Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Paddler/journalist wins court fight on 'navigable river'

The defendant in this battle was Phil Brown, editor of the "Adirondack Explorer." Congratulations for prevailing in court.
The timber sale described in this article isn't about meeting a public need. No sir. It's about corporate profit, and the taking of old-growth trees that Wild Nature planted tens of thousands of years ago. Here is a classic example of Wild Nature being seen only a as a "resource," a resource that can be plundered and harvested. The cry of "let this happen because it will generate jobs" is a smokescreen for the permanent taking of a forest. Damn.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Canceling our national parks over budget debacle

That's the basis picture being tossed out for public consumption by the Coalition of National Park Service Retires. Battle reenactments at Gettysburg? Forget it. The same at Colonial National Historical Park? Nah. Teaching park visitors about their legacy of special wild places? Who cares, especially not House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell. Read an op-ed piece on this quagmire.

Monday, February 25, 2013

How should Del. prepare for sea-level rise?

S this article explains, residents of the First State have one more chance to comment on the state's pending plan for responding to sea-level rise. Too bad the article makes no mention of climate change, which is the underlying reason for the rise in sea level.

NM legislation demands title to public lands in state

This is the same kind of crap tried by Utah "lawmakers." Never mind that federal public lands in New Mexico and all the other states, too, are owned, in part, by all taxpaying Americans, like me in Vermont. The parochial grandstanding of state-level politicians when it comes to public land is astounding.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

BLM releases draft management plan for S.W. Idaho wilderness

Owyhee County in the southwest corner of Idaho is a rugged and biologically rich region; one that is deserving of federal Wilderness Act protection - and then some. The federal Bureau of Land Management has issued a draft plan for management of these lands as well as many miles of Wild and Scenic River segments.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Budget debacle would cripple Park Service

This article, of course, looks only at the National Park Service and how it would operate or not operate under the Republicans' budget breaker sequestration bid. And then there's the U.S. Fish and  Wildlife Service and its National Wildlife Refuge  System. Oh, and don't forget NASA and its climate change work. And NOAA and its weather/climate work. And much more.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act reintroduced in Congress

Montana Sen. Max Baucus rolled out the happy dollar data for the reporter who crafted this article. I cringe, though, when I read the phrase "motorized access" or such has been included in pending legislation. No difference here.

Idaho House panel endorses Church Wilderness trail resolution

OK, but as a former Idahoan transplanted by a career in the U.S. Air Force, I have seen little understanding among Idaho legislators of what wilderness is all about in the first place. For most, it all boils down to greed - the dollar bill. I think it's a safe bet that Frank Church himself would beg to differ. You can read about the Idaho House's push for trail rehabilitation in the Church-River of No Return right here.

The case for a higher gasoline tax

And it is a damn good case. American motorists like to bitch about the price they pay at the pump island, but they continue to get a superb deal as compared with the per-gallon price paid by European motorists. A higher tax is a sure-fire way of encouraging carpooling and getting more people into commuting automobiles. This op-ed spells it out nicely.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Black bile from the boreal forest of Canada

The boreal forest of Canada's central provinces is soon to be a ghost at the rate it's being bulldozed for tar sands oil, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels anywhere at any time. Conservation columnist Ted Williams offers this no-holds-barred look at this disaster for fish and wildlife and our natural heritage.

Roadkill in Saguaro National Park

As is always the case when carcasses are collected on highway shoulders, the wildlife whose lives are terrestrial are the most numerous victims of the roadkill machine - the motor vehicle. The report discussed in this article focuses on Saguaro National Park, whose two units straddle Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bill introduced to protect water quality and salmon in Ore.

In 20-plus years living in Pa., I never saw something like this from a Keystone State legislator. And there is no question that many, many, many waters in that state would benefit from the kind of thinking evident in this Oregon legislation.

Decaying management at Yellowstone, other NPS units

That is the sad message of the research paper found at this link. It has been many decades (4.5 years?) since the Gregory family motored to the park from our then home in Pocatello, Idaho. I remember there being cars, many cars.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Precedent-setting verdict could reduce bird collisions in Canada

When reading about the ongoing toll of migratory birds dying when colliding with buildings, I am always reminded of the many avian victims I have found over the years, themselves killed when colliding with buildings. Like the Wood Thrush I found on a downtown Hazleton, Pa., sidewalk one fall. This article notes how a court verdict in Canada could help birds.

