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Reposted from Land of Enchantment by Land of Enchantment
Grand Canyon, viewed from near Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim
Grand Canyon National Park, south rim
The action was taken by the Interior Department under Ken Salazar, but the industry challenged it:
Mining industry groups say a ban on the filing of new hard rock mining claims near the Grand Canyon is irresponsible public policy, but the federal government and conservationists say it will protect water flowing through the canyon from potential contamination.
The issue is crowding to the edge of the Grand Canyon National Park with large scale mines. The U.S. District Court in Phoenix has just ruled, earlier today. It's not made the newspaper yet, only a few activist groups have posted the news so far, so it's not even "hot off the presses" quite yet.
The ban was adopted January 2012 to protect the Grand Canyon’s watersheds. The withdrawal prohibits new mining claims and development on old claims that lack “valid existing rights” to mine.
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Reposted from Daily Kos by RLMiller
Merced River and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, circa 1865, Carleton Watkins photograph
Merced River and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, circa 1865, Carleton Watkins photograph
One hundred and fifty years ago, the United States was in the midst of the Civil War. And yet, a group of men dared to press a curious idea. A magnificent valley and a grove of immense sequoia trees had been discovered in California. What if this land were to be preserved and protected from exploitation and development for all time?

Sen. John Conness was persuaded to introduce legislation for the Yosemite Grant. Conness sold the bill by describing the land as:

... for all public purposes worthless, but which constitute perhaps some of the greatest wonders of the world. It is a matter involving no appropriation whatever. The property is of no value to the government.
On June 30, 1864, not long after a devastating loss by Gen. Ulysses Grant of 7,000 soldiers at Cold Harbor in Virginia, and during a major siege at Petersburg, Virginia, President Lincoln somehow found the time and attention to sign it, an act to protect a place he had never seen and that had been visited by only 653 tourists by horseback over the past 10 years.

Galen Clark, among the first white explorers to document the park, was put in charge of these newly protected lands, known as the Yosemite Grant and the Mariposa Grove, and given a budget of $500 a year to maintain and protect it from the influence of tourists and developers. These lands became the first California state park, and the beginning of that important conservation system.

Panorama of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point
Panorama of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point
Follow below the fold for more.
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Mon May 26, 2014 at 09:15 AM PDT

Yosemite National Park - My Adventure

by elfling

Reposted from elfling's Magical Mystery Tour by Land of Enchantment
Mirror Lake at Yosemite National Park
Mirror Lake at Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Valley
150 years ago, June 30, 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, the US Congress and Abraham Lincoln were convinced to set aside the first wild land in American history - Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees. This act paved the way for the entire American National Park system, and to the creation of Yellowstone as America's first National Park. (The protected areas of Yosemite were originally set aside as the first California State Park before it joined the National Park system in 1890 with its current, larger boundaries.)
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Reposted from Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees by RLMiller

In a report issued last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the continued reliance on nearly century-old policies that prevent the federal government from collecting a "fair return" from the oil and gas extraction on public lands. The U.S. government has one of the lowest return rates for federal leases, and the Department of Interior lacks clear, modernized procedures for collecting such royalties.

From the Huffington Post's review:

The latest report notes that Interior has updated its terms for offshore leasing since its last report and has considered -- but not made -- changes to its onshore terms. But the department still does not have a system in place for making sure such updates happen on a regular basis. It has "discontinued its efforts to pursue revised regulations" for onshore drilling, arguing that it "does not have enough information to determine how to adjust onshore royalty rates."

"Without documented procedures, Interior will not have reasonable assurance that it will consistently conduct such assessments in the future and, without periodically conducting such assessments, Interior cannot know whether there is a proper balance between the attractiveness of federal leases for investment and appropriate returns for federal oil and gas resources, limiting Interior’s ability to ensure a fair return," the GAO concluded.

This means that the federal government is missing out on lots of money in royalties from oil and gas operations. Last year, companies made $66 billion on the sale of oil and gas they produced from public lands, and paid $10 billion to the federal government, according to the GAO report -- but it could make a lot more.

According to a recent report from the Center for American Progress' public lands project, the federal royalty rate for oil and gas onshore has been set at 12.5 percent since the 1920s. The revenues are split between the federal government and the states where the production takes place. Some states charge higher rates than the feds; Texas, for example, charges 25 percent. But those states that don't charge higher than the federal rate are bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars less than they could be, each year.

This comes at a time of record domestic oil production and ever-increasing natural gas extraction (often via fracking), both for which the president crudely commends himself.

Consider his weekly address on energy from last month:

We produce more natural gas than anyone...And just this week, we learned that for the first time in nearly two decades, the United States of America now produces more of our own oil here at home than we buy from other countries.

