Saturday, March 29, 2014
who runs a blog called “Bigfoot Crossroads,” a personal site with updates about all things Sasquatch, recently stumbled upon an invention created by students and researchers in the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab in Cambridge in 2012, called “Eulerian Video Magnification.” EVM is essentially a software that allows users to break down videos to reveal things in them that are invisible to the naked eye. This includes visualizing the blood pulsing behind someone’s cheeks and face, or capturing changes in body behaviors that the average person is unable to detect just by simply staring at someone. EVM does this by “homing in on specific pixels” in a given video, according to the New York Times, and then amplifying those pixels by up to 100 times using complex algorithms.Knapp seems to believe that if the program can be used for medical diagnostics—it’s intended use when it was publicly introduced in 2012 by the MIT team—then there’s no reason it can’t call out fake videos...more
House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith questioned White House science czar John Holdren in a Thursday hearing over whether or not the National Science Foundation (NSF) should have to justify its use of taxpayer dollars to fund projects. Smith pointed out some examples of questionable projects the NSF has funded.
- $700,000 on a climate change musical
- $15,000 to study fishing practices around Lake Victoria in Africa
- $340,000 to examine the “ecological consequences” of early human fires in New Zealand
- $200,000 for a three-year study of the Bronze Age around the Mediterranean
- $50,000 to survey archived 17th Century lawsuits in Peru
- $20,00 to look at the causes of stress in Bolivia
The play’s plot is summarized as follows: “Through her search, Phyllis uncovers a mysterious plot surrounding the upcoming international climate summit in Auckland. As the days count down to the Auckland Summit, Phyllis must decipher the plan and possibly stop it in time. With arresting projected film and video and a wide-ranging score of songs, The Great Immensity is a highly theatrical look into one of the most vital questions of our time: how can we change ourselves and our society in time to solve the enormous environmental challenges that confront us?”
The theater group also promotes major environmental groups on its website, linking to such organizations as Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and 350.org.
White House Fact Sheet has this to say about agriculture:
Agriculture: In June, in partnership with the dairy industry, the USDA, EPA and DOE will jointly release a “Biogas Roadmap” outlining voluntary strategies to accelerate adoption of methane digesters and other cost-effective technologies to reduce U.S. dairy sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.
AgSTAR 2014 National Workshop, titled "Navigating the Biogas Maze: Learning from the Leaders". And here is your invitation:
AgSTAR invites you to attend the AgSTAR 2014 National Workshop on April 7 as part of BioCycle REFOR14 WEST in San Diego. Join us for this unique workshop focused solely on promoting anaerobic digestion in the agriculture sector! This one-day meeting will explore strategies used by the leaders of the agricultural biogas industry to overcome challenges and maximize opportunities facing today’s projects.
here. And most exciting of all is the screening of the film Cow Power, all put together by those Vermont Vaqueros! It even includes the phrase "working landscapes"! Here is the trailer for the film:
Ninety-four percent of the electricity generated in the United States in 2013 came from nuclear reactors, dams, and fossil fuels--including petroleum, natural gas, other gases, and coal--according to a new report from the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration. Only 0.2 percent of U.S. electricity during the year came from solar-power sources, and another 4.1 percent came from wind power. In total, the United States generated a net of 4,058,209 million kilowatthours of electricity in 2013. That was up slightly—0.26 percent--from the 4,047,765 million KWH generated in 2012. But it remained less than 4,156,745 million KWH generated in 2007, which remains the peak year for U.S. electricity generation...more
The lesser prairie chicken has been officially listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. The listing could impact the Southwest’s oil and gas industry. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says rapid population decline was behind the decision to list the bird as threatened. The lesser prairie chicken is a small bird that lives in grasslands across the west. It has had some protections by range conservation efforts run in individual states. Steve Henke is the president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. He says the listing has the potential to limit drilling on some oil and gas fields, and could put the matter up to legal interpretation in federal courts. "The fact that it’s been added to the list provides the opportunity for continuing challenge by the radical environmental community to say whatever has been done under the range wide plan is not enough, is not being implemented fast enough," Henke said...more
The U.S. sugar industry has asked the federal government to impose tariffs on Mexican sugar, alleging that nation’s sugar producers have been dumping their heavily subsidized sugar on the U.S. market. The process of evaluating the claim could take upwards of a year, but a temporary tariff could be enacted by August, said Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance. Hayes said the U.S. Department of Commerce has 20 days to decide whether to initiate the case, and the U.S. International Trade Commission has 45 days to determine if injury has been caused. Hayes said ASA and other U.S. sugar entities have alleged American sugar producers stand to lose $1 billion in lower prices due to the influx of Mexican sugar priced well below production costs. Prices are now half their 2011 levels due to the glut of Mexican sugar, Hayes said...more
here for a short history of the sordid U.S. sugar program.
