Thursday, September 10, 2009

League of Women voters sponsoring discussion of Arkansas' electric future on September 23, 2009

Concerned about a proposed SWEPCO rate increase and developing energy efficiency?
A panel of experts will discuss the electrical power dilemma facing
Arkansas and ratepayers during a public information program
moderated by Hoyt Purvis, University of Arkansas Journalism Department.
Wed., Sept. 23, 2009, from 6:00 to 8:00 at the Fayetteville Public Library
This is also a special LWVWC membership invitation event. Come early, 5:30 to 6:00, for refreshments and visit the membership table before the program for more information.
Arkansas finds itself with a need to expand electrical production at the same time it has overcapacity. A controversial coal-fired generating plant, choice of what fuels should be used in the future, an urgency to upgrade transmission, serious environmental concerns and ratepayer costs combine for a perfect “electrical” storm. Learning what Arkansas is facing and what that means to ratepayers is the focus for this League of Women Voters of Washington County’s public program.
Panel Participants:
Sandra Byrd, VP, Strategic Affairs, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation and former chair of the Arkansas Public Service Commission
Nicholas Brown, President and CEO of Southwest Power Pool, Inc.
Ken Smith, Executive Director of Audubon Arkansas, an organization involved in the lawsuit over the J.W.Turk, Jr. coal-fired plant
Eddie Moore, an attorney working with Audubon on electric efficiency and ratepayers issues and representing the Arkansas Public Policy Panel on energy issues during the 2009 legislative session

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fall color fades in western United States as aspen trees die

Fall colors fade in U.S. west as aspen trees die

By Laura Zuckerman
52 mins ago

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) – The American West is losing its autumn colors as global warming begins to bite and there is far more at stake than iconic scenery.
Aspen, the white-barked trees with golden leaves that gave their name to the famed Colorado ski resort, have been dying off across the Rocky Mountain states. The die-off is puzzling but some foresters point to climate change.
This disaster coincides with beetle outbreaks that have laid waste to millions of acres of pine and spruce forest in the American and Canadian west. They too have been linked to warmer winters since extremely cold temperatures are needed to kill the insects.
Recent droughts and other factors linked to global warming are seen as likely causes for "sudden aspen decline," or SAD, so named because it can strike a forest so quickly.
"Assuming climate predictions are true, it probably is a sign of things to come," said Jim Worrall, forest pathologist with the U.S. Forest Service.
Dwindling aspen would spell trouble for mountain towns like Aspen, Colorado, where tourists flock each autumn to see their spade-shaped leaves turn from green to gold before skiers arrive for the winter.
Failing aspen forests also hurt sawmills and threaten large animals such as elk seeking food with consequences for hunting and other outdoor industries.
The effects have yet to hit home in a city that trades on its scenic beauty, but officials are braced for the worst.
"A large die-off could be devastating," said Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland.
Colorado acreage ravaged by SAD quadrupled from 2006 to 2008 to more than 850 square miles (2,200 square km). The syndrome has also struck in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho, where researchers suggest a warmer, dryer West may all but eliminate aspen from the Rocky Mountains by the end of the century.
Stands afflicted by SAD lose leaves, are assaulted by insects and frequently fail to reproduce.
Delta Timber Co. in southwest Colorado, where SAD is at its height, depends almost entirely on aspen to produce paneling for walls and ceilings.
"We're struggling right now with the same thing all sawmills are facing because of the housing crunch," said owner Eric Sorenson. "Now with the trees dying, it's going to create more challenges."
Dale Bartos, aspen ecologist with the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Logan, Utah, is cautious about using climate-based forecasts to predict an end to aspen.
"I see aspen moving up and down the hillsides with climate change," he said. "As it dries out, we may see aspen on the lower end move up the hill. I don't think the answer is cut and dried."
Others foresee a grim outlook for a tree whose image has long been associated with the outdoors appeal of the West.
"What we think will happen is that aspen will disappear in some areas and there will not be anything we can do about it," said SAD expert Wayne Shepperd of Colorado State University.
A study by scientists with the federal Rocky Mountain Research Station in Moscow, Idaho presented just such a scenario. It predicted the near total disappearance of aspen in the Rocky Mountain region by 2090.
The research, to be published in Forest Ecology and Management, links ailing aspen to global climate change and concludes that up to 41 percent of Western forests would be unable to support aspen by 2030. That figure would rise to 75 percent by 2060 and as much as 94 percent in 2090.
Study co-author Gerald Rehfeldt said a combination of less rain and snow, the timing of precipitation and warmer summers would outstrip the tree's ability to colonize new areas.
Future forests may show an increase in evergreen seedlings as they encroach on areas once occupied by aspen. But aspen in other areas may also replace dying spruce and pine.
"Things are happening pretty quickly and that's what's scary," said Forest Service plant pathologist John Guyon.
(Editing by Alan Elsner and Peter Henderson)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Land Institute announces September 25-27, 2009, Prairie Festival in Salina, Kansas

