Plans for U.S. Coal-Fired Electricity Expansion Grind to a Halt

first_imgPlans for U.S. Coal-Fired Electricity Expansion Grind to a Halt FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享E&E News:About 16 percent of the U.S. coal fleet has retired in the past five years, but don’t expect major new coal-fired plants to fill that void.The federal government counts four new coal projects on a list of planned power plants nationwide. Three of those face long odds, and none will be able to replace the millions of tons in lost coal demand resulting from recent retirements, even as the Trump administration has vowed to revive the ailing industry.The developer of a proposed 320-megawatt unit in Wyoming is facing jail time after pleading guilty to stealing government cash. A Kentucky coke plant that would have generated electricity as a byproduct has been scrapped. And a planned $2.1 billion plant in Georgia has idled.The sole U.S. coal facility under construction: a tiny plant being built by the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.The dynamic amounts to an existential crisis for the U.S. coal industry. While coal still accounts for roughly a third of U.S. power generation, the industry is slowly contracting as plants retire and utilities replace them with natural gas and renewables. American Electric Power Co. Inc., one of the country’s largest coal-burning utilities, recently announced plans to build a $4.5 billion wind farm in Oklahoma (Energywire, July 27). PacifiCorp, another coal-centric power company, has similar plans to upgrade its wind fleet while slowly transitioning away from power plants fueled by the black mineral (Climatewire, April 6).Utilities entered 2017 with plans to retire 4.5 gigawatts of coal — or 2 percent of 2016 U.S. coal capacity — and add 11 GW of natural gas and 8.5 GW of wind, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.The trend has prompted a series of rescue efforts. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) has proposed a $15-per-ton subsidy for utilities burning Appalachian coal (Greenwire, Aug 8). In Congress, there is an effort afoot to expand tax credits for power plants that use carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) (E&E Daily, July 13). Both efforts hint at coal’s long-term challenges and the reason for the dearth of planned coal plants.Most of the few proposed coal plants in the pipeline are facing problems.In Kentucky, SunCoke Energy Inc. recently decided not to proceed with a coke plant that would have generated a small amount of electricity as a byproduct, according to a company spokesman.The two largest coal projects remaining on EIA’s list of planned power plants reflect the wider changes in the electricity market.The Two Elk Energy Park in Wright, Wyo., and Plant Washington in Sandersville, Ga., were proposed in 1996 and 2008, respectively. At the time, power companies were projecting growing electricity demand and a need for new plants. That demand never appeared, ultimately wiped away by a combination of the Great Recession and improving energy efficiency.Both now face long odds. Wyoming regulators yanked Two Elk’s permit in 2015, and the project’s developer, Mark Ruffatto, pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government last year after he admitted to spending stimulus funds at Neiman Marcus, on carpeting and payments for a Mercedes-Benz (Climatewire, Oct. 25).Power4Georgians, an independent power producer, says it is still proceeding with plans for the 850-MW Plant Washington. Work has been held up by uncertainty over federal greenhouse gas regulations for new coal-fired facilities, said Dean Alford, a company spokesman.He said the company is still waiting for a resolution but hailed the Trump administration’s promise to revive the coal industry.But many of the local utility cooperatives that initially backed the project have long since fled, and state regulators have made no moves to approve the company’s second request for a permit extension.Karen Hays, who leads the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s air protection branch, said state regulators have not heard from the company since it requested an extension on its construction permit early last year. The small project at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, that appears to be on track is a combined heat and power plant with an expected capacity of 17 MW. It is roughly 50 percent complete, according to the university.Perhaps the most likely prospect for a major new coal plant in the United States is a project that’s not on EIA’s list. In March, Sunflower Electric Power Corp. Inc. beat back a lawsuit from the Sierra Club, paving the way for the power cooperative to pursue an 895-MW coal expansion at its Holcomb Station in southwestern Kansas (Energywire, March 20).But even that is uncertain. Sunflower and its partner, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc. have yet to commit to the project, which was proposed roughly a decade ago and has an estimated price tag of $2.2 billion.The cooperative is “examining its options,” said Sunflower Electric spokeswoman Cindy Hertel.More: Will the U.S. ever build another big coal plant?last_img read more

