Archive for October, 2010

Grizzly versus Bison: the rest of the story

October 30, 2010

This might be the most interesting photograph I have seen of a grizzly bear. To see what I am talking about see the article under the website Carnivore Ecology and Conservation News, under the Ursidae Section. I have seen 2 versions of this photo by 2 different photographers and I get chills every time I see this sequence of photographs…they are truely amazing…so go to this sight and see them.
■Dramatic photo of grizzly bear chasing bison
The man responsible for snapping the dramatic photographs of a bison being chased by a grizzly bear has surfaced, providing sister station KTVQ in Billings with more pictures and the end to the tale.

Alex Wypyszinski had just dropped off his wife at work and had a few hours to kill one morning last April.

Wypyszinski says he likes to spend his free time in the morning snapping photos of wildlife in the park.

Of course, he usually has to search the animals out.


It all started when he was driving in the Fountain Flats area, located between the Madison Junction and Old Faithful, when he heard an unusual sound.

But Wypyszinski says any noise is unusual on that particular highway at 7am.

“I thought it was a horse and carriage,” said Wypyszinski. “That was the kind of noise that I heard.”

By the time he turned around, the two fuzzy brown images were racing quickly toward him.

Wypyszinski pulled out his camera quickly, thinking he was going to catch two moose racing down the highway.

He quickly learned he was mistaken.

“I thought I was having a hallucination or something,” said Wypyszinski. “I couldn’t believe what that buffalo looked like.”

It was a bison, badly burned from an encounter with one of the numerous hot spots in Yellowstone National Park.

The sight of such an injured bison alone is rare, but what Wypyszinski saw next was once in a lifetime.

“Never, ever, ever,” said Wypyszinski. “I’ve seen plenty of bear, and more buffalo. But I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

A grizzly was chasing the buffalo (which was practically cooked already) and gaining quickly.

Wypyszinski stopped his car on the desolate highway and took out his camera.

“I stood along the car as long as I thought it was safe.”

The two beasts passed the man by without paying any notice.

The result: these hair-raising pictures.

We pick our tale up where the photos end.

Wypiszinski says once in the safety of the woods the bison out maneuvered the grizzly, escaping to live exactly one more day.

Park rangers had to put the bison down due to the injuries it sustained.

Wypiszinski said the whole event was over just as quickly as it happened.

Just another day in Yellowstone National Park.


Death of last native brown bear signals end of a species .

October 29, 2010

This could easilly happen hear…Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and the Feds.
Death of last native brown bear signals end of a species .
Friday, 29 October 2010 – Spain The Foundation for the Protection of Wild Animals in Spain (FAPAS) has confirmed today that the population of native bears in the Pyrenees has perished out, and blames successive SPanish and French governments for the disappearance of the species.

A spokesperson for FAPAS confirmed that despite following the bear population in the Pyrenees closely for 30 years and investing tens of millions of euros “supposedly for the benefit of the bears”, in the city are now no native bears bequeathed.

According to ecologists, Camille, the last female indigenous bear, who has not been sighted since February this year, and was thought to be in the region 20 years old, is now “almost certainly dead”.

Over the past 30 years, the population of bears that had been living in the Pyrenees mountains for thousands of years, has been decreasing steadily, despite the provision of financial resources from the governments of France and Spain, and from the autonomous communities of Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia.

According to FAPAS, “the economic resources have been divided amongst the companies involved”, but no concrete action for the conservation of the species in the territory has been undertaken, leading the foundation to accuse the companies of a “crime against biodiversity.”

They have also asserted that the plan to bring back bears into the Pyrenees from Slovenia, “was a strategy by the French aimed at developing tourism in the area.” The American biologist Tony Clevenger, “refused” to direct the reintroduction project, calling it “a fraud, since the intention was to round up the bears once they’d been released, and to pen them inside a closed reserve where they would have served as a tourist attraction”.

The entire population of European brown bears, Ursus arctos, in the Pyrenees is thought to number to and from 19 and 22 animals after the introduction of specimens from Slovenia and Croatia to boost the indigenous all-Spanish subspecies.

The death of Camille has been described as “the blackest of omens” for the endangered species, by FAPAS, which blames police sources for failing to carry out adequate protection of the few remaining animals. in the city are believed to be only two indigenous males of the species remaining in the region

Of grizzlies and tortoises by Seth Shteir | Oct 29, 2010

October 29, 2010

A good read.
The towering grizzly bear and diminutive desert tortoise have something in common, and it’s not good: both animals are struggling for survival.

