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Teshekpuk Lake campaign Update

I have been advised that the Lease has been blocked!

JUNEAU, AK (September 25, 2006) -- The US District Court for Alaska today issued a strongly worded decision that could save the internationally significant wildlife habitat around Teshekpuk Lake in the Northeast Planning Area of the National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska (NPRA). The court found the government's environmental analysis violated federal environmental laws. Today's ruling strikes down the Interior Department's leasing plan for the area, and prohibits the BLM from proceeding with a planned sale of oil and gas leases on more than 400,000 acres around the lake. The lease sale was to have taken place September 27.

"This is a great victory for wildlife and the environment," said Deirdre
McDonnell, attorney for the conservation groups that challenged the oil
leasing plan. "The Court's decision means that the administration will
have to analyze the full environmental effect of its rush to lease the
entire North Slope. We're hopeful that when the environmental costs are
calculated fully, the administration will recognize that this area is
just too vital to be sacrificed to the oil companies."

"Common sense and science have prevailed over the oil industry's
campaign to drill no matter what the cost," said Stan Senner, Executive
Director of Audubon Alaska. "Because of its critical importance for
migratory birds and other wildlife, what happens at Teshekpuk Lake has
ripple effects that reach across the world."

In today's decision, US District Judge James Singleton, Jr. found that
the Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to
consider the cumulative environmental impact of widespread oil and gas
drilling in the NPRA, a key point in conservation groups' arguments
against the plan to lease the area around Teshekpuk Lake, enjoins BLM's
decision and remands the matter to the agency for further analysis.

"Having failed to fully consider the cumulative effects of the proposed
development in NE [Northeast planning area of the NPRA] and the
previously proposed action in the NWPA [Northwest NPRA planning area],
Defendants have violated NEPA and abused their discretion," writes Judge
Singleton in the final decision, which was issued today.

Alaska Native communities near Teshekpuk Lake strongly opposed the
federal plan to allow oil and gas drilling around the lake, which is an
important subsistence hunting and fishing ground. They have been joined
by scientists, sportsmen's groups, other conservationists, and hundreds
of thousands of concerned citizens who have voiced their concerns about
the threat that drilling poses to nesting and molting grounds used by
large populations of geese and other waterfowl and to caribou calving
habitat. This summer, more than 100,000 citizens submitted comments to
the Interior Department this summer demanding protection for vital
habitat in the Teshekpuk Lake area, bringing the total number of
pro-conservation comments to over 300,000 since 2005.

This area has enjoyed special protection from oil drilling since the
Reagan administration. Despite pleas from Alaska Natives and the public
at large to Interior Secretary Kempthorne to protect the most sensitive
habitat around Teshekpuk Lake, BLM had scheduled a September 27 lease
sale in the NPR-A's Northeast Planning Area , including sensitive areas
around the lake, the largest and most biologically productive lake on
the North Slope.

"We're talking about an area that is the summer home for a tremendous
number of North America's ducks and geese. said Eleanor Huffines,
Alaska Regional Director for The Wilderness Society. "Given the oil
companies' dismal environmental record on the North Slope of Alaska,
it's just common sense that a place as unique and important as Teshekpuk
Lake should be set aside and protected."

Fantasy Canyon Update! Destruction of Tea Pot!

The nice German tourists that Kevin and I met at Fantasy Canyon have emailed me to tell me that the famous Tea Pot is no more.
Here is an excerpt from an email I received:

today we read in a german internetforum regard the USA that the "famous" Teapot in the Fantasy Canyon has get irrevocable destroyed. Some German vistors were there on Saturday, Sep. 16th., didn't found the Teapot and posted this message. In the meantime an other German visitor read this and phoned the BLM Office in Vernal on next Tuesday and got the horrible message that the information is true.

and he refers to some links...

You can find the thread in this forum: Two pictures of the destroyd Pot can be seen in this thread: By the way, in the 2.nd. thread there is a link between the two pictures (found under these words: "aber der Vergleich mit dieser Seite" what means translated: "but in comparison to this page") that goes to ! So this German poster must have seen your picture and information about Fantasy Canyon.

Blast! Kevin and I were planning another trip to Fantasy Canyon, to take another look at the Tea Pot. I think we will definitely go back.

I wonder how it happened?

Fantasy Canyon UT

We decided over Labor day weekend to head out and do some exploring of Fantasy Canyon, UT. We drove west to Dinosaur, CO and then across the border into Utah. We stayed in a motel in Vernal UT, and made it our base.

Kevin had got some pretty good directions, and we were told that the roads are passable with an ordinary car, except in wet weather, when no one would go anywhere. We travelled through some pretty desolate moonscape.

