AmeriScan: January 31, 2001

CALIFORNIA EXTENDS OPERATIONS LIMIT ON EMERGENCY GENERATORS

LOS ANGELES, California, January 31, 2001 (ENS) - In an effort to give essential public services greater ability to respond to power emergencies, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) has issued an executive order extending the amount of time that such agencies can run emergency generators.

"Governor Davis declared a state of emergency last week due to the state's power crisis," said Barry Wallerstein, AQMD's executive officer. "In response, AQMD has increased the amount of time that emergency generators at hospitals, police stations, fire houses and other essential public services can operate."

AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Under AQMD's executive order, essential public service providers can operate emergency generators up to 500 hours in a calendar year, which more than doubles AQMD's previous operation limit of 200 hours per year. AQMD rules limit emergency generators to 200 hours per year because they are diesel powered, have no pollution controls and emit 300 times more smog forming pollution per unit of energy than a new power plant.

The new order allows extended generator use during an imminent or actual power blackout in the provider's area. It also promotes the use of low sulfur diesel fuel, defined as containing 15 parts per million or less of sulfur.

The order, issued January 26, expires on February 3, 2001, but can be renewed in 10 day increments. It applies to the following public services:

"The governor has determined that the power crisis poses an extreme peril to public safety," Wallerstein said. "We are doing our part to ensure that public health and safety agencies can keep operating during periods of potential blackouts."

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PACIFIC CORAL REEFS GET ECOSYSTEM BASED MANAGEMENT PLAN

WASHINGTON, DC, January 31, 2001 (ENS) - The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has developed the first ever ecosystem based plan for a U.S. fishery. The agency has released an environmental impact statement on the Fishery Management Plan for coral reef ecosystems in the Western Pacific.

The fishery management plan, developed by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, addresses the need for balanced use and management of coral reefs in the western Pacific.

"We commend the Western Pacific Council for its work on this innovative and significant management plan," said Bill Hogarth, acting assistant administrator for NMFS. "The plan allows us to balance the need to protect coral reefs and thousands of reef associated species while we continue to address potential management needs of Western Pacific Coral Reef ecosystems."

NMFS says there is minimal fishing in the management areas addressed in the fishery management plan, including the northwest Hawaiian Islands, Pacific remote island areas, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and American Samoa. But some fisheries are interested in expanding in these areas.

Potential management issues include the expansion of nearshore fisheries for coral reef species, new fisheries for the live fish markets in Southeast Asia, the expansion of coral and "live rock" fisheries for the U.S. aquarium trade and the development of fisheries for pharmaceutical applications.

The proposed plan would establish fishing permit and reporting requirements, and require the use of non-destructive fishing gear and harvesting methods. The proposal would designate marine protected areas, including no-take marine reserves as well as areas zoned for specific fishing activities.

The plan would facilitate state and territorial level management of coral reef resources; create social, economic and political incentives for sustainable use and disincentives for non-sustainable use of coral reef resources; and foster education, public outreach and coral reef management diplomacy.

The report and a schedule of public hearings on the proposal are available at: http://www.wpcouncil.org

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LIST SHOWS FISHERIES THAT AFFECT MARINE MAMMALS

WASHINGTON, DC, January 31, 2001 (ENS) - The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is seeking comment on proposed changes to its annual list of commercial fisheries that interact with marine mammals.

The List of Fisheries categorizes each U.S. commercial fishery based on the level of interaction each fishery has with marine mammals. The annual list is required by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

Each fishery is placed into one of three categories according to whether it has a frequent (Category I), occasional (Category II), or remote (Category III) likelihood of causing serious injury or death in marine mammals.

After reviewing marine mammal stock assessment reports and other new information, such as observer data and marine mammal stranding data, NMFS is proposing several classification and administrative changes.

The Atlantic squid, mackerel, butterfish trawl fishery and the Mid-Atlantic coastal gillnet fishery are proposed to be elevated to Category I from Category II.

Almost a dozen fisheries are proposed to be elevated to Category II from Category III, including the Atlantic blue crab trap/pot; Gulf of Mexico blue crab trap/pot; Gulf of Mexico gillnet; Hawaii swordfish, tuna, billfish, mahi mahi, wahoo and oceanic sharks longline/set line; North Carolina inshore gillnet; and southeast Atlantic gillnet fishery.

