12 Places Worth Protecting
Fifty years after the passage of the Wilderness Act, the law remains the nation’s most effective tool for protecting wild places. The two dozen bills now before Congress would together add more than 2.6 million acres of wild land to the National Wilderness Preservation System established by the act. The vitality and durability of the Wilderness Act are a credit to the visionaries who created this law, and to the local people who have advocated over the years for Congress to conserve wildlife habitat, ensure a supply of clean water and provide opportunities for recreation.
As evidenced by the large number of bills on the congressional docket, the anniversary of the act has been a rallying point for those Americans from coast to coast working to safeguard extraordinary natural landscapes from development. Wilderness protection has always primarily emerged from community-based efforts—people taking stock of the natural beauty found on their local public lands and deciding that the treasures there are worth passing on to future generations.
Included in the two dozen bills before Congress are 12 areas Congress can protect as early as this year:
Alpine Lakes, Washington
The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 361/S. 112) would expand the existing 394,000-acre Alpine Lakes Wilderness by 22,100 acres and designate parts of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers as wild and scenic. The areas safeguarded by this bill lie in the Pratt River Valley and the Middle and South Fork Snoqualmie River Valleys, a region that includes glacier-cut U-shaped valleys, snow-capped peaks, old-growth forests, whitewater rivers and strong native trout runs.
This area is the closest and most accessible to residents of the greater Seattle metropolitan area.
The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (S. 37) would designate nearly 700,000 acres of wilderness across the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Lolo and Kootenai National Forests, including the East and West Pioneers, the Sapphires, Lost Cabin and Lima Peaks, and adding to the Lee Metcalf, Anaconda-Pintlar and North Fork Blackfoot Monture Creek Wilderness Areas.
The bill would also improve forest health and fish and wildlife habitat as well as preserve hunting, fishing, hiking and horseback riding traditions. Along with wilderness protection, the measure would designate areas for backcountry recreation and areas for forest stewardship.
Rogue River/Devils Staircase, Oregon
The Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013 (S. 1784) would help solve the decades-old issue of management of the 2 million acres of “O&C” lands in western Oregon. Included in this legislation is 87,000 acres of wilderness protection for the Wild Rogue and Devil’s Staircase areas, as well as roughly 165 miles of wild and scenic rivers. While the bill does allow for increased timber harvest, it will safeguard some of the nation’s oldest forests from logging and commercial development. People visit Oregon and the “O&C” lands in the proposal to hike, fish, whitewater raft, kayak and camp.
San Juan Mountains, Colorado
The San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act of 2013 (S. 341) would conserve nearly 55,000 acres of public land in southwest Colorado, including 32,000 acres as wilderness. This addition to the 480,000-acre San Juan National Forest wilderness will provide protection to critical landscape linkages.
The San Juan Mountain range is one of the most geologically diverse mountain ranges in the world and is home to the threatened Canada lynx and the Gunnison sage grouse, and Colorado River cutthroat trout, whose status is under review. The wilderness legislation is supported by local communities, elected officials, ranchers and recreation groups.
Read page 1
Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee
The Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2013 (S. 1294) would designate nearly 20,000 acres of wilderness in the Cherokee National Forest—expanding five existing wilderness areas, including Sampson Mountain and Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock, and creating the new Upper Bald River Wilderness.
It would also preserve important watersheds and habitat for native brook trout, black bear, bobcat, grey fox and white-tailed deer and will safeguard a popular migratory, breeding and wintering habitat for numerous bird species.
Maine Coastal Islands
The Maine Coastal Islands Wilderness Act (H.R. 1808) would protect 13 islands of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
The bill will designate 3, 125 acres of wilderness, preserving pristine habitat for migratory seabirds and waterfowl and elevating the profile of the area to boost tourism for the area's economy.
Columbine Hondo, New Mexico
The Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act (H.R. 1683/S. 776) would protect 45,000 acres of wilderness north of Taos in the Carson National Forest.
The area encompasses the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, including Gold Hill, its highest peak, and is home to elk, mountain lion, black bear, pine marten and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. It also contains the headwaters for two rivers that supply water to the Acequias used by the local community.
