WUI in the News

Here you can find current news articles about wildland-urban interface issues in the U.S. and abroad. Please note that while Interface South maintains news archives for reference, the links may no longer be active. You may need to contact the source or host website for more information.

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May 2009 contains 18 News Articles.

Land buy boosts restoration
The Miami Herald - 28 May 2009
Everglades restoration has been a priority at the South Florida Water Management District for more than a decade. That priority was underscored this month with a landmark decision by the district's Governing Board to invest $536 million in the largest land buy in the agency's history -- a 73,000-acre acquisition that will provide unprecedented opportunities for preserving the famed River of Grass. When the multi-billion state-federal partnership to restore the Everglades was first developed in the 1990s, access to vast areas of agricultural land south of Lake Okeechobee to construct restoration projects was not a possibility. But that changed last June when Gov. Charlie Crist announced the willingness of the U.S. Sugar Corporation to sell its land holdings to the district for Everglades restoration. It was a milestone moment for the environment -- followed by months of complex negotiations, hard work and due diligence.

Decks can be a fire hazard
Reno Gazette-Journal - 27 May 2009
Homeowners can take steps to keep wildland embers from igniting their porches. Decks are a common feature of Nevada homes situated in high fire-hazard areas. They are also one of the vulnerable areas of your property to embers during wildfire. This applies to decks comprised of wood boards as well as those made from plastic-composites. If you have a deck and live in a high fire-hazard area, you should consider the following tips. Keep the gaps between deck boards free of pine needles, leaves and other debris. Embers can become lodged in the gaps and ignite the deck. Also, don't allow fallen pine needles and other dead plant material to accumulate on the deck surface during fire season. The area underneath the deck is particularly susceptible to ember attack. Don't store firewood, gas cans, lawn mowers, cardboard or other combustible materials under the deck and keep it free of weeds, pine needles and leaves. Consider enclosing the deck with solid skirting, such as siding that is properly vented or with 1/8-inch wire mesh to limit ember penetration and reduce maintenance. Don't enclose it with wooden lattice.

Gore, others urge CEOs to back climate change deal
Associated Press - 24 May 2009
COPENHAGEN (AP) - Climate-change heavyweights U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and Nobel prize winner Al Gore urged more than 500 business leaders on Sunday to lend their corporate muscle to reaching a global deal on reducing greenhouse gases. The CEOs of PepsiCo, Nestle, BP and other of the world's major businesses began meeting in Copenhagen, where politicians will gather in December to negotiate a new U.N.-brokered climate treaty. Despite the global financial crisis, both Ban and Gore said there was no time for delay in hashing out the specifics of how to cut greenhouse gases that contribute to warming the planet.

Lifting Haze On Post-Fire Land Management
Cattle Network - 22 May 2009
STILLWATER, Okla. - Oklahomans were reminded this spring of the devastation that comes with wildfire: Homes, structures and livestock were lost, while landowners who rely on grasslands, shrublands and forests as an enterprise were left trying to figure out how to recover vegetation and habitat. 'Many people don't understand the role of fire in the ecosystem,' said Terry Bidwell, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension rangeland ecology and management specialist. 'Fire has been and still is an essential part of maintaining healthy native grassland, shrubland and forest ecosystems and has positive impacts.' The proper use of prescribed burning will lessen the destruction of wildfire; however, there are some management guidelines to follow after a wildfire. “Following a wildfire, management practices need to be applied that encourage desired plant growth,” Bidwell said. “The desired plants will depend on the objectives of the landowner.” If grazing is planned on burned areas, proper grazing management practices need to be applied that promote the growth and vigor of the desired plant community.

