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News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
Even allowing clearcuts in selective "variable retention harvest" patches intended to mimic the natural variability of a fire-prone habitat mosaic is a risk and a danger, especially since global climate change has thrown natural variability out the window.
By Pablo Martos
Senator Ron Wyden has released a new plan for management of Oregon and California Railroad trust lands, a plan I think is intended to replace, update, or supersede the Northwest Forest Plan that Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994 for O&C lands. While I'm glad new science is being brought to bear on an old problem, I think the approach is wrong. I disagree with it's broader objectives - and thus with some of the specific things it is attempting to address.
The American Bird Conservancy publishes new mapping technology to reconcile wind energy and bird conservation
Many Oregonians support the growth of the wind energy industry in the Columbia River Gorge. I personally feel pride for my state whenever I drive past the Gorge’s growing wind farms. A few controversies continue to cause discord however even within the environmental community. Some oppose the obstruction of views while others argue that wind farms threaten bird flight paths.
Click here to see the map of your state
To refute the second of these two concerns, one need only look at the American Bird Conservancy’s (ABC) wind development bird risk map. This map highlights where in the country it would be the highest and lowest risk to build wind farms based on bird migration patterns.
Weather and wildlife at Oregon's only National Park.
Earlier this week a friend and I traveled through some driving July rain as we climbed up Hwy 62 towards the rim of Crater Lake.
The unseasonable cold and unwelcome precipitation made us both wonder why the weather has been so strange this year. I don't claim to know if it linked to global climate change or not, but scientists say that more extreme weather patterns are certainly expected as global warming continues to grip the planet.
When we reached the rim and walked out towards the edge, the ominous clouds in front of us had us thinking that we chose the wrong day to venture to a spot where the views were all at least 1,000 feet away. Sure enough, a layer of mist sat like an ice cream scoop in the caldera and prevented all but the slightest glimpse of the pristine lake below.
The funky weather (more specifically, global climate change) isn't just affecting the view at Crate Lake. It's taking a toll on the wildlife that call the area home.
Two species are a case in point - the American Pika and the Whitebark Pine.
A brief look at The State of the Birds 2010 Report on Climate Change in the United States.
Yesterday evening on our sunset drive back into Washington, D.C. from Thanksgiving in points north we saw some of the most fantastic flocks of starlings I’ve ever witnessed. Starlings that wove their way as one creature through the skyline, their flock stretched long and lean field after field, farther than I could see. Starlings are considered a nuisance species, number in the hundreds of millions, and have typically been the most abundant bird in the northeastern United States. Watching them en masse, I was reminded that they are not likely a species vulnerable to a changing environment, but a notoriously resilient one, unlike so many of their winged companions.
Last year I wrote about the first State of the Birds report, as well as the Point Reyes Bird Observatory report on climate, which indicated that without a doubt, bird species are on the decline. This year’s State of the Birds report, put out by a number of bird conservation organizations, including the American Bird Conservancy, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and The Nature Conservancy, among others, once again, confirms that birds are an indicator species to watch, especially when it comes to a changing climate. Though perhaps not telling in the flight waves of starlings, birds across the nation are continuing to hint at “the failing health of our ecosystems.” This year’s 2010 Report on Climate Change suggests that birds in every habitat will be affected by climate change. It is no longer a question of if, but rather, how much?
Two news hits - one weird, one wonderful.
All of the hard work down at Oregon State University trying to help us all wrap our brains around the impacts and causes of climate change is paying off.
You've seen us mention the work of Mark Harmon, Olga Krankina, and Beverly Law before and now that group of folks is part of a university that will host one of eight "Climate Science Centers" across the nation.
From our perspective, hosting an institution devoted to adapting to and fighting climate change in the heart of Oregon's old-growth forests makes sense. Deforestation contributes about 20% of the earth's global carbon pollution and continues to be a major factor driving global climate change. Additionally, as our Climate Control report shows, Northwest forests store carbon more effectively than any other terrestrial ecosystem. That's a fancy way of saying our mature and old-growth forests (if we keep them standing) can have a huge impact in mitigating climate change.
See below the jump for Governor Ted Kulongoski's comments on the new center and news of a much weirder variety.
YES! Lower & warmer flows, higher temps, and drier ground. Climate change in the Klamath brings rough predictions for the basin's fish, wetlands, and wildlife.
