25 May 2008, 10:24pm
Latest Climate News
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Researchers find significant increasing trend in arctic sea ice

Harry L. Stern, Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen (2003) Trends and variability of sea ice in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, 1953-2001. Polar Research Volume 22 Issue 1 Page 11-18, June 2003.

Abstract [here]

The extent and duration of sea ice in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait has a major impact on the timing and strength of the marine production along West Greenland. The advance and retreat of the sea ice follows a predictable pattern, with maximum extent typically in March. We examine the area of sea ice in March in three overlapping study regions centred on Disko Bay on the west coast of Greenland. Sea ice concentration estimates derived from satellite passive microwave data are available for the years 1979-2001. We extend the record back in time by digitizing ice charts from the Danish Meteorological Institute, 1953-1981. There is reasonable agreement between the chart data and the satellite data during the three years of overlap: 1979-1981.

We find a significant increasing trend in sea ice for the 49-year period (1953-2001) for the study regions that extend into Davis Strait and Baffin Bay. The cyclical nature of the wintertime ice area is also evident, with a period of about 8 to 9 years. Correlation of the winter sea ice concentration with the winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index shows moderately high values in Baffin Bay. The correlation of ice concentration with the previous winter’s NAO is high in Davis Strait and suggests that next winter’s ice conditions can be predicted to some extent by this winter’s NAO index.

Thanks and a tip of the virtual hat to the Rogue Pundit [here] for pointing out this scientific report.

25 May 2008, 10:18pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Polar Bear listing increases Inuit mistrust

Kivalliq Inuit Association predicts that scientists will be proven wrong once again

by JOHN THOMPSON, Nunatsiaq News, May 23, 2023 [here]

It’s easy to romanticize the majestic polar bear when you don’t have to worry about the enormous animals marauding down the streets of your community in August and September, as Lootie Toomasie from Qikiqtarjuaq often does.

For Toomasie, bears are no symbol of climate change. They’re a threat to his family. He and other hunters chase the bears off, using ATVs and boats. Still, “there’s too many bears for us,” he says. “We’re no longer safe.”

One benefit the bears bring is business, in the form of wealthy U.S. hunters who are willing to pay as much as $30,000 to bag one of the beasts. But that business may now be crippled, many worry, following the U.S. decision May 14 to list polar bears as “threatened” under its Endangered Species Act.

Most sport hunters who visit Nunavut hail from the United States. But now U.S. hunters aren’t allowed to bring their polar bear trophies home, as one consequence of the “threatened” designation. The polar bear sport hunt draws about $2.9 million into Nunavut each year, the department of the environment estimates.

The importation ban won’t prevent bears from being shot. Nunavut will continue to manage its quota system for hunting bears the same as always, by estimating the total bear population, calculating a sustainable number of bears to take, and then dividing the total quota up among local hunters, who do with these tags as they see fit. This year about 400 bears are to be shot.

Nor will the decision to list bears as threatened likely do much to stop climate change, which is melting sea ice [not true, see next FFW News post] that bears depend upon while they hunt seals.

Dirk Kempthorne, U.S. secretary of the interior, has vowed that the threatened designation will have no effect on oil and gas exploration in Alaska, or bring about any stricter rules in the U.S. to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But the decision has succeeded enormously in infuriating Inuit. The business of outfitting American hunters brought good money into otherwise poor communities, such as Qikiqtarjuaq, where there are few jobs.

And Inuit see the decision as part of a yet another reason to distrust studies put together by wildlife researchers, which often clash with their own views. The Kivalliq Inuit Association [here] said in a press release they believe the U.S. decision is no different from past instances where scientists warned that animals were in decline, only to be later proven wrong by Inuit who said otherwise.

So it went with the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd 30 years ago, and with bowhead whales as of March this year, when the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans acknowledged they had dramatically undercounted the whale population. The number of polar bears is believed to have soared over the past 30 years, from a total population of about 12,000 in the late 1960s to about 24,000 today. Two-thirds of those bears live in Canada.

Some bears are faring better than others. Of the world’s 19 subpopulations of polar bears, four are believed to be in decline. One of the four is Baffin Bay, an area that includes Qikiqtarjuaq, where scientists say the bear population has plunged [allegedly dropped slightly] from about 2,100 in 1997 to an estimated 1,500 bears today. But hunters like Toomasie say they’ve never seen so many bears before.

