Saturday, January 03, 2009

2008 Top Conservation Stories

Grand Canyon Controlled Flood
Grand Canyon Wildlands Council Senior Ecologist Larry Stevens, PhD, says that this was the "first planned flood that resulted in widespread resource benefits," restoring sandbars without propagating invasive tamarisk. More than 300,000 gallons of water per second were released from Lake Powell above the dam near the Arizona-Utah border. That's enough water to fill the Empire State Building in 20 minutes, said Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

Klamath River Dam Removal
A plan was formed between Oregon, California, local tribes and farmers, activists, and the Federal Government to "commit to talk about a dam removal deal. It would be the biggest dam removal project of our time, and shifts the conversation from "if" to "when". However, skeptics doubt the specifics of the deal.

Western Governors' Association adopts Freedom To Roam plan
The Governors of every Western State voted unanimously, after hearing presentations by Tom Brokaw and Rick Ridgeway, to develop and conduct a process to “identify key wildlife migration corridors and crucial wildlife habitats in the West and make recommendations on needed policy options and tools for preserving those landscapes.” This is the culmination of years of science and activism by the Wildlands Project's Spine of the Continent Campaign.

Crown of the Continent Land Conservation
The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, organized one of the largest conservation deals ever in Montana. Plans call for phased purchases, ending in December 2010, of 312,000 acres of forestlands in western Montana for $510 million. "This project is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to protect these lands for our families and future generations, said U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), who helped facilitate the agreement. It will keep jobs in Montana, help maintain our communities and our working forests, and preserve public access for hunting and fishing. This will be the most significant land conservation project in the state's history, by far, and I'm proud to be part of it. "

Bush Administration plans Ocean Preserve
On June 16th the Bush Administration offered plans for the complete protection of an area the size of Arizona in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean. The oceans of the world are badly overfished and underprotected and this proposed preserve is a 'landmark' that could point the way toward protecting the seas.

Other Stories:
Unfortunately, this year's wilderness bill didn't come up for a vote in Congress. We had wanted to see the Tumacacori Highlands, AZ protected as a wilderness. Other major, urgent actions that didn't occur include protecting Otero Mesa, NM from oil and gas drilling. Polar bears were listed Endangered amidst conflict over whether CO2 could be regulated by the EPA as a pollutant. Unfortunately for the bear, even as one hand of the gov't gave protection, the other was taking it away by 'defanging' the endangered species act. Also important, though depressing, were acknowledgements of failure to restore both Cheasepeake Bay and the Sacramento River / San Francisco Bay. Other looming environmental catastrophes, such as the continued use of gender bender hormone mimics and antibiotics, are being cited more often, yet still without any kind of response. Hopefully that will change in 2009.

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