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Environment: Feds to ban genetically engineered crops, neonicotinoid pesticides in wildlife refuges

Resident bald eagle in Summit County, Colorado guarding the nest.

Recent studies show that neonicotinoid pesticides can persist in the environment, so the decision to ban them from federal wildlife refuges is good news for bald eagles. bberwyn photo.

New directive ends some long-running legal squabbles

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal wildlife and land managers say they’ll end the use of genetically engineered crops and ban systemic neonicotonoid pesticides in the next 18 months. In a July 17 memo  chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System James Kurth wrote that it’s not essential for his agency to use the potentially harmful products to meet its wildlife management objectives. Read the FWS memorandum.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service thus becomes the first federal agency to restrict the use of GE crops and neonicotinoids in farming in the U.S.

Public land and health watchdog groups have been challenging the agency over the use GE crops since 2005, including five lawsuits, two legal petitions and multitudes of administrative challenges and appeals, resulting in numerous court rulings against the agency. In one case, a judge ordered the agency to eradicate genetically engineered plants from wildlife refuges in the Southeast. Continue reading

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Major Colorado River players announce conservation push

Near critical shortages in California prompt action

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Heading downstream … bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With Colorado River water supplies disappearing at a dizzying rate, and with a thirsty — and politically mighty — California parched by drought, the biggest water users at the table said this week they’ll invest $11 million to try and conserve significant amounts of water across all sectors, including including agricultural, municipal and industrial uses.

The Central Arizona Project, Denver Water, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Southern Nevada Water Authority all signed on to what is being presented as a landmark water conservation agreement aimed at demonstrating “the viability of cooperative, voluntary compensated measures,” according to a press release from Denver Water. Continue reading

Colorado: Mule deer summit set for Aug. 9

Colorado mule deer.

Colorado mule deer. bberwyn photo.

State biologists to unveil plan aimed at bolstering deer herds

Staff Report

FRISCO — After studying the decline of Colorado mule deer populations for the past few years, state wildlife biologists are ready to unveil a new strategy aimed at stabilizing an bolstering deer numbers. Western Slope residents will be able to get an early look at the plan during the upcoming Aug. 9 mule deer summit in Glenwood Springs.

The event is free and open to the public. CPW and The Keystone Center invite public review and comments on the West Slope Mule Deer Strategy draft as it serves as a guide to future CPW efforts to increase mule deer populations in Western Colorado.
Continue reading

Climate: Scientists call for cuts in methane emissions

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Cutting methane could slow global temperature surge.

Action could help avert climate tipping points

Staff Report

FRISCO — Leading scientists say the U.S. must do more to cut methane emissions from fossil fuel exploitation and other sectors to try and avoid reaching climate tipping points that could have disastrous implications.

Methane is a much more potent heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide, but it only stays in the atmosphere for about 12 years, which means that big cuts could have a tangible short-term benefit in the race to cap global warming. Continue reading

Climate: What’s up, El Niño?

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A NOAA map shows warmer than average ocean temperatures in red developing off the coast of South American during the past few months, but sea surface temps are also remaining warmer than average across the western Pacific, hampering development of a full-fledged El Niño.

Widespread ocean warmth may hamper development

Staff Report

FRISCO — This year’s brewing El Niño may be dampened by widespread warm sea surface temperatures across the Pacific Ocean, according to weather experts. Specifically, ocean temperatures across the far western Pacific have remained so warm that one of the key ingredients for a full-strength El Niño is missing — a significant difference in temperatures between the western and Eastern Pacific.

But so far this summer, warmer than average temperatures are spread across the Pacific from east to west. Just last week, the National Climatic Data Center announced that the average global temperature for June was the warmest on record, driving in large part by warm oceans. Continue reading

Climate Ranger project: We did it — thanks, everyone!

Check our stretch goals

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Rocky Mountains, here we come!

By Bob Berwyn

Thanks to the Beacon team, smart readers and generous souls, we’ve reached our $5,000 funding goal and we’re starting to plan the first leg of the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger journey, high into the alpine zone of the Rockies, where melting mountain permafrost is worsening pollution in mountain streams. We’ll post our first story within a week. If you supported the project by pledging toward a subscription, you will receive your login from the Beacon team as soon as this project closes. For now, there’s still time to scoot on over to the project page and get your subscription. We’ll continue to post material from the project here on Summit Voice, but the Beacon news feed will be the freshest!

You can follow the treks on Twitter at a #climaterangers hashtag, and we’ll use a Beacon forum, as well as a Facebook page, as places where you can post questions for us and for all the people we’ll be interviewing along the way. You see, this project isn’t just crowdfunded, we’re hoping to partially crowdsource our stories, and you will be a big part of that!

Meanwhile, our funding period is open for another 36 hours, so we’re aiming for a stretch goal of $1,500 to help us upgrade our video equipment and plan a longer trip segment heading north, to find the biggest remaining glacier in the Rocky Mountains — does anyone know where it is?

So for fun:

Videography Sponsor level - For $750 you can sponsor all the trip videos. You’ll help us upgrade our video capabilities, and you’ll be fostering important life skills in a teenager who already shows talent and interest in environmental journalism.

Glacier-hunting Sponsor level – For $750 you can support our trip to find the biggest remaining glacier in the Rocky Mountains. We’re curious as to where that is?

The Whole Enchilada Sponsor level – For $1,000 you get all the above, plus a free weekend of lodging in a luxury condo at Copper Mountain during the post-trip dinner event in Dillon Colorado.

All higher-level sponsors ($100 or more) are invited to the Harvest Dinner event, featuring local, sustainable food, and presentation from the trip. You’re also eligible to choose a high-quality, large-format fine art print from our online galleries.

Please continue to share this link – http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/rocky-mountain-climate-rangers – for another day or so. Extra funding will enable us to expand the scope and quality of our reporting.

Thanks again, Bob and Beacon

Morning photo: High Rockies

The alpine zone

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How will furry denizens of the high alpine zone in the Rocky Mountains fare as the climate warms? Find out by following the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project.

FRISCO — Had a chance to visit Mt. Evans with my family over the weekend! We got a good look at some classic Colorado wildlife, enjoyed the tundra in full bloom and just narrowly escaped a wicked hailstorm, although we did see the aftermath, with quarter-size hail whitening the ground. It was also fun to see the normally white trunks of the bristlecone pines stained reddish-brown by a heavy rain. And, finally, we’re happy to report that the wild mushrooms are starting to pop. Also happy to report that our Climate Ranger project has reached it’s initial funding goal: http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/rocky-mountain-climate-rangers

Donate to the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project

mtnYour contribution to this independent journalism project will be matched dollar for dollar by Beacon. Click to learn more and make a donation. Continue reading

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