ElkFeb. 2, 1971: The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international agreement to protect saltwater and freshwater wetlands and the species that thrive in them, is signed in Ramsar, Iran. Today, the treaty has 160 member-nations and it helps protect nearly 2,000 wetland areas worldwide.

Feb. 2, 2001: In an odd but upbeat way to observe Groundhog Day, the National Park Service releases 25 elk (at right) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It had been over a century since the last elk was spotted in the area. As of 2010, the Park Service says the elk population is thriving. Other elk reintroduction efforts are underway in the Ozarks, western Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Feb. 2, 2007: Pre-dawn tornadoes tear a 70-mile swath through Central Florida. The Groundhog Day Tornado Outbreak takes 21 lives.

Feb. 2, 2008: Two environmentally-themed films are nominated for the Academy Award for Documentaries.  "The Cove", directed by Louis Psihoyos, wins. Also nominated is "Food, Inc.", directed by Robert Kenner, focuses on the human and environment toll of factory farming.  "The Cove" wins, but Psihoyos’s acceptance speech is cut short by the Oscars’ broadcast producers.

Feb. 2, 2012:  The Sierra Club discloses that its campaign to shut coal-burning power plants was financed largely by a rival to Big Coal.  Chesapeake Energy, a major player in the growingly controversial practice of natural gas “fracking,” had secretly bankrolled the venerable Club to the tune of $26 million.

Photo: Photo 24/Jupiterimages

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.