News from our member organizations

New Report: Positive Energy Trends Continue to Bode Well for U.S. Security and the Economy

News from NRDC - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (October 16, 2014) – The United States is reducing oil dependence, slowing the growth of electricity needs, and making energy services more affordable to all Americans--and our smarter use of energy is the single most important contributor to these positive trends, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

EPA Approves Enlist Duo®, Opens Gate to New Wave of GE Woes

News from Beyond Pesticides - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, October, 16, 2014) Despite a massive outpouring of public opposition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday that it has registered Enlist Duo®, officially putting the rubber stamp of approval on the sale and use of a new wave of genetically-engineered (GE) 2,4-D tolerant crops. Developed by Dow AgroSciences, Enlist Duo® is […]

Four Trails that Need Your Help in October

News from Washington Trails Association - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 2:45pm

This month WTA is working in several locations that need some special attention, and we'd love to have your help! Join us for a day full of safety, fun, and work, and make your mark on the trails you love.

No experience is needed to join a work party, and anyone is welcome. We'll teach you what you need to know and find the right job for you. For more information on what to expect when you join us on trail, check out our FAQ page.

Eastern Washington - Iller Creek Conservation Area

October 19, 26, 27, 30

Join us for a day of trail improvements and maintenance within Spokane's Iller Creek Conservation Area. This lush riparian corridor is home to a multitude of animal species, including white-tailed deer and Rocky Mountain elk.

WTA needs your help to reconstruct a steeply eroded section of trail that runs along the east ridge of Iller Creek Trail near the top. The work will involve digging tread, brushing, drainage work and other activities. Join us on the 28th and perhaps glimpse a red-tailed hawk soaring overhead.

>> Sign up now for the work party at Iller Creek Conservation Area this month

Olympic Peninsula - Upper Big Quilcene

October 18

Hiking up to Marmot Pass, we followed the Big Quilcene River for the first two miles by jstix

Hike along a trail beginning in old-growth fir forest and following the upper section of the Big Quilcene River for a couple of miles. A variety of annual maintenance tasks need to be done on this trail, including tread repair, drainage maintenance, brushing and removing any logs across the trail. Because part of the trail is in the Buckhorn Wilderness, you may have the chance to use a crosscut saw to remove any logs across the trail.

>> Sign up now for a work party on the Upper Big Quilcene.

Puget Sound - Evans Creek

October 21-25 and 28-31

Join other volunteers to help develop this beautiful trail system in Sammammish. Photo by Krista Dooley.

Help WTA and the City of Sammamish establish a trail system on its newest park property. Formerly farmland, the park is home to 179 acres of wetland, wooded uplands, and wide open fields.

After helping complete and open two miles of trail earlier this year, our work parties are moving onto building a trail connecting the fields to the uplands. In addition to new trail construction, you may get the chance to build some structures, including bridges or turnpike.

>> Sign up now for one of the work parties at Evans Creek this month

Southwest Washington - Whipple Creek Park

October 30

Come whip Whipple Creek's trails into shape for the upcoming season. Photo by Ryan Ojerio.

Whipple Creek is an excellent, close-in location for a little shot of the outdoors in the winter months. WTA volunteers have already completed two substantial reroutes here, making for a much more sustainable (and much less muddy) trail. Now that the rains are coming back we'll decommission the old route and transplant native vegetation to return it to Mother Nature.

>> Sign up now for a work party at Whipple Creek this month.

Submit Proposals for the 2015 Youth Bike Summit in Seattle, WA

The 2015 Youth Bike Summit is being held in Seattle and organizers are now accepting proposals for workshops and presentation.  This is an opportunity to showcase all the amazing work happening in Washington, and to demonstrate why Washington truly is the #1 Bike Friendly State.

The Youth Bike Summit is a three-day conference geared toward youth, bikes, educations, advocacy, and leadership.  It will be hosted for the first time ever on the west coast from February 13-15 at Bike Works in Southeast Seattle .  The mission of Youth Bike is to transform local communities and strengthen the national movement by empowering bicycle leaders.

Do you have something to present or know someone who should present? “Innovation” is this year’s theme for the Summit, and we know there is lots of that here. It could be a workshop on how to start a mountain biking club, students telling about how they got involved with local planning, a showcase of fashion for youth who like to ride, an epic tale of some Girl Scout’s week long bicycle tour, youth helping youth start their school’s first bike to school day, or anything. You can see last year’s program here.

