Monday, November 17, 2014

Annual Trip Down Pneumonia Lane...

"So tell me, what do you do for asthma treatment?"

"I don't have asthma."

"You've had bronchitis for the past five Novembers, and this is your second go-around with pneumonia in that time.  You have asthma."


That's how last week ended.



One of my first memories of my life was lying in the hospital with pneumonia.  I was five.   I remember how horrible the TV shows (tiny TV mounted near the ceiling) and the food (cheap jello....barf) were.  It was 1979 and those facts haven't changed since.

I've had bronchitis at least once a year since that time, and haven't thought too much of it.  Guess the doctors haven't, either.  I was hospitalized with pneumonia again at age 22 (no insurance).  I nearly had to drop out of grad school the following year (no insurance) when my bronchitis finally beat my pride, and I went and got free antibiotics from the school clinic.  24 was a good run, near the end of which I got real health insurance and promptly got really sick with bronchitis.

Now I'm 40 and being sick for weeks on end seems less noble.  In a thoughtful turn from the standard spousal speech on my health, my wife correctly noted that this continued pattern is doubly related to the outdoors - when I first get sick, I keep going out in the woods and the water, probably compromising any slight possibility of healing myself due to.....whatever defect I have.  Then once I get really sick, I'm out of commission for solid chunks of our fairly long hunting season.  I hadn't really tied those two together.  But here we are.  It's duck season, and it will be 35 and raining tomorrow - perfect weather for ducks.  I won't be out there.

Talk to you all soon, after I schedule something called a Comprehensive Pulmonary Function Test. Can't wait.


Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 Bow Hunt #4: Clean Miss Heartbreak

I hadn't missed a bow shot on a deer in a few years.  Hadn't.  I am conservative with my shots, leaving the absolute minimum variables to chance.   Which is interesting (as I edit this text), because I am more of an aggressive tactician in other parts of my life.

I had the animal I wanted at less than 10 yards.  I was in the shadows of dusk, dressed in black, unseen.  I had time to exhale, inhale, and exhale again.  But the shot was not true.

No blood.  No fur.

This is the heartbreak of the hunt.  When there are no more things to blame, no more uncooperative universal forces in your way, when you've practiced and prepared and are fully paying attention, sometimes you still fail.  

I wanted to close the book on bow hunting this spot for this fall.  I'll return.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Comments on the Proposed Rule for Waters of the US: 8 of 8: Conclusion

My name is River Mud.  I am a wetland systems ecologist and twice-confirmed Professional Wetland Scientist with 17 years experience siting, monitoring, designing, and constructing habitat and stormwater projects in 14 states.   I have reviewed the documents proffered by the US EPA on the "New Rule" for Waters of the United States, and have also reviewed the Scientific Review Board's findings.  As a career professional in wetland and stream conservation, and as a staunch conservationist in my personal life and actions, I cannot and do not support the New Rule as currently drafted in October, 2014.  I have ample experience and expertise to support this position.

Conclusion
The EPA should be applauded for its continued interest in natural resource protection through the Clean Water Act.  However, the application of the New Rule is likely to result in ineffective and arbitrary application of regulatory policy, federal policies that cannot survive litigative challenges, and continued unacceptable hindrances to voluntary habitat restoration and enhancement efforts nationwide.

EPA staff are fond of blaming Rapanos for CWA's failings.  However, let us recall that EPA was directed to clean all of the nation's waters - and not just federally jurisdictional waters - by 1984.  Let us also recall that in 1989, President George HW Bush implemented a federal "no net loss" policy for federally jurisdictional wetlands, which was to be tabulated annually.  Presidents Clinton, George W Bush, and Obama have reiterated the pledge.  Yet,  EPA has never achieved "no net loss," in the ensuing 25 years, and in fact, the agency lacks a credible strategy for achieving it.  EPA refused to enforce CWA for the Chesapeake Bay's main stem - one of the world's largest remaining estuaries supporting a wild-caught fishery -  until litigation in 2010 compelled the agency to follow its own existing regulations. Most practitioners now envision a clean Chesapeake Bay by roughly 2040 - a far cry from EPA's Congressional mandate to accomplish that goal in 1984.


 Combining these unacceptable shortcomings in natural resource conservation with the ambiguous and unpredictable policies described above make the New Rule unworkable, and in fact, a hazard to the remaining protections afforded to significant habitats by the Clean Water Act.  I urge the EPA to devise well thought out regulations that will survive litigation and help guide our nation toward a healthy balance between economic production and ecosystem conservation. 

My Comments on the Proposed Waters of the US Rule: 7 of 8: Ongoing Illegal Federal Regulation of Stormwater Ponds to Continue

My name is River Mud.  I am a wetland systems ecologist and twice-confirmed Professional Wetland Scientist with 17 years experience siting, monitoring, designing, and constructing habitat and stormwater projects in 14 states.   I have reviewed the documents proffered by the US EPA on the "New Rule" for Waters of the United States, and have also reviewed the Scientific Review Board's findings.  As a career professional in wetland and stream conservation, and as a staunch conservationist in my personal life and actions, I cannot and do not support the New Rule as currently drafted in October, 2014.  I have ample experience and expertise to support this position.

Stormwater Ponds
Comment:  EPA claims that stormwater ponds will not be regulated as wetlands under the New Rule.  However, some federal regulators have repeatedly attempted to regulate impacts to existing, maintained stormwater ponds if the pond has developed wetland vegetation.  Allegedly, federal mitigation has been required for pond basin "wetland" impacts associated with reconfiguring the footprint of an existing, maintained stormwater pond.


Recommendation:  Add language to the New Rule exempting from Section 404 all pond basins and slopes in pond and stormwater facilities that are adhering to the state's and municipality's guidelines for pond management and maintenance.  Abandoned stormwater ponds can be regulated as federal wetlands, as they have been for 20 years.