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& the West

Published since 2016,  ‘& the West’ offers reporting, research, interviews, and analysis on the environmental future of California and western North America. It is produced by the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University.  More about us »

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What we’re reading: November 21, 2023

By Maya Green

A keystone species slowly disappears from the Yukon; Cuyama Valley, California farmers boycott Big Carrot; a pond turns pink in Maui; environmentalists oppose an Alaskan Arctic oil drilling project; direct-air carbon capture arrives in the Central Valley; pikas return to the Columbia Gorge; and other environmental news from around the American West.

Salmon are disappearing from Alaska’s Yukon River because of warming waters due to climate change. Native tribes in Alaska have relied on Yukon salmon since time immemorial, and many still do–especially those who live in remote areas and fish for subsistence, such as the Yup’ik and Athabasca tribes. As the salmon disappear, these tribes are losing not only an essential food source, but also an important aspect of their cultural identity. GRIST

Californina’s carrot giants Grimmway and Bolthouse Farms sued Cuyama Valley property owners over water rights, leading Valley residents to boycott of the two companies. Grimmway and Bolthouse dropped out of the suit after the boycott began, but tensions remain; small farms resent the carrot giants for trying to limit water use in the Valley when the companies themselves represented 65 percent of all measured water pumping over the last year. LOS ANGELES TIMES

Kealia Pond in Maui, Hawaii turned pink last week. Scientists blame an overgrowth of halobacteria, a single-celled organism that grows in salty bodies of water. The pink hue appeared because of Maui’s severe drought conditions, which caused the salinity of the pond to skyrocket. Water color changes like this one are not uncommon in more arid regions, but Kealia’s pinkness is particularly surprising because of Hawaii’s usually humid climate. NEW YORK TIMES

After a federal court ruling allowing the Willow oil-drilling project in Alaska’s Arctic region, environmental groups like Earthjustice are banding together to appeal the decision, arguing that the project would be detrimental to the environment, its ecology, and Arctic native groups. The decision comes after the federal court sided with ConocoPhilips and the Bureau of Land Management. CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

Wolves will return in Colorado at the New Year; ranchers have a mixed reaction. Some on the state’s Western Slope welcome the biodiversity, others feel that urban Coloradans voted for the change that will hurt rural ranchers’ lives and livelihoods. MODERN FARMER

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Stories by Topic

What we’re reading, Dec. 6, 2021

Disappearing snowpack in the West. Is the end of western mountain snowpacks in sight? San Francisco Chronicle Washington Post

Disappearing water in the West. Does groundwater have a future in California, or is its depletion inevitable? Stanford Earth Matters

Disappearing water, Part II. Water agencies serving 27 million Californians are on their own next year, getting nothing from state water projects. Los Angeles Times

Disappearing water, Part III. Small farmers in the Central Valley wonder: where is Kings County water going? SJV Water

Oregon’s proposed Jordan Cove liquified natural gas project abandoned. It was designed to include a liquified natural gas terminal and a 229-mile natural gas pipeline and send liquified natural gas to Asian markets. Oregon Public Broadcasting

Interior Secretary Haaland works to eliminate racist place names, like those using the word “squaw.” How names like “Chinaman Gulch” affected one Asian American. Grist KSUT

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Staff and Contributors

Felicity Barringer

Lead writer

A national environmental correspondent during the last decade of her 28 years at The New York Times, Felicity provided an in-depth look at the adoption of AB 32, California’s landmark climate-change bill after covering state’s carbon reduction policies. MORE »

Geoff McGhee

Associate editor

Geoff McGhee specializes in interactive data visualization and multimedia storytelling. He is a veteran of the multimedia and infographics staffs at The New York Times, Le Monde and MORE »

Syler Peralta-Ramos

Editorial Assistant

Syler Peralta-Ramos is a member of the Stanford class of 2020. He has lived in Wilson, Wyoming his whole life and developed a keen interest in nature photography and conservation from a young age, inspired by the multitude of photographers that congregate in the Teton region as well as his parents who also share a love for photography.

‘& the West’ is published by the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, which is dedicated to research, teaching, and journalism about the past, present, and future of the North American West.

Bruce E. Cain

Faculty Director

Kate Gibson

Program Manager

Past Contributors

Anna McNulty
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2021
Melina Walling
Editorial Assistant, Spring 2021
Benek Robertson
Editorial Assistant, Winter 2021
Maya Burke
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2020
Kate Selig
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2020

Francisco L. Nodarse
Editorial Assistant, Summer 2020
Devon R. Burger
Editorial Assistant, Winter 2020
Madison Pobis
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2019
Sierra Garcia
Editorial Assistant, Summer 2019

Danielle Nguyen
Editorial Assistant, Spring 2019
Carolyn P. Rice
Editorial Assistant, Winter 2019
Rebecca Nelson
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2018
Emily Wilder
Editorial Assistant, Summer 2018
Alessandro Hall
Editorial Assistant, Winter 2018 
Josh Lappen
Editorial Assistant, Fall 2017
Natasha Mmonatau
Editorial Assistant, Spring 2017
Alan Propp
Editorial Assistant, Winter 2017