“The population of grizzlies in the continental United States was 50,000 at time of Lewis and Clark, and it’s down to 1600 animals today for some of the same reasons the desert tortoise has declined precipitously since 1970: habitat destruction and human caused mortality,” says Sid Silliman, an emeritus professor of political science at Cal Poly Pomona who has long tracked the fate of endangered species.

Silliman, who taught a course on the endangered grizzly bear at Cal Poly Pomona, fears that like grizzly bears, the threatened population of desert tortoises will eventually be restricted to just a few areas. And according to Silliman, projects like the Ivanpah Solar Plant, situated along the cusp of the California Nevada border and near Mojave National Preserve, are part of the problem.

The Ivanpah solar project is not unique: the Bureau of Land Management and other land management agencies have received a flood of applications for utility-scale solar developments – a phenomenon many refer to as the “solar gold rush.” But many conservationists are questioning whether these projects should be sited on sensitive lands such as those in the Ivanpah Valley.
“Ivanpah is so interesting because it’s in the east Mojave and has a different climate. It has monsoon rains, different plants, lush vegetation and biological soil crust,” says Laura Cunningham, a biologist and founder of Basin and Range Watch , a source of conservation information about the Mojave Desert. The biological soil crust prevents erosion of the fragile desert soils, absorbs atmospheric carbon and sometimes takes thousands of years to form. “I’ve never seen crust so dense as in the Ivanpah valley- you can see this black fuzzy coating all over the dry sand,” reports Cunningham.

But Ivanpah is also unique in other ways. It is “old growth desert”, a reference to the many venerable creosote bushes, which have survived on the site for hundreds of years. The area is also remarkably beautiful and rugged. Huge barrel cacti punctuate the arid landscape and in the winter the view of the nearby snow capped Clark Mountains is spectacular. The valley is habitat for 10 rare plant species and the California population of northeastern Mojave Desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, burrowing owls and the golden eagle.

This unique environment is threatened by large scale solar development. Construction of the Ivanpah Solar Project will involve three solar concentrating thermal power plants with 173,500 panels. Each panel will have two mirrors and will surround three 459-foot power towers– taller than the great pyramid at Giza.

The development would involve permanent destruction of 3,600 acres of critical desert tortoise habitat With two other large solar projects slated to be developed nearby the cumulative impacts may mean the loss of the viability of the northeastern desert tortoise recovery unit, a population defined by the 1994 Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan that
“This tortoise population is different from other populations and part of my training as a biologist is you want to maintain distinct populations,” says Cunningham. “If these Ivanpah tortoises become extinct you can’t just take
some from Ridgecrest and replace them.”

In addition to the concerns about desert tortoise, there will also be significant impacts to two special status plant species — Mojave milkweed and desert pincushion — and the project site will be an eyesore when viewed from the Mojave National Preserve. Yet another concern is flooding as the power plant will be located on a steep alluvial fan that is covered with hundreds of active washes. Torrential winter or summer rains could thunder down the fan and inundate the power plant. Proponents of industrial scale solar developments argue that they are essential to combating climate change and weaning our nation off foreign oil. To them, criticism of projects like Ivanpah are iterations of Nimbyism (an acronym for the phrase “not in my back yard”). But conservationists like Silliman and Cunningham see things differently.

“In my view the way forward is through the distributed solar energy — through local generation and small scale generation,” says Silliman. “Rooftop solar photovoltaic should be a key part of any plan to move us away from carbon based energy. It’s more efficient, it avoids the economic problems and it’s more democratic.” Silliman also points out that it doesn’t make sense to destroy habitat in the name of climate change when that very habitat may be what helps species adapt to climate change.

Small, local solar arrays located on disturbed lands, in or near cities and towns and on rooftops are comparable in efficiency, faster to bring online and less expensive than remote, utility scale solar thermal plants like Ivanpah when the cost of new transmission infrastructure, line losses and other costs are considered, according to Solar Done Right, a coalition of public lands activists, engineering experts and biologists. The reason the remote, utility scale solar plants are being constructed at such a rapid pace is that investor owned utilities can make significant profits off the sale and transmission of energy. They’ve also convinced key decision makers that large scale solar is the best way to address climate change.

