Conservation & Environment

Spring is Arriving Earlier, Messing With Bird Migrations

Posted by on Sep 13, 2018 @ 7:01 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Spring is Arriving Earlier, Messing With Bird Migrations

Thanks to climate change, spring now comes earlier. But how much sooner the season arrives varies across the U.S. That’s according to a new study that assessed the first appearance of leaves and flowers in nearly 500 U.S. National Wildlife Refuges over more than 100 years.

Researchers found the irregular seasonal changes affect migratory birds’ breeding sites, an outcome that could endanger many species.

Hundreds of migratory birds travel thousands of miles across the U.S. each year. Many birds move from Central America, where they spend the winter, to locations across the northern U.S. to breed and raise young. The success of their international travels depends on good timing. The birds must coordinate their arrivals with spring’s appearance to ensure enough food is available to eat at their destination.

Though some birds have adjusted when they migrate, it’s still unclear whether they’ll be able to keep up with changes in food availability across such vast distances over the long-term.

The researchers mapped data of first leaf and first bloom appearances, indices that mark the onset of spring, across 496 national wildlife refuges in the U.S. stretching back to the beginning of the last century. They found that spring now starts earlier — with leaves budding up to 3 days sooner each decade — in 76 percent of the wildlife refuges.

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California pledges carbon-free electricity by 2045

Posted by on Sep 11, 2018 @ 9:37 am in Conservation | 0 comments

California pledges carbon-free electricity by 2045

By many metrics, California is way ahead of other states when it comes to renewable energy. The nation’s largest state leads in generating electricity from solar panels and geothermal stations. As of 2016, California got about two-fifths of its electricity from renewable forms of energy.

On Sept. 10, 2018, the state’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, signed into law a landmark bill committing California to getting 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045. The state is giving itself a deadline of 2030 to get 60 percent of its power from renewable energy, up from 50 percent by that same year under the state’s previous requirements. Brown signed the renewable mandate with the support of Democratic majorities in the state legislature but over the opposition of some state Republicans and electric utilities.

Other states have likewise legally bound themselves to cutting climate-warming emissions from their electricity sectors. But none, except for Hawaii, have codified its pledge to make its entire electricity sector free of carbon emission.

Indeed, Brown followed the signing of the bill with an executive order promising to make the entire California economy — including its sizable fleet of automobiles — carbon-neutral by that year, too.

And over the weekend, Brown also signed two bills attempting to block new oil drilling off the coast of California. The legislation aims to thwart the Trump administration’s proposed expansion of offshore drilling nationwide by specifically prohibiting the construction of drilling-related infrastructure, including pipelines and piers.

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These folks pick up a truck load of trash every single week along Wilson Creek

Posted by on Sep 7, 2018 @ 11:41 am in Conservation | 0 comments

These folks pick up a truck load of trash every single week along Wilson Creek

A Clean Wilson Creek is a small army of folks committed to protecting this National Wild and Scenic River in Western North Carolina in it’s natural state for future generations.

Wilson Creek begins as a small stream on the side of Grandfather Mountain and forms into an incredible national treasure over the next 23 miles. A Clean Wilson Creek provides funding for daily River Patrols (365 days a year) that removes trash left by recreational users, and they also address abuse of this wilderness area from vandalism.

They have a Core Team (Trout Team 6) and a number of associates and consultants who help with stream protection, conservation education, and community, state and local government outreach. They also have corporate/small business funding partners and hopefully, will have YOU on their side as well.

If you are passionate about protecting our remaining wilderness and watersheds, A Clean Wilson Creek can use your help. They welcome individual volunteers and groups, Scouting troops, and conservation/science/natural history educators for programming.

They use volunteers for River Patrol, Trail Maintenance, and presenters for outreach programs. All volunteers are educated on their purpose and River Patrol protocols, safety, and appropriate interpersonal interactions with River visitors.

Learn more here…

 

Sprawling Jenner Headlands Preserve on California’s Sonoma Coast opening to public

Posted by on Sep 7, 2018 @ 6:46 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Sprawling Jenner Headlands Preserve on California’s Sonoma Coast opening to public

Anyone who has ever driven past the hills that rise sharply near Jenner, California from the coast north of the Russian River outlet and wondered about the view from the top need wait little longer.

Today the gates to the Jenner Headlands Preserve will be open to the public, adding a large, open space to the mix of protected, accessible lands lining the scenic Sonoma Coast.

