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Dispatches : Politics

Elwha River Sees First Post-Dam Salmon Hatching

 Glines dam site, pre-dam; the dam intact; the dam coming down. Photos: Clallam Co. Historical Society; Olympic NP

The Olympic Peninsula's Elwha River is running free. Pretty much. The Elwha dam is down and the Glines dam is being chipped away (see the image above); it should be completely gone within a year or 18 months.

Still, you don't need to wait to get out your cigars. For the first time in about 100 years, salmon fry are hatching above the dams. These are the offspring of adult Coho salmon that were placed in the river last spring. The fry that survive should be making their journey to the Strait of Juan de Fuca by spring of 2013.

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The Fight to Save a California State Park Gets Personal

Frank Quan at China Camp Village  Photo: Mary Catherine O'Connor

I found Frank Quan at a picnic bench, just off the beach, as the waters of San Pablo Bay lapped gently on the shore. It was an unseasonably warm, windless April afternoon and Quan was sitting in China Camp Village with the Ernie Stanton, the treasurer of Friends of China Camp, a group of volunteers that are scrambling to save China Camp State Park. The 1,500-acre park in southeast Marin County, near the town of San Rafael, is one of many California State Parks that have been slated for closure as of July 1, 2012, due to budgetary constraints.

Aside from a beloved park for mountain biking, road biking, trail running, hiking and boating, China Camp is Frank Quan’s lifelong home, and it was his family’s home for generations. China Camp was once a major shrimping village for Chinese immigrants who’d been forced out of San Francisco by white settlers who, essentially, no longer cared to compete with the very successful Chinese fishermen. When the state park was founded in 1977, Quan remained. He still lives in his family home, right there on the beach, and runs the small café and history museum in China Camp Village.

So the specter of China Camp's closure poses a conundrum that well exceeds the hand-wringing over other state parks that are facing the same fate. If this park isn't saved, where will 85-year-old Quan go? 

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Oglala Sioux Tribe and Park Service Partnering on First Tribal National Park

Badlands_NP_bison_NPSphotoBadlands bison Photo: National Park Service photo archive

The Oglala Sioux Tribe may be granted management of the South Unit of Badlands National Park, which would create the country's first tribal national park. The tribe and the National Park Service (NPS) have been working on an agreement to shift management of the 133,300-acre parcel since 2003. Department of Interior secretary Ken Salazar and NPS director Jon Jarvis today announced the release of the final General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement for the park.

It would, however, be more accurate to say the tribe may be returned management of the land. The South Unit is part of what was the Pine Ridge Aerial Gunnery Range, which the U.S government formed during World War II by removing the land from the Pine Ridge Reservation. In 1968, the range closed and NPS took over management of the South Unit, as part of Badlands National Park.

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Colin Firth's Campaign to Save the "Earth's Most Threatened Tribe," the Awá

Colin Firth has teamed up with Survival International to call for people to take action against the illegal logging and violence wiping out the remaining few hundred Awá of the Brazilian Amazon. Survival International calls the Awá the "Earth's Most Threatened Tribe."

"The Awá's forest is being illegally cut for timber," says Firth in the video. "When the loggers see them, they kill them. Their bows and arrows are no match for guns. And at any other time in history, that's where it would end. Another people wiped off the face of the Earth, forever. But we're going to make sure the world doesn't let that happen.One man has the power to stop the loggers: Brazil’s Minister of Justice. But it’s just not his priority. Let’s push it up his list."

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Rolling Into Summer, Specter of Wildfires, Drought, Loom Large

Wildfire via Shutterstock  Photo by Jon Beard

This summer's wildfire season is already well underway, with tragic repercussions. The Lower North Fork Fire in Colorado last month claimed three lives and many homes. It prompted Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to put a moratorium on prescribed burns on state land and propose putting fire-fighting and controlled-burn responsibilities in the state's Department of Public Safety (it currently falls under multiple groups) to streamline emergency response procedures. 

Officials in Florida and Texas, which lost up to a half billion trees in last summer's drought, are preparing for a fiery summer. Trails and campgrounds in Davy Crockett National Forest in East Texas are closed while the Forest Service assesses the danger.

Across the country, wildlife is also feeling the effects of the dry climate.

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Apr 23, 2014

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