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