Rocky Mountain Front, Montana
The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act (S. 364) would safeguard 275,000 acres of rugged public land in western Montana. The bill will add 50,500 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and 16,700 acres to the Scapegoat Wilderness.
The legislation would also designate 208,000 acres as conservation management areas and prioritizes noxious-weed eradication and prevention on these public lands.
Read page 1
Hermosa Creek, Colorado
The Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act (H.R. 1839/S. 841) would conserve the 108,000-acre Hermosa Creek Watershed in the San Juan National Forest of southwest Colorado.
The bill will designate nearly 38,000 acres of wilderness within the watershed. The area is prized for its stunning vistas, pristine water quality and diverse plant and animal species.
Central Coast, California
The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (H.R. 4685) would preserve 245,665 acres of new and expanded wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. It would also designate wild and scenic rivers and a new national recreational trail.
The proposed areas provide habitat for more than 450 species of wildlife and 1,200 plant species, including more than 90 at risk of extinction, like the San Joaquin kit fox, steelhead trout, arroyo toad and the California jewelflower. The region is home to the endangered California condor, the largest and most endangered North American bird species. Visitors from around the world come to these coastal mountains and grasslands to hike, backpack, camp, bird-watch, ride horses, hunt, fish, kayak and mountain bike.
Pine Forest and Lyon County, Nevada
The Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act of 2013 (H.R. 696/S. 159) would designate 48,000 acres of wilderness, protecting historic, cultural and natural resources. It would also convey 12,500 acres of land to the city of Yerington for economic development surrounding the Nevada Copper mine. The Wovoka Wilderness would be named in honor of the Native American spiritual leader and father of the Ghostdance, who lived near the area.
The House bill would also designate the 26,000-acre Pine Forest Range Wilderness in northwest Nevada, a popular destination for sportsmen and recreationists and prime habitat for mule deer, sage grouse and mountain lion.
Boulder White Cloud Mountains, Idaho
The Boulder-White Clouds in Central Idaho is the largest unprotected wild roadless area in the national forests of the lower 48 states. Its broad range of elevations and habitats lends to the area’s enormous biological and geographical diversity. Since the land is uninterrupted by roads, Boulder-White Clouds is a popular hunting and fishing destination, with spawning salmon and big game such as elk, moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, black bear and cougar.
The Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (H.R. 145) would permanently protect over 330,000 acres of wilderness.
The bill would create three wilderness areas in the Sawtooth and Challis National Forests and the Challis District of the Bureau of Land Management within the Boulder-White Clouds Mountain range.
You Might Also Like
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A 4,000-year-old ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed into the sea, leaving Canada without any fully intact ice shelves, Reuters reported. The Milne Ice Shelf lost more than 40 percent of its area in just two days at the end of July, said researchers who monitored its collapse.
- Stunning Photos Show Huge Crack in Antarctic Ice Shelf - EcoWatch ›
- Manhattan-Sized Iceberg Breaks off Antarctica - EcoWatch ›
- Where Has All the Ice Gone? - EcoWatch ›
The coronavirus cases surging around the U.S. are often carried by kids, raising fears that the reopening of schools will be delayed and calling into question the wisdom of school districts that have reopened already.
- How Other Countries Reopened Schools During the Pandemic ... ›
- Until Teachers Feel Safe, Widespread In-Person K-12 Schooling ... ›
- Teens and Tweens Are Fastest COVID-19 Spreaders, New Study ... ›
- Young Children May Have Higher Coronavirus Levels, Raising ... ›
- COVID-19: What Experts Think About Reopening Schools - EcoWatch ›
By Michael Baker, Amanda Kvalsvig and Nick Wilson
On Sunday, New Zealand marked 100 days without community transmission of COVID-19.
