Browsing All Posts published on »October, 2011«

Good news comes in herds: Yellowstone bison given a little more room.

October 27, 2011

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Good news comes in clumps. Mike Leahy reports in Writers on the Range that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is looking at moving some long-time quarantined Yellowstone bison to up to four different locations across Montana. "The state operates two of the sites as wildlife management areas; the other two are on American Indian reservations. This is great news for bison conservation, which has essentially stagnated in recent years without more places to put Yellowstone's recovering herd. Descendents of just a couple of dozen bison saved from poachers in Yellowstone in the early 1900s, about 3,500 bison now thrive within the confines of the park, and they are among the few that have never been crossbred with cattle. All these bison are long overdue for fresh stomping grounds." . . . more>>

More good news, this time for the Grand Canyon.

October 26, 2011

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Today Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s issued a rule proposing to protect the Grand Canyon from new uranium claims. In 2009 Secretary Salazar placed a two-year moratorium on new uranium mining claims on a million acres of public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon, overturning a Bush administration policy that encouraged thousands of new claims when the price of uranium soared in 2006 and 2007. Many of those making claims are foreign interests, including Russia’s state atomic energy corporation. Does it weird anybody out but me that the anti-environment conservatives ,the heirs of the McCarthy era of communist hunters, thought that having Russia own an atomic energy mine in the Grand Canyon was a good idea? . . . more>>

Court upholds Clinton-era ban on forest road-building.

October 25, 2011

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In one of the most important decisions for public lands in decades, a federal appeals court Friday upheld a Clinton administration rule that bans road-building and logging on roughly a quarter of the country's national forestland. The unanimous decision could settle one of the most contentious conservation issues of the last decade. The 2001 roadless rule, issued in the final days of the Clinton administration, generated lawsuits, conflicting court opinions and repeal efforts. This was the second ruling by a federal appeals court to uphold the Clinton action. The case could be appealed to the Supreme Court, but environmental attorneys said the ruling is so strong that it probably spells an end to the protracted legal battle over nearly 50 million acres of public forest . The folks at High Country News say that while it doesn't amount to full wilderness designation, it is at least "Wilderness Lite." Good news. . . . more>>

About getting outside.

October 21, 2011

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Attendance at national parks and monuments is reported to be trailing off in the recent decades. Not getting out enough, according to my sense of how we are individually put together and nourished, may not be very good for the national psyche. Here's an attractive argument for getting out in the mountains in the fall from The Adventure Journal. In another more zany take, Chas S. Clifton is disappointed in his blog that the Audubon Society has come up with a way to promote indoor "birding" with virtual birds. I'm with Chas.

Rural jobs and public lands

October 21, 2011

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I want to keep track of this report and blogging on it is a handy way. Here in Utah our own congressman Rob Bishop and senator, Orrin Hatch are busy in a misguided way trying to create jobs via short term direct extraction at the expense long term expense of recreation. Recreation sounds trivial compared to drilling, mining, logging or grazing. It's not. According to the Wilderness Society outdoor recreation, natural resource conservation, and historic preservation activities contribute a minimum of $1.06 trillion annually to the economy, support 9.4 million jobs and generate over $100 billion in federal, state and local taxes. Economics aren't the only argument for sustaining an attactive natural environment, but it is an argument that tends to get traction. . . . more>>

You can “see” more clearly from up there.

October 20, 2011

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In my last blog I noted how the air is almost always hazy in the West these days, even in open space hundreds of miles away from urban areas. One of the reasons I notice this is that I am a private pilot and and you notice haze more from up there. The Grand Canyon Trust just posted a piece on a pilots group out of Aspen that takes advantage of their general aviation planes to show the conservation issues facing national parks in the Southwest to folks, particularly students, from the air. Cool. It's part of what is called EcoFlight’s Flight Across America. . . . more>>

Have you noticed that it is almost always hazy?

October 20, 2011

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I was at a star gazing party in southern Utah recently and met a businessman my age as he showed me around his telescope setup. As we got to know each other it turned out this guy, who seemed otherwise a lot like me, was a climate change denier. He told me his reasons and I listened. He was pretty sure of himself. The only notion that seemed to set him back was the observation that the air around Capitol Reef National Park, air that used to be so clear there were view point signs touting it (150 miles visibility used to be), is now almost always hazy. He had noticed that too. Here, William Anderson, chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes in southeastern Nevada, talks about the external cost of air pollution and benefits of clean air, that is the externalities that don't show up on a balance sheet or income statement but are real none the less, in this concise entry from Writers on the Range. . . .more>>