Sunday, September 23, 2012

Shared Comment - VWC-DEIS - 1.6.5 Climate and Air Quality


What I found most disturbing was that the DEIS contains nothing about our long term "Climate Change" related challenges.

In fact, the VWC-DEIS makes an out and out false assertion when they stated:

1.6.5 Climate and Air Quality 
VWC-DEIS - Page 4-56   Chapter 4.  Environmental Consequences Moderate Density Development Concept  
{...}Conversely, while climate change has been projected to have incremental impacts on various aspects of human activities at some unknown point in the future, there are no methodologies available at this point to predict any impacts on the project being analyzed here.”

Such words as "some unknown point in the future" or "no methodologies available to predict any impacts" are disingenuous in the face of scientific knowledge.  Below are a few of the many studies that support my claim.  This information should be included in the deliberations and the FEIS.

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On Climate Change in the Southwestern U.S. 
"Climate change is already affecting fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats around the globe..." 
The Service's Southwest Region has been working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
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Global Change Reports and Assessments 
"According to the Analysis of Global Change Assessments by the National Research Council:
“Water supplies will become increasingly scarce, calling for trade-offs among competing uses, and potentially leading to conflict.”"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Climate Change in the Southwest Observed Climate Changes
University of Arizona
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Climate Change over the Southwestern U.S. as predicted by Regional Climate Models
American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2011, abstract #GC21A-0861 
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Study predicts permanent drought in Southwest
The National Center for Atmospheric Research
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Then there's the Bark Beetle global warming connection.

The sad fact is that higher elevation trees within the Rio Grande National Forest are under attack and dying in massive numbers.  These areas will become ripe for major forest fires.  And not in some indeterminate future, a ride over Wolf Creek Pass makes that frighteningly clear.

How will that information be avoided in the sales brochures?  

Why is it missing from the VWC-DEIS as another contra-indicator for Red McCombs' notion of a luxury resort in a dead forest at 10,500’ - instead he should be encouraged to return Alberta Park to the RGNF for the benefit of all down stream stakeholders?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Indirect Effects of Development Concepts   Bark Beetle
“The potential for a spruce bark beetle infestation, which now impacts 38 acres of the private land parcel, to reach epidemic levels in the near future is high within the Analysis Area due to the severe drought conditions the Rio Grande NF experienced in the early 2000's.  
If the beetle epidemic does spread, the elimination of infested trees from the Analysis Area could potentially reduce the rate of spread of the beetles at a stand level.  In addition, any spruce tree thinning projects associated with the development concepts may improve stand health to resist further attack.  
However, given the scale of spruce beetle outbreak over the entire Rio Grande NF, it is unlikely that the actions associated with Alternative 2 would control the spruce beetle outbreak over large areas adjacent to the Analysis Area, and hence the project's effects on the spruce beetle epidemic are negligible.
Page 4-66 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Direct Effects of Land Exchange
The land exchange would also result in the transfer of a 38-acre spruce bark beetle outbreak in the southern portion of the private land parcel (USFS, 2011b) to Federal ownership.  See Figure 3.6-3.  
However, spruce beetles are presently at epidemic levels in lands surrounding the Analysis Area and all mature spruce on the exchange parcels may be infected over the next several years.  The Forest Service would hence be responsible for managing the spruce beetle epidemic on the acquired non-Federal parcel."  

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Why don't the EIS authors use this opportunity to note the Bark Beetle infestation is unstoppable and that in another decade, or sooner, there won't (in all realistic probability) be any living spruce trees left standing around Wolf Creek Pass?  Instead, coupled with the expected drier conditions, what we will have is a fire danger situation worse than any we have known hereabouts... why are EIS authors trying to facilitate a project right into that future?

Why not point out that this will further ruin the speculative village’s sales prospects?  Why not point out that this will further ruin the speculative village’s sales prospects?  And increase the chances of this speculation becoming a spectacular failure.

EIS authors should stop ignoring such contra-indicators?

There's no good reason to allow the trade - and every reason to make LMJV deal with the parcel they originally acquired, thus helping him realize it’s time to abandon his pipedream and to find some honorable way to return his parcel back to the Rio Grand National Forest or a nature conservancy.

After all your charge is to protect the interests of the American people first and foremost.

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