Environmental Issues: Wildlands

Wildlands Main Page

All Documents in Wildlands

Our Forests Aren't Fuel
Overview
Forests are for wild animals, fresh air, clean water, and hiking with our kids. But now industry wants to burn our forests for biomass electricity, polluting the air we breathe and stealing from future generations.
The Evolution of International Environmental Governance
Overview
Since the 1970s, the international community has created a number of successful institutions and treaties to protect the global environment; but more work remains to turn commitments into action.
Drilling in California: Who’s at risk?
Report
As new drilling and stimulation techniques, including fracking, are heralded as the key to unlocking a new oil boom in California, there is mounting evidence that these technologies, and the expansion of oil and gas development that they enable, threaten public health.
Fracking: Community Defense
People are speaking out and standing up

Overview
We are joining the expertise of NRDC's policy and legal teams with the grassroots power of communities facing fracking in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and California. Our goals is to strengthen and support the ability of communities to protect themselves by establishing strong legal precedents for local control, helping communities craft effective local laws on fracking.
Stop Predator Poisons from Killing Wildlife and Harming Ecosystems
There's No Place for These Deadly Poisons on American Lands

Fact Sheet
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services' predator control program uses sodium cyanide and Compound 1080, two deadly and inhumane poisons that are dangerous to people and environmentally destructive.  NRDC is urging Wildlife Services to reexamine its predator control practices and end its use of sodium cyanide and Compound 1080.
Get document in pdf.
Stop the Fracking Attack in North Carolina
Overview
The oil and gas industry is pushing the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on states around the country, without sufficient safeguards to protect Americans' drinking water supplies, public health or the environment. Often these states confront a host of potential problems -- from air pollution to water contamination -- as oil and gas companies roll in.
Don't Drill Away the West
Vast stretches of the Western United States are threatened by oil and gas development

Overview
The American West is known for its stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, rich history and outdoor recreation. But from Montana down to New Mexico, many of these cherished areas are at risk from oil and gas development.
Spreading Like Wildfire
Oil and gas leases mean that fracking could occur on tens of millions of acres of U.S. lands

Fact Sheet
According to a new NRDC analysis, at the end of 2011, 70 of the largest oil and gas companies operating in the United States held leases covering at least 141 million net acres of American land -- an area approximately the size of California and Florida combined.
Environmental Risks with Proposed Offshore Oil and Gas Development off Alaska’s North Slope
Issue Paper
In August 2012, Royal Dutch Shell Oil (Shell) plans to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's northern coast. This paper argues that drilling and related industrial activity would create an unacceptable risk of irreparable damage to this unique part of the planet and should be postponed until comprehensive research can be performed and a credible system for responding to spills is put into place.
New Rules in Massachusetts Offer Model for Rewarding Good Biomass
Fact Sheet
Power companies argue that because trees can grow back, they are a renewable and “carbon neutral” fuel source. This misconception is embedded in many existing renewable energy policies promoting biomass fuels uniformly for electricity production. Massachusetts, for example, realized that its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) regulations were rewarding power companies for burning whole trees, thus undermining efforts to invest in truly low-carbon energy sources. The Commonwealth chose to end this practice by putting in place smart standards to drive the market towards the best sources of biomass—the first standards in the world to set a performance requirement for biomass. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) hails Massachusetts’ new proposed biomass rules as a blueprint for how other states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can ensure that biomass-fueled energy reduces carbon emissions and protects our nation’s valuable forests. Get document in pdf.
Arctic Wildlife Refuge: Why Trash an American Treasure for a Tiny Percentage of Our Oil Needs?
Drilling for oil in America's premier wildlife sanctuary would deface the pristine landscape and threaten Alaskan wildlife.

News
Drilling for oil in America's premier wildlife sanctuary would deface the pristine landscape and threaten Alaskan wildlife.
Anti-Environmental Budget Riders
A significant assault on health and environmental protection is underway in Congress.

