Saturday, June 30, 2018

Episode 427 (7-2-18): Frogs and Fireworks

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:14).

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 6-30-18.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of July 2, 2018.  This is a repeat of a 2016 episode celebrating the July 4th holiday.

SOUND - ~ 4 sec.

This week, for Independence Day, we drop in on a most unusual July 4th conversation: two Gray Tree Frogs, surrounded by fireworks, are debating U.S. water history.  Sound unimaginable?  Well, just have a listen.

SOUND - ~2 sec.

Frog 1 – There those humans go again, shootin’ off their fireworks and makin’ it hard for us frogs to hear each other’s calls!  What’s all the ruckus about, anyway?

Frog 2 - Why, it’s July Fourth!  They’re celebrating this country’s Declaration of Independence in 1776 from Great Britain.  I think it’s cool—at least it’s a break from hearing YOU guys calling every evening.

Frog 1 – And just why are YOU so excited about the birthday of this big, bustling, human country?  Seems to me that it’s been nothing but trouble for aquatic habitats and creatures like us since those first ships came over here from that Europe place.  Everywhere we try to hop, there’s polluted rivers and lakes, lost wetlands and other habitats, and hot, dry pavement.

Frog 2 – Well, yeah, you’re right, partly.  This country’s waters have had a pretty hard history.  And we amphibians have had the worst of it in some cases and places, with this permeable skin we have.  But you’re forgetting about some positive things.  The humans’ Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, and a bunch other important acts, too.  And right here in this state, Virginia, the constitution says it’s the Commonwealth’s policy to protect its atmosphere, lands, and waters from pollution, impairment, or destruction.

Frog 1 - Have all those things done any good?

Frog 2 – Well, not always or everywhere.  Just in Virginia, hundreds of water bodies are impaired and need expensive clean-up programs.  For instance, I’ve got cousins living over near that Chesapeake Bay, and they tell me every year it’s some things good, other things fair, and still others needing a ton of work.  But many rivers and lakes certainly are in better shape than they were 40 or 50 years ago; the Potomac River’s one example.  Those humans have many competing interests, so sometimes what they do isn’t so good for water, or lands, or creatures like us. But other times, it is.  People have learned a lot over the years about using and managing natural resources more sustainably, and all kinds of people work hard trying to do that.

Frog 1 - Yeah, I guess you’re right.  You know, it’s not easy being a frog, but I guess it’s pretty tough being a person, too.

Frog 2 – Now that’s a pretty realistic call!

SOUND - ~ 2 sec

Hey, there’s the fireworks finale.  And that sounds like the Air Force Concert Band playing one of my favorites, “The Washington Post,” by John Philip Sousa.  Let’s have a quick listen, then we better get back under cover.  All the humans will be coming back from the fireworks soon.

Both - Happy July 4th!

MUSIC - ~ 14 sec


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  And thanks to Kriddie Whitmore for lending her voice to this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This Virginia Water Radio episode replaces Episode 323, 7-4-16.

Thanks to Jennifer Gagnon for reviewing a draft of the episode.

This episode’s sounds were recorded in Blacksburg, Va., on July 4, 2015.

This episode’s music was an excerpt of “The Washington Post,” written by John Philip Sousa in 1889, and performed here by the United States Air Force Concert Band on their 2001 album “I Am An American,” accessed online at  Information about “The Washington Post” is available from the United States Marine Band, “Sousa-The Washington Post” (3:30 video), online at; and “The President’s Own/John Philip Sousa,” online at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at


Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) on the deck of a residence in Blacksburg, Va., Sep. 23, 2009.


Following are the four sections of Article XI, “Conservation,” of the Virginia Constitution, as accessed at the Virginia Legislative Information System, online at, on June 30, 2018.

Section 1. Natural resources and historical sites of the Commonwealth.

To the end that the people have clean air, pure water, and the use and enjoyment for recreation of adequate public lands, waters, and other natural resources, it shall be the policy of the Commonwealth to conserve, develop, and utilize its natural resources, its public lands, and its historical sites and buildings.  Further, it shall be the Commonwealth's policy to protect its atmosphere, lands, and waters from pollution, impairment, or destruction, for the benefit, enjoyment, and general welfare of the people of the Commonwealth.

Section 2. Conservation and development of natural resources and historical sites.

In the furtherance of such policy, the General Assembly may undertake the conservation, development, or utilization of lands or natural resources of the Commonwealth, the acquisition and protection of historical sites and buildings, and the protection of its atmosphere, lands, and waters from pollution, impairment, or destruction, by agencies of the Commonwealth or by the creation of public authorities, or by leases or other contracts with agencies of the United States, with other states, with units of government in the Commonwealth, or with private persons or corporations.  Notwithstanding the time limitations of the provisions of Article X, Section 7, of this Constitution, the Commonwealth may participate for any period of years in the cost of projects which shall be the subject of a joint undertaking between the Commonwealth and any agency of the United States or of other states.

