World on brink of five ‘disastrous’ #climate tipping points, study finds — The Guardian #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

The collapse of the Greenland ice cap is one of the tipping points that may already have been passed. By Hannes Grobe 20:10, 16 December 2007 (UTC) – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,

Click the link to read the article on The Guardian website (Damian Carrington). Here’s an excerpt:

The climate crisis has driven the world to the brink of multiple “disastrous” tipping points, according to a major study. It shows five dangerous tipping points may already have been passed due to the 1.1C of global heating caused by humanity to date. These include the collapse of Greenland’s ice cap, eventually producing a huge sea level rise, the collapse of a key current in the north Atlantic, disrupting rain upon which billions of people depend for food, and an abrupt melting of carbon-rich permafrost. At 1.5C of heating, the minimum rise now expected, four of the five tipping points move from being possible to likely, the analysis said. Also at 1.5C, an additional five tipping points become possible, including changes to vast northern forests and the loss of almost all mountain glaciers.

In total, the researchers found evidence for 16 tipping points, with the final six requiring global heating of at least 2C to be triggered, according to the scientists’ estimations. The tipping points would take effect on timescales varying from a few years to centuries.

“The Earth may have left a ‘safe’ climate state beyond 1C global warming,” the researchers concluded, with the whole of human civilisation having developed in temperatures below this level. Passing one tipping point is often likely to help trigger others, producing cascades. But this is still being studied and was not included, meaning the analysis may present the minimum danger.

Prof Johan Rockström, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who was part of the study team, said: “The world is heading towards 2-3C of global warming.

Coming soon, the apocalypse, maybe — Writers on the Range #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Subsequent rains following the Hayman Fire in 2002 led to erosion problems and silt buildup in the creeks surrounding the reservoir. Photo credit: Denver Water

Click the link to read the article on the Writers on The Range website (Pepper Trail):

Just about every video game, young adult novel and buzz-worthy streaming series agree that we need to prepare for a post-apocalyptic world. Up ahead, around a sharp curve or off a cliff, it is waiting—The Apocalypse.

Maybe not “the complete final destruction of the world,” but certainly “an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale,” to quote the two definitions in the Oxford Online Dictionary. Not yet, but soon.

This has me wondering: How will we know when we move from pre- to post-apocalypse? This summer, my hometown in southern Oregon was crushed under a heat dome, sweltering in triple-digit temperatures. A fire across the state line ignited and within 24 hours exploded to become California’s largest wildfire this year so far.

The two mountain lakes that provide water to our valley orchards and vineyards are at 2% and 6% full, that is, 98% and 94% empty. Last year, an even more severe heat dome pushed temperatures in normally cool Seattle and Portland to record-shattering levels, wildfires burned more than a million acres in Oregon and 2000-year-old giant sequoias perished in fires of unprecedented severity in California’s Sierra Nevada.

Catastrophic extremes are becoming normal. The Great Salt Lake is at the lowest level ever recorded, spawning toxic dust storms. A mega-drought has shriveled the Colorado River, with the beginning of major cutbacks in water deliveries to Arizona and Nevada. Elsewhere in the West, flooding devastated Yellowstone National Park in June, collapsing roads and leading to the evacuation of over 10,000 visitors.

Widening our view, Dallas is currently inundated with what is described as a “1,000-year” flooding event, following similar flooding disasters in Las Vegas, St. Louis and Kentucky earlier this summer. Across the Atlantic, Europe was scorched by the highest temperatures ever recorded this summer, triggering massive wildfires, the collapse of a glacier in Italy and over 10,000 heat-related deaths. India, China, and Japan experienced record heat waves this year.

I could go on, but no doubt you have read the news, too, about climate-caused apocalyptic events. Closely related is the global extinction crisis, with over a million species at risk by the end of this century. Bird populations in the United States have collapsed by one-third in the past 50 years, and the world’s most diverse ecosystems, including tropical rainforests and coral reefs, could largely disappear in coming decades.

Let’s also not forget the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 6.46 million people worldwide and sickened 597 million. That pandemic shows no sign of ending as the virus continues to evolve new variants. Meanwhile, the new global health emergency of monkeypox has been declared. And polio, once eliminated in this country, is back, thanks to people who aren’t vaccinated.

