3rd Quarter 2007 Land Letter Articles
09/27/07 Agency attorney faces dismissal over Indian trust disclosures
An Interior department attorney who gave non-public documents to a Southern California newspaper reporter to illustrate his allegations of mismanagement by agency employees, now faces possible termination for alleged violations of the Trade Secrets Act. The heart of the matter is Robert McCarthy's continuing campaign to reveal problems and failures in the administration of Indian trust duties by Bureau of Indian Affairs staff members in the Palm Springs office. According to Interior documents, McCarthy claims that continuing BIA management problems are "costing the landowners because of delays on lease agreements, overdue payments, and the failure to properly assess annual rent increases." Trust no one.
09/27/07 Snowy plover recovery plan relies on volunteer efforts
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week issued a long-delayed recovery plan for Pacific Coast populations of the Western snowy plover. The goal of the $150 million plan is to increase and maintain a population of at least 3,000 breeding adults for 10 years in six recovery units stretching from Washington state to San Diego. During the last five years of the 40-year plan, FWS also hopes to see one fledged chick per adult male. Nest along the coast.
09/20/07 Coal ash contaminating groundwater, group claims
A commonly used method to reduce acid drainage at coal mines may be causing more harm than the problem it is supposed to fix, according to a report issued this week. A review of state monitoring statistics for 15 active or abandoned mines in Pennsylvania indicates that in at least 10 instances, coal combustion waste appears to be leeching arsenic and heavy metals into nearby groundwater and streams in unsafe levels. Stop the leaks.
09/20/07 Gov. Schwarzenegger revives dam, Bay Delta hopes in special session
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) brought lawmakers back to Sacramento this week for a special session to deal with two contentious issues left undone during the regular legislative session -- health care and water. To spur what will likely be spirited negotiations with the Democratic majority on how to address water matters, Schwarzenegger proposed a $9 billion bond measure that he hopes to place on the presidential primary ballot Feb. 5. Be special.
09/13/07 Ambitious $1.4B plan for San Francisco Bay caps decades of effort
Over the past decade, federal, state and local agencies have devoted well over $370 million to acquire and begin restoration of some 36,176 acres of wetlands and shorelines around the San Francisco Bay. Now the community organization that helped start the drive over 45 years ago recommends an even deeper investment -- amounting to $1.43 billion over the next 50 years. Join the crusade.
09/13/07 Last frontier is front line for warming effects
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A record high temperature on a late summer day in this rarely hot city might not be an accurate indication of climate change. But with each passing week, it seems that more evidence points to already substantial shifts in patterns affecting weather, water and atmospheric conditions that add up to one inescapable conclusion: Alaska is already on the front lines of change. "There's nothing subtle or non-obvious about our changes," said Deborah Williams, president of Alaska Conservation Solutions. Go north.
09/06/07 Calif. braces for cutbacks after Bay Delta ruling
Communities throughout California are taking another look at their emergency water management plans this week after a federal judge ordered state officials to prepare for reduced flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Bay Delta starting in December and lasting until a new federal biological opinion on protections for the endangered delta smelt can be put into effect. Feel flows.
09/06/07 Oregon joins fire emergency list
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) this week invoked that state's Conflagration Act to mobilize emergency resources related to the fast-growing GW fire, which began from a lightning strike in the Mount Washington wilderness on Aug. 31 but has since moved toward the Black Butte Ranch area. Almost immediately, the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared the fire eligible for federal assistance under the President's Disaster Relief Fund. Where there's smoke, there's FEMA.
09/06/07 Forest Service makes pot eradication a top priority
Visiting California last week, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey had hoped to join in on a helicopter tour and raid of suspected marijuana growing operations in the Sequoia National Forest. Although bad weather grounded the operation that day, Rey signaled that the event was just part of a continuing campaign to eradicate illegal pot farms on public lands. "Without a doubt, illegal drug trafficking is the number one priority today in the U.S. Forest Service," Rey told reporters during a Fresno news conference Aug. 30. To underscore the drive, Ron Pugh, a special agent with the Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Region, issued a report documenting the effects of marijuana growing in national forests and offering a strategic plan for marshaling resources to halt the problem. Dig into the story.
09/06/07 Agencies log land purchases under 2000 act
Federal land agencies this week said they will spend $18 million to acquire about 9,000 acres in 19 separate parcels throughout the West. Many of the properties are located in or adjacent to federally owned parks, forests, wildlife refuges or monument areas located in seven states. The money for the purchases comes from other federal land sales authorized by the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act of 2000. Land rush.
08/23/07 Whistle Stop train expands Alaskan access
GIRDWOOD, Alaska -- The train left the station nearly on time, but since this was a special run marking the start of a new "whistle stop" service through the Chugach National Forest, the conductor seemed more concerned with the comfort of VIP passengers than with maintaining a strict schedule. Among the guests aboard the train on this misty August morning were three members of the U.S. Senate, an associate deputy chief of the Forest Service and dozens of green-uniformed federal employees buzzing with excitement. As part of the celebration of the Chugach National Forest's 100th anniversary, the Forest Service and the Alaska Railroad introduced this new service to bring a new generation of explorers closer the Alaskan interior previously unavailable to any but the hardiest of hikers. All aboard.
