Congress considers treating wildfire like other natural disasters

As the West girds itself for what looks likely to be a fierce wildfire season, a bipartisan group of Western senators is pushing a bill to rethink the way the federal government pays to fight catastrophic fires. The idea is that the largest wildfires would be treated like natural disasters. As with big hurricanes or earthquakes, funding for them wouldn’t have to come...

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National Parks need a little love

Roads and trails and buildings in our national parks are deteriorating, and adequate funding to fix that problem remains elusive. With so many competing demands for federal dollars, the National Parks Service is often a lower priority, especially for repair projects. The result is that despite user fees the backlog of projects at national parks nationwide is $11.49...

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Confirming Fears, Scientists Detect Fracking Chemicals in Drinking Water

A toxic chemical used in the controversial drilling practice known as fracking has been detected in the drinking-water supply of Pennsylvania homeowners, according to a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The chemical—2-Butoxyethanol or 2BE, known to have caused tumors in rodents—showed up as “white foam,”...

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Drought kills 12 million trees in California’s national forests

Rangers in the San Bernardino National Forest call them “red trees.” Instead of the typical deep green color, large swaths of pine trees now don hues of death, their dehydrated needles turning brown and burnt-red because of the state’s worsening drought. “Unlike back East, where you have fall colors, here it’s because the trees are dying,” said John Miller, a spokesman...

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Big Insurance Companies Are Warning The U.S. To Prepare For Climate Change

A coalition of big insurance companies, consumer groups, and environmental advocates are urging the United States to overhaul its disaster policies in the face of increasingly extreme weather due to human-caused climate change. According to a report released by the SmarterSafer coalition, the U.S. needs to increase how much it spends on pre-disaster mitigation efforts...

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California’s redwoods: In the land of the giants

California’s old-growth coastal redwoods are the tallest trees on Earth, and the old-timers thrive in the foggy, rainy territory between Mendocino and the Oregon line. For many locals, these trees don’t just dominate the landscape; they connect with matters of life and death — even now, years past the timber industry’s glory days. Bgin with the 32-mile...

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We’ll See You In The Forest

 

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Lassen Volcanic National Park is unmatched in the park system

Unlike its neighbor Yosemite, at Lassen Volcanic National Park there were no crowds at the entrance gate, in the parking lots or on the trails. Only 400,000 people will make their way to Lassen this year; nearly 4 million will visit Yosemite, most of them during the summer. “Not many people have discovered this park,” said Karen Haner, Lassen’s chief of...

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Namibia: Hiking Trails a Tourism Niche in Conservation Areas

Hiking trails have been identified as one of new niche tourism markets aimed at enhancing values of farms around the capital of Namibia that offer unique landscapes. New hiking trails are being promoted by the Namplace project, which is mandated to advocate and educate the public about landscape conservation in the identified pilot landscape conservation areas such as...

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The Conception of Wild Ideas: Scientists Confront Conservation Challenges of Our Times

1934 was a big year for conservation in the southern Appalachians. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established in June, and in October, on a roadside somewhere outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, The Wilderness Society was born. The story of The Wilderness Society’s conception has been told different ways, but all versions involve a heated roadside discussion...

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Burying Edward Abbey: The last act of defiance

Late in the day the trucks reached their destination and the four men stepped out into the backcountry of western Arizona. In the back of the trucks, they had enough gear for a few nights of camping — cases of beer, baling wire and tools for repairs, shovels for digging. And they had a body bag, full of dry ice and the corpse of Edward Abbey. The day was sunny, but it...

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Where to see wilderness in the eastern U.S.

Most of the best-known wilderness areas are out west, but states east of the Mississippi River still contain millions of acres of stunning land protected under the 50-year-old Wilderness Act. Befitting a pioneer nation, many of our most revered natural landscapes, from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite, are in the west. However, the roots of American conservation lie firmly...

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Bison might soon call the Windy City area home

A small herd of about two dozen bison could be grazing on restored grassland south of Chicago as soon as this fall. Officials plan to introduce a mix of young and mature bison at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, where the U.S. Forest Service and other groups have been trying to restore grassland at a site that was used as a U.S. Army ammunition plant for many...

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Obama pledges millions for national parks restoration

On the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, President Barack Obama looked out on the tall grasses of the Florida Everglades Wednesday and declared that the sweeping wetlands illustrate the dangers posed by climate change. “This is a problem now,” he said. Obama visited the South Florida landmark to warn of the damage a warming planet is already inflicting on the...

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Experts Help Joshua Tree National Park Staff “Erase” Graffiti At Barker Dam Historic Site

It took more than a year, but crews at Joshua Tree National Park, aided by professional conservators from the University of New Mexico, have largely “erased” graffiti scratched into the Barker Dam, a historic site inside the California park. Barker Dam is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The year-and-a-half partnership culminated with a...

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Wildflower Weekend Coming To New River Gorge National River In West Virginia

If, after the long, snowy and cold winter, you’re ready for some colorful spring wildflowers, consider heading to New River Gorge National River in West Virginia this weekend, April 24-26, 2015, for the 12th Annual New River Gorge Wildflower Weekend. This three-day event showcases the biologically diverse southern Appalachian forest at New River Gorge National...

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We Didn’t Learn Anything From Deepwater Horizon—And We’re Going to Pay For It

Today is the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, an event that triggered the nation’s worst-ever oil spill. The well leaked for three months and dumped over 200 million gallons of oil into the sea. The explosion itself killed eleven men; the resulting pollution killed a stupefying amount of wildlife, including 800,000...

