Report: Poor plant performance under simulated climate change is linked to mycorrhizal responses in a semiarid shrubland

An arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (plural mycorrhizae or mycorrhizas, a.k.a. endomycorrhiza, AM fungi, or AMF) is a type of mycorrhiza in which the fungus penetrates the cortical cells of the roots of a vascular plant. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Click here to read the summary and the complete report:


1.Warmer and drier conditions associated with ongoing climate change will increase abiotic stress for plants and mycorrhizal fungi in drylands worldwide, thereby potentially reducing vegetation cover and productivity and increasing the risk of land degradation and desertification. Rhizosphere microbial interactions and feedbacks are critical processes that could either mitigate or aggravate the vulnerability of dryland vegetation to forecasted climate change.

2.We conducted a four-year manipulative study in a semiarid shrubland in the Iberian Peninsula to assess the effects of warming (~2.5°C; W), rainfall reduction (~30%; RR) and their combination (W+RR) on the performance of native shrubs (Helianthemum squamatum) and their associated mycorrhizal fungi.

3.Warming (W and W+RR) decreased the net photosynthetic rates of H. squamatum shrubs by ~31% despite concurrent increases in stomatal conductance (~33%), leading to sharp decreases (~50%) in water use efficiency. Warming also advanced growth phenology, decreased leaf nitrogen and phosphorus contents per unit area, reduced shoot biomass production by ~36% and decreased survival during a dry year in both W and W+RR plants. Plants under RR showed more moderate decreases (~10-20%) in photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and shoot growth.

4.Warming, RR and W+RR altered ectomycorrhizal fungal (EMF) community structure and drastically reduced the relative abundance of EMF sequences obtained by high-throughput sequencing, a response associated with decreases in the leaf nitrogen, phosphorus and dry matter contents of their host plants. In contrast to EMF, the community structure and relative sequence abundances of other non-mycorrhizal fungal guilds were not significantly affected by the climate manipulation treatments.

5.Synthesis: Our findings highlight the vulnerability of both native plants and their symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi to climate warming and drying in semiarid shrublands, and point to the importance of a deeper understanding of plant-soil feedbacks to predict dryland vegetation responses to forecasted aridification. The interdependent responses of plants and ectomycorrhizal fungi to warming and rainfall reduction may lead to a detrimental feedback loop on vegetation productivity and nutrient pool size, which could amplify the adverse impacts of forecasted climate change on ecosystem functioning in EMF-dominated drylands.

Study Estimates about 2.1 Million People using Wells High in Arsenic — @USGS

Here’s the release from the USGS (Joseph Ayotte/Hannah M Hamilton):

Most Arsenic Presumed to be From Naturally Occurring Sources

A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 2.1 million people in the U.S. may be getting their drinking water from private domestic wells considered to have high concentrations of arsenic, presumed to be from natural sources.

“About 44 million people in the lower 48 states use water from domestic wells,” said Joe Ayotte, a USGS hydrologist and lead author of the study. “While we’re confident our research will help well owners understand if they live in an area of higher risk for arsenic, the only way for them to be certain of what’s in their water is to have it tested.”

Using a standard of 10 micrograms of arsenic per liter — the maximum contaminant level allowed for public water supplies — the researchers developed maps of the contiguous U.S. showing locations where there are likely higher levels of arsenic in groundwater, and how many people may be using it.

Nearly all of the arsenic in the groundwater tested for this study and used to map probabilities is likely from natural sources, and is presumed to be coming primarily from rocks and minerals through which the water flows.

The findings highlight the importance of private well owners working with their local and state officials to determine the best way to test and, if necessary, treat their water supplies.

“Fortunately, in most areas of the country and with appropriate safeguards, the majority of homeowners can get good quality drinking water from private wells,” said Ayotte. “But this study is a good reminder that prudent, routine testing of the water, including its interaction with the water supply system, is an essential first step so homeowners and their families can confidently drink water from their faucets.”

Using water samples from more than 20,000 domestic wells, the researchers developed a statistical model that estimates the probability of having high arsenic in domestic wells in a specific area. They used that model in combination with information on the U.S. domestic well population to estimate the population in each county of the continental United States with potentially high concentrations of arsenic in domestic wells.

