Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sonoma and Marin coastline may be given added protection for ecology

DOWNLOAD the Citizens Guide to Expanding our Marine Sanctuaries [http://sanctuaryexpansion.org/docs/AAASanctuaryCitizensGuideForDownload.pdf]

"Permanent Protection for Our Coastlines is Within Reach"
2014-05-27 for the "Sonoma County Gazette" [http://www.sonomacountygazette.com/cms/pages/sonoma-county-news-article-2715.html]:
You suddenly have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure permanent protection for one of the most iconic and sensitive portions of the California coast. The spectacular beauty of our coastline between Bodega Bay and Pt. Arena attracts millions of visitors and is the centerpiece of our regional economy, but it’s what you can’t see with the naked eye that makes this place so special.
In this region, one of the four most productive ocean upwelling systems on the planet brings nutrient-rich waters from the depths. Seasonal surface currents and prevailing winds carry this rich food source southward to provide the base of the marine food chain for an abundance of aquatic and avian life extending at least as far south as the Monterey Canyon. This region embraces a globally significant, extraordinarily diverse, and productive marine ecosystem that supports thriving wildlife and valuable fisheries. It provides breeding and feeding grounds for at least twenty-five endangered or threatened species; thirty-six marine mammal species, including blue, gray, and humpback whales, harbor seals, elephant seals, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and one of the southernmost U.S. populations of threatened Steller sea lions, plus over a quarter-million breeding seabirds, and one of the most significant white shark populations on the planet.
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) laying out the new expansion of these existing National Marine Sanctuaries by extending their collective northern boundary northward from Bodega Bay to Pt. Arena has just been released for public review. This long-sought protection has been previously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and remained in play during the 2012 session of the U.S. Senate. Pursued for many years in a bipartisan effort by affected local elected officials and our Representatives and Senators in Congress, this is an outcome that will permanently prohibit offshore oil and gas drilling and establish rules for sewage dumping from cruise ships on the entire Sonoma Coast and on the Southern Mendocino Coast.
Now is your chance to protect our regional economy, our sustainable fisheries, and this valued national treasure by attending one of the four upcoming local public hearings in our area. Your support and any specific comments you might have on ways to improve the details of this plan are critical, and your own participation in extending this vital protection to key new coastal waters is vital at this time

Sonoma and Mendocino Coast Marine Sanctuary Permanent Protection Public Hearings:
* June 16, 2014, Point Arena, 6 pm-Point Arena City Hall, 451 School Street, Point Arena, CA 95468
* June 17, 2014, Gualala, 6 pm-Gualala Community Center, 47950 Center Street, Gualala, CA 95445
* June 18, 2014, Bodega Bay, 6 pm-Grange Hall, 1370 Bodega Avenue, Bodega Bay, CA 94923

Written comments will be accepted until June 30, 2014, and should be sent to: Maria Brown, Superintendent, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, 991 Marine Drive-The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129.

Submit electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
Online clickthrough web URL for comments [http://www.regulations.gov]
(Please note that commentor’s names and any contact information provided are publicly accessible to individuals wanting to view the comments.)

By U.S. Mail:
Ms. Maria Brown, Sanctuary Superintendent, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, 991 Marine Drive, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129

Sonoma and Mendocino Coast Marine Sanctuary map

Salt Point Gerstle Grove Sonoma Coast

"Protest of Tunnels Under Ancient Trees in Armstrong Woods"

2014-05-27 by Linda Lucey and John Cruz for "Sonoma County Gazette" [http://www.sonomacountygazette.com/cms/pages/sonoma-county-news-article-2714.html]:
 If you would like to help or for more information and to stay connected send an e-mail to Friends of Armstrong Woods at armstrongredwoods@aol.com.
You may also sign the online petition by logging on to: [www.change.org/petitions/california-state-parks-abandon-plans-to-drill-trench-and-tunnel-in-the-ancient-root-systems-of-the-old-growth-redwood-trees-in-armstrong-redwoods-reserve]

