News from our member organizations

New Poll Confirms Montana’s Love Affair With Rivers

News from American Rivers - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:00am

Winter fishing in Montana | © Scott Bosse

Not many people think of fly-fishing as a winter sport.

But if you drive up the Gallatin Canyon from Bozeman to Big Sky on a typical late winter day, you might be surprised at what you’ll find. At certain bends in the river where fish are known to hold, you’ll see bundled-up anglers waving their fly rods through the snowflakes in hopes of landing a wild rainbow trout.

Down where the glorified goat path known as Highway 191 crosses the river by the Lava Lake trailhead, you’ll often see a gaggle of kayakers splashing through the 32-degree rapids. And they will have broad smiles on their purple faces.

So it should come as little surprise that a new poll commissioned by Montanans for Healthy Rivers, a diverse coalition led by American Rivers and our partners, found that a whopping 85 percent of Montanans think that clean and healthy rivers are “very important” or “extremely important” to Montana’s economy and way of life.

Here are some other highlights from the poll:

  • Two-thirds of Montanans have recreated on a river over the past year, and a third of us have recreated on a river ten or more times (don’t tell my boss!)
  • Almost nine in ten Montana voters want to maintain or increase protections for Montana’s rivers
  • Three-quarters of Montanans support the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
  • Three-quarters of Montanans prefer to deal with increasing droughts and floods by preserving riverside wetlands and floodplains as opposed to taming rivers by building new dams and levees
  • • Two-thirds of Montana voters would look more favorably upon a candidate for political office who supports more river protections

The poll, which was conducted by the bipartisan team of FM3 Research and Public Opinion Strategies, was based on interviews with 400 randomly selected Montanans from across the state.

What I found most heartening about the poll is the strong support that it found for protecting our rivers across every demographic. Montanans love their rivers regardless of age, gender, income, ideology, political affiliation, or what region of the state they live in.

Given the fact that American voters are so sharply divided along partisan lines, I was blown away by this finding from the poll – 96 percent of self-identified “strong Democrats” and 84 percent of “strong Republicans” agreed that clean and healthy rivers either are “very important” or “extremely important” to our economy and way of life.

Maybe it’s time for Congress to meet on a riverbank – in Montana.

Our main goal in commissioning this poll was to gauge whether there is broad public support for adding new river protections in Montana, especially new Wild and Scenic River designations. We knew from our past four years of on-the-ground outreach that there are pockets of strong support for new Wild and Scenic designations in places like East Rosebud Creek, but we wanted to see if that local support extended to a statewide audience.

Despite the fact that the original idea for the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was born in Montana when John Craighead, the famous wildlife biologist, was fighting the proposed Spruce Park Dam on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River in the 1950s, Montana hasn’t seen a Wild and Scenic River designated in almost forty years.

Now that we’ve confirmed just how much Montanans love their rivers and want to see them protected, we’re more optimistic than ever that we’ll be successful in bringing the Act home in the not-so-distant future.

To read more about our Montana river poll, check out these front-page news stories that recently appeared in the Missoulian and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

The Army Corps Relaxes Restrictions for Trees on Levees

News from American Rivers - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:00am

The Corps interim policy is a step forward for river health and fish and wildlife habitat | Joe Mabel

American Rivers is often critical of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But last week the Corps released a new interim policy that should allow for better fish and wildlife habitat along levee systems around the nation.

More specifically, the Corps has released an interim policy that at least in theory makes it easier for local levee owners – like counties in the Puget Sound area, where I work – to decide for themselves if they’d like to grow trees on levees while still having a shot a federal funding for levee maintenance and repair. Until this policy change, a levee owner needed clear-cut trees to be eligible for this funding.

This is a pretty wonky issue, but from a river health perspective, it comes down to the fact that trees naturally grow along rivers, where they provide shade (controlling river temperatures), habitat complexity, and food for fish and birds (from bugs on the trees). We’d like to see fewer levees where possible, but where levees already exist, trees on levees are better than no trees when it comes to fish and wildlife habitat.

From an engineering perspective, there is increasing evidence that trees often help stabilize levees — their roots can act like rebar – and only rarely pose a risk to levee integrity. Some levee owners, like King County, Washington, have actually engineered trees into levees to make them stronger and better protect communities and infrastructure from flood damage.

The new Corps policy will help levee owners in Puget Sound, the Sacramento River basin, and other river basins, get out from under a conflicting federal mandate where one federal agency (like the National Marine Fisheries Service or Fish and Wildlife Service) says levee owners need to manage levees to improve habitat for threatened fish and birds, while the Corps says all trees –of any size – need to go.

There are still questions and concerns about whether the Corps’ new policy will be made permanent and if it will be implemented at the local level to provide local levee managers with the flexibility they need to measurably improve habitat and protect the public from flood damage. But the Corps is moving in the right direction on the levee vegetation issue, and we applaud them for it.