“One of our study’s basic assumptions is that the probability of high arsenic can be estimated by a statistical model. We also assume that the domestic water use population is represented by census information used in the study,” said Ayotte.

Some of the locations where it’s estimated the most people may have high-levels of arsenic in private domestic well water include:

  • Much of the West – Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico
  • Parts of the Northeast and Midwest – Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois Ohio, Indiana
  • Some of the Atlantic southeast coastal states – Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina
    This map shows estimates of how many private domestic well users in each county may be drinking water with high levels of arsenic. An estimated 2.1 million people throughout the U.S. may be drinking domestic well water high in arsenic

    “Although high-arsenic wells can occur in all 48 contiguous states, it is more prevalent in some states than in others,” said Ayotte. “The study did not include Alaska and Hawaii.”

    The researcher provided a cautionary note that while the study provides state and county estimates, they are not intended to take the place of more detailed or local information that may already be available in some areas.

    Long-term exposure to arsenic in domestic wells may cause health-related problems, including an increased risk of cancer. Testing and, if necessary, treating the water is an effective way of reducing or eliminating the concern. A CDC fact sheet provides more information, as does the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

    “Ultimately, this study should be helpful not only in assessing the likelihood of people being exposed to arsenic in domestic well water, but the results of the study may assist other researchers evaluate situations where adverse health outcomes such as cancers or adverse birth outcomes may be related to environmental factors,” said Ayotte.

    Public water supplies are regulated by the U.S. EPA, but maintenance, testing and treatment of private water supplies are the sole responsibility of the homeowner. About 44 million people in the U.S. get their drinking water from private wells, yet surveys indicate many homeowners are unaware of some basic testing that should be done to help ensure safe drinking water in the home.

    The study, “Estimating the high-arsenic domestic-well population in the conterminous United States” by J.D. Ayotte, L. Medalie, S.L. Qi, L.C. Backer, and N. T. Nolan is available online in Environmental Science and Technology.

  • Book Review: “Water is for Fighting Over: And Other Myths about Water in the West” — @WaterLawReview

    From the University of Denver Water Law Review at the Sturm College of Law (Rebecca Spence):

    Chapter twelve, “A Beaver Returns to the Delta,” further discusses inclusivity, and shows how collaboration between formally feuding groups can help to undo much of the damage we have done to the Colorado River over the years. Fleck explained that after the Colorado River Compact creators divided the river, they found that dry spots would emerge in arid seasons, and the wildlife would migrate until the river started flowing again. Most recently when the river started flowing again in the previously dry Colorado River Delta, Mexico, the United States, and environmental groups met to devise a plan to keep the water flowing through this delta. This plan, titled Minute 319, was the first of its kind that mentioned environmental implications and wildlife preservation. This collaboration felled two myths. The first was that environmentalists and water managers could not work together to achieve common goals. The second was that the delta was dead, and that rejuvenation of wildlife and surrounding communities was impossible due to the growing water demands and the consistent population booms alongside the Colorado River.

    John Fleck photo via State of the Rockies Project — Colorado College

    The latest “e-WaterNews” is hot off the presses from @NorthernWater

    Eric Wilkinson Northern Water General Manager. Photo credit: Northern Water

    Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

    Northern Water General Manager to Retire

    Northern Water General Manager Eric Wilkinson has announced he will be retiring in the early part of 2018. He made the announcement to the Northern Water Board of Directors during its September 14 meeting.

    Wilkinson has spent 30 years at Northern Water, the past 24 as general manager. He is recognized as one of Colorado’s leading water statesmen and is a past recipient of the Colorado Water Congress’ Aspinall Award given to Colorado’s water leader of the year.

    In October, the Board will be deciding its course of action to replace Wilkinson.

    Northern Water Board President Mike Applegate said, “Eric Wilkinson is one of those rare people that comes along once in a lifetime and Northern Water was blessed to have him as our manager. He built an organization with a culture based on excellence and continual improvement. The Board of Directors are confident that the next general manager will continue to lead Northern Water with that same vision of service to Northern Colorado.”

