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Online Wetland Delineation Training 2018

Certified Wetland Hydrologist

Classroom and Field Wetland Delineation Training | Texas 2018


Classroom and Field Wetland Delineation Training | Texas 2018


Classroom and Field Wetland Delineation Training | Texas 2018


Classroom and Field Wetland Delineation Training | Texas 2018


Data Collection for Environmental Professionals 2018


Accelerated Online Wetland Delineation Workshop

Phase 1 Environmental Assessments 2018

Basic Botany for Wetland Assessment | 2018

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Accelerated Online Wetland Delineation Workshop | 2018

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Posted on

Gray Dolphin Die-Offs Puzzle Scientists

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18 Issue 7

From their powerful swimming techniques to their mysteriously intelligent brains, dolphins have enchanted the public for generations. These marine mammals swam their ways into popular culture from Flipper to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy over the course of the last 100 years. Dolphins have once again captured the public eye, but, unfortunately, in a much more gruesome way.

Off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, gray dolphins have been washing up dead since November 2017. Scientists in Brazil have concluded that these deaths are a result of a virus known as the “cetacean morbillivirus.” However, the origin of the virus is still unknown. The virus is an immune system pathogen that causes skin lesions and pneumonia in dolphins, as well as in porpoises and whales. Because dolphins are such social animals, living in pods consisting of up to 200 dolphins, this virus is easily spread, having potentially catastrophic results on the gray dolphin population.

But gray dolphins are not the first victims of morbillivirus. Bottlenose dolphins and harbor seals were victims of different strains of morbillivirus in 1988 and 2006, respectively, in the northeastern United States. And in 2014, at least 1,441 bottlenose dolphins were found dead along the East Coast of the United States from New York to Florida, also due to morbillivirus.

So, what is there to do? Leonardo Flach, a biologist and the chief coordinator of the Boto Cinza Institute in Mangaratiba, Brazil told ABC News, “The only solution would be to create a marine refuge to allow the dolphins to survive.” Dolphin conservation has never been a priority in Brazil, but Flach hopes the die-offs will draw more attention to the need to protect the gray dolphin population, which he calls “an endangered species.” Brazilian scientists are working hard to determine the cause of this deadly virus, but without more attention given to this issue, gray dolphin populations could experience growing numbers of fatalities.


El Hammar, Aicha. “Over 80 Dolphins Die in Brazil, Confounding Environmentalists.” ABC News. ABC News. 4 January 2018, Web. 13 January 2018.

Fine Maron, Dina. “Massive Dolphin Die-off Eludes Final Explanation.” Scientific American. Scientific American. 6 August 2014, Web. 13 January 2018.

Zachos, Elaina. “Scores of Dolphin Deaths Have Scientists Baffled.” National Geographic. National Geographic. 12 January 2018, Web. 13 January 2018.

Posted on

China Bans Imported Recyclables, Disrupting Global Market

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18, Issue 6

On January 1st, the Chinese government instituted a ban on imported recycled plastic and paper materials, throwing the global recycling market into turmoil.Since the 1990’s, China has been the number one consumer of raw recycled materials, receiving a full half of the world’s waste plastic, metal and paper as cheap fodder for its rapid urban-industrial expansion. In 2016, China purchased 7.3 million tons of “solid waste” worth about $18 billion, leaving a gaping hole in global demand after the ban that experts fear will not easily be filled.

The ban prohibits the import of 24 different types of commonly recycled waste products, including low-grade polyethylene terephthalate found in plastic bottles and unsorted paper. It also requires that all non-banned imported recyclables contain no more than 0.5% contamination, a threshold stricter than any European or American standard on recyclables.

“Large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials,” Beijing wrote to the World Trade Organization explaining the logic behind the new ban. “This polluted China’s environment seriously.”

While Chinese officials were initially willing to ignore the environmental costs of importing contaminated scrap materials, such as soil and water pollution, the country’s explosive economic growth affords it the option of sourcing newer, cleaner plastics for its domestic needs over recycled ones.

“What’s happened is that the final link in the supply chain has turned around and said: ‘No, we’re not going to take this poor quality stuff anymore. Keep it for yourself,’” said Simon Ellin, chief executive of the British Recycling Association. “The rest of the world is thinking, ‘What can we do?’ It’s hard times.”

This decision is having profound impacts on the capacity of Western nations to handle their recycling, most of whom sent their waste to China and thus do not have the infrastructure to process recyclables themselves.

Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, are resorting to either incinerating or burying their plastics in landfills as a short-term solution to the crisis, though both options are environmentally damaging. Other countries, such as the United States, are attempting to find markets in countries like Myanmar, India, and Vietnam for their recycling, though switching supply chains so abruptly is a challenge.