Climbing to Conserve

first_imgClimb for a Cause: Justice (second row, arm raised) and the rest of her crew atop Africa’s highest peak.Things were going poorly when Taylor Justice arrived on the scene of the accident. Justice was descending 15,230-foot Salkantay Pass in the Peruvian Andes last year, when she came upon a man in her hiking party who had stumbled and fallen down a 35-foot embankment into a river. The man was bleeding from a healthy gash on his forehead, but his wrists took the brunt of the fall: one was dislocated, the other had a compound fracture with the bone poking through the skin. The man was screaming in pain, his hiking partner was incapacitated by shock, and the porters and cooks on the scene were at a loss for what to do. But Taylor sprang into action.She used a t-shirt to stop the bleeding from the head wound and a water bottle and towels to clean the wrist. In fluent Spanish, she instructed the cooks on how to make a splint from some cardboard and to unlace their shoes, using the laces to secure it to the man’s wrists. She lined up the men to stand across from each other and form a back brace with their arms for transport. The injured man was hauled out to safety thanks to Taylor, but here’s the twist: Taylor was only 12-years-old.Now 13, Taylor appears to be the typical American teenager. The seventh grader from Middlesburg, Va., likes sports, hanging out with friends, and bubbles with the energy reserved for the young; she is small, almost fragile looking in street clothes, wears braces, and is on the honor roll.Taylor has been on skis since she was two years old, spending winters and holidays in Aspen honing her skills. When a good family friend died while skiing on Mount Sopris in 2008, Taylor turned grief into motivation to help others. She walked into a ski patrol shack at Buttermilk Mountain and asked if she could tag along for the day. Soon she was being asked back, and became a member of the Junior Ski Patrol.“I love helping people no matter where I am,” she says. “The fact that I get to ski and help people, I love it.”Soon after, Taylor joined a climb of Africa’s highest peak, 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro, with a group of women to raise money for the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary.“Taylor is definitely one of the most amazing young women I have ever met,” says Ginna Kelly, founder of Climb for Conservation and organizer of the expedition. “She is so motivated to climb mountains and do good in the world. She is really a committed conservationist at such a young age.”Taylor was committed, but her mother balked at first. After months of begging, mom finally relented and even signed on for the trip, too. Taylor dove in head first, making a commitment to helping save the endangered Black Rhino, predicted to go extinct in the wild by 2025. The trip raised over $30,000.She and her mother—and 13 other women—reached the top of Kilminjaro in November. Taylor had to be held down at the summit as high winds threatened to literally blow her off the mountain, and she was slowed by an altitude headache, but never lost sight of the ultimate goal.“That’s probably the scariest part: when you think you can’t make it,” she says. “I didn’t think I could make it. I had 10 feet to go to the top, but I kept stopping every two seconds, I had to sit down and stretch.”The Kilimanjaro climb not only opened Taylor’s eyes to how big of an impact women can make on the world, but also the lives of those who may not have the modern luxuries we are used to.“Here in America, we take running water for granted,” she says. “I turn a knob and water comes out. There, they have to walk miles to get their water, boil it to make it clean. I saw 10-year-old kids carrying water on their heads. It was really amazing. It was impressive how strong they were.”“I think most young kids nowadays have grown up being more aware of climate change and all the environmental issues going on around the world,” said Kelly. “I think most kids are concerned about it and want to do something about it. Taylor is really a perfect example of that.”Taylor is already angling for a spot in Climb for Conservation’s planned treks to Machu Picchu and Mount Everest basecamp. Most 13-year-old girls don’t dream of one day climbing the world’s highest mountain, but Taylor says Everest is her ultimate goal.“Everest is the highest mountain in the world so it’s really intimidating, but also it’s a great challenge,” says Taylor.Taylor has been getting a lot of attention for her various experiences and conservation efforts, and it would be easy to get a big head during the process. Her desire to help and inspire people, no matter the situation, keeps her grounded. Taylor counts her blessings and is aware she is leading a unique life.“Some people won’t do in their entire lifetime what I’m doing now,” she says. “I’m not waiting to live my dreams.”Read more about Taylor and her expeditions on her website, taylorclimbs.orglast_img read more

Trail Mix: Jen Starsinic, The Flood and The Fire

first_imgUp and coming fiddler and singer/songwriter Jen Starsinic’s musical journey has, thus far, been quite impressive.  After busking on street corners, attending the Berklee College of Music, and hitting the road with The David Mayfield Parade, Starsinic is ready to stand on her own two feet.  Starsinic just released The Flood and The Fire, her debut record.While you are most likely to see Jen Starsinic toting a fiddle or open back banjo, hallmarks of her old time roots, The Flood and The Fire is certainly not an old time record.  While there are vestiges of vintage Appalachia throughout the recording, there are hints of country heartache, droning Irish folk, cello, and haunting pedal steel.  Each tune represents an aching, a longing, and the snapshot the record offers into the musical soul of Jen Starsinic is startling; this young woman is most certainly a rising voice in contemporary Americana.I recently caught up with Jen to chat about the new record, her influences, and getting her music out to her audience.BRO – You have done session work for other artists, but this is the first time you have released a record that is your own.  Describe the feeling that comes with releasing a debut record?JS – Terror!  Hah!  Just kidding.  But it is sort of a strange mixture of elation and exhaustion.  When you go in the studio for other people, it’s ultimately about helping them make the music they want to make, so you just go in and try to play well and help them create their vision.  Making your own record is a whole different beast.  You envision this thing and then set about building it from the ground up.  You write songs and then try to figure out how you want them to sound and how to make them speak the best, which is what I got to do with Brady Custis, my amazing producer/engineer/friend.  It’s a truly beautiful process.  It’s wonderful and scary.  Being my debut record, they were all kinds of things I didn’t know and didn’t even know I needed to know.  There were all kinds of tough decisions and risks and leaps of faith.  It’s about trusting yourself, trusting the people you’re working with, holding on and fighting, and also letting go and moving on.  It drove me a little crazy, but I’m so happy with how it turned out.BRO – Toughest part about attending Berklee?JS – I don’t even know how to answer this question!  Berklee kicked my ass in so many ways, but it was one of the best things to ever happen to me.BRO – Your roots are in bluegrass, but the tunes on The Flood and The Fire cover a lot of sonic ground.  From where do you draw inspiration?JS – Well, thanks.  I’m glad you think so!  A large part of the sonic ground on the record is due to the collaboration with Brady Custis, my producer and engineer.  Brady grew up around the underground punk scene in Washington, D.C., and then he got into playing roots music as an adult.  I was sort of the other way around.  Between the two of us, we found a weird sweet spot, sonically.  There could be banjo and folky songs, but also soundscapes and ambient pedal steel.  We could keep each other in check and also push each other’s boundaries.  I love the term “roots music” because I feel like it describes my relationship to traditional music exactly.  I have roots in old time, and those roots are absolutely the essential foundation to all of my music.  But, in making my own music, I really wanted it to grow into something new and true to my life and the lives of my friends, showing how they are now, the reality of the musical landscape now.  So, as much as there’s bluegrass and old time in what I do, there’s also 90s radio rock and Icelandic ambient music and pop and anti-folk and Fleetwood Mac.  I grew up both playing bluegrass fiddle and listening to The Wallflowers in the car with my mom, and I see no reason why those two things can’t coexist.BRO – You are on the road regularly with The David Mayfield Parade.  Any plans on getting out on the road with a band to share your music?JS – I’m hoping to do an ever increasing amount of touring with my own band.  It’s been a slow build for me as far as getting a band together and touring because of being so busy with the Parade and relocating to Nashville soon after we finished recording the album.  But I love to sing songs for people, and the reception to the record has been so supportive and warm, so I’m carving out time to get out there and do it as much as possible.BRO – We are featuring “Time To Lose” on this month’s Trail Mix.  What’s the story behind the song?JS – “Time To Lose” is about taking crazy leaps of faith in the vague direction of where you think you want to go and just trusting that things will work out okay.  In my own life, I was moving out of my apartment in Boston and didn’t really know where I wanted to live next or where I was going to end up.  I left a lot of major life changes to “we’ll see what happens next,” which hadn’t really been my style up until that point.  It was both terrifying and freeing, and I learned a lot.  But I think, at its core, “Time To Lose” is just a song about giving yourself permission to screw up and take chances.  Most things aren’t straightforward and perfect, and that’s good.  That’s how they are and that’s how they should be.Being on the road with The David Mayfield Parade is keeping Jen busy for much of July, but she has some dates scheduled in August that include stops in Charleston, West Virginia, and Abingdon and Charlottesville, Virginia.  Surf over to www.jenstarsinic.com to keep tabs on when Jen and her band might be coming to a stage near you and to find out how you can get a copy of her debut record, The Flood and The Fire.last_img read more

