Environment: Feds face pipeline safety lawsuit

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Workers try to contain an oil spill from a ruptured pipeline in the Yellowstone River in January, 2015.

Lacksadaiscal enforcement is a recipe for disaster

Staff Report

FRISCO — After a series of disastrous pipeline breaks, the National Wildlife Federation says it’s time to hold the federal government accountable for its failure to enforce basic requirements like regular inspections and update safety response plans for pipeline accidents.

This week, the nonprofit group said it will sue the  U.S Department of Transportation in an action that has nationwide implications, since nearly every pipeline that crosses a navigable water is operating illegally. In its formal notice of intent to sue, the National Wildlife Federation is asking the Department of Transportation to issue regulations for oil pipelines in water, and require every owner and operator of an oil pipeline in a navigable water to submit a safety response plan that needs to be approved. Continue reading

Environment: Feds extend comment period on controversial Endangered Species Act changes

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Can the Endangered Species Act be improved?

Proposed changes would make it harder for citizen groups to petition for protection

Staff Report

FRISCO — The feds will give the public an extra two months to weigh in on proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, with a new comment deadline set for mid-September.

In May, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service published draft regulations, saying that the changes are aimed at improving transparency and inclusiveness. The move to freshen up the Endangered Species Act reflects “advances in conservation biology and genetics, as well as recent court decisions interpreting the Act’s provisions.” Continue reading

Summit County: Frey Gulch restoration begins

Construction of new dirt bike trails also under way

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The Forest Service and volunteer partners are simultaneously building new dirt bike trails and closing forest roads in the Tenderfoot Mountain area.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service is implementing restoration plans associated with approval of the new off-road motorcycle trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain.

The trail system, long a local point of contention, was approved last year based on a compromise agreement among stakeholders. The Forest Service has already started building part of the trail, with new single-track visible just a few feet above, and running parallel to Straight Creek Road.

This summer, Tenderfoot Mountain Road (#66.2B) in Frey Gulch will be closed and rehabilitated in order to improve water quality and improved habitat for fish and wildlife. The restoration of Frey Gulch was included as a condition the trail system permit. Continue reading

New Forest Service rule requires bear–proof food storage in Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area near Aspen

A peaceful campsite along Officers Gulch Pond, formed when crews were building Interstate 70 through a narrow mountain canyon.

Campers in Colorado run the risk of encountering rummaging bears if they don’t store their food in bear-proof containers. @bberwyn photo.

Growing number of incidents prompts crackdown to protect bears and people

Staff Report

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service will try to protect both people and bears in the mountains around Aspen by requiring backcountry campers to store their food in hard-sided bear-proof containers.

The new regulation for the heavily visited 162,333 acre Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area on the White River National Forest comes after Forest Service rangers reported an increasing number of incidents involving humans and bears.

“Based on recent human/bear incidents in the heavily used Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, we are implementing this emergency special order requiring hard-sided bear-resistant food canisters for all overnight visitors,” Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer said in a press release. Continue reading

Yosemite National Park launches effort to restore endangered yellow-legged frogs in alpine lakes

‘Today we know these frogs are a key part of healthy mountain lake ecosystems …’
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A Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Staff Report
FRISCO — National Park Service biologists say a targeted restoration effort in Yosemite could rebuild populations of endangered yellow-legged frogs back to self-sustaining levels within 10 years.

Yellow-legged frogs were once the most common frog in mountain lakes throughout the Sierra Nevada, but in recent decades were nearly wiped out by non-native species and by disease. By 2005, biologists could only find 11 widely scattered populations, with perhaps a couple of thousand frogs total. Continue reading

Biodiversity: New study finds that seabird populations have dropped 70 percent since the 1950s

Steep downward trend poses threats to marine ecosystems

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Pelagic bird populations are declining at an alarming rate. @bberwyn photo.

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A Florida pelican. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Researchers with the University of British Columbia say that global seabird populations — including penguins, albatrosses, petrels and pelicans — have declined by 70 percent since the 1950s — a clear sign that marine ecosystems are in trouble.

The findings are based on an analysis of more than 500 seabird populations , representing about 19 per cent of the global seabird population. The 70 percent decline is equivalent to the loss of about 230 million birds in 60 years, said Michelle Paleczny, a UBC master’s student and researcher with the Sea Around Us project.

“Seabirds are particularly good indicators of the health of marine ecosystems,” said Paleczny. “When we see this magnitude of seabird decline, we can see there is something wrong with marine ecosystems. It gives us an idea of the overall impact we’re having.” Continue reading

Colorado: Bear bites man inside tent at food-strewn campsite

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A bear habituated to human food searches a trash bin in Colorado. Photo via Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Wildlife managers say they will try to trap and kill the bear

Staff Report

FRISCO — Camping restrictions are in place at a Colorado campground after a bear bit a man inside a tent. The Dearhamer Campground,  southeast of Glenwood Springs at Ruedi Reservoir,  has been temporarily restricted to hard-sided campers.

The man, who was sleeping in the tent with his wife and one-year-old child, said they woke up about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning when his wife heard scratching, then saw paws on their air mattress.

At the same moment, the man said he felt a bite on his left forearm, but was able to shake the animal off by hitting it with his free arm. He said the animal ran away, jumping over the tent in the process.

After the incident, the man drove himself to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs where he was treated and released for two puncture wounds on his left forearm. Continue reading

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