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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.

Castle Peak is so hidden from view that you can’t see it from any highway.

But it just might be the most important mountain in Idaho. Castle Peak and the surrounding Boulder-White Cloud Mountains have stirred up fights over mining, recreation and conservation — fights that have changed the course of political careers, including that of a self-described "Democratic lumberjack from North Idaho" named Cecil Andrus who became governor after taking a stand over the future of this rugged, mineral-rich wilderness.

How a boat named Nap Tyme crashed into a ferry

Dec 6, 2016
A still from a video taken aboard a Washington state ferry as it crashed into Nap Tyme.
YouTube/Amanda Shuffield

How appropriate that the captain of Nap Tyme was sitting on the pot when a Washington state ferry rammed into the side of his boat.

“A convenient place considering how he must have felt at the time of collision,” said Jake Beattie, executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.

KUOW's Ashley Ahearn and mountaineer Dave Hahn speak at Eddie Bauer store in University Village on October 28, 2016.
KUOW Photo

Professional mountain climber and guide Dave Hahn has summited Mount Everest 15 times — more than any non-Sherpa climber. He has a foothold in the Northwest as well, having climbed Mt. Rainier over 270 times.

KUOW environment reporter Ashley Ahearn wanted to learn more about Hahn’s life, how mountaineering has changed over the years, and what motivates him to keep climbing. Hahn spoke with  her at the Eddie Bauer store in University Village on October 28. Sonya Harris recorded their talk.

Many Oregon motels are sold out and reservable campsites are going fast for an event that doesn't happen until the second half of next year. If you don't want to miss a total solar eclipse, mark August 21, 2017 on your calendar.

Five Northwest ski resorts have changed hands in about the past month in a series of unrelated deals. The ownership of Stevens Pass and The Summit at Snoqualmie in the Washington Cascades and Cypress Mountain by West Vancouver changed in a 15-mountain transaction announced late Wednesday between a trio of holding companies back East.

It’s the deep-bellied growl that stops them.

The researchers are just approaching the grizzly bear when he begins expressing his displeasure. Grizzly No. 1225 had been smart enough to avoid a huge, metal box trap. But not the leg snare next to it.

In the small town of Sunderland, Mass., is a 300-year-old, family-run plot of land that fuses fine art and farming.

Mike Wissemann's 8-acre cornfield maze is a feat of ingenuity, with carefully planned and executed stalk-formed replicas of notables such as the Mona Lisa, Albert Einstein and Salvador Dalí.

There's about one month remaining to submit proposals to buy Oregon's Elliott State Forest.

The Oregon Department of State Lands says so far, no one has expressed interest in the 82,000 acre property in southwest Oregon.

The state values the land at $220 million and says whoever buys it would have to maintain public access on at least 50 percent of the site. The new owner would also have to preserve part of it for old-growth timber and protect fish habitat.

But some conservation groups say those guidelines will be hard to enforce if private investors buy the land.

One week after a House panel highlighted sexual harassment claims at Yosemite National Park and elsewhere in the National Park Service, the superintendent of Yosemite, Don Neubacher is stepping down, the agency says.

According to NPS regional spokesman Andrew Munoz, the agency "acted to move Don Neubacher from his role" leading the park to protect the integrity of its investigation into allegations of a hostile work environment at Yosemite.

If you looked at Google Maps this week, you might have noticed something strange: less green.

Typically, mint green highlights designate publicly owned wild spaces on Google's maps. But as of this writing, some of those public lands have gone gray. The locations are still searchable, but if you don't already know the park or forest exists, and where exactly, you might not be able to find it.

More people from across the globe than ever are seeking to transform themselves on the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. And as fall comes, the through-hiker season is wrapping up.

During the Our Ocean conference in Washington, D.C., President Obama announced the creation of the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean.

How do you get to a hiking trailhead without a car?
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Weekly reporter Sara Bernard about her recent article looking at the dilemma many city dwellers face: How to access wilderness without a car? 

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