Extension Needed for Protection of Interior Least Tern, Piping Plover, and Whooping Crane — @AudubonRockies

Least Tern. Photo credit Doug German via Audubon.

From Audubon Rockies (Daly Edmunds):

The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (PRRIP) is a multi-state effort that began in 1997, when the governors of Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska joined with the U.S. Secretary of Interior to sign the “Cooperative Agreement for Platte River Research and Other Efforts Relating to Endangered Species Habitat along the Central Platte River, Nebraska.”

Based on the novel idea that a collaborative approach would prevent years of courtroom battles over limited water supplies and individual river species, the PRRIP works to accommodate the habitat needs of these threatened and endangered bird species by increasing stream flows in the central Platte River during relevant time periods. While these species require habitat in central Nebraska for survival, their habitat is created and maintained through a dynamic river system that begins with water from Colorado and Wyoming. The program also enhances, restores and protects habitat, and does so in a manner to accommodate new water-related activities. This is a good program but due to expire this year.

Wyoming Senator Barrasso (R) and Colorado Representative Neguse (D) each took leadership positions on this issue, sponsoring complementary bills in the Senate (S.990) and House (H.R. 3237), that propose to extend the program. Audubon Rockies and Audubon Nebraska thanked the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation for their unanimous, bipartisan support for these bills. Our offices also thanked Wyoming’s Senator Enzi for supporting the Senate bill, and Representative Cheney recently joined other western co-sponsors of the House bill. Additionally, all Colorado and Wyoming Audubon chapters sent letters thanking their respective congressional delegations for their unanimous, bipartisan of a strong stewardship program.

Meanwhile click here to enjoy the 2019 Audubon Photography Awards winners.

Birds make fascinating subjects, as the winners and honorable mentions of this year’s contest, our 10th, make clear. They’re at once beautiful and resilient, complex and comical. It’s no wonder why we love them so.

The images that won the 2019 Audubon Photography Awards, presented in association with Nature’s Best Photography, are as impressive as ever, but attentive readers might notice a few more images than usual. That’s because we’ve added two awards. The Plants for Birds category is inspired by Audubon’s Plants for Birds program, supported by Coleman and Susan Burke, which provides resources for choosing and finding plants native to zip codes in the United States. This category poses a new challenge to photographers: Don’t just capture an incredible moment—make sure it also features a bird and plant native to the location in which the photo was taken, in order to highlight the critical role native habitat plays in supporting bird life. And in the spirit of Kevin Fisher, Audubon’s longtime creative director who recently retired, the Fisher Prize recognizes a creative approach to photographing birds that blends originality with technical expertise. It honors a photograph selected from all of the submissions that pushes the bounds of traditional bird photography.

We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all 2,253 entrants, hailing from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and 10 Canadian provinces and territories. Your dedication to appreciating, celebrating, and sharing the wonder of birds and the landscapes they inhabit inspires us now and throughout the year.

#Drought news: Subnormal short-term rainfall has been observed in a few areas across central and western #Kansas

Click a thumbnail graphic below to view a gallery of drought data from the US Drought Monitor.

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

This Week’s Drought Summary

A broken, highly-variable rainfall pattern predominated across the Country. Most areas where conditions are often dry during the summer followed this pattern, with little or no precipitation falling across the Far West and the northern Intermountain West. Other areas receiving subnormal precipitation – generally only a few tenths of an inch – included north-central North Dakota, most of northeastern Minnesota, part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and adjacent Wisconsin, central and southern Texas, and many areas across Louisiana and Mississippi. Farther east, rainfall was highly variable across the Southeast from Alabama through the Carolinas. Most of this area recorded at least a few tenths of an inch of rain, and roughly half received at least an inch. The heaviest amounts (2 to locally 6 inches) were concentrated along the Georgia/Florida border and the coastal Carolinas while totals on the low side were somewhat more common in south-central and northeastern Alabama, northwestern and east-central Georgia, upstate South Carolina, and a stripe across interior western North Carolina…

High Plains
Little or no rain fell on north-central North Dakota, and moderate to heavy amounts (isolated totals of 1.5 to 2.0 inches) were generally restricted to the fringes of the abnormally dry region. Conditions remained essentially unchanged, though there was some limited southwestern expansion of moderate drought. Subnormal short-term rainfall has been observed in a few areas across central and western Kansas and eastern portions of Nebraska, but D0 introduction was not yet warranted…

Light precipitation dampened western Montana, and little or none was observed farther west. As a result, conditions remained unchanged or deteriorated. Abnormal dryness expanded into parts of west-central and southwestern Montana, and adjacent portions of eastern Idaho. Abnormal dryness was also extended southward in eastern Washington, and brought into more of central and southern Oregon, particularly near the southwest coast. The continued slow drying trend also prompted some southeastward D1 expansion in central and northern Oregon, plus a small northward push of extreme drought in northwestern Washington…