Go here to submit a proposal. They are accepting workshops and presentations until Friday, October 24.  The formats can consist of:

  • Hands-on workshops
  • Panel presentation
  • Small group discussion
  • Project showcase/exhibition
  • Academic paper/case study
  • Multimedia screening

This is a great opportunity to inspire the next generation of riders and recognize the impressive work your local community is doing. Spread the word and submit your proposals!

The post Submit Proposals for the 2015 Youth Bike Summit in Seattle, WA appeared first on Washington Bikes.

Grist article: How one building is changing the world

News from NW Energy Coalition - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 11:00am
The Bullitt Center in Seattle was designed to be the greenest commercial building in the world in 2012. Due to strict guidelines prohibiting the use of toxic chemicals in its construction, safer building materials were innovated to meet the Bullitt Center's needs. The company Building Envelope Innovation replaced toxic phthalates in its sealants and coatings with non-toxic ingredients. The change will benefit the company's employees who regularly handle the products.

Why Did the Fish Cross the Road?

News from American Rivers - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 6:00am
Fish Friendly, Flood Resilient & Cost Effective: Connecting Roads, Streams and Partners Amy Singler

When we are working to restore our rivers we are always talking about bringing together partners and increasingly those partnerships are broadening, particularly when we think about the nexus of roads and rivers. Across the United States, there are hundreds of thousands of roads crossing over streams and rivers. While most people ignore the tiny stream under the bridge they’re driving across, river scientists and road managers think a lot about these structures.

I recently attended the Northeast Transportation and Wildlife Conference (NETWC) in Burlington, Vermont to talk with partners about this issue of where our roads cross our streams. Held every other year, this conference brings together fisheries and wildlife biologists, resource managers and transportation agency staff to discuss how our roads, rivers, and terrestrial systems come together and their impact on public safety, fish, and wildlife.

Importance of Bridges and Culverts

We all need our roads to connect us to our homes, school, jobs, grocery stores, farms, and communities. Road managers know that during a flood a tiny stream can become a raging river. A right-sized culvert or bridge span can mean the difference between the bridge washing out and causing significant damage and costs, or a bridge standing strong when the waters recede.

Fish and aquatic species need to move up and downstream to connect habitat for food, spawning, and shelter. And along with flow of water our rivers also carry sediment and nutrients. A poorly designed or installed culvert can act like a dam to block this movement of flow and fish. Turtles, salamanders, and other animals also use culverts and bridges to get across roads safely. River and fisheries managers know that a right-sized culvert or bridge span can mean the difference between an endangered species making its way to spawning habitat, avoiding being hit on a road, or a slow decline to extinction.

When Road-Stream Crossings Fail

Carrie Banks

Tropical Storm Irene brought extreme damage to roads and bridges in Vermont, New York, and western Massachusetts in 2011. In Vermont alone, towns reported over 2,000 road segments, 300 bridges, and more than 1,000 culverts damaged or destroyed. However, road damages were largely avoided at road-stream crossings where culvert improvement projects had been undertaken to improve fish passage. And that storm was not unique as every year heavy rains damage our roads, particularly at bridges and culverts.

What is working?

In the northeast we are working to reverse the trend of road failures from storm events while maintaining and restoring healthy stream ecosystems. Consider that in the Connecticut River Watershed alone there are over 44,000 stream crossings. As towns try to rebuild their roads and bridges with more flood-resilient and fish-friendly designs, we are working together to understand the complex policy, funding, and design questions that arise. Over the three day conference in Vermont we heard about successes and challenges. Not surprisingly, the lesson is that we need to work together at multiple levels to improve our roads for people and protect our streams and stream corridors for fish and wildlife. Here is what is working well:

  • Road-stream crossing design training programs in Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont are helping road managers understand river dynamics and how to install and maintain a crossing to carry high flows and protect fish.
  • Partnerships among states agencies and nonprofits like American Rivers have developed new guidelines and regulatory standards that require bridges and culverts to be large enough to carry variable stream flows as well as have a natural stream bottom that matches the stream, including dry banks for terrestrial wildlife. And in certain cases crossings should be wide enough and tall enough to accommodate some mammals as well.
  • State wildlife agencies and transportation agencies are partnering to identify shared priorities where crossings are critical for fish and wildlife and public safety.

