Category: Environment

Weekend Photos: Just Deserts

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Semi-arid lands do not often come to mind when one envisions beautiful countryside. One attribute it affords the beholder is its accentuation of geology and a sense of timelessness. Left undisturbed, change is often not of importance to nature as it seems decades later to not have evolved. Only what humanity leaves behind tends to show aging in what we consider time, mirroring more of us than the environment.

The landscape does justice to tranquility.

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Protesters Deface Billy Goat Trail With Anti-Police Graffiti

As many on this blog know, I am a lifelong hiker and backpacker.  I often do dawn hikes on the Billy Goat trail along the Potomac, one of the most cherished and beautiful areas in the Washington metropolitan area. This morning, I decided to celebrate my birthday with one of my dawn hikes and it was glorious. I had the trail to myself as the sun was coming up over the Potomac.  It was a perfect hike until I made it to the end of the trail (one the Angler’s end) where the beautiful rock face is now defaced with anti-police graffiti. Continue reading “Protesters Deface Billy Goat Trail With Anti-Police Graffiti”

Weekend Photos: The Fire And The Resurrection

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Having decided to go on a long road trip, I came across the remnants of a wildfire and the subsequent rebirth of rolling fields of grass. The fire burned through this rural neighborhood yet to my amazement I could find no lost homes or outbuildings in or around the path of destruction. I initially attributed this to a supremely adept firefighting operation. Yet in the end, according to a resident there who I spoke with, it was more nature that took care of its own.

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CA Governor Issues Exec. Order Banning by 2035 New Gasoline and Diesel Vehicles Sold In-State

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

California Governor Gavin Newsom last Wednesday issued Executive Order N-79-20 establishing a state goal that “100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission by 2035”. The order also establishes extensive regulatory goals and practices mandating research and reporting standards extending to energy generation facilities such as petroleum extraction, public transit, and environmental protection. The proffered policy guidance does not mandate, at least in its current format, that existing non-zero-emission vehicles be forceably withdrawn from service by a hard date. There does seem to be an implication that constraints mandated against petroleum generally might as a consequence be unviable to the consumer and usher them into zero-emissions vehicle ownership.

California has over the last several decades established itself as a de facto policy maker nationally given the size of the state in terms of market share and the state’s jurisdication over such share. The Executive Order presents a very large reach given the current dependence on petroleum fueled Internal Combustion Engines for passenger vehicles. The goals could be achievable. Whether or not the implementation cost is something the public is willing to accept remains to be seen.

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Trump Moves To Approve Drilling In the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Before Election

PolarbearoniceThis morning President Donald Trump just told Fox & Friends that he should go down as the “greatest environmental president” in history for signing the Great American Outdoors Act but he then proudly listed an array of rollbacks and attacks on environmental protections. If anything the President was understated in his damaging policies to the environment, including his opposition to efforts to deal with greenhouse gases and climate change.  What made this statement the most glaring for many of us is that this morning the Wall Street Journal disclosed that Trump is likely to open up the pristine Arctic refuge area to drilling — an act of breathtaking loss to our natural park and wild refuge areas.

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Minnesota Dentist Walter Palmer Under Fire For Renewed Trophy Hunting

Walter Palmer (left), whose face was edited out of the picture, holding a rare ram in Mongolia

This week saw the unwelcomed return of dentist Walter Palmer, 60, to international media coverage.  Palmer was widely denounced over his shooting of “Cecil the Lion” for a trophy five years ago.  He is now back with a series of gruesome pictures with a dead ram from Mongolia. The argali ram is considered “near threatened” but are a favorite for trophy hunters including a similar hunting trip by Donald Trump Jr. Continue reading “Minnesota Dentist Walter Palmer Under Fire For Renewed Trophy Hunting”

Trump Administration Sued Over Impact of Expanded Grazing Operations On Wolf Populations

Canis_lupus_layingI have often criticized the Trump Administration for its environmental policies from blocking climate control measures to rolling back on pollution regulations to developing pristine natural areas, including recent changes to hunting rules in Alaska.  Now the Forest Service is being sued over its failure on how expanded grazing operations are impacting gray wolf populations.  Given the ruling on DACA yesterday on the failure of the Administration to satisfy basic procedures requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act, this litigation will hopefully succeed in forcing a reevaluation of the operations of these private businesses on federal lands.

