September 18, 2014

An old stovepipe well in Death Valley. California was the last Western state that allowed people to pump groundwater without regulation.     Photo: sprokop/Thinkstock

California to Start Regulating Groundwater

New law puts onus on local planners

On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to regulate groundwater, making California the last Western state to do so, according to a report by the Associated Press. Previously, while some local rules were in place, many landowners were entitled to pump as much water as they could. This practice was increasingly viewed as unsustainable, particularly in light of California’s ongoing drought. 

Republicans and Democrats representing agricultural areas opposed the legislation. California farms have come to rely on groundwater to cope with the drought.

Unlike other western states, the California bill does not create a statewide agency with the power to outlaw groundwater exploitation. Instead, the new legislation requires local planners to draw up plans for sustainability by 2040.


In a protest against the federal government, five men rode their ATVs through an area of Recapture Canyon that contains archaeological artifacts.     Photo: B A Bowen Photography/Flickr

Feds Level Charges Against Illegal ATVers

Utah protestors face jail time and fines

The federal government filed charges Wednesday against five Utah men who rode their ATVs through land protected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that contains archaeological artifacts. The men had been participating in a May 10 protest against what they saw as overreaching control of public lands by the federal government. 

The protestors rode through Recapture Canyon in San Juan County, Utah, home to 2,000-year-old Puebloan dwellings, artifacts, and burials. The BLM closed Recapture to off-road vehicles in 2007 after finding an illegally constructed ATV trail and damaged archaeological sites, but it remains open for walking, hiking, and horseback riding.

“Today’s actions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office underscore the importance of protecting culturally significant areas and holding accountable those who broke the law,” said BLM director Neil Kornze in a statement.

The five men, including San Juan county commissioner Phil Lyman, are being charged with two counts: misdemeanor conspiracy and illegally riding on public lands. They could each face up to a year in jail and fines of $100,000 for each count if convicted.

“We respect the fact that the citizens of this state have differing and deeply held views regarding the management and use of Recapture Canyon, and recognize that they have the right to express those opinions freely,” U.S. attorney Carlie Christensen said in a statement. “Nevertheless, those rights must be exercised in a lawful manner.”

According to the statement by the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Utah, Lyman and the other men used social media, video interviews, newspaper articles, and a public meeting to promote the protest, despite BLM state director Juan Palma warning them that the ride could damage historical cultural sites. In all, about 50 people participated in the illegal protest. The first court hearing is scheduled for October 17. 


Sponsor Trek announced that Jens Voigt broke the hour record on Twitter.     Photo: Trek Factory Racing/Twitter

Jens Voigt Smashes the Hour Record

Rides 205 laps, 31.76 miles

With 39,000 people watching the live-stream, 42-year-old Jens Voigt covered 51.115 kilometers in 60 minutes, breaking the hour record—a measure of how far a cyclist can ride in 60 minutes. The distance to beat was 49.7 kilometers (30.882 miles), a record which was set in 2005 by Czech rider Ondrej Sosenka. But unlike every rider who’s competed since 2000, Voigt rode in a modern pursuit position and with aero gear thanks to a UCI rule change in May.

Voigt's attempt is likely to renew interest in the hour record, which lost much of its relevance and luster in 2000 when the UCI limited the positions and equipment cyclists could use in the race.