Hike on the crest of the Gallatin Range looking down on the Porcupine drainage. Photo George Wuerthner
Many conservation groups are heralding the recently released Final Custer Gallatin National Forest Plan as a “win” for the environment. At least in my initial review, I am less sanguine and enthusiastic about the outcome.
The CGNF proposes 140,000 acres of new wilderness across the entire forest (keep in mind that only Congress can designate wilderness). But recent mapping by the Gallatin Yellowstone Wilderness Alliance has determined there are more than 1.1 million roadless acres on the forest that could, in theory, qualify for designation as wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act.
Yet, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) breathlessly reported they had “exciting news” to share. They celebrated the CGNF recommendation for 140,000 acres of new wilderness spread across the three million-acre forest due to their “hard work” as the Gallatin Forest Partnership (GFP) members. The GFP successfully fought to keep a portion of the Gallatin Range in the Buffalo Horn and Porcupine drainages and the West Pine Creek areas from being recommended for wilderness. Way to go, GYC.
Likewise, Wild Montana (aka Montana Wilderness Association) declared they were “thrilled” by the Forest Plan recommendations.
Gallatin Range. Photo George Wuerthner
The CGNF plan recommends 92,000 plus acres out of a possible 270,000 plus roadless areas in the Gallatin Range, stretching south from Bozeman to Yellowstone Park.
The Gallatin Range has been targeted for protection for more than a century as one of the most critical wildlife areas in the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Buffalo Horn drainage, Gallatin Range, recommended as “Backcountry” instead of Wilderness. Photo George Wuerthner
With the support of GYC, Montana Wild, The Wilderness Society, Winter Wildlands, and other so-called “wilderness advocacy” groups, the CGNF establishes a 26,496-acre backcountry area in the southwestern Buffalo Horn Porcupine Hyalite WSA and 22,632 acres of a similar backcountry area in West Pine drainage of the Gallatin Range.
Both areas were part of the 151,000 acres protected in 1977 by Senate 393 Buffalo Horn Porcupine Hyalite Wilderness Study Area legislation. They are critical low elevation lands that are poorly represented in most protected wilderness areas. The CGNF plan, with the approval of these “green” groups, only recommends 78,000 acres out of the 151,000 acres Buffalo Horn-Porcupine-Hyalite WSA for the wilderness. This is a “win”?
South Cottonwood drainage, Gallatin Range. Photo George Wuerthner
Another 13,763 acres in the South Cottonwood drainages are also recommended for Backcountry designation. The South Cottonwood area was the center of a significant conservation fight in the 1990s. The site was proposed for logging, but local conservationists successfully fought for protection with the understanding that someday, it too would be designated wilderness.
Unlike wilderness designation, which has Congressional protection, Backcountry Areas are purely an administrative designation. In other words, the Forest Service can change the status on a whim.
For example, the Record of Decision for the Final CGNF plan says Backcountry Area designation in the Gallatin Range will permit logging for “restoration” and fuels Treatment as well as existing mechanical recreation access by snowmobiles, mountain bikes, and dirt bikes.
Mountain biker in Buffalo Horn drainage. According to S.393, the FS is supposed to manage the Buffalo Horn Porcupine Hyalite WSA to protect wilderness values. And only activities that existed in 1977 (there were no mountain bikes) are permitted. Photo George Wuerthner
The S. 393 legislation says, “the wilderness study areas designated by this Act shall, until Congress determines otherwise, be administered by the Secretary of Agriculture to maintain their presently existing wilderness character and potential for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Dirt bikes in the Buffalo Horn drainage of the Gallatin Range. Typically motorized use is not permitted in wilderness or proposed wilderness. Photo George Wuerthner
The wording “shall” is essential. It means the Forest Service must preserve the wilderness character and potential for future wilderness designation. But unfortunately, the Forest Service has not abided by the law. Instead, it has encouraged uses like mountain biking, snowmobiling, dirt biking, etc.—all of which are not permitted in the designated wilderness–to occur in the WSA.
I am more forgiving of the CGNF itself since it is under extensive political pressure to minimize additional wilderness on the Forest. However, instead of holding the Forest Service feet to the fire, GYC, Wild Montana, The Wilderness Society, Winter Wildlands, and others all fought against wilderness protection for some of these areas.
One of the problems with the CGNF final plan is the creation of “backcountry areas” on lands that clearly should be recommended for wilderness. For example, the ecologically critical Buffalo Horn Porcupine drainages are among essential lands for west slope cutthroat trout, grizzly, elk, wolf, moose, and bighorn sheep in the entire northern region of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Numerous scientific studies have documented the ecological value of the Gallatin Range. Photo George Wuerthner
Indeed, a 2002 study (Noss et al. 2002 Multicriteria Assessment of the Irreplaceability and Vulnerability of Sites in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem) that colleagues and I did on biological hot spots of the ecosystem identified the Upper Gallatin drainage as one of the most ecologically significant areas in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Similarly, biologist Lance Craighead completed a biological assessment of the Gallatin Range and repeatedly noted the ecological importance of the Buffalo Horn Porcupine drainages.
Hyalite Canyon is one of five recreation areas promoted by the final CGNF plan. Photo George Wuerthner
The Final Plan also designates five recreation areas in the Gallatin Range and around West Yellowstone. The 36,000 plus acre Hyalite Canyon, 36,500 plus Storm Castle, 16,500 area Gallatin River, 71,000 Hebgen Winter, and 13,000 Hebgen Lake Shore. In other words, approximately 156,500 acres are recommended for recreation in the Gallatin Range and nearby areas, far more than the total acres of new wilderness on the entire forest.
A small amount of wilderness is recommended in the Madison Range, including 13,000 plus areas in Cowboy’s Heaven adjacent to the Spanish Peaks of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness and another 4,000 or so acres on the southern end of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness.
The rugged Crazy Mountains have more than 130,000 acres that could be designated as wilderness, but the FS only recommends less than 10,000 acres. Photo George Wuerthner
The plan recommends a small 9,619 acres of wilderness in the southern Crazy Mountains and a 30,642-acre Backcountry Area out of a potential 130,000 acre or so roadless acres, which could be designated as wilderness.
The Punchbowl area of the Pryor Mountains. Photo George Wuerthner
Likewise, the plan skimps on wilderness for the Pryor Mountains, one of Montana’s most unique mountain ranges, rising from desert to alpine and home to 40% of the plant species found in Montana. The Final CGNF plan recommends 10,662 acres of new wilderness in Bear Canyon 8,168 acres of recommended wilderness for Lost Water Canyon. The Punchbowl and Big Prior Plateau WSAs were not recommended for wilderness. A problematic feature is the construction of a new mountain bike trail that will bisect the Pryor Mountain proposed wilderness, making future wilderness designation problematic.
The Lionhead area is an important connection between Yellowstone and the Centennial Range to the west. Photo George Wuerthner
The Lionhead area, recommended initially as wilderness in the earlier 1987 Forest Plan, was downgraded to Backcountry. And a tiny backcountry area for the Blacktail area in the Bridger Range is part of the Forest Plan.
