Conservation & Environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Federal hiring freeze causing headaches at Rocky Mountain National Park

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

Federal hiring freeze causing headaches at Rocky Mountain National Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Carbon Dioxide Set an All-Time Monthly High

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

Carbon Dioxide Set an All-Time Monthly High

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

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

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

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

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

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Allemansrätten, the Swedish right to roam the countryside, is guaranteed by the constitution

Posted by on Jun 6, 2017 @ 6:37 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Allemansrätten, the Swedish right to roam the countryside, is guaranteed by the constitution

In Sweden everyone has the legal right to walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp almost anywhere in nature.

“This is made possible thanks to a Swedish right guaranteed by the constitution – freedom to roam. This right enables the Swedish people to experience nature and enjoy the beautiful Swedish wildlife,” says the president of Visit Sweden USA.

Known as allemansrätten (meaning “everyman’s right”), the right of public access gives people the freedom to roam just about anywhere in the countryside as long as they “Don’t disturb – Don’t destroy.” Essentially, a 100 million acre playground open to all.

In the United States we don’t enjoy this right. We get shot for trespassing, which makes traversing nature a bit more challenging. Of course we might not want strangers camping in our backyard, but we take our sense of ownership so seriously that we don’t even let people walk through a path in the woods should they be privately owned. We have very defined routes we are allowed to walk without much room for roaming off the path.

“Under the Right of Public Access we do not need permission to cross private land. This is the basis for the wide-ranging freedom we enjoy to spend time in the countryside,” notes the Swedish EPA.

Learn more here…


Local Students Help with Elkmont Historic District Project at Smokies National Park

Posted by on Jun 3, 2017 @ 12:05 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Local Students Help with Elkmont Historic District Project at Smokies National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers received help from local high school students in Elkmont to plant native trees. Recently, 19 students from Blount, Sevier, Cocke, and Knox Counties planted more than 400 trees in areas where cabins were removed along Jakes Creek in the Elkmont Historic District.

By planting the native trees and shrubs, students are helping to restore the montane alluvial forest in Elkmont. Students planted red maples, white oaks, red oaks, redbuds, black gums, hackberries, and false indigo shrubs.

“The soil was rocky, and rain would come and go, but spirits were high,” said Resource Education Park Ranger Julianne Geleynse. “As one student said, ‘This is one of the most meaningful things I’ve done in my entire high school experience.’”

In February, park officials announced that work was underway in Elkmont to preserve four historic structures and to remove 29 other structures along Little River Trail and Jakes Creek Trail in the Elkmont Historic District. The park crew has completed the preservation of the Mayo Servants Quarters and is currently working on the Mayo Cabin. To date, all structures located along the Little River Trail slated for demolition have been removed.

Crews are still working on Jakes Creek Trail, but suspended work during the Memorial Day holiday and Firefly Viewing Event. Demolition work will resume on Monday, June 12. The Jakes Creek Trail will be closed from the Trailhead to the junction with the Cucumber Gap Trail to all use Monday through Friday from June 12, 2017 through June 30, 2017. All campsites/shelters in the backcountry will remain open and can be accessed using routes that do not include the closed section of the Jakes Creek Trail. The trail will be fully open on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the work project.

For more information about this project, please visit the park website.


Land called ‘top conservation priority’ purchased along Hump Mountain

Posted by on Jun 3, 2017 @ 7:12 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Land called ‘top conservation priority’ purchased along Hump Mountain

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has purchased 324 acres of land it called “one of our top conservation priorities.”

The acreage is in Carter County on the northern slope of Hump Mountain west of Banner Elk, N.C. Total purchase price was $1,621,120.

“Our purchasing this tract ensures that future generations of hikers will be able to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the Appalachian Trail on Hump Mountain,” said SAHC executive director Carl Silverstein.

The land comes within 500 feet of the AT, and purchasing it will ensure hikers will continue to get 360-degree views of the mountain grasslands.

