North Carolina Recap – Plus, the IJNR Blues!

Did you miss out on our dispatches from the road during our North Carolina Institute? Are you curious to hear more about where our intrepid Fellows went, and what they covered?

If that’s the case, you can check out our North Carolina Institute Page on our website.

Starting now, each Institute we produce will receive its very own page on our website, chock full of useful info, photos, an overview of the itinerary, the full contents of our pre-institute companion reader, and a (ever-growing) list of institute-related stories produced by Fellows following the trip.

And, in case you missed them, you’ll definitely want to watch these two fabulous videos that emerged from the trip: The first-ever IJNR Institute Trailer, and a blues song all about the Institute experience. (Don’t worry, no journalists were harmed in the making of these videos – nor were they harmed during the Institute, despite what blueman Randy Loftis would have you believe!)

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Historic Colorado Flood – From Two Perspectives

We love it when we get to see two or more of our alumni (or, in this case, an alumna and a staff member) reporting on the same issue on the same day. Today, two great stories about an historic event on the Colorado River:

adam hintFirst, from our own Adam Hinterthuer, writing for The Last Word on Nothing:

The Year of the Flood

Until last Sunday, the Colorado River ended in Yuma, Arizona, backed up against an unremarkable span of concrete called the Morelos Dam on the Mexican border. Every drop of water above the dam was already spoken for -– supplying water to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver as well as irrigating farm fields in both the U.S. and Mexico. Barely a trickle of the river that had carved the Grand Canyon continued past the dam. And all of that was headed toward Mexicali farmland, not the last seventy miles to the Gulf of California.

But, on March 23rd, the gates of the Morelos Dam lifted, sending a pulse of water downstream that will mimic the increased flow that used to be provided by spring rains and Rocky Mountain snowmelt. After the pulse, the gates will remain open for roughly two months, giving the lower Colorado enough flow to, perhaps, complete its run to the Sea of CortezRead more.

After being allocated for municipal needs in major American cities and irrigation in the U.S. and Mexico, the Colorado River runs no more south of the border. (Photo by Pete McBride, USGS)

After being allocated for municipal needs in major American cities and irrigation in the U.S. and Mexico, the Colorado River runs no more south of the border. (Photo by Pete McBride, USGS)

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sarah gilmanAnd, from Sarah Gilman, writing in High Country News:

Four Women Joyride the Flood that will Revive the Colorado River

The guides warned us, of course. Or they sort of did.

It was sometime after the river outfitter’s shuttle van had passed through the latticework of gates and fences that guards the steep, hairpinned road to the boat-launch at the base of the Hoover Dam, and possibly right before we realized that we had left our two-burner stove back in Alison’s truck, in the parking lot of a casino hotel towering beigely over an otherwise nearly buildingless swath of desert around Lake Mead.

March 19 had dawned beautiful and bluebird in what we had dubbed Baja, Nevada – a 12-mile stretch of clear turquoise water with intermittent hotsprings through the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, where my three college lady friends and I planned to kayak at a luxuriantly sluggish pace for four days. Green rattlesnakes will chase you, the guides told us as we wound into the steep gorge. Scorpions will roost in your sandals. Brain-eating amoebas will Swiss-cheese your frontal lobes if you’re stupid enough to snort the hotspring water. And in the afternoon and at night, the water level can rise without warning as dam operators let more or less through Hoover’s hydroelectric turbines to feed fluctuating power demands in Arizona, Nevada and California. Make sure your gear is secure, the guides fingerwagged, and your kayaks well-tied overnightRead more.

High and dry. Photo courtesy Sarah Gilman.

High and dry. Photo courtesy Sarah Gilman.

Posted in Agriculture, Climate, Development, News from Fellows, Politics, Public Lands, Water | Leave a comment

Announcing our Shale Country Institute

A well pad on the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.  Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania State University Outreach / Flickr Creative Commons

A well pad on the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.
Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania State University Outreach / Flickr Creative Commons

Journalists: Apply for IJNR’s
2014 Shale Country Institute!

Our Shale Country Institute will take place in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York from June 24th through the 28th.

While we’ll continue the “roving journalists” approach to this Institute, Shale Country will focus entirely on one subject: Fracking.

We’ll talk economics, ecology, and environmental toxicology. We’ll hear about human health, water and air quality, and citizen science. And we’ll get on the bus and meet with scientists, industry representatives, concerned citizens, and many others in the forests, fields and neighborhoods where these important stories are taking place.

