environment

Vlad Butsky - flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4139637

David Rains Wallace is highly regarded for his writing about the natural world, pretty much anywhere IN the world. 

His book about the Klamath Mountains, The Klamath Knot, was recognized as one of the 100 best non-fiction books of the 20th century. 

And he's written plenty since that time, including many of the essays collected for Articulate Earth: Adventures in Eco-Criticism

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Arguments in favor of protecting this stream or that forest tend to come down to ecological significance or some other scientific reason. 

Robert Leonard Reid--mountaineer, musician, mathematician, and writer--likes the concept of protecting things because of their beauty. 

He explores the concept further in the 19 essays of Because It Is So Beautiful: Unraveling the Mystique of the American West.

Picture of a drought affected landscape
CSIRO

It takes more than one wet year to recover from a severe drought. What if the next drought arrives soon after?

A new study published August 10 in Nature seeks to understand the ways in which ecosystems across the world recover from drought. It finds that, if a new drought arrives before the ecosystem has recovered from a previous drought, the entire ecosystem may change for good.

William Anderegg,  Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Utah, is one of the study's authors and joins us to discuss his findings. It's far from a dry subject.

BLM/Wikimedia

Ask anybody from the OTHER end of the country about Oregon, and they'll probably tell you about misty mountains and rainy evergreen forests. 

True, that's where most of the people live in Oregon, but the largest landform in the state is high desert; pretty much everything east of the Cascades. 

The Oregon Natural Desert Association works to preserve the high, dry spaces.  And ONDA celebrates its 30th birthday this year. 

Michael Beug

If you are at all into eating mushrooms, can you tell the yummy from the deadly?

Identifying mushrooms can be a very tricky process, with very high stakes in making a mistake. 

More than a dozen people have been sickened in Northern California over the last year from eating toxic mushrooms like Amanita phalloides. 

Debbie Viess from the Bay Area Mycological Society is an expert on Amanitas.  Michael Beug, professor emeritus at  The Evergreen State College, also shares some 'shroom thoughts.

Jana Haemels, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20520505

It's not uncommon for a piece of land to be used for a business, then the business closes and the site is left vacant.  But not empty. 

Hazardous substances or other pollutants can be left behind, with no one responsible for the cleanup. 

These are designated "brownfields" by the federal EPA, and an EPA grant to the Rogue Valley Council of Governments will help identify brownfields in the Medford/Grants Pass area. 

NASA

Almost 50 years later, we're still celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd. 

Good thing, too... it means the Earth is still here to celebrate. 

How will you observe the day, if at all?  We invited event organizers from several regional celebrations to visit with details. 

Alex from Ithaca, NY, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39687675

If you are concerned about environmental degradation and your government is not, can you sue it?  Count on a firm YES from Mary Christina Wood. 

She is a professor at the University of Oregon's law school, and director of its Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center

Issues like climate change, where governments in our country have been slow to respond, have gotten particular attention at the center. 

Jacob Frank, National Park Service

Blast from the Past: enjoying the night sky is one of the features of living in the State of Jefferson. 

The lack of gigantic cities and the corresponding presence of open and wild spaces makes for places to see the sky in all of its glory. 

But in much of the world, lights from the ground tend to obscure our view of the lights from the sky.  Paul Bogard wrote about this in his book The End Of Night

Bureau of Land Management / Flickr

The use of the term "monument" in Southern Oregon seldom refers to a stone obelisk.

It often means the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, recently expanded by President Obama before his term ended. 

A month after the expansion, Western Oregon counties filed suit, and so did the timber industry. 

North Coast Rises Up Against The English Ivy

Feb 22, 2017
chery, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1282155

It looks really pretty on exterior walls--think universities and Wrigley Field--but English ivy is a pest. 

It is not a plant indigenous to our region, and ivy causes problems for native plants, including trees in the forest. 

It's a greater problem in the moister forests of the North Coast, where the No Ivy League has worked to eradicate it for several years. 

Humans Not Good For Fellow Primates

Jan 26, 2017
Wikimedia user cgaa

With more than seven billion of us and counting, humans are the most prolific primate species on Earth.

This boon for man may be the undoing of apes, plus many other non-human primates like monkeys, tarsiers, lemurs and lorises. A recent study found that about two thirds of all non-human primate species are now threatened with extinction, and three quarters have declining populations.

EPA

The Oregon Environmental Council is a non-partisan non-profit focused on the environmental health of living things in Oregon.  That's rather like the mission of the federal Environmental Protection Agency. 

But OEC is concerned with President-Elect Trump's choice to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.  Pruitt is a climate change denier who has taken the EPA to court on several occasions. 

OEC's Deputy Director, Chris Hagerbaumer, has many stories to tell about environmental successes in Oregon and how she hopes they'll continue under new EPA leadership. 

Public Domain

The soil in the old Ashland railroad yard has been contaminated for so long, some of it came from steam locomotives. 

The site of the old roundhouse is where oil and other contaminants spilled and leaked on the ground. 

Now the property owner, Union Pacific, is about to clean it up.  But not before a few tweaks to the cleanup plan... for one thing, the bad soil will be taken out by rail, not by trucks on local streets. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is overseeing the cleanup plan. 

NASA

Even if we all agree on environmental issues to address, how do we move forward? 

It helps to ask a few people, and that's exactly what Mark Lubell and his team at UC-Davis do. 

The Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior is big on surveys, figuring out why people take actions (or inactions) on environmental matters. 

Scientists Track Roadless Areas Worldwide

Jan 2, 2017
By FluttershyIsMagic - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37476638

There tends to be a controversy attached to any official designation of a wilderness area. 

The argument against wilderness set-asides is that they restrict economic activity.  But the wilderness proponents point out that roads crisscross the planet, rendering most roadless areas small. 

There is now a global map of roadless areas showing exactly where the untouched islands lie. 

Where The River Meets The Ocean

Nov 25, 2016
University of Oregon

We tend to think in terms of fresh water and ocean water ecosystems, but there's a whole lot of life in between. 

Estuaries, where salt and fresh water meet, are teeming with all kinds of creatures, animal and vegetable. 

Dr. David Sutherland at the University of Oregon studies estuaries, both close to home and in the Arctic. 

And he'll deliver a lecture on Friday (December 2) in Coos Bay about how the estuary at Coos Bay functions. 

National Archives

Oregon was green before green was cool. 

In a twenty-year stretch, the state made great strides in protecting the environment: putting beaches in public hands, requiring cash deposits for beverages to discourage littering, and land-use regulations to keep growth compact.  That's just the short list. 

Historian Derek Larson fleshes out the rest in his book Keeping Oregon Green, just out from Oregon State University Press. 

Amanda Peacher/OPB

Early white visitors to the American West were impressed by its bounty: natural beauty and riches that seemed to stretch to the horizon. 

But the resources could be exhausted, and in some cases were. 

Weber State University professor Sara Dant writes of the progression through the years in her book Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West

The timeline stretches thousands of years, from the migration across the Bering land bridge to the present day. 

People Who Track Ocean Plastic: Algalita

Oct 12, 2016
Algalita

Most of our trash goes out of sight, out of mind in landfills. 

But plenty of the world's refuse ends up in waterways, to end up in the ocean.  And plastics in the ocean can present hazards to sea creatures and the health of creatures up the food chain. 

The organization called Algalita is dedicated to studying plastic trash and its effects at sea. 

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