Overview
Lawmakers must pass 12 spending bills for fiscal 2012 to fund the government, and some House Republicans are seizing this opportunity to jam through unpopular anti-environmental policies that have nothing to do with spending.
Protecting Bristol Bay
Saving America’s Last Wild Places

Fact Sheet
The cool, shallow waters of Alaska's Bristol Bay are surrounded by tundra, crisscrossed by rivers, and dotted with lakes large and small. Bears, wolves, seals, and whales flourish in this nearly untouched ecosystem, all drawn by the same lure: tens of millions of thrashing salmon, charging upstream to spawn. Huge salmon runs are the linchpin of this ecosystem, supporting valuable commercial fisheries, Alaska Natives, and a vast array of wildlife. Tragically, the whole system could be put at risk if giant mining companies are allowed to pursue their narrow interests. NRDC's BioGems program, dedicated to winning permanent protection for endangered wild regions across the Americas, is fighting to preserve this pristine ecosystem. Get document in pdf.
Say No to Tar Sands Pipeline
Proposed Keystone XL Project Would Deliver Dirty Fuel at a High Cost

Fact Sheet
The Canadian pipeline company TransCanada has proposed a tar sands pipeline that could bring as much as 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) of costly and polluting fuel to the U.S. Gulf Coast. This pipeline, called Keystone XL, will lock the United States into a dependence on hard-to-extract oil and generate a massive expansion of the destructive tar sands oil operations in Canada. In addition to the damage that would be caused by the increased tar sands extraction, the pipeline threatens to pollute freshwater supplies in America’s agricultural heartland and increase emissions in already-polluted communities of the Gulf Coast. Get document in pdf.
Good Wood: How Forest Certification Helps the Environment
FAQ
Forest certification is a seal of approval for wood and paper products, allowing consumers to use their buying power for good.
Smart from the Start: Renewable Energy Siting on Federal Land
Testimony
Testimony of Johanna Wald, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council before the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources regarding the California Desert Protection Act of 2010, S. 2921. Get document in pdf.
Appalachian Heartbreak: Time to End Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
Issue Paper
Coal is America's dirtiest energy source -- and the country's leading source of global warming pollution. Pollution from coal plants produces dirty air, acid rain, and contaminated land and water. Nowhere is the debate over how far we are willing to go for inexpensive energy more contentious than in the coalfields of Appalachia, where mining companies are blowing up America's oldest mountains to get the coal beneath the peaks.
Protecting New Yorkers’ Health and the Environment by Regulating Drilling in the Marcellus Shale
Fact Sheet
With rising energy costs and fears of more volatility in the future, the natural gas industry is now searching for additional fuel sources. One such source is the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale, an ancient rock formation that spans 600 miles and four states, including New York. While there may be benefits to drilling this large natural gas reserve, doing so without the proper monitoring and regulation by state and local officials will present a number of serious threats to human health and the environment in New York State. NRDC is therefore working with leaders across the state to ensure that if drilling in the Marcellus Shale occurs in New York, it will be done responsibly and only in appropriate areas. This fact sheet includes recommendations for action you can take to help ensure that gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale does not proceed in New York without full protections for New Yorkers’ health and the environment.
Get document in pdf.
National Parks in Peril
The Threats of Climate Change

Overview
America's national parks are some of the most spectacular and treasured places in the country. But these wild landscapes are confronting the greatest threat in their history – global warming. Rising temperatures are wreaking havoc in some of the nation's most pristine areas, and will continue to do so if we don't act quickly.
A Shopper's Guide to Home Tissue Products
Shop smart. Save forests.

Guide
Help save forests by choosing environmentally preferable alternatives.
Clean Energy and Conservation
Renewable energy sources don’t have to conflict with preserving wildlife and wildlands in the Western U.S.

Overview
Renewable energy sources don't have to conflict with preserving wildlife and wildlands in the Western United States.
Rule Protecting National Forest Wildlands Is Vindicated in Court
The Roadless Area Conservation Rule preserves America's unspoiled wilderness, but it's under assault

News
In December 2002, a federal appeals court lifted a stay on the implementation of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a landmark forest-conservation measure that the timber industry and its allies have fought tooth and nail. Will the Bush administration enforce it, or undermine it?
San Onofre State Beach Wins Protections Against Road Development
A proposed toll road that would cut through the heart of a popular California park has been rejected.

News
A proposed toll road that would cut through the heart of a popular California park has been put on hold.
Danger in the Nursery
Impact of Tar Sands Oil Development in Canada’s Boreal on Birds

Report
Each spring more than half of America's birds flock to the Canadian Boreal forest to nest. There, tens of millions of birds -- as many as 500 breeding pairs per square mile of forests, lakes, river valleys, and wetlands -- spend the winter. Yet almost all the biggest oil companies are mining and drilling important Boreal forest and wetlands to access thick, low-grade petroleum.
Exhibits: U.S. Forest Service Efforts to Avoid Environmental Review
Testimony
The following exhibits pertain to testimony presented by Nathaniel Lawrence, NRDC senior attorney, on June 28, 2007, before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands of the Committee on Natural Resources.
The Tejon Ranch model
On environmental issues, the middle road doesn't suit everybody. But it can preserve a lot of wilderness for posterity.

