May 26, 2017
EPA Could Soon OK Controversial Alaskan Mine
By Andrew O'Reilly/Fox News
Photo by friendsofbristolbay/flickr
A controversial mining project in Alaska's Bristol Bay soon could receive a green light after the Environmental Protection Agency reached a settlement agreement with a small Canadian company that has been seeking to apply for permission to build what could be the world's largest gold and copper mine.

The settlement between the agency and a unit of Northern Dynasty Minerals restarts the permitting process to construct the so-called Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay watershed of southern Alaska - a project that was put on ice following an Obama-era decision by the EPA that blocked the company from applying for a permit.

"We are committed to due process and the rule of law, and regulations that are 'regular,'" EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement.  "We understand how much the community cares about this issue, with passionate advocates on all sides.  The agreement will not guarantee or prejudge a particular outcome, but will provide Pebble a fair process for their permit application and help steer EPA away from costly and time-consuming litigation."

The project has been stuck in legal limbo since the EPA decision to block the mine, even before the company had submitted its permit applications. The EPA ruling came on the heels of a study that concluded that large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed posed significant risk to salmon and adversely could affect Alaska Natives in the region whose culture is built around salmon.
Colorado River Needs Help from Anglers, Hunters
By Melinda Kassen/TRCP
Photo by Jeffrey Beall/flickr
No offense to your trout stream back home, but only the Colorado holds the title for being "America's hardest working river." If you live in the Southwest, chances are the water you drink came from the Colorado River Basin. Want a salad in January? Well, 70 percent of the river's water goes to irrigate millions of acres of cropland, where virtually all of the nation's winter lettuce is grown. Turbines on the river's dams power large swaths of California as well as Arizona's cities and farms.

Along with its major tributaries-iconic waterways in their own right, including the Green, Yampa, Roaring Fork, and Gunnison-the Colorado is part of a massive river network that encompasses some of the most legendary fish and wildlife landscapes, winding through seven states and ten of America's national parks, including the Grand Canyon. In Wyoming, Colorado, and along its Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona tributaries, sportsmen and women can hunt mule deer, elk, and pronghorns and fish for native cutthroats and other trout.

The river supports an estimated $1.4 trillion in annual spending and supports 16 million jobs. Water and nearby recreation accounts for $27 billion a year. It is, quite literally, the lifeblood of the region, but many of the hunting and fishing opportunities the river supports could dry up if sportsmen and women don't take action.
No People, but 38 Million Pieces of Trash on Pacific Island
By Amy B Wang/The Washington Post
Photo by Hillary Daniels/flickr
Henderson Island, an uninhabited atoll in the South Pacific, is so isolated that it's one of the few places in the world "whose ecology has been practically untouched by a human presence."

That is, at least, according to its description by a United Nations group, which named Henderson Island a  UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988.

"The inhospitable nature of the island, together with its remoteness and inaccessibility, has so far effectively ensured its conservation," UNESCO stated. "As a near-pristine island ecosystem, it is of immense value for science."

In reality, the remote island has become the final resting place for an estimated 38 million pieces of garbage, according to researchers who arrived on its shores in 2015 and were stunned to find the atoll's once-undisturbed white-sand beaches littered with trash. Nearly all of it was made of plastic.

Researchers believe that about 3,500 pieces of trash are continuing to wash up there daily, and that Henderson Island now has the highest density of plastic waste in the world, according to a report published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 
Wisconsin Warbler Fallout is a Dazzling Spring Spectacle
By Paul A. Smith/Journal Sentinel
Photo by brian.abeling/flickr
Bill Volkert of Dundee, Wis., says up front he's not a meteorologist.

But like so many people whose lives are closely connected to the natural world, the expert birder keeps a close eye on the weather, especially in spring.

He recently noticed the conditions were ripe for a highly anticipated event in the birding world: a fallout.

"We had some birds coming through, but the north and northeast winds had not favored a big movement," said Volkert, 64. "Things changed on Tuesday."

Volkert woke before dawn that day and ventured outside his home in the Kettle Moraine region of Fond du Lac County.

A light rain was falling and radar showed a line of storms just to the north. Conditions soon cleared in Dundee, but a front with heavy rain lingered from Green Bay to Fond du Lac and into western Wisconsin.

Birds moving north before sunrise ran into the storm front and dropped out of the sky seeking shelter, Volkert said.
How Theodore Roosevelt Changed Conservation Forever
By Kat Eschner/
Photo by NPGpics/flickr
President Theodore Roosevelt is remembered for his oration.

Lines  like   "speak softly and carry a big stick," "the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic," and "the government is us; we are the government, you and I," have deservedly been remembered. But Roosevelt was also a conservationist, and he often put his skills to use in support of that cause.

At the Conference of Governors, held at the White House 109 years ago this month,  state leaders met with Roosevelt and conservation authorities from across the country to discuss the question of what should be done with America's natural resources. It might sound everyday now, but then it was something new. Roosevelt opened the conference with a speech titled "Conservation as a National Duty."
"Nature-the sublime, the harsh, and the beautiful-offers something that the street or gated community or computer game cannot."