Deer Creek roadless area southeast of Big Timber, Montana, one of many larger roadless areas that did not get FS wilderness recommendation. Photo George Wuerthner
Important and significant other proposed wilderness were left out of the plan including the biologically important low elevation Deer Creek area near Big Timber, and the Poker Jim roadless areas on the Ashland Ranger District.
Clearcuts in the Gallatin Range. Photo George Wuerthner
Under the plan, about 560,000 acres or 18 percent of the forest is considered “suitable” for timber production, with another 603,000 acres or an additional 20 percent suitable for timber cutting for “fuel reduction” or “wildlife purposes.”
So while these groups crow about how wonderful the final Forest Plan is, they ignore how much of the forest can still be logged. The CGNF is not the nation’s woodbox. Logging here has numerous ecological impacts, including loss of carbon storage, the spread of weeds, disturbance of wildlife, sedimentation from logging roads, loss of biomass, and so forth, none of which any green groups ever acknowledge.
The FWS says the final CGNF plan may affect and is likely to affect grizzly bears. Photo George Wuerthner
The Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion on the Final Forest Plan found that the proposed management may affect and are likely to adversely affect the grizzly bear and lynx, both species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Not a word about this opinion in the glowing approval of the plan by the Big Greens.
I’m typically an optimistic person and even somewhat pragmatic (though some of my critics might suggest otherwise). So I tend to see the glass as half full rather than in the negative as half empty. But this forest plan doesn’t even pretend to half fill a glass. Instead, there are just a few sips of water at the bottom.
In my view, overall, the forest plan fails to recognize and adequately protect the fundamental values of the forest.
The crest of the Gallatin Range. Photo George Wuerthner
The CGNF is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the few functioning temperate ecosystems in the world. It is the headwaters for major river systems of the West, including the Mississippi-Missouri, Snake-Columbia, and Green-Colorado. And lest we forget, it is home to numerous wildlife species that are rare or endangered elsewhere, from genetically pure bison to various subspecies of cutthroat trout to an isolated grizzly bear population. And the CGNF and other public lands surrounding Yellowstone National Park are part of the best wildlands south of Canada and Alaska.
The Three W’s include wildlife, watershed and wildlands. Photo George Wuerthner
In other words, the CGNF’s central values are the three W’s: watershed, wildlife, and wildlands, and these values were given short shrift in the forest plan.
Sourdough Creek, Gallatin Range, part of Bozeman’s water supply. Water is one of the three W’s that represent the most valuable aspects of the CGNF. Photo George Wuerthner
That is why it is baffling, even discouraging to me, for groups like GYC or Wild Montana to declare the plan a success.
For organizations like GYC etc., to declare their support for the CGNF plan as a “success” is like hiring a realtor to sell your home estimated to be worth $200,000, and the realtor declares how lucky you were because they managed to get you $20,000 for it. You would fire that realtor in a flash.
Crazy Mountains near Livingston, Montana. Photo George Wuerthner
When you consider that another 1.1 million acres could, in theory, be designated as wilderness on the CGNF, and would genuinely protect its international value, the CGNF final plan fails to live up to its obligation to protect the forest’s unique attributes.
The value of wilderness designation is that it legally recognizes restraint and humility. It is the best way in our legal system to protect lands from human arrogance—i.e., active resource management. Wilderness means “self-willed” lands or places where natural processes operate with minimum human interference.
Although the Forest recommendations are just that—recommendations since Congress has final authority to designate wilderness, it is still disappointing to see wilderness advocacy groups willing to declare the CGNF a “success.” I want to think the plan rises to Half Full status, but it leaves me thirsty.
The Continental Divide Trail in the Lionhead area. Photo George Wuerthner
Passage of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act could correct the deficiency of the CGNF plan, and we can hope that someday Congress and the American people will have the wisdom to enact this visionary legislation.
Canada lynx are one of the endangered species of concern in the Flathead National Forest plan.
A Missoula federal district judge will decide if the new Flathead National Forest plan must be changed to better protect endangered species, including grizzly bears, Canada lynx and bull trout.
On Thursday afternoon, Judge Donald Molloy heard limited arguments on whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service properly considered the effect of the new Flathead National Forest plan on the three threatened species and, if not, whether the Flathead National Forest needed to put its forest plan on hold while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service returned to the drawing board.
Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, representing the Swan View Coalition and Friends of the Wild Swan, argued that the new Flathead forest plan, published in 2018, changed how the forest would manage its roads and road culverts.
The result could make things worse for threatened species. And yet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to flag anything as wrong in its Biological Opinion of the plan. Wildlife advocates sued in 2019.
“If all you have to do to make a road not count against limits is pile debris over the first 50 feet, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to build roads than it is if you have to rehabilitate an entire roadway under Amendment 19,” Preso told Molloy. “(The Flathead National Forest has) about 70 miles of road construction and reconstruction planned for the first two years of this plan. Under the past 15 years of Amendment 19, they accomplished a little over 2 miles of road construction. So they’re at a pace of 20 times the amount of road building under Amendment 19.”
Under the previous forest plan with a 1995 amendment – Amendment 19 – a policy of 19% -19% -68% required the agency to ensure that 68% of each grizzly bear management unit was secure habitat, that is free of roads.
Research has shown that adding more roads increases the chance of human-bear conflict, which often results in dead bears. Plus bears avoid roads so they can’t use roaded habitat.
The roads in the remainder of each grizzly management unit can’t exist above certain densities, even if they were closed, because bears, especially females, avoid roads. To meet those standards, the agency had not just closed but reclaimed 730 miles of roads.
However, the new Flathead policy allows the agency to build more miles of roads while doing less with closed roads, because it’s done away with Amendment 19 restrictions so the agency doesn’t have to reclaim roads. A grizzly bear with a cub.
Preso said the Flathead Forest plan allows the agency to block off just the first 50 to 100 feet of a road to count it as “closed” and then remove it from the road-density statistics. However, surveys carried out by nonprofit groups have documented that vehicles still illegally use a percentage of the closed roads. Roads that aren’t fully reclaimed still have an effect on wildlife, so the agency should have to count them.
Finally, under Amendment 19, the agency was supposed to remove all culverts from beneath closed roads, because blocked or damaged culverts increase road erosion. The resulting sediment spilling into forest streams can damage bull trout spawning grounds and habitat.
U.S. Department of Justice attorney Frederick Turner argued that the new plan provides “as much if not more protection” for endangered species, even though the 19-19-68 standard is gone. The Flathead Forest would use a standard of “no net increase” in roads past what existed in 2011.
The Flathead National Forest chose the year 2011 because the grizzly bear population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem had grown at that point, so the agency argued that the roads that existed at that time must have been okay.
Preso argued that the bears had done okay because Amendment 19 was in effect so the agency was meeting higher standards to help the bear.
Turner also argued that the Amendment 19 requirement for culverts wasn’t needed because the new forest plan has a culvert-monitoring plan, which requires Forest Service employees to ensure all culverts on all roads are operating during a six-year cycle.