here for a short history of the sordid U.S. sugar program.
Friday, March 28, 2014
From the cab of his old pickup, Cliven Bundy watched the trucks congregate on the horizon near his ranch some 80 miles north of here. His ongoing range war with the federal government, Bundy said, has heated up yet again. “I see where they’re set up,” Bundy told the Los Angeles Times by telephone Thursday. “There’s trailers and communications vans. I haven't seen them take any of my cattle yet, but they're getting ready to.” The father of 14 insists that generations of his family have ranched and worked this unforgiving landscape along the Virgin River since the 1880s. He says government overregulation has already driven scores of fellow ranchers out of business in sprawling Clark County, leaving him as the last man standing. In a telephone interview Thursday, Bundy's wife, Carol, said the family remains as resolved as ever. “It just shows that we’re not a sovereign state,” she said of the government's action Thursday. “It just shows that the federal government thinks they have power over us. My county and my state is allowing this to happen. But you know what? They haven’t taken our cattle yet. We’re still hanging on.” Carol Bundy told The Times that Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie has not responded to their requests to intervene. “We want him to step in and tell these federal characters that ‘This is Clark County, Nev., land and you have go through me to get these cattle.’ But we have not heard a word.”...more
A divided Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted Thursday to send the controversial nomination of Rhea Suh for assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks to the Senate with a recommendation that she be confirmed. The vote was 12-10 with all Democrats, including new chairwoman Mary Landrieu, D-La. voting yes, and all Republicans opposed. Louisiana's Republican congressional members, led by Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, her leading challenger in the fall Senate race, have labeled Suh hostile to oil and gas development, citing her 2007 comments on behalf of a private environmental foundation that "the pace and magnitude of this [natural gas] development is easily the single greatest threat to the ecological integrity of the West." Landrieu said that Suh has assured the committee that she would "absolutely support the responsible development of natural gas and other fossil fuels from our public lands."...more
Japanese automobile manufacturer Mazda claims new gasoline engine technology slated for debut in late-decade models will reduce carbon dioxide emissions below the amount generated to power electric cars. According to a recent article in British auto magazine Autocar, Mazda’s SkyActiv engines put out 30 percent less carbon emissions per mile than the average amount of CO2 generated by the electric power grids providing electric cars with juice. According to Mazda, those engines won’t make it to the U.S. until close to 2020. Electric grids are however expected to improve their carbon dioxide output efficiency on a global scale in the next decade, which could shave off some of Mazda’s lead by the time the new SkyActivs have a chance to hit the global market...more
A woman says she was attacked by a coyote while walking her dog in Rockland County Tuesday morning. The 52-year-old woman was walking her dog on Greywood Drive in Orangeburg at about 7 a.m. when she said a coyote approached and attacked her, biting her on the leg. The woman took off her jacket during the attack and used it to try to shield herself against the coyote. She then ran to a neighbor's home for refuge. The coyote ran into a backyard, where it was shot and killed by an Orangetown police officer, authorities say. The woman told police the coyote appeared to be more focused on attacking her, not her dog. The dog was not hurt...more
As chile production season approaches, three New Mexico State University professors say the danger of curly top virus is higher than last year but still low. "The prediction for this year is that it is going to be a low year for curly top," said Rebecca Creamer, professor of plant virology, who has been researching the virus since 2001. "We didn't have large amounts of fall rains, so it will be in the 1 to 5 percent range. Most growers will not have a major problem." This tri-trophic disease, which affects mostly chile plants in New Mexico, has required NMSU researchers in different disciplines to work together to investigate the different aspects and cycles of this disease, including the biology of the leafhopper, biology of weeds and virology. "We need an integrated approach to research this virus," Creamer said. "We have been trying to work out the parameters of where the insects are living and the ecology because that has a huge influence on the virus being transmitted." Curly top virus is transmitted from the tiny beet leafhopper insect, which feeds on weeds and certain crop plants such as chile and tomato, passing the disease from weeds to crops. The virus is a prevalent problem in arid regions such as California, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington and other places around the world including Mexico and Iran...more
We are sure the weather is to blame but what happens when pent-up demand (from a frosty east coast emerging from its hibernation) bumps up against a drought-stricken west coast unable to plant to meet that demand? The spot price (not futures speculation-driven) of US Foodstuffs is the best performing asset in 2014 - up a staggering 19%...