South Carolina’s Ashley River Blue Trail

News from American Rivers - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 4:00am

Ashley Scenic River, SC | © South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

The Ashley River is an extraordinary resource. Its diverse habitats, its proximity to a major city, and its role in the settling and development of South Carolina makes the Ashley River unparalleled in its unique combination of historic significance and natural value as a relatively undisturbed tidal river.

The Ashley River corridor includes Charlestown Landing, the site of Charleston’s first settlement in 1670, Historic Dorchester (State Park) settled in 1697 and the recently discovered Ashley Barony site dating to the 1670’s. What draws me to the Ashley perhaps more than anything else is great boating, scenic vistas and a wide variety of fish and wildlife.

It offers a myriad of fishing opportunities with redbreast sunfish in its upper reaches to spottail bass and sea trout in the tidal marshes. The river is home to the endangered shortnose sturgeon and supports striped bass that spawn in the upper reaches. Among its more charismatic residents is the swallowtailed kite, aptly named for its forked tail and graceful flight, which soars above the river and floodplain while plucking insects from the air.

The Ashley River was designated a State Scenic River in the 1990s covering a 22-mile section running from Slands Bridge near Summerville downstream into Charleston proper. For these reasons and more I am thrilled to be American Rivers’ new Ashley River Blue Trail Coordinator. I’ll be working closely with the Ashley Scenic River Advisory Council and others to connect people to the Ashley River through recreation and to protect the river and its riverside lands through the creation of a Blue Trail.

A Blue Trail is a river adopted by a local community that is dedicated to improving family-friendly recreation such as fishing, boating, and wildlife-watching, and conserving riverside land. Just as hiking trails are designed to help people explore the land, Blue Trails help people discover their rivers. They help communities improve recreation and tourism, benefit local businesses and the economy, and protect river health and wildlife. They are voluntary, cooperative, locally led efforts that improve community quality of life.

With Big Money, Industry Fights County Ordinance to Ban GE Crop Planting

News from Beyond Pesticides - Sun, 04/06/2014 - 10:13pm
(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2014) A recent report by The Oregonian found that enormous amounts of money are being spent by agrichemical and biotechnology companies in one Oregon county to stop an ordinance that would ban farmers from being able to plant genetically engineered (GE) Crops. This current legislative fight encapsulates the uphill funding battle that anti-GE […]

NRDC Report: Potentially Unsafe Chemicals in Food Threaten Public Health

News from NRDC - Sun, 04/06/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (April 7, 2014) – Federal protections to keep potentially unsafe chemicals out of our foods are woefully inadequate and may be putting the health of Americans at risk, a Natural Resources Defense Council investigation found.

Rio Tinto Divests from Pebble Mine

News from NRDC - Sun, 04/06/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (April 7, 2014) -- In the latest departure from the proposed Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska, British mining giant Rio Tinto announced today that it is divesting its interest in the embattled project by donating its shares to two Alaska charitable foundations.

Citing Climate Damage, More than 100 Scientists, Economists Urge Obama and Kerry to Reject Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

News from NRDC - Sun, 04/06/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (April 7, 2014) – More than 100 leading scientists and economists are calling on the Obama Administration to deny the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline because it will trigger massive development of the world’s dirtiest oil, and escalate climate change. They include Nobel Prize winners in physics and economics, and lead authors of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.

30 Days of Biking, Day Six: Dates

Day Six in the 30 Days of Biking, 30 Words, 30 Pictures series

What could be better than a bike date? Time with your loved one (or a candidate), no distraction of electronic toys, and, depending on how far you ride, use of enough calories to grant permission for whatever treats you like along the way. (At a minimum it’s a partial caloric offset.)

“Breakfast” was a candidate for today’s word but then I realized the word needed to be “dates” because we were on one. We’ve been married nearly 7 years and firmly believe in going on dates often. Today I’m sharing some of our tips for the perfect bicycle date.

Make Sure This Will Actually Be Fun for Both of You

That means a ride that either of you would do on your own. If you’re at dramatically different levels of bike skill and physical condition, bear in mind that this is not a ride with one of you in the role of coach. That’s not a date, it’s a recipe for disaster.

If one of you goes out in the woods on single-track every weekend and the other has never done that, make sure #2 is truly interested in giving this a try as a date. Some learning experiences are best handled with friends or even strangers, not with a date as observer (or, heaven forbid, Facebook chronicler in real time. See “recipe for disaster” above.)

If one of you is very experienced in riding in a busy urban setting and the other sticks to separated trails or empty country roads, riding through the downtown core in lots of traffic will make for stress. By definition, not fun.

It’s a Date, Not a Race

On a related note, one of the issues some couples face is a differential in how far or fast each wants to ride. Thus bike dates are a good test of the art of compromise.

Since I’m built for comfort and my husband is built for speed, we don’t go for bike dates when he’s in need of a training ride. I joke that he could be in Zone -2 and I’d be in Zone 6 on a standard range of 1-5. No, at our house a date ride is always a recovery ride.

Note to people who train with great dedication and enormous amounts of record-keeping: Do not consider a bike date a training ride. You’re not supposed to drop your date.

