Talking to your elected officials about climate change
We know from research that one of the biggest actions you can take to fight climate change is talking to your elected officials. We also know it’s one of the more nerve-wracking steps to take (no, unfortunately, we cannot solve the climate crisis on reusable coffee cups and water bottles alone––but boy that would make life a lot simpler if we could).
Two-time Olympic gold medalist and Alliance member David Wise took the plunge this week and testified before the Nevada Senate Growth and Infrastructure Committee to talk about increasing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Sound complicated? We’ll break it down for you. We’ve got a video of the thing so you can see just how easy it is to talk to your elected officials about climate change. Click the link to see the video: https://protectourwinters.org/how-pro-skier-david-wise-does-climate-action/
“This past year, I launched what I’d call a passion project, called ‘Wise Off The Grid.’ Through social media, it gives followers the chance to learn more about my family’s work to reduce our carbon footprint, from growing our food to harvesting our meat to powering our home with solar energy. Our family’s goal is to live completely off the grid.
But unfortunately, we live in a world where individual change isn’t going to be enough to achieve a stable climate. We need our lawmakers– we need you– to help us in passing systemic policy change to drive down carbon emissions at a much larger scale. We need you to help us ensure the everyday choices we make as individuals and families are good for the climate.”
David Wise is a two time Olympic Gold Medalist in halfpipe skiing and is a Protect Our Winters Alliance member. He lives in Verdi with his wife and two children.
A scientific note we published on April 09, 2019 reports the records of whales within the world’s largest accumulation of floating ocean plastic: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Over the past few weeks, two whales beached with large amounts of plastic in their stomachs making news headlines, one in the Phillippinesand the other in Italy. On April 9, 2019, we published a note in the journal Marine Biodiversity describing sightings of whales within the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) – the largest accumulation zone for plastics in the world’s open ocean about halfway between Hawaii and California. This work was first presented at the Society for Marine Mammals biennial conference in December 2017 in Halifax, Canada providing evidence of cetaceans being exposed to high concentrations of plastic.
During our Aerial Expedition in October 2016, whales were spotted by our observers aboard our Hercules C-130 aircraft. During our flights over this very remote area, we observed at least 14 whales, including four sperm whales, three beaked whales, and two baleen whales. We recorded a sperm whale mother with a calf, providing evidence that the GPGP is being used by these magnificent animals at various life stages. Whale population structures and movement patterns in this area are not well known and it is unclear whether they migrate through the GPGP, are always present or both.
As part of the main objective of this expedition, we also registered 1280 surface drifting plastics, such as fishing nets, ropes, floats, and fragmented debris. This equates to a ratio of about 90 objects per whale sighted. Plastic items were occasionally seen in close proximity (i.e. a few meters) to the observed animals, thereby clearly posing entanglement and ingestion risks.
Cetacean sightings of our study.
In the map, the background colors represent plastic pollution levels (red = highest, blue = lowest), gray lines show the two ~665km survey transects of this study, and black dots are locations where cetaceans were sighted. Photographs above the map show some of the animals observed: sperm whales (sighting 2 and 3) and beaked whales (sighting 6 and 7). Red circles in sighting 3 indicate locations with floating debris. Photographs in the right side of the figure show examples of debris sighted.
One of the findings from our 2018 paper on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch showed 46% of the plastic found in the patch are fishing nets. Often referred to as ‘ghostnets’, these are lost and discarded fishing nets that can continuously trap marine wildlife in a process known as ‘ghost fishing’. The durability and strength of entangled fishing nets can cause chronic injury, starvation and general debilitation of entangled animals, often resulting in death. Fishing gear can also be heavy, often drowning exhausted animals including whales, seals, and sea turtles.
Whales, particularly, are known to ingest plastics, mistaking them for food and /or consuming them incidentally while feeding on prey aggregated with synthetic particles. The size of the plastic items ingested depends on the feeding behavior of the species. Filter-feeding baleen whales are particularly susceptible to accidently consuming small plastic particles known as ‘microplastics’ (< 5 mm) that are a health hazard to them. Sperm and beaked whales on the other hand, can ingest large plastic objects such as plastic bags and fishing nets (as was mentioned at the start of this article).
