Anglers invited to join citizen science effort

TroutBlitz helps conservation and restoration efforts

Fishing for cutthroat trout at Clinton Gulch Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado.

Fishing for cutthroat trout at Clinton Gulch Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — It’s not always easy to gather good scientific data, especially in an era when political ideology drives policy, resulting in budget cuts that hamper government agencies.

That’s where citizen science can help, and Trout Unlimited wants anglers around the country to help record evidence of their trout catches both photographically and via mapping coordinates with the relaunch of TroutBlitz.

TU’s science team uses the data collected from anglers to learn more about native trout water, non-native trout proliferation and the health of entire watersheds. Continue reading

Feds promise $50 million for Western water conservation

Smart water management and conservation can help reduce drought pressure in the West

Blue River Colorado

Frost-tinged trees gleam in the morning light along the Blue River, a key Colorado River tributary north of Silverthorne, Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Efforts to conserve water in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin and across the West got a major boost from the Obama administration this week. Federal resource managers this week announced a $50 million investment to  improve water efficiency and conservation in California and 11 other western states. Continue reading

Study shows how mitigation boosts sage-grouse nesting

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Adaptive management and good mitigation can help greater sage-grouse survive the fracking tsunami. Photo via USGS.

Scientists tout adaptive management approach to sage-grouse conservation

Staff Report

FRISCO — When it comes to greater sage-grouse nesting areas, no disturbance is best, but carefully planned mitigation measures can help boost nest survival.

Minimizing disturbance to sagebrush is important, and the single biggest factor found to boost nest survival is locating wastewater treatment facilities away from drilling sites, scientists said last week, releasing results of a multi-year study in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Continue reading

Not much love for endangered species in Obama’s budget

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It’s tough to save endangered species without any money.

Funding for entire endangered species program is less than the cost of a single F-35 fighter jet

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Obama administration talks a good green game, but when it comes to putting money toward endangered species protection, it’s business as usual. In fact, according to environmental watchdogs, the total amount of money allocated to endangered species is less than in 2016 when measured on a per-species basis.

That’s partly because 140 plants and animals have been added to the endangered species list in the past four years without an increase in spending, which means many conservation programs will underfunded once again this year. Continue reading

Denver signs on to urban bird treaty

Deal with feds brings funds for conservation, education

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A red-shafted flicker. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Long before Denver sprawled into being, migratory birds passed through the area on their from breeding grounds in Canada to winter habitat along the Gulf Coast, Mexico and Central America. The eastern base of the Rocky Mountains is part of one the great North American flyways, and last month, Denver Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the city has signed on to an urban bird treaty that will help preserve havens for migratory birds. Continue reading

Southwestern bird populations in steep decline

Report shows that even many common species are dwindling

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Global warming threatens ptarmigan habitat in the mountains of the West.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Bird populations are dwindling all over North America, especially in the Southwest, where some species have declined by as much as 48 percent since the late 1960s, according to the 2014 State of the Birds report released last week.

In Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, habitat loss and fragmentation due to development are the largest threats. These are also significant threats in the nation’s grasslands, where breeding birds like the eastern meadowlark and the bobolink have declined by 40 percent since 1968, with the steepest declines coming before 1990, when stakeholders started investing in grassland bird conservation.

And experts say it’s not just rare birds that are vanishing. The report includes a list of 33 common species in steep decline, losing ore than half their global populations over the past four decades — a clear warning sign that birds can undergo a massive population collapse with surprising rapidity. For example, passenger pigeon populations crashed from 2 to 3 billion birds to none in the wild in just 40 years. Continue reading

Study shows why Penguins need more protection

‘If we don’t worry about the imminent threats now, it’s probably not worth worrying about the medium-term future’

Gentoo penguins and the S/V Professor Molchanov at sea.

Gentoo penguins and the S/V Professor Molchanov. bberwyn photo.

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A penguin dives in and out of the icy waters near the Antarctic Peninsula. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The world’s penguins could use a little help, a team of  leading conservation biologists said last month, announcing results of a study that systematically assessed global risks to the southern hemisphere sea birds.

While global warming remains a long-term threat, other impacts, primarily related to human activities, are a more clear and present danger, the scientists said, advocating for a more widespread network of marine protected areas to buffer penguins from pollution, tourism and fishing.

“We need to address some of these issues before we think about resilience to climate change,” said Dr. Phil Trathan, head of conservation biology with the British Antarctic Survey. “If we don’t worry about the imminent threats now, it’s probably not worth worrying about the medium-term future,” Trathan said, explaining that penguins living and breeding in southern Africa and South America face the highest risks.

“If you want to create resilient populations, deal with some of the immediate threats, and where the threats are most evident is where penguins inhabit areas close to mankind,” he said. Continue reading

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