Conservation & Environment

Utah Parks Set Attendance Records Once Again

Posted by on Dec 8, 2017 @ 11:45 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Utah Parks Set Attendance Records Once Again

With a month to spare, Zion National Park has set a new record for visitation this year, heightening concerns about overcrowding just as park managers consider a controversial fee hike and requiring visitors to go through an online reservation system.

The park had counted 4,365,946 visitors through the end of November, representing nearly a 5 percent increase over last year’s record numbers. Since 2010, the park has seen visitation increase nearly 70 percent.

Zion wasn’t alone among Utah parks in drawing record numbers of crowds.

Nearby Bryce Canyon National Park was at 2.5 million visitors through November, already eclipsing last year’s record of 2.4 million. Capitol Reef had already set its new record as of the end of October, at 1.1 million visitors. Both have seen the number of visitors more than double over the past decade.

Arches and Canyonlands national parks have only reported their visitation through October, but both were on pace to eclipse last year’s record visitation as well, with Arches at 1.4 million visitors and Canyonlands at 695,148.

The National Park Service’s own analysis suggested that the five national parks and other national monuments attracted more than $1 billion in direct visitor spending, including nearly $500 million spent in southwestern Utah at Zion and Bryce Canyon.

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In Staten Island, hiking the wild path of Richmond Creek

Posted by on Dec 8, 2017 @ 6:36 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

In Staten Island, hiking the wild path of Richmond Creek

Stretching over five miles from its furthest tributaries in the Staten Island Greenbelt to its mouth in Fresh Kills, Richmond Creek flows through many layers of hidden history. Its waters pass by toxic landfills and old mill remnants, a historic town museum, a manmade mountain of rubble, a vast Boy Scout camp, and an abandoned tuberculosis hospital.

Along its entire course, the creek is a fascinating blend of natural and engineered landscapes, simultaneously operating as a stormwater drainage system and a wildlife sanctuary for several rare aquatic species. Staten Island’s only population of northern two-lined salamander live along its banks, while its waters host New York City’s only population of blacknose dace and the first beavers to appear in the city in over 100 years.

Wandering through Richmond Creek’s teeming ecosystems today, it is surprising to consider that just 20 years ago, this was one of New York City’s most contaminated waterways, polluted by raw sewage from backed-up septic systems.

“Bacterially speaking, it was just horrific,” says Robert Brauman, the construction project manager for the Staten Island Bluebelt, which began working to improve the creek in the 1990s. “Parts of it were almost like an open sewer, and you could smell the urine.”

Although the scars from centuries of human interference are still readily apparent all along Richmond Creek, it has now been transformed into one of the most pristine waterways in New York City, thanks in part to the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) unique Bluebelt program, which brought a new sewage system to the area.

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Rockefeller and the secret land deals that created Grand Teton National Park

Posted by on Dec 6, 2017 @ 11:52 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Rockefeller and the secret land deals that created Grand Teton National Park

The audacious plan was hatched in secret. In the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller Jr. — son of the Standard Oil founder, ardent conservationist and one of America’s richest men — agreed to surreptitiously acquire thousands of acres of breathtaking scenery around Jackson Hole, Wyo., and donate them to the federal government for a national park.

At the behest of Horace Albright, the future director of the National Park Service, Rockefeller formed a company called the Snake River Land Co. to buy up property around the Snake River. Rockefeller knew that if word got out that he was interested in acreage there, the price would skyrocket.

“He was willing to pay fair-market prices for the land, but not Rockefeller prices,” said Park Service spokesman Andrew White. The federal government had created several national parks in the early 20th century, White said, and the philanthropist “didn’t want the optics that this was the federal government coming in and taking more land.”

The agents Rockefeller hired to do the buying told landowners only that they were representing someone who wanted the land for conservation purposes. It left locals thinking that perhaps the buyer was interested in expanding an elk preserve that had been created in 1913.

But by 1930, a year after Congress had established Grand Teton National Park, word had gotten out about the purchases, and Wyoming residents were furious.

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Pilfered artifacts, three suicides and the struggle over federal land in Utah

Posted by on Dec 6, 2017 @ 7:10 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Pilfered artifacts, three suicides and the struggle over federal land in Utah

For decades, the empty desert region at the junction of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico — known as the Four Corners — was a free-for-all for treasure hunters looking to pick the region clean of Native American artifacts.

