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Rural News

Austin brazenly annexes rural townships

Post Bulletin | Posted on November 22, 2018

As rural residents we are very concerned with the recent actions of the city of Austin.For decades, Lansing Township has been steadily annexed into the city of Austin bit by bit. More than 2,000 acres to date, despite the city experiencing a steady loss of businesses and population over those same years.Our township is a farming community; we have spent many years and resources maintaining these attributes. We need farms to stay farms. Austin has on at least two separate occasions in recent years annexed parcels of Austin Township and Lansing Township farmland under the pretense of some development interest; only to later discover no development is forthcoming.Now, once again and despite twice being denied by the township supervisors the city officials are at it again. In a brazen attempt to subvert the political will of the rural area they are proceeding, with hostility to the residents, to annex raw farmland into the city without consent.This has many ramifications for Lansing Township and impacts surrounding farms negatively, as the potential for conflict rises with each incursion into the countryside. Austin has seen business contraction and a steady loss of residential structures, creating vast amounts of empty commercial space and dozens of empty lots in the city. Prior annexations have proven to be excessively costly for property owners.

Vets battle to reunite pets with their owners after deadly blaze

Independent | Posted on November 22, 2018

Over the past week, first responders have carried thousands of injured animals out of the ashes to emergency veterinary hospitals. Many of them were found sitting in the smouldering rubble of their former homes, burned and dazed.At VCA Valley Oak Veterinary Centre in Chico, California, the staff cancelled regular appointments so doctors could focus on wildfire victims. Hundreds of pets, mostly cats, were dropped off over the course of five days.We've run out of space," said Daniel Gebhart, the co-medical director at Valley Oak. He had about 20 animals under his care on Wednesday. Injuries include smoke inhalation, dehydration and severe burns, Mr Gebhart said. The animals in the worst condition, with third-degree burns all over their bodies, have had to be euthanised. Fortunately, the vast majority of the animals that have come through Valley Oak's door have been saved, Mr Gebhart said.Veterinarians administer pain medication to the burn victims immediately. They are given fluids, antibiotics and oxygen depending on the nature of the wound."Once they're stable, we can debride and clean the wounds," Mr Gebhart said. "We've been so emotional the past five days. It's so sad to see; they're in such terrible pain."

Attorney General takes war on Trump to Utah monuments

Capital Press | Posted on November 22, 2018

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson spearheads an 11-state coalition joining the fight to overturn President Donald Trump’s downsizing of two national monuments in Utah, a court battle that the American Farm Bureau Federation says will affect the value of federal rangelands and private ranches in the West. Ferguson’s office submitted two identical briefs Monday to the federal district court in Washington, D.C., siding with tribes and environmental groups suing Trump over the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.The briefs argue that the Antiquities Act of 1906 gives presidents power to create national monuments, but not to shrink them. “Simply put, the Act is a one-way ratchet in favor of preservation,” the brief states.The Trump administration last year roughly halved the 1.7 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante monument created by President Bill Clinton in 1996. It also reduced by about 85 percent the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears monument designated by President Barack Obama in 2016.The Wilderness Society, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Hopi Tribe and others are seeking to overturn the actions. Two cases are moving forward, one for each monument. The American Farm Bureau Federation is seeking a judge’s permission to intervene in both to support Trump’s action.

Amazon forests failing to keep up with climate change

Science Daily | Posted on November 21, 2018

New research has assessed the impact of global warming on thousands of tree species across the Amazon to discover the winners and losers from 30 years of climate change. The analysis found the effects of climate change are altering the rainforest's composition of tree species but not quickly enough to keep up with the changing environment.

Rainforest destruction from gold mining hits all-time high in Peru

Science Daily | Posted on November 21, 2018

Small-scale gold mining has destroyed more than 170,000 acres of primary rainforest in the Peruvian Amazon in the past five years, according to a new analysis.