Climate contradiction: Less snow, larger storms

That's my headline for this Associated Press article I just spotted on the Web site of the Santa Fe New Mexican. Having just returned home from participating in a huge climate rally in Washington on Sunday, I can safely report, without being labeled a purveyor of a "hoax," that Americans want President Obama to act and to do so now.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Choking back tears, NRA boss marries gun

This satirical essay from Andy Borowitz is bitingly funny.

Phenology study documents climate trends

New Phenology Study Documents Climate Trends

Aldo Leopold Foundation Senior Fellow Stan Temple, along with scientists from Boston and Harvard Universities, used data from long-term phenology records initiated by Aldo Leopold and Henry David Thoreau to examine the relationship between spring temperatures and flowering dates. Those historical relationships allowed them to correctly predict how spring wildflowers responded to record-setting warm temperatures in 2012. Their research shows that spring flowering is still coming earlier and earlier as spring temperatures rise. If there are physiological constraints limiting how early plants can flower, they have not yet been reached. These results can help to predict plant responses to a warmer climate, essential for commercial production in spring-flowering fruit trees and other crops. They also indicate that a continued trend of earlier flowering may pose problems for pollination if responses of pollinators to climatic changes don't keep pace. Learn more about theongoing phenology work of the Aldo Leopold Foundation (and find additional links to media coverageof this study) on our website.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Park Service leadership appears infected with a case of Disney-envy

I point you to this essay on my friend Ted Williams's blog. Whatever happened to conservation and messages to the public like the one I found on the sign you see in the picture (photographed at Bandelier National Monument, N.M.).

Cliamte change affecting flight period of butterflies in Mass.

Whie the study examined in this article looks at species in Massachusetts, the study's findings are affecting butterflies on a range-wide basis. And still the burning of coal and oil continues apace.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Idaho Senate rejects woman for F&G Commission

Diversity? Nah. A different perspective on wildlife conservation? What's that? So went the one-sided debate in the Idaho Senate over Gov. Butch Otter's nominee for an open seat on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, the body that oversees the state's Fish and Game Department. You can read about the debacle right here.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Scientists explore options as polar bears face new threat

This species is in big trouble - due entirely to human actions, namely the burning of fossil fuels. It is a sad comment on today's human society that soon, if not already, it will be possible to see a live Polar Bear only in a zoo setting. Read the latest.

Interior nominee a strong voice for conservation, NWF says

I'm sure there are many other endorsements of Sally Jewell out there, but this is a good one.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sally Jewel: An Interior secretary whose time is now

That's my headline, but this op-ed column by Timothy Egan has the right message regarding President Obma's pck to take over leadership of the Department of the Interior.

Clear-cut logging debate heats up in Adirondacks

Clear-cutting a forest amounts only to greed - a drive for money at the expense of natural values. There is no "land ethic" involved in such logging. I feel a long essay coming on. North Country Public Radio offers this look at a pending Adirondack Park Agency decision.

States' group calls for 45% cut in carbon emissions

The nine state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative includes Vermont where it is snowing heavily as I type and watch the storm from my study window. Read reporting on the nine states' plan.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

REI's head honcho is pick to be secretary of Interior

This Seattle Times piece (Seattle is home territory for the outdoor gear retailer) covers a lot of ground, focusing on Sally Jewel's background and qualifications for the job.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Global warming heightens wildfire risk, USDA says in report

Conservationists have been warning of the increased risks specified in this new USDA report for some time now. So why hasn't the elected leadership in D.C. done anything? The first clue is to look at the campaign contributions from Big Oil and Big Coal.

Babbitt exhorts Obama to protect public lands

That was the prime message the former secretary of the Interior wanted to pass to the president. Thank you, Mr. Babbitt. Read about the National Press Club gig.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

NY State loses $2.5M for Follensby Pond protection

This is sad news, you bet, but hardly surprising given how much money has been drawn from New York's land-protection fund for other Adirondack land buys. Follensby Pond is a big priority, though, for conservation. I hope the cash becomes available soon. This is too big a project to let slide away.

