Tag Archives: Environmental Issues

Polar Bears and Critical Habitat Designation

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Alaska.

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) on a barrier island of the coast of arctic Alaska. Please click the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

Recently, a federal judge in Alaska, handed the US Fish and Wildlife Service (F&WS)  some homework, when he decided that the agency had been a little overzealous in their designation of critical habitat for the polar bear. In 2010, the Obama administration set aside nearly 190 000 square miles of onshore and off-shore critical habitat for the polar bear. That’s an awful lot of land (larger than the state of California). But polar bears, it seems, are an awful lot of bear.

Last month a federal judge ruled that it’s apparently ‘too much’ land. Which is in itself noteworthy, as the judge isn’t really there to decide what’s too much and what isn’t too much land for a polar bear. The judge is supposed to simply review the decision and see whether it follows the law.

The judge also said the F&WS decision had some “procedural deficiencies”; much better. This means, they hadn’t quite followed the law. So what was one of those deficiencies? How about this one?  Section 1533(i) of the Endangered Species Act Continue reading

Click This; April 2011

Brown bear backlit at dawn, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

A coastal brown bear, Ursus arctos, walks along Brooks River shoreline at dawn, backlit, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks

Next up in this series of news of the month pieces.

This month, I haven’t been spending as much time in the woods, and even less reading the news. Mostly, I’ve been grating sandpaper over my eyeballs … more commonly called “working on website updates”. I need to take about a  year off, and learn how to do this properly, then start over from scratch and rebuild everything (yeah, that’s gunna happen).

Below I’ve compiled various bits from around the web that held my failing attention long enough to actually read through the piece.  Feel free to add your own stuff of note, I’d love to see some things I’ve missed.

In a completely random order: Continue reading

More Stuff To Click On

Morning in the Wrangell Mountains

Morning in the Wrangell Mountains

Hey Folks,

‘Stuff to Click On’; videos, photos, articles, quotes, etc .. stuff that caught my eye during the month. If you missed last month’s posting, you can read it here.

In following up from last month’s comments, I guess one of the things I get frustrated about with the “Social Media” whirlwind is the barrage of cr** that folks seem to love to scatter all over the internet. Jeff Sweat, writing for the Huffington Post, says “It’s as if you’re trying to feed someone by shooting pieces of a sandwich — bread, tomatoes, meat — past their head at 90 miles an hour. And half of the things flying by them aren’t even food, they’re garbage. Or toasters. The odds of someone eating your sandwich are pretty slim.” Note to Twitter users; just because it landed in your feed is no reason to pass it on. It reminds me of those emailers we all seem to have in our address book, who pass along every single joke/cartoon/touching story of faith, etc that comes their way. People, please stop.

An example? Here, look at this article on the Huffington Post. The title of that page is “21 Insanely Gorgeous Valleys Around The World (PHOTOS)”. How about “21 Insanely Mediocre Photos”? We kind of expect this from the news media, I suppose, as they strive to sell advertisements. But friends on Twitter, Facebook, etc, etc .. let’s not stoop to that. You love it, post it and say so. If not, don’t regurgitate drivel. Continue reading

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Arctic lupine and Brooks Range, ANWR, Alaska.

A small bloom of Arctic Lupine in the Brooks Mountain Range catch last light of the summer day. Land of the midnight sun, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, in arctic Alaska where the coastal plain meet the Brooks Mountain Range. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Another photo from the Brooks Range, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Back in September the US F&WS (Fish and Wildlife Service) announced, as part of their Comprehensive Conservation Plan, that “the Service will conduct wilderness reviews for three Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) for potential inclusion within the National Wilderness Preservation System. These three WSAs encompass almost all refuge lands not currently designated as wilderness”. This is good news. I’ll reiterate my favorite part of the quote: “These three WSAs encompass almost all refuge lands not currently designated as wilderness.

There are numerous steps involved, and, if recommended by the US F&WS, approval is required by the Dept Director, the Secretary of the Interior, and the President. Then, the final decision lies with the US Congress; the actual authority to designate land as ‘wilderness’.

It’s almost comical, really; such a rigorous and formalized process to meander through in order to deem lands “wild”. Implicit in the word wild is ‘free will’ –  yet not quite so wild as to be free of the rigmarole of official procedure, of course.

Anyone who suggests the 19 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge isn’t a wilderness either hasn’t been there or is simply in denial. Perhaps I could say it more clearly this way; if the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge doesn’t qualify for ‘wilderness designation’, then we might as well remove that term from our vocabulary. Surely there is no place more deserving of such designation than the Refuge?

The “wilderness reviews” should be completed by Feb 2011, which will be followed by a released draft, more public comment, more revisions, and hopefully, a final plan and recommendation in May 2012. Apparently wilderness takes careful planning and review; it’s not simply created overnight.

A reminder that Dec 06, 2010, marks the coming anniversary of the establishment of the Refuge; I’m working on a little project for it, and should have it online soon. Stand warned. 🙂



Happy Birthday, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Coastal plain photo, Section 1002, ANWR, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Midnight sun on the coastal plain, Section 1002, near the Canning river. A small pond on the plain catches a the skies blue reflection. Pond and reflection, coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Alaska. Dec, 2010 marks 50 years since the federal government established the area as a national wildlife refuge. To view a larger version of this photo, please click on the image above.

Hey Folks,

Drill here? Drill now? I think not.

How about “Happy Birthday, and Cheers to the next 50 years!”