What about America’s social fabric? According to a poll taken this summer by the New York Times, a majority of Americans surveyed now believe that our political system is too divided to solve the nation’s problems. The non-profit Gun Violence Archive has documented 429 mass shootings so far this year in America, with “mass shootings” defined as at least four people killed or injured.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has led to a rapid and stark division of the country into states that permit abortions versus those that outlaw it. Republicans and Democrats increasingly live in separate media universes, with both sides concerned about the possibility of a civil war.

I admit this is a staggering list of “damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale,” but I’m not ready to declare myself a citizen of the post-apocalypse. We don’t have to live there. Instead, let’s accept that humanity and the whole planet are “apocalypse-adjacent.” The apocalypse is before us and we can see it clearly. But the world is not yet ruined.

Human beings do have this redeeming and also infuriating trait: We are at our most creative and cooperative when it is almost too late. We can — we must — pull each other back from the brink. To fail is to condemn our children to live in the hellscape of a dystopian video game. As they will tell you, that is no place to be.

Pepper Trail is a contributor to Writers on the Range,, an independent nonprofit dedicated to spurring lively conversation about the West. He is a naturalist and writer in Ashland, Oregon.

Study previews how climate change may alter rain-making atmospheric rivers by 2100 — NOAA

Atmospheric river. Photo credit: NOAA

Click the link to read the article on the NOAA Website (Theo Stein):

The people, economy, and ecosystems of the Pacific coast states of California, Oregon and Washington are highly dependent on cool-season atmospheric rivers for their annual water supply. These long, narrow flows of saturated air can transport enormous amounts of water vapor – roughly equivalent to the flow at the mouth of the Mississippi River. They can unload  heavy precipitation on the Cascade and Sierra Nevada ranges, but their annual yield regularly swings between boom and bust. 

When atmospheric rivers, or ARs, fail to materialize, droughts often follow – especially in California, where they account for over 50% of the total annual precipitation. Anticipating future climate-induced changes to AR patterns is therefore exceedingly important. Global models, however, do a poor job of simulating precipitation over the complex terrain of coastal and inland mountain ranges. Now, a new NOAA study using data generated by regional climate models and published in the journal Climate Dynamics suggests climate change will likely alter atmospheric rivers in ways that will make managing water more difficult.  

“These high-resolution climate simulations showed something we hadn’t seen before, which was decreased future precipitation amounts across many mountainous regions of the western United States,” said lead author Mimi Hughes, a research scientist in NOAA’s Physical Sciences Laboratory. 

Atmospheric rivers can be both beneficial — when they provide water to fill reservoirs and build snowpack — and calamitous — when they generate so much precipitation over a short period of time that they cause flooding. Although numerous studies have investigated climate projections for atmospheric rivers, few have examined whether climate change would have a uniform impact on all events. 

Downscaling climate models to better predict future impacts

For the new paper, Hughes and a team of Physical Science Lab and colleagues from CIRES and NCAR analyzed data from regional climate models simulating weather conditions over most of North America for the period 1950–2100. They specifically looked at the end-of-21st-century changes in integrated water vapor transport (IVT) events along the western US coast in three of the highest-resolution regional climate models. IVT is a measure of how much water vapor is moving through the air and was used as an indicator of atmospheric rivers making landfall. 

Rather than evaluate the simulated impact on all model-generated atmospheric rivers, researchers partitioned the events into two categories – modest and extreme – and then looked for different outcomes. 

Hughes said their findings are consistent with previous global climate model projections of increased lower-elevation precipitation across much of the western U.S. However, differences did emerge. The simulations projected moderate events to be less frequent and deliver less high-elevation precipitation, a finding that tracks another recent NOAA study.

A drier future for California’s most important “reservoir”?

The Sierra Nevada mountains are an irreplaceable component of California’s current water system. Snowpack in the high Sierras acts like a giant reservoir, releasing clean water during the melt season. Sixty percent of California’s water supply originates in the high Sierras. More than 75% percent of Californians drink water generated by Sierra snows.

Notably, more than half of the model runs in the new study showed that Sierra snowpack would receive decreased precipitation by 2100, while the arid Great Basin might benefit from a moisture boost. 

This study suggests these two types of atmospheric rivers could change in different ways under climate change, with the beneficial kind becoming less frequent, Hughes said. 

“While we did not specifically examine seasonal precipitation outcomes like droughts, it’s fair to conclude that if these projections bear out, California’s strained water resources may become even more challenging to manage,” she said.  