Agree on Where You’ll Go

The “somewhere to go” could be “let’s noodle around that neighborhood and stop at all the art galleries” so this doesn’t mean you have to map it all in latitude and longitude. The idea is to put some bookends on it so that if one of you is (ahem) less conditioned than the other you can each prepare mentally and pace yourself according to shared expectations.

Had my husband said “Let’s ride north until we find a breakfast place” I wouldn’t know how far I might have to go before caffeine and calories.

This “until X” means of choosing a destination might be an awesome approach for you, in which case your “somewhere to go” is “until this criterion is satisfied and we agree in advance on how we’ll know.” For some couples this could be a recipe for an argument as Rider 1 looks longingly at the windows of bakeries while Rider 2 thinks better pastries lie far ahead in some other ZIP code.

The point here is to agree in advance on the constraints. Don’t ruin a bike ride with squabbles and whining on the way out–you still have a return ride ahead.

We picked a breakfast place about a 45-minute ride away in Bothell and saddled up.

Choose a Ride that’s Comfortable for Both

We’re both experienced at riding in traffic and controlling the lane as needed for safety so for us this isn’t about staying off busy streets. This might be a concern for you and you’d want to do some route planning.

No, for us it’s more about how many climbs I can do since I’m married to someone who does hill repeats for fun.

The Burke-Gilman Trail provides a smooth, traffic-free connection for us north and south, not too far from where we currently live. Inevitably we climbed up to get to it, and up to get away from it.

On our return we hit only one hill that involved me pushing for a few yards while he did hill repeats to wait for me. This is a sign I’m getting stronger, and the walking was mostly a function of riding a really steep uphill (most of which I did actually ride up) on a full stomach, honest.

Do a Mechanical Check Before You Head Out

This tip comes to you courtesy of my friend Betsy, who discovered after miles of hard pedaling on her first date with her future husband-to-be that her back brake had been rubbing the entire way.

One of you may have to work a lot harder than the other to keep up, but try to avoid adding an actual handicap like a rubbing brake or squishy tires.

What’s your plan if something goes wrong along the way? Whether you pull out toolkit or cell phone this represents a test of the relationship on various fronts, from possible assumptions about gender roles and mechanical aptitude to how someone copes with the stress of the unexpected.

Take Advantage of the Talk Time

We talk about all kinds of topics on bike dates, from childhood memories to whether or not I should bake a pie or some cookies when we get back. (Oh, let’s be honest–it’s not whether, it’s which kind.)

On this particular ride we talked about the book we both just finished reading, The Bar Mitzvah and the Beastabout a cross-country ride by a family of four (funny, thoughtful, and inspiring–we both recommend it), and compared our preferences concerning the various architectural styles along the way. Doing so on a bike ride has a much lower stress threshold than doing so with a Realtor in tow and dueling comfort levels with mortgage size.

The nice part about a bike conversation, unlike a conversation in a car or even one on a walk together, is that if it happens to take a slightly negative turn you can ride behind or in front of the other person for a cooling-off period without being too obvious. (It would look pretty funny to bust a move to walk in front of the person you’re ostensibly walking with.)

This period may extend for some time if it’s a first date and you have the sudden realization that you could never, ever have a second one.

On the other hand, if it’s a first date and you can talk and laugh forever, not even noticing the miles under your wheels, this is a very, very good sign.

For the record my husband and I have very similar taste in houses.

Carry Something to Haul Stuff

What stuff? In our case, half of my breakfast in a takeout box because it was enormous and I couldn’t eat it all. Then later it was my fleece vest as I overheated on that steep hill and stopped to ditch a layer.

If you’re poking around neighborhood bookstores together you’ll buy books. Or the pastries at the bakery are so great that you buy a couple of extras, planning to eat them a few miles down the road when you’ve earned them.

Stay Flexible

Bikes offer their own varieties of flexibility as a means of transportation. I’m talking about each of you staying flexible about what happens along the way.

Where we ended up for breakfast this morning. Those of you who know Bothell will also know which cafe was our original destination. We’ll try it on another date.

When we got to Bothell the cafe we’d planned to go to had a 25-minute wait. Another place beckoned from across the street and we headed over to check out Steve’s Cafe. A couple just exiting who had biked up with the same plan said it was fine and we settled in for a very satisfying breakfast.

Because you’re on the bike you may see things that make you want to stop and appreciate: a beautiful view (today’s ride was full of spring green), public art (we went by the young stand of Blue Trees in Kenmore), or a photo opportunity. For that matter, one of you might spot the perfect bench where you plan to drop to one knee and propose.

Keep It Simple

This is a bike date, not the Tour or a championship competition. You may well go on those types of rides together–both of you sprinting to city-limit signs or jumping stumps or whacking around in bike polo. The date portion might take place before and after the riding event, so I’m not saying don’t do those together if that’s what turns your cranks.

