Posted on December 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Lesser prairie chicken. Photo courtesy Doug Holt/USFWS.
Cooperative habitat conservation plans could avert final listing
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Endangered species and energy development will clash again in the south-central U.S. as federal biologists this week proposed adding the lesser prairie chicken to the endangered species list.
This decision could trigger new scrutiny by state and federal wildlife agencies on permits and operations for energy developers and ranchers that could impact the bird’s habitat in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado — states that are prime grounds for oil, gas and wind development, as well as farming and ranching. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: biodiversity, Colorado, endangered species, Kansas, lesser prairie chicken, New Mexico, Texas, United States Fish and Wildlife Service | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 25, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Two mountain lions rest in a shady spot. Photo courtesy USFWS.
Part of Big Bend National Park closed
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — National Park Service officials say a woman attacked by a mountain lion in Big Bend National Park, Texas, did not suffer life-threatening injuries.
Andrea Pinero Cebrian and companions were exploring the Mesa de Anguila, near Lajitas Friday, Nov. 23 when she was attacked. Cebrian was treated by Terlingua Medics.
The Mesa de Anguila has been closed to all visitors while rangers and park biologists investigate and patrol in search of the mountain lion.
“Visitor safety is our main concern here in Big Bend and we will monitor and close the Mesa until we deem it safe for visitors,” said park superintendent Cindy Ott-Jones.
Fatal mountain lion attacks are rare in the U.S. The most recent documented fatality was in June, 2008 in Pinos Altos, New Mexico. In Colorado, the most recent mountain lion fatality was in 1997, when 10-year-old Mark Miedema was killed by an adult female cougar when he hiked ahead of his family on Rocky Mountain National Park.
Wildlife experts say the best course of action if you meet a mountain lion is to stay calm and talk firmly and quietly to the animal while backing away slowly.
- Do not run.
- Raise you arms to appear larger.
- If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones, branches, or whatever you can get your hands on. Do not crouch down or turn your back.
- Fight back if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey that fights back.
Filed under: national parks, public lands, wildlife | Tagged: backcountry, Big Bend national park, hiking, mountain lion attack, Texas, wildlife | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Watchdog group calls for moratorium on new permits pending overhaul of regulatory framework
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With only one inspector for every 3,000 active oil and gas wells in Colorado, it’s probably not surprising that the state’s oversight of drilling operations is often haphazard and inconsistent, with enforcement of violations often left to the discretion of individual inspectors.
Colorado isn’t alone in facing regulatory challenges. In a six-state study (Colorado, New Mexico,New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas), an Earthworks report found that 53 to 91 percent of active wells are operating with no inspections — that’s a total of about 350,000 wells that may, or may not, be in compliance with state regulations.
The report also found that violations are frequently not reported and that penalties are often not timely or adequate. The biggest problem, according to Earthworks, is that none of the states studied have enough inspection capacity or rigorous protocols and inspection standards.
Read the executive summary: Breaking All the Rules: The Crisis in Oil & Gas Regulatory Enforcement.
The full report: Breaking All the Rules: The Crisis in Oil & Gas Regulatory Enforcement. (more…)
Filed under: energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Colorado, Environment, fracking, oil and gas drilling, Texas | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 17, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Visitors gather at Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas, to experience the nightly flight of millions of Mexican free-tailed bats. Photo courtesy of: Bat Conservation International.
Educational online seminar aimed at building awareness about bat conservation and ecology
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — As white-nose syndrome devastates bat colonies across the country, resource managers and conservation biologists have been struggling to help people understand how just important the flying mammals are to American agriculture and ecosystems.
For many people bats are one of those semi-mythical animals — associated with Halloween and vampires, Meanwhile, their role as incredibly valuable pollinators and voracious predators of insects is overlooked.
Next week, the Forest Service will try and create more awareness about bats with a live educational webcast (Sept. 18) from Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas, home of the world’s largest bat colony, to help students across the country learn about one of the most misunderstood yet beneficial creatures in the world.
The webcast is a part of BatsLIVE! A Distance Learning Adventure, a free education program that aims to bring the best of bat information and research to help children understand the value of bats and the conservation challenges they face. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, US Forest Service | Tagged: bat conservation, bats, Bracken Cave, Mexican Free-tailed Bat, Texas, United States Forest Service, white-nose syndrome | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Outposts were early milestones in the colonization of North America
Concepción Mission, San Antonio, Texas. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A group of four historic Spanish missions in San Antonio, preserved as a national historic park, will be nominated to become World Heritage sites.
“The missions represent an important – and often overlooked – chapter of our nation’s history,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “It’s important that visitors from around the world know and celebrate the contributions of Latinos to the fabric of America, and these missions help tell that story in a very real way.”
Salazar made the announcement in early June at the historic Mission Concepción as he continued to push President Obama’s Great Outdoors initiative. More so than any other president in recent memory, Obama and his team of public land agency leaders have focused on establishing a 21st century approach to conservation. (more…)
Filed under: Travel, West | Tagged: San Antonio missions, Texas, Tourism, Travel, world heritage UNESCO | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Big Bend National Park. MAP COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.
IMBA says trail planning process was started under a national partnership to promote mountain bike opportunities in parks
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A Boulder-based bicycling group is defending its advocacy for a mountain bike trail in Big Bend National Park. Conservation and watchdog groups charge that the National Park Service erred by starting construction of the trail before giving the public a chance to comment on the final decision — as required by federal law.
