This story was originally published on August 15, 2015, by Wildsam Field Guides.

Part I

“All the country about him seemed a level, except here and there a hill rising above the rest, and far beneath them. He saw to the north, a great water which he judged to be 100 miles broad, but could see no land beyond it.”

– The Journal of John Winthrop, 1642, accounting the first-known ascent of Mount Washington by Darby Field and two Native Americans.

WHITE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST, N.H. — It was 2:37 p.m. when the hail started to fall. I pulled up…


In the coming years, scientists believe the southeastern US will face hotter days, bigger wildfires, and more frequent hurricanes. This is bad news for the region’s multibillion-dollar forest industry, which supplies nearly 50 percent of US timber.

On a recent Sunday morning in Evergreen, Ala., Dr. Salem Saloom set his family pine forest on fire. He watched with pride as the low, slow orange flames took to the floor of needles and woody shrubs, and then crawled up and over a stand of juvenile loblolly pines. A shallow wind blew from the north. Everything was under control. After all, Saloom does this all the time.

“I’ll burn about six hundred-to-eight hundred acres a year,” he said, emphasizing that to keep his pines alive, they need to burn. And he likes being the one to do it. “We…


Congress continues to fund climate research. But the Trump administration has found other ways to slow down, undermine, and underfund climate science.

At 12:29 p.m. on Tuesday, September 5th, 2017, John Konkus dashed off an email to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Grants and Debarment. “Please see direction on the grants below,” he wrote in the email, which was obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council under the Freedom of Information Act. Konkus, the agency’s deputy associate administrator of public affairs and a former campaign official for President Trump, had been tasked with reviewing every E.P.A. grant proposal before it could be awarded. Under particular scrutiny were applications for grants using the phrase “climate change.”

“No to this one please,” Konkus…


The effort to bring Mexican gray wolves back to the Southwest is complicated by the fuzzy line between science and politics

On a dry Arizona afternoon in early-May, Allison Greenleaf found herself in the middle of the Gila National Forest, holding a warm, chaotic ball of newborn wolf pups.

“It can be stressful,” she later recalled. “I get pretty mission-driven and want to get in and out as soon as possible.”

The mission was to deliver two new pups to a wild mother wolf — part of a federal program of “cross-fostering,” or taking captive-born wolves and sneaking them into dens with wild litters while the mother is out hunting.

“The idea is to make all the puppies smell the same,”…


YP’s David Peterson is bringing a sharper focus to mobile advertising. His secret? He can track everywhere you go, right down to the aisle. And it’s all totally legal.

Like it or not, advertising is still a big deal when it comes to talking profit in the tech world. Even Google — who has long thought about how to break out of ad-based revenue — still relies on it for much of what they pull in. Last year, of their $59.8 billion annual revenue, 85 percent of that came from advertising.

So it only makes sense that the ad-sector has grown considerably smarter in order to keep up competition and demand.

Marketers, for years now, have sought out information from Facebook and Twitter to target users with…

Dean Russell

Reporting fellow for Columbia Journalism Investigations. Writes about science and nature. Bylines: NPR, The Guardian, Grist. www.deanruss.com

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