Forest Service Proposes Massive Logging Project in North Carolina’s Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest

Comment on the USFS Draft Forest Plan before December!

To comment on the proposed Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest plan, email NCplanrevision@fs.fed.us or mail hard copies of comments to National Forests in North Carolina, Nantahala-Pisgah Plan Revision, 160 Zillicoa St. Suite A, Asheville, NC 28801.

by Kathleen Sullivan / Southern Environmental Law Center

forest-plan-meetingsCHAPEL HILL, N.C.—In what conservation groups flag as a dramatic shift, the U.S. Forest Service is proposing industrial-scale logging in the vast majority of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina – about 700,000 acres, or an area bigger than the Great Smoky Mountain National Park – instead of protecting popular back-country recreation destinations and conserving the Blue Ridge landscapes treasured by residents and tourists from across the United States.

“Under the law and for everyone who enjoys America’s forests, the Forest Service’s first priority should be fixing the mistakes of the past – restoring the parts of the forest already damaged by prior logging,” said DJ Gerken, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “But the misguided logging plan proposed by the agency will repeat those old mistakes, causing more damage and putting the healthiest forests we have left on the chopping block. The people who use and love these forests won’t stand for cutting them down.”

The Forest’s new proposal would inevitably increase logging over the levels of recent years, though the precise amount has not been disclosed. “This increase would come from ramping up logging all over the forest, including backcountry areas like the South Mills River area, home to the popular Black Mountain Trail,” said Hugh Irwin, conservation planner for The Wilderness Society. According to Forest Service documents, such areas would be managed for “timber production,” which it interprets as “the purposeful growing and harvesting of crops of trees to be cut into logs.”

This industrial-style logging would also require cutting new roads for trucks and equipment into sensitive, unspoiled backcountry areas. “Not only is that destructive and disruptive, it’s also fiscally irresponsible,” added Irwin. “The agency shouldn’t be expanding its road system when it can’t even afford to maintain the roads it already has.” Agency reports confirm that the Forest has less than 13 percent of the funds needed to maintain its existing roads, leading to safety and water quality problems. Several popular roads remain closed due to unrepaired washouts.

“This proposal is absolutely the wrong direction for the forest,” said Ben Prater, director of conservation for Wild South. “Times have changed, and our mountain economy doesn’t depend just on logging anymore. We should be capitalizing on our wonderful Blue Ridge forests, not cutting them down. Treating practically the entire Pisgah-Nantahala as a ‘crop’ is simply irresponsible.”

The Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest has become a tourism and recreation destination, and revenue generated by visitors is a major driver of the western North Carolina economy. The National Forests of North Carolina are the third most visited national forest in the country. Industrial logging not only damages scenery and natural features, which are the key draw for half of those visits, but also requires popular areas to be closed to the public for months at a time while trees are being cut. “They’re our public lands,” says Prater. “Where is the balance?”

Josh Kelly, public lands biologist for the Western North Carolina Alliance, calls the proposal a “missed opportunity.” According to Kelly, “the Forest Service could sell more timber, meet game wildlife goals for hunters, and fulfill its ecological responsibilities by focusing its limited budget on restoring degraded areas with existing road access. We have a historic opportunity to care for this forest like it deserves – a real win-win solution – but if the Plan is mired in conflict, none of that work will get done.”

Public participation is important to the planning process underway, in which the U.S. Forest Service will decide how to manage the Pisgah and National Forests for the next 15 years.

Abundant Clean Renewables? Think Again!

Sunday, 16 November 2014 00:00 By Almuth Ernsting, Truthout | News Analysis

Coal and wind power(Photo: Richard Brand / Flickr)

Although “renewable” energy is growing faster than ever before, it is neither carbon neutral, “clean” nor sustainable. We need to transform into low-energy societies that meet human – not corporate – needs.

Renewable energy is growing faster than ever before. Sure, some countries are lagging behind, but others are setting widely praised records.