Turner said the US Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion was sufficient because the Endangered Species Act doesn’t require the service to do side-by-side comparisons of the protections in each plan. It just requires a determination of whether species are in jeopardy and the Service decided the new plan didn’t put species in jeopardy.
However, WildEarth Guardians attorney Marla Fox said the Biological Opinion failed to consider three issues.
Similar to the attempted delisting of the Yellowstone subpopulation, the agency failed to consider what the ramifications would be for bear populations outside the NCDE. Other populations have very low numbers and won’t survive without NCDE bears having the ability to migrate to other populations. The road building planned for some logging projects could limit or stop dispersal into the Cabinet-Yaak and down into the Bitterroot.
Second, Fox said, the 2011 road conditions are based on an assumption that the population was growing and didn’t consider the best science, even though they’re included in the NCDE grizzly bear conservation strategy.
Finally, the US Fish and Wildlife Service approved a certain level of grizzly bear deaths under the new plan but didn’t set a point where the decision needed to be reconsidered if the number of dead bears started increasing.
Molloy kept the attorneys on a tight schedule, limiting each side to 30 minutes, and often interrupted to ask questions. Notably, he asked both sides what they thought the remedy should be, but with the federal attorneys, he prefaced his question with “If the plaintiffs are right…” Bull Trout
The federal attorneys want Molloy to decide that the Flathead National Forest can keep its plan the way it is. But “if the plaintiffs are right,” Turner asked that Molloy send the Biological Opinion and Forest Plan back to the agencies for reconsideration but keep the new Forest Plan in effect.
The Flathead National Forest has six projects already approved with four under analysis so they want those to go ahead. Federal attorney John Tustin said some projects might not even include road building so they wouldn’t be affected either way.
Preso argued that two projects – the Mid-Swan and Frozen Moose projects – together plan to build 70 miles of road. So the wildlife groups want Molloy keep most of the new forest plan in place but put the road and culvert parts of the new forest plan on hold while the agencies reconsider the biological opinion.
Outside the courthouse, Preso said the Flathead National Forest has been moving forward as rapidly as possible with road building since the plan was published.
“They’ve never wrestled with the impact of that,” Preso said. “They pretended it wasn’t going to happen and told everyone that the conditions that existed during the last 20 years are going to continue. Well, we can see already they’re not going to continue.”
The federal attorneys argued it has to be all or nothing – rewrite the entire plan or keep the entire plan. Preso said previous court rulings have allowed for the invalidation of parts of policies and procedures. Molloy asked Preso why his ruling should limit only the parts of the Forest Plan the wildlife groups don’t like.
“I would say the part that’s lawful and poses no threat should stay and the part that’s unlawful and poses a clear threat should go,” Preso said.
WildEarth Guardians files Endangered Species Act petitions for climate-threatened desert plant 5 – 6 minutes
Washington, DC –WildEarth Guardians has submitted emergency petitions (here and here) to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to immediately provide federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for both the eastern and western species of Joshua tree, icons of California’s Mojave Desert.
Guardians submitted these petitions to list the Joshua tree on an emergency basis under the ESA, while simultaneously challenging the Service’s 2019 decision under the Trump administration to deny Joshua trees protected status as a “threatened” species in federal court—a listing decision that was prompted by a previous petition submitted by Guardians in 2015.
Guardians’ emergency petitions were submitted in advance of what is expected to be yet another severe fire season in Southern California. Last summer, the Mojave Desert reached a record-breaking 130 degrees while enormous wildfires like the Dome Fire also decimated thousands of acres of Joshua tree habitat, destroying an estimated 1.3 million Joshua trees.
Joshua trees have existed for over 2.5 million years, but multiple published, peer-reviewed climate models show that climate change will eliminate this beloved plant from the vast majority of its current range, including its namesake National Park, by century’s end without robust efforts to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and address threats from invasive grass-fueled wildfires.
“Over the past six years, more and more climate studies have come out validating the position raised by Guardians in its 2015 petition—that a significant amount of the Joshua tree’s current habitat will be rendered ‘climatically unsuitable’ within the next 30 to 70 years without human intervention and a government-driven change of course,” said Jennifer Schwartz, staff attorney at WildEarth Guardians. “Under the Trump administration, the Service irrationally dismissed the best available science. But we’re hopeful that either a court victory or these emergency petitions will force the agency under new leadership to do the right thing and grant Joshua trees the federal ESA protections they deserve.”
In addition to an abundance of new climate studies, the petitions point to a major change since the filing of the 2015 petition. In September 2020, the California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC) unanimous vote to grant western Joshua trees (the species found almost exclusively in California) candidate status under California’s version of the ESA, the California Endangered Species Act or (CESA). This decision was based, in part, on the best-available science confirming that increasingly frequent, higher intensity fires have resulted in significant, widespread mortality of Joshua trees and this trend is projected to continue into the future.
“The California Fish & Game Commission took a pivotal step in protecting western Joshua trees by granting them candidate status under the California Endangered Species Act, and now we need bold action by the Service to ensure permanent, federal protections for both species,” said Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians. “Guardians is optimistic that the Biden administration’s historic recognition of climate science and affirmative policy actions to fight against catastrophic climate change will carry over into protections for climate-vulnerable species like the Joshua tree.”
While the Endangered Species Act is America’s most effective law for protecting imperiled plants and wildlife in danger of extinction, the Trump administration promulgated a series of regulatory changes that seek to weaken protections for critically imperiled species, for instance by precluding their listing based on threats from climate change and limiting the designation of critical habitat. Guardians, and a coalition of conservation groups, are seeking to reverse these changes through multiplelawsuits and consistent pressure on the Biden administration.
“Guardians is committed to the steadfast defense of the ESA and the species that rely upon it for their very survival,” said Larris. “After the end of the worst administration for biodiversity conservation in history, we believe that, under the leadership of Secretary Deb Haaland, there is opportunity for the Service to create a viable future for the Joshua tree and countless other dwindling species.”
Since the ESA’s enactment, 99 percent of listed species have avoided extinction, and hundreds more have been set on a path to recovery. According to a recent United Nations report, over a million species are currently at risk of extinction. Researchers estimate that, if not for ESA protections, 227 species would have gone extinct by 2006.
From safety tips to packing advice, here’s everything you need to know about sleeping under the stars.
By Aryana Azari PUBLISHED July 31, 2020
Campers set up their tent at the base of the Cascade Mountains, in Oregon.Photograph by Chase Jarvis, Getty Images
Suddenly, camping is all the rage.
Just ask Ryan Fliss of The Dyrt, a popular camping trip planning website, who says that traffic to the site is up 400 percent from the summer of 2019. Kampgrounds of America (KOA) reportsthat 20 percent of its users are first-time campers. With many countries keeping their borders closed to Americans as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the United States, and social distancing remaining a priority, Americans yearning to get out of their homes for safe summer travels are discovering—or rediscovering—the joys of playing, eating, and sleeping in the outdoors.
