Dominguez Canyon. (c) Bruce Gordon, EcoFlight 2009.
We at the Colorado Environmental Coalition (CEC) began brainstorming ways to celebrate the recent designation of the 210,000 acre Dominguez Escalante National Conservation Area (NCA) which includes the 66,000 acre enclosed Dominguez Canyons Wilderness, and we immediately thought, we need pictures, beautiful pictures. We needed to convey the magnitude of this protective designation, and our thoughts turned to EcoFlight.
Dear Friends and Supporters,
As the country rocks and reels from this great recession, conservationists are keeping their eye on the ball. A dedicated band of concerned citizens and elected officials are working diligently to repair damages from past administrations, and are proactively putting policies in place that are sustainable and healthy for our environment.
New bills are being introduced into Congress, bringing back a balanced approach to our public lands. The monumental legislation of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act has rewarded the incredible hard work we have been honored to be part of for the last 8 years. EcoFlight has brought the aerial perspective to many of the wild landscapes that are now protected with this Act. A sampling would include the wilderness additions of the Dominguez Canyons and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Owhyee in Idaho, and the Wyoming Range and Snake River in Wyoming.
As we enter the flying season of 2009 we are already busy at work. Our bi-annual trip to Belize was a huge success. Our flights with Alaskan tribal leaders in Nevada once again provided the needed perspective to understand the enormity and complexity of gold mining. Beetles beetles everywhere are turning into a huge issue as they rampage across the west from the Eastern slope of Colorado to the very heart of Yellowstone. Working with NRDC, Geographics and the Forest Service we are at work doing a detailed scientific survey of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem white bark pine to establish base line data for climate change.
Our mission of education and advocacy for the environment by aircraft now has the added impetus of web outreach - a virtual stream of information and images gathered from our flights. Our Captain's Log monthly email blasts inform people of interesting flights; our Conservation Bulletins update our partner organizations and media when we will be in their areas; and our participation in social media sites like Facebook is aimed at new and younger audiences, inspiring them to get involved and have their voices heard.
Springtime has finally evolved into summer in the Rockies and we are excited about the impact we will have in our already busy flying season. We are encouraged by the diligence and resolve of all who are working to make our planet a healthier place to live.
A xate for those of you who don’t know is an ‘ornamental’palm that grows in pristine Belizean jungles. A xatero is the name for the Guatemalan men and boys who illegally harvest these lucrative palms from Belizean National Parks and export them to luxury gardens in the USA and Europe, where it is in high demand. These xateros and illegal loggers cross the border, which is hospitable terrain on the Guatemalan side into mountainous thick jungle on the Belizean side, an area with no
Fraccing in process at top entrance to tunnel, top of Roan Plateau, CO.
(c) Jane Pargiter, EcoFlight 2008.
Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fraccing’, is a process that helps stimulate natural gas production in gasfields particularly for ‘tight sands’ and coalbed methane development and is used in many of the gasfields around the West. Millions of gallons of fluid—a mixture of sand, water, and a ‘proprietary’ mix of chemicals—are injected into the ground at high pressure to fracture, or split, the sandstone and other gas-bearing formations and allow higher quantities of gas to flow to the well and thus off to market.
A growing number of states, gaspatch communities, and residents are becoming increasingly concerned about the presence of these unknown chemicals in their midst, the regulation of which was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act by the then Republican-controlled Congress in 2005. Concerns include the effects of toxic spills and exposures - as well as contamination of ground water sources. A Colorado ER nurse was sent to the ICU last year after
treating an oilfield worker exposed to undisclosed fraccing chemicals.
In most cases, full disclosure of fraccing chemicals is not required, and companies carefully guard their make-up as proprietary information. However, even an incomplete analysis of chemicals used shows that many are known toxins with adverse health effects from exposure, according to research done by The Endocrine Disruption Exchange.
Colorado congresswoman Diana DeGette is working to bring the regulation of the use of these chemicals back under the protections envisioned by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the State of Colorado recently enacted new regulations to improve disclosure of which chemicals are used in the fraccing process. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry trade group, has filed suit to overturn the state regulations and is fighting attempts to regulate fraccing at the federal level under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Pete Kolbenschlag, Mountain West Strategies, CO.