Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jaguar roving near Rosemont mine site in southern Arizona

The Santa Rita mountains named in this article are beautiful. And a population of jaguars would make them even prettier.

A carbon dioxide factory - one of gazillions

Actually, by the time a motor vehicle has been abandoned for a while in a parking lagoon like this one next to a Vermont strip shopping center, it already has belched a whole lot of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas most responsible for our planet's changing climate. Car sales reps should inform would-be buyers (jus

t to be nice) what a particular model-and-production-year car emits per gallon of gasoline burned. Just to be nice!

Friday, June 28, 2013

In A;laska, a historic salmon fishery and real people under threat of open-pit mine

This is a great read - great because of the quality of its prose and its argument. But that argument, conservationists are sorry to say, may very well not see the light-of-victory-day. Bristol Bay will be immediate loser, but in a long-term sense all of America and especially the native people of the far north will be on the losing end. We do better.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Seekign more presidential action, less rhetoric, on climate change

There is very little to compromise on, for starters. And it's too damn bad that Mr. Obama waited as long as he did before broadcasting his plan of action. Still, more needs to be done and mighty soon. Read about the rhetoric vs. action.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Disease claims bighorn sheep in Nevada

I dream, every now and then, of the Bighorn Sheep I saw trundling along a rocky escarpment in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in the summer of 2004. Very special.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Spending gazillons to widen the Outer Banks?

This, buckaroos, is a giant waste of tax dollars. Sure, in the short-term, a widened beach may look OK and attract some tourism dollars, but the long term outlook, given sea-level rise and an increasing number and severity of storms, says otherwise. This article, in the  Virginian-Pilot paper of Norfolk, Va., says nothing about climate change and who is responsible.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pesticide Safari blamed in death of bees; tally of dead now 50,000

Just a few hours ago, I happened to visit a hardware store and just happened to walk down the aisle in which all manner of pesticides, herbicides, etc., are displayed to unwary shoppers. I am reminded of the little signs left along curb lines by the outfits that spread chemical fertilizers on residential turf farms. What a waste. Read about the dead bumblebees.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Why Miami, Fla., is doomed to drown

Read this piece by Jeff Goodell. Then ponder a bit and ask yourself why our political leadership is clueless and has not done anything but burn more coal.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Adirondack loon sentinels lack funding this summer

I had two really memorable experiences with common loons - a true bird of the North -- while living on Plattsburgh Air Force Base in the late 1980s. One spring night, as Monica and I were sleeping the night in the new camping tent we had just purchased, a loon called from Lake Champlain. Our house in on-base housing was literally right on top of a bluff overlooking the lake and its Crab Island a mile or so off shore. Teh other occasion also involved a calling loon. We were getting settled in the bunk room of the Adirondack Mountain Club's Adirondack Loj one spring night when the bird called from nearby Heart Lake. Two great wilderness-quality experiences for two budding birders. Here's sad news about the men and women who watch over those Adirondack lakes known to harbor nesting loons.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Obama (finally) prepping to do something about climate change

Sure, it's a so-called "legacy" issue for the president, but he build a truly impressive environmental legacy by coming up with tough-minded rules that will really do something to sharply limit greenhouse gas emissions. Really do something.

How to protect the Gulf of Mexico from future oil spills?

Buy and protect, as public land, the remaining coastal marshes and wetlands, as this excellent op-ed I just read makes the case for doing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A new look at ancient trees on Washington's Orcas Island

My brother and I did in fact see some migrating Orcas from  high bluff in Lime Kiln State Park, and the price was a helluva lot better than what the boat riders out yonder paid their captains. The real joy of hiking Orcas Island, though, is the chance to see some ancient western redcedars and Douglas-firs and Pacific madrones in all their glory. Here's what I wrote:

I’ve had the privilege and honor to enter and pray and ponder things in a number of historic churches, some of them cathedrals, throughout my adult life.
The apartment Monica and I rented in Pittsburgh while we awaited her lung transplant was a 10-minute walk from St. Paul’s Cathedral.
And the St. Miguel Mission Church, long a photographic backdrop for tourists as they take snapshots of each other in Santa Fe, N.M., is a must-see-and-visit place for anyone traveling to the capital of New Mexico.

Mission San Xavier del Bac is one of several storied places of worship in and near Tucson, Ariz.

And in New York City there is the great Cathedral of St. John: The Great Divine.

To visit one of these places – or any of the dozens like them in our country – is to draw closer to what’s really important.

I felt the same waves crash over me while hiking last week through the Pacific maritime forest of Moran State Park ( in Washington State’s Orcas Island, the largest of the islands that make up San Juan County.

To get to Orcas, visitors ride a ferry from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. The town of Friday Harbor is the county’s seat of government.

