Conservation & Environment

The Green New Deal is here, and everyone has something to say about it

Posted by on Feb 8, 2019 @ 8:28 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The Green New Deal is here, and everyone has something to say about it

For the past several weeks, there’s been rampant speculation about what would be included in the much talked about Green New Deal, the ambitious plan to tackle climate change and remake much of the American economy. That anticipation came along with trepidation from some corners over whether the deal would include controversial elements that have already led to heated debate. Will a future bill include a jobs guarantee? Will nuclear energy be part of our energy mix of the future? Will it fold in universal healthcare?

Well, the nail-biting can stop now that there’s an outline of the plan to chew on. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey’s resolution arrived the morning of Feb. 7, 2018.

This is basically a target list for what future legislation would aim to achieve. It calls for a 10-year plan to build more climate-resilient communities, upgrade American infrastructure, ramp up renewable power, make buildings energy efficient, reduce pollution, restore ecosystems, and clean up manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation.

Early indications are the plan has managed to thread the needle and get a lot of folks in the environmental movement on board — even those who might have been wary about what the proposal would entail.

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Conserving Carolina working to rehab 100-acre wetland

Posted by on Feb 7, 2019 @ 7:07 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Conserving Carolina working to rehab 100-acre wetland

Conserving Carolina is working on an ambitious project to completely rehabilitate the mouth of Mud Creek where it empties into the French Broad River near Fletcher, NC.

The goals are to return the area to a pre-development state that provides a safe haven to musky and other fish, curbs the reach of invasive species, reduces pollution and helps provide a place for all that water to go when heavy rains flood the French Broad.

They’re going to work to expand the riparian buffer by planting trees and other species that would naturally be found there, creating wetland habitat, upland meadow habitat, pollinator habitat and more.

Conserving Carolina will work with federal entities to recreate an Appalachian bog habitat that has become “very scarce in the region,” and work with the state Wildlife Resources Commission to create backwater sloughs, places of slack water connected to the river that provide sanctuary to fish when spawning or in flood conditions.

Conserving Carolina has dates marked on the calendar for volunteer workdays at the project site, including one scheduled for Feb. 12 to work on removing non-native invasive species.

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Earth Movers Poised To Erect Border Barrier At Texas Butterfly Refuge

Posted by on Feb 5, 2019 @ 8:42 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Earth Movers Poised To Erect Border Barrier At Texas Butterfly Refuge

Construction equipment has moved into place to erect Trump’s looming border barrier in southern Texas in the middle of a butterfly refuge, whose operators are furious that their land has been seized and environmental regulations ignored. The barrier is being erected along a levee of the Rio Grande in the border town of Mission.

The 18 feet of steel bollards on top of an 18-foot concrete wall will cut off 70 percent of the 100-acre National Butterfly Center closest to the river, refuge executive director Marianna Trevino-Wright said. The barrier will be two miles from the actual border, so gates will be built to allow Texans access from one part of America to another, she said.

“This has nothing to do with a levee, nothing to do with the environment,” Wright said. “This is tactical. It’s going to be guarded by paramilitary personnel.”

Some 35,000 people a year visit the butterfly center, which has as many as 200 species of butterflies in a wildlife area that will be devastated by bulldozing and disrupted by vehicle traffic, bright lights, garbage and increased human activity, Wright complained. The wall will trap some animals on the river side during floods, and those on the other side away from water they need to survive.

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Don’t mean to alarm you, but there’s a big hole in the world’s most important glacier

Posted by on Feb 4, 2019 @ 8:40 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Don’t mean to alarm you, but there’s a big hole in the world’s most important glacier

Civilization’s most important glacier has revealed another worrying surprise to scientists. The Thwaites Glacier, the largest outflow channel of the vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet, now has a gigantic subterranean hole.

The hollowed-out section is two-thirds the size of Manhattan and 1,000 feet tall — big enough to have contained 14 billion tons of ice, according to a new study in the journal Science Advances. The NASA scientists who discovered it think most of the hole formed in just the past three years. As huge as that sounds, it’s just a tiny fraction of the Florida-sized glacier, but it sends an ominous signal that the glacier’s collapse is proceeding faster than expected.

