Want to know what climate change feels like? Ask an Alaskan.

Want to know what climate change feels like? Ask an Alaskan.

Adrienne Titus was heading back to her parents’ village on a sweltering afternoon in early July when she saw the dead salmon. She had been fishing upstream with her mother on the banks of the gorgeous Unalakleet River, which Chinook, pink, coho, and chum salmon travel up every year in order to spawn. Down closer to the village of Unalakleet, though, there were no signs of life on the water that day — just hundreds of soft bodies floating belly up.

Titus, a 39-year-old Iñupiat woman who lives in Fairbanks but grew up in Unalakleet, had never seen anything like it before. Neither had her mother, or any of the village elders that they asked in this small fishing community on the shores of the Norton Sound in the central Bering Sea.

“It was scary,” Titus said. “It put fear into us.”

Similar reports of dead pink salmon came in all across the Norton Sound that week as temperatures soared into the high 80s and low 90s during a statewide heatwave that “re-wrote the record books,” according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Fisheries biologists say that’s no coincidence: Warm water stresses the animals out, and temperatures above a certain threshold can kill them. In a statement issued on July 11, the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation warned that the salmon die-offs appeared to be part of a “larger ecosystem-level shift” taking place due to rising temperatures.

 

It’s just one of countless alarming signs of change Alaskans have experienced lately. July was Alaska’s hottest month in recorded history, thanks in part to that torrid heat wave. March through August? The state’s warmest six-month period, with temperatures hovering 6.4 degrees F above long-term averages. From vanished sea ice to skies choked with wildfire smoke to animals appearing where they shouldn’t or not appearing where they should, the impacts of a fast-warming climate were visible everywhere residents looked.

“I have just felt overwhelmed trying to keep up with everything this year,” said Rick Thoman, a climate scientist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy who co-authored a report in August summarizing the environmental changes unfolding across the state. “It’s been running from one fire to another, almost literally.”

Retreating sea ice

Anne Jensen, an archaeologist who lives in Utqiaġvik, a city of 4,400 on the northern tip of Alaska’s North Slope, said that the loss of sea ice is being felt especially hard by her community. There, Iñupiat hunters hold a subsistence whaling season in the spring and the fall, catching a small number of whales each year that represent both a key source of food and an important cultural tradition.

In the spring, hunters set up camps on the ice where they butcher the animals they catch. But with temperatures in Utqiaġvik rising at some of the fastest recorded rates on Earth, the so-called landfast ice is breaking up earlier in the spring, reducing the amount of time it can be used for hunting. The ice that’s present is becoming weaker and more dangerous.

 

Zachary Labe (w / data from National Snow & Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO)

Fall hunting season occurs over open water before the ice freezes to the shore. But while in the past, the edge of the sea ice might linger 100 miles from the coastaround its yearly September minimum, last month the ice bottomed out at its second-lowest ice minimum on record. As of last week, you’d have to travel about 400 miles north of Utqiagvik to find any, said Mark Serreze, a scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “This is part of the pattern we’re seeing now,” Serreze said.

The longer open water season is allowing the winds to stir up bigger waves, which can create additional hazards for hunters. Some hunters are also reporting that they have to travel farther from shore to find whales in the fall due to increased shipping activity as the ice disappears.

The food supply isn’t all that’s being affected by the loss of ice: So is the very land people’s houses sit on. Across the North Slope, shorelines are eroding as warm ocean waters gnaw away at thawing permafrost bluffs. In addition to impacting modern-day infrastructure, this is causing many of the coastal archaeological sites Jensen studies to deteriorate rapidly.

“It’s pretty scary,” Jensen said. “The changes are major and happening quickly.”

Vanishing fish

Further south in the Bering Sea, the ice broke up early this spring after struggling to grow throughout the winter. By mid-May, it was nearly gone. The dearth of sea ice, which would have been unprecedented if something very similar hadn’t occurred in 2018, is affecting the so-called “cold pool,” a vast region of near-freezing water that develops at the bottom of the Bering as sea ice forms above, providing a habitat for species like Arctic cod and snow crabs.

Bering Sea ice

 

Last year, for the first time on record, the cold pool didn’t form, and scientists saw large numbers of southern species, like pollock and Pacific cod, move into areas of the northern Bering Sea “where we really never expected to see them,” according to Lyle Britt, who heads up the Bering Sea Bottom Trawl Survey Group at NOAA Fisheries. This year, a cold pool did form but it was “effectively so small that it was really not a barrier to fish movement,” Britt said. Once again, large numbers of fish from more southern latitudes appear to be invading the region.

