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Global hydropower boom poses biodiversity risks

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Hoover Dam.

New database to help assess impacts of planned dams

Staff Report

FRISCO — An emergent global hydropower boom will help meet the demand for low-carbon energy, but also poses environmental risks, according to experts compiling a new data base on global hydropower.

The boom is expected to double production of hydropower, but could also reduce  the number of our last remaining large free-flowing rivers by about 20 percent and pose a serious threat to freshwater biodiversity.

A new database has been developed to support decision making on sustainable modes of electricity production. An unprecedented number of dams for electricity production is currently under construction or planned worldwide, mainly in developing countries and emerging economies in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa, that also hold some of the world’s most important sites for freshwater biodiversity.  Continue reading

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Colorado: More fracking coming to the Pawnee National Grasslands

Feds finalizing oil and gas development plan for 100,000 acres of public land

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Oil and gas drilling is spreading northeastward into the Pawnee National Grasslands. Map courtesy WildEarth Guardians.

Staff Report

FRISCO — If it sometimes feels like fracking is closing in wherever you look, it’s because it is. One of the latest arenas for fossil fuel exploitation is on the Pawnee National Grasslands, in northeastern Colorado, described by the U.S. Forest Service as the country’s last remaining shortgrass prairie. Continue reading

Morning photo: Fall revisited

Brilliance!

FRISCO — With a few thousand new autumn photos in the files, it’s time, in this in between season, to go back and start focusing on the very best shots of the season. There’s no question in my mind that the best images are from the days when the sky wasn’t just a passive blue bystander, but an active participant in the show, will billowing gray clouds acting as a perfect foil to the incredible brilliance of changing aspen leaves. And a few times we even enjoyed autumn rainbows as a bonus to the season. 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

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

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

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