1 Nov 2008, 11:51am
Latest Climate News
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Sno-Park Permits Required Two Weeks Earlier This Year

BY PETE SPRINGER, OPB News, October 31, 2008 [here]

The snow hasn’t yet fallen at most Oregon winter recreation areas such as ski resorts or snowshoe trails.

But a change in state law means that starting November 1st, you’ll need a Sno-Park permit to park in those areas, even if you’re going for a hike along a snow-free trail.

Dave Thompson is a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation, which is responsible for removing snow at the Sno-Parks.

Dave Thompson: “We use the money later on for the usually huge amounts of snow we’re taking out of those Sno-Parks. So it has nothing to do with the fact that it’s snowing or not, this is a user fee for a parking lot. And we only charge the fee during that winter season.”

Thompson says record snowfall last year meant ODOT went $7 million over its budget for snow removal on state highways and Sno-Park areas.

Oregon Sno-Park permits are $20 for the season or $3 for a daily permit. They are also valid in Washington, Idaho, and California.

They’re required at Oregon Sno-Parks until April 30th.

31 Oct 2008, 11:09pm
Latest Forest News
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Forest Service needs saving from itself

The Payson Roundup, October 28, 2008 [here]

The Forest Service wants help saving the forest.

And we’re kind of groping for a metaphor here.

So did you hear the one about the guy who killed his parents and threw himself on the mercy of the court on account of being an orphan?

How about the one about getting Wall Street grifters to advise the federal government on how to dole out $700 billion to, well, Wall Street?

So now the Forest Service, with great sincerity and community spirit, wants to set up an advisory group to help update and transform the current, nearly meaningless, quarter-century-old forest plan.

It’s an urgent task — given the desperate and dangerous condition of the forest, almost entirely as a result of a century of Forest Service mismanagement.

Once upon a time, the Rim Country had rolling miles of ponderosa pines, grasslands and myriad streams. Harmless ground fires burnt through every five years and you could fish Pine Creek.

Then the Forest Service took over and started managing the forest as a great, money-losing tree farm. So now, instead of 50 trees per acre, we have 1,000. Instead of harmless ground fires, catastrophic wildfire threatens every Rim community. Instead of organics comprising 5 percent to 10 percent of the soil, they make up about half a percent. Instead of 1,000 miles of trout streams, we have dusty washes. Oh yeah — and the timber industry’s gone and the ranchers are going.

Thank you, boys.
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31 Oct 2008, 11:08pm
Latest Forest News
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Markets fall, trees don’t, raising risk of wildfires

Michelle Roberts, the Oregonian, October 26, 2008 [here]

Wallowa-Whitman National Forest managers are concerned as the housing construction market continues to stagnate.

The decreased demand for wood products means that mills are struggling, and in some cases closing. Without them, says Steve Ellis, the forest supervisor for the past four years, forests, already at a high risk for wildfires, could become even more dense.

Q: How is the timber industry affected by the troubled housing and construction market?

A: What we’re seeing here in northeast Oregon is that some (timber) sales this year went without bid. That is very unusual. Within the Blue Mountain Forest this last fiscal year, there were several timber sales in which no one came to bid. Last year in Wallowa-Whitman, we had to repackage one sale to make it go. The other thing is that the price that we’re getting is less this past year. In September, one (timber sale) went for just the appraised price. Nothing more.

Q: What does it mean for the mills?

A: The mills, economically speaking, are struggling. This year, two mills in our area have stopped operating, including Wallowa Forest Products and, more recently, a mill in Prairie City. I find that troubling because we depend on mills to cut down trees to help us manage these forests. To do active forest management, we need this infrastructure. The mills need us, and we need them.

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31 Oct 2008, 10:58am
Latest Wildlife News
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Wildlife agency will seek landowner fee

by Mitch Lies, Capital Press, 10/30/2008 [here]

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission rejected a proposal earlier this month to raise the number of acres a landowner must own to be eligible for the state’s landowner preference program. At the same time, the commission opted to charge program participants for administrative services.

The 26-year-old program gives special hunting privileges to landowners to compensate for losses from deer and elk depredation.

A task force recommended the commission change the minimum acreage in Eastern Oregon from the current 160 acres to 640 acres for antlered animals. The recommendation was not well received by Oregon’s farm and ranch community, and the commission at its October meeting opted to go against the recommendation.

“The wildlife of the state has not been taught to discriminate between the sizes of properties,” the Oregon Farm Bureau submitted in written testimony. “The small-acreage farm, ranch and woodlot have an equal problem with big-game depredation as the larger ones.”

At the same meeting, the commission decided to ask lawmakers permission to charge program participants $30 a year.

The fee would generate $230,000 a year, the department estimated.