The step marks the culmination of more than a decade of planning and development, and the preserve — set aside with public and private money — offers some of the most stunning vistas to be found north of the Golden Gate, with a full suite of wildlife and natural habitat shielded in perpetuity from housing development.

And the highest peak on the Sonoma Coast, 2,204-foot Pole Mountain, overlooks it all, beckoning to hikers up for a strenuous 15-mile round-trip trek with significant elevation gain.

At 5,630 acres, the headlands property offers nearly 14 miles of trails across varied terrain that includes mixed conifer forest, coastal prairie and oak woodland.

It spans more than 2.5 miles of the coast just north of the Russian River mouth, with steep hills that rise from the eastern side of Highway 1, giving visitors sweeping views of the ocean and coastline stretching south to Point Reyes National Seashore.

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Plains bison roaming free in Canada’s Banff National Park for first time in decades

Posted by on Sep 6, 2018 @ 2:36 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Plains bison roaming free in Canada’s Banff National Park for first time in decades

Parks Canada says wild plains bison that were reintroduced to Banff National Park are now free-roaming animals. Officials say 31 bison were released last month into a 1,200 square-kilometre zone that features meadows and grassy valleys for grazing along the park’s eastern slopes.

“Now, they are free-roaming wild bison and their path forward may not be easy,” said Bill Hunt, manager of resource conservation with Banff National Park. “They will experience harsh winters, they will travel through difficult terrain and they will eventually be hunted by wolves and other predators.”

He said they will also play an important role in keeping the ecosystem healthy in the national park. “Bison are what we call a keystone species – that means bison alter the food web and the landscapes.”

As examples, he said they improve grazing for animals such as elk because they fertilize the grasses, open forests for meadow-loving birds and small mammals, create amphibian habitat by wallowing in the lowlands and their heavy winter coats shed each spring to provide nesting material for alpine birds.

Plains bison are an iconic part of Canada’s history, having freely roamed in the Rockies, filling an important need for the livelihoods of First Nations people and early settlers. They disappeared from the area due to overhunting before the national park was created in 1885.

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Cradle of Forestry to Celebrate National Public Lands Day

Posted by on Sep 5, 2018 @ 8:34 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Cradle of Forestry to Celebrate National Public Lands Day

The Cradle of Forestry in America invites the community to take part in NEEF’s 25th annual National Public Lands Day (NPLD) on Saturday September 22nd, 2018. National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) supports this annual event and uses the day to connect people to public lands and their communities, inspire environmental stewardship, and encourage use of public lands for education, recreation, and general health.

This year, NEEF is highlighting the resilience of public lands. Last year, floods, wildfire, and severe storms caused several NPLD event hosts to cancel or change their plans. Others leveraged NPLD volunteers to restore and rebuild damaged parks and other outdoor spaces. Projects taking place at the Cradle will include erosion control, mulching, and invasive species removal. If you are interested in volunteering for NPLD at the Cradle please contact Clay Wooldridge at (828) 877-3130 or cradle@cfaia.org.

Admission to the Cradle is free on this special day to all visitors. Cradle education staff will be offering free guided hikes on the two interpretive trails and fun activities that encourages visitors to enjoy our public lands. The site is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for all to enjoy the heritage site’s trails, exhibit hall, the First in Forestry film, gift shop, and Café at the Cradle. This September, celebrate something we all share: our public lands.

The Cradle of Forestry in America is located on U.S. Highway 276 in the Pisgah National Forest along the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway, six miles north of Looking Glass Falls and four miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 412. For more information, call the Cradle of Forestry at 828-877-3130 or online at www.cradleofforestry.com.

 

How the Rise of Outdoor Influencers Is Affecting the Environment

Posted by on Sep 3, 2018 @ 9:49 am in Conservation | 0 comments

How the Rise of Outdoor Influencers Is Affecting the Environment

In 1999, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (LNT) published seven leave no trace principles to “communicate the best available minimum impact guidance for enjoying the outdoors responsibly.” Today, these principles remain largely intact, despite calls for LNT to add responsible social media usage to the list.

Groups like Hikers for an 8th Leave No Trace Principle have gone so far as to pen the new principle themselves. “Use discretion when posting on social media and consider the potential impacts of creating a ‘buzz’ about specific destinations,” their suggestion reads.