Many friends of the ancient trees and their ecosystem visited Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve on Sunday, May 4 to protest the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s proposed water system developments there. After they learned of threats to the redwoods from new water wells, surface trenching, and underground tunneling among the trees in the natural reserve, local citizens joined together and visited the woods to express their concerns.
The weather was beautiful, the trees were majestic and the park employees were very helpful making sure everyone found the correct trails. Everyone was enthusiastic about having an opportunity to do something to protect the forest and people exchanged stories with each other about how the woods were part of their lives.
Guerneville resident, Linda Lucey stated, “The regulations posted at the entrance to this grove state, natural scenery, plants, and animal life are the principal attractions of most state parks.  They are integral parts of the ecosystem and natural community. As such, they are protected by Federal, State and Park laws. Disturbance or destruction of these resources is strictly forbidden.”
“We respectfully refrain from disturbing even a twig in this reserve,” Lucey further stated.  “Why doesn’t State Parks follow the same Federal, State, and Park laws that we follow? Do the benefits of more water for visitors outweigh the risks of harm to the old growth ecosystem the visitors come to see?  How much is this project going to cost us taxpayers?  Why won’t State Parks hold a scoping session so we can understand exactly what is going on?”
Protesters handed out informational flyers at the visitors center and then, walked quietly through the beautiful redwood grove, some dressed as large trees. Their object was to draw attention to what until recently some say have been the very closely held development plans of State Parks.  Many people from the local community, including members of Forest Unlimited, participated in the event. Everyone shared serious concerns about the impacts that State Park’s plans will have on this delicate and now rare ecosystem. All the park visitors encountered by the participants in the protest expressed interest in learning more about the state’s plans and were very supportive of protecting the Natural Reserve.
Two groups walked from the visitors center parking lot through the grove to the picnic area, one following the road and the other the trail. Looking up, walkers could easily spot numerous old growth trees with spike tops and thinning foliage, signs of stress caused by interruption of their usual water supply by human activities.
The existing pipeline, which is mostly above ground and has minimal impact on the forest, was observed in a number of places. The narrow winding roads through the park would plainly have trouble accommodating large construction equipment, especially where it is flanked in spots by pairs of massive old growth trees only about 10’ apart. The road surface and roots under the road would also likely be damaged by construction equipment which can weigh as much as 30 tons.
Recently the California Department of Parks and Recreation  postponed any work at Armstrong Woods until September 2015.  However the reserve has already been disturbed by the project.  State Parks authorized the drilling of a new water well at the back of the reserve in December 2013.  Testing of that well will likely commence shortly, causing further disturbances in the reserve.
Meanwhile the public continues to request a scoping session which is a public meeting held early in the review process during which the community and the agency share information and collaborate on alternatives.  A scoping session provides a forum for full disclosure and dialogue with the agency, enabling citizens to fully exercise their rights and responsibilities to be heard prior to discretionary decision-making.
In the interim, a State Parks news release indicates public meetings will be held (not yet scheduled at the time of this writing) where people in the community can be fully briefed. Everyone will have the opportunity to offer their input about the proposed development plans and also discuss alternatives that do not risk the old growth trees.  However, unlike a scoping session, these informational public meetings will be held later in the review process, after very expensive Environmental Impact Reports and project designs have been completed.
About one million visitors per year visit Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve according to parks statistics, making it a very popular, unique and valuable ecosystem in Sonoma County.
The preliminary plans from Parks, now on hold, included installing an 8” water pipe through the park, passing very close to some of the unique old growth trees in the grove. These plans also called for trenching in addition to the use of horizontal drilling equipment which requires excavation of at least five large pits, the size of which will be determined by the contractor which may be 20’ by 20’ by 20’ deep.  At least 3 additional pits will be necessary to accommodate the fire hydrants included in the current plans. It is inevitable that some damage will be done to the trees, some of which are thousands of years old, when their roots are cut by trenching and excavation by backhoes and bulldozers to create trenches and pits. Some pits are quite close to old growth trees. Horizontal drilling will also introduce “drilling mud” into the Nature Reserve which may contain containments which will impact the environment or enter the stream there.
Another concern for the trees is the impact of pumping the water from beneath the nearby stream which will reduce the water table and the subsurface flow and potentially endanger the trees. Analysis of state and federal rainfall averages in the California old growth groves shows that Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve has among the lowest average annual rainfall of any of the groves.
Monitoring the plans of the State Parks for the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is an ongoing effort of the entire community. Good public attendance at the meetings is important to preserve the woods.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Sebastopol joins cities who support ban on fracking in California"

