25 Apr 2011, 9:54pm
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Battle over wilderness land in Malheur County continues

By Larry Meyer, Argus Observer, April 21, 2023 [here]

VALE — Wilderness areas continue to be a contentious issue in many areas of the West particularly in regions that have large amounts of federal land designated as Wilderness Study Areas, as is the case in Malheur County.

Ranchers and others are trying to remove the Wilderness Study Area designation from land so it can be opened up to a number of different uses. The Oregon Natural Desert Association, on the other hand, is pushing to have those WSAs designated as wilderness. That will take an act of Congress, but ONDA is requesting the Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council to organize a collaborative effort for wilderness designations, and that will be council’s agenda when it meets next week in Lakeview.

The SEORAC is a 15-member representative citizen council that gives input and advice to the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service on planning and management of public land within the BLM’s Lakeview, Vale and Burns districts.

To pre-empt any action by the Advisory Council, Malheur County Court signed a letter in opposition to any wilderness areas, and local ranchers were encouraging other organizations and people to sign similar letters to be presented at the council’s meeting April 28 and 29. …

The County Court’s letter said, “Wilderness designations in the county will cause irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources to an unmanaged landscape, which is contrary to our customs and culture.”

The court said identifying wilderness characteristics is based on arbitrary decisions made without regard for the limitations wilderness designations place on local economies.

“Wilderness designation obscure the benefits of our past investments in land management activities that continue to protect and maintain healthy, productive landscapes,” the court said in its letter. “We disagree with the proposal by ONDA to block up large areas as wilderness landscapes.” … [more]

Forestry Groups Express Continued Concern Over Spotted Owl Plan

PRNewswire, April 21, 2023 [here]

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the opening of a 30-day public comment period limited to a technical appendix to the Northern Spotted Owl Draft Revised Recovery Plan released last fall. Forest landowners and mill owners expressed disappointment at the Service’s failure to release other aspects of the current draft plan and skepticism about the time allowed. Further public review is sorely needed in light of the chorus of criticism raised by Members of Congress, the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the forest products industry, environmental groups and scientific peer reviewers.

The agency received nearly 12,000 public comments on the initial draft late last year. Many of those comments noted that controversial recommendations included in the previous draft lacked adequate transparency and scientific rigor. Following similar criticisms from federal land management agencies, the Service indicated that it was working to address these concerns. It is unclear if the public will get an opportunity to see how the Service has responded to these serious shortcomings.

“We know the Service has made changes to key provisions of the Draft Revised Recovery Plan in response to concerns of federal land management agencies. We’ve raised the same concerns. We don’t understand why those revisions aren’t being released to the public now so we can comment before they are final. Why isn’t the Service willing to hear what the public has to say?” Tom Partin, President of the American Forest Resource Council, asked.

The initial draft ignored the most up to date science for how the owl can be saved, proposed drastic restrictions on private lands and rural economies while failing to aggressively address the increasing risks of wildfire and the barred owl. “We hope the Service has taken into account the impact of the more dominant barred owl on the spotted owl’s survival and that aggressive control measures are taken in the revised plan. Science is showing that setting aside even more habitat, including private lands, will do little to help the spotted owl, and may make matters worse by making even more room for the barred owl to flourish,” said Mark Doumit, Executive Director of the Washington Forest Protection Association.

The Service should utilize the latest scientific modeling as a basis for policy changes. “It is important that we allow the scientists to complete their process before making management recommendations that will affect thousands of people in rural communities, already struggling from the Great Recession. Hopefully, we will see that reflected in the new information in Appendix C,” said Ray Wilkeson, President of the Oregon Forest Industries Council.

California Forestry Association President David Bischel stated, “Ironically, some of the most robust populations of Northern Spotted Owls occupy sustainably managed private forests of Northern California. The first draft of the recovery plan completely ignored the positive benefits provided by pro-active forest management. We hope the Service recognizes the proactive measures that private and state landowners have already made towards owl conservation, and not add more regulatory gridlock.”

