Blue Ridge Parkway loses spot as most popular unit in NPS + Humpback whale washes ashore in Amazon River

first_imgBlue Ridge Parkway sees large decline in visitors, loses spot as most popular unit in the National Park Service The Blue Ridge Parkway saw a large decline in visitors in 2018, dropping from 16.1 million visitors in 2017 to 14.7 million in 2018, a decrease of 8.8 percent. Until last year, the Blue Ridge Parkway was the most visited unit in the National Park Service. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area now claims that title, with a visitation of 15.2 million people in 2018. Access to the parkway is highly dependent on weather, where rain, snow and ice can close the road for long stretches of time. Last year was the wettest on record in Asheville, NC, which received 79.48 inches of rain. Other parts of Western North Carolina also saw record or near-record rainfall. Marine Biologists in Brazil are baffled as to why a young humpback whale washed ashore on a remote island in the Amazon at a time of year when the whale should have migrated thousands of miles south to Antarctica. Members of a conservation group found the whale after following a group of circling vultures. The whale was lodged in thick shrubs and brush and had been dead for several days. Scientists estimate that tens of thousands of humpback whales live in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil, but this time of year they should have migrated to feed near Antarctica. The young whale was about half the size of a full-grown humpback and scientists hypothesize that the whale was separated from its mother before it died. Scientists are trying to determine if a boat hit the whale or if it became entangled in fishing net before it died. A necropsy report is expected this week.center_img Humpback whale washes ashore in Amazon River, stunning scientistslast_img read more

Wellington leader in gay union stakes

first_imgDominion Post 8 Jan 2012Civil union figures suggest Wellington is the country’s gay capital. There have been 1936 civil unions in the past five years, with Auckland recording the most with 653. But by head of population, Wellington is the clear leader, with one civil union for every 1452 people, compared to Auckland’s one for every 1996 people. The civil union figures include 395 opposite sex unions, and include 334 civil unions of people from overseas. Conservative Christchurch lags far behind, almost half of Wellington’s rate, with one civil union for every 2704 people.…Auckland civil union celebrant Neville Creighton, said he had not done a civil union in more than a year and he suspected many gay couples were not bothering with formalising their arrangements.….The civil union figures show female couples have had more civil unions than male – 771 to 499 – though marginally more male couples come from overseas to have civil unions than female couples – 156 to 135. Civil unions were first celebrated on April 29, 2005. Up to the end of 2010, 51 of those unions had been dissolved. Of the opposite-sex civil unions, 29 transferred there unions to a marriage, while four marriages transferred to a civil union in the same period. Creighton said civil unions were still regarded as a secondary option by some in the gay community. A gay couple in a civil union could not adopt, like a married couple, and the term still rankled. “I have noticed some of the guys talking about their weddings now though.”http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/capital-life/6227301/Wellington-leader-in-gay-union-stakeslast_img read more

Chelsea youngsters beaten by Boro

first_imgTammy Abraham scored his 22nd league goal of the season but could not prevent Chelsea’s Under-18s slipping to a home defeat against Middlesbrough.The visitors won 3-1 at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground, where they were three ahead by the time Abraham netted from the penalty spot with 16 minutes left.Alex Pattinson went close to opening the scoring for Boro when he hit the post early on.After Abraham fired over, the first goal arrived when Junior Mondal scored with a 25-yard free-kick.Pattinson made it 2-0 after the break with a fine strike and Mondal then scored his second of the match.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

