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Pennsylvania’s Special Protection Waters are at risk if the state Senate votes in favor of House Bill 1565 (HB1565) which would remove the riparian forest buffer requirement for land developments. As early as Tuesday, October 14th, requirements for erosion and sedimentation control in permits that direct how developers leave land when construction projects are complete may be undermined by HB1565. This movement is a step-backward for Pennsylvania streams and the residents and visitors who use and enjoy these valued waters.
Pennsylvania residents: tell your state Senator, before HB1565 goes to vote Tuesday, that regulations for healthy rivers protected by riparian forested buffers are important.
Current buffers regulation was put in place to preserve and protect Pennsylvania High Quality and Exceptional Value waters by not allowing new development within 150 feet of the water and requiring developers to establish a fully forested buffer where waterways are already impaired. HB1565 would eliminate the current requirement and allow developers to build within 100 feet of a waterway and offset- the disturbed riparian buffer elsewhere in the watershed.
HB1565 supporters lack understanding of the benefits of buffers.
Here are the facts:
PA’s current regulation offers developers flexibility without burdening landowners or developers; in fact buffers can be an asset to a development site in terms of pollution control and increased property-values.
Streamside forests are the natural condition of Pennsylvania streams and are amongst the most cost-effective water quality and stream protection tools available. Pennsylvania has invested in restoring forested stream buffers to protect Pennsylvania’s best streams, restore water quality in degraded streams, and maintain the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint.
Research demonstrates that forested buffers provide significant nonpoint source pollution removal, for pollutants such as nitrogen, sediment, and phosphorus—the leading causes of stream degradation in Pennsylvania and the major pollutants impacting the Chesapeake Bay.
Communities rely on stream buffers to deal with stormwater problems. Streamside forests provide a stormwater function by capturing, absorbing and storing amounts of rainfall up to 40 times greater than disturbed soil. Riparian buffers reduce flooding impacts and on-site stormwater management costs.
Buffers improve and maintain fish and other stream habitat by shading the sun (maintaining critical stream temperatures) and stabilizing the bank to ensure a more natural environment and channel.
Buffers have economic-value in term of not only being a low-cost control alternative but also through increased recreational and use values form an aesthetic view.
Pennsylvania community-based groups are engaged around HB1565, working hard to protect clean water and environments and communities dependent upon healthy streams. Read the perspectives and activities of our many partners who value forested riparian buffers:
Earlier this year our Executive Director, Bill Borden, announced his intention to leave the organization to concentrate on a career transition. During the past several months EarthShare Washington's (ESW's) Board of Directors has been engaged in a succession planning process.
Don Willott is a member and past president of City of Bainbridge Island’s Non-motorized Transportation Advisory Committee. He is also vice president of the North Kitsap Trails Association and chair of its Sound to Olympics Trail Committee. He provides us with this post.
If you ride a bike on Bainbridge Island, you are undoubtedly familiar with the pinch point in the first mile of SR 305 north of the Washington State Ferries terminal. This transportation project is improving the location along the highway north of Vineyard Lane with the addition of a full shoulder, and improves the “pork chop” island at the entrance to Vineyard Lane to allow full shoulder. Paving was done on Thursday, October 2nd, shown in these photos. A section of guard rail and construction of the pork chop island are being installed next.
The project was fully funded by City of Bainbridge Island (COBI) City Council as part of the City’s Capitol Improvement Plan. Removing this hazard area has been a high priority for a number of community groups, including the COBI Non-Motorized Transportation Advisory Committee, Squeaky Wheels, Go Bainbridge, and the North Kitsap Trails Association.
The project complements the Sound to Olympics Trail/ SR 305 Corridor Improvement Project Phase II, which is in design now for the section between Winslow Way and High School Road. A portion of STO between Winslow Way and Vineyard Lane will be constructed in 2015. The “Phase II” grant for the STO is funded by a Transportation Alternatives Program competitive grant awarded to COBI by Puget Sound Regional Council, with match by the City.
The post Bainbridge Island Shoulder Improvements Benefit Bicyclists appeared first on Washington Bikes.
This is Part Two in a two part series on New Mexico’s last wild river: the Gila. Part One examined the Gila River’s unique status as one of the Southwest’s last, free-flowing rivers and the series of proposals attempting to divert the river. Part Two provides a more in depth look at the latest threat to the Gila; a diversion project authorized under the Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004.Gila River valley | Alex Funk
The Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004 (AWSA)—the fourth attempt to divert New Mexico’s last free-flowing river—sets up a system of complex requirements for Gila River development, but comes down to two basic choices for the state: either (1) build a diversion project or (2) serve regional water needs through non-diversion alternatives, such as agricultural and municipal conservation efforts. This decision rests in the hands of the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC), a state commission whose members were appointed by current New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.