Both the Bureau of Land Management and the California Energy Commission have authorized the construction of the two billion dollar Ivanpah solar plant, which means that Brightsource Energy is the first solar developer to break ground on a utility scale solar development in California. And contract workers have already begun removing desert tortoises from the sight, but there is no way to know if some have been missed during the relocation effort.

Back in September, Silliman, Cunningham and other desert activists camped at Ivanpah to educate people about the beauty and diversity of the Ivanpah valley, emphasize that the construction of this power plant will permanently destroy part of the Mojave Desert and to publicize their opposition to the industrialization of the northern Ivanpah valley.

Biologist Laura Cunningham reports that the sunsets were amazing and there were beautiful stars. The group took a tortoise walk, looked a cryptobiotic crust and found wildflowers blooming from a summer rain. Migrating swifts and swallows flew through the clear air.

Cunningham fears that utility scale solar will destroy the ecology of the Mojave Desert and the character of its communities. “My big message to congress is that we need a renewable energy plan that includes distributed solar. Can we slow down a little bit and get an energy plan?”

More info from HCN about solar developments across the West: Solar spree.

Seth Shteir is California Desert Field Representative for the National Parks Conservation Association.

Global warming ‘unquestionably’ linked to humans: France

October 29, 2010

Now what are the naysayers going to say.
A new French study blames humans “unquestionably” for global warming
Enlarge photo A new French study blames humans “unquestionably” for global warming Enlarge photo People attend a concert in Paris as part of a global action day on climate change Enlarge photo .Related content
Global warming ‘unquestionably’ due to humans: France
Lula dares other leaders to go to Cancun climate meet
Bangladesh, India most at risk from climate change
Related Hot Topic: Global Warming
Have your say: Global Warming
“Several independent indicators show an increase in global warming from 1975 to 2003. This increase is mainly due to the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide,” the academy said in conclusion to the report.

“The increase in carbon dioxide, and to a lesser degree other greenhouse gases, is unquestionably due to human activity,” said the report, adopted unanimously by academy members.

The report contradicts France’s former education minister Claude Allegre, a geochemist, who published a book called “The Climatic Deception” which claimed that carbon dioxide was not linked to climate change.

The report was commissioned in April by Minister for Research Valerie Pecresse in response to hundreds of environmental scientists who complained that Allegre in particular was disparaging their work.

Allegre is a member of the Academy of Sciences and also signed off on the report.

“He has the right to evolve,” the academy’s president Jean Salencon said. Pecresse said: “The debate is over.”

But Allegre told AFP that the document was a compromise and “I have not evolved, I still say the same thing, that the exact role of carbon dioxide in the environment has not been shown.”

“Of course it’s a compromise, but it’s a satisfactory compromise because what I defend, that is the uncertainty in our knowledge about climate change, is explicitly mentioned, the word uncertainty appears 12 times,” he said.

In his book, Allegre questioned the work of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and criticised worldwide mobilisation around “a myth without foundation.”

He disagreed with linking climate change and an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and said clouds or solar activity had more of an influence.

The IPCC, established to sift through scientific research and produce the most authoritative report possible on climate change for world leaders, has been hit by a raft of criticisms and the UN has said it needs a major overhaul.

Glaring errors were revealed in the panel’s landmark 2007 Fourth Assessment Report — notably that Himalayan glaciers which provide water to a billion people in Asia could be lost by 2035, a claim traced to a magazine article.

The Academy’s report said that “solar activity, which has dropped slightly on average since 1975, cannot be dominant in warming observed during this period” even if the mechanisms involved “are not yet well understood.”

“Major uncertainties remain on how to model clouds, the evolution of marine ice and the polar caps, the connection between the oceans and the atmosphere, the biosphere’s evolution and the carbon cycle,” the report said.

Allegre wrote that it was impossible to predict the climate’s long-term evolution, but the Academy said that “climate evolution predictions of 30 to 50 years are little affected by uncertainties on modelling slow evolution processes.”

“These predictions are particularly useful in responding to society’s current concerns, worsened by the predictable population growth.”

The IPCC’s deputy head, Frenchman Jean Jouzel, welcomed the report.

“Even if in this text lots of space is given to the arguments put forward by climate change sceptics, I note that the document clearly reaffirms the IPCC’s broad conclusions,” he told AFP.

“Clearly sceptics will find some things to make their case. It says that not all is clear about the sun’s role. The debate is never over,” he said.