The following commercial fisheries are proposed to be added for the first time to Category II: California longline; Mid-Atlantic pound net; North Carolina long haul seine; northeast drift gillnet; and northeast trap/pot fishery.

Commercial fishers who participate in fisheries placed in Category I or II must register with the Marine Mammal Assessment Program and pay a fee. The Marine Mammal Protection Act requires that all commercial fishers, regardless of category, submit a report to NMFS within 48 hours of the end of each fishing trip if a marine mammal is injured or killed.

The proposed rule is available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/PR2/Fisheries_Interactions/list_of_fisheries.html

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OYSTER GROWERS SEEK NEW APPROACH TO CONTROL SHRIMP

OLYMPIA, Washington, January 31, 2001 (ENS) - Washington's oyster growers are looking for new ways to control burrowing shrimp. Oyster growers in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor signed an agreement Tuesday with the state that will ensure burrowing shrimp are controlled in the most environmentally and economically sound manner possible.

Oyster growers have used the pesticide carbaryl since the early 1960s to control burrowing ghost and mud shrimp in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. Carbaryl is toxic to juvenile salmon, Dungeness crab and other aquatic life.

Under the agreement, the growers will change the way they control burrowing shrimp, which ruin prime oyster growing mudflats by burrowing into the sand, allowing oysters to sink or be buried, and inhibiting or killing the crop. Besides destroying oyster habitat, burrowing shrimp infestations crowd out other aquatic life and decrease the biodiversity of the estuary.

The growers will use an "integrated pest management" (IPM) process to establish pest control methods that are both environmentally and economically sound. An IPM plan uses monitoring and evaluation to determine pest prevention techniques and what levels of the pest that can be tolerated.

The agreement calls for investigating alternatives such as increasing shrimp predators or hardening the mudflats, as well as better methods of delivering pesticides to shrimp burrows to reduce the amount of chemicals applied.

"There is still a long way to go to lessen our reliance on chemicals as the sole mechanism to keep shrimp out of the oyster beds. This agreement is a very good sign that the industry may soon be headed in this direction," said Kelly Susewind, a water quality manager for the Washington Department of Ecology.

Prior to the early 1960s, nature controlled the burrowing shrimp, Sheldon said. Oyster growers are interested in finding out how and why those natural controls worked.

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HUDSON RIVER ACTIVISTS RALLY TONIGHT

NEW YORK, New York, January 31, 2001 (ENS) - Friends of a Clean Hudson, a coalition of New York state environmental groups, will rally tonight to demonstrate public support for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) preliminary decision to force General Electric to dredge toxic PCBs from the Hudson River.

In December, the EPA recommended that General Electric finance a $460 million effort to dredge more than 100,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from a 40 mile stretch of the Hudson River in upstate New York.

Tonight's rally, scheduled to take place from 5:45 pm to 6:45 pm in front of the entrance to the New School for Social Research in New York City, precedes EPA's public meeting at which they are taking public comment on their Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Hudson River. EPA's public meeting will be held inside the New School's Tishman Auditorium.

The rally is being sponsored by Friends of a Clean Hudson, a coalition of environmental groups comprised of Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Scenic Hudson, Environmental Advocates, New York Public Interest Research Group, Appalachian Mountain Club, the Arbor Hill Environmental Justice Corporation, and New York Rivers United.

Speakers for the rally include Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., an environmental attorney and president of the Water Keepers Alliance; authors George Plimpton and Kurt Vonnegut; Representative Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat; Gifford Miller, New York City Council member; Alex Matthiessen of Hudson Riverkeeper; Tim Gray of the Housatonic River Initiative; Andy Mele of Clearwater; Cara Lee of Scenic Hudson; and Susan Holmes of the Sierra Club.

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EVERGLADES VOLUNTEERS PLANT CYPRESS TREES

BOYNTON BEACH, Florida, January 31, 2001 (ENS) - The Everglades Restoration Project will get a jumpstart February 10, when Australia's Banrock Station Wines teams up with the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation and more than 300 volunteers to plant 10,000 cypress trees and related species at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

Restoring the ancient forest is critical to preserving all aspects of the Everglades, from wildlife to water supply, said John Marshall, president of the Marshall Foundation.

