Posts tagged: environment
FISHERIES — A new study says a metal-like element called selenium is leeching from coal mines into the Elk river drainage in southeastern British Columbia, threatening fish habitat in Canada and downstream in Montana.
The study found five coal mines in the Elk River Valley are causing toxic pollution, and four of the coal mines are planning expansions.
The Missoulian reports a new coal mine proposal and three exploration projects are also under way.
The executive director of a conservation group called Wildsight says the selenium affects reproductive organs in fish and could lead to a population collapse.
The Elk River joins the Kootenai River at Lake Koocanusa.
The study was commissioned by Glacier National Park and carried out by the University of Montana’s Ric Hauer and Erin Sexton.
Expect more information on this alarming development.
ENVIRONMENT – Sustainability expert Gloria Flora will be in Spokane this week to discuss how women worldwide are confronting the challenge of climate change.
The free public lecture titled, “If You Can’t Stand the Heat: Women and the Global Response to Climate Change” at 5:30 p.m., Friday (March 22) in the Wolff Auditorium of Gonzaga University's Jepson Center.
The lecture is part of the Gonzaga Environmental Studies Speaker Series — which recently sponsored Dr. Jane Goodall — and is sponsored by the Gonzaga environmental studies, and women’s and gender studies departments.
Read on for more details about Flora and her quest to keep flora and fauna functioning on earth.
FISHING — Warmer water temperatures being recorded in North Idaho streams and rivers are creating unhealthy conditions for trout, especially the region's westslope cutthroats, Idaho environmental officials said.
A recent analysis by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality shows that nearly 900 miles of streams in Kootenai and Shoshone counties are reaching temperatures up to 80 degrees in warmer months, well above the optimal temperature of 55 degrees or colder for trout species that attract legions of fly fishers.
The biggest factor to the warming trend is excessive sun exposure and lack of tree cover that provides shade and protection, Kajsa Stromberg, DEQ spokeswoman, told the Coeur d'Alene Press in a story published Tuesday.
In addition, Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game studies over the years have documented major losses of deep holes and stream structure trout would seek to survive such conditions. Historic mining, logging and road-building practices contributed to the problems.
The region most affected by the warmer waters is the North Fork Coeur d'Alene River Sub basin, a region with a national reputation for producing great cutthroat trout fishing.
The warmer temperatures have a variety of negative impacts on trout, from making the fish lethargic to heightened risk and exposure to potentially threatening disease.
THE GOOD NEWS is that the DEQ is proposing a plan to lower water temperatures and improve access to colder, deeper waters to help reverse the warming trend.
The agency is taking written comments on the proposal until April 10, followed by a public hearing. The agency will also submit its draft plan to the Environmental Protection Agency for review.
THE BAD NEWS is that the online reaction to the CdA Press story on this issue was dominated by comments suggesting the DEQ's proposal is an example of government waste or a “liberal” reaction to climate change.
God help us if such ignorance is allowed to guide our stewardship of natural resources.
PUBLIC LANDS — Retiring Congressman Norm Dicks has receive a conservation award from a national parks group.
The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees has awarded its highest honor, The George B. Hartzog Award, to Rep. Norm Dicks, D-WA, for his career-long support of America’s national parks and the National Park Service.
Hartzog, Parks director from 1964 to 1972, expanded the National Park System and worked with Congress to achieve comprehensive funding of the national parks.
Dicks has served on the Interior appropriations subcommittee since being elected to Congress in 1976.
While he supported a wide range of parks from the Everglades to Yosemite, Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula is a notable gem in Dicks’ district. He was an early supporter of removing the dams that significantly impacted the park ecosystem and blocked the passage of anadromous fish.
The Congressman was a key player in securing the passage of the Elwha River Restoration Act in 1992. After passage of this act, Dicks helped secure 15 consecutive appropriations to make dam removal a reality.
In a press release, the parks retiree group called that “an unheard of accomplishment.”
The Elwha Dam is gone, and the Glines Canyon Dam will be gone next year. The Elwha River will be free flowing, and the restoration of a major ecosystem, within a nationally and internationally recognized park, is on its way.
Upon receiving the award, Congressman Dicks said, “this is a great honor and I deeply appreciate the recognition for one of the most enduring causes of my career on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee — improving and expanding our National Parks. These are the ‘crown jewels’ of the American landscape and I am proud of what we did in Congress during my tenure to improve the visitor experience at all of our park units.”
PUBLIC LANDS — “We were sitting pretty good a couple of weeks ago, but there's been marked increase in field dryness,” said Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forest public affairs officer, getting word out that potential for forest fires have changed remarkably in just the past week.
“Monitoring stations in the North Fork Coeur d'Alene, near St. Maries and in the Selkirks are registering in the top 3 percent of dryness ever recorded.”