An SAHC news release stated that the organization has expressed an interest in the land, owned by Oscar Julian, since 1967. It was joined in the effort to purchase it by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the US Forest Service.

The property adjoins Cherokee National Forest and Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area. The SAHC intends to own the property until funds are available for it to be transferred to the Cherokee National Forest, according to the release.

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National Park Getaway: Valles Caldera National Preserve

Posted by on Jun 2, 2017 @ 6:59 am in Conservation | 0 comments

National Park Getaway: Valles Caldera National Preserve

Among the newest additions to the National Park System, the 88,900-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve is a surprising gem at the top of the Jemez Mountains in north-central New Mexico that helps earn the state its motto—“The Land of Enchantment.”

Valles Caldera National Preserve enchants visitors with its stunning natural beauty and rich human history. Recreational activities include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, scenic drives, as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

The preserve encompasses a dormant “supervolcano” that illustrates and interprets massive explosive volcanic eruptions, caldera formation, and the functioning of active geothermal systems. Its distinct topographic mosaic of expansive valley meadows—or valles (vah-yes) in Spanish, lush forested volcanic domes, meandering valley streams, and old-growth Ponderosa pine groves are in striking contrast to the arid New Mexico landscape at lower elevations.

Patient observers can spot numerous wildlife species such as elk, coyotes, prairie dogs, black bears, bald and golden eagles, wild turkeys, and other migratory birds. History buffs can travel back in time and experience the pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer heritage and learn how the legacy of early Spanish and Mexican settlements in the region transformed the present-day American Southwest.

Active for over 14 million years, the current 13-mile wide circular caldera depression was created by a spectacular volcanic eruption about 1.25 million years ago. Since that time, additional eruptions and magmatic intrusions have created numerous volcanic domes within the caldera. The caldera is presently dormant (but not extinct) and still displays signs of volcanic life with hot springs and boiling sulphuric acid fumaroles. The unusual geologic and landscape characteristics of Valles Caldera led to its designation as a National Natural Landmark in 1975.

Learn more here…


Cradle of Forestry Announces Junior Forester Program

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 @ 12:19 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Cradle of Forestry Announces Junior Forester Program

The Cradle of Forestry in America will offer a Junior Forester program for boys and girls ages 8-12 years old. This outdoor-oriented experience will be held every Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from June 14, 2017 to August 9 at the Cradle of Forestry site in Pisgah National Forest.

The Cradle of Forestry Junior Forester program combines learning new skills with discovery and reflection. This year, each week focuses on a different type of scientist that works in our forests. While participating in hands on activities, Junior Foresters will explore how important these careers are to our forests and cultural heritage. This year’s topics are:

June 14: Entomologist
June 21: Research Forester
June 28: Meteorologist
July 5: Geospatial Analyst
July 12: Hydrologist
July 19: Herpetologist
July 26: Archeologist
August 2: Wildlife Biologist
August 9: Social Scientist

Each youth should come prepared for fun in the outdoors with closed-toed shoes, a small backpack and water. The programs will be held rain or shine and adapted to indoors if stormy. Each participant receives a Junior Forester badge and patch and can register for one or more programs.

After the program kids can try a fact safari and scavenger hunt inside the Forest Discovery Center and explore paved interpretive trails, perfect for strollers and wheelchairs. Other activities include the Adventure Zone, designed for children on the autism spectrum yet enjoyable for all, as well as historic cabins, an antique logging locomotive and sawmill, and gift shop. Families can pack a picnic and enjoy a full day in the forest. Lunch is served in the Café at the Cradle from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The Junior Forester program costs $4 per youth and $2.50 for adults for each program. Adults with America the Beautiful and Golden Age passports are admitted free. Registration is required as space is limited. Call the Cradle of Forestry at (828) 877-3130 to register.

The Cradle of Forestry is located on Hwy. 276 in the Pisgah National Forest, six miles north of Looking Glass Falls and four miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 412. Visit for more information about the site. Visit for online youth-oriented information and resources related to natural resources and the environment.


