Opinions

The worldwide vulnerability of forests

One of the great scientific tasks of the day is to understand how and why trees die. It may seem like a question that would have been answered many decades ago, but it was not — at least not at a detailed physiological level. Now, amid growing signs worldwide that forests are at risk as the climate...
November 27, 2012

BLM should not let Alton Coal expand in Utah

The Utah Supreme Court has upheld a state permit that allowed Utah’s first coal strip mine to operate just 10 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park. Now it is up to the federal Bureau of Land Management to put a stop to an expansion of the mine on 3,500 acres of federal land that would do even more...
November 3, 2012

Arizona voters face an IQ test on public lands

Arizona voters face two land-related ballot measures this November, and together, they reveal not just the state’s split personality but that of the West as well. You can think of Proposition 119 as a respectable Dr. Jekyll, a 19th century gentleman who wants the state and federal government to...
October 18, 2012

The geography of nope

This ticket to roam free in the American backyard is no constitutional guarantee. The great, unfenced public domain, much of it forested or hidebound in sage and mesquite, is the envy of the rest of the world only because a few visionary souls bucked the powers of their day. But now the powers of...
October 2, 2012

CU public lands conference turns up a few nuggets

Conferences are often the worst place for journalists to find great story ideas or spontaneous comments – just imagine panelists sitting on a distant stage droning on about abstract topics and you'll find your eyelids involuntarily drooping. But as someone with a lifelong interest in public lands,...
September 25, 2012

Utah deserves a greater share of energy income

Utah and the American Southwest have what the world wants: energy. There’s no reason why the taxpayers and the students of the state shouldn’t get more benefit from whatever types and amounts of energy prove economically viable and environmentally safe. We have energy in conventional forms — oil...
September 19, 2012

Public role in endangered species protection

An article in the current issue of Science, confirms the value of citizens’ petitions. The article asks, who does a better job choosing species that are biologically threatened, the Fish and Wildlife Service or public petitioners? The answer is surprising. Species nominated by petition or...
September 4, 2012

What's up with conservation and the farm bill

Last week, the House Agriculture Committee released its version of the new farm bill, a ginormous piece of legislation passed every five years or so that doles out money not only to farmers, but to food stamp recipients, school lunch programs, and conservation efforts. The Senate passed its version...
July 18, 2012

Forest Service can't wait for new-era fire tankers

Fighting a wildfire from the air is inherently a dangerous job. The pilots who heroically perform retardant drops under very difficult circumstances and unforgiving conditions understand the risks well, and they deserve the best equipment possible to do their jobs. However, a crash of an air tanker...
June 12, 2012

Dirty coal requires cleanup or retirement

As a region situated downwind of two of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the United States, Southwest Colorado is no stranger to the effects that energy source has on air quality. Haze-filled canyons and eerily Technicolor sunsets are commonplace throughout the area, a phenomenon owed to...
June 1, 2012
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