News from our member organizations

The Colorado River Initiative: Spencer’s Cabin

News from American Rivers - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 6:00am
Credit – Toby Sprunk

A float trip on the Upper Colorado is an amazing experience – whether you are an angler plying for hungry trout or a rafter out on a summer day with a group of friends, the stretch from State Bridge to Dotsero in central Colorado is an adventure you will never forget. But due to the patchwork of private and public lands, camp options can often be tricky to figure out, and if the river is busy, a challenge to have enough spots for everyone.

This stretch of the Colorado is predominantly within Eagle County, which has been actively acquiring parcels along the river over the years to be designated as county Open Space, securing the natural and wild character of the river for future generations. Most recently, Eagle County has acquired a historic property along the river that will become a welcome respite, as well as another overnight camp option, for adventurers on this stretch.

Spencer’s Cabin, just upstream from Burns, was originally a federal mining claim in 1906. But the mining effort was a bust, and the property sat idle for decades. In 1994, Spencer DePree bought the property as a private hunting and fishing getaway and built a 190 square foot cabin with a loft sleeping area.  Used mainly for personal weekend trips, the cabin has no utilities or running water, but is remote and has a lovely front porch.

Toby Sprunk, director of the Eagle County Open Space (ECOS), recently announced the addition of Spencer’s Cabin to the county’s open space portfolio as part of the Colorado River Initiative, a concerted effort from ECOS and their partners to protect the Colorado River corridor through land acquisition and conservation easements.

Targeting the summer of 2015, Spencer’s Cabin is planned be available for rent to boaters and anglers. The cabin itself will remain in its original configuration, although Eagle County may add a vault toilet system and picnic tables to the property, making it more accommodating for visitors.  Public access is only available from the river, as there is no public road access and the parcel is surrounded by Bureau of Land Management land, making it an even more unique place for recreational visitors to relax and partake in the quiet solitude along the river.

Eagle County Open Space and American Rivers encourage you to check out Spencer’s Cabin when planning your next trip down this amazing stretch of the Upper Colorado!

President is Right to Focus on Infrastructure Jobs, Not Keystone XL Pipeline

News from NRDC - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (January 20, 2015) – The following is a statement from Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, in response to President Obama’s State-of-the-Union address tonight:

President Obama Reaffirms Commitment to Combat Dangerous Climate Change

News from NRDC - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (January 20, 2015) – The following is a statement by Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, on President Obama’s State-of-the-Union address to Congress tonight.

Save the Date, April 17-18: Agricultural Justice, Age of Organics, and Alligators: Protecting health, biodiversity, and ecosystems

News from Beyond Pesticides - Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, January 20, 2015) The 33rd National Pesticide Forum, Agricultural Justice, Age of Organics, and Alligators: Protecting health, biodiversity, and ecosystems, will be held April 17-18, 2015 (Friday afternoon and all day Saturday) at the Florida A&M University College of Law (FAMU) in Orlando, FL. The 2015 conference is convened by Beyond Pesticides, Farmworker Association of […]

New Trail Opens on Badger Mountain

News from Washington Trails Association - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 1:55pm

Hikers at the Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve, a 650-acre park in Richland, will be able to enjoy a new trail at the preserve as of noon today.

Volunteers make it happen

Thanks to hardworking volunteers, a grant from REI and Friends of Badger Mountain, a nonprofit organization based in Richland, the new trail was dedicated less than a year after work began. More than 400 volunteers moved 1,000 yards of dirt and laid more than 290 tons of gravel over the course of the project. Longtime WTA volunteer Jim Langdon was heavily involved in the project as trailmaster, logging 475 hours of work on the new trail.

Trails offers new opportunities

Unlike the other three trails in the preserve, which are relatively steep, the new 2.5-mile route rolls gently from its beginning off the Skyline trail to its end near Trailhead Park off the Sagebrush trail, making it the second-longest trail on the Preserve, about six miles roundtrip. Along the way, hikers traverse the lower south face of the mountain with no significant elevation gain or loss along the way, maintaining a distance of at least 200 feet from a large apple orchard nearby.

Name the new trail!

Those who attended the opening ceremony got to take a tour of the new trail. Some of the hikers may have been scouting for inspiration; the new trail is not yet named, and Benton County is looking for name ideas from the public. The Park Board will select a name later in February or March. Suggested names should be one word, no more than 10 characters in length, and easy to pronounce and recognize.

>> Read more about the newest trail on Badger Mountain in WTA's Hiking Guide.

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More about the project

7th Power and Conservation Plan vehicle to clean energy future

News from NW Energy Coalition - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 10:37am
Every five years, the region’s official power planning agency prepares an updated 20-year forecast of the Northwest’s electric power needs and a plan for how those needs should be met. The forthcoming 7th Plan will help us raise the bar higher, capitalize on our region’s clean energy success and set us on the course to a cleaner, more affordable and wildlife-friendly future. We need all hands on deck … starting now!

