Good News for Pacific Northwest Salmon

chinookVery encouraging news for the Pacific Northwest salmon fishery.  Due to recent conservation efforts to restore beleaguered chinook populations, this year the Fall run is breaking records not seen since 1938 when the Bonneville Lock and Dam was constructed.  la-na-chinook-salmon-20130924-gMaria Ganga reports from the LA Times.

The tiny fish-counting station, with its window onto the Columbia River, was darkened so the migrating salmon would not be spooked. And it was silent — until the shimmering bodies began to flicker by.   Then the room erupted with loud clicks, as Janet Dalen’s fingers flew across her stumpy keyboard. Tallying the darting specimens, she chanted and chortled, her voice a cross between fish whisperer and aquatic auctioneer. Her body swayed from left to right. Her tightly curled bangs never moved.”Come on, come on, come on,” Dalen urged, as she recorded chinook and steelhead, sockeye and coho. “Treat the fish counter nice. Keep going, sweetheart. That’s a good girl.… Pretty boy! Salute to the king! He’s a dandy. Beautiful, beautiful. Lotta fun. Just can’t beat it. An amazing year.” Continue reading

Human Carrying Capacity – Fanciful Fiction or Deadly Reality

One of the first courses I took in college toward my degree in wildlife management was a Isle Royal Moosepopulation dynamics class.  And one of the first readings was the classic story of the boom-bust population cycles of the moose and wolf of Isle Royale Michigan, where, prior to the wolf as a keystone predator, the island’s moose herd would overpopulate and overgraze, resulting in starvation and mass die-offs.  When the wolves were eventually introduced the belief was that the keystone predator would help stabilize the moose population.  But the history of Isle Royale moose and wolf populations have been wildly unpredictable, affected not only by availability of food, but by disease, tick outbreaks, wolf0422severe winters, and immigrant wolves.  Every five years has brought unpredictable fluctuations in both populations, and every five years has been different from all other five-year periods.  Even in the 1980s when my classmates and I were closely following this study, it was believed that the populations would reach equilibrium.  But that never happened.  Continue reading

EPA Scores Big Victory in Chesapeake Bay Decision

Last Friday, the U.S. EPA scored a big victory against industry opponents who imagesCAE38NBGchallenged the Agency’s authority and efforts to establish a cleanup strategy for the Chesapeake Bay.  The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of EPA upholding the total maximum daily load (TMDL) scheme for the Bay restoration efforts.  Bay TMDL Order  I have former clients and friends on both sides of this notable litigation, so win, lose or draw, there would have been no victory lap for me. Continue reading

Africa’s Black Rhino Driven to Extinction

Very sad news to learn of the confirmed extinction of Africa’s western black rhino.  The blackrhinoblack market for rhino horn, which fetches upward of $1,400 an ounce for medicinal witch-doctory in countries like Vietnam, where demand is at its highest, was a death sentence for this species.  According to CNN reports,

Africa’s western black rhino is now officially extinct according the latest review of animals and plants by the world’s largest conservation network. Continue reading

Our National Treasures – Was Secretary Watt Correct?

Interesting article in American Spectator this week by Robert Smith titled, An Environmentalist Deception, wherein Smith takes issue with fellow conservatives at the R Street Institute for celebrating the anniversary of Reagan’s establishment of Mount St.imagesCAOFESOR Helens National Volcanic Monument.  Here’s what prompted Smith’s retort:

R Street Associate Fellow Ryan Cooper pointed to research from the Headwaters Economics showing that since the monument’s establishment, the surrounding region has seen population grow by 30 percent, real personal income has grown by 62 percent, total jobs have grown by 42 percent and real per-capita income grew by 24 percent. Headwaters’ data suggests that in many cases, employers have explicitly chosen the area for its beauty, a major drawing point for highly skilled employees. Continue reading

The Decline of GOP Environmentalism or Decline of Environmentalism Itself

Paul Sabin has an article in this weekend’s Boston Globe titled “The Decline of Republican Environmentalism.” Sabin, a professor of history at Yale and author of “The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble Over Earth’s Future,” makes a compelling case for the country’s current deadlock on forging solutions to important environmental matters, including climate change.  However, I think the article could aptly have been titled the “Decline of Environmentalism” or “The Failed Gamble of Environmentalism,” rather than painting the GOP into a corner.  According to Sabin,

Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, from the sunny decks of an excursion boat touring Boston Harbor, George H.W. Bush, then the Republican candidate for president, launched a fierce attack on Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee. Bush said that Boston’s polluted waters — “the dirtiest harbor” in America — symbolized Dukakis’s failed leadership. He “will say that he will do for America what he’s done for Massachusetts,” Bush declared. “That’s why I fear for the country.” By delaying a major cleanup of the harbor, Bush said, Dukakis had cost taxpayers billions of dollars and allowed the pollution to continue, making “the most expensive public policy mistake in the history of New England.”

Bush’s attack on Dukakis stands out as perhaps the last time a prominent national Republican turned an environmental cause into a weapon against a Democratic opponent. And in that 25-year gap lies a lost path and a giant missed opportunity. Republicans no longer seriously contest the environmental vote; instead, they have run from it. Largely as a result, national environmental policy-making has become one-sided, polarized, and stuck. Republican politicians mostly deny the threat of climate disruption and block legislative solutions, while President Obama tries to go it alone with a shaky patchwork of executive actions. A middle ground on environmental policy remains a mirage. Continue reading