18 Jun 2009, 11:42am
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Herger bill would fast-track forest clearing, logging

By Ryan Sabalow, Redding Searchlight, June 17, 2009 [here]

U.S. Rep. Wally Herger has drafted a bill that would allow local governments to declare a fire-risk emergency on federal forest land, putting them on a fast track to clearing and logging projects while bypassing lawsuits.

The Chico Republican’s California Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention and Community Protection Act is designed to bypass the “red tape that has stymied effective forest management,” Herger said Tuesday in a statement.

“We have tried for years to bring collaboration and sound forest management to our landscape, only to be stymied by activists who don’t understand the danger Northern California is faced with each fire season,” Herger said.

The bill was immediately condemned by at least one environmental group.

“Herger’s bill is completely out of touch with the best available science on fire and forest ecology,” said Douglas Bevington, the forest program director of Environment Now, a Santa Monica environmental group responsible for several lawsuits against timber projects on public land. “It is simply another pretext to subsidize the timber industry to plunder our national forests at taxpayer expense.”

Herger’s legislation seeks to implement clearing projects on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management acreage if the projects are identified “at-risk” by a nearby community or watershed.

The federal agencies would still have to conduct environmental review on the proposed thinning projects, but under Herger’s law, they wouldn’t have to come up with a list of alternatives that can delay the process.

The projects that are granted emergency declarations also wouldn’t be subject to judicial review.

“My legislation seeks to implement these projects under an expedited process and free from the delay tactics of frivolous appeals and lawsuits,” Herger said. … [more]

17 Jun 2009, 8:50pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Marbled Murrelet DPS Status Review Announced

USFWS News Release, June 17, 2009, [here]

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the completion of a 5-year status review of the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus), a rare seabird native to the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

“After a thorough review of the best available scientific and commercial information, the status of marbled murrelets in Washington, Oregon and California has not changed and the recovery criteria for removing the species from the federal list of threatened and endangered species have not been met,” said Ken Berg, Supervisor of the Service’s Washington State Fish and Wildlife Office. “Our review concludes that the tri-state population of marbled murrelets is a valid Distinct Population Segment under the Endangered Species Act, in accordance with Service policy, and should remain protected as a threatened species.”

In conducting the review, Service biologists considered more than 100 studies completed since the agency’s last 5-year review in 2004. …

The 2004 5-year review concluded that the currently listed population was not a valid DPS.

However, the Service now finds that the California, Oregon and Washington population is discrete at the international border due to the following reasons: 1) the coterminous United States has a substantially smaller population of murrelets (approximately 18,000) than does Canada (approximately 66,000); 2) breeding success of the murrelet in Washington, Oregon and California is considerably lower than in British Columbia; and 3) there are differences in the amount of habitat, the rate of habitat loss and regulatory mechanisms between the countries.

The 5-year status review and other related information can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/westwafwo/

The Service will use the 5-year review to inform its consideration of a 2008 petition to delist the marbled murrelet population in Washington, Oregon and California. A decision on the delisting petition is expected in the coming months. … [more]

17 Jun 2009, 8:43pm
Latest Forest News
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Burned Mount Hood area remains closed

By Terry Richard, The Oregonian, June 16, 2009 [here]

In order to protect young emerging vegetation and to prevent erosion of soils within the burned area, most of the area will need to remain closed where the Gnarl Ridge fire burned on the northeast slopes of Mount Hood last summer in the vicinity of Cloud Cap Inn and Tilly Jane.

There is one exception to this area closure. Visitors to Mount Hood National Forest will be able to hike on the Tilly Jane Trail No. 643, a route used to access climbing routes which begin at the Cloud Cap Saddle. The area immediately adjacent to the Tilly Jane Trail will remain closed to public entry.

The Polallie Ridge Trail No. 643-A will remain closed until rehabilitation and reconstruction work is completed. Road 3512, the road to Cloud Cap Inn. will also remain closed until the road surface can be stabilized and culverts replaced.

Once the road work is completed, the road will be able to accommodate recreational traffic. The closed area includes the area east of the historic Cloud Cap wagon road.

Last winter a protective blanket of snow enabled forest managers to open the backcountry to winter recreation. With the blanket of snow now gone, the area is vulnerable to damage.