“We’ve spending a lot of staff time and sportsmen’s dollars to administer the program for the landowners, and we want them to step up and pay a fee,” said Craig Ely of the ODFW. … [more]

27 Oct 2008, 9:54pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Churchill area: Fall aerial survey found a record high number of polar bears

Polar Bear Alley - 10/20/08 entry [here]

Manitoba Conservation does an annual aerial survey from the Churchill area to the Manitoba/Ontario border, roughly the inland range of the polar bears of western Hudson Bay. In late July (the 22nd I believe), they flew the range and counted around 34 bears. Most were still out on the bay feasting on seals. In fact, there were still two little bits of ice floe in southwestern Hudson Bay on August 22nd…! This means that many of the bears stayed out on the ice until mid-August, almost a month later than usual (or at least, earlier than usual for the last decade, but simply similar to the ‘glory days’ of the early eighties).

So, almost all of the bears visiting Churchill are in really good shape (around ten to twelve in buggyland right now). This seems to have translated through the larger population with 266 polar bears being counted on the fall aerial survey in September. This is the largest number of bears recorded in the history of this survey. Isn’t that crazy?!? Life is good for the bears!

Of course, this also leads to the cut in quota for Nunavut’s Inuit. Arviat, an economically challenged traditional Inuit town just north of Churchill (and when I say just north, I mean 250 miles) has had their quota wiped out. From 23 polar bears harvested last year, political pressure (not research) has led the government of Nunavut to cut it to three bears. All three bear ‘tags’ have now been used in self-defence kills (partially because we relocate bears north from Churchill… but that’s another story). So, no commercial hunt, no income, no community pride for Arviat… hmmm…

23 Oct 2008, 4:33pm
Latest Climate News
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Euro Greedheads Carbon Cash-In

Eco soundings by John Vidal, The Guardian, October 22 2008 [here]

Fresh from the devastation they have wrought on the global financial system, some of the world’s leading investment banks meet in London today to discuss how they can “cash in” on carbon. But at least delegates and speakers at the Cashing in on Carbon conference are open about not trying to reduce emissions or helping the environment. Oh, no. This event is to see how “investment banks can profit today from an increasingly diverse range of carbon-related investment opportunities”. +

Particularly reassuring is the emphasis on “hybrid and complex carbon credit structured products”, and how to identify investor demand for them in the US; “derivative/synthetic carbon products”; and “sub-index arbitrage strategies”. Also, we can refresh our knowledge of the basic options for “productising carbon” and of “access channels for producers … speculators, proprietary traders and investors”. Good to see that execs from Lord [Nicholas] Stern’s company, IDEAcarbon, will be there, too.

19 Oct 2008, 2:50pm
Latest Climate News
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Carbon Tax Seals Liberal Party’s Defeat in Canada

by Jesse Jenkins, the Breakthrough Institute, October 15, 2008 [here]

Canada’s opposition Liberal party was just dealt a stunning defeat, and their Achilles heal turned out to be their proposal to enact a carbon tax.

Yesterday was election day in Canada, a fact that I hope I’ll be forgiven for missing amidst the frenzy of election politics here in the States. However, this stunning headline from the UK Telegraph grabbed my attention:

“Canadian election: Carbon tax proposals sealed Liberal defeat”

That’s right, the opposition Liberal party was just dealt a stunning defeat, and their Achilles heal turned out to be their proposal to enact a carbon tax on coal, natural gas, gasoline and home heating fuels.

As Grist reported in September, the Liberal party called for an election early this summer, gearing up to run on a pro-environment platform they thought would net them enough seats to form a ruling government and dethrone Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Led by the former environment minister Stephane Dion (a man who’s dog is named Kyoto after the international global warming treaty) the party ran with a carbon tax proposal as their central plank.

What seemed like a sound plan this summer, when polls showed the Canadian electorate’s number one issue was global warming, turned out to be doomed to failure amidst the economic insecurity of the recent months. …

The end result: yesterday’s election, in which the Liberals hoped to gain several seats in Parliament in fact led to the opposition party’s stunning defeat. Prime Minister Steven Harper’s reigning Conservative party ended up gaining 17 seats, and Canadian pundits are predicting that Dion will soon be ousted as Leader of the defeated Liberal Party. The election also means a carbon tax is essentially dead in Canada, at least for the foreseeable future. … [more]

19 Oct 2008, 11:47am
Latest Climate News
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Obama to Declare Carbon Dioxide Dangerous Pollutant

By Jim Efstathiou Jr., Bloomberg.com, Oct. 16 2008 [here]

Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) — Barack Obama will classify carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant that can be regulated should he win the presidential election on Nov. 4, opening the way for new rules on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Democratic senator from Illinois will tell the Environmental Protection Agency that it may use the 1990 Clean Air Act to set emissions limits on power plants and manufacturers, his energy adviser, Jason Grumet, said in an interview. President George W. Bush declined to curb CO2 emissions under the law even after the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the government may do so.

