Posted on April 6, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Study shows regional variations in forest health equation
Annual aerial survey enable resource managers to map the spread of tree-killing bugs.
FRISCO — Warming winters across the western U.S. have had a nuanced effect on the severity of mountain pine beetle outbreaks, researchers said last week.
The absence of lengthy bug-killing cold snaps in some areas has helped fuel the growth of insect populations,, but milder winters can’t be blamed for the full extent of recent outbreaks in the region, according to a study by Dartmouth College and U.S. Forest Service. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forests, global warming, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: climate change, Forest health, forests, mountain pine beetles | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 31, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A U.S. Geological Survey map shows concentrations of uranium deposits in the U.S.
Objection process finds flaws in environmental review
FRISCO — An environmental study for the proposed expansion of uranium mines in Utah was flawed and needs to be redone, a regional U.S. Forest Service officer said last week, rejecting Manti-La Sal Forest Supervisor Brian Pentecost’s earlier decision to permit the project.
Responding to formal objections by environmental groups, the regional reviewing officer said Pentecost erred in deciding the project would not have a significant impact.
“There are statements that lack rational and conclusions formed without supporting data. A decision made from this record would not be well informed,” George Iversion, the objection reviewing officer, wrote in his March 20 letter to the Western Action Mining Project. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, Environment, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: La Sal Uranium mines, NEPA, public lands, U.S. Forest Service, uranium mining, Utah | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 28, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A map included in the feasibilty analysis shows the lands near Wolf Creek proposed for a trade.
Under pressure from billionaire developer, Forest Service keeps digging itself into a deeper hole
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Conservation advocates in Colorado are bracing for a legal battle with the U.S. Forest Service after the agency last week stayed on course to approve a controversial land exchange that would enable a massive real estate development in the relatively untouched forests around Wolf Creek Pass.
A regional Forest Service officials rejected a series of objections to the swap, finding that the approval didn’t violate any federal laws or agency regulations, but conservation groups say they have obtained documents showing that Maribeth Gustafson, the regional forester who reviewed the objections, may have a conflict of interest because she participated in the process leading to the approval. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, endangered species, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: conflict of interest, lynx, public lands, U.S. Forest Service, Village at Wolf Creek, Wolf Creek land trade | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 24, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
New CU-Boulder study has implications for forest managers and Red Zone communities
*More Summit Voice stories on beetle-kill and forests here.
FRISCO — Communities and resource managers looking to address the threat of wildfires should focus less on tree-killing beetles and more on the underlying forces driving the trend toward larger fires.
Warmer temperatures and increased drought are the key factors, said Colorado-based researchers who took a close look at patterns of beetle-kill and wildfires in recent years.
Their study found that western forests killed by mountain pine beetles are no more at risk to burn than healthy forests. Those findings fly in the face of both public perception and policy, the scientists acknowledged.
“What we are seeing in this study is that at broad scales, fire does not necessarily follow mountain pine beetles,” said CU-Boulder Research Scientist Tania Schoennagel, of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “It’s well known, however, that fire does follow drought.” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, climate change, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, global warming, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: beetle kill, climate change, drought, Forest health, forests, global warming, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 21, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Continued Western drought, warmth set stage for significant wildfires later this summer
After a dry and warm winter, southern Alaska will have a better than average chance of signficant wildfire activity this spring. Map via NIFC.
By Bob Berwyn
Western wildfires have always been shape-shifting beasts, roaring to life wherever there is hot and dry weather, wind and fuel. But last year’s relatively cool and wet summer brought relief to parts of the region — including Colorado — that had been especially hard the previous few years.
The 2015 wildfire season is starting similarly slow to last year, according to statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center showing that, since January 1, there have been about 6,200 fires that burned across a 100,000 acre footprint, just 30 percent of the average from the past 10 years. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, forests, wildfires | Tagged: 2015 wildfire outlook, climate change, drought, Environment, forest fires, forests, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 10, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Marbled murrelet in a moss nest. Courtesy USFWS.
Fifth lawsuit rejected by courts
FRISCO — Marbled murrelets along the Pacific Northwest Coast will continue to benefit from the protection of the Endangered Species Act, as a federal appeals court last week rejected yet another logging industry attempt to open more coastal old-growth forest to logging.
The robin-sized birds feed at sea but nest only in old-growth forests along the Pacific Coast, laying their eggs (one per female) on large, moss-covered branches in old growth Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and redwood trees. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Forest health, forests | Tagged: biodiversity, coastal old growth forests, endangered species, Environment, marbled murrelets, Pacific Northwest | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 5, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Can forests evolve to survive global warming?
Research will inform forest planning efforts
FRISCO — Spanish scientists say they can use genetic data to help determine which pine trees are most vulnerable to climate change, and which trees might be able to thrive in a warmer world. Their findings, published in GENETICS, could help forestry managers decide where to focus reforestation efforts and guide the choice of tree stocks.
The study focused on maritime pines, which grows widely in southwestern Europe and parts of northern Africa. But the tree’s important economic value and ecological roles in the region may be at risk as the changing climate threatens the more vulnerable forests and the productivity of commercial plantations. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, forests, global warming | Tagged: climate change, forests, genetics, global warming, pine trees | 1 Comment »