Browsing All Posts published on »September, 2011«

A second century of stewardship and engagement

September 29, 2011

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What a great title for legislation from a venerable name in U.S. conservation support. Yesterday Kirsten and I drove through the San Juan Mountains from Durango to Ouray, during the peak of fall colors, and we think it may be about the most beautiful landscape we have ever seen. So it is gratifying to see that there is right now a proposal to designate more than 60,000 acres in southwestern Colorado as either wilderness or a special management area back before Congress. U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet are reintroducing the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act . . .

Preaching conservation without a choir

September 29, 2011

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Western politicians and special interest local factions have always been against the idea of protecting and conserving tracts of public land. It's no different today. Kirsten and I were just in Moab this week -- it's now late in September-- and the town is still packed with tourists. We had breakfast with a couple from upstate New York who were blown away by the vast beauty of the open West. Folks from around the U.S. and the world flock in for a taste of America's wild heritage, to the point that we risk loving the land to death. Yet our local politicians speak as if conservation is a D.C. based political conspiracy that hurts the West. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is in Utah promoting conservation this week. Is it representative that he gets the cold shoulder? . . . more>>

World’s first International Dark Sky Park is in Utah

September 27, 2011

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International Dark Sky Park In 2006 the International Dark-skies Association designated a small park in Utah, Natural Bridges National Monument, as the world’s first International Dark-sky Park, thereby setting the bar incredibly high for those parks that wanted to follow suit. The skies above Natural Bridges are amongst the darkest in the USA. Once a source of wonder--and one half of the entire planet’s natural environment—the star-filled nights of just a few years ago are vanishing in a yellow haze. Human-produced light pollution not only mars our view of the stars; poor lighting threatens astronomy, disrupts ecosystems, affects human circadian rhythms, and wastes energy to the tune of $2.2 billion per year in the U.S. alone. Read more . . .

Protecting the environment is good for the economy

September 26, 2011

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The Utah Foundation recently released its first biennial Quality of Life Index, based on a rigorously designed survey of what a representative cross-section of Utahns consider most important to their well-being. Environmental quality was near the top of the list. Robert Adler of the University of Utah in a Salt Lake Tribune op-ed wrote last week that, "The foundation’s findings also question the myth that environmental quality and jobs are antithetical values. In fact, the survey shows that Utahns value both a sound economy and a healthy environment as fundamental, co-equal requirements of their quality of life."representative cross-section of Utahns consider most important to their well-being. Environmental quality was near the top of the list. Why in Utah, then, is the depiction "Environmentalist" a pejorative? . . . more>>

On the road this week

September 26, 2011

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Kirsten and I are vacationing while working via a road trip from Torrey through Durango, Ouray, Paonia, Steamboat Springs and on to Denver for the Mountain and Plains booksellers trade show.  We plan to meet some authors along the way, to join Soren Jespersen of the Wilderness Society for dinner one night and to poke […]

Help the Economy and Burn Fat!

September 23, 2011

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Count the ways that public lands and natural landscape are valuable. You might not have heard this one yet, but Jodi Peterson of High Country News says, "Two new studies show that public lands are valuable because – wait for it – they burn fat and generate dollars. A Forest Service study published recently estimates that last year, visitors to the nation's forests burned a collective 290 billion calories. That's 83 million pounds of body fat -- measured in French fries, enough to reach to the moon and back." Who knew? . . . more>>

Bark Beetle Infestation Accelerating

September 23, 2011

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Kirsten and I are taking a drive through western Colorado next week, working our way up from Durango, through Silverton, Paonia, Steamboat Springs and the Rocky Mountain National Park to Denver for the Mountain and Plains booksellers trade show there. Along the way we are going to see alarming, heartbreaking swaths of rust colored evergreens. Warming winters have allowed waves of beetles to gnaw their way through millions of acres of forests in Utah and across the West. It's sadly amusing to watch the western politicians blame a lack of logging. But the problem is climate change and the beetles are getting worse, not better. Brandon Loomis has a terrific essay in the Salt Lake Tribune yesterday covering the bark beetle sad state of affairs. . . . more>>