I’m just saying that on a really good date–one that makes you smile, one you’ll talk about afterwards saying “Wasn’t that great?”–each of you is there for the purpose of focusing on the other person and enjoying your time together. Few things are better for that than a simple bike ride.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What’s your best bike date memory?

 

The post 30 Days of Biking, Day Six: Dates appeared first on Washington Bikes.

30 Days of Biking, Day Five: Weather

“Run between the raindrops!” That’s how I used to rally my daughters when they were small and gullible and would giggle at this little game instead of being unhappy about getting soaked dashing from car to house.

Symbols of today’s weather-full ride: Outlier daily riding pant with water beading up on the special Swiss fabric; rain jacket serving as lap cover; bright rain cover conveniently provided with my Detours bag.

One of the gifts biking has given me is a twofold shift regarding weather: I’m somewhat better able to make my own assessment of conditions thanks to the need to pay a lot more attention (although I still check my weather.com app to plan my clothing), and I’m comfortable with a far wider range of temperatures and precipitation levels than when I was a more sheltered little flower.

Today’s forecast called for showers followed by light rain. To me this represents possible riding weather. I don’t ride to be miserable so I’m unlikely to get on my bike in a pounding storm, but after much testing in both Spokane and Seattle I can confirm that I’m not the Wicked Witch of the West because I don’t melt when I get wet.

With any luck the showers would fall somewhere other than my route and the rain would hold off until after my one-hour ride to the office. It appeared to be merely overcast so I set off, rain jacket tucked away in a bag.

Within a block I felt the first sprinkle. So much for this “assess conditions” skill–I’ve been fooled before as I adapt to the Seattle climate. For a while I rode in that special Seattle air: the kind that suggests you’re moving through the vegetable mister in the produce aisle. From there the ride looked like this:

2 miles: It’s no longer misting. It’s raining. Time to remember that stopping a bike takes longer when the rims are wet.

3 miles: My top is fine (thank you, merino wool) but my lap is starting to get wet. I love my Outlier daily riding pants but they’re water-resistant fabric, not waterproof. Tie rain jacket around waist–not as good as the beautiful bike-specific women’s raincoat designed by Juliette Delfs of Hub and Bespoke that’s on my must-have-someday list but it helps.

~4.5 miles: I’m wondering where metereologists draw the line between “light rain” and plain old “rain” sans adjective. Riding keeps me warm and I’ve definitively chosen “weather” as today’s word.

6 miles: Persistence rewarded–back to the vegetable mister.

7.6 miles: Mister turns off, headwind turns on. Not a really stiff blow but enough to notice the drag. (Back when I drove everywhere I didn’t notice wind direction unless it actually threw things at me or bent the trees over.)

8.5 miles: Now it’s a crosswind. Still no mist or rain though.

9.2 miles: Back into the headwind but it’s all downhill from here. I mourn the loss of the velocity the wind steals from me because downhills are fun, but at least it’s not blowing straight at me on an uphill, which is, as every bicyclist knows, Just. Not. Fair.

10.2 miles: Inside the office where body heat will finish drying my clothes within about 15 minutes.

My comfort level with a wider range of weather conditions doesn’t just extend to vegetable misters and rain clouds. When I rode in Spokane, where winter temperatures drop much lower, I only switched to the bus when the snow or ice was severe enough to keep drivers from being able to stop in time.

For biking in the cold I wore layers, a ski mask on my face for that stylish bank-robber look, a ski coat if necessary, lobster-claw gloves (think Vulcan greeting sign if you’ve never seen these), and ear-warmer straps knitted for me by friend Wilma Flanagan of the Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board.

Weather? What weather? “There’s no such thing as bad weather–only bad gear.”

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What weather conditions keep you from getting on the bike? (No apology needed for any answer–this isn’t a contest.)
  • How has riding a bicycle changed your awareness and attitudes concerning weather?

 

The post 30 Days of Biking, Day Five: Weather appeared first on Washington Bikes.

30 Days of Biking, Day Four: Racing

One Bus Away says the 522 will be at the stop in 5 minutes!” I hastily saved two files to Dropbox so I could continue working on them after I got home, threw my electronic miscellany into my bag, and buckled on my helmet.

Pulling my gloves on with my teeth in an effort to save every possible millisecond between our office and the transit stop at 4th and Jackson, I rolled out the door. As soon as the light changed I sprinted up Jackson, hoping the drivers ahead of me wouldn’t be texting and not notice when the lights turned green. Every second counted. (And of course, the texting would be illegal. But this was about catching the bus because there wouldn’t be another one for at least half an hour.)

When I got to the intersection at 4th I could see the big blue and white Sound Transit vehicle pulling away from the stop, then stopping at the light as I crossed through the green light in front of it.

“Nooooo! That’s my bus!” I put on my best pleading expression to look through the door at the driver, who smiled apologetically and mouthed, “I can’t.”

I know that. It’s against the rules for them to pick me up at a stoplight that could change at any second. Hope springs eternal.

But then I realized, “Hey! This bus has more stops and I can catch him!”