The discretion they’re calling for is frequently cited in the issue of geotagging on Instagram. On the app, geotagging lets you share the location where a photo was taken. Tap on a tag — say, Yosemite — and you’ll see all the public photos associated with that locale.

But geotagging can also get specific, and that’s where the real issues start. “We’re having a lot of problems with people geotagging hidden or sensitive places,” adding that these places don’t always have the infrastructure to handle a lot of new visitors.

Ben Lawhon, the education director at LNT, said they’re waiting to see how social media evolves before responding to these demands. “If we were to jump at every perceived opportunity to add a new principle, we’d have way more than seven,” he said, adding, “nine out of 10 people who visit public lands are uninformed about Leave No Trace, so consistency is important.”

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There Could Be A New Normal In The Future Of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Posted by on Aug 31, 2018 @ 11:37 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

There Could Be A New Normal In The Future Of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

With Tūtū Pele seemingly having come to the end of her latest eruptive run, staff at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park are working to get back to the business of running a national park, not responding to an erupting volcano. But it won’t be business as usual at the park now, or for the foreseeable future, as repairing the damage carries a bill of an estimated $100 million, at least, and some areas might not reopen for a long, long time.

For nearly four months the park’s Kīlauea volcano has been spewing lava and fracturing the surrounding landscape with earthquakes. Since May 11, the bulk of the park has been closed for public safety. Though the eruptions have ended, the damage to the park and the limited reopening scheduled for September 22, National Public Lands Day, has park staff rethinking how visitors should experience Hawai’i Volcanoes.

“Our resource is so dynamic that we’ve always been about change. It is an active volcano, and so we’ve always had to adapt and be flexible in terms of how we manage that resource in terms of vistiation,” Superintendent Cindy Orlando said during a phone call earlier this week. “Before the event in early May (when this year’s eruptions started), we had the highest visitation in the state. We were the most-visited attraction in 2017. We had 2 million visitors.

“So, for me, I guess I see this as an opportunity,” she went on. “The landscape is changed, but our footprint has always been limited. And now it’s even more so. In that regard, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, maybe we don’t want to see 2 million visitors a year at this park. Or do we?'”

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North Carolina’s New Headwaters State Forest to open Sept. 6, 2018

Posted by on Aug 31, 2018 @ 6:53 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

North Carolina’s New Headwaters State Forest to open Sept. 6, 2018

After years of work, state and federal officials finally get to cut the ribbon on the Headwaters State Forest in Transylvania County, North Carolina next week.

A ceremony will be held Sept. 6, 2018 to mark the opening of the new state forest, the Conservation Fund and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced.

Located near the border with South Carolina, the 6,730-acre forest was made possible with funding from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and state and private funding.

The forest’s protection will help preserve and maintain water quality in the headwaters of the French Broad River, which flows 218 miles from Transylvania County into Tennessee. Headwaters State Forest also provides expanded opportunities for public outdoor recreation, including hiking on a section of the storied Foothills Trail.

Adjacent to more than 100,000 acres of existing conservation lands in both North Carolina and South Carolina, the area provides habitat for federally endangered plant species and other federal plant and animal species of concern. A portion of the forest will also serve as working forestland, ensuring that timber revenue and jobs stay in North Carolina.

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Invasive Species Are Riding on Plastic Across the Oceans

Posted by on Aug 29, 2018 @ 11:51 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Invasive Species Are Riding on Plastic Across the Oceans

We know plastics are as plentiful in parts of the open ocean as they are in our everyday lives. But, until recently, scientists didn’t consider that such debris could also be carrying a new wave of invasive species to the shores of the United States. Now they’re finding that not only is that happening, but they suspect that some of the species will thrive.

Not long after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the east coast of Japan, a surge of floating trash—shellfish cages, portions of piers, entire fishing vessels—started washing onto the West Coast of North America and Hawaii. The tsunami had dragged Japan’s plastic infrastructure out to sea, where it bobbed toward North America.

Scientists largely expected the debris to land, knowing the pace and direction of ocean currents. But they didn’t know that Japanese mussels, barnacles, and sea squirts could survive for six years on a trek across the Pacific Ocean and arrive not only alive, but ready to reproduce.

Researchers collected as much of the debris as they could over the six-year period during which it continued washing onto West Coast shores. One study documented the creatures that came with the trash and found 289 Japanese species had survived the ride.

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Everything Trump said about the Paris climate deal was a lie. His own EPA just confirmed it.