Germany has installed over 24,000 wind turbines and 1.4 million solar panels, and renewables generate 31 percent of the country’s electricity on average – and as much as 74 percent on particularly windy or sunny days. According to the German government, 371,400 jobs have been created by renewable energy. Norway generates 99 percent of its electricity from renewable energy. Denmark already generates 43 percent of electricity from renewables and aims to phase out fossil fuel burning by 2050.

Many view such news as rays of hope in a rapidly destabilizing climate. We all need some good news – but is renewables expansion really the good news people like to think? Can we really put our hopes for stabilizing the climate into trying to simply replace the energy sources in a growth-focused economic and social model that was built on fossil fuels? Or do we need a far more fundamental transition towards a low-energy economy and society?

Here’s the first problem with celebratory headlines over renewables: Record renewable energy hasn’t stopped record fossil fuel burning, including record levels of coal burning. Coal use is growing so fast that the International Energy Authority expects it to surpass oil as the world’s top energy source by 2017.

Perhaps the 1,500 gigawatts of electricity produced from renewables worldwide have prevented a further 1,500 gigawatts of fossil fuel power stations? Nobody can tell. It’s just as possible that renewables have simply added 1,500 gigawatts of electricity to the global economy, fueled economic growth and ever-greater industrial resource use. In which case, far from limiting carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, renewables may simply have increased them because, as discussed below, no form of large-scale energy is carbon neutral.

As long as energy sources that are as carbon-intensive and destructive as fossil fuels are classed as “renewable,” boosting renewable energy around the world risks doing more harm than good.

Germany’s Energy Transition illustrates the problem: Wind turbines and solar panels have certainly become a widespread feature of Germany’s landscape. Yet if we look at Germany’s total energy use (including heating and transport), rather than just at electricity, energy classed as renewable accounts for just 11.5 percent. The majority, 87.8 percent, of Germany’s energy continues to come from fossil fuels and nuclear power (with waste incineration accounting for the difference of 0.7 percent). Coal consumption, which had been falling until 2008, has been rising again since then. Germany remains the European Union’s (EU) top coal consumer. Net electricity exports are being blamed for the rise in coal burning and carbon dioxide emissions, yet they account for just 5 percent of Germany’s electricity – and electricity accounts for less than half of the country’s energy use.

The picture looks even worse when one examines the mix of energy classed as renewable in Germany: Solar photovoltaic (PV) makes up 11.5 percent of renewables, wind, 16.8 percent. The bulk of it – 62 percent – comes from bioenergy, much of which is far from low carbon or sustainable. It includes biofuels, many of them made from imported soya and palm oil that are being expanded at the expense of tropical forests and peatlands and that destroy the livelihoods of small farmers, indigenous and other forest dependent peoples worldwide. It includes biogas made from 820,000 hectares of corn monocultures in Germany – a key driver for biodiversity loss in the country. And it includes wood pellets linked to forest degradation across Central Europe. On closer examination, therefore, 24,000 wind turbines and 1.4 million solar panels have scarcely made a dent in Germany’s fossil fuel burning and carbon emissions.

Norway’s situation is unique in that virtually all of the country’s electricity is generated from hydro dams, which were gradually expanded over the course of more than a century. Fossil fuels (mostly oil) still surpass renewable energy in Norway’s overall energy mix (with electricity accounting for less than half of the total), though only marginally so, and Norway’s economy remains heavily dependent on oil and gas exports.

Norway’s own hydro dams – many of them small-scale – have raised little controversy but the same cannot be said for Norway’s efforts to export this model to other countries. The Norwegian government and the state-owned energy company Statkraft have been at the forefront of financing controversial dams and associated infrastructure in Laos, India, Malaysian Borneo and elsewhere. One example is Statkraft’s joint venture investment in a new dam in Laos that has displaced 4,800 people and is causing flooding, erosion, and loss of fisheries and land on which people relied for growing rice.

