Roundup Friday July 31, 2009

Comments sought for solar-energy study areas—Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News 7/27/09

The public comment period has been extended to Sept. 14 for proposed energy study areas on 700,000 acres of public lands in six Western states such as Utah.  The BLM wants to know the public’s thought on the environmental suitability of large scale solar energy development on 2 dozen tracts of land.

Almost 17,700 acres in Utah are up for consideration as solar energy study areas.  These sites include 6,581 acres in Iron County’s Escalante Valley, 6,440 acres in Beaver County’s Milford Flats South, and 3,676 acres in the Wah Wah Valley of west central Utah.   If selected, the sites would be eligible for a streamlined application process for permitting and siting.  Almost 100,000 megawatts could be available for the grid nationally across the Western states.  Local sites are geared to about 10 or more megawatts. 

Recycling in Utah:  Is it all really recycled?—Ross Chambless, KUER audio broadcast 7/29/09

US has to lead the fight for a clean, green world—China Daily, ChinaView 7/30/09

ESR Editor’s note:  Xinhua, Xinhuanet and the English version claims in its “About” page to be the top news website in China and one of the most influential news sites in the world.

How the US and China collaborate could largely determine the success of the Copenhagen climate change conference in December.  Such a collaboration could increase chances a successful treaty will replace the Kyoto Protocol, set to expire in 2012, and also demonstrate leading strategies for halting global warming.  Currently, however, talks suggest both a discouraging and a hopeful future for collaboration.

Negotiators for both countries remain deadlocked and polarized.  The US and other developed countries “refuse to take responsibility for the greenhouse gasses (GHGs) they have emitted throughout history…their emissions are a lot more than that of the developing world.”

Meanwhile, billions of “green” stimulus dollars fuel a global race for new clean energy technologies.  The US appears to lead in six significant clean-tech fields:  building efficiency, battery technology, solar, carbon capture and storage, smart grids, and electric vehicles.  China too is gearing up with new low-energy vehicles, diode lighting, innovative energy efficiency technologies and alternative energy sources like solar, wind, bio-gas and synthetic fuels.  Collaborations are centered around restructuring energy portfolios with low-carbon energy technologies.

Both countries have used each other as an excuse for relative inaction, though are now exploring ways to genuinely cut GHG emissions.  The nature of their bilateral ties will determine how the low-carbon economic costs and benefits will be divided, and how fast the global economy will evolve.

“The responsibility for this transformation lies squarely with China and the US, not only because they are the world’s big GHG emitters, but also because only they have the capacity to invest enough clean-tech research and development, provide a large enough labor force, and support a large enough change in global policy.  So the future of the world’s climate rests not just on their shoulders individually, but on their ability to work together.”

China’s toughest international relations challenge since the end of the Cold War is the issue of climate change.  China is reported to be the largest GHG emitter, and pace of future emissions is predicted to exceed forecasts.  Still, as a developing country it requires more rapid economic growth to lift hundreds of people out of poverty and provide better living standards for hundreds of millions more.  Balancing growth and protection of the environment is China’s challenge.

While many countries are looking to China for leadership with respect to the global economic crisis, China’s leaders say that global role is beyond their capability.  Yet China has come a long way since Kyoto was signed, though like many other developing countries, China too was dragged into that process.  Since then, however, things have changed, as demonstrated by the Bali Roadmap signed in December 2007 and providing a joint agreement for a global deal in Copenhagen in 2009.

Though the international community, including the US climate envoy, has lauded China’s efforts to fight climate change, that does not mean a Sino-US agreement is a done deal.  The Kyoto Protocol required different actions from the US, a developed country, and China, a developing country.  The US must commit to absolute limits on GHG emissions, while China does not.  “So China would like to see the US take the lead in honoring commitments, instead of using it as an excuse for inaction.”

China has emitted but 1/5 of the GHGs the US has, and therefore China asserts it has the moral right to reject calls to lead in cutting emissions.  China is expected to deliver a commitment, however much lower than the EU or the US to the Bali Action Plan ahead of Copenhagen.