What this will ultimately mean for the fisheries of the Bering is unclear. But this year was a dismal one for crabbers in the Norton Sound, who caught only a little more than half of their annual quota, which was already the lowest the state had set in 20 years. Poor ice conditions were at least partly responsible for the bad haul, according to Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game.

“It’s definitely been alarming to the crab harvesters noticing the changing conditions in the Bering,” said Jamie Goen, executive director of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, a trade organization that represents crabbers further south. Their members have been catching their quotas, Goen said, but as is the case up north, the quotas are at historic lows.

Historic wildfires

Inland, Alaskans have been contending with wildfires. Fires torched some 2.6 million acres across the state this year, and although that’s far from Alaska’s worst wildfire season — in 2004, a staggering 6.5 million acres burned statewide — 2019 will go down as one of the ten largest wildfire years since 1940. Big years like it are occurring far more often than they used to.

With this summer’s fires came loads of smoke. In early July, residents of Anchorage experienced their first-ever dense smoke advisory as particulate matter from the Swan Lake Fire, a lightning-sparked blaze on the Kenai Peninsula, wafted over the city. Around the same time, lighting-sparked fires in central Alaska sent smoke billowing over Fairbanks, reducing visibility to a few feet and creating some of the worst air quality in the world.

Alaskans also experienced some dangerous late season flare-ups this year, fueled by hot, dry conditions that prompted the state to extend fire season from the end of August to late September. These included the McKinley Fire, which exploded in size north of Anchorage on August 17 and destroyed more than 100 buildings before it was contained. That very same day, the Swan Lake Fire got a second life when gusty conditions reignited the flames. It would grow to engulf an additional 50,000 acres over the next week, triggering a new wave of smoke advisories.

Fires like these are “unusual” in mid August, said John Morris, a retired park ranger with the National Park Service who’s lived in Alaska since the 1960s. Their appearance this year illustrates what Morris sees as the most striking consequence of climate change in Alaska: just how unpredictable the weather has become.

“In some ways, it’s comforting, because things are warmer than they used to be,” Morris said. “But not having the environment be as predictable makes things a lot more uncertain.”

‘The frog in the pot of water’

To Rosa Standifer, a 46-year-old Athabascan woman born and raised in the village of Tyonek southwest of Anchorage, the clearest sign that things have changed is in the salmon. Since Standifer moved back to Alaska from California in the mid-2000s, Chinook salmon have declined precipitously in the Cook Inlet, where Tyonek is located.

“Back in the day, our boats would be sunk down with salmon,” Standifer said, recalling her childhood summers spent fishing on the water with her father. “Now you’re just praying and hoping you get some.”

Sue Mauger, science director for the community-based non-profit Cook Inletkeeper, thinks climate change is at least partly to blame. Chinook, she said, become stressed out when temperatures rise above 55 degrees F, leaving them more susceptible to pollution, predation, and disease. Her research shows that summer temperatures in the non-glacial streams feeding Cook Inlet have risen steadily for decades. During the July heat wave this summer, one of the major salmon streams Mauger monitors hit 81.7 degrees F — a frightening new record. “I like to think of this as the frog in the pot of water has been simmering for a few decades, and we just had a big twitch,” Mauger said.

Asked whether she ever experienced a summer like 2019 growing up, Standifer laughed. “Oh, no,” she said. “And I hope it don’t keep getting that hot. I moved back to be cold.”

Amazon fires: Record number burning in Brazil rainforest

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has seen a record number of fires this year, new space agency data suggests.

The National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) said its satellite data showed an 84% increase on the same period in 2018.

It comes weeks after President Jair Bolsonaro sacked the head of the agency amid rows over its deforestation data.

The largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.

It is also home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.

Conservationists have blamed Mr. Bolsonaro for the Amazon’s plight, saying he has encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land, and scientists say the rainforest has suffered losses at an accelerated rate since he took office in January.

Brazil Amazon fires graph

Meanwhile, US space agency Nasa said that overall fire activity in the Amazon basin was slightly below average this year.

The agency said that while activity had increased in Amazonas and Rondonia, it had decreased in the states of Mato Grosso and Pará.

It was earlier reported that a blackout on Monday in the city of São Paulo – more than 2,700km (1,700 miles) away – had been caused by smoke from the Amazon fires.

But some meteorologists say the smoke came from major fires burning in Paraguay, which is much closer to the city and not in the Amazon region.

Why are there fires in the Amazon?

Wildfires often occur in the dry season in Brazil but they are also deliberately started in efforts to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching.

Inpe said it had detected more than 74,000 fires between January and August – the highest number since records began in 2013. It said it had observed more than 9,500 forest fires since Thursday, mostly in the Amazon region.