    #Minute323: Busting the “Water Wars” Myth — John Fleck #ColoradoRiver #COriver

    Roberto Salmon and Edward Drusina at the Minute 323 signing ceremony September 27, 2017. Photo credit .U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

    From The Island Press (John Fleck):

    The Colorado River is often described as being shared among seven states, but the number is really nine—seven in the United States and two in Mexico. U.S. farms and cities use most of the river’s water, and what little is left when it arrives at the U.S.-Mexico border near the towns of Algodones and San Luis is diverted for use by Mexican farms and cities. The last hundred miles of river channel between the border and the Sea of Cortez is usually dry.

    The agreement includes provisions for the two nations to share shortages if (when?) drought and climate change shrink the river. The deal gives Mexican water users the ability to store their water in Lake Mead, the massive storage reservoir behind Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border, near the city of Las Vegas. Storage is critical to give Mexico flexibility in managing its water. U.S. water agencies will contribute under the deal to water efficiency improvements to Mexican infrastructure, with some of the saved water available for use in the United States.

    Crucially, the agreement also sets aside water for habitat restoration in the dry river channel of Mexico.

    The agreement was negotiated over a more than two-year period, but it is really rooted in more than a decade of increasingly deep collaboration between a community of water managers on both sides of the border. When the Trump administration took over in January, there was fear that the carefully crafted deal, so beneficial and important to communities on both sides of the border, would be sidelined by the heated rhetoric over free trade and immigration, over NAFTA and walls. But Wolf was right. Even as conflict raged over other issues, the trust and reciprocity built around the Colorado River proved remarkably resilient. The old saw that “water is for fighting over” was proven wrong again.

    @NASAClimate: September 2017 Was Fourth Warmest September on Record

    The GISTEMP monthly temperature anomalies superimposed on a 1980-2015 mean seasonal cycle

    From NASA (Leslie McCarthy):

    September 2017 was the fourth warmest September in 137 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

    Last month was +0.80 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean September temperature from 1951-1980. The warmest months of September according to the analysis happened in 2016 and 2014 (+0.87 degrees Celsius) and 2015 (+0.82 degrees Celsius).

    A global map of the September 2017 LOTI (land-ocean temperature index) anomaly, relative to the 1951-1980 September average

    The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations.

    The modern global temperature record begins around 1880 because previous observations didn’t cover enough of the planet. Monthly analyses are sometimes updated when additional data becomes available, and the results are subject to change.

    @CFWEWater workshop: 2017 Considerations in Implementing Regional Water Solutions

    WISE Project map via Denver Water

    Click here for all the inside skinny and to register:

    Our future requires that regional efforts provide some solutions to water supply shortfalls and projects. As Colorado’s urban areas grow, we must consider leveraging resources, infrastructure, water supply and facilities to secure general well-being and a healthy economy. This informative, day-long workshop provides a forum for planning and discussion around the best approaches for regional water solutions. It includes a close examination of the tradeoffs, hurdles, and opportunities for success.

    “The planet is getting warmer and we are the cause” — Mike Nelson #ActOnClimate

    From (Mike Nelson):

    California burning, Category 5 hurricanes, extreme heatwaves, coral reefs dying, king tides flooding coastal cities. Global warming is changing our world and making these events more common and more extreme.

    It is not fake news, it is the reality of basic thermodynamics — when HEAT is added, it gets WARMER!

    The problem is SIMPLE (see last sentence).

    The problem is SERIOUS — a global threat multiplier (climate refugees, loss of coral reefs, sea level rise, terrorism, severe storms, drought and floods).

    The problem is SOLVABLE — the cost of renewable energy is dropping so quickly that nearly every forecast of the increase of solar and wind energy is way too conservative.

    We can and will develop the technologies that will enable us to POWER FORWARD with clean, renewable energy. The Age of Carbon is being replaced by The Age of Silicon!

    Nebraska: Proposal would divert high flows in the South Platte to Republican River irrigators, birds lose out

    From NET (Fred Knapp):

    John Thorburn, general manager of the Tri-Basin Natural Resources District, explains the idea.

