Sunday, February 23, 2014

When are we going to do vital work for this country and stop allowing potential polluters? Our waterways are more important and should never be overlooked in any EIS.

The Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (click here) has nearly 70 members who represent a wide array of local, state, tribal, and federal interests throughout the Missouri River Basin.

The Committee has 28 stakeholder members who represent 16 non-governmental categories. Stakeholder representatives, and their alternates, are selected by the US Army Corps of Engineers with input from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Stakeholder members serve for three year terms.

The Missouri is America's longest river; (click here) its basin spans 10 states. But human engineering has compromised its magnificent habitats and the fish and wildlife that depend on them. To promote positive change, the League launched its Missouri River Initiative (MRI) in 2007.

The League is working with federal and state agencies and private stakeholders to assess the environmental challenges facing the river and find solutions that work for the region’s ecology and economy. These solutions include restoring areas of  river wherever possible including backwater and side channel habitats, and increasing opportunities for recreation. Paul Lepisto, the League’s Regional Coordinator for the Missouri River Initiative said: “Activities, policies, and practices involving navigation, agriculture and energy development have altered river flow regimes impacting the well-being of the Missouri River. We want to protect and enhance a productive river environment for everyone—individuals, families, and businesses—in the region.  This will provide improved habitats for fish and wildlife, additional recreational opportunities and economic growth throughout the basin.” 

The US Army Corp has a management plan to recover the Missouri River and it's species.

The Missouri River Recovery Management Plan (click here) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a 3-year effort that will evaluate the effectiveness of current habitat development and recommend any needed modifications to more effectively create habitat and avoid jeopardy to the species. The plan will...

...Reviewing Species Objectives and Conceptual Ecological Models
In addition to the above scoping comments, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has drafted Missouri River Recovery Management Plan Species Objectives and Conceptual Ecological Models for review by November 4, 2013 . Please click on the first link to read the open invitation and instructions. The draft objectives and models are grouped by species below...
This vital river has been a true friend to Americans, but, it has been abandoned.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 (Sec 120) (click here) included language that currently prohibits the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from funding the Missouri River Ecosystem Restoration Plan (MRERP).

Let's get this right for the Missouri. The Midwest needs a clean and vibrant Missouri River. It can't do without it. It is time to get this done.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation: In 2000, 42 ferrets were released on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and those releases are continuing. In 2005 it was reported that the reservation had 115 ferrets.

Reintroduction of the Black Footed Ferret is along the Missouri River as well as sites in Montana and South Dakota.

70 years is a long time for a species to be near extinction.

The people of the United States and Canada care about natural world and sincerely don't like it when it is out of balance.

On September 26, 1981 (click here) a ranch dog near Meeteetse, Wyoming killed a black-footed ferret and brought it home to John and Lucille Hogg who took it into to taxidermist Larry LaFranchie who identified it as a black-footed ferret. A population was discovered and studied on white-tailed prairie dog colonies occupying private lands near Meeteetse. The population peaked at 129 individuals in 1984 but declined to 58 in 1985. Sylvatic plague and canine distemper were decimating the population and eventually the decision was made to capture some animals. Six were captured but died of canine distemper. The remaining wild black-footed ferrets were captured in the Fall of 1985 and Fall/Winter of 1986-87. A total of 18 were removed (11 females, 7 males) and formed the nucleus of a successful captive breeding program. By 1991 enough kits were produced in captivity that reintroductions back into the wild began and continue today. Black-footed ferrets have been reintroduced at 19 locations in 8 US States, Mexico and Canada. Future recovery of the species is completely dependent upon managing healthy prairie dog populations, requiring tools to mitigate plague and overcoming the negative social attitudes towards prairie dogs from the agricultural community.

Grus americana critically endangered throughout it's range.

The Whooping Cranes have to natural flocks. Eastern and Western.

Distribution (click here)
Whooping cranes once ranged throughout most of North America, and wintered primarily in Louisiana. For many years, no one knew where they bred until, in 1954, a pilot sighted a pair of whooping cranes in Wood Buffalo National Park in
Northwest Territories, Canada. Today, most whoopers make a semiannual migration of 2,500 miles, nesting in Canada and
wintering in the salt flats and marshes of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. In South Dakota, whoopers sometimes can be sighted as spring and fall migrants along the Missouri River drainage and in the western part of the state. 

