Thursday, December 12, 2013

Airplanes and bird strike collision: options

Refer to the link

Monarch Butterfly recent decline

from the New York Times

New York Times; November 22, 2013; The Year the Monarch Didn’t Appear; By 

ON the first of November, when Mexicans celebrate a holiday called the Day of the Dead, some also celebrate the millions of monarch butterflies that, without fail, fly to the mountainous fir forests of central Mexico on that day. They are believed to be souls of the dead, returned.
This year, for or the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn’t come, at least not on the Day of the Dead. They began to straggle in a week later than usual, in record-low numbers. Last year’s low of 60 million now seems great compared with the fewer than three million that have shown up so far this year. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse.
“It does not look good,” said Lincoln P. Brower, a monarch expert at Sweet Briar College.
It is only the latest bad news about the dramatic decline of insect populations.
Another insect in serious trouble is the wild bee, which has thousands of species. Nicotine-based pesticides called neonicotinoids are implicated in their decline, but even if they were no longer used, experts say, bees, monarchs and many other species of insect would still be in serious trouble.
That’s because of another major factor that has not been widely recognized: the precipitous loss of native vegetation across the United States.
“There’s no question that the loss of habitat is huge,” said Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware, who has long warned of the perils of disappearing insects. “We notice the monarch and bees because they are iconic insects,” he said. “But what do you think is happening to everything else?”
A big part of it is the way the United States farms. As the price of corn has soared in recent years, driven by federal subsidies for biofuels, farmers have expanded their fields. That has meant plowing every scrap of earth that can grow a corn plant, including millions of acres of land once reserved in a federal program for conservation purposes.
Another major cause is farming with Roundup, a herbicide that kills virtually all plants except crops that are genetically modified to survive it.
As a result, millions of acres of native plants, especially milkweed, an important source of nectar for many species, and vital for monarch butterfly larvae, have been wiped out. One study showed that Iowa has lost almost 60 percent of its milkweed, and another found 90 percent was gone. “The agricultural landscape has been sterilized,” said Dr. Brower.
The loss of bugs is no small matter. Insects help stitch together the web of life with essential services, breaking plants down into organic matter, for example, and dispersing seeds. They are a prime source of food for birds. Critically, some 80 percent of our food crops are pollinated by insects, primarily the 4,000 or so species of the flying dust mops called bees. “All of them are in trouble,” said Marla Spivak, a professor of apiculture at the University of Minnesota.
Farm fields are not the only problem. Around the world people have replaced diverse natural habitat with the biological deserts that are roads, parking lots and bluegrass lawns. Meanwhile, the plants people choose for their yards are appealing for showy colors or shapes, not for their ecological role. Studies show that native oak trees in the mid-Atlantic states host as many as 537 species of caterpillars, which are important food for birds and other insects. Willows come in second with 456 species. Ginkgo, on the other hand, which is not native, supports three species, and zelkova, an exotic plant used to replace elm trees that died from disease, supports none. So the shelves are nearly bare for bugs and birds.
Native trees are not only grocery stores, but insect pharmacies as well. Trees and other plants have beneficial chemicals essential to the health of bugs. Some monarchs, when afflicted with parasites, seek out more toxic types of milkweed because they kill the parasites. Bees use medicinal resins from aspen and willow trees that are antifungal, antimicrobial and antiviral, to line their nests and to fight infection and diseases. “Bees scrape off the resins from the leaves, which is kind of awesome, stick them on their back legs and take them home,” said Dr. Spivak.
Besides pesticides and lack of habitat, the other big problem bees face is disease. But these problems are not separate. “Say you have a bee with viruses,” and they are run-down, Dr. Spivak said. “And they are in a food desert and have to fly a long distance, and when you find food it has complicated neurotoxins and the immune system just goes ‘uh-uh.’ Or they become disoriented and can’t find their way home. It’s too many stressors all at once.”
There are numerous organizations and individuals dedicated to rebuilding native plant communities one sterile lawn and farm field at a time. Dr. Tallamy, a longtime evangelizer for native plants, and the author of one of the movement’s manuals, “Bringing Nature Home,” says it’s a cause everyone with a garden or yard can serve. And he says support for it needs to develop quickly to slow down the worsening crisis in biodiversity.
When the Florida Department of Transportation last year mowed down roadside wildflowers where monarch butterflies fed on their epic migratory journey, “there was a huge outcry,” said Eleanor Dietrich, a wildflower activist in Florida. So much so, transportation officials created a new policy that left critical insect habitat un-mowed.
That means reversing the hegemony of chemically green lawns. “If you’ve got just lawn grass, you’ve got nothing,” said Mace Vaughan of the Xerces Society, a leading organization in insect conservation. “But as soon as you create a front yard wildflower meadow you go from an occasional honeybee to a lawn that might be full of 20 or 30 species of bees and butterflies and monarchs.”
First and foremost, said Dr. Tallamy, a home for bugs is a matter of food security. “If the bees were to truly disappear, we would lose 80 percent of the plants,” he said. “That is not an option. That’s a huge problem for mankind.”
Jim Robbins is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and the author of “The Man Who Planted Trees.”