The report was the result of written contributions as well as closed-door discussions held at the Academy on September 20 and subsequent exchanges, the Academy said.

More On Birds From The Cornell Lab Of Ornithology

October 28, 2010

Cornell Lab eNews

October 28, 2010

Through the Lens: White-tailed Ptarmigan

White-tailed Ptarmigans by Gerrit Vyn

View the incredible terrain on Mount Ranier’s alpine tundra and see stunning images of the ptarmigans that live there. Watch a short narrated piece by photographer Gerrit Vyn on our YouTube channel. Watch now.

Osprey by Laura Erickson
An Osprey’s Flight

Penelope, a 3 month-old Osprey, flew 2,700 miles from Massachusetts to French Guiana in 13 days. Lightweight transmitters are revealing where Ospreys go—and the hazards they face along the way. Read more.

Common Redpoll © Raymond Lee Photography Winter Finch Forecast
What’s happening with boreal trees this year, and how will this affect which birds people see at their feeders? Ron Pittaway’s winter finch forecast predicts where 11 species will (or won’t) show up. Read more.

A Second Look at “Seagulls”

Stumped by gull identification? By learning a few key concepts, anyone can pick out the most common three or four gull species along any coast. See our tips.

New Bird Songs Bible Blends Art, Science, and Sound
For the birding faithful, the “Bird Songs Bible” showcases the sounds of all of North America’s breeding bird species. Hear recordings of nearly 750 species from the Cornell Lab’s archive at the push of a button, with beautiful images and interesting facts at every turn of the page. Retail price is $125. Learn more.

How to Win a Bird Songs Bible

Enter our photo contest at, the free online birding community launched by the Cornell Lab and NRDC. You’ll be entered in a drawing to win a copy of the Bird Songs Bible. Learn more.

Photographs courtesy of Maria Schneider Jazzed About Birds
Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider is fascinated by birds and flight—and captures the sound and motion of birds in her music. After the Maria Schneider Orchestra played in Cornell’s Bailey Hall, Maria visited the Cornell Lab to hear bird recordings in our Macaulay Library and to talk with staff writer Pat Leonard. Read the interview.

Featured Artist Maria Coryell-Martin
Maria creates 4-inch by 6-inch compositions that feature a small painting of a bird and notes about its life and habitat. See Maria’s gallery.

Join Us for Project FeederWatch!
New season begins November 13

Enhance your bird-watching experience by joining Project FeederWatch. Put up a bird feeder, use our simple instructions to count birds that visit during regularly scheduled days from November to April, and send your data to scientists.

Carolyn Bryant, a FeederWatcher in Maine, said, “I am astonished by how much I can learn just by watching closely. FeederWatch gives me the motivation to stop, watch, and learn, and I am happy to be helping the environment at the same time.”

Based on nearly a quarter-century of FeederWatch data, scientists document fluctuations that could be the result of climate change, habitat destruction, disease, or other environmental factors. Project leader David Bonter said, “These are large-scale changes that we would not be able to see without the massive amount of data from participants. Keeping an eye out in your own backyard can make a difference.”

A $15 fee ($12 for Lab members) helps cover the costs of participant support, data analysis, and materials, including FeederWatcher’s Handbook, a poster, and a calendar. To sign up, visit

More to Explore

1. Bird-Feeding Tips
Download our PDFs about winter bird feeding, keeping squirrels at bay, and other topics in our BirdNotes series. See choices.

2. Bird Chow Challenge
Our Celebrate Urban Birds program asks you to share your photo, story, or art about birds and what they eat. You could win one of more than 50 birdy prizes! Learn more.

3. Volunteers Help Scientists Understand Birds and Changing Habitats
NSF’s Science Nation shows how citizen-science participants are making a difference by contributing the data scientists need to gain new insights about birds. Watch the video.

4. Flamingos of the Altiplano
On a high plateau in the Andes, a little-known population struggles to survive. Read this article and other fascinating stories in our Living Bird magazine.

5. Elephants Through Night-Vision Glasses
Endangered forest elephants are so difficult to see that our team uses some of the same acoustic technologies to study elephants that ornithologists use to study birds. Read about our scientists’ adventures with elephants in Gabon and take a look at their photos, recorded with night-vision binoculars. See the photos.

