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World Faces Global Sand Shortage

Jul 21, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This summer, scientists in California are releasing 20 million mosquitoes in an effort to shrink the population of mosquitoes that can carry diseases.

It sounds counterintuitive. But the plan is to release millions of sterile male mosquitoes, which will then mate with wild female mosquitoes. The eggs the females lay won't hatch, researchers say.

Hiking a trail off Snoqualmie Pass. But we're not telling you where, because the photographer wants to keep it to herself.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with Fitz Cahall, host of the podcast The Dirtbag Dairies, and  Jill Simmons, executive director of the Washington Trails Association, about the impact that our region's growing population is having on hiking trails around Washington. 

When my editors asked me to report on forest bathing, I packed a swimsuit. I assumed it must involve a dip in the water.

It turns out, my interpretation was too literal.

I met certified Forest Therapy guide Melanie Choukas-Bradley and several other women who'd come along for the adventure at the footbridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island, a dense jungle of an urban forest along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryane Zinke announced Thursday that the Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington and Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho won’t lose their federal designation.

Courtesy of Paul Bongaarts

One of the truisms about living in the Great Northwest is that wherever you are, it doesn’t take long to get out into the mountains. Whether we’re from here or migrated here, we crow about the natural beauty and adventure that surround us.

For the first time in more than four decades, the Yellowstone grizzly bear is set to lose its federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. Citing a rebound in the bear's population, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its intention Thursday to end these protections and return oversight of the animal's status to the state level.

The agency says the rule to remove the grizzly from the endangered species list will be published "in coming days" and "will take effect 30 days after publication."

A federal judge will allow the Trump administration to complete its review of national monuments before deciding how to move forward with a lawsuit involving the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Two timber companies in southern Oregon have filed a lawsuit against the expansion, arguing the enlarged Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is a violation of presidential authority and could hamper their logging operations.

View of Mt. Rainier from the Paradise parking lot.
KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

"Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness," that's what the famous naturalist John Muir said. Sounds like Muir would not want his cell phone to work at Mount Rainier National Park.

But the park service wants to know what you think about a proposal to add cell service at Mount Rainier's Paradise Visitors Center. Public comment is open now.

KUOW producer Matt Martin explains to host Bill Radke about what people visiting Paradise think about the proposal. 

A biker on the Burke-Gilman Trail.
Flickr Photo/King County Parks Your Big Backyard (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/TEXi8A

If you live in Seattle and own a bike, you’re probably acquainted with the Burke-Gilman trail. But are you acquainted with Burke and Gilman?

Every morning hundreds of thousands of people traverse Austin's congested roads to get to work. Most of them have probably thought: There’s got to be a better way.

This is the story of one man who found it.

It was time for Emily Harrington to make a choice.

Harrington is a professional climber. In 2014, she was trying to reach the top of the tallest peak in Southeast Asia, a little-known mountain called Hkakabo Razi that had been successfully climbed only once before.

Brett Lowell/Courtesy of Viking/Penguin Books

Tommy Caldwell understands risk and adventure better than most. Two years ago, he became the first person to free climb the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

The wall is more than half a mile of sheer, vertical granite — and Caldwell made the climb with nothing but a rope tied around his waist.

When Anthony Planakis was going through the New York Police Academy, they told him to write his interests down on a little card.

"Beekeeping, of course I put that down," says 54-year-old Planakis, who is a fourth generation beekeeper. "And the very first job, the sergeant comes right up to me and I just look up and go, 'Hey, Sarge,' and he goes, 'Bees?' and I go, 'Yeah, where?' 'Harlem.' And I go, 'Cool.' That was it, that was the first job I handled," he says.

Screenshot of Fred Beckey from 'Dirtbag,' directed by Dave O'Leske.
YouTube

Fred Beckey, 94, is a Northwest mountaineering legend. From his teen years he has monomaniacally devoted himself to climbing mountains and documenting those ascents in guidebooks.

But he’s never achieved the same levels of fame and wealth as other pioneering mountaineers of his generation. That may be changing. There’s a a new documentary film his life called "Dirtbag." Ross Reynolds speaks to its director, Dave O'Leske.

