Friday, April 18, 2014
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Pity the Poor Sage Grouse, A Symbol of the Times

Sage grouse

In the end, it’s not about the sage grouse, a rather modest little fowl that lives amongst sagebrush throughout the western United States. Instead, the continuing political battle over the sage grouse’s potential endangered listing is a symbolic clash all too common in the New West: environmental protections versus economic growth. Read More »

Revisiting Fire History Studies

lakechelenfire

One of the cornerstones of current forest policy is the assumption that Western forests are outside of their normal density and appearance or what is termed “historic variability.” But a new look at fire history studies may challenge that assumption. Read More »

Allan Savory: Holistic Management in Grassland Management

cattle herding

For forty years Allan Savory has been promoting the idea that rangelands suffer from too much rest—in fact, Savory claims that if ungrazed by livestock grasslands will become decadent and die. His faith in Holistic Management to stimulate grassland health was examined at a recent conference in Boulder. Read More »

Wolf Delisting Premature: Wuerthner

nps_wolf

Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced it would strip protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for gray wolves in the lower 48 states. As a result management for wolves will now largely be a state agency responsibility. The one exception is the Mexican wolf, a subspecies found in Arizona and New Mexico that will remain listed. Read More »

Groups Target Ammunition, Fishing Gear in Petition Against Lead

Environmental groups filed a petition today that puts ammunition under fire for its use of lead, a key ingredient in fishing tackle and bullets. The Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Avian Veterinarians, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Project Gut Pile asked the Environmental Protection Agency to ban lead under the Toxic Substances Control Act. “Over the past several decades we’ve wisely taken steps to get lead out of our gasoline, paint, water pipes and other sources that are dangerous to people,” said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity in a press release. “Now it’s time to get the lead out of hunting and fishing sports to save wildlife from needless poisoning.” The petition follows scientific evidence pointing to the effects of chronic lead poisoning in wildlife. Its toxicity has long been recognized in humans and has been widely banned from uses leading to human exposure. However, it continues to be used in bullets, pellets and fishing tackle. Read More »

Hot Topic? Predictions for the 2010 Fire Season

In Montana and other parts of the Rocky Mountain West, forests are now losing the moisture stored from spring rains and drying out. The drier the material, of course, the greater potential there is for fire. Factor in lightening and campfires and summers bring a familiar haze in the mountains that surround us. In an effort to anticipate the fire patterns, the U.S. Forest Service uses a complex set of equations that result in four predictive outputs that best evaluate the potential for fire. Usually, these outputs follow a typical pattern in any given year and, using reference points of extremely high and low seasons, the USFS is able to gather information regarding spread components, energy release components and burn indices, among others. Read More »

Report Urges Senate to Look Critically at Water in the West

A report published this week by Western Resource Advocates and the Environmental Defense Fund details the possible effects of climate change on Western water supplies and profiles smart water-use projects. “Of all the implications of a hotter climate, the water implications are the most dramatic or long-term,” Bart Miller, the director of Boulder-based Western Resource Advocate’s water program told Julie Sutor of The Aspen Times. The report, which intends to capture a sense of environmental urgency, was released on Monday to coincide with the Senate’s return to Washington to begin discussions on energy and climate change, according to the report’s co-author, Stacy Tellinghuisen of Western Resource Advocates. “Meeting the water demands of the region’s vibrant cities, burgeoning recreational industry, and agricultural sector—the bedrock of our rural communities—is already a challenge,” begins the report, Protecting the Lifeline of the West: How Climate and Clean Energy Policies Can Safeguard Water. “But scientists project that climate change will make the West both hotter and drier, with longer and more intense droughts—exacerbating today’s challenges.” Read More »