Opinion
On environmental issues, the middle road doesn't suit everybody. But it can preserve a lot of wilderness for posterity.
Know the Forest and the Trees: A Consumer's Guide to Buying Wood
Overview
Whether you are building a deck or just buying a nightstand, your purchase can have an impact on forests and people thousands of miles away. Your money could support a sustainable community initiative on the rainforest's edge--or it could contribute to continued impoverishment of families in Latin America or deforestation in Southeast Asia.
Testimony of Nathaniel Lawrence on S. 2593, the Forest Landscape Restoration Act
Testimony
Submitted to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the United States Senate, April 1, 2008.
Hotter and Drier
The West's Changed Climate

Report
Human activities are already changing the climate of the American West. This report by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows how the West is being affected more by a changed climate than any other part of the United States outside of Alaska. Embracing available solutions at all levels of government is critical to minimizing further disruption of this region’s climate and economy.
Stop the Slaughter
Yellowstone’s Buffalo Herd Must Be Protected

Fact Sheet
The Montana Department of Livestock and the National Park Service are killing the thousands of buffalo that roam in Yellowstone National Park, claiming with little evidence that the buffalo could transmit disease to cattle in the area. NRDC is fighting to protect Yellowstone buffalo from senseless killing and to safeguard the park’s wildlife resources for future generations. Get document in pdf.
Stop Electrocuting Patagonia
NRDC's campaign to protect Chile's wild places

Index
Chile's Patagonia, one of the most pristine places left on the planet, is being threatened by plans for a massive hydro-electric scheme that calls for dams to be built on the region's largest rivers and for construction of the world's longest power transmission line. NRDC is working with local, national, and international partners to bring smarter solutions and viable alternatives to discussions on the future of this treasured region.
Drilling Down
Protecting Western Communities from the Health and Environmental Effects of Oil and Gas Production

Report
Oil and gas production releases pollution that can have serious impacts on people's health and the surrounding air, water, and land. Although these operations are frequently located near homes, schools, and other community resources, the oil and gas industry enjoys numerous exemptions from provisions of federal laws intended to protect human health and the environment.
The Drill in the Backyard
Photo Album
Domestic oil and natural gas production has soared in recent years as our demand for energy continues to rise. Much of this growth is occurring in the Rocky Mountain region, where well pads, waste pits and giant compressors mar the legendary western landscape of wide vistas and soaring peaks.
Safe at Home
Making the Federal Fire Safety Budget Work for Communities

Issue Paper
Every summer, images of wildfires dominate TV screens and newspaper headlines. Yet despite the effort -- and the money -- that goes into emergency response, fires destroy hundreds of homes and whole neighborhoods in the American West during wildfire season.
U.S. Forest Service Efforts to Avoid Environmental Review
Testimony
Testimony presented by Nathaniel Lawrence, NRDC senior attorney, on June 28, 2007, before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands of the Committee on Natural Resources.
Safeguarding Alaska's Arctic Wilderness
Index
Oil and gas drilling, coal mining and invasive development are combining with global warming's effects to wreak havoc on Alaska's vast, remote Arctic landscape. NRDC is working with Alaskan Native communities to protect this wilderness area and the whales, bears and other diverse wildlife that depend on it.
The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas
Protecting America’s Arctic