The International Mountain Biking Association doesn’t dispute what it calls a procedural error on the part of the agency, but says it’s been partnering with the park service since 2005 to expand cycling opportunities in national parks.
The bike group is also challenging other statements made by critics of the trail in a statement on its website. Some of the critics have said the Big Bend trail would be the first in a national park, while IMBA points out that there are trails on other lands administered by the agency, including Golden Gate National Recreation Area, north of San Francisco, seen by some as the birthplace of mountain biking. See a full list of authorized mountain roads and trails in national park units here. (more…)
Filed under: biking, Environment, national parks, public lands, recreation | Tagged: Big Bend national park, International Mountain Bicycling Association, national park mountain biking, National Park Service, Texas | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 23, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Monarch butterflies during migration. PHOTO COURTESY GENE NEIMINEN/USFWS.
GMO crops blamed for significant 10-year drop in population numbers
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —A decades-long downward trend in Monarch butterfly numbers is expected to continue this year, with reports from the World Wildlife Fund and other sources indicating there may be almost one-third fewer butterflies making the northward flight from Mexico this spring and summer.
This year’s steep decline may, in part, be due to last summer’s severe drought in Texas, which resulted in less food for the showy insects as they traveled south. But year-to-year fluctuations don’t hide the overall long-term trend of population decline.
“The latest information shows that Monarchs will be down from 25 to 30 percent this year, and that has been part of a disturbing trend the last few years,” said Craig Wilson, a senior research associate in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and a long-time butterfly enthusiast.
This year, according to the Texas Monarch Watch, Monarchs covered about 7.14 acres of forest in their Mexican breeding grounds compared to 9.9 acres last year, and it shows a continued long-term downward trend in Monarch population since official surveys began in 1994. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Summit County news | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, genetically modified crops, Mexico, monarch butterflies, Texas | 1 Comment »
Posted on September 22, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
An engine at the Nolan County Complex sprays water on mesquite pile earlier this summer. PHOTO COURTESY STEVE PAES. Click on the image to see more photos from the Texas wildfires at the Inciweb Gallery.
175 million cubic feet of timber up in smoke
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with causing several deaths and burning thousands of homes, the latest round of wildfires in east Texas has destroyed almost $100 million worth of timber, resulting in economic costs far beyond the immediate cost of fighting fires and the value of the destroyed homes, the Texas Forest Service reported this week.
“Along with the heavy toll on people and property, these fires have significantly damaged the forestland — and the forest sector as a whole — in East Texas,” said Chris Edgar, a forest resource analyst with Texas Forest Service. “It’s a tremendous loss for the East Texas timber industry.”
In 2007, forest industries funneled $427 million into the economy in Cass and Marion counties while employing 1,330 people with a payroll of $72 million. More information on the Texas wildfires is online at Inciweb. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Environment, forest fires, forests | Tagged: East Texas, Texas, Texas Forest Service, Texas timber industry, Texas wildfires, wildfire | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 8, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Texas fires claimed more than 1,000 homes in past three days
The Bastrop fire complex near Austin, Texas is now 30 percent contained.
SUMMIT COUNTY — The 33,000-acre Bastrop Fire, one of the most destructive of the recent Texas wildfires, is now 30 percent contained, according to the Texas Forest Service, but the fire is still threatening a powerplant, as well as historic cabins in Bastrop State Park.
The western flank of the fire is still a threat to eastern edge of Bastrop, where 5,000 residents have been evacuated. The Bastrop Fire burned 785 homes during Labor Day weekend, according to the Sept. 7 update from the Texas Forest Service. The agency also said that 238 homes were burned by other fires in the past three days. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forest fires | Tagged: Bastrop fire, Bastrop fire containment, Bastrop fire map, Bastrop State Park, Texas, Texas Forest Service, Texas wildfires, wildfire | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 7, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Volunteer firefighters on the Baker Fire in Texas. PHOTO BY ROBIN P. BIBLE VIA INCIWEB.
Dangerous fire conditions persist across much of the state
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A surge of new wind-driven wildfires in Texas may have destroyed up to 700 homes in just two days during the Labor Day weekend, the Texas Forest Service said in its daily update.
There is still conflicting information about deaths resulting from the Bastrop Fire, with two reported fatalities and two additional deaths possible. A special 100-member search team has been deployed to search burned homes in the Bastrop area.
Strong winds on the west side of Tropical Storm Lee re-ignited earlier fires and quickly fanned new blazes into nearly uncontrollable infernos, including a monster fire in Bastrop County, near Austin, that’s grown to 30,000 acres. Firefighters still haven’t been able to contain the Bastrop Fire despite repeated attacks by air tankers. Numerous neighborhoods have been evacuated as firefighters focus on protecting homes in the area.
On Monday (Sept. 5) the Texas Forest Service responded to 22 new fires burning across 7,544 acres, including 10 new large fires. In the past week, the agency has responded to 181 fires burning on 118,413 acres, according to the daily Inciweb summary of the Texas wildfires. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forest fires, Summit County news | Tagged: Bastrop County Texas, Bastrop fire map, Bastrop fires, Bastrop Texas, New Texas wildfires, Texas, Texas fires, Texas fires Sept 6 update, Texas Forest Service, Texas wildfire deaths, Texas wildfires | Leave a Comment »