Thursday, March 27, 2014
I have surgery in El Paso today to replace my baclofen pump. The pump is in the stomach area with a catheter that runs to the spinal cord. Pump is 5 years old and not performing up to par. They'll remove this pump, make a place for the new pump and attach it to the catheter. Not sure how this will limit my posts to The Westerner.
Wish me luck!
Wish me luck!
http://tinyurl.com/leokzah No exact start date for the roundup has been announced, but it is likely to be soon. The closure will last 46 days. The operation is expected to take about three weeks but could drag on for a month depending on weather, the dispersal of the cattle and how easily they can be caught...more
Public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Clark County, Nevada, within the Gold Butte, Mormon Mesa, Bunkerville Flats Areas will see temporary closures to the public beginning tomorrow, March 27, in order to round up the cattle of Cliven Bundy, a rancher who has been trespass grazing in the scenic desert area since 1993 when he stopped paying his grazing fees to use the Bunkerville Grazing Allotment. The BLM had modified some of the terms of the grazing permit to protect the desert tortoise. Bundy didn’t like the modifications and refused to pay the required grazing fee, but kept his cattle on the range anyway and did not obey the terms to protect the tortoise. Bundy rejected further government orders and even the orders of the federal district court and the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. For example, in 1998 the Nevada federal district court issued an order permanently enjoining Bundy from grazing cattle on the allotment. It ordered him to remove all trespass cattle and set a penalty of $200 per day per animal remaining on the federal range. Obviously by today, he owes a huge sum of money on his years of violations of the court order. According to the BLM, “In 1999, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s permanent injunction. When Mr. Bundy failed to remove his livestock as directed by the District Court, the United States filed a motion to enforce the permanent injunction and the District Court ordered Mr. Bundy to pay $1,377 as willful repeated trespass damages and adjusted fines to be consistent with regulatory rates of $45.90 per day for each day Mr. Bundy’s cattle remained on the allotment based on a herd size of 51 cows BLM had documented as still remaining on the federal range.” Now Bundy apparently has as many as 600 cattle scattered over a wide area and the operation might take seven weeks. In all, the total acreage of the area where there will be temporary closures is over 580,000 acres. The government even has a roundup update site and a map of closed areas for the public at http://tinyurl.com/leokzah The local (Clark County, Nevada) sheriff and state officials are not backing Bundy. The Nevada Cattleman’s Association might get involved according to the Las Vegas Review Journal...more
A couple living in a rural canyon west of Hailey have killed a wolf, saying it’s the same predator that destroyed their colt and attacked two of their dogs. “The wolf that killed J.R. Luna Azul (the colt) is dead,” wrote Kevin and Jennifer Swigert in a press release issued through Idaho for Wildlife. “Although we cannot be sure there were not other wolves involved, we can be sure that the distinctive track we have been following for five long weeks belonged to this wolf. Justice has been served for the painful death of our horse.” Two officers checked the dead wolf Friday afternoon, said Josh Royse, Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional conservation officer. The kill appeared to be legal, and Kevin Swigert had the proper hunting tag, Royse said. Fish and Game could not confirm it was the specific wolf that killed the Swigerts’ colt in early February, Royse said. According to Idaho for Wildlife’s website, the Swigerts found their colt dead, “isolated against an outer fence just 100 feet from the barn” on the morning of Feb. 13. The wolf returned and attacked two of their border collies, which fought off the wolf but sustained injuries to their necks and legs, the Swigerts said. The Swigerts contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wildlife services. USDA confirmed the wolf depredation and conducted flyovers in the area hoping to kill the predator. The Swigerts also reached out to Idaho for Wildlife, which helped organize an on-the-ground hunt for the wolf. The situation received regional media attention...more