‘Nilgiri Tahr’ conserved by first of its kind public-private cooperation

first_imgHOME, SWEET HOME: Western Ghat grasslands are tahr’s natural habitatAmidst news of spiralling conservation crises, the endangered Nilgiri tahr, a species of mountain goats, is today the bearer of good news. Found along the 400-km range of the southern end of the Western Ghats in Kerala and the grasslands of,HOME, SWEET HOME: Western Ghat grasslands are tahr’s natural habitatAmidst news of spiralling conservation crises, the endangered Nilgiri tahr, a species of mountain goats, is today the bearer of good news. Found along the 400-km range of the southern end of the Western Ghats in Kerala and the grasslands of Tamil Nadu, tahr numbers now touch 2,000. This is a significant improvement from a low of 1,200-the tahr count in early 1970s. It has taken 30 years and a unique participatory management conservation programme in the 97-sq-km Eravikulam National Park (ENP) near Munnar, Kerala to push numbers up from 500 to 800 in this single park.In a first of its kind public-private cooperation in wildlife conservation, the watershed programme was run by the High Range Wildlife and Environment Preservation Association (HRWEPA), made up mostly of nature buffs from the Tata Tea plantations that dominate the Kannan Devan Hills (KDH), and the Forest Department of Kerala. Under the programme, tea planters informally doubled as wildlife wardens keeping extra vigil even as concepts like nature education and participatory management of wildlife gained currency amongst the local people.”Conservation of the tahr must include the ecosystems and the protection of its habitats as also participation from local people,” says Mohan Alembath, president, Nilgiri Tahr Trust, Kochi. Alembath is a former wildlife warden of Kerala who oversaw conservation measures launched at the ENP. This private-public partnership is a dramatic turnaround from the days when shooting the tahrs was a favoured sport among planters and hunters. At that time, the planting of eucalyptus on the grasslands too had adversely affected the tahr as it led to the erosion of its habitat.advertisementA key group involved in the conservation programme were the Muthuvans group of tribals, the original inhabitants of Munnar. Some of them are enlisted as watchers by the state forest department. “People’s participation in environmental preservation and their interest in the tahr have contributed significantly to its conservation,” says M.K.Prasad, environmental activist of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad.When the Kerela Goverment declared the ENP as a protected sanctuary in 1972, it set in motion a chain of events that have led to healthier tahr numbers today. The expanse of the tea gardens in the region have inadvertently aided the conservation effort. The agro-ecological system, where tea was the prime produce with a large expanse of interspersed wilderness, provided ample space for the tahr and other fauna.”Conservation of the tahr must include the ecosystems and the protection of its habitats.”MOHAN ALEMBATH, PRESIDENT, NILGIRI TAHR TRUST, KOCHI The tahr is among the few species of mountain goats that have adapted to a cold and wet tropical environment of the kind that is confined to an area not bigger than 5 per cent of the Western Ghats. The tahr prefers a habitat that is predominantly of grasslands adequately sheltered by rocky cliffs, enjoys a short dry season and receives over 1,500 mm of rainfall a year. Such a unique tropical habitat is restricted to just seven of the high altitude landscapes (1,200 m to 2,600 m above sea level) in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, particularly the one found in the southern Western Ghats between the Nilgiri Hills and Kanyakumari Hills.Yet, in spite of the increase in numbers, the tahr still faces many threats to its survival: habitat destruction, competition and disease transmission from domestic livestock and poaching for meat or commercial products. In order to protect the species, experts believe other issues too need attention. Some of these include institutionalisation of the management system, increasing the size of the tropical grassland ecosystem and developing the landscape approach as also the preparation of a comprehensive ecosystem plan still needs to be put in place.Experts on the tahr and other hoofed grazers, who had gathered for the fourth World Congress of Mountain Ungulates at Munnar, have recommended the extension of the ENP to the ecological boundary of the Nilgiri tahr population. This is easier said than done. It will mean establishing protected corridors in the Western Ghats and ensure that forest tourism and other activities respect conservation measures. There is also a plan to extend the ENP by 30 sq km and reintroduce the tahr in some areas from where it had disappeared. Further, a protocol for monitoring the tahr population and its habitat has to be developed to evaluate the economic impact of tourism and put in place a preventive action plan against accidents such as an outbreak of fire in the ENP.Call of the WildThe Nilgiri tahr, Nilgiritragus hylocrius or goat antelope to biologists, is red-listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. A full grown male stands 100 cm tall at the shoulder and weighs about 100 kg. Females are slightly smaller in size and weight. Both sexes have curved horns, which are larger in the males, reaching up to 40 cm for males and 30 cm for females. Grey in colour, the animal is paler on the under-surface. Older males are known as saddlebacks due to the whitish hair that develop on the rump in the shape of a saddle as they age. The Nilgiri tahr live in herds ranging from six to 104 animals, with average group sizes of nine for all-female groups and 27 for mixed herds. Nearly half the population is in the Eravikulam National Park near Munnar. There is also the fear that any disease of epidemic proportions could wipe out the animal. That is why experts are against the tahr tracts being opened for tourists except the Rajamalai fringe of the ENP where visitors are taken up the slopes in the park’s vans. The tahr in this area of the park is not alarmed by the presence of human beings, which is also a grim pointer of its vulnerability to hunting and poaching. Also, the staff strength of the national park is very poor considering its remoteness and rugged terrain. “Protected areas have become the only beacons of hope for the long-term survival of the Niligiri tahr as with all wild animals of Asia,” says M.K. Ranjitsinh of the Wildlife Trust of India.A DNA profile of the tahr and a stock-taking of its scattered population outside the ENP is critical to guard against what Alembath calls “genetic erosion”. In order to obtain DNA samples of the tahr, researchers from the Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have begun non-invasive sampling by collecting the tahr’s dung from locations across the Western Ghats.advertisementThe state governments too have begun to show greater interest. R.J. Ranjit Daniels, director, Care Earth, Chennai, points out that Kerala has set up the Nilgiri Tahr Trust and Tamil Nadu has put the animal on the cover of a book on the state’s biodiversity suggesting that the tahr occupies a significant position in the state’s wildlife conservation plan.However, the pioneers in protecting the tahr, Tata Tea and HRWEPA favour conservation through better management of the flora and fauna. “The tahr has contributed to tourism and generating funds for management through regulated eco-tourism is the only way,” says T. Damu, vice-president, Taj Group of Hotels. They are keen to promote private ownership and management of the tahr tracts and going by their track record in this project, few would bet against their success.last_img read more