The roads to Fantasy Canyon are all dirt, but they are well graded thanks to the Gas and Petroleum companies that need to truck tankers in to the gas fields. In full daylight you cannot get lost as the route is well signposted. Night time is another story. On our first trip out there we found the route without too much trouble, and followed the signposts in. We arrived at the Canyon at around noon. The light was incredibly bright and it made everything look flat and bleak. It was hot. We walked around and the light, heat and glare made me giddy.


After an initial explore, and some photos for scouting purposes, we resolved to return at the end of the day when the light would be better.

So we did that. We returned to Fanstasy Canyon at around 4:30pm. Way too early for any serious photography. In fact the best time was the last 45 minutes before sunset. We waited for the light to change and did some further exploring. It was starting to cool down which made it more manageable. I can't imagine what the place must be like in the middle of summer. Unbearable!

Apart from one other couple we were the only people there.

The most famous structure at Fantasy Canyon is the Tea Pot. Michael Fatali has a stunning photo of the Tea Pot with a moon stuck in it.

The first round of semi serious photography we took was at the Tea Pot. The other couple was also positioned there. After a while we started chatting. The couple were from Germany. They had wanted to see the famous Fatali photograph. We soon started chatting and compared different sites and places.

There are an amazing collection of fascinating shapes in the canyon.

The photo below is the famous Tea Pot.


This photo is of Kevin and I. In the background is the famous Tea Pot. I had no idea of the scale of the thing. The Tea Pot is actually quite small, and quite fragile.


It is thanks to Michael and Brigitte Birgit, the German tourists that I took this photograph, with this composition. (Who needs a moon!)


Everywhere you look there are the most amazing shapes and forms.


The best light and the best photos were at the end of sunset, and at structures not far from the entrance. I couldn't resist this gorgeous moon rising up over the Three Sisters, and I loved the shadows in the foreground.


The Witch at Sunset.


After a glorious and intense couple of hours shooting film (I acted as Kevin's Camera Assistant) we got back to our car exhausted, only to find that we had a flat. Luckily we had plenty of help. While Kevin changed the tire, Michael turned his rental so that we had the benefit of their light. Then they graciously followed back all the way back to Vernal.

Thanks Michael and Brigitte! Oops! Birgit We owe you one! (So if you are ever in Denver....)


On our annual trip to MA to visit Kevin's parents we always try to do something touristy. This is because I haven't seen anything, and at heart I am always a tourist.

So after a wonderful couple of days of catching up with family, and have take out lobster under the trees we decided to go into Boston to do those touristy things.

Here is our cooked take out lobster:


Lobster cannot be complete without corn.


We drove from Concord to Boston and were amazed at how close everything was.

Our first stop was the Boston Museum of Fine Art.


The closest I've come all year to a tornado is this Japanese screen at the Museum of Fine Arts.


I really loved the detail of this falcon.


Photo below - we loved the flying figure over real people standing in line.


Photo below is of Copley Square. Note the blue cow.


We decided we had to try pho in Chinatown. So we drove to the financial district, parked and walked to Chinatown.


In Chinatown we spotted a Vietnamese Restaurant and immediately went inside to sample their pho (vietnamese soup dish). Here Kevin poses with his Pho Ga. (Vietnamese Soup with Chicken.)


After a lot of sampling we still maintain that the best pho is our favorite Pho Duy restaurant in Broomfield, CO.

After stuffing ourselves we decided to catch the subway to Fenway so that I could have my photo taken outside Fenway Park, home to the Red Sox. I was not impressed with the Boston subway. There is no polite way of saying this, but what a dump!

Here I am posed outside Fenway park. Around me Red Sox fans excitedly prepared for the game. The Red Sox did end up losing (again.) Ah! It is hard to be a Red Sox fan.


Protect Critical Bird Habitat

As soon as September 27, a very special bird habitat could be sold to the oil and gas industry – unless we act now!

The Teshekpuk Lake region, one of the most important and remarkable wetlands on the planet, provides essential molting-season habitat for nearly a third of all the brant in the Pacific Flyway. Millions of waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds nest in the area. It is also a stunning sweep of landscape, remarkable even in Alaska where a grand scale is the only scale.

Together, we can protect this critical bird habitat by urging the government to cancel the September 27 sale of this precious public land.

The sale is imminent! Act quickly before it’s too late!

Go here for more information.

Please join the campaign!

Pepperdew report- Exporter from SA

Oddly enough I get more emails about my Pepperdew blogs than anything else. I was recently emailed by a person who is exporting pepperdews from South Africa. If you are interested please email him: email address: dietermbecker at gmail dot com

This information is provided for information purposes only. I can make no guarantees one way or the other - good luck!

Fun with Treadmills

I am still far behind on blogging. I have the Boston trip to blog about and our recent trip to Fantasy Canyon, UT. But first some fun: Kevin called me from watching a TIVO'd The View to watch Fun with Treadmills. You will never look at treadmills the same.
Go to the YouTube site - here is the link.

The band is OK GO. Check them out here. Hilarious! Brilliant!