You probably have seen standup paddleboarders along your local shoreline. But can you imagine paddling one of those boards for 750 miles up the Inside Passage to Alaska?

Washington AG Pledges To Defend National Monuments

May 11, 2017

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is pledging to defend the state’s national monuments. Ferguson sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke defending the Hanford Reach National Monument, which is up for review under an executive order.

Georgia Tech

To the list of global problems the world’s oceans are facing, you can add another: They’re losing oxygen.

The Pacific Ocean off the U.S. West Coast, from central California to Alaska, is one of the hardest-hit areas.


San Juan Islands National Monument
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with the New York Times Seattle bureau chief Kirk Johnson about the latest executive order from President Donald Trump to review national monuments created in the past 20 years. There are two of those monuments here in Washington: the San Juan Islands National Monument and the Hanford Reach National Monument. 

This spring and summer may be a doozy for Lyme disease, at least in parts of the Northeast.

"We're anticipating 2017 to be a particularly risky year for Lyme," says Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York.

Ostfeld has been studying the debilitating tick-borne disease for more than 20 years, and has developed an early warning system based on mice. For more on that, check out the piece in our sister blog, Goats and Soda.

What Happened To Mount Hood's Glacier Caves?

Feb 21, 2017

Beginning in 2011, a team of explorers led by Brent McGregor, Eduardo “Eddy” Cartaya and Scott Linn began exploring a system of spectacular glacier caves on Mount Hood. Over the next few years they photographed and surveyed more than 7,000 feet of sub-glacial passages, earning the caves the distinction of being the largest glacier cave system in the lower 48 states.

By 2016, the caves were gone.

It's been a long week. Take a moment — or even a minute! — to watch something beautiful.

The innovation of synthetic fleece has allowed many outdoor enthusiasts to hike with warmth and comfort. But what many of these fleece-wearing nature lovers don't know is that each wash of their jackets and pullovers releases thousands of microscopic plastic fibers, or microfibers, into the environment — from their favorite national park to agricultural lands to waters with fish that make it back onto our plates.

This has scientists wondering: Are we eating our sweaters' synthetic microfibers?

Plants that feed on flesh have fascinated scientists going all the way back to Charles Darwin, and researchers now have new insight into how these meat-eaters evolved.

Even plants that evolved continents away from one another rely on strikingly similar tricks to digest their prey.

"Rogue" accounts that have the look of those by real federal agencies are spreading like wildfire on Twitter.

The AltUSNatParkService Twitter account has gained more than 1 million followers and inspired the creation of many more "unofficial resistance" accounts for specific national parks and other entities, including accounts like Rogue NASA and AltUSForestService.

If Twitter accounts fall silent in the woods, can they still make a sound? Turns out, yes — lots.

Tuesday afternoon, a new Twitter account called "AltUSNatParkService" appeared and began tweeting out facts about climate change, support for the National Parks and comments in opposition of President Trump, who has called climate change a hoax created by China.

Grizzly bears have been listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act since 1975. In Washington, they are considered endangered. Last week, federal officials unveiled their draft plan to reintroduce grizzlies in North Central Washington.

President Obama on Thursday announced an anticipated expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon.

The monument is currently about 65,000 acres in Jackson County, east of Ashland. The expansion adds 48,000 acres to the monument.

The president issued a statement announcing the expansion, saying his administration has tried "to protect the most important public lands for the benefit of future generations."

Jason Hummel photographs a skier making his way down Mt. Adams
Courtesy of Jason Hummel

Jason Hummel has gone skiing nearly every month for twenty years. And he's been a nature and adventure photographer for eight years. 

In that time, he's seen climate change dramatically remake the landscape in the Northwest.

Seven years ago, the Navajo tribal council in southeastern Utah started mapping the secret sites where medicine men and women forage for healing plants and Native people source wild foods. They wanted to make a case for protecting the landscape known as Bears Ears, a place sacred not only to their tribe but to many other tribes in the region, going back thousands of years.

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