Happy Memorial Day Weekend! We’re hoping that you get out and play this weekend and appreciate some of your favorite wild places.
We wanted to give a special shout out to some of our member companies who are celebrating Memorial Day Weekend by taking part in Mountainfilm in Telluride. Currently in its 32nd year, the Mountainfilm Festival is a four-day, six-senses experience of art, adventure, culture and the environment. It attracts filmmakers, photographers, conservationists, mountaineers and explorers from around the world. The theme for this year’s festival is “Extinction.”
The spirit celebrated at the festival may be of a vital eco-system or a fragile one. It may be of an endangered culture or of one courageous soul. It may be of a grassroots sustainability movement or of the struggle of a species on the brink of extinction. In whichever case, it is always a spirit that is unique, important and eminently laudable.
Even if you’re not in Telluride, you can still check out a lot of the film trailers on the Mountainfilm website, as well as keep up with all of the action through their Blog, Facebook and Twitter pages.
The move will stop for now a controversial expansion of oil drilling in a part of the world that could hold vast stores of oil and natural gas, but which environmentalists warn would come at great risk.
Despite a late appeal from Shell that it would employ new safety measures in the wake of the Gulf spill, Salazar was unconvinced that the exploratory drilling even in the much shallower waters of the Arctic would be safe.
"He is suspending proposed exploratory drilling in the Arctic," an administration official said on condition of anonymity to talk before Salazar's report is officially released today. "He will not consider applications for permits to drill in the Arctic until 2011 because of the need for further information-gathering, evaluation of proposed drilling technology, and evaluation of oil-spill response capabilities for Arctic waters."
The third Backyard Collective of the season brought more than 30 volunteers from San Diego based member companies Eagle Creek, Ocean Minded and STM Bags out of the office and onto the trails. Partnering with the Escondido Creek Conservancy, based out of Escondido, California, the San Diego Backyard Collective focused on a trail building project in Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve. This hard working group of volunteers built a rock trail that linked the main trailhead at Elfin Forest to the park's interpretive center.
Jeff Anderson, Park Ranger of the Elfin Forest Recreation Reserve said this about ConservationNEXT and the San Diego Backyard Collective event:
"Through the cooperation of groups like yours who unselfishly give back to the community and environment, parks like ours are able to provide a more rewarding and inspiring experience to those who visit our great parks and open spaces. In turn, hopefully they too will be inspired to give back after experiencing and appreciating what so many people are becoming detached from now days. Undisturbed open space is a precious commodity in the area we live. Your investment in the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve will touch countless others and has made our park a better place. Thank you very much."
After a day of hard work, volunteers were treated to a BBQ lunch, complete with beverages provided by BYC sponsor, Stone Brewing Company.
A huge thanks to Deanna Lloyd (The Forest Group), the Escondido Creek Conservancy, Eagle Creek, Ocean Minded, STM Bags, Prana, and Patagonia for providing support, raffle donations and volunteers to yet another successful Backyard Collective!
We are planning additional Backyard Collective events in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Portland, Denver, Bend, and elsewhere. Click here for details.
Conservation groups hoping to expand the wilderness area along Oregon's most popular whitewater run announced Monday that a major timber industry group won't oppose the effort to protect the land from logging and mining.
Oregon Wild and other groups hope to win wilderness protection for 58,000 acres of federal land, primarily along the upper 24 miles of the wild section of the Rogue River. They want to prevent logging and mining along tributaries where salmon spawn.
"The irony is that everyone already thought it was wilderness," Steve Pedery, conservation director for Oregon Wild, said Monday."For the public thinking of rafting the Rogue, when they put in at Grave Creek, they think they're in wilderness. The reality is, until they get down to Mule Creek, there is just this ribbon of land protecting the River."
Wilderness is the most stringent level of protection for federal lands. It typically prohibits logging, motorized travel and new mining claims, while allowing hunting and fishing…
The Rogue River was one of the first rivers in the nation protected by the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. In 1978, Congress created the Wild Rogue Wilderness, running from Marial, the approximate halfway point down the 40-mile wild section of the river, to near the takeout at Foster Bar.
The expansion would run from Marial upstream to Grave Creek, where most rafters put on the river, and beyond a few miles nearly to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Rand Visitor Center, where rafters pick up permits to run the river.
Pedery said the bill to protect Rogue tributaries has gotten little traction in Congress, and they hoped to see the Wild Rogue Wilderness proposal included in a national wilderness omnibus bill later this fall.