For more information, contact Theo Stein, NOAA Communications, at

More wolves, beavers needed as part of improving western United States habitats, scientists say — #Oregon State University

Beaver. Photo credit: Oregon State University

Click the link to read the article on the Oregon State University website (Steve Lundeberg):

Oregon State University scientists are proposing management changes on western federal lands that they say would result in more wolves and beavers and would re-establish ecological processes.

In a paper published today [September 9, 2022] in BioScience, “Rewilding the American West,” co-lead author William Ripple and 19 other authors suggest using portions of federal lands in 11 states to establish a network based on potential habitat for the gray wolf – an apex predator able to trigger powerful, widespread ecological effects.

In those states the authors identified areas, each at least 5,000 square kilometers, of contiguous, federally managed lands containing prime wolf habitat. The states in the proposed Western Rewilding Network, which would cover nearly 500,000 square kilometers, are Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

“It’s an ambitious idea, but the American West is going through an unprecedented period of converging crises including extended drought and water scarcity, extreme heat waves, massive fires and loss of biodiversity,” said Ripple, distinguished professor of ecology in the OSU College of Forestry.

Gray wolf. Photo credit: Oregon State University

Gray wolves were hunted to near extinction in the West but were reintroduced to parts of the northern Rocky Mountains and the Southwest starting in the 1990s through measures made possible by the Endangered Species Act.

“Still, the gray wolf’s current range in those 11 states is only about 14% of its historical range,” said co-lead author Christopher Wolf, a postdoctoral scholar in the College of Forestry. “They probably once numbered in the tens of thousands, but today there might only be 3,500 wolves across the entire West.”

American beaver, he was happily sitting back and munching on something. and munching, and munching. By Steve from washington, dc, usa – American Beaver, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Beaver populations, once robust across the West, declined roughly 90% after settler colonialism and are now nonexistent in many streams, meaning ecosystem services are going unprovided, the authors say.

By felling trees and shrubs and constructing dams, beavers enrich fish habitat, increase water and sediment retention, maintain water flows during drought, improve water quality, increase carbon sequestration and generally improve habitat for riparian plant and animal species.

“Beaver restoration is a cost-effective way to repair degraded riparian areas,” said co-author Robert Beschta, professor emeritus in the OSU College of Forestry. “Riparian areas occupy less than 2% of the land in the West but provide habitat for up to 70% of wildlife species.”

Similarly, wolf restoration offers significant ecological benefits by helping to naturally control native ungulates such as elk, according to the authors. They say wolves facilitate regrowth of vegetation species such as aspen, which supports diverse plant and animal communities and is declining in the West.

The paper includes a catalogue of 92 threatened and endangered plant and animal species that have at least 10% of their ranges within the proposed Western Rewilding Network; for each species, threats from human activity were analyzed.

The authors determined the most common threat was livestock grazing, which they say can cause stream and wetland degradation, affect fire regimes and make it harder for woody species, especially willow, to regenerate.

Nationally, about 2% of meat production results from federal grazing permits, the paper notes.

“We suggest the removal of grazing on federal allotments from approximately 285,000 square kilometers within the rewilding network, representing 29% of the total 985,000 square kilometers of federal lands in the 11 western states that are annually grazed,” Beschta said. “That means we need an economically and socially just federal compensation program for those who give up their grazing permits. Rewilding will be most effective when participation concerns for all stakeholders are considered, including Indigenous people and their governments.”

In addition to Beschta, Wolf and Ripple, authors from Oregon State include J. Boone Kauffman, Beverly Law and Michael Paul Nelson. Daniel Ashe, former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and now the president of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, is also a co-author.

The paper also included authors from the University of Washington, the University of Colorado, the Ohio State University, Virginia Tech, Michigan Technological University, the University of Victoria, the Turner Endangered Species Fund, the National Parks and Conservation Association, RESOLVE, the Florida Institute for Conservation Science, Public Lands Media and Wild Heritage.

#GunnisonRiver #water agencies win $340,000 in federal #drought grants, launch contingency planning — @WaterEdCO #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

he Gunnison Dam. Credit: Creative Commons

Click the link to read the article on the Water Education Colorado website (Jerd Smith):

Two Gunnison River water districts in the headwaters of the Colorado River system are embarking on a $700,000 drought planning effort, aided by hundreds of thousands of dollars in new funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The Montrose-based Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, one of the largest suppliers of agricultural water in the Upper Colorado River Basin, will spend $400,000 to develop an action plan for dealing with the ongoing and future droughts, with $200,000 in federal funds, and matching funds from local sources.