Brazil Amazon map

In comparison, there are slightly more than 40,000 in the same period of 2018, it said. However, the worst recent year was 2016, with more than 68,000 fires in that period.

The satellite images showed Brazil’s most northern state, Roraima, covered in dark smoke, while neighbouring Amazonas declared an emergency over the fires.

Mr Bolsonaro brushed off the latest data, saying it was the “season of the queimada”, when farmers use fire to clear land. “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame,” he was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Later he appeared to suggest that non-governmental organisations had set fires, as revenge for his government slashing their funding. He presented no evidence and gave no names to support this theory, saying there were “no written records about the suspicions”.

“So, there could be…, I’m not affirming it, criminal action by these ‘NGOers’ to call attention against my person, against the government of Brazil. This is the war that we are facing,” he said in a Facebook Live on Wednesday.

An aerial view of a tract of Amazon jungle burning as it is cleared by loggers and farmers near the city of Novo Progresso, Para state.Image copyrightREUTERSImage captionInpe said it had detected more than 72,000 fires so far this year

Inpe noted that the number of fires was not in line with those normally reported during the dry season.

“There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average,” Inpe researcher Alberto Setzer told Reuters.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during a National Soccer Day Ceremony in BrasiliaImage copyrightREUTERSImage captionMr Bolsonaro has been criticised over his environmental policies
“The dry season creates the favourable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.”

Ricardo Mello, head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Amazon Programme, said the fires were “a consequence of the increase in deforestation seen in recent figures”.

Why is Bolsonaro being criticised?

The reports of a rise in forest fires come amid criticism over Mr Bolsonaro’s environmental policies. Scientists say the Amazon has suffered losses at an accelerated rate since the president took office in January, with policies favouring development over conservation.

Over the past decade, previous governments had managed to reduce deforestation with action by federal agencies and a system of fines. But Mr Bolsonaro and his ministers have criticised the penalties and overseen a fall in confiscations of timber and convictions for environmental crimes.

Last month, the far-right president accused Inpe’s director of lying about the scale of deforestation in the Amazon and trying to undermine the government. It came after Inpe published data showing an 88% increase in deforestation there in June compared to the same month a year ago.

The director of the agency later announced that he was being sacked amid the row.

Inpe has previously insisted that its data is 95% accurate. The agency’s reliability has also been defended by several scientific institutions, including the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.


Do you have video or pictures of fires in the affected regions? If it is safe to do so email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

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Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-49415973

Garden and Gun: How Fishing Captains are Saving the Everglades

Meet Captains for Clean Water, the non-profit that’s charting a new course for South Florida’s ecosystem—and the fisheries it supports

by T. Edward Nickens October/November 2018

Garden & Gun: How Fishing Captains are Saving the Everglades | Captains for Clean Water National Coverage

Chris Wittman, a cofounder of Captains for Clean Water, navigates Florida’s mangrove backcountry. | Phot Credit: Pete Barrett

“This is what’s at risk,” Captain Chris Wittman tells me. “This is what we are fighting for.” He doesn’t need to point to what he’s referring to. Open waters and islands dense with mangroves unfurl in every direction. We’ve run a Hell’s Bay poling skiff through skinny water outside Everglades City, Florida, for a morning of hunting tarpon. This is primal country, without the blemish of a single human-built structure. Untouched, or so it seems.

Two years ago, Wittman, who lives in Fort Myers, would spend three days on the water for every one on land, guiding anglers to tarpon, permit, and redfish along the Gulf of Mexico. He still watches plenty of sunrises from a poling platform, but these days he finds himself under fluorescent lighting more than he’d like: on the phone, in meetings, in legislative offices in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

As a founding director of Captains for Clean Water, a nonprofit that advocates for the restoration of Florida’s estuaries and the Everglades, Wittman is helping channel into action a rising tide of anger over the state’s catastrophic water pollution. He and another Fort Myers charter captain, Daniel Andrews, formed the group in February 2016, after contaminated water from Lake Okeechobee flowed into the Caloosahatchee River and then into the fish-rich estuary where they have guided for decades. The toxic sludge wiped out grass beds and oyster reefs. Fish and horse conchs fled the contamination to die on white-sand beaches. The stench drove tourists out of their hotels. Fishing bookings, Wittman said, fell by 80 percent.

Wittman on his eighteen-foot Hell’s Bay fishing skiff. | Phot Credit: Pete Barrett

Captains in the area had seen this before. Florida’s waterways have been re-plumbed over the last century, and water no longer flows where nature intended. Instead of filtering slowly from Okeechobee through the Everglades, water polluted by municipal and agricultural sources shunts from the lake through a system of locks and canals into the St. Lucie River on the east coast and the Caloosahatchee to the west.

