Posted on May 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Appeal says new rules won’t protect bats from white-nose syndrome
A Missouri bat that died after being infected with white-nose syndrome. Photo courtesy USGS.
* Click here for more Summit Voice coverage of white-nose syndrome
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Conservation groups say U.S. Forest Service officials made an arbitrary and capricious decision when they replaced a widespread cave and mine closure with a weaker rule that could lead to the introduction of a deadly bat disease in the Rocky Mountain region.
In its appeal, the Center for Biological Diversity said that required decontamination procedures are questionable at best under field conditions, and that mandatory closures of caves when white-nose syndrome is detected within 250 miles doesn’t go far enough to protect bats.
Travelers and cave visitors could easily span that distance before the disease is ever detected, thus inadvertently spreading the disease into West, which so far has remained free of the disease that has wiped out more than 5 million bats across the eastern U.S. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Colorado, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: bats, Environment, U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region, white-nose syndrome | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Shortage of honeybee colonies for agriculture growing
Bees help pollinate commercial crops and wild plants. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — U.S. beekeepers said they lost almost a third (31.3 percent) of their managed honeybee colonies during the 2012-2013 winter, more than double the “acceptable” loss rate of 15 percent.
Colony losses increased 42 percent from the previous year, with about 70 percent of the beekeepers surveyed reporting that they lost more than 15 percent of their honeybee colonies, according to the preliminary results of an annual survey.
An estimated one-third of all food and beverages are made possible by pollination, mainly by honey bees. A decline in managed bee colonies puts great pressure on the sectors of agriculture reliant on commercial pollination services. This is evident from reports of shortages of bees available for the pollination of many crops. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: agriculture, Colony collapse disorder, Environment, EPA, honeybees | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Interdisciplinary research needed to find solutions.
Pesticides, disease and habitat loss all contribute to loss of important insects
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — While the stunning decline in honeybee populations has made widespread headlines in recent years, other pollinating insects are also under pressure from multiple threats, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
The loss of those insects could have profound environmental, human health and economic consequences, considering that insects pollinate about 75 percent of crop species and enable reproduction in up to 94 percent of wild flowering plants. Pollination services provided by insects each year worldwide are valued at over $200 billion.
The research was carried out by an international team of 40 scientists from 27 institutions involved in the UK’s Insect Pollinators Initiative (IPI), a £10M research program investigating the causes and consequences of pollinator decline. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Environment, pollinating insects, Pollinator, pollinator decline | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 27, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Drought persists across all of Colorado.
Reservoir storage reaching historic low levels
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Heading into April, Colorado water managers say snowfall the next few weeks would have to be more than twice or normal for the snowpack to reach the average peak snowpack, which typically happens April 8.
A big swath of the high country, including Summit and Eagle counties, is still classified as being in extreme drought.
After spending the last few months hoping for more snow, water providers now say they are preparing for continued drought conditions in spring and summer. Some towns have already announced strict outdoor watering restrictions staring early in spring. More information on watering restrictions is online at www.COH2O.co. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Snow and weather | Tagged: climate, Colorado, drought, Natural Resources Conservation Service, snowpack, South Platte River | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Mike Lester says Colorado forests face ‘extraordinary changes’
Colorado’s aspen forests may see more die-offs as a result of last summer’s drought.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado’s new state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service may be moving here from Pennsylvania, but his forestry roots are pure Colorado.
Mike Lester is a CSU alumnus and spent time with the Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. He currently serves as assistant state forester for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, a position in which he is responsible for more than 300 staff, manages 2 million acres of state forest land, oversees the Pennsylvania State nursery manager, and manages a silviculture program that yields $25 million in annual revenues.
As Colorado state forester, Lester is responsible for the protection of Colorado’s forest resources; ensuring forestry education, outreach and technical assistance to private landowners; and carrying out the duties of the Division of Forestry within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, forests, public lands | Tagged: Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado State University, Forest health, forests, Mike Lester | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 4, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Wild insect populations are critical to pollinating plant life. Bob Berwyn photo.
Honeybees augment, but don’t replace diverse insect populations
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With a lot of recent concerns focused on the decline of honeybee populations, a new study shows that wild insects even even more important as pollinators for certain crops for crops stocked routinely with high densities of honey bees, including almonds, blueberries, mangos and watermelons.
