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Factors That Defined Housing in 2020

first_img Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Related Articles Factors That Defined Housing in 2020 Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago  Print This Post The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago February 25, 2021 997 Views Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. in Daily Dose, Featured, Market Studies, News Many of the factors that defined 2020’s state of the housing market—low mortgage rates, dwindling inventory, and a refinancing frenzy, to name a few—have been exhaustively reported. LendingTree’s VP and Chief Economist Tendayi Kapfidze dug a little deeper to explore other mortgage and housing trends including what kind of borrowers got home financing, how mortgages were structured, and how Americans managed debt.The full report is on LendingTree.com, but here a few things stand out.One of the first topics Kapfidze touches upon is homeownership and equity. He points out that Americans have amassed $20.4 trillion in home equity, adding that equity isn’t necessarily equal.”Although Americans have a staggering amount of home equity, real estate wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer homeowners as overall homeownership rates fall.”He goes on to mention the mildly surprising fact that fewer Americans own homes today than in 2004.”In 2004, 69% of all Americans owned homes. Today, that number has fallen to 65.8%.”The economist says mortgage origination levels have recovered from their housing crisis lows.”In 2008, financial institutions originated just $1.4 trillion in new mortgages. However, by 2016, new first-lien mortgages topped $2 trillion. Though that number fell in subsequent years, it rose to $2.38 trillion in 2019 and continued to rise to $2.49 trillion through the third quarter of 2020.”From where are borrowers securing the most loans? Kapfidze says that in 2010, three banks (Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase) originated 56% of all mortgages.”Since 2010, though, the number of mortgages originated by nonbanks has increased; nonbanks, with more lenient lending standards now originate the majority of mortgage loans,” he said.The role of federally controlled lenders has changed, he notes.”As private securitization firms exited the mortgage landscape, programs from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have filled in some of the void,” Kapfidze said. “FHA and VA loans can help qualified borrowers get loans despite having smaller down payments or lower incomes and credit scores. FHA and VA loans accounted for 17.4% of all loans issued in Q3 2020, down from 19.5% compared to the same period in 2019.”What sort of credit it takes to secure a loan has been a moving target of sorts over the past decade. Today, the pandemic might be contributing to tightening standards.”As of November 2020, the median FICO Score for a newly originated mortgage was 786. Though the credit score needed to be approved for a mortgage varies, this high median score can be attributed in large part to tightening lending standards in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kapfidze said.The pandemic among many things has impacted delinquency rates, which were 2.8% in Q3 2020, well below the 2010 peak of 11.5%.”These low rates in the face of recession can be attributed to a variety of factors, including an uptick of mortgages in forbearance as well additional unemployment benefits supplied by the government.”In Kapfidze’s words, here is a summary of the study’s further findings:Total mortgage debt as of Q3 2020: $10.8 trillionAverage mortgage balance as of April 2020: $151,686Average new mortgage balance as of 2019: $285,434Homeownership rate (share of owner-occupied homes) as of Q4 2020: 67%Homeowners with a mortgage as of 2019: 63%Median credit score for a new mortgage as of Q3 2020: 786Average down payment made as of Q3 2020: $15,023Mortgages originated in 2019: $2.38 trillionShare of purchase mortgages originated by nonbank lenders as of Q3 2020: 69%Share of refinance loans originated by nonbanks as of Q3 2020: 73%Share of mortgages with a delinquency rate of 30 days or more as of Q3 2020: 2.81% Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Home / Daily Dose / Factors That Defined Housing in 2020 Previous: Market Still at Risk of Future ‘Zombie’ Property Wave Next: Number of Hispanic Homeowners Expected to Soar by 2040 2021-02-25 Christina Hughes Babb Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Sign up for DS News Daily Share 1Save About Author: Christina Hughes Babb The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Subscribelast_img read more

Your 1 Million Acres: The Future of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Belongs to You