The goals of river managers and road managers may be different, but both interests benefit when road-stream crossings are improved. It is exciting to see all of these agencies and organizations working together to identify and implement solutions. By coordinating and cooperating before and after damaging storms we can learn from one another and in the long term reduce flood damages and improve fish passage.

And to answer my original question:

Why did the fish cross the road?

Because she couldn’t swim through the culvert.

NRDC Sues EPA to Block New Pesticide That Threatens Monarch Butterflies, Human Health

News from NRDC - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (October 15, 2014)—The Natural Resources Defense Council today filed suit to block the use of a powerful, newly approved weed killer that will wreak further destruction on monarch butterfly populations already devastated  by agricultural chemicals and poses risks to human health.

NRDC President: “Stamp out our carbon footprint - in our lifetime”

News from NRDC - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:00pm
NEW YORK (October 15, 2014)  - In an assertive bid to put the brakes on the fossil fuel pollution driving global climate change, NRDC President Frances Beinecke has called for the United States to stamp out its carbon footprint -- to become carbon-neutral -- in our lifetime.

Another Study Links Depression in Farmers to Pesticide Use

News from Beyond Pesticides - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2014) A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds a strong relationship between the use of pesticides and depression in farmers. One specific class of pesticide, organochlorines, was associated with a 90% higher chance of being diagnosed with depression. For fumigants, the increased risk was up to 80 percent. This […]

Trailhead Closures on Highway 20

News from Washington Trails Association - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 12:40pm

Weekday warriors take note! A two-day closure is coming to Highway 20.

From 6 a.m. on October 21 to 4 p.m. on October 22, Highway 20 will be closed between mileposts 147 and 157 to replace culverts damaged in last year’s mudslides. No detour will be offered, so hikes within this 10-mile stretch of road will be inaccessible, and you may have to find an alternate route to trailheads near the closure.

Inaccessible Trailheads:

Heather-Maple Pass Lake Ann Bridge Creek PCT Cutthroat Pass Cutthroat Lake

Access Limited:

Blue Lake Washington Pass Overlook Easy Pass

50 Years of the IUCN Red List: Inspiring Conservation Action

News from Conservation International - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 7:00am
Russ Mittermeier reflects on how our growing collection of species data has transformed how we approach conservation.

Green River – Let ‘er buck!

News from American Rivers - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 6:00am
Upper Green River | S Bosse

There’s a popular saying in Wyoming that dates back more than a century – “Let ‘er buck!”

The long version is, “Powder River – Let ‘er buck!”

According to the Urban Dictionary: “It literally means bring on the bronco and let her buck, but figuratively it means to bring on a challenge and let it throw you around while you try to conquer it.”

A few months ago American Rivers posed a tough challenge to you. The state of Wyoming was looking for public feedback on its list of 59 potential projects for its new state water plan. One idea on the list was building two large dams on the Upper Green River near where it exits the Wind River Range. We asked you to make your voices heard.

If you’ve been to the Upper Green, you know how drop-dead beautiful that stretch of river is. If you haven’t, the above photo doesn’t do it justice. Let’s just say it’s in the same class as the Snake River where it flows past the Tetons in Jackson Hole.

So, how did you do in meeting that challenge? Perhaps the best person to ask is Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, who received 10,017 of your letters telling him to reject the idea.

According to Nephi Cole, the Governor’s policy advisor:

“Discussion on the two dams indicated it wasn’t a very popular idea. They were at the bottom of the list. Dams on the Upper Green don’t make sense in terms of consensus and bang for your buck.”

“Letters came from every state in the Union, plus England, Australia, and New Zealand,” Cole added. “That’s very interesting to us. People care about Wyoming’s water.”

So it’s pretty safe to say that no new dams will be built on the Upper Green River any time soon. Or at least as long as Matt Mead occupies the governor’s office.

Congratulations. And thank you for stepping up when we asked you to.

But that doesn’t mean the idea won’t come back again. In fact, it’s a pretty sure bet it will given that more than 33 million people in the Colorado River Basin depend on the Colorado River (of which the Green River is the largest tributary) for their water supply, and the basin is in the midst of a 14-year drought.

There is one thing we can do to make sure dams are never built on the Upper Green, and that is to add it to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Wyoming already has 14 Wild and Scenic Rivers totaling about 435 river miles. All but one of those rivers was designated in 2009 when the Craig Thomas Snake Headwaters Legacy Act was signed into law. American Rivers played a lead role in the campaign that spawned that legislation.