Deaths From COVID-19 Per Million Population<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU0ODIyOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MjkzMDc1OX0.7Yp1h1hokihlMJUurDukGmq-Y8NJB0V-07O1ukEjGt0/img.png?width=980" id="0fe6a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6bce85a610aee18e2f4f1c1caca7b8a0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
<div id="77fff" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ce7b34f8986d3d36bee5d4d83ac0822c"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1292270210238447616" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">COVID-19 Update There are no new cases of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand today. It has been 100 days since t… https://t.co/Cz55ixGZUz</div> — Unite against COVID-19 (@Unite against COVID-19)<a href="https://twitter.com/covid19nz/statuses/1292270210238447616">1596936201.0</a></blockquote></div>
Getting Through the Pandemic<p>We have gained a much better understanding of COVID-19 over the past eight months. Without effective control measures, it is likely to continue to spread globally for many months to years, ultimately infecting billions and killing millions. The proportion of infected people who die appears to be <a href="https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.03.20089854v4" target="_blank">slightly below 1%</a>.</p><p>This infection also causes serious <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m2815" target="_blank">long-term consequences</a> for some survivors. The largest uncertainties involve <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02278-5" target="_blank">immunity to this virus</a>, whether it can develop from exposure to infection or vaccines, and if it is long-lasting. The potential for treatment with antivirals and other therapeutics is also still uncertain.</p><p>This knowledge reinforces the huge benefits of sustaining elimination. We know that if New Zealand were to experience widespread COVID-19 transmission, the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310086/" target="_blank">impact on Māori and Pasifika populations</a> could be catastrophic.</p><p>We have previously described critical measures to get us through this period, including the use of fabric face masks, improving contact tracing with suitable digital tools, applying a science-based approach to border management, and the need for a dedicated national public health agency.</p><p>Maintaining elimination depends on adopting a highly strategic approach to risk management. This approach involves choosing an optimal mix of interventions and using resources in the most efficient way to keep the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks at a consistently low level. Several measures can contribute to this goal over the next few months, while also allowing incremental increases in international travel:</p><ul><li>resurgence planning for a border-control failure and outbreaks of various sizes, with state-of-the-art contact tracing and an upgraded alert level system</li><li>ensuring all New Zealanders own a <a href="https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal-articles/mass-masking-an-alternative-to-a-second-lockdown-in-aotearoa" target="_blank">re-useable fabric face mask</a> with their <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12354409" target="_blank">use built into the alert level system</a></li><li>conducting exercises and simulations to test outbreak management procedures, possibly including "mass masking days" to engage the public in the response</li><li>carefully exploring processes to allow <a href="https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2020/06/16/preventing-outbreaks-of-covid-19-in-nz-associated-with-air-travel-from-australia-new-modelling-study-of-alternatives-to-quarantine/" target="_blank">quarantine-free travel</a> between jurisdictions free of COVID-19, notably various Pacific Islands, Tasmania and Taiwan (which may require digital tracking of arriving travellers for the first few weeks)</li><li>planning for carefully managed inbound travel by key long-term visitor groups such as tertiary students who would generally still need managed quarantine.</li></ul>
Building Back Better<p>New Zealand cannot change the reality of the global COVID-19 pandemic. But it can leverage possible benefits.</p><p>We should conduct an <a href="https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2020/06/11/five-key-reasons-why-nz-should-have-an-official-inquiry-into-the-response-to-the-covid-19-pandemic/" target="_blank">official inquiry into the COVID-19 response</a> so we learn everything we possibly can to improve our response capacity for future events.</p><p>We also need to establish a specialized national public health agency to <a href="https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2017/12/20/the-havelock-north-drinking-water-inquiry-a-wake-up-call-to-rebuild-public-health-in-new-zealand/" target="_blank">manage serious threats to public health</a> and provide critical mass to <a href="https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/2020/02/05/a-preventable-measles-epidemic-lessons-for-reforming-public-health-in-nz/" target="_blank">advance public health generally</a>. Such an agency appears to have been a key factor in the success of Taiwan, which avoided a costly lockdown entirely.</p><p>Business as usual should not be an option for the recovery phase. A recent <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12353555" target="_blank">Massey University survey</a> suggests seven out of ten New Zealanders support a green recovery approach.</p><p>New Zealand's elimination of COVID-19 has drawn attention worldwide, with a description just <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2025203" target="_blank">published</a> in the New England Journal of Medicine. We support a rejuvenated World Health Organization that can provide improved global leadership for pandemic prevention and control, including greater use of an elimination approach to combat COVID-19.</p>
- U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 2 Million as All 50 States Start ... ›
- World Tops 10 Million Coronavirus Cases, 500000 Deaths - EcoWatch ›
- New Zealand Government Wins Battle Against Coronavirus ... ›
- Pressed on Surging Covid-19 Cases and Test Shortages, Trump ... ›
- U.S. Passes 4 Million Coronavirus Cases - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Passes 130,000 Amid Surge in Cases ... ›
- U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 2 Million as All 50 States Start ... ›
By Shawna Foo
Anyone who's tending a garden right now knows what extreme heat can do to plants. Heat is also a concern for an important form of underwater gardening: growing corals and "outplanting," or transplanting them to restore damaged reefs.