Fact Sheet
Aggressive government interest in leasing areas to the oil and gas industries in the zone referred to as the “Arctic Ring of Life”—home to millions of migratory birds, polar bears, beluga whales, endangered bowhead whales, and thousands-year-old Inupiat (Eskimo) culture—threatens the sustainability of this ecosystem and the livelihood of Alaska Native communities. Get document in pdf.
Morro Bay-Cayucos Sewage Treatment Plant and Sea Otter Habitat
Fact Sheet
The Morro Bay/Cayucos sewage plant in California has dumped pollutants into the ocean for more than two decades -- directly into bay waters that are a hotspot for deaths among the threatened California sea otter.  Officials at the Morro Bay sewage plant do not intend to complete an upgrade to meet basic federal standards until March 2014, even as the plant's own documents show that a faster, more efficient, less expensive upgrade is possible.
San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act
Legislative Analysis
Last year, a historic settlement was reached to restore flows and salmon populations to California's second longest river, the San Joaquin, and approved by the federal court.
Avoiding Chlorine in the Paper Bleaching Process
Fact Sheet
Recommendations for safer ways to brighten and whiten paper.
Getting Mercury Out of Paper Production
Fact Sheet
The paper industry has an important role to play in reducing toxic mercury pollution.
Reforming the Paper Industry
Guide
The pulp and paper industry is one of the most environmentally damaging industries in the world. Find out how you, through individual purchases or through your business, can help transform this bad actor into a more sustainable industry.
The Paper Business, Present and Future
Index
This index of information on paper and forestry shows where there's room for improvement, and why there's hope ahead.
Losing Ground: Western National Parks Endangered by Climate Disruption
Report
National parks in the American West face an unprecedented threat from climate change. Rising temperatures, prolonged drought, severe wildfires and diminished snowfall are already affecting these parks; without action to curb climate change, cherished Western landscapes could be drastically altered.
If You Don’t Buy African Ivory, Why Would You Buy Amazon Mahogany?
Fact Sheet
High consumer demand for mahogany has boosted prices and the illegal trade of these majestic trees from Peru to the United States, bringing disastrous impacts for indigenous peoples who rely on the forests, endangered species losing their habitat, and the long-term viability of commercial mahogany. Get document in pdf.
Strip Mining for Oil in Endangered Forests
Fact Sheet
Big oil interests are scraping away hundreds of thousands of acres in North America’s Boreal forest to produce tar sands oil, and in the process consuming large amounts of natural gas and generating three times as much global warming pollution as conventional crude oil production. Greater efficiency and renewable fuels are far better, cleaner ways to meet our energy needs. Get document in pdf.
Paper Industry Laying Waste to North American Forests
News
Top U.S. manufacturers are harvesting old-growth trees, destroying key habitat to make tissue paper.
In the Canadian Boreal Forest, a Conservation Ethic at Work
An Interview with Leaders of the Poplar River First Nation.

Interview
After fighting successfully for years to keep destructive logging, hydropower and mining projects out of their traditional territory, the people of Poplar River are now working to secure permanent protection for their boreal forest homeland.
Democracy in Action: The Energy Permitting Process Under NEPA
Testimony
Testimony of NRDC senior attorney Sharon Buccino at hearing on permitting of energy projects, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, May 25, 2005.
Arctic Refuge 101: Fact Sheets
Overview
Get informed about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's extraordinary wilderness and wildlife, the damage oil development has caused in neighboring areas of Alaska's North Slope, and better ways we can meet our energy needs.
National Parks off the Beaten Path
Great peak-season vacation alternatives to five popular National Parks.

Guide
Want to go to the Grand Canyon or Cape Cod, but can't stand the thought of the crowds or the traffic? NRDC parks experts offer advice on lesser-known spots where you can find everything you're looking for in a vacation, except the celebrated names.
What is a Biosphere Reserve?
These nature preserves balance biological and cultural diversity with economic development.

Overview
These nature preserves balance biological and cultural diversity with economic development. There are 368 biosphere reserves worldwide. The 47 in the U.S. include Yellowstone and Everglades national parks and the Mojave Desert.
What Is Clearcutting?
This method of logging can destroy an area's ecological integrity.

Overview
Intact, healthy forests play a large role in supporting all forms of life on earth. Clearcutting means the felling and removal of all trees from a given tract of forest. Clearcutting destroys an area's ecological integrity in a number of ways.
End of the Road: The Adverse Ecological Impacts of Roads and Logging
A Compilation of Independently Reviewed Research

Report
An annotated bibliography providing an overview of primary research, almost all from peer-reviewed journals, documenting the adverse impacts of roads and logging on North American forest ecosystems.
U.S. Public Lands
Photo Album
The more than 726 million acres of U.S. public lands include familiar places like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. They also encompass equally spectacular but lesser-known treasures -- including those pictured here -- ranging from the White Mountains of New Hampshire to California's Redwood National Park.
America's National Parks
Photo Album
Established in 1872 with the creation of Yellowstone, our national park system today covers more than 83 million acres of parks, lakeshores, seashores, scenic rivers and trails, and recreation areas. Pictured here is a sampling of our national parks.

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Ken Burn spoke to OnEarth about his motivation for his new documentary series on America's national parks.
In the Canadian Boreal Forest, a Conservation Ethic at Work
After fighting successfully for years to keep destructive logging, hydropower and mining projects out of their traditional territory, the people of Poplar River are now working to secure permanent protection for their boreal forest homeland.
Shop Smart, Save Forests
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