The shocking discovery comes as an unprecedented international effort to study Thwaites kicks off. The melting of this glacier could lead to as much as 10 feet of sea level rise over the next century or so. If we’re unlucky, much of that could happen the lifetimes of people alive today, flooding every coastal city on Earth and potentially grinding civilization to a halt.

The new data, revealed by ice-penetrating radar aboard aircraft flying over Antarctica, point to a previously underestimated method of glacial collapse.

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Invasive Feral Hogs Continue to Threaten Roan Highlands

Posted by on Feb 3, 2019 @ 8:59 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Invasive Feral Hogs Continue to Threaten Roan Highlands

2019 marks the fifth year of coordinated efforts to manage invasive feral hogs in the Highlands of Roan. These hogs damage the fragile, globally important ecosystems of Roan as they “root,” eating rare species and tearing up the terrain. They also spread multiple diseases and pose a safety threat to outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

“Since feral hogs can have devastating impacts on plants and wildlife, as well as human and livestock health, the situation requires coordinating a broad group of partners,” explains Marquette Crockett, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s Roan Stewardship Director. “This includes federal and state agencies in both NC and TN.”

Feral Hog Working Group partners represented at a recent meeting included: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services NC (USDA APHIS TN), U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services TN (USDA APHIS TN), NC Wildlife Resources Commission, NC state parks, TN Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), TN Dept. of Energy and Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, Cherokee National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and private landowners in the Highlands.

Although trapping efforts have removed 40-50 feral hogs from Roan each year, it’s still not enough to effectively control the population — which would require more time and resources than currently allocated.

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Park Staff Ordered to Violate Laws and Stand Aside as People Trashed Parks During Shutdown

Posted by on Feb 2, 2019 @ 7:03 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Park Staff Ordered to Violate Laws and Stand Aside as People Trashed Parks During Shutdown

Rangers describe the despair of watching national parks sustain preventable long-term damage, as well as the terrible effects the historic standoff has had on morale. The partial government shutdown is over, but some of the damage national parks sustained during the 35-day standoff will last long into the future.

During the shutdown, the Trump administration directed National Park Service staff to keep most parks open to visitors despite the agency having only a skeleton crew of “essential staff” on duty to protect them. This decision, which violates at least four federal laws, led to alarming reports of illegal activity and destruction across the country. During the shutdown, park visitors killed trees, harrassed wildlife, drove off-road vehicles over sensitive ecosystems, vandalized buildings, destroyed historic artifacts and dumped tons of trash on some of America’s most beloved lands, among other crimes.

Now, the former chief ranger at one landmark park is willing to go on record confirming what NPCA staff have feared — that rangers tried to take measures to protect national parks but were ordered to leave them largely unprotected.

Waste management problems quickly led to wildlife management problems, as the enormous quantities of trash throughout the parks attracted animals such as coyotes, bobcats, bears and foxes to populated areas of parks. As park wildlife drew nearer to visitors, associating them with food, people began feeding trash directly to the animals, further habituating them to humans. When animals learn to approach people, it can lead to aggressive behaviors and fatal conflicts for both.

Watching the abuse of park resources, not being able to proactively protect the park, concealing problems from the public, and living indefinitely without pay took a serious toll on park ranger morale.

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Let’s say you wanted to escape climate change. Where should you go?

Posted by on Feb 1, 2019 @ 8:48 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Let’s say you wanted to escape climate change. Where should you go?

So you want to escape climate change. That’s a reasonable impulse — climate change rivals nuclear war for the greatest threat to human life in the history of our species’ existence. Every survival instinct we’ve cultivated to date should, understandably, make us want to get away from it.

Let’s start by evaluating regions of the U.S. based on the basics of what we expect climate change to bring. We know that the seas will swell and temperatures will go up. So that particularly endangers a host of coastal cities with relatively warm climates, especially in the summer — so Miami, New Orleans, Norfolk, Washington D.C., New York, Los Angeles. A 2017 paper in Nature Climate Change estimated 13.1 million people displaced from those cities.

What’s a nice, temperate place? Never gets too hot or too cold, has lots of water? Aha — the Pacific Northwest. It’s part-rainforest, after all.

But it’s a rainforest that’s seen bigger, hotter, deadlier, and more unpredictable wildfires in recent memory. Even a small increase in temperature has detrimental effects on plant and soil moisture, which will dry out forests and make them into true tinderboxes. And there have been warmer winters, which means less snowpack on the mountains and thus a less reliable water source for the region.

