Retrofitting busy highways to let wildlife travel safely, too ~ The Washington Post

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Elk stand near U.S. Highway 285 in Colorado. (Matthew Staver for The Washington Post/For The Washington Post)
Oct. 11, 2019 at 3:15 p.m. MDT

 

COLLEGIATE PEAKS SCENIC BYWAY, Colo. — U.S. Highway 285 was once a death zone for the dwindling herds of elk and mule deer on Colorado’s Western Slope. But today it offers a lifeline, helping them travel from their summer range high in the mountains to winter foraging grounds along the Arkansas River.

 

For the past year, a tunnel dipping under three lanes of speeding traffic has beckoned. And as frost descended recently on subalpine meadows and glittering-gold aspen, a huge bull elk, measuring at least nine feet from antlers to hoofs, entered the structure ever so cautiously. Infrared cameras on both ends captured his meandering.

“Yes!” exulted Mark Lawler, an environmental specialist with the state transportation department, sitting under the 25-foot-wide tunnel arch and watching images pop up on his laptop. The ground there was marked by coyote, deer and even squirrel tracks, more proof of success. But Lawler was focusing on the elk’s safe passage. He “won’t be hit by someone on the highway.”

The $3.5 million project is one of several planned for Colorado’s ever more crowded roads, on which some 4,000 bears, bighorn sheep, coyotes and myriad other animals died last year. The cost of the carnage exceeded $80 million, according to state officials.

Across the country, as development continues to encroach on natural areas, wildlife-vehicle collisions are taking a massive toll. More than 1.9 million animal-collision insurance claims were filed in fiscal 2019, a State Farm report found, with some researchers estimating the annual price tag of the resulting human fatalities, wildlife mortality, injuries, vehicle damage and other costs at almost $10 billion.

Yet advances in satellite tracking technology are helping biologists to better understand how many animals rely on corridors — strips of land that link habitats — and how wildlife crossings over and under roads are essential to reconnect these shrinking settings. Federal and state officials, conservationists and landowners are now partnering across borders on remedies.

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La Santa Cecilia: ‘We Are As American As Apple Pie And Tacos’

La Santa Cecilia. From left, Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernandez, Miguel “Oso” Ramirez, Alex Bendaña, Jose “Pepe” Carlos.

Humberto Howard/Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Grammy Award-winning group La Santa Cecilia takes its name from the Catholic saint of musicians. It’s a fitting moniker; as if by divine intervention, the members of the band — Marisol Hernandez, Jose “Pepe” Carlos, Miguel “Oso” Ramirez, and Alex Bendaña — found each other in the sprawl of Los Angeles.

“I met Pepe Carlos on Olvera Street,” lead singer Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernandez recalls. “I was busking with the older musicians — my teachers who I learned all that beautiful, traditional Latin-American music from — and Pepe was busking with his little brother on the other side of the street.”

They formed a connection, and years later Hernandez roped in her friend, Oso, along with Alex Bendaña, to create La Santa Cecilia, a band “where we could make our own music, write about our own experiences [and] experiment with our influences,” she says. Those influences were vast. They heard Mexican accordions and horns in mariachi bands and fused those sounds with bossa nova, jazz and pop.

They came together to act on their individual, forward-thinking visions.

Some of that fusion is showcased on the centerpiece of the band’s self-titled album, out on Oct. 18. The song, “I’ve Been Thinking,” is about a shared, tragic experience.

 

“Oso, Alex, and I lost our fathers at different times,” Hernandez says. “It was a very big, big, big blow to the band and to us personally. We were all very close to our fathers, and I don’t know if I could go through this without my bandmates. I feel like this united us even more and we needed to write something and let out these feelings.”

La Santa Cecilia’s members have also all been affected to some degree by the recent political climate and the debate surrounding immigration.

Still, for Hernandez, the band’s political messaging brims with hope.

“In La Santa Cecilia, we will always continue to raise, with pride, our flag of love, of where we come from: of being Mexican American, of being from Latin America and being born here in the United States,” Hernandez says. “And whether people like it or not, we are as American as apple pie and tacos.”

Hundreds of birds face extinction due to climate change ~ The Hill

Earth: Updated Terms and Conditions ~ The New Yorker

Congratulations! You are a proud inhabitant of Earth™. Because of recent customer feedback, we have updated our terms and conditions. (We thought a lot of this went without saying, but our lawyers are insisting that we clear a few things up.)

You get one (1) Earth™. If you permanently damage your Earth™, you will not be able to trade it in for a new one.

This product is pre-used, but it is not refurbished. It has been maintained in near-mint condition for 4.5 billion years. Please keep it this way.

Earth™ is not supposed to get too hot. If you think Earth™ is overheating, DO NOT assume that there is a big fan inside Earth™ to cool it down like a computer. Earth™ is NOT a computer. Earth™ is also NOT a computer simulation (but that would be really cool).

If Earth™ gets too hot, work together to figure out what’s happening. DO NOT tell people that Earth™ is better when it’s hot. DO NOT tell people that Earth™ was kind of cold today, so how could it be getting hotter? That’s like saying, “I’m not hungry right now, so I guess I won’t be hungry ever again.” It’s a dumb thing to say. Don’t say it.

This used to be a nude Earth™, strictly clothing-free. You are now permitted to wear clothing, but please DO NOT force other animals (i.e., your pets) to do the same. It is cruel and weird.

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Earth™ is not flat. Jesus.

We encourage you to leave Earth™ and explore the surrounding planets. Travelling is fun! However, we hope that you do this out of curiosity and not out of necessity. If you are having problems with Earth™, your first solution should not be “Let’s find a new Earth™.” DO NOT run away from your problems.