Then on the morning of June 10, 2009, federal agents arrived in force in Blanding, Utah.

Just as the morning light was creeping in on the tiny town, more than 100 agents reportedly fanned out. They pounded on doors at eight houses in town, while other members of the FBI and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) executed similar raids across the region. Twenty-three men and women were scooped into custody, the fruit of a 2½-year investigation.

The locals, accused of pilfering ancient artifacts from the surrounding desert, were charged with violating the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Authorities recovered more than 40,000 artifacts, some dating to 6,000 B.C.

The federal sting — dubbed Operation Cerberus by authorities — would prove to be the match igniting long-simmering tensions across the region.

For Native American groups, the raid was the first step in a much-needed crackdown on looting in a unique archaeologically-rich region. Concern about the illegal artifact trade was instrumental in the Obama administration’s decision in December 2016 to designate the area targeted by the operation as the Bears Ears National Monument, named for a pair of buttes that resemble the ears of bears.

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Forest Service closes in on plan to protect Oregon wilderness areas from overuse

Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 @ 6:57 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Forest Service closes in on plan to protect Oregon wilderness areas from overuse

After eight months and more than 500 comments from Oregonians, the U.S. Forest Service is closing in on a proposal that could protect central Oregon’s most scenic areas from overuse.

The Forest Service kicked off the project in the spring by holding public meetings to gauge interest in changing the way trails and campgrounds in five popular wilderness areas, spanning up to 530,000 acres in the Deschutes and Willamette national forests, are managed. Today, officials are optimistic a decision for the project — known as the Central Cascade Wilderness Strategies Project — will be released by summer.

According to a document released in May, visitation to the five most-used trails in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area increased by between 249 and 878 percent between 1991 and 2016. The increase has led to additional trash, tree damage and soil erosion in the wilderness areas.

At the end of May, the Forest Service released a proposal for the affected wilderness areas, which discussed creating a limited entry permit system for certain day-use areas and all overnight campers in wilderness areas, along with imposing restrictions on campfires above certain elevations.

The Forest Service will incorporate public comment to come up with specific alternatives, and draft an environmental assessment by next spring. A separate, parallel public planning process, focused on the logistics of a fee and permit structure in wilderness areas, will begin in the spring of 2018.

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Trump scales back two huge national monuments in Utah, drawing praise and protests

Posted by on Dec 4, 2017 @ 3:03 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Trump scales back two huge national monuments in Utah, drawing praise and protests

President Trump announced that he is drastically scaling back two national monuments established in Utah by his Democratic predecessors, the largest reduction of public lands protection in U.S. history.

Trump’s move to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments by more than 1.1 million acres and more than 800,000 acres, respectively, immediately sparked an outpouring of praise from conservative lawmakers, and protests from activists outside the White House and in Utah. It also plunges the Trump administration into uncharted legal territory since no president has sought to modify monuments established under the 1906 Antiquities Act in more than half a century.

His decision removes more than 2 million acres from the two sites, which potentially could now be leased for energy exploration, ranching, or opened for specific activities such as motorized vehicle use.

A series of rallies that opponents began over the weekend continued as Trump came to the Utah Capitol, where demonstrators were gathered before Trump arrived. Against the backdrop of the dome and snowy grounds, they chanted “LOCK HIM UP!” and lofted signs reading “Fake President” and “Pussy Grabber.” Roughly 5,000 people have protested there since the weekend.

Conservation advocates and tribal representatives have for months been preparing legal briefs that aim to block the monument changes in federal court.

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Climate Change Is Increasing Regional Conflict and Creating Millions of Refugees Across the Globe

Posted by on Dec 4, 2017 @ 6:35 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Climate Change Is Increasing Regional Conflict and Creating Millions of Refugees Across the Globe

Those who are least to blame for climate change are those who are all too often affected first and worst. The world’s least developed countries produce only a fraction of global greenhouse gas emissions and have had far fewer of the benefits reaped by the developed world from their carbon-based economies, yet they are the most vulnerable and the least able to respond effectively to the impacts of climate change.

From the imagery of climate change, you might be mistaken for thinking it is all about polar bears. It is so much more: it is about all life on our planet and a threat to humanity as great or greater than geopolitical conflict or terrorism.

Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns will intensify competition for resources, food and water. Rising sea levels and extreme weather events will displace ever greater numbers of people. The Environmental Justice Foundation’s latest report, Beyond Borders, outlines the link between a changing climate, migration and conflict and how climate change can be seen as a threat multiplier.

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Richard Clarke said that climate change is the greatest single risk to California and to the entire United States, a warning that was followed by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hit the U.S. and a number of Caribbean islands with devastating impacts, causing flooding, destruction, and forcing people to leave their homes.

At the same time in the U.S., dry conditions and extreme heat have led to a proliferating number of intense wildfires, causing massive damage to infrastructure, land and the loss of human life.

These events are all increasing in frequency and are magnified as a result of climate change and they give us a glimpse into a future we all face.

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Redwood grove being loved to death

Posted by on Dec 2, 2017 @ 11:50 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Redwood grove being loved to death

Awhile back, it used to be that the grouping of eight old-growth redwood trees deep within Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park near Crescent City, California could be reached only by following clues in a book about tree hunters. There were no direct hiking trails, and the nearest road was miles away.

Then, in 2011, someone uploaded a geotag marking the trees’ location online. As many as 50 people a day began finding their way to the grove and loving it to death.

The onslaught of tourists bushwhacking through the rain forest is slowly killing the giant trees, park officials say.

There are many trees in the park, but none quite as large as the titans. The biggest ones — Del Norte Titan, at 307 feet, and the 230-foot Lost Monarch — are the fourth- and fifth-largest known coastal redwoods in the world.

Visitors have stripped layers of bark from the redwoods’ trunks while posing for tree-hugging photos, destroyed huge swathes of ferns on the forest floor and left behind trash such as protein bar wrappers and plastic bottles. And the culprits aren’t hard to find, if the hundreds of geotagged photos on Instagram are any indication.

The damage can be reversed by building elevated walkways and viewing platforms, similar to the ones used at Muir Woods. But it’s going to cost more than $1.4 million.

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Indiana Dunes could be next national park: Here is how it compares

Posted by on Dec 1, 2017 @ 12:07 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Indiana Dunes could be next national park: Here is how it compares

Should the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore becomes the 60th national park, it would be the first in Indiana, and at about 40 miles from downtown, the nearest to Chicago by a large distance.

The U.S. Senate must vote on the proposal, and it then needs to be signed by President Donald Trump. Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly said he is hopeful the Senate will pass the measure soon. The U.S. House unanimously passed the bill in early November.

“The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of our state’s most beautiful natural resources. Designating the dunes as a national park would give the area the recognition it deserves, attracting more visitors and helping further grow the economy in northwest Indiana,” Donnelly said in a statement.

The Dunes are already a popular destination, with nearly 1.7 million visitors in 2016.

The mechanics of the change are simple: The name would change from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to Indiana Dunes National Park. All aspects of how the park is operated stay the same.

Indiana Dunes would be the fourth smallest national park, and the second smallest in the continental U.S. (two of the smaller parks are in the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa).

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Forest crews use hand tools to restore Anaconda-Pintler trails damaged by fire

Posted by on Dec 1, 2017 @ 6:59 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Forest crews use hand tools to restore Anaconda-Pintler trails damaged by fire

The Meyers fire didn’t get a lot of press this summer, but it won’t go unnoticed among fans of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness.

As it blackened about 62,000 acres of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest near Philipsburg, Montana, it made some particularly vigorous runs through the Pintler Ranger District. Even before the flames died, U.S. Forest Service backcountry workers started inventorying the damage to their trails and campsites.

Their to-do list showed 40 miles of trail covered with downfall, burned bridges and erosion trouble. The Wisdom/Wise River Ranger District has another 10 miles that is burn-damaged. And the Bitterroot side has 20 miles of work — all in a wilderness area that has only 250 miles of trail across all three ranger districts of west-central Montana.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 prohibits use of mechanized equipment in wilderness areas, so any repair work by law must be done with traditional, hand-powered methods. That meant crosscut saws, axes and mules.

A 20-person crew set out on the last week of September, just when the weather went from fire season to rain and snow.

“We put in a whole summer’s worth of work in four weeks,” the crew lead said. “They took out 450 burned snags felled with crosscuts or axes. There were 1,250 downed trees cut out of the trails. That puts us ahead for next year, but we still have at least as many that we didn’t get to.”