There have been rare sightings in eastern South Dakota.

Flyways aren't just air space. They are also land and wetlands where migrating species can stop to rest, eat and continue on their way.

Nebraska and South Dakota have layover spots for the very endangered whooping crane.

Whooping cranes like Blue Crabs as a diet.

Pollinators. Speyeria idalia is petitioned to be listed an endangered species.

The problem with this beautiful butterfly is habitat loss. Butterflies are pollinators as are bees. They are very important if one is growing crops or simply to propagate nature.

Significance (click here)
Butterflies pollinate flowers and fill important roles in the food chain as food for spiders and birds. Owing to their sensitivity to environmental changes, butterflies are used as indicator species. Many people enjoy watching and photographing butterflies. 

Conservation Measures
Regal fritillary populations have declined in the Midwest mainly due to the conversion of tallgrass prairies into cropland.
Pesticides have also contributed to the species' decline. Large tracts of native prairie with abundant wildflowers are needed
to protect this beautiful butterfly. One such area is the Samuel Ordway Prairie near Leola, S.D., managed by The Nature
Conservancy. The regal fritillary is a candidate for listing as a federally threatened species. Currently, South Dakota does not have any invertebrate species listed as threatened or endangered.

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

This is the range of the American Bald Eagle, the national symbol of the USA. The purple color is it's permanent range. Right there along the Missouri River in Montana and South Dakota.

Distribution (click here)

Bald eagles are widely distributed throughout the United States and Canada. They winter in open valleys in the Black Hills, in the lakes area of northeastern South Dakota, and along the Missouri River and its tributaries. Winter roosts of eagles are especially common below the reservoir dams from Pierre to Yankton. Although historically bald eagles nested in southeastern South Dakota, there have been no confirmed nesting records in the state during this century. In the spring of 1992, a pair began nesting in Sand Lake NWR in Brown County in northeastern South Dakota, but abandoned their nest before laying eggs....

...Strict guidelines to manage and protect existing bald eagle populations have been implemented by federal and state conservation agencies. One effective measure establishes buffer zones around eagle nesting areas to help minimize disturbance from humans. It is illegal to disturb bald eagles when they are nesting. It is also a federal offense to shoot, trap, or harm these birds in any way. The National Wildlife Federation offers a reward of $500 for information leading to the conviction of anyone who kills a bald eagle. Even possession of eagle feathers is illegal except for those American Indians who obtain a permit to have the feathers for religious ceremonies. 


The major factors leading to the decline of the bald eagle were persecution by humans and lowered reproductive success following the introduction of the pesticide DDT in 1947. DDT residues caused eggshell thinning which led to broken eggs. Bald eagle populations began to show signs of recovery 10 to 20 years after DDT use was banned. Population increases have been assisted by protective buffer zones around nests, reduced shooting, and restoration of aquatic habitat.  Currently, shoreline development may be the most limiting factor impacting populations.

The Black Footed Ferret is critically endangered across it's range.

Conata Basin /Badlands site: (click here) Black-footed ferrets were reintroduced into the Conata Basin/Badlands area of southwestern South Dakota in 1994-1999. Thirty-six ferrets were released in 1994. In 1995, there were at least two wild-born litters. Thirty-three more ferrets were released in 1995 and in 1996 there were as many seven as wild-born litters. Releases at this site indicated that “preconditioning” ferrets to the site prior to release resulted in higher success. As of 2000, this site had at least 200 ferrets and appeared to be the first established, self-sustaining wild population since reintroductions began. In 2005 245 ferrets were reported and because plague was confirmed in prairie dog colonies near the ferrets, a preventative treatment program was initiated.

In 2004, 93 ferrets were released onto the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. In 2005 42 survivors were counted and 15 new kits were observed later that year.

Charadrius melodus is endangered throughout it's range.

This is there range. They primarily live and eat in the Midwest and Southern Canada during the summer.

The Piping Plover is endangered, except where it spends some time in the summer along the New England coast where it is considered Threatened. But, New England coastal communities are not it's greatest preference. These lovely little birds are most often found along the Missouri River.

They like the sand along waterways. they eat a wide variety of aquatic marine worms, insects, mollusks, and crustaceans.

They live and nest on land. They fly, but, they don't nest in trees.
When pairs are formed, the male begins digging out several scrapes (nests) along the high shore near the beach-grass line. 