Slow down for animals! Wildlife in Colorado just got a little extra protection thanks to the passage of HB 1238, a bill designed to reduce collisions between vehicles and wildlife on state highways in Colorado. Alliance grantee Western Environmental Law Center was instrumental in passing the bill.
By increasing the ability of wildlife to cross roadways, this bill protects wildlife movement corridors and increases wildlife's ability to adapt to the effects of climate change. Thanks to the bill, the Colorado Department of Transportation the authority to create up to 100 miles of special wildlife-crossing zones on roadways.
"As wildlife move in response to climate change and increasing habitat fragmentation, one of the first barriers they will confront are roads," said Monique DiGiorgio, WELC's Conservation Strategist. "HB 1238 is seminal legislation that will slow drivers down in critical movement corridors, thereby increasing driver reaction time and reducing collisions with wildlife. It is a model for the nation and WELC is thrilled to have played an instrumental role in its passage."
But part of protecting wildlife in movement corridors is making sure that drivers are alert and aware of what can be on the road. The Colorado Department of Transportation will therefore work with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Colorado State Patrol to develop "Wildlife Crossing Zone" signs (digital rendition pictured above), similar to those signs used in school and construction zones.
The Obama administration is poised to make a decision this week that could change the fate of endangered species in this country. On May 20, the Administration will release a federal salmon plan that will do one of two things for endangered wildlife: protect the Endangered Species Act, or weaken it. A decision to weaken the ESA for the West’s iconic Columbia and Snake River salmon could send an ecological ripple across the country — affecting every endangered species in the nation.
Because they return to the biggest, highest and best-protected habitat in America,endangered Snake River salmon are slated as the West’s best chance to save salmon for future generations in an environment threatened by climate change. These cold, crisp waters of spanning three Western states — Washington, Oregon and Idaho, will remain cold under warming climates, protecting these one-of-a-kind salmon with a one-of-a-kind habitat. Making the wrong decision on these rivers would effectively dam (pun fully intended) these salmon to extinction.
The Columbia-Snake Rivers may not be in your own backyard, but the effects of this decision certainly will be.
Conservation Alliance grantee, California Wilderness Coalition, has been featured as the PEW Environment Group's Organization of the Month! The PEW Environment Group works in conjunction with the Campaign for America's Wilderness as part of the PEW Charitable Trust. Below is an excerpt from their May 2010 Newsletter, recognizing the work of CWC:
" The California Wilderness Coalition has become a powerful voice for the state's spectacular wild heritage. Through advocacy and public education, CWC has built support for threatened wild places from the grassroots up, cultivating relationships with community leaders, local and county-level officials, businesses, and local conservation outings organizations. It is the classic recipe for wilderness success- and the record of the CWC across California proves the point!"
Conservation Alliance grantee, WaterWatch of Oregon, is again celebrating a victory in their Free the Rogue Campaign. The Gold Ray Dam is slated for removal in August and September of 2010. Once completed, the removal of Gold Ray Dam will be the fourth major dam removal in the Rogue Basin in the last three years. Its removal is the final step to freeing the lower 157 miles of Rouge River, from Lost Creek Project to the Pacific Ocean, for fish, boats and other recreation.
$6 million has been raised to cover the cost of the Gold Ray Dam removal through grants award by the Obama Administration and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.
For more information about the removal of the Gold Ray Dam and the resounding public support following the project, read the Oregonian's article here: A River Ready to Run Free
Conservation Alliance grantee Raincoast Conservation Society, in partnership with a coalition of groups in Canada, is using the tragic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to call attention to threats posed by a proposed oil pipleline from Alberta's tar sands to coastal British Columbia. The ad above provides a stark reminder of the risks posed by using coastal BC as a hub of oil tanker traffic. Enbridge Corporation hopes to build a 1,200-km pipeline from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta to Kitimat, BC. The pipeline would deliver oil to tankers waiting to haul it worldwide. The pipeline would also launch a new era of oil tanker traffic on the BC coast.
Canadian First Nations are united agains the pipeline proposal, and are working in concert with conservation organizations. For more information, see www.pipeupagainstenbridge.ca.
Utah Congressman Jim Matheson announced plans to protect more than 26,000 acres of land in the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City. Matheson made the announcement at the offices of Conservation Alliance member Black Diamond Equipement (see photo above.)
"This is the first major Wasatch Front watershed protection legislation in Utah since the Wilderness Act of 1984," Matheson told dozens gathered for the event.
The land-protection measure proposes to set aside 15,541 acres as wilderness and another 10,480 acres as "special management" areas with concessions to heli-skiing. While the proposal does away with an ATV trail, it preserves another for mountain biking.