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outdoors

Our series Take A Number is exploring problems around the world — and the people who are trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number.

The autographs of people who have stood atop the world's highest mountain line the walls of the Rum Doodle Bar and Restaurant in Kathmandu. The best known is the late Edmund Hillary, half of the two-person team that first reached the top of Mount Everest in 1953. His climbing partner, the late Tenzing Norgay, was a member of Nepal's Sherpa ethnic group.

The Interior Department is abandoning a plan to more than double entrance fees to some of the country's most popular national parks, opting instead to apply a "modest" fee increase to 117 parks beginning this summer in an effort to raise funds for park maintenance.

The announcement Thursday comes after an outcry from the public and from lawmakers, who were concerned that certain large increases that were initially proposed would price people out of the nation's parks.

On Sunday, April 8, 2018, 7,000 cyclists braved wind and rain to get the last ride across the viaduct.
KUOW Photo/Casey Martin

If you were driving through Seattle Sunday you may have noticed the Alaskan Way Viaduct was closed all morning.

Well, closed to cars that is. The bridge was open to bikes.


A report out last month says visitors spent nearly $740 million in communities near U.S. Forest Service lands in Washington and Oregon. The number of visitors and dollars coming into the region hasn’t changed much in nearly two decades.

L.L. Bean's outdoor gear — including its signature Bean Boots prized by campers and hipsters alike — is no longer guaranteed for life.

In a letter to customers Friday morning, the company said it has updated its return policy to give customers one year to return purchases, with a receipt. The previous lifetime guarantee, which enabled customers to return products years — or even decades — after purchase, has long been a selling point for the company.

'The Legend of Bigfoot' is a store along Highway 101 in northern California.
Flickr Photo/Amit Patel (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/dAdW3o

Bigfoot might not be real, but he's a heck of a fundraiser. We are forever fascinated with that critter and now a Washington state senator wants to harness that fascination to help maintain Washington state parks. 

Human skin is a cornucopia of fragrances.

The bacteria living on our skin emit more than 200 odor chemicals.

"Many of these molecules smell quite pleasant," says biologist Jeff Riffell at the University of Washington. "They smell grassy or a little bit like mushrooms. Some human scents are the same ones found in flowers."

Other chemicals — well — they aren't so nice. "They're pretty funky," Riffell says, like an overripe Brie cheese or a musty basement.

Gardener Marcia High of Seattle's Kubota Garden overlooks the landscape in front of Moon Bridge.
KUOW Photo/Angela Nhi Nguyen

If you’re looking for something outdoorsy yet tame to do, there’s a free place to visit this winter: Seattle's Kubota Garden. 

NASA, Scientists Want Help Measuring The Snow

Dec 5, 2017

Cities, farmers, and conservationists all need to know how much water is in each winter’s snowpack.

But there aren’t many weather stations that measure the snowpack, and “they tend to be at lower elevations,” says David Hill, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Oregon State University.

That’s why a team of Northwest scientists and NASA are looking for help. They’re asking snowshoers, snowmobilers, and skiers in Washington and Oregon to measure snow depth in the backcountry.

 

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is calling for one of the Northwest’s national monuments to be reduced in size.

 Zinke released a months-old report Tuesday making recommendations to President Trump on the fate of national monuments that previous presidents had established or expanded. Among the recommendations: that the president roll back at least part of the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National monument.

The Historic Multnomah Falls Lodge opened its doors to visitors Wednesday for the first time since the Eagle Creek Fire prompted its closure in September — peak visitor season.

Remnants of the fire remain, leaving popular areas off-limits to visitors including the lower viewing platform and trails surrounding the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon.

In 2015, University of Washington biologist Elli Theobald and her fellow researchers caught a glimpse of the future.

"The climate conditions in that year happened to mimic what we expect the climate conditions to be in the 2080s under unabated climate change," Theobald says.

Different flower species responded differently to the hot, dry weather. Some flowered a little earlier. Others flowered a lot earlier. Some flowered for a shorter time. And others flowered for a longer time.

When he's not bow hunting elk, Ty Stubblefield, an organizer with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, is fighting to protect public land - and it's cost him some friendships.
Courtesy of Ty Stubblefield

Ty Stubblefield self-identifies as a “red blooded conservative,” but he’s also an avid hunter who is frustrated with the Republican party’s efforts to transfer public lands out of federal control. So, he’s fighting back.

Eunice Lake from Tolmie Peak in Rainier National Park, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Next summer fees may increase at the 17 seventeen busiest national parks, including Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier.

The Park Service is asking for public comments on a new proposal that would nearly triple some entrance fees.

Coming To Washington Ski Slopes: Fake Snow

Oct 24, 2017

This winter, skiers and snowboarders will see something new at Crystal Mountain — a robust $5 million snowmaking system designed to fight warmer winters in the Pacific Northwest.

Crystal’s state-of-the-art program features 36 new snow guns on the lower mountain that have the capacity to create up to 53 football fields covered in snow in a 24-hour period.