If you’re new to camping—or usually prefer resort beds to sleeping bags—these tips will help ease you into close encounters with nature that will bring discovery, joy, and a sense of accomplishment. You might even see a shooting star.
Why it matters: Location—whether in a national park or recreation area—can make or break a camping trip. “As you add requirements, location gets more important. What I mean by that is if I have a family and a dog coming on the trip, they all need to be comfortable and safe,” says Fliss. Some campgrounds require reservations in advance, but plenty allow for walk-ins.
Think less popular: Most reservations for campsites in the National Park Service (NPS) are made through Recreation.gov. But with some national parks experiencing record-breaking tourism, think about giving a little love to lesser-visited spots. Lake Clark, North Cascades, and Great Basin all have low visitation numbers when compared to their popular neighbors—Denali, Mount Rainier, and Zion, respectively, though it is worth noting that even the most popular of national parks are experiencing a drop in numbers right now. Other NPS lands with campsites include national monuments, preserves, and recreation areas, among others. National forests, which are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, also offer spots to stay. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0
Tap images for captions
Use maps: When looking at a map of a big-name park online, zoom out and look around to find other places nearby. For example, near Great Smoky Mountains—which has consistently been the most visited national park, with a total of 12.5 million visitors in 2019—is Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Its views and spaces are almost identical, if a little less mountainous, but with only a fraction of the visitors. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0
Explore alternatives: To find state parks, turn to each state’s Department of Parks and Recreation website. ReserveAmerica is another great resource to find potential spots, while KOA can assist with private campsites.
Stay local: Consider exploring your own backyard. Hipcamp, an Airbnb-like website that helps people book camping stays, found that people using its site are traveling significantly closer to home than this time last year; it’s seeing around a 40 percent reduction in the distance people are traveling.
The basics: The right tent for you should take in two main considerations: sizing and season rating. Sizing is usually based on how many people a tent can sleep, and if comfort is the goal, bigger is always better. Season ratings indicate in what seasons the tent works best, and most are generally three-season tents, which means you can use them in the spring, summer, and fall. A four-season tent will cover the winter, with extra weather protection and heat retention. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0
A sleeping bag has the same considerations as a tent. Three-season bags are suitable for hot and cold temperatures and are identifiable by their temperature rating, which will display a range of 15 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Sleeping pads, which are just cushioned pads, can be used in conjunction with a sleeping bag to provide extra comfort and insulation, but can also be used on their own as a bed.
Friends put together a campsite in the countryside in Germany.
Mother and daughter make camp along a stream in Ibaraki, Japan.Photograph by Oliver Rossi, Getty Images (top) and Photograph by Ippei Naoi, Getty Images (bottom)
Small but essential: Don’t forget a flashlight or headlight, batteries, a lighter (for a campfire), a first-aid kit, bug repellent, sunscreen, and extra clothing.
Leave no trace: We want to leave places better than we found them, so it’s crucial to avoid littering and to take any trash out. You never know what the trash-bin situation is at the campsite, especially if you go the wild route, so bring your own trash bags.
The same principle applies to restroom needs. If there are no physical restroom locations, never go in small bodies of water and always make sure to deposit any human waste in a cathole 6 to 8 inches deep, about 200 feet away from water, campgrounds, and trails (cover the cathole when finished). Some retailers, ranging from your local discount store to REI offer travel-sized waste bags that you can use to go anywhere.
COVID-19 protection: “Follow the same rules about the distancing, the wearing of face coverings, etcetera, so that you are [safe],” says Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University and the founder and director of ICAP, a global health program. Even if you’re with people from your same household, bring masks, hand sanitizer, and antimicrobial wipes. Masks are imperative if you’re planning on going hiking on trails where you might come into contact with other people.
Budget: A camping trip can run the gamut from cheap to expensive, depending on the gear and where you’re planning on camping. Campsites that require reservations or fees can run as low as $5 a night but can also go well over $60. Gear in itself is an investment, but it doesn’t have to be. Companies like Outdoors Geek and Arrive Outdoorsoffer rentals on almost every kind of camping item, from tents to sleeping bags to cookware. “It makes it so much easier to know what gear you need, don’t need, like and don’t like when you’ve tried it first,” says Fliss. “And if you don’t enjoy yourself, you don’t have to buy gear.”
The basics: If you’re planning on making food on-site that requires a heat source, then you’ll need to decide whether you’re going to use a campfire or a campstove, and there are several things to keep in mind if going with the latter. Some areas have campfire restrictions or ban them entirely, while others have grills for public use, though you’ll have to bring your own fuel. As for cookware, pots, pans, plates, and utensils are other things that you might have to bring along depending on what you plan on eating. Bring what cookware you can from home and purchase recyclable versions of what you can’t.
No-fuss cooking: You don’t have to cook while camping if you don’t want to, and can just as easily bring sandwiches from home. Another option is to avoid grocery shopping altogether and purchase meal kits that are geared toward campers, like the ones from REI and Patagonia Provisions, with dishes such as red bean chili and green lentil soup.
Who to bring
Why it matters: With the current state of the pandemic, campers need to choose their companions wisely. “If it’s a unit that’s been together, like a family unit or a small unit of people [in the same household], I think that’s advisable,” says El-Sadr. “Using the same [health] principles we’ve used all along would still apply, but I think it would be easier to implement if you are outdoors in a camping context.”
Family time: As schools in the U.S. had to rapidly pivot to online learning, it meant that kids who normally had a large portion of their day free from screens now spent the majority of their day on them—for both school and leisure. Camping promotes electronics-free time in nature, and planning out some activities with them in advance will keep kids invested and interested in the experience.
Camping with friends: Camping with people who don’t live in the same household can still be done, but campers need to take more precautions. “I would wear a mask and try to stay six feet apart while you’re around a campfire and not be in a tent with somebody that you aren’t quarantining with,” says Colleen Hanrahan, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University and an editor at the university’s Novel Coronavirus Research Compendium, which curates and reviews all scientific evidence about the virus. “It’s not as bad as going to a yoga class with 20 people in the room and breathing heavily or running on the treadmill at the gym […] but I think that people should not lose sight of [camping] being risky or having some level of risk, even if it’s small.” https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0
Why it matters: “The highest level of risk [for the virus] is indoors, and being outdoors automatically eliminates that one piece of it,” says Hanrahan, but precautions still need to be taken. Campers should assess how popular a particular place is going to be, as well as the amount and type of exposure to other people they’ll have. Using the data available on the virus to see where cases are rising is crucial to making decisions on where toavoid and where to go.
Stay in touch: Whether or not you’re camping with other people, always let someone know where you’ll be and if you plan on doing any other outdoor activities while camping, such as hiking or swimming. Share your phone’s location with other people, which is a great way for loved ones to check in to see if you’re safe and sound. Always bring a portable battery, which will come in handy if anyone’s cell phone runs out of juice. However, cell phone signals are notoriously weaker the further into nature you go, which can be tricky if you’re using it to navigate. The Google Maps app has a feature that allows users to download maps to consult offline.