Under the diversion option, New Mexico would receive a guaranteed $6.6 million annually for ten years, beginning in 2012. This funding can be used for either a diversion or any non-diversion alternatives designed to meet regional water supply demands in Southwest New Mexico. If the ISC chooses the diversion project an additional $34 to $62 million in federal subsidies would be available ($100-128 million total). Like Hooker Dam, each of the proposed diversion project sites identified through an AWSA Stakeholder process, the Bureau of Reclamation, and third party contractors would be located in the Upper Gila Box canyon right outside the Wilderness boundary. While the specifics of each proposed diversion is unique, most of the diversions would be built across the Gila River channel to divert water into an extensive system of open canals, some of which would require blasting out sections of the Upper Gila Box Canyon. These conveyance structures would then transport the water to storage reservoirs in the Cliff-Gila Valley’s beautiful side canyons. From there, water would be diverted for irrigation along the Gila or pumped over the continental divide to provide water to cities.
While this sounds like free money for a diversion project, the AWSA includes a litany of stipulations that could leave New Mexican taxpayers with a hefty price tag for a project that ultimately may not deliver any water to cities and farmers in the region. For starters, any cost associated with construction of new diversion, storage, or delivery works that exceeds the federal subsidy would be borne by New Mexico. A recent Reclamation appraisal study found that “the costs exceed benefits for all of the diversion proposals…and storage options” reviewed. According to Norman Gaume, a former ISC director, one option diverting Gila River to the City of Deming would cost more than $1.1 billion. Because the federal government is only providing the initial subsidy, New Mexicans would be on the hook for the remaining costs of the diversion project. According to the Gila Conservation Coalition, AWSA funding represents only 10-15% of the estimated construction costs, leaving the burden ultimately on ratepayers in southwest New Mexico or state taxpayers. A separate Western Resources Advocates (WRA) study found that a diversion project would burden water customers in Southwestern New Mexico by raising the household’s annual water bill from $200 a year to over $630 a year or cost all New Mexico residents an additional $145 in taxes.Upper Gila Box Canyon – Location of proposed diversion projects | Alex Funk
In addition to the cost to New Mexico’s citizens, a diversion would essentially “federalize” the Gila River, given that any potential project would be subject to extensive regulation under federal statutes such as the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. Building the diversion would also require New Mexico to offset any water diverted from the Gila River through the Central Arizona Project to assure that Arizona water users will not be injured by additional depletions in New Mexico. This supply of exchange water is not guaranteed, given projected water shortages on the Colorado River system. All of this for a diversion project that may never yield deliverable water to New Mexico users due to evaporative and seepage losses from storage reservoirs.
The ISC can avoid a “Diversion to Nowhere” boondoggle by going with the second option, using the federal money to support cost-effective non-diversion alternatives. Under the AWSA, New Mexico can receive over half of the federal subsidy to implement non-diversion alternatives to meet the future water demand of the region while maintaining the Gila’s instream flow and saving U.S. tax payers millions in an unnecessary and ecologically destructive project. These alternatives include municipal and agricultural conservation projects, water reuse and recycling, and watershed restoration. In fact, both the AWSA Stakeholder process and the Bureau of Reclamation found the Gila Conservation Coalition’s Municipal Conservation Proposal as the alternative with the most projected benefits for southwestern New Mexico, providing funding for implementation of water conservation programs for several local communities in the region. Other alternatives on the table include much needed improvements to irrigation infrastructure in the Cliff-Gila Valley that would help reduce labor costs for landowners, while improving instream flows. Pursuing these options would also avoid the expensive costs, federal oversight, and ecological damage associated with an unnecessary diversion on the Gila River, while meeting the region’s water needs.
From fall hiking information to joining our WTA crew at Iller Creek to connecting with other area organizations and groups, there's a lot going on in Spokane this month. Find a way to learn or get outdoors below:October 9
REI: Local Fall Color Hikes. Free. More info about registration on REI Spokane website.October 12
Inland Northwest Land Trust "Wild Edibles" hike with Rich Leon at Liberty Lake County Park. Get more info and preregister by calling (509) 328-2939.October 16
REI: Snowshoe Basics. Free. More info about registration on REI Spokane website.October 19, 26 and 27
Spokane Mountaineers General Monthly Meeting.October 25
Reforest Spokane Day. Preregister with the Lands Council.October 30
REI: Zombie Preparedness--Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Free. More info about registration on REI Spokane website.More Spokane-area resources
When hiker and WTA trip reporter Jake Gentry and his father-in-law David Fossum went backpacking on the classic 44-mile Spider Gap-Buck Creek Pass Loop last month, they expected to see some spectacular scenery and maybe even spot some wildlife. What they didn't expect was to have a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounter with the rare and elusive wolverine (the amazing animal, not Hugh Jackman).
