Sunday, October 29, 2006

John Wayne, Wyoming, and Wolves

The Denver Post has published an excellent opinion piece by Wendy Keefover-Ring and Rob Edwards of Sinapu. They compare the minor impact that wolves have on livestock with the huge taxpayer supported machinery that has been built to kill wolves, and make the point that most corporations suffer losses of some sort but do not demand public protection.

Of course, it's even worse since the livestock industry uses public lands and public resources to operate in the first place. It's a ripoff of the highest order.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Idaho National Forest withdraws massive timber sale.

In a decision that is flying well under the radar, the Payette National Forest has decided to reverse a decision to conduct a huge industrial logging project in central Idaho. The legal notice is here.

The logging plans in the Upper Bear timber sale were tremendously controversial and the Forest Service is maintaining that it has withdrawn the sale because of a tornado that struck nearby and resulted in a great deal of downed timber. (Yes, you read that right, a tornado hit the mountains of central Idaho!)

Most believe that this project was withdrawn to avoid imminent litigation by the Idaho Sporting Congress.

The project would have had devastating and possibly terminal effects on the Northern Idaho ground squirrel, one of the rarest North American ground squirrels. This endangered animal lives only in a 30 x 10 kilometer area in the upper Weiser River drainage in the Payette National Forest. This squirrel has suffered enormous population declines in the past decade, and is down to just a tiny remnant of its numbers in the 1970's and 1980's. Scientists predict it numbered about 5,000 individuals in 1985, but was down to fewer than 350 by 2000.

More on the Northern Idaho ground squirrel from the Fish and Wildlife Service here. A good paper on the squirrel titled "Demography of a Population Collapse" is here (pdf).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

From the you-are-never-going-to-believe-this department: Former U.S. Secretary of Interior Gayle Norton is hawking shit. Literally.

Don't believe me? Here's the press release.

From the release: "Contributing to the market development of reused water, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton will moderate the Town of Prescott Valley's Effluent Water Auction, Nov. 1-3, in the Town Chambers of Prescott Valley, Ariz."

NASA: Greenland's ice sheet on "downward slide."

Michael Crichton thinks that increased snowfall in the interior of Greenland is proof that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by supervillians in the environmental movement, and lots of people believe him. NASA, on the other hand, just showed that the gains in the interior are far outdone by the losses along the coastal areas. Last year, Greenland's ice sheets lost the equivalent of six years' worth of the Colorado River's average flow.

The article is here.

NASA: This year's ozone hole bigger than ever

From the article: "These numbers mean the ozone is virtually gone in this layer of the atmosphere," said David Hofmann, director of the Global Monitoring Division at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory. "The depleted layer has an unusual vertical extent this year, so it appears that the 2006 ozone hole will go down as a record-setter."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Citing shorter seasons from global warming, ski areas may ask schools to move spring break from March to February

Denver Post article here.

Some trout stocking in mountain ponds challenged

I've always thought that artificial trout stocking, particularly in wilderness areas but also where there are endangered amphibians or other aquatic species, should be curtailed. It turns out that Pacific Rivers Council and the Center for Biological Diversity have filed a lawsuit to do just that.

From the we-told-you-so department: Forest Service realizes it has more roads than it can care for

A good article in the Seattle Times on the ever-growing Forest Service roads problem, with lots of nice anecdotes. My favorite: the agency spent 6 million repairing a road it cannot afford to maintain, and now the engineer wonders if perhaps spending the money on the repair was not so wise.

You just have to admire this guy

Whatever you might think about Mark Rey, the former timber lobbyist who is now in charge of our national forests, you have to admire his ability to spin a story in favor of more logging. Regarding the notorious Biscuit logging misadventure in Oregon, where beautiful and ecologically important roadless areas are being salvage logged at tremendous financial losses to the taxpayer, Rey had this to say:

"What does it say to the world at large if we meet our wood supply needs from the new and old world tropics because we're too aesthetically pure to harvest even dead trees on our own land?"

Note how deftly he turns this money-losing, ecological disaster into a concern only to pointy-headed, effete "aesthetic purists" who have no regard for tropical forests! It's quite wonderful, in an evil and malevolent kind of a way.

The L.A. Times article is here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An editorial on Bush and roadless forests . . .