The area also serves as an important zone of contribution to the Crystal Springs Water District which serves more than 6,000 residents in the upper Hood River Valley. Due to these concerns, the Mount Hood Forest supervisor has decided to keep the severely burned area of the fire closed to public entry during the summer and fall months until snow once again blankets and protects the burned area this coming winter.

Last fall, rehabilitation work such as aerial and hand mulching of severely, burned, erodible soils was completed. However, a substantial amount of work still needs to be completed this coming summer.

For more information, contact the Hood River Ranger District at 541-352-6002.

14 Jun 2009, 10:14pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Rebound of wolves takes toll on Idaho elk

By Rich Landers, The Spokesman-Review, 05/10/09 [here]

SPOKANE — Wildlife researchers devoted several sessions last week to the impact of predators on big game during the Western States and Provinces Deer and Elk Workshop in Spokane.

A Washington Fish and Wildlife Department researcher presented documentation of a dramatic increase in elk calf survival in the Green and White river drainages after cougar numbers were reduced.

Of particular interest to the gathering, just days before several states officially took over management of gray wolves, was an update on Idaho’s research into the impact of wolves on elk. The report was presented by Idaho Fish and Game Department wildlife biologist Pete Zager.

“I’d like to tell you we have this ungulate-wolf thing figured out,” he said as the audience of scientists eased into educated smiles. “But that’s not the case.”

While scientists are trying to gather data and study the options for finding a balance between wolf recovery and prey sustainability, wildlife managers are under public pressure to make decisions.

Zager said researchers don’t have all the information they need, but they realize “we’ve got to get rolling and make decisions based on the information we have.”

Here’s what researchers know for sure about elk and wolves in Idaho, he said:

- Elk herds are declining.

- Wolf packs are growing — well above original objectives.

- The number of elk harvested by hunters has been declining, from around 25,000 in the mid-1990s, when wolves were reintroduced to the Northern Rocky Mountains, to roughly 15,000 last year.

- Elk hunting seasons and quotas have been reduced for 2009, but the impacts of wolves are likely to go unchecked.

- Wolf management through hunting is scheduled to begin this fall, but likely will be challenged in court by animal protection groups.

- Wolves have become the most important factor in predation on elk.

However, they’re not the only factor.

“Wolves have given cougars a huge favor by taking the spotlight. Cougars are still a significant factor (in elk mortality).”

- Forest fire suppression also is a factor in elk declines.

- The effects of wolves on elk vary dramatically in various game management units.

Bottom line: “We still need to be monitoring wolves and elk like crazy,” Zager said.

14 Jun 2009, 10:11pm
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NREPA: Land off-limits to people

by Vern Westgate, May 14, 2009

Here’s the basic issue. The (misnamed) Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) is a huge Northwest American land grab. It is being pushed through Congress right now as HR 980. This bill proposes that 24 million MORE acres of land (about 38,000 square miles) in five northwestern states be given over to the Wildland’s Project. The intent is to drastically reduce human presence on the land.

The land’s resources currently provide jobs and recreation. This land grab also includes private property. For example: HR 980 lists Skitwish Ridge as an “inventoried roadless area in the Panhandle National Forest.” That’s about 12 miles from Coeur d’Alene. The claim is this is roadless. It’s not roadless, in fact there’s a home for sale there. If you Google map Skitwish Ridge and select Satellite view, you’ll see miles of roads including Interstate 90! We use those roads for recreation and jobs.

Who leads this ripoff? Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York who represents Manhattan. She’s been at this since 1993 and introduced this bill again. The representation on the committee is 21 Democrats, 14 Republicans. Of the five states targeted only three are represented on the committee and nobody from Idaho.

Here’s the size of the land grab: Oregon, 1,087,00 acres; Washington, 754,800 acres, Wyoming, 3,266,000 acres; Idaho, 9,800,000 acres; Montana, 8,256,000 acres.

HR 980 includes these details:

* The plan forbids development of public land in the five states by removing over 6,000 miles of existing roads, (from a roadless area?)

* The plan supposedly creates about 2,300 jobs for a “sustainable economic” base. That means government related and controlled jobs.

* In Idaho alone it threatens 20,000 existing jobs in logging and more in recreation, hunting, mining, ranching, etc. These are real jobs that have been genuinely sustained since 1900.

Why should you care? Under UN Agenda 21, use of natural resources is to be reduced dramatically, and all private property ownership is to be completely eliminated for the good of “Mother Earth.” How is this going to be accomplished? Legislation like HR 980 will end state and US sovereignty through various international and regional trade and cooperation treaties.

