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DOJ/DOI — Expert Working Group Report: Native American Traditional Justice Practices

December 9, 2014 Comments off

Expert Working Group Report: Native American Traditional Justice Practices (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Justice/U.S. Department of the Interior

Throughout the United States, the term “traditional justice” is often associated with an adversarial court-based model of justice. But for American indigenous communities the term signifies a history and culture that evolved separate from judges in black robes. These systems are often based on restoring harmony and peace to the victim and community – while still including elements of offender accountability.

In April 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Access to Justice Initiative (ATJ) and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services – Tribal Justice Support (TJS) jointly convened an Expert Working Group (EWG) on the use of traditional Native American justice interventions to respond to criminal and delinquent behavior.

The meeting was held in furtherance of the Tribal Law and Order Act’s mandate that both Departments work with Tribal court systems to develop a plan to address alternatives to incarceration. The meeting also evidenced the Administration’s commitment to Tribal sovereignty by recognizing and showcasing the importance of traditional Tribal custom.

The meeting brought together 14 experts from multidisciplinary communities, including judges, researchers, government officials and advocates with experience and knowledge in the use of traditional justice practices primarily within indigenous communities, for a one-day roundtable meeting. The experts were asked to provide short presentations on the traditional justice intervention that they lead in their community or about which they are knowledgeable. The majority of the participants were from the United States, but a Canadian expert was also invited given the shared history and culture of the U.S. Native American and Canadian Aboriginal populations.

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USGS Repeat Photography Project Documents Retreating Glaciers in Glacier National Park

December 3, 2014 Comments off

USGS Repeat Photography Project Documents Retreating Glaciers in Glacier National Park
Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Glacier National Park’s namesake glaciers have receded rapidly since the Park’s establishment in 1910, primarily due to long-term changes in regional and global climate. In the last century, the five warmest years have occurred in the last 8 years – in this order: 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004 (NASA). These changes include warming, particularly of daily minimum temperatures, and persistent droughts. This warming is ongoing and the loss of the Park’s glaciers continues, with the park’s glaciers predicted to disappear by 2030.

National Water-Use at Lowest Levels since before 1970

November 7, 2014 Comments off

National Water-Use at Lowest Levels since before 1970
Source: USGS

Water use across the country reached its lowest recorded level in nearly 45 years. According to a new USGS report, about 355 billion gallons of water per day (Bgal/d) were withdrawn for use in the entire United States during 2010.

This represents a 13 percent reduction of water use from 2005 when about 410 Bgal/d were withdrawn and the lowest level since before 1970.

“Reaching this 45-year low shows the positive trends in conservation that stem from improvements in water-use technologies and management,” said Mike Connor, deputy secretary of the Interior. “Even as the U.S. population continues to grow, people are learning to be more water conscious and do their part to help sustain the limited freshwater resources in the country.”

California accounted for 11 percent of the total withdrawals for all categories and 10 percent of total freshwater withdrawals for all categories nationwide. Texas accounted for about 7 percent of total withdrawals for all categories, predominantly for thermoelectric power, irrigation and public supply.

Florida had the largest saline withdrawals, accounting for 18 percent of the total in the country, mostly saline surface-water withdrawals for thermoelectric power. Oklahoma and Texas accounted for about 70 percent of the total saline groundwater withdrawals in the United States, mostly for mining.

CRS — Fish and Wildlife Service: FY2015 Appropriations and Policy (August 5, 2014)

October 3, 2014 Comments off

Fish and Wildlife Service: FY2015 Appropriations and Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)
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The annual appropriation for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies provides funds for agencies and programs in three federal departments, as well as numerous related agencies and bureaus. Among the agencies represented is the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in the Department of the Interior. Many of its programs are among the more controversial of those funded in the bill. On July 23, 2014, the House Committee on Appropriations reported H.R. 5171. The bill provided $1.40 billion for FWS, down 2.0% from the FY2014 level of $1.43 billion contained in P.L. 113-76. The President requested $1.48 billion, an increase of 3.4% over the FY2014 level. In addition, the Administration proposed a number of significant accounting changes. As the committee noted, some of these changes make comparisons with funding in prior years impossible for some accounts. The House committee accepted a few of the Administration’s changes, while rejecting others. The committee further made its own changes in accounting, in order to emphasize certain priorities.

Nesting Gulf Sea Turtles Feed in Waters Filled With Threats

August 4, 2014 Comments off

Nesting Gulf Sea Turtles Feed in Waters Filled With Threats
Source: USGS/PLoS ONE

Nesting loggerhead sea turtles in the northern Gulf of Mexico feed among areas that were oiled by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill and where human activities occur, several of which are known to pose threats to sea turtles, a new U.S Geological study showed.

The feeding areas for 10 turtles overlapped with an area that experienced surface oiling during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. These sites, and others, also overlapped with areas trawled by commercial fishing operations and used for oil and gas extraction.

The study, which is the largest to date on Northern Gulf loggerheads, examined 59 nesting females, which scientists believe could be 15 percent of the breeding females in the Northern Gulf of Mexico—a small and declining subpopulation of loggerheads that is federally classified as threatened.

Climate Change Could Alter Range of Caribou and May Impact Hunters’ Access

July 30, 2014 Comments off

Climate Change Could Alter Range of Caribou and May Impact Hunters’ Access
Source: USGS (PLoS ONE)

Due to climate change, some communities in rural Alaska and the Yukon Territory of Canada may face a future with fewer caribou according to new research published by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in the recent issue of PLoS ONE. Scientists examined the future effects of fires on winter habitats of caribou herds and determined that wildfires will reduce the amount of winter habitat for caribou, thus caribou may need to shift their wintering grounds

Warming temperatures will increase the flammability of lichen-producing boreal forests, which are important winter habitat for caribou herds. Caribou serve as nutritional as well as cultural sustenance for certain communities. Caribou avoid burned areas in winter and the changes in their distribution can persist across multiple generations of hunters. Those who rely on caribou in fire-prone areas may therefore have fewer available as climate change increases the number and sizes of fires in the boreal forests.

New Global Geologic Map of Mars

July 15, 2014 Comments off

New Global Geologic Map of Mars
Source: USGS

A new global geologic map of Mars –the most thorough representation of the “Red Planet’s” surface – has been published by the U.S. Geological Survey. This map provides a framework for continued scientific investigation of Mars as the long-range target for human space exploration.

The new map brings together observations and scientific findings from four orbiting spacecraft that have been acquiring data for more than 16 years. The result is an updated understanding of the geologic history of the surface of Mars – the solar system’s most Earth-like planet and the only other one in our Sun’s “habitable zone.” The new geologic map of Mars is available for download online.

For hundreds of years, geologic maps have helped drive scientific thought. This new global geologic map of Mars, as well as the recent global geologic maps of Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Io, also illustrates the overall importance of geologic mapping as an essential tool for the exploration of the solar system.

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