Trail Mix – Galactic

first_imgI spent the first four years of my life on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, an hour or so east of New Orleans.Though I left when I was four and it was been well over three decades since I have called Southern Mississippi home, it will always be, well, home. I was just there for a few days to celebrate the life of my grandmother, who recently died at the age of 94, and with each visit I am reminded that there are so many things about the Gulf Coast – the Mississippi drawl, the food, the music – that continue to resonate with me.Being in Mississippi is a reminder that I am within earshot of New Orleans, perhaps the most important musical city in America, and home to some of my favorite bands. Kermit Ruffins, The Revivalists, The Meters, and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band are but a few who call New Orleans home.My favorite New Orleans band, Galactic, is set to release Into The Deep this week. This newest record is yet another outstanding collection of the funky sonic gumbo that the band has become famous for during its two decades of making music together.Galactic looked both within and without while charting the course for this new release, delving deep into the band’s own history while bringing a steady string of friends and heroes to the studio to record. Featured on the record are collaborations with, among others, Mavis Staples, Macy Gray, Ryan Montbleau, and JJ Grey. The end result, of course, was a record both distinctly Galactic and New Orleans, a collection of songs easily identifiable as belonging to this band while, at the same time, representing the musical mish mash that is the Galactic’s hometown.I recently caught up with guitarist Jeff Raines to chat about the new record, New Orleans eats, and how to sound like a Big Easy native.BRO – You collaborate with a number of incredible musicians on this record. How did you go about choosing the folks with whom you would work?JR – We already had working relationships with many of the artists we collaborated with on this album. Others were people we admired or thought we could do something worthwhile with. Working with Mavis Staples was a dream come true for us.BRO – I am in New Orleans for the afternoon and I am hungry. Where should I head for some quintessential New Orleans grub?JR – I would send you to Domilise’s Po-boys for the oyster shrimp po-boy. It is a New Orleans institution and a personal favorite. The muffuletta at Central Grocery is also a classic that is on my list of greatest sandwiches on the planet. It should also be noted that the muffuletta at the Donald Link lunch restaurant Butcher bucks tradition by arriving hot and is a really good modern take on the legendary sandwich.BRO – Let’s say I decide to stay for the evening. Where should I head for some live music?JR – Obviously, there are many great places to see live music in New Orleans. If you want to see some of the best local bands in the city, I would send you to the Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street. If you’re here on a Tuesday, the Rebirth Brass Band plays there around eleven o’clock and it is always a great time. There are also a lot of clubs on Frenchmen Street, right outside of the French Quarter, that feature great local bands.BRO – We are featuring “Higher & Higher” on this month’s Trail Mix. How was it working with JJ Grey on this track?JR – JJ Grey is an old and great friend of Galactic and we always wanted to do a track with him. When we got the music together for that song, it seemed like something we thought he could work with. He has really come into his own as a lyricist over the years, which is not really our strength, so it seemed like a perfect fit to do this song with him.BRO – If I am heading down to The Big Easy, how should I pronounce the name of your fair city so that I sound like I am in the know? N’awlins? New Or-LEENS?JR – The only time anyone pronounces New Orleans as “New Or-leens” is when they are rhyming to another word, usually in a song. The proper way to say Orleans would be “Orlens,” like the lens of a camera.Galactic will be up north in Canada and South Dakota this weekend before heading to Japan later this month. The band returns stateside in early August, with dates in Colorado, Washington, New York, and across the Northeast on tap.For more information on tour dates, the band, or how you can grab a copy of Into The Deep, check out the band’s website. Also, be sure to check out “Higher & Higher,’ featuring JJ Grey, on this month’s Trail Mix.last_img read more