“We urge the agency to engage the public fully, learn from and respond to the concerns raised in the public comments, and pursue an approach that recognizes and rewards good forest stewardship and the many well paying jobs it supports throughout the region,” said David Tenny, President and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners. … [more]

Commentary: ESA – The fleecing of a nation

By Carl Sampson, Blue Mountain Eagle, April 13, 2023 [here]

… As taxpayers we complain incessantly about the amount of money the federal government spends. These days 42 cents of every dollar is borrowed, making the waste of taxpayer dollars even more of an outrage.

But we have on the books laws that cost an inordinate amount of money, don’t really do anything and mainly benefit the legal community.

We speak, of course, of the Endangered Species Act and a basketful of related environmental laws. Only a handful of species have recovered using the law. Some of those “recoveries” involved little more than moving the animals from one place to another.

Such was the case with gray wolves. Listed as “endangered” in the Lower 48, biologists moved 62 of them from Canada, where upward of 30,000 wolves live. Then the wolves were let loose and everyone was banned from shooting them. Now, through the wonders of procreation, wolves are spreading across the West.

One can only assume a government agency will spend a pile of money studying how that “recovery” happened. A pile has already been spent in courts as environmental groups — on the federal government’s dime — have wrangled with federal managers to “protect” the alleged “endangered” wolves, which now number more than 1,200.

The ESA is also used to stop any number of activities, from construction projects to ranching to cutting weeds.

A recent example of that last activity took place in California, home of the Los Padres National Forest. Managers there had planned to clear roadside brush and weeds along 750 miles of forest roads.

An environmental group sued to stop the work, arguing that cutting the weeds threaten protected and sensitive species.

Mind you, all of the work would take place within 10 feet of the road.

To protect this “sensitive” environment, the judge in the case issued an injunction and ordered to the U.S. Forest Service to hire a full-time biologist. According to the simplyhired.com website, a federal biologist makes about $56,000 a year, plus benefits. That’s about $26.92 an hour.

Assuming the weed-cutting takes place on both sides of the roads — a total of 1,500 miles — is done at 1 mph, that’s 1,500 hours. Multiply that by the hourly pay rate, and that’s a little over $40,000.

That’s $40,000 for nothing. And don’t forget the federal government will have to pay the legal fees of the environmental group’s lawyers and those who represented the Forest Service. … [more]

Note: Carl Sampson is the managing editor of the Salem-based Capital Press.

See also: Roadside Fuels Management Shut Down on the Los Padres NF [here]

26 Mar 2011, 11:06am
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Northwest Energy plans $300M Oregon biomass investment

By Erik Siemers, Sustainable Business Oregon, March 25, 2023 [here]

A Bellevue, Washington, energy developer is proposing a pair of $150 million biomass plants it believes will generate a combined $1 billion in economic impact for Oregon.

Northwest Energy Systems Co. LLC hopes the two 40-megawatt plants — to be located near Klamath Falls in southern Oregon and Warm Springs in central Oregon — will be operating by the end of 2013.

Each would provide enough electricity to power 35,000 homes.

Once running, the plants would mark the culmination of a year-long effort by Northwest Energy Systems’ parent company, Jones Holding Co., to develop a biomass facility in forest-rich Oregon.

Jones Holding Co. dates back to the 1930s, when it owned several sawmill operations across Washington.

After nearly four decades in the wood products industry, the company branched into the world of independent power producers in the early 1980s, leveraging its ties to the logging industry to develop co-generation electricity plants tied to sawmills.

Over a 28-year period, the company built five power plants: biomass operations in Wyoming and Michigan, natural gas-fired plants in Washington and California and a coal-diesel plant built for the federal government in Alaska, said Bruce Thompson, a senior vice president with the company. … [more]

26 Mar 2011, 11:02am
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County commission stands strong against federal land grab

By Dianne Stallings, Ruidoso News. March 24, 2023 [here]

Following the lead of Lincoln County Commissioner Mark Doth, the commission approved a resolution opposing relinquishing the power to create a national wilderness area to the Secretary of the Interior.

Doth called the DOI Secretarial Order 3310, a land grab, and contended Monday that only by action of the U.S. Congress with the signature of the President can a wilderness area be declared.