Sperm whale mother and calf. Observed on System 001’s first mission.
Ingesting large quantities of plastic can lead to an animal’s death due to gastric rupture and/or obstruction. Jacobsen et al. (2010) examined two sperm whales stranded along the California coast and extracted 24.2kg and 73.6 kg of plastic debris from their stomachs. Ingested items included fishing nets and ropes made of floating material. The researchers suggested that the ingestion of these objects occurred within the North Pacific subtropical gyre, which is made plausible by our observations.
Our scientific note demonstrates the potential exposure of multiple cetacean species to the high levels of plastic pollution within oceanic ‘garbage patches’.
In addition to the sightings during The Ocean Cleanup’s Aerial Expedition (the subject of these notes), 38 whale sightings were documented during System 001’s first mission deployment in the GPGP from October – December 2019 (results yet to be published), confirming the risk of these species being exposed to increased plastic concentrations.
Sperm whales observed on System 001’s first mission.
These sightings are a reminder of why we do what we do and further research evaluating the effects of ocean garbage patches on the world’s cetacean populations is needed. Looking ahead, The Ocean Cleanup will continue environmental monitoring while in the GPGP and will share new information to build upon our understanding of this complex problem.
 Environmental monitoring during deployment of The Ocean Cleanup’s System 001 was performed by 3rd party protected species observers. Visual monitoring for protected species was conducted for 1012 hours 45 minutes over the course of the 141 days of System 001’s deployment. Of the 24 species of whales and dolphins observed, four are listed as endangered on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including blue, fin, sei and sperm whales.
It’s almost here. Well, for some, it’s already here! Whether your state opened in March or you’ve got to wait until April 1st, let’s make sure we’re all prepared for turkey season. If you’re among those die-hard turkey hunters who eat, sleep, and eat turkey hunting in the springtime or who would like to, then you’d better get your gear ready. While a turkey hunting vest isn’t mandatory, it’s highly recommended and should be mandatory. There are many makes and models of turkey hunting vests on the market today. First, you need to go try on some brands and see how they fit and how versatile they are. I like one with adjustable shoulder straps that includes a chest strap to reduce weight on your back and shoulders. Also, the adjustable shoulder straps are priceless when hauling out a tom. This keeps the vest from hitting my legs as I walk and keeps the vest from shifting when walking steep terrain. It also reduces the amount of noise I make in the field during a spot and stalk hunt or shifting around a tree when gobblers come in from other directions. Most importantly, your turkey vest is like your own mobile office.
A good vest will keep you in the woods longer
Turkey hunting is the manipulation of communication. The pursuit of gobblers can be maddening one day and easy the next. We scout, hike, and call for those fractions of a second a gobble cracks the silence. If you’ve never had a gobbler fall silent after a fiery morning on the roost, then you have not hunted gobblers long enough. Getting ghosted by a big gobbler after fly-down is one of the most frustrating aspects of hunting spring gobblers; yet, if you can stay positioned and not spook any birds, you are still in the game. That big tom responded to you off the roost, understand he acknowledged your presence in his roundhouse. Secondly, he remembers where you were. In the late morning or early afternoon (depending on your state regulations), return to where you had last heard him gobble and make your setup. During this time of the day, especially as the spring rolls on, hens leave the tom to tend their nests, leaving toms vulnerable to calls mid-morning and throughout the day. This tactic can require some patience but has long been a card in the proverbial deck of seasoned turkey hunters. A good turkey vest will keep you in that position longer for the opportunity at that big gobbler. Here are some turkey vest essentials that will make your spring gobbler hunt more enjoyable and ultimately more successful.
Turkey Vest Checklist
slate and glass call with extra strikers
a piece of sandpaper to keep striker tips and friction surfaces abrasive
locator calls: crow and owl
hat and gloves
shears for cutting shooting lanes
pop-up blind with a chair
binoculars and a rangefinder
water bottle/snacks or a lunch
athletic Mobility boots or knee-high boots in swampy areas
mossy Oak camouflage shirt, pants, jacket, and rain suit
backpack depending on the length of hunt
extra-large Ziploc bags to keep strikers and chalk dry
The fight for Florida Bay: Why our southernmost estuary is suffering and how we can fix it
Hypersalinity. Sediment destabilization. Nutrient release. To the general population, these words are “science speak.” Without context or real-world examples, they are meaningless.
