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Climate Friendly National Parks

Seth Shteir | Apr 09, 2010 03:00 AM

Granite Mountains in the Mojave

National parks across the country, including California’s desert national parks like the Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park, and Death Valley National Park have begun developing action plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as part of the National Park Service Climate Friendly Parks Program. The Climate Friendly Parks Program helps individual parks reduce their climate pollution, offers special public education programs about how global warming is already affecting our parks, and helps inspire visitors to embrace climate friendly solutions like using clean energy, reducing waste, and making smart transportation choices.

California’s desert parks are some of the largest national park sites in the lower forty-eight states and attract millions of visitors each year.  This leads to a unique set of problems in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

For example, Mojave National Preserve, located in eastern California, was created by the 1994 California Desert Protection Act.

The 1.6 million acre Mojave National Preserve has singing sand dunes, spectacular rock formations, pristine night skies and a diverse array of plant and animal life. It’s made substantial investments in clean, renewable solar energy, energy efficiency programs and implemented aggressive recycling programs. The problem is that biologists, geologists, archaeologists and maintenance staff have to drive vast distances, sometimes hundreds of miles in a single day, to protect plants, animals, archaeological and geological resources.  That not only translates to a great deal of fossil fuel being consumed, but also to greenhouse gas emissions.  In fact, the park’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions comes from mobile sources.

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HCN Reader Photo: Hopeful

Stephanie Paige Ogburn | Apr 08, 2010 10:01 AM

Reader Photo: Hopeful

When I first saw this image thumbnail in our Flickr pool, I couldn't really tell what it was. I enlarged it for further examination, and found a beautifully-composed image with a strong message and a lovely title: "Hopeful."

Add your photos to our Flickr group and be sure to check out our upcoming photo contests.

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Privatizing conservation

Felice Pace | Apr 05, 2010 07:40 AM

The State of California is in the middle of a process that will result in the state’s Fish and Game Commission designating an array of near shore marine reserves along the length of California’s coast. The reserves are intended to preserve and restore marine resources including commercially valuable fisheries.

The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) was charged with developing the reserves when the California legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) in 1999. Several abortive efforts by CDFG and a 2004 amendment to the Act led to the current effort.

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Hunting season may be over but wolves are hardly in the clear

Erin McCallum | Apr 01, 2010 04:29 AM

Yesterday marked the close of the first official hunting season for wolves ever to take place in America’s lower 48 states. More than 250 wolves were killed as a result of Montana and Idaho’s hunting seasons and more than twice that number have been killed overall since wolves lost federal protections in May of 2009.

And while assessing the true biological impact of the delisting decision and subsequent hunting season on the regional population will need further observation and time, one thing is clear: The optimistic talks of an official hunting season leading to a greater tolerance for wolves in the region were seemingly based on wishful thinking.

As the hunt draws to a close, tensions over wolf management remain high. Last year there were more illegal killings of wolves in the Northern Rockies than there were in 2008. Unscientific anti-wolf rhetoric in the West has become so commonplace and unchallenged in regional media articles that it’s in danger of becoming accepted as ‘fact.’

Recent headlines from across the region showcase the escalating persecution wolves face from many sides: from the usual vocal anti-wolf interest groups to political candidates and state legislative officials looking not to inform but to incite fear by whipping their constituents into an irrational wolf-hating frenzy.

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HCN Reader Photo: Spring blooms

Stephanie Paige Ogburn | Mar 29, 2010 03:40 AM

Aprium blossom in spring

We asked readers to add images of spring to our Flickr pool, and you graciously obliged. This picture, from user lenfwilcox, is of an aprium blossom in Fresno, California. Aprium, we understand, is a cross between an apricot and a plum. It sounds delicious and looks delightful! Continue sharing your images with us on Flickr; we love seeing them. We are also now featuring reader photos on the MyFlickr tab on our Facebook page.

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Community Forestry, or Not?

John Freemuth | Mar 26, 2010 04:00 AM

A new buzzword phrase appears to making the rounds in the natural resource policy world. The phrase is “social license”. I wasn’t sure what the phrase meant, so I looked it up on where else…Google. Here is what I found. Apparently it originally came to mean the unwritten approval that a corporation needed to gain from a local community to operate in that community.