In return, the US, to guarantee a constructive outcome in Copenhagen, “must set radical and practical targets, take responsibility for its historical GHG emissions, and commit itself to supporting developing countries’ efforts through capacity building, technology transfer and financial aid.”  This is what is needed to prove the US wants to assume the role in leading the fight against global climate change.

China wants climate deal this year:  UN’s Ban—Louis Charbonneau, Reuters 7/29/09

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters Wednesday that China’s leaders desire to reach a new climate change agreement in Copenhagen later this year.  President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao both assured Ban that “China will play an active and constructive role in the negotiations.”  Climate change topped the agenda during recent UN visits to China and Mongolia.

While China recently emerged as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, China and the US combined emit 42% of the world’s emissions.  US President Barack Obama will visit with China’s Hu later this year, where climate concerns are expected to rank high in priority.  A UN summit in New York in September, where both Hu and Obama are expected to attend along with about 100 other heads of state, will also center on the issue.

Ban said Copenhagen would be “the largest gathering of leaders on climate change ever…Today, leaders are walking the road to Copenhagen together.”  The UN Secretary-General will travel to the Arctic next month to view first-hand warming conditions, especially melting sea ice.

A deputy chief of China’s commission steering climate change policy told the official Xinhua agency Wednesday that industrialized nations have to commit to large, measurable cuts in their emissions for Copenhagen to succeed.  The deputy chief’s words came after the US and China agreed on greater cooperation over climate change, energy and the environment, though no firm goals were set.

US senator John Kerry criticized the agreement for its lack of timelines, dates and specific steps ahead of Copenhagen.  Earlier this year, Beijing insisted that developed nations cut GHGs by “at least 40%” of 1990 levels by 2020, though rhetoric now suggests more pragmatic cooperation.  Industrialized nations claim large emissions cuts are out of reach while trying to stimulate economies out of global and national recession.

US needs to build climate partnership with India:  Kerry—Lalit K Jha, Business Standard 7/30/09

ESR Editor’s note:  Business Standard claims to be the leading business daily publication in India, according to its “About” page.

Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said to reporters yesterday that while India has insisted it will not accept legally binding emissions reductions, the Obama administration needs to build a “flexible” climate partnership with New Delhi regarding global warming actions.  Referring to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to India, Kerry added; “India’s rhetoric was as strident as we ever heard China’s, so we need to build a climate partnership with India, too; working from the same principles, but respecting the massive differences.”

India’s environment minister said after meeting with Secretary Clinton that while no legally binding emissions commitments would be made, the country would not flee from responsibilities on the issue.  Experts have said India could reduce construction of new power plants, possibly delaying new construction for a decade, if energy efficiency opportunities were fully deployed, Senator Kerry said.  “Ultimately our climate diplomacy depends on building a framework that is flexible enough to accommodate individual countries’ wants and needs, but firm enough to bring all of us on board and hold all nations accountable,” the senator added.

Senator Kerry said the challenge will grow easier as people across the globe come to realize that “the challenge of developing clean-energy sources is not a brake on economic growth.  It is the engine.”  US State Department funded joint efficiency labs are at work in Delhi and Mumbai and are expected to expand collaboration across all Indian states, Kerry said.  He also pointed to India’s geography and grid in suggesting that thermal technology could provide 10% of India’s energy within a decade.

Recognizing that the US and other industrialized countries must lead the way to global emissions cuts, Kerry asserted, “We all recognize and respect that they have to grow their economies, they have to grow jobs, they have to take care of their people.  All we’re asking is that they do so in ways that don’t replicate the mistakes that the industrial world made for the last 150 years.”  Kerry believes the US has the responsibility to help some of those who can’t pay for clean energy technology; “I believe the United States has to lead.”

Speaking at the National Press Club Wednesday, Kerry reiterated the feelings of less developed countries; “we’re not signing up to the same deal that you are, because that’s what we all agreed upon in Kyoto…in Bali…in Poznan…in Poland.  And it’s true.”  Kerry acknowledged that China and India do not have to agree to the same percentage of emissions reductions as the US, that they don’t have to act in “the exact same manner.”  He does expect a plan and reductions commitments, ones that are measurable, reportable and verifiable.

