National News

Leaping out of the lakes: Invasive mussels spread across America

By Dan Egan – Journal Sentinel 

The last line of defense today against the next zebra mussel invasion of the Great Lakes is a rule that requires overseas freighters to flush their ballast tanks with mid-ocean saltwater before the ships nose into the first navigation lock on the St. Lawrence Seaway. To compel captains to follow this rule, Canadian or U.S. officials board every vessel entering the Seaway and sample each ship's ballast tanks. If a boat fails its salinity test, the skipper basically has a couple of options. For full article, click here.

New Poll: Small Business Owners Want Strong Clean Water Rules

Contact: Bob Keener – American Sustainable Business Council  – July 23, 2014

A new national scientific poll of small business owners released today, found that large majorities favor federal protection of clean water and agree that clean water is necessary for a healthy economy and job creation. Small business owners are important to policy debates because they are essential employers in their communities and considered by many policymakers to form the backbone of the nation’s economy. The poll comes after the EPA released a major proposal, “Waters of the U.S.,” which clarifies that protections of the Clean Water Act should again be applied to headwater streams and certain wetlands, which provide drinking water supplies for one in three Americans. For full press release, click here.

New conservation funding program favors Pacific Northwest, California

By Eric Mortenson – Capital Pres – July 19, 2014

The Columbia River Basin shared by Oregon, Washington and Idaho is one of eight regions nationally selected for special conservation project funding under a new program announced by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP, combines four older programs into a new initiative. Funding contained in the 2014 Farm Bill, up to $1.2 billion over five years, will be used to improve water and soil health, wildlife habitat and watersheds. The difference from previous programs, Vilsack said during an appearance in Portland Thursday, is an emphasis on collaboration between producers, private land owners, environmental groups, state and local agencies and federal regulators. Expanding the number of conservation partners can leverage federal money, Vilsack said. For full story, click here.

Northwest wildlife refuges to phase out pesticide

By Jeff Barnard – SFGate – July 23, 2014

Federal wildlife refuges in the Northwest and Hawaii will phase out a class of pesticides that are chemically similar to nicotine because they pose a threat to bees and other pollinators key to crop growth. The region covering Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Hawaii is the first in the agency to ban neonicotinoids. There is room for exemptions, but the goal is to phase out the pesticides by January 2016, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Miel Corbett said Monday. For full story, click here.

Study: 100-Foot Wide Forest Keeps Streams Healthy

Contact: Beverly M. Payton – Stroud Water Research Center – June 17, 2014

Streamside forest buffers, long considered a best management practice, should be at least 100 feet wide on each side to adequately protect freshwater ecosystems from human activities according to an extensive scientific literature review published in the June issue ofJournal of American Water Resources Association. “That’s a lot. We know it’s a lot. But this is what the science is saying, and the reward for a wide forest buffer is huge,” said study author Bernard W. Sweeney, Ph.D., director of the Stroud Water Research Center. While the environmental benefits of streamside forest buffers have been known for decades, there was no consensus about how wide an effective forest buffer should be, until now. For full story, click here.