The House has approved a Republican bill to limit the president's ability to designate new national monuments, a step President Barack Obama and predecessors have taken to protect historic or ecologically significant sites. The bill approved Wednesday, sponsored by Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, would require an environmental review — including a public hearing — before designation of monuments larger than 5,000 acres. Only one monument per state could be created in a president's four-year term. Bishop and other Republicans have complained that Obama has designated a half-dozen monuments in the past year without input from Congress. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., is an original co-sponsor of the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation (EPIC) of National Monuments Act (H.R. 1459) that would require public participation before a presidentially declared national monument is made official. "Land-use decisions should be made in the sunshine, with full input from affected citizens like farmers and ranchers," Walden said. "The president shouldn't be able to lock up thousands of acres of federal land to all productive uses with just the stroke of his pen and no say from the American people." "That's why I've worked for a long time to reform the Antiquities Act to stop its worst abuses. This common-sense bill would ensure that future national monuments are created with public participation, not behind closed doors at the White House," Walden said...more
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance on Monday filed a lawsuit against the federal government, accusing the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of “colluding” with environmental groups to bypass public rule-making procedures to enact endangered species regulations. The lawsuit is Pruitt’s latest salvo against so-called “sue and settle” techniques, wherein agencies are accused of reaching friendly settlements of lawsuits filed by special-interest groups. Pruitt and Domestic Energy Partners — an Oklahoma-based group representing oil and gas companies and royalty owners — say those settlements amount to using the court system to cut state regulators and other interested parties out of the rule-making process. Pruitt has made similar allegations against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over energy and environmental regulations. The lawsuit stems from a settlement reached in a 2010 lawsuit by Wild Earth Guardians, “which alleged the Fish and Wildlife Service did not meet deadlines in determining the listing of 251 species,” The Oklahoman‘s Jay Marks reports. The federal agencies’ settlements, Pruitt argues, would undermine a $26 million conservation plan the “State of Oklahoma, along with other states and private industry” were considering for the Lesser Prairie Chicken...more
New Mexico's favorite poultry is in no harm after a radiation leak last month in the southeastern portion of the state. At its peak, the lesser prairie-chicken roamed and grazed the land where the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant currently sits, 26 miles southeast of Carlsbad. Despite the escape of trace amounts of americium and plutonium into the outside atmosphere, scientists and environmentalists say there is no danger to the chicken and other wildlife. "The amounts are so low, it's really a non-issue," said Jane Pierce, an entomologist at the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center located in Artesia. Thirty-three soil samples have been taken since the incident and all except one returned negative for any radiation above background levels. The one soil sample that turned up trace amounts of plutonium is believed to be remnants of the isotopes from Project Gnome, a 1961 test in which a nuclear bomb was detonated underground 25 miles east of Carlsbad...more
Almost all drug companies have agreed to go along with a voluntary plan to stop the use of antibiotics to fatten farm animals, according to Food and Drug Administration. The agency said Wednesday that 25 of 26 of the companies it appealed to in December, asking them to change labels and disallow the use of antibiotics for animal growth, had agreed to the plan. The FDA did not say which company declined to go along with the request, aimed to reduce the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The growth of so-called superbugs, caused in large part by the overuse of antibiotics on farms, poses a major threat to the treatment of human infections. The FDA plan, which was criticized by food safety groups in December because it was voluntary, drew some praise on Wednesday. "The FDA and drug makers appear to have passed the first big test of the agency's voluntary approach," said Laura Rogers, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ human health and industrial farming campaign. "This is very encouraging -- as is the agency's transparency in reporting this information today -- but there's a lot more to do."...more
What’s the horse market look like? Are we seeing a turnaround in horse demand and prices? The American Quarter Horse Journal spoke to four representatives from the Quarter Horse industry to get their take on horse sales and prices: South Dakota rancher and AQHA Director Jim Hunt; Cindy Bowling with Triangle Horse Sales in Oklahoma; Jeff Tebow with Heritage Place Sale Co. in Oklahoma City; and Mike Jennings with Professional Horse Services in Virginia. In a nutshell, they all feel like they’re seeing a slight turnaround in the market and in the demand for good horses. Here’s what each of them had to say:..more