Trail Mix – Rayland Baxter

first_imgTrail Mix goes on the road with singer/songwriter Rayland Baxter.Imaginary Man, the brand new long player from Nashville based singer/songwriter Rayland Baxter, hits the streets this Friday, August 14th.Music fans first took note of Baxter in 2010, when he was featured in Caitlin Rose’s “Shanghai Cigarettes.” Since then, Baxter has established himself as a captivating songwriter and performer in his own rite.Already awash with critical acclaim since his debut release in 2012, feathers & fishHooks, it is easy to predict that more buzz is coming Baxter’s way once listeners take in Imaginary Man. His stock is going to soar.Baxter has been a busy man lately, blending a calendar full of his own dates with a slew of opening dates for Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. I recently caught up with him to chat about life on the road.BRO – Stage you haven’t played that you would love to play?RB – Red Rocks. My first show there was Phil Lesh & Friends, Rainbow Paper, and Samantha the Hippie. We watched from maybe fifty rows up. Since then I’ve been to a few more shows there and it’s always mesmerizing. I’d like to see what it’s like from the other side.BRO – Any pre-show rituals?RB – I don’t have any rituals. Sometimes I’ll take a shot of whiskey and drink a Stella Artois. Some nights I’ll smoke a little hash before we play. Some nights I’ll drink orange juice and eat spicy Thai food. I do a vocal warm up before every show, though. It’s smart to keep the voice in good working shape when out on the road. The poor thing takes a beating.BRO – One item that you can’t leave home for the road without?RB – The Golden Eagle, my favorite guitar pedal. It’s my heart for the time being, a sweet and crunchy power monster that makes my guitar sound awesoooooome.BRO – Three items you would love to add to your rider?RB – A puppy for each show that we could hang with, a masseuse and acupuncture specialist, and lobster rolls.BRO – In the van – NPR? Satellite radio? iPod?RB – No music through the van speakers because they don’t work. When it comes to headphones, I listen to my Rain, Rain app. It puts me to sleep. I prefer the airplane sound. We do jam Terrapin Station daily from the speaker box, just to get us tapped into Jerry for a bit.BRO – Favorite on stage libation?RB – Whiskey and water.BRO – City you have played that made you think, “Yeah, I could live here.”?RB – Berlin. I was just there a month ago on tour and I had three incredible nights. I met a group of amazing Iranian musicians and we sat in this tiny, smoky room just off the sidewalk and I listened to them sing the most beautiful Iranian melodies. It’s hard to describe with words, but I definitely had a moment where I could’ve been there for a long time.You can catch Rayland Baxter out in California this weekend. He’ll be joining Grace Potter at the Henry Fonda Theater in L.A. on August 13th and 14th before heading to Oakland and the Fox Theater on August 15th. Later this month, Rayland returns to the Southeast, with dates in Kentucky and Tennessee on the calendar.Imaginary Man, the brand new record, drops on Friday. For more information on how you can get a copy, surf over to www.raylandbaxter.com.Make sure you take a listen to “Yellow Eyes” on this month’s Trail Mix. Photo by Eric Ryan Anderson.last_img read more