Looking Ahead
During the next 5 days (July 11 – 15, 2019) a developing tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico is forecast to spread heavy rain from the lower Mississippi Valley eastward through northern and western Georgia, where totals exceeding 1.5 inch should be widespread. Between 7 and 15 inches of rain are forecast for the southeastern half of Louisiana, and 3 to 7 inches are anticipated through most of the rest of Louisiana, the southern half of Mississippi, and the southwestern quarter of Alabama. In other areas of drought, the precipitation pattern isn’t expected to bring any dramatic relief. Moderate rains of 0.5 to 1.0 inch are expected in central and eastern Tennessee, central and eastern Georgia, parts of the Carolinas, the most orographically-favored areas in northwestern Washington, and northwestern Minnesota. Only a few tenths of an inch at best are forecast in other areas of dryness and drought across the contiguous states. Meanwhile, abnormally high temperatures [daytime highs averaging 3°F to 7°F above normal] are expected in the central High Plains and the Intermountain West, and cooler than normal conditions – at least partially in association with heavy rains from the developing tropical system – should occur from the southeastern Great Plains eastward through the lower half of the Mississippi Valley into much of Alabama and Tennessee.

The CPC 6-10 day outlook (July 16-20, 2019) favors wetter-than-normal weather in the Mississippi Valley, upper Southeast, the northern Plains, the Northwest, and the eastern two-thirds of Alaska. Odds favor less rain than normal in central and western Texas, the immediate Southeast coastline, and northern Florida. Enhanced chances for above-normal temperatures cover Alaska and most of the Nation from the Rockies eastward. Only in the Northwest do odds slightly favor below-normal temperatures.

@DWR_CO: Rainwater Harvesting Regional Factors

Photo from the Colorado Independent.

From email from the Colorado Division of Water Resources (Tracy Kosloff):

The Colorado Division of Water Resources is proposing a set of regional factors for Rainwater Harvesting Pilot Projects under House Bill 2015-1016 [colorado.gov]. Pilot projects may capture and use a specific amount of rainwater, referred to as historic natural depletion, out of priority without augmentation. The proposed regional factors estimate the historical natural depletion amount. The documentation and proposed accounting spreadsheet are posted for public comment during July 2019 on the Rainwater Collection [water.state.co.us] page of DWR’s website.

#AnimasRiver: “@EPA has a clear conflict of interest and has wrongfully targeted SGC (Sunnyside Gold Corp.) … (and) SGC will no longer be a pawn in this never-ending science project” — Kevin Roach

Prior to mining, snowmelt and rain seep into natural cracks and fractures, eventually emerging as a freshwater spring (usually). Graphic credit: Jonathan Thompson

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

Sunnyside Gold Corp. is refusing to carry out work ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of the Superfund cleanup of mines around Silverton.

“Enough is enough,” Kevin Roach, with Sunnyside Gold, wrote in an email to The Durango Herald. “EPA has a clear conflict of interest and has wrongfully targeted SGC (Sunnyside Gold Corp.) … (and) SGC will no longer be a pawn in this never-ending science project.”

In June, the EPA ordered Sunnyside Gold to install five groundwater wells and two meteorological stations at mining sites around the headwaters of the Animas River as part of the investigation into the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site…

Sunnyside Gold has denied any responsibility but has been willing to work with the EPA in limited ways during the past three years. On Tuesday, however, Roach sent a letter to EPA staff saying Sunnyside Gold “declines to undertake the work,” arguing the company no longer has any liability for mining pollution issues in the Animas River watershed.

Peterson said Wednesday morning that EPA has not yet received the complete letter from Sunnyside Gold…

In 1996, Sunnyside Gold entered an agreement with the state of Colorado to install three plugs to stem the flow of acid drainage out of the American Tunnel, which served as the transportation route for ore, as well as mine runoff, from the Sunnyside Mine to facilities at Gladstone, north of Silverton.

By 2001, however, it was thought the water had backed up and reached capacity within the Sunnyside Mine network. Now, several researchers and experts familiar with the basin believe water from the Sunnyside Mine pool is spilling into adjacent mines, like the Gold King.

Sunnyside Gold, which was purchased by international mining conglomerate Kinross Gold Corp. in 2003, has adamantly denied that its mine pool is the cause of discharge from other mines, saying there is no factual evidence for the assertion.

Much of the work EPA ordered Sunnyside to do, however, seeks to gain more insight into the issue. EPA, too, intends to drill into the American Tunnel this month to better understand groundwater conditions in the area.

Earlier this year, Sunnyside Gold called for the EPA to be recused from leading the Superfund cleanup, arguing it is a conflict of interest for the agency to do so after it caused the blowout at the Gold King Mine in August 2015.

EPA’s Peterson said at the time the agency “will continue to require the company to take actions to ensure that financial responsibility for cleanup is not shifted to taxpayers.”