first_imgEditor’s Note: I have been following the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest plan for three years. I have attended many meetings, including several in the Big Ivy community where I live. I’ve had candid conversations with dozens of Forest Service leaders, loggers, hunters, and environmentalists. Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned: there are no villains in this story. Everyone involved in the forest plan deeply loves the forest and believes that they are fighting for what’s best.The region is changing: tourism has replaced timber as the main economic engine. An influx of people and development has reshaped land and culture. The forest is changing, too—and so are the values that the forest provides. The national forest continues to provide timber and game, but it’s also become a refuge for rare species and a recreational oasis.This story asks a simple question: can we all share the forest? It doesn’t have an easy answer.                                           *    *   *You are the owner of a 1.1-million acre mountain estate. Your property includes cascading waterfalls, ancient forests, and the highest mountains in the East. You can go anywhere you like on your property. You can hike hundreds of miles of trails and paddle, fish, and swim in its pristine streams.  You share ownership equally with every other American, and you pay your staff—the U.S. Forest Service—to manage the property. They maintain the trails and enforce the rules that you make.Every 20 years, you write a plan that describes how your estate should be managed. You get together with the other owners to hash it out, and your staff writes it all down. This plan is the most important document of your property. It spells out the rules for your property and decides how your property taxes are spent.You are the owner of a 1.1-million acre mountain estate.But lately, a few vocal co-owners have outshouted everyone else in deciding how your property will be run. Meanwhile, your staff is changing the rules so that they can cut down some of your favorite places in the forest. Turf WarThe Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest is the third-most-visited national forest in the country. Its popularity has skyrocketed by 136 percent in the past two decades. Over 6.8 million people visited the forest last year, and most of them came to hike, camp, and enjoy its scenic wonders. The Forest Service recently released a preliminary draft of their forest plan, which will guide the next twenty years of forest decisions. It’s already mired in bitter controversy. In the draft plan, over 155,000 acres of old-growth forests, popular trails, unique biological areas, and beloved wild places are unprotected. Approximately 60 percent of the forest—630,000 acres—is placed in management areas that allow logging. (The Forest Service says that around 450,000 acres will likely be deemed suitable for timber harvest.) Hunting groups want even more logging acreage to increase populations of game species like deer and grouse. Recreation and conservation organizations want to protect more of the forest so that logging doesn’t harm sensitive wildlife or damage trails, water, and scenery.The fight over how to manage national forests is nothing new. Pisgah became the East’s very first national forest in 1912. Immediately, intense debates raged over the future of national forests. Some argued that sustainably cutting timber from the forests made them more productive and useful to Americans. Others believed that protecting the forests’ water, rare species, scenery, and recreational opportunities benefitted more Americans in the long run.Congress decided in 1960 that national forests should also be managed for multiple uses: timber, watersheds, wildlife, and recreation. In 1964, Congress added wilderness to the list.A century after acquisition, the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest faces the same basic conflict: Is the forest a resource to be exploited or a sanctuary to be protected? Or both?The new forest plan draft is much more than a document. It has become a blueprint for the future of Southern Appalachia, with the potential to bring together different groups—rural and urban, locals and newcomers, hunters and hikers—in a shared vision for the region. So far, however, the contentious forest planning process has only deepened the chasms.[nextpage title=”Read on!”]‘A Deep Cultural Divide’Logging has long been an important part of the region’s economic and cultural landscape. Sawmills and industrial timber operations once blanketed Southern Appalachia, providing jobs and a way of life for many generations of rural communities. In the 1990s, the Big Ivy Community organized to stop logging projects. Today, they are organizing again to protect their forest.While the timber industry in the mountains has declined, Southern forests still support the most intensive logging operations in the country. Forests in the South are being cut at four times the rate of Amazon rain forests and are experiencing some of the highest rates of logging anywhere on earth.Over 97 percent of logging in Western North Carolina occurs on private land, and those forests continue to be logged heavily. Some rural communities want to see increased logging in the national forest as well, hoping that it will bring more jobs.“Hunting is disappearing from the mountains. It’s easier to hunt in the flatlands, and there is more game there.” —Jim Gray, member of the Ruffed Grouse Society. The Forest Service also wants more logging in the national forest. Its preliminary forest plan proposes logging 4,000 acres per year, a 500 percent increase over current levels. Jim Gray, a member of the Ruffed Grouse Society, would like to see that number climb much higher to at least 12,000 acres per year—or around 240,000 acres over the life of the plan. The forest regrowth following timber harvests provides more food and cover for wildlife, says Gray, and it also make the wildlife more accessible for hunters. “Hunting is disappearing from the mountains. It’s easier to hunt in the flatlands, and there is more game there,” says Gray. “There are too many mature trees in the national forest,” he adds. “There is not much value in trees after a certain stage because the interior of the tree rots and the timber loses its value.”Gray supports more timber harvests that create early successional habitat for game species like ruffed grouse, deer, and turkey, as well as other wildlife. Early successional habitat is the open, cleared area following a disturbance—such as logging, fire, farming, and development. According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, early successional habitat can include pastures, suburban backyards, old fields, and utility right-of-ways.Gray acknowledges that there is an abundance of early successional habitat on private land across Western North Carolina, but hunters do not always have access to those lands.He also believes that the Forest Service should implement more well-managed timber harvests, preferably out of sight of major trails and viewscapes, in part because hunters help pay for it.