“That’s the key to Copenhagen.  That’s the key to success.  And that will still work within the framework of the language the Indians are currently using,” Kerry asserted.

Which countries believe in climate change?—Simon Rogers, Data Blog, The Guardian 7/29/09

ESR Editor’s note:  The Guardian (London, UK) claims in its “About” page that it was founded in 1821 and has been known for its editorial and political independence.

The 19-nation survey of 18,578 people was undertaken by  Majorities in 15 countries believe their government should put a higher priority on climate change issues than what is currently being done, including largest GHG emitters China, the US and Russia.

The 10-point scale spanned from “not a priority at all” to “a very high priority”.  Nations surveyed make up 60% of the world’s population.  Highlights of statistics are as follows.

Percent of those surveyed that think the government places the highest priority on addressing climate change:

Highest:  Germany—78%, China—78%

Lowest:  Ukraine—7%, Iraq—17%, Palestinian territory—17%


Percent of those surveyed that think the government should place the highest priority on addressing climate change:

Highest:  China—94%, Mexico—90%

Lowest:  Palestinian territory—34%, Iraq—35%


Percent of those surveyed that think the average person in their country believes the government should place the highest priority on addressing climate change:

Highest:  Nigeria—82%; Mexico—76%

Lowest:   US—18%; Iraq—32%

View more complete analysis on the Guardian Data Blog link above.

Palo Alto settles lawsuit over plastic bag ban—Will Oremus, Mercury News 7/28/09

Industry-backed Save the Plastic Bag Coalition struck a deal with the city of Palo Alto, California that will allow Palo Alto’s ban to continue without expanding to include other city stores.  The city has agreed to conduct a full environmental impact report ahead of enforcing greater compliance.  The ban, adopted in March, had widespread support due to the tendency for the bags to become windblown debris in the streets and waterways, where they can harm wildlife.

The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition successfully sued the city of Manhattan Beach citing the California Environmental Quality Act in arguing the city did not adequately consider impacts.  The group holds that paper bags are worse for the environment, while the city has appealed the decision.  In Palo Alto, all but four grocery stores had already voluntarily given up plastic bags, and the coalition’s lawyers were less inclined to devote time and money to overturning the law.

The coalition claims all it wants is a thorough environmental impact report.  Palo Alto, though familiar with the Manhattan Beach case, decided to do a limited report instead, citing their ban wouldn’t substantially harm the environment.  Additionally, Palo Alto was encouraging use of re-useable bags, which would lower overall impact on the environment.  The lawyer for the coalition argued if that was the case, they should have banned paper bags as well.

Palo Alto’s ban was fought by several grocers unsuccessfully.  While drug stores and other smaller businesses were not subject to the law, Palo Alto argued that starting with groceries would have a bigger immediate effect, and offer some feedback before an expanded ban was put in place.  The city is also considering other future options such as imposing a fee for paper bags.

Water panel adds canal safety to agenda—Judy Fahys, SLT 7/30/09

The State Water Development Commission has added irrigation-canal safety in Utah to its agenda for the next meeting.  Parowan Republican Sen. Dennis Stowell said “I know that [canal oversight] is part of our responsibility,” at Wednesday’s meeting.  Local police and the Attorney General’s office have dismissed investigation into the cause of the July 17 Logan canal collapse.  Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert said the Executive Water Rights Task Force will be examining oversight and safety of Utah’s canals as well.

Legislators, water-district representatives, environmentalists and executive-branch government members make up the decade old water commission.  One concern is sufficient monies for the state water project loan fund, which could affect funding constraints for canal oversight.  Safety, liability and inspections also will come under review.

A dam-safety bill was sponsored during for the 2009 legislative session, but failed to get a hearing.  The sponsor has a bill open to look at canal safety for next year’s session.  Notably, a bill sponsored in 2000 that would have funded a canal-safety survey by the state Division of Water Rights failed as well.

