Environmental Journalism

Assignment Earth, Climate Change, Environmental Journalism, National Parks, Video / 03.02.2011

A love of backcountry skiing explains David Gonzales’ obsession with white bark pines. A writer and photographer, he spends a lot of time beneath these ancient trees. But the white barks are under attack. And that has this skier marshaling forces to fight back. Once the snow melts, he leads volunteers called Tree Fighters into the forest surrounding Yellowstone National Park. Tree Fight is an organization that is working to curb the loss of white bark pines due to the escalating impact of climate change. Scientists say rising temperatures have opened the door to a mountain pine beetle invasion. White barks live at the highest, harshest elevations in the northwestern United States and Southwestern Canada. Extremely cold temperatures used to keep this native pest at lower elevations. Now these beetles are capitalizing on warmer temperatures, killing white barks at a staggering rate. Tree Fight aims to stop them.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism, Video / 23.01.2011

Fossil Creek is a conservation success story. This river that flows through the Mazatzal Mountains of Central Arizona has been reclaimed for the preservation of species habitat and recreation for the residents of nearby Phoenix. The removal a dam built at the turn of the last century has made it possible for Fossil Creek to return to its natural state of pristine beauty. Unfortunately the influx of human visitors has put the newly restored Fossil Creek at risk. The impact of automobile and foot traffic, plus a proliferation of garbage could very well undo the scenic and ecological features that make this conservation land worth protecting.

Adventure Activism, Climate Change, Environmental Journalism, Photography, Podcast / 10.01.2011

Any photographer will tell you, seeing is believing. But when it comes to climate change, a long slow process that occurs over time, its difficult to capture a single image that demonstrates the sheer magnitude of this global crisis. Even though the most obvious and apparent result of our warming planet is the recession of glacial ice, in some of the most remote places in the world it’s hard to truly show how relatively quickly and dramatically that ice is melting. So photographer James Balog came up with a plan to record the progress of climate change by taking a series of pictures from specific locations near glaciers over the course of several months. "We have time-lapse cameras installed permanently at these various glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Montana, Alaska and soon to be around Mount Everest," Balog said. "And these cameras shoot every half hour around the clock as long as it’s daylight and they’re looking down on these glaciers that are changing and we make this visual record of the landscape in flux." Called the Extreme Ice Survey these images around the world shot on tripods show the cascade of glacial ice as it forms and then melts. The passage of time is quickly sped up to show the pace of change and its apparent progress.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection / 10.12.2010

Fossil Creek is a newly preserved wild and scenic river  that may again be at risk due to the very efforts meant to protect it. In a video from Assignment Earth producer Jay Canode tells the story of a beautiful body of water that flows through the Mazatzal Mountains of Central Arizona.  With the removal of a hydroelectric damn put in place at the turn of the last century Fossil Creek has been reborn to provide habitat to scores of fish and animal species and recreation opportunities to thousands of human visitors.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection, Video / 06.12.2010

Chad Pregracke is on a serious mission to get things out of the Mississippi River that don’t belong there. Since 1998 his non-profit Living Lands and Water has organized clubs, groups and ordinary citizens to haul trash and other debris off the shoreline of the Quad Cities near his home in Moline, Illinois. The annual Mississippi River Xtreme Cleanup draws more than 1700 volunteers inspired to make a difference in their community.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism / 25.10.2010

Fall-out from the housing market bubble isn’t just affecting the suburbs of major metropolitan areas. Rural communities throughout the Rocky Mountain west are suffering too. Teton County Idaho with a population of fewer than 10,000 now has an astonishing 7,000 vacant lots, rural farms now converted to cul-de-sacs to nowhere. It’s a surplus some say could take anywhere from 70 to nearly 300 years to build out even if the economy picks up.

“It really looks like a wasteland. Its blight and we have zombie sub-divisions just like this all over our valley,” said Anna Trentadue of Valley Advocates for Responsible Development. “And some of them appear to be in some of our most sensitive habitat areas.”

Trentadue works for a non profit that deals with growth. With a diminished market making it tough for developers to finish what they started, here the group is ceasing an opportunity to try to reshape rural development. The hope is to avoid building on all the vacant lots which would create sprawl, a development pattern that’s expensive for tax payers who maintain the roads bridges and school bus routes that serve these far flung sub divisions. The group also aims to avoid carving up all the farmland and this valley’s rich wildlife habitat, bordering the southern end of the great Yellowstone ecosystem.

Teton Valley is home to Grizzlies, wolves, moose elk and many other species. To reshape growth, this non-profit is teaming up with developers, national experts and local government to see if some unfinished subdivisions can be redesigned to reduce the number of vacant lots, leaving more open space.