Keep your distance: Embrace the outdoors but give wildlife their space. Research a place ahead of time to see whether there are issues with dangerous insects or animal sightings.
Watch the flames: Fire hazards abound when it comes to using open flames in the outdoors. If you’re going somewhere that allows campfires, make sure to read up on fire safety beforehand. Never leave campfires unattended, always keep water nearby to put it out, and make sure it’s completely extinguished before going to sleep.
Aryana Azari is a journalist and photographer based in New York City. Find her on Instagram.
1 of 20 One-Horned Rhinos take shelter at the higher places at the flood-hit Kaziranga National Park in Nagaonon. A total of 96 animals have died in the Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat district of Assam due to floods, the state government informed. Image Credit: ANI
2 of 20 A a wild elephant and a calf cross a National Highway at the flood affected Kaziranga National Park. “So far, 96 animals have died in the park including eight rhinos, seven wild boars, two swamp deers, 74 hog deer and two porcupines,” park officials said. Image Credit: AFP
3 of 20 A Rhino sits along the roadside as he strayed out of the Kaziranga National Park. A report from the government of Assam stated that a total of 132 animals had been rescued from the Kaziranga National Park. The park is currently 85 per cent submerged under floodwaters. Image Credit: ANI
4 of 20 “Water level at Pasighar and Dibrugarh are below the prescribed danger level. The floodwater in Numaligarh, Dhansirimukh and Tezpur are still above danger level,” the report stated. Above: A forest guard on a boat takes away the carcass of a wild buffalo calf through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP
5 of 20 A herd of wild elephants takes shelter on highland inside the flooded Burapahar range of Kaziranga National Park. At least 79 people have died and nearly 3.6 million people have been affected in 30 districts of Assam due to floods caused by the monsoon rains and the rise in water levels of the Brahmaputra river, informed the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA). Image Credit: PTI
6 of 20 Water buffaloes stand in flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP
7 of 20 Tiger in search of safer place at the flood-affected area at Bagmari village near Kaziranga in Nagaon district. Image Credit: ANI
8 of 20 Deers wade through floodwaters in a submerged area of the Kaziranga National Park, in Kanchanjuri. Image Credit: ANI
9 of 20 A one-horned rhinoceros along with her baby stands in floodwater inside Kaziranga National Park, in Golaghat district. Image Credit: PTI
10 of 20 A female rhino calf about 1-year-old, who got separated from mother was rescued from Difaloo pathar, Sukani village by the Staffs of Eastern Range, Agoratoli, Kaziranga National Park. Image Credit: ANI
11 of 20 A wild water buffalo eats tree branches standing in flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP
12 of 20 A wild elephant moves towards the higher ground after the flood hits Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI
13 of 20 Wild deer cross the National Highway-37 in search for safer places at the flood-affected area of Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon District. Image Credit: ANI
14 of 20 A group of wild elephants cross the road to move towards the higher land, following the flooding in the low-lying areas of Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI
15 of 20 A forest employee cuts branches of a tree for rhinoceros as a forest guard keeps vigil near one horned rhinoceros taking shelter from floods on a highland at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP
16 of 20 A forest guard on a boat takes away the carcass of a wild buffalo calf through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Morigaon district. Image Credit: AP
17 of 20 A one horned rhinoceros and a calf wades through flood water at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP
18 of 20 A herd of wild elephants takes shelter on a higher place at flooded Kaziranga National Park, in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI
19 of 20 Forest guards patrol as one horned rhinoceros take shelter on a highland as flood water rises at the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora. Image Credit: AP
20 of 20 WTI official tries to feed a rhino who is taking shelter near NH 37 in the flood-affected area of Kaziranga National park at Kanchanjuri in Nagaon. Image Credit: ANI Remaining Time -50:21
We are living in difficult times. The global COVID-19 pandemic has alienated us from family, from friends and colleagues, and from the routines, experiences and adventures that make up our lives. For many of us, the pandemic has also limited our connections to nature, wildlife and the outdoors. As we learn to adapt, we can start to plan our reunion with the wild places that we miss and that are so essential to our health, especially now. As David Attenborough said, “In times of crisis the natural world is a source of joy and solace.”
I’m crazy about the National Forest System, all 193 million acres, including each of the 155 national forests, 19 national grasslands, and even the single national prairie. Having to choose my favorite national forest place for National Forest Week is nearly impossible because they are all so amazing! National forests are carbon and biodiversity strongholds, supporting over 450 species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including in my home state of Montana, like grizzly bears, Canada lynx and bull trout. Like millions of Americans, my family’s water originates in a national forest: In our case, it’s Gallatin National Forest outside of Bozeman. And like generations of Americans I have been recreating in national forests for almost my entire life. I have fond and drizzly memories of camping with my family among the giant trees of Olympic National (rain) Forest in Washington state.
So rather than having to choose among the ancient forests nestled between three volcanoes in the Gifford Pinchot, or the thrilling whitewater in Oregon’s Rogue River-Siskiyou, or the rugged Pasayten Wilderness and “ghost bears” of the Okanogan, I’ll offer this: When it is safe to do so, and with the utmost respect to others and the places and wildlife we all love, get out to your closest national forest, aim for the highest ridge, the oldest forest, the most riotous meadow of wildflowers or that sublime steam, and enjoy your public lands. The visit will do wonders for your soul during these hard times.
Deborah Lee Soltesz/USFS
To commemorate National Forest Week, a celebration of our national forests and grasslands, and to remind us of all the places we have missed and will now carefully take solace in, we pulled together the following stories from within Defenders after asking: What national forest have you missed most during the pandemic?
My favorite National Forest in the Southwest is Gila National Forest in southwest New Mexico. The national forest is 4,235 square miles and includes Gila Wilderness! Established in 1924 as the first designated wilderness by the federal government, Gila Wilderness covers 872 square miles. I love Gila National Forest because the skies are still dark at night, Mexican gray wolves roam freely and it is mostly silent in these wild lands.
Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming offers heart-stopping views of the Wind River Range (affectionately known as “the Winds”). This is my favorite national forest. I love backpacking through the lower-elevation forests and up into the alpine to feel surrounded by the granite peaks of the famous Cirque of the Towers in the Bridger Wilderness Area. When there is little chance of rain, I don’t unpack the tent but sleep under the planets and stars. During a 4th of July trip one year, my party got caught in a blizzard—a reminder to be prepared for anything in the high mountains. Bridger-Teton is home to bears, bighorn sheep, Bonneville cutthroat trout and a diversity of other wildlife. It is important to acknowledge that Indigenous Peoples lived and passed through this place and many still call surrounding areas home including the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and Northern Arapahoe Tribe.
Carson National Forest is the gem of northern New Mexico. It includes one of the country’s newest Wilderness Areas –Columbine-Hondo – as well as Cruces Basin, Wheeler Peak, Latir Peak and part of Pecos Wilderness. It’s home imperiled species like the Mexican spotted owl and New Mexico’s state fish – the Rio Grande cutthroat trout. It also makes up a significant portion of one of Defenders’ focal landscapes – the Upper Rio Grande region. Ecologically, this area remains largely intact and provides important connectivity for a variety of species and holds significant potential to restore black-footed ferrets, bison, Mexican gray wolves, lynx and other iconic species.
