Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Yosemite Releases Bighorn Sheep

A dozen endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep were released in Yosemite National Park last week. They included nine ewes and three rams from the Inyo National Forest and Sequoia National Park.

The Sierra Nevada bighorn is the only federally endangered mammal in Yosemite, listed in 2000 after the population plunged to record lows (around 100). The park estimates that prior to the arrival of white settlers, the bighorn populations likely numbered in the thousands.

"Bighorn sheep are a true symbol of wilderness and represent the need to protect wild lands," said Frank Dean, Yosemite Conservancy President. "With the reintroduction, visitors will experience a wilderness similar to that found in the days of John Muir, when large alpine wildlife was abundant."

Read more here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Wilderness Trends

The Forest Service conducted surveys in 1970, 1982 and 2004 to look at the most used trailheads, frequency of visits, and reasons for visiting wilderness along with other questions. They noticed that visitors to wilderness are increasingly older, more experienced, and have more education (62% had four-year college degrees or higher). Another shift was that wilderness users aren't staying as long as they used to; in 1970, the average number of nights was 5.1 compared to 3.3 in 2004.

In the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the average age of a visitor in 1969 was 26, in 1991 it had increased to 36, and in 2007 the average was 45.

What trends have you noticed in the backcountry?

(source at this link  and this link)

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

First Grid-connected Wave Power Plant Goes Live

The world's oceans are vast wilderness areas, a place where few people venture although many of our habits wreak havoc upon the waters. In Australia, a potentially good use has gone live recently. The world’s first wave power station has been activated off the coast of Western Australia (WA). The technology uses wave swells to create zero-emission power and zero-emission desalinated freshwater. The system is fully submerged with a buoy tethered to a pump on the ocean floor.

The Perth Wave Energy Project is the first grid connected commercial scale demonstration of this technology. More information here.