By Jim Yuskavitch
Frank Moore is a fly-fishing legend—at least along Oregon's North Umpqua River, which has been renowned for its summer steelhead since the 1930s, when Western fiction author Zane Grey fished its waters. Moore is a D-Day veteran; he returned after the war to live beside the river with his wife, Jeanne. Together, they became among the North Umpqua's most vocal and effective advocates. In 1966 they founded the Steamboaters, a group of local angler-conservationists who still zealously guard the welfare of the river and its population of wild and wily steelheads.
Now a coalition of fish conservation groups is seeking to extend the Moores' lifelong contribution into the future with a Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary that will protect a vital spawning habitat. Beyond that, the effort may prove to be a viable alternative to more restrictive approaches (like wilderness or wild-and-scenic-river designations) in an inclement political era.
The goal of the sanctuary—an approach largely spearheaded by the Portland-based Wild Salmon Center—is to permanently protect salmon strongholds from future habitat degradation. Most such areas, said Mark Trenholm, the center's senior program manager, are stressed and in need of recovery. "We are trying to save the last best places for salmon," he said. Among other campaigns are a 60,000-acre Elk River Salmon Emphasis Area (SEA) on Oregon's south coast, a 28,000-acre Kilchis SEA on the north coast, and an ambitious proposal for a 700,000-acre Copper River Salmon Reserve in Alaska's famed Copper River Delta.
Unlike traditional land protection strategies like wilderness designations, salmon emphasis areas don't need to meet stringent wildness criteria. They can include fish-conservation-management directives such as habitat restoration without precluding other uses of the land, like logging and motorized vehicle access, theoretically making them less controversial and easier to get through Congress.
The Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary would encompass 104,000 acres in the Steamboat Creek watershed within the Umpqua National Forest, probably the North Umpqua's most important steelhead-spawning tributary. "The basic premise is to give the Forest Service direction that gives wild fish priority," said John Kober, executive director of Portland-based Pacific Rivers, the organization that has been at the forefront of the sanctuary campaign.
Jeanne and Frank Moore talk wild steelhead conservation at their home above the North Umpqua River in the Southern Oregon Cascade Mountains.Jim Yuskavitch
Supporters of the sanctuary stress that it would still allow other natural resource uses. "This is a wild-fish-emphasis area, but it is not a wilderness area," said Oakley Brooks, the Wild Salmon Center's communications director. "There will be logging. Frank is adamant that he does not want to lock the place up, but he wants to protect wild steelhead."
Even so, salmon sanctuary advocates find themselves battling against the current. The proposed Elk River SEA in the Siskiyou National Forest on Oregon's south coast, for example, would have established a 60,000-acre preserve on public land to protect the Elk's runs of Chinook and Coho salmon and steelhead. Old-growth forests would be protected, but otherwise logging would have been allowed. But despite lots of local support, the proposed legislation faltered.
"It never really settled into a slot," said Jerry Becker, a consulting forester and founder of the Friends of the Elk River (now Wild Rivers Land Trust). "It kept getting revised and ultimately never got a bill or a hearing." Becker noted that the Forest Service was also reluctant to sign on to a new management designation. Proposals for salmon emphasis areas on Oregon's north coast were caught up in a lawsuit by a number of county governments, who accuse the state of illegally reducing logging on state forest. The Copper River Salmon Preserve campaign has also faltered.
If eventually designated as wild and scenic, most of the Elk River's headwater tributaries will be protected by buffer zones, but won't include salmon specific conservation measures as intended in the original Elk River salmon emphasis area proposal.Jim Yuskavitch
Wild fall Chinook salmon spawn in a southwestern Oregon coastal stream. Salmon sanctuaries would ensure that wild salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing habitat would be protected from human development and disturbance.Jim Yuskavitch
Salmon-protection efforts have not halted, however. Oregon's Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, are sponsoring the Oregon Wildlands Act, which would create two new wilderness areas and designate most of the Elk River's major upper tributaries as Wild and Scenic (although it would not give as much protection as the original salmon emphasis area proposal). And coalitions of conservation groups have worked with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to designate 20 coastal watersheds as Wild Fish Emphasis Areas, where no hatchery salmon or steelhead will be stocked for the next 10 years.
But at the moment, the bright spot for salmon-specific protective designation is on the North Umpqua. With the support of senators Wyden and Merkley (and Representative Pete DeFazio), Senate Bill 513 would create the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area. (The word 'sanctuary' was dropped because of Republican concerns that wild-fish advocates were trying to establish a new protective designation—which they are.) "All we need now," said Kober, "is to attach it to a must-pass bill." If the Moore sanctuary succeeds, it could make the upstream journey to the next salmon sanctuary a little less difficult.
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA magazine.
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The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.
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By Jason Bruck
Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.