6. Did You Know?
The kind of coffee you drink can help the birds. Traditional shade-grown coffee plantations in Mexico can support more than 100 bird species, compared with 6-12 species in sun-grown monocultures. You can learn more about the birds that benefit, or order shade-grown coffee, by visiting our partners at Birds & Beans.

Russian bears treat graveyards as ‘giant refrigerators’

October 28, 2010

In the medievil period wolves ate human carcasses placed outside of villages because they had died of Bubonic Plague and because of that wolves are considered evil by some folks to this day…with the advent of global warming artifacts like excessive wildfire bears are getting into an act that will mean many more dead bears and this is just the begining…I think bears are great but I find this to be grotesque.

From a distance it resembled a rather large man in a fur coat, leaning tenderly over the grave of a loved one. But when the two women in the Russian village of Vezhnya Tchova came closer they realised there was a bear in the cemetery eating a body.

Russian bears have grown so desperate after a scorching summer they have started digging up and eating corpses in municipal cemetries, alarmed officials said today. Bears’ traditional food – mushrooms, berries and the odd frog – has disappeared, they added.

The Vezhnya Tchova incident took place on Saturday in the northern republic of Komi, near the Arctic Circle. The shocked women cried in panic, frightening the bear back into the woods, before they discovered a ghoulish scene with the clothes of the bear’s already-dead victim chucked over adjacent tombstones, the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomelets reported.

Local people said that bears had resorted to scavenging in towns and villages – rummaging through bins, stealing garden carrots and raiding tips. A young man had been mauled in the centre of Syktyvkar, Komi’s capital. “They are really hungry this year. It’s a big problem. Many of them are not going to survive,” said Simion Razmislov, the vice-president of Komi’s hunting and fishing society.

World Wildlife Fund Russia said there had been a similar case two years ago in the town of Kandalaksha, in the northern Karelia republic. “You have to remember that bears are natural scavengers. In the US and Canada you can’t leave any food in tents in national parks,” said Masha Vorontsova, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in Russia.

“In Karelia one bear learned how to do it [open a coffin]. He then taught the others,” she added, suggesting: “They are pretty quick learners.”

The only way to get rid of the bears would be to frighten them with something noisy like a firework or shoot them, she said.

According to Vorontsova, the omnivorous bears had “plenty to eat” this autumn, with foods such as fish and ants at normal levels. The bears raided graveyards because they offered a supply of easy food, she said, a bit like a giant refrigerator. “The story is horrible. Nobody wants to think about having a much loved member of their family eaten by a bear.”

The bear population in Russia is relatively stable with numbers between 120,000 and 140,000. The biggest threat isn’t starvation but hunting – with VIP sportsmen and wealthy gun enthusiasts wiping out most of the large male bears in Kamchatka, in Russia’s Far East. Chinese poachers have killed many black bears near the border, selling their claws and other parts in markets.

The Russian government is drafting legislation to ban the killing of bears during the winter breeding season.

• This article was amended on 27 October 2010. The original referred to Masha Vorontsova of WWF Russia. This has been corrected.

Conjecture About Species Of Animals That Have A Great Chance Of Killing Us

October 28, 2010

In ths current edition of Bozeman Outside there are four species from the past that the article conjectures about hunting each species.

First of all there is no reason to hunt each species but if you do here is a possibility. There fictional hunter hunts Tyrannosaurus Rex.

My guess is that modern hunting impliments would not kill this large beast and would enrage the Rex to the point that the dinosaur would track down the hunter and kill the hunter if the dinasaur could find the hunter.

Next they have a hunter hunting a wooly mammoth. The hunter has little room for error or he might get stomped by the elephant.

Then they have a Saber toothed Tiger, a species that is killed by a large rifle and a well placed shot, but like its counterparts this is a beast that tastes bad like the large cats of today. If your shot is misplaced the Saber toothed cat has the capability to kill its stalker.

Then there is a Giant short faced Bear, also done in by a large rifle…again a well placed shot is very much needed. The food value of this bear is marginal. This is a huge counterpart to the brown bear, and it can kill you if you wound it with a marginaly placed impilment.

None of this matters because the 4 species discussed in this article are extict. So whats next…I do not know…I only no it is fun to conjecture about killing these 4 species that have a propensity to kill us.

Navajos Hope to Shift From Coal to Wind and Sun

October 26, 2010

BLUE GAP, Ariz. — For decades, coal has been an economic lifeline for the Navajos, even as mining and power plant emissions dulled the blue skies and sullied the waters of their sprawling reservation.