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Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Trump Plan To Put Pipeline Across Appalachian Trail

download-7Much of the discussion yesterday focused on the historic ruling in favor of workplace protections for LGBT workers.  Lost in the coverage was another case where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of another horrendous policy of the Trump Administration on the environment. I have been a long and vocal critic of President Donald Trump’s record on the environment and the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline us the latest rollback on Obama era protections.  The Court voted 7-2 decision in favor of the $5.1 billion pipeline project across one of our most cherished and most used natural areas: the Appalachian Trail.

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Trump Administration Finalizing Rule To Allow Controversial Hunting Procedures In Alaskan Federal Lands

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

I have often criticized the Trump Administration for its environmental policies from blocking climate control measures to rolling back on pollution regulations to developing pristine natural areas.  The most recent change in hunting rules in Alaska however are truly disgusting. The Administration is finalizing rules to allow hunters in Alaska’s national preserves to shoot not just bears and wolves but their cubs and pups in their dens.  The policy change is horrific for many of us who cherish the environment and particularly the Alaskan parks and preserves. Continue reading “Trump Administration Finalizing Rule To Allow Controversial Hunting Procedures In Alaskan Federal Lands”

Weekend Photos: Fond of the Lake

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Having seen the weather outside to be both glorious and inviting, I suddenly realized it was necessary for me to engage once again in “essential travel necessary to maintain critical infrastructure within the state’s economy”. So I hitched up the boat and took it to a scenic lake.

Once on the pond, I realized I should have brought my fishing pole as in some areas near shore the fish were occasionally jumping out of the water–just begging to be caught and eaten for dinner. Sadly I couldn’t accommodate their aspirations. Nevertheless the water was surprisingly warm and the air was filled with a pleasant waft of the forest and something that was blooming. A couple bald eagles circled in the distance, keeping their watch. I do not speak “Eagle” so I could not introduce him to the fish I saw earlier.

Still, it was as it always is, enjoyable to be away from it all, and snap a few shots.

Click each to enlarge

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Video Captures Frightening Encounter With Bear In Wild

Screen Shot 2020-05-25 at 6.54.51 AMI had to share this video from Italy.  As many of on the blog know, my primary recreation is backpacking and hiking. I have often shared photos of wild animals spotted on those trips but this video from the Brenta Mountains in the Italian Alps is quite unnerving.  To have a large bear moving toward such a small child is really dangerous but thankfully everyone (particularly this young boy) remained calm and cool.

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Weekend Photos: Today’s Column, The Basalt Of The Earth

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Once again I needed to “make essential travel to facilitate commerce related to critical infrastructure.” *** So I loaded up some tools and headed down the highway. For me I find the semi-arid coulees to be relaxing and soul-resting. Unless someone or natural events disturbs the area, it otherwise will remain nearly identical to what it was ten or twenty years earlier. Wildland fire seems to be the main cause of change and even in that example only a few years are needed for restoration. Time moves at a lichen’s pace.

Click on each photo to enlarge.

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Weekend Photos: The Tide is Low But I’m Holdin’ On

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Though the state ordered us to Stay at Home and cower, it was of great necessary for me to drive to the Washington State Coast on “essential business travel related to maintaining critical infrastructure”. Yet, I did manage somehow to find a few moments during this noble duty to brave hazardous viral shoals, and pandemically mutated Coho-vid Salmon to bring you a few photographs of the infested outdoors. Please, do not worry for me–I had my cloth facemask somewhere in the glovebox and Geiger counter on a shelf in the garage, so I was protected.

Click on each to enlarge.

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