Poll: U.S. enviromental concerns decline

Environmental concern declines, poll shows
Americans are now less worried about several environmental problems than at any time in the past 20 years, partly because they believe conditions are improving, according to a Gallup Poll.

 Their concern for each of eight environmental problems fell from a year ago and in all but two areas — global warming and maintenance of the nation’s fresh water supply — reached an all-time Gallup low.

 “It also may reflect greater public concern about economic issues, which is usually associated with a drop in environmental concern,” Gallup says in its release, adding that another factor may be “greater action on environmental issues at the federal, state, and local levels.”

 The declines are quite dramatic for some issues. 

Less than half, or 46%, of Americans worry a great deal about pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs, down from 72% in 1989.
–USA Today

 World Water Day: Raising awareness of clean water
Monday, March 22, is World Water Day, an observance sanctioned by the United Nations. 

An estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide rely on unsafe drinking-water sources. Therefore the theme of World Water Day 2010 is focusing on raising awareness of water quality under the theme “Clean Water for a Healthy World.” 

World Water Day has been observed annually since 1992.

Some fish stocks rebounding, report says
A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report shows that the last decade has been a period of progress in rebuilding depleted fish stocks, sustaining many fisheries populations, and gaining a better understanding of the complex relationships between marine species and their habitats. 

The report cites the Alaskan groundfish fisheries—walleye pollock, Pacific cod, rockfishes and Atka mackerel—as a prime example of how managers and fishermen are working together to keep fish harvest rates at sustainable levels while reducing risks to other species in the ecosystem, including marine mammals, juvenile fish and other fish species not being targeted. 

These findings are one of a number of highlights from the nation’s coastal communities that are described in the newly released NOAA report Our Living Oceans: Report on the Status of U.S. Living Marine Resources

While the report details much progress, it also outlines significant challenges, including ending overfishing for about 20 percent of U.S. stocks where overfishing persists.
–NOAA news release

 EPA delays part of Florida water rules
The Environmental Protection Agency is delaying the downstream portion of water pollution rules being developed to control urban and farm runoff in Florida.

Peter Silva, the agency’s assistant administrator, advised Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole of the decision in a letter .

The downstream rules will be delayed until next year when the agency also will be working on similar regulations for estuaries and coastal waters.

The agency is still on track, though, for finalizing rules for lakes and springs by Oct. 15. The pollution has been blamed for causing algae blooms.
–The Associated Press

DNR won’t expand L. Minnetonka milfoil treatment
Bay-wide chemical treatments worked well to kill Eurasian water milfoil on Lake Minnetonka, but they won’t be expanded this year because of other troubling changes in the water, the Department of Natural Resources has ruled. 

Milfoil was nearly eliminated on Grays Bay and greatly reduced on Phelps Bay after chemical treatments last summer. But some desirable native plants disappeared with the unwanted weeds. Water clarity also dropped on Grays Bay. 

It’s not certain that the chemical affected water clarity, but both developments have given the DNR pause about expanding the treatments, said Chip Welling, DNR coordinator of aquatic invasive species management.
–The Star Tribune

 Anoka County preserves Rum River land
Anoka County is buying a prime tract of land for a natural area along the Rum River in Andover and Oak Grove.

The 590-acre property is one of the largest undeveloped tracts in the metro area, officials said.

 “It’s a real gem,” said John VonDeLinde, Anoka County parks and recreation director. Cedar Creek flows through the property, which has wetlands, flood plain, upland forests and grasslands, he noted.
–The Star Tribune

Lamprey battle offers hope for defeating Asian carp
The forecast was grim.

A parasitic invasive species that fed on healthy trout, salmon and catfish had entered the Great Lakes through its shipping canals, quickly asserted its dominance, and pushed the region’s commercial and sport fishing industries to the brink.