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
reports that the Hartes made two mistakes: Bob went to a hydroponics store in Kansas City, Missouri, with his son to buy supplies for a school science project, and Addie drank tea. It cost them $25,000 to discover that these innocent actions earned them an early-morning visit by screaming, rifle-waving men with a battering ram. The Hartes, who tried to reassure their neighbors by showing them the search report indicating that nothing was taken from their home, were naturally curious what they had done to attract police attention. But the Johnson County Sheriff's Office would not say, so the Hartes hired a lawyer to help them obtain the relevant records, which according to KSHB is not easy in Kansas because state law favors darkness over sunshine. Eventually the Hartes learned that a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper saw Bob at the hydroponics store on August 9, 2011. Seven months later, state police passed on this hot tip to the sheriff's office, which sprang into action (after a few weeks), rummaging through the Hartes' garbage three times in April 2012. On all three occasions, they found "wet plant material" that a field test supposedly identified as marijuana. Such tests are notoriously unreliable, confusing chocolate with hashish, soy milk with GHB, and soap with cocaine, among other hilarious errors that result in fruitless searches, mistaken arrests, and false imprisonment. But the cops did not bother to confirm their field results with a more reliable lab test before charging into the Hartes' home, three days after their third surreptitious trash inspection. When the Hartes starting asking questions about the raid, the sheriff's office suddenly decided to test that wet plant material, which it turned out was not marijuana after all. The Hartes figure it must have been the loose tea that Addie favors, which she tends to toss into the trash after brewing. Field tests have been known to misidentify various possible tea ingredients, including spearmint, peppermint, lavendar, vanilla, anise, and chicory, as marijuana...more
A University of Virginia student charged with assaulting two Virginia ABC agents attempting to stop her for the underage purchase of beer that turned out to be sparkling water has filed a $40 million suit against the state and seven agents. Instead of beer, a friend of Elizabeth K. Daly, now 21, had purchased LaCroix sparkling water from a Harris Teeter store in Charlottesville. Daly said she was terrified when plain-clothed agents surrounded her car and banged on the windows ordering her to roll them down. After one agent drew a handgun and another jumped on the car hood she said she panicked, unsure they were really agents, and fled the scene in her car grazing two of the agents. The charges were later dropped, and her record was expunged. Among other things the 47-page suit, filed Tuesday in Richmond Circuit Court, alleges malicious prosecution, failure to train ABC agents appropriately, and six counts of assault and battery.Among other things the 47-page suit, filed Tuesday in Richmond Circuit Court, alleges malicious prosecution, failure to train ABC agents appropriately, and six counts of assault and battery. Elizabeth Daly, a U.Va. student from Henrico, was arrested after she and two sorority sisters fled six plansclothes ABC agents who had confronted them. The charges were later dropped...more
Ann Musser was arrested at her Holyoke, Massachusetts, home, according to media reports, and spent four and a half hours in jail—because she was tardy in paying her $5 dog license fee. Well, actually, as Holyoke City Clerk Brenna McGee assured me, Musser was actually arrested on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court—over the tardy $5 dog license fee. Musser is a little preoccupied these days with ovarian cancer, which may explain why she put an administrative fee on the back burner. But then, it's common practice in Massachusetts to refer people to court after they've ignored or simply missed notices of tickets for even the pettiest of offenses. And since petty offenses have proliferated, including the non-payment of fees for the most mundane activities, court referrals and encounters with the police over...well...bullshit are not uncommon.Musser "and her husband are also repeated offenders" McGee told me, referring to the dog license issue...more
In April 2011, the Southwest Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appointed the Coexistence Council to direct disbursement of the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Interdiction Trust Fund (Trust Fund) to qualified applicants. The Trust Fund is administered by the non-profit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The Coexistence Council has now completed the Coexistence Plan, which provides the basis for the disbursement of these funds. The Coexistence Plan is comprised of three core strategies: payments for wolf presence, funding for conflict avoidance measures, and funding for depredation compensation.
