Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Last Week's Boston Globe No Longer Bugging Me

"Damage from invasive forest pests costs billions a year, study finds" by David Abel Globe Staff  May 10, 2016

Most arrive as stowaways on the wooden pallets and crates that help transport some 25 million shipping containers into the United States each year.

The invasive forest pests are ravaging woods and urban canopy across the country, costing property owners and communities, especially in the Northeast, billions a year, according to a study released Tuesday by the journal Ecological Applications.

The steady march across the continent of the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, hemlock wooly adelgid, and other non-native insects has been wreaking havoc that requires urgent solutions, said the authors of the study, which they described as the most comprehensive review of forest pests conducted in the United States.

First of all, I've been reading these sorts of stories for years so the fear factor is gone, and secondly, I'm suspicious of anything in the agenda-pushing pre$$ that is described as urgent. 

I'm tired of a government that creates problems for problem-reaction-solution causes to advance the agenda as it ignore real problems it can't deal with.

Btw, this is all a consequence of the great global trade deals, etc, that the same leaders are touting and bringing to you. Came with the outsourcing and offshoring of factories. 

I'm sure glad the same people that caused the problems have the answers, or I'd really be bugged.

The pests, which also enter the country on plants that are destined for nurseries, have taken an especially harsh toll on trees in Massachusetts, which is home to 57 types of pests, more than every other state except New York and Pennsylvania.

“The introductions of invasive pests that we continue to have is unacceptable,” said Dave Orwig, a forest ecologist at Harvard Forest in Petersham and one of 16 authors of the paper. “We’re just not doing enough.”

I plead guilty. I'm not doing nearly enough, and what is unacceptable is continuing to read this endless slop.

Conservationists who reviewed the study said its estimate for the financial toll of the pests may be too conservative. The authors are also probably underestimating the costs of their recommendations to address the problems, they said.

“If you raise the costs of trade, you also have consequences of lost public welfare, and a lost value of the trade,” said Frank Lowenstein, deputy director of New England Forestry Foundation, a conservation group in Littleton.

But he agreed the United States should be doing more to protect its forests.

“Trees are vital to our air quality, water quality, and the stability of our climate,” he said. “They’re the foundation of life in New England.”

The study estimated that 63 percent of US forestland — some 825 million acres — is at risk of increased damage from existing pests. The insects have already eliminated nearly all the American chestnuts from the nation’s forests, and all the American elms from cities. Some pests can decimate an entire tree species within a few decades.

Reducing the pest population would provide substantial economic benefits, the study found. It recommended that ports and shipping companies ban the use of wood packing materials, including pallets and large spools, which often harbor the pests. Instead, they should use alternatives, such as plywood, strand lumber, and other non-solid-wood packaging.

The study also called for restrictions on live woody plants being allowed into the country, and increased penalties for those caught bringing in invasive pests or violating other rules.

“We need to act now to strengthen prevention if we are going to protect billions of valuable trees,” said Gary Lovett, a forest ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York, and the paper’s lead author....

I'll go hug one today, how is that?


Sorry to be so biting with my indifference:

"State hits reset on plan to introduce rattlesnake habitat" by Katie Lannan State House News Service  May 10, 2016

Apologizing for a lack of public engagement in developing plans to establish a rattlesnake habitat on a Quabbin Reservoir island, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton on Tuesday opened the door to potential alternatives to the controversial measure to assist an endangered species.

During an oversight hearing held in Athol by the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture, Beaton announced the creation of a working group that would study the “merit, location, and timeline” of the snake preservation proposal.

If an “elevated level of concern” remains after “extensive engagement,” officials could consider other options, Beaton said.

“While the plan was a rational one, built on a foundation of sound science, what that plan lacked was the engagement and support of you, both the Legislature and the public,” Beaton said. “As secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, that lack of dialogue and conversation falls on me and I take full responsibility for this lack of proper engagement. Let me be very clear in saying I am sincerely sorry.”

They are still going to go ahead with this mad science, but they're sorry they tried to sneak it by you like some sort of fascist or totalitarian regime rather than this splendid democracy and republic we are always told about. 

And life goes on, huh?

Tom French, assistant director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, said timber rattlesnake populations were “mostly eradicated” in the state in the 18th and 19th centuries, primarily because of “deliberate persecution” by humans.

“We are looking to try to establish a safety net in one place in the state where timber rattlesnakes can exist without being interfered with by people, without having the risk of deliberate killing or road mortality, so to protect them from the people that had been causing their slow but constant decline,” French said.

I'm kind of getting tired of misanthropic assholes in authority, aren't you? 

Just trying to save the planet, right?

The location environment officials pegged for the preservation effort — Mount Zion Island in the Quabbin Reservoir — is the “one place in the entire state” that meets the necessary criteria, French said.

Mount Zion, huh?

The spot must be more than 1,000 acres in size, off-limits to the public, and mostly forested with some wetlands and landscape that snakes can use for a “deep hibernation site,” he said.

The Quabbin Reservoir’s Prescott Peninsula is “plausibly” a second option, though part of it has been flooded and is likely no longer “an adequate hibernation site,” French said.

The plan to raise newborn rattlesnakes in captivity for two winters then release them in a boulder field on Mount Zion Island has met with pushback from area residents who have raised concerns the decision was made without much public discussion or input.

And the idea itself, Globe.

Beaton said he did not “want to say necessarily we are on a suspension,” but there will be a “significant amount of time before any action would be taken.”

So they say. Next thing you know, it will have happened and I'll be reading an article about it.

“This is a controversial issue,” Athol Selectman Anthony Brighenti said at the start of Tuesday’s hearing. “Nobody went to the coffee shops, to the barber shops, to the hair-styling salons to ask what the real people wanted, but finally we’re getting our way.” 

That's your fault for expecting such a thing here.

Beaton said officials discussed the plans at public forums in Rutland, Belchertown, and Orange but later reached the conclusion that additional feedback opportunities were necessary.

Fish and Game Commissioner George Peterson told the committee the science behind the preservation plan was sound, but said he wanted to “apologize sincerely for how this project was rolled out.”

“We blew this, terribly,” he said. “Absolutely terribly.”

State Senator Anne Gobi, a Spencer Democrat who cochairs the Environment Committee, said she appreciated the apologies and commitment to forming a working group.

“It is unfortunate that maybe that wasn’t done six or seven months ago when we could have probably headed this off a bit,” Gobi said before asking if the snake preservation plan would be put on hold until the working group reached its conclusions.


Also seeJustin Bieber fans rewarded with Boylston Street sighting

The Globe was one of them, and that was when the buzz stopped.