Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lonesome Cowboy

Larry Craig has appeared in this blog before, and he can often be found connected to some horrible idea about "managing" the public lands of the West. He is no friend to wild spaces or wildlife, and often goes far out of his way to accommodate extractive industrial interests on our public lands. And we won't shed any tears if he, and Idaho, lose power.
Craig has joined other Idaho leaders who demanded that the U.S. Department of Interior allow more livestock grazing, which he contends will reduce the danger of wildfires that have burned more than 1,000 square miles on the Idaho-Nevada border...

...He attempted to force the Bonneville Power Administration, which manages dams along the Columbia River, to eliminate funding for an agency that counts young salmon crossing dams.

He's attached a rider to a pending federal spending bill to uphold a Snake River management plan that a federal judge has said is illegal because it doesn't protect endangered salmon.

"He's consistently made a nuisance of himself on every environmental issue since he's been there," said Janine Blaeloch of the Seattle-based Western Lands Project. "The legislation he's supported has left public lands policy in the Dark Ages."
So, while we won't be weeping about the loss of his political power, we do want to take a moment to reflect on the still-demarcated landscapes of sexual preference. Homophobes everywhere are lining up to denounce their former mouthpiece, and it's a shame. It's 2007, folks! It's OK to be gay!

Senator Craig's self-hatred and repression might have also translated in to his lack of respect for all things wild and uninhibited. Human nature and wild nature are one and the same. We should stop trying to control, contain and repress it, and instead work towards restoring a healthy balance.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Rapidly diminishing sea ice raises potential to open the Northwest Passage

Get ready for a race for arctic real estate in the coming decade. The Northwest Passage is increasingly looking like a viable shipping route with the decline of sea ice. Here's what the National Arctic Sea Ice Data Center has to say:

The opening of the Northwest Passage

Of particular note is imminent opening of the fabled Northwest Passage through the channels of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. This shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was first navigated by Roald Amundsen in the early 1900s. It took his group over two years of arduous and dangerous navigation through narrow lanes of open water amongst thick, compact ice. Analysts at the Canadian Ice Service and the U.S. National Ice Center confirm that the passage is almost completely clear and that the region is more open than it has ever been since the advent of routine monitoring in 1972. The Northwest Passage traces from Baffin Bay in the South toward M'Clure Strait.

More on the Northwest Passage from Wikipedia.

A major Canadian Seaport in Hudson's Bay? It's distinctly possible.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Finding Of No Sense or Intelligence

The construction of the border wall across the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge may have started today. The fence frames several miles of the refuge's southern boundary, but the only place where the refuge manager has any say is where the wall will be built of refuge lands.
All but about three-quarters of a mile of fencing runs along a federal easement. Ellis said he won't allow the section that is to be put up on refuge land to be built until requirements are met.

"I'm not going to give them the permit until they go through the process and do it right," said Ellis, citing a pending biological opinion about jaguars and a cultural resource review about Tohono O'odham Indian sites in the area.

Although the fence isn't on the Tohono O'odham Nation, tribal Chairman Ned Norris Jr. said the project will adversely affect five of the tribe's cultural sites and that the tribe was not properly consulted.
We here at Demarcated Landscapes tip our hats to Mitch Ellis for trying to stand up to the Department of Homeland Security, and we're placing bets on how soon you are relocated to a windowless office in someplace with crappy weather. Send us a postcard. You're a champ.

We tip our hats to Mitch Ellis for at least making a show of it. Unlike other spineless slimebuckets who work for the USFWS here in the southwest and actually signed off on the biological opinion for the fencing project. You know who you are. Pathetic.

And heads up: We're expecting a FONSI on the San Pedro too.

- Lozen

Friday, August 24, 2007

Anybody else feel a new round of Healthy Forest's Restoration Acts coming on?

Boise's daily is proclaiming that the West's wildfires have caught national attention and suggests more logging as the answer to the forest fire problem, "instead of wasting useful fuel."

The paper calls for this action in the name of curbing global warming, and suggests that western governors and Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne join forces to increase the Forest Service's logging budget.

I sense trouble ahead for those of us who do not believe industrial forestry holds the solution to our loss of forest habitat.


With a few weeks of melting still to go, Arctic sea ice is already at record lows

Ouch. Check out the National Sea Ice Data Center's weekly updates on the Arctic.

Note how the ice is receding from land. And take your kids to see Arctic Tale. It's a great combination of a Walt Disney animal tale, a National Geographic Special, and a blow to the head.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Possibly the only thing interesting about the (sad) Utah mine story

It turns out the Mine Safety Czar honors mine safety in its breach, and could only get his job through a recess appointment: Congress would not approve him.

The man who will oversee the federal government's investigation into the disaster that has trapped six workers in a Utah coal mine for over a week was twice rejected for his current job by senators concerned about his own safety record when he managed mines in the private sector.

President George W. Bush resorted to a recess appointment in October 2006 to anoint Richard Stickler as the nation's mine safety czar after it became clear he could not receive enough support even in a GOP-controlled Senate.

This from Huffington Post.

And as we all have long suspected, the Utah mine's owner has his own deplorable safety record.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

And they wear big, fat belt buckles, too

Well, now.

DL just had to share the following article from yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune, which purports to be delivering news about “green ranching,” but which is really just another paean to the cowboy myth, replete with terse, he-man syntax and cool stuff like a ranch called Two Mile.

"Where the grass is greener"

Reader, search deeply your soul and see if there isn’t a little worm of cowboy worship wriggling around in there as you read about how, yep, to git a Pee-Aitch-Dee in Cow, ya gotta be out there workin the land fer forty year.