The Gunnison-based Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District will spend $300,000 for a similar program, with $140,000 in federal funds, and another $166,000 from local partners, according to its application. The Upper Gunnison district is responsible for delivering agriculture water, but also serves the city of Gunnison and the town of Crested Butte as well as the ski area.

Reclamation granted this funding through its WaterSMART program. On Aug. 2 the agency awarded more than $865,000 in drought planning funds to water districts and agencies in five states, including California, Arizona, New Mexico and Oregon, as well as Colorado.

The seven-state Colorado River Basin is facing severe water shortages and is operating under a basin-wide set of state-level drought contingency plans. Those plans include water cutbacks for users in Arizona and Nevada, and possibly California in the Lower Basin, as well as emergency releases of water from reservoirs in the Upper Basin, including Flaming Gorge and Blue Mesa. The Upper Basin includes Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Compared to the multi-million dollar state and federal efforts, the local WaterSmart grants are fairly small, but officials say they provide critical help in important areas and create opportunities to win matching funds from other agencies.

“This really helps because there is so much that has to be done,” said Sonia Chavez, general manager of the Upper Gunnison district. “And anything we can get will help us leverage funding to get more done. A couple of hundred thousand dollars really helps.”

Steve Pope, manager of the Uncompahgre association, said the money will go toward developing contingency plans and designing improvements to the association’s aging federal infrastructure on which it relies.

“Our infrastructure is extremely old,” Pope said. “Even though this grant is for planning purposes it will have a big impact on our system in the sense that it will allow us to best manage our water without having to make big infrastructure changes.”

Pope is responsible for delivering 500,000 to 700,000 acre-feet of water, through more than 700 miles of canals, laterals and drains, to farmers and some small towns in the Gunnison Valley.

Both districts occupy key territory in the Upper Colorado River Basin, with the Gunnison district lying just above Blue Mesa Reservoir, and the Uncompahgre district lying below.

Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest water storage reservoir operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, has been hard hit by drought and by emergency releases of water to help stabilize Lake Powell.

Chavez said her small, largely rural district has never implemented a drought plan, in part because one has never been needed until now.

The new grant funds will allow it to better monitor and analyze its water supplies, develop ways to conserve water, and determine equitable ways for farmers and cities to use whatever water is available.

“If we get into a drought, how is my little community here going to get through that drought?” Chavez said, “and how could we better share the water we do have available?”

Jerd Smith is editor of Fresh Water News. She can be reached at 720-398-6474, via email at or @jerd_smith.

Map of the Gunnison River drainage basin in Colorado, USA. Made using public domain USGS data. By Shannon1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

September 2022 La Niña update: it’s Q & A time — NOAA

Click the link to read the article on the NOAA website (Emily Becker):

Ocean and atmospheric conditions tell us that La Niña—the cool phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern—currently reigns in the tropical Pacific. It’s looking very likely that the long-predicted third consecutive La Niña winter will happen, with a 91% chance of La Niña through September–November and an 80% chance through the early winter (November–January).

91%! That’s very high. Why so confident?

The first reason is that La Niña is already clearly in force in the tropical Pacific. The August sea surface temperature in the Niño-3.4 region, our primary location for ENSO monitoring, was about 1.0 °C (1.8 °F) cooler than the long-term average, according to ERSSTv5, our favorite dataset for sea surface temperature. (“Long-term” is currently 1991–2020.) This is substantially cooler than the La Niña threshold of 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) below average.

Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean from mid-June through early September 2022 compared to the long-term average. East of the International Dateline (180˚), waters remained cooler than average, a sign of La Niña. Graphic by, based on data from NOAA’s Environmental Visualization Lab. Description of historical baseline period here.

La Niña’s characteristic tropical atmospheric response—more rain and clouds over Indonesia, less over the central Pacific, and stronger-than-average winds both aloft and near the surface—was also clearly active in August. Taken together, the oceanic and atmospheric conditions tell us that La Niña is solidly in place. Once active, La Niña conditions are reinforced by feedback processes between the ocean and atmosphere. Read more about those feedbacks here.

La Niña feedbacks between the ocean and atmosphere. schematic by Emily Eng and inspired by NOAA PMEL.

What else is providing confidence in the forecast?

There is a substantial amount of cooler-than-average water under the surface of the eastern-central tropical Pacific. This subsurface water will provide a source of cooler water to the surface over the next couple of months. Also, the computer climate model consensus predicts that La Niña will continue into the winter.