The light changed. The 522 pulled out. A big double-decker Community Transit bus pulled out. I dropped into the lane and hit the hammer, such as it is when we’re talking about me since I’m not much of a sprinter.

It’s all uphill on 4th from that intersection. I climbed in the bus lane–no point in trying to weave through 4 lanes of traffic to the bike lane on the far left side when the bus stops were all on the right side. And Seattle has a nice multimodal set-up: Bus lanes are also for bikes. It’s no fun for bicyclist or bus driver if you’re leap-frogging but at a time like this it was perfect–no single-occupancy vehicles could cut me off or slow me down.

For a couple of blocks I had no idea how I was doing. I was keeping up with the double-decker, but what about the 522?

The double-decker moved one lane over and I spotted the 522, stopped ahead of me. Victory! I leaped onto the sidewalk (it’s times like this that make me wish I knew how to do a bunny-hop with my bike) and ran as two people got on the bus.

The bus driver smiled at me. “I was watching for you but I couldn’t see you back there,” he said. “I couldn’t let you on at the light because it’s against the rules.”

“I know. I was behind the double-decker. Thanks for looking out for me.”

I wish I could have taken a picture of my bike on the bus rack as a symbol of how I won the race, but that would have slowed us down and they’ve got a schedule to keep.

I’ve practiced other forms of bike racing:

This race number is not on my bike. If you see it out on the road, say hi to my bike-racing husband.

What I haven’t done yet and may never do: Get out on a race course and compete against other riders.

My husband races and I’ve volunteered in various ways to support Washington’s great bike-racing scene. I ran track in high school (not very fast), and years later paddled with a dragon boat team in Spokane, which rekindled my competitive spirit for a while.

But I don’t have the drive or the time required to train extensively, exhaustively, painfully, to become a strong racer. I’ll just keep racing the bus and hoping I win every time.

 

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Do you find yourself racing as part of everyday bicycling?
  • If you race competitively, what do you enjoy most about it?

 

The post 30 Days of Biking, Day Four: Racing appeared first on Washington Bikes.

Grassroots Outreach Helps Save Pennsylvania’s Bats

News from Bat Conservation International - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 12:08pm
House Bill 1576 will not be brought to vote

Bats and Tortoises, We Save Them All

News from Bat Conservation International - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 12:01pm
BCI’s Subterranean Program team rescues a dying tortoise from a mine shaft

Four Trails That Need Your Help in April

News from Washington Trails Association - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 10:50am

This month we're working in several locations that need some special attention and we'd love to have your help! Join us for a day full of safety, fun and work, and make your mark on the trails you love.

Southwest Washington - Vancouver Lake 1/2 day

April 12

WTA is offering a series of morning events to make it easier for youth and families to join trail stewardship projects. Join us for a 1/2 day work party in a regional park on the west shore of Vancouver Lake. Visitors to the park enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking and biking in the park on trails that WTA helps maintain.

We hope to see lots of families, but the young at heart are welcome too! We'll be working on the 2.5 mile muti-use trail that connects the lake to Frenchman's Bar Regional Park.

>> Sign up now for the April 12 half-day work party at Vancouver Lake.

Olympics - Dry Creek

April 26

The Dry Creek trail needs help from our great volunteers to keep it accessible for hikers. Photo by Bob and Barb.
Come help WTA work on a trail that heads out of Lake Cushman and leads to a traverse below Dry Mountain. The winter on the Peninsula has left the trail a little worse for wear, but it's nothing we can't fix with your help! We've got work to do logging out, repairing tread, improving drainage, and brushing.

This is a great opportunity to hone a variety of trail maintenance skills, and at the end of the day, you can explore a scenic trail near Lake Cushman that winds through lush rainforest and along rocky mountainsides.

>> Sign up now for the Dry Creek work party this month.

Northwest Washington - Sharpe Park

April 13

Relax at Sares Head after your work party and enjoy expansive views of Puget Sound. Photo by Mike.

Despite their relatively short length, the trails at Sharpe Park need some major repair in order to get them up to standard. Join us as we work at this unique location, home to the largest undeveloped waterfront on Fidalgo Island.

We'll be rebuilding sections of rooty and rocky trails. In addition, expect to do a bit of general maintenance on some of the park's more popular, established trails. So come for a day of trail work near Anacortes, and afterwards, explore this little-known gem on Fidalgo Island.

>> Sign up now for one of the work parties at Sharpe Park this month.

Puget Sound - Evans Creek

Alternative Spring Break for TeensApril 16, 17, 18

A day of volunteer work with WTA not only builds trails, it helps build friendships. Photo by WTA Staff
Our work parties at Evans Creek this week are geared towards students between 14- 18 who are on spring break. Bring your friends and enjoy the outdoors while you spend a day learning about the world of trail maintenance. You can earn community service hours for school too!

The Evans Creek Preserve in Sammamish, just 30 minutes from Seattle, is home to many diverse ecosystems that provide wildlife habitat to a variety of species. Teen volunteers will help WTA build a brand new trail system this spring, so you can return with friends year after year and say: “Yeah … I built that.”