It’s a lingering disease—many of the people in the West who aren’t cowboys, and that would be 99.9999 percent, deep down in their souls, kind of wish they were. That’s how insidious and how deeply carved into our land-destroying western soul this myth really is.

The ranch manager who runs the place for the presumably pansy-ass enviros who own it is at pains to let us know he doesn’t wear Birks and he doesn’t read poetry. Phew.

To cleanse thyself, take a look at this fragment of a classic piece by the late Ed Abbey about what cowboys really do and what cows have really done to the West.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Robert Funkhouser, 1957-2007

Funkhouser was the President of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack on August 10. I just learned this from the fine blog National Parks Traveler.

Obituary (pdf).

National Parks Traveler on Funkhouser.

We here at DL are long-time admirers of the spunky Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, and extend our condolences to Robert's family and friends.


Gov't plane crashes while occupants hunt coyotes from the air with a shotgun

You be the judge. Here's how the story starts:

STURGIS -- Looking back on those tense moments before the crash, Tony DeCino still doesn't know how things went so wrong so fast.

The airplane was running fine. The wind was light. A low pass over the brown pastures of the Cheyenne River breaks put him and gunner Dan Turgeon within 50 yards of the furry targets below.

And the 12-gauge shotgun bucked repeatedly against Turgeon's shoulder, firing clusters of heavy steel shot that sent two coyotes tumbling into the grass.

To that point, it was a perfect run.

"We'd killed both coyotes. We'd already pulled up, cleared the terrain and were in a descent to go back and check on the animals," DeCino said. "Over the course of a couple of seconds, things changed from perfectly fine to me trying to maneuver that airplane and us being in the dirt."

Full story here (Rapid City Journal).


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Don't delay! Book your trip now to a coral reef.


CHAPEL HILL – Corals in the central and western Pacific ocean are dying faster than previously thought, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have found. Nearly 600 square miles of reef have disappeared per year since the late 1960s, twice the rate of rainforest loss.

Full story from NASA Earth Observatory News here.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Border Crackdown Working?

The headline by the AP being picked up across the country says, "Border crackdown working, numbers show." One needs not even to read between the lines to learn that the wall in San Diego isn't really posing a huge problem:
The only area that has seen an increase - 1.5 percent - is the San Diego sector, which runs along the California border and includes the harsh, roadless desert surrounding Tecate.
Gosh, and we thought the San Diego sector was all sealed up.
The line in the sand between the United States and Mexico is literally just that in some places, a line in the sand. A ten foot wall separates the two countries in places, but that wall stops and starts and is relatively easy to scale.
Whoops! You mean, a noncontiguous wall won't work? Minor detail.

And, though we can't offer a web link, you'll have to trust us that the feds have now issued a "finding of no significant impact" for installing 7 miles of "pedestrian fence," primarily on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. So, let's see here: the vehicle barriers aren't working, the proposed surveillance towers aren't expected to work, and now the "rippling grassland flanked by mountains, riparian zones rich in bird life," and "118,000 acres of habitat for threatened and endangered plants and animals." will be demarcated on the southern end by a impenetrable steel wall. Heads up to all the folks who think that virtual is actually better than actual fencing, the feds have this to say:
[The Temporary Vehicle Barriers] "have been installed and have proven to be effective deterrent to illegal vehicular traffic. However, changes to the tactical infrastructure in the Sasabe area are necessary to comply with the Congressional mandate of the Secure Fence Act of 2006.
So, you see how this works? Give them an inch and they take a mile. We let them build 370 miles of walls and the other 1630 miles can't be far behind.

Demand that inch back.

- Lozen

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Times Square = La Frontera

The border wall is a nightmare; the virtual fence only marginally less so. We thank our thoughtful reader for his comment that,
I think it's really a matter of the lesser of two evils. A physical fence is about the worst idea you could come up with, as it has a huge footprint (particularly for maintenance), will severely restrict wildlife movement and further lop the Sonoran Desert into two distinct gene pools, and--as with the virtual fence--it won't work anyway. It also looks like hell.
We couldn't agree more. However, does anyone think that we are going to get JUST the virtual fence? We'll eventually get the fence too. Especially if enviros keep rolling over and negotiating with the Department of Homeland Security and saying virtual is better than actual. Sure it is. BUT IT STILL SUCKS! (And when did we all become willing to negotiate for the lesser of two evils? When did the movement become so disempowered that we are allowing for the incidental "take" of thousands of acres of wild places, public places, and irreplaceable habitats?)

We too often accept that stalling is winning: slow down some of the chainsaws and the bulldozers, write a press release, and look the other way when the buzz and roar comes around again. You've won some time and maybe public favor and maybe saved a nest or two by negotiating the line somewhere else.

In the case of the virtual wall, we can use this same argument: take it now and hopefully by the time its effectiveness is thoroughly disproven, we'll have another Administration with some more reasonable ideas about immigration:
In two days of barnstorming across Iowa last week, Giuliani bragged of ridding New York's streets of those dreaded "squeegie operators." He talked of slashing the size of city government and reducing the welfare rolls. And he tried to equate his efforts to clear Times Square of prostitutes and drug dealers to his promise to seal the U.S.-Mexico border.

Ending illegal immigration, he said, is "no more impossible than bringing down crime in New York."

Well, OK then: If the next President isn't smarter about border policy, at least maybe s/he will pay attention to the Endangered Species Act, and by then, maybe the jaguar will have a recovery plan. Maybe the recovery plan will limit infrastructure in its habitat and the Real ID Act will be repealed and we'll all live happily ever after.

Let's hope so. But we cannot stop there: We have to do more than hope. We have to find new and creative ways to say no to the militarization and environmental destruction of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Now.