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Solar panel prices plunge by a shocking 26 percent in one year

Posted by on Nov 30, 2017 @ 11:41 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Solar panel prices plunge by a shocking 26 percent in one year

Prices for new wind and solar plants continue to plunge at an astonishing pace.

Driven by steadily improving technology and the use of auctions to set prices, the cost of solar and wind dropped 25 percent this past year — and even more in some key emerging markets like China.

That drop comes on top of an 80 percent reduction in the previous 10 years, which is why building new renewable energy sources is now cheaper than just running old coal and nuclear plants.

China’s electricity price on a solar deal for Inner Mongolia plunged 44 percent last year. And solar module prices dropped 26 percent.

Auctions have been driving down renewable energy prices everywhere they’ve been used. In a Saudi Arabian auction last month, solar crushed its own record for cheapest electricity “ever, anywhere, by any technology” — so much so that the lowest price for solar power last year is the highest price now.

At the same time, renewable technology just keeps improving. For instance, wind turbines today can generate the same power in an 11 mile-per-hour wind that turbines a decade ago required a 22 mph wind for.

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Ordinary citizens collecting scientific data has become important to researchers

Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 @ 7:05 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Ordinary citizens collecting scientific data has become important to researchers

Public participation in gathering and analyzing large amounts of scientific data began as a major trend about 15 years ago in a movement called “citizen science.”

When asked if scientists could produce this same work without the help of citizen scientists, the general refrain was typically “absolutely not.”

The internet and the availability of powerful, yet simple tools such as a smartphones, created conditions in which almost anyone can participate in scientific research in ways that were impossible just a few years ago.

“Like many good ideas it takes a while to germinate and, all of a sudden, it has exploded,” said Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the University of Arizona College of Science, talking about ordinary citizens gathering data for scientific research.

Phenologists study the timing of seasonal events, such as when cactus bloom, insects hatch or birds migrate. The timing of certain biological events could shift as a result of climate change.

“There are consequences to this,” said Theresa Crimmins, assistant director of the National Phenology Network. “The biggest is that not all species respond in the same way and at the same time (to climate change)…we see phenological mismatches emerge.”

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Black bears back in eastern Nevada after 80-year absence

Posted by on Nov 28, 2017 @ 6:55 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Black bears back in eastern Nevada after 80-year absence

More than 500 black bears have returned to parts of their historic range in the Great Basin of Nevada where the species disappeared about 80 years ago, scientists say.

A new study says genetic testing confirms the bears are making their way east from the Sierra ranges north and south of Lake Tahoe along the California line.

In some cases, recent generations have moved hundreds of miles to sites near the Utah line, marking a rare example of large mammals recolonizing areas where they’d been wiped out.

“The recovery of large carnivores is relatively rare globally,” said Jon Beckmann, a conservation scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Bozeman, Montana, who co-authored the new study.

It concludes that bear populations originating in western Nevada mountain ranges have the genetic diversity necessary to sustain the new subpopulations.

The data provides ammunition for advocates of increased protection of wildlife corridors for a number of species in the basin — a vast stretch of desert and mountain ranges that covers most of Nevada, half of Utah and parts of Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and California.

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New land added to Nantahala National Forest for water quality, hiking trails

Posted by on Nov 26, 2017 @ 11:58 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

New land added to Nantahala National Forest for water quality, hiking trails

  A highly prized 50-acre slice of forest will remain forever untouched as it officially becomes part of the Nantahala National Forest.

The relatively small Fires Creek parcel on the Cherokee-Clay county line of the 500,000-acre forest was the object of a contentious, decade-long battle among the private landowners, the U.S. Forest Service and forest visitors who wanted to see a wilderness-like setting remain in its natural state.

Everyone involved seemed to walk away satisfied Nov. 20, 2017 when the nonprofit Mainspring Conservation Trust closed on the property to keep Fires Creek forever preserved in conservation.

The outright purchase of the land, which contains no structures, was a welcome holiday gift for the land trust and the many forest users including hikers, hunters and anglers who are still seeking solitude in nature.

“Fires Creek is designated as an Outstanding Resource Water, the highest designation available in North Carolina,” said Sharon Taylor, Mainspring executive director.

