Tribes

Earth Month, Day 3: Mongolia and the Mekong

josh zaffosFor today's Earth Month installment, we bring you a two-fer: A pair of essays from Colorado-based writer Josh Zaffos, who traveled to the other side of the globe to report on some big stories from some beautiful places. An hour’s drive east of the city of Ulaanbaatar, a steel statue of Mongolia’s legendary warrior Genghis Khan rises 131 feet above the country’s 68 million-acre grassland steppe. © Nick Hall

Giant Steppes: Protecting Mongolia's Grasslands in the Face of a Mining Boom

 Amar Purev, a square-jawed ranger with a no-nonsense demeanor, peers through binoculars from the window of an SUV as it bounces along a double-track path through a green-and-golden sea of hip-high grass. He spots only a few gazelles in the distance, but when the vehicle crests a hill, it halts: Fifty yards away, hundreds of gazelles and their calves graze on stipa, or feather grass. Before Purev can open his door, the animals take off, coursing 40 miles per hour across the flat and boundless expanse that reaches to the horizon.

This grassy ocean is Mongolia’s Toson Hulstai Nature Reserve, a protected area of more than 1 million acres. It is part of a 68 million-acre expanse of grasslands that stretch from forests to desert across the country’s Eastern Steppe. The steppe is the largest intact temperate grassland on Earth, and this reserve protects calving habitat for the Mongolian gazelle, whose herds can eclipse the horizon with thousands of animals. Scientists estimate the gazelle population here at a million, rivaling the wildlife herds of Africa’s Serengeti... Read more.

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Life on Mekong Faces Threats as Major Dams Begin to Rise

A villager washes in the Mekong, with Xayaburi Dam construction in background. (Photo courtesy International Rivers)

In the sleepy northern Thai border town of Huay Luk, a community leader, Pornsawan Boontun, still remembers the day when villagers netted a Mekong giant catfish more than a decade ago. The fish weighed 615 pounds, and it surprised everyone since the elusive species has never been common in this stretch of river.

The giant catfish, among the planet’s largest freshwater fish species, is now rare throughout the entire Mekong River Basin. While overfishing and past practices, such as dynamiting or electroshocking pools in the river, contributed to the species’ decline, a much larger threat now looms for aquatic life and human populations along the Lower Mekong River: dams... Read more.

Wolves, Wind River Boundary Battles, and Struggling Mountain Frogs

Tuesday Noozeday! Here's some reading to keep you busy on this wintery day: michelle nijhuisFirst, from Michelle Nijhuis writing for On Earth magazine, a look at wolves and their status on the endangered species list:

Howls of Outrage

About 300 wolves live in the nearly 2-million-acre swath of central Ontario forest known as Algonquin Provincial Park. These wolves are bigger and broader than coyotes, but noticeably smaller than the gray wolves of Yellowstone. So how do they fit into the wolf family tree? Scientists don’t agree on the answer—yet it could now affect the fate of every wolf in the United States.

That’s because last June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing gray wolves across most of the country from the endangered species list, a move that would leave the animals vulnerable to hunting. To support its proposal, the agency used a contested scientific paper—published, despite critical peer review, in the agency's own journal—to argue that gray wolves never existed in the eastern United States, so they shouldn’t have been protected there in the first place... Read more. 

Photo by Matthew Pugliese

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Irina ZhorovNext, Irina Zhorov reports for Al Jazeera America on the complex relationship between the EPA, reservation boundaries, and racial tensions in Wyoming:

Wyoming reservation's redrawn borders put old conflicts back on the map

 

RIVERTON, Wyo. — Look at a map of the pretty pocket of land in central Wyoming known as the Wind River Indian Reservation, and you’ll see towns strung like pearls on the lines of road that traverse the territory. At the southeast corner of the reservation lies Riverton. On the map, the town of 10,615 appears to be part of the shaded rectangle marking Indian Country, yet Wyoming has considered Riverton nontribal land for more than 100 years.

 

That may have to change. A technical ruling on air monitoring by the Environmental Protection Agency in December put the town in the reservation, an action that has awakened dormant racial tensions, inflamed an already uneasy relationship between Wind River and Riverton and raised questions about what the boundaries really mean... Read more.