    “What we’re hoping to do is take advantage of times when flows in the Platte River are high — high enough to satisfy all existing water rights and to satisfy requirements of endangered species– take some of that excess water, which potentially is floodwater and certainly provides no necessary benefit in the Platte basin — and divert some of that through the canal system of Central Public Power and Irrigation District to a point where it could be diverted into a tributary of the Republican River,” Thorburn said.

    That could help Republican River farmers avoid more restrictions on their ability to irrigate crops. Two years ago, a U.S. Supreme Court decision forced Nebraska to pay Kansas $5.5 million for using too much water a decade earlier. The overuse was calculated at about 35,000 acre feet a year — an “acre-foot” being the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of land with a foot of water. A consultant estimates the proposed project could divert anywhere between 2,000 and 20,000 acre feet from the Platte to the Republican in years when there’s enough water, which might be twice a decade. (To see the consultant’s feasibility study on the project, click here)…

    Not everyone thinks that’s a good idea. Bill Taddicken is with Audubon Nebraska, which has been working since the 1970s to ensure there’s enough water in the Platte to protect endangered bird species, including the whooping crane, piping plover, and least tern.

    “For the good of the river, for wildlife, for people, for everybody it’s important that that water stays in this basin and not goes out of the basin,” Taddicken said.

    Thorburn says the project would take water only after everybody in the Platte basin, including wildlife advocates, get what they are legally entitled to.

    “Those are the only times when we would be taking water is when all the irrigation rights are met, all the target flow needs are met. This is water that is truly excess to the system in our opinion,” Thorburn said.

    “Target flows” are the daily goals of water in the river to protect fish and wildlife on the Platte, part of an agreement between Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado and the federal government. Taddicken says in an average year, actual flows fall far short of the target– by about 413,000 acre feet – even though they do exceed the target on some days.

    “Just because on say, a particular day, there is what they consider excess water in the river it doesn’t mean that it’s not doing good for wildlife, it doesn’t mean that it’s not soaking into ground for use later on. We have big cities like Lincoln, Nebraska that are reliant on wellfields that are associated with the Platte River. Any water that gets transferred out of the basin is just water that can’t go to them,” Taddicken said.

    Taddiken says flows above the targets are useful for clearing excess vegetation and restoring habitat. He says the proposed project would be a move in the wrong direction.

    “About 90 percent of the original habitat that these birds use along the river is gone already. Seventy percent of the water is already gone before it gets to us. And they want to take more water out. So it’s a reduction in habitat even more. So we’re going backwards instead of forwards,” he said.

    But Thorburn doesn’t buy the argument that high flows are needed to preserve habitat.

    “It’s just not an efficient use of water. It’s potentially harmful for those who live near the river because the amounts of water required are virtually at flood levels. And unfortunately the system is not in the native state that it was 150 years ago. And so, we have to accommodate the people that have settled here,” Thorburn said.

    All these issues are likely to be hashed out after Central, Tri-Basin and the Lower Republican ask the Department of Natural Resources for permission to build the project, later this year. But even if they get approval, that may not be the final word. When a big proposal to transfer water from the Platte was made in the late 1970s, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled on different aspects of the project three times over the next decade before it was finally rejected.

    “We have a different climate coming in the future and we have to think differently” — Jim Worrall

    Nearly every mature spruce tree has been killed by spruce beetle in this area of the Rio Grande National Forest in southwest Colorado. (Credit: U.S. Forest Service; photo: Brian Howell)

    Click here to read the report. Here’s an excerpt:

    Abstract. This analysis quantifies the topoclimate niche of 14 tree species in southwestern Colorado and predicts the 2060 niche distribution for each species. It draws on comprehensive, high-resolution vegetation datasets, a precise climate downscaling model, GCMs and RCPs used by IPCC, a foremost decision-tree learning algorithm, and advanced analytical techniques. The models accurately predict recent species distributions at high resolution based on reference climate, slope, and aspect. The results are presented as spatially explicit change zones to enhance utility in management. Results can be used to: (a) determine site-specifically the most appropriate management actions for climate adaptation of vegetation, (b) focus efforts where they have the greatest likelihood of long-term success, and (c) identify potential climate refugia.