But today there are stirrings of rebellion. Seeking to reverse years of environmental degradation and return to their traditional values, many Navajos are calling for a future built instead on solar farms, ecotourism and microbusinesses.

“At some point we have to wean ourselves,” Earl Tulley, a Navajo housing official, said of coal as he sat on the dirt floor of his family’s hogan, a traditional circular dwelling.

Mr. Tulley, who is running for vice president of the Navajo Nation in the Nov. 2 election, represents a growing movement among Navajos that embraces environmental healing and greater reliance on the sun and wind, abundant resources on a 17 million-acre reservation spanning Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

“We need to look at the bigger picture of sustainable development,” said Mr. Tulley, the first environmentalist to run on a Navajo presidential ticket.

With nearly 300,000 members, the Navajo Nation is the country’s largest tribe, according to Census Bureau estimates, and it has the biggest reservation. Coal mines and coal-fired power plants on the reservation and on lands shared with the Hopi provide about 1,500 jobs and more than a third of the tribe’s annual operating budget, the largest source of revenue after government grants and taxes.

At the grass-roots level, the internal movement advocating a retreat from coal is both a reaction to the environmental damage and the health consequences of mining — water loss and contamination, smog and soot pollution — and a reconsideration of centuries-old tenets.

In Navajo culture, some spiritual guides say, digging up the earth to retrieve resources like coal and uranium (which the reservation also produced until health issues led to a ban in 2005) is tantamount to cutting skin and represents a betrayal of a duty to protect the land.

“As medicine people, we don’t extract resources,” said Anthony Lee Sr., president of the Diné Hataalii Association, a group of about 100 healers known as medicine men and women.

But the shift is also prompted by economic realities. Tribal leaders say the Navajo Nation’s income from coal has dwindled 15 percent to 20 percent in recent years as federal and state pollution regulations have imposed costly restrictions and lessened the demand for mining.

Two coal mines on the reservation have shut down in the last five years. One of them, the Black Mesa mine, ceased operations because the owners of the power plant it fed in Laughlin, Nev., chose to close the plant in 2005 rather than spend $1.2 billion on retrofitting it to meet pollution controls required by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Early this month, the E.P.A. signaled that it would require an Arizona utility to install $717 million in emission controls at another site on the reservation, the Four Corners Power Plant in New Mexico, describing it as the highest emitter of nitrous oxide of any power plant in the nation. It is also weighing costly new rules for the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona.

And states that rely on Navajo coal, like California, are increasingly imposing greenhouse gas emissions standards and requiring renewable energy purchases, banning or restricting the use of coal for electricity.

So even as they seek higher royalties and new markets for their vast coal reserves, tribal officials say they are working to draft the tribe’s first comprehensive energy policy and are gradually turning to casinos, renewable energy projects and other sources for income.

This year the tribal government approved a wind farm to be built west of Flagstaff, Ariz., to power up to 20,000 homes in the region. Last year, the tribal legislative council also created a Navajo Green Economy Commission to promote environmentally friendly jobs and businesses.

“We need to create our own businesses and control our destiny,” said Ben Shelly, the Navajo Nation vice president, who is now running for president against Lynda Lovejoy, a state senator in New Mexico and Mr. Tulley’s running mate.

That message is gaining traction among Navajos who have reaped few benefits from coal or who feel that their health has suffered because of it.

Curtis Yazzie, 43, for example, lives in northeastern Arizona without running water or electricity in a log cabin just a stone’s throw from the Kayenta mine.

Tribal officials, who say some families live so remotely that it would cost too much to run power lines to their homes, have begun bringing hybrid solar and wind power to some of the estimated 18,000 homes on the reservation without electricity. But Mr. Yazzie says that air and water pollution, not electricity, are his first concerns.

“Quite a few of my relatives have made a good living working for the coal mine, but a lot of them are beginning to have health problems,” he said. “I don’t know how it’s going to affect me.”

One of those relatives is Daniel Benally, 73, who says he lives with shortness of breath after working for the Black Mesa mine in the same area for 35 years as a heavy equipment operator. Coal provided for his family, including 15 children from two marriages, but he said he now believed that the job was not worth the health and environmental problems.

“There’s no equity between benefit and damage,” he said in Navajo through a translator.

