Conservation & Environment

From heatwaves to hurricanes, floods to famine: seven climate change hotspots

Posted by on Jun 24, 2017 @ 7:20 am in Conservation | 0 comments

From heatwaves to hurricanes, floods to famine: seven climate change hotspots

Seems like it could have been the edge of the Sahara or even Death Valley, but it was the remains of a large orchard in the hills above the city of Murcia in southern Spain last year. The soil had broken down into fine white, lifeless sand, and a landscape of rock and dying orange and lemon trees stretched into the distance.

A long drought, the second in a few years, had devastated the harvest after city authorities had restricted water supplies and farmers were protesting in the street. It was a foretaste of what may happen if temperatures in the Mediterranean basin continue to rise and desertification grows.

All round the world, farmers, city authorities and scientists have observed changing patterns of rainfall, temperature rises and floods. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years have been recorded since 2000. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions steadily climb. Oceans are warming and glaciers, ice caps and sea ice are melting faster than expected. Meanwhile, heat and rainfall records tumble.

The evidence for the onset of climate change is compelling. But who and where is it hitting the hardest? How fast will it come to Africa, or the US? What will be its impact on tropical cities, forests or farming? On the poor, or the old?

When it comes to details, much is uncertain…

 

California scores its first big environmental victory of the Trump era

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 @ 11:52 am in Conservation | 0 comments

California scores its first big environmental victory of the Trump era

There was one revealing bit of testimony on Capitol Hill recently – from Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Pruitt told a House subcommittee that the EPA is not reviewing California’s lone-in-the-country authority to set air-quality standards tougher than those found elsewhere in the nation.

For months, California politicians, led by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (D), have aggressively positioned the state as a bulwark against the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda – for example, striking their own climate pacts with Canada and Mexico.

Since January, one cause for concern among Democrats and environmentalists is a longstanding waiver, written into the 1970 Clean Air Act, that allowed California to impose its own emissions rules for automobiles.

When that federal air pollution law was drafted, smog so choked Los Angeles that California asked Congress and its one-time senator, then President Richard Nixon, to carve out room for the state to set even more stringent air-pollution rules for automobiles than was dictated by federal policy.

But the law simply allows such an exemption to be granted by the federal government – it doesn’t guarantee it. During his confirmation hearing in January, Pruitt suggested that that waiver may come under review. Now he has backed off.

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American Chestnuts in the Field

Posted by on Jun 18, 2017 @ 11:35 am in Conservation | 0 comments

American Chestnuts in the Field

By the 1950s, two non-native pathogens had killed almost all American chestnut trees. “There’s a lot of interest in breeding a chestnut that looks like American chestnut with the disease resistance of Chinese chestnut,” says U.S. Forest Service research forester Stacy Clark. “However, there hasn’t been much research on reintroducing disease-resistant trees to the forest.”

In cooperation with the University of Tennessee, scientists planted American chestnut, Chinese chestnut, and the hybrid chestnut in the Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky. The study was part of a larger Forest Service study designed to improve forest health and promote natural oak regeneration before non-native gypsy moths invade.

The scientists used three different silvicultural methods – shelterwood harvest, thinning, and midstory tree removal. The treatments created a gradient of light levels, from open canopy, to intermediate, to closed canopy.

Seedling survival and growth were tracked until 2012. “We also compared chestnut seedlings to other trees and shrubs,” says Schweitzer. “Our goal was to see how well chestnut competes for growing space and sunlight.”

Natural American chestnut sprouts can survive on the shady forest floor for decades, waiting for a disturbance to send some light their way, but it is not known how planted seedlings will perform. Their unique combination of shade tolerance and quick growth means managers might be able to use a range of silvicultural strategies to restore the species.

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The Dutch Have Solutions to Rising Seas. The World Is Watching.

Posted by on Jun 17, 2017 @ 6:30 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The Dutch Have Solutions to Rising Seas. The World Is Watching.

Like cheese in France or cars in Germany, climate change is a business in the Netherlands. Month in, month out, delegations from as far away as Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, New York and New Orleans make the rounds in the port city of Rotterdam. They often end up hiring Dutch firms, which dominate the global market in high-tech engineering and water management.