Another example is Norwegian aid for transmission lines for mega-dams in Sarawak, a Malaysian province in Borneo which has seen vast areas of tropical rainforest – and the livelihoods of millions of indigenous peoples – sacrificed for palm oil, logging and also hydro power. One dam alone displaced 10,000 people and at least 10 more dams are planned, despite ongoing resistance from indigenous peoples. Far from being climate-friendly, hydro dams worldwide are associated with large methane emissions – with one study suggesting they are responsible for 25 percent of all human-caused methane emissions and over 4 percent of global warming. The disastrous consequences of Norway’s global hydro power investment illustrates the dangers of the simplistic view that anything classed as renewable energy must be climate-friendly and merits support.

What about the much-heralded renewable transition of Denmark? There coal use is falling and around 21 percent of total energy is sourced from renewables. Denmark holds the world record for wind energy capacity compared to population size. Unlike many other countries where wind energy is firmly controlled by large energy companies, Denmark has seen strong support for locally owned wind energy cooperatives, widely considered an inspiring example of clean, community-controlled energy. Nonetheless, wind energy in Denmark accounted for just 3.8 percent of Denmark’s total energy use in 2010.

Bioenergy accounts for a far greater percentage of Denmark’s “renewable energy” than does wind – and indeed for a greater share in the country’s overall energy mix than is the case in any other European country. As in Germany, Denmark’s bioenergy includes biofuels for transport, which studies show tend to be worse for the climate than equivalent quantities of oil once all the direct and indirect emissions from deforestation, peatland destruction and other land use change associated with them are accounted for. And it includes wood pellets, with Denmark being the EU’s, and likely the world’s, second biggest pellet importer after the United Kingdom. Most of those pellets come from the Baltic states and Russia, from countries where clear-cutting of highly biodiverse forests is rampant. Studies show that burning wood from whole trees can be worse for the climate than burning coal over a period of decades or even centuries.

Thus, on closer inspection, many of the “great renewable energy successes” don’t look so great after all.

Clearly, the current catch-all definition of “renewables” is a key problem: Defining methane-spewing mega-dams, biofuels, which are accelerating deforestation and other ecosystem destruction, or logging forests for bioenergy as “renewable” helps policy makers boost renewables statistics, while helping to further destabilize planetary support systems. As long as energy sources that are as carbon-intensive and destructive as fossil fuels are classed as “renewable,” boosting renewable energy around the world risks doing more harm than good.

A saner definition of “renewable energy” clearly is vital but would it open the door toward 100 percent clean and plentiful energy? Comparing the rate of wind energy expansion in Denmark and wind and solar power expansion in Germany with the tiny contribution they make to both countries’ total energy supply indicates otherwise.

Wind and solar power require far less land per unit of energy than biomass or biofuels, but the area of land needed to replace fossil fuel power stations with, say, wind turbines is vast nonetheless. According to a former scientific advisor to the UK government, for example, 15 offshore wind turbines installed on every kilometer of the UK coastline would supply just 13 percent of the country’s average daily energy use. And offshore turbines are more efficient than onshore ones.

Researchers agree that the life-cycle impacts of wind and solar power on the climate and environment are definitely smaller than those of fossil fuels, as long as turbines and panels are sensibly sited (not, for example, on deep peat). But this doesn’t mean that the impacts are benign. Generating that 13 percent of UK energy from offshore wind would require wind turbines made of 20 million tons of steel and concrete – more than all the steel that went into US shipbuilding during World War II. Steel manufacturing is heavily dependent on coal, not just as a fuel for the furnaces but because it is needed to enrich the raw material, iron ore, with carbon to make it stable. And concrete is hardly “carbon neutral” either – cement (a key component) accounts for 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Solar PV panels are up to four times as energy and carbon-intensive to produce as wind turbines: Aluminum – used to mount and construct solar panels – is about as carbon and energy-intensive as steel. Silicon needs to be smelted at 2,000 degrees Celsius and materials used to replace silicon have an even higher environmental footprint. Then there’s an array of highly toxic and corrosive chemicals used during manufacturing. Yet with regards to pollution, building wind and marine turbines is likely worse than making solar panels, because efficient and lasting turbine magnets rely on rare earth mining and refining. One 5-megawatt turbine requires a ton of rare earths, the mining and refining of which will leave behind 75 cubic meters of toxic acidic waste water and one ton of radioactive sludge. Two-thirds of the world’s rare earths are refined in one town in China, where people have become environmental refugees and virtually all who remain suffer from ill health associated with toxic chemicals and radiation. In the quest for “clean energy” rare earths mines are being sought and opened around the globe. The only US rare earths mine, Molycorp’s in California, has been reopened, after having been shut down due to a long history of repeated spills of toxic and radioactive waste. Since reopening, the operators have already been fined for spilling yet more hazardous waste.

