AmeriScan: May 25, 2001


WASHINGTON, DC, May 25, 2001 (ENS) - A bill introduced in the House on Thursday would amend the Antiquities Act of 1906 to require state input and congressional authorization in the creation of national monuments of 50,000 acres or larger.

The National Monument Fairness Act was sponsored by several Republican Representatives from Western states, including House Resources Committee chair James Hansen of Utah, Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho, and Representative Greg Walden of Oregon.

"This legislation will eliminate the single greatest threat to the Antiquities Act - its abuse by a sitting President," said Simpson. "One need only look at President Clinton's declaration of the 1.7 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the ensuing controversy to see what happens when you bypass the public and state and local officials."

As written, the Antiquities Act gives the President the authority to create national monuments from existing federal lands without any public input, the lawmakers charge. The new bill would require the President to solicit public participation and comment, and to consult with the affected governor(s) and congressional delegation(s) at least 60 days prior to any national monument designation.

The bill would also require congressional approval within two years of any national monument creation or expansion that is in excess of 50,000 acres.

"National monument declarations are major decisions with far reaching effects that should be made in the open, not in secret. Secret decision making is not conducive to sound decision making," said Simpson. "I see no harm in allowing the public and state and local officials an opportunity to examine proposed monuments and provide input on possible local impacts."

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JACKSON, Wyoming, May 25, 2001 (ENS) - In a ceremony on Saturday, conservationist Laurance Rockefeller will donate his JY Ranch in Jackson to Vice President Richard Cheney and Interior Secretary Gale Norton for inclusion in Grand Teton National Park.

The JY Ranch is a 1,100 acre property within Grand Teton featuring dramatic lake and mountain scenery. It provides habitat for moose, mule deer, elk, coyotes, bear and other diverse wildlife.

Under a plan developed by Rockefeller, it will become an area of special management with visits focused on an educational program featuring trails and an interpretive center.

The JY Ranch was acquired by Laurance Rockefeller's father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The senior Rockefeller made a gift of some 33,000 acres in 1949, which became the heart of Grand Teton National Park.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Secretary Norton, several national park watchdog organizations urged the Secretary to implement measures that will protect Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

"Rather than engaging in ... photo opportunities, we request that you use your visit to announce several substantive and important decisions that demonstrate a commitment by the Bush Administration to truly protect the national parks and remarkable contiguous wild lands," the groups said in the joint letter that also requested a meeting with Secretary Norton.

The National Parks Conservation Association, Wilderness Society, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, and Wyoming Outdoor Council called on the Administration to:

"We hope as they visit two of America's most treasured national parks, Secretary Norton and Vice President Cheney will reconsider policies that put the interests of industry before those of the American public," said Jon Catton of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

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SEATTLE, Washington, May 25, 2001 (ENS) - Fires that destroyed several buildings in Oregon and Washington states are believed to have been set by arsonists protesting work to genetically modify trees.

One of the fires, which were discovered early Monday, destroyed a research laboratory at the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture. Another fire gutted two buildings and several trucks at Jefferson Poplar Farms, a tree nursery in Clatskanie, Oregon.

Local authorities and members of the Federal Bureau of Investigations said they had "strong indications" that the fires may have been set by environmental activists that oppose biotechnological research to modify trees.

The University of Washington is involved in some genetic modification research, but no such research is underway at the tree nursery. Authorities found spraypainted messages including "ELF" [Earth Liberation Front] and "You cannot control what is wild" at Jefferson Poplar Farms, the "New York Times" reported.

University of Washington provost Lee Huntsman issued a statement condemning the vandalism.

"The University of Washington condemns this senseless act of arson that has destroyed decades of scientific inquiry aimed at improving the overall health of urban ecosystems," Huntsman said. "This misguided act has set back research concerning endangered plants in Washington, rehabilitation of degraded wetlands and even assistance for home gardeners. It is a vicious blow to some very gifted and dedicated faculty and students at the University of Washington."