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Shutdown thefts and odd animal crimes in Smokies; Tennessee NPS sites “lucky”

Posted by on Jan 31, 2019 @ 7:46 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Shutdown thefts and odd animal crimes in Smokies; Tennessee NPS sites “lucky”

Thefts, break-ins, and odd crimes involving animals have surfaced in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) as rangers take stock of any damages during the government shutdown.

GSMNP spokesperson Dana Soehn said rangers discovered the theft of several tools from a facility in Cosby. The rangers had not determined the total value of stolen items. There was also a break-in at a campground office, but the office was closed for the season and nothing was stolen.

The workers in the Smokies came across what initially appeared to a poaching incident in Cades Cove when three dead deer with gunshot wounds were found near the side of the road. Rangers determined it was actually a case of illegal dumping. The deer were killed legally outside the park and donated to a man who failed to clean the animals before the meat spoiled. He hauled the deer to Cades Cove and disposed of them. Soehn did not have an explanation for why the man chose to dump the rotting deer several miles inside the national park.

Some campgrounds are likely to open later than usual this year due to the shutdown. Otherwise, there are no lasting impacts on visitors to the Smokies.

Other National Park Service properties in East Tennessee reported minimal impact from the shutdown and are yet to discover any cases of major vandalism, theft, or poaching.

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The continental U.S. has warmed 1.8 degrees in a century. Seas are 9 inches higher. Here is what climate change looks like.

Posted by on Jan 30, 2019 @ 6:55 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The continental U.S. has warmed 1.8 degrees in a century. Seas are 9 inches higher. Here is what climate change looks like.

Michael Golden has hunted elk on this mountain in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley his entire life. It’s a tradition he shared with his father. But his son is growing up in a starkly different environment.

Montana has warmed 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950, considerably more than the United States as a whole. That added heat is contributing to raging forest fires and bark beetle outbreaks, a combination that has devastated the state’s forests.

What Golden and his son have witnessed is part of a broader trend. The forests have seen so much damage that Montana’s trees, which had provided the crucial function of pulling carbon dioxide from the air, are sending the greenhouse gas back into the atmosphere.

And forests that once provided a counterbalance to climate change are at the moment contributing to it, as carbon-rich trees suddenly burn, or die and slowly decompose.

Montana is one of six states in the West where trees have been emitting carbon in the past decade or so, according to an analysis by David Cleaves, former climate change adviser to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

The other states are Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Four of these states’ forests have flipped in recent years to become carbon emitters — with Montana showing the biggest changes of all.

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Microplastics in Tennessee River raise health, environmental concerns

Posted by on Jan 29, 2019 @ 6:39 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Microplastics in Tennessee River raise health, environmental concerns

  A cubic meter of Tennessee River water contains about 17,000 tiny plastic particles, and scientists’ increasing concern about the health effects of those microplastics when ingested by humans has added urgency to recent cleanup efforts.

Tennessee Riverkeeper last week organized a cleanup effort at Dry Branch Creek, a heavily littered waterway that connects to the Tennessee River, and a dozen volunteers collected almost a ton of plastic and other materials.

“One of the sources of the microplastic pollution is plastic litter,” said David Whiteside, founder of the nonprofit organization. “This is pollution injury by a thousand cuts. With these cleanups, it’s easy to heal a small cut here and there. We can visibly see the results of cleaning that litter, and that’s satisfying.”

The environmental hazards of microplastics in the ocean have been studied for years, but a German scientist focused attention on the Tennessee River in 2017 when he swam the length of the river, collecting water samples as he went.

The results from Professor Andreas Fath’s samples, released in October, were unexpected. While pharmaceuticals, heavy metals and other harmful chemicals were detected, they were generally at low levels consistent with a 652-mile river without a densely populated watershed. The surprise was the level of microplastics, defined as plastic particles smaller in diameter than 5 millimeters, or smaller than a grain of rice.

