Ashley Ahearn | KUOW News and Information

Ashley Ahearn

Environment Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 2011

Ashley Ahearn is KUOW’s award-winning environment reporter and the host of a new  national podcast on the environment, terrestrial. Each episode explores the choices we make in a world we have changed. 

Ashley has been covering the environment for NPR and member stations for more than a decade and you've probably heard her stories on Morning Edition, Marketplace, All Things Considered, The World and other national shows, as well as right here on KUOW in Seattle. 

She has a masters in science journalism from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California. In her spare time she rides motorcycles and snowboards and hikes in the Olympic and Cascade mountains with her husband and her ridiculously spoiled labradoodle. 

Ways to Connect

Day becomes night when industrial smog is heavy in North Birmingham, Alabama, as on this day in July of 1972. Sitting adjacent to the U.S. Pipe plant, this is the most heavily polluted area of the city.
LeRoy Woodson for the EPA via NARA https://catalog.archives.gov/id/545397

The Trump administration has proposed cutting the EPA's budget by 30 percent. What does that mean for polluted communities in the U.S.? 


Liza Jane McAlister of Oregon opens a gate for the hay truck on 6 Ranch as her herding dog looks on from the back.
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Why would a fourth-generation rancher who doesn't put much trust in the government choose to work with federal agencies to restore salmon runs on her property? 


Micah White moved to Nehalem, Oregon, a few years ago and later ran for mayor. He wanted to test a revolutionary theory: that progressives need to seize control of the country via the democratic process and run for local office in small communities.
Flickr Photo/Internaz https://flic.kr/p/goMEa8 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

It’s a radical idea — that protest as we know it is broken. And a lot of people disagreed with Micah White when he first started talking about it, but he believes it’s time for activists to try something else. 

Katrina Spade (orange hat) of the Urban Death Project works with student volunteers to prepare a mulch pile at the Western Carolina University Forensic Osteology Research Center. (Tap on this image for more photos of the burial)
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

I was about 12 years old when my great aunt Gilda died.


Ashley Ahearn, host of terrestrial, a new national podcast housed at KUOW in Seattle.Ashley Ahearn, host of terrestrial, a new national podcast produced out of KUOW in Seattle.
Photo by Melanie Moore

When I first heard the term eco-anxiety — a chronic fear of environmental doom — I brushed it off. It seemed like something for people who sit on yoga mats and worry about how the world is going to end because we’re not recycling enough.

terrestrial

Apr 20, 2017

terrestrial explores the choices we make in a world we have changed. Host Ashley Ahearn travels the country — from ranches in Oregon to churches in Colorado — to bring listeners stories about people making personal choices in the face of environmental change.

Listen on the web or subscribe in iTunes.

Preview: terrestrial

Apr 13, 2017

A new podcast from KUOW explores the choices we make in a world we have changed. Host Ashley Ahearn travels the country — from ranches in Oregon to churches in Colorado — to bring listeners stories about people making choices in the face of environmental change. Debuts May 2, 2017.

The Olympic Peninsula was Charles Nelson’s best medicine.

The Army veteran had served during 1990s conflicts in Somalia and Kuwait before returning home to Seattle. Nelson couldn’t cope with daily life as a civilian. Something as common as an unexpected car-door slam gave him a shiver of fear. Doctors diagnosed him with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He joined a group of veterans who took weekly hikes deep into the rainforest.

“It was better therapy for me than anything else I’ve really been through,” Nelson said.

Flickr Photo/Javacolleen (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Seattle has a rat problem. Rat sightings in Seattle are double the national average. Population growth is part of the problem; so is the weather.

That’s meant good business for Adam Truitt, owner of Pest Fighter.

Advocates for a healthier Puget Sound have long contended that it needs to be treated as a nationally significant water body, just like the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay.

Such recognition, they say, will attract more money and attention for improving the Sound’s environmental health.

Ben Silesky, 26, and Sydney Allen, 21, go door to door to raise awareness and support for ballot Initiative 732, which would put a tax on carbon emissions in Washington.
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

If you could make energy companies pay $25 for every ton of CO2 they emitted, would you?

What if that tax increased your electric bill and the cost of gasoline by 25 cents per gallon – but the revenue from that tax reduced sales taxes and gave money back to low-income families in the form of a rebate?

Growing up on a farm in the rural hills of Uganda, Carol Bogezi knew that fending off predators was critical to her family’s survival.

They used bows and arrows to keep monkeys from eating their vegetables and wild cats from harassing their goats. But beyond the predator-prey dynamics, there were complicated human dynamics to deal with, as well. Her father had three wives and 17 children so Carol often sought peace and quiet out in the fields where she’d watch antelope frolic and study the different types of plants and grasses.

KUOW environment report Ashley Ahearn speaks with Carol Bogezi about how growing up on a farm in Uganda lead her to studying human-carnivore relationships at University of Washington and working with ranchers and wolves in Eastern Washington. Bogezi is the recipient of a $100,000 award for environmental leadership from Seattle’s Bullitt Foundation.

A federal jury in Seattle has awarded a former BNSF Railway worker, and whistleblower, more than $1.6 million.