The Nantahala National Forest is a sweeping swath of forest that covers some of the most rugged, remote, scenic country in the mountains of Western North Carolina. It is home to several wilderness areas, including Ellicott Rock, Southern Nantahala and Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock.

The forest is crisscrossed with trails, streams, lakes, wildlife corridors, waterfalls, precious plants and wildlife, all of it undeveloped except for campgrounds and hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails.

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UNESCO World Heritage sites in New Mexico

Posted by on Nov 26, 2017 @ 5:33 am in Conservation | 0 comments

UNESCO World Heritage sites in New Mexico

When people think of the United States, ancient ruins are typically not the first thing that pops to mind. Many New Mexicans are so accustomed to ancient ruins and petroglyphs in their backyard that they no longer marvel at their mysteries or splendor. Overlooking the historical and natural treasures of New Mexico is a mistake, detracting from the overall experience.

There are impressive ruins that are as old as the Pyramids tucked into cliffs of remote canyons throughout the Southwest. These large, long abandoned settlements are a testament to vibrant, thriving cultures that flourished in this area long before the conquistadors arrived. The history and ancient traditions aren’t isolated to ruins. Taos Pueblo is the longest continuously inhabited place in the United States and Acoma Pueblo is the oldest continuously inhabited community.

Who got here first could be a point of ongoing contention, but the reality is that the area has been populated for thousands of years, with vibrant and unique art, cultural and spiritual traditions.

New Mexico’s variety of activities and diversity of terrain is extraordinary for anyone who loves culture, history or nature. A testament to this fact is the number of World Heritage sites. New Mexico has more than any other state with 3; Taos Pueblo, Chaco Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns. A possible fourth, White Sands is currently under consideration.

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Art Rangers: A New Way to Support the Preservation of National Parks

Posted by on Nov 25, 2017 @ 12:05 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Art Rangers: A New Way to Support the Preservation of National Parks

The national parks system in the United States has provided enjoyment of the outdoors for millions of people since 1916 when the National Parks Service was founded. For over 100 years we have had access to some of the most incredible hikes and views to be found on the planet. As is similar to any well used item, the parks often fall into disrepair and need to be maintained and upgraded with continued use. The Art Rangers has stepped up to help the National Park Foundation in generating funds to help with the costs of maintenance for the parks.

The idea for their project is simple. The Art Rangers is seeking to collect art inspired by National Parks from creators across the globe. Many of the contributors to the project, so far, are photographers but that doesn’t mean that art submissions have to be limited to photography. The collected artworks are then hosted in online formats as well as in brick-and-mortar galleries. The art can be purchased in either method, online or in person, and 100% of the proceeds are given to the National Park Foundation who then puts the money to work.

The national parks have been there for us for more than a century. They have been the inspiration for countless artists. They have served as classrooms for artists, hikers, youth groups, foreign and domestic tours, high adventure enthusiasts, and many others. With over 84 million acres of landscapes spread across more than 400 national parks in all 50 states, it’s hard to picture what it would be like to not have them anymore. Fortunately, these programs let us help give back. By donating art to The Art Rangers or by purchasing it, or even by spreading the word, we each can help preserve all those beautiful views that we love capturing and sharing.

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Internal watchdog says Dept. of Interior should focus on climate change. It isn’t.

Posted by on Nov 24, 2017 @ 6:25 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Internal watchdog says Dept. of Interior should focus on climate change. It isn’t.

With control of one-fifth of the land area of the United States, the Interior Department is expected to be challenged by more intense wildfires, rising seas and other effects of climate change over the next fiscal year, a new internal government watchdog report has found.

Interior’s Office of the Inspector General listed climate change as among the “most significant management and performance challenges” facing the department, noting the “[e]ffects from a changing climate are a cross-cutting, complex issue.”

To date, however, the Trump administration has taken few, if any, steps to address the emerging threat.

Instead, under the leadership of Secretary Ryan Zinke, Interior has reoriented its mission around boosting the extraction of fossil fuels and other resources on the more than 500 million acres under its management as part of the Trump administration’s sweeping “energy dominance” agenda.

The IG report isn’t a one-off from career employees when it comes to the environment. In October, a report from the Government Accountability Office urged the Trump administration to start paying attention to the price tag of climate change.

