Restore the Colorado River Delta Petition Hits 2,500 Signatures, 25 Groups
The Change.org online petition to restore water to the Colorado River Delta has hit more than 2,500 signatures and is supported by 25 conservation groups.
For more than a decade the Colorado River has been drained completely dry before it reaches the Gulf of California—5 trillion gallons of water drained out (view an image here) by thirsty cities and farms across the Southwest U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. and Mexico are currently negotiating a Bi-National Agreement through the International Boundary Waters Commission and the Bureau of Reclamation that may restore a small amount of water to the devastated ecosystem. Twenty-five conservation organizations from the top of the Colorado River basin to the bottom are supporting the petition.
"The Colorado River system is the lifeblood of the American Southwest, nourishing some of the richest and most diverse wetlands in the region and providing key habitat for endangered fishes and wildlife," said Erik Molvar, wildlife biologist with Biodiversity Conservation Alliance in Wyoming. "It would be irresponsible to allow this lifeblood to be drained dry."
The Bi-National Agreement could better manage the Colorado River so that water supply reliability can be enhanced for cities, farms and natural ecosystems benefiting both the U.S. and Mexico. If structured properly, the agreement would allow both countries to have better drought supplies while also addressing the devastating drought of water in the Delta ecosystem.
"The Colorado River is critical to San Diego communities, just as it is vital to the plants, birds and other animals in the Delta area," said Gabe Solmer of San Diego Coastkeeper. "We must work together to share and safeguard these precious resources."
The Change.org online action is petitioning U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who oversees the International Boundary Waters Commission, and U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar who oversees the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The negotiators for the State and Interior Departments are predicting that an agreement may be reached in December of 2011 or January of 2012.
“The more people learn about the degraded Colorado River Delta, the more people want to step up and provide support,” said Gary Wockner of the Save the Colorado campaign, which is leading the petition effort. “These 25 conservation groups are proud to provide positive support to the U.S. negotiators to help bring the Colorado River Delta back to life.”
For more information, click here.
The following conservation organizations are supporting the petition: Save the Colorado, Sierra Club—Rocky Mountain Chapter, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Living Rivers—Colorado Riverkeeper, The Environmental Group, Western Rivers Institute, Blue Legacy, The Ocean Foundation, Clean Water Fund, San Diego Coastkeeper, Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper, American Whitewater, Waterkeeper Alliance, Food and Water Watch, Colorado Ocean Coalition, Glen Canyon Institute, Save the Colorado River Delta: Sonoran Institute, Sheep Mountain Alliance, Grand Canyon Trust, American Rivers, Citizens for Dixie's Future, Great Basin Water Network, Redford Center: River Red Film, Planning and Conservation League of California, and Defenders of Wildlife.
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It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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