Climate showdown, increase in driving, where the wildfires are this season, and more.

Hcn.org news in brief.

 

DANGLERS VS. DRILLERS
On July 31, dozens of kayaks and canoes gathered under a bridge on Portland, Oregon’s Willamette River, to block the passage of a ship headed for oil drilling in the Arctic. The so-called “kayaktivists” were protesting the government’s recent approval of Shell’s plan to drill in the Chukchi Sea, where the risk of a spill remains high. Similar efforts are growing in the Pacific Northwest, an important transportation hub that coal, oil and gas must pass through to reach international markets. A few months ago, kayaktivists surrounded a Shell drilling rig in Seattle’s Puget Sound. Still, admits one protester on the Willamette, “we can only fight them off for a day or two.” After a 40-hour hold-up, the MVS Fennica made its way to the sea.
-Sarah Gilman 

The Royal Dutch Shell-leased icebreaker MSV Fennica approaches the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, where climbers hang in an attempt to prevent the ship from passing on its way to deliver equipment critical for oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea, off the north coast of Alaska.
Steve Dipaola/Greenpeace

$12 BILLION: Amount in coal royalties and revenues generated on federal lands over the past decade and split with states

$850 MILLION: Amount taxpayers lost from 2008-2012, according to a new report, because federal royalty rates are below market value 

At the first of five public sessions to discuss the future of the federal coal program, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and other officials got an earful — mostly from its critics. A recent report found that current royalty rates shorted taxpayers, and many of the speakers called for higher rates. Several said the royalty rates should reflect the climate impacts of coal, which could make it too expensive to extract. Meanwhile, a bill introduced in the Senate could close loopholes that keep royalty rates low for companies. Four more listening sessions will take place, in Western cities from New Mexico to Montana.
-Elizabeth Shogren

A FLOOD OF CARS
In mid-July, an El Niño-fueled flash flood ripped down Tex Wash near Desert Center, California, wrecking a bridge and closing a section of I-10, the major artery linking Phoenix with Los Angeles. The closed stretch of road normally sees 25,000 or more cars per day, all of which were

shuttled onto a five-hour detour. The trucking industry was hit hard, as were the freeway towns that have come to rely on passing travelers. Yet, surprisingly, the event didn’t spur calls for more transportation options linking Western cities, such as rail lines or even new highways.
-Jonathan Thompson  

3%: Amount over a century by which carbon storage capacity could be reduced in Southwestern forests due to drought. “Three percent is not very much if it’s five trees. It means something different if it’s thousands of trees,” says one forest ecologist.
-Cally Carswell

CITY CATS
Are mountain lions becoming more habituated to humans? Or are they as aloof as ever? Colorado researchers are tracking the big cats to see how they’re adapting as cities encroach further into their habitat. See the latest in the Wild Science video series, Mountain Lions on Colorado’s Front Range.
-Dakin Henderson

A scrrenshot from the WildScience series shows a mountain lion cub in a tree.
Dakin Henderson
“At night, they’ve come into town and maybe made a kill ... killed a raccoon or deer or something. They feed on it, then they slip back out to the open space.”—Mat Alldredge, Colorado Parks and Wildlife researcher

The 2015 fire season hasn’t broken any all-time records – yet
This year’s fire season has been an odd one: The Southwest has burned less than the Pacific Northwest, California and Alaska, and more than 82 percent of the total acreage burned has been in Alaska. The 2015 fire season started off with a bang. As of the first week in August, 40 fires over 100 acres in size were burning in Western states. But whether this year sets any national wildfire records will depend on how fires unfold this fall.
-Gloria Dickie

You say

Dave Decker: “CalFire has been pretty good at ‘managing’ fires in my neck of the woods, so far this year.”

Ann Snyder: “Southern Oregon is on fire again this year in forests that haven’t burned often enough, nor been logged recently, so the fires are burning hotter, and with more people living out there, there are more people in danger.”

Helen Nowlin:“Alaska’s tundra is drying out, and quick!”

High Country News Classifieds
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Executive Director Position Announcement POSITION TITLE: Executive Director ORGANIZATION: Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument REPORTING TO: Board of Directors EMPLOYMENT TYPE: Part-time - Full-time, based...
  • HEALTHY CITIES PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Healthy Cities Program Director leads and manages the Healthy Cities Program for the Arizona Chapter and is responsible for developing and implementing innovative, high...
  • CONSERVATION PROGRAM MANAGER
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Conservation Programs Manager Job Opening Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Associate Director Job Posting Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through science,...
  • UNIQUE, ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOME ON ACREAGE NEAR MOSCOW, IDAHO
    Custom-built energy-efficient 3000 sqft two-story 3BR home, 900 sqft 1 BR accessory cottage above 2-car garage and large shop. Large horse barn. $1,200,000. See online...
  • OUTDOOR ADVENTURE BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Missoula Outdoor Learning Adventures (MOLA) - established and profitable outdoor adventure & education business in Missoula, Montana. Summer camp, raft & climb guide, teen travel,...
  • OJO SARCO FARM/HOME
    A wonderful country setting for a farm/work 1350s.f. frame home plus 1000 studio/workshop. 5 acres w fruit trees, an irrigation well, pasture and a small...
  • STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    Join Skagit Land Trust (the Trust), a not-for-profit conservation organization based in Mount Vernon, Washington, and help protect land for people and wildlife. Skagit Land...
  • 2022 SEASONAL SCIENCE EDUCATOR
    The Mount St. Helens Institute Science Educator supports our science education and rental programs including day and overnight programs for youth ages 6-18, their families...
  • POLICY DIRECTOR
    Heart of the Rockies Initiative is seeking a Policy Director to lead and define policy efforts to advance our mission to keep working lands and...
  • CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
    Self-Help Enterprises seeks an experienced and strategic CFO
  • CONSERVATION SPECIALIST - LAND PROTECTION FOCUS
    View full job description and how to apply at
  • RIVER EDUCATOR & GUIDE
    River Educator & Guide River Educator & Guide (Trip Leader) Non-exempt, Seasonal Position: Full-time OR part-time (early April through October; may be flexible with start/end...
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...
  • FOOD SYSTEMS ENVIRONMENTAL FELLOWSHIP
    If you were to design a sustainable society from the ground up, it would look nothing like the contemporary United States. But what would it...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) is seeking an Executive Director who will lead RiGHT toward a future of continued high conservation impact, organizational...
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Help protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, & unique quality of life. Work hard, meet good people, make the world a better place!...
  • NEW BOOK:
    True Wildlife Tales From Boy to Man. Finding my voice to save wildlife in the Apache spirit. 365+ vivid colorful pictures. Buy on Amazon/John Wachholz
  • CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
    with Rural Community Assistance Corporation. Apply here: https://www.marcumllp.com/executive-search/chief-operations-officer-rcac
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...