>> Sign up now for one of the Teen Spring Break work parties at Evans Creek!

 

Four Trails That Need Your Help in April

News from Washington Trails Association - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 10:50am

This month we're working in several locations that need some special attention and we'd love to have your help! Join us for a day full of safety, fun and work, and make your mark on the trails you love.

Southwest Washington - Vancouver Lake 1/2 day

April 12

WTA is offering a series of morning events to make it easier for youth and families to join trail stewardship projects. Join us for a 1/2 day work party in a regional park on the west shore of Vancouver Lake. Visitors to the park enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking and biking in the park on trails that WTA helps maintain.

We hope to see lots of families, but the young at heart are welcome too! We'll be working on the 2.5 mile muti-use trail that connects the lake to Frenchman's Bar Regional Park.

>> Sign up now for the April 12 half-day work party at Vancouver Lake.

Northwest Washington - Sharpe Park

April 13

Relax at Sares Head after your work party and enjoy expansive views of Puget Sound. Photo by Mike.

Despite their relatively short length, the trails at Sharpe Park need some major repair in order to get them up to standard. Join us as we work at this unique location, home to the largest undeveloped waterfront on Fidalgo Island.

We'll be rebuilding sections of rooty and rocky trails. In addition, expect to do a bit of general maintenance on some of the park's more popular, established trails. So come for a day of trail work near Anacortes, and afterwards, explore this little-known gem on Fidalgo Island.

>> Sign up now for one of the work parties at Sharpe Park this month.

Puget Sound - Evans Creek

Alternative Spring Break for TeensApril 16, 17, 18

A day of volunteer work with WTA not only builds trails, it helps build friendships. Photo by WTA Staff
Our work parties at Evans Creek this week are geared towards students between 14- 18 who are on spring break. Bring your friends and enjoy the outdoors while you spend a day learning about the world of trail maintenance. You can earn community service hours for school too!

The Evans Creek Preserve in Sammamish, just 30 minutes from Seattle, is home to many diverse ecosystems that provide wildlife habitat to a variety of species. Teen volunteers will help WTA build a brand new trail system this spring, so you can return with friends year after year and say: “Yeah … I built that.”

>> Sign up now for one of the Teen Spring Break work parties at Evans Creek!

Olympics - Dry Creek

April 26

The Dry Creek trail needs help from our great volunteers to keep it accessible for hikers. Photo by Bob and Barb.
Come help WTA work on a trail that heads out of Lake Cushman and leads to a traverse below Dry Mountain. The winter on the Peninsula has left the trail a little worse for wear, but it's nothing we can't fix with your help! We've got work to do logging out, repairing tread, improving drainage, and brushing.

This is a great opportunity to hone a variety of trail maintenance skills, and at the end of the day, you can explore a scenic trail near Lake Cushman that winds through lush rainforest and along rocky mountainsides.

>> Sign up now for the Dry Creek work party this month.

Wetlands Left Vulnerable to Lead, Development – Why the EPA’s Proposed Rule Matters

News from American Rivers - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 10:00am

This is the guest blog from American Rivers Clean Water Supply Intern, Colleen Walters.

The proposed rule released by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers is important to address the uncertainty surrounding what waters are protected under the Clean Water Act | © Nicholas A. Tonelli

On March 25, 2014, the Obama Administration released a proposed rule that attempts to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act. Despite nearly thirty years of broadly interpreting the law to apply comprehensively to waters across the country, two Supreme Court cases in 2001 and 2006 put protections for small streams and wetlands into question.

Why is this proposed rule important?

Following the SWANCC decision in 2001 and the Rapanos decision in 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers released guidance documents for agency staff about how to implement the Clean Water Act following those decisions. In combination with the uncertainty following these decisions, the guidance documents made it substantially more difficult to protect small streams, wetlands, and other waters that were historically protected under the law.

When water bodies aren’t determined to be “waters of the United States,” they no longer fall under the scope of the Clean Water Act. Polluters don’t need permits to dump pollution into those waters. Enforcement action can’t be taken to protect them.

From 2001, following SWANCC, to 2009, it is estimated that 15,000 [PDF] water bodies were declared unprotected by federal agencies. The following examples are just a few of the thousands of cases and protections lost as a result of the uncertainty, confusion, and delayed enforcement surrounding Clean Water Act implementation.

The Farmington River – Nearby Wetlands Left Vulnerable to Lead Pollution

The Farmington River in Connecticut, designated as a Wild and Scenic River in 1994, is host to trout fisheries, supports canoeing and kayaking, and contributes to the drinking water for over 600,000 people in Greater Hartford and Farmington Valley. A spotlight was placed on the wetlands adjacent to the river when a community group spoke out about lead pollution [PDF] resulting from a shooting range that borders the wetlands.

