Posted on August 11, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Graph courtesy Center for Western Priorities.
New report highlights need for more emphasis on land protection
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Public lands in the West are being leased for oil and gas production at a steady rate, but setting aside lands for non-industrial purposes has not kept pace — and it’s not just Republicans who are to blame.
The last time Congress protected public lands was under an omnibus public lands bill that set aside more than 2 million acres of wilderness and established three new national park units, a new national monument, three new national conservation areas, and more than 1,000 miles of national wild and scenic rivers.
Since then, both parties have emphasized fossil fuel production for the past decade, according to a coalition of advocacy and conservation groups who released a new report last week outlining the need to protect at least as many areas as are being leased for drilling and fracking. Continue reading
Filed under: BLM, energy, Environment, forests, gas drilling, national parks, oil drilling, public lands, wilderness | Tagged: conservation, energy, Environment, fracking, public lands | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 3, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Feds reject argument by ultra- conservative property rights group
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A tiny population of threatened killer whales in Puget Sound will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The National Marine Fisheries Service this week rejected a petition from the Pacific Legal Foundation, which had challenged the population’s status.
The fringe property rights advocacy group claimed, based in invalid science, that the Puget Sound “southern resident” killer whales are not a distinct population. In response, the federal government conducted a year-long review of the status and eligibility of the orcas for Endangered Species Act protection and confirmed that the whale’s endangered listing remains warranted. Continue reading
Filed under: endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Center for Biological Diversity, conservation, endangered species act, national marine fisheries service, oceans, Orcas, Puget Sound | 2 Comments »
Posted on April 10, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
New study may help inform reef conservation effrot
Bleached coral in the Caribbean. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Coral reefs are at risk from global warming, but regional aerosol emissions may also be a significant factor in how corals grow, according to a new study by scientists with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
The research linked airborne particles caused by volcanic activity and air pollution to episodes of slow coral-reef growth. The findings came as part of an effort to to better predict the effects of climate change and human disturbance on reefs.
The data came from several coral cores drilled in reefs near the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal formed by the coral species Siderastrea siderea between 1880 and 1989, whereas samples from the Turneffe atoll in Belize showed growth fluctuations in the coral species Montastrea faveolata from 1905 to 1998. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | Tagged: air pollution, conservation, coral reefs, oceans | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 28, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Federal biologists propose new rule to guide naval training
A humpback whale near Hawaii. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — In a preliminary assessment, federal biologists said the mid-frequency sound generated by active sonar, the sound and pressure generated by detonating explosives and other activities associated with naval exercises aren’t likely to have a significant impact on protected marine species.
Nevertheless, the National Marine Fisheries Service is proposing a new rule to minimize impacts from naval training activities, including mitigation zones and observers trained to spot marine life during exercises.
The rule also calls for implementing a stranding response plan that includes a training shutdown provision in certain circumstances, and allows for the Navy to contribute in-kind services to NOAA’s Fisheries Service if the agency has to conduct a stranding response and investigation. It would also designate a humpback whale cautionary area to protect high concentrations of humpback whales around Hawaii during winter months.
Those steps don’t go far enough protect marine life, said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“Many whales and other marine mammals, like Hawaiian monk seals, are already struggling for survival. Now the Navy’s going to intensify war games in their habitat?” Sakashita said. We’re learning more and more about the tragic effects of sonar on whales and dolphins, yet the Navy’s being given carte blanche to blast the oceans with it and harm animals over and over again,” she added. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: conservation, marine mammals, national marine fisheries service, oceans, sonar and whales, US Navy | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 10, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Colorado wildlife officials disappointed by listing proposal
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed designating about 1.7 million acres of critical habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse in Colorado and Utah.
A male Gunnison sage-grouse struts as part of its spring mating ritual. Photo courtesy BLM.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite ongoing voluntary conservation measures, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said this week that the best available science indicates that the Gunnison sage-grouse is in danger of extinction and needs protection under the Endangered Species Act.
By some estimates, there are only about 4,000 to 5,000 of the iconic western birds remaining, scattered in eight small population pockets in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. As a result, the USFWS has proposed listing the species as endangered and also proposed designating about 1.7 million acres of critical habitat.
The proposal triggers a 60-day public comment period, with input due by March 12. The agency will also hold a series of public meetings to take input from residents and landowners in areas that could be affected by the listing. The meetings will likely be held in Gunnison, Montrose, Delta and Cortez, Colorado, or in Monticello, Utah and will be advertised at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado State Parks, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Birds, Colorado, conservation, endangered species, endangered species act, Gunnison Sage Grouse | 2 Comments »
Posted on December 11, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Conservatives and liberals share the same globe, but vastly different viewpoints on conservation. Image courtesy NASA.