With the immediate threat of new dams on the Upper Green gone, we’re in the process of meeting with local landowners, state and federal agency staff, elected leaders and others to determine if there’s enough support to launch a full-fledged campaign to permanently protect this iconic Wyoming river.

Assuming there is, I’ve already got the bumper sticker designed. It’s going to have a cowboy riding a bucking trout and it’s going to say, “Green River – Let ‘er buck!”

Severe Drought Triggers Aggressive Response from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

News from NRDC - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 10:00pm
LOS ANGELES (October 14, 2014) — In response to the severe California drought, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced aggressive goals for reduced water use within the city. Among the plan’s topline goals is slashing L.A.’s per capita potable water use by 20% by 2017. Los Angeles’ nearly 4 million residents and thousands of businesses currently use an estimated 130 gallons per capita per day (GPCD), much of it outdoors. 

Study Ties Pollinator Declines to Increased Global Malnutrition

News from Beyond Pesticides - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, October 14, 2014) Though pollinators only account for about 10% of the production of food crops worldwide, pollinator decline could play a disproportionate role in affecting human health in regions that are already facing food scarcity, according to a new study. Global malnutrition overlaps with pollinator-dependent micronutrient production, published last month in the […]

Top 5 Star Photography Tips from a Pro

News from Washington Trails Association - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 2:30pm

Just in time for WTA's Northwest Exposure photo contest, photographer Dave Morrow shares his top five tips for capturing amazing star shots.

Dave has also put together a free 31 page eBook bundle for the Washington Trails Association community. The bundle includes three great WTA hikes perfect for viewing the night sky, 3 tricks for focusing at night, and his top 10 planning tools for photography and hiking, plus a bunch of free photography tutorials! Click here and grab your copy!

1. Find dark skies

Finding a dark area in which to view the night sky should always be the first step you take when planning an adventure under the stars.You can use the free Blue Marble Light Pollution Map to find a dark area which is close to you, or a location you would like to explore on a future trip. When looking at the Blue Marble Map, locations with more light pollution are shown in yellow, and dark sky areas are shown in dark blue. The best night sky viewing and photography locations are shown in dark blue.

In Washington State we have some amazing locations and national parks with very dark skies. Need a suggestion? Try the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Palouse Falls State Park, Mount St. Helens, and the North Cascades.

Hiking under the super moon in the Mount Baker Wilderness. Photo by Dave Morrow.

Enter WTA's Photo Contest Categories include:
  • Trailscapes
  • Camp Life
  • Hikers in Action
Submit your best photo or two to our annual photo contest before Oct. 19 for a chance to win some sweet prizes, including a new camera. 2. Find clear skies

Using the Clear Dark Sky website you’ll be able to find a dark night without many clouds in the sky.You can use the National Weather Service weather charts to find out cloud cover percentages for any location within the US. Usually cloud cover percentages between 0 and 60% will provide the best conditions to view the night sky with 0% being the best.Here is an example of the cloud cover charts for the Enchantments in Washington State.

The wild coast off Olympic National Park. Photo by Dave Morrow.

3. Select great photography equipment

You’ll need the following 3 items at minimum in order to photograph the night sky.

  1. A sturdy tripod
  2. A camera with manual mode that can capture images in RAW Image Format.
  3. A wide angle lens in the range of 10-30mm (out of 35mm/full frame).

You can find all of the other equipment that can really increase your chances of getting some nice star photos in Dave's free star photography tutorial.

The Milky Way in the Mount Baker Wilderness. Photo by Dave Morrow.

4. Focus your lens at night

To help your chances of focusing at night, try focusing at infinity (the furthest point on the horizon) during the day time, and mark that focus point on your lens. Now you can return to this same focus point later at night for perfectly sharp photos. You can also focus on infinity at night by trial and error, but it takes much more effort.Sometimes you’ll need to use focus stacking to achieve full depth of field. This is a more advanced technique, but well worth learning.

Twilight on Mount Rainier's Reflection Lakes. Photo by Dave Morrow.

5. Select the right exposure time, aperture & ISO setting

Exposure timeClick here to view the 500 Rule Chart while reading the following paragraphs. Feel free to print it out and keep it in your camera bag if you like. If you aren’t shooting with a full frame camera, this should be taken into account. The chart includes different crop factor camera options in addition to the full frame sensor size.

The 500 Rule calculated exposure time is only a function of lens focal length. ISO and Aperture do not affect the 500 Rule exposure time or vice versa. I will cover the aperture and ISO settings below, but first we need to calculate exposure time.