The Sebastopol City Council joined 13 other cities in supporting a Ban on Fracking in the state of California. Running the gamut from conservative LA and Beverly Hills to freewheeling Santa Cruz and Berkeley, local governments are taking the lead to pressure state and federal representatives to wake up. It’s past time to stop the toxic extraction industry from poisoning and wasting our precious water.
A young woman named Kusuma Rose gave an emotional appeal to the council because she has watched in horror at the devastating affects of fracking on her homes in both New York and Pennsylvania.
Mayor Robert Jacob took the lead by bringing this item to the agenda and after receiving full support of the people during public comment it was passed unanimously.
At the behest of Councilwoman Sarah Gurney, a copy of the resolution will be sent to the Sonoma County Mayors and Councilman's Association, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, our state representatives and Senators Feinstein and Boxer.
Holly Mitchell’s state bill SB 1132, that calls for a moratorium on fracking, has been sidelined into “the Appropriations Committee's suspense file which is often the place where bills go to die." according to the Sacramento Bee.
It is becoming abundantly clear that people who are working to save the place they live in and love are the most effective in stopping the forces of industry that only care about the bottom-line. These grassroots actions are the heart and soul of the move to protect the rights of nature, our community and consequently future generations. They get results fast because local city councils care and listen and corporations are less likely to be breathing down their necks.
Our representatives on the state and federal level are being lobbied and too easily bought by an industry that can’t unhook themselves from their addiction to oil, coal and gas.
The first Ban on Fracking was passed in Pittsburg, PA in 2010. It was the first ordinance in the US to include the Rights of Nature.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, CELDF, helped Pittsburg draft the ordinance and also helped Ecuador become the first nation in the world to incorporate the Rights of Nature in their constitution.
We have an opportunity as we update the Sebastopol General Plan, GP, to include the Rights of Nature in the GP, which is our town “constitution”.
For a copy of the Resolution contact: Sebastopol City Council @ 707 823 1153 online [http://ci.sebastopol.ca.us]
Link to The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund: [CELDF.org]

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mt. Diablo native flowers in bloom after seasonal fire

"After inferno, Mt. Diablo bursts with long-hidden flowers; Diablo undergoes rebirth this spring following wildfire"

(05-14) 10:29 PDT DANVILLE -- Heath Bartosh trudged through the arid spread of blackened twigs, bare dirt and tiny spots of greenery that used to be a densely covered slope of brush on Mount Diablo - before last summer's inferno of a wildfire roared over it, that is. Suddenly he stopped. He let out a happy little cry.
"Ah, I've been looking for these!" he exclaimed, bending down to peer at two 8-inch green stalks poking out of the soil with tiny yellow flowers and spiky leaves. He plucked them, carefully pressed them between pieces of cardboard in his sample bag and labeled them: "blazing star."
Mark down one milestone for modern plant history.
The flower Bartosh picked was the first blazing star he'd seen in his study of the aftereffects of the sweeping 2013 Morgan Fire. That means it was the first time anyone has seen a blazing star on the East Bay's biggest mountain in almost 40 years.
The pretty little bloom is what is known as a "fire follower," a flower that grows only after an extra-hot wildfire has devastated a landscape. Such flowers need spring to start popping up - and that's just what is happening on the steep inclines of Mount Diablo right now.
For nature and flower lovers, the show is fascinating.

Blast of color -
Anyone willing to haul at least halfway up Summit Road on the 3,849-foot mountain near Danville can find vibrant carpets of white, purple, orange, magenta and yellow that haven't been seen since the last big Mount Diablo fire, in 1977, and possibly not since the biggest one before that, in 1931.
The array, which can be seen just off the road in spots, includes the light-yellow-petal whispering bells, Brewer's red maids that actually are purple, and golden eardrops, a delicate little flower whose petals poke up like towers, then drop down like floppy ears.
It's a bit tougher to come across the fire poppy, whose golden petals are more crinkly than the California poppy, almost like papier-mache. Right now they're being found only in steep canyons on the eastern side of the mountain above Morgan Territory Road.
Botanist Heath Bartosh shows a fire poppy he picked along an eastern ridge of Mount Diablo, where vegetation is returning.

