Thursday, July 9, 2020

Black Hills tornado accelerates hardwood release


I've logged a number of timber salvage operations after fires and blow downs in the Black Hills, Bighorn Mountains and in Idaho. It's dirty, dusty and destructive.

Tornadoes and strong thunderstorm microbursts have gone through this area of the Black Hills before so despite being a literal windfall for the Neimans the overgrowth of ponderosa pine on the limestone plateau portion of the Black Hills has become unhealthy especially for aspen and hazelnut.

Pinus ponderosa is not native to the Black Hills and only reached the region less than four thousand years ago. When the Custer Expedition came through the Black Hills bringing invasive cheatgrass for their horses stands of ponderosa pine were sparsely scattered but a century and a half of poor ranching and land management practices have created an unnatural overstory best controlled by the mountain pine beetle, prescribed fires, periodic wildfires, yes even mechanical treatments as long as no new roads are built and burns applied to stimulate hardwood release.

European settlement in the New World and the Industrial Revolution took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests. After Case #1, the first Forest Service timber sale in US history near Nemo, the Black Hills National Forest ceased being a wild thing. While ponderosa pine is relatively new to the Black Hills native limber and lodgepole pine have been mostly extirpated from He Sapa, The Heart of Everything That Is.

Today in the Mountain West aspen and other hardwoods have been choked out by fire suppression and the timber industry exacerbating climate change. Aspen leaves reflect sunlight in the summer and aspen communities hold snow pack into the Spring while pine needles absorb heat and accelerate snow melt warming the planet.

Restoring and rewilding American ecosystems are parts of the Green New Deal so with some coaxing from the public land managers within the Black Hills National Forest might come to its senses and just leave it to Wakan Tanka and Mother Earth to heal.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Minnesota AG sues energy industry; whither Big Stone Power Plant?


South Dakota suffers the highest breast cancer rates in America due in large part to emissions from coal-fired electricity generating plants in Montana and Wyoming.

The Big Stone Power Plant in northeastern South Dakota spewed tons of mercury and other pollutants into the headwaters of the Minnesota River until an upgrade in 2016. Owned by Otter Tail Power, Montana-Dakota Utilities and NorthWestern Energy this monster burns 3,500 tons of subbituminous coal every hour so those companies spend millions every year greasing politicians and poisoning waterways.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison sued ExxonMobil, Koch Industries and the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday, alleging they deceived and defrauded Minnesotans about climate change. A number of local and national climate change groups applauded Ellison’s lawsuit, including the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, the Center for Climate Integrity, Fresh Energy, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. [Pioneer Press]
The average cost of a household photovoltaic system is about $3/watt or around $12,810 before tax credits are factored in and leaving the grid has never been easier so anyone who can afford to it should do it now and with Trump still in the White House it's never been more urgent.

AG Ellison should pull no punches then sue the shit out of the owners of the Big Stone Power Plant and South Dakota's dairies, too while the iron is hot.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Trump counties among nation's worse off


So, what’s not to like about six (seven? eight?) month winters, rampant racism, chilling effects on civil rights, extremist legislatures, living in chemical toilets, sacrifice zones, perpetual welfare states and permanent disaster areas?
Many of these worse-off counties are in two regions: a northern cluster in Nebraska, the Dakotas and Montana; and along the Lower Mississippi River in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. But nearly all states have at least one worse-off county. Worse-off counties have a higher-than-average share of agricultural and manufacturing jobs — despite the manufacturing boom of 2018 — and relatively few tech, arts and media jobs. Worse-off counties share something else, in addition to being rural and weighted toward agricultural and manufacturing jobs: They lean Republican.
Read it all here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

TDP going on extended hiatus

Maintaining two blogs has just become too daunting so The Dakota Progressive won't be updated until further notice. Follow interested party.