Bill targeting invasive species riles pet owners, industry
The Miami Herald - 21 May 2009
MIAMI -- Water managers dispatched two experts to Washington, D.C., recently to back a controversial congressional bill targeting an Everglades problem that seems to get bigger every year. The latest, largest evidence emerged last week: A Burmese python stretching 161/2 feet, the longest yet of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the exotic constrictors the South Florida Water Management District has pulled off its lands and levees in the past few years. More sobering: The female, found on the L-67 levee south of Tamiami Trail, was pregnant, carrying a clutch of 59 eggs - more proof the giant snakes are breeding in the wild.

Man's vision leads to urban refuge development
The Associated Press - 19 May 2009
MONROE, La. (AP) Since redevelopment of the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge north of Monroe began 12 years ago, the project has become nationally recognized as the template for how to develop an urban refuge. But the refuge would still be sitting idle as environmentally hazardous farmland had it not been for the vision of one man Kelby Ouchley. Ouchley, who recently retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is credited by many who have worked with him as the reason the refuge has become a success. The reserved 58-year-old naturalist and biologist shrugged off the idea that the refuge was his legacy to conservation, but he did acknowledge that it's probably the highlight of his 31-year career.

Clean Energy Poll: Most Floridians say climate change laws are critical
Florida News Connection - 18 May 2009
A congressional committee today is expected to debate federal legislation that would assess pollution taxes on coal-fired power plants and other sources of greenhouse gases as part of a plan to reduce global warming. The American Clean Energy and Security Act could make up for the lack of new rules in Florida, which Governor Charlie Crist had established as a top priority for combating climate change. The state legislature has blocked that effort. The Act would set rules for re-powering America with renewable energy, reducing dependence on foreign oil, creating clean energy jobs and reducing greenhouse gases to slow global warming. Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Environment Group's U.S. Global Warming Campaign, says her group's new survey found 77 percent of the voters nationwide believe legislation to reduce greenhouse gases is critical.

As Alaska Glaciers Melt, It's Land That's Rising
The New York Times - 17 May 2009
JUNEAU, Alaska - Global warming conjures images of rising seas that threaten coastal areas. But in Juneau, as almost nowhere else in the world, climate change is having the opposite effect: As the glaciers here melt, the land is rising, causing the sea to retreat. Morgan DeBoer, a property owner, opened a nine-hole golf course at the mouth of Glacier Bay in 1998, on land that was underwater when his family first settled here 50 years ago. 'The highest tides of the year would come into what is now my driving range area,' Mr. DeBoer said. Now, with the high-tide line receding even farther, he is contemplating adding another nine holes. “It just keeps rising,” he said. The geology is complex, but it boils down to this: Relieved of billions of tons of glacial weight, the land has risen much as a cushion regains its shape after someone gets up from a couch. The land is ascending so fast that the rising seas — a ubiquitous byproduct of global warming — cannot keep pace. As a result, the relative sea level is falling, at a rate “among the highest ever recorded,” according to a 2007 report by a panel of experts convened by Mayor Bruce Botelho of Juneau.

Another Voice: Insurance a key part of preparing for wildfire
The Ukiah Daily Journal - 14 May 2009
We're at the start of fire season and right in the middle of a three-year drought. We've been reminded again what can happen by watching TV reports of the Santa Barbara fire. Protection of our homes and families from wildfire is on our minds, but a related issue becomes the primary focus after a fire insurance. I live outside Ukiah in a semi-rural area, surrounded by flammable vegetation. We think about it often, as we lost our home in the 1991 Oakland/Berkeley fire that destroyed more than 3,000 homes. That fire raged from a wildland-urban interface zone into a residential area. But after the fire, a third of the 3,000 families were devastated again by insurance problems. Some of these hassles meant families were not made whole. They did not get new homes.