Rio Grande National Forest holds a special place in my heart. Situated in south-central Colorado just north of the New Mexico-Colorado line, Rio Grande is the connective tissue that allows wildlife to move north-south along the spine of the continent. The high jagged peaks of La Garitas and Sangre de Cristos mountain ranges surround and protect the lowlands of San Luis Valley where wetlands annually host sandhill cranes and other migratory waterfowl. Streams flow down from the high snowfields providing refuge to remaining Rio Grande cutthroat trout, a species facing an uncertain future with climate change and dwindling intact habitat. The entire region is magical to me with crazy rock formations, a rich Native American and Mexican heritage, and broad expanses of roadless forests.
Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont encompasses over 400,000 acres in central and southwestern Vermont and is the only national forest in Vermont. Even though it’s called Green Mountain National Forest, my favorite season there is fall, when the mountains and hills and valleys turn gorgeous reds, oranges and yellows. The Appalachian Trail, Long Trail and Robert Frost National Recreation Trail weave their ways through the mountains, passing diverse forests, streams, ponds and wetlands, and some stunning views. Moose, coyote, lynx, fox, bald eagle, wood turtle, black bear, Jefferson salamander, wild turkey, Indiana bat, beaver and many more species rely on this remarkable forest in Vermont.
Pamela Flick/Defenders of Wildlife
Pamela Flick/Defenders of Wildlife
Pamela Flick/Defenders of Wildlife
During these times of stay-at-home orders, I find myself daydreaming of warm summer days spent swimming in the emerald green depths of my beloved Merced River and being awash in starry night skies of Sierra National Forest backcountry. Each year, I lead an all-women backpacking trip and Sierra National Forest is one of our favorite destinations. We often spend a night at Huntington Lake and take a scenic drive to soak in Mono Hot Springs, perched on the banks of the upper South Fork of the San Joaquin River. Then we head into the Kaiser or Dinkey Lakes wilderness to enjoy splendid wildflower studded meadows, massive old- growth red fir forests and sparkling (and frigid!) high elevation lakes. The Sierra National Forest is home to endangered Pacific fishers as well as other rare species like California spotted owls, Yosemite toads, northern goshawks, American martens and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs.
My favorite National Forest in Oregon is Mt. Hood National Forest. Nestled in the Cascades Range and home to the stunning Mt. Hood after which it is named, it is also the closest national forest to the largest urban area in Oregon (Portland metro area). In just an hour’s drive is a magical escape from city life— whether its hiking to see stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge or of Mt. Hood and its meadows, mountain biking, bird watching, swimming or fishing in its many lakes, winter skiing or swimming in its countless waterfalls, Mt. Hood National Forest has something for every nature lover. Locally referred to as Hood, the forest is also critical habitat for species like the northern spotted owl, black bear, cougar, elk, river otter, chinook and Coho salmon, steelhead, marten, Sierra Nevada red fox, and as of 2018, Hood has its own resident pack of wolves!
Protect Yourself and Your Community
Safety is a priority. Before heading outdoors, forest and grassland visitors are encouraged to:
Plan ahead and know before you go. Check local conditions before heading to your favorite outdoor destination. Visitors should be aware of state, county and local health restrictions that may prohibit some activities or prohibit visiting some areas on public lands. Visitors are encouraged to check with their local forest and grassland office before heading outdoors.
Follow guidance and orders. Take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and county, city and state public health authorities.
Practice social distancing. Avoid crowding at trailheads, scenic overlooks, parking lots and other areas. If a recreation spot is crowded, look for a less crowded spot. Maintain at least a 6-ft. physical distance from others. Enjoy a scenic drive.
Be cautious. Avoid high risk or backcountry activities that may increase your chance of injury or distress. Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 response efforts.
Prepare for limited services. Restroom facilities and trash collection services are limited. If a restroom is open, it may not be maintained or cleaned. Visitors are encouraged to take their trash with them when they leave. Follow Leave No Trace Principles, particularly when dealing with human waste.
As part of our collaboration within the Stakeholders Working Group (SWG), we sent the following clarification of some of our organization’s positions to SWG members. In the spirit of transparency, we thought you all would also appreciate reading this, to keep you in the mix regarding our participation on behalf of you and our wildlife.
The SWG comprises the Bureau of Engineering (BOE: Cyril Charles project manager of this Master Plan process), LA Department of Water and Power (LADWP: Deborah Weintraub), our Councilmembers Ryu and O’Farrell’s Deputies and a Design Team led by Hargreaves Associates. The SWG also includes five Silver Lake community groups including ourselves — SL Wildlife Sanctuary, SL Now, SL Reservoirs Conservancy, SL Forward, and SL Neighborhood Council.
This group has met every 6-8 weeks since May 2019 to review and give input for the Silver Lake Master Plan. We sent the below letter in advance of the SWG’s meeting that took place Thursday March 5. Please note that some of the issues below were acknowledged and discussed at that meeting, but with no definitive outcomes except for the perimeter fence issue. The meeting minutes will be added to the Master Plan website sometime soon: https://eng.lacity.org/slrcmp-stakeholders
Text of the email we sent to all SWG members, in response to comments about our areas of concern:
Education/Café Building and other added structures. SLWS is not anti-education. But we and our supporters did object to how the questionnaires were worded on that topic. For example, people were asked if they wanted nature education. They were not asked, “Do you favor habitat replaced by a classroom building at water’s edge and The Knoll topped by a prominent and permanent shade structure?” Stakeholders and SLWS said yes to the Reservoirs Complex being a site for nature education, not to nature being displaced by new buildings and other structures. In the words of an area schoolteacher, “Nature itself is the ‘classroom.’ ”
Incomplete reporting of community opinions. The reports and graphs only included statistical results from the questionnaires, mostly completed by persons who did not attend the Workshops and therefore were not as fully informed as those who participated in the Workshops. To show a more complete picture of our community, especially the constituents who took the time and trouble to attend, the Community Workshop findings need more than a passing mention in all reports and graphs.
Family representation. It was claimed that families were underrepresented at the Workshops. In fact, we recognized many at the Workshops who are parents. Indeed, this argument was negated by pointing out that so many families and kids from King participated in the Marshall Workshop. And at that workshop there was nearly unanimous support for passive recreation and preserving nature.
Perimeter Fence. While features such as swimming and boating that were rejected by the community are remaining in the MP as options “for future consideration”, the community was not even given a chance to discuss including perimeter fencing in the MP. However, having reached out to the City Councilmembers, we feel our concerns have now been heard through the recent exchanges between Meghen, Christine, Rachel, Jill and Andrea*, and ourselves. Through Christine and Rachel, we received assurance from CD13 and CD4, respectively, that this issue will be seriously discussed with the community and agreement reached before any removal is considered.