Bucksport, Maine: The Town That Refused to Die

Yankee Magazine | Posted on November 21, 2018

When the paper mill that had defined Bucksport, Maine, for eight decades shut down just before Christmas 2014, the town, like others before it, could have withered away. Instead, something else happened.Over the decades Bucksport became known for producing the finest lightweight coated paper in the world, paper that was used in such magazines as Time and Sports Illustrated and Good Housekeeping andNewsweek and catalogs like L.L. Bean and Sears and Victoria’s Secret and Avon. The boast was that any American who read magazines touched paper that came from the skill of Bucksport papermakers. It has been two and a half years since the paper mill was shuttered by its most recent owner—an out-of-state company called Verso—a decision that came with no warning and left the town reeling. Some 570 workers, half as many as had once worked at the mill, lost their jobs.Now something remarkable seemed to be bubbling up, even as the ground remained unsteady. The mill and its 274 acres had been bought by a Canadian metal recycling company, and the town had little control over what might happen next. What people could control was how they reacted.

New CDC report corrects inaccurate data on farmer suicides

Politico | Posted on November 20, 2018

Farmers face many stresses and farm income is continuing to fall, but a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that farmers are not the workers with the highest suicide rate in America.That distinction belongs to workers in construction and "extraction" jobs, like mining and drilling, according to the new CDC analysis. In effect, the new report corrected the agency's widely cited 2016 analysis that erroneously listed farming, fishing and forestry workers as having the highest suicide rate in the American workforce in 2012.The CDC retracted the earlier report, which produced a flurry of media coverage when it was first released in July 2016 and prompted proposed legislation on Capitol Hill to help farmers.The new report, released Thursday, said the mix-up was essentially a data-entry problem that significantly inflated the suicide rate for farmers. When the 2016 report was compiled, based on 2012 suicide data from the CDC's National Violent Death Reporting System, information that had been manually entered mistakenly included farmers in the "Farming, Fishing and Forestry" group.That group, known as the "Triple-F" category, includes farm workers, but farmers themselves are classified under the "Management" occupational group.

Australian Senate calls for stronger pet food regulation

Pet Food Industry | Posted on November 18, 2018

The Senate action follows more than 100 cases of megaesophagus in dogs correlated with a specific pet food.


California’s apocalyptic fires are a side effect of modern life

High Country News | Posted on November 17, 2018

The ‘new normal’ of a year-round wildfire season is a problem of our own making.Violent wildfires like the ones we’re witnessing today are of our own making. They’re the accidental yet catastrophic side effects of the way we live our lives; witness Redding, California, where the rim of a flat tire scraped the asphalt on a highway, causing the sparks that started the Carr Fire. They’re the result of people moving into fire-prone areas, along with forestry practices that suppress natural fires and human-caused global warming. Speaking to the media, Gov. Jerry Brown warned that we’d better get used to this, the “new normal.”“We’ve got to re-examine the way we manage our forests, the way we build our houses, where we build them, how we build them and how much we invest in our fire protection services,” Brown said. “I don’t like to scare people, but … we’ve got tough times ahead.”The ever-rising temperatures, persistent drought and permissive development policies have been with us for over a decade, making our current reality anything but new. But this summer of firenados, megafires and cross-country smoke should give us pause. If the environmental conditions that are fanning these wildfires keep growing at the current rate, many parts of California could simply become uninhabitable in a matter of decades. Are we ready for our climate future — now?

Reckoning with History: How the once-radical Endangered Species Act was weakened

High Country News | Posted on November 17, 2018

In his classic book, A Sand County Almanac, conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote of ecological communities, “A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these ‘resources,’ but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state.” Congress essentially agreed with Leopold when it passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, with only 12 dissenting votes in the House and none in the Senate.Today, private landowners and industry in the West are calling for Congress and the president’s administration to gut the law, weakening a system already riddled with compromises that threaten species’ continued existence.The legislative and executive branches sought remedies after the judicial branch bolstered the ESA. Congress countered with amendments, and executive agencies, especially the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, rewrote rules for greater flexibility. For example, in 1982, amendments to the ESA initiated habitat conservation plans (HCPs), which included incidental take permits. HCPs allow landowners to craft land-use plans that may harm endangered species or habitat incidental to the project, while protecting landowners from legal penalties. This legal innovation allowed negotiation over endangered species habitat, something welcomed by those seeking to move beyond lawsuits.