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Posts Tagged ‘EPA’

BY ZACH MORTICE

Joshua Tree National Park in California, where the park’s signature Joshua trees are threatened by climate change. Photo by Zach Mortice.

The national parks advocacy nonprofit—created by the federal government—is pushing back against the new administration on all fronts.

In the months since Donald Trump’s election, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), a nonprofit parks advocacy group, has taken aim at oil and gas drilling bills and rule changes from Republican majorities in Congress, draconian budget cut proposals from the White House, and a host of Trump-appointed agency administrators who’ll affect the health of the national park system. It’s even addressed the coarsening public rhetoric around basic civil rights granted to American citizens. These are all issues Theresa Pierno, NPCA’s president and CEO, sees as under assault by a cast of characters including climate-change deniers, pollution bystanders, and resource-extraction enthusiasts. All are newly empowered with Trump in the White House.

There’s a bill in Congress to ease rules that limit drilling for oil, gas, and minerals in national parks. And this month, LAM editor Brad McKee wrote about revisions to the Department of the Interior’s stream protection rules that make it easier for companies to dump mining waste into streams and waterways. The NPCA has opposed all of these moves.

When the Trump administration ordered the Department of the Interior (DOI), the parent agency of the National Park Service (NPS), to stop tweeting (more…)

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BY BRADFORD McKEE

Credit: Courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

Postcommodity, Repellent Fence, 2015. Image courtesy Museum of Walking/Angela Ellsworth.

From the upcoming February 2017 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Instead of a sensible and humane overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws to deal with current realities, we are apparently going to get a wall between the United States and Mexico. It was among the most outlandish promises of the Trump campaign, if only one of its rank xenophobic turns: a gigantic blockade stretching from the Pacific Ocean, through the Sonoran Desert, and down the Rio Grande River to the Gulf of Mexico, with fear as its mortar. During the first week of the new Republican-led Congress, the House Republican Policy Committee chair, Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, told the Washington Post that legislators are looking for ways to begin work on such a wall under existing law and with American (not Mexican) money. The existing law Messer means is the Secure Fence Act of 2006, signed by President George W. Bush, which called for 700 miles of actual fencing and a “virtual fence” of beefed-up surveillance along the Mexico border. That work remains incomplete. Barriers block less than half of the 1,954 miles of international boundary. Theoretically, a resumption of building could begin to lock it all up later this spring.

The human effects of this simplistic idea will be mixed. A big wall will stop some population flow, but hardly all of it, and it will kill informal cross border commerce. Ecologically, though, it is likely to be a catastrophe. It will fragment habitat on a huge scale in one of the most biologically diverse parts of North America—the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas alone is said to have (more…)

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BY BRADFORD McKEE

Courtesy By Peretz Partensky from San Francisco, USA (I could see Russia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Courtesy Peretz Partensky [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.

From the December 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine

There can scarcely be any overstating the threat the Trump presidency poses to the interests of the landscape architecture community, which center ardently on the welfare of human society and ecology and the planet. If design is the sum of all constraints, as Charles and Ray Eames said, this presidency will be the greatest constraint many of us will work under in our lifetimes, on the order of anathema to everything landscape architecture has ever stood for. We have to get right to work and be very canny about it, or the Trump administration, along with a Congress controlled by some of the most venal people ever to lodge themselves into American politics, will be a disaster well beyond the many ways we can name even now.

During the campaign, Trump’s positions on public policy, such as they were—and fairly obscured by endless evidence of his career as a liar, a swindler, a bully, a bigot, and a sexual predator—did not, to me, warrant detailed study. They weren’t policies in any developed sense. (OK, there was the child-care one, but what was that?) They consisted largely of frequent impulsive eruptions calculated only to produce outrage among his disaffected rabble and people of greater composure, though different strains of outrage, for sure. However masterful he is at plucking a populace, in terms of governance I kept thinking of the line about the French revanchist and anti-Semite Paul Déroulède, who was said to have “the political vision of a child.” If you heard what I heard during Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention this summer, you got a gothic harangue of wild paranoia and vengeance. It was pure Tarantino. I found myself fantasizing that Ronald Reagan would appear in the form of a fireball to relay a few words from God.

No, what got my attention most then and since is the Republican Party platform. The section on natural resources begins on page 17. On oil drilling: “[W]e support the (more…)

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BY PHILIP WALSH

A new cash crop is shifting the contours of Wisconsin's countryside.

A new cash crop is shifting the contours of Wisconsin’s countryside.