Zero-carbon, clean energy? Well, no. And yet, there are no large-scale energy sources with lower carbon emissions and less harmful environmental impacts than wind and solar power. As one scientist argues from the perspective of thermodynamics: “To talk about ‘renewable energy’ or ‘sustainable energy’ is an oxymoron, as is ‘sustainable mining’ or ‘sustainable development.’ The more energy we use, the less sustainable is humanity.”

We certainly need to swiftly end fossil fuel burning and the destruction of ecosystems and that will require us to rely on the least harmful energy sources such as wind and solar power. But the myth of plentiful “clean” energy stops us from focusing on the far deeper changes needed – a transformation toward a low-energy society. A depressing conclusion? Not necessarily. As UK climate change campaigner and author George Marshall has pointed out, we could cut flights (and probably all transport emissions) and slash energy used for home heating by 80 percent overnight by going back to the way people used to live as short a time ago as 1972, provided we used home insulation and efficient boiler technology developed since then. Instead, 40 years of efficiency gains have been wiped out by ever-greater consumption. Yet UK “personal satisfaction” surveys show that people’s sense of satisfaction or happiness peaked in 1970. Once people’s basic needs for energy are met, rising energy use remains vital for corporate profits and economic growth, but not for people’s quality of life.

Most readers will have never lived in a low-energy society. Imagining what such a society might look like and how to move toward the transformation required to get there, and to overcome the corporate interests that depend on profits from ever rising energy use, must be priorities for anyone aware of the seriousness of climate change. Daunting no doubt, but once we’ve abandoned faith in plentiful “clean” energy, we can finally make a start.

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The latest updates on #UWMadison baby monkey experiments

Dr. Ruth Decker, M.D., J.D., M.B.A.
St Louis, MO

Oct 29, 2014 — Hello everyone. Just a couple of FYIs so you know what others are doing in addition to this petition.

On October 22, the national research watchdog group Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), announced that the University of Wisconsin’s Primate Center has been cited by a federal agency for violations in their facility including 36 primate escapes, three monkey deaths, and burn injuries. These violations typically result in fines to the institution at a maximum of $10,000 per incident and attests to the incompetency of Wisconsin’s operations. How can anyone trust their PR soundbites when they have such a poor track record?

Link to SEAN press release http://www.saenonline.org/press-20141022.html

Also, earlier this month the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin to compel disclosure of committee records concerning the internal controversy over the baby monkey studies that the university has refused to make public. The legal document references my change.org petition as evidence of the public’s outcry over this horrific experimentation. YOUR VOICE COUNTS! Details can be found here:

Link to ALDF press release http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/aldf-sues-university-of-wisconsin-over-maternal-deprivation-experiments-on-baby-monkeys/

Link to TV coverage of ALDF suit http://www.wkow.com/story/26798590/2014/10/15/uw-madison-faces-lawsuit-over-records-regarding-animal-research

Again I am grateful for your support. Let’s keep the momentum and pressure up!