“Hunters and anglers pay for the privilege of hunting and fishing through licenses and excise taxes on equipment and ammunition. Other users of the forests do not pay to use the forest. We should get better consideration in return for those fees,” says Gray.“There are too many mature trees in the national forest. There is not much value in trees after a certain stage because the interior of the tree rots and the timber loses its value.”—Jim GrayHowever, hunting licenses and ammunition taxes don’t go to national forests, but to state game agencies. North Carolina’s game agency, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, has been among the most vocal in pushing for more logging and opposing protected areas. At the very beginning of the forest planning process in 2013, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s regional supervisor, Gordon Warburton, delivered a powerpoint presentation that was essentially a playbook for opposing forest protections. Said Warburton, “Our strategy: we have to stand opposed to all new wilderness additions. Period.”Wilderness is the only Forest Service management area that completely prohibits logging and road building—except in emergencies like wildfire or rescue.Wilderness areas allow nature to function freely with minimal human management. Wilderness areas are also treasured spaces for recreation, including hiking, camping, paddling, climbing, running, fishing, and hunting.Hunter and commercial outfitter David Whitmire also doesn’t like the restrictions that wilderness places on logging.“I can’t hunt where I used to. A lot has changed over the past thirty years. Development. Encroachment. People don’t understand guys walking beside the road with guns,” says Whitmire. “There is a deep cultural divide in the mountains, and the forest plan is revealing that divide.””—David Whitmire, Hunter and Commercial Outfitter“These woods have always been managed for wildlife. The Cherokee burned the woods to hunt. Logging also helps wildlife,” says Whitmire. “Deer populations are crashing. How low are we going to let their populations go?In addition, Whitmire worries about the changing demographics, land use, and values in Western North Carolina. “I can’t hunt where I used to. A lot has changed over the past thirty years. Development. Encroachment. People don’t understand guys walking beside the road with guns,” says Whitmire. “There is a deep cultural divide in the mountains, and the forest plan is revealing that divide.”As more people have migrated to the mountains, the uses and values of the national forest have shifted dramatically. While hunting and logging were dominant forest uses in the twentieth century, the main use of national forests today is outdoor recreation. According to the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest’s 2014 Assessment, 60 percent of forest users were hikers. Hunters made up only 2.5 percent. The vast majority of visitors to the Pisgah-Nantahala today are day-hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, anglers, equestrians, climbers, runners, and other outdoor enthusiasts. These groups generally support stronger protections for the national forest and a more inclusive, 21st century outlook on the uses and values of the Pisgah-Nantahala. “Our research is unequivocal: visitors are drawn today by the beauty of this area,” said Marla Tambellini, Vice President of Marketing at the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau, at a public meeting about the forest plan. “Setting aside natural and wild areas is good for residents today and one of the best legacies we can leave the next generation.”The Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest is the backbone of Appalachia’s economy, which is driven largely by recreation and tourism. Across Southern Appalachia, recreation provides $90 billion and over 1 million jobs.“Our region’s health and vitality depend on national forests,” says Sam Evans, an attorney with Southern Environmental Law Center. In addition to the jobs and recreation they provide, national forests in Southern Appalachia provide drinking water to over 11 million people and protect the headwaters of most major rivers. The total value of water flowing from national forestlands amounts to $7.2 billion per year.National forests store carbon, protect species, filter the air, and provide other key ecosystem services for our region’s health, says Evans. Ecosystem services flowing from national forests are valued between $96 billion and $5.7 trillion annually.The Forest Service has been slow to respond to the recreation revolution and the shift in forest values. As an agency, it has traditionally prioritized timber sales and logging projects over recreation and conservation. As a result, previous forest plans have become embroiled in conflict and litigation.The Pisgah-Nantahala Forest planning team is hoping that this plan will be different. Already, the Forest Service has broadened its outreach and expanded public involvement. And it has convened leaders from a variety of user groups to help shape the plan.“Cooperation is our best hope for this forest plan to succeed,” says Matt McCombs, deputy forest supervisor for National Forests in North Carolina. “In the end, though, the Forest Service will do what we think is best.”So far, they appear to be making the same mistakes of the past. The preliminary forest plan places over 25,000 acres of old-growth forest in logging-intensive management.Also open to logging are large sections of popular trail corridors, including the Art Loeb Trail, Benton MacKaye Trail, Bartram Trail, and Mountains to Sea Trail. So are Cedar Rock, Tellico Bald, Daniel Ridge, Linville Mountain, Upper Wilson Creek, Chunky Gal, Upper Courthouse Creek, Shope Creek, Upper Santeetlah Creek, Dismal Falls, Siler Bald, parts of Panthertown Valley, and 4,000 acres of old-growth and rare species habitat in Big Ivy. The Appalachian Trail corridor could also be logged.[nextpage title=”Read on!”]The Missing MiddleNo one has fought harder for cooperation than Brent Martin, Southern Appalachian director of The Wilderness Society. Surprisingly, Martin has been lobbying against wilderness designation in order to accommodate a broader base of recreation users.Click to expand.“I could have stayed safely in my conservation corner and advocated for more wilderness,” says Martin. “But then everyone else would stay in their corners and nothing would change. After years of working on forest planning, it was clear that we needed a new, more cooperative approach.”Martin invited timber and hunting leaders to join together with conservation and recreation representatives to form the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership. After three years of meetings and dialogue, the partnership has reached broad conceptual agreement on most of the forest planning issues: they have agreed to recommend more logging acreage while also increasing the amount of protected areas for conservation.However, the Forest Service decided not to formally recognize the partnership. Instead, the Forest Service spent over $100,000 to create its own group: the Stakeholders Forum. It includes many of the same representatives from the partnership, but it also adds a few outspoken members who, thus far, have impeded any compromise. As a result, the Stakeholders Forum has been deeply entrenched and unable to reach consensus.