News from our member organizations

House Panel Weakens Protections for Clean Air, Water

News from NRDC - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (July 15, 2014) —The House Appropriations Interior and Environment Committee today pushed through a flawed spending bill that would seriously undermine the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect the public from breathing dirty air and drinking polluted water.

Farm Bureau Ducks NRDC Challenge to Debate Clean Water Rule

News from NRDC - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (July 15, 2014)—The American Farm Bureau Federation has tried to duck a challenge from the Natural Resources Defense Council to a public debate over the bureau’s willful misrepresentations regarding a new clean water proposal, which is now under assault by House Republicans. But today the NRDC repeated its call for an “open debate” on the issue.

Comprehensive Review Finds Clear Health Benefits of Organic Food

News from Beyond Pesticides - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2014) More nutritional antioxidants, far fewer toxic pesticides; those are the results of a comprehensive meta-analysis on organic foods published yesterday in the British Journal of Nutrition. Led by Carlo Leifort, Ph.D, at England’s Newcastle University, the analysis is a scientific rebuttal to a previous Stanford University review published in 2012, which […]

Working for Better Bicycling in North Central Washington

After a great trip to Wenatchee last week and hearing what local bike advocates are focusing on, I wanted to share the work of Washington Bikes in north central Washington the past 2-3 years. Our route to better bicycling all over the state relies on (at least) 3 things:

  • the day-to-day efforts of people who live and bike in their community every day
  • the priorities identified by local advocacy organizations where those exist and by local transportation planners
  • our role as the state organization helping amplify these local voices and share great projects and ideas from town to town.

What we’ve done the past few years in north central Washington* that adds to the tally from local efforts:

Washington Bikes to School

Around 2,300 middle-school students have learned to ride with confidence thanks to our bike/walk safety curriculum in Brewster, Bridgeport, Moses Lake, Omak, Pateros, Quincy, and Wahluke school districts.

Washington Bikes and Walks More Places

In the 2013 legislative session local projects received $5,384,545 in state investments we worked for that all mean more comfortable and connected miles you can ride:

  • Quincy Valley K-7 path
  • Brewster’s Ferry Street safety improvements
  • Okanagan and Red Apple Road pedestrians enhancements in Wenatchee
  • Susie Stephens Trail Phase 2 in Winthrop
  • Rocky Reach Trail connection to Wenatchee’s Apple Capital Loop Trail extension
  • Omak Complete Streets project
Working with Local Leaders So That Washington Bikes
  • In 2012 we brought a workshop on Growing Biking and Walking in Your Community to Wenatchee, drawing people from a wide region interested in creating more comfortable conditions for people biking and walking to share the streets with all modes.
  • Our route coordination for USBR10 in 2013 took us to meetings with transportation planners and officials in Okanogan County.
  • We met with a number of local advocates in Wenatchee in 2013 and supported their efforts to turn people out on behalf of the bike master plan update that was subsequently adopted by the Wenatchee Valley Council of Governments. (Change takes time and we’re in it for the long haul; we published a blog post in March 2011 seeking input for the plan.)
  • We talked with the publisher and editor of the Wenatchee World about the economic value of bicycling—a message that showed up in editorials in support of the plan, and we sure love that they both ride so they really get the view from the saddle.
  • We rallied people from throughout the region to testify on behalf of bicycling and walking investments at the Senate Transportation Listening Session held in Wenatchee Sept. 23, 2013.
  • We came back in 2014 to meet again for an update on local projects and to look for opportunities to partner in new initiatives.
Washington Bikes For Travel

In spring 2014 we brought out Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Tours in Washington. The first guide book to multi-day bike tours in Washington state to be published in over a decade, the book includes two tours that traverse north central Washington and great tips for developing your own routes:

  • The Okanogan: Overlooked Northern Reaches. Towns: Tonasket, Loomis, Oroville, Chesaw, Curlew, Republic, Wauconda.
  • Epic Washington: North Cascades Highway to the Methow Valley (traversing part of USBR 10). Towns: Mount Vernon, Concrete, Rockport, Marblemount, Mazama, Winthrop, Twisp, Carlton, Methow, Pateros, Chelan, Entiat, Wenatchee.