That’s because from the first moment settlers in this small nation started pumping water to clear land for farms and houses, water has been the central, existential fact of life in the Netherlands, a daily matter of survival and national identity.

No place in Europe is under greater threat than this waterlogged country on the edge of the Continent. Much of the nation sits below sea level and is gradually sinking. Now climate change brings the prospect of rising tides and fiercer storms.

From a Dutch mind-set, climate change is not a hypothetical or a drag on the economy, but an opportunity. While the Trump administration withdraws from the Paris accord, the Dutch are pioneering a singular way forward.

It is, in essence, to let water in, where possible, not hope to subdue Mother Nature: to live with the water, rather than struggle to defeat it. The Dutch devise lakes, garages, parks and plazas that are a boon to daily life but also double as enormous reservoirs for when the seas and rivers spill over.

You may wish to pretend that rising seas are a hoax perpetrated by scientists and a gullible news media. Or you can build barriers galore. But in the end, neither will provide adequate defense, the Dutch say.

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Federal judge rejects Dakota Access Pipeline permits, calls for do-over

Posted by on Jun 16, 2017 @ 6:30 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Federal judge rejects Dakota Access Pipeline permits, calls for do-over

In a dramatic turnaround, a federal judge has ruled that permits to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline must be reconsidered, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has demanded the flow of oil through the pipeline be stopped.

Completion of the controversial pipeline was stopped by the Obama Administration last December, with a call for an environmental-impact statement to assess risks.

However, the judge wrote in his ruling, “As we all know, elections have consequences, and the government’s position on the easement shifted significantly once President Trump assumed office on January 20, 2017.”

President Trump called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue the permits, which it did shortly after he took office. Completion of the pipeline swiftly followed, as contractors drilled under a lake formed by a dam on the Missouri River, to hook up the two ends of the pipeline. The flow of oil began June 1.

But on Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg for the District of Columbia said in a 91-page decision that the Corps did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on the tribe’s fishing rights, hunting rights, or issues of environmental justice when it issued the permits needed to complete the project. The Corps must now reconsider those aspects under the judge’s demand that the agency substantiate its decision to issue the permits.

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Trump tells mayor of island literally sinking into the ocean ‘not to worry about sea level rise’

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 @ 7:12 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Trump tells mayor of island literally sinking into the ocean ‘not to worry about sea level rise’

President Donald Trump’s supporters have been the subject of countless stories just since election day on the fact that they seemingly “vote against their economic interests.” But few stories note that they voted against their existential interests as well.

Trump’s refusal to accept the scientific consensus on the reality and urgency of climate change poses a serious threat to communities across the U.S. currently grappling with its effects. The latest example involves a tiny island, Tangier, that voted overwhelmingly for the president and its mayor, a vocal Trump supporter.

Tangier is an island in the Chesapeake Bay so low-lying that a mere 83 acres can support its inhabitants. The island is vanishing so rapidly that “the Army Corps of Engineers says that erosion and sea level rise alone will make this historic crabbing community uninhabitable in as little as 20 years.”

Trump called a shocked Mayor Eskridge, who said the president explained he “had to call” such a strong supporter. Trump added, “You’ve got one heck of an island there.”

The subject of the call then turned to the island’s fate. Trump “said not to worry about sea-level rise,” Eskridge explained. “He said, ‘Your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.’”

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The Shifting Window of Growing Seasons

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 @ 1:01 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

The Shifting Window of Growing Seasons

When winter comes to an end, it’s no mystery that warming temperatures and spring rains bring new life. Wildlife emerges, flowers bloom, and brilliant green leaves begin to fill the ground and the forest canopy—all part of their seasonal cycle known as phenology.

Observers know those green leaves don’t appear at the same time every spring, nor do they begin to fade away at the same time every fall. U.S. Forest Service and Park Service researchers now have a better understanding of the variation in the timing of spring and autumn across a diverse mountain landscape in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Research ecologists analyzed changes in vegetation greenness — or land surface phenology — from satellite-based data collected daily between 2000 and 2015. The monitoring still continues.