To water bodies like Florida Bay, these words are actually ecological occurrences that are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. They are a byproduct of the way water is mismanaged in Florida, creating a harmful chain reaction that could take years for the ecosystem to recover from.
About Florida Bay
Florida Bay is the southernmost estuary of the Everglades ecosystem, located at the tip of the mainland and cradled by the Florida Keys to the south. Spanning nearly 1,000 square miles and dotted with numerous basins and mangrove islands, it is one of the world’s largest estuaries and seagrass communities.
Florida Bay is also one of the most valuable and unique fisheries in the world. Highly-regarded game fish such as tarpon, permit, bonefish, snook, redfish, and trout, migrate to its pristine flats and luscious mangroves. It’s a nursery, nesting site, and feeding grounds for wading birds, crocodiles, manatees, dolphins, crustaceans, and sea turtles, who all partly depend on the healthy seagrass.
Lack of fresh water, too much saltwater
When we talk about Florida’s water crisis, the impacts to Florida Bay aren’t as easily seen.
Historically, fresh water flowed south from Lake Okeechobee, through the River of Grass and into the bay, naturally balancing its fragile ecosystem. Today, when water levels in the lake reach a certain threshold, water managers send it to tide via the St. Lucie River to the east and the Caloosahatchee to the west.
As a result, Florida Bay receives only one-sixth of the freshwater flow it once did and the ecosystem is imploding. In the summer of 2015, roughly 40,000 acres of seagrass died in Florida Bay due to lack of freshwater flow and unnaturally high salinities. Aquifers in South Florida are experiencing saltwater intrusion as a result of decreased sheet flow in the Everglades, threatening the drinking water supply for 8 million Floridians.
How do we fix it?
We must build the reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Because of water quality regulations aimed at protecting the Everglades ecosystem, the polluted water from Lake Okeechobee must first be cleaned in man-made wetlands before being sent south. This will require additional storage and stormwater treatment areas (STAs) south of the lake, where aquatic vegetation will remove nitrogen and phosphorous from the water as it slowly flows towards the Everglades.
Benefits of the reservoir:
Re-directs the flow of water to the south, providing water managers with another option
Reduces discharges to St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee by 55%
Stores and cleans water to send south to the Everglades and Florida Bay where it’s desperately needed
Awareness is key
In 2018, we joined a gathering of key agencies to spend a day on Florida Bay with fishing guides and learn about the health and challenges its facing. In February 2019, the Everglades Foundation hosted a similar event, inviting media contacts from across the country to set out on the bay and learn about these issues from scientists and conservationists.
This spring, a new conservation-based TV series called Florida Sportsman Watermen will premier, hosted by Florida Bay fishing guide, Captain Benny Blanco. This show was created to bring awareness to water issues around the state from toxic algae blooms and seagrass die-offs to degradation of springs and spreading coral disease. Woven together, of course, with fishing.
We must continue to advocate for Everglades restoration as a whole connected system. Understanding the impacts allows us all to stay vigilant, have informed conversations with others who are affected, and press for science-based solutions that will benefit the entire system—starting with the EAA Reservoir.
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.”
By Kim Bhasin
Take a second to read about 5 U.S. Presidents who have made their mark on the world of outdoor recreation.
Theodore Roosevelt: The Cowboy Conservationist
No discussion of outdoor-loving presidents would be complete without mention of Teddy Roosevelt. This guy’s penchant for rugged outdoor activity was truly remarkable. He first meandered onto the western landscape in his younger days, with hopes of hunting bison, and eventually found himself running a small cattle ranching operation in North Dakota.
Unlike many of his peers, who traveled West only to exploit the land for their own financial gain, Roosevelt saw the inherent value it had to offer a nation that was rapidly growing but still in its infancy. His early years out West were dominated by hunting trips and cattle drives, but once he saw the havoc that unregulated hunting and ranching was wreaking on the landscape, his thirst for adventure gave way to a desire to help preserve the beauty of the West forever.
To this day, few presidents can claim a conservation legacy as profound as the one left by Theodore Roosevelt. In addition to creating the U.S. Forest Service and designating 150 national forests, the Roosevelt administration produced 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks and 18 national monuments.