“At the end of January, the governor of Utah met with Secretary Ken Salazar to try to come to come compromise,” Doth said. “They left with irreconcilable differences and it continues to be a problem, fighting the government. The Wilderness Alliance is intent on closing all public land to public access.

“It makes my blood boil.”

Over the past 15 years, the environmental group continues to file lawsuits to close roads, to ban logging and to prohibit energy development, he said, citing an article about the Otero Mesa in a statewide newspaper that morning and the group’s effort to fight any development there.

“I agree totally,” said Commission Chairman Eileen Sedillo. “I’ll jump on the soapbox, too.”

The resolution was approved unanimously. … [more]

26 Mar 2011, 10:36am
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Sen. Murkowski Questions Need for Federal Government to Acquire More Land

The State Column, March 10, 2023 [here]

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today questioned Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on why the Interior Department (DOI) was asking for a substantial increase in taxpayer funding to buy land now in private hands when it was cutting money, for the second year in a row, for long-overdue land conveyances in Alaska.

“In order to fund these large increases for land acquisition DOI has cut other programs,” Murkowski said. “The Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska conveyance program was slashed by over 50 percent. The state’s 50th anniversary was two years ago and the state, native corporations and others have yet to receive the patents to lands they were entitled to under the Statehood Act.

“Instead of accelerating the transfer of lands, BLM is slamming on the brakes In fact, at this rate, all the lands selected in Alaska won’t be transferred until after 2075,” Murkowski added.

Murkowski made her comments during Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on DOI’s 2012 budget proposal.

The DOI budget request includes a 100-percent increase ? to $675 million ? to the Land and nd Water Conservation Fund, with more than half, $360 million, dedicated to buying more land for the federal government.

In order to avoid increasing DOI’s budget for 2012 but still fund new land acquisitions, Salazar made a number of cuts to existing programs.

“Other cuts are also troubling. Every one of the department’s construction accounts has been cut significantly at a time when there is a multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog at the Park Service, BLM and Fish and Wildlife Service,” Murkowski said. “It begs the question of how you can place such a high priority on acquiring more land when you have to cut the very funds you need to take care of your current infrastructure in order to do it.”

25 Mar 2011, 3:03pm
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Nevada lawmakers seek to sever ties with TRPA

By Jeff DeLong, Reno Gazette-Journal, March 22, 2023 [here]

Characterizing the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency as a heavy-handed bureaucracy treading on property rights and overly influenced by California, Nevada lawmakers are seeking to pull the state from the organization.

Legislators from Southern Nevada, Washoe County and Douglas County are backing legislation to withdraw Nevada from the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact, ratified by Congress in 1969 as a needed step to protect an endangered Lake Tahoe.

Supporters insist a pullout is needed to allow long-stifled property improvements on Tahoe’s Nevada side. Detractors say the bill stands to endanger a carefully engineered approach to regulating land use while protecting the environment.

SB 271 — the seventh attempt to distance Nevada from TRPA — is needed to rescue Tahoe’s Nevada side from a stifling regulatory environment largely controlled by California interests, said the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas.

“The pendulum has swung so far it won’t swing back,” Lee said. “We no longer want to be told by California what we can and cannot do. The thrust of this is Nevada just wants to control Nevada.”

The Legislation would create a new Nevada-based planning body, with members appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, state forester, administrator of state lands, and Washoe, Douglas and Carson City counties. … [more]

25 Mar 2011, 3:00pm
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Lawsuit challenges new wilderness rules

By Jeremiah Stettler, Salt Lake Tribune, Mar 23 2011 [here]

With the U.S. Department of Interior considering new wilderness protections for potentially millions of acres of public lands, a coalition of Utah counties filed a lawsuit this week accusing federal officials of overreaching their authority and threatening the state’s economy.

The Utah Association of Counties and Uintah County are suing the Department of Interior to reverse its new wildland policy, which could restrict oil and gas development and off-road recreation on up to six million acres.

The lawsuit claims the policy violates a 2003 agreement between then-Gov. Mike Leavitt and former Interior Secretary Gale Norton to abandon wilderness consideration for vast tracts of Utah lands.