Cradle of Forestry to Host Woodsy Owl’s Curiosity Club


The Cradle of Forestry in America today announced that it will hold a nature and educational series titled “Woodsy Owl’s Curiosity Club” every Thursday this summer, beginning June 15 and ending August 10. Programs are held from 10:30 a.m.-to noon and 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

“The Curiosity Club allows kids, ages 4 to 7, and their special adults to participate in a variety of outdoor-oriented activities, exploring a forest-related theme that engages young children in the natural world around them,” said Cindy Carpenter, interpretive specialist at the Cradle of Forestry. “The Curiosity Club’s blend of investigation and creativity can help children “lend a hand, care for the land,” which is the mission of Woodsy Owl, the U.S. Forest Service’s conservation symbol.”

During the program, each child receives a copy of the book, Woodsy Owl’s ABC’s,and makes a topic-related craft to take home. After the program kids can try the scavenger hunt inside the Forest Discovery Center and explore paved interpretive trails, perfect for strollers and wheelchairs. Other activities include the Adventure Zone, designed for children on the autism spectrum yet enjoyable for all, as well as historic cabins, antique logging locomotive and sawmill, and gift shop. Families can pack a picnic, have lunch in the Café at the Cradle, and enjoy a full day in the forest.

This year’s topics are:
June 15 – Mini-beasts: Insects and Spiders
June 22 – Watery World: Aquatic Animals
June 29 – Amazing Amphibians: Frogs and Salamanders
July 6 – Birds of a Feather
July 13 – Clever Canids: Foxes, Coyotes and Wolves
July 20 – Respectful Reptiles: Turtles, Snakes and Lizards
July 27 – Oh Deer! – Backyard Animals
August 3- Be Bear Aware- Black Bears
August 10 – Terrific Turkeys: Their Friends and Foes

The Curiosity Club costs $4 per child and $2.50 for adults for each program. Adults with America the Beautiful and Golden Age passports are admitted free. Registration is required as space is limited. Call the Cradle of Forestry at (828) 877-3130 to register.


Glacier Bay National Park’s New Totem Poles

Posted by on May 31, 2017 @ 4:58 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Glacier Bay National Park’s New Totem Poles

At Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, the glory of nature is on display. The park is packed with 3.3 million acres of glaciers, wildflowers and water. But the area’s indigenous people haven’t always been celebrated. The Huna Tlingit people, whose ancestors lived in what is now the park, have had a contentious history with the National Park Service.

But the relationship has improved in recent years. Now, in honor of the Huna Tlingit’s connection to the area, two gigantic totem poles—each weighing 2,000 pounds and rising 20 feet tall—have been erected in Bartlett Cove.

Members of the Hoonah Indian Association and national park employees carried the poles to a newly dedicated Huna tribal house by hand, then erected them in a ceremony that included dancing and speeches. The poles are made of red cedar and the carvings of eagles and ravens represent clans of the area.

The tribal house, known as Xunaa Shuká Hít, will serve as a gathering place for tribal members whose ancestors traditionally occupied the area. As the National Park Service notes, such multiple families lived together in such homes during the winter months.

Xunaa Shuká Hít is the first permanent tribal house to be built in Glacier Bay in over 250 years. In the 1700s, the Native Alaskans who lived in the area were forced to flee due to glacial advances. Though they planned to return, those plans were thwarted when Glacier Bay was made into a national monument and then expanded to become a national park.

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What happens next for Bears Ears National Monument

Posted by on May 30, 2017 @ 12:32 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

What happens next for Bears Ears National Monument

By June 10th, 2017, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will announce his decision on whether to recommend reducing or removing protection for Bears Ears National Monument.

Just a couple weeks after President Trump signed an executive order targeting national monuments, Bears Ears National Monument’s May 26th comment period deadline has passed. In the coming weeks, the Trump administration will supposedly review those comments on its protected status. After that—by June 10th—Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will make a recommendation about whether to shrink its boundaries, or even whether it should go on being a national monument.

