No-fishing zone seen as key piece of new management plan
FRISCO — The National Park Service says a 10,000-acre no-fishing zone will help restore the heart of Key Biscayne National Park’s coral reef ecosystem and boost fish populations in surrounding waters.
The new marine reserve was announced earlier this month as part of an updated management plan for the popular park near Miami. The no–fishing zone covers about 6 percent of the park’s waters. Some other ecologically important shoreline areas will be protected by slow-speed, no-wake, and no-motor zones to benefit seagrass beds, manatees, mangroves and nesting birds.
“Our primary goal is a natural, healthy marine ecosystem for visitors to explore, learn about, and enjoy” said park superintendent Brian Carlstrom. “This plan will guide us and help ensure that the park’s vital and extraordinary coral reefs, mangrove forests, extensive tracts of Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys, and 10,000 years of human history, will be protected for future generations.”
FRISCO — The EPA will have to go back to the drawing board if it wants to regulate toxic mercury emissions from factories and power plants, as the U.S. Supreme Court today voided the agency’s 2012 regulations that were set to take effect this year.
In a divided five-four ruling, the court sided with heavy industry and fossil-fuel burning power plants, saying that the EPA should have considered the costs of the regulations as part of its initial evaluation. The EPA had argued that those costs would be evaluated at the next step of the regulatory process.
Mercury is a global pollutant that has been detected in California’s coastal fogs. In a national assessment, the U.S. Geological Survey found unhealthy mercury levels in 25 percent of all U.S. Streams. And near Hawaii, scientists say mercury concentrations in yellowfin tuna have been increasing 3.8 percent a year. Researchers have even documented signs of environmental stress in Alaskan sled dogs who primarily eat mercury tainted fish.
Conservation groups saw the ruling as a blow to public health. The standards would have applied to about 600 power plants, potentially preventing as many as 11,000 pollution-related deaths per year, but the Supreme Court majority said industry profits are more important than public health.
“It’s very, very sad” Fort McKay elders talk about life before the tar sands
National News | June 24, 2015 by Brandi Morin | 2 Comments
Brandi Morin APTN National News Just outside of the Fort McKay First Nation, sitting behind a chain-link fence is a dark lake dotted with scare-crow like structures dressed in bright orange suits and hard hats bobbing up and down in the water.
This is a tailings pond.
There are warning signs, ‘Danger’ and ‘Be Ware’ posted to discourage people from coming too close.
Every thirty seconds cannons fire warning shots to ward off birds from landing and drinking the water.
Settlement with watchdog group may be the first step in limiting applications of harmful chemicals
FRISCO — Under legal pressure, the EPA last week agreed to begin a far-reaching evaluation of how some of the most commonly used pesticides affect more than 1,500 endangered plants and animals.
The study, to be completed by 2020, could be the first step toward limiting the use of atrazine and glyphosate. The EPA will also analyze the impacts of propazine and simazine, two pesticides that are chemically similar to atrazine.
“This settlement is the first step to reining in the widespread use of dangerous pesticides that are harming both wildlife and people,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Atrazine, for instance, chemically castrates frogs even in tiny doses, is an endocrine disruptor, and likely causes birth defects in people. The EPA should have banned this years ago.”
The EPA has allowed nearly unchecked use of the dangerous chemicals for decades, despite legal requirements and the well-documented risks of pesticides to thousands of imperiled species, not to mention people.
A series of lawsuits by the Center for Biological Diversity has forced the agency to consult on the impacts of scores of pesticides on some endangered species, primarily in California, and resulted in temporary restrictions on pesticide use in sensitive habitats.
Up to 80 million pounds of atrazine are used in the United States each year. In addition to causing severe harm to endangered species, atrazine exposure may be linked to increased risks of thyroid cancer, reproductive harm and birth defects in people.
The Oxbow conservation area in Central Oregon has recently seen an influx of fish in the John Day River, some having traveled nearly 500 miles from the ocean’s edge. The long-awaited appearance of these fish represents a restoration success story—not only for environmental restoration, but a cultural one.
Denver gets $1 million for South Platte River work; Fort Collins will use grant to tackle Poudre River corridor restoration
FRISCO — Even as right-wing anti-environmental lawmakers in Congress seek to slash the EPA’s budget, the agency in the past couple of weeks announced $2.4 million in grants that will help Colorado communities clean up and revitalize areas that have been tainted by the same big industrial companies that support those legislators.
Study tracks shift in nesting grounds as oceans warm
FRISCO — Scientist think climate change may be a key reason that thousands of seabirds are leaving their nesting grounds on an island in the Gulf of California and moving north.
In a new study, researchers from the University of California at Riverside looked at Isla Rasa, where more than 95 percent of the world’s population of elegant terns and Heerman’s gulls have traditionally nested.
In the past 20 years, the seabirds have abandoned the island and moved to other nesting grounds in Southern California including the San Diego Saltworks, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, and Los Angeles Harbor.
The first big shift was observed during the strong 1998 E; Niño, when warmer ocean waters in the eastern Pacific resulted in a big downturn in oceanic productivity from Chile to California. The birds again abandoned the island in 2003, and then more frequently, in 2009, 2010, 2014, and 2015.
Serbia’s new climate pledge for the coming UN summit in Paris has been hailed by the European commission as an “exemplary” step towards EU accession, even though official figures show that it involves a 15% increase in the country’s emissions by 2030.
A Serbian headline pledge to cut emissions 9.8% by 2030 – as measured against 1990 levels – was announced on Thursday at a press conference in Belgrade, with the commission’s vice-president for energy union, Maroš Šefčovič.