From: scoop
Date: Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 12:45 PM
Subject: Klinkenborg at Prairie Festival!
To: Land Institute Friends

Scoop from The Land Institute
Issue 33, September 3, 2009

* Request a complimentary Land Report, email to

Verlyn Klinkenborg in Salina, KS, September 26

Prairie Festival, September 25-27--reserve catered dinner by September 18

Starting Friday, September 25, 2009, evening barn dance,

Through noon, Sunday, September 27
Full program and speaker bios: > Calendar > Prairie Festival

Presenting: Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times editorial board staff

Verlyn has been an editorial board staff for The New York Times since 1997.

He authored "Making Hay" (1986), "The Last Fine Time" (1991) and "The Rural Life" (2003).

His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, National Geographic, The New Republic, Smithsonian, Audubon, GQ, Gourmet, Martha Stewart Living, Sports Afield and The New York Times Magazine.

Verlyn has taught literature and creative writing at Fordham University, St. Olaf College, Bennington College and Harvard University.

He received the 1991 Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
Catered Sat. dinner, pay deadline September 18
Limited reservations are available for a catered picnic dinner on the Land Institute grounds Saturday evening is only available—pay by September 18—see the Festival registration form, following, or phone 785-823-5376.
Registration form:
Full Festival program and speaker information:
Land Institute staff members visiting near you?, at “Calendar” provides details.
Open to the public:
KS, Salina (Sep 8)—Ken Warren, Horticulture Club
MO, Kansas City (Sept 13, Sun)—Ken Warren presentation, “Pathways,” Country Club Christian Church.
KS, Salina (Sept 25-27, Fri-Sun)—Land Institute Annual Prairie Festival
NY, New York, (Oct 1, Thu)—Jerry Glover, Metrics for Assessing Global Agriculture Symposium, sponsor Earth Institute, Columbia University.
CA, Claremont (Oct 9, Fri)—Wes Jackson at Pitzer College.
MN, Lake Shetek (Nov 6-8, Fri-Sun)—Wes Jackson at Minnesota Naturalists Conference.

KS, Overland Park (Nov 11, Wed)—Wes Jackson, Kansas Studies Lecture Series, Johnson County Community College.

NY, Pocantico Hills (Dec 3-4, Thu-Fri)—Wes Jackson presenting at Young Farmers Conference.

Not open to the public, but just to let you know we are out and about:
China (Sept. 13-19)—Scientists Stan Cox, Lee DeHaan, David VanTassel, international perennial grains research meeting with scientists from China and Australia
China, Beijing (Nov 2-3)—Jerry Glover, conference.
IL, Chicago (Nov 16)—Lee DeHaan, department seminar at University of Chicago.
KS, Salina (Nov. 20)—Ken Warren, KSU-Salina, ethics class.
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