Read Jake's first-hand account the day he calls "the best hiking day I've ever had in the PNW" below:"She posed for us one the ridgeline for a split second ..."
My father-in-law (Dave) and I were taking a break and grabbing a snack at the top of Spider Gap at the top of the Phelps basin hiking area, after climbing up the Spider Glacier. It was a gorgeous day with not a cloud in the sky. The pass was unusually quiet with a complete absence of marmot whistles—just a lone chipmunk darting across the rocks.Enter WTA's Photo Contest Categories include:
We were sitting at the gap facing the Lyman lakes enjoying the world-class mountain views when out of the corner of my eye I saw what first appeared to be a large dark marmot scurrying across the high alpine boulder field 40 feet from us. As soon as my eyes had time to adjust and focus on what I was looking at, I yelled to Dave, "there's a wolverine!"
I grabbed my camera and started snapping photos as fast as my camera would let me.
We watched her cross the boulder field in what seemed like 20-30 seconds, because she was moving at such a quick clip. She posed for us on the ridge line for a split second, just long enough to provide a great silhouette with the blue bird sky in the background.It could end up being just some overfed ground squirrel ...
Afterwards, we couldn't believe how lucky we were to be in the right place at the right time. My father-in-law told me not to get too excited, because until we could verify it was a wolverine, it could end up being just some strange overfed ground squirrel.
As we descended into the Lyman lakes basin from Spider Gap we relished the experience while soaking up the incredible scenery of the Lyman lakes and Lyman Glacier glistening in the unobstructed sunlight.
The day had been off to an amazing start before seeing the wolverine, but the sighting some how made it even better. As we passed fellow hikers, we shared the exciting news, and consistently received the same response, "No way, you're so lucky, they are so rare!"Sharing the sighting with rangers, conservation groups and biologists
We ran into Tom Winter (a ranger) at Buck Creek pass and showed him the photos. He was able to verify it was a wolverine and we have been on cloud nine ever since.
We've shared the photos with multiple ranger stations, conservation groups and biologists from across the state, in hopes of helping advance the conservation efforts around wolverines in the Pacific Northwest.Further reading
Have you ever thought about just how vast an area the waterways of the United States reach? The United States has more than 250,000 rivers that stretch, meander, surge, and flow over 3.5 million miles! That puts almost every American within 1 mile of a river or stream. With local waterways just a short walk away from most people’s front door it’s no surprise that over 100,000 people volunteered with National River Cleanup® last year to clean up their local river or stream.
As you’ve seen on the blog before, American Rivers has been holding cleanups with Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. (Keurig) employees for years. This summer National River Cleanup packed their bags and went out across the country from the Northeast the Pacific Northwest to attend cleanups with Keurig employees and community members.
Each river cleanup has its own story and its own beginning. Its volunteers are working to protect their river from a wide range of threats. Having the chance to paddle the waters, tromp through the muddy shores, and listen to the organizers and volunteers of cleanups in different regions gives National River Cleanup valuable insight into how we can all work together to protect, preserve, and cleanup our rivers!A neighborhood volunteer cleaning up Concrete Plant Park in New York City | G.I.V.E. Inc
On September 13th and 20th National River Cleanup attended cleanups in New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles. Cleanups near the coast provide an important reminder that our trash flows downstream and that what happens to our rivers can impact our bays, our deltas, and ultimately our oceans. Let’s take a look at the cleanups and the incredible organizations we partnered with for these events:
New York City
The Bronx River Alliance has been a friend of American Rivers for years having worked together on the Bronx River Blueway GeoStory. National River Cleanup and Keurig were proud to partner with them on a cleanup of the Bronx River on September 13th where volunteers braved the cold and rainy weather to cleanup Concrete Plant Park. American Rivers’ staff member Courtney Barefoot attended the cleanup and said, “What I loved most about this cleanup on the Bronx River was that every volunteer there was a community member. The volunteers’ enthusiasm for their community was infectious, and their devotion to bettering it was evident as they worked in the cold, rainy conditions.”
