State announces $3.6 million in available grant funding to target invasive species

Funding proposals for 2017 now are being accepted through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, with an anticipated $3.6 million available to applicants. The program – a joint effort of the Michigan departments of Natural Resources, Environmental Quality, and Agriculture and Rural Development – is part of a statewide initiative launched in 2014 to help prevent and control invasive species in Michigan.

An invasive species is one that is not native and whose introduction causes harm, or is likely to cause harm to Michigan's economy, environment or human health.

usfws logoWith school doors closing, kids (and parents) are anxious to find a fun, easy outdoor summer activity. This is the perfect time to get the entire family out to a fishing event hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at a national fish hatchery or national wildlife refuge. Numerous Service-sponsored fishing events will take place during National Fishing and Boating Week (June 3 – 11).

Everyone can join in this great American family tradition. From fishing clinics to fishing derbies, these events offer first-time-anglers opportunities to learn the art of fishing. All family members get to enjoy a fun and inexpensive outing to connect with each other – and with nature.

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House Committee on Natural Resources

By: Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Chairman, House Committee on Natural Resources

You heard it in your high school civics class: America has "a government of laws and not of men." The rule of law is the basis of the constitutional order erected by the Founders. "A government with unpredictable and arbitrary laws poisons the blessings of liberty itself." The first axiom is from John Adams, the second is from James Madison. Their sentiments were universal in the founding generation and ought to continue today. Checks and balances have no teeth when our leaders can disregard the laws and rule according to their whims.  

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House Committee on Natural Resources

By: Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Chairman, House Committee on Natural Resources
October 11, 2017

In a Tuesday op-ed, I explained the constitutional threat posed by the Antiquities Act, and why its repeated abuse is inconsistent with the constitutional pillars of the rule of law and checks and balances. As it turns out, there's a reason the Founders chose these principles as the basis of our government: arbitrary rule has no incentive to be accountable to the people that policies affect. Without that accountability, political and ideological manipulation corrodes the balance of power.  

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Department of Interior

Secretary Zinke Signs Order to Begin Process of Creating First Ever National Survey of Critical Minerals

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, following President Donald J. Trump's executive order to break America's dependence on foreign minerals, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed a secretarial order directing the initial steps to producing the first nationwide geological and topographical survey of the United States in modern history. The order also directs Interior bureaus to begin work on identifying immediate domestic sources for critical minerals.

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Western Governors have asked Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke why they were not consulted in advance about DOI's proposal to change the bureaus’ regional office boundaries and shared additional questions regarding the proposal.

"Western Governors appreciate your desire to improve the efficiency of DOI so that it can more effectively respond to the needs of our nation," said WGA Chair and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Vice Chair and Hawaii Gov. David Ige in the letter sent Feb. 1. However, the Governors

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President’s $11.7 Billion Proposed FY 2019 Budget for Interior Includes Legislation to Strengthen Infrastructure and Address Deferred Maintenance

Budget also focuses on economic growth, responsible energy development and reorganizing for the next 100 years

WASHINGTON, Feb 12, 2018– President Donald Trump today proposed an $11.7 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget for the Department of the Interior that includes a legislative proposal to establish the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund. The Fund will provide up to $18 billion to address Interior’s deferred maintenance backlog in national parks, national wildlife refuges and Bureau of Indian Education schools through funding from energy leasing revenues. The legislation complements the President’s national infrastructure investment proposal and recognizes the importance of a long-term investment in America’s treasures.

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Aerial surveys will begin March 16 and run through mid-May in five states containing lesser prairie-chicken habitat. The surveys are conducted annually by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) to document population trends and how the bird is responding to management strategies identified in the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan.

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Sierra Nevada Conservancy Announces New Partnership Focuses on Increased Use of Fire in California for Natural Resource and Public Benefits

May 10, 2018 - Sacramento, Calif. – Federal and State agency officials gathered today with conservation and community fire protection groups to kick off the inaugural workshop for a Memorandum of Understanding that will promote the careful and expanded use of fire for natural resource and other social benefits in California. Wildland fuels are continuing to build up and wildfires are growing larger and more difficult to control, especially in light of California’s extended drought experience and changing climate. These factors have helped bring this unique partnership together. Citing recent fire science and large, damaging wildfires like the Rim, King, Valley, and Butte fires, this new fire partnership is calling for an expanded response and a broader suite of tools to restore resilience and protect communities across California’s rural landscape.