Is this the new normal for ski areas in the historically snow-rich Cascades?

Mount Rainier, or Tahoma, Tacobet, Ti'Swaq or Pooskaus.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

You need a to pack a lot more than a granola bar when you head out on a day hike.

 

Bill Radke talked with Taylor Brugh, vice president of Seattle Mountain Rescue, and Sandeep Nain, owner of the Redmond-based guiding company Miyar Adventures, about how to stay safe in the mountains — even if you’re just planning to be out for a few hours.

 

Hikers at Rattlesnake Ledge. The number of visitors to this trail have been increasing over the last years.
Flickr Photo/Matt Kowalczyk (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6unaK9

Our region is growing, and so is the use of hiking trails. If you’ve been to Rattlesnake Ledge near North Bend, then you already know that.

Courtesy of Darrell Smart

“I love hearing a lawyer embracing risk.”

Those affirmative words came from professional climbing guide Dallas Glass, speaking with climber Darrell Smart, whose day job is as a litigator.

Don’t expect to take in the stellar views from the top of Angel’s Rest anytime soon.

That's just one of popular hiking trails in the Columbia River Gorge that lies inside the perimeter of the Eagle Creek wildfire (see complete list below).

Rachel Pawlitz of the Gorge National Scenic Area says some of the best-known trails in the Gorge – including Multnomah and Wahkeena Falls, Larch Mountain and, of course, Eagle Creek – will be off limits at least until spring.

The Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge continues to burn, though not nearly as wildly as it did a week ago.

At a Monday night meeting in Troutdale, fire and law enforcement officials briefed members of the public about how firefighters are tackling the roughly 34,000-acre blaze.

"We've developed a strategy that we're just going to have to let it burn," said Rick Miller, operations section chief on the Eagle Creek Fire.

Ashley Ahearn and Sally Jewell at The Mountaineers Program Center
KUOW Photo/Lisa Wang

Chances are you’ve heard the name Sally Jewell in engineering, business, recreational, environmental or political news. Her career has touched on all of those areas, from her early days in the oil fields of Oklahoma to a long stretch in the banking industry; from a successful run as CEO of REI to becoming only the second woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of the Interior. 

Hunters, fishermen and other sportsmen had high expectations when Ryan Zinke was tapped to be President Trump's interior secretary, in part because of his promise to bring a balanced, Teddy Roosevelt-style vision to managing public lands.

But the former Republican congressman from Montana is now the target of a critical ad campaign by one of those groups, a symptom of eroding support among a deep-pocketed faction that has become increasingly influential.

Smoke billows over the Jolly Mountain Fire near Roslyn, Washington, on Friday, Sept. 1, in this aerial image.
Great Basin Incident Management Team 4

Heavy smoke is blanketing several cities as multiple fires continue to burn in Washington state.

A statewide state of emergency is in place and air quality is being impacted from Seattle to Spokane.

A Portland woman says the young hikers suspected of starting a fire now consuming the Columbia River Gorge giggled as one threw a firecracker into Eagle Creek Canyon.

One suspect has been identified as a 15-year-old male from Vancouver, Washington. Oregon State Police spokesman Bill Fugate said if charged, the suspect could face the same state charges as an adult. Fugate said OSP will release the suspect's name if and when charges are filed. It is believed he and others may have been using fireworks which started the forest fire along the Eagle Creek Trail. 

Wildfires burning in the Western U.S. are threatening some of America's most treasured national parks – and in some areas, the damage has already been done.

Last week in Montana, a 20-square-mile blaze burned the historic Sperry Chalet, a hotel and dining room built in 1914 and only reachable by trail.

Advocates are worried that Trump administration policy changes will damage the ability of national parks to deal with climate change.

Studies show climate change could have serious impacts on national parks in the Northwest.

Mountain Goats are not native to the Olympic Peninsula. The Parks Service is deciding how to manage the population.
Flickr Photo/ld_germain (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/LM9e5

Bill Radke speaks with Rob Smith, the Northwest regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association, about the Olympic National Park's plan to either kill or relocate the estimated 625 non-native mountain goats in the park. The goats are seen as a hassle for hikers and a threat to native plant and animal life.

We also hear from Rachel Bjork, a board member with Northwest Animal Rights Network, about why she thinks the animals shouldn't be killed or moved. 

The National Parks Service will be taking public comment until September 26. You can fill out the survey at their site.

Mount Rainier, or Tahoma, Tacobet, Ti'Swaq or Pooskaus.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Washington state and federal officials want to make it easier for you to access the state's many parks and recreation areas.

Right now, there are about 20 different kinds of passes, leading to a lot of confusion for park goers. 

Olympic National Park is inching ahead on a plan to reduce or eliminate its population of non-native mountain goats. A draft plan released Monday for public comment includes options to relocate or kill the animals.

A woman was killed in a climbing accident in Washington’s North Cascades National Park over the weekend.




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