Best,
Dr. Decker

Oil Train Opponents Blockade Tracks At Port Westward, OR

Oil Train Blockade

Clatskanie, OR—Climate justice activists, local Clatskanie farmers, and oil train opponents from all over Columbia County are blockading the tracks that lead to Port Westward on the Columbia River. The blockade consists of a 20-foot-high tripod of steel poles, its apex occupied by 27-year-old Portland Rising Tide activist Sunny Glover. Any train movement would risk her life, as would any attempt to remove her from the structure. A banner suspended from the tripod reads: “Oil trains fuel climate chaos.” She has vowed to stay as long as she is able.

Donate to help Rising Tide Portland keep blockading!

Massachusetts-based Global Partners ships oil by rail from the fracking fields of the Bakken Shale to the blockaded facility. From there, it is loaded onto oceangoing vessels bound for West Coast refineries. The facility was constructed with public clean energy loans and tax credits to manufacture ethanol in 2008. The owners declared bankruptcy almost immediately, and in a twist of savage irony, it became a crude oil terminal.

“Fossil fuels are catastrophically destructive,” Glover said. “Extraction ravages land, water, and the health of local communities – transport results in deadly explosions, toxic spills and dust – and as they are burned, the Earth is forced ever deeper into immense climate instability. Fossil fuel production is violence, and on an incredibly vast scale.”

Dozens are joining Glover on the tracks. The increase in US oil production in recent years, and the consequent rise in oil train traffic, has outraged a diversity of groups and communities. Rising Tide activists, hoping to deter the most severe effects of climate change, are demanding a rapid dismantling of fossil fuel infrastructure throughout the region and the world. Residents of areas effected by oil train traffic are horrified by the propensity of Bakken crude trains to derail in fiery explosions—a May, 2014 emergency order by the US Department of Transportation describes the trains as an “imminent hazard.” Residents of the patchwork of farms, dikes, and waterways north of Clatskanie are fighting to protect agricultural land and salmon habitat from industrialization.

“When the crude oil trains began rolling through Columbia County, we had no prior warning—not from DEQ, not from the Port of St. Helens, not from the county, and not from the State of Oregon,” said Nancy Whitney. “With the close proximity of our towns, and particularly our schools, and considering the track record of crude oil derailments, my fear is that the potential devastation from leakage or explosion could be astronomical—and it will happen unless these trains are stopped.”

This is the fifth oil train blockade in the Pacific Northwest since June.

“This is only the beginning,” said Noah Hochman. “We will continue to blockade until it is financially, logistically, and politically untenable for oil trains to threaten climate and communities.”

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NASA Confirms US’s 2,500-Square-Mile Methane Cloud

Flaring the Bakken shale with cows, North Dakota. Photo: Sarah Christianson / Earthworks via Flickr.

by Mike G / DaSmogBlog

When NASA researchers first saw data indicating a massive cloud of methane floating over the American Southwest, they found it so incredible that they dismissed it as an instrument error.

But as they continued analyzing data from the European Space Agency’s Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography instrument from 2002 to 2012, the ‘atmospheric hot spot’ kept appearing.

The team at NASA was finally able to take a closer look, and have now concluded that there is in fact a 2,500-square-mile cloud of methane – roughly the size of Delaware – floating over the Four Corners region, where the borders of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah all intersect.

This discovery follows the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new estimates of methane’s ‘global warming potential’ (GWP): 34 over 100 years, and 86 over 20 years. That number reflects how much more powerful methane is than CO2.

The methane cloud’s origin? Fossil fuel production

A report published by the NASA researchers in the journal Geophysical Research Letters concludes that “the source is likely from established gas, coal, and coalbed methane mining and processing.”

Indeed, the hot spot happens to be above New Mexico’s San Juan Basin, the most productive coalbed methane basin in North America.

Methane has been the focus of an increasing amount of attention, especially in regards to methane leaks from fracking for oil and natural gas.

Pockets of natural gas, which is 95-98% methane, are often found along with oil and simply burned off in a very visible process called ‘flaring’.

But scientists are starting to realize that far more methane is being released by the fracking boom than previously thought. And it appears that much of it is venting directly to the atmosphere, rather than being flared.