Fire evacuates hikers, closes trails to Zion—SLT 7/30/09

The Cliff fire ignited Tuesday on Black Ridge east of I-15 and six miles south of Kolob Canyons visitor center on the west side of Zion National Park.  The 200-plus acre fire closed Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive and all associated trails, including Hop Valley Trail along Kolob Terrace Road.  An unknown number of hikers were evacuated off the La Verkin Creek trail, as the lightning-ignited fire moved northeast into the park and La Verkin Creek drainage.

Lightning sparks numerous southwestern Utah fires—SLT 7/30/09

Overnight, 40 reports of smoke and 28 new blazes were confirmed, though most were reported at less than an acre.  The Twin Peaks and Bench Fires have been combined and renamed as the Cedar Bench Complex, at 250 acres burned.  The Cliff fire, topping 100 acres, continues to burn northeast of St. George, and the Square Top fire, again over 100 acres, continues to burn northwest of St. George.

Eligibility changes for 164 trade-in clunkers—AP, SLT 7/29/09

Under the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), 78 vehicles that used to qualify for trade-ins don’t, and 86 that did not qualify now do.  A review of fuel economy listings of 30,000 vehicles over 25 years by the EPA led to mileage data exacting to four decimal places, causing the changes.  Previously, consumer data was used.  CARS took effect over the past weekend, with rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 for more efficient vehicle purchases when trading in vehicles with combined city/highway mileage of 18 mpg or less.

Record heat wave continues in Seattle, Portland—Ryan Kost, AP, SLT 7/29/09

High temps are likely to break the record high of 100 degrees set in July of 1994 at Sea-Tac, while Tuesday saw temperatures of 106 at Portland International Airport, one degree short of the record set in 1981.  Due to its usually temperate weather, some places have no air conditioning, which continues to sell out at area stores.  Fans and shaved ice are other high demand items.

Medford in southern Oregon saw 108 degrees Tuesday, and Hoquiam on Grays Harbor in Washington state hit 93 degrees, breaking the 1965 record of 81 degrees.  Astoria, Ore., at the mouth of the Columbia River, is normally cool, but recent temps hit 92, breaking the 82 degree record set in 2003.  Officials in Portland and Seattle are opening cooling centers for the elderly and extending public fountain hours.  Other cities were opening make-shift cooling rooms and city park showers.  Meteorologists expect the high temps to drop starting Thursday.

Vote coming on Matheson’s dish-label warning—Matt Canham, SLT 7/29/09

Matheson’s food-safety bill would require ceramic dishes to warn of possible lead poisoning.  Utah families with children who contracted lead poisoning from their dinnerware offered the motivation.  Specific required language would be:  “This product is made with lead-based glaze consistent with the Food and Drug Administration guidelines for such lead.”  Matheson noted problems have come from incorrectly firing the lead-based glaze and unsafe lead levels.

To ease price swings, US may limit energy trading—Combined News Services, SLT 7/28/09

A major shift in policy considered by federal regulators would impose quantity limits on speculative trading of energy futures contracts.  The contracts already are supposed to lessen price volatility, but speculators using the contracts to bet on market prices have magnifying price swings, according to critics.  The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC) began hearings Wednesday that will take input from consumers, businesses and traders.  One commissioner said he expects the commission will set hard limits.

New restrictions could be in place by late summer or early fall.  Especially of concern is trade by those in the market who are solely financial investors.  Volatile oil futures markets were given reign due to presiding free-market sentiments.  The Bush administration generally opposed tighter regulation in the financial industry, reporters say.  And CFTC appointees included some who favored Bush policies, though the commission is intended to be independent of politics.

The financial industry has opposed limits on speculative trading, saying this will drive business overseas.  Millions have been spent lobbying, and no requirement exists to itemize lobbying expenses.  One CFTC commissioner said “We weren’t inquisitive enough, and we weren’t diligent enough in our oversight.”

Park Service awards Japanese internment grants—Mead Gruver, AP, SLT 7/28/09

Almost $1 million has been awarded to increase awareness of and aid in preserving sites connected to detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.  One organization, receiving $282,000, will build a museum at one-time Heart Mountain Relocation Center near Powell, Wyoming.  Manzanar and Tule Lake relocation centers in California, Honouliuli Internment Camp in Hawaii, Fort Lincoln Internment Camp in North Dakota, Kooskia Internment Camp in Idaho, Crystal City Internment Camp in Texas, and Topaz, Central Utah Relocation Center all will receive project funds.