Can we bridge the ideological divide on crucial conservation issues?
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — It’s astounding that environmental issues have become so politically polarized, with liberals generally favoring stronger environmental protection, while conservatives tend to reject efforts to preserve natural resources as government over-reach. Recent debates about global warming and the EPA’s ability to control greenhouse gases are a case in point.
It doesn’t really make sense. Toxic heavy metals in water, air pollution and the loss of biodiversity affect everyone equally and just by the nature of their fundamental philosophy, one would think that conservatives would want to conserve natural resources and the environment.
But new research from psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, suggest that conservative view on issues like deforestation and toxic waste may not be as intractable as assumed. It appears those viewpoints can be changed when the messaging about environmental stewardship are shifted to focus on the concepts of of fending off threats to the “purity” and “sanctity” of Earth and our bodies. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: climate change, conservation, conservatives, Environment, global warming, ideology, liberals, UC Berkeley | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 8, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Sensationalized shark attack stories favored by mass media outlets
A great white shark in California coastal waters. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Sharks have always been seen as the big, bad wolves of the sea, and despite their critical ecological role as apex predators, they’ve been treated especially harshly by the media.
A new study by Michigan State University researchers shows that the mass media — especially in the U.S. and Australia — favor scare stories about shark attacks over coverage of shark-related conservation issues.
Allowing such articles to dominate the overall news coverage diverts attention from key issues, like declining global shark populations and the risk of extinction, said Meredith Gore, MSU assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife and the School of Criminal Justice. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, conservation, Conservation biology, media, Michigan State University, oceans, sharks | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Landscape-level conservation projects critical to giving species some resilience in the face of climate change
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The gradual rise in global temperatures may have long-term effects on biodiversity, but some species — including UK butterflies — may be more threatened by extreme weather events related to climate change. Events like drought could push some insects toward extinction.
“We have provided the first evidence that species responses to extreme events may be affected by the habitat structure in the wider countryside; for example in the total area and fragmentation of woodland patches,” said lead author Dr. Tom Oliver from the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.
The UK has suffered from a number of severe droughts over the last few decades, including in 1976 and 1995. Under global warming, the frequency of such summer droughts is expected to increase. The intense summer drought in 1995 led to marked declines in insect species associated with cooler and wetter microclimates and scientists are interested in how to make species populations more resilient, so they can recover from extreme climate events. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Colorado, endangered species, Environment, global warming | Tagged: biodiversity, butterflies, conservation, Environment, extreme weather, global warming, UK | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 21, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Major marine conservation initiatives on the table
Several proposals for large-scale Antarctic conservation areas will be discussed this coming week at the CCAMLR talks in Hobart, Tasmania. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —With scientists observing significant changes in Antarctica’s physical and biological systems, nations from around the world start meeting Oct. 22 to consider a number of far-reaching conservation proposals for the Earth’s only continent that isn’t claimed by any one country.
One of the plans to be presented at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources comes from Australia, France and the European, and would create a total of 1.9 million square kilometers of marine protected areas in East Antarctica. Some of the areas would serve as reference areas against which to measure the impacts of future climate change. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Antarctica, biodiversity, CCAMLR, conservation, Environment, Ross Sea, Southern Ocean | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 14, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
West- and central African sites among the most threatened
Mesa Verde, well-protected as a national park, is Colorado’s only world heritage site. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Many of the planet’s 217 world heritage natural sites are facing increasing threats, including oil and gas development, and need more protection, conservation leaders said at an occasion marking the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention.
The 217 sites protect more than 250 million hectares of land and sea in more than 90 countries.
Nearly 8 percent of the 217 natural World Heritage Sites are on a danger list, while another 25 percent are affected by serious conservation issues. More than 60 percent of West and Central African sites are on the Danger list, and one in four of these iconic areas are threatened by planned mining, oil and gas projects. This includes Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, home of the world’s last mountain gorillas.
“Too many World Heritage sites are left with few resources to ensure their proper management, risking their role as natural flagships for the protection of critical habitats and unique wildlife vital to the future of our planet,” said Tim Badman, director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “Many face a barrage of challenges, not least from mining and oil exploration.” Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: conservation, International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, UNESCO, Virunga National Park, World Heritage Convention, World Heritage natural sites | Leave a comment »