'Maximum overdrive' -
Get there fast to see them all, though.
The fire poppy disappears in about two weeks, and many of these flowers will be gone in a year. By two years, the fire followers show will be done, and they'll stay away until the next big blaze creates just the right amount of heat, smoke and ash to cause the flowers' dormant seeds to burst open once again.
"Right now on this mountain, what we are seeing is biodiversity in maximum overdrive," said Bartosh, 37, a senior botanist with Nomad Ecology of Martinez who is helping lead the main study of the mountain's postfire vegetation. "But it's a quick overdrive.
"These fire followers have this short niche in time, and then - boom - they're gone again for many years," Bartosh said. "I might not even be around next time my 9-year-old son, Joaquin, gets a chance to seem them again."
The Morgan Fire, sparked by target-shooting, charred 3,111 acres on the north and southeast slopes of the mountain. The last fire that hot and extensive happened in 1977, a blaze that chewed up 6,000 acres, but its aftereffects weren't studied much, Bartosh said.
To find good data on Mount Diablo's postfire flowers, scientists have to hark back to the 25,000-acre wildfire of 1931, the biggest in the mountain's history. Mary Bowerman, the late botanist who co-founded the environmental group Save Mount Diablo, extensively documented that conflagration and its effects on plant life.
For scientists, this study is the proverbial candy-store moment. Naturalists will be examining not just how flowers and trees bounce back, but how wild animals and insects react. They'll be picking over the data for years.
Already, they've noticed that ants are treating the fire flowers like an exotic new string of restaurants, swarming them for nibbles.
"This is an amazing opportunity," Bartosh said. "It's really getting into the heart of the mountain."
Bartosh's team, funded by a $5,000 state grant, will be closely tracking vegetation for at least two years. What they collect - and they have state permission to take whatever flowers they need - will be stored at the Jepson Herbaria at UC Berkeley, a plant library whose specimens date to John Muir's findings in the Sierra Nevada in the 1800s.
Golden eardrops are one of the rare flowers that are blooming on Mount Diablo in the wake of last year's devastating fire. (Photo: Lacy Atkins, SFC)

Open showcase -
Also studying the postfire mountain are three teams funded by $1,000 grants from Save Mount Diablo, where Bartosh is chairman of the science program.
Most of the burned area is chaparral, which consists of drought-resistant plants that usually grow so densely together the ground is obscured. The flames licked the surface virtually flat in many places, creating an open showcase spot for flowers usually hidden under brush - such as the rare Mount Diablo jewel flower and the Fremont's death camas lily, now sprouting in bigger, more visible numbers than have been seen in generations.
Celia Zavatsky, 73, of Berkeley drove up Summit Road the other day to check out the latest blossoms. An amateur botanist, she's been bloom-hunting on the mountain ever since the first few fire followers' petals began poking up through the blaze-blasted earth last month.
"This is so thrilling for those of us who love native plants," she said excitedly, preparing to head up a slope to check out some whispering bells. "Some of us are seeing plants we've never seen before in our lives, and may never see again.
"For anybody who loves nature, this is a special, special time."

Monday, May 12, 2014

17 chemicals commonly found in daily life now linked to breast cancer, 2014

"New Study Calls Out 17 Common Chemicals Linked to Breast Cancer;
Studies that address toxic chemical exposure account for just a drop in the bucket of money spent on breast cancer"
2014-05-12 by Andrea Germanos for "CommonDreams.org" [http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/05/12/new-study-calls-out-17-common-chemicals-linked-breast-cancer]:
The researchers recommend reducing exposure to fumes from gasoline, which contain breast cancer-causing chemicals. (Photo: Upupa4me/cc/flickr)