Wet years had brought high flows of tainted freshwater, but
the winter deluge in 2016 was the worst ever. “The straw that broke the camel’s
back,” Andrews says. The two captains coined a name for their grassroots effort, put up a Facebook page calling for a meeting at the Fort Myers Bass Pro Shops, and wondered if they could get a few dozen irate captains to show.

They did—along with about three hundred others. “The crowd was out the door,” Wittman recalls, and included saltwater and freshwater fishing guides and anglers, commercial fishermen, tackle-shop owners, and journalists. “We realized we had a chance to do something to fix this. To influence our policy makers.”

Garden & Gun: How Fishing Captains are Saving the Everglades | Captains for Clean Water National Coverage

Phot Credit: Pete Barrett

Fixing the Everglades has been a rallying cry since the invention of orange juice, but there is hope that a window of opportunity has opened. After years of study, plans are now under way to build a 17,000-acre, $1.6 billion reservoir ringed with massive constructed wetlands south of Lake Okeechobee. The lake will capture and hold polluted runoff, filter it through the marshes, and release it slowly south into the Everglades, which have been cut off from adequate water flows for decades.

The Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir, as it is known, was originally proposed as a 60,000-acre project, and some worry that the current design won’t be large enough to result in the “optimal” benefit that the authorizing legislation requires. “But it’s a big step forward,” says Thomas Van Lent, director of science and policy for the Everglades Foundation. “If it doesn’t provide the promised water quality, the state is on the hook to fix it.” After Congress green-lights Florida’s plan, it also has to come up with $800 million in matching funding. Van Lent is optimistic the needed legislation will pass this session, and that construction will begin soon after.

For now, the captains—and the more than 2,500 other members of Captains for Clean Water—are applying pressure to state legislators, federal officials, and anyone who will listen about the chance to do something meaningful for South Florida’s ecosystem, and the famed fisheries it supports.

The Everglades are dying. I’ve heard that since I was a kid,” Wittman says. “And there are quite a few places where this effort can still fall off the tracks. But this is the best chance we’ve had for significant conservation of the ’Glades in my lifetime. We can’t squander this opportunity.” 

—Source: GardenandGun.com

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT: 

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1% for the Planet Breweries Team-Up On “Brut for the Planet IPA”

Brut For The Planet
Brut India Pale Ale
7.2% Alcohol by Volume

SAN DIEGO, CA — Pure Project Brewing teamed up with fellow California 1% for the Planet Members, Topa Topa Brewing Co. and Smog City Brewing Co. to brew “Brut for the Planet IPA.”

This Brut IPA is intended to resemble a West Coast IPA melded with the dryness of a Brut Champagne. A clean and crisp IPA, with a nice smooth lingering bitterness. Mellow hoppy aroma up front, with a subtle light body, and a fantastically dry finish.

The beer aims to raise awareness about the need for environmental action, and how breweries that are a part of the 1% for the Planet movement are taking action.

“Beer is an agricultural product and if we do not take care of the land that sustains our agriculture, there will eventually be nothing left to brew with,” said Winslow Sawyer of Pure Project Brewing.

 

Since the breweries teamed up, fellow California brewery, Alvarado Street Brewing also just announced their 1% For The Planet membership.

“Good beer can reflect the health of our planet,” said Kate Williams, 1% for the Planet’s CEO. “We are thrilled to continue to add to the robust list of breweries around the world that are taking action on the environment.”

1% for the Planet has provided these breweries with a unique opportunity to give back to their local communities as well as help to grow their business.

“All in all our partnership with 1% has been a wonderful addition to our brand here at Topa Topa,” said Jack Dyer of Topa Topa Brewing Co. “The relationships we have established in the community have helped propel our growth as a company.”

For more on 1% for the Planet’s craft beer membership, please visit: http://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org/what-we-do/our-stories/14-our-stories/228-our-craft-beer-members

About Pure Project Brewing

San Diego based Pure Project is focused on creating an impact both in our business, locally and around the world. At their brewery, Pure Project aims to reduce and reuse as much waste as possible including encouraging customers to bring coolers and bags instead of us using plastic snap packs. They reuse old grain bags for trash and giant rubber bands instead of shrink wrap to name a few. They are committed to sourcing locally and recently start using California grown and malted organic grain which has been a huge step forward towards sustainability.

Currently to meet their 1% for the Planet annual giving. They donate 1% of all revenue to San Diego Surfrider, San Diego Coastkeeper, Outdoor Outreach and the Conservation Alliance.