“The Forest Service has undercut our middle-ground partnership and stacked their Stakeholders Forum with a few extremists from hunting groups who are unwilling to compromise at all,” says Martin.“The original partnership did not reflect the full spectrum of users,” replies Forest Service deputy supervisor Matt McCombs. “The Stakeholders Forum is a more diverse representation of forest interests.”21 of the 27 members of the Stakeholders’ Forum are older white males. There are no minorities or youth representatives.But Martin wasn’t ready to give up on collaboration, so he forged yet another coalition. This time, he brought together mountain bikers and wilderness advocates—two recreation groups that traditionally had not worked together. The Wilderness Act does not allow bicycles in wilderness, so even conservation-minded mountain bikers often found themselves unable to support wilderness proposals for the Pisgah-Nantahala.Martin met with mountain bike leaders and hammered out a proposal for a new National Recreation Area in Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest. The proposal would open the Harpers Creek and Lost Cove Wilderness Study Areas near Boone, N.C., to mountain bike use, removing its Congressional Wilderness Study Area status and simultaneously replacing it with a National Recreation Area designation that would protect its wild character permanently. Over 40 regional organizations and businesses also signed on to support the National Recreation Area proposal. “It made national headlines. It was a precedent-setting agreement,” says Martin. “We showed that groups with competing agendas could come together and find common ground.”But then “one obstructionist tanked the whole deal,” says Martin.The ink had barely dried on the agreement when John Wilson, a local businessman whose family owns the Blowing Rock attraction and has deep roots in the area, organized opposition to the National Recreation Area proposal. Other organizations, including Appalachian Voices and Sierra Club, joined him. Wilson, who has worked for many years with land trusts and conservation interests, including many major funders, did not want to open two Wilderness Study Areas to shared use with mountain bikers.“We have so little Wilderness in North Carolina,” says Wilson. “The Harper Creek and Lost Cove Wilderness Study Areas contain some of the most pristine headwater streams, waterfalls, and old growth forest in the East.”Ironically, failure to reach an agreement for Harper Creek and Lost Cove has diminished support for more wilderness across the national forest. Because the National Recreation Area would have created an important new mountain biking opportunity, the mountain bike community was prepared to support over 100,000 acres of additional wilderness recommendations in the Pisgah-Nantahala. That support is now at best uncertain.“It’s been heartbreaking,” says Martin, who is no longer with The Wilderness Society. “Extremists on both sides have undermined every effort to cooperate and find middle ground,” says Martin. “Clearly there are easy compromises that nearly everyone agrees on, but a few extremely vocal individuals have hijacked the entire forest plan, and the Forest Service has enabled it to  happen.”[nextpage title=”Read on!”] The W-WordHere is the simple bargain that nearly everyone supports: more timber harvests counterbalanced by more protected areas, including wilderness.“If we’re going to ramp up timber harvest levels, we also need to identify the areas where other values, like rare habitats, wilderness, and backcountry recreation, will continue to be represented in the future,” says SELC’s Sam Evans.Timber industry leaders have generally seen this as a good deal. They believe that broader backing for timber harvests can be achieved if they also support wilderness protections for special areas of the forest. However, an outspoken few have been unwilling to support any new wilderness, mainly because it prohibits logging and motorized vehicles.“How are we gonna get a 500-pound bear out of a wilderness area?” asks David Whitmire, a member of the Stakeholders’ Forum. “Wilderness also invites another class of people in here.”22 percent of Western North Carolina is national forest, and some locals resent the lost tax revenue and demographic changes that the national forests have brought.Both Whitmire and Ruffed Grouse Society chapter president Jim Gray also believe that wilderness reduces the availability of game species like deer and grouse. “People have this Disney image of critters all happy in the deep forest, but deer and grouse like open areas, too,” says Gray. According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the numbers of ruffed grouse and deer harvested from national forests have been trending downward. Gray blames the declining numbers on too many protected areas and not enough logging.Gray and others have led efforts to pass anti-wilderness resolutions in 12 conservative-leaning counties across Western North Carolina.But one county passed a pro-wilderness resolution: Buncombe County, the most populous county in the mountains and home to the largest city in Western North Carolina.The Buncombe County Commission unanimously supported a resolution to recommend wilderness for the Big Ivy section of the Pisgah-Nantahala, located about 20 miles northwest of Asheville. Big Ivy includes the Craggy Gardens area and is the most photographed spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s also home to 70-foot waterfalls, dozens of rare and endangered species, and one of the largest old-growth forests in the East. The Big Ivy wilderness proposal has received overwhelming public support. Hundreds attended the County Commissioners meeting to speak unanimously in support of the wilderness resolution. A year earlier, over 400 Big Ivy supporters packed a community meeting with the Forest Service, many wearing “Don’t Cut Big Ivy” t-shirts. Nearly all spoke in favor of permanently protecting Big Ivy from logging.Even stridently anti-wilderness campaigners Jim Gray and David Whitmire have voiced general support for wilderness in Big Ivy.So far, however, the Forest Service has not protected Big Ivy from logging. Instead, it has targeted one-third of Big Ivy for logging-priority management.