From the March 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Two saucers full of sand sit on my desk. One contains a heathery mix of grains that I scooped up from L Street Beach in South Boston. It’s a blend of dark, light, and medium stone, mostly quartz weathered from the granite mountains of New Hampshire. Viewed at a distance it’s just gray. The coastal sands of southern New England were originally washed down by glacial floodwaters when the Laurentide Ice Sheet began to retreat about 20,000 years ago. Sand is dynamic, particularly when acted upon by the ocean. And indeed, the effect of water on stone is the very genesis of sand. The action of millennia of waves and currents reshapes the grains themselves. This sand is “semiangular”: The grains are irregular and somewhat sharp edged, although the occasional near sphere of transparent quartz does crop up now and again, as I peer at it through a 10x loupe. It is very young sand.

The second dish of sand is quite another matter. It’s an even golden color, reminiscent of straw or lightly done toast. The grains are on the whole much finer than the beach sand, and even without magnification they have a remarkable consistency, almost a silky quality. Under the loupe the grains are almost all rounded, most nearly spherical. The saucer also holds several large lumps of aggregated sand, still damp when I collected them at a mine operated by Fairmount Santrol at Menomonie, Wisconsin. This is sandstone from the Wonewoc Formation, and the mine was originally prospected by a nearby glassmaking company. Some of the sand from this site still ends up as windows. When I gathered these lumps of sand at the quarry, still moist, the stone had the consistency of halvah and readily crumbled into a heap of the distinctive, fine golden grains. Now that the sample has dried it behaves more like the sandstone it is. The Wonewoc sandstone dates to the early Cambrian Period, about 500 million years ago. It was smoothed into its typical roundness and sorted into beds by the actions of shallow seas that lapped the shores of supercontinents that predate even Pangaea, the breakup of which continues to shape our globe. This sand is so old that the tides that refined it were governed by a shorter day and a year 400 days long. It is unthinkably ancient.

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A monthly roundup of the news, dispatches, and marginalia that caught our eye.

In the November Queue, the LAM staff sees the real Keystone XL story go viral, learns about the most-wanted environmental fugitives, laments that the Arctic may truly be “ice-free” by 2020, and daydreams about an enchanting bike ride inspired by a starry, starry night.

OUR WOBBLY WORLD

KCRW’s “To the Point” aired an extensive report on the Keystone XL and the various strategies Canadian companies are using to move tar sands oil to the Gulf of Mexico (see “Below the Surface,” LAM, November 2014).

 The EPA has recently released the latest iteration of its report on 30 indicators of climate change in the United States. The third edition of the report compiles new data that links human activities and a warming planet, including wildfire occurrences and the rising levels and temperatures in the Great Lakes, among others.

•  A swoon-worthy four-minute film on global fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions has won a 2014 Kantar Information Is Beautiful award.

Interpol launched Operation Infra-Terra, a list of the most-wanted environmental fugitives in the world. Among the top offenses are animal poaching, illegal mining, and illegal waste disposal.

• The Arctic could be “ice-free” as soon as 2020, according to Cambridge professor Peter Wadhams.

• As part of a $2.4 billion project to protect waterways, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens will add thousands of streetside plots to help soak up excess stormwater, while communities in Maryland seek to add similar measures to avoid large fees under a controversial “rain tax.”

FIELD STUDIES

 A four-and-a-half-minute video recently released by PBS highlights the haunting beauty of the historic McMillan Sand Filtration site in Washington, D.C., echoing the local residents’ advocacy for the site’s untapped potential.

 Seattle no longer has to worry about needing to choose between funding the police or the local park. Voters recently approved a measure that separates park funding from the general fund, though some worry that this money will not make it to the parks that need it the most.

In a recent essay in Places Journal, Brian Davis (see “The Dredge Underground,” LAM, August 2014) and Thomas Oles challenge the term “landscape architecture,” suggesting that  “landscape science” more accurately captures the core values of modern practice.

Berlin’s 33,000 resident artists have taken advantage of the slow regeneration of the city, giving more leeway for the creative improvisation of space and property.

Medium looks at contemporary cartography and the increasing complexity of modern maps. 

OUT AND ABOUT

United Divide: A Linear Portrait of the USA/Canada Border opened at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Los Angeles on November 14.

• The Cultural Landscape Foundation and the Presidio Trust will host Saving Nature in a Humanized World January 22–24 at the Presidio in San Francisco.

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

 Ever wonder what your city would look like if we all just turned off the lights?

 If Van Gogh was alive today, he’d want you to use this bike path.

• This memorial in Arizona aligns with the sun perfectly only on Veterans Day at 11:11 a.m.

 These pictures highlight works of art only nature could create.

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