Neither the EPA nor Wyoming monitors air quality over the 2.2 million acres of the Wind River Reservation. But a new EPA ruling giving the reservation the right to monitor air has brought up old disagreements. Photo by Irina Zhorov for Al Jazeera America

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eric wagnerEric Wagner reports on the fight to save the Cascades frog for the National Parks Conservation Association:

Between a bog and a hard place

Late September isn’t the coldest time of year to be in the Seven Lakes Basin of Olympic National Park, but it’s getting there, and so it is with no small amazement that Wendy Palen and I watch Maureen Ryan wade into an alpine pond up to her waist.

“Cold?” Palen asks from the shore, where she is nice and dry.

“It’s actually not too bad,” Ryan says as she rolls up her sleeve and roots around the bottom. She’s searching for a device she placed in the center of the pond last spring, which has been tracking its temperature for several months. By comparing the data from another temperature logger placed on the shore with the one she soon wrests from the muck, she’ll be able to see whether the pond dried out completely during the summer. This, in turn, will help her predict the survival prospects of amphibians in the alpine wetlands of the American West... Read more.

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The Best of 2013, Day 12: Crown of the Continent Follow-up

Davidson_B&C dawn

Happy Holidays from IJNR!

We hope you have enjoyed our Twelve-Days-of-Christmas, Best-of-2013 Bonanza here on The Nooze.  Here's one final offering before we take a break for the holiday. We'll be back on December 30 with a few final reminders to support IJNR before the end of the year.

In the meantime, happy holidays to all of you, from all of us here at IJNR!


Fellow Trailer_DavidsonToday, instead of highlighting an alumnus, series, or publication, we'd like to shine the spotlight on some of the great reporting that came out of our 2013 Crown of the Continent Institute. The journalists covered a lot of Davidson_questionsground (Read dispatches from the Crown of the Continent trip here, herehere, here, and here), and learned about wildfire, hydroelectric dams, water quality, non-native vs. native fish debates, collaborative conservation, ranching in predator country, Davidson_marciworking landscapes, native science, species reintroduction, oil and gas exploration, and climate change. Participating reporters represented a wide variety of publications, including the the Bozeman Chronicle, the Helena Independent Record, High Country News, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the La Grande Observer, Aspen Public Radio, Northwest News Network, Earthzine, Wyoming Public Radio, Wyofile, Boise State Public Radio, KQED Public Radio, and several others.

The following are some great examples of reporting that emerged following the trip. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed taking the journalists out to learn about these issues firsthand!

(All photos above by Osha Gray Davidson.)

Crown of the Continent 2013 Post-Institute Highlights

Katy NesbittFrom Katy NesbittThe Observer

Praying for loved ones of fallen Arizona hot shot crews

This past week one of the fellows I met on the Institute of Journalism and Natural Resources journey around Montana kept us updated on the temperatures at his home in Phoenix, which were to rise to 118 degrees.

The only time I’ve experienced that kind of heat was on a wildland fire. I was a member of a 20-person crew from the Malheur National Forest dispatched to Tucson to battle a blaze where temperatures reached 122 degrees.

We were put on the night shift and warned of tarantulas, scorpions and rattlesnakes. I encountered each of these creatures during the fire, luckily at a safe distance. But the heat was the biggest risk we were to encounter... Read more.


Osha Gray DavidsonFrom Osha Gray Davidson, freelance

The Great Burning: How wildfires are threatening the West (Rolling Stone)

It was the sound of her neighbors' propane tanks exploding that convinced Nancy Myers she had run out of time. Twenty minutes earlier, the 57-year-old potter had been standing with some friends on a rock-strewn hillside above the village of Yarnell, Arizona, on a hot Sunday afternoon, watching the red coil of flames unspool in the distance, certain that everything was going to be OK – despite the "prepare to evacuate" order issued by the county sheriff's office earlier that day. "Then the storm came down the mountains," she remembers. "The wind shifted and it came straight into town. There was ash and smoke everywhere and big old flames. I went into panic mode."...Read more. 

The fire mappers (Earthzine)

Maps of a wildfire tragedy show why escape was impossible (Earthzine)


anna kingFrom Anna King, Northwest News Network

Hoof-to-Ground: Bringing wild bison back to the west

Northwest Montana’s Blackfeet Indian Reservation stretches across 1.5 million acres. But it turns out that isn’t enough room for the free-roaming bison herd that tribes are attempting to establish. Northwest Native Americans are hoping restored buffalo herds may reopen ancient trade and cultural traditions.