“Big Ivy is a test case for the forest planning process,” says Jeremy Brookshire, a carpenter who lives in the Big Ivy community. “Does the Forest Service really respond to public input, or is it just going through the motions?”There is overwhelming public, political, and scientific support for permanently protecting Big Ivy, says Brookshire. “So why doesn’t the preliminary forest plan draft reflect that?”One possible explanation is that the Forest Service doesn’t want wilderness in Big Ivy—or anywhere else.Forest Service officials say that wilderness “takes tools of out their toolbox” and constrains them from conducting sustainable forest restoration. The Forest Service also generates revenue by harvesting timber. The Forest Service is financially and institutionally motivated to cut down forests, which is prohibited in wilderness. The Forest Service is also getting intense political pressure not to recommend any new wilderness.  [nextpage title=”Read on!”]To Log Or Not To Log?Fundamentally, the forest plan raises an almost-philosophical question: Do forests need constant logging and active management, or can nature grow healthier forests than we can if we mostly leave them alone?The Forest Service—whose logging-intensive agenda aligns most closely with the interests of hunting organizations and timber companies—claims that forests are more productive when actively managed. Conservation organizations assert that uncut, intact forest ecosystems are more resilient and beneficial, especially in the 21st century.A recent timber harvest near Trace Ridge in Pisgah National Forest.The data is mixed. Silvicultural studies suggest that thinning young, previously degraded forests improves productivity, especially of marketable tree species like oaks. And cutting forests to create early successional habitat leads to increases in deer, turkey, and grouse populations. But other scientific studies indicate that mature, uncut forests provide healthier air and water quality, more carbon storage, and more overall biological diversity.The forest plan has become a referendum on the future of our forests—and the economies that grow around them. Do we want a more actively managed forest that emphasizes game and timber, or a more tourism-friendly forest focused on recreation and ecosystem health? “These are working forests, and they will always be working forests,” says Forest Service deputy director Matt McCombs. McCombs believes that the Forest Service’s mission to “sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of national forests” requires perpetual logging of public lands. He also maintains that logging ultimately improves forest health—by removing dead and diseased trees, for example, or creating clearings that produce more browse for deer and other wildlife.“Forested lands have better outcomes when sustainable forestry is practiced, and they also have economic benefits as byproducts,” says McCombs. “We can accelerate the pace and scale of forest restoration through sustainable forestry. Forests are ultimately enhanced by managing them for game and timber.”Adam Macon, program director for the Dogwood Alliance, says that the latest science shows otherwise.   “Publicly owned national forests are more valuable standing than cut down, says. Intact forests provide far more long-term ecological and economic assets than board feet of timber.”—former U.S. Forest Service biologist Karin Heiman“Logging has a lot of impacts that make the forest less healthy, less resilient, and more vulnerable to insect infestations, invasive species, and disease,” he says. Logging causes sedimentation that clogs rivers and streams. The bulldozers, skidders, and other heavy machinery create easy corridors for pests and disease to spread. Logging usually is accompanied by heavy and repeated use of pesticides, and it disrupts a web of animal, plant, soil, insect, and microbial diversity that requires many decades for forests to recover. Logging mature forests also releases more carbon, especially from the soil.Economically, protecting forests for conservation and recreational uses provides more benefits than logging them. Recreation in the Pisgah-Nantahala provides 10 times as many jobs as and five times as much revenue, according to the 2014 U.S. Forest Service Assessment. Nationwide, the Forest Service reports that recreation provides 31 times more jobs to rural communities than timber sales. “Publicly owned national forests are more valuable standing than cut down, says former U.S. Forest Service biologist Karin Heiman. “Intact forests provide far more long-term ecological and economic assets than board feet of timber.”[nextpage title=”Read on!”]This Land Is Your LandThe Forest Service is in transition. It struggles internally between old-school foresters intent on maximizing timber harvests and a new generation of recreation-friendly rangers. The Forest Service’s top three forest plan leaders have all left the Pisgah-Nantahala in the past three years, presenting both a challenge and opportunity for the Forest Service to move in new directions.The overwhelming majority of forest users are hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, but so far, the forest plan leaves many of the best and most beautiful places in the forest unprotected. The good news is this: The 1.1-million-acre Pisgah-Nantahala can accommodate all of the competing uses: commercial timber sales for industry, early successional forests for deer and grouse hunters, protected headwaters for municipal drinking water, habitat protection for endangered species, wilderness areas for solitude-seekers, old-growth forests for science and heritage, and trail networks for everyone to enjoy.Even better news: nearly everyone agrees on the solution. Most of the stakeholders support the basic compromise formula: more timber harvests in exchange for more protected acreage.Dismal Falls and the surrounding forests and trails are not protected in the current draft plan.However, the Forest Service’s preliminary forest plan draft tilts lopsidedly toward logging. It aims to increase logging five-fold while leaving over 125,000 acres of ancient forests, recreational hotspots, and unique biological areas unprotected.Even the timber industry worries about the preliminary plan draft. “Right now, it’s a lose-lose situation,” said one forest products representative. “If we can’t reach a compromise that supports the full spectrum of interests, then we will likely end up with even fewer timber harvests. Every single timber sale will be appealed and challenged, and this plan will be in litigation gridlock for the next two decades.”The win-win plan—more timber harvests and more protected areas—is what most everyone wants—except an uncompromising few and perhaps the Forest Service itself. “The solution is within reach,” says SELC’s Sam Evans. Do we have the will to work together? Or will we miss the forest for the trees?With stakeholders at an impasse, the Forest Service will rely on public input to make its final decisions. How do you want your 1 million acres to be managed? Now more than ever, your input will shape the future of the forest.last_img read more