Payments to livestock producers for wolf presence will be based on a formula that considers a variety of factors to determine allocation of the annual funding for each applicant, including whether the applicant’s land or grazing lease overlaps a wolf territory or core area (e.g., den or rendezvous area) and the number of wolf pups annually surviving to December 31 in the territory, recognizing that survival of wolf pups is not dependent upon the livestock producer. The formula also considers the number of livestock exposed to wolves and the applicant’s participation in proactive conflict avoidance measures.
Up to 50% of the yearly budgeted funds will be available to sup¬port the voluntary implementation of wolf/livestock proactive conflict avoidance measures by livestock producers. Adaptive management techniques are available to reduce wolf/livestock conflicts, at the discretion of the livestock producer.
Direct compensation will continue for confirmed livestock deaths or injuries caused by Mexican wolves to livestock producers who are not otherwise receiving payments for wolf presence funding under the Coexistence Plan, unless they require immediate reimbursement. In such cases, the reimbursement amount will be subtracted from the payment for wolf presence allocation to that livestock producer.
The intent of the Coexistence Plan is to recognize that there are real economic consequenc¬es to livestock producers coexisting with wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. In addition to losses from livestock depredations, livestock producers incur costs from undetected depredations and changes in livestock behavior in response to wolf presence, which result in a reduction of livestock weight gain, reproductive rates, and meat quality, as well as increased costs tied to managing wolf/livestock interactions. The Coexistence Plan creates incentives for ranching in ways that promote self-sustaining Mexican wolf populations, viable ranching operations, and healthy western landscapes.
“Recovering the Mexican wolf must be accomplished on a working landscape,” said Benjamin Tuggle, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Southwest Regional Director. “Working collaboratively with stakeholders, we can achieve a balance of activities that sustain economically viable ranching operations and a self-sustaining population of wild wolves. This plan is a significant step in that direction.”
The Coexistence Council will work with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to disburse available funds to affected livestock producers based on the plan’s funding formula and a yearly application process. Livestock producers with private lands, Tribal lands, or grazing allot¬ments in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA), the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, or the San Carlos Apache Reservation, and private lands adjacent to the BRWRA are eligible to apply for funding. The Coexistence Plan budget projection for year 1 is $634,000.
The amount of money available each year through the Coexistence Council’s plan will depend on private and public funding directed to support the Trust Fund, with available Fund balances being divided among eligible livestock producers who have applied to participate in the program. Applications to participate are due by May 1 of each year.
For more information, visit the Coexistence Council website: www.coexistencecouncil.org
here and I see where Howard Hutchinson and Gene Whetten are on the Council.
Got to hand it to Tuggle, or whomever wrote this for him, because all the buzzwords are there in just two sentences: working landscape...collaboratively...stakeholders...balance...sustain. Everything is there except for climate change.