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Climate Change Is Already Driving Mass Human Migration Around the Globe

Posted by on Jan 27, 2019 @ 9:27 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Given the oversized role that migration plays in our current political discourse, you’d think there would be more emphasis on the one factor military and security experts believe will affect future migration patterns more than any other: climate change.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan agency that analyzes and audits federal policy to ensure its efficiency and cost-effectiveness, isn’t going to let the topic go unaddressed. In a report to Congress, the GAO criticized the manner in which the Trump administration has sought to remove any acknowledgement of climate change from our foreign policy and diplomatic strategies, keeping experts in the dark about an issue that’s growing only more urgent as a shifting climate—and all that comes with it—displaces millions of people and disrupts societies across the globe.

In the European Union, where the stresses and strains associated with processing large numbers of migrants have already reached crisis proportions, experts predict that the annual stream of those seeking safety within its borders will triple by the end of the century due to climate-related migration.

And a 2018 World Bank Group report estimates that the impacts of climate change in three of the world’s most densely populated developing regions—sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America—could result in the displacement and internal migration of more than 140 million people before 2050. That many people on the move could easily lead to massive political and economic strife and significantly stall development in those regions.

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National Park Service Abandons Defense of Latest Pipeline Permit

Posted by on Jan 24, 2019 @ 6:44 am in Conservation | 0 comments

National Park Service Abandons Defense of Latest Pipeline Permit

The National Park Service has voluntarily abandoned its defense of the agency’s latest permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway. NPS issued the revised permit after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in August 2018, vacated its original authorization for the pipeline.

On January 16, 2019 the Park Service asked the Fourth Circuit to remand the permit back to the agency so that it could vacate the permit and reconsider whether issuing it was appropriate in light of legal issues raised in the appeal. The agency also noted it needed to reconsider the permit in light of the Fourth Circuit’s recent decision that the pipeline could not cross the Appalachian Trail on national forest land, immediately adjacent to the proposed crossing point for the Blue Ridge Parkway. The court has granted the Park Service’s request to remand the permit back to the agency for reconsideration.

“Unlawfully crossing a National Park is just one of the many problems with the dirty, dangerous Atlantic Coast Pipeline. ACP previously lost permits from the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Army Corps of Engineers, and its FERC Certificate is currently being litigated. The ACP is an unnecessary threat to our health, water, climate, and communities and it shouldn’t be built at a time when clean, renewable energy is abundant and affordable,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Nathan Matthews.

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Huge conservation project paves way to caving, hiking and more in North Georgia

Posted by on Jan 22, 2019 @ 8:42 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Huge conservation project paves way to caving, hiking and more in North Georgia

  A perfect collision of forces — an anonymous donor looking for a tax write-off, a failed subdivision that turned out to be a $40 million mortgage-fraud scheme, and strategic purchases by conservationists to protect area caves — paved the way for one of the biggest nonprofit conservation projects in the region.

Nearly 2,400 acres on Lookout Mountain and into Johnson’s Crook in Dade County, Georgia, have been preserved and will be managed by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc. as the new Charles B. Henson Preserve at Johnson’s Crook.

The conservancy is now seeking help from other groups in the area to turn the preserve into a major recreation and conservation area. They plan to add more than five miles of hiking with longer connecting trails going to other preserves in the area. They envision mountain biking trails, picnicking, camping, and most of all, caving.

The property has more than 30 known caves, and the conservancy believes there are closer to 40. It contains one of the highest concentrations of caves in the Southeast, according to SCCi.

The property immediately becomes one of the biggest private conservation projects in the region. If it were a state park, it would be one of the 10 biggest in Georgia.

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National Park Superintendents stay mum during ‘blackout on news’

Posted by on Jan 19, 2019 @ 10:06 am in Conservation | 0 comments

National Park Superintendents stay mum during ‘blackout on news’

There’s an easy reason to explain why National Park Service superintendents have suddenly gone mum: They’re scared. That’s according to former National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis.

“In my conversations with folks that are in the field, there is an element of fear that has been conveyed down, that you’ll be punished if you speak out, certainly if you speak to the press,” Jarvis told a group of House Democratic leaders this week. In an interview, Jarvis said the Trump administration wants to keep superintendents silenced to prevent them from describing the widespread damage they’ve discovered in parks during the partial government shutdown.

“This is complete chaos, and superintendents know that — and they don’t want that word out,” said Jarvis, who led the Park Service for eight years under President Obama. “The [Trump] administration is trying to suppress any bad news.”