    In the southern Rocky Mountains, it is increasingly evident that weather, insects, diseases, stand conditions, and fire will interact to transform forests as the climate changes. We have already seen widespread changes. Fires have been larger and more severe (van Mantgem et al. 2013, Westerling et al. 2006). Piñon ips responded to the turn-of-the-century drought by killing piñon on over 2.9 million acres in the 4-corner states (Breshears et al. 2005). In Colorado, sudden aspen decline impacted 1.2 million acres (17% of the aspen cover type) (Worrall et al. 2015), mountain pine beetle killed trees on 3.4 million acres, and spruce beetle has impacted 1.6 million acres to date (Howell et al. 2016). These agents kill stressed trees, often building their populations to kill trees in the absence of stress.

    These large-scale disturbances provide a strong reminder of the powerful influence of climate on vegetation. The Forest Service and other agencies increasingly mandate extensive consideration of climate change in project, landscape, and forest planning. While vulnerability assessments and other elements provide a good overview of potential climate change impacts and general adaptation measures, they do not provide the quantitative, spatially explicit projections needed to adapt vegetation management to climate change. Impacts to tree species will vary greatly across the landscape – from habitat lost to new habitat emerging. Our management today should be quite different among these locations.

    Bioclimate models offer an approach to develop spatially explicit projections of climate change impacts. By analyzing the relationship between known presence/absence of a species and reference climate (which led to the current distribution) at each point, they can predict the likelihood that a given climate will be suitable. Predicted distributions based on grids of reference climate match very well with known distributions. Grids of projected future climate then result in spatially explicit projections of future suitability. Bioclimate models have been extensively used and tested in research (Fettig et al. 2013, Gray & Hamann 2012, Hamann & Wang 2006, Iverson et al. 2008, Rehfeldt et al. 2006, Rehfeldt et al. 2014a, Sáenz-Romero et al. 2012, Worrall et al. 2013). Their application in management has been limited due to the coarse scale of mapping (~ 1 km resolution), lack of topographical response, and the complexity of results. Recent work has addressed these issues: methods for mapping at a 90-meter pixel scale suitable for landscape analysis, incorporation of topographic variables to increase fine-scale accuracy, and a method for projecting change zones that are directly applicable to management (Rehfeldt et al. 2015).

    Here we report the methods, results, and some management implications of bioclimate modeling and change projections for 14 tree species in southwestern Colorado. The objectives of this phase of the project were to: (a) develop bioclimate models for dominant tree species of southwestern Colorado based on local data, incorporating topographic variables, and with results presented at a scale useful to management, and; (b) interpret the models by projecting change zones for the species (Lost, Threatened, Persistent, and Emergent) to make them useful for management.

    From The Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

    In the past 20 years, Southwest Colorado forests have been in the line of fire of insect epidemic and disease.

    The pattern is a clue of a drying climate that could produce a much different landscape 60 years from now in the Dolores watershed, said Jim Worrall, a forest pathologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

    He presented the results of a new Forest Service study during a recent meeting of the Dolores Watershed and Resilient Forest Collaborative in Cortez.

    First, it was the ongoing spruce beetle epidemic in the eastern San Juan Mountains, Worrall said, then a sudden aspen decline, which focused in the La Plata Mountains.

    About the same time, the round-headed pine beetle moved farther north then before, ravaging forests in northwestern Montezuma County. Add to that an emerging budworm infestation in the Dolores Valley.

    Many of these forest problems can be attributed to a drying trend from the mid-1980s that culminated in a turn-of-the-century drought with record temperatures in 2001-2003, Worrall said.

    “It was a climate change-type drought, and it occurred across the interior West,” he said. “Put in context, you have to go back 800 years in the tree ring data to find a drought that severe.”

    Climate studies forecast that the severe dry conditions of 2002 could be the norm by mid-century, Worrall said. Other research shows they could be the norm by the 2030s.

    Worrall and his team developed bioclimate models with data from 14 tree species in Southwest Colorado to tease out what the landscape might look like for the future of the Dolores River watershed.