“Our study shows that losses of wild insects from agricultural landscapes impact not only our natural heritage but also our agricultural harvests,” said Lucas A. Garibaldi, of the Universidad Nacional de Río Negro – CONICET, Argentina.
“We found that wild insects consistently enhanced the number of flowers setting fruits or seeds for a broad range of crops and agricultural practices on all continents with farmland,” Garibaldi said. “Long term, productive agricultural systems should include habitat for both honey bees and diverse wild insects. Our study prompts for the implementation of more sustainable agricultural practices.” (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: agriculture, honeybees, insects, Pollination | 3 Comments »
Posted on February 15, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Sen. Michael Bennet.
Post-wildfire erosion seen as huge threat to water supplies
By Summit Voice
FRISCO —Trying to win support for a farm bill that includes adequate disaster relief for Colorado’s drought-stricken farms, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet this week highlighted the devastating effects of last summer’s drought – one of the worst in decades – on Colorado’s agriculture industry and rural communities in a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing. The hearing was held to explore the toll weather disasters have taken on the country’s agriculture industry.
“We have now had two years in a row and it sounds like we’re going to have a third year of drought in our region,” Bennet said. “These conditions are forcing farmers and ranchers in Colorado to rely on disaster programs to make it from year to year. Producers in my state have stressed the need for certainty so they can appropriately manage their farms and ranches from season to season. Colorado’s economy depends heavily on the state’s agricultural industry, which is why I am committed to passing a long-term Farm Bill that provides certainty to Colorado’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities,” Bennet said. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Colorado, Drought | Tagged: agriculture, Colorado, drought, Roger Pulwarty, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Spruce beetle infestation grows in southwestern mountains
Aerial surveys show that spruce beetles are spreading in SW Colorado, while pine beetles slow their attack in the northern and central part of the state.
The spread of mountain pine beetles slowed to levels last seen in 2003.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Mountain pine beetle activity in Colorado dropped dramatically in 2012, to the lowest level in 10 years, according to state and federal officials who this week released the the results of their latest aerial surveys.
Mountain pine beetles are still spreading across parts of the mountains between Estes Park and Leadville, but new activity was reported on just 31,000 acres, down from 141,000 acres in 2011. Since the outbreak started in 1996, beetles killed trees across more than 3.4 million acres, but it’s important to remember that not every single tree died.
In the aftermath of the infestation, foresters are finding that pockets of younger trees survived the wave of beetles, even in the hardest-hit areas. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles | Tagged: Colorado, forest heath, forests, Mountain pine beetle, pine beetles, spruce beetles, U.S. Forest Service | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
This NASA satellite image shows California’s Central Valley filled with fog and gives a sense of the size of the valley.
Climate models illustrate a little-known part of the hydrological cycle in the Colorado River Basin
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Research by scientists at the University of California, Irvine suggests a previously unexplored connection between irrigated agriculture in California and summer monsoon rains in the greater Colorado River Basin.
The new study by climate hydrologist Jay Famiglietti shows that huge amounts of the water used for irrigation in California’s Central Valley ends up back in the atmosphere, helping to fuel and intensify summer thunderstorm activity in the interior West.
The moisture, which reaches the atmosphere via evapotranspiration, may add up to as much as 100 billion gallons in additional runoff, about enough water for 3 million people for a year, Famiglietti said. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: California Central Valley, Colorado River, Geophysical Research Letters, north american monsoon, rivers, water | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 14, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
‘Climate change is already affecting the American people’
There is no letup in the steady long-term rise of global temperatures.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Coming shortly after the National Climatic Data Center reported that 2012 was the warmest year on record for the U.S., a new federal report on global warming doesn’t mince words, starting with the first paragraph of the executive summary:
“Climate change is already affecting the American people. Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heatwaves, heavy downpours, ain, in some regions, floods and droughts. Sea level is rising oceans are becoming more acidic and glaciers and arctic sea ice are melting.”
Along with laying out the science, the report cites experiences that most Americans can relate to. “Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience. So, too, have coastal planners from Florida to Maine, water managers in the arid Southwest and parts of the Southeast, and Native Americans on tribal lands across the nation.” (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, ocean conservation | Tagged: climate change, drought, Environment, extreme weather, global warming, United States | 1 Comment »