While Shale Country is still in active stages of planning, journalists attending the Institute can expect to visit:

  • Buffalo, New York to talk about natural gas transport and pipelines,
  • The Allegheny National Forest to discuss hydraulic fracturing on public lands,
  • Sites near Youngstown, Ohio, where a recent spate of earthquakes led to a pause in fracking while authorities pinpoint the cause,
  • The Finger Lakes of New York, where a contentious proposal is brewing to use abandoned salt mines for natural gas storage.

Application deadline: Friday, May 2, 2014

Map courtesy USGS

Map courtesy USGS

This Institute dovetails with the SEJ-hosted Shale Gas and Oil Development workshop at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, from June 22 through mid-day on June 24. IJNR and SEJ will present topically different yet complementary programming, and journalists are encouraged to apply to both if they so choose. Please note, however, that each program requires a separate application, and acceptance to one program does not impact or guarantee acceptance to the other.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Nicholas

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Nicholas

Posted in Development, Economics, Energy, Forestry, Health, Institutes, Journalism, Legislation, Mining, Politics, Pollution, Public Lands, Technology, Water, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Announcing the Frank Allen Field Reporting Award

lumberjackFrank Allen founded IJNR in 1995. For more than fifteen years he led journalists on intense reporting expeditions throughout North America, introducing them to the people and places involved in important environment, natural resource, energy, and development issues. When Frank retired in 2012, he left behind a legacy dedicated to fairness, accuracy, high-quality storytelling and on-the-ground journalism.

It is with this legacy in mind that IJNR invites applications for our first-ever round of Frank Allen Field Reporting Awards.

IJNR is now accepting proposals for grants of up to $1,000 to help defray the costs of reporting projects that focus on natural resources, the environment, energy, development, agriculture, environmental justice, and public health.

The purpose of these grants is to provide financial support for qualified, professional journalists, in order to allow them to report on important topics that they may not otherwise be able to cover. At the discretion of the selection committee, up to eight awards may be granted.

Grants may be given for the full amount requested, or may be given for a percentage of the full amount.

Grant money may be spent on any costs incurred for normal reporting activities: travel, lodging, research, etc. If you have questions, please feel free to ask: contact@ijnr.org.

Apply NowPlease note:
IJNR reserves the right not to issue any grants in a given year, based on the caliber of proposals.

Applicants must be working journalists, including freelancers, who have demonstrated a continued commitment to the tenets of fairness, accuracy and journalistic integrity. Applicants may not be lobbyists, public relations personnel, or communications employees writing solely on behalf of an organization or corporation.

IJNR pledges to keep confidential all of the applicants’ proposed story-project topics and specific story ideas until the time of publication.

IJNR pledges to give award winners complete control over their work with no editorial interference.

Award recipients will agree in writing to provide IJNR with a brief progress report at a mutually specified time during the reporting process and a final report after publication.

Wherever permitted by editor’s approval, or where the awardee has editorial control (personal website, etc.), IJNR asks that grant recipients include acknowledgement of IJNR’s support in or appended to stories resulting from the grant.

IJNR funding may not be used as reimbursement for reporting that has already occurred.

Liability disclaimer: IJNR’s role is solely to provide grants for reporting purposes. IJNR assumes no liability for the legal or safety risks undertaken during the course of reporting.

Email applications will be accepted. However, we very strongly encourage applicants to submit their proposals online via Submittable.

Award proposals due Friday, April 25, 2014.

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Dispatches from the Road: North Carolina!

Well, the weather has thrown some curveballs at our intrepid North Carolina crew, but they have soldiered on despite gale warnings, ice storms, and the threat of the Outer Banks washing away completely while they watch. (Ok, maybe not completely, but they are seeing some serious wave action!)

Because of this – and because they’ve needed to make some last-minute adjustments to the itinerary – they haven’t been able to send any formal dispatches from the road.  But they are doing an awesome job of keeping us in-the-know via Facebook and Twitter, at the hashtag #ijnr_carolina.

And, some of the journalists have even been writing breaking-news stories based on what they’re learning during the trip!

North Carolina fishermen used their meeting with IJNR journalists to break the news that they’re seeking to end endangered-species protection for sea turtles. Sammy Fretwell with The State in South Carolina filed the story from the road:

Sea turtles should no longer be protected, fishing groups argue

HARKERS ISLAND, N.C. — Two North Carolina commercial fishing groups are seeking to end endangered-species protections for sea turtles, a move that could loosen regulations that the groups say are unnecessary.