Most American bison were exterminated more than 100 years ago. Now, tribes across the country are trying to coordinate with Canada, the federal government, states and even private ranchers to once again bring herds back to the Western landscape... Read more.


eve byronFrom Eve Byron, Independent Record

The great trout divide

YELLOW BAY — It’s a blustery afternoon at the Flathead Lake Biological Station, but the chill in the air isn’t just from the breeze coming off the water.

Five men are involved in a lively and pointed debate over the future of the fishery here. It’s clear that they’ve had this discussion among themselves before, and on this cool June day no one is making any headway in winning the argument.

The debate boils down to two fish species, some nearly microscopic shrimp and unintended consequences. But it’s also about an ongoing philosophical dilemma over native species vs. introduced species, as well as when to concede defeat and when to continue fighting... Read more.

Anti-fossil fuel coalition asks to be included as defendant in Badger-Two Medicine lawsuit

Gladstone invites energy exec to Front


Marci KrivonenFrom Marci Krivonen, Aspen Public Radio

Tribes in Western U.S. use water to assert sovereignty

In Colorado’s southwest, the Ute Mountain Ute tribe co-manages part of the Dolores Water Project. And, near Durango, the Animas/La Plata project is partially managed by the state’s two tribes. Ernest House directs the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs.

"Not only do these water projects strengthen tribal sovereignty, but they also solidify a treaty obligation to the Utes here in Colorado. I think that by the tribe’s involvement in a lot of these projects, it provides a very important tool for future economic development, especially, specifically, water," he says.

While the project is different, the goals are similar in Montana. When the tribes take over the dam there, they say, their sovereignty will be strengthened... Read and hear more.


Frankie BarnhillFrom Frankie Barnhill, Boise State Public Radio

13 words you need to know during wildfire season

Idaho's wildfire season is here, and that means you're going to be hearing a lot of firefighting jargon to describe what's going on.

We put together this list of key firefighting terms you're likely to hear in the next few months... Read more.

Why letting some wildfires burn could save homes and prevent future fires


Laura LundquistFrom Laura Lundquist, Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Hoof-to-Ground

People will go to great lengths to bring a missing relative home. Calling politicians, making appeals and raising money are just the start. Even as years go by, they don't give up, especially if the first wisps of hope begin to take on the semblance of success.

For Native Americans throughout the West, those wisps came in the form of some high-court rulings and a successful yet controversial quarantine experiment. The ultimate success will be when the tribes can welcome their relatives — bison from Yellowstone National Park — home to their lands. Within the past two years, the tribes of the Fort Peck and Fort Belknap reservations have had a small taste of that success. Now they and dozens of other tribes want more.

To them, the Yellowstone bison — they use the word “buffalo” — is more than just meat on the table, said LeRoy Little Bear of the Blood Tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy in a June interview... Read more.


Matt FrankFrom Matt Frank (editor), Science Source

Icon of Change: Notes from the edge of a vanishing glacier, Flathead Beacon, by Allison Mills

In the center of Glacier National Park, Mount Gould’s rounded ridge cradles Grinnell Glacier. On a September afternoon, Dan Fagre walks over a smooth patch of bedrock toward the slab of ice. Below it, newly splintered icebergs fill an opaque blue lake.

The U.S. Geological Survey research scientist, who studies the retreat of the park’s namesakes, stops at a small boulder and taps it with his trekking pole.

“You can tell that this was only recently uncovered by the retreating ice,” Fagre says, pointing out the dusty rock flour left behind by the slow grinding of the glacier. He’s likely the first person to ever touch the boulder... Read more.

Pioneers contribute to world climate study, The Montana Standard, by Kindra McQuillen


Sarah KellerFrom Sarah KellerHigh Country News

Montana's largest utility diversifies its energy mix with hydropower

Montana’s largest utility company, NorthWestern Energy, is moving to diversify its energy mix – an increasing trend in the industry. Seeing the regulatory noose tightening on coal, and questioning the long-term promise of natural gas, the company recently announced plans to buy Montana’s 11 hydroelectric dams from their Pennsylvanian owners. By adding 630 megawatts of stable hydro to a portfolio of wind, coal and natural gas, NorthWestern is fortifying itself for a future when energy prices could be higher and more volatile... Read more.

