[Editor's note: The Heartwood Forest Council is one of my very favorite gatherings of the year. If you're able to attend this year's event, you'll be grateful you did. Thank you Heartwood for all your grassroots efforts in defending the hardwood forest region of the eastern U.S.]
The Forest Council is Heartwood’s annual spring gathering of activists, held each year in a different part of the 18-state region of the eastern U.S., to discuss strategy and develop tactics for dealing with the major threats unique to the local area, yet all too common throughout the Heartwood region.
This year the 22nd annual Forest Council, May 25 - May 28, will be held at Boy Scout Camp Olmsted in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF), in northwestern Pennsylvania. The ANF has been the focus of Heartwood campaigns since the founding of the Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) in February 1994, fighting timber sales, oil and gas development, forest road densities equivalent to those in suburban housing developments, off-road vehicle abuse, and other threats to our public forest lands. With the recent boom in Marcellus shale drilling, hosting the Heartwood Forest Council offers an opportunity for activists and citizens in this region to network with folks involved with the fight to end mountaintop removal coal mining, as well as biomass incineration, and to trade skills and develop strategy to fight these ever growing threats to our home and habitat.
The theme of this year’s Forest Council, Become Your Place, Defend Yourself is designed to focus specifically on Forest Watch. Forest Watch means direct citizen monitoring of what is taking place in our nation’s forests, including monitoring of permits issued by management agencies and on-the-ground activity. This type of direct citizen monitoring of public lands has proven effective and successful at stopping ecologically harmful activity for over twenty years. Computer mapping, habitat assessment, agency policy and rulemaking, media and communication, and site violation identification are just a few of the diverse array of skills training that will be offered over the course of the weekend. When the agencies who manage our public lands violate the public trust by permitting dangerous and unhealthful activity, it falls to the citizens who love these wild places to use the existing laws of our nation to enforce compliance and uphold our rights to clean air, clean water, and natural beauty as guaranteed in Article 1 Section 27 of the PA Constitution.
Camp Olmsted is situated on the banks of the Allegheny River Reservoir, in the heart of the ancestral lands of the Seneca Nation. The Kinzua Dam, built in the 1960s by the Army Corps of Engineers, resulted in the forced removal of Seneca families living on the Cornplanter Grant lands (directly adjacent to Camp Olmsted) in Pennsylvania, and families living in communities on the Seneca Nation territory along the Allegheny River in New York. Fifty years later, the Seneca Nation of Indians has been granted a preliminary permit to manage the hydroelectric energy generated by the dam. FirstEnergy Corp. currently holds the 50-year license to operate the pumped storage project. That license expires in November 2015 and FirstEnergy is a competing applicant with the Seneca Nation to operate the project.
The forest surrounding the dam and 10,000 acre reservoir is now designated by the US Forest Service as a National Recreation Area, and hikes offered over the weekend will explore the beauty and unique diversity of the region as well as nearby Marcellus drilling sites as part of the on-site Forest Watch training exercises. Field trips will take Forest Council participants by canoe along the western shore of the reservoir to a scenic hike, or by pontoon boat across the reservoir to view oil and gas development, and a scenic overlook.
Camp Olmsted is well equipped with a very modern kitchen for Heartwood’s famous delicious, organic weekend menu. The camp has women’s and men’s shower houses, cabins, plenty of room for tents (including tent platforms) and beautiful vistas. The camp is located directly on the Allegheny River Reservoir so swimming will be available (but in May it may still be a bit chilly). Please join us for a wonderful weekend in the Allegheny National Forest.
For more information, click here.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.
By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma
Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.