The controversy over wilderness policy is no more personal than in Uintah County, where Commissioner Mike McKee warns that the economic repercussions could be far-reaching. He testified before Congress that the policy threatens at least $15 billion worth of investment in his community’s oil and gas industry over the next decade.

“These decisions very much affect the economy of our county, of the Uinta Basin and of the state of Utah,” he said Wednesday. “These companies are fully willing and prepared to make major investments into eastern Utah if they can have a measure of predictability.”

Although the Department of Interior declined to comment on the dispute because it involves litigation, a Bureau of Land Management spokesman defended the changes as a more “balanced” approach to public lands stewardship. … [more]

Kootenai National Forest drops appeal of decision blocking logging in grizzly habitat

By Tristan Scott, the Missoulian, March 22, 2023 [here]

Kalispell, Montana - Forest Service officials have withdrawn their appeal of a federal judge’s decision halting several logging projects that threatened grizzly bear habitat in the Kootenai National Forest.

U.S. District Judge Don Molloy blocked the projects last June in a lawsuit between the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Kootenai Forest Supervisor Paul Bradford. In his 64-page ruling, Molloy said the Forest Service was unable to show it had properly assessed how the projects would affect the dwindling population of grizzly bears.

Bradford appealed the ruling to the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals, but attorneys with the Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted a request to dismiss the appeal Friday. The appellate court granted the request Monday.

Speaking by telephone from his office in Helena, Michael Garrity, executive director of Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said he was pleased with the decision and hopes it will encourage more thorough environmental assessments of future logging proposals and their effect on wildlife species.

“We feel that Judge Molloy’s ruling was very strong and we hope the Forest Service complies with his order and designs timber sales in the future that don’t violate the Endangered Species Act,” Garrity said.

Kootenai Forest spokesman Willie Sykes said the office had no information about the motion or the appellate court’s ruling, and did not return calls for comment after being provided with the documents.

If they had been allowed to proceed, the three projects would have affected about 4,000 acres in the mountains of Lincoln County. Besides creating 14 miles of new roads, the logging proposals would have reopened and reconstructed approximately 10 additional miles of closed roads.

“The Forest Service knows most grizzly bears are killed because of encounters with humans near roads,” Garrity said in a news release announcing the decision. “But the agency nonetheless wanted to build 14 miles of new logging roads for these projects. Besides costing taxpayers millions of dollars, these roads would have definitely threatened extinction of the isolated Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear population.”

The Little Beaver project would have allowed commercial thinning on 780 acres, along with construction of 5.5 miles of new permanent roads and 2 miles of temporary road. The Grizzly project involved timber harvest, prescribed burning and thinning, and habitat restoration on 2,360 acres. The Miller West Fisher project would have permitted timber harvest on 2,506 acres, with road storage and removal and other restoration work on 3,148 acres. … [more]

25 Mar 2011, 2:40pm
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Oil Riches Let North Dakota’s Governor Dalrymple Bank Surplus in Hard Time

By Bill Heltzel, Bloomberg.com, March 21, 2023 [here]

Rancher Michael Brew can survey North Dakota’s oil boom from the saddle. As he checks on his cattle, he sees seven drill rigs, a dozen gas flares and convoys of trucks rumbling down the road.

“I used to ride out on my horse and not see anyone for hours,” Brew, 52, said at Nana Lil’s cafe in Killdeer. Now gas flares tint the night sky orange and obscure the stars. The staccato of air brakes and the slamming of drill pipes pierce the breeze. “There is no peace and quiet anymore.”

Oil has created a $1 billion budget surplus and presented Governor Jack Dalrymple with a question: How to keep up with the boom while keeping the money flowing. Only North Dakota and Montana have reported surpluses from 2009 to 2011, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. As states face what may be more than $112 billion in deficits in the coming fiscal year, Dalrymple’s dilemma is one many governors might envy.

“The number one priority is to keep up with the infrastructure,” Dalrymple said in a February interview in Bismarck. “That growth cannot continue if we do not keep up with all the impacts that happen on communities out there.”

Dalrymple, a 62-year-old Republican, was elected lieutenant governor in 2000 and moved up after his predecessor, John Hoeven, was elected to the U.S. Senate in November.

