Acoustic survey tracks whale population trends along the coast of Southern California

Naval training exercises off the coast of California could pose a threat to endangered marine mammals.

Naval training exercises off the coast of California could pose a threat to endangered marine mammals.

Blue whale numbers holding steady; fin whales increasing

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new acoustic survey in Southern California coastal waters is helping researchers track whale populations.

The data analyzed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego suggests that blue whale numbers are holding steady, while the number of fin whales is increasing.

Both species are often seen in the Southern California Bight, the curved region of California coastline with offshore waters extending from San Diego to Point Conception (near Santa Barbara, Calif.), but little is known about their use of the area, where ever-increasing ship traffic has raised concerns about collisions between whales and boats. Continue reading

Key Biscayne National Park establishes new marine reserve to try and restore coral reef ecosystem

A spiny lobster in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. Photo courtesy NOAA.

A spiny lobster in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary, where protective management has helped rebuild fish stocks. Key Biscayne National Park hopes that a new protected area will help restore coral reefs. Photo courtesy NOAA.

No-fishing zone seen as key piece of new management plan

Staff Report

FRISCO — The National Park Service says a 10,000-acre no-fishing zone will help restore the heart of Key Biscayne National Park’s coral reef ecosystem and boost fish populations in surrounding waters.

The new marine reserve was announced earlier this month as part of an updated management plan for the popular park near Miami. The no–fishing zone covers about 6 percent of the park’s waters. Some other ecologically important shoreline areas will be protected by slow-speed, no-wake, and no-motor zones to benefit seagrass beds, manatees, mangroves and nesting birds. Continue reading

Environment: Tar sands oil releases 20 percent more greenhouse gas pollution than conventional crude oil

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Tar sands development in Canada.

Study bolsters arguments against more tar sands exploitation

Staff Report

FRISCO —A new study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory will add fuel to controversy over development of tar sands oil.

The analyis shows that  gasoline and diesel refined from Canadian oil sands release about 20 percent more carbon into the atmosphere over its lifetime than fuel from conventional domestic crude sources.

The research, which was conducted in collaboration with Stanford University and the University of California at Davis, shows some variability in the increase of greenhouse gas, depending on the type of extraction and refining methods. Continue reading

Environment: EPA finally agrees to study impacts of common pesticides on 1,500 endangered species

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Crop dusting.

Settlement with watchdog group may be the first step in limiting applications of harmful chemicals

Staff Report

FRISCO — Under legal pressure, the EPA last week agreed to begin a far-reaching evaluation of how some of the most commonly used pesticides affect more than 1,500 endangered plants and animals.

The study, to be completed by 2020, could be the first step toward limiting the use of atrazine and glyphosate. The EPA will also analyze the impacts of propazine and simazine, two pesticides that are chemically similar to atrazine. Continue reading

Do wilderness areas need buffer zones?

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The Eagles Nest Wilderness in Colorado.

Researchers propose new ways to limit impacts

Staff Report

FRISCO — A growing population and increasing development may be threatening the ecological integrity of some wilderness areas in the U.S.

Protecting those areas may require establishing buffer zones to limit the impacts, according to University of Georgia researchers who took a close look at development trends near public lands. Continue reading

Is global warming driving seabirds from their Gulf of California nesting grounds?

"Elegant Tern Bolsa Chica" by Regular Daddy - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

“Elegant Tern Bolsa Chica” by Regular Daddy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Study tracks shift in nesting grounds as oceans warm

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientist think climate change may be a key reason that thousands of seabirds are leaving their nesting grounds on an island in the Gulf of California and moving north.

In a new study, researchers from the University of California at Riverside looked at Isla Rasa, where more than 95 percent of the world’s population of elegant terns and Heerman’s gulls have traditionally nested.

In the past 20 years, the seabirds have abandoned the island and moved to other nesting grounds in Southern California including the San Diego Saltworks, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, and Los Angeles Harbor. Continue reading

Colorado towns get $2.4 million from EPA for cleanups, as GOP seeks to slash the agency’s budget

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EPA grants have helped clean up acid mine drainage at abandoned mines in Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Denver gets $1 million for South Platte River work; Fort Collins will use grant to tackle Poudre River corridor restoration

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even as right-wing anti-environmental lawmakers in Congress seek to slash the EPA’s budget, the agency in the past couple of weeks announced $2.4 million in grants that will help Colorado communities clean up and revitalize areas that have been tainted by the same big industrial companies that support those legislators.

In the Denver Metro area, the City and County of Denver and the City of Northglenn will each receive $400,000, and Adams County will receive $200,000. Across the country, the EPA made 243 grant investments  totaling $54.3 million to 147 communities. Continue reading

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