A few pandemics and economic crises will be “fixed” by a reduced population living in tightly controlled, highly concentrated population centers with large areas of our country/state off-limits to humans.

The bill is in front of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands subcommittee right now. If you want to know more and find out who to contact, take the time to learn of the full impact and text of this bill. Here are web sites:



14 Jun 2009, 9:49pm
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Utah wilderness becoming a hot spot for marijuana plantations

By Sam Penrod, KSL NewsRadio, May 11th, 2009 [here]

SALT LAKE CITY — Drug agents in Utah are gearing up for what may be another busy summer searching for huge marijuana plantations hidden away in Utah’s mountains.

The pot grows create numerous issues that go far beyond more drugs on the streets, including trash, chemicals and the potential for violence against those who may unknowingly discover the illegal operations.

Last summer was the busiest ever for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Utah. The agency investigated 11 pot-growing sites on public land in the state; more than 90,000 marijuana plants were seized. …

At the Sanpete County site, law enforcement found what they had seen in other grow sites over the summer: natural springs and hundreds of feet of irrigation piping, with sprinklers to water the plants. Garbage was everywhere, including containers of fertilizer and other chemicals, some used to spray the plants for bugs.

All the marijuana plantation busts were complex operations, requiring a summer of hard work that was all for nothing. “It’s pretty intensive. It is not something you throw in the ground and come back next fall and hope you have a good crop. That’s not the way it works,” said DEA Supervisory Special Agent Michael Root.

The drug cartels have encountered more trouble smuggling marijuana across the U.S.-Mexico border since 9/11, so they’ve moved growing operations to the United States. …

Most of the suspects arrested were illegal immigrants hired to do the work. For those operations that are harvested and make it to the street, the payday is millions of dollars. … [more]

14 Jun 2009, 9:28pm
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News You Can Use From the Editors of RANGE magazine

New on the Web! RANGEFiRE

Press Release: May 12, 2009

Carson City, Nevada, May 12, 2009 — C.J. Hadley, publisher/editor of RANGE magazine, announced the debut of RANGEFiRE [here] a Web site created by the editors of RANGE for people who need timely news, information and insider-intelligence about all the issues threatening the livelihoods of those who husband the lands and critters of the western United States.

These American ranchers, farmers and loggers preserve “The Cowboy Spirit on America’s Outback,” and RANGEFiRE provides fast-burn news, links, and editorials for those who share that spirit.

RANGEFiRE will help smoke out the scoundrels, rascals, weasels, and rats who infest the nation’s political landscape.

But to work, RANGEFiRE needs as much input as it can get, so the site includes a blog for readers to share views and opinions.

To get the sparks flying, we’re offering a special subscription rate for RANGEFiRE bloggers — a year of award-winning RANGE magazine at 23% off, $15.50 for four quarterly issues! Call 1-800-RANGE-4-U (1-800-726-4348). We take VISA or MasterCard.

Light up the range!

Read and contribute to RANGEFiRE!

14 Jun 2009, 3:55pm
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Highway 58 closed by runaway windmill

By Gretchen Wenner, The Bakersfield Californian, May 3, 2009 [here]

A runaway windmill in Tehachapi closed Highway 58 — a major east-west freeway connecting California’s southern Central Valley to Las Vegas, Nevada and Arizona — for most of the day Sunday.

As of 9 PM, the highway remained closed between Tehachapi and Mojave. Officials had no estimate as to when it might reopen.

Wind turbines are subject to catastrophic failure when their brakes fail, allowing blades to spin uncontrollably. The resulting vibrations can cause them to explode, spewing propeller blades and debris hundreds of yards, as a YouTube video of an incident in Denmark last year shows.

Large turbines, like some in Tehachapi’s wind farm, can boast wingspans as wide as a jumbo jet.

The faulty unit was built in the 1980s and is much smaller than giant ones made today, said Meghan Dotter, spokeswoman for AES Corporation, a global power company with North American offices in Virginia, which owns the 90-kilowatt windmill.

The turbine’s brakes failed when winds exceeded 50 mph, Dotter said in an e-mail.