Fight over biomass - Law making it difficult for businesses to expand
The Missoulian - 13 May 2009
Rumpelstiltskin spun straw into gold. Now he's coming for sawdust. After generations of disrespect, wood refuse is the material of the moment. It took two days to run through all the ways it can be thermochemically converted into gasoline, mixed with coal dust for clean-burning pellet fuel or cooked into charcoal to capture carbon emissions at the Montana Bioenergy Workshop in Missoula. And that's assuming it hasn't been assigned to more traditional uses like paper and particleboard. It's one of the biggest fears we have - that everybody else will take our fuel and burn it, Roseburg Forest Products Co. plant manager Ken Cole told a group of bioenergy pioneers during a tour of his Missoula factory Tuesday. The market for pellets and biomass is putting massive pressure on us. Missoula's Roseburg plant squeezes out 575,000 board feet of particleboard a day, enough to fill 11 1/2 railroad cars. The 200 million-square-foot facility is remarkably clean. That's because virtually every mote of wood fiber that doesn't get pressed into a sheet of particleboard is swept up and pressed into another board. Cole noted that dust from the sanding machines fires the plant's boilers, which heat-treat the boards. The exhaust from the boilers goes through a $5 million biofilter system installed last year, which removes 99 percent of the trace formaldehyde and methanol. But those efforts to be ecologically conscious are running into currents from another direction - the hunt for ecologically sustainable energy supplies.

New York to phase out bottled water for public sector
Environmental Expert - 13 May 2009
The Governor of New York has announced plans to ban the purchase of bottled water by state-owned agencies. he ban will cover both small bottles and those used by water coolers. State agencies will be expected to phase out their consumption of bottled water over the next six months. Governor David A Paterson said the move would save the state money as well as having obvious environmental benefits. The move will make New York the second state, after Illinois, to scrap the use of bottled water. Similar initiatives have already taken place north of the border in Canada. Bottled water will be replaced by tap water. 'Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars to ensure that we have clean drinking water supplies,' said Governor Paterson. 'If we are going to make such significant investments, we should reap the benefits and use that water. Our efforts will serve as an example for local governments, businesses and residents to follow.' The Governor's Executive Order requires each agency to lay out the specific actions and policies that will be undertaken to achieve compliance with the ban, assess the capability of existing facilities to provide tap water for consumption in place of bottled water and identify reasonable improvements that can be made to ensure reasonable access to tap water for consumption.

UN drive turns to Internet to reach goal of 7 billion new trees
United Nations - 13 May 2009
Ahead of World Environment Day, celebrated globally on 5 June, the United Nations this week announced an ambitious tree-planting target in a bid to push governments into reaching agreement on a climate change pact in Copenhagen this December. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has appealed to the world to help its effort to plant seven billion trees by the end of the year, coinciding with the UN Climate Change Conference which aims to draw up a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. To date, some 3.1 billion trees have been planted in 166 countries, and “whether you choose to plant one tree or thousands,” UNEP would like you to register your tree planting pledge on its Billion Tree Campaign website, it said a news release. In addition, the agency has pledged to plant a tree for each person who joins its campaign on the internet-based social networking site “Twitter” between now and 5 June. UNEP hopes to attract 100,000 people on Twitter by World Environment Day and in turn plant the same number of trees for its Billion Tree Campaign.

Career conservationist picked to oversee Forest Service
Greenwire - 6 May 2009
President Obama nominated a career Agriculture Department employee yesterday to a political post overseeing the Forest Service and farmland conservation programs. If confirmed by the Senate, Homer Lee Wilkes -- currently the Mississippi state conservationist and a 28-year veteran of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) -- would be undersecretary for natural resources and environment. The post directs the Forest Service and conservation projects at NRCS. The selection of a career NRCS employee for the job is a shift from the previous two administrations. Jim Lyons, who had worked on forestry issues on Capitol Hill and for the Society of American Foresters, held the post during the Clinton administration. A former timber lobbyist, Mark Rey, held the job in the Bush administration. In overseeing national forests for most of Bush's presidency, Rey had a hand in controversial policies, faced worsening fire seasons, tussled with environmentalists and was even threatened with jail by a federal judge. Environmentalists saw Rey as a fox guarding the henhouse with forestry issues.

