Friday News Roundup: Including Virtual Fencing, Light Impacts on Wildlife, Free Ethics Book and WGA Position Papers

It’s summertime.. Time to watch out for rattlesnakes in reservoirs! Thanks to the Cowboy State Daily. (I forgot to put the link previously so here it is.)

“They actually cross Boysen all the time. I’ve seen it probably 20 times at least on Boysen, I’ve seen it on the Seminoe Reservoir down by Sinclair, the Glendo Reservoir… Flaming Gorge,” he said. “They’re not afraid to get in the water.”

About 20 years ago, a rattler tried slithering into the boat while Edwards and his dad fished.

“It’s the ones you can’t see that you’ve got to worry about,” he said, adding that many people have approached him since he made the viral post, and have told him they paddleboard and play in the lake water.

Edwards tells those people to pay close attention to what’s in the water, watch for graceful serpentine movement. And paddle away.

“I always worry about people who are waterskiing,” Edwards said. “You can run over a rattlesnake.”

Since this is a roundup, feel free to add your own news items of interest in the comments.

(1) * My favorite podcast of the week.

Tisha Schuller interviewing Toby Rice on Energy Thinks. He thinks a great and doable transitional global decarbonization strategy would be to substitute LNG for coal, wood and other more CO2 and particulate producing energy sources to help countries both move off coal and escape energy poverty.
Caution: Rice talks very fast.

(2) Virtual fencing as climate adaptation strategy.

Virtual fencing, a relatively new technology, allows ranchers to control livestock distribution in rangeland landscapes without physical fences. Livestock wear collars that communicate with GPS and reception towers to form a virtual fence set by the rancher or land manager. When the livestock reach the limit of the virtual fence, auditory stimuli (often a series of loud beeps) emit from the collar. If livestock pass the fence limit, they receive a benign shock. Cattle have demonstrated the ability and tendency to rapidly learn the virtual fencing cues, eventually responding to the audio cue alone. Several studies have documented success with sheep and goats as well.

Virtual fencing could prove to be an effective climate adaptation strategy, as it can be used to contain animals within a desired area, exclude them from undesired areas, or move them across the landscape. Virtual fencing has the potential to diminish soil erosion associated with overgrazing and to improve soil and water quality through managed grazing. Managed grazing is careful management of livestock density and the timing and intensity of grazing. It can stimulate plant regrowth and add manure to the soil. While ranchers with traditional fences can also practice managed grazing, it requires much more planning and labor, and animal movements are limited to pastures defined by permanent fence boundaries. Virtual fencing allows managers to frequently and efficiently move livestock from one pasture to the next and to define new within-pasture boundaries.

(3) Artificial lights are bad for wildlife-see this Popular Science article. You may wonder, what about lights on wind turbines (so-called “aviation obstruction lighting”)? Well it turns out that in fact people have studied that for birds. Here’s a summary from Nature Scotland.

Since I live fairly close to a windfarm, I thought this was an interesting technological solution.

An alternative approach is to only switch lighting on when aircraft are near. There are a number of systems that react when aircraft approach an operational turbine. For example, the Obstacle Collision Avoidance System (OCAS) is designed to alert pilots if their aircraft is in immediate danger of flying into an obstacle. OCAS uses a low power ground based radar to provide detection and tracking of an aircraft’s proximity to an obstacle such as a power line crossing, telecom tower or wind turbines. This capability allows the visual warning lights to remain passive until an aircraft is detected and known to be tracking on an unsafe heading. This leaves the night-time sky free of unnecessary light thus decreasing public annoyance issues, and limiting situations where bird-strike may occur.

(4) You can read Lloyd Irland’s 2007 book “Professional Ethics for Natural Resource and Environmental Managers: A Primer” for free at the EliScholar library at Yale?

(5) Western Governors’ Association has a bunch of new position papers

(6) For those interesting in affordable housing in rural communities; Fantastic Failure: Cooperative Housing as a Would-be Solution for Wildfire Disaster Recovery – Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network.

(7) And this AP story on how wildfire risk is being used to stop housing development in California.

That’s not the only time California’s escalating cycle of fire has been used as a basis to refuse development.

Environmental groups are seeing increased success in California courts arguing that wildfire risk wasn’t fully considered in proposals to build homes in fire-prone areas that sit at the edge of forests and brush, called the wildland-urban interface. Experts say such litigation could become more common.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

11 thoughts on “Friday News Roundup: Including Virtual Fencing, Light Impacts on Wildlife, Free Ethics Book and WGA Position Papers”

  1. Good grief! now taxpayers are going to have to cough up for collars and the gps system! We know the cowboys are going to do it. And given the essentially free – and actually below cost grazing privileges when all costs ARE included – the real solution is “adios cows”!

    • Brian, both those grants mentioned are for private lands. I was actually thinking virtual fencing would be handy to have cattle reduce grass fuels on my property which is not fenced.

  2. I once had to fend off one of those big boy rattlers from climbing in my canoe while floating on the Dearborn river. Sound advice above.

  3. “Environmental groups are seeing increased success in California courts arguing that wildfire risk wasn’t fully considered in proposals to build homes in fire-prone areas that sit at the edge of forests and brush, called the wildland-urban interface. Experts say such litigation could become more common.”

    Contact me with inquiries.
    Licensed in Idaho & Montana

    • Hi Eric: My inquiry regards your licensing. “Licensed” to do what, and is this a paid advertisement? If so, I hope the Donation link is involved. Either way, what is your interest in this topic? For or against “WUI” zoning? And if it is California courts dealing with this stuff, what does your Idaho and Montana License have to do with that? Just curious.

      • We do have a policy that frequent contributors can advertise for a fee. That involves having their own widget, though, not just a comment. Advertising in comments is OK if related to the topic, which this is. So far no one has decided to do this, which is why you don’t see any.

        • I thought I might be treading a fine line of some sort. But, as my salty old Marine colleague at the firm says of novel civil filings: “run it up the flag pole and see if the Judge salutes.”
          Thanks Sharon 🙂

      • Bob, maybe it’s me, but I always feel like I’m being sea lioned when you reply.

        1. I’m a plaintiff’s lawyer.
        2. I’m against “ill considered” WUI zoning, as I think should be plain from numerous responses I’ve made over the years.
        3. Last I checked, plaintiff’s in ID/MT are free to bring lawsuits. Should one care to do so, I’m more than up for the task.

        Thank you for your curiosity.

        • Thanks Eric: I learned a new term — and, since you are a lawyer, maybe I have been guilty of sealioning you in the past. Might even happen again, depending on perspective. The fact is that I was legitimately curious with my questions and appreciate your (and Sharon’s) responses. Another fact is that I have sometimes not participated in this forum for periods of time (and also have an aging memory), and am not familiar with your past responses. So that makes me more curious. Also, I dislike almost all unnecessary government acronyms, including WUI, so I’ve definitely sealioned on that issue several times.


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