The Elephants of Middle Tennessee

first_imgHow did a farm south of Nashville become the country’s largest elephant sanctuary?Just before 8 a.m. on a Monday, Shirley stands in the middle of a field, using her trunk to sift through the brush on the ground. Her right hind leg bends out at an awkward, almost 45-degree angle, the lingering result of bone reconstruction after an altercation with another circus elephant over two decades ago. At 70 years old, Shirley walks slowly from a grassy patch to dry ground, swinging her trunk as she surveys the land. She stops at a sand pile, scooping chunks with her trunk and spraying them onto her back, cooling herself on an already-warm May morning.Though her injuries linger, Shirley is no longer confined to circus life. Instead, she is one of 11 total elephant residents of The Elephant Sanctuary, a home for retired performance and exhibition elephants. One of only two certified elephant sanctuaries in the U.S., the Elephant Sanctuary, located in Hohenwald, Tenn., doesn’t allow visitors; instead, Shirley’s wanderings are observed through the Sanctuary’s popular Elecams, a system of solar-powered cameras used to monitor the elephants and broadcast a live feed via the Sanctuary’s website, which Sanctuary staff also use for educational outreach programs throughout the year.Founded in 1995 by Carol Buckley and Scott Bais, the then-110-acre Sanctuary adopted its first resident—Tarra, an Asian elephant who, since the age of two, had performed in circuses and acts around the country. In the mid-1990s, after two decades of traveling and living in cramped quarters, Tarra needed land to roam as well as other elephants to interact with. “They also wanted a place where other elephants could retire and form a herd that maybe they hadn’t experienced earlier in life,” Joy Owens, The Sanctuary’s Education Manager, says of Buckley and Bais’s vision.Minnie and Ronnie / The Elephant SanctuaryBuckley and Bais chose to establish the Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, a town of four-and-a-half square miles and close to 4,000 people, 85 miles southwest of Nashville. The climate—mild weather, short winters and warm summer temperatures—roughly mirrors a wild elephant habitat, and the duo was able to purchase a wide swath of land at low cost with the hopes of adding more elephants and acreage over time.The next elephant, a former circus elephant named Barbara, arrived a year later, in 1996. Since that time, 28 elephants—all female—have lived at The Sanctuary, including the 11 current residents who inhabit over 2,700 acres of three separate habitat areas.The Sanctuary provides a home for the elephants to live in an environment more closely matched to their needs—ample land, ample food, a pseudo-herd and unstructured days. (They also each have their own barn space, complete with heated floors in winter). Typically, captive elephants cannot be re-introduced into the wild; as such, creating a parallel environs aids in their survival—and quality of life.As threats to elephants throughout Africa and Asia have increased in recent decades, particularly poaching, trophy hunting, and habitat destruction, havens like The Elephant Sanctuary highlight the importance of saving this beautiful mammal, classified as both threatened (African elephant) and endangered (Asian elephant). There are an estimated 400,000 African elephants remaining in the world; the Asian elephant population has decreased to an estimated 40,000 worldwide.The Elephant Sanctuary and PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) in California, which was founded in 1984 to protect and house formerly captive and performance wildlife animals, are the only two elephant sanctuaries in America accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). These organizations, as well as international non-profits and governmental organizations, are working through a variety of methods to save the species—before it’s too late.Shirley / The Elephant SanctuaryAn elephant’s day at The Sanctuary is intentionally unstructured. Elephants spend up to 18 hours a day eating, so the majority of their time is spent wandering, dining, and in some cases, socializing. While Sanctuary caregivers drop food for them, the elephants also walk around and forage independently. In the wild, a female elephant stays with her family herd for her entire life; a baby will often stay with her for up to five years. Male adult elephants, following procreation, are kicked out of the herd to live as a bachelor or with other males.Unrelated elephants typically won’t live together in the wild; at the Sanctuary, since most of the elephants aren’t related, they are gradually introduced to one another.When a new elephant arrives, she is kept on her own while the Sanctuary’s full-time staff of 45 workers, including 15 caregivers and four veterinarians, learns her health history and habits. This also allows for the new female to see, hear and smell the other elephants without being forced to share space. If the new and resident elephants are curious about each other and show positive behaviors, they are set up on ‘play dates,’ where they share space together (though African and Asian elephants are not intermingled, given the inherent species differences). If the elephants have a common fence and aren’t getting along, they won’t be introduced to one another.In 1999, Shirley arrived at The Elephant Sanctuary from a zoo in Louisiana, where she’d been the lone elephant for 22 years. Remarkably, on her first night, she recognized Jenny, an elephant she’d performed with in a circus over two decades prior. From that day onward, the two were almost inseparable, forming a mother-daughter-like bond that continued until Jenny’s passing in 2006.“They definitely have personalities and behaviors, likes, and dislikes,” Owens says. “Ronnie is the social butterfly, because she’s almost always in the company of another elephant and doesn’t like to be by herself. Flora likes to spend more time alone. A lot of behavior tells us about personalities. The caregivers see them every day and can really observe the minutiae of their behavior.”Sissy / The Elephant SanctuaryThe average life expectancy of an elephant in the wild is close to 60 years; in captivity, it is much shorter, as females living in a zoo live an average of only 17 years. “A big reason [for the shorter life expectancy] is that we haven’t been able to replicate the herd very well in captivity, and that’s really crucial to keeping an elephant happy and healthy,” Owens says. 70-year-old Shirley is the oldest elephant at The Sanctuary; at 34, Sukari is currently the youngest.Elephants sleep the least amount of any land mammal, typically only two hours a day. Otherwise, they are eating (elephants can consume hundreds of pounds of plant matter in one day), wandering, and socializing, behaviors that are limited by captivity, particularly by zoos. Instead, “providing space like The Elephant Sanctuary for elephants to be elephants is definitely the way to go,” Tanya Sanerib, Senior Attorney & International Program Legal Director for The Center for Biological Diversity, says. Elephants are also very intelligent, with the largest brains of any land mammal; enclosures, by and large, bore them.PAWS houses five African and three Asian bull elephants at ARK 2000 in San Andreas, providing the elephants—along with 22 tigers, 4 lions, 7 bears and 1 black leopard—with 2,300 acres of natural terrain to roam, lakes and pools for bathing, and elephant barns equipped with heated stalls and an indoor therapy pool.Co-founder Ed Stewart says that PAWS was established in 1984 to “be advocates and activists for the animals,” Stewart says. The sanctuary element evolved almost by happenstance; today, PAWS is central to providing a place of humane refuge for animals that have been the victims of exotic and performing animal trades (like The Elephant Sanctuary, PAWS does not use bull hooks, chains or confinement tactics.) In addition to housing animals, PAWS investigates reports of abused animals and assists in investigations by regulatory agencies to help captive wildlife.Other habitats, such as Riddles Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary in Arkansas, house elephants, but are also open to the public for viewing, thus not considered a true sanctuary by GTAS standards. While visitors describe Riddles on social media as a “wonderful conservation home” for the two elephant residents, other unaccredited locations don’t have the same reputation.“The premise of the state of elephant conservation in North America—I think that’s a myth,” Sanerib says. “There’s nothing we’re doing in terms of keeping elephants in captivity in North America that is really, truly contributing to their conservation. A handful of zoos do really good research, and we’ve learned a certain amount about elephant communication through research on elephants in captivity. But by and large, what elephants need for their conservation is habitat: food, water, and room to roam.”The biggest threat to African elephants’ existence is poaching. In 1989, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned the international trade of ivory. However, domestic legal markets have continued to operate, as well as numerous black markets. Poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts kill an estimated 100 African elephants each day, totaling over 30,000 per year.Tange / The Elephant SanctuaryUnder President Obama, the U.S. introduced a near-total ban on the commercial trade of African elephant ivory in 2016. China shut down its’ legal ivory market in late 2017; in early April of 2018, the U.K. announced a new ban on ivory sales whereby violators face up to five years in prison and heavy fines. Hong Kong has announced that it will end its ivory market by 2021.“The hope is that we will ultimately see some changes in poaching numbers on the ground and an upswing on elephants [as a result of these bans],” Sanerib says. “But we need for these measures to be really implemented, and it’ll take years to work through the system.”Some areas have seen signs of positive change. After a year-long project collaring and tracking elephants in and around Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, numbers indicated that killings had declined and some herds had shown signs of recovery, thanks to law enforcement crackdowns on trafficking syndicates and the continued international illegalization of the ivory trade.Another threat to elephants—which some argue is a way to help the species—is trophy hunting. In trophy hunts, private hunters pay large fees to locals to guide them in killing a specified number of elephants; the profits are intended to support the small African communities as well as conservation efforts. But studies find that the system rarely works that fluidly. As a 2017 National Geographic article and case study pointed out, the industry employs few people, and the money from the hunt fees doesn’t trickle down to needy villagers or conservation groups. Instead, those at the top keep the funds, while more elephants are killed.“With trophy hunting, we are organizationally opposed to it when it comes to imperiled species,” Sanyerib says. “That said, there are some places in Africa that don’t have the infrastructure to serve as a tourist hub, but they do have trophy hunting. If it’s well-managed and sustainable, there are times where that could be a jump-off activity to eco-tourism.”On November 5th, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to lift an Obama-era ban on elephants imported from Zimbabwe and Zambia into the U.S., arguing that allowing trophy hunting would enhance the survival of the species by raising money for conservation programs.Two weeks later, after heavy public backlash over the decision, President Trump tweeted, “will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of elephants or any other animal.” The ban lift was subsequently placed on hold.Tarra / The Elephant SanctuaryThen, in early March of 2018, the Trump administration announced that it would in fact lift the ban and thus approve the import of elephant trophies on a “case-by-case basis.” Both of Trump’s adult sons are trophy hunters (as reported by the AP, “a photo of Donald Trump Jr., holding a knife over the severed tail of an elephant he reportedly killed in Zimbabwe in 2011 has sparked outrage among animal rights activists.”) Four conservation and animal protection groups, including The Center for Biological Diversity, sued the Trump administration in response; the lawsuit is pending.Another threat to elephants is loss of habitat, particularly throughout Asia. As urban development has continued, as well as the need for more land, battles have broken out between foraging elephants and humans. Elephants are a keystone species, meaning they create and maintain the ecosystems in which they live while also allowing for a myriad of plant and animal species to live in those environments. But for farmers whose livelihood depends on their crops, their first priority is keeping elephants off of their land—at all costs.In 2017, led by the International Elephant Foundation, government representatives from the Asian Elephant Ranges States (every country that has a wild Asian Elephant population) gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia, and created and signed the Jakarta Declaration for Asian Elephant Conservation, where they outlined their collective goals for elephant conservation, “and got on the same page about what we’d all do together to save the Asian elephant,” Sarah Conley, Conservation Coordinator for the International Elephant Foundation, says.Conley added that the Declaration has already started dictating policy decisions; further change is expected, particularly in the affected Asian countries as outreach efforts continue.“To make sustainable changes for the betterment of elephants and habitat, we need to make sure the local communities not just understand what we’re doing, but are involved and invested for the long-term,” Conley says.And communities like Hohenwald can help to lead the way. On East Main Street in downtown Hohenwald, The Elephant Discovery Center offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about this keystone species through self-guided exhibits and educational programming. On the second Saturday of each month, a Sanctuary staff member visits the Center to talk about a particular theme, and audience members can ask questions about caring for the elephants.While there, visitors may just hear Shirley’s trumpeting sounds, miles down the road, enjoying her refuge as she lives out her final days in peace.last_img read more