Colombian Army Improves Communities’ Roads

first_imgBy Yolima Dussán/Diálogo May 08, 2017 Until recently, the 350 families living in the communities of Las Ánimas, Piedrahita, San Andrés, La Correa, and El Romazón had a difficult time traveling to other areas in the municipality of Donmatias in the north of Antioquia department. That has changed thanks to troops from the Engineers Battalion No. 4 “General Pedro Nel Ospina” of the Colombian Army’s Fourth Brigade, who worked to build access roads to these towns. Now residents have the ability to travel and sell agricultural products and livestock, mainly pigs. The municipality of Donmatias is home to 23,000 people, and is the largest pork producer in Colombia. Improving the tertiary roads leading to these rural communities from the urban municipality meant opening stretches of road, maintaining sites chosen for laying roads, and adjusting drainage outlets. The work was done by the Seventh Division in conjunction with the active participation of the communities it benefitted. Working in conjunction with the community The work that the Fourth Brigade did on roads in the department of Antioquia meet the population’s needs, as expressed to them by local administrations with whom the Colombian Army has developed a relationship. “In these types of outreach programs, we provide help in accordance with the requirements of the municipal mayors’ offices, through their communal action boards,” Lieutenant Colonel Jhon Esteban Torres Ballén, commander of the Engineers Battalion No. 4, reported to Diálogo. “Once the need is identified, we organize joint work with the goal of creating solutions. In Donmatias, we laid 10 kilometers of road,” he added. During 18 days in March, troops serving in this Army unit worked alongside the community maintaining existing roads and opening new stretches as well. “We did some more work in the municipalities of Ituango and Valdivia, where we opened up 30 kilometers of new roads and did maintenance on another 10 kilometers. This benefitted 4,500 people who live in this extremely vulnerable area, where they are working hard to be able to substitute coca cultivation with something else,” Lt. Col. Torres Ballén said. With more than 1,200 service members, the Engineers Battalion is a tactical unit with jurisdiction in 13 municipalities. They support not only community development there by opening, maintaining, and improving roads (including road-bridge infrastructure), but they are also responsible for dealing with and preventing natural disasters and forest fires. The Army’s presence, a stimulus for the community The actions taken in concert with the community give the residents a lot of motivation, the Mayor of Donmatias Municipality, Marcela Peña Correa, told Diálogo. “We usually see the Army as a group of men that provide us with security, but their mission goes beyond that. We have developed work to show the population that this force is an entity with which we build community. Ever since residents of the municipality learned that the Army has these kinds of programs, they have even been motivated to collaborate and work with them during these outreach programs. They are conscious that everyone benefits,” she noted. The work of the military members has made it possible to develop several government programs, such as “Placa Huella,” which seeks to lay as many kilometers of road as possible in the department. “To do that, we count on them to work with us. The Army makes it possible to improve our residents’ quality of life,” Peña said. Faith in Colombia Repairing roads in Donmatias is part of what was envisioned for the “Fe en Colombia” campaign, an initiative that seeks to bring institutions and the community closer together. With an emphasis on the most vulnerable communities, the goal is to create “territories in peace” and to conduct activities that will improve their social well-being. The campaign foresees 18 lines of action under programs associated with the creation and/or strengthening of existing projects for economic development, infrastructure, the environment, social reintegration, deterring recruitment for crime, and policies for land restitution. “We know that the roadways improve the quality of life and development of every one of the regions,” Brigadier General Jorge Romero Pinzón, commander of the Colombian Army’s Fourth Brigade said in April during the dedication of the roads program that was developed in the jurisdiction of Antioquia. “It is gratifying to see the smiles of town residents when we build these kinds of roads. In the places we go, it is clear that these communities are willing to transition to legality through the resources that improve their capacity to transport their goods, to do their agriculture, and above all, to have a much better quality of life for themselves and their families,” he said. “Through this type of work, this outreach to the community, the development projects, we are gradually reaching every corner, everywhere in the department of Antioquia. Through institutionalism, the Colombian Army, and every other institution, wants to offer these capacities to all the townspeople in the region,” he added. In Antioquia, a department in the northwest of Colombia, almost 100,000 residents from Bajo Cauca, including Donmatias and Urabá, reap the benefits of the work and the programs developed by “Fe en Colombia.”last_img read more

Nova Algoma Shortsea Carriers Invests in Second-Hand Bulker

first_imgNova Algoma Shortsea Carriers, a joint venture company between Nova Marine Carriers and Algoma Central Corporation, has bought a 2007-built bulk carrier.The newly named Sider Sirios is a single-decker featuring an updated deadweight of 8,005 tons.The company said that the bulker is off to a busy start having already completed its first voyage.The latest purchase brings the fleet of Nova Algoma Shortsea Carriers to 30 ships of 8,000 dwt.The company’s vessels predominantly trade in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Northern Europe.Based on the valuation data from VesselsValue, the ship is worth USD 3.28 million.Sider Sirios, previously known as Chyra, was originally built by Chinese shipbuilder Jiangsu Yangzijiang for Peter Dohle Schiffahrts and sold in 2015 to Greek Sirios Shipmanagement.The fleet built-up continues from last year. Back in December 2017, the company bought a mini bulker from Norwegian owners, Oslo Bulk. M/V Sider Venture, of 13,497 dwt, was built in Japan in 2006.The purchase reunited the vessel with five other sister vessels already under NASC’s commercial management.Based in Lugano, Switzerland, Nova Algoma Short-Sea Carriers was established in April 2017.last_img read more

Transfer rumours and paper review – Sunday, 16 November

first_img1 Read the latest transfer rumours from Sunday’s newspapers right here…New Inter boss Roberto Mancini is lining up a January move for Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, 34. (Mail on Sunday) Manchester United have been told Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels, 25, will cost them £47m. (Sun on Sunday) Chelsea and Manchester City are set to go head to head for the signature of Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, with both clubs prepared to meet the 22-year-old’s £48m release clause. (Sunday Express)Liverpool are ready to rival Arsenal for the signature of 19-year-old Lazio striker Keita Balde Diao. (Sunday Express)Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, 27, has scotched talk of a move to Manchester United by reaffirming his commitment to the Catalan club. (Mail on Sunday)Forward Lukas Podolski, 29, looks set to leave Arsenal in January after bemoaning his lack of first-team opportunities at the Emirates. (Evening Standard)Atletico Madrid have made Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata, 26, their top January transfer target. (Daily Star Sunday)Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo, 29, will make his loan move to Valencia permanent next summer. (Sunday Mirror)Everton are lining up a move for Arsenal misfit Joel Campbell, 22, and are prepared to pay £7m for the Costa Rica striker. (Sun on Sunday)Cardiff City could terminate Ravel Morrison’s loan spell after the 21-year-old West Ham midfielder disappointed manager Russell Slade. (Independent on Sunday)David De Gea’s broken finger will not prompt Manchester United to sign 32-year-old free agent Victor Valdes, with reserve goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard set to play against Arsenal instead. (Sunday Telegraph)Roma striker Mattia Destro, 23, has welcomed rumours linking him with a move to Arsenal. (Evening Standard)And here are the latest talkSPORT.com transfer tales…Germany World Cup star on the verge of Arsenal exitRobinson eyeing January move away from BlackburnI would leave Chelsea if I was Cech, says Courtois talkSPORT transfer rumours last_img read more

ROAD CLOSED AFTER CAR SMASH

first_imgTHE road between Carndonagh and Gleneely has been closed after a road traffic accident this morning.A lorry collided with a telegraph post and Gardai are operating diversions.No-one was injured in the incident but telephone lines have been cut to homes in the area. Eircom workers are replacing the pole this afternoon. ROAD CLOSED AFTER CAR SMASH was last modified: March 23rd, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:ROAD CLOSED AFTER CAR SMASHlast_img read more