Some organizations will record interviews with internment camp survivors.  All told, 32 applications sought $2.4 million for internment camp-related programs.  Public input meetings were held in a number of cities across the West and Hawaii to inform final decisions, and recipients must match every $2 of federal funding with $1 from other sources.  Another $2.5 million may be available next year.

Some 110,000 Japanese-Americans were forced into relocation camps during World War II, and Heart Mountain held 11,000 by 1943.  The number represents what would have been Wyoming’s fourth-largest city at the time.  All that remains of the site is a brick smokestack and a few buildings.  The new museum will mimic the tarpaper long-room barracks that housed thousands without insulation, and is expected to open in early 2011.  Artifacts of internment victims will also be on display.

Hunt supporters back feds in wolf lawsuit—AP, SLT 7/28/09

At issue are over 1,300 gray wolves in Montana and Idaho removed from the endangered species list earlier this year.   A suit brought by environmentalists calling for restored federal oversight has brought intervention from pro-hunt advocates, livestock groups and both the state of Idaho and Montana.  US District Judge Donald Molloy, presiding in the case, halted proposed 2008 wolf hunts and re-established federal protection for the wolves.   Around 300 wolves listed as endangered reside in Wyoming.

Wyoming guv blasts proposed Flaming Gorge water pipeline—Ben Neary, AP, SLT 7/28/09

The pipeline in question has been proposed by Colorado entrepreneur Aaron Million from the Green River in Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range.  US Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing environmental study of the 560 mile proposed pipeline, which would carry 250,000 acre-feet a year southeast.  Million would privately fund the $3 billion enterprise, and would not exceed Colorado’s allocated water under the Colorado River compacts.

Million, carrying out a private enterprise that has already lined up municipalities and agricultural users from Wyoming to Pueblo, Colorado, said the Front Range needs more than 450,000 acre-feet of water beyond present capacity per year to meet increasing demands.  “I’ll be the first to put a fork in my project,” Million said, if the environmental review suggests potential river or community harm.

Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal submitted comments ahead of the closing of the required public comment period hosted by the Corps, citing endangered species and recreation impact concerns.  Freudenthal also wants the entrepreneur’s marketing plan disclosed, certain that water would be cheaper under public contract.  He noted too that Wyoming would still hold senior water rights under the plan, legally allowing shortages to Colorado if water supplies were low.

Officials in Colorado and Utah haven’t commented on the project, though Utah is expected to file comments this week.  The draft environmental study is expected to be finished in 2012, with a final version issued in 2014, a Corps spokesperson said.  Million added the pipeline could be built two years after the final study is issued. Local governments in Utah downstream of the proposed pipeline on the Green River have expressed concern.

Federal team re-examines energy leases—Paul Foy, AP, SLT 7/28/09

A 12-member review team appointed by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been reviewing 77 last-minute leases sold by the Bush administration and scrapped by Salazar in February.  Many of the sites reviewed were considered too likely to spoil wilderness quality views, but other reasons may prevail in the re-leasing of some of the parcels.  The team identified some parcels sufficiently hidden in landscape folds to warrant re-leasing, while others were likely to lose federal royalties altogether by adjacent parcel siphoning if not leased.  Leases next to existing fields and leases were deemed suitable for drilling.  Some were considered too remote or identified as “almost cliff faces”.  The team met each lease on the ground.  30 of the leases are expected to be suitable for sale.  Additional restrictions on night lighting that could be seen from nearby national parks or noise, or horizontal access drilling from nearby, could make other parcels lease-friendly.

Utah, Nevada nearing deal on Snake Valley aquifer—Brandon Loomis, SLT 7/28/09

The deal will split the Snake Valley aquifer, with joint jurisdiction in Utah and Nevada, paving the way for Southern Nevada Water Authority to channel its share 285 miles southwest to Las Vegas.  A draft agreement is expected by August or September.  The agreement struck with Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will, according to its director, protect water users, wildlife and air quality in Utah.