DelFest: Come Early, Stay Late in the Mountain Side of Maryland

first_imgBut don’t stop the experienceat music! There are so many ways to get the whole experience of MountainMaryland while you’re here for DelFest. Allegany County offers 60,000 acres ofpublic land between the four state parks and forests, including Rocky Gap StatePark and Green Ridge State Forest; access to the Potomac River and twointernationally-recognized bike trails – the Great Allegheny Passage andC&O Canal Towpath; Rocky Gap Casino Resort; the Western Maryland ScenicRailroad; and two state-designated Main Street and Arts and Entertainmentdistricts – Frostburg and Cumberland, MD. Or hop aboard the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, a 3-hour round-trip heritage train excursion that departs from Cumberland, MD, and ascends the mountain to its destination in Frostburg, MD, and back. We mentioned the Potomac River running alongside the festival grounds, and if it’s water you seek, then water we deliver. Both the Potomac River and Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park are popular attractions for kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards. The Potomac River features several public access points for put-in and take-out and is suited for kayaks, canoes, and inner tube floats. The river’s current carries floaters on a lazy ride, with minimal paddling, making for a rejuvenating and scenic trip on the Potomac. Local outfitters are available to provide shuttles and equipment for a hassle-free adventure. New for 2019, festival attendees can pre-book guided kayak tours, cycling experiences on the Great Allegheny Passage and kid’s fishing packages available during DelFest!  Reservations can be made through www.mdmountainside.com/delfest or at www.delfest.com, where festival tickets are also on sale. If you have a taste for adventure and the outdoors, be sure to expand your DelFest experience to include some of these must-do activities. Great Allegheny Passage, Big Savage Overlook The iconic Knobbly Mountain cliffside paints the festival backdrop and the Potomac River runs alongside the festival grounds, providing a cool relief when the weather gets hot, making the setting of the festival a taste of Allegany County, the Mountain Side of Maryland, in miniature. When you’re here for DelFest, you’re family, and the people and the vibe reflect true Appalachian mountain spirit and hospitality. Entertainment Photo Credit DelFest Hiking and Biking Maryland. Be open for it. It doesn’t all have to be outdoors! Allegany County is home to Rocky Gap Casino Resort, where you can play slots, with over 600 machines, or try your luck at table games such as blackjack, roulette, Mississippi Stud, or Three Card Poker. Try the new Exit Strategy Escape Rooms in downtown Cumberland, MD, featuring a speakeasy room, the Untouchables, and an Alice in Wonderland-themed room, Through the Looking Glass. Gather your friends to look for clues, open locks, and decipher messages to solve the puzzle and escape before the clock runs out! As you can see, there is no shortage in ways to explore Allegany County, the Mountain Side of Maryland. Whether you come early, stay late, or play while you’re here for DelFest, we are certain that you will fall in love with Allegany County’s mountain charm, scenic beauty, and one unbelievable festival to kick off summer. Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Canoe on Lake Habeeb, Rocky Gap State Park, Allegany County, MD Play on the Water Allegany County features thetwo internationally-recognized bike trails, the Great Allegheny Passage andC&O Canal Towpath, which connect right here in Cumberland, MD, to create333 miles of uninterrupted bike trails from Washington, DC, to Pittsburgh, PA.With the towpath following the old C&O Canal and the passage following theold Western Maryland Railway line, the trails feature awe-inspiring scenerywith a touch of Allegany County’s historical past. DelFest is Allegany County’spremier bluegrass festival, celebrating the rich legacy of Del McCoury, withworld-class musical collaborations from some of the best-known names inbluegrass music, all within a family-friendly and distinctly unique atmosphere.Taking place Memorial Day Weekend, May 23-26, and hosted by Del McCoury andfamily, DelFest 2019 welcomes to the stage the Del McCoury Band, the Travelin’McCourys, the String Cheese Incident, Tyler Childers, Railroad Earth, TrampledBy Turtles, and many more musical acts playing around the clock for nearly fourdays.last_img read more