08/23/07 Groups seek shorter brown bear hunting season in Alaskan preserve
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- In contrast with most parts of the world, Alaska boasts a healthy population of brown bears. With approximately 35,000 brown bears, also called grizzlies, the challenge for state and federal resource managers is usually less about maintaining a stable population than trying to balance competing interests that favor either hunting or expanded bear viewing opportunities for a booming ecotourism industry. The issue frequently comes to a head at the Katmai National Park and Preserve, run by the National Park Service, located about 250 miles southwest of Anchorage. Bear with us.
08/23/07 Calif. officials press for Delta solutions
If nothing else, the well-publicized problems affecting the environmental health and economic viability of California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta have forced state and federal government officials into a rare consensus: The delta ecosystem is in a crisis, and it would take massive amounts of money and possibly decades to achieve any kind of lasting solutions. Exactly what those solutions might be is a matter still to be resolved. Reach the summit.
08/16/07 San Francisco targets Yosemite Slough as restoration beachhead
SAN FRANCISCO -- Working from a map, it seems easy enough to access Yosemite Slough from the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. But most streets in this heavily industrialized section of San Francisco meet with a dead end of concrete and chain-link fencing topped with razor wire. And while a greenbelt of trees and bay grasses beckon just beyond these urban borders, a visitor needs an active imagination to envision how acres of illegally dumped garbage, construction debris and other refuse can be cleaned up and transformed into a welcoming state park and shoreline recreation area. Restore the shore.
08/09/07 Forest Service says thinning limited Tahoe-area fire
The U.S. Forest Service reports that the devastating Angora wildfire, which destroyed over 250 homes in the South Lake Tahoe area this summer, could have been far worse if not for past fuel treatment efforts. The report released Aug. 3 looked into how the 3,072-acre fire spread in areas where fuel treatment programs had been conducted on Forest Service lands before the fire. Spread yourself thin.
08/02/07 Oil spill leads to habitat protections for Pacific shore birds
The sinking of the New Carissa cargo ship off the Oregon coast nearly a decade ago has led to acquisition of a new habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet and other Northwest forest species. In an agreement finalized this week, over 3,850 acres of forested land will be transferred from private timber companies to the Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians to be managed as a habitat for murrelets. Nest by the sea.
07/26/07 Western line could be first test for federal siting powers
The rejection by regulators of the Arizona portion of a planned high-voltage transmission line into Southern California may become the first test case of federal "back stop" power-line siting authority, as established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Multiple factors dictate if and when project applicant Southern California Edison might be able to bring a case to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for possible approval of the 500-kilovolt Devers-Palo Verde No. 2 (DPV2) project as part of a Western National Interest Energy Transmission Corridor. Check the project's pulse.
07/26/07 Activists deliver another bundle of ESA petitions
For the second time in less than a month, a Southwestern environmental organization has delivered a multi-species petition to federal officials pressuring action on possible Endangered Species Act listings for hundreds of plants and animals found in the Rocky Mountain region. Bundle up.
07/19/07 Marijuana eradication campaign yields a quarter-million plants
So far this month, a joint effort by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies has uncovered as many as 40 plots of land within North California's Shasta-Trinity National Forest and other public lands being used to grow marijuana. Two arrests have been announced, and officials say they have eradicated nearly 225,000 pot plants, with a street value approaching $900 million. Join the cartel.07/19/07 Schwarzenegger orders emergency actions for delta; pushes dams, canal Faced with an increasingly dire situation regarding a deepening drought in the southern half of the state, water supply constraints in the north, and continued threats to the environmental health and economic viability of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week ordered water officials to take immediate actions to fix problems in the delta. At the same time, the Republican governor used every opportunity to promote a proposed $5.9 billion issue of state bonds that would pay for construction of dams, reservoirs and underground water storage. Stand with Arnold.
07/12/07 Feds promote geothermal on public lands
According to conventional wisdom, about 90 percent of potential geothermal energy resources are located beneath federal lands, mainly in California and Nevada. Many in the energy industry have lamented the fact that bringing geothermal power plants into operation takes many years -- in large part because of the slow bureaucracy of obtaining leases and permits from federal lands agencies. Now, impelled by external forces and pushed by provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service exhibit new support for geothermal development on public lands. Steam ahead.
07/05/07 Base buffer program effective defense against encroachments
Amassing 1 million acres of land in a continuous swath, parcel by parcel, would be a daunting challenge for any real estate mogul, especially along the coastal plains of Florida. For the Department of Defense, it is an example of how to successfully leverage partnerships among many land conservation interests in order to create adequate buffers from development around key operating military facilities. Secure the buffer.
07/05/07 Ninth Circuit halts Idaho Panhandle timber sales
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday overturned a lower court's approval of a Forest Service plan for selective logging in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, remanding the case for issuance of an injunction against the proposed timber harvest. The Mission Brush Project, approved by an April 2006 record of decision by Supervisor Ranotta McNair, would have allowed logging of 3,829 acres of Forest Service lands about 16 miles north of Bonner's Ferry, plus construction or upgrading of associated roads and improvements to recreational facilities in the area. The project also targets about 277 acres of old-growth forest. Log in.Above articles are Copyright 2007 E&E Publishing, Inc.Copyright 2007 The Energy Overseer, All Rights Reserved For information about speaking availabilities, call 415-648-9405