The issue has become a cause for consternation among the media and park advocates alike, who say they’ve effectively been shut out by the Park Service during the long shutdown.

“There’s no outreach at all — in fact, it’s just the opposite,” said Richard Ring, executive council member of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, testifying at a hearing called by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and leaders of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

National Parks Traveler, a nonprofit media organization in Utah that covers the parks, called the situation “a blackout on news,” adding that top NPS officials in Washington are “keeping a tight clamp on the flow of information” by gagging the superintendents during the shutdown. “The parks should not be political pawns, and Park Service staff should be allowed to accurately describe how the parks and their resources are being treated,” wrote Kurt Repanshek, founder and editor-in-chief of the organization.

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Ice loss from Antarctica has sextupled since the 1970s, new research finds

Posted by on Jan 16, 2019 @ 7:04 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Ice loss from Antarctica has sextupled since the 1970s, new research finds

Antarctic glaciers have been melting at an accelerating pace over the past four decades thanks to an influx of warm ocean water – a startling new finding that researchers say could mean sea levels are poised to rise more quickly than predicted in coming decades.

The Antarctic lost 40 billion tons of melting ice to the ocean each year from 1979 to 1989. That figure rose to 252 billion tons lost per year beginning in 2009, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That means the region is losing six times as much ice as it was losing four decades ago, an unprecedented pace in the era of modern measurements. (It takes about 360 billion tons of ice to produce one millimeter of global sea level rise.)

The findings are the latest sign that the world could face catastrophic consequences if climate change continues unabated. In addition to more frequent droughts, heat waves, severe storms and other extreme weather that could come with a continually warming earth, scientists already have predicted that seas could rise nearly three feet globally by 2100 if the world does not sharply decrease its carbon output. Now there’s a concern the Antarctic could push that even higher.

That kind of sea level rise would result in the inundation of island communities around the globe devastating wildlife habitats and threatening drinking water supplies. Global sea levels have already risen 7 to 8 inches since 1900.

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Some Great Smoky Mountains National Park facilities reopen, but park is not back to normal

Posted by on Jan 15, 2019 @ 11:19 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Some Great Smoky Mountains National Park facilities reopen, but park is not back to normal

Locating an open public restroom in Great Smoky Mountains National Park should be easier starting this week but finding someone to suggest a good spot for a family hike or to replace a washed out trail bridge won’t be.

Workers are reopening limited facilities and in a few locations around the park that had been closed during the partial federal government shutdown, park officials announced Sunday, January 13, 2019.

They include restrooms at Smokemont Campground, located just off U.S. 441 about 5 miles north of the park entrance at Cherokee, and those at Deep Creek Picnic Area near Bryson City.

The changes that began Sunday are part of a National Park Service initiative to reopen some areas or facilities using revenue from user fees. That money ordinarily goes to enhance park facilities, additional visitor services or major maintenance projects.

Damage to parks, overflowing trash cans, litter and human waste have been reported in national parks around the country during the shutdown. People with two nonprofit groups that support the park say those problems appear to be less in the Smokies but there have still been issues.

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Fortnite Creator is Buying Thousands of Acres of Forest to Stop It From Being Cut Down

Posted by on Jan 13, 2019 @ 6:41 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Fortnite Creator is Buying Thousands of Acres of Forest to Stop It From Being Cut Down

Creator of the online video game Fortnite, Tim Sweeney, has been captivating audiences for decades by developing intricate and interactive digital worlds for players. However, it is his work away from the screen that is currently grabbing attention from gamers and non-gamers alike.

Sweeney is best known for founding the video and 3-D software company Epic Games in the 1990’s. Epic Games has given us popular video game titles such as Unreal Tournament, Gears of War and, most recently, the massively popular game Fortnite. In addition to these popular gaming titles, the billionaire philanthropist has made good on his promise to protect undeveloped and bio-diverse land in the picturesque western Carolina mountains for future generations.

Since 2008, Sweeney has spent millions on conservation projects in his home state of North Carolina to protect and preserve its forest land. He has purchased nearly 40,000 acres over the last decade, making him one of the largest private land owners in the state. Sweeney has also donated money to several conservation parcel projects, including a 1,500 acre expansion to Mount Mitchell State Park.