We have similar lists for other regions of the state; watch for those posts in days to come to get an understanding of just how much goes on all around the #1 Bicycle Friendly State.

*Where’s North Central Washington? We’re using the Washington State Dept. of Transportation North Central Region map. Communities define their region in various ways and the boundaries vary from person to person.

 

The post Working for Better Bicycling in North Central Washington appeared first on Washington Bikes.

Crosscut article: Meet 4 young leaders changing Northwest environmentalism

News from NW Energy Coalition - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 9:20am
In her recent Crosscut article, Martha Baskin highlights the NW Energy Coalition's 4 Under Forty honorees. She describes Tara Anderson, Jessica Finn Coven, Ben Otto and Gus Takala as "a new band that blends conservation, climate activism and sustainable communities."

Groups Oppose Trade Pact Proposals that Weaken Chemical Safety Protections

News from Beyond Pesticides - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2014) In a letter Thursday, a broad array of major U.S. and European chemical safety, health, environmental, labor, consumer and other organizations, including Beyond Pesticides, expressed strong opposition to proposed rules for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that could chill or roll back robust chemical safety standards on both […]

Washington Wildfires: Tips for Hikers, Campers

News from Washington Trails Association - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 5:55pm

Update 7.16.14, 9:30 p.m. - A new fire has started in Chiwaukum Creek Canyon on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest off of Hwy 2. Part of the fire is within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Details about the fire are still developing, but as of this evening, large portions of Hwy 2 were closed between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth, and some nearby areas, including the Scottish Lakes High Camp, have been evacuated. Hikers should plan to avoid Chiwaukum Creek Trail and other area trails for now. Drivers should stay informed about highway closures when using these routes, especially Hwy 2.

The Tumwater Campground has also been closed.

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Several wildfires are burning in Central and Eastern Washington, the largest of which is the Mills Canyon Fire burning on about 20K acres near Wenatchee and the Entiat Mountains. The fire has prompted evacuations and closed roads that lead to trails in the area.

Highway 97A between Entiat River Road to Wenatchee remains closed, and the Entiat River Road is open to local residents.

Much smaller fires are also burning in Central and Eastern portions of the state. With high temperatures and dry weather in the forecast, hikers, backpacker and campers will all be a part of preventing human-caused fires.

Safe to hike?

While most hiking trails in the state, have remained unaffected by the Mills Canyon Fire has closed trails (or roads to trails) in the Entiat Mountains, including Keystone Ridge, Lower Mad River Valley and Silver Falls and Larch Lakes. If you are planning a trip to the Entiat, monitor the situation closely and check conditions before you leave. Tip: If you ever have a question about hiking in a region with an active wildfire, contact or visit a ranger station.

Statewide wildfire prevention: a backcountry refresher

If you're in the backcountry, and especially during high-risk times, it's best to avoid having a campfire altogether. Oftentimes campfires are prohibited above a certain elevation or near certain bodies of water.

If you must have a backcountry fire, follow the Leave No Trace principes:

  • Make sure to check and follow all regulations. In some areas, regulations change depending on the season because of fire danger.
  • Use only established fire rings, keep your campfire small and never leave a fire unattended.
  • Use small pieces of wood gathered only from the ground and never break branches or cut down trees for a campfire.
  • After a campfire is completely out, cool to touch, and all the wood turned to coal, scatter the cool ashes.

For more info check out: Leave No Trace's Minimize Campfire Impacts.

Campfire safety: if it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave

No matter where you're camping, make sure your campfire is built and put out responsibly. (Adapted from guidelines from the Gifford Pinchot and Mt. Hood national forests Fire Staff):

Building a fire

  • Make sure a campfire is allowed. Check to see if there is a burn ban in your county.
  • Find a shady spot away from dry logs, branches, bushes, needles or leaves.
  • Make sure there are no overhanging tree branches near the fire.
  • Use existing fire-rings where it is safe to do so. Don’t build fire-rings in roads.
  • If needed, scoop a small hole to mineral soil in the center of the pit. Set this material aside, and replace it in the ring when the fire is totally out before leaving the area.
  • Place rocks if available around pit. When finished, put rocks back where they were found.
  • Keep campfire rings small and use wood no bigger than the ring.

Enjoying a fire

  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Keep tents and other burnable materials away from the fire.