“There may be alternative markets but they’re not ready today,” said Emmanuel Katrakis of the Brussels based European Recycling Industries Confederation. In the meantime, the United States, which annually sends over 1.42 million tons of scrap plastic and 13.2 million tons of scrap paper to China, will be forced to either spend taxpayer money on upgrading recycling processing facilities domestically or, like the UK, divert the excess to landfills according to Adam Minter, author of “Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade.” “Without China, there will be less recycling in the United States, and it will cost more,” the author said.

The United States initially relied upon China to recycle its plastic waste due to market incentives; it was simply cheaper to send recyclables overseas than it was to expand recycling capacities at home. With the shifting of incentives caused by China’s tightening regulations over recent years culminating in the most recent ban, it is costing the U.S. $2,100 per shipping container to return recyclables by ship from Chinese ports back to California.

“The public doesn’t realize this, but recycling is made possible by technology and markets – they think its just a matter of technology,” an expert on China’s waste management reported to Quartz. “And we don’t have strong enough markets in the U.S.”

While this market change will almost certainly harm the U.S.’s environment in the short term as recycling friendly states like Oregon and Washington divert their recycling to landfills, in the long term it could be beneficial as American states become incentivized to build their own recycling facilities.


  1. De Freytas-Tamura, Kimiko. “Plastics Pile Up as China Refuses to Take the West’s Recycling.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 January 2018. Web. 16 January 2018.
  2. Guilford, Gwynn. “China doesn’t want your trash anymore – and that could spell big trouble for American cities.” Quartz. Quartz Media LLC, 8 May 2013. Web. 27 January 2018.
  3. Guilford, Gwynn. “US states banned from exporting their trash to China are drowning in plastic.” Quartz. Quartz Media LLC, 21 August 2013. Web. 27 January 2018.
  4. Ives, Mike. “China Limits Waste. ‘Cardboard Grannies’ and Texas Recyclers Scramble.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 November 2017. Web. 16 January 2018.
  5. Kaskey, Jack and Ann Koh. “China’s Blow to Recycling Boosts U.S.’s $185 Billion Plastic Bet.” Bloomberg. Climate Changed, 6 December 2017. Web. 16 January 2018.
  6. Staub, Colin. “Exporter response to China: ‘We are changing our whole strategy.'” Plastics Recycling Update. A Resource Recycling, Inc. Publication, 4 January 2018. Web. 16 January 2018.
Posted on

US Supreme Court WOTUS Ruling

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18, Issue 5

On Monday, January 22, 2018, the US Supreme Court in a unanimous decision ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cannot shelter its “waters of the United States” rule from judicial review by limiting where victims can sue. This decision is in response to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals nationwide stay of the Clean Water Rule in October 2015. Oddly enough it is considered a victory for both the Plaintiff (National Association of Manufacturers) and a repudiation of the Trump Administration plan to repeal the Rule. The other odd thing about this ruling is that it exclusively directs its admonition to the US Environmental Protection Agency when the defendant was the US Department of Defense.

In case you have not been following this issue, what is at stake is what waterbodies are regulated by the US Government under the Clean Water Act.

This ruling is important because it does two important things. First, by having the challenges to the rule reviewed at the District Court level it expands the timeframe in which plaintiffs can bring challenges to six years. If the decision were to have left it at the Appeals Court as EPA had argued, those challenges would be limited to 120 days. In essence, if someone is aggrieved by the issuance of the Rule they now have six years to file a lawsuit. Not only that, it can be filed at the lower District Court level. There are 94 Districts Courts in the US and only 11 Circuit Courts of Appeals. The EPA had argued that the Circuit Court venue was more efficient, but the Supreme Court did not feel that “Congress did not pursue that end at all costs” in its drafting of the Clean Water Act.

The second issue that comes up as a result of the case relates to the Nationwide Stay of the implementation of the Clean Water Rule. That Stay came from the Sixth Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court ruled that that Court did not have jurisdiction. Therefore, the Stay will be lifted, thus implementing the Clean Water Rule. This is seen by many media sources as a setback to the Trump Administration’s attempt to repeal the rule. However, if it had gone the other way it would be up to the Sixth Circuit to lift the Stay anyway and make a decision. As it is not their jurisdiction, the decision goes back to the District Courts.

By the way, the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota also has a 13 state stay on the Clean Water Rule. This was in effect the day before the Rule went into effect on August 28, 2015. When the Sixth Circuit Court Stay is lifted it will only pertain to 37 states. It is not known what the ND Court will do.

In November 2017, the Trump Administration put forth a 2-year delay proposal on the implementation of the Clean Water Rule as a new regulation. This is yet another draft regulation that we may or may not see. However, if it is not implemented the 2015 Clean Water Rule will become effective the day the Sixth Circuit Court removes the Stay.

Looking forward, the Trump Administration has been meeting with stakeholder groups to formulate a new Waters of the US definition. In light of last Monday’s Supreme Court decision, I think we can expect to see this regulation fairly soon.