    Computer modeling of the watershed used 850,000 tree-location data points and accounted for tree type-location or absence, topography, historic climate and climate variables. It then used algorithms to predict the likelihood of the species being present there in the future.

    The modeling shows significant future changes. It predicts that by 2060, a drying climate will have eliminated ponderosa pines from current locations. They will move to higher elevations, possibly replacing spruce-fir stands. Oak brush is also shown moving into higher elevations.

    A lot of the stands of the Utah juniper variety would be lost to a drier climate, models show, but aspen stands will likely persist because of to their resistance to drought…

    That could guide future management decisions, Worrall said. For example, the round-headed pine beetle is impacting ponderosa forests in the Lake Canyon area of western Montezuma County, the farthest the beetle has ever been seen at that concentration north of New Mexico.

    Local foresters are thinning the forest there to try and stop or slow down the beetle’s damaging progress.

    “Long-term ponderosa may not be the future, so where there are good piñon stands, that component should be preserved instead of hydro-axing it,” Worrall said.

    Protecting seed sources is an important aspect of planning for the future, agreed Bruce Short, a silviculturist from Mancos.

    “We need to be proactive in thinking about how we manage what we have in the next 50 years,” he said. “Should we start taking seeds from one area to another based on future suitability?”

    The forest crystal ball also reveals potential erosion problems in the future, added Mike Preston, general manager for the Dolores Water Conservancy District, which manages McPhee Reservoir.

    “If the ponderosa pine zone comes apart, and there are no re-emergent species to replace it, it could impact water quality,” he said.

    Pinus ponderosa subsp. ponderosa. Photo credit Wikimedia.

    The Fate of Earth — Elizabeth Kolbert #ActOnClimate #keepitintheground #Anthropocene

    Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog photo credit

    Click here to read the whole article from The New Yorker (Elizabeth Kolbert). Here’s an excerpt:

    Instead of looking at the fate of Earth from our anxious perspective, from a human perspective, I’d like to try to look at it from the viewpoint of the millions and millions of non-human species with which we share the planet. This represents a different kind of imaginative exercise. It requires us not to imagine events that might happen but to look at events that have happened through different eyes—or even without eyes, since so many of our fellow-creatures lack them. We will always fall short in these exercises, but I think it’s important to try, so I hope you will indulge me.

    I want to start off with an individual animal [a Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog], who went by the name of Toughie. Toughie, as I understand it—and I never had the pleasure of meeting him, though I did meet one of his siblings, or perhaps cousins—was a very charming fellow. He was born in the cloud forest above the town of El Valle, in central Panama, a beautiful, rugged area that’s unusually rich in biodiversity. Specifically, Toughie was born in a tree hole. It was filled with water, the way most things in the cloud forest are filled with water. His mother deposited her eggs there, and then, when Toughie and his siblings were tadpoles, their father took over, and he cared for them. Up in the tree hole, there wasn’t much for the tadpoles to eat, so Toughie and his sisters and brothers sustained themselves by literally eating the skin off their father’s back. Toughie was living in the cloud forest in 2005, when he was found by a group of herpetologists. Eventually, he came to live in the botanical garden in Atlanta…

    So these biologists—some were American, some were Panamanian—were, as I said, trying to catalogue what was out there before it was lost. And they were also collecting live animals, with the idea that, if they could save breeding pairs, they could create a sort of ark. In the case of the Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog, only a handful of animals were caught before the scourge hit. Researchers had managed to collect a few females and a few males, including Toughie, but, although they were brought together in various configurations, they never produced viable offspring. Meanwhile, efforts to collect more members of the species were unsuccessful; the frog has a distinctive call that sounds like a dog’s bark, and though many man-hours were spent listening for it, it has not been heard in the forest since 2007. The last female Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog died in 2009, the second-to-last male in 2012. This left just Toughie. And when he died, in September of 2016, it is likely that the species went extinct. A notice of Toughie’s death ran in the Times, under the headline, “A Frog Dies in Atlanta, and a World Vanishes With It.”