Putting it out

  • Fires can often creep along the ground slowly burning roots and dead leaves. Days later, the smoldering fire could break out into a real wildfire.
  • When leaving, make sure your fire is dead out. Very carefully feel all sticks and charred remains. Feel the coals and ashes. Make sure no roots are smoldering.
  • Drown the campfire with water and stir charred material.
  • If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave.
More wildfire resources

Farm Policy Roundup–July 11, 2014

News from American Farmland Trust - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 1:41pm

Regional Conservation Partnership Program Pre-Proposal Deadline July 14 USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting pre-proposals for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) through Monday, July 14. NRCS is advises partners to submit pre-proposals via email or postal mail. The Grants.gov website will be down for maintenance the weekend of July 12- 14, 2014. […]

The post Farm Policy Roundup–July 11, 2014 appeared first on The Farmland Report.

Restoring Rivers and Protecting Small Streams: The Life of an American Rivers Intern

News from American Rivers - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 8:19am

Today’s guest blog is from JP Miller, a restoration intern in our Southeast office.

mud salamander | JP Miller, American Rivers

My passion for streams and rivers developed during my undergraduate career at Virginia Tech. There I found myself, more often than not, navigating the New River and its treacherous rapids— wading through its slippery bedrock riffles in pursuit of an elusive quarry, the smallmouth bass. This same passion led me to graduate school at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, where I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in water resources management. This summer, I am a Stanback Intern for American Rivers’ River Restoration Program.

As part of my internship, I have been evaluating and prioritizing more than 2,600 dams across North Carolina for removal based on social and ecological criteria. In particular, I enjoy learning about the history of dams that are candidates for decommissioning (including many that may be over 200 years old), and also examining how their removal can restore degraded river systems. My master’s project also seeks to improve impaired rivers and streams, but instead does so by protecting their vital headwaters.

In the evening this summer, I have been following perennial streams in the Duke Forest in an attempt to identify the intermittent streams, which flow seasonally or only after rain events. The work requires a powerful GPS unit to map the streams. Following streams is often more challenging than one might imagine because dense underbrush often masks the network of channels that form the headwaters of the streams. While these treks often entail difficult bushwhacking, the wildlife sightings make the work worthwhile.

JP Miller (second from left) enjoying the Linville River during the American Rivers Southeast staff retreat

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), intermittent streams compose almost 60% of all streams in the United States. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that intermittent streams play a critical role in providing clean water to downstream communities by retaining sediment, filtering harmful pollutants, and reducing excessive nutrient loading.  The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service determined that if these streams were filled, it would be virtually impossible to successfully implement a nutrient reduction strategy in a watershed. Furthermore, intermittent streams provide important habitat to a diverse array of aquatic organisms, including a number of rare or endangered species. Many terrestrial species also rely on seasonal streams for a portion of their life cycle. And yet, protection for these waters remains unclear. Read more about the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps’ proposed Clean Water Rule that is currently open for public comment to clarify what waters are – and are not – protected under the Clean Water Act.

Topographic maps do not usually show most of the nation’s small streams, and therefore hinder efforts to protect them. My research will attempt to support the protection and restoration of the small, yet important, beginnings of some more well known (and therefore more protected) streams.

Streams, big and small, afford myriad ecosystem services to communities and the natural environment, and I am proud to have spent a summer protecting and restoring our streams. It is not possible to have healthy lakes and rivers without protecting the two million miles of streams that feed into them.

Please help us protect small rivers and streams by telling your local Congressman or Representative to support the EPA’s Clean Water Rule!

Urban Jungle: Restoring Rio’s Water Supply

News from Conservation International - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 7:00am
One reason to keep an eye on Rio after the World Cup? A new initiative to provide freshwater security for its people.

Bird Population Declines Linked to Neonicotinoid Pesticides, Adding to Previous Science

News from Beyond Pesticides - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2014) In addition to previous research on the direct impacts of pesticides on pollinators and other beneficials, a recent study published by Dutch scientists establishes an additional indirect link between neonicotinoid use and insect-eating birds. The report, which came out on Wednesday, provides evidence that neonicotinoids, a class of systemic pesticides, […]

Bikes Are Blooming in Wenatchee

We don’t just want to be a Bicycle Friendly Community. We need to be a friendly bike community. — Rufus Woods, Publisher, Wenatchee World Words worth sharing!