The wetlands are only separated from the river by a small road on one side, and during periods of flooding, the water rises over the road and into the river. The wetland and the river are also directly connected, during periods of precipitation, by a tributary called Horseshoe Cove. Lead shot was accumulating in the wetlands and posed a potential health risk of contaminating drinking water supplies. Lead exposure is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women, and can cause cardiovascular and reproductive issues in other adults. Despite this, a federal court used the Rapanos ruling to decide that there is no continuous surface connection and, therefore, the wetland would not be protected.

Protections Slashed for Forested Wetlands in Florida to Build Phosphate Mine

In 2003, the EPA and Corps approved an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the expansion of the Hamilton County Mines in Florida. The expansion came with the hearty price of slashing Clean Water Act protection for 3,997 acres of forested wetlands [PDF] that were historically protected as waters of the United States. The wetlands were considered “isolated” and non-jurisdictional as it related to the Suwannee River, ignoring the indicators that the wetlands indeed impact the health and function of the river. The Florida DEP responded to the EIS approval, stating that the wetlands not only provide drinking water, shelter, resting and feeding habitat for threatened and endangered species, but also the forested wetlands help to maintain the water quality of the river, and the wetlands themselves offer recreational activities. Where previously the mine owners would have required permits that put limits on pollution, the resulting uncertainty surrounding what types of wetlands are actually covered under the Clean Water Act essentially gave these polluters a free pass to destroy these wetlands.

A company in Alabama was found dumping oil, lead and grease  [PDF] into a local creek, and the defendants claimed that the government had not shown a “significant nexus” to a navigable water body. In Kentucky, owners of an abandoned mine were found polluting nearby wetlands with acid mine drainage  [PDF] and led the courts through a seventeen year battle to define Clean Water Act protection.

What Can You Do?

These examples help to illustrate the critical need to restore protections to small streams and wetlands. The proposed rule is an important step forward to better protect and restore clean water. Make your voice heard and tell the EPA that you support strong clean water protections.

Our Social Media Is Buzzing About 30 Days of Biking

It’s Day 3 of 30 Days of Biking and our social media channels indicate that many of you are with us for the ride! You’re communicating with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to tell us about your rides, experiences and inspirations.

It’s a chatty group of joyful cyclists sharing experiences and photos, and encouraging each other along on our 30 Days of Biking event page on Facebook. Join our conversation! Here’s a sampling of comments:

1st day of it, I am enjoying an urban ride between my bus stop and work! – Machkio

One down, 29 to go. Good excuse for an afternoon beer! – Allyson

Rode to work, back home for lunch with my wife and six month old, back to work, across town for a meeting then home for a family ride before dinner. – Luke

Test rode a new bike. Hangman Valley just outside Spokane. – Bradley

Just 4.5 miles around the neighborhood, but some hills *just for fun*! We are out of shape. – Shirley

Day 3. Forgot a jacket on my ride to work and it looks like rain. It’s going to be a wet ride home. – Jessica

On the way home from work I am acutely aware of what’s for dinner all along the route! – Kevin

Is Twitter your style? We’re tweeting and retweeting about 30 Days of Biking as well. You can find a collection of tweets here, but here’s an example:

@30daysofbiking Day 2. Great weather +great @salsacycles Vaya=taking the long way home in B'ham. @WAbikes pic.twitter.com/Atvd46ADUi

— Nat Whitman (@NatWhitman8) April 3, 2014

If you’re an IGer, you can share with us on Instagram. Tag your images with #wabikes and #30daysofbiking so we can find them, and we may feature you in our gallery.

 

 

 

The post Our Social Media Is Buzzing About 30 Days of Biking appeared first on Washington Bikes.

America’s Most Endangered Rivers Coming April 9!

News from American Rivers - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 4:00am

The Colorado River was last year’s #1 Most Endangered River. Stay tuned to see what river will be picked this year? | © Pete McBride

It is almost time for American Rivers’ annual report on rivers in peril— America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2014! 

American Rivers and its partners nationwide will announce America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2014 on April 9. For 31 years, American Rivers has released this report to shine a public spotlight on threats facing rivers, and how citizens can take action to help.

We are working on a great list of rivers this year in need of major attention to ensure that they continue to thrive and provide clean water to communities and nature. Ten rivers in the following states will be named to the 2014 list: California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington.

Following up on our focus last year of highlighting rivers facing major water withdrawal or diversion issues, this year’s report takes it back to the dry river bed. Throughout the country, we must start using our water more wisely. It is clear from this year’s report of America’s Most Endangered Rivers that we have some important opportunities in the coming year to really make a difference in favor of the smart conservation-minded river management that we really need.

Where are these opportunities? What rivers will be on the list? What can you do to help? 

Find out the answers to all of these questions and more on Wednesday, April 9! See you then!

Coast Guard Report on Shell Debacle Underscores Danger of Arctic Drilling

News from NRDC - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (April 4, 2014) -- The U.S. Coast Guard’s long-awaited report on the 2012 grounding of Shell Oil’s Kulluk drill rig near Kodiak Island, Alaska underscores the serious threats posed by drilling in the Arctic Ocean, the Natural Resources Defense Council said. The 152-page report said Shell’s reckless and failed attempt to tow its Arctic Ocean drill rig was riddled with deficient planning and poor decision-making and potentially violated the law.