Section 3. Natural oyster beds.

The natural oyster beds, rocks, and shoals in the waters of the Commonwealth shall not be leased, rented, or sold but shall be held in trust for the benefit of the people of the Commonwealth, subject to such regulations and restriction as the General Assembly may prescribe, but the General Assembly may, from time to time, define and determine such natural beds, rocks, or shoals by surveys or otherwise.

Section 4. Right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest game.

The people have a right to hunt, fish, and harvest game, subject to such regulations and restrictions as the General Assembly may prescribe by general law.


Used for Audio

Chesapeake Bay Program, online at; and “Chesapeake Bay Report Card highlights signs of progress,” June 15, 2018, news release, online at

Commonwealth of Virginia, Constitution of Virginia (as of June 30, 2018), accessed online at

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, “Water Quality Monitoring in the Potomac Estuary,” online at   From a January 2014 fact sheet, “Potomac River Water Quality in the Washington Region”: “The assessment of water quality in the Potomac River shows that the Washington region’s huge investments in improving wastewater treatment have yielded significant improvements.  Among the success stories: the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus discharged by wastewater plants in the Washington metropolitan region has declined dramatically since the 1980s and is on track for further reductions.  As a result, the potential for harmful algal blooms in the upper Potomac estuary has declined significantly.   And the populations of at least some of the plants and animals that live in this portion of the river, such as submerged aquatic vegetation and American shad, have rebounded.  But these improvements do not mean that either the river itself has fully recovered from the poor conditions of previous decades or that further efforts are unnecessary.  In this, the river’s situation mirrors that of the larger Chesapeake Bay watershed, of which it is an integral part.”

Thomas V. Cech, Principles of Water Resources: History, Development, Management, and Policy, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, N.Y., 2003.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “National Aquatic Resources Surveys,” online at

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Water Quality Information and TMDLs,” online at

Zygmunt J. B. Plater et al., Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society, West Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minn., 1998.

For More Information about Amphibians in Virginia

John D. Kleopfer and Chris S. Hobson, A Guide to the Frogs and Toad of Virginia, Special Publication Number 3, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond, 2011.

Bernard S. Martof, et al., Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1980.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Virginia is for Frogs,” online at

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Wildlife Information/Species Information/Amphibians” online at

Virginia Herpetology Society, online at Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles.

For More Information about Federal Environmental and Natural Resources Law

Cornell University Law School/Legal Information Institute:
“Environmental Law,” online at;
“Natural Resources,” online at

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Laws and Regulations,” online at  For the Clean Water Act:  For the Endangered Species Act:  For the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA):

For More Information about Virginia Natural Resources Laws

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Web site, online at  See the “Agencies” link to access the various Virginia state agencies involved with resources regulation and management.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Amphibians” and “History” subject categories.

Following are links to other episodes for July 4th:
Episode 168, 7/1/13; and Episode 273, 7/6/15 – Water and the Revolutionary War.
Episode 220, 6/30/14 – Water origins of Virginia Declaration signers.
Episode 73, 7/6/15 -- The Great Road on the Virginia Peninsula.

Following are links to other episodes on natural resources agencies in Virginia.
Episode 91, 12/5/11 – Marine Resources Commission.
Episode 94, 1/9/12 – State Water Control Board.
Episode 161, 5/13/13 and Episode 320, 6/13/16 – State Parks.
Episode 322, 6/27/16 – Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.


This episode may help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change Theme
3.9 – Water cycle, including sources of water, energy driving water cycle, water essential for living things, and water limitations and conservation.

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
3.10- impacts on survival of species, including effects of fire, flood, disease, and erosion on organisms.
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.
6.9 – public policy decisions related to the environment (including resource management and conservation, land use decision, hazard mitigation, cost/benefit assessments).

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
4.5 - ecosystem interactions and human influences on ecosystem.
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.6 - ecosystem interactions, including the water cycle, other cycles, and energy flow.
LS.9 - adaptations for particular ecosystems’ biotic and abiotic factors, including characteristics of land, marine, and freshwater environments.
LS.11 - relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science Course
ES.8 - influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including identification of groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia.

Biology Course
BIO.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.
BIO.8 - dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs:

Civics and Economics Course
CE.10 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.

Government Course
GOVT.9 – public policy process at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT.15 – role of government in Va. and U.S. economies, including examining environmental issues and property rights.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels:
Episode 250 (1-26-15) – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255 (3-2-15) – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282 (9-21-15) – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309 (3-28-16) – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 332 (9-12-16) – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403 (1-15-18) – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404 (1-22-18) – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade. Episode 406 (2-5-18) – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407 (2-12-19) – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.