Category Archives: national wildlife refuges

10,000 birds die as ‘Everglades of West’ dries, spreads disease

Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are estimating that more than 10,000 migrating birds have died so far this year because of reduced water flow to the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and California.  Officials say the final death toll may be as much as 20,000 birds. The cause is this: Humans are sucking the water the refuge needs for agriculture, recreation and more. What a damn shame. The American Bird Conservancy offers this look.

America’s outdoor heritage and the economy

These words are posted on the White House’s Web site right now. The president, of course, is right on the mark.

How much land is enough for all species to survive?

This, a recent Sunday newspaper column of mine, starts with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt. Red the whole piece and let me know what you think. Is three percent of our land enough? Four percent?

Idaho county vs. national wildlife refuge

Yes, Lake Lowell (actually a reservoir, or fake lake) was created to store/collect irrigation water (more than a century ago) but the place – long a favorite hiking/birding spot of mine – is a national wildlife refuge (Deer Flat), not a local Disneyland theme park for Jet Skis and the like. Too bad this Idaho Statesman article doesn’t offer any insights into conservation.

Weed warriors get their inches of column space

That’s newsprint column space and the publication is the Idaho Statesman paper of Boise. The place is Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge near Nampa, Idaho. Click here to read this nice feature on a volunteer’s work in the field for wildlife.

Rising sea levels threaten Delaware coast

Sea-level rise is happening right now. This isn’t a “tomorrow” issue, folks. And human activities, like the burning of coal to make electricity, are to blame. Read about Delaware’s situation right here.

EPA plan to clean air cod cost Oklahoma residents

Note to the Daily Oklahoman of Oklahoma City: Dirty air from those coal-fired power plants is already costing people — real people — in harming their health. Typically of media these days, you only looked at the possible impact on people’s household budgets — their wallets/bank accounts. Read the mainstream media’s feeble attempt at actual in-depth reporting right here.

Bosque del Apache: A special place in N.M.

Here’s a nice newspaper feature about the national wildlife refuge south of Albuquerque. And that’s m wife Monica birding there in the photograph.

Delaware has second thoughts about beach near Prime Hook NWR

From PEER Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) comes this gem. Finally, someone thinks and comes to the right conclusion.

Not Enough Sand to Close Dune Breaches and Growing Worry about Habitat Harm

Washington, DC – A plan to scrape sand from beaches on the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in order to rebuild dunes shielding private beach homes has a new critic – the state agency that is supposed to carry it out, according to a letter released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) now admits to a number of reservations about the project that it is co-sponsoring, including that there is not enough sand on the refuge beaches to close the breaches that storms have opened in the dunes.

In an August 25, 2010 letter commenting .on the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS operates the refuge) Draft Environmental Assessment for the project, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara voices support for another option than the “Preferred Alternative” put forward by  FWS.  Instead of scraping sand from refuge beaches, DNREC suggests importing sand from elsewhere, provided that DNREC does not have to pay for it.  Besides the insufficient sand on “sand starved” refuge beaches, DNREC says -

  • The project may be counterproductive: “In the long run allowing the system to self-adjust may enable the existing wetlands to better keep up with sea level rise”;
  • “The preferred approach is, admittedly, a short-term solution that may not survive the next Nor’easter”; and
  • Damage to habitat for shorebirds, beach-nesting birds and dune plants may be greater than the FWS assessment estimates.

“When even your partner starts getting cold feet, it is time to step back and take a hard look at what you are doing,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing out that back in May DNREC sent two state bulldozers onto Prime Hook Refuge wetlands to scrape sand but were turned back and since seem to have undergone a change of heart.  That incident is still under investigation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  “If there is not enough sand, what is the point of spending a moment more on this project?”

Other practical barriers also loom, including a DNREC concern that “the time and cost estimates for this approach is significantly underestimated.”  DNREC states that the project “should be completed between October 1 and October 22″ to avoid interfering with duck hunting.  But, to date, FWS does not have a single state or federal permit needed to break ground.  In addition, DNREC wants a new “memorandum of understanding” detailing “obligations and expectations…including funding limitations” on the state role.

“With friends like DNREC, the Fish & Wildlife Service does not want for critics,” said PEER Counsel Christine Erickson who is preparing for litigation in the event the Prime Hook dunes project proceeds further.  “The Prime Hooks dune project is an unworkable, harmful, misguided and short-sighted political fix to a suite of resource management issues propelled by rising sea levels.”


Read the DNREC letter

See the host of environmental problems plaguing the Prime Hook dune project

View Defenders of Wildlife comments echoing PEER objections

A favorite natural area: The Great Dismal Swamp

Nice pix here of Lake Drummond, the huge natural lake at the heart of Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Va. And long one of my favorite natural areas with loads of hands-on natural history experiences and some darn good hiking.