Our tongues may trip over the term "anthropocene," so let's make this statement: people have changed Earth, in profound ways.  If we truly wanted to restore nature as we found it, how would we go about it? 

That's one of the questions raised by Jordan Fisher Smith in his book Engineering Eden

It begins with a man killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park, and continues to a court case that set two brilliant biologists against each other. 

Randy Johnson for City of Rogue River

School is out for the summer, but students are still learning things. 

High school students in the city of Rogue River will spend part of their vacation keeping up with the skills they gained in the "Learning to Protect Our Environment" program. 

During the school year, the program pairs the high school students with elementary school kids to teach environmental stewardship skills.  A similar program is offered in the summer, with an emphasis on the effects of climate change on the environment. 


Not everybody in California can ever brag about bringing home a GEELA.  Fewer still can say they won it twice, but Prather Ranch's owners can. 

GEELA is the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, California's highest environmental honor. 

Prather Ranch won for the second time recently, for its stewardship of a half-million acres of land in the North State. 

For The Love Of Soil

Jan 7, 2016
ForeEdge Books

Dirt: it's beneath us.  Physically, yes, but it is also celebrated by more people than you might think. 

Stop to consider how much we depend on the dirt beneath us, for places to grow food, for building materials, and a host of other uses. 

The celebration continues in the hands of 36 writers in the anthology Dirt: A Love Story

The writers range from artists to scientists. 

Alliance for the Great Lakes

The products that make your teeth smooth and give your skin a healthy glow can have unintended impacts on the environment. 

Some soaps, toothpastes, and other cleaning products contain plastic "microbeads" as mild abrasives. 

But it's okay... they wash down the drain.  Oh, that's the problem... they get through treatment plants and end up in rivers, causing problems for wildlife. 

That's why federal legislation will ban plastic microbeads in 2018, a move applauded by scientist Chelsea Rochman at the University of California-Davis. 

Congress Renews Conservation Fund (Kinda)

Dec 21, 2015

There's a sigh of relief from conservation groups about the congressional reauthorization of LWCF, the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  But it's just a sigh, not a cheer. 

Congress kept LWCF alive for three more years, but with funding for only one. 

Groups like the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association wanted more; NSIA calls the move "a band aid." 

Going Green By Another Color

Dec 14, 2015

If you want to convince people that your product is "green," slapping a green label on it probably won't do it. 

A blue label might, though. 

University of Oregon marketing professor Aparna Sundar found that the connotations of certain colors affect how people perceive the products they buy: even the most environmental-friendly product could still turn off consumers with a red label. 

From The Archives: "Lead Wars"

Nov 9, 2015
University of California Press


We've known for a long time that lead can do some horrible things to the human body. 

And so the government took steps to curtail the ways in which lead is used... it is no longer an ingredient in paint or gasoline, for example. 

But critics point out that the government has been slow to take further steps that might have protected people, but also would have caused some business impacts. 

The critics include science historians Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, the authors of the book Lead Wars

Little Mountain 5/Wikimedia

While planning and zoning laws and codes are plentiful, businesses that are less environmentally-friendly can still set up shop, as long as all the permits are in place. 

Justice For Workers And Environment

Sep 22, 2015
kcmckell/Live Aloha

Hypothetical: if we all have the same opportunity for success in society, but some of us live in environmentally degraded areas, are we all receiving justice?  Under the concept of environmental justice, the answer is no. 

It's not a new concept; the Oregon Legislature created an Environmental Justice Task Force nearly a decade ago. 

The task force meets in Medford this week (September 25th) with the heading "Fairness For the Land and the Worker." 

The Northwest Forest Worker Center and the farmworker group PCUN are among the sponsors.

Toxic Algae Blooms On The Rise

Aug 21, 2015

  One bloom of toxic blue-green algae is a concern.  Two is a problem. 

A whole series approaches the realm of crisis, and that's where we are. 

Researchers at Oregon State University are taking note of the many--and increasing--incidents of toxic algae blooms, and the challenge they represent for managers of recreational and drinking water. 

Not to mention the challenge for all of us who use water. 


Offshore drilling for oil and gas is often opposed by people who favor the protection of sensitive and significant lands. 

Except for one thing: the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund

LWCF uses offshore oil and gas lease income to purchase property for public use; grants have bought big chunks of land in both states. 

But two issues loom: Congress often diverts money from the fund for other purposes... and the fund will expire this year without Congressional intervention. 

Park Land Swap Tees Off Opponents

Jun 22, 2015

Oregon's love of natural areas, the push for economic development, and a governor who resigned under pressure... these are just some of the elements that converge in the state's proposed land swap in the Bandon area. 

A deal approved last year would turn 280 acres of the Bandon State Natural Area over to a private developer for a golf course. 

Sending Kids Outdoors To Learn

Jun 4, 2015

There's only so much anyone can learn in a classroom.  Learning about things like the environment get a lot easier IN the environment. 

That's the basic premise of the Fall in the Field program offered by Southern Oregon University. 

Graduate students in environmental education set up courses for kids in the 4th grade and up at several locations around the region. 

Wild And Scenic And On Camera

Nov 3, 2014

Our region is home to some of the most scenic rivers in the country… make that the world. 

And, for the second year, it is also home to a film festival dedicated to wild and scenic waterways. 

The 2nd Wild and Scenic Film Festival comes to Ashland on Sunday, November 9, featuring a slate of short films about rivers near and far.

"Two Talking Wolves" Sit And Stay A Bit

Oct 15, 2014
Oregon State University

Take a journalist who covers conservation issues and pair him up with a wildlife biologist who specializes in species recovery, and what do you call the duo? 

They chose (or somebody chose for them) "Two Talking Wolves."

Todd Wilkinson is the journalist wolf, Bob Ferris is the biologist. 

They visit the Rogue Valley to talk about their work and their concerns for the planet. 

Andy Kerr In The Wilderness

Oct 9, 2014
Oregon Wild

At one time, Andy Kerr might have been the most hated man in Oregon.  And he's fine with that. 

Kerr was instrumental in the fight to protect Northwest forests through the endangered species-listing of the northern spotted owl. 

And he's still plenty active in conservation issues, including paying tribute to the Wilderness Act in this, its 50th anniversary year. 

Selling Carbon Credits To A Car Company

Sep 8, 2014
SOU Center For Sustainability

Green is IN at Southern Oregon University. 

Not in school colors, but certainly in attitude. 

SOU prides itself on its environmental friendliness, with greater efficiencies in its newer and recently remodeled buildings. 

The efforts include selling carbon credits to Chevrolet.  Yes, the car company. 

Blocking Mines On Scenic Streams

Aug 14, 2014
PGHolbrook/Wikimedia Commons

Some of the prettiest waterways in our region could also be the richest in other ways. 

Hard-money ways, because of potentially valuable mineral contents. 

And miners have shown an interest in extracting some of the hard-rock riches of the streams. 

Which is why environmental groups including KS Wild just delivered thousands of letters to federal agencies, requesting a mineral withdrawal. 

Expanding The Oregon Caves

Jul 23, 2014
National Park Service/Public Domain

It takes a very long time to make a cave. 

All that dripping and calcifying takes hundreds of thousands, even millions of years. 

But making the legal boundaries of the Oregon Caves bigger only takes an act of Congress. 

And Congress is on it; the Senate just passed the Oregon Caves Revitalization Act and sent it on to the house.