. . . that hits the nail on the head. From the editorial:

"Several states, including California, have said they want their roadless areas to remain that way. But Idaho, which at 9.3 million acres has by far the single biggest share of roadless forest, last week proposed protecting only about one-third of that land. Regardless of any merits of Idaho's plan, no single state should have so much say over what happens to about 6 million acres of forest that belongs to all U.S. taxpayers."

The entire editorial, from the Capitol Times & Wisconsin State Journal, is here.

NYT: Jaguars returning to the southwest

I have often found it to be nearly unimaginable to see a jaguar in the wild in the U.S.A. The last time a jaguar was shot in the U.S. was less than fifty years ago, near the Grand Canyon. Think of it, jaguars in the Grand Canyon!

A wonderful (though at times sad) article about jaguars returning to Arizona and New Mexico, and the potential effects of the border fence on these incredible animals, appeared in the New York Times today. The article is here (registration required).

As to the potential effects of the border fence on American jaguars? According to the quoted jaguar expert, you can "kiss the jaguar goodbye."

National Science Foundation: Study links ocean salinity and warming

One of the scarier global warming scenarios predicts that increased melting of the ice caps will decrease the salinity of the Atlantic, which will shut down the Gulf stream current. Salinity seems to be the fuel that drives this massive engine, so critical to life in much of the western world. (The gulf stream is the reason Madrid, which is at roughly the same latitude as Boston, is so much warmer than Boston is).

And one of the scarier things about this article about the new findings is the statement of one of the scientists, that "the most striking thing is that a measurable transition is happening over decades."

Friday, October 06, 2006

GM proposes to reinvigorate its industry by . . . building more Hummers

So says MotorTrend. Meanwhile, drivers report getting between 13 and 20 miles per gallon in the H3.

Washington Post: Bush Policy Irks Judges in the West

The Washington Post has a very nice synopsis of the increasingly scathing language judges are using to describe the Bush administration's complete disregard for national environmental law from California to Wyoming.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hunters: Oil and gas development impacts elk hunting

Ralph Maughn's excellent blog pointed me to this article from the Jackson Hole News, decrying the effects the insanely fast-paced oil and gas development during the Bush-Cheney administration has had on elk and wildlife. Hunters need to begin speaking out about this where it isn't already too late for them. To see the immense, widespread impacts of oil and gas development in the Rocky Mountain west, just visit google's satellite map feature and take a look at, for example, a satellite view of Jicarilla Ranger District on the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico. Oil and gas development pads are everywhere, with over 200 more planned in the future.

Richard Pombo in very tight race

Richard Pombo is probably the single worst legislator in office when it comes to public lands issues. He is chairman of the House Resources Committee and has immense power over what bills come to light and what they look like when they do. He hates the Endangered Species Act with a developer's passion.

And maybe, just maybe, he will be jobless in three months. Polls show his opponent, Jerry McNerney, in a dead heat.

More than 200 people show up at county board of supervisor's meeting in Tucson to object to planned copper mine

It's nice to see local support for public lands when it occurs -- and nice to see that not everyone has given up in this crony-run political environment!

Least Bell's vireo, snowmobiles, Alaska, and more . . .

Current news about a long list of subjects on the excellent Center for Biological Diversity's Endangered Earth Online publication. Here's the table of contents:

COMEBACK KID #3: LEAST BELL'S VIREO

WILDWEB: WEBSITE DOCUMENTS ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT SUCCESSES

NASA DIRECTOR: "ONE DEGREE AND WE'RE DONE FOR"

ROYAL SOCIETY TO EXXON: STOP FUNDING GLOBAL WARMING DENIAL

REACTION MIXED TO USFWS DELISTING RECOMMENDATIONS

ORVS BANNED ON 50,000 ACRES OF CRITICAL HABITAT

400,000 ACRES IN ALASKA SAVED ... FOR NOW

SNOWMOBILES BANNED ON 470 SQUARE MILES OF CARIBOU HABITAT

"You can't argue with the physics": More evidence arctic sea ice is melting, threatening arctic wildlife

Add the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center to the list of organizations that have found that arctic ice is melting and have drawn the usual foreboding conclusions regarding polar bears, ocean salinity, positive feedback loops, and the like.