series, the show’s main character was behind bars, his partners and closest workers scattered, and his business partners turning out to be less-than-stellar compadres in a crazy, real-life drama. As it turns out, yet one more chapter in the story has now just been written.

One of the big backstories of Tiger King was the treatment of the big cats that made the owner, Joe Exotic, famous in the first place. After a huge federal investigation into the original owner participating in a murder-for-hire contract, the remaining partners finally had to agree to turn over the remaining animals to the Department of Justice recently. This was the closing act in the secondary federal charges the government brought against the business, in particular regarding violations of the Endangered Species Act as well as the Animal Welfare Act. Viewers will remember investigators found multiple pieces of evidence confirming many of the sick cats had been euthanized and buried on the grounds without any proper protocols being followed.

The primary charge against the company is centered on the inhumane treatment of the big cats that were raised, trained and used by the business for its entertainment product to consumers. The conclusion was very much a paper one; the 68 big cats that were involved had long before been transferred to zoo environments.

The Lowes, the infamous couple partners who ended up with the park after the main Tiger King character, Joseph Maldonado-Passage or Joe Exotic, was arrested and jailed, ended up with full rights to run the park through their business deal with Joseph (a deal he made at the end as a desperate reach for last-minute financing to keep the business alive). However, the Lowes themselves were put out of commission when their own business license was shut down in 2020 based on the investigator’s condition reports.

Squalid kennel conditions, dangerous breeding, poor health conditions and similar that amounted to determined animal torture convinced the federal district judge on the case to shut the operations, turn over all juvenile animals, and no longer run the park as an entertainment business. Essentially, it killed any chance of the business returning to being an animal show moneymaker that Joe Exotic had originally created. Then, in a followup up concerted move, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service seized the remaining adult animals as well.

Jeff Lowe, originally cast in the documentary as a bit of a carpetbagger taking advantage of Joe Exotic’s desperation, ended himself being charged for violating the Endangered Species Act, adding additional pressure for him and Lauren Lowe to give up any title to the adult animals altogether. That also included other species such as ferrets, foxes, a camel, lemurs and more.

In short, no one came out on top of the disaster of the Tiger King show, not even those left behind after the original criminal actions and arrests as well as trials.

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Bandicoots Are Back in Sturt National Park After More Than a Century

Kelly Taylor

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For more than 100 years, Talpero, a threatened species nationwide, had disappeared from the Stury National Park, Australia. However, thanks to a team of wildlife specialists, several of the creatures were recently released into the park to spark what they anticipate as a major reintroduction of the species to the park and the country as a whole.

The Talpero extinction in the region came about because of alterations to the ecosystem due to foxes, rabbits, and wild felines. A Wild Deserts team leads the project in collaboration with ecologists from the Taronga Conservation Society, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Ecological Horizons, and UNSW Sydney.

Just last year, Wild Deserts brought back Mulgaras and Bilbies to the park. The ecologists attribute their success to the recent downpours which led to heightened productive networks that are beneficial to the species. The Wild Deserts conservation reintroduction was made possible by a self-sustaining colony at Arid Recovery.

Due to its conservation significance, governments promote the reintroduction of the Wild Deserts. It acknowledges the species’ crucial role in ecological function, which is necessary for restoring arid habitats.

The team behind Wild Deserts welcomed 10 Talpero to the park as a starting population, but they plan to increase the number soon. The Wild Deserts crew successfully exterminated every feral animal from two fenced enclosures totaling 2000 hectares inside the National Park, making it one of Australia’s most well-known feral-proof areas.

Once they’ve multiplied, the team will release them into a second training area with predators to build their defense mechanisms. The initiative’s ultimate objective is to bring back bandicoots and other extinct species to the region.

Talpero is the smallest of the bandicoots, roughly the size of a guinea pig. They are distinguished from other bandicoots by the pale markings on their posterior and fawn-colored hair.

In sandy terrain, the nocturnal marsupials search for meals like fungi and seeds. In the process, they spin the soil, which aids in water and nutrient collection, improving the ecosystem’s overall health.

The Wild Deserts team launched the project with ten Talpero but will add more soon. The ultimate goal of the research is to return intelligent bandicoots and other locally extinct mammals into the wild.

A Revitalized Ecosystem

The team received the first Talpero population from Arid Recovery, independent not-for-profit conservation and research organization that operates a vast feral-free refuge near Roxby Downs in South Australia.

They released the Marsupials(nicknamed, Mingku-meaning happy) into the Wild Deserts’ southern enclosure. The Talpero joins two other recently reintroduced species: Bilbies and Mulgaras.

“We can see the start of a transformation in the landscape. The soil is starting to turn, providing suitable habitat for various microscopic invertebrates while simultaneously catching water and nutrients.

Dr. John Read of Ecological Horizons, a principal collaborator in the Wild Deserts project, says, “These industrious tiny diggers at Wild Deserts are crucial environmentally, historically, and culturally, and they’re excellent for restoring the desert.”

Wild Deserts biologists will use radio tracking devices to monitor the animals regularly to ensure that they are adjusting well to their new surroundings. Two critical NSW Government projects to rescue endangered native mammals are the Reintroduction of Locally Extinct Mammals project and the Saving, Our Species initiative.

Western quolls, stick-nest rats, and golden bandicoots will be the next vulnerable mammals reintroduced into the Wild Deserts enclosures.

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