Montana takes another step toward restoring free-roaming bison herds


Irina ZhorovFrom Irina Zhorov, Wyoming Public Radio

When it comes to environmental policy, science isn't always as helpful as lawmakers hope

Science has long been something we look to for answers. But when it comes to policy making, science can’t always provide the clear solutions lawmakers and the public want. That has to do with how science works and the politics that sometimes infiltrate. Two issues in Wyoming demonstrate uncannily well the shortcomings of science when it comes to decision making in the environmental sphere.

IRINA ZHOROV: Remember that scene in Ghostbusters, when Bill Murray’s character is pursuing a seemingly irrelevant line of questioning with a laid out woman as a concerned man stands by?... Read and hear more.

The Best of 2013, Day 11: Ashley Ahearn and EarthFix

Happy Holidays from IJNR! During the month of December, we'll be bringing you a sampler from the "Best of 2013" - a recap of some of the best stories and series of the year from our alumni. Some of them have already been featured here on the Nooze, but many of them haven't! We hope you enjoy reading, hearing and exploring these top-notch stories as much as we have.


Ashley AhearnToday we hear from alumnus Ashley Ahearn, who is based at KUOW Public Radio in Seattle and reports for EarthFix. She has joined IJNR on a couple of Institutes, and currently serves on the board of SEJ. Along with her colleagues at EarthFix, Ashley produces award-winning multimedia stories about environment and natural resource issues in the Pacific Northwest; currently their high-quality coverage of coal in the region has been causing quite a stir. Ashley is a tireless and enthusiastic reporter who does a great job of making complex environment stories accessible to the general public. She also rides a motorcycle, which we think is pretty badass.

Ahearn_coal trainFirst, you should check out this page devoted to EarthFix's ongoing coverage of coal. This project won them the 2013 Online Journalism Awards for Best Explanatory Reporting (Small), so it's definitely a worthwhile series to explore. Highlights include a documentary, and a "Voices of Coal" multimedia  series that offers perspectives from many members of the public from throughout the region.

Recent highlight stories from Ashley (some related to coal, and some not) include:

Coal ships and tribal fishing grounds

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Dozens upon dozens of crab pot buoys dot the waters around Jay Julius’ fishing boat as he points the bow towards Cherry Point. The spit of land juts into northern Puget Sound.

SSA Marine says Cherry Point is an excellent location to build a terminal because it’s surrounded by deep water with quick access to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean. If the company has its way, up to 48 million tons of coal could move through these waters each year aboard more than 450 large ships bound for the Asian market.

But if the Lummi and other tribes exercise their treaty fishing rights, there may not be any coal ships servicing American terminals in these waters... Read, hear and see more.

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Documents reveal coal exporter disturbed Native American archaeological site at Cherry Point

China imposes first-ever West coast shellfish ban

New research: Lab fish fed plastics more likely to develop tumors, liver problems

Toxic algal blooms and warming waters: The climate connection

Washington tribes grow impatient with fish-killing dam

The Cascades frog is only found in the alpine wetlands of the Pacific Northwest, though its range used to extend down to Northern California and up to British Columbia. Scientists are concerned its range will continue to shrink with climate change. (Photo by Ashley Ahearn)

Tracking an alpine frog that chuckles and beeps for climate change research

Taking killer whale research to the classroom

Tidal power project in Puget Sound one step closer to approval

Vanquishing zombie fishing nets in Puget Sound

The call (and noise) of the open road

Do you like what you see from Ashley? If you want more, just type "Ashley Ahearn" into the search bar here on The Nooze, and see how many more of her stories pop up! Feel free to search for any of our other alumni as well, and see what kind of Nooze you find!

The Best of 2013, Day 9: High Country News

Happy Holidays from IJNR! During the month of December, we'll be bringing you a sampler from the "Best of 2013" - a recap of some of the best stories and series of the year from our alumni. Some of them have already been featured here on the Nooze, but many of them haven't! We hope you enjoy reading, hearing and exploring these top-notch stories as much as we have.