If elected, Obama would be the first president to group emissions blamed for global warming into a category of pollutants that includes lead and carbon monoxide. Obama’s rival in the presidential race, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, has not said how he would treat CO2 under the act.

Obama “would initiate those rulemakings,” Grumet said in an Oct. 6 interview in Boston. “He’s not going to insert political judgments to interrupt the recommendations of the scientific efforts.”

Placing heat-trapping pollutants in the same category as ozone may lead to caps on power-plant emissions and force utilities to use the most expensive systems to curb pollution. The move may halt construction plans on as many as half of the 130 proposed new U.S. coal plants.

The president may take action on new rules immediately upon taking office, said David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club. Environment groups including the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council will issue a regulatory agenda for the next president that calls for limits on CO2 from industry. … [more]

18 Oct 2008, 12:05am
Latest Fire News
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Wildfires Cause Ozone Pollution to Violate Health Standards, New Study Shows

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, October 09, 2008 [here]

BOULDER—Wildfires can boost ozone pollution to levels that violate U.S. health standards, a new study concludes. The research, by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), focused on California wildfires in 2007, finding that they repeatedly caused ground-level ozone to spike to unhealthy levels across a broad area, including much of rural California as well as neighboring Nevada.

The study was published today in Geophysical Research Letters. It was funded by NASA and by the National Science Foundation, which sponsors NCAR.

“It’s important to understand the health impacts of wildfires,” says NCAR scientist Gabriele Pfister, the lead author. “Ozone can hit unhealthy levels even in places where people don’t see smoke.”

Although scientists have long known that wildfires can affect air quality by emitting particles and gases into the air, there has been little research to quantify the impacts. Fires worsen ozone levels by releasing nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons, which can form ozone near the fire or far downwind as a result of chemical reactions in sunlight.

The researchers, using a combination of computer models and ground-level measurements, studied intense California wildfires that broke out in September and October of 2007. They found that ozone was three times more likely to violate safe levels when fire plumes blew into a region than when no plumes were present.

At the time of the wildfires, the public health standard for ozone set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was 0.08 parts per million over an eight-hour period. The EPA has since tightened the standard to 0.075 parts per million. Under the stricter standard, the number of violations would have nearly doubled.

While ozone in the stratosphere benefits life on Earth by blocking ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, ozone in the lower atmosphere can trigger a number of health problems. These range from coughing and throat irritation to more serious problems, such as aggravation of asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. Ground-level ozone pollution also damages crops and other plants.
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15 Oct 2008, 9:38pm
Latest Forest News
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Congress fuels Forest Service waste wood removal

By Kris Bevill, Biomass Magazine, Oct. 15, 2008 [here]

A bill signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on Sept. 30 could offer potential benefits to biomass companies working with waste wood.

Chapter six of The Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act of 2009 includes an allowance of $175 million for the U.S. Forest Service to use in removing wood determined to be “hazardous fuel” in areas of the country that are prone to wildfires.

The issue of waste wood removal from federal lands, and specifically from national forests, has been an issue of contention among members of Congress since the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill which included language disallowing the removal of such wood. In August, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., held a senate energy subcommittee hearing to discuss the matter, focusing on the removal of woody biomass in the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota. Forestry experts who testified at the hearing contradicted the language of the farm bill, stating that not removing waste wood posed more risk to the health of a forest than if such debris was removed.

Thune had introduced a bill amending language in the farm bill to include waste wood in national forests as “woody biomass.” It now appears that the issue has at least been partially rectified by the allowance of money to fuel the Forest Service’s removal of waste wood from federal properties.

7 Oct 2008, 10:47pm
Latest Climate News
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Green Stocks Fall Even Faster

Global Warming Politics, 6 October 2008 [here]

New Energy Finance tracks companies worldwide that claim to focus on ‘climate change’ stocks involving the generation and use of cleaner energy and efficiency. It hosts the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, known as NEX.

In these dark days, the NEX is not having a happy ride, and, according to the latest report in the Scientific American ['Climate change stocks fall more than wider markets', Scientific American, October 3], “shares in companies specializing in curbing greenhouse gas emissions, including energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, have tumbled faster than wider markets this year.” Figures for the last full quarter (June 30 to September 30) show that they fell by 30.3%, and that they are down by as much as 39% over the year so far.

The NEX is a global index of 91 companies listed on 24 stock exchanges whose, and I quote, “innovative technologies and services focus on the generation and use of cleaner energy, conservation, efficiency and the advancement of renewable energy in general” [see: 'NEX Fact Sheet']. It includes companies which claim to adopt lower-carbon approaches that “are relevant to climate change, and whose technologies help reduce emissions relative to traditional fossil fuel use.”