Monday, February 4, 2013

NY DEC proposes opening chain of lakes to motorized access

Opening the Essex chain of lakes in New York's Adirondack Park to ATVs, Jet Skis and more would be a monstrous step in the wrong direction - for conservation, peace and solitude, the health of wildlife habitat, and a whole lot of other reasons. This land, being purchased by New York State now from The Nature Conservancy, ought be given wilderness status and managed as such by the  Department of Environmental Conservation. This is hardly a selfish desire on the part of conservationists. It is simply doing the right thing. North Country Public Radio offers this overview of the situation.

NY's Cumo comes up with plan for floodplain development

The governor's plan is OK as far as it goes, but the real long-term solution is to prohibit ignoramuses from building their homes in places that will someday be subject to flooding. Just say no. Making the whole thing even more absurd is the extremely low-cost national flood insurance program, in which all taxpayers get the glorious honor of throwing tax dollars away to help flood "victims."

Pa. DEP does not list Susquehanna as 'impaired'

I only lived in the Susquehanna River's watershed for 21 years, so, you may ask, what do I know. Well, plenty, it turns out. Like how the Jeddo Mine Tunnel near the city of Hazleton discharges an average of 40,000 gallons a minute of acid mine drainage into a prime tributary of the Susquehanna. This picture shows teh mouth of the vaunted tunnel doing its thing.

Climate change: What a 1970s-era journal says

There is great value in keeping a journal of out-of-doors experiences. This article explains one of them.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Reclaiming roads in wildlands means jobs, savings

Wildlands CPR writes:
"Forest Road Reclamation & Repair Creates High Skill, High Wage Jobs" is the title of our latest fact sheet highlighting operators who benefit from road reclamation and maintenance projects, putting faces with work.
Since its inception, the program has grown in both size and scope, with funding at $50 million for fiscal year (FY) 2009 and $90 million in FY10. However, it declined sharply in FY11, to only $45 million, and held steady at that reduced level in FY12. This fact sheet explains how the program has created or maintained jobs nationally and also provides specific state numbers for California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington."
This fact sheet tells a more complete story. Will this change the mission and goals of state highway departments, like PennDOT in Pennsylvania? I doubt it, but those people who see only asphalt when they look at the land should still be informed.

Sierra Club turns to civil disobedience to stop Keystone XL

Full disclosure: I am a life member of the Sierra  Club. I welcome the strategy outlined in this article, especially as a prior visitor to the Platte River valley in central Nebraska. The Keystone XL pipeline spells lots of trouble - for Earth - because it would amount to importing into the U.S. the dirtiest fossil fuel anywhere. The solution for what to do is this: Conservation. Start walking and cycling more. And stop the sprawl housing machine. Do it now.

New chief of Western national forest: No hurry on roads plan

Roads are bad - bad for terrestrial wildlife, bad for migratory birds, bad for trout streams, and bad for the atmosphere of the only planet we've got. The new boss of the Walowa-Whitman NF could set a great example by moving ahead now - right now - on closing roads on that national forest. This article explains why the forest chief has decided to wait. Oops.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Gun sales soar on release of Obama-with-shotgun pix

Gullible people, succumbing to the fear-mongering of the National Riffle Association, hit the gun stores, again. Satirist Andy Borowitz offers this searing report.

The Disneyfication of our national parks?

So warns PEER, or Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, in this e-mailed warning I received this morning. For me, and many others, visiting a National Park System unit, whether it was Saguaro National Park, or Petrified Forest, or Craters of the Moon, or Colonial (Yorktown) has always been about hearing the sounds of wild nature, not the noise pollution of a cell phone chirping. Yet, that seems to the National Park Service leadership's goal - the cyber wiring of our national parks.

Whitebark pine and Grizzly Bears

Grizzlies are dependent on the Whitebark Pine for food. But the tree is in big trouble. Read about the link.

The wolverine: Fish and Wildlife proposes ESA protection

This species of the Northwest has been in population trouble for years. Reacting to a lawsuit seeking listing under the Endangered Species Act for the predator, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes the ESA listing rule described in this article.