New Lens

first_imgFirst, clean your lenses. Start by rinsing off debris and grit in the sink. Then use a toothbrush and toothpaste to gently scrub away facial oils, fingerprints, and grime. Pat dry and buff with a soft towel. Store masks in individual plastic containers or bags to keep them clean and prevent scratches.  Riverside, spray a few pumps of Quick-Spit onto your mask’s interior lenses. Tilt it from side to side, coating the glass totally. Then dip it into the water, washing away the solution completely. Repeat for the external lenses. TIP: If your face or fingers touch the glass, the point of contact will fog. So, bring along a cleaning kit just in case.  GET EQUIPPED Then it hit me: Could we make it work in nearby rivers? I quickly added quality masks and snorkels to our tubing rigs and we hit the water. The response was an enthusiasm that—to my astonishment—dethroned skiing and snowboarding as my kids’ favorite outdoor to-do.  Antifog SprayWithout it, lenses fog within seconds. Jaws brand Quick-Spit spray costs about $6 a bottle and should be applied on-site, each time you go out. Here’s how to do it right.   Proper equipment is the foundation of great river snorkeling experiences. Luckily, quality gear is remarkably affordable. Here’s a list of essentials, with tips for choosing. Neoprene diving gloves protect water-softened fingers and hands from sharp rocks and debris. They’re great for grabbing boulders, pushing off rocks while swimming downstream, and more. Webbed gloves are like fins for your hands. Both options run around $30.  FINDING SPOTS Use a similar approach for downstream trips. Begin with short journeys (.5 miles or so) in gentle currents with manageable depths and build from there.       SnorkelsBuying a quality snorkel brings confidence that helps kids and adults adjust to the peculiarities of breathing while swimming underwater. Matching with mask brands ensures compatible connection systems and minimal obtrusiveness.  Fins increase mobility and swimming efficiency, helping you dive deeper, slice through currents, and better follow fish. They also protect your feet. Look for a pair with short fins, closed pockets, and rugged grippy soles. Head Volo Ones do the trick for about $30. Pair them with neoprene water socks to avoid blisters (under $20). When my two kids were small, family canoe trips were easy. Then they got older and things like who sits in front, where to stop and swim, accidental paddle-splashes, or simply passing a bag of chips, led to near-constant bickering. Next came gripes about sitting still. My spouse soon refused to participate.  • Be careful when rivers are high. Luckily, post-storm turbidity makes for bad snorkeling. Still, there are occasions when receding waters turn clear, but leave dangerously powerful currents. Check river gauges ahead of visits for depths and never swim in conditions that exceed any member of your party’s abilities.   Another important factor: Light. Dense, bank-hugging forests bring excess shade and occluded viewing opportunities. Other considerations include skirts and buckles. The former should be high-grade silicone. For the latter, a frame-anchored quick-release system is best. Though slightly more expensive, they simplify adjustments considerably.   But we learned quickly. And my kids have since become zealous advocates—urging friends and pretty much anyone we meet on the river to give the activity a try. I too wanna spread the message. Below is a guide to help you and your family get started.   Innertube and Cooler RigLonger downstream swims bring considerations like portable hydration, snacks, and possible kiddie fatigue. Waterproof coolers and hydration packs can be lashed to sturdy innertubes with bottom-liners. The latter offer relief if someone needs a momentary break.  Another option is to call outfitters. They know the local rivers well and are typically happy to make suggestions. They also offer cheap shuttles for point-to-point trips. Some, like North Carolina’s Oxbow River Snorkeling & Backcountry Adventures, do guided experiences.  What to do? Tubing trips brought their own problems. Kayaks required buying a tow vehicle and trailer. I started longing for the simple, infectious Zen of family snorkeling trips in Hawaii and the Caribbean. The activity bundled exercise, summer swimming, quiet, and immersive nature experiences like no other.   • Pollution. Sections of waterways near former or current industrial sites, power plants, cities, and so on, can sometimes be unsafe to swim in. When visiting new areas, first check for closures with your state’s department of game and inland fisheries (or equivalent agency).   • Floating Downstream. Navigating riffles and small rapids while snorkeling takes some getting used to. Start by assessing areas and picking lines ahead of time. Deeper spots are easy enough to swim. Tackle shallower areas by crawling along head first (in a superman position), picking your way from rock to rock. Drag your feet and grab boulders to control speed. Wearing gloves will boost confidence and protect your hands and fingers.  What Makes a Good Location?Freshwater snorkeling comes in three main forms: Exploring swimming holes and still-water areas, skulking upstream, and floating for longer distances downstream. So, deciding where to go depends on what you want to do. Good news aside, there was a substantial learning curve. We wasted outings on botched antifog treatments. Our first long trip nearly got us stranded by nightfall. Outings centered around isolated, densely forested sections brought near-zero visibility. The list goes on.  Start SlowBegin with a trial run in an area with clear water and easy conditions. A swimming hole with negligible current, rocky bottoms, and walkable shallow areas that give way to depths of about eight feet is ideal.  Fins & Gloves Gloves and fins are nice, but nonessential. (Ditto for wetsuits in summer conditions.) That said, they do enhance experiences. So, a word.  Like mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding, river snorkeling brings inherent dangers. Taking a few easy precautions minimizes risks.  Masks While bargain packages may work passably in swimming pools, they will leak and fail in rivers. Instead, invest in upper-midrange or high-end offerings from professional brands like Cressi or TUSA. A premium mask will slash learning curves and maximize good times. Initially, it’s best to start with shorter distances—say, a mile or less. Pick spots where, should you finish too quickly, it’s easy to shuttle up for a repeat. Because, if the spot is good, second runs are desirable. River snorkeling is a great way for families to get outside, stay active, and explore nature.   Small kids can wear life vests and catch interesting sights from the surface while learning to stay partially submerged and breathe through their snorkel. Older children can get familiarized with diving by belly-crawling in chest-deep water. That way, if they panic or get scared, they can simply stand up. Once they’re confident, they can move on to progressively deeper waters.  Planning Calculating timing and mileages for downstream river snorkeling trips can be tricky. Some areas inspire lingering. Others, window-gazing as the current does its thing.  There are a few requisites for choosing. First is a reliable dry guard that bars water from entering the tube when you dive. Second is flexible construction—allowing for mobility that won’t compromise your mask’s seal. Next is a comfortable, properly sized, high-grade silicone mouthpiece. Lastly, a purge valve for blowing out saliva and water. The Cressi Alpha Ultra Dry is great and costs about $40.  The key to great family river snorkeling trips lies in finding good spots. That said, criteria for assessment will vary from group to group—depending on geography, kiddo swimming abilities, and so on. These tips and tricks will help attune your thinking and point you in the right direction.    Next comes lenses. Tempered glass is a necessity. For younger kids, consider a dual-lens setup: Frames make them sturdier, less likely to fog, and easier to adjust. Adults and conscientious teens will enjoy frameless, single lens models—which offer a wider field of sight and better peripheral vision. The award-winning Cressi F1 sells for around $35.  They delighted in exploring segments of rivers they’d complained relentlessly about having to paddle. Looking for fish and wildlife in underwater boulder fields, rocky crags, and gentle rapids brought endless amusement. They begged to stay despite fading sunlight and the need for dinner. At home, they consulted online freshwater guidebooks to discover what they’d seen. • Swim with buddies and stay close. Pay particular attention in areas with stronger currents and deeper waters. SAFETY & GETTING STARTED • Protective footwear. Unfortunately, irresponsible fishermen, litterers, and floods create dangerous hazards in rivers. Stepping on a fishing hook, shard of broken glass, or jagged rocks can ruin a trip and spell a visit to the emergency room.   Best Practices  But picking takes consideration. First and foremost is fit—a hair too big and you’ll get constant leakage. Visiting dive shops makes fittings easy. When buying online, take facial measurements and use sizing charts.  Locate New AreasUnfamiliar with regional waterways? Try checking the website of your state’s department of game and inland fisheries (or equivalent agency). Virginia, for instance, lists rivers by region and offers canoeing and kayaking info for many sections—including fishing hotspots, which are often great for snorkeling. But there are common ingredients. Above all, fun snorkeling experiences hinge on underwater eye-candy, so clear water, rocky bottoms, and interesting ecosystems are the ticket. Mountain rivers that feed major tributaries are typically a good place to start. Features like long, relatively slow-moving sections filled with big boulders are havens for fish. Riffles also offer interesting pockets of rocks and wildlife. In Virginia, for instance, the headwaters of the Maury River at Goshen Pass are exemplary.  Cover photo courtesy of Oxbow River Snorkeling & Backcountry Adventures, an outfitter offering guided trips in North Carolina.last_img read more

