News

Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment 7th in the Nation

Curious about what the University of Utah’s Wallace Stegner Center is? As stated on their website, “From the carbon emissions of our fossil fuel-dependent economy to the fragmentation of ecosystems through development, to the conflict over allocating scarce water resources, modern society has the power to profoundly alter our natural surroundings. Protecting and understanding the environment and how humans interact with it is one of the most crucial issues of the day. The Wallace Stegner Center, named after the Pulitzer Prize- winning author and conservationist, is dedicated to understanding critical environmental challenges and to increasing public understanding and promoting dialogue about how to live more sustainably.

As one of the top-rated environmental law centers in the Western United States, the Stegner Center is home to a talented group of faculty fully committed to shaping environmental policy. Faculty members serve on local and national NGO boards and advisory committees, are consulted by state and federal government officials on a range of policies, and testify before Congress and other policy-making entities.” Discover future events, resources, news and more on their website.

“Shaping the Future of the West:” Sonoran Institute Launches New Website

“The Sonoran Institute’s mission is to connect people and communities with the natural resources that nourish and sustain them. We work at the nexus of commerce, community, and conservation to help people in the North American West build the communities they want to live in while preserving the values which brought them here. We envision a West where civil dialogue and collaboration are hallmarks of decision making, where people and wildlife live in harmony, and where clean water, air, and energy are assured.”

 

Sonoran Institute has a three part focus of abundant natural resources, flourishing landscapes, and vibrant communities. Resources offered on the website include scenario studies, mining reports, resilient communities starter kits, and more. Find out more about the Sonoran Institute, here.

Habitat plantings and restoration for pollinators and beneficial insects

A new great resource has been released by Western SARE, entitled “Habitat plantings and restoration for pollinators and beneficial insects.” As stated in the summary:

BeePollinators and beneficial insects are critical for healthy agricultural landscapes and many of the crops grown in the West.The encouragement of native bee populations on-farm is more important than ever due to Colony Collapse Disorder and other pests. Restoring native habitats, identifying plants that provide the best food and habitat, and understanding nesting behaviors are all essential to conserve pollinators and beneficial insects. A restored habitat with healthy populations of native beneficial insects can in turn reduce chemical inputs. Western SARE has played a key role in addressing research needs of our region’s farmers and ranchers by funding high quality research conducted in collaboration with producers. This publication highlights four Western SARE-funded initiatives that provide cutting-edge information for creating on-farm habitat and implementing best practices that support pollinators and beneficial insects.

Read the full field publication, here.

Green Degrees & Top Paying Green Careers

greenInterested in the most popular green degrees? Or want to learn more about the top paying green careers? Affordable Colleges Online has released a report, highlighting what’s popular when it comes to green. According to the site, the most popular green degrees are: 1. Environmental architecture and environmental design, 2. Environmental engineering, 3. Environmental health sciences, 4. Environmental law, and 5. Environmental science and sustainability.  Find out more about these degrees and what people are doing with them, here.

Young Farmers: Stewards of the American West

Western Water

From the National Young Farmers Coalition: The western United States is in the midst of a growing water crisis. Extended drought and climate change are colliding with a booming population and a rising demand for food and fresh water. As more entities vie for this increasingly tenuous resource, water continues to be removed from farmland at rapid rates to feed growing urban centers. This threatens the viability of agricultural soils, farm businesses, and rural communities.

To address this growing crisis, NYFC is working across the West to protect water for agriculture and promote the good stewardship of that water. We are rallying young farmers and ranchers to advocate for their water needs and implement sound practices for conservation and resilience.

The voices of young farmers and ranchers are critical to building sustainable water policies and practices across the West and preserving family farming for generations to come. Read More

USU Center for Civic Engagement and Service Learning Awarded Grants to Improve Air Quality

USU staff and students meet with UCAIR’s executive director last week to celebrate the organization’s accomplishments. From left to right: Dallon Smith, Kate Stephens, James Wirth, Dave Bastian, UCAIR Executive Director Ted Wilson, Emily Blake and Sean Damitz. Photo: Liz Sodja.

From the Utah State Today:

The Utah State University Center for Civic Engagement and Service-Learning was awarded two grants by the Utah Clean Air Partnership totaling $29,000 to reduce emissions and improve air quality.

The first award of $12,000 provides funding for a green electric vehicle to be used by USU Facilities and students through the Student Sustainability Office programs. The electric vehicle will be used to transport compostable waste to the industrial composter and student organic farm and to transport food waste recovered for the student food pantry through the Food Recovery Network.

The second award of $17,000 provides partial funding for the Utah Conservation Corps to purchase a Chevy Volt and retire an outdated truck from its vehicle fleet. The UCC will provide the remaining funds for the vehicle purchase and will install solar panels on the house that the organization manages to provide an emission-free source of fuel for the vehicle. Read More

Is there Any Need to Idle your Car Before Driving in the Winter?

From the Washington Post:

We’ve all heard the idea: In winter, your car needs a little time to warm up before you can drive it. And that’s why across the United States, people who live in cold and snowy places — and especially those whose cars have remote starters — often fire up their engines long before they start driving. Heck, they might even start the car from the kitchen in the morning, and only then start the coffee brewing.

But it turns out that this idea of idling your car during the winter is just wrong. And so are the many, many Americans who believe it — one 2009 study found that on average, Americans thought they should idle for over 5 minutes before driving when temperatures were below 32 degrees!  Read More

Is the West Prepared for Climate Change?

In a recent article, Sarah Tory from High Country News asks, “Is the West Prepared for Climate Change?” According to findings from the States at Risk Project, a nationwide report card released by consulting firm ICF International and non-advocacy science and journalism organization Climate Central, most Western states are vulnerable to future increases in extreme heat, drought, and flooding.

As stated in High Country News:

Those findings matter because of the potential damage to human health, property, and the economy. Planning and taking steps to address these inevitable disasters cuts long-term costs, reduces impacts and ensures states and communities can more quickly rebound from losses, rather than continue to write big checks post-disaster. Read More

iSeeChange Community Climate and Weather Phenology Journal Launched

Interested in participating in a nationwide community that is tracking weather and ecological changes? iSeeChange could be just the outlet. iSeeChange is an environmental reporting platform combining citizen science, participatory public media, and satellite and sensor monitoring of environmental conditions.

The iSeeChange initiative synchronizes local citizen climate reports with satellite data Combining these two perspectives—a global view of the earth from space and a granular view from individuals on the ground—offers an unprecedented opportunity to match big science with daily life, and surface hidden patterns and stories.

 

Utah’s First Utility-Scale Solar Energy Plant Commissioned

Developers discuss the final completion of an 8-year endeavor in solar fields at the Utah Red Hills Renewable Park, Parowan, Utah, Dec. 10, 2015 | Photo taken by Carin Miller, St. George News

According to the St. George News, after 8 years of planning, Utah’s first functioning utility-sized solar power plant is now up and running in Parowan, UT.

“Investors, developers and government officials from across the globe and Utah gathered to celebrate the completion of the project with food, music and tours of the facility — despite threats of storm clouds on the horizon.

‘This is a pioneering project,” Scatec Solar North America Luigi Resta said. “We did open up a market and it should have positive benefits for many of the counties and the communities with both job creation, new tax benefits and ultimately, hopefully, at low avoided cost prices of (energy).’”

See the full story, here.