May 30, 2012
Gila wildfire

View of Gila wildfire from Highway 180     Photo: U.S. Forest Service Gila National Forest

NM Wildfire Becomes State's Largest

Has burned more than 170,000 acres

Fire officials announced Wednesday that a wildfire in New Mexico's Gila National Forest has burned more than 265 square miles, making it the largest wildfire in state history. Last week, lightning sparked two separate fires in the southwestern part of the state, merging into a massive blaze that burned 20,000 acres in a single day. A spokesperson for the fire crews said it remains zero percent contained. The previous record for largest wildfire was set last year when a fire near Los Alamos National Laboratory burned 245 square miles.  More than 1,000 firefighters are working to contain the blaze, which has been fanned by high winds in dry conditions.

Read more at the Associated Press


Everest North Face

Everest North Face     Photo: Barry Rogge/Flickr

Last Everest Climber Quits Speed Attempt

Sherpa needed rescue on North Face

The last person on Everest for the season, Ecuadorian climber Patricio Tisalema, aborted his speed record attempt on Wednesday to rescue his Sherpa, who required immediate medical attention. Tisalema and teammate Rafael Martínez were climbing from Camp III on the north side and making good time when their Sherpa passed out. "Rafael and I had to give him first aid and that's when I had to make the hardest decision of my life, to continue for the summit or save the Sherpa," wrote Tisalema. The climbers retreated back to Camp III to stabilize the Sherpa before descending farther. Tisalema, now at Advanced Base Camp, believes he could have made the summit in 18 hours, a new world record.

Read more at The Adventure Blog


Bat with White-Nose Syndrome

Little Brown Bat with White-Nose Syndrome     Photo: USFWS Headquarters/Flickr

White-Nose Found in Endangered TN Bats

Scientists call discovery "devastating"

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed Tuesday that a disease responsible for killing millions of bats in 19 states has been found for the first time in an endangered species in Tennessee. White-nose syndrome, named for the white fungus seen on infected bats, was found in the rare gray bat, now the second federally protected species to be affected. The seemingly unstoppable fungus has wiped out an estimated 5.5 million bats since its discovery in New York state in 2006. "The news ... is devastating for anyone who cares about bats and the benefits they provide to people," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. Environmental groups and national forest officials have sought to close caves to the public order to prevent the disease's spread. Such closures have been strongly opposed by caving enthusiasts.

Read more at Reuters


Brown argus butterfly

Brown argus butterfly in Winchester     Photo: Dluogs/Flickr

Rare Butterfly Thrives in Warming U.K.

Called a climate change "winner"

British scientists are attributing the spread of the rare brown argus butterfly in the U.K. to warmer summer temperatures, according to a new study published in the journal Science on Friday. The butterfly, once rare in Britain, was historically limited to sunny areas in the southeast areas of the country. As summer temperatures have risen steadily since the '90s, the species has expanded more than 40 miles north in the U.K., about 2.3 times the average pace of other insects. The butterfly's diet has also widened as a variety of plants have thrived in the warmer weather. "There will be winners and losers from climate change," said Jane Hill, one of the study's co-authors. She noted the significance of understanding the ability of different species to adapt to climate change in order to better focus conservation efforts.

Read more at BBC