Posted on August 21, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Wet spring and summer help avert worst of water shortages for now
FRISCO — Water storage in Lake Powell peaked on July 14 this year and has started its annual seasonal decline that will continue until spring runoff starts early in 2016, according to an Aug. 18 update from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado River Basin, drought, Lake Powell, water, West | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 21, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Towering flames at the Fork Complex wildfire in California, Photo via Inciweb.
Feds spending $150 million per day and seek firefighting help from Canada, Australia and New Zealand
FRISCO — This year’s wildfire activity in the U.S. has surged to the highest level in 10 years, with the National Interagency Fire Center reporting that about 7.2 million acres have burned so far, and officials said they expect the wildfire season to intensify in the coming weeks.
The drought-stricken far West is hardest hit, with 16 large fires currently burning in Washington, 14 in California and 12 in Oregon. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said federal agencies are currently spending about $150 million per day on fighting fires across the West. Continue reading
Filed under: BLM, climate and weather, climate change, Drought, extreme weather, global warming, US Forest Service, wildfires | Tagged: climate, drought, Forest Service, West, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 18, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Western U.S. Counties Violating Current and Proposed Ozone Air Quality Standards. Map courtesy Jeremy Nichols/ClimateWest blog.
Proposed EPA standards would help bring relief to residents of fossil fuel development zones
FRISCO — The mythology of the American West includes standard notions of pristine vistas and clean air, but the reality is far different. Some parts of the region have a dirty little secret — air quality that, at times, is worse than places like L.A.
And for now, the problem is getting worse. Expanded drilling on public lands is resulting in emissions of more volatile organic compounds that form the chemical basis for ozone. Global warming won’t help either. By mid-century, ozone pollution will become much more widespread as temperatures rise, potentially leading to widespread plant damage, according to one recent study.
Proposed new EPA ozone standards could help, but only if there’s an active year-round monitoring regime in the region, a coalition of environmental groups said in their formal public comments on the proposed new standards. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: air quality, Environment, epa ozone standards, fracking, West | 2 Comments »
Posted on February 2, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Forest treatments that focus on removing smaller trees may not be the best tool for western dry forests, according to new research by University of Wyoming scientists.
Study shows many treatments in western dry forests are misguided
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Mid-elevation forests in the western U.S. have survived centuries of drought, wildfires and insect onslaughts by hedging their bets with a diversity of tree sizes, Wyoming researchers said after studying forest plots from the Pacific Northwest down to Arizona and New Mexico.
The research showed that the biggest threat to those forests is from insects and not wildfires. Historically abundant small trees enable those forests to rebound after tree-killing bugs move through. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: Environment, Forest health, forests, West | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 27, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Federal lands in the U.S. Courtesy Univ. of Montana.
New website offers glimpse of ongoing efforts to ‘de-federalize’ the West
FRISCO — On and off efforts to force the transfer of federally managed public western lands to individual states have grown beyond campaign rhetoric.
These days, there’s a semi-organized effort on the part of lawmakers in several western states to try and take over millions of acres of forests and rangelands. The history of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, with roots in the Reagan era, is outlined in detail on this University of Colorado website. Continue reading
Filed under: BLM, national parks, public lands, US Forest Service, wilderness | Tagged: crazy ideas, public lands, sagebrush rebellion, states rights, West | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 31, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Energetic monsoon brings moisture surplus to many areas
The big wet?
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — An energetic and widespread monsoon weather pattern brought above normal precipitation to much of the West in August, with a bullseye of moisture in southern Idaho, extending across western Wyoming, Montana, northeastern Utah and into northwestern Colorado. Some locations in the region saw up to 800 percent of average precipitation. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, El Niño | Tagged: climate, Colorado, El Nino, Southwest monsoon, weather, West | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 7, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
The far West and northern Great Basin are especially prone to wildfires this summer.
Potential for big fires still a concern in California
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — For the first time in 10 years, the acreage burned by wildfires was less than 1 million acres as of the beginning of July. With extreme drought and high fire danger in parts of the far West, that could change quickly, but for now, both the number of fires and the acreage affected is well below average for the season, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
To-date, 26,684 fires have burned across about 909,000 acres, less than half he average 2.5 million acres for this time of year. By comparison, wildfires had already burned across more than 1.7 million acres last year at this time. In 2011 that number was at 4.8 million acres. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forest fires | Tagged: climate, Environment, West, Wildfires | Leave a comment »