Google Exiting China? Not Just Yet

first_imgRelated Posts Tags:#Google#news#politics#web Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Last month, Google received high praise from human rights supporters after threatening to exit the Chinese search market, claiming it was no longer comfortable with censoring search results per government demands. But here it is a month later and Google has made no move to withdrawal its Chinese search operations, with censored results still appearing on Google’s Chinese portal, Google.cn. In addition, the company may now be investing in a Chinese digital media company, as well. According to unconfirmed reports, the Internet giant is said to be a member of a Disney-led consortium looking to invest in a Chinese media and advertising company called Bus Online. Google’s decision to exit the Chinese search business was alluded to in their January blog post detailing what appeared to be state-led cyber attacks which hit the Internet giant and other Silicon Valley companies in mid-December. As a result, Google announced it would review the feasibility of its business operations in China. The company claimed it would engage in discussions with the Chinese government to see if there was any way for it to remain in China, but few expected positive results from those discussions. Because the attacks were focused on gaining access to the email accounts of human rights activists, Google received a lot of praise for taking a stand against the Chinese government, the alleged perpetrators of the hacking attempts. However, only nine days later, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt took a softer tone during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call. “We wish to remain in China,” he said. “We like the Chinese people, we like our Chinese employees, we like the business opportunities there.” Google to Invest in Chinese Media CompanyGoogle does like the businesses there, apparently. It’s a month later and the company seems to be no closer to shutting down their Chinese search operations business than they were back in January. In addition, anonymous sources say Google is planning to invest in China’s largest in-bus digital media and advertising company, an outfit called Bus Online whose revenue was about 314.5 million yuan ($46.07 million) last year. A consortium led by Walt Disney Co. is reportedly in advanced talks with the Chinese company and has plans to buy a 30%-40% stake for more than $100 million in shares, both public and private. Google is said to be among the investors. This move, if it happens, would lead credence to the argument put forth in January which had cynics claiming that Google’s withdrawal from China had less to do with their so-called “moral high grounds” propped up by the company motto “don’t be evil,” and had more to do with the fact that Google’s Chinese search business simply couldn’t compete with the more popular Chinese engine baidu.com. Hacker Crack Down Could HelpThe reality of the situation may be a bit more murky than a simple case of “good” versus “evil,” though. Of course Google couldn’t sit idly by as the Chinese government directed attacks on its infrastructure, but it also would be bad business to ignore the massive potential of the Chinese Internet market. Yesterday, new reports from Chinaview.cn stated that the Chinese government had shut down the nation’s largest website responsible for training hackers. The implication of this news – and especially its timing, given the actual shut down occurred in November – is that the Chinese government wants to appear as if they’re “playing nice” with regards to Western interests. That move may be precisely the sort of thing Google needs in order to maintain an appearance of concern regarding the cyber attack situation while also not making a regrettable, revenue-impacting business decision by ceasing Chinese operations altogether. The only question now is whether or not the public will forgive Google for doing so.center_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting sarah perezlast_img read more

Where Has All The Mobile Malware Gone?

first_imgTags:#security Related Posts Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologycenter_img Matt Asay Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Remember when everyone used to run Windows? Hardly a week went by when a friend or colleague lobotomized their machine with a virus. Some of this may have been a matter of Microsoft’s architecture, but much of it came down to Windows being a massive, juicy target. Given how much of our computing has moved to mobile, why aren’t we seeing mobile malware overwhelm us?Source: F-Secure, Threat Report H2 2012Mobile malware is out there, after all. Security software vendor ESET predicts “exponential growth of mobile malware” in 2013, coming on the heels of a 17X boom in mobile malware in 2012. Security company F-Secure finds that 79% of this new malware is focused squarely on the market leader, Android.So why haven’t you been hacked?After all, Android now commands over 50% of the global smartphone market, and took a whopping 69.7% of the market in Q4 2012, according to Gartner. Apple dominated the smartphone market for years with nary a scent of malware, perhaps due to its end-to-end control of its devices. Android is apparently getting slammed, according to the security firms, but I’ve yet to meet anyone that has experienced mobile malware, and I bet you haven’t, either. Why?Hacks Vs. MischiefIt’s also possible that you have been attacked, but didn’t recognize it. According to BlueCoat Systems, “Mobile threats are still largely mischiefware – they have not yet broken the device’s security model but are instead more focused on for-pay texting scams or stealing personal information.” This jibes with ESET’s finding that of the types of malware being created, the most common today are SMS Trojans (40%), followed by malware apps that the devices they infect into zombies (32%), and malicious apps that pilfer information from one’s phone (28%). Heavy-duty exploits are still uncommon, but that may change. For desktop exploits, malicious hackers can purchase ready-made exploit kits. These are far less common in the mobile world. Instead hackers increasingly are turning to the web to create device-agnostic attacks, infecting a web server and then directing users via phishing emails to click through to the infected site. When the user visits the site, malware is downloaded to her device. Given that so many companies use third parties to develop and host their mobile applications (e.g., usablenet for some hotel properties), users are not as suspicious as they should be of “mislabeled” sites.Still, this likely hasn’t happened to you. Why?Location, Location, LocationGeography.  If you’re living in North America or Western Europe, you apparently aren’t the target. Yet. According to ESET, China, Russia and Iran have the highest incidence of malware by far. Another hot spot, according to Trend Micro, is Asia-Pacific, where it found a 417% increase in mobile malware apps (25,000) between Q1 and Q2 2012.While mobile security firm BitDefender expects attacks against devices in North America and Europe to increase in 2013, the people infected are largely those visiting the seedier side of the Web, be it porn sites or unofficial app marketplaces. Given how pervasive mobile computing has become, it’s inevitable that hackers will find more sophisticated ways to break through existing security mechanisms. Android isn’t the new Windows. Not yet.Image courtesy of Shutterstock.last_img read more