SL announces ODI squad after sports ministers ratification

first_imgNew Delhi, Dec 5 (PTI) Dinesh Chandimal was left out of the 16-member Sri Lankan one-day squad for the three-match series against India despite his face-saving century in the ongoing third Test here.The team, to be led by Thisara Perera, has been ratified by Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera after an initial confusion that led to stopping of nine players departing for India.As per a particular law in Sri Lanka, a team has to get sanction from the sports minister.”The team has been ratified by the Sports Minister Hon. Dayasiri Jayasekera. The team is scheduled to leave the island at 00.30 hours on the 6th of December 2017 (Tuesday night/Wednesday morning),” the Sri Lankan Board said in a statement.”SLC also wishes to state that due to a delay in submitting the list of selected players to the ratification of the Honourable Minister as per the regulations of the Sport Law owing to the long weekend, the selected players were unable to travel to India yesterday as was originally scheduled, and will depart today instead,” the SLC said.All-rounder Asela Gunaratne and opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka return to the Sri Lankan side that has lost 21 one-day games this year and won just four.The three ODIs will be played in Dharamsala (December 10), Mohali (December 13) and Visakhapatnam (December 17).Sri Lanka ODI squad: Thisara Perera (capt), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Asela Gunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Chaturanga de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya De Silva, Dushmantha Chameera, Sachith Pathirana, Kusal Janith Perera. PTI PDS AH AHadvertisementlast_img read more

Winnipeg mayoral candidate hopes to rock the vote with increased Indigenous participation

first_imgAPTN National NewsA grassroots campaign is underway in Winnipeg to get Indigenous people out to the polls in this fall’s municipal election.“Indigenous Rock the Vote” is a social media campaign to raise awareness ahead of the October election.Indigenous people make up more than 10 per cent of the population of Winnipeg, but many have never voted before.As APTN’s Dennis Ward reports, one of the mayoral candidates is trying to inspire Indigenous people to cast their ballot, even if it isn’t for him.last_img read more

Queens Baton arrives in TCI

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, Turks and Caicos, July 11th 2017: The long awaited Queen’s Baton is here in the Turks and Caicos, arriving shortly after 11am on Tuesday at the Providenciales International Airport.The Baton will make its way across the islands as it soaks up the rich culture and sportsmanship spirit that embodies the TCI.Daniel Brisco, FormerTCI Weight lifting ChampionPresent for the arrival on Tuesday, were two athletes who represented the TCI flag at the Calgary Commonwealth Games back in 1979, Daniel Brisco who competed in the Weight lifting challenge then, and Albert Grant, a professional shooter.Both men, though never won a medal at the Calgary games, say holding the Queen’s baton in their hands so many years after has brought joy to their hearts.Albert Grant, Former TCI professional shooter, represented country at Calgary ’79Brisco speaking to Magnetic Media described the feeling as elation, as he said he “never thought this day would come”. In expressing what the years has done to him, he says this moment holding the baton cancels the feelings of being a forgotten athlete, and a long wait that has been paid off.Albert Grant echoed similar sentiments, welcoming Her Majesty the Queen’s Baton to his home nation, the Turks and Caicos Islands, something he says he will treasure along with his moments lived out 38 years ago in Calgary, Canada. The two men were part of the first leg of relay shortly after its arrival in the TCI. #MagneticMediaNews#QueensBatonArrives in the TCI Related Items:center_img Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApplast_img read more