The males also perform elaborate courtship ceremonies, including stone tossing and courtship flights featuring repeated dives. Scrapes, small depressions in the sand dug by kicking the sand.. Females will sit and evaluate the scrapes, then choose a good scrape and decorate the nest with shells and debris to camouflage it.

Size: 18 cm (7.25 in) in length. Color: Breeding season: Pale brown above, lighter below; black band across forehead; bill orange with black tip; legs orange; white rump. Male: Complete or incomplete black band encircles the body at the breast. Female: Paler head band; incomplete breast band. Winter coloration: Bill black; all birds lack breast band and head band.
The mighty Missouri River is actually connected to the Yellowstone River.

It's true.

Right there at the border of Montana and North Dakota.

How did Exxon manage to build an oil refinery on the Yellowstone River?

This is the beauty of the Yellowstone River.

 LAURA LUNDQUIST, Chronicle Staff Writer
A Bozeman environmental group (click here) was disappointed but not surprised to hear that a Billings Exxon refinery had an oil spill.

On Tuesday afternoon, an unknown individual from the refinery called the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Response Center to report that the ExxonMobile refinery in Billings had spilled an unknown quantity of petroleum product into the Yellowstone River....

...Montana Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Chris Saeger said a foot-wide oil sheen around 100 yards long was visible in the river.

John Meyer, executive director of Cottonwood, said the spill occurred at one of dozens of facilities that his group has tried to bring to the attention of the DEQ.

In April, Cottonwood, formerly known as the Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, and Montana River Action sued the DEQ under the Clean Water Act for failing to monitor several facilities, including the ExxonMobile refinery....

Scaphirhynchus albus, endangered species of a ray-finnned fish in the Missouri River throughout.

Pallid Sturgeon

Reasons for Decline: All of the 3,350 miles of riverine habitat within the pallid sturgeon's range have been adversely affected by man. Approximately 28% has been impounded, which has created unsuitable lake-like habitat; 51% has been channelized into deep, uniform channels; the remaining 21% is downstream of dams which have altered the river's hydrograph, temperature and turbidity. Commercial fishing and environmental contaminants may have also played a role in the pallid sturgeon's decline.

They were once a sporting fish and there have been programs to recover the fish through releases in the Missouri River.

US Counties within South Dakota in which the Pallid sturgeon, Entire is known to or is believed to occur: (click here)

The current recovery plan was signed January 28, 2013 (click here)

These fish are known to live beyond 60 years old, grow to six feet in length and weight over 100 pounds. As game fish they are valued for their meat which is considerable at maturity.

The pallid sturgeon, an ancient species that has existed since the days of the dinosaurs, is also one of the most poorly known and infrequently seen freshwater fishes in North American. It was listed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as endangered on September 6, 1990, in accordance with provisions of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Similar in appearance to the shovelnose sturgeon, the pallid has a flattened and shovel-shaped snout and is distinguished by pale, bony plates instead of scales, a reptile-like body, a sucker-type mouth and large barbels (whisker-like growths next to it’s mouth). The barbels, used to sense the river bottom and identify prey, allow the protrusible, vacuum cleaner-like mouth to quickly capture it. Prey consists of aquatic insects successfully fed goldfish, crayfish, and minnows.

It is interesting how the Missouri River supports so many rare, threatened and endangered species.

Beautiful flower. It grows in areas where there are rocks and where no other flower will grow. It is Rare and Threatened.

Astragalus barrii

Barr's Milkvetch

Centered in the Powder River Basin of northeastern Wyoming (Campbell, Johnson, Natron, Niobrara, Sheridan and Weston counties) and adjacent southeastern Montana (Big Horn, Carter, Powder River and Rosebud counties), to southwestern South Dakota (click here) (Fall River, Shannon and Pennington counties) and northwestern Nebraska (Dawes County).

Number Left 

Montana: 33 occurrences (Fertig 2000).

Nebraska: 1 occurrence (Weedon 2001).

South Dakota: 7 occurrences (Ode 1988).

Wyoming: 26 occurrences (Hartman and Nelson 1995)

The primary flyway (click here) for the Missouri River is number 2, the Central Flyway – Over the Great Plains, east of the Rocky Mountain.