Opposing environmentalists say the project west of Delta may dry up the valley around Great Basin National Park, short circuiting development and leaving the Wasatch Front prone to dust storms.  Wildlife in the Snake River valley and air quality are chief concerns in resisting the agreement.  White Pine County, Nevada residents have written to Utah’s governor requesting he delay any agreement pending Southern Nevada Water Authority’s required groundwater study as per the permitting process in 2011.  Utah’s deputy water engineer believes the results would not likely affect the agreement.

The DNR’s director believes that an agreement identifying and dividing each state’s water shares in the area will offer sufficient protection.  Otherwise, he said, “each state could be in a drilling war and the ultimate losers would be” Snake River Valley residents.  A draft agreement will be followed by public hearings in both states before finalization.  Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, likely to fill the governor’s seat by that time, has already voiced support for the deal, though still reviewing information.

Environmentalists are calling for Herbert to block the deal with an e-mail and postcard campaign.  A Great Basin Water Network organizer said the process should be informed by the science, adding a delay would not harm the pipeline approval process in Nevada, which is yet 2 years away.

Hill AFB hopes to iron out pollution—Joseph M.  Dougherty, Deseret News 7/27/09

Touted as a “swords-into-plowshares” move, Hill Air Force Base is treating soil on the west side of the base with iron to address groundwater pollution.  The iron comes from dummy bombs that have been dropped at the Utah Test and Training Range.  Eight bore holes are being filled with grains of iron that should react with trichloroethene (TCE), a potential carcinogen seeping into groundwater since the 1940’s.

At that time, an oil and water separator in the rail yard discharged excess water toward now extant I-15 and the city of Sunset.  A base project manager spokesman said people weren’t aware of the impacts of dumping industrial wastewater on raw land at the time.  A plume of shallow groundwater from the base towards Sunset and Clinton has since become contaminated.  While the resource isn’t found in local drinking water, fumes from contamination have been emitted in area homes.

TCE and other contaminants in area groundwater and soils around the base resulted in Hill AFB being placed on the EPA’s National Priorities List as a Superfund site in 1987.  Restoration has been ongoing since 1990.  Tests using dummy bomb iron grains to neutralize TCE were successful, leading to the treatment.  TCE was used as a de-greaser on the base until the 1970’s.

The 56’ deep bore holes filled with iron grains should penetrate the groundwater plumes and neutralize the TCE by stripping chloride from it.  A special sonic drill was used by MWH to drill the holes so the surrounding soil remains permeable.  Environmental employees on the base will monitor effectiveness over 18 months and possibly add more holes across the 100 foot wide groundwater plume. If successful, the process could be adapted for use elsewhere.

Culture Vulture:  Companies find gold in going green—Sean P. Means, SLT 7/27/09

The recent Outdoor Retailer’s Summer Market trade show at the Salt Palace Convention Center notably resounded with environmentally friendly stories of products and companies.  Examples included t-shirts of 100% recycled polyester, products made of locavore materials within 125 miles of the production site, and knapsacks of recycled fibers and vinyl billboards.

The use of organic cotton, hemp, chlorine-free wool and recycled polyester was touted with the company’s support of a campaign to save wild bison near Yellowstone National Park.  In all, 83 companies were listed participating in the trade show’s “Green Steps” program, which illustrates the myriad ways from manufacturing to recycling that product manufacturers are eco-friendly.  The trade show itself featured soy-based ink ID tags and re-use of carpets from aisles.

A Simple Shoes sales manager noted that environmentally friendly marketing opens a company up to criticism, especially if the company is not perceived to be doing enough.  Simple’s sustainable wear includes sneakers with recycled car tire soles and a new line, Bio-D, that will have a rubber additive that accelerates biodegradation to 20 years.  Regular sneakers can take as much as 1,000 years to biodegrade, Means added.  Environmental friendliness is considered a marketing strategy that connects well emotionally with outdoor-loving consumers, the manager said.