Forest Service plans for annual fall controlled burns to improve wildlife habitat and clear out forest understory to reduce fire danger next year are on hold until conditions are less volatile, he said.
“Even if it wasn't so dry in the Panhandle, the smoke that's moved into the region would be enough to put off our controlled burning plans because of air quality requirements,” he said.
“At least the smoke is a good reminder that there are fires all around us. We haven't had any significant fires, but we're not out of the woods yet.”
PUBLIC LANDS — The crowds that trashed the prized North Fork Coeur d'Alene fishing waters this summer have subsided back to the places they leave their garbage the rest of the year.
So it’s time for a river cleanup.
On Saturday, Sept. 15, the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River Watershed Advisory Group and the Idaho Panhandle National Forests are organizing a public clean-up day including a free BBQ lunch and prizes for the “most interesting” garbage collected.
Info: Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District at (208) 769-3028.
”We are thrilled to host this much-needed river cleanup,” said Kajsa Stromberg, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality scientist and WAG facilitator. “All summer-long, there have been boaters, floaters, campers, and other visitors enjoying the North Fork and now we have cans and garbage piling up along the river banks and filling up its deep pools. Sometimes the river shines with all the cans.”
PUBLIC LANDS — Shrinking budgets at national forests are putting the squeeze on native fisheries.
Cutbacks in maintaning mountain roads have left a backlog of work totalling more than $1 billion in the national forests of Washington and Oregon alone, the Forest Service officials report.
The result is erosion, clogged culverts, road blowouts, blocked fish passage, and spawning areas smothered in silt.
Northwest Public Radio has an excellent report on the situation.
RIVERS — At the risk of sounding like a liberal, greenie, environmental wacko, I must say I'm disgusted by the number of beer cans and even bottles the summer river tubers and rafters deposit in the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River on a hot summer day.
Seems like the Pack It In-Pack It Out slogan is replaced by Put It In-Puke It Out.
I'll let you know when Bud Lights outnumber cutthroat trout.
RIVERS — Two conservation groups and three phosphate mining companies in eastern Idaho have formed a partnership intended to improve water quality in the Blackfoot River in eastern Idaho.
JR Simplot Company, Monsanto and Agrium/Nu-West Industries have joined with the Idaho Conservation League and Trout Unlimited to form the Upper Blackfoot River Initiative for Conservation.
The announcement came after a study revealed mutated trout in Idaho streams, possibly related to mining pollution. The study had been highligted on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (above) as well as the New York Times, as featured in this blog post.
Meanwhile, here's another interesting angle on the story, giving Simplot some credit, by Idaho Statesman columnist Rocky Barker.
In the latest story, the Idaho Statesman reports the conservation initiative group had compiled data on fish populations throughout the Upper Blackfoot and completed an assessment of fish passage obstacles and habitat conditions in February.
Monsanto, Boise-based J.R. Simplot Co., and Agrium/Nu-West Industries have mines in the so-called phosphate patch near the Idaho-Wyoming border.
Environmental groups have been concerned about selenium pollution from phosphate mining that’s killed livestock and aquatic life in eastern Idaho waterways.
I mean, who would believe anything in the New York Times.
Maybe there's no involvement with the giant agribusiness and the silence on the research by Idaho politicians who've married into the Simplot family.
But this special video report by Jon Stewart's reporter Aasif Mandvi on The Daily Show last night sure makes an angler think about the possibilities, and have a good laugh about how things operate.
Mutated fish: another good reason for catch-and-release.
Meanwhile, here's another interesting angle on the story, giving Simplot some credit, by Idaho Statesman columnist Rocky Barker.
CONSERVATION — Backpacker magazine and SNEWS named Spokane-based Mountain Gear the Sustainable Retailer of the Year at the recent 2012 Winter Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City.
The annual award honors outdoor retailers that stand out as leaders for the industry and the communities they serve.
“This award recognizes the efforts of our entire team to be a sustainable organization and to continually learn and try new ways to reduce our footprint,” said Paul Fish, company president.
The S-R has reported for years on Mountain Gear's environmental activities. Among the stories:
The award givers at the recent Outdoor Retailer show also were impressed with Mountain Gear’s corporate headquarters (see map), an old warehouse renovated with skylights, energy management systems and drought-tolerant landscaping irrigated with collected rainwater.
Recycled materials, low-flow plumbing, waterless urinals and energy-efficient lighting were added. Incentives for employees to commute efficiently or bike to work top it all off.
ENVIRONMENT — Rep. Michael Simpson, R-Idaho, has made the Los Angeles Times list of Congress's 10 most powerful and outspoken opponents of clean air, clean water, conservation and climate action.
Simpson has stepped to the front lines of his party's war on Mother Nature by adding dozens of anti-environment riders to must-pass budget legislation.
See the entire list and some entertaining background.
