Coal, Salmon and... Asparagus

From alumna Camilla Mortensen, a reporter with the independent newspaper Eugene Weekly: Coal Train: Fossil fuels make tracks through Oregon Coal doesn’t just burn hot, it burns dirty — it’s pretty much dirt that burns — and like most hot things, it just might burn you. 

No active commercial coal mines remain in Oregon, and the state plans to phase out coal from the Boardman coal-burning power plant in the Columbia Gorge by 2020. But if you thought coal wasn’t a concern for Oregonians, think again... Read more.


Ashley Ahearn, an alumna with KUOW public radio in Seattle, reports on the removal of the Elwha Dam, and the return of the river's native salmon.

Empire of Dirt Gives Way to the Return of the Salmon

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — At the lower Elwha Dam, backhoes move massive mounds of dirt from one side of the riverbed to the other. They’re diverting the river temporarily, so the dam can be taken apart, layer by layer.

An immense amount of sediment has built up above the dams –- enough sand and dirt to fill 23 Empire State Buildings.

The Elwha foams and churns – like angry chocolate milk - thick and brown with sediment.

As more sediment is released, scientists want to understand how it will change the river and the creatures that live here... Read, hear, and watch more.


Alumna Cynthia Graber's story on Public Radio International's The World covers Peruvian boomtowns, water tables in peril, and the global appetite for asparagus.

Despite Economic Gains, Peru's Asparagus Boom Threatening Water Table

Peru has recently become the world’s number one exporter of asparagus to places including Europe and the US.

The boom there has pumped a lot of money into the economy, but it’s also pumped out a lot of water.

Ica is a small, modest city near the Peruvian coast. But on a recent night, the city’s downtown plaza is hopping, including a small religious parade.

The bustle is largely due to asparagus. Ica is Peru’s asparagus capital. And the overseas demand for the long green spears has turned the place into a boomtown... Read, hear, and view more.