Watchdog group calls for moratorium on new permits pending overhaul of regulatory framework
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With only one inspector for every 3,000 active oil and gas wells in Colorado, it’s probably not surprising that the state’s oversight of drilling operations is often haphazard and inconsistent, with enforcement of violations often left to the discretion of individual inspectors.
Colorado isn’t alone in facing regulatory challenges. In a six-state study (Colorado, New Mexico,New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas), an Earthworks report found that 53 to 91 percent of active wells are operating with no inspections — that’s a total of about 350,000 wells that may, or may not, be in compliance with state regulations.
The report also found that violations are frequently not reported and that penalties are often not timely or adequate. The biggest problem, according to Earthworks, is that none of the states studied have enough inspection capacity or rigorous protocols and inspection standards.
Educational online seminar aimed at building awareness about bat conservation and ecology
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — As white-nose syndrome devastates bat colonies across the country, resource managers and conservation biologists have been struggling to help people understand how just important the flying mammals are to American agriculture and ecosystems.
For many people bats are one of those semi-mythical animals — associated with Halloween and vampires, Meanwhile, their role as incredibly valuable pollinators and voracious predators of insects is overlooked.
Next week, the Forest Service will try and create more awareness about bats with a live educational webcast (Sept. 18) from Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas, home of the world’s largest bat colony, to help students across the country learn about one of the most misunderstood yet beneficial creatures in the world.
Outposts were early milestones in the colonization of North America
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A group of four historic Spanish missions in San Antonio, preserved as a national historic park, will be nominated to become World Heritage sites.
“The missions represent an important – and often overlooked – chapter of our nation’s history,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “It’s important that visitors from around the world know and celebrate the contributions of Latinos to the fabric of America, and these missions help tell that story in a very real way.”
Salazar made the announcement in early June at the historic Mission Concepción as he continued to push President Obama’s Great Outdoors initiative. More so than any other president in recent memory, Obama and his team of public land agency leaders have focused on establishing a 21st century approach to conservation. Continue reading “San Antonio missions may get World Heritage status”→
IMBA says trail planning process was started under a national partnership to promote mountain bike opportunities in parks
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A Boulder-based bicycling group is defending its advocacy for a mountain bike trail in Big Bend National Park. Conservation and watchdog groups charge that the National Park Service erred by starting construction of the trail before giving the public a chance to comment on the final decision — as required by federal law.
The International Mountain Biking Association doesn’t dispute what it calls a procedural error on the part of the agency, but says it’s been partnering with the park service since 2005 to expand cycling opportunities in national parks.
The bike group is also challenging other statements made by critics of the trail in a statement on its website. Some of the critics have said the Big Bend trail would be the first in a national park, while IMBA points out that there are trails on other lands administered by the agency, including Golden Gate National Recreation Area, north of San Francisco, seen by some as the birthplace of mountain biking. See a full list of authorized mountain roads and trails in national park units here. Continue reading “Mountain bikers dispute charges against national park trail”→
GMO crops blamed for significant 10-year drop in population numbers
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —A decades-long downward trend in Monarch butterfly numbers is expected to continue this year, with reports from the World Wildlife Fund and other sources indicating there may be almost one-third fewer butterflies making the northward flight from Mexico this spring and summer.
This year’s steep decline may, in part, be due to last summer’s severe drought in Texas, which resulted in less food for the showy insects as they traveled south. But year-to-year fluctuations don’t hide the overall long-term trend of population decline.
“The latest information shows that Monarchs will be down from 25 to 30 percent this year, and that has been part of a disturbing trend the last few years,” said Craig Wilson, a senior research associate in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and a long-time butterfly enthusiast.
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with causing several deaths and burning thousands of homes, the latest round of wildfires in east Texas has destroyed almost $100 million worth of timber, resulting in economic costs far beyond the immediate cost of fighting fires and the value of the destroyed homes, the Texas Forest Service reported this week.
“Along with the heavy toll on people and property, these fires have significantly damaged the forestland — and the forest sector as a whole — in East Texas,” said Chris Edgar, a forest resource analyst with Texas Forest Service. “It’s a tremendous loss for the East Texas timber industry.”
Texas fires claimed more than 1,000 homes in past three days
SUMMIT COUNTY — The 33,000-acre Bastrop Fire, one of the most destructive of the recent Texas wildfires, is now 30 percent contained, according to the Texas Forest Service, but the fire is still threatening a powerplant, as well as historic cabins in Bastrop State Park.