Archive for the ‘WILDLIFE’ Category


From the January issue of LAM:

The Treetop Trail gives small primates a radically different experience of zoo life. Credit: CLR Design/Arbuckle Industries.

The Treetop Trail gives small primates a radically different experience of zoo life. Credit: CLR Design/Arbuckle Industries.

A generation ago zoos were static, passive, and effectively two-dimensional. We were on one side of the window—or fence or moat—and the animals on the other. Depending on how naturalistic or pretty the exhibits happened to be, this formula was more or less dispiriting to both parties. Now a master plan being implemented at the Philadelphia Zoo upends all that; indeed, staffers there call it not a master plan but a “transformation plan.”

It revamps visitor circulation and amenities and addresses stormwater management. But its salient feature is a network of trails throughout the property, including elevated ones that snake through the trees. These let animals travel from the buildings where they live to outdoor exhibit spaces. Different species have access to sections of the trails and the places they lead sequentially, like a time-share. This design strategy, described as animal rotation and flex habitat, has been tried in small iterations at zoos in Atlanta; Louisville, Kentucky; Cleveland; and elsewhere. But Philadelphia’s is the first-ever campus-wide application—“a very big step,” says Jon Coe, FASLA, one of the designers. He explains that the approach rests on understanding that “an animal’s natural territory is not so much an area of land or water, but rather a network of trails connecting key resources.”

Philadelphia’s zoo—the country’s oldest, opened in 1874—has only its original 42 acres. Last spring, its children’s facility was relocated, leaving “a huge part of our usable area open for rethinking,” zoo Chief Operating Officer Andy Baker says. “What if that became a destination for animals that already live at the zoo rather than a new stand-alone exhibit?” An animal traditionally occupies a single location for years, but this “creates a radically different experience by giving them this opportunity to travel and explore.”


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View of the Golden Gate Bridge behind Crissy Marsh. Courtesy the National Park Service.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge behind Crissy Marsh. Courtesy the National Park Service.

There’s been a new salvo in the Crissy Field development project, which we wrote about back in October (At the Presidio, a Field of Schemes, Oct 22, 2013). The National Park Service released a letter last week expressing strong reservations about the development plans at Crissy Field and encouraging the Trust to take the long view. The letter echoes their concerns voiced in a letter earlier in the fall, but this time stating, “There is wisdom in allowing these new uses to settle in before selecting a major new use and tenant for the Commissary site.” For more coverage see John King’s article in SF Gate and read the full  letter from Frank Dean, General Superintendent on the Presidio Trust site.

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2000px-Moose-warning.svgPeople living and working in critical wildlife habitat have a new tool in the box, thanks to big data and the Western Governor’s Wildlife Council. The Wildlife Council has just released the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT), which displays information on important wildlife habitat and corridors across 16 western states.

The new mapping tool will allow planners, students, developers, and communities to see what is described as “crucial habitat” at the regional as well as the state and local level. CHATs will enable users to see where wildlife habitat exists and how potential development may affect those areas. The GIS mapping application coordinates data for energy, transportation, and land use planners, but could be used by any member of the public. Several state CHATs are already in use.

Information about the release of the Western Regional CHAT can be found here, but if you want to play around with the state CHATs, they can be accessed below:

State CHATs

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Edison Park Site Proposal: A raised circulation system embraces a contained dredge production facility. Images courtesy of Matthew D. Moffitt.

Edison Park Site Proposal: A raised circulation system embraces a contained dredge production facility. Images courtesy of Matthew D. Moffitt.

The Penn State undergraduate Matthew Moffitt won the 2013 ASLA Student Award of Excellence in General Design by showing that not all dredge is created equal. Moffitt’s project, Dredge City: Sediment Catalysis, uses dredged material from the Maumee River, a tributary of Lake Erie, to restore a brownfield site, reestablish migratory bird stopovers, and connect urban and ecological systems, all in the context of an elegantly detailed park. By processing the material dredged from a shipping channel on the Maumee, Moffitt looked at Toledo, Ohio, the most heavily dredged port in the Great Lakes, and asked how one of the lake’s greatest polluters—the Maumee dumps a considerable amount of phosphorous into Lake Erie, causing algae blooms among other problems—can become a source of lifeblood for the city. We talked with Moffitt, who now works at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, about how he conceived the project and how dredge is becoming a hot research topic.

How did you become interested in dredging as a source of remediation?
The project originally began as a studio project during my senior year at Penn State. The studio origins were in Toledo, Ohio, so that’s how it all began. My professor, Sean Burkholder, is very knowledgeable about dredge and is often working in the greater Ohio region. There are several postindustrial sites in Toledo along the Maumee River, and the river feeds into the Western Basin of Lake Erie. We were given one of several sites along the river, and the site I chose was Edison Park. The challenges of the site included [combined sewer] outfall, dumping postindustrial material, and adjacency to one of the newer bridges and the downtown skyline.

