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John Stewart

NEPA - The Basics

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assures that federal agencies will consider the impact of an action on the human environment before decisions are made and the action is taken. It requires that NEPA documents concentrate on issues that are significant to the action in question. The NEPA process is intended to help public officials make better decisions based on an understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the human environment.

The LAW: The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) establishes a public, interdisciplinary framework for Federal decision-making and

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John Stewart

President to Sign Proclamation Designating Fort Ord National Monument

“Already, over 100,000 people come every year to enjoy all that Fort Ord has to offer. President Obama’s action, with the strong support of the people of California, will ensure that this special place continues to thrive for generations to come. At the same time, the creation of this new national monument is good for tourism, recreation, and local businesses that cater to the tens of thousands of people who come to experience this remarkable place,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

President Obama first used the Antiquities Act in November 2011 to designate the Fort Monroe National Monument, a former Army post integral to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military. First exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the authority of the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents since 1906 to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients, and the Papahānaumokuākea marine protected area of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Today, Fort Ord provides exceptional recreational opportunities to over 100,000 visitors annually, offering 86 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails.  The area is an economic engine for the community and serves as a key venue for the annual Sea Otter Classic, one of the largest bicycling events in the world with approximately 10,000 athletes and 50,000 spectators every year.

Nearly two and a half centuries ago, the area was traversed by a group of settlers led by Spanish Lieutenant-Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza, whose diaries were used to identify the route of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.  The area’s open, contiguous landscape owes its undeveloped state largely to its role as a U.S. Army facility.  From World War I through the early 1990s, the area’s rugged terrain served as a military training ground for as many as a million and a half American soldiers.  

The Fort Ord National Monument will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  The BLM currently manages approximately 7,200 acres of the area, and the Army will transfer approximately 7,450 acres after clean-up under an existing base closure agreement between the Army and the BLM.  The BLM will continue to work closely with its many community, state, and Federal partners to effectively manage the new national monument, which will become part of the Bureau’s 27-million-acre National Landscape Conservation System.

The Department of the Interior lands support $363 billion in economic activity and 2.2 million jobs annually, with BLM public lands in California alone hosting more than 10 million recreation visitors a year.  This translates to an estimated contribution of $980 million to local California economies and 7,600 recreation-related jobs. 


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John Stewart

Little Change in Drought Over 60 Years

A new paper out in the current issue of Nature finds little evidence to support claims that drought has increased globally over the past 60 years. The authors write:

Drought is expected to increase in frequency and severity in the future as a result of climate change, mainly as a consequence of decreases in regional precipitation but also because of increasing evaporation driven by global warming. Previous assessments of historic changes in drought over the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries indicate that this may already be happening globally. In particular, calculations of the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) show a decrease in moisture globally since the 1970s with a commensurate increase in the area in drought that is attributed, in part, to global warming. The simplicity of the PDSI, which is calculated from a simple water-balance model forced by monthly precipitation and temperature data, makes it an attractive tool in large-scale drought assessments, but may give biased results in the context of climate change6. Here we show that the previously reported increase in global drought is overestimated because the PDSI uses a simplified model of potential evaporation that responds only to changes in temperature and thus responds incorrectly to global warming in recent decades. More realistic calculations, based on the underlying physical principles that take into account changes in available energy, humidity and wind speed, suggest that there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.

What does this mean?

Original author: Roger


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John Stewart

Climate Change Report Released

Climate Change in Grasslands, Shrublands, and Deserts of the Interior American West: A Review and Needs Assessment

FORT COLLINS, Colo., Aug. 27, 2012 - Climate change poses as much risk to public and private grassland and shrubland ecosystems as it does to forested ecosystems yet receives less attention by the public and key stakeholders. Consequently, most climate change research concentrates on forested ecosystems, leaving grassland and shrubland managers with insufficient information to guide decision making.

The USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station published a comprehensive report summarizing climate change research and potential effects on grassland, shrub, and desert ecosystems. The report, “Climate Change in Grasslands, Shrublands, and Deserts of the Interior American West: A Review and Needs Assessment,” highlights current knowledge and future research essential to mitigate the prospective detrimental effects of climate change. It addresses animal, plant, and invasive species models and responses, vulnerabilities and genetic adaption, animal species and habitats, and decision support tools for restoration and land management.

Original author: Press


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John Stewart

Adaptive Management and the WQMH

Adaptive management is used where decisions can be made and actions modified during the project duration and a level of experimentation can be applied to achieve the desired goal.

You begin with a clear goal and an uncertain means to accomplish that goal.  You “adapt” your work steps as conditions change to complete your goal.  While adaptive management provides flexibility to change the active steps, it is highly dependent on monitoring, accuracy of data, and analysis of data.

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OutdoorWire, 4x4Wire, JeepWire, TrailTalk, MUIRNet-News, and 4x4Voice are all trademarks and publications of OutdoorWire, Inc. and MUIRNet Consulting. Copyright (c) 1999-2019 OutdoorWire, Inc and MUIRNet Consulting - All Rights Reserved, no part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without express written permission. You may link freely to this site, but no further use is allowed without the express written permission of the owner of this material. All corporate trademarks are the property of their respective owners.