In 2010, Curtis Rookaird alerted federal officials that his employer had told him to forego an important brake test on a train carrying oil and hazardous materials. He was later fired.

A coal mine operation in Wyoming.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

The Lummi Nation’s Tribal Chairman Timothy Ballew pulled fellow council member Travis Brockie into his office to announce the big news:

He’d just gotten off the phone with Col. John Buck of the Army Corps of Engineers.


The U.S.S. Bear, a cutter that was dispatched by President McKinley to rescue the Belvedere and other ice-bound whaling ships. The Bear wasn’t able to break through the ice to Point Barrow until July 28, 1898. Today, there is no ice.
U.S. Library of Congress

Audio Pending...

When the steamship Belvedere left San Francisco in the spring of 1897, its crew members couldn’t have known what a treacherous voyage awaited them.

A ship moored at the Port of Tacoma not far from the proposed site of the largest methanol plant in the world.
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

It wasn’t long ago that Tacoma was known for its distinctive industrial smell, the so-called “aroma of Tacoma.” But in recent years, as more young people move to the city, the arts and cultural scene has flourished, some say eclipsing the city’s industrial past.

For decades, a growing number of consumers have turned to organic produce as a healthier alternative to vegetables and fruits grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

It turns out that organic crops are better suited for farmlands subjected to drought conditions, according to a study published today in the the journal Nature Plants.

This story was updated at 6 p.m. PST

The City of Seattle is suing Monsanto for manufacturing a cancer-causing chemical that's contaminating the city's Duwamish Waterway.

Monsanto was the sole producer of the chemicals PCBs from the 1930s through the ‘70s. They were used globally to make coolants, paints, lubricants and for other industrial purposes. PCBs also served a fire protection and safety protection for the electrical and other industries, according to the company.

Activist Michael Lapointe at the BNSF Railway blockade in September 2014.
Rising Tide Seattle

Five climate change activists who blocked an oil train in Everett were convicted Friday of trespassing – but the jury gave environmentalists something to celebrate anyway.

Activist Michael Lapointe at the BNSF Railway blockade in September 2014.
Rising Tide Seattle

Five environmental activists who chained themselves to train tracks in Everett to protest oil and coal trains begin trial in Snohomish County District Court on Monday.

The activists face criminal charges alleging they trespassed on BNSF Railway property and blocked an oil train for eight hours on Sept. 2, 2014.

Snohomish PUD's early designs for marine turbines that would have been part of a tidal energy pilot in Puget Sound.
COURTESY OF SNOHOMISH COUNTY PUD

A Washington utility has surrendered its federal license to install tidal turbines at the bottom of Puget Sound.

The Snohomish County Public Utility District wanted to put two turbines on the bottom of Puget Sound near Whidbey Island. But at the very end of last year it gave up its federal license.

A budget deal that’s heading for final action Friday includes a provision that could create international demand for American oil — and help make the case for building rail-to-ship export terminals on the West Coast.

Lake Washington and Mount Rainier from O.O. Denny Park in Kirkland.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

It’s not in your head. Seattle's Lake Washington is getting warmer and more comfortable to swim in every year. And it’s not the only lake experiencing a rapid rise in temperature.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, one of the 'super-nationals,' with a solar installation in Paris.
Washington State Governor's Office

The Paris climate talks have shifted the spotlight to a group of international leaders dubbed “sub-nationals” -- but one of those leaders from the Pacific Northwest prefers a different title.

A coal-fired power plant in Wyoming. Burning coal is the world’s leading source of carbon pollution and it has a direct impact on global climate change and the future of the world’s oceans.
MICHAEL WERNER

A voter initiative that would put a tax on carbon emissions has gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot in 2016.

NOAA scientist Jeff Hogan uses a long pole to attach a 'D-tag' to an orca near Rosario Strait in the San Juan Islands in 2012. One side of the tag is lined with octopus-looking suction cups, the other bears a tiny antenna.
Ashley Ahearn, KUOW/EarthFix (all photos collected under NMFS ESA Scientific Research Permit #16163)

Boat speed is a big problem for Puget Sound’s endangered killer whales, according to new research published Wednesday.

Shane Underwood (left) and his son, David, stand at the Quinault Indian Nation’s seafood plant in Taholah, Washington. The loss of the largest glacier that feeds the Quinault River and rising seas are threatening the tribe’s way of life.
Ashley Ahearn, KUOW/EarthFix

TAHOLAH, Wash. - A big question is confronting international leaders in the Paris climate talks: How do they help poor, island and coastal nations threatened by rising oceans, extreme weather and other climate change-related risks?

In the Northwest, sea-level rise is forcing a Native American tribe to consider abandoning lands it has inhabited for thousands of years.

International leaders gathering in Paris to address global warming face increasing pressure to tackle the issue of "climate refugees." Some island nations are already looking to move their people to higher ground, even purchasing land elsewhere in preparation.

In the U.S. Northwest, sea-level rise is forcing a Native American tribe to consider abandoning lands it has inhabited for thousands of years.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
Facebook Photo/Governor Jay Inslee

Bill Radke talks to KUOW environment reporter Ashley Ahearn about what Washington Governor Jay Inslee and other local leaders are doing in Paris for the UN climate summit.

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