Category: wetlands

Sunday set: National Parks in Austria

Mountains, rivers wetlands …


During the past few months I’ve been able to visit several of Austria’s national parks, including the Donau Auen, a spectacular bosque river landscape that starts practically in downtown Vienna and extends all the way to the border with Slovakia. The Donau Auen is one of the biggest remaining natural river landscapes in central Europe and stands as testament to the power of grassroots activism. When plans for a giant hydropower plant were revealed in the early 1980s, students, teachers, artists and others banded together to occupy the area, eventually winning the public relations battle and leading to preservation of the area.

While Austria is best known for its mountain landscapes, the Neusiedler See is located on the eastern border of Austria, where the mountains tilt away to the great steppes of the northernmost Balkan region. The other two parks in shown in this set are in the heart of Austria’s Alps, featuring classic mountain landscapes. Most Austrian parks are just a few decades old and were inspired by national parks in the U.S. Indeed, the concept of public places as showcases of ecological diversity and preservation is probably one of America’s best exports.

New report shows U.S. wetlands could use more TLC

National assessment helps pinpoint conservation issues

Peru Creek, Keystone Colorado
A partially frozen wetlands pond along lower Peru Creek, near Keystone, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The health of American wetlands — at least what’s left of them — in the U.S. is a 50-50 proposition, according to the EPA, which this week released a first-ever national assessment of wetlands conditions, part of a national aquatic resource survey.

Wetlands, once maligned as no-good swamps, are critical for ecosystem health, water quality and flood attenuation, but development and agriculture have chipped away at the waterlogged areas for decades, leaving many degraded.

Overall, the EPA said 48 percent of the nation’s wetlands are in good health. Twenty percent are in fair health, and nearly a third — 32 percent — are in poor health. Continue reading “New report shows U.S. wetlands could use more TLC”

Public lands: Feds finalizing management plan for wildlife refuges in Colorado’s San Luis Valley

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Wetlands in Colorado’s San Luis Valley form the heart of a 106,000-acre complex of wildlife refuges. Photo via USFWS.

Restoration and public use among the key focus areas

Staff Report

FRISCO — After years of planning and public input, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials this week said they’ve completed all the environmental studies and a conservation plan for the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex, in south-central Colorado.

The plan covers about 106,000 acres across three national wildlife refuges: Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Baca National Wildlife Refuges, home to the hundreds of year round resident birds-and an important stop-over location for migratory birds during their long journey between their breeding grounds to north and their wintering grounds to the south. Continue reading “Public lands: Feds finalizing management plan for wildlife refuges in Colorado’s San Luis Valley”

Feds face another clean water lawsuit

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The federal government is being sued by conservation groups and industry over the new Waters of the U.S. rule.

Conservation groups say new rule has too many pollution loopholes

Staff Report

FRISCO — There will be yet more legal wrangling over a new federal clean water rule, as conservation groups said last week they will sue to plug some loopholes that could open the door for more pollution in wetlands and streams.

At issue is the so-called Waters of the U.S. rule finalized by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May. That means the feds will be getting sued twice over the rule. Industry groups announced their challenge in mid-July, claiming the new regulations “dramatically expand federal regulatory authority. Continue reading “Feds face another clean water lawsuit”

Polluters sue to block new wetlands regulations

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Polluters are asking a federal court to roll back protection for important wetlands. @bberwyn photo.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce leads effort to overturn Waters of the U.S. rule

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A new federal wetlands rule that helps protect water quality and important wildlife habitat will face a federal court challenge from groups representing some of the country’s biggest polluters.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business,  and the Portland Cement Association last week filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, seeking to overturn the so-called Waters of the U.S. rule. Continue reading “Polluters sue to block new wetlands regulations”

Small wetlands critical to overall ecosystem functions

‘Many people would say, what’s the big deal if we drain this small area? But these smaller wetlands are integral …’

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Colorado wetlands. @bberwyn photo

FRISCO — A new study by researchers at Waterloo University supports the EPA’s proposed new rule for protecting discontinuous wetlands by showing that those smaller marshy patches function best as a group.

Interconnected pockets of wetlands form a landscape mosaic which provide unique habitat and safe breeding grounds for species such as salamanders and migratory birds. Many traditional wetlands conservation projects tend to overlook that “edge” function and mistakenly focus on preserving only total wetland area, with no consideration of ecosystem services provided by different wetland types. Continue reading “Small wetlands critical to overall ecosystem functions”

Environment: Study shows that even ‘isolated’ wetlands are crucial to protecting water quality

Findings come as EPA edges toward final new clean water rule

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By Summit Voice

Geographically isolated wetlands like prairie potholes and desert playas in the Southwest are critical to water quality and also provide many other ecosystem services — even though they may lack the regulatory protections of other wetlands, according to Indiana University researchers.

Continued loss of such wetlands is likely “to cause serious harm to North American waters,” according to John M. Marton, a researcher with the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

“Geographically isolated wetlands provide important benefits such as sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation and water-quality improvement, all of which are critical for maintaining water quality,” Marton said, discussing the conclusions of a new article appearing in BioScience. Continue reading “Environment: Study shows that even ‘isolated’ wetlands are crucial to protecting water quality”