National River Cleanup and American Rivers ventured to Miami for the first time to work with the Environmental Coalition of Miami and the Beaches (ECOMB) and Keurig on a cleanup of Teachers Island, Flagler Monument Island, and two of Morningside Park Picnic Islands. Nearly 200 volunteers boarded boats donated by other concerned citizens and a local paddleboard tour company to shuttle volunteers to islands for a morning of cleaning up their waterways. The volunteers cleaned up hundreds of pounds of trash and debris and sorted plastics to donate to Method, a project that turns trash from waterways back into useful materials.A young volunteer in Los Angeles sifts through sand for micro-plastics | Los Angeles Waterkeeper
National River Cleanup and Keurig got to engage another partner of American Rivers by supporting the Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s Coastal Cleanup on September 20th at Dockweiler State Beach. This cleanup engaged 350 volunteers, including a team of volunteer scuba divers from the Kelp Restoration Project, who cleaned up and sorted 200lbs of trash for plastic pellets! The volunteers were entertained by a solar powered DJ during the cleanup!
We’re often concerned with cleaning up our hometown river or stream to help our local environment and community. But it’s important to remember that water keeps on flowing and it will carry trash and waste on to our neighbors and beyond. There’s still time to organize or volunteer for a cleanup with National River Cleanup this year!
Are you recently retired or just love to walk in the neighborhood in the morning? Do you live in/ around Spokane? We’d love to have you join the fun with the Walking School Bus. The Walking School Bus is up and running and we’re looking for volunteers who like taking walks /bike rides in the morning.
We are currently looking for volunteers to walk 5-10 students less than one mile on the weekday mornings between October 20th – November 21st, 2014 weather permitting. Volunteers often commit to just one day per week. We’ll work with your schedule.
Please contact Kate if you can help us make this community healthier by walking to school with enthusiastic students in Spokane!
The post Help Spokane be healthy: Volunteer Opportunities Available: Oct. 20th – Nov. 20th appeared first on Washington Bikes.
Reading by the river | Wilson Hardcastle
“The Grand Canyon stands as one of our most important touchstones—a kind of roofless tabernacle whose significance is both natural and national. It is our cathedral in the desert. And the word our is key because although the canyon belongs to the entire world, we, as Americans, belong particularly to it.”
– from The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon, by Kevin Fedarko
Maybe you’re looking for a book to tuck into your dry bag for your last river trip of the season, or maybe you just need a good story, a little literary escape. Here are some favorites recommended by the staff of American Rivers. Share your own favorite river books in the comments section, and we’ll feature new books each month.
First things first: if you haven’t read The Emerald Mile yet, what are you waiting for! No question, it’s the most popular river book these days, already a classic. Kevin Fedarko weaves a story that is captivating on so many levels… a historic flood, an illegal river run, fearless boatmen, threat of a massive dam failure, and the timeless beauty of the Grand Canyon. I couldn’t put it down.
Two other classics that belong on your bookshelf: The River Why, and My Story As Told By Water, both by David James Duncan. Few writers can so perfectly capture the magic of rivers, and his writing is full of humor and soul.
And how can we leave out Ed Abbey’s The Monkeywrench Gang, after watching DamNation?
But it’s not all about the guys. Don’t miss these amazing women: Ellen Meloy’s Raven’s Exile: A season on the Green River is one of my all time favorites. And speaking of the Green River, Ann Zwinger’s “Run, River, Run: A Naturalist’s Journey Down One of the Great Rivers of the West” is also a good read.
Philosopher and naturalist Kathleen Dean Moore’s essays in Riverwalking: Reflections on Moving Water, take you across the West and explore all of the life, human and otherwise, that is sustained by rivers.
Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is a story of her year in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley. Whether she’s witnessing a flood, stalking muskrats, or meeting neighbors, she gets to know this creek inside and out and shows us “beauty tangled in a rapture with violence.”
Finally, for the hidden story behind one of our nation’s most significant environmental law battles (including a look at the early days of American Rivers as an organization) check out The Snail Darter and the Dam: How Pork-Barrel Politics Endangered a Little Fish and Killed a River, by Zyg Plater. As Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers, wrote in The Huffington Post, “the fight to save the snail darter has been lampooned as the archetype of environmental extremism, putting the needs of a tiny fish over those of people. As Plater’s book reveals, that story is wrong but still resonates today.”
Here are some other recommendations from our staff. Enjoy!
Looking to find great books while supporting efforts to protect our rivers? American Rivers is now participating in Amazon’s SMILE program.