"We abhor the violence and destructiveness of this act, and the potential risk to human safety. We hope the perpetrators are found and brought to justice," Huntsman added. "In the meantime, we will begin the process immediately of rebuilding our center and continuing the important work of our faculty and students."

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 25, 2001 (ENS) - As part of its pledge to protect close to 200 miles of river and streambanks in North and South Carolina, Crescent Resources, LLC has announced the donation of two landmark conservation easements.

One easement will be on the Catawba River and the other on a perennial stream channel flowing into Lake Wylie.

Crescent is designating areas in both states to convey to local land trusts for permanent stewardship. Catawba Lands Conservancy is receiving about 150 acres of conservation easement on Crescent property along Catawba Creek near Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Gaston County. The easement includes extensive habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds.

Katawba Valley Land Trust will receive about 170 acres as an easement on property along the Catawba River adjacent to Landsford Canal State Park in Chester County. This area holds acres of Rocky Shoals spider lilies, said to be the largest known colony in the world of this rare wildflower.

"There is no doubt these two areas hold great environmental and historical significance," said Jim Short, Crescent Resources senior vice president for land management. "Our efforts to preserve the streambanks with easements will not only preserve these vital waterways, but also help ensure water quality of the river and its lakes for the future."

Crescent's initiative to establish conservation easements along perennial stream channels and Catawba River frontage it owns began in 2000. The a land management and real estate development company is also committing a half million dollars to reimburse other landowners who establish conservation easements in the Catawba River basin.

"Conservation efforts by private corporations and local land trusts are an essential part of reaching North Carolina's long term land preservation and water quality protection goals," said North Carolina Governor Mike Easley. "This partnership between Crescent Resources and the Catawba Lands Conservancy is a great example of the public private partnerships we must foster so that our most important natural resources and water quality are protected for generations to come."

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HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, May 25, 2001 (ENS) - 3M Corp. has donated $200,000 to Pennsylvania's Clean Air Fund for a pilot project to retrofit school buses to reduce air pollution.

"3M's donation to Pennsylvania's Clean Air Fund for this project is part of our commitment to the environment," said Dr. Katherine Reed, 3M staff vice president for environmental technology and safety services. "This gift complements 3M's efforts to reduce air emissions at our operations throughout the world. Since 1990, 3M has applied its innovation and technology to reduce its volatile organic air emissions by almost 90 percent. Some of these reductions have generated emission credits that provide the funding for this grant."

It is 3M's position that it will not profit from the emission credits generated by its emission reduction programs. Instead, the company has provided grants for a variety of environmentally beneficial projects, Reed said.

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary David Hess applauded 3M Corp. for its donation.

"This project will equip school buses currently in use with diesel retrofit technology," Hess said. "This technology will reduce the amount of air pollution buses produce, helping to clean up the air for their precious riders - our children."

"Now, it's time for school districts to do their part. Until June 29, we are accepting applications from school districts who want to be part of this ground breaking program," Hess added.

DEP is seeking one or two school bus fleets interested in the demonstration project. Public, private and contractor operated fleets of any size are eligible to apply. Retrofit technology could include particulate traps and catalytic converters. Fuel changes, such as using low sulfur fuel, also could be considered a retrofit.

The selection will be made based on severity of the pollution in the area, appropriateness of the fleet for retrofit, and the potential emission reductions. Applications are due by June 29.

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BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania, May 25, 2001 (ENS) - An innovative technique of making molded plastic products could make it easier and more cost effective to recycle plastics.

Telephones, TV parts, the computer mouse at your fingertips, parts inside a personal computer, and other everyday products are made with plastics using a process called injection molding. A Lehigh University professor has developed a simple, software directed device that vibrates molten plastic in an injection mold to produce stronger, cleaner plastic products.

Injection molding involves injecting molten plastic into a mold. Only a small amount of recycled plastic is used in this process, says John Coulter, Lehigh associate professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, because recycled plastic is poor in quality and would reduce the product's strength.