Fracking and horizontal drilling in the frame

Earlier this year, Cornell environmental engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea released the results of a study of 41,000 oil and gas wells that were drilled in Pennsylvania between 2000 and 2012.

He found that newer wells using fracking and horizontal drilling methods were far more likely to be responsible for fugitive emissions of methane.

According to the NASA researchers, the region of the American Southwest over which the 2,500-square-mile methane cloud is floating emitted 590,000 metric tons of methane every year between 2002 and 2012.

That’s almost 3.5 times the widely used estimates in the European Union’s Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research – and none of it was from fracking.

That should prompt a hard look at the entire fossil fuel sector, not just fracking, according to University of Michigan Professor Eric Kort, the lead researcher on the study:

“While fracking has become a focal point in conversations about methane emissions, it certainly appears from this and other studies that in the US, fossil fuel extraction activities across the board likely emit higher than inventory estimates.”

Tribe says no to fracking

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has joined other governments in the mountains of western North Carolina in opposing the practice known as fracking.   But, being a sovereign nation, the Tribe, unlike area counties and municipalities, can actually prohibit the practice on tribal lands.

Tribal Council unanimously passed Res. No. 340 (2014) last month that states in part “the Eastern Band of Cherokees will not permit or authorize any person, corporation or other legal entity to engage in hydraulic fracturing on Tribal trust lands.”

The resolution, submitted by Tribal Council as a whole, was signed into law by Principal Chief Michell Hicks on Sept. 10.

“Our tribe has taken a strong stand with the resolution against hydraulic fracturing commonly known as fracking,” said Chief Hicks.  “I signed the resolution because I believe our environmental protection is paramount to the survival of our people.”

Tribal Council Chairperson Terri Henry commented, “Of importance to the Tribe is the impact on the health of our people who utilize many of the products of the forests and habitat surrounding our Trust Lands.”

The resolution also states, “Hydraulic fracturing is a method of extracting natural gas that involves the injecting, at an extremely high pressure, a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals to break up shale or other rock formations otherwise impermeable to the flow of natural gas; and the State of North Carolina is without legal authority to permit hydraulic fracturing on Tribal trust lands.”

An amendment was made to the original resolution which states, “The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians supports the ban of fracking in the State of North Carolina, specifically in National Forests.”

The EBCI joins other tribes who have passed resolutions in opposition to fracking such as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation (SB 786) in May that will allow the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) to issue permits for fracking in spring 2015.  That legislation was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in June.

Piedmont Natural Gas Protest Saturday

Global Frackdown

Join us for the Global Frackdown this Saturday in Durham or Charlotte! On this day international day of action, communities across the world are coming together for a global protest to call for a ban on fracking, a dangerous method of drilling for natural gas that puts our air, water, climate and communities at risk.

Durham’s Global Frackdown Getdown will include local bands, local brews and local food. This event is made possible by Environment North Carolina and Food and Water Watch NC.

When: Saturday, October 11, 2014

Where: Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC 27701

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

 


Follow NCWARN on Twitter     Visit NC WARN on Facebook

RSVP by contacting Liz Kazal (liz@environmentnorthcarolina.org, 228-209-4564) or Renée Maas (rmaas@fwwatch.org, 919-593-7752).

Charlotte’s Global Frackdown will be a protest in front of the Piedmont Natural Gas Corporate Office.

When: Saturday, October 11, 2014

Where: Piedmont Natural Gas
4720 Piedmont Row Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28210

Time: 12:00 p.m.

Click here and find Charlotte on the map to learn more or email Bill Gupton (wmgupton@aol.com).

Red Wolves Under Threat In North Carolina

Contact Fish & Wildlife Services in support of red wolf recovery:

Consider contacting Fish and Wildlife Services in support of wolf reintroduction in North Carolina.  They have extended the public comment period which may directly affect whether they decide to end the program and send the remainder of wolves left into captivity.