A new study spotlights the ubiquity of environmental toxins, identifying 17 common chemicals that should be the target of breast cancer prevention efforts, and marking a "huge step forward" in the research called for by a federal committee.
The study by researchers at the Silent Spring Institute and Harvard School of Public Health was published Monday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives [http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1307455/].
"Every woman in America has been exposed to chemicals that may increase her risk of getting breast cancer. Unfortunately, the link between toxic chemicals and breast cancer has largely been ignored," Julia Brody, PhD, study author and Executive Director at Silent Spring Institute, said in a statement.
More than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year, but the SSI states that only "5‐10 percent of those are due to high‐risk inherited genes," emphasizing the need for research on environmental exposure-related diagnoses.
Yet "studies that address toxic chemical exposure account for just a drop in the bucket of money spent on breast cancer," Brody stated.
The new study also found that the same chemicals that have been found to cause mammary cancer in lab rats were also linked to breast cancer in women.
The researchers identified chemicals women may be commonly exposed to and that are rodent mammary carcinogens, and placed those into 17 groups.
They include chemicals in gasoline, diesel and other exhaust, flame retardants, stain-resistant textiles, paint removers, and disinfection byproducts in drinking water. Among the specific chemicals on the list of 17 are benzene, which can be found in gasoline, vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke and solvents; styrene, found in building materials and consumer products made from polystyrene, indoor air, cigarette smoke, polystyrene food packaging; and PFOA and related compounds, which can be found in grease-, water- and stain-proof coatings, or contaminated drinking water. The list also includes endocrine disruptors, which have received increased attention in recent years due to their connection to products containing BPA.
"The study provides a road map for breast cancer prevention by identifying high-priority chemicals that women are most commonly exposed to and demonstrates how to measure exposure. This information will guide efforts to reduce exposure to chemicals linked to breast cancer, and help researchers study how women are being affected," added study author Ruthann Rudel, MS, Research Director of the Silent Spring Institute.
Last year, a report from a federal committee, the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee (IBCERCC ), emphasized the need for more research into the environmental causes of breast cancer, including the "cocktail of carcinogens and endocrine disruptors" people are exposed to every day [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/02/12-8].
"Prevention is the key to reducing the burden of breast cancer," said Jeanne Rizzo, President and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, the leading national organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. "That was the conclusion reached by the 2013 federal IBCERCC committee I co-chaired, which also recommended research on the effects of chemical and physical factors that influence the risk of breast cancer. This review is a huge step forward in that research."
Echoing study author Rudel, Rizzo said "this review will be a vital reference tool for scientists looking to evaluate the causes of breast cancer."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Asian Clams in the San Pablo bay area


"Waste from oil and gas operations tied to Oklahoma earthquakes" (2014-05-06) [link]

"Waste from oil and gas operations tied to Oklahoma earthquakes"

Threats to the San Pablo Bay Ecology: Fracking [link]

2014-05-06 by Daniel J. Graeber from "UPI" newswire [http://www.energy-daily.com/reports/Waste_from_oil_and_gas_operations_tied_to_Oklahoma_earthquakes_999.html]:
Washington -
The U.S. and Oklahoma Geological Surveys said an increase in earthquakes in the state may be attributed to heightened oil and gas activity.
USGS said it examined the rate of increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma and found they weren't due to random fluctuations in seismic activity in that state.
The joint study found injecting wastewater underground can lead to pressure increases that may contribute to earthquakes.
"Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed and approved for this purpose," USGS said.
The waste may be tied to hydraulic fracturing, a controversial drilling practice dubbed fracking. The process is used to extract oil and gas from shale deposits and has lead to an accelerated production rate from North American reserves. Critics of the practice say it's too great of an environmental threat to embrace.
USGS and OGS said Monday the rate of earthquakes in the state have increased by about 50 percent since October 2013. Activity in general has increased since 2009 and a magnitude 5.6 earthquake recorded in 2011 was the largest ever recorded in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is the No. 5 oil producer and the No. 4 natural gas producer in the United States.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Preserve the Boreal Bird Habitat of North America

"Preserving North America's Bird Nursery; 
With spring migration in full flight, a new report urges greater protection for an avian haven"
2014-05-04 press-release from "International Boreal Conservation Campaign" [http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/about/news-room/press-releases/2014/05/05/preserving-north-americas-bird-nursery]:

It's been dubbed North America's bird nursery: the sprawling billion-plus-acre boreal forest that spans the continent from Alaska across Canada to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Each spring, an estimated 1 billion to 3 billion nesting birds make the long journey north to the boreal forest from wintering grounds throughout the United States and central and South America.
Their populations swell during the boreal breeding season, and as many as 3 billion to 5 billion birds of remarkable diversity—from ring-necked ducks to whooping cranes to Cape May warblers to golden eagles—can make the return trip south in the fall.
These are the birds that populate America's backyards, parks, and wetlands, providing enjoyment and recreation to millions of birders, conservationists, and waterfowl hunters.
But as abundant as they are, boreal birds face myriad challenges and threats to their habitat. Some of the most iconic species have suffered dramatic declines in recent decades.
To mark International Migratory Bird Day on May 10, a new report highlights the urgent need to protect North America's boreal forest, a still-pristine haven for more than 300 avian species and one of the planet's last great wilderness regions.
The report, Boreal Birds Need Half (PDF) [http://www.borealbirds.org/reports/birdsneedhalf.pdf], cites science showing that boreal bird species require expansive, landscape-scale habitat conservation in large, interconnected protected areas to maintain healthy populations.
It showcases the often-unappreciated role that boreal birds play in providing ecosystem services by pollinating plants, redistributing nutrients, and controlling pests, as well as the value they add to the U.S. and Canadian economies. The report also emphasizes the integral role that birds play in the cultures of First Nations aboriginal peoples.
“The good news is that the boreal forest is still largely intact. The majority of birds that breed in the boreal forest still have large population sizes and are doing well,” said Jeff Wells, senior scientist at the Boreal Songbird Initiative [http://www.borealbirds.org/] and co-author of the report.
“But there are some birds—especially those breeding in the southern part of the boreal forest in Canada where there is a bigger industrial footprint—that have seen declines of 50 percent or more over the last 30 years,” Wells said.
The report recommends:
* That at least 50 percent of the boreal forest remain free of large-scale industrial disturbance, a protection level needed to ensure a high probability of maintaining the full spectrum of boreal birds.
* That industrial activity in the remaining unprotected areas be subject to the highest global sustainability standards, with an emphasis on maintaining healthy and pristine wetlands and waterways.
* That protected areas and industrial activities proceed only with the free, prior, and informed consent of aboriginal communities.
Boreal Birds Need Half was produced by the Boreal Songbird Initiative and Ducks Unlimited, partners with The Pew Charitable Trusts in the International Boreal Conservation Campaign [http://www.pewenvironment.org/campaigns/international-boreal-conservation-campaign/id/8589935770].

Steve Kallick, director of international lands conservation at Pew, said the report demonstrates the benefits that boreal birds bring to people and ecosystems through the Western Hemisphere. Pew supports the report's recommendations.
“Birds don't have any boundaries. North America's boreal birds are a shared international responsibility,” said Kallick. “Not only do these birds have ecological value far beyond their breeding grounds, they bring joy to serious and casual bird lovers alike—no matter if it's in a northern First Nations community in Canada, in Central Park in Manhattan, or on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago. We have to give back to them by protecting their habitat.”
The report focuses on boreal bird populations in Canada, which contains the vast majority of the continent's boreal forest, and showcases important species and the key ecosystems they populate in nine provinces and territories.
According to Wells, the boreal's status as one of the planet's largest remaining intact forest ecosystems provides Canadian governments with a unique conservation opportunity not available in nations where wild places no longer exist on such a grand scale.
“What most of the world is trying to do is protect the remnants of the rare,” Wells said.  “In the boreal region of Canada and Alaska and a few other parts of the world like the Amazon, there are still these large intact primary forests. It's not about trying to restore degraded habitats; it's about maintaining these pristine areas now, before you have to worry about saving remnants of the rare.”
The North American boreal forest is indispensable habitat for more than 300 species of birds, which rely on it for nesting or migratory stopover. The boreal is also a breeding ground for more than half the populations of nearly 100 species.
While many populations thrive, some of the best-known boreal songbird species—such as the olive-sided flycatcher, evening grosbeak, Canada warbler, and rusty blackbird—have lost more than two-thirds of their numbers. Among waterfowl, scoter populations have fallen by more than 80 percent and scaup by more than 50 percent.
“Scientists have come to understand that you need to protect at least 50 percent of an ecosystem to have the highest probability of maintaining the full suite of biodiversity,” Wells said. “Birds have those same needs.”