This year is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – “ANWR”, as folks like to call it. A swathe of wild land the size of South Carolina became a federally protected area in 1960, and then established as a wildlife refuge in 1980 with the passing of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

One of the most important conservation measures yet taken by this nation, the Act protects over 100 million acres of federal lands within Alaska; this single statute more than doubled the area of national park and refuge land in the country and tripled the area of federally designated wilderness. Roughly 40%, or 8 million acres, of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was (and is) designated wilderness. This one landscape makes up over 7% of the designated wilderness in the United States.

Next month, on Dec 6, 2010, ANWR turns 50 years old. Turn your thoughts northward, and give it a moment. Or several moments. 19 million acres of land this country gifted to itself. It’s a beautiful thing.

I’ve visited the refuge a number of times now, and each year the visit has been unimaginably rewarding. To those who’d rather see it turned into an oil well, I’d ask to what end?



Stuff to Click On – Oct 2010

Chuck and his MSR hubba on the coastal plain, ANWR, Alaska.

Chuck and his MSR hubba (tent) on the coastal plain, ANWR, Alaska. We spent 2 weeks rafting the Canning river, and this photo was taken toward the end of the trip. It wasn’t as cold as it looks; Chuck’s from Florida. Good times indeed.

Hey Folks,

I’ve decided to make some changes to the blog and will be trying to get them up and running in the coming months. The first one is in this particular post. I want to post a kind of ‘Clips of the Month’ page; videos, photos, articles, quotes, whatever, that caught my eye during the month. I find nowadays there’s simply so much amazing material getting blasted around the web that it’s about impossible to keep up with even a fraction of it. Facebook posts and Tweets come down the pipe a mile a minute, all pushing (and pushed) down the page, completely gone; disappeared before I’m done reading the actual link; it’s a frustrating race to the bottom. I end up missing most of what folks post out there.

That’s compounded by a popular trend whereby (some) folks think it’s good to simply tweet and post every link that runs across their monitor – which wastes an awful lot of time for the receiver. Rather than simply tweeting every single post that says “Hey, check out this totally awesome photo”, I thought it might be useful to post a collection of links that (a) I’ve actually visited/read/watched, and (b) I honestly thought were not just above the banal, but that I felt were pretty cool/interesting/and yes, even awesome. Hopefully posting them as a blog page makes the content a little less transient, as well. We’ll see if the idea is a good one or not. It’s simply a collection of links to articles, photos, etc, that I ran across, one place or another, and thought were actually worth sharing. Continue reading

Extreme Environmentalists, the Gulf Oil Disaster and ANWR

Arctic fox and oil barrels on the coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

Arctic fox and oil barrels on the coastal plain, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Please click on the image to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

Excuse my rant; but, this is my blog, and I’m about to wander in the mtns for a while. Before I go, I need to speak out.

I read earlier today of ex-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s latest comments about the current disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. She states “Radical environmentalists: you are damaging the planet with your efforts to lock up safer drilling areas”.

Her basic premise is that the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe is the work and responsibility of “extreme environmentalists”. Let’s disregard, for now, the fact that she’s been a proponent of offshore drilling for years now (including her 2008 run for VP where she repeatedly claimed that Drill Baby, Drill “also means safely tapping into our offshore sources, safely, environmentally safe”. In her own words, whilst debating then-Senator Joe Biden she stammered “You even called drilling — safe, environmentally-friendly drilling offshore — as raping the outer continental shelf. There — with new technology, with tiny footprints even on land, it is safe to drill and we need to do more of that.

“friendly”? If it weren’t so sad it would be farcical; what the hell is “friendly” about extracting crude oil from beneath the ocean? Makes me wonder what kind of “friends” some of these people keep.  If one of my friends came over to the house and started drilling a hole 20 000′ into the lawn I’d say they’re outta their mind.

I’ve no problem with a discussion of the collective responsibility owned by our society. I hopefully made that clear in my earlier post here. But I won’t absolve the oil industry of their responsibility, nor the clowns who would reduce a discussion of the energy policy of the world’s largest energy consumer to a 3-word bumper-sticker slogan: “Drill Here, Drill Now”  of theirs, which is the intent of Palin’s outburst. Sarah Palin’s remarks, along with this childish assessment from Ted Nugent is not an honest critique of any social construct at all. In fact, it’s nothing more than the opposite of that; an attempt to divert attention from the direct and very palpable targets of hella-oil, political corruption and bumper-sticker political campaigns to a somewhat more nebulous, transparent target. That is intolerable. Continue reading

Environmental Discourse – a rant.

Trash bottles and construction equipment on construction site, Marietta, Atlanta, Georgia

Trash bottles and construction equipment on construction site, Marietta, Atlanta, Georgia

Hey Folks,

A word (or rant) about ‘pragmatists’.

How often do we hear people cloak their position in this language, smother their position and use the veil of ‘realism’ as a cover for rationale? The phrase “well, sure, that’s too bad, but we need to be pragmatic .. “ is so often merely an attempt to preserve the status quo. Rather than reach a little further, push a little harder, get a little creative, or honestly examine ourselves and the lives we lead, we fall back on language like “realistic” and “pragmatic” – neither of which solve a problem, and, ironically, express a position often seated on neither pragmatism or realism.

Conversations around environmental issues seem to invoke this veil all too often; “we’d love to leave the caribou alone, and let them roam on the coastal plain, but we need to be practical – realistically, we need oil.” An entire platform was built around this excuse for an unwillingness to change that supporters labelled “Wise Use” – it’s nonsense. Continue reading