Study reveals Coloradans’ take on public lands; Planned dams in South East Asia could threaten food security of millions

McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area, near Grand Junction, Colorado.
Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management

Conservation study reveals Coloradans’ take on public lands

A survey released Monday by the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project revealed Colorado voters support efforts to protect and maintain national public lands. Seventy-seven percent of those interviewed think national public land helps the Colorado economy and 84 percent are in favor of future presidents designating lands as national monuments.

Additionally, voters favor keeping national lands in the hands of the federal government with 59 percent opposing a state takeover. Several members of Congress have proposed transferring control over national monuments, forests and wildlife refuges within state borders to state government and all funding responsibilities to state taxpayers.

In the case of wildfires, 83 percent of Coloradans believe the U.S. Forest Service should be allowed to treat the largest and most expensive wildfires as a natural disaster in order to have access to emergency disaster funding.

The survey also gauged changing opinions on energy sources such as oil, gas, solar and wind power. Fifty-five percent of Coloradans approve of continuing drilling and mining at the current pace, but with increased safeguards for land and water. Solar power followed closely by wind power ranked the highest for voters’ as an encouraged energy source.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation partially paid for the survey, but Brendan Boepple, assistant director of State of the Rockies Project, refused to reveal the other funders. He did say no oil and gas companies contributed funding. BW remains committed to disclosing the funding of research whenever possible as it has been found to be an important determinate on the reseach findings. 

The 2016 Conservation in the West Poll revealed similar findings in the six other states : Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Nevada. All interviews were conducted over the phone with 400 registered voters from each state.

—Alexandria Kade

Plans to build dams in South East Asia could threaten the food security of millions

A boat in Tonlé Sap Lake in Cambodia.
A boat in Tonlé Sap Lake in Cambodia. Wikimedia Commons

The Tonlé Sap Lake in Cambodia, one of the greatest wonders of the aquatic world and Southeast Asia’s largest lake, is set to become a construction site for 11 dams that will slow the flooding of the Mekong basin rivers and drastically affect food supplies in the area. The dams are being made to produce clean energy for China, Laos and Thailand.

The Tonlé Sap is one of the most frequently fished lakes in the world. As monsoon season draws to a close, the millions of fish in the lake will flow into the Mekong River, where they will become the main food source for thousands of villages throughout Southeast Asia. This annual cycle however, will be endangered with the construction of the dams.

Mark Goichot, a hydrogeologist working with the World Wildlife Fund, said that the cycle, if altered by the dams, would have a serious effect on populations that depend on the fish supply. The plan is “an ecological time bomb that threatens the food security of millions,” Goichot told the Guardian.

The Mekong is one of the world’s three greatest and most biologically diverse tropical rivers, along with the Amazon and Congo. A paper in Science presented by 39 leading aquatic ecologists, warns that these three rivers stand to be heavily dammed which will result in the tremendous loss of up to one-third of freshwater fish in the world. If 11 dams are constructed on the Mekong, total fish loss is estimated to be around 550,000 to 880,000 tons a year.

— Chelsea Abdullah

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