In a notice this week to federal agencies, the N.C. Fisheries Association and a local group said sea turtles “are at or near recovery and strict regulation is unwarranted.’’ The notice gives the federal government 60 days to conduct an assessment of how many turtles inhabit the ocean – or the groups will take further legal action.

An attorney for the groups said the action applies to a variety of sea turtles that now enjoy federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, including the loggerhead sea turtle that can be found off the South and North Carolina coasts… Read more.

Meanwhile, in lieu of a formal from-the-road dispatch, here are some photos to give you a sense of what this crew has been up to!

Fretwell_OBX

“It is not the barrier island that is fragile, it is the road and the houses,” says Professor Stan Riggs. Photo by Sammy Fretwell.

Espinoza_Rodanthe

In the 1980s, this home was in the third row of houses back from the beach. Now, oceanfront. Photo by Ambar Espinoza.

Mennel_Mirlo Beach

A day at the beach. Photo by Eric Mennel

 

Posted in Climate, Development, Economics, Endangered Species, Fisheries, Institutes, Journalism, Legislation, News from Fellows, Oceans, Politics, Water | Leave a comment

Wolves, Wind River Boundary Battles, and Struggling Mountain Frogs

Tuesday Noozeday! Here’s some reading to keep you busy on this wintery day:

michelle nijhuisFirst, from Michelle Nijhuis writing for On Earth magazine, a look at wolves and their status on the endangered species list:

Howls of Outrage

About 300 wolves live in the nearly 2-million-acre swath of central Ontario forest known as Algonquin Provincial Park. These wolves are bigger and broader than coyotes, but noticeably smaller than the gray wolves of Yellowstone. So how do they fit into the wolf family tree? Scientists don’t agree on the answer—yet it could now affect the fate of every wolf in the United States.

That’s because last June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing gray wolves across most of the country from the endangered species list, a move that would leave the animals vulnerable to hunting. To support its proposal, the agency used a contested scientific paper—published, despite critical peer review, in the agency’s own journal—to argue that gray wolves never existed in the eastern United States, so they shouldn’t have been protected there in the first place Read more. 

Photo by Matthew Pugliese

Photo by Matthew Pugliese

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Irina ZhorovNext, Irina Zhorov reports for Al Jazeera America on the complex relationship between the EPA, reservation boundaries, and racial tensions in Wyoming:

Wyoming reservation’s redrawn borders put old conflicts back on the map

 

RIVERTON, Wyo. — Look at a map of the pretty pocket of land in central Wyoming known as the Wind River Indian Reservation, and you’ll see towns strung like pearls on the lines of road that traverse the territory. At the southeast corner of the reservation lies Riverton. On the map, the town of 10,615 appears to be part of the shaded rectangle marking Indian Country, yet Wyoming has considered Riverton nontribal land for more than 100 years.

 

That may have to change. A technical ruling on air monitoring by the Environmental Protection Agency in December put the town in the reservation, an action that has awakened dormant racial tensions, inflamed an already uneasy relationship between Wind River and Riverton and raised questions about what the boundaries really mean… Read more.

Neither the EPA nor Wyoming monitors air quality over the 2.2 million acres of the Wind River Reservation. But a new EPA ruling giving the reservation the right to monitor air has brought up old disagreements. Photo by Irina Zhorov for Al Jazeera America

Neither the EPA nor Wyoming monitors air quality over the 2.2 million acres of the Wind River Reservation. But a new EPA ruling giving the reservation the right to monitor air has brought up old disagreements. Photo by Irina Zhorov for Al Jazeera America

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eric wagnerEric Wagner reports on the fight to save the Cascades frog for the National Parks Conservation Association:

Between a bog and a hard place

Late September isn’t the coldest time of year to be in the Seven Lakes Basin of Olympic National Park, but it’s getting there, and so it is with no small amazement that Wendy Palen and I watch Maureen Ryan wade into an alpine pond up to her waist.

“Cold?” Palen asks from the shore, where she is nice and dry.

“It’s actually not too bad,” Ryan says as she rolls up her sleeve and roots around the bottom. She’s searching for a device she placed in the center of the pond last spring, which has been tracking its temperature for several months. By comparing the data from another temperature logger placed on the shore with the one she soon wrests from the muck, she’ll be able to see whether the pond dried out completely during the summer. This, in turn, will help her predict the survival prospects of amphibians in the alpine wetlands of the American WestRead more.