HCN logo For Day 9 of our Best of 2013 series, we bring you not a specific journalist, nor a series, but a publication: High Country News. Winner of Utne Reader's 2013 Award for Best Environmental Coverage, HCN is a fantastic publication based in the tiny town of Paonia, Colorado, and focused on environmental news in the West. Incidentally, a dozen of their writers and contributing editors are IJNR alumni!

hcn_logo_dog_tshirtSome of the following stories require a subscription, although most don't. That being said, we can't recommend HCN highly enough, and we hear that subscriptions make great Christmas gifts! (We don't usually use the blog to promote consumerism, but you can also get great HCN swag on their website, including dog t-shirts. How great is that? Now you know what to get for that pooch who loves high-quality environment journalism.)

Without further ado, a line-up of some of the greatest hits of 2013 from our HCN alumni:

Cally CarswellFrom Cally Carswell:

The Tree Coroners: To save the West's forests, scientists must first learn how trees die

There are few better places than Frijoles Mesa to study the mortality of trees. This tongue of land lies partly within the grounds of Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico's Jemez Mountains. To the west rises Cerro Grande, a mountain riddled with the charred skeletons of fir and pine trees. To the southwest are the lingering scars of another fire, one so intense that its heat alone killed trees that weren't consumed by the flames themselves... Read more.

Second Yarnell investigation reaches damning - and tragic - conclusions

Lessons from the flooded Front Range

Snapshots of a forest two years after a megafire

sarah gilmanFrom Sarah Gilman:

Will drilling cost the Arctic its wildness?

In the dark of a far-north winter night, amidst 70-mph winds, the nine-member crew of the tugboat Alert released its towline and set the Kulluk oilrig adrift on heaving seas. Loaded with about 139,000 gallons of diesel and 12,000 gallons of combined lubrication oil and hydraulic fluid, the Kulluk ran aground off uninhabited Sitkalidak Island 45 minutes later. It was New Year’s Eve, 2012, and the Alert and the Aiviq, another boat contracted by Royal Dutch Shell, had been towing the Kulluk from Shell’s first exploratory well in the Beaufort Sea, off Alaska’s north coast, to a Seattle shipyard, when they were caught in the terrible Gulf of Alaska storm... Read more.

After South Dakota's deadly whiteout, a look at blizzards past

The Blue Window: Journeying from redrock desert to icy wasteland

A field program teaches undergrads to think differently about public lands

Sarah KellerFrom Sarah Keller:

Montana tribes will be first to own a hydroelectric dam

Most of the people who run Kerr Dam on northwest Montana's Flathead Reservation sit hundreds of miles away, and some are even across the country, in the offices of Pennsylvania Power and Light.

But that's likely to change in 2015, when the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have the option to buy the dam, thereby becoming the country's first tribal hydroelectric owners and operators. Rocky Mountain Power Company built the 205-foot-tall impoundment on the Flathead River, four miles downstream of Flathead Lake, against the will of many tribal members in 1938. Gaining control of Kerr Dam will have significant economic and cultural benefits for the Salish, Kootenai and Pend d'Oreille – the three tribes of the Flathead Reservation... Read more.

New study shows how helping desert soil could save our snow

Montana takes another step toward restoring free-roaming bison herds

Climate change: moving from science to policy

Jodi petersonFrom Jodi Peterson:

Public lands with no way in

What do the Troublesome Wilderness Study Area in Colorado, the Sabinoso Wildernessand Cowboy Springs WSA in New Mexico, and the Fortification Creek WSA in Wyoming have in common?

They’re all public lands – and none of them can be reached by the public.

Western lands have long had a patchwork of owners: federal, state, local, tribal and private. In the late 1800s, the federal government gave railroad companies every other square mile along rail corridors, creating a public-private checkerboard. But because it’s illegal to even step across a corner from one public parcel to another, many of those pieces of land remain inaccessible. Others are marooned in a sea of private property with no right of way. Some landowners even illegally close public roads across their holdings... Read more.

Feeding elk - and spreading chronic wasting disease

Death in the desert

Made in the American West, consumed in China

michelle nijhuisFrom Michelle Nijhuis:

For the love of trees

Last summer, after 15 years in western Colorado, my family moved back to the Pacific Northwest. The move was a shock in many ways, taking us from dry to wet, rural to town, red politics to blue. The topography here is different, the wildlife is different, and the trees are very, very different.