About Topa Topa Brewing Co.

Ventura based Topa Topa Brewing Co. utilizes their partnership with 1% for the Planet by focusing on a local 1% for the planet approved nonprofit each quarter. Not only does that nonprofit get the benefit of receiving 1% of sales that quarter, but the partner is also offered the opportunity to engage with our community directly in our taproom. They do this by holding at least 3 events during the quarter at our taproom(s).

About 1% for the Planet

1% for the Planet is a global organization that connects dollars and doers to accelerate
smart environmental giving. Through our business and individual membership, 1% for the Planet inspires people to support environmental organizations through annual membership and everyday actions. Started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, our members have given more than $175 million to environmental nonprofits to date. Today, 1% for the Planet is a network of more than 1,500 member businesses, a new and expanding core of hundreds of individual members, and thousands of nonprofit partners in more than 60 countries.

Posted:

Source: http://pfpitches.com/1-for-the-planet/brut-for-the-planet/

Patagonia Is Cracking Down on the Wall Street Uniform

The outdoor gear maker won’t create the products for just anyone through its corporate sales program. Recently, Patagonia has shifted its focus to “mission-driven companies that prioritize the planet,” the company said in a statement late Tuesday. It has made gear for all kinds of companies in the past, from big banks to nonprofit organizations.

Patagonia said it wants to add more companies that have the B Corp designation to its client list — businesses that meet certain environmental, social and transparency standards and are certified by a private organization. Patagonia itself is a B Corp and some financial and technology firms also have that status.

The company declined to share exactly when the changes were enacted, but current customers shouldn’t fret. Existing corporate customers will remain in the program and still be able to order more branded items from Patagonia.

Fleece and puffer vests or jackets from Patagonia with a company logo have gained a reputation as a go-to corporate uniform in the finance and tech worlds, an odd turn for an outdoor brand that sells everything from wetsuits to sleeping bags.

Word of the change spread when Binna Kim, president of the coincidentally-named communications agency Vested, shared on social media Monday an email from a third-party supplier of Patagonia’s corporate garments after it tried to order items for a client and said it was rejected.

According to the email from the unidentified supplier cited by Kim, Patagonia was reluctant to sell co-branded gear with companies they consider “ecologically damaging,” such as the oil and mining industries. It also singled out religious groups, political-affiliated organizations and financial institutions.

Late last year, Patagonia updated its mission statement, saying, “We’re in business to save our home planet.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-03/sorry-wall-streeters-you-now-need-to-earn-your-patagonia-vests

Take Your Kid for A Hike — Any Hike

A mom learns something new about her son on the short, crowded trail to the summit of Oahu’s Diamond Head.

I’ve been to Honolulu numerous times: as a kid with my parents (my Korean-born dad loved vacationing on Waikiki Beach, I think mostly for the readily available Asian food), for high school and college volleyball tournaments, and as an adult. But I’ve never hiked to the top of the iconic mountain that sits at the end of Waikiki, the one in all the postcards.

Of all the hikes on the island of Oahu—many through bamboo forests and to waterfalls—the .8-mile, mostly paved trail up Diamond Head has always seemed like an outing best left to sandal-wearing tourists.

But on a recent trip to Honolulu, I felt compelled to hike the mountain locals think is the true “mana” or, mother, of the island with my 10-year-old son, Sam. I also felt compelled to show him the pearls of Waikiki—like how you can get great sushi and fresh pineapple and shop for a shark tooth necklace in one convenience store.

I knew the short hike would be no problem, physically, for my soccer-playing, 10K-running son. But, he’s a kid, so I never really know whether I’m going to get enthusiasm or moodiness when I take him out.

Thanks to jet lag and the three-hour time difference from our home in Boulder, Colorado, we were up before dawn. And since it was a Saturday morning and I knew the popular hike would be crowded, we arrived at the trailhead when the park opened at 6 a.m. 

“That’s a vulture,” Sam said, pointing out the large bird overhead as we started walking. I’m not sure that it was, but I didn’t care. It was nice to be chatting about wildlife, breathing the humid morning air, and stretching our legs.

A light rain fell, and that felt great. We passed other hikers—a guy in a North Carolina T-shirt, a Japanese family, a large group of Korean tourists. Sam and I talked about how, since Hawaii sits in the middle of the Pacific between the mainland U.S. and Asia, at least half the tourists—and the majority of the locals—are of Asian descent. They look like my son’s grandpa, my dad. They look like me, a hapa haole (half-Asian, from the mainland). And they look like him, also hapa (of mixed Asian descent). I’ve always felt more connected to my own Asian heritage while in Hawaii, and hoped Sam would, too.

