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Colorado: Senators Udall and Bennet ask President Obama to use Antiquities Act to designate Browns Canyon as a national monument

Gridlock in Congress prompts request for designation

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Staff Report

FRISCO — Citing gridlock in Congress, Colorado’s U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have asked President Obama to consider designating Browns Canyon, in Chaffee County, as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

The request comes as Congress has all but ignored a huge backlog of public lands bills primarily based on ideological opposition to land protection measures by House Republican committee chairs.

According to Udall and Bennet’s Nov. 25 letter to President Obama, community leaders in the Browns Canyon area suggested the Antiquities Act path, recognizing the significant economic benefits of the designation for regional tourism-based businesses. Continue reading

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Mexican gray wolves may get more room to roam

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USFWS seeks to expand recovery area

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal biologists say they want to gradually expand the recovery area for Mexican gray wolves, ultimately covering enough habitat for more than 300 wolves in the rugged deserts and mountains of southern Arizona and New Mexico.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week released a final environmental impact statement that aims to address some of the most vexing wolf management issues, including ways to mitigate impacts to ranchers and to address the need for more genetic diversity in the wolf population. Continue reading

Global warming could speed up honeybee decline

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New research suggests that honeybee parasites spread faster as the Earth heats up. bberwyn photo.

Study tracks spread of invasive parasite

Staff Report

FRISCO —Global warming is very likely speeding up the spread of an invasive parasite that threatens honeybees in the UK, according to scientists with Queen’s University Belfast.

After studying the gut parasite Nosema ceranae, the scientists said its numbers could increase with climate change because its better able to adapt to warmer temperatures.

The parasite is native to Asia but has spread worldwide and is likely to cause increasing damage to bees as the Earth heats up. The findings were published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“This emerging parasite is more susceptible to cold than its original close relative, possibly reflecting its presumed origin in east Asia,” said Queen’s School of Biological Sciences Professor Robert Paxton. “In the face of rising global temperatures, our findings suggest that it will increase in prevalence and potentially lead to increased honey bee colony losses in Britain.” Continue reading

Environment: More than 100 scientists call on President Obama to protect bees from pesticide threats

A widely used class of pesticides is probably responsible for a massive honeybee die-off.

Scientists call on President Obama to directly address neonicotinoids pesticide impacts to bees. bberwyn photo.

‘Body of science’ shows harmful impacts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Environmental activists and scientists are convinced that neonicotinoid and other systemic pesticides are the main cause of rapidly declining bee populations across the U.S. and this week, they directly asked President Obama to address the pesticide threat.

More than 100 scientists from different fields signed on to a new letter calling on leaders of President Barack Obama’s Pollinator Health Task Force to take action on pesticides to protect and promote healthy populations of bees and other pollinators.   Continue reading

Greater sage-grouse need more buffer zones

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Greater sage-grouse need buffer zones to reduce impacts from human activities. Photo via USGS.

New USGS report details conservation needs of dwindling western birds

Staff Report

FRISCO — It may seem like there are a lot of wide open spaces remaining in the interior West, but when you add up impacts from roads, highways and pipelines; oil, gas, wind and solar energy development; tall structures such as electrical, communication and meteorological towers, it’s just too much for sage grouse.

The birds — at the heart of a classic endangered species political battle, need quiet areas to breed and fledge their chicks. In most cases, they seem to need at least a three-mile buffer from the most impactful activities, the U.S. Geological Survey concluded in a new report. Continue reading

Report: No gains in U.S. airline fuel efficiency

Industry foot-dragging continues,; lawsuits pending

An Iceland Air jet flies over Greenland en route from Reykjavik to Denver. bberwyn photo.

An Iceland Air jet flies over Greenland en route from Reykjavik to Denver. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. airlines aren’t making much progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation. Despite some improvement by individual airlines, the analysis showed there was  no net improvement in the fuel efficiency of U.S. domestic operations from 2012 to 2013.

The nonprofit organization also calculated that two of the most fuel efficient carriers  — Alaska and Spirit — had the highest operating profit margins in 2013. Meanwhile less-efficient carriers like Allegiant made profits while using old, polluting and less efficient aircraft. The study findings contradict airline industry arguments that fuel costs automatically push airlines to maximize efficiency. Continue reading

Native Americans eye huge South Dakota wind energy project

A map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows areas with the potential for windpower and the associated transmission grid.

A map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows areas with the potential for windpower and the associated transmission grid.

Sioux Nation wants to focus on renewable energy, not dirty tar sands oil

Staff Report

FRISCO — Just a few days after responding angrily to the U.S. House vote to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, Sioux Nation Native American leaders met with the Obama administration to explore renewable energy options.

The meeting included representatives from more than eight federal agencies and offices, including representatives from the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Treasury, and Tribal Relations. Continue reading

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