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Activists to challenge EPA approval of new herbicide

Corn husks, stalks and leaves could help provide material for a sustainable source of biofuel.

Activists challenge EPA approval of new herbicides.

Chemical-agricultural death spiral continues …

Staff Report

FRISCO — A coalition of farmers and environmental groups claim the EPA didn’t adequately analyze the human health and environmental impacts of a powerful new herbicide before authorizing for use on genetically engineered corn and soybean crops.

Activists said they will sue the agency over the approval, explaining that use of Dow’s Enlist Duo, a blend of glyphosate and 2,4-D, will only foster more weed resistance.

“The voices of independent family farmers are being drowned out by the revolving door of corporate and government agency heads,” said Mississippi farmer Ben Burkett. “It’s time for our government to pay attention to the farmer concerns about the negative impacts of herbicide-resistant GMO on our food supply,” said Burkett, president of the National Family Farm Coalition. Continue reading

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Rare California frogs finally get recovery plan

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Can a recovery plan save rare yellow-legged frogs in California? Photo courtesy Adam Backlin, USGS.

 Critical habitat designation and active restoration efforts could bolster populations

Staff Report

FRISCO — After 12 years on the endangered species list, a dwindling population of California frogs will finally get some much-needed attention from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Under a settlement agreement reached last week, the agency will develop a recovery plan for Southern California’s mountain yellow-legged frogs by December 2018

“I’m so glad these severely endangered frogs will finally get a recovery plan,” said Collette Adkins Giese, a Center of Biological Diversity attorney and biologists dedicated to protecting rare amphibians and reptiles. “Recovery plans really need to be developed soon after species are protected, because they give us a roadmap of exactly what we need to do to ensure those species won’t go extinct.”

There are only nine known populations of the frogs, all living in isolated headwaters streams where they rely on snowmelt and freshwater springs for habitat. Most of the frogs were wiped out by the introduction of non-native trout, and habitat degradation is another factor in their decline. Continue reading

Climate: Study says warmer temps causing goats to shrink

Body mass no joke for alpine critters that live on the edge of survival

Staff Report

FRISCO — A 30-year study of mountain goats in the European Alps suggests that global warming may be causing the mammals to shrink dramatically, posing a potential risk to the species’s survival.

It’s not the first time that scientists have documented changes in body size as a response to climate change, but the chamois researcher with Durham University (UK) said they were surprised by the speed and magnitude of the changes in chamois.

“Body size declines attributed to climate change are widespread in the animal kingdom, with many fish, bird and mammal species getting smaller,” said Dr. Tom Mason, with School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, at Durham University. “However the decreases we observe here are astonishing. The impacts on Chamois weight could pose real problems for the survival of these populations.” Continue reading

New governance model needed for sustainable fisheries

Trawl nets grab any and all forms of marine life, laying waste to the ocean floor. The total area bottom trawled is nearly 150 times the area of forest that is clearcut annually around the world. Credit: Sarah Foster

Trawl nets grab any and all forms of marine life, laying waste to the ocean floor. The total area bottom trawled is nearly 150 times the area of forest that is clearcut annually around the world.
Credit: Sarah Foster

Focus on large commercial fishing operations misses big part of the picture

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ignoring small-scale fisheries risks irreversible harm to ocean ecosystems, scientists warned this week, calling for on governments to adopt new models for regulating small coastal fishing operations that account for about 90 percent of the world’s fishers — about 100 million strong.

Most of those fishermen depend on the ocean for their livelihoods and many catch fish and other marine animals at unsustainable levels. Governments, conservationists, and researchers around the world must address the enormous threat posed by these unregulated and destructive fisheries, marine scientists wrote in Science. Continue reading

Antarctica’s ice-free fringe needs more protection

Invasive species a huge threat to sparse ecosystems, scientists report

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Tourists on Dundee Island hike past birds and pinnipeds. bberwyn photo

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Tourists hiking on Deception Island. bberwyn photo

Staff Report

FRISCO — The tiny ice-free fringes of Antarctica are especially prone to ecosystem disruption, including invasive species, an Australian science team warned earlier this year after taking a close look at how human use is concentrated in those slivers of dry land.

Antarctica has over 40,000 visitors a year, and more and more research facilities are being built in the continent’s tiny ice-free area. Most of the Antarctic wildlife and plants live in the ice-free areas – and this is also where people most visit.

Most tour operators in Antarctica follow strict guidelines set to protect ecosystems, including at least basic decontamination procedures, but those measures might not be enough, especially as global warming makes ice-free zones more susceptible to invasive species. Continue reading

Morning photo: Snow-capped!

Dustings …

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October storm clears the Tenmile Range near Frisco, Colorado

FRISCO — Is there anything better than the sight of a storm clearing over a big mountain range, with lifting clouds and broken bits of sunshine streaming in? After a string of warm and sunny days, a quick storm passed through Summit County Oct. 20, leaving the higher elevations frosted with some new snow. As always, the clearing storm created stunning vistas of mountains and clouds. Follow our Instagram feed for daily photo updates and visit our online gallery for a great selection of Colorado landscape and nature images, available as fine art prints and greeting cards. Continue reading

Climate: Karakoram glaciers to keep growing

Study hints at complexity of forecasting climate change in the mountains

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A NASA Earth Observatory satellite image shows the heart of the Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan, along with the glaciers that supply water for millions of people below.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Teasing localized climate information from global models is tough at any level, and becomes even harder when you factor in the complexities of mountain topography and highly localized and seasonal weather patterns.

But new data has enabled scientists to better understand the long-vexing climate change puzzle of growing glaciers in the Karakoram mountains, a northern range of the greater Himalayas. Understanding the future of glaciers in that region, and around the world, has implications for millions of people who rely on the glaciers for water supplies.

Most glaciers in the Himalayas and around the world have been retreated for the past 150 years, and the melting has accelerated in the last few decades. But the Karakoram glaciers have been stable or growing. The new study says it’s because a unique and localized seasonal pattern keeps the mountain range relatively cold and dry during the summer. Continue reading

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