The California Highway Patrol shut Highway 58 “in an abundance of caution,” she wrote, “because the wind turbine was visible from the road.” … [more]

14 Jun 2009, 3:32pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Thirty-six elk plunge to death

Over 150-200 foot rock face on Carter Mountain west of Meeteetse, Wyoming

By Echo Renner, Wyoming Livestock Roundup, Pinedale Online, April 28, 2009 [here]

Thirty-six head of elk plunged to their death over a 150 – 200 foot rim rock on Carter Mountain west of Meeteetse in January. Horn hunters discovered the carcasses last month, and reported it to area landowners, Scott and Marjorie Justice.

“We set up a spotting scope and could see ravens and birds in the area. We called the game warden, and went up with him,” explains Scott Justice.

Jim Olson, Meeteetse area Game Warden with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGF) says they discovered the elk carcasses at the base of the rock face. One cow elk got stuck on the way down, and remains there. “There were seven yearling males, 12 adult females, 10 calves, and seven unknown that slid down over another cliff,” says Olson. “The cliff is near where the elk normally travel through a chute in the rim rock. The calf ratio was high and I believe young animals were leading charge, and that’s why they missed. Something spooked them and they went over. It could have been wolves, helicopters, a storm - who knows.” He adds, “I have not seen this before in my career.”

Scott Justice describes, “The chute is right next to that cliff. It looked like some of the elk were still alive (after the fall) with broken legs, and wallowed around and died.” He continues, “We’ve seen up to 1,000 head of elk waiting there, and take over an hour to come single file down the chute during the evening to feed. Someone told me that was on old hand-dug stock trail where they used to trail domestic sheep off the mesa years ago. It’s broken now and real steep. It would be hard to get a horse down. My guess is those elk were all crowded around there, and wolves or something, spooked them over the cliff. …

Ed Bangs, Wolf Recovery Coordinator with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in Helena says, “This kind of thing happens, and is more common than you think. It can be impossible to determined what happened if it had been awhile. It sure could have been wolves or other native predators that spooked a herd, but depending on how long ago it happened, my first line of investigation this time of year would be an avalanche. Wild animals die from accidents all the time. The most interesting thing is people would think wolves are somehow more responsible for these types of things than anything else - seeing the world through wolf-colored glasses I suppose. But, absolutely it could have been wolves. …

Dr. Charles Kay, Adjunct Professor at Utah State University, conducts unbiased research on wolves and other wildlife. Kay says, “Several years ago there was a large herd of antelope that ran over a cliff and were killed near Green River. I do not recall anything similar with elk, but it would not surprise me if wolves or a bear could spook a herd (in this manner).” …

Jim Allen of Lander, a long-time outfitter and President of the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association (WYOGA) says, “Elk are incredibly agile and athletic. I’ve seen them go over a cliff I didn’t think a big horn sheep would go over. They had to be more afraid of what was chasing them than the cliff. I don’t think a grizzly was after them. They could maneuver away from a single grizzly, and grizzlies don’t travel in packs. It would be the same with a mountain lion. My opinion is wolves organized this effort, and did it very successfully.”

In October 2006, wolf researcher, Jim Akenson, was riding a mule on an icy mountain trail in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho, when he came upon a dead cougar. Suddenly, a pack of wolves materialized and began howling. For a terrifying moment, the 48-year-old biologist thought his startled mules were going to stampede and carry him off a 200-foot cliff. “It is the most precarious condition you can image, with wolves howling around you.” … [more]

14 Jun 2009, 12:09pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Inbreeding takes toll on Mich wolves

By JOHN FLESHER, Chicago Tribune, April 2, 2009 [here]

The gray wolves of Isle Royale National Park are suffering from backbone malformations caused by genetic inbreeding, posing yet another challenge to their prospects for long-term survival, wildlife biologists said Thursday.

Although confirmed only recently, the problem apparently has been festering for decades in the small, isolated packs that wander the island chain in northwestern Lake Superior. The abnormalities, also found in some domestic dogs, can cause pain and partial paralysis while limiting the range of motion so crucial for predators in the wild.

The discovery raises the ethically thorny question of whether scientists should try to dilute the gene pool by introducing wolves from elsewhere, said researchers with Michigan Tech University in Houghton, which hosts a 51-year-old study of the island park’s wolves and moose. …

Although part of Michigan, Isle Royale is closer to Minnesota and Ontario. Moose found their way to the island — probably by swimming the 15 miles from Canada — around 1900. Two or three wolves arrived in the late 1940s, crossing a rare ice bridge from the mainland.

Weather, food availability, disease and other factors have caused the two species’ populations to fluctuate over the years. The most dangerous period for the wolves came in the 1980s, when their total dropped to 12 because of a parvovirus outbreak.