The gradually climbing trail became a steep staircase, then led us through a dark, damp tunnel. The manmade features on the mountain were built in 1908 as part of the Army’s coastal defense system, and the hike leads right through concrete bunkers, batteries, and searchlight and fire control stations.

Sam and I talked history as we climbed a steep spiral staircase before squeezing our bodies through a tight opening to follow the trail. “The opening is small to keep the people inside safe during a war,” I explained.

I followed him up the last few steps to the summit, and audibly exhaled at the sight of the sun rising over green fields and the blue Pacific to the east, painting the low clouds gold and pink. To the west bustled Honolulu, the slow-rolling waves of Waikiki Beach paralleling the high-rises.

The concrete observation tower at the top of the trail was already full of people. “Come on, Sam, let’s go up there and get a picture,” I said, and was surprised at the response.

“No, Mom, let’s go.”

Really? I thought. I asked him again, and he gave me some pre-teen attitude I’d not seen a whole lot of before. I’d definitely not seen it on the hike so far. I’d been walking with a pleasant 10-year-old boy, up until this point.

I pleaded with him to climb onto the platform and pose for a picture with me before attitude-laden Sam (who was this kid?) gave me a forceful, “Let’s GO!”

“Okay,” I acquiesced, and followed him down a different, more gradual route than we’d come up (the trail loops).

“You know,” I said, looking at his skinny back as we walked, “You can’t be punky to me like that. Can you tell me what’s going on? Was it the people?”

“No.”

“Then what?”

We sat down at an overlook and I pulled out leftover pineapple spears.

I had to coax it out of him, but he’s afraid of heights. I didn’t know this about him, but that’s why that he didn’t like climbing on top of the platform, on the top of the mountain.

I was struck by how it took this short, touristy hike (albeit, across the ocean) to find this out about my son, and was simultaneously grateful but ashamed that I hadn’t known before. I wondered what else I’d pushed him to do in the past that made him uncomfortable, and resigned myself to plan future outdoor family adventures accordingly. I’ve never been a fan of exposure myself, and I smiled to think that we were more alike than I had realized.

For the rest of the short hike, we marveled at how many people hike with selfie sticks and music playing out of their phones, and talked abou how we’d go to the farmer’s market to buy smoothies and picnic food for the beach. We talked about how his grandpa had done this hike many times and would be happy that Sam and I did it together. And, as I watched his little head bob up and down with every step, I realized that you don’t need a challenging backcountry adventure to transform your relationship with your kid—any hike will do.

Get more tips, trips, and stories about family outdoor adventures on BACKPACKER’s Families Gone Wild.

Senate Passes a Sweeping Land Conservation Bill

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday passed a sweeping public lands conservation bill, designating more than one million acres of wilderness for environmental protection and permanently reauthorizing a federal program to pay for conservation measures.

The Senate voted 92 to 8 in favor of the bill, offering a rare moment of bipartisanship in a divided chamber and a rare victory for environmentalists at a time when the Trump administration is working aggressively to strip away protections on public lands and open them to mining and drilling.

“It touches every state, features the input of a wide coalition of our colleagues, and has earned the support of a broad, diverse coalition of many advocates for public lands, economic development, and conservation,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, the majority leader.

Western lawmakers of both parties have been working for four years on the bill, which will next be taken up by the House of Representatives, where it also enjoys bipartisan support.

Among the most consequential provisions is the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal program established in 1964 that uses fees and royalties paid by oil and gas companies drilling in federal waters to pay for onshore conservation programs.

Although the program has long enjoyed bipartisan support, Congress typically renews it for only a few years at a time, and it expired on Sept. 30 and has not been renewed. The new public lands package would authorize the program permanently, ending its long cycle of nearing or passing expiration and awaiting Congressional renewal.

 

“Today’s vote is a big step toward ending the cycle of uncertainty that has plagued America’s best conservation program,” said Kameran Onley, director of United States Government Relations at the Nature Conservancy. “At no cost to the taxpayer, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped expand national parks, preserve pristine landscapes, and create trails and athletic fields across the country.”

The bill designates 1.3 million acres in Utah, New Mexico, Oregon and California as “wilderness,” the most stringent level of federal land protection. It prohibits any development and the use of most motorized vehicles. And the bill creates less-stringent but permanent protections of land in Montana and Washington state.

With the passage, the core group of lawmakers responsible for the negotiations was jubilant. Staff members fist-bumped in the hallway as the lawmakers — all from Western states except for Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia and the new ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee — celebrated the bill’s passage.