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This spring, the National Forest Foundation supported the Forest Service in convening and facilitating ten Regional EADM Partner Roundtables across the country, and produced a report from each of them to document input shared by partners. The NFF also pulled cross-cutting themes from the regional reports and summarized them into National Findings and Leverage Points.

In the national summary report, partner input was organized into nine themes and describe perceptions of the identified problems and leverage points for each. The report details many important leverage points that are worthy of attention, however here is a summary of the key takeaway messages:

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Washington, D.C., August 16, 2018  — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service (USFS) announced today a new strategy for managing catastrophic wildfires and the impacts of invasive species, drought, and insect and disease epidemics.

Specifically, a new report titled Toward Shared Stewardship across Landscapes: An Outcome-based investment Strategy (PDF, 3.7 MB) outlines the USFS’s plans to work more closely with states to identify landscape-scale priorities for targeted treatments in areas with the highest payoffs.

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Virtually every businessperson knows that he or she needs insurance to protect their enterprise. Most are even aware that insurance is not “one policy fits all.” They have auto insurance to cover their vehicles and drivers, workers compensation insurance to cover workplace injuries, and comprehensive general liability or professional liability insurance to cover the work that is done. However, it appears that many do not realize that if they use unmanned aircraft, there is likely a hole in their insurance protections.

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The Western Governors’ Association (WGA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to “establish a framework to allow the Forest Service and WGA to work collaboratively to accomplish mutual goals, further common interests, and effectively respond to the increasing suite of challenges facing western landscapes.”

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The Hazard Removal and Vegetation Management Project Programmatic Environmental Assessment streamlines vegetation management and removal of hazardous trees.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In advancing the Department of the Interior’s commitment to reduce wildfire risk, the Bureau of Land Management on Friday released its Hazard Removal and Vegetation Management Project Programmatic Environmental Assessment (EA). This assessment covers approximately 551,000 acres of BLM-managed public land in central and northern California and streamlines the process for right-of-way holders, utility companies, and counties to treat vegetation and remove hazardous trees within 200 feet of critical infrastructure to reduce wildfire risk.

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WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed a secretarial order to establish a Departmental task force to facilitate and prioritize the implementation of S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Dingell Act). The bill was made up of more than 100 individual bills that were introduced by 50 Senators and several House members. The Interior Department had advocated for in concept or worked with Members of Congress on many of the individual provisions that made up the package.

Secretarial Order 3374, Implementation of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act establishes a task force to ensure the timely and coordinated implementation of the Dingell Act and consistency among all offices and Bureaus within the Department of the Interior.

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CARSON CITY, Nev. - Friday is the deadline for bills to make it out of committee at the state Capitol, so conservation groups are drumming up support for those that address renewable energy and protection for wildlife habitat.

Senate Bill 358 would require power companies to get 50 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2030. Brian Beffort, director of the Sierra Club's Toiyabe Chapter, said the state now spends $4 billion a year importing electricity from fossil fuels, when it could be relying on renewable power generated in Nevada.

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As western states prepare for wildfire season, new tools are helping firefighters and land managers assess danger and respond rapidly. In the Pacific Northwest, The National Fire Danger Rating System is getting its first update in more than 40 years. The new system will generate readings from weather stations without requiring a person to be present to help forest managers determine levels of fire danger.

In California, a weather satellite taking photos every five minutes can show hotspots and could potentially alert residents of a blaze.

Report Finds 2018 Spending Supported 329,000 jobs in Hotels, Restaurants, Transportation, Recreation

doi-logoWASHINGTON – As the summer vacation and travel seasons opens, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced today that visitor spending in communities near national parks in 2018 resulted in a $40.1 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 329,000 jobs.

According to the annual National Park Service report, 2018 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, more than 318 million visitors spent $20.2 billion in communities within 60 miles of a park in the National Park System. Of the 329,000 jobs supported by visitor spending, more than 268,000 jobs exist in the park gateway communities.

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Wet winters no longer predict possible relief from severe wildfires for California, according to a new study from an international team that includes a University of Arizona scientist.

From 1600 to 1903, the position of the North Pacific jet stream over California was linked to the amount of winter precipitation and the severity of the subsequent wildfire season, the team found. Wet winters brought by the jet stream were followed by low wildfire activity, and dry winters were generally followed by higher wildfire activity. After 1904, the connection between winter moisture brought by the jet stream from December through February and the severity of the wildfire season weakened. The weakened connection between precipitation and wildfires corresponds to the onset of a fire suppression policy on U.S. federal lands, the team reports in the March 4 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The connection disappeared altogether after 1977. Now, fuel buildup from decades of fire suppression in the 20th century plus rising temperatures from climate change means any year may have large fires, no matter how wet the previous winter, the team writes.

"The moisture availability over California is still strongly linked to the position of the jet stream, but fire no longer is," said co-author Valerie Trouet, an associate professor of dendrochronology at the University of Arizona Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. The finding surprised Trouet.

"I didn't expect there to be no relationship between jet stream dynamics and fire in the 20th century. I expected it to be maybe weaker than before, but not to completely disappear." Trouet said.

California's wet winter of 2016-2017 is a good example, she said. That winter was followed by many large fires in 2017, including the Tubbs fire in October and the Thomas fire in December. Twenty-four people died and 6,699 structures burned in those two fires, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire.

"It's not either climate change or historical fire management--it's really a combination of the two that's creating a perfect storm for catastrophic fires in California," Trouet said.

To reconstruct California's fire and moisture patterns and the position of the North Pacific jet stream for the past 400 years, the researchers combined instrumental and historical records of temperature, precipitation and fires with the natural archives of climate and fires stored in tree rings that go back in time for centuries. Lead author Eugene R. Wahl of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, "The method we used to determine the average winter jet stream conditions is a real advance. Coupled with independent precipitation and fire records, this is a state-of-the-art coupling of paleoclimate and paleoecology."

“The study is the first to show the close connection between winter precipitation in California and the position of the jet stream back to the year 1571,” Trouet said. “The study is also the first to examine the relationship of past winter precipitation, the position of the jet stream and past fire activity stretching back to 1600,” she said.

The paper by Wahl, Trouet and two co-authors is, "Jet Stream Dynamics, Hydroclimate, and Fire in California: 1600 CE to Present." Funding information is at the end of this release. Initially, Wahl and co-author Eduardo Zorita of the Helmholz-Zentrum Geesthacht in Germany were working independently of Trouet and co-author Alan Taylor. As part of a larger project to extend global reconstructions of temperature, precipitation and atmospheric circulation further into the past, Wahl and Zorita were figuring out how the North Pacific jet stream affected precipitation in California for centuries. Wahl, a paleoclimatologist at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information in Boulder, Colorado, was a co-leader for the North America part of the larger project. Trouet and Taylor of Penn State in University Park, Pennsylvania, had already reconstructed California's fire history back to 1600, and Trouet had reconstructed the behavior of the North Atlantic jet stream back to 1725. After Wahl heard Trouet give a presentation about her North Atlantic jet stream research, the four scientists joined forces to see whether there were links between the past behavior of the North Pacific jet stream and California's fire and precipitation history.

"When the jet stream is positioned over California, it's like a fire hose--it brings storms and moisture straight over California," Trouet said. "What we see post-1900 is that the position of the jet stream is still an important driver of moisture to California --it brings moisture to California when it's in the right position--but there's a disconnect with fire."

The likelihood that every year may be a high-fire year will be a significant societal challenge, Taylor said. "Fire not being influenced by moisture anymore? That is surprising. It's going to be a problem for people, for firefighters, for society. The only thing we can control is fuels, so what it suggests is that we take that very seriously. The last three years may be a harbinger of things to come. Between 1600 and 1903 there was not a single case of a high-precipitation year coupled with a high-fire year as occurred in 2017."

The research team's next step is to expand this research to see how the jet stream patterns correspond with fire in other types of forested ecosystems farther north. Read about their findings so far in the original article published by EurekAlert!

###

The U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey's Southwest Climate Science Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, the German Science Foundation Cluster of Excellence Clisap, a George H. Deike, Jr. Research Grant and the Swiss National Science Foundation funded the research.

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