But our neighbors' attachment to the forests is familiar. Whether surrounded by graceful aspen or scrubby juniper or majestic Douglas fir and western hemlocks, people care about trees in a way that goes beyond politics and logic. For most of us, forests are part of the personality of our places, and when they change, we change, too... Read more.

The mysterious reappearance of the white-bottomed bee

From other contributors:

nathan rice

 

 

Seeking balance in Oregon's timber country, by Nathan Rice

josh zaffos

 

'Port Gamble Predicament' inches toward resolution, by Josh Zaffos

 

Judith Lewis Mernit

 

Dead Southern California puma would have spread genetic diversity, by Judith Lewis Mernit

 

 

Matt Jenkins

 

New Hope for the Delta, by Matt Jenkins

 

Photo by Robert Campbell

The Best of 2013, Day 8: Ocean Acidification from Craig Welch

Happy Holidays from IJNR! During the month of December, we'll be bringing you a sampler from the "Best of 2013" - a recap of some of the best stories and series of the year from our alumni. Some of them have already been featured here on the Nooze, but many of them haven't! We hope you enjoy reading, hearing and exploring these top-notch stories as much as we have.


Craig WelchWe featured this series on The Nooze back in September, but we think it's so fantastic, we just can't help highlighting it again. Craig Welch, an environment reporter with The Seattle Times, and photographer Steve Ringman traveled the world to produce this remarkable series on ocean acidification, the "lesser-known twin of climate change" that "threatens to scramble marine life on a scale almost too big to fathom."

This series is not to be missed. Fabulous photographs, top-notch reporting, all wrapped up in a really sharp multi-media digital package. Here is a true example of the future of environment reporting.

Welch_diver

 

Sea Change: The Pacific's Perilous Turn

NORMANBY ISLAND, Papua New Guinea — Katharina Fabricius plunged from a dive boat into the Pacific Ocean of tomorrow.

She kicked through blue water until she spotted a ceramic tile attached to the bottom of a reef.

A year earlier, the ecologist from the Australian Institute of Marine Science had placed this small square near a fissure in the sea floor where gas bubbles up from the earth. She hoped the next generation of baby corals would settle on it and take root.

Fabricius yanked a knife from her ankle holster, unscrewed the plate and pulled it close. Even underwater the problem was clear. Tiles from healthy reefs nearby were covered with budding coral colonies in starbursts of red, yellow, pink and blue. This plate was coated with a filthy film of algae and fringed with hairy sprigs of seaweed.

Instead of a brilliant new coral reef, what sprouted here resembled a slimy lake bottom.

Isolating the cause was easy. Only one thing separated this spot from the lush tropical reefs a few hundred yards away.

Carbon dioxide... Read, see and hear more.

Welch_reef

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Like what you see from Craig? Find more stories from him, and other IJNR alumni, here on The Nooze, simply by typing their name into the search bar. You never know what kind of treasures you'll find on The Nooze!

The Best of 2013, Day 7: Fellow Spotlight on Robert McClure

Happy Holidays from IJNR! During the month of December, we'll be bringing you a sampler from the "Best of 2013" - a recap of some of the best stories and series of the year from our alumni. Some of them have already been featured here on the Nooze, but many of them haven't! We hope you enjoy reading, hearing and exploring these top-notch stories as much as we have.


Robert McClureToday we highlight alumnus Robert McClure.  Co-founder and executive director of the journalism nonprofit InvestigateWest, he was recently voted one of Seattle's "Most Influential People of 2013." (He's listed right there alongside rap artist Macklemore and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, which we think is pretty darn impressive!) Under his direction, InvestigateWest won 10 reporting awards in 2013 for investigative and enterprise reporting. McClure is a Pulitzer Prize finalists, and a winner of the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.

Here are a few of his 2013 stories:

The current estimate of how much fish people eat in Washington State, a key criteria for setting water quality standards, is less than one-tenth the figure used by Oregon. Credit: Jason Alcorn

Business Issues Trump Health Concerns in Fish Consumption Fight

The Washington State Department of Ecology has known since the 1990s that its water-pollution limits have meant some Washingtonians regularly consume dangerous amounts of toxic chemicals in fish from local waterways.

At least twice, Ecology has been told by its overseers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fix the problem and better protect people’s health. Ecology was close to finally doing that last year — until Boeing and other business interests launched an intense lobbying campaign aimed not just at Ecology but also at the Washington Legislature and then-Gov. Christine Gregoire. That is the picture that emerges from recent interviews as well as government documents obtained by InvestigateWest under the Washington Public Records Law.

