A handful of mid-week Nooze:
Even before the evacuations, before the trees went up in bursts of red and orange, before lightning-fast flames flashed through dry grasses and reduced 63 homes and buildings to rubble, the experts knew: The Taylor Bridge wildfire could be a bad one.
Fire conditions were ripe in that stretch of Kittitas County.
But such predictions are no longer tough calls. The same could be said for much of the West.
In fact, the wildfire that scorched 23,252 acres last week between Cle Elum and Ellensburg offers a nasty glimpse of what fire experts fear may be all too common in the future… Read more.
Water lazily rolls by, acres of pear trees blanket the horizon, and tiny communities dot the landscape. Walnut Grove is a Delta town with 1,500 residents, just one ice cream shop and a mom-and-pop grocery store. It feels sleepy, humid and slow—like the Sacramento River. Brett Baker, a sixth-generation pear farmer who lives nearby, on Sutter Island, describes the area nostalgically:
“I enjoy the peace and quiet, the landscape and scenery,” he said. “I have a personal relationship with almost everyone in my town. I have known them all my life, played sports with them, was coached by them growing up. Out here, there is a real sense of community. When tragedy strikes, your neighbors pick you up and help support you.”… Read more.
Keith Williams is about to steer his Ford Expedition 300 feet down a dirt road into one of the largest open pit mines in the world.
“Down we go,” says Williams, who’s in charge here at the Black Thunder mine.
The first thing that hits you is the sheer size of this operation. Dump trucks as big as California bungalows rumble around us. Back and forth. Clearing away millions of pounds of clay and dirt to get at the rich coal seam underneath.
It’s like peering into an ant colony under siege… Read, hear and see more.
Check out the Powder River Basin from above (watch out, though, the soundtrack is… opera? Be sure to turn your speakers down!)