Posted by on Aug 24, 2018 @ 12:54 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Everything Trump said about the Paris climate deal was a lie. His own EPA just confirmed it.

Everything President Trump has said about President Obama’s climate plan and why he had to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord turns out to be a lie.

That’s the inescapable conclusion from the EPA’s 289-page “Regulatory Impact Analysis,” (RIA) released by the administration on August 21, 2018 along with Trump’s new “Affordable Clean Energy Plan.”

This new analysis reports a very low cost of complying with Obama’s much-vilified “Clean Power Plan,” (CPP) which set the rules for cleaning up the dirty U.S. power sector and was the cornerstone of America’s climate pledge at Paris.

Trump’s EPA now calculates that achieving the emissions reductions of the CPP would cost just $700 million in 2030 dropping to $400 million in 2035. According to the new analysis, the present value of the CPP’s compliance costs would be just $3 to $5 billion — while the present value of the health, economic, and environmental benefits of the reduced pollution would be as much as $80 billion.

In short, Obama’s CPP is a no brainer — small cost, huge benefits. And remember, this is according to figures buried in calculations released alongside the announced plan to repeal the CPP.

Yet, Trump has asserted for years that the CPP was a costly mistake, and that’s why the U.S. had to become the only major country in the world to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

Cite…

 

The long, strange trip of Deer 255

Posted by on Aug 24, 2018 @ 7:26 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The long, strange trip of Deer 255

Standing in a thick patch of pine and fir, mosquitoes swarming her face, Anna Ortega lifted a radio receiver into the air, angling it back and forth as she listened for the blip, blip, blip of a mule deer collar.

A zoology graduate student at the University of Wyoming, Ortega was tracking Deer 255, a doe that had braved road crossings, fences, wolves and other hazards to get here. Somewhere in this forest near Island Park, Idaho, a dozen miles west of Yellowstone National Park, Deer 255 was laying over for the summer.

Armed with bear spray, binoculars and datasheets, Ortega and two field assistants followed the blips among trees dappled with early July sun. They picked their way through knee-high grass and shrubs, the occasional snap of a twig underfoot as startling as a slamming door. The blips were strong and clear: Deer 255 was close.

While not all mule deer migrate, some travel a hundred miles or more between their summer and winter ranges. With a one-way migration of 242 miles, Deer 255 holds the record for the longest-documented land migration in the Lower 48, traveling even farther than her herd-mates, all of which winter in the Red Desert of southwest Wyoming.

Her trek to Idaho from the Red Desert exemplifies the surprises scientists are still encountering with this well-studied ungulate. And as mule deer populations throughout the West remain below target levels, it underscores the need to protect the wide tracts of landscape that sustain migrating wildlife.

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Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record

Posted by on Aug 22, 2018 @ 6:36 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record

The oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic has started to break up, opening waters north of Greenland that are normally frozen, even in summer.

This phenomenon – which has never been recorded before – has occurred twice this year due to warm winds and a climate-change driven heatwave in the northern hemisphere.

One meteorologist described the loss of ice as “scary”. Others said it could force scientists to revise their theories about which part of the Arctic will withstand warming the longest.

The sea off the north coast of Greenland is normally so frozen that it was referred to, until recently, as “the last ice area” because it was assumed that this would be the final northern holdout against the melting effects of a hotter planet.

But abnormal temperature spikes in February and earlier this month have left it vulnerable to winds, which have pushed the ice further away from the coast than at any time since satellite records began in the 1970s.

As well as reducing ice cover, the ocean intrusion raises concerns of feedbacks, which could tip the Earth towards a hothouse state. Freakish Arctic temperatures have alarmed climate scientists since the beginning of the year. During the sunless winter, a heatwave raised concerns that the polar vortex may be eroding.

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Fracking is destroying U.S. water supply, warns shocking new study

Posted by on Aug 18, 2018 @ 7:00 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Fracking is destroying U.S. water supply, warns shocking new study

An alarming new study reveals fracking is quite simply destroying America’s water supply.

That means we are losing potable water forever in many semi-arid regions of the country, while simultaneously producing more carbon pollution that in turn is driving ever-worsening droughts in those same regions.

The game-changing study from Duke University found that “from 2011 to 2016, the water use per well increased up to 770 percent.” In addition, the toxic wastewater produced in the first year of production jumped up to 1440 percent.

The federal government “forecasts a million more wells in the next 20 years.” That would mean trillions of gallons of water used.

