Global warming to speed up forest die-offs

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Taller trees, like this California redwood, are most susceptible to global warming impacts, a new study says. @bberwyn photo.

‘The warming climate is creating a threat to global forests unlike any in recorded history’

Staff Report

*More Summit Voice stories on forests and climate change here

FRISCO — Forest researchers have been seeing the warning signs for decades — global warming is speeding up tree deaths around the world.

The pace of those changes is likely to speed up, according to scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“The warming climate is creating a threat to global forests unlike any in recorded history,” said Nathan McDowell, of Los Alamos’ Earth and Environmental Sciences Division. “Forests store the majority of terrestrial carbon and their loss may have significant and sustained impacts on the global carbon cycle.” Continue reading

Environment: New Clean Water Rule finalized, but the fighting is not over

Runoff and rainstorms have combined to keep flows high in the Blue River.

A new EPA rule aims to define which streams and rivers are protected under the Clean Water Act.

Big loopholes for industry, farms will continue to threaten water quality

Staff Report

FRISCO — After years of wrangling, the EPA has finalized a new rule intended to define which streams are covered under the Clean Water Act. The debate goes back more than a decade to a pair of court rulings that called into question whether smaller tributaries and seasonal streams are subject to federal regulations.

Yesterday’s announcement probably won’t end the fighting — Republicans in Congress have launched a bitter attack on the rule at the behest of big polluters like industrial farms and factories, and some national conservation groups like the Waterkeeper Alliance say the new rule is too weak, and rolls back protection for some streams that were previously covered. Continue reading

How do changing forests affect bees?

Changes in southeastern forests may be contributing to the decline of bee populations, @bberwyn photo.

Changes in southeastern forests may be contributing to the decline of bee populations, @bberwyn photo.

Forest Service study helps unravel pollinator decline mystery Staff Report FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service scientists say they’ve solved another part of the biological puzzle surrounding the alarming decline of bee populations. Changes in forest structure from open to closed canopies are likely contributing to the decline, especially of native bees, at least in some regions. “Bees prefer open forests,” said Jim Hanula, a research entomologist at the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station. “We found that total tree basal area was the best predictor for how many bees would be present.” Continue reading

Sen. Bennet leads charge for sage-grouse conservation funding

The health of sage grouse populations is directly linked to that of the sagebrush landscape. More than 350 species rely on the sagebrush ecosystem including elk, mule deer and pronghorn’

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Can greater sage-grouse get some love from Congress?

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a bid to avoid an endangered species listing for greater sage-grouse, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett led a group of fellow Democrats urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund an array of conservation measures by multiple federal land management agencies. Continue reading

Study shows link between air, water pollution

This Meadow Creek, a wild, free-flowing stream that starts in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area and ends up flowing right past our house before its confluence with Dillon Reservoir, where it's wild no more.

Atmospheric emissions of hormone-disrupting chemicals found to pollute rivers and streams.

Hormone-disrupting toxins in Missouri streams traced to factory emissions

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists say atmospheric releases of hormone-disrupting chemicals may be a big source of of pollution in streams and lakes. After studying water quality near industrial sites permitted to release toxic chemicals into the air, the researchers said they found unexpectedly high levels of BPA in water around those factories.

“This finding suggests that atmospheric BPA releases may contaminate local surface water, leading to greater exposure of humans or wildlife,” said Don Tillitt, adjunct professor of biological sciences at MU, and biochemistry and physiology branch chief with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Columbia Environmental Research Center. Continue reading

Regional deal paves way for global climate treaty

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As the world warms, local and regional governments decide to act.

‘Subnational’ government decisions a big piece of global warming puzzle

Staff Report

FRISCO — Meaningful greenhouse gas reduction efforts at the regional level are critical grassroots building blocks on the road to a global climate treaty, and last week, 12 jurisdictions from around the world committed to big cuts by signing on to a climate leadership memorandum of understanding.

The founding signatories of the subnational agreement — 12 — states and provinces representing 100 million people from seven countries —  committed to cut total emissions by 80-95 percent percent below 1990 levels, or to cut per-capita emissions to below two tons, by 2050. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Louisiana black bear recovery hailed as endangered species success story

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Louisiana black bears have recovered and will be taken off the endangered species list. Photo courtesy Brad Young, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

Recovery goals met, USFWS proposes delisting

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a textbook case of endangered species conservation,  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists last week said they’ve met their recovery goals for the Louisiana black bear and moved to take the species off the endangered species list.

The subspecies of black bear lives only in Louisiana, East Texas and western Mississippi. It was listed in 1992 because of pressures from hunting and habitat destruction and fragmentation. Now, the agency estimates about 500 and 750 Louisiana black bears roam the region, about double the population size at the time of listing. Continue reading

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