“The Great Smoky Mountains National Park supports rich vegetation communities and other biodiversity due to complex terrain and ample rainfall, though seasonal variation in temperature and precipitation is considerable from year to year,” says Norman. “We examined the influence of seasonal weather variation as well as forest cover types, topography, and disturbance history on the Park’s land surface phenology.”

The researchers determined that the timing of spring vegetation greenup and autumn browndown in the Park can vary by about 2 and a half weeks each year. In general, spring warmth accelerates vegetation greenup. Early autumn warmth delays browndown.

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Despite tribal opposition, Trump’s Interior Secretary wants to shrink Bears Ears National Monument

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 @ 6:47 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Despite tribal opposition, Trump’s Interior Secretary wants to shrink Bears Ears National Monument

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recommended that President Donald Trump cut the boundary of the culturally significant Bears Ears National Monument in an interim report he sent to Trump.

Tribes and conservation groups argue that this is a potentially illegal act and that Trump does not have the authority to eliminate sections of a national monument.

“The review shows that rather than designating an area encompassing almost 1.5 million acres as a national monument, it would have been more appropriate to identify and separate the areas that have significant objects to be protected” the secretary’s report reads.

Though Zinke did not say how many acres would be cut from the monument, he did suggest that there are “a lot more” landscapes that do not need to be protected as a national monument than there are historical artifacts and sacred sites that are warranted protection under the Antiquities Act.

The report and review of Bears Ears National Monument are the result of an Executive Order signed by Trump in April aimed at revoking or shrinking 27 national monuments. Bears Ears is a 1.35 million-acre monument that was designated late last year by President Obama at the behest of a coalition of five tribal nations with the intention to protect sacred Native American sites and ecologically significant landscapes.

According to an analysis of the recent public comment period, Utah residents support the monument by a 9 to 1 margin.

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Dust Bowl-ification of U.S. Southwest leads to 8-fold jump in Valley Fever cases

Posted by on Jun 13, 2017 @ 11:31 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Dust Bowl-ification of U.S. Southwest leads to 8-fold jump in Valley Fever cases

The infection rate of Valley Fever in the Southwest United States has gone up a stunning 800 percent from 2000 to 2011, as dust storms have more than doubled.

New research directly links the rise in Valley Fever to the rise in dust storms, which in turn is driven by climate change. Valley Fever, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “a fungal lung infection that can be devastating,” is caused by inhaling soil-dwelling fungus. When the soil dries out and turns to dust, the wind can make the fungus airborne.

“Dust storms are found to better correlated with the disease than any other known controlling factor,“ a new study led by NOAA scientists concluded.

Moreover, the scientists emphasize that “this study provides direct evidence that dust storms in the southwestern United States have become more frequent in the past decade.”

Climate scientists have long predicted — and are now finally observing — the drying out of the Southwest from climate change.

But the biggest concern about modern Dust-Bowlification is the tremendous challenge of “feeding some 9 billion people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly worsening climate.”

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Volunteers Needed for Rainbow Falls Trail Rehabilitation at Smokies Park

Posted by on Jun 13, 2017 @ 7:14 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Volunteers Needed for Rainbow Falls Trail Rehabilitation at Smokies Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is currently recruiting for volunteers to assist the Trails Forever trail crew for a rehabilitation project on the Rainbow Falls Trail. Volunteers are needed every Wednesday from approximately 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Volunteers must register at least one week in advance by contacting Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator, Adam Monroe, by email or phone.

The Trails Forever crew will focus rehabilitation efforts on several targeted locations along the 6-mile trail to improve visitor safety and stabilize eroding trail sections. Rainbow Falls Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park leading hikers to Rainbow Falls and Mt. Le Conte. The planned work will improve overall trail safety and protect natural resources by reducing trail braiding and improving drainage to prevent further erosion.

“This work will be a long-term solution to the various safety and route finding issues found along this section of the Rainbow Falls Trail and will allow visitors to enjoy the trail and the scenic areas surrounding it safely for years to come,” said Tobias Miller, Trails and Roads Facility Manager. “This project would not be possible without the generous support from our park partner, Friends of the Smokies, who provide funding for the project through the trails forever endowment program.”