To this day, Roosevelt is considered the father of the modern conservation movement.
Still the only POTUS to have actively served as an NPS ranger, Ford enjoyed the distinguished title of ‘armed guard’ on one of Canyon’s bear feeding trucks.
In addition to contributing to the dangerous habituation of Yellowstone grizzlies, Ford handled meet and greets for important park visitors. Years later he would call his brief stint as an NPS ranger one of the greatest summers of his life.
Jimmy Carter: Paddler, Fly Fisherman and Environmental Stalwart
According to a New York Times article from 1994, former Georgia peanut farmer Jimmy Carter was far and away the most skilled fly fisherman to ever occupy the Oval Office.
“Since taking up the sport in the early 1970’s on Georgia’s Chattahoochee River, Carter has passed the big tests of casting a clean line,” the article reads, “taking heavy trout on fine tippets, and tying flies that can stand close inspection.”
Carter didn’t stop at fly fishing. He also enjoyed paddling the many whitewater tributaries of the North Georgia mountains, famously braving the class IV rapids of the Chattooga while lobbying for the river’s protection as a wild and scenic waterway during his tenure as governor.
During his single term as president Carter kept a steady eye on environmental issues, implementing the Soil and Water Conservation Act, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, the Antarctic Conservation Act, and the Endangered American Wilderness Act.
Herbert Hoover: Master of the Rapidan
Herbert Hoover is probably best known for presiding over the worst financial collapse in the history of the civilized world, but man could he cast a mean dry fly.
It’s said that Hoover, who honed his fly fishing skills on Virginia’s Rapidan River, turned to fishing as a respite from the demanding rigors of life in the public eye.
Hoover himself famously claimed that “there are only two occasions when Americans respect privacy, especially in Presidents. Those are prayer and fishing.”
He was what we call in today’s terms a “fly fishing purist” or “trout snob”, whichever you prefer.
In an interview with the National Park Service, Pete Hoover, the grandson of the 31st President, recalled Hoover saying “that really there’s only one kind of fishing and that’s trout fishing in streams.”
Barack Obama: Bear Grylls-trained Survivalist and Environmental Conservationist
Okay, that’s not a recognized certification of any kind, and our 44th President isn’t really known for his outdoor prowess. But hey, he dined on half-eaten salmon with Bear Grylls in Seward, Alaska. How could I leave him off the list?
He also preserved 260 million acres of land for future generations, more than any of his predecessors, by designating 19 national monuments.
Ensuring the economic health of nations is one of the biggest tasks expected of governments. The elephant in the room has long been the health of the environment, on which the health of the economy (and everything else) ultimately depends.
Most countries still rely on gross domestic product as the lead measure of their economic health. But this does not account for the loss of environmental condition. There is a growing recognition of the environmental damage that human activity causes, our dependence on a functioning environment, and the need for new approaches to measure and manage the world.
Integrating the environment into national accounts has long been suggested as a way to improve information and has been tried in several countries.
In Botswana, where elephants are included in the nation’s environmental accounts, spending on wildlife conservation is now seen as an investment, rather than a cost. This example shows how integrating environmental assets into economic data can help provide a new policy framing for conservation. But worldwide, this type of “expanded accounting” has had limited impact on policy decisions so far.
By 2020, at the latest, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes and are being incorporated into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems. (emphasis added)
This provides a clear starting point for conservationists and economists to work together. So far, little has been done on the valuation of biodiversity, and the work that has been done so far has not progressed very far on the question of how to integrate environmental and economic values into national accounting.
On one hand, putting monetary values on biodiversity has been decried as the commodification of nature. But we argue that without using appropriately defined monetary values, the environment will always be vulnerable to economic forces. If Aichi Target 2 is to be met by 2020, we clearly need an agreed concept of biodiversity value, and a shared approach to recognising it.
Crucially, as well as calculating the environment’s contribution to the economy, we also need to assess the requirements for maintaining and enhancing biodiversity. To return to the example of Botswana’s elephants, this means recognising that elephants need land and water (Botswana’s wildlife consumes 10% of all its water, with elephants accounting for most use). As tourism-related industries generated roughly US$2 billion in 2013 (Botswana’s second-largest sector by revenue, with mining the first), the allocation of water and land to wildlife is clearly a prudent investment decision.
