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Yellowstone Opens for Winter Season As Judges Duel for Jurisdiction

News, Vehicles No Comments »

The Bush administration’s 8-years of Yellowstone winter use meddling continues to the bitter end: after immediately overturning the Clinton-era phase-out of snowmobiles in the Park during the winter of 2001, it has, in its final month in office, issued a rule to maintain a 720 snowmobiles/day limit, after a year in which the Park Service proposed a long-term cap of 540, then lowered its proposal to 318 when a DC Federal Court tossed its plan as not protective enough.  I took my eye off this ball for a couple months, and it ricocheted around the country, through two Federal District Courts (just as the initial Bush rule did in the middle of this eight years of chaos) and through the businesses and bar-rooms of West Yellowstone, WY, continuing to boggle the journalistic mind to cull the madness into a readable narrative.  The bottom line for this winter appears to be a “limit” of 720 machines, which, if the past few years are any indication, is more than will want to enter the Park (thanks to rules that require all snowmobiles to be part of guided tours).  Read our best attempt at a summary below the fold, or see AEI’s Special Report: Yellowstone Winter Use for ten years of gorey details. Read the rest of this entry »

Navy Final EIS Says Sonar Training Doesn’t Need Restrictions

News, Sonar No Comments »

The Navy, as planned, has released its final EIS governing mid-frequency active sonar training along the entire eastern seaboard, as well as a similar EIS for southern California sonar use.  While the documents consider formal Alternatives that would limit sonar training to specific areas—either permanently or seasonally, based on marine mammal breeding, feeding, and migration patterns—the Navy concludes that these restrictions would not make a significant difference in how many whales are affected, so they propose to continue training at will within their entire current Operation Areas (OPAREAS). Read the rest of this entry »

Passive Acoustic Detection of Beaked Whales: Easy Within 1km, Harder Beyond That, and Take Your Time!

Science, Sonar 1 Comment »

The US Navy and others are working hard to find ways to detect elusive beaked whales so that they may be less apt to be triggered into behaviors that seem to cause them to occasionally beach and die.  One “great white hope” is passive acoustic detection, or listening for their calls.  A recent paper from a team of well-known researchers suggests that we should be able to quite easily detect beaked whales while they are foraging (and echolocating)….but with several important caveats.  First, detection is highly likely only within 700 meters, with perhaps 50% likelihood of detection at 2-3km, and virtually no chance of hearing them beyond 4km. Read the rest of this entry »