Tag: wetlands

Can coastal wetlands survive sea level rise?

New USGS study IDs path for wetlands migration

Coastal mangrove forests are important ecosystems, but face the threat of sea level rise. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Ecologically critical tidal wetlands along the U.S. Gulf Coast are being swallowed up by rising sea level and coastal development, but they expand inland if planners consider climate change in their equations.

“Tidal saline wetlands along the northern Gulf of Mexico are abundant, diverse, and vulnerable to sea-level rise,” said Nicholas Enwright, USGS researcher and lead author of the study. “Our findings provide a foundation for land managers to better ensure there is space for future wetland migration in response to sea-level rise.”

Tidal saline wetlands include mangrove forests, salt marshes, and salt flats, which all provide important wildlife habitat and help buffer the impacts of extreme weather. Without areas for these wetlands to move to, people and wildlife will lose the beneficial functions they provide. Continue reading “Can coastal wetlands survive sea level rise?”

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”

UK to strengthen protection for peatlands

A blanket bog on the Yell, Shetland Islands, with some peat working. Photo via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

New code could spur significant climate benefits

Staff Report

The UK wants to beef up protection and restoration of peatlands under a new government-backed code that could slash carbon dioxide emissions by 220 million tons and protect rare wildlife at the same time.

The Peatland Code was unveiled at the World Forum for Natural Capital in Edinburgh on November 23 following a successful two-year trial, which has seen businesses fund peatland restoration projects in southwest England, the Lake District and Wales.

The Code is based on research by academics at Birmingham City University and the University of Leeds which revealed that sustainable business investment could reverse the degradation of peatlands and significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading “UK to strengthen protection for peatlands”

Global warming could unravel UK’s peatland ecosystems

Vast areas of peatlands in the UK are at risk from climate change. Photo via the IUCN.
Vast areas of peatlands in the UK are at risk from climate change. Photo via the IUCN.

More research showing the cascading ecosystem impacts of climate change

Staff Report

FRISCO — Plovers, grouse and other bird species will suffer as global warming changes the hydrology of the UK’s far-reaching blanket bogs, scientists warned after developing a model that shows how climate change will play out in those wetland ecosystems.

The University of York researchers also warmed that the changes could also put drinking water supplies at risk. Warmer temperatures will lead to peat decomposition and altered rainfall patterns, including summer droughts, which could drastically affecting the blanket bog hydrology.

Continue reading “Global warming could unravel UK’s peatland ecosystems”

Feds face another clean water lawsuit

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

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”

Environment: New Clean Water Rule finalized, but the fighting is not over

Runoff and rainstorms have combined to keep flows high in the Blue River.
A new EPA rule aims to define which streams and rivers are protected under the Clean Water Act.

Big loopholes for industry, farms will continue to threaten water quality

Staff Report

FRISCO — After years of wrangling, the EPA has finalized a new rule intended to define which streams are covered under the Clean Water Act. The debate goes back more than a decade to a pair of court rulings that called into question whether smaller tributaries and seasonal streams are subject to federal regulations.

Yesterday’s announcement probably won’t end the fighting — Republicans in Congress have launched a bitter attack on the rule at the behest of big polluters like industrial farms and factories, and some national conservation groups like the Waterkeeper Alliance say the new rule is too weak, and rolls back protection for some streams that were previously covered. Continue reading “Environment: New Clean Water Rule finalized, but the fighting is not over”