Researchers work with trained dolphins to learn more about their sensory abilities, seen here testing a dolphin's hearing. Jason Bruck / CC BY-ND
A Lot to Learn From Hormones<p>When sampling the blow, we are looking for hormones in mucus as these can be used to gauge psychological and physiological health. We are specifically interested in <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0114062" target="_blank">hormones like cortisol</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.04.003" target="_blank">progesterone</a>, which indicate stress levels and reproductive ability respectively, but can also help determine overall health.</p><p>Additionally, blow samples can detect <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1128%2FmSystems.00119-17" target="_blank">respiratory pathogens</a> in the lungs or nasal passages - blowholes evolved from noses after all.</p><p>This health analysis is especially important in areas with oil spills as the chemicals can cause hormonal problems that harm <a href="https://www.carmmha.org/investigating-how-oil-spills-affect-dolphins-and-whales/" target="_blank">development, metabolism and reproduction</a> in dolphins.</p><p>Hormone samples can provide scientists with valuable data, but collecting them from intelligent and unpredictable animals is challenging.</p>
Cetacean Collaborators<p>To build a drone that can stealthily collect spray from moving dolphins, we needed more data on their eyesight and hearing, and this is data that couldn't be collected in the wild nor simulated in a lab.</p><p>We worked with dolphins at facilities like Dolphin Quest in Bermuda, which provides guests opportunities to learn about dolphins while allowing <a href="https://dolphinquest.com/about-us/our-story/" target="_blank">scientists access to animals for noninvasive research</a>. Here the dolphins can swim away if they choose not to work with us, so we had to design the study like a game; the way a kindergarten teacher entertains a class. If the dolphins aren't interested, we don't get to do the science.</p><p>Over the course of hundreds of sessions, we sought to answer two questions: What can dolphins hear and what can they see around their heads?</p><p>To test dolphin hearing, we set up microphones and cameras to record dolphin behavior as we played drone noise in the air. We analyzed the responses to each noise – such as how many dolphins looked at the speaker – and used these as a proxy for their ability to hear the sounds.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5f31daf07a652b8d64a093b993ee4e96"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UjmQeH3vXHI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Robodolphin doesn't look like a real dolphin, but it doesn't need to in order to train our drone pilots. C.J. Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND<p>To build robodolphin, we worked with dolphins trained to "chuff" or sneeze on command to measure spray characteristics. We used high-speed photography to see the dolphins' breath as it moved through the air. Then we conducted high resolution CT scans of a dolphin head and 3D-printed a replica of a nasal passage.</p><p>Now, we have a complete robodolphin and are tweaking its sprays to be nearly identical to the real thing. This will allow us to determine how close we need to get to collect the samples, and therefore, how quiet our drone needs to be.</p>
The replica dolphin blowhole was designed from a scan of a real blowhole passage, and the spray it produces closely matches the real thing. Alvin Ngo, Mitch Ford and CJ Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND
A Bit of Practice, Then Into the Wild<p>In the next few months, we will test flights over robodolphin with existing drones to determine the timing and strategy for collection. From there, we will fabricate a low-noise drone that can fly fast enough and with sufficient maneuverability to capture samples from wild dolphins. Like a video game, we will use the visual field data to develop approach trajectories to stay in the visual blindspots.</p><p>We plan to test our drones on a truck-mounted robodolphin moving down a runway, then using a boat to simulate realistic conditions. The next steps will involve ocean testing with dolphins trained for open ocean swimming. These tests will determine if our devices can catch and hold the hormones as the drone flies back to a researcher's boat.</p><p>Finally, we will deploy the system to collect data on wild dolphins. Our first goal is to test resident dolphins – animals that live on the coasts and deal directly with boat and oil industry noise – which will allow us to learn more about stress resulting from human impacts.</p><p>Those samples are a way off, but if all goes well we will have a specially built drone capable of flying long distances and capturing samples undetected in a few years. The samples collected will allow researchers to do better science with impact on the animals they study.</p>
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By Ashutosh Pandey
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.
Environmental and Health Hazard<p>Experts say e-waste, which is now the world's fastest-growing domestic waste stream, poses serious environmental and health risks.</p><p>Simply throwing away electronic items without ensuring they get properly recycled leads to the loss of key materials such as iron, copper and gold, which can otherwise be recovered and used as primary raw materials to make new equipment, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from extraction and refinement of raw materials.</p><p>Refrigerants found in electronic equipment such as fridge and air conditioners also contribute to global warming. A total of 98 Mt of CO2-equivalents, or about 0.3% of global energy-related emissions, were released into the atmosphere in 2019 from discarded refrigerators and ACs that were not recycled properly, the report said.</p><p>E-waste contains several toxic additives or hazardous substances, such as mercury and brominated flame retardants (BFR), and simply burning it or throwing it away could lead to serious health issues. Several studies have linked unregulated recycling of e-waste to adverse birth outcomes like stillbirth and premature birth, damages to the human brain or nervous system and in some cases hearing loss and heart troubles.</p><p>"Informal and improper e-waste recycling is a major emerging hazard silently affecting our health and that of future generations. One in four children are dying from avoidable environmental exposures," said Maria Neira, director of the Environment, Climate Change and Health Department at the World Health Organization. "One in four children could be saved, if we take action to protect their health and ensure a safe environment."</p>
Europe Leads the Way<p>While most of the e-waste was generated in Asia (24.9 Mt) in 2019, Europe led the charts on a per person basis with 16.2 kg per capita, the report said.</p><p>But the continent also recorded the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/the-eu-declares-war-on-e-waste/a-51108790" target="_blank">highest documented formal e-waste collection and recycling</a> rate at 42.5%, still below its target of 65%. Europe was well ahead of the others on this front. Asia ranked second with 11.7%.</p><p>The authors said while more that 70% of the world's population was covered by some form of e-waste policy or laws, not much was being done toward implementation and enforcement of the regulations to encourage the take-up of a collection and recycling infrastructure due to lack of investment and political motivation.</p><p>"You have to think about new economic systems," said Kühr.</p><p>One approach could be that consumers no longer buy the products, but only the service they offer. The device would remain the property of the maker, who would then have an interest in offering his customers the best service and the necessary equipment. The maker would also be interested in designing his products in such a way that they are easier to repair and easier to recycle, Kühr said.</p>
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