The Trails Forever program provides opportunities for both skilled and non-skilled volunteers to work alongside park crews to make lasting improvements to park trails. The Rainbow Falls Trail project provides a great opportunity to improve a part of the park that was damaged by the 2016 wildfires.

Trails Forever volunteers will perform a wide range of trail maintenance and trail rehabilitation work depending on volunteer experience level including installing drainage features, rehabilitating trail surfaces, constructing raised trail segments, removing brush, or planting vegetation. While these jobs may vary in complexity, all Trails Forever volunteers must be able to hike at least 4 miles and safely perform strenuous and often difficult manual labor.

Volunteers should be comfortable lifting heavy objects and using hand tools such as shovels, rakes, axes, and sledgehammers. The park will provide all the safety gear, tools and equipment needed for the projects. Volunteers will need to wear boots and long pants and bring a day pack with food, water, rain gear and any other personal gear for the day.

The Trails Forever program is a partnership between the national park and Friends of the Smokies. To sign up for a work day or for more information, contact Adam Monroe at 828-497-1949 or [email protected] Prior notice of your attendance is mandatory for project planning. More information and Frequently Asked Questions can be found at https://friendsofthesmokies.org/trailsforever/volunteer/.

 

Olympic National Park: Mountains, forests and shores

Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 @ 12:25 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Olympic National Park: Mountains, forests and shores

Olympic National Park is located in the same state as Mount Rainier, the Cascade Mountains and volcanic Mount St. Helens, but it still holds its own as a tourist attraction and cultural touchpoint.

While Rainier, the Cascades and St. Helens are merely mountains, the 922,651-acre Olympic is “three parks in one,” as the National Park Service puts it. Like them, it has snow-capped peaks, but the park also includes more than 60 miles of wild coastline as well as old-growth forest and temperate rainforest.

Participants in the first expeditions to the once-isolated Olympic Mountains in the 1890s so appreciated the rugged beauty of the Olympic Peninsula that they began lobbying to have them protected for the public. Future Alaska pioneer judge James Wickersham didn’t even wait, writing letters calling for the land to be set aside while he was still touring.

The area was initially made a 2-million-acre forest preserve in 1897. In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt designated it as Mount Olympus National Monument. President Franklin Roosevelt made it Olympic National Park in 1938.

The park’s different ecosystems offer “a chance for people to experience nature in a way we don’t usually do in our daily lives,” park spokeswoman Penny Wagner says.

Some of the park’s top spots include Hurricane Ridge for its eye-popping views of the park and the water, the Elwha River Valley for a short hike through lowland old-growth forest to Madison Falls, driftwood-lined Rialto Beach for shore walks and tidal pools, and the Hall of Mosses Trail in the lush Hoh Rain Forest, where 12 feet of rain falls every year.

Learn more here…

 

California attorney general to Trump: You can’t touch our national monuments

Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 @ 6:39 am in Conservation | 0 comments

California attorney general to Trump: You can’t touch our national monuments

California’s attorney general argues that President Trump has no legal authority to revoke or modify national monuments created by previous administrations.

In an 11-page letter to the Interior Department, state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra vowed “to take any and all legal action necessary” to preserve six California monuments that the Trump Administration may attempt to revoke or shrink.

In April 2017, Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all national monuments that were created since 1996 and are larger than 100,000 acres, or were expanded “without adequate public outreach.” Six California monuments created by Presidents Obama and Clinton are on the review list.

Monument designation adds another layer of protection to federal lands, typically putting them off limits to oil and gas development or limiting logging and grazing.

Presidents have the authority to designate monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906, which President Theodore Roosevelt used to set aside more than 800,000 acres in Arizona that later became Grand Canyon National Park.

In his letter, Becerra echoes arguments made by conservationists and many environmental attorneys: While the Antiquities Act gives presidents the authority to create monuments, it does not give presidents the authority to undo or modify them. That power belongs solely to Congress.

