A Note from the Steppe—Rachel Renne

As a kid growing up in Florida, we were warned that the hottest part of the day was between noon and 2 pm. My mother insisted that we come inside during these hours to avoid the heat and what she considered to be the riskiest time for sunburns. Yet, at 4:30 pm today in this Read more about A Note from the Steppe—Rachel Renne[…]

Defining Spring in a Dynamic World—Rob Anderson

What is spring? This may seem like an obvious question, but over the last few months I have come to appreciate that it is not as easy to answer as I once thought. The definition of springtime may change depending on where you are, who you are, and what you deem to be important in Read more about Defining Spring in a Dynamic World—Rob Anderson[…]

Bison Restoration: Pursuing Environmental Justice on the Great Plains—Ross Martin

Bison are a uniquely important species in North America’s past, present, and future. They are a keystone species that maintains and enhances ecological function in grassland ecosystems. Bison long supported Indigenous cultures, and their slaughter enabled the United States’ bloody conquest of the continent. The disappearance of the large herds disrupted human, plant, and wildlife Read more about Bison Restoration: Pursuing Environmental Justice on the Great Plains—Ross Martin[…]

Methods and Modalities to Explore Rural Gentrification— Mara MacDonell

Over the last year, the rural gentrification research group has been approaching the subject of rural gentrification from a variety of perspectives. Rural gentrification has many, mutable meanings and definitions, both within academia and public discourse. Our research reflects this, as we have investigated the topic through a variety of avenues including changing land-use, environmental Read more about Methods and Modalities to Explore Rural Gentrification— Mara MacDonell[…]

Framing the “New West”— Molly Ryan

The “Old West” and the “New West.” These terms are often used to characterize the transformation of rural western economies and communities from places oriented around extractive industries to those based around natural amenities and recreation (Bryson & Wyckoff, 2010; Krannich et al., 2011; Shumway & Otterstrom, 2001). This transformation is driven by in-migration from Read more about Framing the “New West”— Molly Ryan[…]

What’s Behind Oregon’s New Law Mandating Overtime Pay for Farmworkers and What Might it Mean for Farmers in the State? — Shannon Bell

Labor shortages became very salient in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the agricultural industry has been reckoning with labor shortages and the equity concerns around farm labor conditions for years. One of the primary factors behind both the decline in willing farm labor and the outcry among farmworker advocates has been the Read more about What’s Behind Oregon’s New Law Mandating Overtime Pay for Farmworkers and What Might it Mean for Farmers in the State? — Shannon Bell[…]

The Vital Role of Working Lands in Western Conservation—Annie Miller

Working lands — the farms, ranchlands, and working forests that support livelihoods —  are a vital component of the western landscape, and their ecological, economic, and social  importance is difficult to overstate. In addition to supplying much of the food we eat, they hold critical wildlife habitat, provide vital ecosystem services, and represent a way Read more about The Vital Role of Working Lands in Western Conservation—Annie Miller[…]

Rural Gentrification: The Housing Crisis — Mara MacDonell

There are two things that are common knowledge if you live in a ski town (and you don’t have a trust fund to support you): 1) Getting a job is easy, which is good because you’ll probably need at least two; and 2) there is no housing. Previous to matriculating at Yale, I lived in Read more about Rural Gentrification: The Housing Crisis — Mara MacDonell[…]

Is Oregon’s Land Use System Protecting Farmers? — Shannon Bell

Between 2001 and 2016, 11 million acres of farmland in the United States were developed, with 4.1 million acres converted to urban and highly developed land uses and almost 7 million acres converted to low-density residential use. The 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Census revealed that from 2012 to 2017, the amount of Read more about Is Oregon’s Land Use System Protecting Farmers? — Shannon Bell[…]

Flagstaff, Arizona’s journey through rural gentrification — Molly Ryan

I’ve been living on the East Coast for over eight years now. When I meet someone new and tell them that I grew up in Arizona, they usually respond with a comment about the weather. “You must be used to this kind of heat!” they say. I know what they’re imagining: a dry, sandy landscape Read more about Flagstaff, Arizona’s journey through rural gentrification — Molly Ryan[…]

Global change and root production: how does land use and climate change affect life belowground? — Uthara Vengrai

Roots do everything. They are the connector between plants and soil–the interface at which many of the transactions of life are made. Roots (with the help of their mycorrhizal associates) conduct a plant’s search for nutrients, water, and shelter. They scour the soil for the ingredients of life and support whole ecosystems of microorganisms, plants, Read more about Global change and root production: how does land use and climate change affect life belowground? — Uthara Vengrai[…]

Why Water Utilities Should Invest in Natural (Green) Infrastructure — Lily Colburn

Water utilities provide drinking, wastewater, and stormwater services to millions of people across the United States, including for residential, commercial, and industrial uses. These essential service providers are responsible for offering safe and affordable resources to their customers, which include identifying, protecting, and enhancing a drinking water source, pumping water from the source to a Read more about Why Water Utilities Should Invest in Natural (Green) Infrastructure — Lily Colburn[…]

A Sustainable Redesign of the Secure Rural Schools Act: Reimagining county payments to prioritize the ecological and cultural value of forest ecosystems over the economic value of timber resources — Shannon Bell

In May of 2021, Janez Potočnik and Isabella Teixeira, the co-chairs of the International Resource Panel (IRP) that was launched by the United Nations Environment Programme, published a think-piece on how we should best value biodiversity. The piece, titled Building Biodiversity, asserts that our current approach to preserving biodiversity has failed to account for the Read more about A Sustainable Redesign of the Secure Rural Schools Act: Reimagining county payments to prioritize the ecological and cultural value of forest ecosystems over the economic value of timber resources — Shannon Bell[…]

An introduction to the wildlife crossing structures that help animals move over and under Highway 93 in the Flathead Reservation, Montana. —Luca Guadagno

Driving north of Missoula through the Flathead Reservation, vehicles on US Highway 93 pass under a semi-circle arch of a vegetated overpass. Built to facilitate wildlife movement across the busy road, the overpass is a visible reminder that motorists are not the only individuals moving across the landscape. What motorists may not see as they Read more about An introduction to the wildlife crossing structures that help animals move over and under Highway 93 in the Flathead Reservation, Montana. —Luca Guadagno[…]

Behind the scenes of LA’s most ambitious water resiliency effort: The Safe, Clean, Water Program—Ryanna Fossum

Over three years have passed since voters approved Measure W in 2018 to increase water supply, improve water quality, and provide overall community benefits to Los Angeles County.  Now approaching its third funding cycle, the Safe Clean Water Program (SCWP) is confronting more questions than ever about how to invest in the region’s water future.  Read more about Behind the scenes of LA’s most ambitious water resiliency effort: The Safe, Clean, Water Program—Ryanna Fossum[…]