About 600 mine, pipeline and power plant jobs were affected when the Mohave Generating Station in Nevada and Peabody’s Black Mesa mine shut down.

But that also meant that Peabody stopped drawing water from the local aquifer for the coal slurry carried by an underground pipeline to the power plant — a victory for Navajo and national environmental groups active in the area, like the Sierra Club.

Studies have shown serious declines in the water levels of the Navajo aquifer after decades of massive pumping for coal slurry operations. And the E.P.A. has singled out the Four Corners Power Plant and the Navajo Generating Station as two of the largest air polluters in the country, affecting visibility in 27 of the area’s “most pristine and precious natural areas,” including the Grand Canyon.

The regional E.P.A. director, Jared Blumenfeld, said the plants were the nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 emitters of nitrogen oxides, which form fine particulates resulting in cases of asthma attacks, bronchitis, heart attacks and premature deaths.

Environmentalists are now advocating for a more diversified Navajo economy and trying to push power plants to invest in wind and solar projects.

“It’s a new day for the Navajo people,” said Lori Goodman, an official with Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, a group founded 22 years ago by Mr. Tulley. “We can’t be trashing the land anymore.”

Both presidential candidates in the Navajo election have made the pursuit of cleaner energy a campaign theme, but significant hurdles remain, including that Indian tribes, as sovereign entities, are not eligible for tax credits that help finance renewable energy projects elsewhere.

And replacing coal revenue would not be easy. The mining jobs that remain, which pay union wages, are still precious on a reservation where unemployment is estimated at 50 percent to 60 percent.

“Mining on Black Mesa,” Peabody officials said in a statement, “has generated $12 billion in direct and implied economic benefits over the past 40 years, created thousands of jobs, sent thousands of students to college and restored lands to a condition that is as much as 20 times more productive than native range.”

They added, “Renewables won’t come close to matching the scale of these benefits.”

But many Navajos see the waning of coal as inevitable and are already looking ahead. Some residents and communities are joining together or pairing with outside companies to pursue small-scale renewable energy projects on their own.

Wahleah Johns, a member of the new Navajo Green Economy Commission, is studying the feasibility of a small solar project on reclaimed mining lands with two associates. In the meantime, she uses solar panels as a consciousness-raising tool.

“How can we utilize reclamation lands?” she said to Mr. Yazzie during a recent visit as they held their young daughters in his living room. “Maybe we can use them for solar panels to generate electricity for Los Angeles, to transform something that’s been devastating for our land and water into something that can generate revenue for your family, for your kids.”

Mr. Yazzie, who lives with his wife, three children and two brothers, said he liked the idea. “Once Peabody takes all the coal out, it’ll be gone,” he said. “Solar would be long-term. Solar and wind, we don’t have a problem with. It’s pretty windy out here.”

Rocky Kistner on NRDC’s Switchboard Blog About The Oil Spill Disaster In The Gulf Of Mexico

October 26, 2010

Rocky Kistner, Communications Associate, Washington, DC

I’ve spent more than 20 years as a journalist, working on investigative projects and stories for major print and broadcast media outlets. So I didn’t know what to expect when I started with NRDC’s communications staff on climate change issues in 2009. But I soon discovered that the same communication skills I used as a journalist easily transferred to the critical work NRDC is doing to push for comprehensive climate change legislation and new clean energy technologies and jobs. There really isn’t a more important job right now. All I have to do is look into the eyes of my two young daughters to know children everywhere are counting on us to get this right. Currently I’m working in our Gulf Resource Center in Buras, LA, near the tip of the bayou and ground zero of the BP oil catastrophe. Fishermen here were battered by Katrina and now are battling the worst maritime oil disaster in history. NRDC has put its money where its mouth is, working hand-in-hand with people on the Gulf coast frontlines to help fishing communities recover, implement stronger environmental protection laws, and rebuild the rapidly diminishing Mississippi wetlands that are the food source for the entire Gulf ecosystem. In my book, I couldn’t be working in a better place — or for a better group — to fight for a sustainable future.

Now In Place Of Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disastor Summaries

October 26, 2010

Hello Everyone,

We in the communications department have decided to discontinue the daily Gulf Coast Disaster clips. While our work in the gulf is still going strong, we decided when we reached the six month anniversary of the disaster it would be time to discontinue the service.

Please continue to look for updates on the NRDC blog site.
Look in particular for Rocky Kistner’s writings on this issue.