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15 Alabama State Parks Are On The Chopping Block

A recent budget crisis in Alabama could force as many as 15 state parks to close their gates to the public. According to Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein, those parks include Bladon Springs, Chickasaw, Bucks Pocket, Paul Grist, Florala, Blue Springs, Roland Cooper, Rickwood Caverns, Cheaha Park, Lake Lurleen, DeSoto, Lakepoint, Guntersville, Joe Wheeler, and Frank...

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National Park Week 2015

The nation is buzzing about National Park Week, America’s largest celebration of national heritage, April 18–26, 2015. It’s about making great connections, exploring amazing places, discovering open spaces, enjoying affordable vacations and enhancing America’s best idea—the national parks. It’s all happening in your national parks. The National Park...

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National Park vs. National Forest, Your Public Land Explained

Republican senators and congressmen want to sell your National Forests, Wildernesses and Wildlife Refuges. But they can’t sell your National Parks, Monuments or Preserves. Here’s how all the different types of public land are different, and why you should care. As a recap, nearly the entire GOP senate just made a symbolic vote in order to demonstrate its...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park used 150,000 volunteer hours in 2014

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is powered by people and passion. About 2,560 volunteers worked 150,679 hours in the Park during fiscal year 2014. “We really rely on our volunteers in many aspects of our operations,” said Park spokeswoman Molly Schroer. “We really appreciate our volunteers, and we enjoy working with them. They typically have a passion about the work...

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Ocean of acid blamed for Earth’s ‘great dying’

Death by acid was the fate of the sea monsters that perished in Earth’s biggest mass extinction, some 251 million years ago, a new study finds. Nearly every form of ocean life disappeared during this “Great Dying” at the end of the Permian period, when more than 90 percent of all marine species vanished, from the scorpionlike predators called...

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What you need to know about Hillary Clinton and climate change

It’s strange to remember how bitterly divisive the 2008 Democratic presidential primary battle was. Hillary Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s platforms and ideological positioning were awfully similar. And on the chief difference between them — Obama’s less hawkish foreign policy — the victor wiped away that distinction by appointing Clinton as secretary of state. Now Clinton...

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What the “Merchants of Doubt” don’t want you to know

The new documentary film Merchants of Doubt—which lays bare the tactics used by the professional climate deniers paid to spread doubt and confusion about the reality of global warming—is essential viewing for everyone who cares about the fight for climate action. It’s even more essential for anyone who still isn’t sure whether climate change is really happening or...

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Longtime Breckenridge, CO local works behind-the-scenes to protect Summit’s land

Leigh Girvin’s brand of local environmentalism is inseparable from her strong ties to the land. Other conservation advocates focus on wildlife or water quality from an abstract sense of right and wrong. Girvin, who moved to Breckenridge, Colorado as a kid 43 years ago, points to land protection, especially in her beloved Summit County, as the foundation that encompasses...

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AmeriCorps Project Conserve is Now Accepting Applications for 2015-2016

AmeriCorps Project Conserve is now accepting applications for 2015-2016. AmeriCorps Project Conserve seeks dedicated individuals to fill 32 full-time positions serving critical conservation needs of western North Carolina. The application deadline is May 22, 2015. The program places members in service with one of 17 host site organizations working to protect the unique...

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Cradle of Forestry Kicks Off 2015 Season on April 11th

The Cradle of Forestry in America historic site will kick off its 2015 season, April 11th with a living history event titled, “Old Time Plowing and Folkways.” Visitors to the event will encounter living history volunteers demonstrating their crafts, including wood carving, rope making and crafting corn husk dolls. Haywood County’s David and Diane...

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Why fracking is splitting environmental groups apart

Few things inspire bitter disagreement among green groups and climate advocates quite like the question of how to deal with fracking. It’s one of the more important debates within environmentalism today. To break it down very roughly: The pro-fracking side points out that the US natural-gas boom, driven by hydraulic fracturing, has been one of the big environmental...

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Music Of The Mountains Festival Coming To Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will hold its 11th annual “Music of the Mountains” celebration April 17-19 with a mix of music that harkens to the “Old-Time” music that long has reverberated through the mountains. Spread across a handful of venues, the event tells the story of music in the Southern Appalachians through its diverse history by letting...

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Forest Service Researchers Map Seasonal Greening in U.S. Forests, Fields, and Urban Areas

Using the assessment tool ForWarn, U.S. Forest Service researchers can monitor the growth and development of vegetation that signals winter’s end and the awakening of a new growing season. Now these researchers have devised a way to more precisely characterize the beginning of seasonal greening, or “greenup,” and compare its timing with that of the 14 previous years....

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Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation Commits $600,000 for Improvements and Programs on the Parkway

It’s the time of year when millions of visitors are eagerly anticipating their next adventure on the Blue Ridge Parkway. As they plan their drive, hike, or camping trip, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is preparing to meet their expectations by funding $600,000 in projects critical to the preservation and betterment of this treasured route. Each year, the Blue Ridge...

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Put the forest first!

The U.S. Forest Service rolled out a “draft” management plan last fall after a series of public meetings. The plan, while clearly labeled “draft”, placed around 700,000 acres of the million or so acres of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in management areas deemed appropriate for logging. To say the plan caught some stakeholders off guard is like saying the...

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