Northwest Power and Conservation Council seeks comments on direct natural gas use, aka ‘fuel switching’

News from NW Energy Coalition - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 10:15am
As it develops the 7th Plan, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council is releasing a series of issue papers for public comment. This week the Council released its "Direct Use of Natural Gas Analysis," with a comment period running through Feb. 20. Despite the potential thermal efficiencies of direct use, the Council has never considered switching from electric to gas heat to be conservation.

The California Drought – Has Year 4 Begun?

News from American Rivers - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 10:00am
Folsom Lake reservoir in January 2014 | Jacob Dyste

As much of the US is in the grip of a frigid arctic air mass, California is in the grip of a ridge of high pressure that has blocked the procession of drenching storms we had in December. A similar pattern, dubbed the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, set up at this time last winter and pushed the normal storm track to the Pacific Northwest and Canada, resulting in one of the driest years on record in California. This winter, the December storms got us off to an above average start and raised hopes that the drought was coming to an end. But with the three weeks of dry weather and a forecast for at least one more dry week, we will likely fall below average by January 15th. If the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge returns and blocks precipitation for the rest of the winter, we will be in trouble.

It seems unlikely, at least statistically, that a drought as bad as last year will recur, but after three dry years for our rivers and fish, we have little resiliency and water storage is far behind needs. This is especially true for the San Joaquin River, which was #1 on the Most Endangered Rivers list of 2014. The December storms helped, but California reservoirs remain about half of average for this time of year.

Our wet season is far from over, and the seasonal forecast from the National Weather Service shows a probability of above average precipitation this winter, so there is some basis for hope.  However, as each day dawns warm and dry, we drift closer to another year of drought. Already, the state and federal agencies responsible for managing California’s water system and protecting imperiled fish and wildlife have developed an Interagency 2015 Drought Strategy that lays out a plan to adapt to what could be year 4 of a ridiculously resilient drought. This is one strategy everyone would be glad to have gather dust on a shelf.

Our Conservation Resolution: Think Big

News from Conservation International - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 7:00am
We need to map exactly where nature's services originate and the paths they follow to get to people.

Get Wild and Scenic in California

News from American Rivers - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 6:00am
South Yuba River, whose protection inspired SYRCL’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival | Leslie Elias

Mid-January is one of my favorite times of year in Nevada City, which is home to American Rivers’ main California regional office. It’s the time of year when, thanks to the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, our little mountain town transforms into a buzzing hub of energy and inspiration, when the sidewalks teem with environmentalists of all ages, from all over the world. This year, the festival takes place this coming weekend, January 15 to 18, 2015. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival was created by the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) to “inspire action to protect and heal the earth.” SYRCL is one of American Rivers’ partners in the effort to recover California’s wild salmon and protect and restore the Yuba River, and the film festival helps raise awareness and resources for this important work.

More than 100 beautiful and powerful environmental and adventure films will screen over two days and four nights. You can also hit up free activist workshops to learn about the issues presented in the films and how to take action; or, after all that time sitting in theaters, take a guided trail walk, showcase your sweetest moves at the late-night dance party, rub elbows with film makers and important Yuba River supporters at the gala, get a taste of local wine, beer, and art, and more.

It’s hard to do and see it all at the festival, so I like to plan ahead. This year, I can’t wait to see DamNation (an exploration of how our own future is “bound to the life and health of our rivers”), Joanna Macy and the Great Turning (a short film about the societal shift toward sustainability), Return of the River (the story of how a community helped to launch the largest dam removal project in history), and Marmot Licks GoPro (a super short film whose title explains it all).

If you’re in town, be sure to head to City Hall on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. for the Colorado River workshop led by Sinjin Eberle, American Rivers’ Associate Director of Communications. The workshop will explore the Colorado’s spectacular landscapes, as well as the threats and opportunities surrounding this iconic river. Also, don’t miss the Eddy Out! Pausing to Find a New Activism workshop (Saturday at City Hall at 9:30 a.m.) led by former American Rivers Senior Director of Conservation Elizabeth Soderstrom. This workshop, co-hosted by Tania Carlone and Mark Dubois (co-founder of Friends of the River and the International Rivers Network) focuses on deepening our activism in order to heal the world with compassion, grace, and courage.

Have you been to the Wild & Scenic Film Festival? Are you planning to go this year? Visit SYRCL’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival website for more information!

California Tightens Pesticide Limits on Strawberries and Other Crops

News from Beyond Pesticides - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 8:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2015) The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) announced Wednesday that it is implementing the country’s strictest limits on chloropicrin, a chemical injected into the soil where strawberries, raspberries, almonds, and other crops are grown. The soil fumigant has been linked to a litany of health effects, such as respiratory ailments, […]

10 More 2014 Milestones in Washington State Bicycling

When we listed 13 great things that happened in 2014 for better bicycling, we knew […]

The post 10 More 2014 Milestones in Washington State Bicycling appeared first on Washington Bikes.