Equity. We object to anyone implying that those who don’t share one person’s or group’s vision must be elitists who want our community to become ‘gated’. That’s simply wrong. We want the Reservoirs Complex protected so people from everywhere can enjoy nature and wildlife in a safe and relaxed way, without too many programmed activities and added structures displacing habitat for wildlife or natural views for visitors.
The fact is, SLWS is very concerned about equity, which is why we have opposed all commercial activities, because monetized and programmed features can only be enjoyed by those who can afford to pay, or by those who can participate in the programmed activity, or by those who may profit from it.
We will continue to collegially agree to disagree on certain factors and trust that we all will do our best to avoid misinterpreting the views of any SWG members.
On behalf of our constituents,
Silver Lake Wildlife Sanctuary Board
End of Text Sent
Meghen Quinn (lead architect, Hargreaves Associates), Christine Peters (CD 13 Deputy), Rachel Fox (CD 4 Deputy), Jill and Andrea (SL Now)
We are continuing to push for further improvements for the conservation of nature and wildlife within this collaborative process.
And thanks to your continuing activism, the plans have in some ways improved for wildlife, with some anti-nature features scaled back.
By Lauren Lewis –
August 6, 2018
Left Photo by Lindsey Jones, Facebook
Sadly, innocent animals continue to be cruelly mistreated and abused by heartless humans who seem to be void of the gene for compassion.
Such was the case last week when 55-year-old Raymond Reinkek from Pendleton, Oregon, was caught on video harassing a wild bison at Yellowstone National Park.
According to the National Park Service, Reinke had been traveling to multiple national parks over the last week. On July 28th, he was first arrested by law enforcement rangers at Grand Teton National Park for a drunk and disorderly conduct incident. He spent the night in the Teton County Jail and was then released on bond.
Following his release, he traveled to Yellowstone National Park. Rangers at Yellowstone stopped his vehicle for a traffic violation on July 31st during which Reinke was reportedly intoxicated again and argumentative. He was cited as a passenger for failure to wear a seat belt. It is believed that after that traffic stop, Reinke encountered the bison.
“The individual’s behavior in this video is reckless, dangerous, and illegal. We need people to be stewards of Yellowstone, and one way to do that is to keep your distance from wildlife,” Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk stated on a post on the Parks Facebook page. “Park regulations require people to stay at least 25 yards from animals like bison and elk, and 100 yards from bears and wolves. These distances safeguard both visitors and the remarkable experience of sharing a landscape with thousands of freely-roaming animals. People who ignore these rules are risking their lives and threatening the park experience for everyone else.”
“Another way to be a steward: tell a ranger, or call 911, if you see someone whose behavior might hurt them or the park,” the post continued.
Fortunately, on Thursday, August 2nd, Yellowstone rangers connected Reinke’s extensive history, and after viewing the egregious nature of the wildlife violation; the Assistant U.S. Attorney requested his bond be revoked. The request was granted, and that evening, a warrant was issued for Reinke’s arrest.
According to a statement released by the National Park Service, Reinke had told the previous rangers his travel plans, so Glacier National Park rangers began looking for his vehicle there. Simultaneous with that search, rangers responded to the Many Glacier Hotel because two guests were arguing and creating a disturbance in the hotel dining room. Rangers identified one of the individuals involved as Reinke.
Glacier rangers transported Reinke to Helena where they were met by Yellowstone rangers. Yellowstone rangers transported Reinke to Mammoth Hot Springs and booked him into the Yellowstone Jail. He was scheduled for a court appearance the next day.
“We appreciate the collaboration of our fellow rangers in Glacier and Grand Teton national parks on this arrest,” said Wenk. “Harassing wildlife is illegal in any national park.”
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TAGS Animal Abuse,Animal Cruelty,Animal News,Animal Protection,bison,National Park Service
This story was originally published by Reveal and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
As deputy director of the National Park Service, Michael Reynolds played a key role in developing a sweeping new vision for managing national parks. The new policy, enacted in the final weeks of the Obama administration, elevated the role that science played in decision-making and emphasized that parks should take precautionary steps to protect natural and historic treasures.
But eight months later, as the first acting director of the Park Service under President Donald Trump, Reynolds rescinded this policy, known as Director’s Order 100. Newly released documents suggest that top Interior Department officials intervened, ordering Reynolds to rescind it.
A memo addressed to Reynolds states: “Pursuant to direction from [Interior] Secretary [Ryan] Zinke, I hereby instruct you to rescind Director’s Order #100.”
Reynolds, now the superintendent of Yosemite National Park, did not respond to requests for an interview.
The emails were among 170 pages of documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Union of Concerned Scientists, an activist group.
Some top officials in the National Park Service were dismayed that the policy was canceled in August 2017, according to the emails. Chris Lehnertz, superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, called it “hard news for me to swallow,” according to an email she wrote to Reynolds and others.
Jonathan Jarvis, who was President Barack Obama’s Park Service director, said now that the order has been rescinded, national parks could become more welcoming to drones, jet skis, and private companies that want to build luxurious accommodations.
“We’re back into the era when those kinds of things will be proposed,” Jarvis said. “I’m sure we’re going to see some.”
Jarvis, who signed Director’s Order 100, said he thinks the Trump administration objected to the policy because it stressed that parks follow the “precautionary principle,” preventing actions or activities that plausibly threaten park resources and human heath, even when there is uncertainty. It also acknowledged the significant impact that climate change has on parks and directed them to incorporate climate change science in management decisions.
One memo to Reynolds said that Zinke will replace the order with his own strategy for the national parks, “including potential changes to the Department’s priorities and organization over the next 100 years.”
The emails show that Daniel Jorjani, the Interior’s principal deputy solicitor, played a key role in reversing the order. Jorjani is a Trump appointee who was an attorney from 2010 to 2016 for foundations funded by the Koch brothers, fossil fuel billionaires who support the spread of free-market principles throughout government. During the Bush administration, Jorjani was an Interior Department counselor and chief of staff.
In one June 13, 2017, email exchange heavily redacted by the Interior Department, a lawyer in the solicitor’s office said Jorjani “or someone else may want to change the language, but …” The next part of the email is blanked out. The next day, another lawyer asked Jorjani in an email: “Do you want us to hold this pending your review or should we start moving it through to get it signed?”
On June 19, Jorjani emailed another lawyer, asking her to “strengthen the language” on the rescission memo. Later the same day, Jorjani emailed Reynolds and another top Park Service official asking: “Do you have a preferred date for withdrawing DO-100?” Later that day, Jorjani sent the rescission memo to the Park Service.
Jarvis, who worked with Jorjani during the Bush administration, wasn’t surprised that Jorjani directed the withdrawal of the order.
“This fits well with Jorjani’s worldview — the private sector can do anything better than government,” Jarvis said. During the Bush administration, Jorjani pushed to transfer various activities in the national parks to the private sector, Jarvis said.
The rescinded policy was developed in response to the 2012 “Revisiting Leopold” report from the science committee of the Park Service’s advisory board. The scientists urged the Park Service to update the vision of national parks to reflect the many changes underway in parks due to climate change and other factors. (In January, most members of that board quit in protest after Zinke hadn’t met with them even once.)