Scientists counter that more bear sightings doesn’t equal more bears. They say in recent years the floe edge has moved several kilometres closer to shore on the northeastern edge of Baffin Island, bringing bears and hunters closer together [not true, see next FFW News post]. … [more]

Thanks and a tip of the virtual hat to the Rogue Pundit [here] for pointing out this news report.

24 May 2008, 10:57pm
Latest Fire News
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Viejas, Ewiiaapaayp Tribes Team with Forest Service to Create Firebreaks in San Diego’s East County


The U.S. Forest Service has teamed up with the Viejas and Ewiiaapaayp (WEE-ah-pie) Indian tribes to clear land and create firebreaks east of the San Diego County community of Alpine.

At a news conference today announcing the effort, large masticators were used to chop up dense brush that has built up over decades, creating a potentially dangerous fuel source for future wildfires. Approximately 97 acres will be cleared south of I-8 off of Alpine Boulevard. Different portions of the land are owned by the Ewiiaapaayp tribe, the federal government and private property owners.

This marks the first time that land in southern California has been cleared for firebreaks under the Tribal Fire Protection Act of 2004. The Act encourages the federal government and Native American tribes to coordinate efforts to create firebreaks and conduct other land management practices on federal lands adjacent to tribally-owned lands.

Viejas Tribal Councilmember Alan Barrett, who testified before Congress in support of the legislation, stated: “This continues a positive inter-governmental relationship our tribes have established with the U.S. Forest Service and local governments, as well as area property owners. Past experience has taught us that wildfires know no boundaries, so it’s important that we all work together for the greater good of our communities.”
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23 May 2008, 8:22pm
Latest Forest News
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Forest Service and BLM to Share Medford Interagency Office

MEDFORD, OR, May 22, 2023 –The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Medford District and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest’s Supervisor’s Office will share an office, the Medford Interagency Office, as of Tuesday, June 3, 2008. Both agencies have a word for it called “collocation”.

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor’s Office is moving from 333 West 8th Street, downtown Medford to the newly remodeled office at 3040 Biddle Road, which is near the airport. …

At the same time the BLM Medford District employees will be moving back into their newly designed office. Telephone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses for all BLM employees will stay the same. Since December, BLM employees have been working out of temporary trailers, or at the Grants Pass Interagency Office. All of this was done to accommodate and complete the major renovations to the Medford Interagency Office.

The Forest Service office in downtown Medford will be physically closed to accommodate the move starting on Thursday, May 29. …

“The Medford Interagency Office will house both agencies and will provide a great service to the people of Southern Oregon,” said Tim Reuwsaat, BLM Medford District Manager. The two agencies are combining into one visitor front office which provides one-stop shopping for the public and also reduces organizational layers. The collocation of the agencies at Medford Interagency Office will facilitate a streamlining of business processes in some cases and provide a more coordinated relationship between the BLM and Forest Service.

“This is an exciting move for the Forest Service and BLM and we have had a lot of community support for sharing an office,” said Reuwsaat.

The remodeled Medford Interagency Office will house about 200 total BLM and 75 total Forest Service employees. Employees of the BLM Medford District and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest with similar jobs will be sitting next to each other and occupy both floors of the Medford Interagency Office. “Cooperation is more than just a word to us, it is a way of doing business and an atmosphere that employees have fostered,” said Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor Scott Conroy. “This move fits into a concept of ‘Service First’ which can provide both the Forest Service and BLM a variety of opportunities to improve our public service and to more effectively manage the forests and public lands,” said Scott Conroy, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor. … [more]

23 May 2008, 3:25pm
Latest Forest News
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Ninth Circuit Sierra ruling works against saving habitat from catastrophic fire

from The JURIST — Legal News and Research [here]

Mike Dubrasich [Exec Director, Western Institute for Study of the Environment]: “After eight years of a planning exercise called the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment (SNFPA) - one that involved thousands of people, hundreds of meetings, and tens of thousands of documents, studies, reviews, rehashes, monitoring, and re-monitoring - a Federal judge last week enjoined fire-preventative thinnings created under SNFPA guidance with the judgment that the planning was not “rigorous” enough to satisfy.

That suit was brought by the Wilderness Society, and in effect destroyed eight years of effort by USFS employees and an engaged public to comply with the law.

The Wilderness Society had every opportunity to participate in the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan planning exercise. There was an open process with public hearings and public involvement every step of the way. Indeed, the Wilderness Society was invited and even begged to participate, to become part of the process, to meet with local residents, and to resolve differences in an amicable and collaborative fashion.

Instead the Wilderness Society chose to shun that process and to sue to kill it, in concert with the Sierra Club, the Center For Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign (who recently changed their name to Sierra Forest Legacy in a marketing/branding move). … [more]

23 May 2008, 2:44pm
Latest Fire News
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Two prescribed fires set at just the wrong time

By Tom Beal, ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 5/23/08 [here]

Two fires, one burning out of control on the slopes of Mount Graham in Eastern Arizona and another on grasslands in southwest New Mexico, were deliberately set by Coronado National Forest fire managers Tuesday despite “red flag” warnings posted for the following day.

Red-flag conditions — a combination of high temperatures, wind, low humidity and dry fuels — made the Frye Mesa and Whitmire fires hard to stop once they escaped the perimeters of the U.S. Forest Service’s prescribed burn.

The flames forced the Forest Service to close the main road up Mount Graham Thursday, and the popular camping and fishing area might stay closed for the Memorial Day weekend. By Thursday night the Frye Mesa fire had burned about 3,100 acres.

When the Forest Service set fire Tuesday to the brush on Frye Mesa, in the foothills of Mount Graham, the National Weather Service had predicted high winds that afternoon and a red-flag warning for severe fire weather the following day.

“We strongly discouraged them from starting it,” said Bill Turner, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Tucson office. “We had red-flag criteria everywhere.”

The weather service’s Storm Prediction Center had labeled one small area of the United States as “extremely critical” for fire outlook on Wednesday. Frye Mesa and an area on the New Mexico border, where the Forest Service lit the Whitmire Fire, were both in that area. …

[Retired fire manager Larry] Humphrey said the Forest Service will be paying a high price for removal of sweet resin bush on Frye Mesa.

“You could’ve hired a blind man with a hoe and a backpack to go out and grub it out of there for a lot less money than this fire’s gonna cost,” he said. … [more]

Great tits cope well with warming

By Richard Black, BBC News website [here]

At least one of Britain’s birds appears to be coping well as climate change alters the availability of a key food.

Researchers found that great tits are laying eggs earlier in the spring than they used to, keeping step with the earlier emergence of caterpillars.

Writing in the journal Science, they point out that the same birds in the Netherlands have not managed to adjust.

Understanding why some species in some places are affected more than others by climatic shifts is vital, they say.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) commented that other species are likely to fare much worse than great tits as temperatures rise. … [more]

22 May 2008, 12:49am
Latest Fire News
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Staffing for fires worries senator

by Jason Pesick, Staff Writer, Redlands Daily Facts

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is concerned the U.S. Forest Service has too many firefighter vacancies heading into the fire season.

A letter to Feinstein from Mark Rey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary who oversees the Forest Service, shows that there are 363 vacancies in Southern California out of 4,432 positions.

Feinstein, D-Calif., said she is concerned that many of the vacancies are among midlevel firefighters.

“These are key fire leadership positions. Without them, some fire engines might sit idle just when they’re needed most. This is unacceptable. We simply cannot afford anything less than a fully staffed firefighting corps in California,” she said in a statement.

Casey Judd, business manager for the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, said that Rey, in his letter, backed off from an April 1 commitment to Feinstein that all positions would be staffed in time for the start of the state’s fire season.

“I want to reiterate that we feel … we have the resources to meet our firefighting mission this year,” said Jason Kirchner, a spokesman for the Forest Service’s California region. … [more]

22 May 2008, 12:11am
Latest Fire News Latest Forest News
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Forest Service is seeking input on restoring Angora burn area

by Adam Jensen, Tahoe Daily Tribune, May 21, 2023 [here]

Amid banging hammers and the hum of construction equipment, Diana Freeman noticed a short, bright-green growth sticking up near some rocks and a small, slightly faded U.S. flag in her front yard.

“My tulips are coming back,” Freeman exclaimed gleefully. “I just noticed those.”

In April, Freeman and her husband, Stan, were among the first people who lost homes in last summer’s Angora fire to move back into the area.

While much of the forest surrounding the home on Pyramid Court still is an anemic patchwork of black, brown and green, Stan Freeman is persistently upbeat about the recovery of the neighborhoods burned by the Angora fire.

“It’s going to be phenomenal in a few years, and I hope everyone knows that,” Stan Freeman said.

Like many of the homes in the Angora burn area, U.S. Forest Service land runs behind the Freemans’ backyard.

How the thousands of acres of federal land burned by the Angora fire will experience a resurgence of life similar to the Freeman’s front yard is the topic of an open house this week.

“We want to hear from the community how they want the area affected by the Angora fire to look in the next 10 to 50 years,” U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Cheva Heck said in a statement. “We will be looking at options for replanting, reducing fuels, reconstructing stream channels, restoring meadow and streambank vegetation, and providing access for recreation through our roads and trails.”

Angora Fire Restoration Open House
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Lake Tahoe Community College Boardroom, 1 College Drive, South Lake Tahoe
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21 May 2008, 1:43am
Latest Climate News
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31,000 scientists reject ‘global warming’ agenda

By Bob Unruh, WorldNetDaily

More than 31,000 scientists across the U.S. – including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s in fields such as atmospheric science, climatology, Earth science, environment and dozens of other specialties – have signed a petition rejecting “global warming,” the assumption that the human production of greenhouse gases is damaging Earth’s climate.

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate,” the petition states. “Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

The Petition Project actually was launched nearly 10 years ago, when the first few thousand signatures were assembled. Then, between 1999 and 2007, the list of signatures grew gradually without any special effort or campaign. …

The late Professor Frederick Seitz, the past president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and winner of the National Medal of Science, wrote in a letter promoting the petition, “The United States is very close to adopting an international agreement that would ration the use of energy and of technologies that depend upon coal, oil, and natural gas and some other organic compounds.”

“This treaty is, in our opinion, based upon flawed ideas. Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful,” he wrote. … [more]

20 May 2008, 8:07pm
Latest Fire News Latest Forest News
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Eugene Groups Files Another Suit to Halt Use of Fire Retardant

By Jeff DeLong, Reno Gazette-Journal, May 19, 2023

It’s a scene repeated time and again during fire season: As flames crackle and smoke billows into the sky, an airplane dips low and releases a plume of bright orange.

Chemical fire retardant, or slurry, is one of the more important tools for fighting fire from the air.

It’s also the focus of an ongoing legal tussle between the U.S. Forest Service and a watchdog group that describes the substance as an unnecessary poison.

“It’s toxic,” said Andy Stahl, executive director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. “Don’t drop it into your neighborhood stream or on top of your threatened plant or animal species.”

Last month, the group alleged in a federal lawsuit that the use of slurry violates the Endangered Species Act and other laws.

It’s the second lawsuit over retardant filed by the Eugene, Ore.-based group. In the first case, a federal judge came close to finding Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey in contempt regarding delays on an environmental review of fire retardant.

Stahl’s group contends Forest Service policy runs counter to research from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal scientists that retardant poses serious risk to threatened and endangered species, particularly fish. [more]

20 May 2008, 8:06pm
Latest Forest News
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Rey: Better management lowers costs of firefighting

BY PAMELA J. PODGER of the Missoulian

In a broad-ranging address Saturday to the Montana Logging Association stretching from the farm bill to the next president, U.S. Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey said better forestry management is helping slow the escalating costs of suppressing wildfires.

He said firefighting accounted for about 14 percent of the U.S. Forest Service budget in the 1970s, and accelerated to about 50 percent today.

“We’re not going to stop fighting fires,” he said. “But the rate of the increase is slowing because we’re fighting fires that were treated with forest-reduction measures.”

He said the fuels reduction, thinning and other actions will continue to help as Congress also seeks alternatives for funding the costs of fighting fires in the nation and ways to alleviate the pressure on the U.S. Forest Service. … [more]

20 May 2008, 7:52pm
Latest Climate News
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Randal Edwards Endangers Public Retirement Funds in Oregon

Oregon Treasurer Flopping Like a Caged Seal in the Heat — Taking Public Retirement System With Him

$Billions Put At Risk By Heat-Stroked Politico — Wave Goodbye to Your PERS Pension

WASHINGTON (Reuters) [here] - Investors managing more than $2.3 trillion urged the government on Tuesday to enact strict laws to cut greenhouse gas emissions, saying lax regulation could hurt the competitiveness of U.S. companies.

The group of some 50 investors, including the world’s biggest listed hedge fund firm, Man Group Plc and influential venture capitalist John Doerr, want U.S. lawmakers to pass laws to reduce climate-warming emissions by at least 60 to 90 percent by 2050.

Legislation that promotes new and existing clean technologies on the scale needed to dramatically cut down pollution is needed, they said.

The same group of investors are also pushing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to force publicly-traded companies to disclose climate-related risks along with other factors that affect their business.

“Establishing a strong national climate policy for emissions reductions will help investors manage the enormous risks and opportunities posed by global warming,” Anne Stausboll, Calpers’ interim chief investment officer, said in a statement.

Calpers is the largest U.S. pension fund with about $250 billion in assets under management.

Investors said the lack of strong federal laws may hurt U.S. competitiveness because it is preventing companies from making large-scale capital investments in clean energy such as solar and wind power and other low-carbon technologies and practices.

Randall Edwards, Oregon’s treasurer, said Europe and individual U.S. states are tackling climate change and it was time for federal lawmakers to step up to the task.

“It’s a huge job opportunity,” said Edwards, who managed about $80 billion in assets as of March 31. “It will be a shifting economy. No economy is static.”

The European Union is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and increase the share of wind, solar, hydro, wave power and biofuels in their energy mix by the same date.

The investors’ letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, comes ahead of Senate debate on legislation aimed at limiting the carbon emissions that spur climate change.

The bill, America’s Climate Security Act of 2007, also includes a provision that would require the SEC to craft a rule requiring companies to disclose material risks relating to climate change.

Treasurers and controllers for California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as the California State Teachers’ Retirement System are among those that signed the letter.

17 May 2008, 12:30am
Latest Wildlife News
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Sea lions likely died from the heat

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The deaths of six sea lions found in traps on the Columbia River earlier this month were likely caused by the heat, and not by gunshots as officials first suspected, the National Marine Fisheries Service said.

Oregon and Washington officials had been trapping the animals as part of a federally approved removal process because they feast on salmon at the Bonneville Dam.

Federal and state officials initially said the sea lions had been shot, but they did an about-face after necropsies by state and federal experts found no evidence of bullet wounds.

The fisheries service said Wednesday the results of necropsies on all six animals were consistent with death from heat stroke. Studies of tissue samples taken after the May 4 deaths are expected in about 10 days and might reveal more.

The Humane Society of the United States questioned whether the 60-degree weather would kill the animals. Marine mammal experts, however, said the blubbery animals are used to swimming in cold water and can rapidly overheat even when air temperatures are comfortable to humans.

Panic as the sea lions realized they were trapped in the cages could also have caused them to exert themselves, further elevating their body temperatures, Steven Brown, veterinarian for the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, told The Oregonian newspaper. At least one of the sea lions had lacerations believed to be inflicted by another animal.

17 May 2008, 12:27am
Latest Climate News
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Open Letter to Environmentalists from Weather Channel founder

by John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel.

Open Letter To Environmentalists [here]

Thank you for your dedication to protecting our environment. Clean air and clean water are essential to preserving life on planet Earth. Protecting all species and natural lands and forests are admirable priorities. Recycling and a green lifestyle are wonderful. Making the environment the most important thing in your life is a good thing, not a problem. I support you.

But we do have a problem. You have vigorously embraced the Global Warming predictions of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and are using the warning of uncontrollable warming and a resulting environmental calamity to campaign for elimination of fossil fuels. Your environmentally conscious friends in politics and in the media have united with you to create a barrage of news reports, documentaries, TV feature reports, movies, books, concerts and protest events to build support for your goals. The war against fossil fuels has become a massive scare campaign that is giving children nightmares.

Here’s what’s wrong with that: the science is not valid. There is no Global Warming underway and the science on which the computer projections of weather chaos are based is wrong.  Dead wrong.
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