Archaeology series show digs into Utah’s Range Creek—Mark Havnes, SLT 7/27/09

“Time Team America”, a PBS show that features high-tech archaeologists that parachute into sites around the country and demonstrate fieldwork during a 72 hour stay, recently filmed an episode at Range Creek.  The episode aired Wednesday on PBS.

One of the show’s archaeologists said in 30 years he had never seen anything like it.  The region, purchased by nonprofit Trust for Public Land in 2001 and now held by the state, has been described as “virtually undisturbed” since occupation by Fremont Indians a thousand years ago.  The show seeks to “educate people about the importance of our heritage,” archaeologist Eric Deetz said.  “The more educated people are, the easier it is to preserve our collective past.”

“The site has become legendary among my archaeology colleagues,” Deetz added, impressed by the number of sites in the canyon west of Price and their condition.  State Archaeologist Kevin Jones said excavation had just begun to discover the relics left there, investigating when the site was occupied, how many lived there, their activities and why they left.  About 400 areas have been identified and will receive further study.

Buried pit houses, granaries, pottery and petroglyphs and pictographs are regular artifacts at the site.  Its mint condition is due in part to 50 years of protection while a part of the Wilcox family ranch.  Utah’s Department of Natural Resources now manages the 4,200 acre region.  Radar and magnanometers were used by the show’s archaeologists to view the Big Village, an underground stone circle formation.

Garlic:  Eden farmer throws a festival to shine the spotlight on ‘the most beautiful plant’—Alicia Greenleigh, SLT 7/28/09

Eden, Utah garlic farmer Pete Rasmussen originally wanted a degree in marine biology, attracted to California’s dolphins, whales and sharks.  Now, however, the 26-year-old is realizing a dream favoring over 2 dozen types of garlic.  “Garlic is the most beautiful plant I’ve met in the garden,” Rasmussen says.  “Humans have a long history with it because it’s native to ancient Rome, China, Greece, Mesopotamia and Egypt.  It’s just amazing that all those different cultures recognized it to be a powerful medicine and they began to cultivate it, and from that grew all these hundreds of different varieties.”

Rasmussen is sponsoring the second Garlatica festival this weekend at Sandhill Farms, a four-acre spread outside of Eden, 20 miles east of Ogden, where visitors can sample garlic varieties.  The farm is named after sandhill cranes that frequent the area.  He shares the growth cycle of garlic, from cloves planted in fall to spring sprouts and harvest of mature bulbs nine months later.  A two week curing period after harvest matures flavors and colors.

Varieties Rasmussen raises include Siberian, Mango Sunrise and Muski, his favorite this season being Romanian Red.  Its plump cloves are covered in a white satin cover with a flavor he says is “invigoratingly hot.” Mainly hard-neck varieties, these northern states loving kinds withstand temperature swings and tend to have red or purple stripes.  Other vegetables are gardened and shopped in his Community Supported Agriculture program, reaching 50 subscribers at $200 a pop for the season.  Weekly delivery includes salad greens, herbs, garlic and a seasonal vegetable, like Yukon Gold potatoes.

His organic produce is also available at local farmer’s markets and Liberty Heights Fresh market, is served at Rooster’s Brewing Company in Ogden, Pago in Salt Lake City, and will be carried by Whole Foods in August.  Scott Evans, owner of Pago, says he tries to highlight fresh local product flavors.  Though more labor and planning is involved, Evans definitely favors buying from local farmers.

Rasmussen was born in Salt Lake City and raised in Port Townsend, Wa.  He’s farmed his parent’s land for five years, though as a kid he marketed home grown produce to neighbors.  His ambitions reach towards an ecological research farm, with community supported agriculture at the core.  These dreams suit his work in biological agriculture at UC Santa Cruz.

“It’s the most amazing mixture of science and intuition,” Rasmussen says.  “I have to assess the sunlight, water, plant growth, soil compound, and the more I learn from creating [an organic] productive farm, the more I start to realize how much there is to learn from plants.”


What’s Walmart’s “green” initiative really about—environment or dollars?—Ellen Flynn, Allentown Green Living Examiner 7/27/09–environment-or-dollars


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