2014 Was a Great Year for Rivers – Thanks to You!

News from American Rivers - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 10:13am
Scenic Middle Fork Salmon River, ID | © John Seebach

As we enter a new year, and a new Congress, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for everything you did for rivers this past year. 2014 was a great year for rivers, in no small part thanks to you.

For the first time since 2009, Congress designated new Wild and Scenic Rivers. And did they ever! In a package signed into law by President Obama in December, more than 140 miles of rivers in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and New Jersey and Pennsylvania were given the permanent protection of being named Wild and Scenic. This is a huge deal and your calls to your legislators, your work on the ground, support in local communities  made this happen.

Congress also teed up another 140 miles of rivers to be studied for possible future designations. Rivers in Oregon, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine are now going to be considered for Wild and Scenic, a critical step on the march to permanent protection.

Legislation was enacted into law safeguarding Southwest Colorado’s Hermosa Creek watershed and its native fish and excellent recreation opportunities. Additionally, in Montana, Congress protected 430,000 acres of National Forest lands in the North Fork Flathead River watershed adjacent to Glacier National Park from new mining, as well as 275,000 acres of pristine lands along the Rocky Mountain Front as Wilderness and National Conservation Areas.

None of this would have happened without your support.

Congress also fully funded the WATERSmart Program, which will help to advance common sense water efficiency projects throughout the arid West. And cutting against conventional wisdom, Congress gave restoration programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration a 12 percent increase! These funds will be used to restore more watersheds and take out more old decrepit dams in the new year. And Congress rejected the President’s proposal to slash funding for states to repair old and degraded water infrastructure.

Then there’s what Congress didn’t do. With your help, we were able to turn back corporate agribusiness’ assault on the Clean Water Act. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are putting forth a rule to restore the Clean Water Act’s promise of drinkable, fishable, swimmable waters to all rivers. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations [CAFOs], oil and gas companies, and other corporate interests threw everything they had at the rule. But thanks to you, Congress failed to stop the rule moving forward.

Likewise, Congress failed to advance the ski industry’s bill, also cooked up with CAFOs and frackers, to put the interests of a few corporations ahead of the taxpayers’ interest in protecting the water that flows through our public lands. You mobilized, you raised your voices, and Congress listened.

And thanks to you, Congress failed to use the California drought as an excuse to trash the Endangered Species Act. Once again, you spoke up in great numbers, with power and passion, and your elected representatives responded.

So take a moment and be excited for everything we accomplished together in 2014 to protect our rivers and clean water.

We know corporations and their allies in Congress aren’t going away. New threats are emerging. The Clean Water Act be under attack again this year, and the Grand Canyon is besieged by mining and development threats. Wild and Scenic Rivers are always under pressure from those who want to build dams or mines or other developments on them. And drought in the West is still being used as an excuse to gut protections for endangered species.

With your support, we have achieved so much in the last year. Now I hope we can count on you in 2015 - because we’re going to need your help.

Scientific Review Supports New Clean Water Protections

News from NRDC - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (January 15, 2015)— A new scientific report showing that small streams and wetlands can affect downstream water quality and help supply drinking water to millions of Americans is further evidence that these water bodies need protection from pollution, the Natural Resources Defense Council said today. The long-awaited study released today by the Environmental Protection Agency provides the scientific underpinning for the proposed Clean Water Protection Rule due to be finalized by the agency this spring.

Member EU States Authorized to Plant GE Crops

News from Beyond Pesticides - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 8:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, January 15, 2015) Yesterday, the European Union (EU) passed legislation meant to bridge a long-standing divide amongst EU nations (and the United States) on the planting of genetically-engineered (GE) crops by granting individual countries the authority to opt-out of EU crop approval and institute country-based legislative and regulatory restrictions. Makers of GE crops […]

Summer Transportation Internships Available

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Region 10 Office in Seattle is offering multiple […]

The post Summer Transportation Internships Available appeared first on Washington Bikes.

Save the date: Spring conference, May 29-30

News from NW Energy Coalition - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 12:44pm
Please save the date for the NW Energy Coalition's spring 2015 NW Clean & Affordable Energy Conference, May 29-30 in Boise, Idaho. The conference will feature speakers, panels and networking opportunities with clean energy experts and advocates from around the region. All events will take place at the Riverside Hotel. Register today!

Sunday Farmers Market Bike Ride: Bike Local, Shop Local, Eat Fresh

News from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 10:15am

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig. Home again, home again, jiggety-jig. It […]

The post Sunday Farmers Market Bike Ride: Bike Local, Shop Local, Eat Fresh appeared first on Washington Bikes.

National Park Advocacy Group Commends Administration for Bold New Methane Rules

News from National Parks Conservation - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 10:08am
Major Step on Climate Pollution will Protect America’s Special Places