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Federal hiring freeze causing headaches at Rocky Mountain National Park

Posted by on Jun 11, 2017 @ 7:37 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Federal hiring freeze causing headaches at Rocky Mountain National Park

Every year for over a century, thousands of visitors have trekked to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) in search of adventure and beauty, and while 2017 will be no different, many visitors will experience delays and long lines for much of the busy season due to a slow hiring process and budgetary challenges.

RMNP has seen record breaking attendance in the last few years, and was the fourth most visited national park with over 4.5 million visitors in 2016. This year seems to be following the same trend, with visits in April reaching almost 21 percent higher than last year.

“We have always been one of the top parks as far as visitation, but in the last four years we have seen a 40 percent increase, and the last two years there has been a 32 percent increase,” said Kyle Patterson, spokesperson for RMNP.

The amount of permanent staff at RMNP is around 200, and that doubles during the busy season. This year however, there are significant hiring delays for both seasonal and permanent employees.

“Our challenge this year was when the [federal] hiring freeze was implemented, the ramifications led to hiring delays,” Patterson said.

Three days after taking office, President Donald Trump issued a federal hiring freeze for most federal organizations. This included permanent employees of the National Parks System. The hiring freeze has since been lifted, but it has created a backlog of background checks from dozens of federal departments that need employees, and all these employees must be funneled through the same process.

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Smokies National Park to Host “Women’s Work” Event

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 @ 7:01 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Smokies National Park to Host “Women’s Work” Event

On Saturday, June 17, 2017, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual Women’s Work Festival at the Mountain Farm Museum. This event honors the vast contributions made by the women of Southern Appalachia showcasing traditional work led by women on mountain farms in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The event is from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm.

Demonstrations among the historic buildings will include hearth cooking, soap making, corn shuck crafts, and spinning. Exhibits of artifacts and historic photographs will provide a glimpse into the many roles of rural women. The Davis-Queen house will be open and available for touring and will highlight an audio presentation of memoirs collected from last child born in the house.

In addition to the Women’s Work Festival, visitors will also be treated to a music jam session on the porch of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Music jam sessions are held every first and third Saturday of the month on the porch from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

All activities are free to the public. The Mountain Farm Museum is located on U.S. Highway 441 adjacent to the national park’s Oconaluftee Visitor Center, 2 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. For additional information call the visitor center at 828-497-1904.

The next event at the Mountain Farm Museum is the annual Mountain Life Festival on Saturday, September 16, 2017.

 

Appalachian pipeline emissions would be equal to 42 coal-fired power plants

Posted by on Jun 8, 2017 @ 6:35 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Appalachian pipeline emissions would be equal to 42 coal-fired power plants

Given the crisis of global climate change, anti-fossil fuel activists have sought to draw attention to the climate impacts of extracting, transporting, and burning natural gas, whose primary component is methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Oil Change International, a nonprofit research group, studied one of the largest proposed natural gas pipelines in the Appalachian region and came away with precise calculations of the pipeline project’s climate impact.

The Rover Pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) — the same company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline — will produce emissions equivalent to about 145 million metric tons of carbon dioxide on an annual basis, equal to the greenhouse gas emissions produced by 42 coal-fired power plants, the group says in a report.

For its calculations, Oil Change International converted methane leakage to carbon dioxide equivalent using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 20-year global warming potential factor of 86, or one ton of methane vented or leaked to the atmosphere is equivalent to 86 tons of carbon dioxide.

The Rover Pipeline’s proposed route runs 510 miles from southwest Pennsylvania and northwest West Virginia, through Ohio to Michigan. The project will carry 3.25 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

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U.S. Forest Service to Hold Open Houses on Pisgah & Nantahala Forest Plan Revision

Posted by on Jun 7, 2017 @ 7:17 am in Conservation | 0 comments

U.S. Forest Service to Hold Open Houses on Pisgah & Nantahala Forest Plan Revision

The U.S. Forest Service will hold open houses across the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests from late June to early August, 2017 to provide the public with opportunities to talk with Forest Service staff about local issues, district projects, and the Nantahala and Pisgah Forest Plan revision.