A flyway is a pathway used by migratory birds and insects.  Birds tend to take predictable routes to get from the winter feeding grounds to the summer breeding grounds and back.  Flyways usually occur along coastlines, major rivers and near mountains.  Conservationists can help threatened bird and butterfly populations by protecting habitat along major migratory flyways.

Flyways are important to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act(click here) makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations....
The Missouri River is a magnificent river that flows through many states in the Midwest. If flows through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

The Missouri River (click here) drains one-sixth of the United States and encompasses 529,350 square miles. It flows 2,341 miles from its headwaters at the confluence of the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson Rivers in the Rocky Mountains at Three Forks, Montana, to its confluence with the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri.

The basin is home to about 10 million people from 28 Native American tribes, 10 states (Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming), and a small part of Canada.

Precipitation in the basin varies from an annual mean of 40 inches in the interior highlands of the Missouri Ozarks to 10 inches in the dry upland plains of North and South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. The basin’s elevation drops from 14,000 foot peaks at its northwestern boundary to about 400 feet where it joins the Mississippi.
It is Sunday Night

Joaquin Cuzman Loera back in prison after 13 years a fugative.

Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin Guzman Loera aka "el Chapo Guzman" (C), is escorted by marines as he is presented to the press on February 22, 2014 in Mexico City. (AFP Photo / Ronaldo Schemidt) 

Forbes listed him as the #67 most powerful person in the world (click here)

XXII Olympic Winter Games

The medal count has been reshuffled. Russia has surpassed the other nations. They won the Men's 4x7.5-kilometer Biathlon Relay, the last competition for the Sochi Games.

Norway has the even won when the last leg of the race went to Russia when Norway could not finish their final shooting requirement and took a penalty for leaving one target intact. 

Russia came into the final shooting range behind Norway, rapidly fired at the required targets and was the first out of the blocks of the shooting range. The crowd roared with joy for this victory. 

There were 88 countries competing, some for the first time. The blue nations are making their debut at the winter games.

Of the 88 countries, 26 are taking home medals, but, all are taking home great stories.

Racist shooting video from Matt Steele Outdoors

Syria has submitted a new 100-day plan (click here) for the removal of its chemical weapons after failing to meet a Feb. 5 deadline, but the international mission overseeing the operation believes it can be done in a shorter time frame, diplomats said on Friday. 

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons executive committee met on Friday in The Hague to discuss the joint OPCW and UN mission amid growing international frustration at Syria falling behind on its commitments. 

Syria failed to meet an OPCW deadline of Feb. 5 to move all of its declared chemical substances and precursors out of the country. The final deadline under the OPCW plan is for all of Syria's declared chemical materials to be destroyed by June 30.... 

Why are there still airstrikes if there have been meetings of all the parties? The airstrikes are Assad, not the opposition groups.

A man holds a baby who survived what activists say was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo on February 14. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.

Destruction: Another strike in the Haydariyeh quarter of Aleppo killed at least six civilians

There are many sources of information in Syria. It is difficult to discern the accurate sources, so the best information at this point comes from the United Nations. This photo is from January 8, 2014 of Aleppo following an airstrike and 10 civilian deaths. 

The anarchy is the enemy. Airstrikes isn't going to cure it. Ground forces isn't going to do anything either. The leadership as we have witnessed in the Mideast comes from the holy men to organize their following to survive the day. 

Assad has resorted to barrel bombs in an attempt to end the resistance. He has to stop the attacks, seek cooperation with opposition leaders who have contact with the religious sects. Killing mass amounts of people is genocide and not peace. Assad needs to be very careful, he is an Alawite. His mistreatment of his people is reverberating through the region.  

An Alawite Abdel Rahman Youssef, (click here) was shot dead on Thursday as he drove through Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city,

By Mohammed al-Khatieb, Syria Deeply
February 22, 2014

It has been three months (click here) since the Syrian government launched its offensive on this city’s opposition neighborhoods using barrels packed with explosives. After a two-week lull imposed by winter weather conditions, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have reportedly increased the intensity of the raids.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that over 400 people have been killed in Aleppo by these makeshift “barrel bombs” since the beginning of February, as Geneva II peace talks were under way.
Most rebel-held areas in Aleppo have turned into a no man’s land as residents flee; entire neighborhoods such as Maysar, Jazmati, Marjeh and Meisraniyeh are deserted, their shops shuttered. The exodus from the city is reportedly the largest since the Free Syrian Army first entered in July 2012...