Today, it appears to have been broadened to refer to acceptance by society, where that society is nonlocal. And, it isn’t limited to corporations. Now, the term has entered public land policy discussions. My first reaction was somewhat cynical, thinking that it was another academically led attempt to create a sub-sub-sub field or published-based reputation by inventing new jargon to describe something we all knew. But actually it seems more to be an attempt to restore the glory days of foresters in charge of forests, this time producing trees to fuel the bio-fuel revolution.

As one rather truculent and perceptive Forest Service friend told me, social license means “letting foresters do what they used to do, in the role they used to have”. I wonder if this isn’t a mistake. We have moved away from the Older Days of trained professionals who “knew best” how to manage our natural resources. Instead we have seen a thousand collaborative experiments, of talk of “civic environmentalism” or building “civic capacity” where these projects involve those who are willing to do the back breaking work of trying to build a community’s resiliency for problem solving. In fact, we might go so far as to argue that a whole lot of expert/professionals licenses have been revoked socially because this is a different era with different problems, solvable by those with a certain attitude and mindset, rather than the right “license” to make decisions. Let’s see how this plays out.

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Wolf conflict, take 452

Rebecca Watters | Mar 23, 2010 11:00 PM

Pro-wolf activistsThe wolf debate in the West is irredeemably ossified. I realized this when I strolled into the town square in Jackson, Wyoming, Saturday morning and saw the crowd of cowboy-booted and behatted protestors, gathered for an anti-wolf rally, hefting signs blazoned with tired, decade-old slogans - “Save Wyoming Wildlife; Delist Canadian Wolves,”  “Wolves: smoke a pack a day,” and “Wolves are the baddest pouchers [sic] in the USA.” The equally stereotypical Patagonia-clad environmentalists with their “I love wolves” and “Humans are the pests” signs completed the tableau. With rampant states-rights fervor in the air, all I could think about was Civil War re-enactments; the audience already knows how the battle turns out, but show up anyway to make sure each sides plays its role properly. In this case, everyone was in perfect character, and the outcome was just as predictable.
 
As it stands now, the wolf debate is binary: you are either for wolves, or against them. Arguing over the details of the science, which provides few definitive answers, is a means of asserting an identity-based affiliation with one clique or the other. Try to elucidate a nuanced position to either side, and you’ll find yourself immediately under attack.Anti-wolf activists
 
But for me, an ecologist with a background in anthropology and human rights work, the wolf situation presents a labyrinthine, highly nuanced ethical conundrum. Maintaining a viable wolf population requires connectivity over large scales, which means that wolves must utilize private lands and public resources such as elk herds. Maintaining ecosystem functionality is the ultimate goal, and society must bear the short-term costs in order to reap the longer-term benefits.

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A promise kept

Mark Trahant | Mar 22, 2010 03:50 AM

The three most important things to know about what health care reform means to Indian Country are simple ideas. First, the United States, officially and permanently, recognizes its trust and treaty obligation for health care delivery to American Indians and Alaska Natives. Second, there will be more money (not enough, but more) pumped into the Indian health system. And, third, President Barack Obama has delivered on a major, long-sought promise to Indian Country.

Now let’s consider a few details.

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HCN Reader Photo: Eagle in Winter

Stephanie Paige Ogburn | Mar 22, 2010 02:40 AM

Eagle Swoop

After a bit of a hiatus, we've reinstated our weekly reader photo with this inspiring image from Paul Larmer. Add your photos to our HCN reader pool on Flickr.

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Sage Grouse Must Wait

Cat Lazaroff | Mar 09, 2010 01:57 AM

Ever spent hours waiting for assistance in a doctor’s office while other, more urgent patients were seen first? Then you can imagine how some of us feel about Friday’s decision to leave the sage grouse hanging about in the waiting room.
 
On March 5, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) concluded that the sage grouse, a rare bird native to America’s dwindling sagebrush plains, could face extinction if it doesn’t receive protections under the Endangered Species Act. However, the agency says it is currently too busy working on more urgent cases to move forward with listing the birds at this time.
 
The agency designated the sage grouse as “warranted but precluded” for federal protection – a category the birds could remain in for years, even decades, while their numbers shrink and their remaining habitat becomes more and more attractive to developers. Sage grouse have already vanished from nearly half of their historic territory, and the prairie and sagebrush lands that the rare birds depend on have increasingly become targets for oil, gas and wind energy development as well as increased agricultural use and grazing.

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