Environmental news from around the state and the west.
by Amy Brunvand
Utah DWR gets a “D” for Prairie Dog conservation
In her book “Finding Beauty in a Broken World,” Terry Tempest Williams juxtaposed the extermination of Utah prairie dogs (a unique species) with the genocide in Rwanda, and Utah prairie dogs are still in deep trouble according to a report from WildEarth Guardians. “Report from the Burrow, 2009” says that the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has failed to publish a prairie dog status report since 2003, neglects to enforce bans on shooting prairie dogs and has no plans for habitat restoration. The report recommends Utah prairie dog status should be changed from “threatened” to “endangered.”
WildEarth Guardians Prairie Dog Ecosystem Project; www.wildearthguardians.org/Wildlife/ProtectingEndangeredSpecies/PrairieDogEcosystemProject/tabid/122/Default.aspx
Programmed sprinklers don’t have to waste water
In Utah, 65% of our home water use goes on the lawn and the Utah Division of Water Resources says that about half of that water is wasted due to poorly placed sprinkler heads or watering during a rainstorm. A study in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association examined landscape watering in Layton, Utah, and found wasteful water use patterns in nearly 57% of homes and businesses that used programmed sprinklers, compared with only 14% of those that watered with a hose.
The study concludes that human behavior, not technology, is responsible -17.5% of landscapes with programmed sprinklers were able to achieve low water use by adjusting watering based on rainfall and using efficiently designed, well-maintained sprinkler systems.
Residential Lawn Watering Guide: www.conservewater.utah.gov/agency/materials/guide/Default.asp
SLC travelers can offset their carbon impact
The Salt Lake Convention & Visitor’s Bureau has already planted 424 trees in order to offset the carbon footprint of staff travel in 2009, and they are offering business travelers and tourists a chance to do the same. The SLCVB website features a calculator so travelers can determine the carbon impact of their trip, and a $10 contribution buys enough trees to offset one ton of carbon emissions. All of the trees will be planted in Salt Lake County in conjunction with Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon’s “One Million Trees for One Million People” program. The trees are being planted and cared for by TreeUtah, a nonprofit organization dedicated to tree planting and education.
TreeUtah: www.treeutah.org. Salt Lake Convention & Visitor’s Bureau: www.visitsaltlake.com/visit/green. One Million Trees: www.milliontrees. slco.org
Faith and the Land
Do you ever turn to Utah’s wild landscapes for spiritual inspiration, renewal or insight?
How does your faith call on you to caretake the natural world, including wild lands? Last year the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance addressed these questions in a series of discussions about the connection between spirituality and wild places. 230 people representing 10 faith communities participated in discussions including Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Islamic, Jewish, Latter-day Saint, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ. Despite differences in religious practices, participants found that they stood on common ground in their respect for creation and the natural world. The resulting document begins: “Despite differences in the beliefs and practices that define our traditions, we share a common experience and conviction that wilderness is a place of profound spiritual inspiration, renewal, connection, and nourishment. The astounding beauty, utter vastness, and enveloping silence of wild places awaken our sense of awe and connect us to something larger than ourselves – God, Allah, The Divine, spirit, the un-nameable mystery of life.” The “Faith and the Land” statement was delivered to Utah’s elected officials in celebration of Earth Day.
Faith and the Land: a call for Wilderness Stewardship: www.suwa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=FaithandtheLand
Sierra Club rates Utah legislators
The Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club rates the environmental voting records of Utah state legislators by looking at how legislators voted on key environmental bills in the 2009 General Session.
Seven Democratic representatives earned a 100% pro-environment voting record: Laura Black (D-45), Rebecca Chavez-Houk (D-24), Tim Cosgrove (D-44), Christine Johnson (D-25), Jay Seegmiller (D-49), Jennifer Seelig (D-23) and Larry Wiley (D-31).
Democratic senators Scott McCoy and Karen Morgan ranked highest with 88% pro-environment votes.
On the Republican side of the aisle, the best environmental voting record belongs to representative Rebecca Edwards (R-20) with a score of 75%. Sheryl Allen (R-19) and Kraig Powell (R-54) both scored 63%. Republican senators Lyle Hillyard and Dennis Stowell voted pro-environment on 71% of key bills followed by Stephen Urquart (67%); and Gregory Bell, Jon Greiner, and Ralph Okerlund (all at 63%).
2009 Utah Legislative Scorecard: utah.sierraclub.org/legislative.asp
Matheson and the climate bill
During a recent speech, Utah’s Representative Jim Matheson remarked, “One Utah congressman believes climate change is real, and you’re looking at him.”
As it happens, he can actually do something about it. Matheson is on the House Energy & Commerce subcommittee that is marking up the “American Clean Energy and Security Act” (aka Waxman-Markey) a bill that could establish a cap-and-trade system to control CO2 emissions. Matheson has expressed doubts about parts of the draft bill. He is under pressure from both environmentalists who (mostly) support the bill, and conservatives who deride it as “cap-and-tax.” This is a good time to contact Jim Matheson and let him know you are concerned about climate change.