In November 2016, Sweeney donated $15 million for a conservation easement to protect 7,000 acres of the The Box Creek Wilderness. The forest, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, had been targeted by a company that wanted to carve up the land and run power lines through it.

Sweeney has a goal to eventually connect South Mountains State Park to Chimney Rock.

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Oceans Are Warming Faster Than Predicted

Posted by on Jan 12, 2019 @ 8:51 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Oceans Are Warming Faster Than Predicted

Up to 90 percent of the warming caused by human carbon emissions is absorbed by the world’s oceans, scientists estimate. And researchers increasingly agree that the oceans are warming faster than previously thought.

Multiple studies in the past few years have found that previous estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may be too low. A new review of the research, published this week in Science, concludes that “multiple lines of evidence from four independent groups thus now suggest a stronger observed [ocean heat content] warming.”

Taken together, the research suggests that the oceans are heating up about 40 percent faster than previously estimated by the IPCC. Since the 1950s, studies generally suggest that the oceans have been absorbing at least 10 times as much energy annually, measured in joules, as humans consume worldwide in a year.

While much of the human concern about climate change focuses on its effects over land—rising air temperatures, changes in weather patterns and so on—accurate estimates of ocean warming are deeply important to scientists’ understanding of global warming. Determining how fast the oceans are warming helps scientists calculate how sensitive the planet is to greenhouse gas emissions and how quickly it may warm in the future.

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Innovative Park Programs Help Tell Native American Stories to a New Generation

Posted by on Jan 10, 2019 @ 12:10 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Innovative Park Programs Help Tell Native American Stories to a New Generation

Designated by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, Arizona’s Montezuma Castle National Monument became one of the first national monuments, preserving cliff dwellings in North America and showcasing the Sinagua culture’s ingenious use of the desert landscape to prosper for generations.

Sixty years later, Georgia’s Ocmulgee National Monument was added to the National Park System to celebrate the many different Native American cultures that comprise over 17,000 years of history at the park. These are just two of the many national parks across the country that interpret the history, culture, and contributions of Native Americans in the U.S.

For many students, a visit to a national park is a way to learn more about their culture and heritage. Saguaro National Park participated in Hands on the Land, a program focused on bringing Native American students to their local national park. During the 2017-2018 school year, more than 100 students from local bicultural schools for Tohono O’odham youth took part in the program.

While at the park, students partook in real life scientific research, collecting data from wildlife cameras to research five rare, small carnivore species native to the area. Along with wildlife programming, students also learned about the park’s biodiversity, famous saguaro trees, and the rich ties of the park’s history to their Tohono O’odham culture.

From culture to science to volunteerism, Native Americans are active stewards, teachers, and participants in national parks, preserving the heritage and history that make this land so remarkable. Programs like these ensure that more people learn this important layer of the American experience.

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‘It Belongs to All of Us’: Volunteers Help Clean Up National Parks in Shutdown

Posted by on Jan 9, 2019 @ 3:49 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

‘It Belongs to All of Us’: Volunteers Help Clean Up National Parks in Shutdown

The government shut down over two weeks ago, leaving nine departments’ operations affected, about 800,000 workers without pay, and some national parks closed to visitors. Other parks were open with limited staffing, or thanks to help from states, but the National Park Service has warned that “access may change without notice.” As the shutdown continues, edging closer to becoming the longest such one on record, several volunteer groups across the country have decided to help clean up trash in national parks.

“All of these National Park Service people are unable to do their job through no fault of their own.”

15 people showed up in Yellowstone to clean on Saturday, but then a local businessman posted about the effort on Facebook and about 40 people showed up on Sunday.

They pulled trash out of the bathrooms, swept the floors, cleaned the toilets and replaced bottles of hand sanitizer. Some volunteers brought supplies from home or bought them along the way.

Other national parks have also received attention from cleanup groups across the country. Dozens of volunteers with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, a Maryland-based organization that regularly organizes community service cleaning efforts across the country, were mobilized for cleaning efforts in Joshua Tree National Park, Everglades National Park, the National Mall, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia and Cuyahoga Valley National Park, according to Salaam Bhatti, a spokesman for the association.

Grassroots outdoors lovers have banded together to pick up trash in the Smokies and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Those who are taking it upon themselves to help their beloved parks in time of need are thankful for the opportunity to live so close.

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