Thanks to wilderness-loving Americans at-large, it will be impossible for the Trump administration to claim “the people” want Bears Ears to have less protection.

A coalition of public lands groups and others estimates that over 685,000 comments were submitted to the Department of the Interior in favor of keeping Bears Ears’ current status. A perfunctory review of those comments finds numerous Utahns (and other Americans) testifying to the exceptional tribal culture and physical landscape of the region, lamenting the lack of protection they have received so far and begging Secretary Zinke to keep the monument intact.

The advocacy group Center for Western Priorities analyzed a representative sample of 500 comments and reports that 96 percent percent of them were in favor of keeping Bears Ears’ and other national monuments’ current protection. This squares with Americans’ longstanding and oft-documented support of monuments and the authority to designate them under the Antiquities Act.

Despite this, some reports claim Secretary Zinke has already made up his mind that monument status should be revoked, which would be a shocking and unprecedented move.

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So much water pulsed through a melting glacier that it warped the Earth’s crust

Posted by on May 27, 2017 @ 11:32 am in Conservation | 0 comments

So much water pulsed through a melting glacier that it warped the Earth’s crust

NASA scientists detected a pulse of melting ice and water traveling through a major glacier in Greenland that was so big that it warped the solid Earth — a surge equivalent in mass to 18,000 Empire State Buildings.

The pulse — which occurred during the 2012 record melt year — traveled nearly 15 miles through the Rink Glacier in western Greenland over four months before reaching the sea, the researchers said.

“It’s a gigantic mass,” said Eric Larour, one of the study’s authors and a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “It is able to bend the bedrock around it.”

Such a “wave” has never before been detected in a Greenland or Antarctic glacier. The total amount of mass carried in the wave — in the form of either water, ice or some combination of both — was 1.67 billion tons per month, or 6.68 billion tons over four months, according to the study.

The researchers were able to detect the wave only because a GPS sensor, located in a rocky inland area a little over 12 miles, moved 15 millimeters as the wave went by, pushing down on the Earth’s crust and causing a deep indentation. “The GPS can sense that,” Larour explained.

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Interior Dept. censors climate change from news release on coastal flooding

Posted by on May 24, 2017 @ 7:06 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Interior Dept. censors climate change from news release on coastal flooding

The Department of the Interior deleted a line explaining how climate change drives sea level rise from the news release accompanying a new study on coastal flooding.

Last week, six scientists published a journal article, “Doubling of coastal flooding frequency within decades due to sea-level rise,” which explains that coastal flooding will be much worse than previously expected, explicitly citing the role of “climate change.”

Since three of the scientists were from the Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey, the USGS sent out a press release. Typically, these releases rely heavily on the original study and its abstract.

Instead, according to three of the study’s co-authors, the following line was censored from the release: “Global climate change drives sea-level rise, increasing the frequency of coastal flooding.” The significance of the line is underscored by the fact it is the very first line of the study’s abstract. The decision to change the news release came from officials at the Interior Department itself.

As a result of this deletion, the news release never explains what is causing the sea level rise. The USGS’s lead press officer, Anne Wade, told the Post, the excised line “didn’t add anything to the overall findings.”

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How far can an electric vehicle take you?

Posted by on May 22, 2017 @ 7:10 am in Conservation | 0 comments

How far can an electric vehicle take you?

There is no single answer — it depends on your choice of EV. Today, there are now a growing number of diverse EVs on the market. Battery electric vehicles run exclusively on electricity via batteries (often referred to as BEVs or just EVs). Plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) combine an electric motor and an internal combustion engine (gasoline engine), and the electric motor can be recharged by plugging the vehicle into an electrical outlet.