How long will La Niña last?

While there’s high agreement through the winter, there is a lot of uncertainty about how long this La Niña will last and when we will see a transition to neutral conditions. Current forecaster consensus gives La Niña the edge through January–March (54%), with a 56% chance of neutral for the February–April period.

NOAA Climate Prediction Center forecast for each of the three possible ENSO categories for the next 8 overlapping 3-month seasons. Blue bars show the chances of La Niña, gray bars the chances for neutral, and red bars the chances for El Niño. Graph by Michelle L’Heureux.

When have previous La Niñas transitioned to neutral?

There are 24 La Niña winters in our historical record, which dates back to 1950. Of those, only one (2016–17) changed to neutral in December–February. Four transitioned to neutral in January–March, one (2000–01) by February–April, two by March–May, and 16 in April–June or later. Especially when you’re slicing and dicing a relatively short record, it’s tough to find truly analogous events. For example, this will be only the third La Niña three-peat on record, and the first not to follow a strong El Niño event.

Three-year history of sea surface temperatures in the Niño-3.4 region of the tropical Pacific for the 8 existing double-dip La Niña events (gray lines) and the current event (purple line). Of all the previous 7 events, 2 went on to La Niña in their third year (below the blue dashed line), 2 went on to be at or near El Niño levels (above the red dashed line) and three were neutral. Graph is based on monthly Niño-3.4 index data from CPC using ERSSTv5. Created by Michelle L’Heureux.

All this is to say that past La Niñas aren’t providing much guidance on how long we can expect this event to last. The current forecaster estimate, which favors an earlier than typical transition to neutral, is based on computer model guidance.

Remind me why I should care about La Niña…?

I admit, as scientists, we sometimes get wrapped up in how interesting the inner workings of El Niño and La Niña are! But ENSO has some serious practical applications. In a nutshell, La Niña and El Niño affect global atmospheric circulation patterns in (somewhat) predictable patterns, altering jet streams and storm tracks around the world and influencing temperature, rain/snow, and tropical cyclone seasons. Since we can predict ENSO months in advance, we can get an early picture of potential upcoming climate patterns. Of course, nothing is guaranteed with weather and climate—ENSO merely “tilts the odds” toward certain patterns. For more on how ENSO affects climate patterns, as well as why it’s so difficult to make specific predictions, check out Michelle’s post here.

Can I have some examples of how La Niña can affect North American weather?

Yes! Here’s a map, followed by a list of some specifics.

During La Niña, the Pacific jet stream often meanders high into the North Pacific. Southern and interior Alaska and the Pacific Northwest tend to be cooler and wetter than average, and the southern tier of U.S. states—from California to the Carolinas—tends to be warmer and drier than average. Farther north, the Ohio and Upper Mississippi River Valleys may be wetter than usual. image.

What about global impacts?

Temperature and precipitation patterns that are typical of La Niña during (top) Northern Hemisphere winters and (bottom) summers. Map by NOAA, based on originals from the Climate Prediction Center. Larger images and maps for El Niño are available in this post.

That’s enough for now! Thanks!

Anytime! See you next month.

The summer drought’s hefty toll on American crops — The Washington Post

Drought impacted corn. Water stress can lead to insufficient water supply for cities, agriculture, and vegetation. Dry vegetation may facilitate the propagation and increase the risk of wildfires.

Click the link to read the article on The Washington Post website (Laura Reiley). Here’s an excerpt:

Corn, wheat and other agricultural products withered in a year of glaring climate change impacts

Farmers, agricultural economists and others taking stock of this summer’s growing season say drought conditions and extreme weather have wreaked havoc on many row crops, fruits and vegetables, with the American Farm Bureau Federation suggesting yields could be down by as much as a third compared with last year. American corn is on track to produce its lowest yield since the drought of 2012, according to analysts at Rabobankwhich collects data about commodity markets. This year’s hard red winter wheat crop was the smallest since 1963, the bank’s analysts said. In Texas, cotton farmers have walked away from nearly 70 percent of their crop because the harvest is so paltry, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The California rice harvest is half what it would be in a normal year, an industry group said.

The poor yields are probably more than a one-year blip, as climate change alters weather patterns in agriculturally important parts of the country, contributing to higher food prices that experts don’t see ebbing any time soon. Drought has consumed 40 percent of the country for the past 101 weeks, USDA meteorologistBrad Rippey said. But precisely where that 40 percent is has shifted over time, meaning different swaths of the country’s agricultural land have been affected at different times, spreading pain and difficult choices geographically and by crop.