“It took public lands to bring divided government together,” said Senator Steve Daines, a Montana Republican.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Coral Davenport covers energy and environmental policy, with a focus on climate change, from the Washington bureau. She joined The Times in 2013 and previously worked at Congressional Quarterly, Politico and National Journal. @CoralMDavenport Facebook

per https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/climate/senate-conservation-bill.html

25 Reasons Why Hunting Is Conservation

Reason No. 1 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America. Thanks to the money and hard work invested by hunters to restore and conserve habitat, today there are more than 1 million.

Reason No. 2 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1900, only 500,000 whitetails remained. Thanks to conservation work spearheaded by hunters, today there are more than 32 million.

Reason No. 3 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1900, only 100,000 wild turkeys remained. Thanks to hunters, today there are over 7 million.

Reason No. 4 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1901, few ducks remained. Thanks to hunters’ efforts to restore and conserve wetlands, today there are more than 44 million.

Reason No. 5 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1950, only 12,000 pronghorn remained. Thanks to hunters, today there are more than 1.1 million.

Reason No. 6 why Hunting Is Conservation: Habitat, research and wildlife law enforcement work, all paid for by hunters, help countless non-hunted species.

Reason No. 7 why Hunting Is Conservation: Through state licenses and fees, hunters pay $796 million a year for conservation programs.*

Reason No. 8 why Hunting Is Conservation: Through donations to groups like RMEF, hunters add $440 million a year to conservation efforts.*

Reason No. 9 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1937, hunters actually requested an 11% tax on guns, ammo, bows and arrows to help fund conservation. That tax, so far, raised more than $11 billion for wildlife conservation.*

Reason No. 10 why Hunting Is Conservation: An 11% tax on guns, ammo, bows and arrows generates $371 million a year for conservation.*

Reason No. 11 why Hunting Is Conservation: All together, hunters pay more than $1.6 billion a year for conservation programs. No one gives more!*

Reason No. 12 why Hunting Is Conservation: Three out of four Americans approve of hunting, partly because hunters are America’s greatest positive force for conservation.

Reason No. 13 why Hunting Is Conservation: Every single day U.S. sportsmen contribute $8 million to conservation.

Reason No. 14 why Hunting Is Conservation: Hunting funds conservation AND the economy, generating $38 billion a year in retail spending.*

Reason No. 15 why Hunting Is Conservation: Female participation in hunting (3.35 million) is on the rise thanks to a 10% increase from 2008 to 2012.

Reason No. 16 why Hunting Is Conservation: More than 95 percent of our 222,000 members are passionate hunters. More people hunt (19.3 million) each year than play soccer (13.7 million), tennis (13.6 million) or baseball (12.1 million).

Reason No. 17 why Hunting Is Conservation: A wildlife management tool, hunting helps balance wildlife populations with what the land can support, limits crop damage and curtails disease outbreaks.

Reason No. 18 why Hunting Is Conservation: Hunters help manage growing numbers of predators such as cougars, bears, coyotes and wolves. Our government spends millions to control predators and varmints while hunters have proven more than willing to pay for that opportunity.

Reason No. 19 why Hunting Is Conservation: Hunting has major value for highway safety. For every deer hit by a motorist, hunters take six.

Reason No. 20 why Hunting Is Conservation: Hunting supports 680,000 jobs, from game wardens to waitresses, biologists to motel clerks.

Reason No. 21 why Hunting Is Conservation: Hunters provide for conservation—and for their families. Hunting is a healthy way to connect with nature and eat the world’s most organic, lean, free-range meat.

Reason No. 22 why Hunting Is Conservation: Hunters are the fuel behind RMEF and its 7 million plus acres of habitat conservation. More than 95 percent of our members are passionate hunters.

Reason No. 23 why Hunting Is Conservation: Avid hunter Theodore Roosevelt created our national forests and grasslands and forever protected 230 million acres for wildlife and the public to use and enjoy.

Reason No. 24 why Hunting Is Conservation: With funding from hunters, RMEF helped restore wild elk herds in seven states and provinces.

Reason No. 25 why Hunting Is Conservation: As society loses its ties to wildlife and conservation, the bonds with nature formed by hunting are the greatest hope for creating the next generation of true conservationists.

