Oregon WildBlogOregon Wild Blog RSS
News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
An old myth brought down with even older information
There’s no lack of anti-wolf myths ripe for debunking. Much like climate change denial has become a cottage industry, the anti-wolf crowd - led by a small group of pseudo scientists, self-proclaimed experts, and anti-government activists – regularly churn out new ones.
Perhaps you didn’t know that wolves are simply the newest tool in a radical United Nations agenda to spread disease and turn rural (or is that “real") America into a playground for latte-sipping liberal elites. Maybe you’d be surprised to learn that wolves made their way to Wallowa County in the back of a government van, a Native American’s motorboat, or a Clinton Administration black helicopter (No joke, these are all stories we’ve heard).
Certainly it should be old news that wolves regularly kill small children for fun after dressing up like their grandmothers.
There are any number of reasons for why such myths exist. Fear generally tops the list – fear of wolves, fear of change, fear of a lack of control. However, recently it’s occurred to me that another factor should be added to the list...
Richard Winters shares his experience on the second annual Oregon Wild Wolf Rendezvous.
Last weekend, I was privileged to be able to take a journey to northeastern Oregon, where the first wolf pack to return to Oregon resides. It is an area of great beauty, bounded by the majestic Wallowa Mountains and bordered by the amazing Zumwalt Prairie. It is also an area of great controversy and contention, an area in which the main enterprise is cattle ranching, and in which many of the cattle ranchers are rabidly anti-wolf.
There are also many people in the region who favor the return of wolves and there are a few good folks who stand between the factions, trying to find ways for wolves and ranchers to co-exist, while trying to understand the complexities of the relationships between the top predators and their prey(s). Some of these folks have attained the status of hero in my eyes, and in the body of this blog, I will explain.
A pastor, a scientist, a mayor, and a fisherman walk into a hotel and meet a bear. It could be the setup for a bad joke, but it's not.
Back when I used to teach at OMSI’s outdoor science schools, we played a eco-version of the game “Paper, Rock, Scissors”. In this case, bear ate salmon, salmon ate mosquito, and of course mosquito ate bear. In my current role as Oregon Wild’s Roadless Advocate, I’m turning that game on its head.
At a public meeting tomorrow, we’ll have a bear and a salmon, but they won’t be eating each other, and thankfully there shouldn’t be any mosquitoes in sight. Instead, they’ll be handing out information and collecting public comment at a meeting the Forest Service doesn’t really want you to attend.
Click here for details about the event and here to take action if you can’t make it. Continue reading past the break to find out more.
The Obama administration has talked a lot about the importance of science but their actions leave much to be desired.
Reuters has the report this morning. The headline:
U.S. wants to lift protections for wolf and grizzly
The federal government just doesn't get it. Over the past 5 years, there have been a half dozen attempts to remove protections for these icons of the American wilderness. Each one has failed.
These attempts to take gray wolves and grizzlies in the northern Rockies off the Endangered Species list have failed for many reasons, but one stands out: the science isn't there.
Time and again, independent biologists and the judges who are required to listen to the best available science have determined that wolves and grizzlies are not fully recovered. These experts tell us that delisting them now would lead to another decline in species population that would put them right back on the path to extinction (a path we paved for them through decades of poisoning and trapping).
Despite these scientific warnings, the Obama administration has vowed to push forward.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explores options for protecting this unique high-elevation species
If you're looking to find the tallest spot in Crater Lake National Park, you'll see some. Where you hear the call of a Clark's nutcracker, look around and you're likely to spot one. Hiking to timberline in the Cascade Range and this tree just might mark the spot.
That was the news this week when the federal government announced (in response to a 2008 petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council) that it would investigate whether the pine deserves to be place under the protections of the Endangered Species Act.
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.
A spreading tree disease and the namesake of the famed Northwest tree.
Last week, while surfing through my Google News alerts, I stumbled across an article on Swiss Needle Cast. It's a foliage disease that impacts Douglas fir tees and is apparently doing quite a number on the forests of the western foothills of the Coast Range.
Forests are complex, so when I hear talk of disease epidemics, and bark beetle infestations, I'm always a little circumspect. Of course, our forests have been around for quite some time and haven't always looked like they do now. Fire, disease, climate, bugs, and people have altered the forested landscape for millenia.
It's fair to say that the last century of industrial logging has had a broader and more detrimental effect on the land than past natural processes. Our penchant for clear-cutting (pressing the ecological stop button on a given patch of forest) and then replanting a single-species, diversity-starved plantation has done more to disrupt natural processes than anything in history.
Turns out, the native Swiss Needle Cast disease may be taking an extra toll due to our past logging practices.
Logging in the backcountry to stop beetle outbreaks and reduce fire risk does neither.
Do you remember being in grade school and being pretty sure your antiquated old teacher was passing on some outdated information? You muttered as much to your friend, made comments in the margins of your notes, and even asked some good questions. But the teacher persisted. Then the smart kid in the room raised her hand and made the same case much more comprehensively and eloquently. Your reaction may have been to think “Man! I wish I’d said that”.
But you were glad she did, and you hoped the teacher would listen.
Sometimes similar things happen in the real world. Across the country, bark beetles are doing what they’ve been doing for millennia – reproducing and, in the process, killing trees. In response the Forest Service (the teacher in our scenario) has felt the need to address what they see as a growing “crisis”. In many cases, they’ve reflexively proposed to do what they’ve always done – log it! A new report suggests that might not be the best idea.
Two OSU scientists continue to help pile on the evidence that top predators are critical to healthy ecosystems
William Ripple, John Beschta, and their students at OSU have made great contributions to the study of ecology. In particular, they have demonstrated and publicized the important role top predators play in maintaining healthy landscapes. Click here to read a recent and fascinating article demonstrating how this fact is being rediscovered across the globe.
Ecology can be understood in very simple terms, but it is also an incredibly complex field of study. I distinctly remember the first time I ever had an understanding of it. I was fishing with my dad on a small Wisconsin lake and asking lots of confounding questions as my dad explained to me how the big lake – that is to say Lake Michigan – was full of critters that didn’t belong there.
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.