We don't just want to be a Bicycle Friendly Community. We need to be a friendly bike...Click To Tweet - Powered By CoSchedule

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Riders on the bike/pedestrian bridge that connects East Wenatchee to Wenatchee at Pybus Market.

What a wonderful takeaway from a trip to Wenatchee this week, along with a 28-mile sunburn (it’s warm bicycling in Wenatchee this time of year — good thing they have a river to jump into), pictures of the Apple Capital Loop Trail, and new bike friends.

WA Bikes has connected with local advocates several times the past couple of years, including a workshop on creating a more bikeable/walkable community in 2012 and a visit in 2013 with a number of local riders including people working to get bikes for kids who don’t have them. Every time we go we see more people riding and more infrastructure connections to help grow bicycling.

This list will inevitably miss some of the great things happening in this beautiful valley to make bicycling better for everyone from 8 to 80; I’ll take a run at what I heard and Wenatchee bike folks can add more in the comments.

  • Bicycle Master Plan: Recently adopted by the Wenatchee Valley Council of Governments
  • Wenatchee Valley Velo puts on a great Tour de Bloom omnium. My husband raced it and said it was outstanding and he’ll be back; I’m going to plan to come with him (not to race….). They’re now working on getting the entire Wenatchee Valley designated as a Bicycle-Friendly Community – a great goal in the #1 Bicycle Friendly State!
  • The Complete the Loop Coalition, trail advocates working to connect the Wenatchee Valley’s outstanding outdoor assets, has raised money to link the Apple Capital Loop Trail with the Rocky Reach Trail and Lincoln Rock State Park. The first mile has been paved, with four to go in later 2014 after harvest season.
  • The Coalition also has a vision for a Wenatchee Valley Scenic Bikeway linking Wenatchee to Leavenworth — a popular route for bike touring travelers exploring the scenic climbs and descents through the North Cascades. This fits right into our work as route coordinators for the US Bicycle Route System in Washington, with the future proposed USBR 87 coming through the valley north/south, since travelers on the US Bicycle Routes are looking for great places to explore (and spend money). The USBR will put Wenatchee on the national map for bike travel, and the more assets business and community leaders can develop in the Wenatchee Valley to take advantage of that visibility, the better.

Confluence State Park, Wenatchee, WA — a refreshing stop along the Apple Capital Loop Trail. With campgrounds, swimming in the Columbia River, play equipment for the little ones, and wonderful birdwatching, it’s a great place to put on your list as you plan a bike trip to the Wenatchee Valley.

  • Sparkplug and WA Bikes member Deb Miller created the Pybus Kids Century, challenging local kids to ride the Loop Trail 10 times to finish a century. Now in its second year, the event has grown from 55 kids last year to nearly 150 so far this year, with at least one rider on track to finish a double century by the end of the challenge in October. She testified about her work at the meeting of the Governor’s Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation held Tuesday.
  • Deb is also working to build on the momentum from our 2012 workshop, the Bicycle Master Plan adoption, and these initiatives to build support for Complete Streets.
  • Nancy Warner of IRIS (Institute for Rural Innovation and Stewardship) described the Listening Post they’ve added on the Apple Capital Loop Trail as part of a regional network of places you can learn about by calling or clicking.
  • Bike tourism is growing in Wenatchee: people who ride through on multi-day tours, those who come in for a major event such as Tour de Bloom, mountain bikers looking for the outstanding trails in the area, and people coming for a visit and renting a bike at Arlberg’s in Pybus Market to pedal along the Loop Trail.

 

Click to view slideshow.

Two quick stories from the Tour de Bloom that help illustrate the value of bicycling to the Wenatchee Valley, whether or not you ride:

  • Bikes mean business: 

    Wenatchee restaurant had 50% increase in sales in a single night thx to Tour de Bloom race....Click To Tweet - Powered By CoSchedule

    A local restaurant owner we’re sure wants to remain nameless initially expressed some unhappiness about having the streets closed for the criterium race (fast loops on a short loop course in downtown). At the end of the evening, however, this owner said a typical night for the restaurant would bring in $3,500-$4,000. That night they did $6,000 in business. Not bad to have a 50% increase in just one night thanks to those hungry, fueled-by-calories racers and the family and friends who come to watch.
  • Bike events are good for community: The Wenatchee Police Department looked at the citations they issued during the Apple Blossom Festival and Tour de Bloom. According to Wenatchee Valley Velo member Ace Bollinger, they said they issued far fewer citations during the events than they did on any normal night — and that was with hundreds more people thronging the downtown streets. They were able to downsize their staff during a shift in which they expected an overload, which meant a direct savings to taxpayers.

