Feds reject Oregon’s coastal pollution control plan

Coho salmon (by Timothy Knepp USFWS).

Coho salmon (by Timothy Knepp USFWS).

Logging, erosion from forest roads still seen as threat to salmon

Staff Report

FRISCO — Oregon still isn’t doing enough to protect salmon streams from forest runoff, the EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last, explaining their decision to reject a state water quality program.

At issue is Oregon’s coastal nonpoint pollution control program, required of all coastal states. The federal agencies say Oregon’s version doesn’t do enough to reduce impacts from logging and runoff from forest roads built before 1971. Nonpoint source pollution refers to pollution from diffuse sources including natural runoff that picks up and carries pollution into rivers, wetlands and coastal waters. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Monarchs bounce back, still need help

Population still near historic lows

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Can monarch butterflies survive massive habitat loss? bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Monarch butterfly populations may have rebounded a bit this year, according to the annual overwintering count, but the species is still going to need help to recover, conservation advocates say, urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to give the colorful insects Endangered Species Act protection.

This year’s count estimated that 56.5 million monarchs are currently gathered in Mexico for the winter, up from last year’s lowest ever total of 34 million. But that’s still more than 80 percent below the 20-year average and down 95 percent from numbers tallied in the mid-1990s. Near-perfect conditions during breeding season helped bolster the numbers this year. Continue reading

Wildlife advocates seek national wolf recovery plan

Activists again decry hunting, trapping in Northern Rockies

Wolves surrounding a bison in Yellowstone National Park. PHOTO COURTESY DOUG SMITH/NPS.

Wolves surrounding a bison in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Doug Smith/NPS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife conservation advocates want the federal government to rethink its wolf recovery efforts. Instead of relying on a piecemeal, state-by-state approach, the species needs a national recovery plan to help restore populations in places like the southern Rockies and the Adirondacks, according to Kierán Suckling, director of the Center for Biological Diversity

“A congressional end run around science and the Endangered Species Act will create more controversy and put wolves and the law itself in jeopardy,” said Suckling, explaining why a coalition of conservation groups this week petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify gray wolves as threatened, rather than endangered, under the Endangered Species Act. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Rare fox spotted in Yosemite National Park

Just 50 Sierra Nevada red foxes remain in the wild

A Sierra Nevada red fox. Photo courtesy USFWS.

A Sierra Nevada red fox. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — One of the rarest mammals in the American West may be making a comeback in the Sierra Nevada. Yosemite National Park biologists this week confirmed a sighting of a Sierra Nevada red fox in the northern reaches of the park — the first the speices has been seen in Yosemite for nearly 100 years.

“We are thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox, one of the most rare and elusive animals in the Sierra Nevada,” said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher. “National parks like Yosemite provide habitat for all wildlife and it is encouraging to see that the red fox was sighted in the park.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been considering endangered species protection for the species since late 2011. There are only two known populations, one near Mt. Lassen and the other near Sonora Pass, just north of Yosemite, with a total population estimated at about 50 individuals. Continue reading

Study: Pollinator decline poses huge human health risks

A honeybee gathers pollen on a wildflower in Austria.

A honeybee gathers pollen on a wildflower in Austria.

New study links decline of bees with malnutrition, especially in developing countries

Staff Report

FRISCO — Declines of crucial crop pollinators like bees is likely to put huge numbers of people in developing countries at risk for malnutrition, according to a new study that bolsters links between ecosystem stability and human health.

The research by scientists at the University of Vermont and Harvard University tested the claim that pollinators are crucial for human nutritional health by connecting what people actually eat in four developing countries to the pollination requirements of the crops that provide their food and nutrients. Continue reading

Climate: Is the Great Barrier Reef doomed?

New study projects staggering coral losses as oceans warm

Coral Gardens: A school of surgeonfish cruise coral reefs near Palmyra Atoll.

A school of surgeonfish cruise coral reefs in the Pacific. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

*More Summit Voice reporting on coral reefs

FRISCO —Even under a moderate climate change scenario, with just 1 to 2 degrees Celsius warming, the Great Barrier Reef may be doomed to become just a shadow of itself within a few decades, researcher said this week, warning of the cumulative impacts of warmer water, acidification, pollution and over-fishing.

In the short term, the combined effects of those impacts enable seaweed to over-run corals, in effect suffocating them. In the longer term, interactions among reef organisms would lead to dominance by other groups, including sponges and soft corals known as gorgonians. Continue reading

Wildlife: Colorado launches new lynx monitoring effort

A radio-collared lynx in Colorado. Photo courtesy CPW.

A radio-collared lynx in Colorado. Photo courtesy CPW.

SW Colorado field project will assess habitat occupancy, population trends

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado biologists have launched an ambitious monitoring program aimed at learning whether the state’s population of reintroduced and native-born lynx is holding steady.

The monitoring will cover more than 5,000 miles in the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado, including six wilderness areas: Weminuche, Uncompahgre, Lizard Head, Powderhorn, La Garita Mount Sneffels, and South San Juan. Continue reading

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