Posted on February 14, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation biologists focusing on genetic health of packs
A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.
FRISCO — The future for wolves in the southwestern U.S. looks a little brighter this year, as the population grew by 31 percent to reach 109 wolves living in the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it’s the fourth year in a row that the population has grown by at least 10 percent. The 2014 minimum population count includes 38 wild-born pups that survived through the end of the year. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, wildlife | Tagged: Arizona, endangered species, Mexican gray wolves, New Mexico, wildlife, wolf recovery, wolves in the Southwest | 4 Comments »
Posted on December 19, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Should coyoyes be targeted in wildlife killing contests?
Advocacy groups seek ban in New Mexico
FRISCO — Emboldened by California’s recent ban on wildlife killing contests, wildlife advocates say they want lawmakers to enact similar restrictions in New Mexico, which holds more such events than any other state.
A coalition of 10 groups is calling on the governor and state legislature to ban contests that target coyotes, bobcats, foxes, prairie dogs and other animals, calling them immoral and biologically unsound. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, coyotes, hunting, New Mexico, wildlife | 9 Comments »
Posted on October 3, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Global warming seen as big threat to native fish
FRISCO — Rio Grande cutthroat trout may be rare, but they’re not facing imminent extinction anymore, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said last week, asserting that collaborative conservation and restoration efforts in southern Colorado and New Mexico will help sustain populations of the dwindling fish into the foreseeable future.
But the agency’s conclusion contradicts some other studies showing that global warming is huge threat to the fish. Long-term climate models suggest that many smaller streams where cutthroats live could be too warm in just a few decades, according a U.S. Geological Survey study released last year. Most of the sampled streams with Rio Grande cutthroat trout have base flows of less than 1 cubic foot per second, making them vulnerable to drought.
Rio Grande cutthroat trout live in only about 12 percent of the species’ historical habitat. Non-native fish introductions, water diversions and other impacts have degraded the species’ habitat in the past few decades. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: climate change, Colorado, endangered species, New Mexico, Rio Grande cutthroat trout, USFWS | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 27, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
U.S. Geological Survey researchers have linked a surge in earthquakes in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico with injection of fracking wastewater.
Scientists say it’s almost certain that massive injections of waste water caused recent quakes in the Raton Basin, including a 5.3 tremor in 2011
FRISCO — A surge in earthquakes in southern Colorado and New Mexico has almost certainly been caused by the injection of fracking wastewater deep into the ground, U.S. Geological Survey scientists reported last week.
The study details several lines of evidence directly linking the injection wells to the seismicity. The timing and location of the quakes is clearly linked with the the documented pattern of injected wastewater.
Detailed investigations of two seismic sequences (2001 and 2011) places them in proximity to high-volume, high-injection-rate wells, and both sequences occurred after a nearby increase in the rate of injection. A comparison between seismicity and wastewater injection in Colorado and New Mexico reveals similar patterns, suggesting seismicity is initiated shortly after an increase in injection rates.
For example, two injection wells near the epicenter of a 2011 5.3 earthquake had about 5 million cubic meters of wastewater injected just before the quake — more than seven times the amount injected at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal well that caused damaging earthquakes near Denver, Colorado, in the 1960s. The August 2011 M 5.3 event is the second-largest earthquake to date for which there is clear evidence that the earthquake sequence was induced by fluid injection.
Filed under: energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Colorado, earthquakes, energy, fracking, New Mexico, Raton Basin, wastewater injection | 2 Comments »
Posted on September 2, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
New inventory assesses state’s woodland resources
FRISCO — Mortality is increasing and growth is slowing down in New Mexico’s forest lands, according to a new forest inventory released in late August. The only species showing overall growth are ponderosa and piñon pines, as well as junipers, as insects, wildfires drought and disease take an increasing toll on the state’s woodlands.
Forests grow on about 25 million acres in New Mexico, with 44 percent on private lands and 31 percent on national forest lands. About 40 percent (10.8 million acres) of the forests are piñon-juniper woodlands, by far the state’s most extensive forest type. Gambel oak is the most abundant tree species by number of trees, and ponderosa pine is the most abundant by volume or biomass. Overall, researchers estimate there are more than 6 billion live trees growing in the state.
The inventory documented the drought-induced piñon pine die-off in the early 2000s, estimating that about 8 percent the species died, but noted that the mortality rate has tapered off.New Mexico’s aspen forests, covering about 380,000 acres, held steady in the past decade. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: climate, drought, Environment, Forest health, Forest Service, forests, New Mexico, piñon-juniper forests | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 27, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Odds of 30-year dry spells increase dramatically as global temps rise
Green bars indicate wet periods, the larger the bar the more unusually wet. In a similar way, yellow indicates dry and droughty periods. The graph stretches from January 1895 on the left to last month on the right, showing how the cycle of droughts alternating with wet years has changed, with dry years becoming more prevalent.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Tree ring records clearly show that the southwestern U.S. experienced megadroughts long before the anthropogenic global warming era. One such decades-long dry spell may have been a factor in the collapse of the Anasazi civilization at Mesa Verde.
But the steady buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere is loading the dice in favor of another megadrought sooner, rather later, according to scientists with Cornell University, the University of Arizona and U.S. Geological Survey. The chances of a decade-long drought is now at least 50 percent, and there’s a 20 percent to 50 percent chance of a 30-year megadrought.
“For the southwestern U.S., I’m not optimistic about avoiding real megadroughts,” said Toby Ault, Cornell assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and lead author of the paper. “As we add greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – and we haven’t put the brakes on stopping this – we are weighting the dice for megadrought conditions.” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, extreme weather, global warming | Tagged: Arizona, California drought, climate change, global warming, greenhouse gases, megadrought, New Mexico, Southwest | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
USFWS also seeking comment on a draft economic analysis
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Federal biologists have revised a critical habitat proposal for endangered jaguars in the southwest. The updated maps include areas in Arizona’s Santa Rita Mountains where a lone jaguar has been caught on camera several times in the past nine months.
Under the modified U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal, released last week, a total of about 850,000 acres would be designated, including lands around a planned open-pit copper mine. Conservation advocates say the mine could interfere with the cats’ dispersal into North America. They hope the critical habitat designation will prevent approval of the mine.
Along with the updated habitat proposal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also released a draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment of the proposed designation.
The economic analysis is a crucial issue relating to the proposed mine, because if the benefits of excluding an area outweigh the benefits of designating it, the agency can exclude an area from critical habitat, unless the exclusions would result in the extinction of the species. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Arizona, biodiversity, endangered species, jaguars, New Mexico, Santa Rita Mountains, United States Fish & Wildlife Service | 2 Comments »