Environment

Rainforests are treasures of biodiversity, and their ecosystems benefit the entire planet. But the Western economic model tends to view them as most valuable when they’ve been logged, mined or turned into agricultural land. As a result, rainforests around the world are rapidly disappearing.

University at Buffalo

While much of the geographic area around Tonawanda Coke has been found to be free of systematic contamination, there are still problems. The public received an update Thursday evening in the City of Tonawanda.

The huge wildfires in California have their roots in small things: the abundance of underbrush that, from a single spark, can ignite a whole forest.

Natural fires, often caused by lightning, can be beneficial for forests so long as they happen often enough to clear tinder that can feed a firestorm. One proven way of preventing wildfires is the use of prescribed fire, not unlike what Native Americans historically did to manage the landscape and attract game.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

A new series of tax breaks will allow the Lackawanna wind turbines along Lake Erie to get some much needed repairs.

 

The Western New York Land Conservancy

A new name has been given to a proposed nature trail and greenway along Buffalo's DL&W rail corridor.

NYS expands lawsuit over Lake Ontario flooding

Nov 17, 2019
Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York State Attorney General Letitia James have announced an expanded lawsuit against the International Joint Commission, for “failing to implement its flood protocol for the Moses-Saunders Power Dam.” That is the dam that can be used to help regulate the level of water in Lake Ontario.

Great Lakes Fishery Commission

Officials say populations of fish-killing sea lamprey remain at near-historic lows in Lakes Ontario and Michigan, but are above target levels in Lakes Erie, Huron and Superior.

In Borneo, healthy people equals healthy forests

Nov 12, 2019

Gunung Palung National Park on the island of Borneo is home to diverse species found nowhere else and is beloved by the people who live on the Indonesian island. But like many people who live near tropical forests, the local population has at times had to resort to illegal logging just to pay for healthcare.

Now, the nonprofit Health in Harmony is providing healthcare that patients can pay for with a simple trade of labor, seedlings or manure so that no one ever has to log to pay cash for essential health services.

Plastic is not just a problem for overwhelmed landfills or the marine life that ingest it. Plastic is also a huge contributor to carbon emissions, climate change and toxic pollution. But if some of the large petrochemical companies have their way, plastic production will increase dramatically in the coming years.

Cradle to grave, plastic could produce as much as 56 gigatons of carbon dioxide between now and 2050, according to a recent study — 50 times more than all the coal-fired power plants in the United States produce in a year.

On October 25, in what’s being called the largest YouTube collaboration of all time, hundreds of YouTubers from around the world came together and used their combined influence to send a message on the environment.

These YouTubers have a combined subscriber count of more than a billion people. One of them, Destin Sandlin, helped recruit fellow YouTube creators. Sandlin’s science education channel, Smarter Every Day, has 7.3 million subscribers and his content has amassed more than 660 million views.

Karen DeWitt

Two majority-party state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would give customers in cafes, fast-food shops and even some restaurants the option to use their own container for coffee or water, or to bring home leftovers.


A food waste receptacle on Elmwod Avenue
Ryan Zunner / WBFO News

The City of Buffalo is taking aim at reducing food waste with a new initiative in the Elmwood Village.

Courtesy of Medaille College

Medaille College celebrated the donation of 10 acres of wetlands property for use by its biology department Wednesday.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

The amount of water that officials on the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board are releasing from Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River continues to be above the usual outflows for this time of year. That is due to the fact that lake levels are still over the so-called trigger levels in the government's water management, called Plan 2014. When those levels are exceeded, the Board can deviate from the Plan, allowing for more water to be pushed into the river.

Kyle S. Mackie / WBFO News

Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release $5 million in emergency funds to make urgent repairs to the LaSalle Park seawall on Buffalo’s waterfront.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the state will be suing the International Joint Commission for failing to properly manage water levels on Lake Ontario.

The governor addressed reporters and local public officials on the deck of Silk O’Loughlin’s in Irondequoit, overlooking the water.

"The facts of the matter are plain and simple," Cuomo said. "The IJC's function is to manage the lake level. That is their job, to manage the lake level. They have failed to manage the lake level. Period."

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Another small piece of what was once World War II's  Lake Ontario Ordnance Works near Lewiston in Niagara County has been cleaned up and returned to it wetland origin.

NYS ranks #5 in country for energy efficiency

Oct 4, 2019
ACEEE

A new scorecard says Massachusetts, Vermont and New York are among the most energy efficient states in the country.

Thomas O'Neil-White

The Niagara River Corridor joined some elite company on Thursday at a ceremony on Goat Island in Niagara Falls. The corridor was recognized as an international wetland of importance by the Ramsar Convention, an independent, intergovernmental environmental group dedicated to wetlands conservation.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced some changes this week to his plan to build back the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

Thomas O'Neil-White

Expand the Outer Harbor into a full state park is the message coming from the Partnership for the Public Good and a dozen other local groups who make up the Our Harbor Coalition. The Partnership released a report Monday, detailing a full analysis of the why a state park is best for the land.

NOAA

Local community members will now be able to play an even larger role in shaping the proposed national marine sanctuary in Lake Ontario. The federal government is seeking applications from those interested in serving on a council that would advise the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as it considers creating a 1,700-square-mile national marine sanctuary in the southeastern portion of the lake to preserve the shipwrecks below its waters.

Many nature writers turn our eyes skyward, towards majestic mountains, or toward open valleys and wild rivers. But there’s another other world beneath our feet, in the dark and hidden places below the Earth’s surface — places that the British author Robert Macfarlane chronicles in his newest book, "Underland: A Deep Time Journey."

Thomas O'Neil-White

A discussion of a proposed wind farm in Lake Erie took center stage in the Erie County Legislature chamber on Thursday. The request was made by legislators Lynne Dixon and John Mills, both of whom oppose the installation of wind turbines off the shore of the lake in the Town of Evans.

National Parks Service

There is a new push to ban those tiny plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bath gel from hotel rooms across New York State.

Rep. John Katko

This week, central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) brought acting administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Pete Gaynor, to tour some of the flooding damage along the Lake Ontario shoreline. The purpose was to figure out how to get funding for those affected.

Katko said it starts with local authorities aggregating the extent of the damages. The state will decide if it warrants a disaster declaration. Then, it goes to the president, which if he approves it, would release funds.

The fires raging in the Amazon have drawn attention to the alarming speed of deforestation in one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, along with urgent warnings from scientists that a “tipping point” could be near, putting the rainforest at risk of gradually turning into dry savanna.

Tropical zone farmers around the world often burn parts of the rainforest to clear the land and boost soil fertility. But it’s a temporary fix, as the soil is quickly exhausted. So, to keep farming, they have to keep burning deeper and deeper into the forest.

Rep. Chris Collins is praising EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler for getting rid of an Obama-Era clean water rule known as Waters of the United States. The rule expanded the streams and waterways under federal jurisdiction, including ephemeral waters which are streams which don't run 12 months of the year.


Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Greece Supervisor Bill Reilich has a new role overseeing the Great Lakes.

New York State Transportation Authority

The New York State Department of Transportation is hiring as the agency prepares for the arrival of winter weather. The department is looking for about 500 permanent and temporary maintenance workers not afraid snow.

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