The Duke study warns that the water footprint of fracking could jump as much as 50-fold in some areas by 2030, “raising concerns about its sustainability, particularly in arid or semi-arid regions in western states, or other areas where groundwater supplies are stressed.”

One key point the study makes is that, unlike other energy sources, much of the water fracking uses is essentially lost to humanity. Either the water doesn’t escape the shale formation or, when it does come back to the surface, it “is highly saline, is difficult to treat, and is often disposed through deep injection wells.”

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US poised to allow more mining on land Trump removed from monuments

Posted by on Aug 16, 2018 @ 1:28 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

US poised to allow more mining on land Trump removed from monuments

US officials have announced plans to allow increased mining on land that once belonged to two national monuments Donald Trump shrank, and to sell off some of the land despite pledges not to do so.

The two monuments, now significantly smaller in size, are both in Utah. The draft management plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument includes a 98-page minerals report that outlines deposits of coal, oil and gas, tar sands and other minerals under the whole of the monument’s original 1.9m acres.

It also targets 1,600 acres for selling to neighboring property owners, although the interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, said on his second day on the job: “You can hear it from my lips: we will not sell off public lands.”

The Bears Ears national monument plan allows for mineral development in lands removed from monument status.

It is a goal of the administration to open public lands to increased industrial development. The plans follow Trump’s December 2017 executive order shrinking both monuments by a combined 2m acres, a move that prompted tribal and environmental groups and major outdoor brands to file lawsuits against the administration questioning the legality of the reduction.

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An army of deer ticks carrying Lyme disease is advancing. It will only get worse.

Posted by on Aug 15, 2018 @ 7:15 am in Conservation | 0 comments

An army of deer ticks carrying Lyme disease is advancing. It will only get worse.

Across the United States, tick- and mosquito-borne diseases, some potentially lethal, are emerging in places and volumes not previously seen. Climate change almost certainly is to blame, according to a 2016 report by 13 federal agencies that warned of intensifying heat, storms, air pollution and infectious diseases.

Last year, a coalition of 24 academic and government groups tracked climate-related health hazards worldwide. It found them “far worse than previously understood,” jeopardizing half a century of public-health gains.

Climate’s role in intensifying diseases carried by “vectors” — organisms transmitting pathogens and parasites — isn’t as obvious as in heat-related conditions or pollen allergies. But it poses a grave threat. Of all infectious diseases, those caused by bites from ticks, mosquitoes and other cold-blooded insects are most climate-sensitive, scientists say. Even slight shifts in temperatures can alter their distribution patterns.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a tripling of the number of disease cases resulting from mosquito, tick and flea bites nationally over 13 years — from 27,388 cases in 2004 to 96,075 in 2016. Cases of tick-related illnesses doubled in this period, accounting for 77 percent of all vector-borne diseases.

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Glacier National Park is on fire — and yes, warming is making things worse

Posted by on Aug 14, 2018 @ 12:27 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Glacier National Park is on fire — and yes, warming is making things worse

This summer has felt like a global warming turning point. Now, another milestone: Saturday, August 11, 2018 was the hottest day in the history of Glacier National Park, and its first recorded time reaching 100 degrees F. On the same day, lightning started three fires in the Montana park, which has since been partly evacuated and closed. On Sunday, hot and dry winds helped the biggest fire expand rapidly.

Right now, every state west of the Mississippi is at least partly in drought, including Montana. Missoula, the closest major city to Glacier National Park, hasn’t had any measurable rain for 40 days, and none is in the short-term forecast either — a streak that will likely wind up being the driest stretch in local recorded history, beating a mark set just last year.

It’s clear that Montana is already becoming a vastly different place. In recent decades, warmer winters have helped mountain pine beetles thrive, turning mountains red with dead pines. In 1850, there were 150 glaciers in the area now known as Glacier National Park. Today there are 26. They’ve been there for 7,000 years — but in just a few decades, the glaciers of Glacier National Park will almost surely be gone. By then the park will need a new name. Glacier Memorial Park doesn’t have the same ring to it.

As bad as climate change already is in Montana and throughout the West, the prognosis for the future is much worse. Compared to 1950, Montana has had 11 more 90 degree-plus days each summer. Without rapid emissions reductions, by 2100, there could be an additional 58 more in Northern Montana. Eastern Montana could have as many as 70 more — about the same as present-day New Orleans.

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