Amber Waves

North Dakota and its 672,591 residents grow more wheat, barley, sunflowers, canola and flaxseed than any other state, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wheat futures increased 47 percent last year, to $7.94 per bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.

And then there’s the oil. The state sits atop the Bakken shale formation, one of the country’s largest reserves and the reason the state has vaulted to the nation’s fourth-largest producer from ninth in six years.

The spot price of light sweet crude oil like that in the Bakken rose 221.78 percent from December 22, 2008, through March 18, 2011.

Gross state product increased 75 percent, to $31.9 billion from 2000 to 2009, compared with 42 percent nationally. Unemployment in January was 3.8 percent, the country’s lowest, as the national rate was 9 percent. … [more]

Gas pipeline company blasted for its role in purchasing Idaho grazing leases

By Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter, March 24, 2023 [here]

To say that El Paso Western Pipeline Group President Jim Cleary was met with an unfriendly welcome at the Idaho Capitol Wednesday might be an understatement.

Cleary, whose entity is building the Ruby gas pipeline that will run underground from southwestern Wyoming to northwestern Nevada, stood before lawmakers Wednesday to discuss his company’s agreement with the Western Watersheds Project (WWP), an environmental group characterized as “domestic terrorists” by Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale.

The agreement — a settlement of a lawsuit WWP filed over the construction project — forces El Paso to pay $15 million through a 10-year time span to the Sagebrush Habitat Conservation Fund. The fund is intended to be used solely conservation efforts, but several lawmakers on the House and Senate resource committees inferred that the money and the partnership are being used to force ranchers out of business by buying up federal grazing permits.

The intriguing thing is that the project doesn’t even touch Idaho soil; it runs through northern Utah. The settlement allows for the fund to conduct conservation activities in the five southern Idaho counties because they are adjacent to counties where pipeline construction is taking place.

It is also interesting that — as noted by Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby — El Paso is already required to restore the disturbed lands once construction is completed. Wood questioned the need for the conservation fund if mitigation is already taking place in affected areas. Cleary said that WWP was concerned with animals and plants that inhabit the area might be adversely affected by construction and that the fund will help soften the blow to native species.

The fund is prohibited from using litigation — or threats of it — to engage in conservation efforts, but lawmakers are skeptical there isn’t some tag-teaming going on between WWP and the fund over grazing permits. …

Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakely, was one of the most outspoken critics of Leary, El Paso, and the $15 million fund. Bedke said that the by working out a deal with WWP, El Paso sacrificed the interests of Idaho. “You got yours and we didn’t get ours here,” said Bedke. “You had the ability to cut your deal, and the rest of us were left to twist here.”

Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, echoed Bedke’s sentiments. “That land is completely out of production now,” said Siddoway.

Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett, R-Challis, didn’t mince words when it came her turn to speak. “You dodged a bullet, but you funded the firing squad that’s coming for the rest of us,” said Barrett, saying that El Paso got everything it wanted from the deal. … [more]

25 Mar 2011, 1:36pm
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Ancient trash heaps gave rise to Everglades tree islands

American Geophysical Union Release No. 11–12, 21 March 2023 [here]

SANTA FE, N.M.—Garbage mounds left by prehistoric humans might have driven the formation of many of the Florida Everglades’ tree islands, distinctive havens of exceptional ecological richness in the sprawling marsh that are today threatened by human development.

Tree islands are patches of relatively high and dry ground that dot the marshes of the Everglades. Typically a meter (3.3 feet) or so high, many of them are elevated enough to allow trees to grow. They provide a nesting site for alligators and a refuge for birds, panthers, and other wildlife.

Scientists have thought for many years that the so-called fixed tree islands (a larger type of tree island frequently found in the Everglades’ main channel, Shark River Slough) developed on protrusions from the rocky layer of a mineral called carbonate that sits beneath the marsh. Now, new research indicates that the real trigger for island development might have been middens, or trash piles left behind from human settlements that date to about 5,000 years ago.