US Drought Monitor map September 6, 2022.

“The biggest impacts this year have been the Central and Southern Great Plains — Nebraska southward through Texas — and the two big crops hit this year are grain sorghum [primarily used for animal feed] and cotton,” Rippey said…

In California, farmers are making tough choices to give up on their strawberries and tomatoes, lettuces and melons, so that whatever water they get goes to crops such as almonds, grapes and olives, into which they’ve sunk multiyear investments and which provide a better payoff, Rippey said…

The USDA had reduced its corn forecast last month because of this summer’s drought. But thePro Farmer Crop Tour, which concluded Aug. 25, found the corn yield was even worse than that lowered expectation. The on-the-ground inspectors also found the corn quality had suffered as a result of heat and dry conditions, with cobs carrying small grains and many suffering from “tipback,” when kernels are missing from the outer edge…Wheat has taken a walloping this year, with rains impeding spring planting after a protracted La Niña weather pattern meant several years of hotter and drier weather over key production areas. Drought is also having a dramatic effect on California rice, which isgrown mostly in the Sacramento Valley. The state, which grows medium-grain rice such as sushi rice, is at about half of a normal year’s production, said Katie Cahill, spokeswoman for the California Rice Commission. Many growers decided to fallow their fields and sell their water to perennialcrops such as almonds to defray their losses…The USDA recently estimated that the tomatoharvest this year will be 10.5 million tons, more than a million tons shy of a normal season, which will be reflected in the next year’s pizza, spaghetti sauce and ketchup prices. Harvest of the new potato crop is underway, and Rabobank analysts say the harvested area is projected to drop 4 percent from last year (and last year’s crop was the lowest in a decade). Its analysts also said year-to-date shipments of carrots are down 45 percent, sweet corn down 20 percent, sweet potatoes down 13 percent, and celery down 11 percent, all an indication of short supply. And according to the USDA, total peach production was down 15 percent from 2021, mostly because of California’s small crop…

But the bad news extends to cattle, portending bad news for next year’s beef prices. When weather is dry and hot, there’s not enough natural feed to go around. To sustain a herd, ranchers must bring in hay, and feed prices soar, prompting ranchers to sell their animals a little early, and often to sell heifers, the young females, rather than keep them as breeding stock, said Sarah Little, spokeswoman for the North American Meat Institute, a trade association. This has resulted in lower beef prices for consumers in the short term but signals that there probably will be a tighter supply next year.

Interior Department Completes Removal of “Sq___” from Federal Use: Decisions of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names are Effective Immediately

Secretary Haaland meets with tribal, local leaders regarding conservation efforts in southern Nevada

Click the link to read the release on the Deparmtment of Interior website :

The Department of the Interior today [September 8, 2022] announced the Board on Geographic Names (BGN) has voted on the final replacement names for nearly 650 geographic features featuring the word sq___. The final vote completes the last step in the historic efforts to remove a term from federal use that has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women.

“I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming. That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to prioritize this important work. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”

The list of new names can be found on the U.S. Geological Survey website with a map of locations.

The final vote reflects a months-long effort by the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force established by Secretary’s Order 3404, which included representatives from the Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, National Park Service, Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Civil Rights, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, and the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service.

During the public comment period, the Task Force received more than 1,000 recommendations for name changes. Nearly 70 Tribal governments participated in nation-to-nation consultation, which yielded another several hundred recommendations. While the new names are immediately effective for federal use, the public may continue to propose name changes for any features — including those announced today — through the regular BGN process.

The renaming effort included several complexities: evaluation of multiple public or Tribal recommendations for the same feature; features that cross Tribal, federal and state jurisdictions; inconsistent spelling of certain Native language names; and reconciling diverse opinions from various proponents. In all cases, the Task Force carefully evaluated every comment and proposal.

In July, the Department announced an additional review by the BGN for seven locations that are considered unincorporated populated places. Noting that there are unique concerns with renaming these sites, the BGN will seek out additional review from the local communities and stakeholders before making a final determination.

Secretary’s Order 3404 and the Task Force considered only the sq___ derogatory term in its scope. Secretary’s Order 3405 created a Federal Advisory Committee for the Department to formally receive advice from the public regarding additional derogatory terms, derogatory terms on federal land units, and the process for derogatory name reconciliation. Next steps on the status of that Committee will be announced in the coming weeks.