US Hospital Ship Arrives In Panama On Humanitarian Mission For Latin America

first_imgBy Dialogo May 26, 2009 it is good to visit areas where people do not get any medical services. thanks to all doctors team who regularly visit them and respect their profession in true manner with true services to all. The US Navy Hospital Ship “Comfort” will dock next Monday, for the purpose of conducting a humanitarian assistance mission throughout the Caribbean, Central America and Colombia. Representatives from the Panamanian Ministry of Health (Minsa) and from the U.S. Embassy in this country indicated today during the press conference that the ship will be anchored in the Port of Cristóbal in the city of Colón, in the Panamanian Caribbean. The primary objective of this visit, which was conducted for the first time in 2007, is to provide free medical assistance and to improve some of the health infrastructure of this Central American country. The “Comfort” will have a crew comprised of 925 members from France, Canada, Holland, Spain and the United States; 121 of the crew members are physicians, each one of them being able to examine up to 60 patients each, as explained by the Southern Command’s Surgeon General and Ship’s Captain, Miguel Cubano. The ship, which will be in Panama for 7 days, is 275 meters long, has 12 hospital wards and the space capacity for up to 1000 hospital beds. According to Cubano, all types of general surgery, pediatric and orthopedic operations will be performed on the ship, except for neurosurgical interventions and vascular surgery. Last April 1st, the ship “Comfort” set sail from Norfolk, Virginia (Unites States), and it visited Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Antigua and Barbuda, and afterwards it went from Panama towards Colombia, El Salvador and Nicaragua. The Clinical Supplies Director for the Panamanian Ministry of Health, Mario Rodríguez, stated that the ship did not come to Panama due to the increase in the number of cases of Influenza Type A. “The arrival of the ship is a coincidence, an activity that we had been coordinating for several months before the epidemic occurred. It did not happen because Panama had requested the US help with the influenza epidemic. It just arrived in a moment of humanitarian emergency,” Rodriguez said. In 2007, the American vessel conducted a mission throughout 12 Latin American countries, where more than 169,000 patients were assisted and 1500 operations were performed. A total of 20 million dollars was earmarked in order to cover the expenses of this two year mission, according to information provided by the US Embassy.last_img read more