Utah Native Plant Society

The posts contained herein may not always necessarily represent the official positions and views of the Utah Native Plant Society and are mine alone; nonetheless, this blog is intended to largely supplement the Utah Native Plant Society web site and has similar goals and objectives and when I think my slant about something is perhaps either controversial or straying from what might be generally supported by UNPS, I will try to so indicate since I am also the webmaster for the UNPS web site, a former UNPS board member, conservation co-chair, Utah rare plants guide coordinator, and remain actively involved with day-to-day issues involving the organization. Much of the information contained here will therefore no doubt therefore relate to issues of current concern to the UNPS board and/or its members, inquires made to unps@unps.org, postings made on the UNPS listserv, and the activities our various committees are involved with (conservation, restoration, rare plant issues, invasive species, horticulture and more) and our many and various botanical connections not the least of which are the herbariums based in Utah and elsewhere, and other conservation organizations that have goals that overlap those of UNPS.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Washington County Resource Management Plans: say no to Northern Corridor

BLM draft resource management plans (RMP's) have been released for review relating to Beaver Dam Wash and the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area located in Utah's Washington County.  The comment deadline is October 15, 2015.

Pending further review, it is likely that the Utah Native Plant Society will support Alternative C and oppose both the Northern Corridor" in the Red Cliffs NCA, as well as oppose continued livestock grazing in the Beaver Dam Wash.

We had recommended three ACEC's to the BLM St. George Field Offices when that input was sought in July 2010 relating to sites involving the federally listed plant species Astragalus holmgreniorum, Arctomecon humilis and Sphaeralcea gierischii but we have not yet determined whether provisions for any of those recommendations have been incorporated into these RMP's.

Meanwhile the normal development forces are at work.  See for example:

Hatch throws clout behind ‘Northern Corridor’ (by David DeMille, July 28, 2015, The Spectrum).

That Hatch would try to bypass federal legislation to thwart the Endangered Species Act is exactly the antics one would expect from someone who blames judges for making laws.   His acts are shameful for Utah and for the nation.  Is this part of the disingenuous "We know best how to care for our state because we live here" flag that many western states and politicians often affiliated with a certain political party seem to waiving these days?  For Hatch to be honored by organizations like the Utah Technology Council for creating "green jobs" is laughable.  The man is anything but green.

An opposing viewpoint from local resident Lisa Rutherford appeared in the August 17, 2015 edition of The Spectrum:

Sen. Hatch's plan won't work

In that column she notes:

UDOT’s 2007 report noted, “The Northern Corridor Alternative would not meet the objective of minimizing impacts to the reserve.” Due to this and other factors noted, “The City of St. George, UDOT, and FHWA determined that the anticipated implementation challenges and potential environmental effects, as previously described, would be substantial and thereby eliminated the Northern Corridor Alternative from further consideration.

Utah Department of Transportation's speculation that a road just might be good for the desert tortoise is equally shameful and embarrassing, and goes down a road (so to speak) that has been so often traveled by those favoring continued degradation of the natural world, and which scientific studies have again and again proven to be false.

More background about the Norther Corridor, see:

The Ghost Highway: The battle for the Northern Corridor, a conclusion by Don Gilman which appeared on August 23, 2015 in The Independent: a voice for Utah
(and prior articles in that series)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Animas spill: where the blame really lies

Despite the headline which the author probably did not write or even suggest in this article:

How the EPA managed to spill 3 million gallons of mining waste into a Colorado river (by Brad Plumer, August 10, 2015, Vox Media)

it is clear that this was simply a ticking time bomb. A mild earthquake or a weather-related landslide could no doubt have triggered this spill.   To what degree EPA was culpable in not notifying others of the spill sooner is unclear (for example, apparently the engineers working in the area had no cell phone coverage, see EPA faces criticism, praise at Silverton meeting published August 11, 2015 in the Durango Herald).

As the Plumer article indicates, the EPA has been trying to clean up the area since the 1980's and yet the town of Silverton has resisted time and time again.

A worse spill took place in 1975. The Animas River has been contaminated for a very long time.

Animas River, September 2011

While the conspiracy theorists and anti-fed folks will instead cry foul and point their fingers towards Washington DC,  what this shows are the very real and long term impacts of irresponsible mining activities and practices of the past, some of which continue; that's what the headline should say and what the text of the article supports.

When energy/mining companies are asked for reclamation or other post disturbance plans consisting of as little as say five years, look at what can happen 100+ years later. The short term gains are followed by exceptionally long term impacts that can and do jeopardize the future for all of us.  The Navajo Nation and downstream farmers should be seeking redress against the miners and energy companies that created this problem, and a local government that failed to act timely, and that stubbornly fought the cleanup at every turn, not the EPA.

Animas River, September 2011