 The invader was the sea lamprey, a razor-toothed, eel-like monster that attaches itself to large fish and sucks the life out of them. And in the 1940s, with no known predators and no clear road map to stop them, many feared the sea lamprey would take over the largest freshwater body in the world.

More than 50 years after biologists launched an all-out assault on the sea lamprey — among the most intensive and costly invasive species eradication efforts in history — the war is all but over. With science, money and muscle, biologists have reduced the sea lamprey population by 90 percent and restored the natural balance to the Great Lakes.
–The Chicago Tribune

Six frequently asked questions about Asian carp
The Asian carp’s presence is highly contentious in the Midwest, with ramifications that could affect the economy as well as the environment. Here’s a primer on the Asian carp and why this invasive species poses such a threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem. 

What is the Asian carp?

It’s a collective term that describes four species of fish that originated in China but have shown up in the United States: the silver, bighead, grass, and black carp. The bighead and silver carp are the ones that have made their way to the front door of the Great Lakes system. 

Grass and black carp can be found farther south, in the Mississippi River. But “they’re not knocking at the door [of Lake Michigan] yet,” says Jennifer Nalbone, director of navigation and invasive species for Great Lakes United, a coalition of advocacy groups.
–The Christian Science Monitor

 Company says it can lock carbon in cement
It seems like alchemy: a Silicon Valley start-up says it has found a way to capture the carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas power plants and lock them into cement.

If it works on a mass scale, the company, Calera, could turn that carbon into gold.

Cement production is a large source of carbon emissions in the United States, and coal-fired electricity plants are the biggest source. As nations around the world press companies to curb their greenhouse-gas emissions, a technology that makes it profitable to do so could be very popular. Indeed, Calera’s marketing materials may be one of the rare places where glowing quotes from a coal company and the Sierra Club appear together.
–The New York Times

 DNR seeks to de-list Minnesota wolves
The Minnesota gray wolf should be removed immediately from the federal government’s endangered and threatened species list and returned to state management, according to a petition filed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

The DNR filed the petition with the Washington, D.C., office of the U.S. Department of the Interior and asked the government to make its decision within the next 90 days. The petition is a procedural step between state and federal natural resource conservation agencies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has tried to delist the wolf in Minnesota and the western Great Lakes region from federal protection on two occasions. Both times the decision was overturned due to legal challenges related to procedural issues. 

“We filed the petition because it is time to have the federal classification match the Minnesota reality,” said DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten. “Federal officials agree that the Minnesota gray wolf population is not threatened or endangered. They agree our wolf management plan ensures the long-term survival of the wolf.”
–DNR News Release

 Florida eyes rivers for drinking water
State water managers and utilities, some offering determined resistance, are drafting long-term plans for taking drinking water from Northeast Florida’s rivers.

 Specifically, they are targeting Black Creek in Clay County, the St. Marys River on the Georgia border and the Ocklawaha River in Putnam County. Together, they could yield 164 million gallons a day for utilities that rely on the increasingly strained Floridan aquifer. 

The plans may never be used, and just discussing them is stirring strong reactions from both sides, environmentalists and utilities. 

But the St. Johns River Water Management District is saying there are no more easy alternatives.
–The Jacksonville Times-Union

 Thompson Reuters goes greener
At Thomson Reuters’ sprawling campus in Eagan, employees on a committee dubbed “Bluebirds and Beyond” volunteered to work in a carpentry workshop on a recent afternoon, nailing together cedar birdhouses. 

Meanwhile, on a paved “Blue Bird Trail” that winds more than two miles past ponds and meadows, other employees were hiking, hoping for a glimpse of the deer, coyotes, wild turkeys and jackrabbits that populate the company’s land near Hwy. 149 and Opperman Drive. 

With an array of conservation projects underway, the landscape here is changing. This summer, it will bloom with wildflowers as the birds and wildlife get an upgrade in their habitat. 

That’s because more than 100 employees have been volunteering for stewardship projects that began last year with the removal of invasive plant species and reseeding.
–The Star Tribune