*financial info via America’s Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy (January 2013) & Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation (January 2013)

*article via http://www.rmef.org/conservation/huntingisconservation/25reasonswhyhuntingisconservation.aspx
*pictures via http://sportingclassicsdaily.com/hunting-is-conservation/

BTT Conservation Partner SweetWater Brewing Co. Participates in Juvenile Tarpon Tagging Efforts

Before the holidays, BTT Juvenile Tarpon Habitat Program Manager JoEllen Wilson and Director of Development Mark Rehbein were accompanied by SweetWater Brewing Company’s Jake Basnett and BTT member Mark Spurgeon on a juvenile tarpon tagging trip. An arduous day of seine netting in southwest Florida yielded a batch of tarpon 12 inches or less that made for viable Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tagging candidates. After four productive years, this tagging effort marked the completion of BTT’s tarpon nursery habitat restoration project at Coral Creek Preserve.

An abandoned residential development with saltwater access, Coral Creek Preserve houses 6 adjacent canals connected by a main canal withan inlet to the west branch of Coral Creek. The original restoration plan was to fill in the canals and return them to their natural pine flatwood topography. But after realizing that juvenile tarpon inhabited one of the canals, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) decided to change tact and hand creative license of the restoration design over to BTT. SWFWMD’s decision to entrust an outside source was unprecedented. With habitat in Florida already drastically reduced, informed restoration of degraded habitat provides the best opportunity to increase the amount of juvenile tarpon nursery grounds available.

The six canals will serve as monitoring locations for testing various tarpon nursery habitat designs. Over the next 12-18 months, BTT will be using PIT tags and antenna arrays provided by sponsors like SweetWater Brewing to gather data on growth rates and survival rates, and to track tarpon movement throughout the various treatment groups as juveniles emigrate out of the canals and into Coral Creek. 

With the support of SweetWater’s #fishforafish campaign, BTT has been able to tag a juvenile tarpon for every photo of SweetWater’s stacked Goin’ Coastal series of tarpon cans tagged on social media. And with every juvenile tarpon tagged, BTT will be better able to determine which habitat characteristics are most important to a nursery habitat’s success. The completion of Coral Creek and ongoing monitoring efforts will ultimately help inform future decisions regarding critical habitat restoration design elements.

If you’d like to learn more about this project and others, please join us at our Boca Grande Event on Friday, February 1st. Visit our website at www.btt.org/bocagrandefor more information.

Photo Credit: JoEllen Wilson

PC 1: JoEllen Wilson preparing to surgically implant a PIT tag into a juvenile tarpon

PC 2: A stack of SweetWater Brewery’s Goin’ Coastal cans

Credit: https://www.bonefishtarpontrust.org/blog/2019-01-09-btt-conservation-partner-sweetwater-brewing-co-participates-juvenile-tarpon-tagging

Bonefish Connectivity by Dr. Aaron Adams, BTT Director of Science and Conservation

There are two ways that fish populations in different locations can be connected – by migrations of adults and by the transport of fish larvae by ocean currents. Learning how, and to what extent, bonefish, tarpon, and permit populations are connected is important for conservation because this information allows us to design the most effective management plans.

On the local scale – say an island in the Bahamas, or the Florida Keys – bonefish in different locations are connected by spawning migrations. Tagging and tracking of bonefish in the Bahamas, Belize, and Florida Keys shows that for most of the year adult bonefish stick to a small area. In other words, if you fish a flat often, you are probably fishing to the same local population of bonefish. But during spawning season, these bonefish undergo long-distance migrations to spawning sites – we’ve tracked bonefish migrating 70 miles from their home flat to a spawning site, and then returning to their home flat. This means that during the spawning season, bonefish from a wide region can mix.

This leads us to the regional scale – say between Mexico, Belize, Cuba, Florida. Gathered in large groups, bonefish swim offshore at night to spawn. They spawn in the top 200 feet or so of water that is thousands of feet deep. They use a method called broadcast spawning – they eject eggs and sperm into the open water, where fertilization occurs. The fertilized eggs hatch in about 24 hours, and the tiny larvae live as plankton in the open ocean for between 41 and 71 days. During this oceanic phase, ocean currents can act to retain the larvae near their parents’ location, or the currents can transport the larvae long distances. So a larvae that is spawned in south Andros, the Bahamas, might end up becoming a juvenile in Andros, or it might end up on another island in the Bahamas or on the north coast of Cuba. The end result is that bonefish in separate locations are essentially part of the same regional population.

What does this mean for conservation? On the local scale, habitat conservation and protection must focus on adult home flats, spawning migration pathways, spawning sites, and juvenile habitats. On the regional scale, we have to make sure that bonefish populations are healthy in all locations, even if we only have one favorite fishing location. And that the local conservation measures, like habitat protection, are adequate in all locations to ensure that the local populations are healthy. In other words, every location where bonefish live is important to having a healthy regional population, and your local fishery depends on a healthy regional population as well as local conservation measures.

Article via Bonefish & Tarpon Trust