Contact:
Tom MacKenzie, USFWS
404-679-7291
tom_mackenzie@fws.gov and redwolfreview@fws.gov

Red Wolves: A Future In Doubt

Hank, one of two captive red wolves, managed by the Red Wolf Coalition.
Credit Dave DeWitt

Hank and Betty seem like they’re in a pretty good mood today. It’s stopped raining, and the sun is poised to peak out between the loblolly pines that surround their den. And their caretaker, Kim Wheeler, has brought them a snack.

As the director of the Red Wolf Coalition, Wheeler cares for these two captive red wolves at their enclosure just south of Columbia. She often brings groups of tourists here to see the mating pair and learn more about how the species behaves.

“She’s certainly more active than he is, but just to watch and sit here quietly – the way they move here through their enclosure is so quiet – you can just imagine them in the wild, and how they move around undetected,” said Wheeler.

In 1987, the red wolf made history in eastern North Carolina, when four mating pairs were released into the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. It was the first species determined to be extinct in the wild to be reintroduced outside of captivity.

One hundred or so wild red wolves now roam across five counties in eastern North Carolina, including three wildlife refuges, a naval bombing range, and private farms. It’s an area larger than the state of Delaware.

A map of the range of the red wolf in North Carolina.
Credit Southern Environmental Law Center

The red wolves are top-level predators here on the isolated coastal plains, eating mostly rodents, white-tailed deer, raccoons, and wild turkey. And they are definitely stealthy – Kim Wheeler has been here nine years and only seen them twice in the wild, but she hears them quite a bit.

“I love their howl,” she said. “And to know that that sound would have gone extinct had the U.S Fish And Wildlife Service not stepped in to do something to restore this animal. It’s kind of an amazing thing to stand there and hear that and know that could have been erased from this planet.”

Keeping the red wolf howling in the wild has not been cheap. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has spent nearly $30 million since the start of the recovery program. For all of those 27 years it’s been a constant struggle to manage breeding and keep red wolves off of private lands.

Landowners have been skeptical of the recovery program almost from its inception. But lately, as both the wolf population and general anger with the federal government has grown, the situation has come to a head.

Landowners Speak Out

About 100 or so people crammed into the cafeteria at Mattamuskeet High School on a stretch of isolated highway in Hyde County – sitting around tables normally reserved for hungry teenagers.

They are here for a public comment session as part of the federal review that will determine the future of the Red Wolf Recovery Program.

“I want the red wolf program done away with” said Wade Hubers, a local farmer. “I’m no biologist, but I know if you put ed wolves on the Refuge and there is no food supply, they are not going to stay there.”

Since the first wolves were introduced, roaming off of the refuge has been a problem. But another challenge is more recent: coyotes. As they have across the country, the coyote population in eastern North Carolina has exploded. Here, they have both fought with and bred with the red wolves.

A red wolf (left) and a coyote (right).
Credit B. Bartle/USFWS

There’s no hunting season on coyotes in North Carolina – they can be shot anytime, anywhere. And coyotes look similar to the protected red wolves, just a little smaller with different shaped ears and snouts. So accidental shootings are common. Sometimes they are reported to the Fish and Wildlife Service. More often, they aren’t. Since the beginning of 2013, eleven red wolves have been killed.

Earlier this year, the Southern Environmental Law Center sued to make coyote hunting illegal in Hyde, Beaufort, Washington, Dare, and Tyrell – the five counties in which red wolves roam. Last May, Judge Terence Boyle issued an injunction on coyote hunting while the case is pending.

That further infuriated landowners. Many make the claim that there is no such thing as a pure red wolf.

”You know the red wolf can not be full-blooded,” said Lynn Clayton from Hyde County, stepping to the microphone with a grin. “He must have at least a little bit of Mexican blood in him – he won’t stay on his side of the border.”

Many in the crowd applauded the insensitive comment, but not all of those who spoke were as outwardly prejudiced.