In what critics are describing as a government land grab, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a change Tuesday to the Clean Water Act that would give it regulatory authority over temporary wetlands and waterways. The proposal immediately sparked concerns that the regulatory power could extend into seasonal ponds, streams and ditches, including those on private property. "The ... rule may be one of the most significant private property grabs in U.S. history," said Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The EPA proposal would apply pollution regulations to the country's so-called "intermittent and ephemeral streams and wetlands" -- which are created during wet seasons, or simply after it rains, but are temporary. At issue is whether the smaller streams and wetlands are indeed part of the "waters of the United States." The Supreme Court ruled on the issue in 2001 and 2006. The second ruling restricted the federal government's authority by stating such waters must be "relatively" permanent or continuously flowing and sizeable, like "oceans, rivers, streams and lakes." In defending the proposed change, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday that determining Clean Water Act protection for streams and wetlands became "confusing and complex" following the high court decisions. "For nearly a decade, members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public asked for a rulemaking to provide clarity," the agencies said in a joint statement. They also argued such waters "form the foundation of the nation's water resources" and the changes would not extend the federal government's reach. "To be clear, our proposal does not add to or expand the scope of the waters historically protected under the Clean Water Act," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a video accompanying the announcement. The EPA also said roughly 60 percent of "stream miles" in the country only flow seasonally or after rain but have a "considerable impact" on downstream waters -- and that about 117 million Americans, or one in three, get their drinking water from public systems that rely in part on such streams...more
Hoping to prod Congress into action, a Washington, D.C., think tank has released a report on 10 stalled land conservation bills, including one to designate the Boulder-White Clouds area as wilderness. U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, introduced legislation six times to set aside 332,775 acres of the land as wilderness. His bill is among those in “Languishing Lands,” the report published by the Center for American Progress (CAP), an independent non-partisan educational institute. The report does not mention conservationists’ recent efforts to sidestep Simpson’s work and have the land designated as a national monument. But it does point out Simpson’s longstanding effort to “permanently protect the impressive beauty and abundant wildlife” there. The report comes on the heels of President Obama’s signing last week of legislation that designated 32,557 acres of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan as wilderness. That was the first congressional designation under the Wilderness Act since 2009. Also last week, the president ordered expansion of the California Coastal National Monument to include 1,665 acres of Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. Where he can, Obama has pledged to protect “this incredible gift of American lands” with or without Congress. His administration is looking closely at the 571,276-acre Boulder-White Clouds and the nearly 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region near Las Cruces, N.M., the Washington Post has reported. Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks also is mentioned in the new report. The report calls Congress’ inattention to land bills such as Simpson’s the “longest conservation drought since World War II.” It says legislation to protect the 10 locations has been introduced “a combined 52 times over the past 30 years.“...more
here, and mentions both Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Valles Caldera National Preserve.
here, and mentions both Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Valles Caldera National Preserve.
The National Park Service (NPS) is spending $41,125 on a mobile app that will give visitors and virtual visitors to Yellowstone National Park advance notice of the "scheduled eruption times for Old Faithful and other predictable geysers.” NPS’ Notice of Intent to Award states that it will collaborate with Washington State University "to reach virtual and in-park visitors by communicating accurate eruption schedules in real time as well as provide interactive, informational, and interpretive content" after the first version of the app is released. Old Faithful is known for its predictable eruptions, which are anywhere from 60 to 110 minutes apart depending on the duration of the previous eruption...more
Are people left in the dark without this app?
Are people left in the dark without this app?
However, there are currently several other means of accessing geyser eruption times at Yellowstone:
- Visitors at Yellowstone can view eruption times on an LCD screen at the park’s visitor center;
- The National Park Service also has a Twitter feed which gives the times of eruption for Old Faithful and a phone number to find out eruption times for other Yellowstone geysers; and
- There is an Old Faithful Geyser Live video webcam on the NPS website.