Coulter's vibration assisted process enables manufacturers to recycle once useless and environmentally unfriendly plastic, and still produce stronger products than those produced using new plastic that is not vibrated.

Coulter says plastics are strengthened through vibration because the motion changes their molecular orientation or alignment. Molecules in non-vibrated plastics may stick to the wall of the mold or become folded over. But vibration jiggles the molecules, mixing them more uniformly and allowing them to stretch out to take advantage of their entire length.

Coulter found that by adding 50 percent waste polystyrene and vibrating the mixture, he can produce a stronger product than if he used 100 percent new polystyrene without the vibration process. He believes the ability of the vibration process to use large amounts of recycled plastic material may turn out to be of greater significance than the fact that it increases the strength of plastic products.

Coulter hopes to learn the optimal vibration protocols to apply to specific materials and applications. He notes, for example, that further studies may show that too much vibration will weaken a product.

"If this process takes off, any company involved in injection molding could duplicate what we are doing inexpensively and probably do it better," Coulter said. "Essentially, all you are doing is changing the signal that controls the hydraulics."

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WASHINGTON, DC, May 25, 2001 (ENS) - Eight Bureau of Land Management (BLM) volunteers (individuals, teams, and organizations) and two BLM employees received the agency's 2001 "Making a Difference" National Volunteer Awards at a special ceremony held Wednesday.

The awards recognize exemplary volunteer contributions towards public lands made in the year 2000.

"This year's recipients represent outstanding service to America's 264 million acres of public lands and the resources found on them," said acting BLM director Nina Hatfield. "The work of our volunteers is as diverse as the work of the BLM itself. And as the populations surrounding our public lands grow, volunteer assistance becomes ever more critical for our agency. We are truly grateful to the more than 17,000 volunteers who serve BLM each year."

"Volunteering is a noble act that really captures the American spirit, and it adds great value to everything happening in this Department," added Interior Department chief of staff Brian Waidmann. "We cannot thank you enough."

Highlights of this year's winning accomplishments include a group of volunteers and volunteer groups in Nevada's famous Black Rock Desert, who cleaned up an illegal dump on the edge of the dry lake bed, piling up by hand nine tons of wood and 16 tons of metal, including 26 miles of barbed wire.

Also honored was a Colorado senior citizen who has volunteered for the past 12 years to maintain and update more than 50,000 BLM land records critical to the work of historians, lawyers, title companies and BLM staff.

The two winning BLM employees have led volunteers in locating and monitoring archaeological sites, and also mentored students and formed partnerships resulting in on the ground benefits to public lands.

The BLM recruits 17,000 to 20,000 volunteers each year to perform a variety of jobs, from campground host to archaeologist to educator. They donate about one million hours each year to these tasks, with a value of more than $15 million in worker hours.

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HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, May 25, 2001 (ENS) - The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has teamed up with the American Lung Association (ALA) to present the Clean Air Expo to teach local elementary school students about air pollution and how to improve air quality.

"Clean Air Expos are a great way for students to learn about a very important subject in a fun and interactive way," DEP acting secretary David Hess said. "DEP and ALA have teamed up to put on these expos for the last seven years. Each year, we not only try to expand the number of students we reach, but we work hard to improve the quality of this educational program."

About 400 third through fifth grade students participated in a Clean Air Expo on Wednesday, cosponsored by the Lancaster County Environmental Center of the Lancaster County Parks Department. DEP and ALA staff and volunteers taught the children, at six different stations, about the individual aspects of air quality, including the health effects of air pollution, the role of air quality scientists, acid rain, mobile sources and pollution prevention.

"The Clean Air Expo is a day of fun and education," ALA's environmental health director Kevin Stewart said. "The Lung Association's mission is to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. One of the principles of maintaining healthy lungs is breathing healthful air. We are working with DEP to teach children and their parents to take actions that will help improve the air that we all breathe."

