Blog posts about Earth's magnificent places and creatures were the most popular themes for unEarthed readers in 2012. By far the most-read post concerned Arctic drilling, followed by reports of bison being restored and wolves losing protection. Not shown in our top 10 blog posts, below, are the delightful tales of curious critters painted in words by our own Shirley Hao. Posts written years ago by Shirley are still being discovered and read by thousands of people every year.
The Latest On: Forests
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced a final plan for managing the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a vast and wild area in northwestern Alaska that provides vital habitat for caribou, countless shorebirds, waterfowl, bears, wolves and wolverines, among others.
Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is as much ocean as land. It includes saltwater bays, fjords, canals, channels, and too many islands to count.
At this intersection of land and ocean, life flourishes where forest creeks and streams empty nutrients into shallow saltwater bays. Among other species, dungeness crabs flourish, fed seasonally by the carcasses of spawned out salmon.
One such estuary 20 miles south of Petersburg in Alexander Bay is a place called the Pothole. It’s named for the crab pots used by the commercial crab fishery that thrives there.
Coal companies have been blasting mountains, dumping waste rock into streams, and undermining private and public lands for more than a century. It’s apparently lucrative to do so.
But a recent filing by a coal company shows just how far they have drunk their own Kool-Aid (or coal ash?) in justifying the damage mining can cause.
The filing concerned Earthjustice’s efforts to protect the Sunset Roadless Area on the GMUG National Forest in western Colorado. The Sunset area is a landscape of pine, fir, and aspen stands, dotted with wet meadows and beaver ponds.
After the summer we have had, my mind is on climate change, what more Earthjustice can do about it, and what’s at stake in this election.
I experienced the effects of climate change this summer during a trip through Colorado. Heat, drought and fire set an almost apocalyptic tone for the trip. There was no snow on the peaks, stream flows were down, and smoke filled the air. Similar impacts afflicted 60 percent of our nation and spread over three continents; sea ice coverage in the Arctic was at a record low.
The Forest Service finally admitted it.
It took the agency two environmental assessment drafts and a draft and final environmental impact statement, but they admitted it.
Taking a hike may boost your brainpower
Over this past long weekend, spent backpacking in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, I was reminded of a memorable method for distinguishing two of our stateliest trees. Though these two specimens are similar in many respects, the pine cones of "prickly ponderosa" have small spikes that point outwards, while those of "gentle Jeffrey" curve inward. (The bark of Jeffrey pines additionally smells like butterscotch or vanilla, which makes ID'ing them doubly delicious.)