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San Antonio missions may get World Heritage status

‘The San Antonio Missions represents a vital part of our nation’s Latino heritage …’

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The Alamo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — It’s been nearly 20 years since a new World Heritage site has been designated in the U.S. but that could soon change. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell last week said the San Antonio Missions, including the Alamo, will be nominated for the international list, which recognizes the most significant cultural and natural sites on the planet.

The most recent U.S. addition to the World Heritage register was the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (administered jointly with Canada) in 1995.

“World Heritage Sites represent an incredible opportunity for the United States to tell the world the whole story of America and the remarkable diversity of our people and beauty of our land,” Jewell said. “The San Antonio Missions represents a vital part of our nation’s Latino heritage and the contributions of Latinos to the building of our country.” Continue reading

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Feds eye endangered species listing for lesser prairie chicken

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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. Continue reading

Woman survives mountain lion attack in Big Bend NP

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.

Other tips:

  • 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.

Report finds haphazard enforcement of oil and gas regs

Courtesy Earthworks.

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. Continue reading

Forest Service goes batty with live webcast from Texas

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. Continue reading

San Antonio missions may get World Heritage status

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. Continue reading

Mountain bikers dispute charges against national park trail

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. Continue reading

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