Biodiversity: Wildlife advocates howling mad about draft federal plan to take wolves off the Endangered Species List

Wolves may not be in danger of extinction, but are they recovered?

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The current legal status of wolves in the U.S.

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A gray wolf follows a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy NPS/Doug Smith.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —An oft-discussed proposal to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species List has progressed to the point that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a fairly detailed draft version of the plan. The draft rule proposes removing all protections for wolves in 29 eastern states but maintaining endangered status for the Mexican wolf by listing it as a subspecies.

“We propose these actions because the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the currently listed entity is not a valid species under the Act and that the Mexican wolf (C. l. baileyi) is an endangered subspecies,” the agency wrote in the draft. Continue reading

Morning photo: Saturday sunrise

Brilliant April light

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Constant diversions through the Roberts Tunnel have left Dillon Reservoir quite low.

FRISCO — Sunrise is getting to be pretty early these days, and it was a bit of a battle to get up and out the door Saturday morning, especially after a week of getting up before dawn to fix breakfast for our high-schooler, who has to be at the bus stop by 7:05 a.m. Not sure who thought up the school schedule locally, but it’s wrong, kind of like cruel and unusual punishment for teenager. But I did manage to scoot from our home in Frisco to nearby Heaton Bay to grap a few sunrise snapshots, and was happy, in the end, that I did, as I was treated to a glorious sunrise. Here are some the best shots from Saturday morning. Continue reading

Letter shows bipartisan agreement on climate change

U.S. must help address global warming risks in vulnerable nations

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By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Debate about climate change has often been framed in a partisan context, at least in the U.S., but a recent statment by a nonpartisan security think tank points at finding common ground around the issue based on national security concerns.

A recent open letter from the Partnership for a Secure America starkly outlines the national security threats of climate change, stressing  the urgent need for action to prevent disastrous impacts on U.S. interests. Mobilizing public and private support for international mitigation and adaptation projects in vulnerable communities must be a priority, according to the letter.

The group’s members are hardly wild-eyed environmental radicals; Instead, the letter was signed by seventeen former Senators and Congress members, nine retired generals and admirals, both the Chair and Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission, and Cabinet and Cabinet-level officials from the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and both Bush administrations. Continue reading

National Parks facing big hit from budget standoff

Staffing, hours could be cut drastically

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Arches National Park. Photo courtesy NPS/Jacob W Frank.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —Failure to develop a long-term budget deal would hit the National Park Service hard, as the agency would be forced to slash staff, cut park hours and reduce other key services expected by visitors, according to documents obtained by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

“This is very troubling and it has the potential to turn already budget–strapped national parks into ghost towns,” said CNPSR Chair Maureen Finnerty, former superintendent of Everglades National Park. “This would be devastating for America’s national parks, for the nearly 300 million Americans who visit them, and for the irreplaceable natural and cultural resources the parks were established to protect,” Finnerty said. Continue reading

Feds publish candid draft report on global warming

‘Climate change is already affecting the American people’

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There is no letup in the steady long-term rise of global temperatures.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Coming shortly after the National Climatic Data Center reported that 2012 was the warmest year on record for the U.S., a new federal report on global warming doesn’t mince words, starting with the first paragraph of the executive summary:

“Climate change is already affecting the American people. Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heatwaves, heavy downpours, ain, in some regions, floods and droughts. Sea level is rising oceans are becoming more acidic and glaciers and arctic sea ice are melting.”

Along with laying out the science, the report cites experiences that most Americans can relate to. “Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience. So, too, have coastal planners from Florida to Maine, water managers in the arid Southwest and parts of the Southeast, and Native Americans on tribal lands across the nation.” Continue reading

2013 or 1984?

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Is the government listening to your phone calls?

Warrantless wiretapping authorized for 5 more years

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The federal government will be able to listen in to your phone calls and snoop around you emails without a warrant for at least five more years, after Congress passed — and President Obama signed — the FISA Amendments Act, which authorizes the government to violate of basic constitutional rights in the name of national security.

The biggest concern for civil liberty advocates is the warrantless wiretapping program that dates back to the Bush administration’s war on terror. The program has helped the government gather intelligence, but critics like U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) say the law doesn’t do a good job of balancing national security and civil liberties.

In a release, Udall said he opposed the extension partly because Congress failed to address the loophole. In past years, Udall has said it’s not even clear how many Americans have been targeted under the program, and called for more transparency and oversight of the program. Continue reading

Op-ed: U.S. must show leadership at climate talks

Will the world get it together on climate change?

Global warming crisis must be met with resolve and collaboration

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — With Arctic ice on the brink of near-total meltdown, super storms brewing in the oceans and after a summer of heatwaves and drought, about 17,000 delegates start meeting this week in Doha, Qatar to try and make some progress on the UN’s annual climate talks.

The backdrop for this year’s talks are continued dire warnings from scientists, who are saying that, if we can’t cap emissions by 2020, the world could be headed for runaway warming, with temperatures not seen on Earth for millions of years and almost unimaginable consequences for all life on Earth.

This is not a joke or some sort of purely academic debate. It could literally be a matter of life and death, but even though there’s a lot at stake, expectations aren’t very high for COP 18. The talks have become a frustrating exercise in futility, as politics and economics continually push the existential question of global warming into the back seat. What’s lacking most of all is clear leadership from the world’s most influential countries, including the USA. Continue reading

Travel: National parks 2013 fee-free schedule announced

This land is your land …

The U.S. Department of Interior last week announced the 2012 schedule of fee-free days for national parks and other federal public lands. Photo courtesy Leigh Wadden.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — If you’re starting to think about your next trip to a national park, you could plan your visit around one of the fee-free days in 2013, including Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 21), Great Outdoors Day (June 8), or even national parks week (April 22-26), when entry to national parks and other public lands are free (full schedule below). Continue reading

U.S. heat eases slightly in September, but 2012 still the warmest year on record to-date

Near-record heat prevailed across the West, with a small patch of cooler-than-average temperatures in the Midwest.

Heat wave shifts west, with much of the eastern U.S. reporting near average temps for the month

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A brutal summer-long North American heat wave eased up last month, but the monthly temperature was still 1.4 degrees above the long-term average, making it the 23d warmest September on record, and the 16th month in a row with above-average readings in the contiguous 48 states.

The month also brought record and near-record dry conditions to the Northern Plains and Northwest, according to the National Climatic Data Center’s monthly update. Hot readings shifted west, with multiple states states from California through the interior West reporting September readings among the top-warmest on record, including Nevada (third-warmest) and Utah (ninth-warmest). Continue reading

Morning photo: July calendar choice

Superb sunsets

Buffalo Mountain silhouette against a fiery sunset.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — I was gone for a large part of July, but did catch a few good sunsets along the shores of Dillon Reservoir before the water receded too far. The monsoon moisture that started building early in the month helped color the sky with clouds, and in mid-summer, the light lingers late, so there’s no rush to shoot. In July, sunset photography becomes a leisurely post-dinner activity, the best time of the day to linger in a scenic spot. Vote in the poll for your favorite July picture, with the winner to be featured in the 2013 Summit Voice calendar.

Continue reading

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