    @USBR to Hold Public Meeting on Estes Valley Resource Management Plan for Lake Estes, Marys Lake and East Portal

    Aerial view of Lake Estes and Olympus Dam looking west. Photo credit Northern Water.

    Here’s the release from Reclamation (James Bishop):

    The Bureau of Reclamation, in cooperation with Estes Valley Recreation and Park District (EVRPD), is seeking public input on a Resource Management Plan (RMP) for Lake Estes, Marys Lake and East Portal lands.

    The agencies will host an open house where the public can learn and ask questions about the resource management planning process, the lands affected by the plan, and provide comments. The open house will be held on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Estes Park High School Commons, 1600 Manford Avenue, Estes Park, Colo. Public comments will be welcomed in writing at the open house and throughout the 30-day public comment period.

    The 30-day public comment period will begin on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 and will end at close-of-business on Friday, November 17, 2017. Comments must be provided in writing and can be submitted by e-mail, fax, or regular mail. E-mail comments can be sent to, and faxed comments can be sent to the attention of Ms. Justina Thorsen at (970) 663-3212. Regular mail comments should be sent to the attention of Ms. Thorsen at: Bureau of Reclamation, 11056 W. County Road 18E, Loveland, Colo. 80537.

    Reclamation is preparing the Estes Valley RMP. The agency will also prepare an Environmental Assessment in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Reclamation owns and operates the Colorado-Big Thompson project, which includes Lake Estes, Marys Lake, East Portal, and the surrounding federal lands. Through a management agreement with Reclamation, EVRPD is responsible for managing recreation at Lake Estes, Marys Lake, and East Portal. The RMP will guide future recreation development as well as the management of natural and cultural resources on federal lands.

    Media inquiries or general questions about Reclamation should be directed to James Bishop at 970-962-4326 or Specific questions about the resource management planning process should be directed to Justina Thorsen at 970-962-4207 or

    The Sixth Mass Extinction of Wildlife Also Threatens Global Food Supplies — Climate Central

    From Climate Central (Damian Carrington):

    Three-quarters of the world’s food today comes from just 12 crops and five animal species and this leaves supplies very vulnerable to disease and pests that can sweep through large areas of monocultures, as happened in the Irish potato famine when a million people starved to death. Reliance on only a few strains also means the world’s fast changing climate will cut yields just as the demand from a growing global population is rising.

    There are tens of thousands of wild or rarely cultivated species that could provide a richly varied range of nutritious foods, resistant to disease and tolerant of the changing environment. But the destruction of wild areas, pollution and overhunting has started a mass extinction of species on Earth. The focus to date has been on wild animals — half of which have been lost in the last 40 years — but the new report reveals that the same pressures are endangering humanity’s food supply, with at least 1,000 cultivated species already endangered.

    Tutwiler said saving the world’s agrobiodiversity is also vital in tackling the number one cause of human death and disability in the world — poor diet, which includes both too much and too little food. “We are not winning the battle against obesity and undernutrition,” she said. “Poor diets are in large part because we have very unified diets based on a narrow set of commodities and we are not consuming enough diversity.”

    The new report sets out how both governments and companies can protect, enhance and use the huge variety of little-known food crops. It highlights examples including the gac, a fiery red fruit from Vietnam, and the orange-fleshed Asupina banana. Both have extremely high levels of beta-carotene that the body converts to vitamin A and could help the many millions of people suffering deficiency of that vitamin.

    Bridging troubled waters — Doug McPherson @MSUDenver

    Gabrielle Katz, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at MSU Denver, has been studying river hydrology and its impact on ecosystems for the last two decades. Photo by Alyson McClaran

    Here’s the release from Doug McPherson writing for Metropolitan State University of Denver. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

    When Colorado lawmakers wanted to know how the massive floods of 2013 affected plants along the South Platte River, they needed experts.

    Enter Gabrielle Katz, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Katz has been studying river hydrology and its impact on ecosystems for the last two decades.

    “I’ve been fascinated by water management influences since my graduate research in the 1990s,” Katz said.

    Specifically, she’s become an expert on how flood control downstream of dams affects plant structure and composition and how groundwater pumping and hydrologic restoration affect streamside plant communities.