Wagner_Mushaw_frog

Posted in Climate, Development, Economics, Endangered Species, Energy, Fisheries, Health, Invasives, Legislation, News from Fellows, Politics, Pollution, Public Lands, Technology, Tribes, Water, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Bakken Boom, Trout Fiasco, NSA Climate Edge, and Pete Seeger

New reporting from IJNR alums for your Thursday reading!

kirk sieglerFirst, check out this great multi-medi package from NPR’s Kirk Siegler and his colleagues about the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota:

The Great Plains Oil Rush

A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state’s fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.

On a Sunday at dusk, Amtrak’s eastbound Empire Builder train is jampacked, filled with people heading to their jobs in North Dakota towns like Minot, Williston and Watford City.

Jennifer Brown is watching the snowy plains of northern Montana pass by outside the train’s frosty windows. She’s moving to North Dakota from Idaho to join her husband, who’s been working in the oil fields since last summer.

“I haven’t seen him in two months,” she says. “It’s been really hard.”

The Browns ran a logging truck business in northern Idaho, but work was hard to come by. Out in North Dakota, though, a person can make $100,000 or more starting out in the oil fields... Read, hear, and see more.

The "horsehead" pump of an oil rig has become a common feature along the rural North Dakota skyline. (Annie Flanagan for NPR)

The “horsehead” pump of an oil rig has become a common feature along the rural North Dakota skyline. (Annie Flanagan for NPR)

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eric wagnerFrom Eric Wagner writing for High Country News, a look at invasive trout in Flathead Lake – a story based on our 2013 Crown of the Continent Institute in Montana.

The great Flathead fish fiasco

The ding! is soft, but Capt. Rod’s response is Pavlovian, and he skips over to the charter boat’s console with a nimbleness remarkable for a man his size. “Fish on 2!” he calls. He hurries back to the stern and pulls the appropriate rod from its sleeve, then hands it to me. “OK, reel her in.”

I steel myself for battle, but this particular fish, a lake trout, is blasé in the face of death. I reel. It resists a little. I reel again. It tugs, kind of. After a minute or so, Rod scoops the trout out of Flathead Lake and hands it to me. Jim Vashro, an avuncular biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, appraises it with a practiced eye. “If you want to be respectable, say ‘Less than 10,’ ” he advisesRead more.

Fishing for trout on Flathead Lake. (IJNR photo)

Fishing for trout on Flathead Lake. (IJNR photo)

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Peter ThomsonOn PRI’s The World, Peter Thomson investigates the idea that NSA spying gave the U.S. a leg up in the climate-change debate:

Did NSA spying give U.S. an edge at the Copenhagen climate conference?

The latest NSA targets to be revealed by Edward Snowden’s purloined document archive might surprise you: participants in the high-stakes UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009.

The latest revelation comes from a joint reporting project between the Huffington Post and the Danish newspaper Information, which says it got a top secret NSA briefing paper on the negotiations from Snowden.

The document, which the news outlets have published online, is barely more than a page, and is dated December 7, 2009, the opening day of the Copenhagen conference.

Most of it reads like an article a news summary of the basic issues and conflicts heading into the summit, but it’s distinguished by two short paragraphs at the end of the document marked “TS”—for Top Secret—and “SI”—for Signal Intelligence, or electronic monitoringRead more.

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michelle nijhuisAnd, from Michelle Nijhuis writing on The Last Word on Nothing, a tribute to Pete Seeger and his environmental legacy

 

Photo of the Clearwater sloop on the Hudson courtesy of Flickr user Sea of Legs. Creative Commons.

Photo of the Clearwater sloop on the Hudson courtesy of Flickr user Sea of Legs. Creative Commons.

My Dirty Stream

You’ve probably heard a lot of Pete Seeger songs in the last couple of days. And no wonder: When Seeger died on Monday, he left behind a very long lifetime’s worth of beautiful, cheeky, unforgettable songs. But what he left me — and the millions of other kids who grew up along the Hudson River during his tenure there — is not a song but a story. And the story is as good a cure for cynicism as any I know.

It goes like this…. Read more.

 

 

Posted in Climate, Development, Economics, Endangered Species, Energy, Fisheries, Health, Institutes, Invasives, Legislation, Mining, News from Fellows, Oceans, Politics, Pollution, Technology, Water, Wildlife | Leave a comment