Posted on May 17, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Habitat exchange scheme eyed as key component in efforts to protect dwindling western birds
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is ordering state agencies to boost greater sage-grouse conservation efforts. Photo courtesy USFWS.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling for an all-out state effort to protect greater sage-grouse by stepping up coordination among state agencies, improving habitat on state-controlled lands, and boosting the role of the state’s oil and gas commission.
The new conservation push, announced in a May 15 executive order, also outlines a market-based habitat exchange program that would let ranchers and other landowners buy and sell conservation credits to developers, including the oil and gas industry with the goal of mitigating “residual impacts” to sage-grouse habitat. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, Colorado, endangered species, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Colorado, conservation banking, endangered species, Greater sage-grouse, habitat exchange, oil and gas drilling, ranching | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 14, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A widely used class of pesticides is probably responsible for a massive honeybee die-off. @bberwyn photo.
Annual survey shows disturbing rise in summer bee colony losses
FRISCO — Commercial beekeepers took another big hit last summer, reporting that they lost more than 40 percent of their honey bee colonies during the past year. Summer losses were higher than winter losses for the first time in five years, stoking concerns over the long-term trend of poor health in honey bee colonies, according to University of Maryland scientists. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: agriculture, Environment, food, honey bee colony collapse, honey bee decline, neonicotinoids, pesticides | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 13, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
USDA declaration opens door for emergency aid
FRISCO — While spring snow and rain have slightly eased Colorado water woes, the situation is more serious in the northwestern part of the state, where three large rural counties have been designated as a contiguous disaster areas due to drought.
Senator Michael Bennet announced the designation today, saying that the U.S. Department of Agriculture declaration makes farm operators in thise counties eligible to be considered for federal assistance, including Farm Service Agency emergency loans.
“Producers on Colorado’s western slope have faced drought conditions that are damaging their goods and hurting local economies,” Bennet said. “These disaster designations will allow farmers and ranchers to access critical assistance to help them deal with any losses to crops or livestock.”
Producers in counties designated as primary or contiguous disaster areas are eligible to be considered for FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for assistance. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers and ranchers with additional information.
The drought declaration came after a winter of well-below normal snowfall and near-record warmth in the region.
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Colorado, Drought | Tagged: climate, Colorado, drought, snowpack, USDA, weather | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 9, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
The BLM is eying sagebrush restoration work.
Great Basin projects to bolster sage-grouse habitat
FRISCO — Federal land managers want to stem the loss of sagebrush habitat with a $4 million series of projects across the Great Basin.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the Bureau of Land Management projects will reduce the threat of more frequent and intense wildfires that are damaging sagebrush landscapes and productive rangelands. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, BLM, endangered species, Environment, public lands | Tagged: BLM, Environment, Great Basin, Greater sage-grouse, public lands | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 4, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Colorado River Basin snowpack and streamflow forecasts now similar to 1977, 2002 and 2012 drought years
Statewide snowpack is just half of average going into the crucial phase of runoff season.
Don’t miss this year’s State of the River.
FRISCO — Continued drought in the Far West, along with Colorado’s push to develop a first-ever statewide water plan, should be reason enough for Coloradans to take an interest in the state of the Colorado River.
One of the best chances to get a user-friendly update is at the annual State of River meeting, sponsored by the Blue River Watershed Group.
Hands-on water experts will explain how this year’s snowmelt will play out and how that affects operations of Dillon Reservoir and Green Mountain Reservoir — both for water deliveries downstream and for onsite recreational use.
To accommodate a bigger turnout, the State of the River presentation has been moved to the Silverthorne Pavilion (Tuesday, May 5, 6-8 p.m.) Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, Colorado, Colorado River, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Blue River Basin, climate change, Colorado River, Dillon Reservoir, drought, Green Mountain Reservoir, Lake Mead, Lake Powell, reservoirs, stream flows, Summit County News | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 4, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Feed the world, and cut greenhouse gases? It can be done, scientists say. Photo courtesy USDA.
China study shows benefits of switching to sustainable, organic agriculture
FRISCO — A large-scale shift to sustainable organic farming could dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions — and improve soil quality and crop resistance to pests at the same time, according to a new study from China.
Since about a third of all global greenhouse gas emissions are produced by agriculture, scientists have been taking a close look at how to manage the production of food in a way that reduces the global warming footprint. With best practices in place, agriculture could become a net carbon sink instead of a source of heat-trapping pollution, some scientists assert. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, climate change, Environment, global warming | Tagged: agriculture, climate change, global warming, greenhouse gases, Organic farming | 3 Comments »
Posted on May 4, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
‘Neonicotinoid pesticides are a risk to our bees and we should stop using them on plants that bees visit’
A bumblebee visits wild fireweed to gather nectar and pollen. @bberwyn photo.
FRISCO — Scientists say that neonicotinoid pesticides prevent bees from learning, feeding and reproducing by killing their brain cells.
“It is ironic that neonicotinoids, pesticides developed to preserve the health of plants, ultimately inflict tremendous damage on plant life,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D. “These chemicals destroy the insect communities required by plants for their own reproduction.” Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, Environment | Tagged: bees, honeybees, neonicotinoids, pesticides, pollinators | 1 Comment »