San Diego City Council Votes to Limit and Regulate ShortTerm Vacation Rentals

first_img Ashlie Rodriguez, Sampson Ochotorena San Diego City Council Votes to Limit and Regulate Short-Term Vacation Rentals Ashlie Rodriguez, Sampson Ochotorena, 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave SettingsSAN DIEGO (KUSI) – After years of heated debate, the San Diego City Council established new rules and regulations Monday regarding short term vacation rentals. The council voted 6-3 in favor of a plan that limits how many homes you can put on websites such as AirBnB.By passing the plan, council created the City’s first license-based system to manage short-term rentals. A homeowner who chooses to rent out their home will only be given one license, because the new rules mean homeowners can only rent out their primary home, or, the home they live in. They can apply for one additional license for a dwelling unit on the same parcel as the their primary residence. This means people who buy homes with the intent to rent them out for short-term vacation rentals will no longer be able to do so.Council is also charging cost-recoverable fees to administer licenses and enforce code violations; establish a “Good Neighbor” policy to preserve neighborhood quality of life; hire additional staff to respond to complaints about nuisance properties; and implement a per-night fee that would generate funding for affordable housing projects.“We allowed people to rent out a room in their house on an unlimited basis to make ends meet,” said District 1 Councilmember Barbara Bry. “We allowed them to rent out their whole house on a short-term basis up to six times a year. What we did as we have prevented investors from buying up homes in single family neighborhoods and turning them into mini-hotels.”She and Councilmember Lori Zapf argue neighborhoods are filling with strangers, and San Diego is losing its sense of community. They also say the uptick in investment properties mean there are fewer homes on the market for San Diego resident who actually need to live here full time, and the housing shortage makes the rent go higher for residents as well.The only members of council to vote against the amended plan was Chris Cate, David Alvarez and Scott Sherman, who argued the property rights of residents were being violated by the new rules. He argues council’s new rules just stole many residents’ means of income. Sherman, who represents District 7 believes the issue will go to court.“People’s complaints are noise, people staying up late,” Sherman said. “I’ve got month-to-month renters that are keeping people awake, people who own who are keeping people awake. So what are they going to do next, ban month-to-month renters? Where does the government stop telling everyone else what to do with their lives?”Council estimates it will take one year to get the new system up and running and enforce these new rules.All hosts are required to:Register with or be licensed annually by the CitySecure a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) certificatePay TOT and the Affordable Housing Impact fees monthlyObtain a Neighborhood Use Permit for dwellings with four or more bedroomsAdvertise a STRO license number on all advertisementsComply with “Good Neighbor” policy, including posting local contact information on propertyCollect and maintain detailed records on each STRO transaction for a period of three yearsAll platforms are required to:Provide notice of the STRO and TOT requirements to each host prior to their listingCollect TOT and Affordable Housing Impact fees at the same time rent is collectedEnsure only licensed or registered hosts are using the booking service on the hosting platformCollect and maintain detailed records on each STRO transaction for a period of three yearsENFORCEMENT, COMPLIANCE AND NEW ONLINE TOOL FOR COMPLAINTSMayor Faulconer is committed to active enforcement to ensure hosts, guests and online platforms for short-term rentals are in compliance with the new regulations. That includes a new team of police and code enforcement officers to work evenings and weekends to address code complaints; the creation of a license and registration system that interfaces with City databases; and a new complaint hotline or mobile application for residents to report violations.Enforcement is based on an inter-departmental strategy that includes the Code Enforcement Division, the City Treasurer’s Office, the City Attorney’s Office and the San Diego Police Department (SDPD).The enforcement program will:Maintain a database of all licensed or registered STRO locations within the City Treasurer’s Office that will provide information to the SDPD.Issue notices of violations, administrative citations, fines and revocation of licenses.Create a STRO Code Enforcement, SDPD and City Attorney team for proactive enforcement in the areas with most frequent violations. The team will work evenings and weekends to target disturbances.Monitor websites to ensure hosts are paying TOT; violators will be reported to the City Attorney.Receive complaint calls 24-hours per day, seven days per week; an online portal will be created to report violations.First notice of violation is considered a “warning”Second notice of violation may result in citationThird notice of violation within 12-month period may result in revocation of STRO permitSUPPORTING AFFORDABLE HOUSINGThe proposal also includes a new Affordable Housing Impact Fee of $2.73 (home share) to $3.96 (whole home) per rental night, paid for by hosts. Implementation of the fee is expected to generate funding for the Affordable Housing Fund, which is administered by the San Diego Housing Commission and is used to pay for affordable housing-related projects. Posted: July 17, 2018 UPDATE: (5:00 PM 7/17/18) – Mayor Kevin Faulconer spoke out after the City Council voted against his short-term rental property plan. center_img Updated: 6:53 PM 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings July 17, 2018 Categories: Local San Diego News, Politics FacebookTwitterlast_img read more