"We wouldn't be in the fix we are with the water shortage if we still had our cypress swamps," Marshall said. "Cypress swamps are 40 percent more efficient at retaining water than open surface storage."

Marshall said the cypress trees also filter pollutants out of the water such as phosphorus, mercury, lead and copper.

The planting will take place on Everglades Day, which the Audubon Society of the Everglades and the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge will host to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the wildlife refuge, and the 12th anniversary of its renaming and dedication to Arthur R. Marshall.

"The Arthur R. Marshall Foundation event will be the groundbreaking ceremony to get the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project under way," Marshall said.

Banrock Station, an Australian winery dedicated to preserving wetlands worldwide, donated $20,000 to the project. The winery is providing technical consultation from the wetlands restoration project on its own property in South Australia, and will contribute a donation for every bottle of Banrock Station sold in Florida for the next year.

Tony Sharley, environmental scientist and manager of Banrock Station's innovative Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre in Australia, said the Everglades project is a natural for his company.

"We are very impressed with the Marshall Foundation and its strong commitment to restoring the Everglades," Sharley said.

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ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP WORKSHOPS SUPPORTED BY AT&T

NEW YORK, New York, January 31, 2001 (ENS) - Excellence in Environmental Leadership, a workshop series supported by a donation from AT&T, will help volunteer leaders, staff and board members of environmental groups improve their fundraising and leadership skills.

The Institute for Conservation Leadership created the workshop series AT&T's contribution.

Excellence in Environmental Leadership is a series of intensive one day workshops for staff and volunteers of environmental and conservation organizations. The workshop will give organizations the tools to support their environmental endeavors and to evaluate their progress along the way.

"AT&T's support means that grassroots environmental and conservation groups will grow stronger, have a greater impact in their communities, and involve more people in protecting the earth," said Dianne Russell, executive director of the Institute. "The Institute is very grateful to AT&T for its continued commitment, leadership, and vision in making this program possible."

Topics include Energizing Your Board!, which will offer examples of how environmental and conservation leaders have strengthened their boards to meet their needs. Benchmarking For Success will assess organizational strengths and weaknesses, prioritize needs and develop an action plan.

The workshop series will be delivered in seven cities: Atlanta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; Bozeman, Montana; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Kalispell, Montana; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For information on workshop dates, registration and general information, please call the Institute for Conservation Leadership at 301-270-2900 or visit the Institute's web site at http://www.icl.org

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ECO-INDEX WEBSITE OFFERS CONSERVATION INFORMATION

NEW YORK, New York, January 31, 2001 (ENS) - The New York based Rainforest Alliance has launched a new bilingual website providing information on conservation initiatives underway in Mexico and Central America.

The Eco-Index (http://www.eco-index.org) is an electronic almanac of conservation projects in the region, serving conservationists, journalists, funders and other interested parties worldwide. The information is provided in both English and Spanish.

The site's principle feature is a search engine that makes project information easy to retrieve. Users may search by project category, location, organization, funder or keywords.

The compiled project information includes annual budget, funders, objectives, achievements, anticipated accomplishments, lessons learned and summaries of available reports.

"The Internet is the obvious place to catalogue this knowledge, and the Alliance's media center long active in disseminating information about conservation in Latin America through our workshops and publications has the contacts and experience to tackle the job," said Diane Jukofsky, director of the media center.

An additional service for journalists covering conservation news is a bilingual listserv called the "Monthly Update," an emailed list of all projects added to the Eco-Index in the previous 30 days, with direct links to project descriptions. As of January 30, the site's database includes information about more than 70 projects of conservation groups, individual researchers and government agencies.

More projects are added each week as project directors complete their surveys and email them to the media center, where they are edited for clarity, translated into English or Spanish, and loaded into the database.

"The Eco-Index is an essential resource on conservation initiatives that will not only prevent duplication of effort, but also delight every Web surfer who has ever waded through thousands of hits to find those precious few pertinent sites," said Tinker Foundation program officer Meg Cushing.