Tuesday, September 26, 2017

2017 Atlantic Hurricanes - Tropical Storms

Hurricane Harvey landfall    photo credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

North America's 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has included a number of record setting storms.

NOAA's 2017 hurricane season outlook August update called for a 60-percent chance of an above-normal season, with 14-19 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes, and 2-5 major hurricanes.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the night of Friday, August 25th near Rockport, Texas, as a Category 4 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Rainfall from Hurricane Harvey exceeded 51 inches in some areas, setting a preliminary record for the greatest amount of measured single-storm rainfall for the continental US.

In early September, Hurricane Irma, a powerful category 5 storm churned across the Atlantic and Caribbean, and continental U.S.

The storm made landfall on September 10th in the Florida Keys as a category four storm.

Hurricane Irma caused severe damage in Barbuda, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Anguilla, the Virgin Islands (British and U.S.), and Florida (USA).

Hurricane Jose (Category 4) affected the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, The Bahamas, Bermuda, and the East Coast of the United States.

On September 8, Hurricane Katia (Category 1) made landfall near Tecolutla, Mexico.

Another storm, Maria, reached Hurricane status On September 17, 2017. Over the next 24 hours, Maria intensified explosively into a Category 5 hurricane.

On September 20th, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a strong category 4 hurricane, with winds of 155 mph that knocked out power for the entire island.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Jaguars in North America

Jaguar (photo credit: USFWS)

An iconic species, the jaguar is North America's largest cat.

Although jaguars have been exterminated in much of their historical range, a recovery is possible, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) - binational Jaguar Recovery Team draft jaguar recovery plan.

The draft plan sets goals for improving the species’ status through its entire 19-country range and provides a framework for achieving recovery.

The draft plan focuses on the cat’s northwestern population in Mexico and the southwestern United States.

The jaguar recovery plan will allow agencies and organizations, particularly in the U.S. and Mexico, to align their efforts to make meaningful advances in sustaining and improving the status of this iconic species.

USA Jaguars

Since 1996, as many as seven individual jaguars have been documented in the U.S.

Jaguar sightings in the USA have consisted of male jaguars in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.

These jaguars are believed to be coming from the nearest core area and breeding population, which is approximately 130 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border in Sonora.

Jaguar re-introductions in the USA are not planned for the short term. Instead, the plan focuses on efforts to sustain habitat, eliminate poaching, and improve social acceptance of the jaguar to accommodate jaguars that disperse into the U.S.

Long Term Jaguar Recovery

The plan cites habitat loss, direct killing of jaguars, and depletion of prey as primary factors contributing to the jaguar’s current status and decreasing population trend.

The plan calls for a minimum timespan of 50 years to achieve a jaguar recovery in North America.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Black Elk Peak - South Dakota

Black Elk Peak - Black Hills National Forest

The highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains will now be called Black Elk Peak on federal maps.  Located in South Dakota, the summit had been labeled Harney Peak on federal maps since 1896.

The feature is located in the Black Elk Wilderness of Black Hills National Forest in Pennington County in southwestern South Dakota.

The name change was approved August by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN). The name Black Elk Peak was formally proposed to the BGN in October 2014.

The BGN sought opinions from the U.S. Forest Service and the South Dakota Board on Geographic Names (SDBGN), which in turn sought opinions from the county government, numerous local, State, and Tribal organizations, and the general public.

The new name is now considered official for use in federal maps and publications. State and local governments as well as commercial entities generally follow the federal use of geographic names.

photo credit: Gary Chancey - Black Hills National Forest

source: U.S. Geological Survey

Monday, July 4, 2016

DOI Economic Report for 2015

The U.S. Department of the Interior recently released its Economic Report for Fiscal Year 2015.

The report highlights a variety of Interior investments in recreation, conservation, water, and renewable energy.

According to the report, DOI investments led to $106 billion in economic output, and supported 862,000 jobs.

The report includes information regarding the economic and culture value of U.S. public lands.

The report found that national parks, national wildlife refuges, national monuments, and other public lands managed by Interior hosted an estimated 443 million visits, supporting $45 billion in economic output and about 396,000 jobs.

In total, the report identifies about $300 billion in economic output and 1.8 million jobs supported through Interior’s activities including: tourism and outdoor recreation at parks, monuments and refuges, water management, energy and mineral development on public lands and waters, wildlife conservation, hunting and fishing, support for American Indian tribal communities and U.S. island territories, as well as scientific research and innovation endeavors.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell noted that many of Interior’s activities have economic values that are not easily calculated, and are not included in the report’s totals.

“Much of the value of our lands and historic sites cannot be expressed in dollars,” said Secretary Jewell. “Beyond their contributions to clean air, clean water and wildlife habitat, many are priceless treasures that belong to all Americans and help define our cultural heritage for present and future generations.”

The DOI report differs from other economic contribution studies in that it is a comprehensive analysis of the economic impacts from DOI activities. This report includes data from reports produced by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service (NPS) that focus on impacts from specific agencies and activities.

A separate economic analysis of the U.S. outdoor recreation sector is being compiled by the Federal Recreation Council and the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

That report will document the industry’s value and contributions to the national economy, specifically shedding light on the role public lands and waters play, and will develop a baseline for informing future decision-making, governance and long-term management of public lands and waters.

source: U.S. Department of the Interior