Bob Abbey, director of the federal Bureau of Land Management, retired this May after a total of 28 years with the agency. It was his second -- and final -- retirement: He originally left in 2005 after eight years as the Nevada state director, returning in 2009 only after a special request from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Abbey accomplished a lot in Nevada, notably helping gain authorization for the 1998 Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, which allowed the BLM to sell parcels around Las Vegas and direct the funds to conservation. He also led the Great Basin Restoration Initiative, an interagency program to eradicate millions of acres ofinvasive cheatgrass. Abbey recently told High Country News why he stepped down in 2005: "One of the reasons was my frustration with how the BLM was being managed. The primary emphasis was to make as many acres as possible available for oil and gas leasing and production, and that overtook other important programs."... Read more.
Cover crops have become a key ally in the Great Lakes region’s war against nutrient-enriched runoff that grows algae in the lakes and its tributaries.
But so have one of soil’s most ancient and mysterious creatures: earthworms.
The dynamics between earthworms and an important layer of soil just beneath the surface is one of nature’s most fascinating out-of-sight, out-of-mind stories of nesting behaviors that make near-shore land more fertile and productive while also providing more passageways for water to seep in. That helps reduce runoff.
To learn more about the beauty of earthworms, I yield to Frank Gibbs, a U.S. Department of Agriculture soil scientist from Findlay, Ohio. I have a hard time believing there are many people more passionate about earthworms... Read more.
In western Michigan, there aren't enough apples to pick because bad weather decimated 85 to 90 percent of the crop. But Washington state has the opposite problem — there's an abundance of apples, but not enough pickers.
This should be the happiest, busiest time of year in Washington apple orchards. But now — just as the peak of apple harvest is coming on — Broetje Orchards manager Roger Bairstow is wincing.
"There are quite a few of us that aren't sleeping through the night," he says.... Read more.
In a joint project by Oregon Public Broadcasting's EarthFix and Ecotrope, as well as Investigate West, Robert McClure continues to investigate the results of the Clean Water Act. Here he talks with a guy devoted to getting the job done properly:
SALT LAKE CITY – If Peter Maier is right, sewage treatment plants across the country are performing a crucial scientific test incorrectly, resulting in widespread pollution of lakes, rivers and streams in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. And they’re doing it with the express approval of the federal government.
At the heart of the engineer’s contention: Our sewage-treatment plants fail to clean up urine.
For three decades Maier has aggressively, even abrasively, pushed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require different testing of sewage dumped by wastewater treatment plants. Maier says the tests must take better account of how much oxygen the pollution takes out of the waterways where it is dumped, and how much it will encourage the growth of algae that can lead to fish kills... Read more.
The quaint town of Friday Harbor, nestled into the rocky coastline of San Juan Island, is a well-known tourist hot spot and orca-watching Mecca. It’s also the home of Claudia Mills, the Jellyfish Lady of Puget Sound.
Tanks bubble in the background as Mills shows me around her office at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs.
Anemones, sea slugs and urchins pulse and ooze beneath the surface. On Mills’ desk, stacks of papers cluster around her computer, like underwater seamounts.
Mills pries an old notebook out of one of the stacks and thumbs through it.
“My grandfather used to give me diaries and I was like, what am I going to do with these diaries?” Mills says. “I started writing jellyfish in them in 1976. And I’ve been doing it pretty much ever since.”... Read more.