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Report: Everglades restoration is lagging

Major landscape types in the Everglades before human action. USGS map.

Major landscape types in the Everglades before human action. USGS map.

More money, less red tape would help, experts say

Staff Report

FRISCO — Critical restoration work in the Florida Everglades is lagging well behind where it should be, with government red tape chronic funding shortages blocking the implementation of plans that are already on the books.

A new report says that local, state and federal entities working on long-term restoration of the Everglades ecosystem timely green lights for projects, enough money and some creative policy making to make it all happen. The impacts of climate change — especially sea-level rise — provide a stimulus to accelerate restoration efforts, the report adds.

The report is a congressionally mandated update to the 2011  Central Everglades Planning Project, which outlines ways to renew needed flows in the central Everglades. Continue reading

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Environment: Ambitious Swan River restoration project near Breckenridge could benefit cutthroat trout

Forest Service wants to reconnect an aquatic ecosystem that was sliced apart by dredges in the mining era

Restoration plans are afoot for a degraded section of the Swan River, in Summit County, Colorado.

Restoration plans are afoot for a degraded section of the Swan River, in Summit County, Colorado.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — For all the gold Summit County’s old-timers managed to pull from local mountains and rivers, they left behind quite a mess. Along with toxic pollution oozing into rivers from some abandoned mines, other streams were turned completely inside-out, buried under tons of gravel.

That includes the Swan River, near Breckenridge, where the U.S. Forest Service now hopes to reverse some of the damage with an ambitious five- to 10-year restoration project.

The Forest Service aims to recreate of two miles of stream, riparian, and restore uplands that were all destroyed by the dredge boats. The agency also wants to decommission some roads in the area, build a new road and trail, all within a mix ownership of private, county, town, and national forest lands. Another element of the project would create fish barriers to protect populations of cutthroat trout. Continue reading

Climate: Grant program aims to boost coastal resilience with restoration of wetlands, marshes and beaches

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy lashes the Northeast Coast in October. 2012. Image courtesy NASA.

Enhanced natural features eyed as buffers to coastal storm impacts

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The U.S. Department of Interior plans to help protect the Atlantic Coast from future storms with a competitive $100 million grant program, eying projects that will restore coastal marshes, beaches and wetlands that can buffer storm impacts.

“By stabilizing marshes and beaches, restoring wetlands, and improving the resilience of coastal areas, we not only create opportunities for people to connect with nature and support jobs through increased outdoor recreation, but we can also provide an effective buffer that protects local communities from powerful storm surges and devastating floods when a storm like Sandy hits,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

“In cooperation with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, this competitive grant program will fund innovative projects by States, local communities, tribes, non-profit organizations and other partners to rebuild, restore, and research these natural areas along the Atlantic Coast,” Jewell said. Continue reading

Senate bill could boost wildfire restoration efforts

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A bill passed by the U.S. Senate could help additional restoration efforts in areas scarred by wildfires last summer. Photo courtesy PSICC.

‘Water is precious’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Colorado communities hit hard by this past summer’s wildfires could get some help with restoring damaged watershed, as the U.S. Senate passed a disaster recovery bill that includes a boost in resources  to support Colorado’s watershed recovery efforts.

If the House passes the bill, the $125 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program likely will be used, in part, to repair watershed damages that El Paso, Larimer and Weld counties sustained during this year’s wildfire season.

“Water is precious in Colorado, especially right now during the worst drought in years,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “This bill will provide help for the Colorado communities that are recovering from the devastating fires this summer and are now facing threats to their water supply and the risk of flooding at the same time. I am hopeful our colleagues in the House will quickly pass the bill and deliver this support to the communities that need it,” Bennet said. Continue reading

Environment: More Gulf restoration projects coming online

Northern Gulf of Mexico beaches will get some TLC this coming summer as part of the ongoing restoration work in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Northern Gulf of Mexico beaches will get some TLC this coming summer as part of the ongoing restoration work in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Sea turtle and bird habitat improvements planned in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — More restoration projects — valued at about $9 million — to repair damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster are set to begin in the next months along the beaches of the Florida panhandle, Mississippi and Alabama, including habitat improvements for nesting sea turtles and seabirds.

The work is part of the second phase of early restoration projects being organized by the Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees. Altogether, BP will fund $1 billion in early restoration projects.

“These additional projects are important steps in recovering from the oil spill, but they, along with the other Phase I projects, are just first steps,” said Trudy D. Fisher, Chair of the NRDA Trustee Council and Mississippi’s trustee. “Use of the early restoration funding has not moved quickly enough to suit any of us. I want to stress that the NRDA trustees are working hard to see that restoration funding is used in a way that is in the best interest of our natural resources.” Continue reading

Op-ed: Keystone plan a golden opportunity for restoration

Resort, Forest Service should strive for environmental improvements, not just in the Summit House facility, but in the overall development footprint of the project area; full disclosure needed for the planned Bergman Bowl egress trail

A satellite view of the summit of Dercum Mountain at Keystone Ski area shows the level of development, including an open air sewage lagoon slated to be replaced in the lower right-hand corner of the image. The beginner conveyor lift is visible center-left.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — At first glance, plans to revamp the summit of Keystone’s Dercum Mountain and make other improvements to existing terrain and facilities appears to be a laudable step away from the normal ski resort expansion race, marked most recently by Breckenridge’s quest to add lift-served terrain on Peak 6.

Keystone’s proposal is to work within the resort’s existing development footprint, which already sprawls three mountains deep from the Highway 6 base area into the surrounding national forest. Improvements to existing trails, the addition of a few new mountain bike trails and enhanced visitor facilities at the summit of Dercum Mountain all make sense for one of the state’s busiest ski areas. Replacing the aging mountain-top lodge, cozy as it may be, with a new energy efficient structure is also a good move, both from a business and environmental standpoint.

But there are a couple of glaring questions that come to mind immediately. As part of its review, the Forest Service should look at how the new facility will affect the operation of the Outpost, built at great expense and with a lot of environmental fanfare. I’m not sure how, but Keystone earned green accolades for construction of that remote lodge, which could become a white elephant for the resort and the Forest Service. Continue reading

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