Battery technology is the key to EV range (how far the vehicle can travel on a charge). Most EVs today with fully-charged batteries have a driving range between 70 to 100 miles. According to reports, this range falls well within the average day-to-day range requirements of most Americans (the average driving range for most Americans is 37 miles per day). While less than 1% of American households have gone electric, a study from the Union of Concerned Scientists demonstrates that more than 42% could use today’s EVs. The options are also greatly expanding, with more than 32 different EV models that can meet those needs.

Within just the the last year, range has also increased on most models available. Some EVs can go nearly 300 miles on a single charge. For example, the first-generation Nissan LEAF, the most popular EV on the road today, had a range of 73 miles. The 2017 LEAF has an estimated range of 107 miles. Even better, the next generation LEAF, dubbed the LEAF 2.0, is expected to have a driving range in excess of 200 miles on a single charge. Nissan’s CEO has reported that they expect to have their “EV flagship” with a range of around 300 miles by 2020.

Tesla models, to date, have the longest all-electric range of any other EV on the road. The Chevy Bolt is making waves in the industry as well. It can go more than 238 miles on a single charge.

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Smokies Park Reminds Visitors to be Bear Aware

Posted by on May 19, 2017 @ 12:37 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Smokies Park Reminds Visitors to be Bear Aware

As the busy summer season approaches, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials want to remind visitors about precautions they can take while enjoying the park to keep themselves and bears safe. Bears are particularly active this time of year in search for spring foods. Visitors should be prepared in how to safely observe bears without disturbing them during this critical season.

“Bears are very active right now, and we’re receiving reports across the park of bear sightings along trails and roadways,” said Park Wildlife Biologist Bill Stiver. “We ask for the public’s help by respecting bears’ space.”

Bears should be allowed to forage undisturbed on natural foods and should never be fed. Park officials remind visitors to properly store food and secure garbage. Coolers should always be properly stored in the trunk of a vehicle when not in use. All food waste should be properly disposed to discourage bears from approaching people.

Hikers are reminded to take necessary precautions while in bear country including hiking in groups of 2 or more, carrying bear spray, complying with all backcountry closures, properly storing food regulations, and remaining at safe viewing distance from bears at all times. Feeding, touching, disturbing, or willfully approaching wildlife within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces wildlife, is illegal in the park.

If approached by a bear, park officials recommend slowly backing away to put distance between yourself and the animal, creating space for it to pass. If the bear continues to approach, you should not run. Hikers should make themselves look large, stand their ground as a group, and throw rocks or sticks at the bear. If attacked by a black bear, rangers strongly recommend fighting back with any object available and remember that the bear may view you as prey. Though rare, attacks on humans do occur, causing injuries or death.

For more information on what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking, please visit the park website. To report a bear incident in the park, please call 865-436-1230.


American Trees Are Moving West, and No One Knows Why

Posted by on May 19, 2017 @ 6:41 am in Conservation | 0 comments

American Trees Are Moving West, and No One Knows Why

As the consequences of climate change strike across the United States, ecologists have a guiding principle about how they think plants will respond. Cold-adapted plants will survive if they move “up”—that is, as they move further north (away from the tropics) and higher in elevation (away from the warm ground).

A new survey of how tree populations have shifted over the past three decades finds that this effect is already in action. But there’s a twist: Even more than moving poleward, trees are moving west.

About three-quarters of tree species common to eastern American forests—including white oaks, sugar maples, and American hollies—have shifted their population center west since 1980. More than half of the species studied also moved northward during the same period.

The results are fascinating in part because they don’t immediately make sense. But there is a hypothesis: While climate change has elevated temperatures across the eastern United States, it has significantly altered rainfall totals. The northeast has gotten a little more rain since 1980 than it did during the proceeding century, while the southeast has gotten much less rain. The Great Plains, especially in Oklahoma and Kansas, get much more than historically normal.

There are a patchwork of other forces which could cause tree populations to shift west, though. Changes in land use, wildfire frequency, and the arrival of pests and blights could be shifting the population. So might the success of conservation efforts.

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