To calculate the maximum exposure time your camera take without producing visible “trails” behind the stars, divide the number 500 by the focal length in which you will be shooting. The 500 Rule is only a rule of thumb; you may have to adjust the exposure time up or down a few seconds as required.

Longer exposure times pick up more light, which means you will see stars that are further away from our planet and not visible to the human eye.

If you take a picture and see star trails in it, decrease the exposure time a few seconds until you don’t see the trails anymore. If you take a picture and it’s not bright enough, increase the exposure time until very small star trails start to show up in your photo. This simple exercise will allow you to nail down your exposure time very quickly.

For star trails, just use the 500 Rule in reverse!

Shooting stars and brilliant Mount Rainier. Photo by Dave Morrow.

ApertureAn aperture value of f/2.8-f/4 will work very well for taking photos of the night sky, but f/2.8 is preferred. The goal here is to allow the most amount of light to hit your camera’s lens/sensor in the least amount of time, so wider (lower number under the f) is better. I don’t suggest using an aperture any wider than f/2.8 as it will become very hard to focus at night.

ISONow that we have narrowed down all of the other camera settings, the only one left is ISO. ISO is the only destructive/noise inducing setting. This is why we selected exposure time and aperture prior to selecting an ISO setting.There is no reason to degrade picture quality by increasing ISO (to obtain a brighter exposure), when you can keep the same picture quality and increase the brightness using a longer exposure, given your photo is not exhibiting star trails.That being said, after you’ve adjusted all of your other settings as denoted above, start with an ISO of 800 and increase it until your photo is bright enough. This will take some trial and error shots. There is no need to over-exposure your star photos; they can be fairly dark just like the night sky that surrounds you. The best method is to try to match your photos to the landscape/stars you’re looking at. The camera picks up much more data than is actually displayed on the preview screen. This data can be brought out in post processing.

The Milky Way over the Pacific Ocean (Olympic National Park). Photo by Dave Morrow.

Final words of advice

Play around with your BIG THREE, aperture, exposure and ISO until you are getting the shots you like. Each of these settings directly reflect on each other and the amount of light that hits your sensor so a slight change could make all the difference in the number and brightness of the stars you’ll see in your photos.Experiment as much as possible and experiment in ways that may be mentioned in this tutorial. After a few nights under the stars you’ll be an expert!Dave Morrow is a landscape photographer, workshop instructor and word slinger with a passion for travel, the truth, and all things strange. He currently teaches star photography & adventure workshops spanning the entire west coast of the United States as well as online star photography post processing ( editing ) group workshops. Dave’s goal is to educate photographers from across the globe, bringing them together and exploring the night skies in some of nature’s darkest and most beautiful locations. For more information on Dave’s workshops, tutorials--and of course more photos--head over to DaveMorrowPhotography.com or find him on Facebook and Google+.

10 Things You’d Miss If the Ocean Called It Quits

News from Conservation International - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 7:00am
What if the ocean stopped providing the generous benefits it’s given us for all of human history?

277 Miles of Wild – Surrounded and Vulnerable

News from American Rivers - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 6:00am

My compass needle says north is the direction of those bluffs to the west, and my GPS display is spinning around like a dog chasing its tail. Dust devils are swirling red dirt in my eyes and face, creating a gritty patina on the surface of my sunglasses. The only thing I am really sure of right now is space. Lots of space.

277 miles – the distance between the Glen Canyon Dam to the east and Lake Mead to the west. 277 miles to traverse one of our country’s most iconic National Parks, the Grand Canyon. Vast and wild and untouchable, revered throughout our nation’s history and protected for all time – or so it has seemed.

Spanish Conquistador Don Garcia Lopez de Cárdenas was credited with “discovering” the Grand Canyon in 1540, although native people have made the Colorado plateau their home for millennia. The last great American wilderness expedition, led by Col. John Wesley Powell, made the first fully documented scientific expedition in 1869. President Theodore Roosevelt stood on its rim in 1903 and implored his citizens to “Leave it as it is.”

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, people from around the globe travel to peer into its vast, and humbling, expanse. Some reflect from the canyon rim, sitting in solitude and gazing, often in disbelief, at what lies in the distance before them. Others hike across or raft through the great abyss that forms this epic place. And then there are those who merely wish to profit from it.

Read the rest of the story on Medium