Yellowstone National Park’s bison have dodged the bio-bullet, again. Following a 30-day public review, the National Park Service’s intermountain regional director signed a record of decision on March 3 scrapping the expensive and controversial remote vaccination program, an attempt to fight brucellosis infections in Yellowstone’s bison. The fear is that brucellosis will be contracted by nearby cattle, which can lead to quarantine of a herd and destruction of infected animals. The decision by Sue Masica officially completes the environmental impact statement process and outlines the park’s plans to continue its vaccination of female bison calves and yearlings. The bison are vaccinated when they are captured at the Stephens Creek corral in the winter as they migrate out of the park near the northern boundary. Only a small percentage of bison captured by state and federal workers in past years have been vaccinated. “What the ROD confirms is our earlier selection of the preferred alternative as no action,” said Al Nash, Yellowstone’s chief of public affairs. “What we’ve been doing in recent years, we will continue to do in the future.” The Park Service had predicted that the bio-bullet effort — a means of inoculating bison with an air rifle and absorbable bullet — would have cost $9 million over 30 years and produced only modest results. Representatives of the Montana Department of Livestock and the cattle industry have said they were disappointed that the park didn’t pursue remote vaccinations. But Yellowstone’s decision to maintain the status quo has been supported by the Interagency Bison Management Plan Citizen’s Working Group, most engaged American Indian Tribes, the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council and the conclusions of a science panel. About half of Yellowstone’s wild bison herd, which stands at about 4,000 following the hunting, capture and slaughter of about 600 bison this winter, has been exposed to brucellosis. The disease is spread through infected birthing material and can cause cattle and bison to abort...more
This is not Cliven Bundy’s first rodeo, but will it be his last? For the second time since 2012, the Clark County rancher has been served notice by federal authorities who plan to impound hundreds of cattle he left to roam on public land almost 20 years after the government told him to remove them. The Bureau of Land Management’s impound notice took effect Monday and lasts until March 23, 2015. The agency expects to announce details of the proposed roundup Wednesday. In an email to the Review-Journal, Kirsten Cannon, spokeswoman for the bureau in Southern Nevada, said the “illegal trespass cattle” can now be gathered “without further notice” from BLM and National Park Service land in the Gold Butte range, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. “Tell them Bundy’s ready,” the rancher said by phone Tuesday from his home near Bunkerville. “Whenever they’ve got the guts to try it, tell them to come.” Bundy’s dispute with government dates to 1993, when his herd on the federally managed, 158,666-acre Bunkerville allotment was capped at 150 animals out of concern for the federally protected desert tortoise. To protest the change, the rancher stopped paying his monthly grazing fees of about $2 per head but kept using the allotment, which included more than 10,486 acres of National Park Service land at the northern end of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. “Why should I pay BLM to manage me out of business?” Bundy said Tuesday. “What I did is I fired the BLM.” In response, the bureau canceled Bundy’s grazing permit in 1994, but his livestock kept on living off the public land his family has used since 1877. Rounding up Bundy’s animals now will be no easy task. The bureau’s most recent count, conducted by helicopter in December, logged 568 cattle scattered across a 90-mile swath of federal land in the Gold Butte area. The numbers have been much higher in previous counts. A March 2011 aerial survey tallied 903 animals, more than 300 of which were found in remote, roadless areas the bureau said could not be accessed by teams on the ground. The dispute is being watched closely by conservationists interested in seeing the Gold Butte area protected, perhaps as a National Monument. If and when the cattle are rounded up, Bundy will be allowed to claim any that bear his brand, so long as he pays the impound costs and trespass fees assessed by the government. Through Sept. 20, 2011, Bundy has been billed $292,601.50 in trespass and administrative fees, Cannon said. His balance since then is currently being calculated. Bundy said if his cattle are rounded up and eventually returned to him, he will see to it that they end up right back where they were in the first place. “I’m going to turn them back out and raise some more beef for people to eat,” he said...more
Western Washington ranchers have evacuated their animals as a result of a mudslide that has left 14 people dead and 176 missing. The March 22 mudslide is believed to have been caused by groundwater saturation from heavy rains, according to The Associated Press. The slide completely covered Washington State Route 530 near Oso, Wash., 55 miles north of Seattle. According to Snohomish County, the slide is roughly one square mile and up to 15 feet deep in some places. Linda Neunzig, owner of Ninety Farms in Arlington, Wash., and Snohomish County agriculture coordinator, said family and friends helped her evacuate roughly 350 animals on March 22 to higher ground or other farms. “Every animal we own is off the farm,” she said of the four-hour operation. “We put the word out on Facebook that we were evacuating, and the stock trailers literally just started showing up.” Neunzig said there are other ranches and farm operations in the area. Her neighbors have also evacuated their cattle. She was unsure of the total number of operations or acres impacted...more