Coral Gardening<p>Coral reefs <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/marine-life/coral-reef-ecosystems" target="_blank">support over 25% of marine life</a> by providing food, shelter and a place for fish and other organisms to reproduce and raise young. Today, <a href="https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-ocean-heat-content" target="_blank">ocean warming driven by climate change</a> is stressing reefs worldwide.</p><p>Rising ocean temperatures cause <a href="https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coralreef-climate.html#:%7E:text=Climate%20change%20leads%20to%3A,to%20the%20smothering%20of%20coral." target="_blank">bleaching events</a> – episodes in which corals expel the algae that live inside them and provide the corals with most of their food, as well as their vibrant colors. When corals lose their algae, they become less resistant to stressors such as disease and eventually may die.</p><p>Hundreds of organizations worldwide are working to restore damaged coral reefs by growing thousands of small coral fragments in nurseries, which may be onshore in laboratories or in the ocean near degraded reefs. Then scuba divers physically plant them at restoration sites.</p>
Sea surface temperatures on Aug. 3, 2020, measured from satellites. Warning = possible bleaching; Alert Level 1 = significant bleaching likely; Alert Level 2 = severe bleaching and significant mortality likely. NOAA Coral Reef Watch
Warmer Oceans<p>Climate scientists project that the oceans will <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/03/ar5_wgII_spm_en-1.pdf" target="_blank">warm up to 3˚C</a> by the year 2100. Scientists are working to create coral outplants that can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1721415116" target="_blank">better survive increases in temperature</a>, which could help to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1978" target="_blank">increase restoration success</a> in the future.</p><p>When coral restoration experts choose where to outplant, they typically consider what's on the seafloor, algae that could smother coral, predators that eat coral and the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1792" target="_blank">presence of fish</a>. Our study shows that using temperature data and other information collected remotely from airplanes and satellites could help to <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00079" target="_blank">optimize this process</a>. Remote sensing, which scientists have used to study coral reefs for almost 40 years, can provide information on much larger scales than water surveys.</p><p>Coral reefs face an uncertain future and may not recover naturally from human-caused climate change. Conserving them will require reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting key habitats and actively restoring reefs. I hope that our research on temperature will help increase coral outplant survival and restoration success.</p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shawna-foo-1136932" target="_blank">Shawna Foo</a> is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the Arizona State University. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Shawna Foo receives funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/ocean-warming-threatens-coral-reefs-and-soon-could-make-it-harder-to-restore-them-142876" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>.</em><em></em></p>
By David Korten
Our present course puts humans on track to be among the species that expire in Earth's ongoing sixth mass extinction. In my conversations with thoughtful people, I am finding increasing acceptance of this horrific premise.
By Alejandro Argumedo
August 9 is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples – a celebration of the uniqueness of the traditions of Quechua, Huli, Zapotec, and thousands of other cultures, but also of the universality of potatoes, bananas, beans, and the rest of the foods that nourish the world. These crops did not arise out of thin air. They were domesticated over thousands of years, and continue to be nurtured, by Indigenous people. On this day we give thanks to these cultures for the diversity of our food.
- 28 Organizations Promoting Indigenous Food Sovereignty - EcoWatch ›
- 10 Indigenous Foods You Should Be Eating - EcoWatch ›