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Eagles and Wind Industry

Subject: Eagles and Wind Industry
From: Thomas Salo 
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2013 10:38:46 -0500
X-Message-Number: 1

You may have heard the recent media reports about the feds issuing 30 
year "take" permits for wind farms. This is from a current NAS Action 

/"We must act quickly to urge Interior Secretary Jewell to reverse a 
recent decision to grant 30-year eagle permits to the wind industry. 
Newer technology and siting information is available that could pose 
less risk to birds, but the Interior's action has put Bald and Golden 
Eagles at risk/." I hope you will take the time to click on the link and 
send a letter to the Interior Secretary.

As you may know, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society recently stalled (or 
halted) a wind project in Walton, NY. For risk to eagles, we consider 
the site one of the worst places in New York to build such a project. 
During discussions with regulators, I was told USFWS was considering 
issuing a take permit for Bald Eagles for this project based on a 
fatally flawed eagle risk assessment.  I urge people to use the NAS 
action alert and/or send personalized comments. You can use the 
information on the South Mountain Wind Project below to personalize your 

If you would like detailed information about the egregious problems with 
the South Mountain Project in Walton risk assessment, feel free to 
contact me off the list.

Tom Salo

Tom Salo
5145 State Highway 51
West Burlington, NY 13482

    WIND ENERGY PROJECTS were ignored, e.g. local bird clubs and hawk
    watches were not contacted as required.
  * Local hawk watch data - readily available on both local and national
    hawk count web sites - were ignored.
  * Golden Eagle was not included in the Environmental Assessment Form
    even though the project is in a fall and spring concentration area,
    and wintering birds are regular.
  * Bald Eagles nest very close to the project and concentrate around
    the adjacent Cannonsville Reservoir in winter.
  * After being directed by regulators to contact DOAS, the Franklin
    Mountain Hawk Watch, and Golden Eagle researchers tracking
    telemetered eagles, the developers failed to do so.
  * 40% of the GPS tracked Golden Eagles in eastern North America spent
    time within 10 miles of the project area.
  * The developer hired incompetent surveyors to record raptors. No
    Broad-winged Hawks were recorded in September when they are the most
    numerous and visible raptor in the sky. Broad-winged Hawks were
    recorded in early March a month before they arrived in New York.
    These are not the only troubling data.
  * The developer failed to adequately survey peaks of the spring and
    fall Golden Eagle migration.  Only 4 days were covered in November
    2012, and only one of those days had NW winds. Only 2 days were
    covered during the first 2 weeks of March - a spring migration peak.
  * No winter surveys were done. Winter risk assessment was based upon
    their faulty migration data.


Subject: Wind Farm 30yr Permitting
From: Larry Federman 
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2013 11:26:43 -0500
X-Message-Number: 3

OK, the Snowies at JFK have a reprieve, thanks for all the support.  Here is a 
wider-ranging issue that needs immediate attention. There is a "Take Action" 
link in the article:

Here’s the direct link to the Action Alert:;jsessionid=93A828DA34981EB5C99FD958732790DA.app304a?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=1549&autologin=true

Let’s get this spread as far and wide as possible!


Larry Federman
President, Northern Catskills Audubon Society, Inc.