[This summer Oregon Wild has had the great pleasure of hosting a handful of outstanding interns. Supportive of both our development and conservation programs, they’ve been doing research, outreach, and more. Among the tasks our Healthy Rivers intern, Dylan Cerling, completed this summer was a summary of recent research on climate change impacts to the Klamath Basin, including the latest study be the University of Oregon and National Center for Conservation Science and Policy. Below is Dylan’s helpful, but frightening summary on what we might expect in the Klamath. (This summary is not for public use or reproduction.)]
Both the causes and effects of climate change are complex; models by their very nature may fail to account for certain processes or predict certain outcomes. However, models consistently suggest that the net effect of climate change on fish and wildlife, and their habitats in the Klamath Basin will be harmful, as water levels both drop and become more variable, and stream temperatures rise.
By the year 2100, anthropogenic global climate change is, depending on regulatory actions, estimated to raise global temperatures from 1.1 to 6.4 degrees C. While the Klamath Basin has temperatures and precipitation levels that vary widely according to geography and season, it is a generally dry region and climate change is expected to exacerbate this status. Predictions of yearly precipitation are variable under different models; but even so, all models agree that warmer season precipitation will decline.
Our resident global warming and forests expert, Doug Heiken, takes a look at a new report out of Canada.
Got a note from Doug Heiken yesterday about a new global warming/forests report out of British Columbia. Doug keeps up to the minute on the recent developments in forest carbon science, so he had a few thoughts to share.
I've only had time to skim this new report from a broad coalition of conservation and labor groups in B.C., Canada. It appears to have some good and some questionable recommendations.
See Doug's analysis after the jump.
A nod to forests and climate change in President Obama's Nobel press conference.
From Doug -
As you know, Obama was in Oslo 'ceptin' his Nobel Prize money today, and he said that forests were a cost effective way to combat climate change.
Obama also spoke about the importance of protecting forests worldwide to combat global warming.
"Prime Minister Stoltenberg and I also discussed how we can work together and with other countries to protect forests—something that he has personally championed and I’m very impressed with the model that has been built between Norway and Brazil that allows for effective monitoring and ensures that we are making progress in avoiding deforestation of the Amazon," Obama said according to Grist."And we all understand that it’s probably the most cost-effective way for us to address the issue of climate change—having an effective set of mechanisms in place to avoid further deforestation and hopefully to plant new trees."
What the latest research tells us about the impacts of climate change on avian species and how we will deal in the Klamath.
On September 1, 2009 the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO) Conservation Science group released a study that reveals how California birds might adapt, or not, to a changing climate. Yes, it’s true, we’re in Oregon, but some of our most valued bird populations in the Klamath Basin live in or travel from our southern neighbor.
The PRBO report “Reshuffling of Species With Climate Disruption: A No-Analog Future for California Birds?” has found that we may see natural, and subsequently human communities, shift pretty dramatically. Lead author, Diana Stralberg was quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle article (9.2.09) saying, “What we found is that not only will species shift and communities change, but the composition of communities in certain places will not resemble anything we see today.” As many folks know, birds are indicator species, what happens to them is a good warning sign of what might be to follow for human communities. According to the PRBO study, these winged barometers have something to important say.
Surviving the scorcher by taking a dip, how to cool down on a global scale, a call to support national parks, responsible hiking, and playing with mud
Beat the heat
As the promised heat wave arrives in Oregon these next few days, be sure to prepare yourself properly to conquer the scorcher. If you're heading into the great outdoors, wear lightweight breathable clothing, carry plenty of water, and protect yourself from the sun by staying covered and using sunscreen. You can also try shadier locations for your hikes and outings as well as those in higher altitudes to try to escape the heat down below.
If you're looking for a swimming hole to cool down in, check out those listed in Lane County, but be sure to do so responsibly. Don't bring glass bottles to these locations, but again be sure to bring water to stay hydrated. I discovered my favorite swimming hole, Pegleg falls, during last summer's heated August. A beautiful and cool spot near Mount Hood’s Bagby Hot Springs, this gem is typically fairly quiet and the deep and clear water is stunningly blue and beautiful. With a few shallower swimming spots and plenty of area surrounding the water for sitting and relaxing, Pegleg offers a great place for family and friends.