These middens, a mixture of bones, food discards, charcoal, and human artifacts (such as clay pots and shell tools), would have provided an elevated area, drier than the surrounding marsh, allowing trees and other vegetation to grow. Bones also leaked phosphorus, a nutrient for plants that is otherwise scarce in the Everglades. … [more]

*****

The Human Trigger for Development of Tree Islands in the Florida Everglades

by G. L. Chmura1, 2; M. Graf1, 2
1. Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
2. Global Environmental and Climate Change Centre, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.

Mar 22, 2023 Presentation, American Geophysical Union’s Chapman Conference on Climates, Past Landscapes, and Civilizations, Sante Fe NM.

Abstract

During the last glacial, the vegetation of South Florida was arid steppe distributed across a karst landscape. Over the Holocene rising sea levels caused the water table to rise, eventually creating a landscape with saturated soils and a “river of grass”, i.e., marsh vegetation dominated by sawgrass. The modern Everglades also contains elevated areas that serve as islands of terrestrial vegetation, many high enough to support trees. The slightly higher elevation (1-2 m) and vegetation diversity of the islands provides refuge for wildlife avoiding seasonal high waters and the islands are highly valued as hotspots of diversity within the Everglades system.

Sediment coring for paleoecological studies indicated that peats of the islands were younger and shallower than those of the surrounding marsh, supporting a widely held belief that the tree islands formed over localized high points in the underlying carbonate bedrock. More recent discovery of a hard mineral layer perched within the peat soils of many islands reveals that depth to bedrock, and age of islands has been misinterpreted, calling for a new theory of tree island development. The ~40-75 cm thick layer, a “pedogenic calcrete” is composed of reprecipitated calcium carbonates and calcium phosphates interspersed with bone, charcoal, and human artefacts. Below is a midden with cultural artefacts that date to the origin of the Everglades wetland system about 4,000 years ago.

It is likely that early human occupation on the landscape was responsible for development of the Everglades large tree islands as well as island stability and productivity. The elevated surfaces of middens provided refuge for terrestrial vegetation as surrounding soil became saturated. Bones in the middens provided additional bulk as well as phosphorous for plant growth in the otherwise phosphorous-depleted wetland. These better soil conditions allowed establishment of trees which were key to development of the perched mineral layer. Trees are known to play a major role in pedogenic calcrete formation, particularly in areas with pronounced wet and dry seasons, such as the Everglades. Transpiration by the trees draws carbonate-rich water through the soil and carbonates and phosphates excluded from the roots are deposited within the rooting zone. Our research indicates that this process probably began with establishment of trees on the island and is an ongoing process.

Fire is a regular phenomenon in the Everglades, resulting in combustion of peat soils. Because it does not burn, the calcrete layer protects the underlying soil, maintaining elevation and allowing regrowth of terrestrial vegetation. Ironically, it is human disturbance that now threatens these valuable ecosystems. Urban development has displaced much of the Everglades and water control systems threaten the remainder. The calcrete layer is subject to dissolution under extended flooding and if not maintained by tree growth. This is likely occurring in South Florida’s water control districts today, where high water levels are maintained and tree islands are disappearing.

Buttermilk Creek TX People 15kya

Evidence for Neanderthal in America

by Xeno, Xenophilia, March 25, 2023 [here]

The long-held theory of how humans first populated the Americas may have been well and truly broken.

Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of stone tools that predate the technology widely assumed to have been carried by the first settlers.

The discoveries in Texas are seen as compelling evidence that the so-called Clovis culture does not represent America’s original immigrants.

Details of the 15,500-year-old finds are reported in Science magazine.

A number of digs across the Americas in recent decades had already hinted that the “Clovis first” model was in serious trouble.

But the huge collection of well-dated tools excavated from a creek bed 60km (40 miles) northwest of Austin mean the theory is now dead, argue the Science authors.