Their population stood at 24 this winter, roughly the long-term average. They were divided into four packs. …

Spinal malformation from inbreeding poses no immediate threat of extinction, Peterson said. The biggest short-term problem is a drop-off in moose, the wolves’ primary food supply, which scientists attribute to climate change. This winter’s moose census turned up 530 — only about half their long-term average and a drop-off from last year’s estimated 650.

The study team is considering whether to propose a “genetic rescue” — trapping unrelated mainland wolves and bringing them to Isle Royale, hoping they would breed and mix their genes with the existing population.

The question involves competing scientific and ethical values, Vucetich said.

Opponents of intervention believe humans should not tinker with wilderness systems. Even if Isle Royale’s wolves die out, their loss would provide information that could save endangered species elsewhere.

Other would counter that attempting to save the wolves also could yield valuable data, while sparing individual animals from painful bone deformities. … [more]

14 Jun 2009, 12:06pm
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Obama picks Babbitt aide to run BLM

By Patty Henetz, Salt Lake Tribune, 06/10/2009 [here]

Bob Abbey, who helped former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt complete a Utah wilderness inventory 10 years ago, is President Barack Obama’s nominee to head up the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the nomination Tuesday evening, calling Abbey a “consummate, professional natural-resource manager.”

Abbey has more than 32 years in state and federal public service, including eight years at the helm of the Nevada state BLM office until his retirement in 2005.

Early reactions indicated general approval of Abbey’s nomination from conservationists, off-roaders and oil and gas officials.

“I think he’d be a good director,” said Brian Hawthorne, public-lands policy director for the BlueRibbon Coalition, an OHV interest group. “He seemed to be well-liked by the [BLM] line officers and staff.”

Heidi McIntosh, an attorney and conservation director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said Abbey was known as “a good guy” and not ideological in any direction.

“He’s willing to listen. I think he’s a good choice,” McIntosh said.

If the Senate confirms Abbey, she said, he ought to restore a balance to managing public lands after the Bush administration’s eight years of focusing on oil and gas development. … [more]

10 Jun 2009, 11:16pm
Latest Climate News
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Taxing Cows

By Alan Caruba, Facts Not Fantasy Blog, June 9, 2009 [here]

Just how crazed is the Environmental Protection Agency? When I say “crazed”, I mean just how far out of touch with reality, with science, with the economy, with common sense, and with the American people is the EPA?

Ever since the Supreme Court made one of the greatest blunders since the Dred Scott case, declaring carbon dioxide (CO2) a “pollutant” that could be regulated by the EPA, that deranged agency has been pushing a tax on CO2 emissions from cows, pigs, and other farm animals on which we depend for milk and meat at the local supermarket.

According to Encarta, in 2005 there were an estimated 95,848,000 cows in the United States. Presumably, there are comparable numbers of pigs, goats, and other critters that emit belches and farts sufficient to destroy the Earth with the CO2 they emit. Nor should we overlook the six pounds of CO2 that the 307 million Americans exhale daily.

Since there is NO global warming and the Earth has been cooling for the past decade, the proposal that these farm animals be taxed constitutes a criminal act, devoid of any justification.

Since CO2 plays virtually no role whatever in so-called “climate change”, taxing farm animals is a violation of the known science and an assault on the economy in the name of the greatest hoax of the modern age.

It is not, however, a matter of “saving the Earth” so far as the EPA and the rest of the Obama administration is concerned. It is MONEY. And money is POWER. … [here]

Note: Not to criticize Alan or anything, but we posted this tale of flatulence emanating from the gooberment last November, together with the requisite tanked cow pic [here], and it has been the most popular post ever at W.I.S.E. News. Not sure why that is, but it might be the sonorous title, EPA Proposes Cow Fart Tax, that has attracted web visitors like flies to… honey.

2 Jun 2009, 11:38pm
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TNC Given $9 Million to Buy Land in NorCal

Nine million taxpayers dollars are to be handed over to The Nature Conservancy to buy land north of Lake Tahoe. TNC will keep the land.

Reclamation Announces Decision on Independence Lake Land Acquisition

Bureau of Reclamation News Release, June 2, 2009, [here]

The Bureau of Reclamation has signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Environmental Assessment (EA) on the impacts of Reclamation’s action to provide Federal funding to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for acquisition of land around Independence Lake, located north of Truckee, California. In addition to acquisition dollars, funding will be provided for administrative management and to continue the existing fishery research and monitoring.

