Despite the worrying news of increasing drought and the unpredictability brought by climate change, agricultural research is providing practical solutions to reduce vulnerability in marginal areas and increase farmers’ productivity in higher-potential dry areas. ICARDA’s– the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas – research suggests that a number of simple approaches and practices for better managing natural resources can improve the lives of rural communities.
Despite the proven benefits of interventions, a food secure future in dryland regions is impossible at a larger scale without effective implementation. This requires participatory learning, involving farmers in the development and dissemination of new technologies, and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to maintain productivity in drier conditions.
Federal regulators are reaching out to industry, environmentalists and researchers for any peer-reviewed data that shed light on hydraulic fracturing’s effect on drinking water. U.S. EPA plans to sift through the research to inform its own study of the widespread oil and gas extraction method known as fracking. The report, due to be complete in 2014, will assess the safety of the practice, which involves blasting millions of gallons of chemical-laced water and sand underground.
As a climate scientist, you can talk about seasonal change in precipitation. But finding a way to relate the hard science to the interests of forest managers, lumber mill owners, trout fishermen and downhill skiers requires some research of its own. “We’re trying to explain that these things are already with us,” said Penny Morgan, a fire ecologist with the University of Idaho who led the Northern Rockies research team at the workshop. “This is a chance to communicate how does it play out in the Bitterroot Valley or around Missoula? We’re trying to show people what’s vulnerable to change.”
Rapid City Journal
Federal, state and local governments are spending millions of dollars a year in the Black Hills to battle the mountain pine beetle, yet members of a pine-beetle working group said Thursday that the fight needs more money. And members of the Black Hills Regional Mountain Pine Beetle Working Group intend to ask for help from Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the South Dakota Legislature. Neiman Timber Co. estimates that enough trees have been damaged beyond commercial value by pine beetles in the current infestation to keep the Spearfish saw mill running for five years. And every day the beetles swarm, more valuable timber is lost. The state is in a pine beetle mitigation effort that will have spent $8 million by the end of 2014. The state money has been committed to work in Custer State Park, other state property and assistance for private property owners battling the bugs on their land.
The U.S. Forest Service expenditures on behalf of the beetle battle have been even greater. And more money could be headed for national forests in states plagued by beetles through a proposal in Congress that would allocate $200 million through the multi-year federal Farm Bill. That legislation is hung up over disagreements between the Senate and the House.
Round Up Daily
New Mexico State University’s College of Agriculture has been conducting research on Las Cruces soil to predict future climate change. Soil holds the record of the past; when researchers dig trenches and look at the soil of Las Cruces they can tell when there was a significant change in the environment. By uncovering the past, researchers now have a solid prediction of climate change for the future said Curtis Monger, professor of plant and environmental sciences at NMSU.
The Denver Post
A western Colorado water district is fighting for rights to divert and store huge amounts of water from the White River — enough to sustain a large city — for uses that include oil shale industrial development. Yellow Jacket Water Conservancy District has proposed to build reservoirs east of Meeker to store the water and make it available to oil and gas companies. “There’s plenty of water in the White River,” Yellow Jacket attorney Sarah Klahn said. “There ought to be an effort to keep water in this state, rather than letting it flow downstream to California.” A coalition of residents whose taxes fund Yellow Jacket, a governmental district, opposes the project.