But according to a Serbian government report for the UNFCCC in April, Serbia’s emissions have already fallen by a quarter since 1990, because of the collapse of heavy industry after the communist era.
“Emissions of greenhouse gases in 2013 decreased by 3.5% compared to 2010, and 25.1% in relation to 1990,” the paper says. A 9.8% cut in emissions would thus allow a de facto 15.3% rise.
The famous lemurs of Madagascar face such severe threats to their survival that none of them may be left in the wild within 25 years. That stark warning comes from one of the world's leading specialists in the iconic animals. Deforestation and hunting are taking an increasing toll, according to Professor Jonah Ratsimbazafy, director of GERP, a centre for primate research in Madagascar. "My heart is broken," he told the BBC, "because the situation is getting worse as more forests disappear every year. That means the lemurs are in more and more trouble." So far 106 species of lemur have been identified and nearly all of them are judged to be at risk of extinction, many of them critically endangered. The habitats they depend on - mostly a variety of different kinds of forest - only exist in Madagascar.
The overuse of antibiotics, both in human patients and, importantly, in livestock, has led to an explosion of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, both in the U.S. and around the world. Deaths from resistant infections are currently at about 700,000 per year, and estimated to rise to 10 million per year by 2050. If nothing changes, the World Health Organization predicts the future will look a lot like the past—where people die from minor injuries that become infected.
“The problem is so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine,” the WHO wrote in a recent report.
Two massive guide outfitting bear-hunt territories —one in the north and one in the south —appear to have willing sellers for the first time in years, leading to the tantalizing possibility for conservationists who envision buying the areas up to shut down the majority of the trophy hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest.
SALENTO, Italy—There is only one certainty in what has fast become a Dantesque drama to save world-renowned olive groves in Puglia from the deadly Xylella fastidiosa bacterium: olive trees, the very symbol of this southern Italian region, are dying en masse. Hundreds of acres of once-vibrant, postcard-perfect groves that have prospered for centuries are now cemeteries where twisted, dead tree trunks protrude like arboreal zombies from fertile soil in which grass and flowers easily grow.
Settlement includes requirements for regional public health and environmental mitigation projects
FRISCO — One of the dirtiest coal-burning power plants in the country will be required to upgrade pollution controls, cutting thousands of tons of harmful sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions.
The $160 million cleanup at the Four Corners Power Plant, located on the Navajo Nation near Shiprock, New Mexico, comes under a court-ordered Clean Air Act settlement between the EPA and several Arizona and New Mexico-based utility companies.
The total combined emission reductions secured from the settlement will exceed 2 million tons each year, once all the required pollution controls are installed and implemented.
The agreement resolves claims that the giant coal-burning plant violated the Clean Air Act by illegally modifying equipment without obtaining required permits or installing and operating the best available air pollution control technology. EPA experts said the clean will reduce harmful emissions by about 5,540 tons per year.
FRISCO — A growing population and increasing development may be threatening the ecological integrity of some wilderness areas in the U.S.
Protecting those areas may require establishing buffer zones to limit the impacts, according to University of Georgia researchers who took a close look at development trends near public lands.
Those boundary zones have become prime real estate, and construction and growth near the National Wilderness Preservation System is beginning to degrade the quality of these lands and erode biodiversity, said Lauren Ward, a graduate student at UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
“People like the idea of having a national forest in their backyard,”Ward said. “But from over-applying lawn care chemicals to introducing invasive plant and animal species, landowners’ choices can have far-reaching negative impacts on neighboring wilderness areas.”
Despite heavy development, the U.S. still has millions of acres of pristine wild lands. Coveted for their beauty, these wilderness areas draw innumerable outdoor enthusiasts eager for a taste of primitive nature.
Researchers at the University of the Fraser Valley believe drones may finally silence the cannons that boom throughout the summer on blueberry farms.
Professor Tom Baumann and his team are reprogramming helicopter-like UAVs — properly known as unmanned aerial vehicles — to fly preset patterns over ripening blueberries in the hope they will scare way the birds that feast on farmers’ fruit and kill their profits.
In a demonstration flight last week, UFV instructor Myles Andrew piloted a four-prop drone quietly over Abbotsford berry fields, though gusting winds made landings difficult.
The goal is to create an affordable drone that flies in a pattern across the fields using GPS positioning and then returns to a charging base until the next flight, all without direct control or supervision from human beings, Baumann said.
Poles have historically heated their houses with coal and wood. The recent ban on these heat sources will have unprecedented repercussions on health and the economy, the Guardian reports. VoxEurop is joining the divestment campaign launched by the British daily in the run-up to December’s COP21 conference on the environment. Excerpts.
Beth Gardiner With a neatly trimmed moustache and white doctor’s coat, Dr Krzysztof Czarnobilski, head of internal medicine and elder care at Kraków’s MSWiA Hospital, speaks nervously. His message, though, couldn’t be clearer. The filthy air in Poland’s most picturesque city is making his elderly patients sick, shortening their lives and increasing their isolation.
Czarnobilski’s hospital, which specialises in treating the elderly, is a yellow concrete building a short tram ride from Kraków’s medieval centre.
Watchdog groups say approval for the exchange was tainted by bias and political influence Staff Report FRISCO — Watchdog groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service to block a land exchange near Wolf Creek Pass in southwestern Colorado. The swap would enable a huge real estate development near Wolf Creek Ski Area in the midst of important wildlife habitat. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Colorado, alleges that the approval process was tainted by a lack of transparency and by an incomplete environmental analysis that was unduly influenced by the proponents of the exchange. According to Rocky Mountain Wild attorney Matt Sandler, the lawsuit will show that the Forest Service review process was biased and conflicted.
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