FERN’s Friday Feed: Milkweed matters

FERN’s Friday Feed: Milkweed matters

Welcome to FERN’s Friday Feed (#FFF), where we share the stories from this week that made us stop and think.

Farmers used to fight milkweed. Now they’re fighting for it.

Modern Farmer

“The common milkweed is the main plant species that the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, needs to survive. And the species is disappearing at a rapid rate. If milkweed ceases to exist, scientists say, so, too, will the iconic monarch butterfly,” writes Jennifer Taylor. “The perilous state of milkweed matters to farmers like [Don] Guinnip because, he says, ‘We don’t want to burden the environment when we don’t need to.’ As it turns out, the decline of milkweed threatens more than monarchs. Such threats have a cascading effect that eventually affects humans, as one-third of the nation’s food production is dependent on pollinators like monarchs.”

Is sustainable seafood truly sustainable?

The Hill

“The MSC [Marine Stewardship Council] is the world’s largest fishing certification program with its widely known blue tick sustainability label and its certified fisheries representing around 17 percent of the world’s total wild marine harvest. With more than a third of the world’s fish stocks currently fished at an unsustainable level, the MSC aims to combat overfishing by encouraging consumers to choose seafood that’s caught sustainably,” writes Trang Chu Minh. “U.K. marine conservation charity Shark Guardian has, however, recently exposed potential shark finning and other malpractices on MSC-certified tuna fishing vessels in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.”

Next-level river cleaners: bivalves and grasses

Yale Environment 360

“[Fifty] years after passage of the Clean Water Act, urban waterways are continuing their comeback, showing increasing signs of life,” writes Katherine Rapin. “And yet ecosystems still struggle, and waters are often inaccessible to the communities that live around them. Increasingly, scientists, nonprofits, academic institutions, and state agencies are focusing on organisms like bivalves (such as oysters and mussels) and aquatic plants to help nature restore fragile ecosystems, improve water quality, and increase resilience.”

Wildfire poisons fish in Klamath River

High Country News

“Tens of thousands of fish died over the weekend in the Klamath River, the result of the McKinney Fire in Siskiyou County, California, just south of the Oregon border,” writes B. Toastie. “As the fire burned, thunderstorms and flash floods unleashed landslides of ash and mud into the water, causing parts of the river to swell even as its oxygen levels dropped. Scientists say that dead fish started appearing last Thursday — adult and juvenile suckerfish, juvenile chinook and coho salmon, steelhead, lamprey, crawdads and more. ‘Everything that’s in there is dead,’ said Kenneth Brink (Karuk), a field supervisor with the Karuk tribal fisheries program and a traditional fisherman.”

Black elders saved this Mississippi farm


“Until five years ago, Teresa Springs was always in heels and perfectly manicured. As a child growing up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, she’d never even walked barefoot in the grass. Today, Teresa goes shoeless in rows of crops on her farm, grounding with the Mississippi earth as a part of her daily healing, connecting to the land at sundown before heading back with soil-covered hands and feet to her husband, Kevin, and their old farm house. Now five years into stewarding their farm—dubbed TKO Farming, an acronym for Teresa and Kevin’s Oasis—they’re still just as awe-struck by what they’ve built by hand. As self-described city folks who met in July 2013 while working on criminal-justice reform in Miami, the couple never envisioned living on, much less operating, a farm.”