The Trump administration has repeatedly downplayed climate science and eliminated efforts by previous administrations to address climate change. The National Park Service pressured a scientist to remove every reference to the human role in causing climate change from a scientific report projecting the risk to parks from sea-level rise and storm surge.
Tony Knowles, the last chair of the Park Service’s advisory board, said the Trump administration is veering far from the principles outlined in Director’s Order 100.
For example, in May, the Trump administration proposed canceling rules that ban certain types of hunting in much of Alaska’s large national preserves. These rules, developed in 2015 through an extensive scientific and public process, prohibit using artificial light to kill black bear sows and their cubs at their dens, using bait to lure black bears to their deaths, and shooting swimming caribou from a motorboat.
If the order was still in place, “it would be very difficult to justify doing away with these regulations,” said Knowles, a former governor of Alaska.
The trove of documents also provides insight into the Interior Department’s public relations strategy. Officials drafted news releases to explain the rescission of the policy but the day the withdrawal became effective, Park Service spokesperson Jeremy Barnum told top Park Service officials that Interior’s communications team had decided there would be no press release. Reynolds emailed the press official asking: “If no press I’m curious how we are now to notify folks.” No response to his question was included in the released documents. Barnum declined to comment.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s vast and austere landscape in Southern Utah’s embraces a spectacular array Of scientific and historic resources. Donald Trump’s Administration, along with Utah’s delegation, is currently engaging in efforts to substantially reduce the monument. This effect is an archaic and illogical assault on one of the crown jewels of America’s National Monuments and an economic threat to the gateway communities of the Grand Staircase-Escalante.
The Trump administration is trying to allow gas and oil drilling near a pristine national park, all for the financial benefit of big oil companies. This drilling will critically threaten wildlife and the environment if permitted. Sign this petition to demand that this national park be protected from oil drilling.
Sep. 14, 2017 12:27PM EST http://www.youtube.com
Rare White Giraffes Spotted in Kenya, Captured on Camera for First Time
Two white reticulated giraffes, a mother and her calf, were captured on camera at the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservacy in Kenya.
Their creamy coloring is due to a genetic condition called leucism, in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal’s skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes.
The Hirola Conservation Programme, an NGO which manages the area, wrote in a blog post that the giraffes were first spotted by a local villager.
“They were so close and extremely calm and seemed not disturbed by our presence,” the post states. “‘The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards in front of us while signalling the baby giraffe to hide behind the bushes.”
According to the post, the only two known sightings of white giraffes have been made in Kenya and Tanzania: “The very first reports of a white giraffe in the wild was reported in January 2016 in Tarangire National park, Tanzania; a second sighting was again reported in March 2016 in Ishaqbini conservancy, Garissa county, Kenya.”
Reports say this is the first time these animals have been filmed on camera. The conservancy first shared video on YouTube last month, but the clip is now going viral. YouTube commenters have expressed concern that sharing the animals’ location could attract potential poachers.
It is unknown how many white giraffes roam the Earth, but Africa’s giraffe population as a whole has plunged almost 40 percent in the past 30 years and now stands at just more than 97,000 individuals due to habitat loss, hunting for meat and the international trade in bone carvings and trophies.
#U.S. Legal News
September 18, 2017 / 4:22 PM / Updated 3 hours ago
U.S. Interior chief urges changes to national monuments -report
Jan Harvey, Valerie Volcovici, Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. Department of the Interior called for changes to the management of 10 national monuments that would lift restrictions on activities such as logging and mining and shrink at least four of the sites, the Washington Post reported.
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that President Donald Trump reduce the boundaries of the monuments known as Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou.
Zinke also called for relaxing current restrictions within some of the monuments’ boundaries for activities such as grazing, logging, coal mining and commercial fishing, according to a copy of the memo that the Post obtained.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante monument has areas that “contain an estimated several billion tons of coal and large oil deposits,” Zinke’s report said, suggesting that it could be opened to energy production if Trump makes a reduction in the footprint of the monument.
The Trump administration has promoted “energy dominance,” or plans to produce more coal, oil, and gas for domestic use and selling to allies. With Grand Staircase-Escalante being remote, and oil and coal being plentiful elsewhere, it is uncertain if energy interests would actually drill and mine there, if the monument’s boundaries were changed.
Trump has said previous administrations abused their right to create monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906 by imposing limits on drilling, mining, logging, ranching and other activities in huge areas, mainly in western states.
The monuments targeted in the memo were created by former presidents George W. Bush, a Republican, and Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. A designation as a national monument prohibits mining and sets stringent protections for ecosystems on the site.
Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift referred questions about the memo to the White House.
“The Trump Administration does not comment on leaked documents, especially internal drafts which are still under review by the President and relevant agencies,” White House spokeswoman Kelly Love said in a statement to Reuters.
In June, Zinke told reporters he had recommended shrinking the Bears Ears monument, the country’s newest monument, and last month he sent his recommendations to the Republican president after reviewing more than two dozen national monuments. [L1N1J917V] Trump ordered the review in April as part of his broader effort to increase development on federal lands.
Energy, mining, ranching and timber industries have cheered the review, while conservation groups and the outdoor recreation industry threatened lawsuits over what they see as an effort to undo protections of critical natural and cultural resources.
The Sierra Club, an environmental group, said Zinke had “sold out” public lands. “Leaving the protection of Native American sacred sites, outdoor recreation destinations, and natural wonders to the goodwill of polluting industries is a recipe for disaster,” Sierra’s head Michael Brune said.
Senator Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate energy committee, tweeted that former President Teddy Roosevelt, a conservationist, would “roll over in his grave” if he saw Zinke’s “attacks” on public lands.
Besides reducing the four sites, Zinke called for changes at Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters, New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte, two Pacific Ocean marine monuments and another marine one off the New England coast.
Many fishing industry supporters cheered changes outlined in Zinke’s memo. Jon Mitchell, the mayor of New Bedford, Massachusetts, a large fishing port, said the marine monument designation process “may have been well intended, but it has simply lacked a comparable level of industry input, scientific rigor and deliberation.”
While the antiquities law enables a president to permanently declare certain places of historic or scientific interest a national monument, a few U.S. presidents have reduced the size of some such areas.
The Antiquities Act is one of our nation’s most valuable conservation tools but it is being threatened. Our environment and wildlife depend on this Act for their protection. Please sign our petition to oppose any efforts to undermine the Antiquities Act.
Following in the spirit of Britain's Queen Boudica, Queen of the Iceni. A boudica.us site. I am an opinionator, do your own research, verification. Reposts, reblogs do not neccessarily reflect our views.
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. —Soren Kierkegaard. "...truth is true even if nobody believes it, and falsehood is false even if everybody believes it. That is why truth does not yield to opinion, fashion, numbers, office, or sincerity--it is simply true and that is the end of it" - Os Guinness, Time for Truth, pg.39. “He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard