Conservation groups seek international help to save the Gulf of California’s vaquita


Less than 100 vaquitas remain in the northern Gulf of California.

Petition requests ‘in danger’ status for Baja World Heritage area

Staff Report

U.S. conservation groups working to save the world’s most endangered dolphin from going extinct are hoping to get some help from the rest of the world.

At issue is the vaquita dolphin, which lives only at the northern end of the Gulf of California, an area designated as a World Heritage site in 2005. Less than 100 of the marine mammals remain, and conservation advocates fear that they’ll soon be wiped out.

This week, several groups petitioned the World Heritage Committee to declare the World Heritage area as being “in danger,” a status that recognizes threats to the values that earned the designation in the first place. The World Heritage Committee may consider the petition at its annual meeting in Bonn, Germany, this June. Continue reading

Oceans: Proposed gillnet ban may be too little, too late for critically endangered Gulf of California vaquitas

Lack of enforcement seen as stumbling block to recovery


A vaquita in the Gulf of California. Photo courtesy NOAA/Paula Olsen.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Mexico has launched a last-ditch effort to protect the critically endangered vaquita porpoise by banning the use of gillnets in the northern Gulf of California. Conservation advocates said the ban is a step in the right direction, but expressed concern that Mexico won’t follow through with enforcement.

Vaquitas, the smallest members of the porpoise family, live only in the northern Gulf of California, generally in the vicinity of the Colorado River delta. The species has been on the Endangered Species List since 1985. Scientists say less than 100 individuals remain. Vaquitas could be extinct by 2018 without drastic conservation and recovery actions.

According to conservation biologists, the biggest threat by far to vaquitas is drowning in fishing nets. Environmental pollution, habitat degradation and inbreeding are also factors in their decline. Continue reading

Hearing shines spotlight on Colorado River woes

The dried up delta where the Colorado River reaches the Sea of Cortez

The dried up delta where the Colorado River reaches the Sea of Cortez is symbolic of the challenges facing the river.More information at this NASA Earth Observatory website.

‘Make every drop count’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Colorado River took center stage in Congress for a few hours this week, as the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Power focused on a recent Colorado River study that predicts a growing gap between what the demand for water and what the river can deliver.

The hearing was chaired Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, who knows first-hand what is at stake, from the headwaters in the mighty Rockies down to the Gulf of California. Business as usual just won’t cut it, Udall said, advocating for a short-term focus on conservation, innovation and better management of supply. A video of the hearing, as well as the written testimony of the witnesses, is online here. Continue reading

International legal petition aims to protect Baja ecosystems under NAFTA environmental provisions

Petition to NAFTA environmental commission seeks investigation


Baja California, photographed by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Click here to learn more on the NASA Earth Observatory website.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Environmental groups are testing a North American environmental treaty with a legal petition, charging the Mexican government with failing to enforce its own environmental laws when it authorized four large developments along the Gulf of California.

The petition was filed with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, established under the North American Free Trade Agreement to promote cooperation among Canada, Mexico and the U.S. on environmental issues of continental concern.

Specifically, the petition claims the Mexican government, “ignores laws requiring effective environmental impact assessment, protection of endangered species, and conservation of coastal ecosystems,” according to a statement from Earthjustice. Continue reading

Mexico – U.S. deal a hopeful sign for the Colorado River

This icy trickle of water in North Tenmile Creek has a better chance of making it to the Gulf of California, thanks to a new agreement between the U.S. and Mexico on Colorado River flows.

Temporary treaty amendment includes innovative water banking

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A landmark  water agreement between the U.S. and Mexico on Colorado River flows is winning acclaim as a true win-win — a rarity in an era of perpetual water shortages and rising concerns over allocation of the Southwest’s great river.

But even though the deal is getting good reviews, it’s important to remember that the Colorado River is not healthy.

Massive diversions and storage projects have choked off native flows that helped maintain riparian habitat. Those same projects have pushed four native fish species to the brink of extinction. The agreement will help resolve some long-standing issues in the lower Colorado Basin, but doesn’t do anything to alleviate the extreme pressure on the river’s upper reaches. Continue reading

Colorado: Showery weekend possible in the high country

Monsoon moisture will surge into Colorado from the Southwest.

Drier conditions expected  next week

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — It looks like another surge of monsoon moisture will spread across much of western Colorado for the weekend, bringing a chance of thunderstorms to the high country Saturday and Sunday. The southwestern mountains will be most likely to see rain, with Summit County on the edge of the moist air mass, according the latest forecast from the National Weather Service.

Showers will be widespread south of Interstate 70, with scattered to isolated storm formation in the northern half of the state. Some short-wave disturbances passing from west to east could help stir up the atmosphere and enhance storm formation Sunday and possible again Wednesday. Continue reading

Summit County weatherblog: Ready for the monsoon?

Wilderness Sports sponsors the Summit Voice weatherblog. Click to visit Wilderness Sports online.

Summer rains could be boosted by evaporating snow

A National Weather Service graphic shows what a typical post-La Niña monsoon could look like.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — You might want to get your outdoor yah-yahs out of the way early the next few days, as the National Weather Service is predicting an early onset of the monsoon season, with a good chance for afternoon thunderstorms through the rest of the week. Wednesday could be the wettest day, as a plume of subtropical moisture takes direct aim at the high country, but scattered daily rain can be expected right on through next weekend.

Specifically, the National Weather Service says there is a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain through Friday, with highs in the low 70s each day and overnight lows in the mid-40s, fairly close to seasonal averages. The record high for July 5 is 84 degrees, set in 2001. The record low, a chilly 24 degrees, set way back in 1931. Frisco’s all-time record high for July is 89 degrees, a reading that hasn’t been reached since 1939.

The U.S. southwestern monsoon season occurs when winter and spring’s jet stream-driven westerlies retreat to the north. Instead of being dominated by incoming cyclonic storms off the Pacific, the weather in the Southwest and the Rockies is influenced by the clockwise rotation of air around a big area of high pressure parked in the center of the country, often over Texas. The rotation draws moist air northward from the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of California and the eastern Pacific. Continue reading


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