Small wetlands critical to overall ecosystem functions

‘Many people would say, what’s the big deal if we drain this small area? But these smaller wetlands are integral …’

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Colorado wetlands. @bberwyn photo

FRISCO — A new study by researchers at Waterloo University supports the EPA’s proposed new rule for protecting discontinuous wetlands by showing that those smaller marshy patches function best as a group.

Interconnected pockets of wetlands form a landscape mosaic which provide unique habitat and safe breeding grounds for species such as salamanders and migratory birds. Many traditional wetlands conservation projects tend to overlook that “edge” function and mistakenly focus on preserving only total wetland area, with no consideration of ecosystem services provided by different wetland types. Continue reading

Environment: Study shows that even ‘isolated’ wetlands are crucial to protecting water quality

Findings come as EPA edges toward final new clean water rule

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By Summit Voice

Geographically isolated wetlands like prairie potholes and desert playas in the Southwest are critical to water quality and also provide many other ecosystem services — even though they may lack the regulatory protections of other wetlands, according to Indiana University researchers.

Continued loss of such wetlands is likely “to cause serious harm to North American waters,” according to John M. Marton, a researcher with the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

“Geographically isolated wetlands provide important benefits such as sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation and water-quality improvement, all of which are critical for maintaining water quality,” Marton said, discussing the conclusions of a new article appearing in BioScience. Continue reading

Part of huge environmental settlement to help clean tainted coastal wetlands in North Carolina

Cape Fear, North Carolina, photographed by a NASA satellite.

Cape Fear, North Carolina, photographed by a NASA satellite.

Funding will help restoration of Cape Fear watershed after decades of industrial pollution

Staff Report

FRISCO — Tainted North Carolina wetlands and streams will be restored thanks to a $13 million in cleanup funding under federally administered environmental programs.

The payment, announced by NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in their capacity as natural resource trustees, to repair the damage from 40 years of pollution at Kerr-McGee’s wood treatment facility in Navassa, North Carolina. Another $9 million is on the table. Continue reading

Nevada Supreme Court rejects Las Vegas pipeline scheme

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In a desperate quest for more water, Las Vegas wants to deplete distant aquifers with no regard for natural and environmental resources.

New lawsuit filed to void federal OK for proposed desert pipeline

Staff Report

FRISCO — A recent ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court appears to reinforce arguments by conservation advocates that a scheme to develop and pipe groundwater to Las Vegas can’t pass scientific, environmental or legal muster.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to siphon 37 billion gallons from remote underground aquifers in a plan that was challenged by the Center for Biological Diversity and its allies in the Great Basin Water Network, as well as by White Pine County, Nev.

In 2011, the Nevada Division of Water Resources gave the project a thumbs-up by allocating 84,000 acre-feet of ancient groundwater a year to the Southern Nevada Water Authority for export to Las Vegas, but Senior Judge Robert Estes of the Seventh Judicial District Court of Nevada said that allocation is unfair to future Nevadans and not in the public interest. Continue reading

GOP lawmakers want to block EPA clean water rule

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No love for wetlands from new GOP majority in Congress. bberwyn photo.

Huge swaths of Colorado wetlands, streams at risk of degradation

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — You may not know it as you speed down I-70 from the Eisenhower Tunnel toward Summit County, but a small stream that runs parallel the freeway, just a few hundred yards away, is the main source of drinking water for the town of Dillon.

Straight Creek’s waters gather up between the craggy peaks high above the tunnel, starting from droplets at the edge of a melting snowdrift, to mossy rivulets and roaring cascades amidst granite boulders. Keeping that water pure is important, not only for Dillon residents, but for thousands of visitors staying at local lodges, resorts and campgrounds.

But some of the smallest streams, like the headwaters of Straight Creek, don’t flow year-round, and that has put them at focal point of a long-running debate about the extent of federal clean water rules. The discussion was center stage today during a rare joint hearing of the House Transportation and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where the new GOP majority grilled top EPA administrators about the proposed Clean Waters of the U.S. Rule. Continue reading

Study: Global warming likely to help invasive species gain the upper hand in wetlands

Colorado wetlands

 Meadow Creek wetlands, Frisco, Colorado.

‘Death by a thousand cuts’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Invasive wetlands species are likely to get a boost from climate change, resulting in long-term threats to key native ecosystems, according to new research from Duke University.

“Changing surface-water temperatures, rainfall patterns and river flows will likely give Japanese knotweed, hydrilla, honeysuckle, privet and other noxious invasive species an edge over less adaptable native species,” said Neal E. Flanagan, visiting assistant professor at the Duke Wetland Center, who led the research. Continue reading

Can good planning ease global warming impacts to wildlife?

An adult lynx in Colorado warily surveys its surroundings. The wild cats were recently named to a top-10 list of species most at risk from climate change impacts to habitat. PHOTO BY TANYA SHENK, Colorado Division of Wildlife.

An adult lynx in Colorado warily surveys its surroundings. The wild cats were recently named to a top-10 list of species most at risk from climate change impacts to habitat. Photo by Tanya Shenk, Colorado Division of Wildlife.

New report highlights actions aimed at buffering ecosystems from climate change

Staff Report

FRISCO — Congress may still be dithering over global warming, but some federal agencies are on a fast-forward path to addressing climate-change impacts to natural resources.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month unveiled a new report describing 50 projects launched to strengthen climate resiliency, including wildlife movement areas that help buffer animals from global warming and reforestation projects focusing on climate-resilient native trees.

“Across the nation, a broad coalition of natural resource agencies is working with partners and stakeholders to collectively address the current impacts and future threats of climate change,” said USFWS deputy director Rowan Gould. “The concrete actions documented in this report represent real progress, but helping native species  cope with the effects of climate disruption requires us to build on these successes,” Gould said. Continue reading

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