A Pearl wins Graceway Supermarkets prize car

first_img Revenue Control Unit and Treasury Department Reopens Recommended for you Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, 23 Nov 2015 – A winner was announced to the Turks and Caicos on Friday of that 2016 Hyundai i10 courtesy of Graceway Supermarkets and it was a 30 year employee with the Treasury Department. Pearl Bernadin had the key that started the car which was set up at Smart Grocery store down town.Winning Moment:(Screaming, Cheering… when car starts)Deandrea: “How fast is your heart beating right now?Pearl: “…very fast!”Deandrea: “…have you ever won anything before?”Pearl: “Not really, this is actually my first time…”Deandrea: “…and you did it big when you did it!”Pearl: “…exactly!”A priceless moment, truly! Congratulations, again to Pearl she gets her 2016 vehicle in a few weeks from Hyundai TCI. Related Items:2016 Hyundai i10, gracewaY SUPERMARKETS, Pearl Bernadin, raffle, treasury department Four finalists named to WIN THAT CAR at Smart Grocery store TODAY Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp CLOSED: Revenue and Treasury Offices overrun with moldlast_img read more

Mayor Faulconer announces expansion of Clean SD program

first_imgMayor Faulconer announces expansion of “Clean SD” program Posted: February 20, 2018 Updated: 6:48 PM Categories: Good Morning San Diego, Local San Diego News Tags: Kevin Faulconer, Shelley Zimmerman FacebookTwitter Ed Lenderman, center_img Ed Lenderman 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 SettingsAs part of his commitment to keep San Diego neighborhoods clean, safe and beautiful, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer announced Tuesday an expansion of “Clean SD” – a citywide cleanup effort that has focused on downtown, the San Diego River and other hotspots for illegal dumping – with more crews responding to requests to remove trash and debris through the City’s “Get It Done” application.In addition, the San Diego Police Department will increase surveillance and enforcement in areas known for illegal dumping.“Every neighborhood deserves clean street corners and sidewalks and that’s what this citywide cleanup effort is all about,” said Mayor Faulconer. “We’re improving the quality of life for our residents with every tire, shopping cart and mattress that is picked up and hauled away. We will clean up our neighborhoods and we will hold those who illegally dump their trash in our communities accountable.”Standing in front of a mound of debris at an intersection plagued by illegal dumping, Mayor Faulconer was joined today by Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and Assistant Chief David Nisleit as City crews removed couches, tires, shopping carts and more. The location, at the corner of Quince Street and Menlo Avenue in the Swan Canyon neighborhood, has been cleared of trash numerous times over the past year.The expansion of the “Clean SD” initiative includes three new two-person crews from the Urban Corps to respond to reports of trash and other debris in the public areas. The City often receives reports of abandoned shopping carts, furniture left in an alley and tires along roadways.Highest priority for cleanup is given to trash and debris that is hazardous, such as chemicals or paint, or blocks the public right-of-way. Depending on the size and scope of each assignment, each crew responds to roughly 15 to 20 requests per day. The Environmental Services Department is currently in the hiring process to add two more City crews to bolster “Clean SD” further by this spring.There are several neighborhood hotspots throughout the city that are targets for frequent illegal dumping and the Police Department will regularly monitor those locations and issue citations for violators.“Keeping San Diego clean is a shared responsibility,” Chief Zimmerman said. “If you choose to dump your trash illegally, expect to be cited and or arrested.”Launched in May 2017, the “Clean SD” initiative include city and Urban Corps crews that remove litter in nine “hotspots” in Ocean Beach, City Heights, San Ysidro, Logan Heights, Paradise Hills, Webster & Mount Hope, Mission Beach, Point Loma and Pacific Beach — neighborhoods with a historically high level of illegal dumping activity. Crews have already removed more than 830 tons of debris, including:• 430 tires• 1,900 mattresses and box springs• 750 shopping carts• 67 appliancesSince September, City, Urban Corps and Alpha Project crews have also removed more than 190 tons while performing waste abatements in the riverbeds and downtown areas.Other “Clean SD” efforts include:• Increased street sweeping in the East Village neighborhood• Sanitizing sidewalks in in downtown and other neighborhoods• Prioritizing graffiti removal requests• Organizing community cleanups that collected more than 100 tons of waste and debris from San Diego neighborhoods in 2017• Holding the City’s annual cleanup event at SDCCU Stadium – with more than 100 tons of waste and recyclables collected in single dayAs part of his commitment to keep San Diego neighborhoods clean, safe and beautiful, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer will announce Tuesday an expansion of “Clean SD” – a citywide cleanup effort that has focused on downtown, the San Diego River and other hotspots for illegal dumping – with more crews responding to requests to remove trash and debris through the City’s “Get It Done” application.In addition, the San Diego Police Department will increase surveillance and enforcement in areas known for illegal dumping.Joined by Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and Assistant Chief David Nisleit, Mayor Faulconer will hold a media availability Tuesday morning at an intersection that has been plagued by illegal dumping, from tires to furniture to shopping carts. A City crew will be there to clear the area of waste and debris. February 20, 2018last_img read more