“This is almost like a baseball bat to the side of the head of the archaeological community to wake up and say, ‘hey, there are pre-Clovis people here, that we have to stop quibbling and we need to develop a new model for peopling of the Americas’,” Michael Waters, a Texas A&M University anthropologist, told reporters. … [more]

*****

Texas Site Confirms Pre-Clovis Settlement of the Americas

by Heather Pringle, Science 25 March 2023 Vol. 331 no. 6024 p. 1512 [here]

Summary: Near the headwaters of a small creek, a group of hunter-gatherers made their camp and began to craft stone tools, leaving thousands of sharp stone flakes and chips discarded on the ground. At one time or another, similar scenes have played out almost the world over. But the remarkable thing about this one, as detailed on page 1599 of this week’s issue of Science, is that it happened near Buttermilk Creek, Texas-about 15,500 years ago. That’s long before the Clovis hunters, once thought to be the very first people in America, had appeared. The ancient tools also offer a first glimpse into how the distinctive fluted Clovis points may have developed over millennia. Although some previous claims of pre-Clovis artifacts have been controversial, other archaeologists say the new research is highly convincing.

*****

Michael R. Waters, Steven L. Forman, Thomas A. Jennings, Lee C. Nordt, Steven G. Driese, Joshua M. Feinberg, Joshua L. Keene, Jessi Halligan, Anna Lindquist, James Pierson, Charles T. Hallmark, Michael B. Collins, and James E. Wiederhold (2011) The Buttermilk Creek Complex and the Origins of Clovis at the Debra L. Friedkin Site, Texas. Science 25 March 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6024 pp. 1599-1603 DOI: 10.1126/science.1201855

Abstract [here]

Compelling archaeological evidence of an occupation older than Clovis (~12.8 to 13.1 thousand years ago) in North America is present at only a few sites, and the stone tool assemblages from these sites are small and varied. The Debra L. Friedkin site, Texas, contains an assemblage of 15,528 artifacts that define the Buttermilk Creek Complex, which stratigraphically underlies a Clovis assemblage and dates between ~13.2 and 15.5 thousand years ago. The Buttermilk Creek Complex confirms the emerging view that people occupied the Americas before Clovis and provides a large artifact assemblage to explore Clovis origins.

17 Feb 2011, 12:36am
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Secretary Salazar joins Canadian Ambassador Doer in Celebrating Agreement to Protect Transboundary Flathead River Basin

DOI News Release, February 15, 2023 [here]

Washington, D.C. - Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today joined Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer in a ceremony at the Woodrow Wilson Center celebrating an agreement to protect the transboundary Flathead River Basin. The agreement reached today by British Columbia and The Nature Conservancy-U.S. and The Nature Conservancy Canada will protect the Canadian portion of the Flathead River Basin from oil, gas and minerals development.

“Our conservation challenges don’t stop at the border so it is important that our nations join together to protect our world’s natural resources and treasures, including the Flathead River Basin with its pristine lakes and alpine scenery,” said Secretary Salazar. “Completion of the agreement to protect the Basin from mining and energy development is not only an historic event, but also a wonderful celebration for the many people who are dedicated to coordinated, sustainable protection of this important watershed.”

To support the international conservation efforts, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell announced that he will introduce legislation to permanently ban oil, gas and minerals development in the Canadian Flathead basin.

Also joining the celebration were Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana; Mark Tercek, President and CEO, The Nature Conservancy; and Assistant Secretary of the Interior Rhea Suh, whom Salazar credited with leading Interior’s “productive dialogue for months with our counterparts regarding cooperation on shared conservation priorities.” … [more]

See also: Debt for Nature — Financing American Endangered Species on Foreign Soil [here]

16 Feb 2011, 10:42am
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Appeals court grants standing for challenges to impaired water listing

By David Smith, Siskiyou Daily News, Feb 11, 2023 [here]

California — The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has handed down a ruling that declares that landowners whose property values have been adversely impacted by the listing of impaired waters under the Clean Water Act can have standing to challenge those listings in court.

The ruling, filed Feb. 3, concerns the case (Barnum Timber Company v. United States Environmental Protection Agency), in which Barnum challenged the EPA’s listing of Redwood Creek as impaired.

According to the decision, the district court that originally heard the case denied Barnum’s suit, declaring that the company had lacked standing to bring the case against the EPA. …

By disagreeing with the lower court, the appeals court reversed the ruling and found that Barnum does have standing to challenge the EPA’s listing and ordered that the suit be heard by the district court. … [more]

 
  
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