This approach can also reveal the impacts and trade-offs resulting from different land uses on environmental values. In Victoria’s Central Highlands, for example, the cessation of native logging would reduce revenue from timber production, but would also help support a range of rare and endangered species, including Leadbeater’s Possum. It would also benefit a range of other industries like agriculture, as well as the people in cities like Melbourne.
Like any accounting system, these estimates of the economic value of the environment would need to be updated, ideally annually, if they are to remain relevant in underpinning governments’ decisions. This would also entail regular data collection on the species and ecosystems themselves.
Unfortunately, however, consistent long-term nationwide monitoring of biodiversity at the species or ecosystem level is rarely done. And while remote-sensing offers some promise for landscape-scale monitoring of major ecosystem types (such as tropical savannahs, temperate forests, wetlands), there is generally no substitute for boots on the ground.
This month’s summit in Egypt offers an opportunity for countries to reaffirm their recognition of the benefits that biodiversity provides to people and the economy. It also provides a chance to go further, to agree that integrated accounting will help us understand and appreciate the trade-offs between the environment and economy.
Recognizing and accounting for the elephant in the room would be a great achievement – not to mention a sound investment in the future.
The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Heather Keith to this article.
From POW’s coverage in the New York Times, you know that the snowsports community can and should play an important role in addressing climate change; there’s a lot riding on it (pun intended).
To really understand how MUCH is riding on it, we teamed up with our buddies at ESRI to show just how much climate change will impact the snowsports industry. We broke down our 2018 economic report into this nifty story map. It’s interactive, it’s easy to understand and it’s even easier to share. Give it a scroll. You just might learn something new!
Our 2018 economic report shows how warming temperatures have impacted the snowsports industry since 2001, what the economic value of the industry is today (2015-2016) and what changes we can expect in the future under high and low emissions scenarios.
Taking another look at the changing winter sports tourism sector in America, we find:
In the winter season of 2015–2016, more than 20 million people participated in downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling, with a total of 52.8 million skiing and snowboarding days, and 11.6 million snowmobiling days.
These snowboarders, skiers and snowmobilers added an estimated $20.3 billion in economic value to the U.S. economy, through spending at ski resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and gas stations.
We identify a strong positive relationship between skier visits and snow cover and/or snow water equivalent. During high snow years, our analysis shows increased participation levels in snow sports result in more jobs and added economic value. In low snow years, participation drops, resulting in lost jobs and reduced revenue. The effects of low snow years impact the economy more dramatically than those of high snow years.
While skier visits averaged 55.4 million nationally between 2001 and 2016, skier visits during the five highest snow years were 3.8 million higher than the 2001-2016 average and skier visits were 5.5 million lower than average during the five lowest snow years.
Low snow years have negative impacts on the economy. We found that the increased skier participation levels in high snow years meant an extra $692.9 million in value added and 11,800 extra jobs compared to the 2001–2016 average. In low snow years, reduced participation decreased value added by over $1 billion and cost 17,400 jobs compared to an average season.
Climate change could impact consumer surplus associated with winter recreation, reducing ski visits and per day value perceived by skiers.
Ski Resorts are improving their sustainability practices and their own emissions while also finding innovative ways to address low-snowfall and adapt their business models.
The winter sports economy is important for the vitality of U.S. mountain communities. This report shows the urgency for the U.S. to deploy solutions to reduce emissions and presents a roadmap for the winter sports industry to take a leading role in advocating for solutions.
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
BrandBuilders Podcast with Ryan & Kirk Leaphart from ReelTrail
September 13, 2018 | BrandBuilders & Dunstan Group
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast or weekend warrior, you’ve probably got a bunch of used gear in your garage that you hate to throw out. Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, and even Nextdoor are all options… but they all have their drawbacks, too.
Enter father and son consignment shop owners from Charleston who thought there had to be an easier way — so they designed ReelTrail, a buying and selling website and app that also gives back to environmental causes. Ryan and Kirk Leaphart joins us on the Brandbuilders Podcast with The Dunstan Group!