Ashley Ahearn

Environment Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 2011

Ashley is the environment reporter at KUOW and part of the award-winning regional multimedia collaborative project EarthFix. Before joining KUOW Ashley was a producer and reporter for Living on Earth, a nationally aired environment program from Public Radio International.

She has a master's degree in science journalism from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California and has completed reporting fellowships with Vermont Law School, the Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island and the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources. She also serves on the board of the Society of Environmental Journalists. In her spare time Ashley enjoys riding vintage motorcycles, snowboarding and hiking in the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges of the Northwest.

Ashley has completed reporting fellowships MIT with Vermont Law School, the Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island, and the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources. Her work has received national and regional awards from the Online News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists and others. 

Ways to Connect

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.

Crows fly from all over the Seattle region to reach their nighttime destination, where thousands upon thousands of them spend the night together.
KCTS9 Photo/Ken Christensen

Listener Lauren Linscheid of Seattle sees crows flying every day toward Lake City Way. “I want to know where they’re going and why,” Lauren told KUOW’s Local Wonder team. We sent reporter Ashley Ahearn to investigate.

William Ruckelshaus in a 2012 file photo. Ruckelshaus was named a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient in 2015.
KCTS9/EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Environmental elder statesman William Ruckelshaus may not have decided where to display the Presidential Medal of Freedom he will be receiving at a White House ceremony Tuesday, but he has decided how to have a little fun with it.

“Well I’ve threatened my wife to wear it outside my suit coat in the daytime and inside my pajamas at night so it wouldn’t hit her in the face when I turned over,” joked the 83-year-old Ruckelshaus before admitting he really doesn’t know what he’ll do with the medal, one of 17 being awarded.

Washington forestry officials have updated state guidelines for evaluating unstable slopes that, if logged, could contribute to landslides.

Yakama Nation and Lummi Nation tribal members protest in May 2014 against the proposed coal export facility in Boardman, Ore. A Pacific Rim trade agreement raises questions about whether investors could challenge state decisions to stop such facilities.
COURTNEY FLATT, NWPR/EARTHFIX

After more than five years of negotiations and much secrecy, the Obama Administration released the full text of a controversial Pacific Rim trade deal Thursday. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement streamlines business between 12 Asia-Pacific countries, including the United States.

After more than five years of negotiations and much secrecy, the Obama Administration released the full text of a controversial Pacific Rim trade deal Thursday. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement streamlines business between 12 Asia-Pacific countries, including the United States.

It’s a 6,000-page document that stakeholders on a number of fronts — including agriculture, manufacturing, the environment and labor — are just starting to dissect as they prepare to lobby Congress, which will likely decide next spring whether or not to ratify the deal.

Carlo Voli quit his corporate job a few years ago to become a full time Community Supported Activist. He's been fighting fossil fuels and climate change ever since.
Ashley Ahearn, KUOW/EarthFix

LYNNWOOD, Wash. – Carlo Voli moves through the crowd of protesters outside a recent public hearing in Washington.

He pauses to talk to a woman holding a cardboard cutout of an oil train and directs her over to where a group holding similar train car posters is lining up to complete the phrase “No More Exploding Oil Trains.”

Lynnwood, Wash. -- Carlo Voli moves through the crowd of protesters outside a recent public hearing in Washington. He pauses to talk to a woman holding a cardboard cutout of an oil train and directs her over to where a group holding similar train car posters is lining up to complete the phrase “No More Exploding Oil Trains.” One by one, as the crowd grows, local politicians, tribal members and activists take the microphone to urge opposition to a proposal to bring oil by rail to Shell’s refinery in northern Puget Sound.

Reporter Ashley Ahearn dug into the Northwest history of the B-17 bomber with her father, Joe Ahearn, Jr.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

There’s an old photograph in my father’s office that I’ve always wondered about. In it my grandfather and nine other young airmen stand in front of their B-17 plane, shoulders squared, staring proudly at the camera. They were probably in England at the time, getting ready to fly bombing raids over Germany in 1943.

Crabs, shrimp and fish lie dead in shallow water near Potlatch State Park along Hood Canal on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015.
Skokomish Tribe Department of Natural Resources/Seth Book

HOODSPORT, Washington -- Marine life is struggling to survive in the oxygen-starved waters of Hood Canal.

Hundreds of rockfish hovered in shallow water near shore this weekend, listlessly crowded together to access the limited oxygen closest to the surface. Wolf eels, normally reclusive creatures, came out of their dens, “panting” so as to move water over their gills and avoid suffocating.

Amanda Cronin stands near the Dungeness River downstream from where water could be diverted during higher flows to fill a reservoir.
EarthFix/KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

This is the first story in a two-part series on how drought and climate change are changing how the Northwest relies on reservoirs to meet water needs.

SEQUIM, Wash. – For more than a century, the snowmelt that fed the Dungeness River here has provided water for farmers’ crops as well as salmon journeying to the ocean and back.

 The Goodell fire burns near a power line that transmits electricity from Seattle City Light’s three dams on the Skagit River to customers in Seattle and beyond.
Seattle City Light photo/Cody Watson

Eight fires have burned more than 4,000 acres in Washington’s North Cascades. The largest of the fires has damaged transmission lines, leading Seattle City Light to shut down power generation at three dams on the Skagit River.

The utility is losing $100,000 in revenue each day that the lines are down. Conditions have remained unsafe for repair crews to work on the power lines.

Q: Have the fires damaged the dams?

Chris Burns, natural resources technician with Washington’s Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, stands in the Dungeness River. Flows are roughly one-third of normal, prompting fears that salmon won’t be able to make it upstream to spawn.
EarthFix-KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

PORT ANGELES, Wash. – The fishing aisle at Swain’s General Store is stocked with tackle for catching salmon and trout on nearby rivers.

But something is missing among the rows of lures, floats and ornately tied flies: customers.

Mark Huff was a young post-graduate student back in 1978 when the Hoh Fire burned 1,250 acres not too far from the site of the current Paradise Fire. He’s been studying Olympic rainforest fires ever since. Historically, these fires occur every 500-1,000 y
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

PORT ANGELES, Wash. -- It’s 6 a.m. and a special team of fire response coordinators is gathered at Port Angeles High School.

This incident command center is more than 100 miles from the wildfire they’re dealing with: the Paradise Fire, which is burning on the western edge of Olympic National Park.

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