Water-guzzling demands of Trump’s border wall threaten fish species

Water-guzzling demands of Trump’s border wall threaten fish species

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: December 29, 2019 SNIP: The survival of eight endangered and threatened species, including four kinds of endemic fish, is in doubt in Arizona, as massive quantities of groundwater are extracted to construct Donald Trump’s border wall. The 30ft-high barrier is under construction on the edge of the San Bernardino national wildlife refuge in south-eastern Arizona, where rare desert springs and crystalline streams provide the only US habitat for the endangered freshwater Río Yaqui fish. The region’s water reserves are already depleted due to prolonged drought and record high temperatures linked to the climate crisis. The expansion of water-intensive crops such as alfalfa and pecan farms is also draining aquifers in the arid region. Now, experts fear that construction of this 20-mile stretch of Trump’s wall, which began in October, has reduced spring flow and groundwater levels in San Bernardino which provide scarce habitat for the Yaqui topminnow, chub, beautiful shiner and the most vulnerable, the Yaqui catfish. “There’s good reason to believe that the Yaqui fish’s only US habitat is drying up as a result of tens or hundreds of thousands of gallons of groundwater being pumped to build the border wall,” said Laiken Jordahl, a borderlands campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity who recently visited the area. In September, the Trump administration pledged to erect 450 to 500 miles of the wall by the end of 2020, an ambitious undertaking to be partially funded by $6bn previously earmarked for defense and counter-drug programmes. Construction in Arizona and New Mexico is under way, despite multiple ongoing lawsuits challenging the constitutional basis of Trump’s executive...
Strip Mining Could Come to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Strip Mining Could Come to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

SOURCE: Rolling Stone DATE: August 24, 2019 SNIP: Under President Donald Trump, the United States has seen the largest reduction of nationally protected lands in the country’s history. One of the victims of the administration is Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which will soon be open to strip mining and gas extraction, according to a Bureau of Land Management document released on Friday. “These management plans seek to cement the Trump administration legacy of destroying the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument,” said Steve Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “That seems to be the objective certainly for excluded lands, which are going to be in large part available for mineral leasing and extractive development. To make matters worse, the BLM is going to prioritize motorized recreation across a large swath of the original 1.9 million acres.” The plan identifies up to 700,000 acres that used to be federally protected that will be available to mining as well as oil and gas companies. Since the monument was reduced, 19 companies have already filed to begin work there. The plan also proposes allowing cattle to graze on the land, which the administration acknowledges could also lead to adverse environmental effects. Just last month, the administration also published plans for Bears Ears National Monument, which it has reduced in size by 85 percent. [NOTE: If you want to know more about ranching and mining interests in the West and how corrupt the whole thing is, read This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption are Ruining the American West by Christopher Ketcham. It’s an eye...
Trump administration gives go-ahead to use ‘cyanide bombs’ to kill wildlife

Trump administration gives go-ahead to use ‘cyanide bombs’ to kill wildlife

SOURCE: Bird Guides DATE: August 11, 2019 SNIP: The Trump administration has reauthorized the use of ‘cyanide bombs’ – controversial poison devices designed to kill Coyotes, Red Foxes and other animals across the US that are deemed as pests [sic] by private farmers and ranchers. The spring-loaded traps, called M-44s, are filled with sodium cyanide and are most frequently deployed by Wildlife Services, a federal agency in the US Department of Agriculture that kills vast numbers of wild animals each year to assist farmers. In 2018, Wildlife Services reported that its agents had dispatched more than 1.5 million native animals, from North American Beavers to Black Bears, Grey Wolves, ducks and owls. Roughly 6,500 of them were killed by M-44s. [T]he traps traps are facing increasing opposition from conservationists and members of the public alike and have, in the past, led to the accidental deaths of endangered species and domestic pets, as well as caused harm to humans. In the months before the EPA announced the reauthorization, conservation groups and members of the public flooded the agency with comments calling for a total ban on the predator-killing poison across the US. According to an analysis provided by the Center for Biological Diversity, a leading opponent of M-44s, 99.9 per cent of all comments received by the EPA opposed the reauthorization of sodium cyanide for predator control purposes. Brooks Fahy, the executive director of the environmental group Predator Defense and a leading opponent of M-44s, denounced the EPA’s decision, describing it as a “complete disaster”. He added that the EPA “ignored the facts and they ignored cases that, without a...
Amazon gold miners invade indigenous village in Brazil after its leader is killed

Amazon gold miners invade indigenous village in Brazil after its leader is killed

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: July 28, 2019 SNIP: Dozens of gold miners have invaded a remote indigenous reserve in the Brazilian Amazon where a local leader was stabbed to death and have taken over a village after the community fled in fear, local politicians and indigenous leaders said. The authorities said police were on their way to investigate. Illegal gold mining is at epidemic proportions in the Amazon and the heavily polluting activities of garimpeiros – as miners are called – devastate forests and poison rivers with mercury. About 50 garimpeiros were reported to have invaded the 600,000-hectare Waiãpi indigenous reserve in the state of Amapá on Saturday. Indigenous people evacuated Mariry and fled to the bigger village of Aramirã – where shots were fired on Saturday. Indigenous leaders and local politicians have called for urgent police help, fearing a bloodbath. “The garimpeiros invaded the indigenous village and are there until today. They are heavily armed, they have machine guns. That is why we asking for help from the federal police,” said Kureni Waiãpi, 26, a member of the tribe who lives in the nearest town of Pedra Branca do Amapari, two hours away and 189km from Amapá state capital Macapá. “If nothing is done they will start to fight.” Kureni Waiãpi said Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro had encouraged invasions like this. “It is because he, the president, is threatening the indigenous peoples of Brazil,” he said. Senator Rodrigues blamed Bolsonaro’s repeated promises to allow mining on protected indigenous reserves, where it is currently prohibited, for the first invasion of Waiãpi land in decades. In the 1970s, the...
Canada’s forgotten rainforest

Canada’s forgotten rainforest

SOURCE: The Narwhal DATE: July 27, 2019 SNIP: By all accounts, a rainforest shouldn’t be scattered in moist valley bottoms stretching from the Cariboo Mountains east of Prince George to the Rocky Mountains close to the Alberta border. Other temperate rainforests, far from the sea, are only found in two other places in the world, in Russia’s far east and southern Siberia. Scientists wonder at the alignment of nature that made it possible for coastal species to hitchhike here thousands of years ago and flourish undisturbed in the sheltered dampness that kept fire at bay. Tiny flecks of coastal lichens no larger than a millimetre stuck to the feathers and feet of migrating songbirds, while stowaway seeds sunk roots into valley soils, watered by year-round rain and the constant trickling of snow. Following decades of industrial logging, much of what remains of B.C.’s undisturbed and unprotected inland rainforest is now at risk of being clear-cut — including the few unlogged inland rainforest watersheds between Prince George and the U.S. border, 800 kilometres to the south. “I haven’t seen logging this bad since I flew over Borneo,” says DellaSala, president and chief scientist at the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, a partner in an international project to map the world’s most important unlogged forests. “It was a rainforest. Now it’s a wasteland.” Clear-cut logging in B.C.’s inland temperate rainforest, found in valley bottoms that are part of a much larger ecosystem called the interior wet belt, is taking place at a rate “if not faster, then comparable to what we’re seeing in the tropical rainforest of Brazil,” says DellaSala, who...