Roger Seale lives in Rocky Mount, but owns land in several areas, including one tract in Hyde County on which he hoped to cultivate wild turkey. By his estimate, he spent $8,000 a year over several years on food and clearing large trees and vegetation to try to build a wild turkey population he could hunt.

“But when I started checking my trail cameras,” he explained, “I’d see turkey, I’d see turkey, and then I’d see wolf.”

Within about a year after he spotted the first red wolf on his trail camera, the turkeys were gone. He blames the red wolves. Seale says hunting in the area is depleted, forcing recreational hunters to go elsewhere and having a negative impact on an area with very little economic activity.

“I don’t want any animal to go extinct, but I also don’t want the protection of an animal to affect the personal landowner,” Seale said.

The private firm leading the review of the Red Wolf Recovery Program will issue a report next month. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make a final decision on the future of the wild red wolf sometime early next year.

Hambach Forest Blockade in Germany “Brutally Attacked”

from Hambach ForestNoname

Today, on Oc­to­ber 1st 2014, the de­mons­tra­ti­ons against the on­go­ing cle­aran­ce of the Ham­bach Fo­rest con­ti­nue at the gates of Eu­ro­pe’s big­gest open cast mine.

At 09:25 am three bull­do­zers, one chain dredger and one truck were oc­cup­ied at the gate­way of the open cast mine Ham­bach.
The wor­kers of RWE and the hired se­cu­ri­ty re­ac­ted vio­lent­ly. They at­ta­cked the de­mons­tra­tors with metal pipes. Dig­gers which were oc­cup­ied by per­sons sit­ting on them con­ti­nu­ed to move, dis­re­gar­ding the fact that this was a se­rious threa[t] to the ac­tivists‘ lives.

Due to the vio­lence per­for­med by RWE’s wa­ge­wor­kers the ac­tivists were dis­pla­ced from the ter­ri­to­ry al­re­a­dy 15 mi­nu­tes later. They wi­th­drew to avoid fur­ther vio­lent esca­la­ti­on.

Is the pl­an­ned de­struc­tion of a fo­rest more im­portant than the health of human beings?

Fur­ther in­for­ma­ti­on on today’s events and pic­tu­res will fol­low soon!

UP­DATE:

De­s­pi­te the vio­lent be­ha­viour of the wor­kers no­bo­dy was in­ju­red se­rious­ly. Here are pic­tu­res show­ing the ac­tion: 01.​10. blo­cka­de ac­tion

UP­DATE:

One per­son was blo­cking the sho­vel of a chain dredger. The dri­ver star­ted the en­gi­ne anyhow and began to shake the sho­vel try­ing to throw down the per­son sit­ting in it. One of the truck dri­vers tried to re­mo­ve an ac­tivist from a ve­hi­cle vio­lent­ly using his hands. When this didn’t work he grab­bed a tool and at­ta­cked the ac­tivists.

UP­DATE:

The wor­kers at­a­cking the ac­tivists work for the de­con­struc­tion com­pa­ny H.B.-​Kai­ser Ab­bruch und Erd­ar­bei­ten. This com­pa­ny it at the mo­ment re­s­pon­si­ble for the de­con­struc­tion of the old Ham­bach Rail­way in the name of RWE. Se­ver­al ma­chi­nes were wor­king alt­hough peop­le were stan­ding close to them. The dri­vers de­clined to stop the en­gi­nes, even though they would have been ob­li­ged to do so for sa­fe­ty re­a­sons ac­cor­ding to Ger­man law.

The wor­kers at­ta­cked the ac­tivists not only with their fists but also using ham­mers and even a crow­bar. Hein Bert Kai­ser, the owner of the com­pa­ny, was on site as well. He was ac­tive­ly in­vol­ved in the vio­lence against the ac­tivists and even threa­tened them:  “Whoever da­ma­ges my dig­gers and cars is going to die.” Being asked, he con­fir­med: “This is a death thre­at.” Continue reading

New Earth First! Newsletter Released

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http://earthfirstjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Mabon-14-Newsletter.pdf