Public Law 110-161 directs Reclamation to provide $9 million in funding for acquisition of the land and protection of both the native fishery and the water quality of Independence Lake. TNC is exploring potential land management activities for future implementation, including forest management to minimize wildfire hazards, and public recreation management. Once the acquisition is completed, future management of the land will be decided and implemented by TNC as called for in the Public Law.

TNC also enjoyed over a billion dollars in income last year, including $100 million in government grants. They hold over $5.6 billion in assets, principally real property.

Hank Paulson, Sec of the Teasury who engineered the collapse of the US and world financial markets is a former President and CEO of TNC. Current President and CEO is Mark Tercek, formerly a managing director of Goldman Sachs, (as was Paulson).

Lynx habitat at risk as clear-cutting fades

By Murray Carpenter, The Boston Globe, April 27, 2009 [here]

The good news is that Canada lynx are thriving in Maine. Hundreds of the leggy, snow-loving cats are breeding in the state’s vast north woods, perhaps a historic high.

The bad news is that the population is heading for a crash, and logging industry clear-cut practices seem to be the reason.

Strangely, it’s not an excess of clear-cutting that is the problem; this time, it’s a lack of clear-cutting that is creating environmental worries.

Environmentalists may hate clear-cutting, but lynx love it - because when trees are cleared away, a dense spruce-fir thicket often crops up in their place, and those thickets attract snowshoe hares, the lynx’s primary prey.

Biologists say lynx are thriving in Maine because massive industrial clear-cuts following a spruce budworm epidemic 30 years ago have grown into hare-rich thickets. But regulations reducing the size of clear-cuts in the Maine woods - products of state legislation passed in 1989 and amended after a divisive environmental campaign in the late 1990s - are now eliminating those thickets, and eventually, the hares that live in them.

Over the next decade, the unintended chain reaction is expected to dramatically reduce the number of Maine lynx - the only lynx in the Eastern states, and listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“The prognosis for future habitat for lynx is not terribly good,” said Mark McCullough, a US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist.

William Krohn, a University of Maine professor who has been studying the state’s wildlife for decades, said that with recent reductions in clear-cutting, “We’ve created something that isn’t the optimum for lynx habitat.” … [more]

29 May 2009, 1:11am
Latest Climate News
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The Coming Ice Age

By David Deming, American Thinker, May 13, 2009 [here]

Those who ignore the geologic perspective do so at great risk. In fall of 1985, geologists warned that a Columbian volcano, Nevado del Ruiz, was getting ready to erupt. But the volcano had been dormant for 150 years. So government officials and inhabitants of nearby towns did not take the warnings seriously. On the evening of November 13, Nevado del Ruiz erupted, triggering catastrophic mudslides. In the town of Armero, 23,000 people were buried alive in a matter of seconds.

For ninety percent of the last million years, the normal state of the Earth’s climate has been an ice age. Ice ages last about 100,000 years, and are punctuated by short periods of warm climate, or interglacials. The last ice age started about 114,000 years ago. It began instantaneously. For a hundred-thousand years, temperatures fell and sheets of ice a mile thick grew to envelop much of North America, Europe and Asia. The ice age ended nearly as abruptly as it began. Between about 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, the temperature in Greenland rose more than 50 °F. …

For thousands of years, people have learned from experience that cold temperatures are detrimental for human welfare and warm temperatures are beneficial. From about 1300 to 1800 AD, the climate cooled slightly during a period known as the Little Ice Age. In Greenland, the temperature fell by about 4 °F. Although trivial, compared to an ice age cooling of 50 °F, this was nevertheless sufficient to wipe out the Viking colony there.

In northern Europe, the Little Ice Age kicked off with the Great Famine of 1315. Crops failed due to cold temperatures and incessant rain. Desperate and starving, parents ate their children, and people dug up corpses from graves for food. In jails, inmates instantly set upon new prisoners and ate them alive.

The Great Famine was followed by the Black Death, the greatest disaster ever to hit the human race. One-third of the human race died; terror and anarchy prevailed. Human civilization as we know it is only possible in a warm interglacial climate. Short of a catastrophic asteroid impact, the greatest threat to the human race is the onset of another ice age. … [more]

Note: David Deming is a geophysicist and associate professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.

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