His studio prompt was very inspiring, and from there I started making the connections between dredged material and the sediment itself, and from there it blossomed. The general goal for the studio was to use dredge or sediment from the shipping channel for a park design. The assignment was pretty broad, so we had a lot of room to use our imaginations.


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Maybe you’ve noticed things have been a bit more lively here at the  Landscape Architecture Magazine blog of late, and you’d be right. In addition to cranking up our posting to twice a week (!), we’ve been thinking a bit about what we might do to expand our audience and create more of a community of landscape-minded readers.  There are many changes afoot that will be rolled out in 2014, but we’d like your help with some low-hanging fruit, namely our blog roll.

Yes, the blog roll is a venerated tradition in the webs, but often it just becomes a mutual linkfest that highlights the same five well-known news aggregators over and over. We’d like to do something more substantial, and we’d like your help, friendly reader.

Our current blog roll (over on the right—->>) is pretty good, but some of our favorites aren’t posting so much anymore and our sense is that there are a lot more landscape-oriented blogs out there than there were a year ago when we first made the list. That’s where we’d like your help.

So tell us your favorite landscape blogs in the comments below.  We’re interested in original content, rather than aggregators, and we’re curious about anything that shapes landscape, from agriculture to climate to infrastructure to policy to design theory to design tech.  

Here are some we’ve been reading lately–

Rust Wire. Always a fave. News and urban grit from the rust belt.

BakkenBlog. North Dakota oil and gas.

Big Picture Ag. Perspectives on ag policy, food, science.

The Prairie Ecologist. Notes on prairie ecology, restoration, and management.

Small Streets Blog. Life at a plausible scale.

Gizmodo. New life under Geoff Manaugh of bldgblog, but you knew that.

Garden Rant. Various garden-related posts with a strong point of view.

99% Invisible. Blog to accompany the excellent design-oriented podcast.

What are you reading and liking? Suggest blogs in the comments or on Twitter @LandArchMag.

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From the November 2013 issue of LAM:

By Constance Casey

A couple of million wild turkey hunters in full camouflage go out to the forests and meadows every year to try out various seductive techniques to lure the wary birds into range. Meanwhile, paradoxically, there are turkeys of the same species (Meleagris gallopavo) boldly approaching human beings. In fact some of the birds are chasing runners and bicyclists, digging up flower beds, consuming farmers’ seed corn, and strolling through parking lots and across backyards. More than a few homeowners, if it were legal, could plug a wild turkey from their back decks without donning camouflage or learning turkey calls. The birds seem to have learned where they can coexist with unthreatening human beings, and it’s getting on our nerves. These birds are big; an adult male can be 16 to 24 pounds with a wingspan of close to five feet, and they have sharp spurs on their legs. They can run up to 20 miles per hour on their velociraptor legs and fly at 55 miles per hour in bursts. They’re the largest North American ground-nesting bird, and the bolder ones are on the way to becoming as much of a nuisance to some as Canada geese.

In the wild the turkeys are easily spooked by unusual sights or sounds, so the hopeful shooters cover themselves in drab camouflage from head to toe, including a face mask with a narrow eye opening—hijab for hunters. Turkey hunting is one of the fastest-growing shooting sports; the National Wild Turkey Federation counts 2.6 million turkey hunters. Part of the appeal has to be that it’s a performance. The extremely skilled use their own voices to imitate turkey calls; others make the sounds with a wooden box that has a noisemaking handle or a slate that’s struck with a wooden stick. Whichever method, it’s not easy to re-create the gobble of a randy tom, the purr of a contented female, the cackle of a receptive hen, or the companionable clucks of flock talk.


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That’s one way Peter Ross, a contributor to the Scotsman, describes the country in a recent piece pegged to the start of 2013, which the government is calling the Year of Natural Scotland. “One can’t help but be wary of such things,” he writes. “[I]t is never comfortable on the receiving end of a sales pitch.” But, boy, does he sell the place in this essay, where he notes that only 2 percent of Scotland is urban and “30 percent is what we might call wild.” The wild side of the country has not always been appreciated for its beauty. Like so much wilderness, it has been an acquired taste, particularly up through the middle of the 1700s, when sensitive types began to value the sublime that lay beyond safety of home. Among them was J. M. W. Turner, “whose boiling, roiling Staffa oil describes the rough magic of Scottish landscape better, perhaps, than anyone before or since.” Scotland, Ross writes, never bares all; its wonder lies in “something glimpsed.” His meditation leads him to wonder, why does the landscape make us feel the way it does? It could be the landscape, or it could be us.

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