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Great Lakes Article:

Global warming threatens US parks, waters


WASHINGTON - Global warming is threatening many U.S. parks, forests, marine sanctuaries and wildlife refuges, and the federal government must act to protect them, a report by the environmental group Bluewater Network said.

Average global temperatures may increase by 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit (12 C) this century, which could raise sea levels by almost 3 feet (1 metre), increase catastrophic wildfires and storms, and wipe out entire species, the group said.

The report will be released yesterday by the group and California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

The Bluewater Network will also file petitions with the Departments of Interior, Agriculture and Commerce asking them to minimize the effects of global warming on public lands and waters under their jurisdiction.

The Bush administration has withdrawn the United States from the international Kyoto treaty that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming.

Bush has said the science behind the Kyoto treaty is no good, and the accord would hurt the U.S. economy. However, earlier this month the Environmental Protection Agency released a report that concluded carbon emissions from human activities - such as driving automobiles and operating power plants - were the main cause of global warming.

The Bluewater Network's report warned of dire consequences for the United States this century if temperatures continue to rise. Among other things, it predicted:

* All glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park will disappear in 28 years.

* Rising sea levels will submerge much of the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park.

* Wildfires will double in some areas.

* Massachusetts' Cape Cod will become home to a large tick population carrying Lyme disease.

* Lake Tahoe, Nevada, will lose 75 percent of its snow cover, displacing nearly 2 million skiers a year.

The Bluewater Network said it wants government agencies that oversee public lands and water to begin studying impacts of climate changes and plan ways to lessen the impact.

"Most public land and water management plans project scenarios only one or two decades into the future. Unfortunately, climate change occurs over much broader time horizons," the report said.

The group suggested agencies could take protective steps such as banning all tree-cutting in national forests so that trees can help absorb carbon emissions.

The federal government should also establish "corridors" between wildlife habitats to accommodate plant and animal migrations due to habitat loss caused by climate changes.

Another helpful measure would be to stop water diversions from streams, lakes and rivers where water will become critical to ecosystems when global temperatures rise, it said.

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