The problem lies in Ecology’s estimate of how much fish people eat. The lower the amount, the more water pollution Ecology can legally allow. So by assuming that people eat the equivalent of just one fish meal per month, Ecology is able to set less stringent pollution limits... Read more.

For more on this fish-consumption story, see the version that Robert did for KQED's QUEST-Northwest:

Scientists Want to Know How Much Fish You Ate Last Night

How Boeing, Allies Torpedoed State Rules on Toxic Fish

Duwamish Valley Residents Face Health Threats, Study Shows as EPA Chooses Superfund Cleanup Plan

 

The Best of 2013, Day 4: What's for lunch?

Happy Holidays from IJNR! During the month of December, we'll be bringing you a sampler from the "Best of 2013" - a recap of some of the best stories and series of the year from our alumni. Some of them have already been featured here on the Nooze, but many of them haven't! We hope you enjoy reading, hearing and exploring these top-notch stories as much as we have.


sam eatonToday we hear from alumnus Sam Eaton.  On offer we have some of his contributions to the incredible series "Food for 9 Billion: What's for Lunch?" which is a project of Marketplace, PBS, Homelands Productions, and The Center for Investigative Reporting. This globe-spanning investigation explores how we might keep ourselves fed during this time of rapid environmental and social change.

Intensive Lunch: Indians Find Hope in a Controversial Rice Growing Technique

Eaton_riceIn Bihar, India's poorest state, a group of women in colorful saris sing a song about Sri. "Sri," is another name for the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. But these women are all farmers and for them SRI has another meaning: System of Rice Intensification.

The song describes each of the simple steps involved in this novel way of growing rice and ends by describing how it's transformed their lives.

45-year-old Sako Dev says the SRI method has doubled and tripled her harvests of not only rice, but also wheat and vegetables. She says before she couldn't grow enough food on her small plot to feed her seven children. But now she not only has enough food, she also has money to send her children to school...Read and hear more. 

Carbon Neutral Lunch: Costa Rica Looks to Lead on Climate-Friendly Ag

Eaton_carbon lunchCosta Rica is a tiny country with big plans. Four years ago its leaders declared that it would become the world's first carbon-neutral nation by 2021 — transportation, energy, everything — including agriculture, which represents a whopping 37 percent of Costa Rica's emissions.

Agricultural emissions can be some of the toughest to reduce. But you wouldn't know it talking with farmers like Maria Luisa Jimenez, one of hundreds of Costa Rican small farmers who are replacing conventional agricultural practices with cheap, low-carbon technologies... Read and hear more. 

Alt Staple Lunch: Mexicans Push Return of an Ancient Grain

Eaton_AmaranthOnce as fundamental to Central and South American diets as corn and beans, amaranth virtually disappeared after the Spanish banned it because of its use in Aztec human sacrifice rituals. Now there are efforts to bring it back as a staple in Mexico, for its both superior nutritional qualities and its resistance to the pressures of a changing climate.

In some ways this is a tale of two seeds–corn and amaranth. Both were domesticated long ago in southern Mexico's Tehuacan valley. Both were pounded into flour to make tamales and tortillas. Along with beans, the two were the staples that allowed the Aztec empire to prosper. The difference is that corn went on to become the cornerstone of the world food system, while amaranth went mostly into the history books... Read and hear more.

Scaling Up: Vietnamese Fish Farms Search for Eco-Friendly Formula

Eaton_fishfarm

In the 1960s, Vietnam’s late communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, encouraged the rural poor to dig fishponds as a way to boost their nutrition. The small ponds were integrated into family farms, where fish fed on agricultural waste until they became food themselves. The farmers then drained the ponds and fertilized their fields with the sludge before starting the cycle all over again – never buying a single bag of feed or fertilizer.

Today's model couldn’t be more different. This is the sound of feeding time at a catfish farm in the Mekong River Delta. Workers bang the floorboards on a raft and then pour 50-pound bags of commercial fish pellets, which consist mostly of imported soy meal, into the water. The surface of the pond explodes with fish so dense, it looks like you can walk across them... Read more. 