FWC warning: Don't feed the bear
The News-Press - 5 May 2009
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is still trying to trap a 6-foot, 150-pound black bear that was seen feeding out of a Dumpster behind Caloosa Tent Rental just off Metro Parkway. The FWC is trying to lure the bear into a culvert trap with doughnuts, according to spokesman Gary Morse. “Bears eat the same thing humans do, and they have a sweet tooth,” he said. Morse said the FWC plans to catch and relocate the bear, but relocating the bear may prove problematic if the bear is used to finding food in developed areas. “This bear has apparently been fed, and that is the last thing people should do,” Morse said. “It associates human development and humans with a feeding opportunity.”

Parks Pay Off
Forbes - 5 May 2009
The Obama infrastructure plan overlooks a key form of green infrastructure that forward-looking cities and towns all over world are investing in: parks, public open space and green infrastructure. Parks and public open space can function as large-scale green machines. Urban landscapes filter air and water, cool the environment, produce oxygen, provide a habitat for wildlife and make big contributions to carbon reduction targets. Increasing the efficiency of natural systems is as productive in biological terms as reducing the ecological impacts of buildings and highways. Parks also improve residents' physical health, well-being, quality of life and enjoyment of the outdoors. They are the places where people meet family and neighbors and create social capital. The inauguration festivities on the Washington Mall and election night gathering in Chicago's Grant Park also demonstrate how urban parks support large-scale expressions of civic engagement. Because the public health and societal benefits are self-evident, spending on parks is popular across regional, demographic and party lines. Less well-known is the power of parks to generate revenue and stimulate local economic growth. New, well-designed parks focus private investment in marginal areas and catalyze revitalization. They stimulate adjacent real estate markets and attract visitors, restaurants, commerce, street life and safety.

Light Pollution - Part One
Fox 23 News - 5 May 2009
Does that annoying street light shining in your window keep you awake at night? Turns out, it could mean more than a sleepless night. Its a little known type of pollution that could be hurting the environment, and you. When you think pollution, for many, air and water come to mind. But not light, something we depend on every day. We are a 24 hour a day society, during the day its the sun that gets us from point A to point B. But at night, we depend on artificial lights, on cars, on buildings, on streets, to guide us. The side effect of that lighting in urban areas is light pollution. The glare of a headlight, a street light trespassing into a bedroom window and the glow of a city sky. Dr. Mark Rea, of the RPI Lighting Research Center, says,

Secretary Chu Announces Nearly $800 Million From Recovery Act To Accelerate Biofuels Research And Commercialization
US Department of Energy - 5 May 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. - As part of the ongoing effort to increase the use of domestic renewable fuels, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today announced plans to provide $786.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to accelerate advanced biofuels research and development and to provide additional funding for commercial-scale biorefinery demonstration projects. 'Developing the next generation of biofuels is key to our effort to end our dependence on foreign oil and address the climate crisis -- while creating millions of new jobs that can't be outsourced,' Secretary Chu said. 'With American investment and ingenuity -- and resources grown right here at home -- we can lead the way toward a new green energy economy.' The DOE biomass program will leverage DOE's national laboratories, universities, and the private sector to help improve biofuels reliability and overcome key technical challenges, with the goal of creating third-generation biofuels like green gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels. The $786.5 million in Recovery Act funding is a mix of new funding opportunities and additional funding for existing projects. It will be allocated across four main areas:

Gene Altering Chemicals Found In Forest Fire Smoke
Science Daily - 2 May 2009
Researchers have detected common plant toxins that affect human health and ecosystems in smoke from forest fires. The results from the new study also suggest that smoldering fires may produce more toxins than wildfires - a reason to keep human exposures to a minimum during controlled burns. Finding these toxins -- known as alkaloids -- helps researchers understand how they cycle through earth and air. Smoke-related alkaloids in the environment can change aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, as well as where and when clouds form. The study, which was of Ponderosa pines, by scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will appear June 1 in Environmental Science and Technology.