Wenatchee is really rolling, and at the same time local advocates say they have a lot of work to do and projects to complete. My list doesn’t include everything I heard and learned on my visit.

Your turn: If you bike in Wenatchee, what do you think people need to know about what’s happening there to grow bicycling and make it even better?

Share this on Twitter to thank local bike leaders for all their hard work:

Thx local advocates in Wenatchee Valley/North Cascades for all your work. #bikeWAClick To Tweet - Powered By CoSchedule

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The post Bikes Are Blooming in Wenatchee appeared first on Washington Bikes.

National Parks Group Applauds Congressional Passage of Huna Tlingit Traditional Gull Egg Use Act

News from National Parks Conservation - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 4:09pm
Statement by Jim Stratton, Deputy Vice President of Regional Operations for the National Parks Conservation Association

New Agreement Means Cleaner Air for Rocky Mountain National Park

News from National Parks Conservation - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 2:28pm
Coal-Fired Craig Plant Unit to Reduce Significant Air Pollution

April Showers Bring May Flowers – And Vernal Pools

News from American Rivers - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 10:27am
Vernal Pool | Nicholas Tonelli

April showers bring May flowers – and vernal pools, if you live in California or Southern Oregon.

Vernal pools are seasonal depressional wetlands that fill up with rainwater during winter and spring, but may be dry for part of the year. They are typically found on the West Coast, especially in California and Southern Oregon, but can also be found in parts of the Northeast and Midwest. Western vernal pools often occur within “vernal pool landscapes” [PDF] where swales connect vernal pools to each other and to seasonal streams. Vernal pools vary in size [PDF] from 1 square meter to more than 2 acres.

Why Care About Western Vernal Pools?

Western vernal pools can connect to other pools and streams that flow seasonally or only after rain. Multiple studies [PDF] show that California vernal pools fill with water and flow into these channels [PDF], sending water downstream during many days of the year. These connections can impact the base flow of downstream waters, altering their physical characteristics. Western vernal pools are also hot spots of biodiversity, with native plant and animal species some of which can only be found in vernal pool habitats. In a study of vernal pools, 17 out of 67 species [PDF] were only found in one of the surveyed ponds. In turn, these plants and animals provide food and habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl. Vernal pools, like other depressional wetlands, can also help to store and slow floodwaters [PDF].

Are They Protected Under the Clean Water Act?

As I’ve written about previously with respect to prairie potholes, Carolina bays, and playa lakes, it’s unlikely that vernal pools would currently be protected under the Clean Water Act.

The proposed Clean Water Rule acknowledges these connections and sets up a process where  similar “other waters” that lie outside of the floodplain can be protected under the Clean Water Act. These waters collectively with other similar waters must demonstrate a significant connection to downstream waters, meaning that those waters have a more than speculative impact on the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of downstream protected waters. Although playa lakes aren’t categorically protected right now under the draft rule, the EPA and the Army Corps are looking for input about whether they should be.

Add your voice today to show your support for a strong rule that restores protections to small streams and wetlands like playa lakes.

Women Landowners and the Future of Agriculture

News from American Farmland Trust - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 7:58am

We’re witnessing a major demographic shift in agriculture. Over the next two decades, as aging farmers retire or leave their land to the next generation, 70 percent of the nation’s private farm and ranch land will likely change hands. One report predicts that women may own 75 percent of this transferred farmland. Many of these […]

The post Women Landowners and the Future of Agriculture appeared first on The Farmland Report.

NRDC: Replacing Damaging HFCs Helps Curb Climate Change

News from NRDC - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (July 10, 2014) – The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency today moved to ban the use of certain hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, that significantly contribute to climate change, noting that safer, more climate-friendly alternatives now exist.