“Public attendance at meetings like these helps us to understand your needs, concerns, and values and helps you understand Forest Service programs and activities,” explains Allen Nicholas, Forest Supervisor for National Forests in North Carolina.

The open houses allow the public to talk directly with Forest Service staff one-on-one. Each District Open House will highlight the areas within that district. District rangers and members of the Forest Plan revision team will be available to discuss the materials each of the following days and locations:

June 29, 6-8 p.m.: Grandfather Ranger District at Foothills Conference Center, 2128 S. Sterling St., Morganton
July 11, 6-8 p.m.: Nantahala Ranger District at Tartan Hall, 26 Church St., Franklin
July 13, 6-8 p.m.: Pisgah Ranger District Office, 1600 Pisgah Hwy, Brevard
July 25, 3-6 p.m.: Appalachian Ranger District at Appalachian District Office, 632 Manor Road, Mars Hill
July 25, 3-6 p.m.: Cheoah Ranger District at Cheoah District Office, 1070 Massey Branch Road, Robbinsville
August 8, 3-6 p.m., Tusquitee Ranger District, Brasstown Community Center, 255 Settawig Rd, Brasstown

The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests have been revising their Forest Plan, a required document that provides a general framework to guide management of the Forests. As part of the process, 30 public meetings have been held in communities throughout western North Carolina.

Over the past year, the Forest Service has been releasing pre-draft plan materials on the National Forests in North Carolina website: www.fs.usdagov/goto/nfsnc/ncprevision. Additional materials are posted to the site’s Plan Revision Under Construction page as they become available.

“This material is not a preferred alternative or even a draft plan. It represents our latest thinking which has been shaped by public input,” said Michelle Aldridge, planning team lead. “In particular, we heard a lot from the public about how places matter to them, so we created a new chapter on Geographic Areas to reflect that.”

By separating the Forests into 12 distinct landscapes, Geographic Areas highlight opportunities for restoration and sustainable recreation; connections to nearby communities; and partnerships with the public, other organizations, and governments in different parts of the Forests. Each geographic area also has goals identified that will serve as emphases for management during plan implementation.

Management Area plan components outline how the general forest areas of Interface, Matrix, and Backcountry will be managed. A set of pre-draft maps shows these places on the forest landscape, and adjacent lands not managed by the U.S. Forest Service are included for context. Results from the required Wild and Scenic River Evaluation and information on possible Special Interest Areas are also currently posted on the website.

By fall 2017, the public will have had an opportunity for early review and input on nearly all aspects of the developing plan. When the Forest Plan draft is finalized, the public will again have an opportunity to review the plan during the formal comment period after the complete draft plan and alternative analysis are released in spring 2018.

While there is no formal NEPA or legal comment period at this time, the Forest Service is accepting input at [email protected] with the subject line “Spring 2017 material Plan Building Blocks” or by mail at this address: Attn: Plan Revision, National Forests in North Carolina, 160A Zillicoa St, Asheville, NC 28801. Comments will be most useful when received by August 31.

 

Carbon Dioxide Set an All-Time Monthly High

Posted by on Jun 6, 2017 @ 12:09 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Carbon Dioxide Set an All-Time Monthly High

With May in the books, it’s official: carbon dioxide set an all-time monthly record. It’s a sobering annual reminder that humans are pushing the climate into a state unseen in millions of years.

Carbon dioxide peaked at 409.65 parts per million for the year, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s not a surprise that it happened. Carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii peak in May every year.

The news comes one day after President Trump announced his plan to pull out of the world’s main climate agreement, juxtaposing the severity of the problem with an administration that has shown little to no interest in addressing it.

While plants growing in the northern hemisphere will draw a few parts per million of the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over summer, make no mistake, human pollution is pushing atmospheric carbon dioxide ever higher.

The reading from May is well above the 407.7 ppm reading from May 2016. And it’s far above the 317.5 ppm on record for May 1958, the first May measurement on record for Mauna Loa, the gold standard for carbon dioxide measurements. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide stood at roughly 280 ppm.

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