The forest fire season, for example, will continue to grow longer because of warming and drier conditions, the report said, further straining the department’s finances. Interior, it said, “will continue to struggle with the increasing financial and logistical difficulties of preventing and fighting wildland fires.”

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Doomsday on Ice

Posted by on Nov 22, 2017 @ 11:42 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Doomsday on Ice

In a remote region of Antarctica known as Pine Island Bay, 2,500 miles from the tip of South America, two glaciers hold human civilization hostage.

Stretching across a frozen plain more than 150 miles long, these glaciers, named Pine Island and Thwaites, have marched steadily for millennia toward the Amundsen Sea, part of the vast Southern Ocean. Further inland, the glaciers widen into a two-mile-thick reserve of ice covering an area the size of Texas.

There’s no doubt this ice will melt as the world warms. The vital question is when.

The glaciers of Pine Island Bay are two of the largest and fastest-melting in Antarctica. Together, they act as a plug holding back enough ice to pour 11 feet of sea-level rise into the world’s oceans — an amount that would submerge every coastal city on the planet. For that reason, finding out how fast these glaciers will collapse is one of the most important scientific questions in the world today.

To figure that out, scientists have been looking back to the end of the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago, when global temperatures stood at roughly their current levels. The bad news? There’s growing evidence that the Pine Island Bay glaciers collapsed rapidly back then, flooding the world’s coastlines — partially the result of something called “marine ice-cliff instability.”

The ocean floor gets deeper toward the center of this part of Antarctica, so each new iceberg that breaks away exposes taller and taller cliffs. Ice gets so heavy that these taller cliffs can’t support their own weight. Once they start to crumble, the destruction would be unstoppable.

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Security firm was paid to build a conspiracy lawsuit against DAPL protesters

Posted by on Nov 20, 2017 @ 6:53 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Security firm was paid to build a conspiracy lawsuit against DAPL protesters

The private security firm TigerSwan, hired by Energy Transfer Partners to protect the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, was paid to gather information for what would become a sprawling conspiracy lawsuit accusing environmentalist groups of inciting the anti-pipeline protests last winter in an effort to increase donations, three former TigerSwan contractors told The Intercept.

For months, a conference room wall at TigerSwan’s Apex, North Carolina, headquarters was covered with a web-like map of funding nodes the firm believed it had uncovered — linking billionaire backers to nonprofit organizations to pipeline opponents protesting at Standing Rock. It was a “showpiece” for board members and ETP executives, according to a former TigerSwan contractor — part of a project that had little to do with the pipeline’s physical security.

In August 2017, the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, Donald Trump’s personal attorney for more than a decade, filed a 187-page racketeering complaint against Greenpeace, Earth First, and the divestment group BankTrack in the U.S. District Court of North Dakota, seeking $300 million in damages on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners. The NoDAPL movement, the suit claims, was driven by “a network of putative not-for-profits and rogue eco-terrorist groups who employ patterns of criminal activity and campaigns of misinformation to target legitimate companies and industries with fabricated environmental claims.”

“It was as if the entire campaign came in a box. And of course it did,” the suit alleges. “Its objective was not to protect the environment or Native Americans but to produce as sensational and public a dispute as possible, and to use that publicity and emotion to drive fundraising.”

To learn how the right is now using RICO laws, originally put on the books to combat the Mafia, in order to hinder free speech,

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Viewing platform at Oregon’s famous Multnomah Falls top appears to have survived devastating fire

Posted by on Nov 19, 2017 @ 12:12 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Viewing platform at Oregon’s famous Multnomah Falls top appears to have survived devastating fire

  A circular, wood deck viewing platform at the top of Multnomah Falls is believed to have survived the Eagle Creek fire, a U.S. Forest Service official said.

“We’ve not gotten up there to assess the condition,” said Rachel Pawlitz, spokeswoman for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which is part of the Forest Service, “but from aerial flights, it looks like the structure is intact.”

However, the Forest Service will not know for certain until a visual inspection is made of the platform, which juts into the falls at its 620-foot-high top. The wood deck is perhaps 14 feet in diameter and rimmed by a metal railing on the side closest to the falls and a rock wall near the entrance.

Pawlitz said Forest Service workers have not made the trek to the top after the fire near the lodge was extinguished primarily because rockfall and other debris block the trail. She said the lodge may open in December. However, the trail leading from the lodge will remain closed with no projected opening date.

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