The first 2001 Clean Air Expo was held May 15 at Harrisburg's Reservoir Park, Dauphin County. The last Expo is scheduled for May 29 at John Rudy Park, York County. DEP and ALA plan to reach a total of 1,250 children with the message about clean air and healthy lungs.

The program began in Dauphin County in 1995, expanded into York County in 1997 and in Lancaster County in 1998.

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BOCA RATON, Florida, May 25, 2001 (ENS) - Choosing a tour operator that complies with environmentally safe practices can be a challenging task, requiring travelers to ask the right questions and conduct a little research.

"Travelers can prompt a tour operator to adopt eco-friendly practices by asking questions about their environmental policies," said Chris Kyle, chief operating officer of Voyagers International, one of seven Grand Expeditions companies. "Sensible tour operators promote environmental conservation through public awareness and support of the local preservation efforts."

Adventure travel to pristine locations throughout the world has become popular with travelers seeking a unique vacation experience. About 98 million adults, have taken an adventure travel trip in the past five years, says the Travel Industry Association.

Numerous tour operators are taking advantage of this trend, but not all of them consider the environmental impact of those visits.

Travelers can probe a tour operator's environmental conscience by asking the following questions:

Does the tour operator provide travelers with pre-departure orientation on their destination? Prior to a trip, the tour operator should educate travelers about the environmental characteristic of their destination, and instruct them on how to interact with the environment without disturbing the natural equilibrium of the visited destination.

Who's leading the tour? The tour operator should employ local guides and scientists familiar with the area and the local nature conservation rules. In addition, local guides can provide travelers with insight into the local customs and conventions, fostering understanding and appreciation of the local community.

How many people can go on a tour? Traveling in small groups causes less wear and tear on the environment. Tour guides responsible for smaller groups of travelers can make sure each traveler complies with the rules of environmental preservation, preventing behaviors with negative impact on the surroundings such as littering, disturbing animal life, or trespassing into protected areas.

What's the company's waste management policy? Tour operators should make sure all waste generated while visiting wilderness areas is carried out and disposed. The responsibility lies with individual travelers as well, as they can help preserve the environment by leaving nothing behind.

Does the tour operator support the local economy? Travelers should ask the tour operator about the trip fee. A percentage of the trip cost should go toward the environmental preservation and economic advancement of the local community. Travelers can also give their contribution by purchasing from the local markets, eating in the local restaurants, or staying in local lodges.

"It's all about respect," said Richard Ryel, president, International Expeditions, another Grand Expeditions company. "We are the visitors, interacting with the natural environment the native people depend on to live."

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LOS ANGELES, California, May 25, 2001 (ENS) - The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is tapping a new source of power - Shawn Green.

For the first time, whenever Dodger outfielder Shawn Green hits a home run at Dodger Stadium, lucky fans will win a Green Power Prize Package that includes a green LA Dodgers cap, courtesy of the LADWP. The promotion highlights the department's Green Power for a Green LA Program, which offers LADWP customers the option to purchase energy generated from new renewable pollution free sources, such as the sun, wind and water.

"The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and its 7,500 employees are very excited about our continuing partnership with L.A.'s other hometown team, the Los Angeles Dodgers," said Frank Salas, LADWP chief operating officer. "This wonderful relationship helps us enhance the success of our Green Power program and gives fans something else to cheer about while at Dodger Stadium."

Following each Shawn Green homerun, fans will be selected at random to receive vouchers for the Green Power Prize Package, which will be redeemable at a stadium gift shop.

"The Dodgers are always looking for new ways to reward the fans," said Derrick Hall, Los Angeles Dodgers senior vice president, communications. "Our four year partnership with LADWP definitely gives the fans something to get excited about."

To date more than 75,000 LADWP customers have signed up for Green Power, making it the largest program of its kind in the nation. The Dodgers organization has signed up for the green power program, as have the L.A. World Airports, Loyola Marymount University, Robinsons-May Department Stores, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the J. Paul Getty Trust.