That’s a big deal.  That’s a tremendous step towards American energy independence.

And here's the president in a speech in Cushing, Oklahoma, last year:
"Over the last three years, I've directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We're opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We've quad­rupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We've added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth, and then some. . . . In fact, the problem . . . is that we're actually producing so much oil and gas . . . that we don't have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it where it needs to go."
Obama's Climate Action Plan likewise touts the benefits of fracking.

Compared to his predecessors, Obama has amassed a horrible record on protecting public lands:

And he has leased 2.4 times as much land to oil and gas drillers as he's protected:

In order to prevent catastrophic climate change, at least two-thirds of all known fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground. The administration should not continue its environmentally harmful policy of leasing away public lands to oil and gas drillers, worsening this problem.

However, with the land currently being drilled, the least the federal government could do would be to ensure a strong and fair return (nationalization of extractive industries is, sadly, a nonstarter). By letting royalties go uncollected, the Department of Interior is further lining the pockets of the oil and gas companies and thereby entrenching their economic and political power. Moreover, the uncollected money could have been used to fund the development of renewable energy as well as the systemic changes to energy, agriculture, transportation, etc., that are necessary.

Reposted from Land of Enchantment by Land of Enchantment

We have been recently treated to the Congressman who told a Park Ranger in DC that she should be ashamed of herself. (Because of the government shutdown he and his party had worked so hard to bring down upon us all!)

She did not have the liberty to mouth off at his small-minded, mean-spirited willful ignorance. The National Parks Conservation Association has just released a video which shares the words of Park Rangers. Turns out their thoughts have much more to offer than that elected nitwit know-nothing Randy Neugebauer from Texas.

Text to describe the post, which just went up this afternoon. It only had 27 views when I discovered it - it deserves many more:

For nearly 100 years, national park rangers have dedicated their lives to protecting America's most precious places and the millions of people within their boundaries. But when Congress closed the national parks, angry visitors criticized the Park Service for keeping people out. As federal employees, park rangers can't share their personal views publicly. So we offered anonymity in return for their testimonies. This is what they wrote.
Transcript below the squiggle.

Do you have a favorite National Park?

3%112 votes
7%215 votes
9%276 votes
0%16 votes
4%149 votes
3%90 votes
1%30 votes
2%77 votes
3%117 votes
1%33 votes
0%9 votes
1%37 votes
0%5 votes
5%165 votes
55%1668 votes

| 2999 votes | Vote | Results

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Reposted from Wildlife Endangered and Threatened by RLMiller
Gray Wolf, Photo Credit: GreenpeaceGray Wolf, Photo Credit: GREENPEACE

In Montana during the 2012-2013 season, 225 wolves were killed. In addition in 2013, 63 wolves were killed for preying (not always killing) on livestock. 18 were killed by cars or poachers. That's 306 dead wolves. Since then Montana has expanded the wolf rifle hunting season to six months, from September 15 to March 15. The bag limit has been increased to 5, silencers and electronic calling are legal. So far 6,000 licenses have been purchased at $19. each. The cost of out-of-state licenses have gone down from $250. to $50. causing a big jump in out-of-state hunters, 370 up from 55 last year.

Under that kind of "harvesting" program two hunters can kill a whole pack. Since this is trophy hunting, the biggest and the strongest wolves will be targeted. Only Yellowstone National Park can offer a safe haven but the bio-diversity of that group is threatened as they become more and more isolated by the hunting, trapping, bow-hunting surrounding the park.

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Reposted from Senor Unoball by Land of Enchantment

169_Olympic NP_080113_Hurricane Ridge Panorama
Olympic Range from Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center

We had never been to this national park, and had never seen some of the birds living in the extreme northwest part of the U.S., so it was with a lot of excitement that we spent about a week recently in Olympic National Park.

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Reposted from Shards ... fragments of life by RLMiller

A NorCal freshman Representative, Jared Huffman, San Rafael, just tweeted out that his very first bill passed the House and moves on to the Senate, H.R. 1411

RT @RepHuffman: I’m thrilled that the House has agreed to protect this jewel of the North Coast for future generations.'

More from the notice of its passage: House of Representatives Passes Congressman Huffman’s First Bill

 “This is a spectacular stretch of coastline, and it deserves the highest level of protection we can provide. By bringing this land into the National Monument system, we will provide an accessible way for visitors to see all that the Mendocino coast has to offer.”

“The Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands are a national treasure and the House of Representatives is right to protect it,” said Thompson. “We need to keep working and make sure the Senate passes legislation that preserves this wonderful stretch of coastline for our children and grandchildren.”