Do you like what you see from Sam? If you want more, just type "Sam Eaton" into the search bar here on The Nooze, and see how many more of his stories pop up! Feel free to search for any of our other alumni as well, and see what kind of Nooze you find!

IJNR's Holiday Gift to you! The Best of 2013

Happy Holidays from IJNR! During the month of December, we'll be bringing you a sampler from the "Best of 2013" - a recap of some of the best stories and series of the year from our alumni. Some of them have already been featured here on the Nooze, but many of them haven't! We hope you enjoy reading, hearing and exploring these top-notch stories as much as we have.


Isabelle GrocTo kick off our month, what could be more wintery than an absolutely tremendous ten-part series on the narwhal? Written and photographed by Isabelle Groc and published in Georgia Straight, this series is the result of a two-week trip that Groc took to Baffin Island, during which she got to work alongside biologists, veterinarians, and Inuit hunters to study one of the most elusive animals in the world. The result is a fabulous example of what can happen when journalists have the opportunity to get out into the world, meet with scientists and tribal members, and experience issues firsthand.

Groc_tents

Part 1: First Contact

As a wildlife photographer, I have documented many of Canada’s species at risk, from delicate butterfly species to massive grizzly bears. But the narwhal is the most intriguing and fascinating species, so when I had the opportunity to join a group of scientists and Inuit hunters on a narwhal research expedition, I did not hesitate. I packed my warmest clothes, acquired a heavy-duty sleeping bag, and I flew to Pond Inlet, a community of 1,500 people in Baffin Island, Nunavut... Read and see more.

Groc_whale

 

Part 2: Research Camp Part 3: A Species at the Crossroads Part 4: Whale in the Net Part 5: On Watch Part 6: Tusk Mysteries Part 7: The Beluga and the Spider Part 8: On the Ground Part 9: Yummy Sound Part 10: What Happens Next

Mining Country Follow-up

Here are some final posts from our 2013 Mining Country Institute, and links to some of the many stories that the journalists on the trip are already cranking out! IJNR's own Adam Hinterthuer reports from the road:

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Mary Catherine O'ConnorFrom Mary Catherine O'Connor, a story for Outside Magazine online about the status of wolves in the public eye:

Wolf Tourism: So Hot Right Now

It's hard to be stealthy in a 40-foot motor coach. But Phil, our fearless driver who had been schlepping the 20 of us journalists around Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin all week, did his best as we ventured deeper into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, in search of wolves. 

Our secret weapon was Dave MacFarland, carnivore staff specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Wildlife Management. He had scouted the area earlier and had found some signs of the local Pembine pack. But the scat was days old so he wasn't very confident that any wolves would be close enough to hear his howls... Read and hear more.

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chris engle and raccoonChris Engle with the Gaylord Herald Times and Petoskey News covers the region's wolves from a different angle:

Wolf hunt on for 2013, up to voters in 2014

UPPER PENINSULA — Michigan’s first wolf hunt in 50 years could be its last, at least for the foreseeable future, as referendums will put the fate of further hunts in the hands of voters.

Licenses will go on sale late this month for the 2013 season, the first state-sanctioned wolf hunt since Michigan stopped paying a bounty on wolves in the 1960s. 

A total of 1,200 licenses will be available starting Saturday, Sept. 28 and hunting opens with Michigan’s rifle deer season Friday, Nov. 15. 

A harvest quota has been set at 43 wolves.

Brian Roell, a wildlife biologist and field wolf specialist for the Department of Natural Resources in Marquette, said Michigan’s wolves are a “success story,” re-establishing themselves in the Great Lakes State after earlier attempts to transplant them to the Upper Peninsula failed... Read more.

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Chuck QuirmbachAnd from Chuck Quirmbach with Wisconsin Public Radio, a whole handful of stories that came from the Institute:

DNR Says Wolf Hunt Quotas Will Adjust Population

Pipeline That Would Send Crude Oil To Superior Still In Planning Phase

Lake Superior's Ongoing Transformation, Courtesy of Climate Change

With its Legality in Limbo, Harvest Camp Begins Planning for Winter Occupation

Mining in Upper Peninsula: A Window into Northern Wisconsin's Future?

One State Over, A Soon-To-Be Mine Stirs Up Controversy of its Own

Chuck Quirmbach interviews Lake Superior. (Photo by Mary Catherine O'Connor)