30 Days of Biking, Day Three: Color

Day Three in the 30 Days of Biking, 30 Words, 30 Pictures series

Last night I started a list of words I thought might come up in the course of my 30 days/30 words/30 pictures adventure. The list quickly grew to 33 but it didn’t have the word that emerged in today’s biking: color. Wait–make that C-O-L-O-R.

First, the picture. This vivid shot of a blue bike at a blue bike rack shared on our Instagram account made me choose the word for today. I realized how much more colorful my relationship with my bike is than any relationship with motor vehicles I’ve owned. (I’m not one of those people who names her cars and they’ve all been very ordinary colors–white, green, blue).

My blue road bike’s lime green handlebar tape reflects my fondness for various shades of that color. They’re newly wrapped and the color is so intense it glows a bit, especially on an overcast day like today that provides a contrast. The bike itself isn’t a special color; it’s a middle-of-the-road blue with white accents that my sweetheart picked out for me.

Bikes offer color possibilities in accessories as well as handlebar tape. When I ordered custom bike bags from Swift Industries (handmade in Seattle), I thought about the color combination in terms of a future touring bike I might own, which would have to be a color that goes with the bags. If I already owned said bike it would be the other way around; I like things to match.

Picking colors for a couple of bags by @swiftindustries. So many choices! (@ Swift Industries) http://t.co/2W22pfwA4L pic.twitter.com/sEhXXViqdt

— Barb Chamberlain (@barbchamberlain) March 21, 2014

When I bought a more upright “Mary Poppins” bike I chose the silver one because silver’s a neutral and goes with everything in my collection of Po Campo bags (which I started buying specifically because they’re not black bags with a black interior in which everything gets lost).

El in our office has a bike that’s deep eggplant with orange accents and is building a bike for Mom with a bit of a steampunk motif that’s painted a lovely faded bronze-y gold. Our board member Angela Jones of Spokane has a black and hot pink road bike and absolutely everything matches, down to her shoes. Belles and Baskets co-founder Betsy Lawrence gets purple accessories to go with her purple bike, which she purchased because purple is one of her favorite colors. Even before my husband was on a race team, he chose a yellow helmet that went with the black and yellow of the road bike had then, and of course every team kit has a lot of thought put into the color and design. Color is such an expression of individualism via the bicycle.

Not that bike manufacturers give us all that many choices, mind you. There’s the sadly mistaken notion that simply painting a bike pink makes it appeal to women, for starters. Then you have the fairly limited range of color options in bike gear.

If I walk into Nordstrom’s to get a sweater–or into the men’s section to buy a tie–I have many color choices and they’re keeping up with fashion trends. An entire industry exists to forecast our colors and create those trends (explaining the tragic avocado green kitchen appliance era). So why is it that if I walk into most bike shops I’ll be able to choose from somewhere around 4-5 helmet colors (two of which will be black and white) and about the same number of bike frame colors (ditto)?

Companies like Nutcase and Bern are tapping into the desire for more individual expression through helmet color and design; I predict (hope for) many more color options in the future for every part of my bike. The handlebar tape makers have it figured out–I could get tiger stripes or hot pink/light pink leopard spots if I liked that sort of thing.

(As an aside, I joke that bicycling is the only endeavor in which men have long had more color options in clothing than women. That was before Nuu-Muu, a Bellingham company, started making great active-wear dresses designed for biking and running.)

I notice color more while riding since I have time to observe. The pale green of spring leaves now will deepen over the summer until it shades into the fall palette of yellow, orange, bronze, red, and brown. The spots of color that were emerging buds a couple of weeks ago are flowers now. The color of the sky varies with season as well as with time of day. A flash of color catches my eye and I notice the vivid coat on someone waiting at the crosswalk (and because I’m on my bike I can call out “Beautiful coat!” and be rewarded with a smile, because who doesn’t love an unexpected compliment on his/her color sense?).

 I suppose a bike post on color wouldn’t be complete without a mention of high-visibility (hi-viz) clothing and accessories. Here it is: They’re ugly. No one looks good in that lemony yellow-green. I’ve seen the studies that demonstrate hi-viz effectiveness in catching the eye so I’m not arguing against their use, but I ride in street clothes. It’s sheer coincidence that my beloved lime green is a hi-viz color.

Related Reading Your Turn
  • Did you have much choice of colors when you got your bike? Did it matter to you?
  • Now that you have this particular bike do you pay attention to the color of your accessories?

 

The post 30 Days of Biking, Day Three: Color appeared first on Washington Bikes.

A Quarter of All Bumblebees At Risk in Europe

News from Beyond Pesticides - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 9:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, April 4, 2014) Habitat destruction, pesticide contamination, agricultural intensification and climate change threaten 24 percent of Europe’s bumblebees, according to research conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and funded by the European Commission. The study is part an ongoing project called European Red List of pollinators, with contribution from […]