It is very rare for a freshman member in the minority party in the House to have their first bill as a Congressman passed by the House—only five other freshmen House Democrats have passed a bill in the 113th Congress, and Huffman is one of the first freshman of either party to have a land conservation bill approved in the 113th Congress. Today’s vote follows a House Natural Resources Committee vote on Congressman Huffman’s bill on June 12, 2013.

The bill would add 10 miles to the California Coastal Trail and includes other natural jewels such as the Garcia Estuary and two miles of the Garcia River, a critical habitat for salmon and steelhead. The land includes habitat for endangered species, and the designation keeps the current recreational, ranching, and research uses of the land.

Huffman was joined by original cosponsor Congressman Mike Thompson, who previously represented this area of California’s northern coastline in Congress. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Here is Pt. Arena light as of Nov 2012...and a Map showing the Stornetta lands, along coast between Highway 1 and the light. We wondered the status of those lands when we went by last year. In fact took pic standing outsided fenced off coastal lands.

Pt. Arena light

 GOOGLE Map Pt Arena

Congratulations to Rep. Huffman on his very first bill passing the house! Thanks for protecting more of California.. for all Californians.  More about Jared below squiggle.

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Reposted from Daily Kos by RLMiller

The U.S. Department of the Interior, the agency in charge of the nation's national parks and monuments, has a wonderfully rich mine of gorgeous photographs on its Instagram page, highlighting how diverse the landscapes and monuments of the United States truly are. On this Fourth of July, it seems fitting to take a look at some of the natural beauty that makes this country so unique—and makes the vision of preserving our natural places a truly patriotic mission for all of us.

Immigrants being sworn in at Yosemite as citizens.
A June naturalization ceremony was held at Glacier Point in Yosemite, a magnificent setting for a special moment.
From the newest citizens of the United States, above, to those who died for their country, below:
Vietnam Memorial, Washington DC
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.
For more breathtaking beauty, from sea to shining sea, meander below the fold with me ....
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Reposted from DK GreenRoots by RLMiller Editor's Note: Agathena has been doing great work on behalf of the wolves. Please rec. -- RLMiller
Research Gray Wolf 832F, RIP


This is an update to my June 11th Wolves: "Mission Accomplished" diary. It was too early to post the Government Comment link on this issue. Thanks to Patriot Daily News ClearingHouse for providing it in last Saturday's Green Diary Rescue.

>>>>>>>You can contribute a COMMENT here until September 11, 2013.<<<<<<<

Removing Wolves from the Endangered Species Act

On June 7, 2013 in a Friday news dump
The Fish and Wildlife Service unveiled a proposal to eliminate the remaining restrictions across the country, saying wolves are flourishing again. The only populations to have protection, under the proposal, would be Mexican wolves in southern Arizona and New Mexico and a small experimental population in North Carolina.

The announcement by Daniel M. Ashe, the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, marked the imminent end of 50 years of controversial efforts to bring back a predator that once roamed the continent but had been all but exterminated in the United States by the mid-20th century.In my last diary i purposely used the phrase Mission Accomplished in the title. This is an update to that diary with information for comments to the government about their delisting of the Gray Wolf.

Mission Accomplished
The image of the government declaring "Mission Accomplished" is etched in Americans’ minds, and not in a good way. Just as former President George W. Bush was wrong when he made that announcement about the Iraq war, the feds might well be wrong in declaring the gray wolf no longer in need of protection in the West.
Advocates for delisting the wolf say management decisions should be made at the state level, not by federal agencies, now that the reintroduction process is complete. The problem with state-level decisions is that in the minds of many officials, "management" of the wolf is synonymous with "eradicating" the animal. For example, Wyoming’s proposed management plan essentially allowed anyone to shoot any wolf on sight for any reason. That’s not management.
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Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 08:47 AM PDT

The Dark Creek and the Bad River

by ruleoflaw

Reposted from ruleoflaw by RLMiller

A dark ribbon of water flows through the Penokees.
Her tannin stained waters look like black coffee.
The Bad River grinds a path through the hills.

She digs in her heels at Copper Falls.
Her "whitewater" is a creamy beige.
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Reposted from Climate Change SOS by RLMiller

Photo Credit National Parks Conservation Association

How to take a very good idea, the preservation of National Parks and turn it into a fracking disaster. The Federal government owns the land surrounding the parks and has given fracking and drilling permits to the fossil fuel industry helter-skelter without any regard for the adjacent pollution threatening the parks. Fracking sucks up precious ground water and turns it into a poisonous mix that industry puts into settling ponds to be injected back into the earth (what you don't see can't hurt you). The fracking goes on day and night with excess methane flares lighting up the night sky. Fracking is a threat to the water table in more ways than one. It uses tons of water in the fracking process and the fracking itself which occurs under the aquifer leaves it vulnerable to pollution.

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