A Good News Story?<p>On the surface, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13569" target="_blank">results from our study</a> appear to provide a "good news" story. Warming temperatures were linked to higher numbers of fish, more species overall and, therefore, potentially more fishing opportunities for northerners.</p><p>Initially, we were surprised to learn that warming was increasing the distribution of cold-adapted fish. We reasoned that modest amounts of warming could lead to benefits such as increased food and winter habitat availability without reaching stressful levels for many species.</p>
Photo of Arctic grayling (left) and Dolly Varden trout (right). Alyssa Murdoch / Lilian Tran / Nunavik Research Centre and Tracey Loewen / Fisheries and Oceans Canada<p>Yet, not all fish species fared equally well. Ecologically unique northern species — those that have evolved in colder, more nutrient-poor environments, such as Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden trout — were showing declines with warming.</p>
Fish Strandings and Buried Eggs<p>Recent news headlines run the gamut for Pacific salmon — from their increased escapades <a href="https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/more-pacific-salmon-showing-up-in-western-arctic-waters/" target="_blank">into the Arctic</a> to <a href="https://www.juneauempire.com/news/warm-waters-across-alaska-cause-salmon-die-offs/" target="_blank">massive pre-spawning die-offs</a> in central Alaska. Similarly, results from our study revealed different outcomes for fish depending on local climatic conditions, including Pacific salmon.</p><p>We found that warmer spring and fall temperatures may be helping juvenile salmon by providing a longer and more plentiful growing season, and by supporting early egg development in northern regions that were previously too cold for survival.</p><p>In contrast, salmon declined in regions that were experiencing wetter fall conditions, pointing to an increased risk of flooding and sedimentation that could bury or dislodge incubating eggs.</p>
Headwaters of the Wind River within the largely intact Peel River watershed in northern Canada. Don Reid / Wildlife Conservation Society Canada / Author provided<p>Interestingly, we found that certain climatic combinations, such as warmer summer water temperatures with decreased summer rainfall, were important in determining where Pacific salmon could survive. Summer warming in drier watersheds led to declines, suggesting that lowered streamflows may have increased the risk of fish becoming stranded in subpar habitats that were too warm and crowded.</p>
The Fate of Northern Fisheries<p>The promise of a warmer and more accessible Arctic has attracted mounting interest in new economic opportunities, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103637" target="_blank">including fisheries</a>. As warming rates at higher latitudes are already <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank">two to three times global levels</a>, it seems probable that northern biodiversity will experience dramatic shifts in the coming decades.</p><p>Despite the many unknowns surrounding the future of Pacific salmon, many fisheries are currently <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/03632415.2017.1374251" target="_blank">thriving following warmer and more productive northern oceans</a>, and some <a href="https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic68876" target="_blank">Arctic Indigenous communities are developing new salmon fisheries</a>.</p><p>As warming continues, the commercial salmon fishing industry is poised to expand northwards, but its success will largely depend on extenuating factors such as <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060023067" target="_blank">changes to marine habitat and food sources</a> and <a href="https://www.yukon-news.com/news/promising-chinook-salmon-run-failed-to-materialize-in-the-yukon-river-panel-hears/" target="_blank">how many fish are caught during the freshwater stages of their journey</a>.</p><p>Even with the potential for increased northern biodiversity, it is important to recognize that some northern communities may be unable to adapt or may <a href="https://thenarwhal.ca/searching-for-the-yukon-rivers-missing-chinook/" target="_blank">lose individual species that are associated with important cultural values</a>.</p>
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By Joni Sweet
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Interviews With Contact Tracers<p>Contact tracing is a public health strategy that involves identifying everyone who may have been in contact with a person who has the coronavirus. Contact tracers collect information and provide guidance to help contain the transmission of disease.</p><p>It's been used during outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Ebola, measles, and now the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.</p><p>It starts when the local department of health gets a report of a confirmed case of the coronavirus in its community and gives that person a call. The contact tracer usually provides information on how to isolate and when to get treatment, then tries to figure out who else the person may have exposed.</p><p>"We ask who they've been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to symptom onset, or 2 days before the date of their positive test if they don't have symptoms," said <a href="https://case.edu/medicine/healthintegration/people/heidi-gullett" target="_blank">Dr. Heidi Gullett</a>, associate director of the Center for Community Health Integration at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and medical director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health in Ohio.</p>
“You’ve Been Exposed”<p>After the case interview, contact tracers will get to work calling the folks who may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the person who tested positive.</p><p>"We give them recommendations about quarantining or isolating, getting tested, and what to do if they become sick. If they're not already sick, we still want them to self-quarantine so that they don't spread the disease to anyone else if they were to become sick," said Labus.</p><p>Generally, the contact tracer won't ask for additional contacts unless they happen to call someone who is sick or has a confirmed case of the virus. They will help ensure the contact has the resources they need to isolate themselves, if necessary. The contact tracer may continue to stay in touch with that person over the next 14 days.</p><p>"We follow the percentage of people that were contacts, then converted into being actual cases of the virus. It's an important marker to help us understand what kind of transmission happens in our community and how to control the virus," said Gullett.</p>
Why You Should Participate (and What Happens If You Don’t)<p>A <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30457-6/fulltext" target="_blank">Lancet study</a> from June 16, which looked at data from more than 40,000 people, found that COVID-19 transmission could be reduced by 64 percent through isolating those who have the coronavirus, quarantining their household, and contacting the people they may have exposed.</p><p>The combination strategy was significantly more effective than mass random testing or just isolating the sick person and members of their household.</p><p>However, contact tracing is only as effective as people's willingness to participate, and a small number of people who've contracted the coronavirus or were potentially exposed are reluctant to talk.</p><p>"Contact tracers have all been hung up on, cussed at, yelled at," said Gullet.</p><p>The hesitation to talk to contact tracers often stems from concerns over privacy — a serious issue in healthcare.</p>
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NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.
By Andrea Germanos
Oxfam International warned Thursday that up to 12,000 people could die each day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic—a daily death toll surpassing the daily mortality rate from Covid-19 itself.
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By Jun N. Aguirre
An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.
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