FAMILIES — Aidan Long puts his muscle into bringing home the Monana family's 2011 Christmas tree last weekend.
“No freshly felled fir ever smelled so sweet to me,” said his dad, Ben.
A family get-to-gether isn't the only reason to go to a tree farm or buy a Forest Service permit and harvest your own tree, according to five good reasons from The Nature Conservancy.
ENVIRONMENT — According to a video report by The Nature Conservancy, here are the top five reasons why harvesting a real tree for the Christmas holiday might be a better choice for the environment than buying an artificial tree.
ENVIRONMENT — According to The Nature Conservancy, here are the top five reasons why harvesting a real tree for the Christmas holiday is a better choice for the environment than buying an artificial tree.
5. Families have fun and build traditions by heading out to cut their own tree, and real trees smell great in the home.
4. Buying real trees helps keep tree farms in business and helps maintain open space.
3. Real trees are more easily and more thoroughly recycled while fake trees are made of vinyl, one more difficult plastics to dispose.
2. Artificial trees are a double whammy to the environment, requiring fossil fuels for the raw materials and releasing carbon pollution during the manufacturing.
1. Cutting a real tree improves the environment. I must inject that a well-selected tree from the forest can help thin a stand to promote growth of other trees and reduce fire danger. TNC points out that a tree cut from a tree farm usually is replaced by up to three new trees to absorb carbon dioxide out of the air.
PREDATOR CONTROL — Oregon's new fund to boost predator control is appallingly misnamed environmental groups say.
Even Governor John Kitzhaber complained of the name when he signed the measure into law, according to a Northwest Public Radio report.
Few people would balk at contributing at face value to the “Wildlife Conservation Fund.”
But Brooks Fahy of Eugene-based Predator Defense calles the name is a sham. It's “offensive, because it's just the opposite. It should be the 'Wildlife Destruction Act,” Fahy told correspondent Chris Lehman.
The newly created Wildlife Conservation Fund targets hunters. Starting in January, hunting license buyers can volunteer a donation when they apply for their license.
Most of the money will be funneled toward an existing U.S. Department of Agriculture predator control program, Lehman reports.
Among other things, the federal agents kill problem coyotes and bears, a program supported by many sportsmen, ranchers and timber companies.
Environmental groups urged Governor Kitzhaber to veto the measure. The governor signed the bill, but said he was concerned about quote “truth in labeling” when it comes to the name of the fund.
On the web:
Oregon House Bill 3636
Governor Kitzhaber's Statement
Environmentalist’s Letter to the Governor.
CONSERVATION — The environmental movement is facing serious challenges in the current political and economic climate.
Considering bills in state legislatures and in Congress, some conservationists believe they've lost considerable political capitol in their tough stance to prolonging endangered species status for the gray wolf int he Northern Rockies.
“But where some see those challenges as symptoms of larger issues - more money in politics or more polarization in Congress - others see a clear need for the environmental movement to change tactics or face serious consequences,” according to the Bozeman Chronicle in a series of stories titled Conservation at a Crossroads.
The paper has taken an insightful look at the state of the regional conservation movement.
ENVIRONMENT — A few tickets remain available for The Lands Council's 16th annual April Showers auction and banquet on April 16 at The DoubleTree Hotel in Spokane.
ENVIRONMENT — Artists and naturalists will be mingled in a local gathering that will link world-wide activities during the Faith and Environment Network's annual Called to Care event on Earth Hour Day, March 26 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 127 E. 12th Ave. on Spokane's South Hill.
Earth Hour is an event initiated by the World Wildlife Fund in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change.
The Spokane Group joined Earth Hour 2010 as 128 countries and territories joined the global display of climate action in celebration and contemplation of the planet we all have in common.
The local Faith and Environment Network engages people of faith and their congregations in caring for creation.
This year's event at the cathedral includes:
Activities start at 4:30 p.m. A light supper will be provided.
Donation: $15 is suggested.
Info: Evita Krislock, 220-6532 or Thomas Soeldner, 607-7115.
WILDLIFE EDUCATION — Here’s a list of cool educational stuff to consider getting a kid 4-9 years old for a holiday gift, regardless of whether you’re an environmentalist or someone who’s afraid of that title but still loves the outdoors.
The list that comes from imaginechildhood.com includes items designed to turn the outdoors into a classroom. With some parental nurturing, they’ll help kids understand how animals live and survive in the wilds, identify passing tracks, read about their living and migration habits, use a compass to document the direction they are travelling, and a pocket scope to watch the animals from afar.
Like most people, I already have most of the items in my house, including the worn copy of Owl Moon, which was a favorite children’s book in our family (for the parents AND the kids). I thought if it this morning as I walked the dogs before sunrise and heard a great horned owl hooting in the nearby ponderosa pines
Read on to check out the items, which are available online or in one form or another from area retailers.