Port Gamble Land Debate, Narwhal Art, Citrus Anxiety, and Michigan Undammed

Loads of Nooze today! josh zaffosFirst, in High Country News, a follow-up from Josh Zaffos on the ongoing debate over western Washington's Port Gamble Bay (see his initial story about the issue here.)

'Port Gamble Predicament' inches toward resolution

Last winter, I reported on the tangle of cultural and conservation challenges surrounding western Washington’s Port Gamble Bay, documenting how the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is in the final stages of a 160-year-long faceoff with Pope Resources. Pope is the corporate stepchild of a logging company that built a mill town called Port Gamble in the mid-19th century on a site that S’Klallam oral histories claim as an ancestral tribal village. Over time, the S’Klallam settled onto lands directly across the bay from the mill town, where they now have their reservation.

Pope still holds 6,700 acres of land on the surrounding Kitsap Peninsula, including bay shorelines and forests. Ready to move its operations elsewhere, it gave community conservation partners -- a coalition called the Kitsap Forest & Bay Project made up of state and local conservation groups, county interests, and the S’Klallam and the Suquamish tribes -- until this March to show they could buy the land, which is used by local hikers and which Pope has suggested it could subdivide for new homes... Read more.

Dawn breaks over the remains of the Port Gamble mill, background, and Point Julia, foreground, as seen from an overlook on the Port Gamble S'Klallam Reservation in Washington. The Pope & Talbot sawmill built in 1853 on what the tribe says was their ancestral village, Teekalet. (Photo by Jordan Stead /The Emerald Collective)

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Ashley AhearnAshley Ahearn with KUOW's EarthFix reports about an unlikely narwhal-research duo:

Bringing Art to Narwhal Research in the Arctic

Two Seattle-based adventurers — one a scientist, the other an artist — are on an expedition to study and document narwhals in Arctic waters off the west coast of Greenland. 

As global temperatures rise and Arctic sea ice shrinks, scientists are trying to learn more about the creatures that call the Arctic home. Scientists likeKristin Laidre of the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center. She’s studying narwhals - those arctic whales known for their long spiraling unicorn horns.

“We’re really just filling in the gaps about how these animals survive. What do they do in the ice? How do they find food? How do they communicate? And then trying to piece that together to be able to make better predictions about the future in terms of how sea ice loss or ecosystem change will impact them,” she said... Read and see more.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/63442852 w=400&h=300]

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michelle nijhuisMichelle Nijhuis writes for The New Yorker about an ill wind blowing in the land of oranges:

Citrus Greening Causes Anxiety in Florida

(Photo by Francois Perri/REA/Redux)

In 1965, while on assignment for the magazine, John McPhee visited the University of Florida’s venerable Citrus Experiment Station, where the staff spent much of its time counselling citrus growers suffering from bad luck, waterlogged soil, or one of a host of pests and diseases: exocortis, psorosis, rust mites, red mites, six-spotted mites, mealy bugs. One of the worst citrus afflictions was spreading decline, caused by a nematode that feeds on tree roots. “When people in Florida are feeling depressed and miserable with some unspecific malady, they sometimes tell one another that they have the spreading decline,” McPhee wrote.

Almost fifty years later, citrus growers are contending with a malady that is both more specific and more severe—and the counsel is far less comforting... Read more.

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jeff alexanderAnd Jeff Alexander writes for The Bridge magazine in Michigan about the status of that state's dams:

Let the river run: Dam removal accelerates in Michigan

Michigan may be the Great Lakes State, but its 36,000 miles of rivers are becoming popular commodities for cities looking to revitalize downtowns, attract visitors and lure new businesses.

Demolition work on the Brown Bridge dam on the Boardman River is shown in this 2012 photo. Flooding earlier this year has prompted criticism of the Boardman dam removal efforts. (Bridge photo/John Russell)

A growing number of communities across the state — large and small, urban and rural — are removing obsolete dams, restoring fisheries and developing riverside parks and trails.

“The Riverwalk is one of the main attraction tools we use in recruiting new visitors, businesses, and families to Big Rapids,” said Darcy Salinas, executive director of the Big Rapids Downtown Business Association. “Overall, the Riverwalk is one of Big Rapids’ major points of pride.”

The city of Big Rapids built its 2.6-mile-long Riverwalk trail along the Muskegon River after remnants of the Big Rapids Dam were removed in 2001. The dam disrupted the river and was a safety hazard: Several people drowned while trying to canoe through unnatural rapids the dam created... Read more.