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Rural News

Restoring prairie and fighting wildfire with (drone launched) fire(balls) | Posted on August 3, 2016

Ecologist Dirac Twidwell wants to change the way we think about prescribed burns. The University of Nebraska professor says he can harness extreme to restore grasslands on the Great Plains—and, with the help of the Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems (NIMBUS) Lab, he has created a small drone that launches ping-pong balls-sized "dragon eggs" of fire to help him do it safely and cheaply. The two-pound hexacopter could be used to aid in wildfire suppression as well as to ignite prescribed burns for management of wildlands and rangeland, he says, taking on dangerous jobs currently carried out by helicopter pilots and ground crews.


A Broad(band) Reach: Bringing the Internet to Rural America

State Tech Magazine | Posted on August 1, 2016

From police protection to trash pickup, cities and counties provide a variety of services to its residents.  Adding broadband to that mix, especially on a citywide scale, is a relatively new conceptthat nonetheless can provide tangible benefits to the municipalities that offer it.  For the most part, large cities don’t have a major problem with broadband installation. The populations are so dense that many private broadband providers will take on the expense of building and maintaining networks, confident that customers will follow. But smaller, more rural areas, or those in traditionally economically disadvantaged areas, may not attract a major internet provider right off the bat.  The answer might be for a city’s IT leaders to roll up their sleeves and do it themselves. There are some cows in Sequatchie County, Tenn., (just outside Chattanooga) that have faster Internet than everyone living in San Francisco.  In rural states like Kentucky, where up to 25 percent of the population has no internet access, providers must explore ways to bridge the lonely miles between towns.

North America Has Only 1 True Species of Wolf, DNA Shows

Live Science | Posted on July 29, 2016

Tests of wolves across North America suggest that there is just one species of the canid: the gray wolf. What's more, populations of red wolves and eastern wolves, thought to be distinct species, are actually just hybrids of gray wolves and coyotes that likely emerged in the last couple hundred years, the study found.

No charges in shooting of Idaho rancher

Capital Press | Posted on July 29, 2016

The U.S. attorney for Idaho and the state attorney general announced they will not pursue charges against the two Adams County deputies who fatally shot rancher Jack Yantis. Following an investigation by the FBI, the U.S. attorney determined “there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against Adams County deputy sheriffs Cody Rowland and Brian Wood for the death of Jack Yantis.” After reviewing the results of an Idaho State Police investigation, the state attorney general’s office reached the same conclusion. Yantis, 62, was shot and killed by the deputies Nov. 1 after he arrived at the scene where one of his bulls had been hit and injured by a car. He was asked by police dispatchers to go there.

Study says cougars, wolves save human lives

Capital Press | Posted on July 29, 2016

A new study by university scientists seeks to foster rural acceptance of large carnivores by showing that cougars save lives by reducing the number of deadly collisions between vehicles and deer.  Researchers affiliated with colleges in Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Alberta, Canada, compared data from 19 states in the East, South and Midwest. The scientists concluded that recolonizing cougars in those states would thin deer populations and prevent five traffic fatalities and more than 700 injuries a year.

Ind. animal refuge triumphs in USDA case

Courier Journal | Posted on July 28, 2016

Indiana's well-known exotic animal refuge Wildlife in Need claimed another victory this month when a federal administrative law judge upheld a previous decision saying the federal government did not have grounds to terminate owner Tim Stark's exhibitor's license. Wildlife in Need posted the decision on Facebook Monday, saying the group "will not bow to the terrorism" and called the decision a win.

Louisiana State University partners with beer company to raise revenues

The Advocate | Posted on July 28, 2016

Just in time for football season, Tin Roof Brewery plans to roll out its long-awaited Bayou Bengal beer: the first officially licensed beer of LSU. This may be the first official beer of the Fighting Tigers, but it’s not the first attempt to get there. The anticipation for such a partnership has been simmering since 2011, when the fledgling microbrewery first announced it was unveiling “Bandit Blonde” with LSU. Bandit Blonde, named for the famed backup defenders on the 1958 Tigers national championship team, was quickly rebranded to a more generic Tin Roof Blonde ale as disagreements arose among LSU leaders about whether to move forward with a licensed beer. All of this happened against the backdrop of some negative publicity about whether it was appropriate messaging to link the school’s name with an alcoholic beverage. Before the deal was stalled, the Wall Street Journal ran a story about the partnership titled “You can’t spell ‘Lush’ without L-S-U.”

William McGehee, co-founder of Tin Roof, recalled some tension surrounding the previous deal. “Unfortunately, I guess there was a lot of disagreement happening on a level above my pay grade,” McGehee said of the initial deal-killer. “They couldn’t really agree whether it was a good idea or not. It stalled out, and they finally decided it wasn’t right at that time.” Martin maintained that the contract was interpreted differently by the College Licensing Co., which he said would have permitted the arrangement.

Scientists capture images of rare wolverine in Sierra Nevada

Capital Press | Posted on July 28, 2016

Scientists following up on a rare wolverine sighting in the Sierra Nevada set up cameras and captured video of the animal scurrying in the snow, scaling a tree and chewing on bait.  They believe the wolverine is the same one that eight years ago became the first documented in the area since the 1920s.  Chris Stermer, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, set up the remote cameras in the Tahoe National Forest after officials at a field station sent him photos in January of unusual tracks in the snow near Truckee. Talk of reintroducing wolverines in California has been put on hold while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers its response to a federal court order in Montana that overturned its decision denying protection of the animal under the Endangered Species Act, Stermer said. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ordered wildlife officials to act as quickly as possible to protect the species as it becomes vulnerable to a warming planet.

New Zealand vows to kill every weasel, rat and feral cat on its soil

The Washington Post | Posted on July 28, 2016

New Zealand is a nation that takes its birds seriously, and it’s got very special ones. The country’s currency is adorned with images of winged species found nowhere else, including the yellow-eyed penguin and the black-masked kokako. The logo of the national air force is stamped with the famed kiwi — a chicken-sized puff of feathers that cannot fly.  But many of those birds and other native wildlife are under assault from species that showed up with settlers to the island nation 200 years ago. And on Monday, Prime Minister John Key announced that, generations after they came, the invaders would have to go. New Zealand, he said, has adopted the “ambitious goal” of eradicating its soil of rats, possums, stoats and all other invasive mammals by 2050. The name of the plan: Predator Free New Zealand.

Dirty to drinkable: Novel hybrid nanomaterials quickly transform water

Science Daily | Posted on July 28, 2016

A team of engineers has found a way to use graphene oxide sheets to transform dirty water into drinking water, and it could be a global game-changer. Graphene oxide has been hailed as a veritable wonder material; when incorporated into nanocellulose foam, the lab-created substance is light, strong and flexible, conducting heat and electricity quickly and efficiently. The new approach combines bacteria-produced cellulose and graphene oxide to form a bi-layered biofoam.  "The process is extremely simple," Singamaneni said. "The beauty is that the nanoscale cellulose fiber network produced by bacteria has excellent ability move the water from the bulk to the evaporative surface while minimizing the heat coming down, and the entire thing is produced in one shot.