Hiking into this cathedral forest of centuries old Douglas-fir, Western Red Cedar, Pacific madrone ( and trees of several other species was akin to entering a great monument to religiosity. I enjoyed that feeling throughout the hike to Mountain Lake within Moran State Park. And as I am often labeled a “tree hugger,” as if such a moniker is somehow a put-down, I easily accepted my brother’s suggestion (he was my hiking/exploring partner) to pose for a tree-hugging photo next to the trunk of a 400-year-old Western Redcedar (

Even simply taking a moment to stand next to an old-growth tree (many conservationists refer to them as “ancient” trees) is to share space with wild, untamed nature.

There are many types of old-growth forests still extant across our country, but generally speaking, old growth means a forest that has not undergone any major unnatural changes (such as logging) for more than 100 to 150 years, contains young, mature and standing dead trees (snags) and provides a home for a diversity of wildlife species. I found many good and newsy articles and essays about old-growth forests in a Google search. One of them, from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, can be read at

Wildness is perhaps the most sorely missing thing on Americans’ rapidly dwindling natural landscape. As more roads are cut, trees are logged, and drill bits sunk into Earth in search of natural gas and petroleum, the quality of wildness disappears, replaced by noise pollution, air pollution, water pollution and all the other scars that come with industrialization.

Hiking through the cathedral forest in Moran State Park also allowed me to really listen to the sounds of nature (as opposed to the noise of urban America): the territorial song of red crossbills and winter wrens and Swainson’s thrushes chief among those sounds.

In this era of near-constant loss of “wild America,” I look to statements like this from the conservation outfit Wildlands Network: “We want future generations to inherit a continent rich in wildlife, with plenty of room for all species to roam.  We want to feel safe knowing that our environment can weather the effects of growing human development and climate change.  We want to be proud of our natural heritage.  And we want to know that we have acted responsibly by caring for and sustaining the lands, waters and wildlife that enrich our lives.”  See more at:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Two South Florida butterflies likely extinct, FWS declares

The extinction crisis lurches onward. The latest from South Florida is this.

Offshore wind turbine farm coming to Outer Banks, N.C. - most likely

I am all for alternative energy. You bet. But I still have not heard of a single coal-fired power plant - anywhere - being shut down because its output was replaced by that from wind farms and solar panels. If anything, all we're doing by erecting the big wind turbine towers is making it easier for sprawl developers to claim that their new fangled housing project is somehow "green." Yes, this is bullshit. Here's an article about wind turbine farms going up in the Atlantic off North Carolina's fabled Outer Banks barrier island.

Friday, June 14, 2013

ExxonMobil sued over pipeline spill

This NY Times article has all the details. The federal Department of Justice and the state of Arkansas are co-plaintiffs.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Awful legislation would have heavy toll on Cape Hatteras

From National Audubon:
Next week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote on a suite of public lands bills, including two that Audubon strongly opposes. S 486 would overturn protections for shorebirds and sea turtles on Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and S 340, a bill to allow logging in the last remaining ancient forests of the Tongass. 

S 486 would overturn a multi-year public process that resulted in balanced provisions that protect endangered shorebirds and sea turtles while preserving the economic health of the community. In 2012, the first year of management under the Final Rule, visitation to the Seashore increased, tourism set record highs, and wildlife on the Seashore continued to rebound. The rule only closes beaches during nesting season for endangered shorebirds like Piping Plovers and endangered sea turtles. Once the young birds have learned to fly, the areas are re-opened. Areas are closed for sea turtle nests only in the few days immediately preceding the expected hatch date. 

The bill would overturn the public process and allow for off road vehicle traffic year round with no protection for birds or other wildlife. Audubon strongly opposes the legislation and continues to press for a balanced approach that protects birds, wildlife and the National Seashore experience.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Judge says BLM underreports impact of livestock grazing on public land

So get the catttle and sheep off our public lands! No wonder the old joke about "BLM" actually standing for "Bureau of Livestock and Mining" still applies.
This article has the details.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Roadkill: Our cars, known in military as POVs, kill a stunning number of wildlife species

I just happened upon the carcass of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and am now well over 100 species found as roadkill over the last 20 years or so. The slaughter, in large part, is due to Americans' love-affair with their cars. Forget about the price of gasoline. Most folks are just too damn lazy to walk to work or a store to buy a half-gallon of milk. That's what suburbia has done. Read about the slaughter.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Op-ed: Gray wolf's recovery not there yet

Especially with state F&G agencies -- all of them dependent on the revenue from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and tags -- conducting "controlled" hunts of Canis lupus populations. This op-ed makes a convincing argument.

RFK Jr.: Pollution of Lake Champlain is theft

The environmental law professor and conservationist was in Burlington yesterday to deliver a speech at ECHO, with U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy along for the ride. Kennedy urged restoration of the "commons" law when discussing the pollution, most of it stormwater runoff, that plagues the big lake. Here's the Burlington paper's coverage.