Alaska, Southwest could see early season forest fires
April precipitation may have helped dampen the potential for a severe wildfire season in parts of the Rocky Mountain region and in the adjacent Great Plains, according to a new outlook from the interagency Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center.
The projections is based on various seasonal indicators including precipitation, snowpack average, temperatures, wind, plant and soil moisture, and the timing of green-up. These indices support a below average to near average fire season in 2016.
After taking a big-picture look at the water cycle, U.S. Forest Service researchers say global warming may decrease the amount of water produced by forests and grasslands across the country — even with increases in precipitation.
Dried grass glows under afternoon sunlight against the backdrop of a dark forest in Thayatal National Park, Lower Austria.
Late afternoon light shimmers on budding trees in Thayatal National Park, Lower Austria.
A fallen beech in Thayatal National Park, Austria.
Green tinged fields in Lower Austria under an evening sky.
A spring rainstorm builds above the agricultural plains north of Vienna, Austria.
The Lower Austrian landscape encompasses everything from wild beech forests and deep river canyons to manicured fields — not to mention acres and acres of vineyard, but that’s another story! Austrians are still getting used to the concept of national parks. Thayatal was founded in 2002, so some local visitors still don’t quite understand why the park managers simply leave downed trees on the ground. It’s considered a waste by some, and the park features signs explaining how it’s a deliberate effort to recreate landscapes where natural processes are left to function without much interference. In this small country, nearly every acre of land is spoken for, most of it outside towns and cities dedicated to agriculture, but slowly, resource managers are making some headway in restoring natural ecosystems in a few areas, to the benefit of native species.
Global warming has killed half a billion trees across the U.S.
Scientists tracking massive forest die-offs say a new study may help forest managers learn how to predict which trees will succumb to global warming — and what the implications are for the global carbon balance.
“There are some common threads that we might be able to use to predict which species are going to be more vulnerable in the future,” said University of Utah biologist William Anderegg, explaining that recent tree-killing droughts in the western U.S. were marked more by elevated temperature than by a lack of rainfall.
“These widespread tree die-offs are a really early and visible sign of climate change already affecting our landscapes,” Anderegg said.
Long-term camping, littering and wildfire danger cited as reasons for proposal
A popular free camping zone between Keystone and Montezuma could be shut down by the U.S. Forest Service. According to the agency, the informal campsites have become a nuisance, with long-term campers damaging natural resources and littering the area with human waste and trash.
As proposed in April 2015, the the plan would have resulted in major real estate sprawl around the village of Tusayan, with up to 2,100 residential units and 3 million square feet of retail space along with hotels, a spa and conference center.
It’s 5:30 a.m. and already the cacophony of birdsong is deafening. But then again, it may be the howler monkeys we saw when we arrived — a tough distinction for someone new to the rainforest. Today is day two of a ten-day graduate course in Costa Rica entitled “Building Bridges and Creating Corridors.” The racket outside the shuttered doors is calling, and sleep seems pointless, so I acquiesce to the excitement of the day. Someone from my cohort is already awake and exploring the grounds close by. I wonder if she is thinking the same thing I am. What, exactly, made that noise? The mysterious creature remains hidden behind a lush wall of bush, taunting our curiosity.
And so begins my journey of exploring biological corridors in Costa Rica- from the cloud forests of Monteverde to the costal mangroves of San Antonio. Our group is made up of five environmental management students, an intern of permaculture, and Western State Colorado University’s global coordinator-cum-graduate faculty. We are supported by several Costa Rican organizations and professionals who infuse us with local knowledge. But importantly, we experience firsthand the international reach of these projects. Corridors live both within and beyond Costa Rica’s borders. Continue reading “Biological bridges key to sustaining Costa Rica’s biodiversity”→