Ah well! The bulls and bears of the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index (NEX) may be hunted down [watch out for gun-totin' Sarah Palin] through the NEX Website [here]

At 5.43 am ET today, the Index stood at 244.91, down 4.54% on the day. … [more]

Note: today (10/07/2008) NEX closed at 215.48, down 1% on the day and 46% since January 1.

2 Oct 2008, 10:51pm
Latest Climate News
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Sneaky: Current credit bailout bill contains carbon tax provisions!

Watts Up With That, Oct. 2, 2008 [here]

If you look at page 180 of the 451-page monster bailout bill that easily passed the Senate yesterday (PDF here), you will see that it includes at Section 116 language about the tax treatment of “industrial source carbon dioxide.” It also provides, at Section 117, for a “carbon audit of the tax code.”

What could a provision about the tax treatment of “industrial source carbon dioxide” and another provision about doing a “carbon audit” of the tax code possibly have to do with restoring confidence in Wall Street’s troubled credit and banking markets?

The answer: NOTHING.

This appears to be an attempt by global warming alarmists to lay the foundation for a carbon tax in the middle of another crisis, hoping nobody will notice. … [more]

28 Sep 2008, 11:31am
Latest Fire News
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Forest Service’s Gap Fire Report Raises Debris Alarms

By Sonia Fernandez, Noozhawk Staff Writer, 09/06/2008 [here]

The U.S. Forest Service has released its Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Assessment, a report describing the impacts of the Gap Fire and what measures the agency intends to take in response.

According to the report, the Gap Fire burned about 9,544 acres, roughly half of which was located on Los Padres National Forest land.

The blaze, which started July 1 and burned the foothills directly above the Goleta Valley, affected several facilities, including the Southern California Edison powerline, a Goleta Water District treatment plant, and the Cachuma Operation and Maintenance Board underground water pipeline and reservoirs. Orchards, roads and a cultural site were also damaged by the fire.

The report labeled the soil burn severity as moderate, but rated the potential for flooding as “high to very high,” and warned of threats to both life and property, particularly in the areas directly downstream of the burned watersheds. Approximately 300,000 cubic yards of sediment is at risk of descending.

“Increased flooding, sedimentation and debris flow probability have the potential to damage 120-plus residences, 70-plus business properties, impact Highway 101 and the railroad, which could result in closure, close the Santa Barbara Airport, cause power outages if debris flows affect the powerline, and affect domestic water supplies through impacts to the water treatment plant and the Cachuma Operation and Maintenance board water pipeline,” said the BAER report.

“These potential serious and long-lasting impacts to downstream values are estimated to be over $23 million.”

The airport, it said, could lose an estimated $1.4 million per closure, and a $10 million wetland restoration project in the Goleta Slough could be destroyed. … [more]

Note: the erosion from the 9,544 acre Gap Fire is dwarfed by the erosion and flash flooding caused by the 240,000 acre Zaca Fire (2007) [here] and the 244,000 acre Basin/Indians Fire (2008) [here], both of which were also on the Los Padres National Forest. Over half a million acres of the LPNF have been incinerated in the last two years.

28 Sep 2008, 11:15am
Latest Wildlife News
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Analysis says more salmon coming into Klamath River

The Eureka Reporter, Sep 6 2008 [here]

Recent analysis of the salmon population in the Klamath River by the California Department of Fish and Game may be a positive indicator for the year to come.

In the weeks since Aug. 6, a crew operating six days per week on the lower Klamath has counted 274 adult fall chinook salmon harvested below the state Route 96 bridge in Weitchpec and 76 harvested below the U.S. Route 101 bridge.

The total Klamath basin quota for 2008 is 22,500 fish.

“The adult chinook are starting to come in,” said Sara Borok, associate fisheries biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game, who also runs the Klamath River Project, which has served as the creel census since 1978.

“We have a lot more jack salmon,” Borok said. Jack salmon are fish under 22 inches, while adult salmon extend more than 22 inches.

When there are a lot of jacks, the next year will result in third-year followed by fourth-year salmon, which are harvested, she said.

27 Sep 2008, 7:06pm
Latest Forest News
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Why Henry Paulson must be “contained”

By Michelle Malkin, September 22, 2008 [here]

Both parties in Washington are about to screw us over on an unprecedented scale. They are threatening us with fiscal apocalypse if we don’t fork over $700 billion to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and allow him to dole it out to whomever he chooses in whatever amount he chooses — without public input or recourse. They are rushing like mad to cram this Mother of All Bailouts down our throats in the next 72-96 hours. And right there in the text of the proposal is this naked power grab: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”

Stop.

My question for fellow conservatives: Do you trust this man?

I don’t.

Do you trust Hank Paulson’s judgment?

I don’t.
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