Elemental: Covering Sustainability

A multimedia collaboration between public radio and public television stations in Colorado, Arizona and California.

PHOENIX – Water leaders from the seven states that make up the Colorado River basin are one step closer to finalizing a drought contingency plan. Representatives from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, California and Arizona met in Phoenix Tuesday to sign a letter to Congress asking for federal approval of the plan. Recent heavy ...

Mar. 20, 2019

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. – “Well, this is Mormon tea, it’s ephedra.” Elizabeth Fabry snapped a photo of the spindly green plant with her smartphone and logged her find on an app called iNaturalist. Fabry isn’t an ecologist or a botanist. She’s a nurse practitioner from Bisbee, and she’s one of more than 1,000 people all ...

Mar. 15, 2019

TUCSON – Arizona no longer is dealing with extreme drought in the far northeastern part of the state, thanks to ample fall and winter precipitation, making this season’s snowpack one of the most abundant in awhile, the Arizona Department of Resources reports. In addition, it said, soil beneath the snow is saturated, which means there ...

Mar. 14, 2019

DENVER – Haven Coleman perched on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol in a puffy jacket and hat. The 12-year-old looked tiny against the gray stone columns rising up at her back. With her mom standing nearby, she held up a simple sign. On it, she had written the words “School Strike for Climate” ...

Mar. 13, 2019

SANTA MONICA – A mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains is suffering from mange, a rare but possibly fatal skin disease, and National Park Service biologists suspect the cougar was exposed to rat poison. P-53, a 3 ½-year-old female, was re-captured in February after researchers monitoring her on remote cameras saw signs of the ...

Mar. 11, 2019

GREELEY, Colo. – A bill making its way through the state legislature is challenging several long-standing practices within Colorado’s oil and gas industry, including “forced” or “statutory” pooling. That’s when companies can drill in a certain area without consent from all associated mineral right owners. The practice has been around for decades, but is facing ...

Mar. 11, 2019

DENVER – Two lawsuits making their way through the federal court system are challenging two significant water projects in Colorado designed to divert more water from the Colorado, Fraser and Williams Fork river basins in Grand County. The projects — Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Windy Gap Firming project and Denver Water’s Moffat Collection System ...

Mar. 11, 2019

MANTI-LA SAL NATIONAL FOREST, Utah – Although a beehive adorns Utah’s state seal, honeybees have not always lived in the “Beehive State.” They arrived in Utah with Mormon settlers, who held the honeybee in high regard for what they considered its industrious nature and collective spirit, virtues they saw embodied in their own community. The ...

Mar. 8, 2019

LOS ANGELES – Here’s some feel-good SoCal water news: We’re finally free of drought conditions. Even though former Gov. Jerry Brown declared the drought emergency over in 2017, things had still been exceptionally dry, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska. Per its latest map, released this Thursday, that’s finally ...

Mar. 8, 2019

YUMA, Ariz. – The fastest land mammal in North America and a large-footed marsh bird in the Southwest have been listed as endangered for more than half a century. The Sonoran pronghorn and the Yuma Ridgway’s rail are featured in a vibrant new mural at the Arizona Western College theater that’s meant to show how ...

Mar. 7, 2019

PHOENIX – Historically, a wet winter in California meant a mild fire season. But a new study in the journal “PNAS” suggests moisture supplied by the jet stream may no longer be enough. The heavy California wet seasons of 2016 and 2017 brought flooding to the drought-stressed state but failed to dampen its disastrous wildfire ...

Mar. 7, 2019

POTTER VALLEY, Calif. – More than a century ago, the people of Mendocino County in California needed electricity to fit into the industrialized world. So engineers generated power by building two dams and reconfiguring two rivers. For decades thereafter, people fashioned steadily improving lives around the new landscapes. At the same time, beset by environmental ...

Mar. 7, 2019

PHOENIX – The last day of January looked like a banner day for Arizona’s water planning. State lawmakers had passed legislation authorizing Arizona to enter into an important deal. Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bills almost immediately. “Working together with a common goal in mind, there’s no limit to what we can achieve. And today ...

Mar. 4, 2019

GILA RIVER INDIAN COMMUNITY – The Gila River Indian Community unveiled a new groundwater infrastructure project on Friday. The tribe hopes it will provide for members when surface water becomes more scarce. The “Managed Aquifer Recharge” project, one of at least two planned for the reservation, has a canal system and an open basin where ...

Mar. 4, 2019

GRAND CANYON – Rep. Raúl Grijalva’s bill enacting a permanent ban on uranium mining drew praise this week from Havasupai leaders and criticism from the mining industry, as well as from a Republican member of Arizona’s congressional delegation. “Havasupai means people of the blue green water, and we have been living here for over thousands ...

Mar. 4, 2019

GRAND CANYON VILLAGE – It’s a cold winter night along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and as she shuffles through the fresh snow, Abbie Smith can’t think of a better place to celebrate New Year’s Eve. As midnight strikes, the Mesa resident is overjoyed to be staying in the park that has reached ...

Feb. 27, 2019

PHOENIX – Arizona Public Service Co. plans to add hundreds of megawatts of battery storage by 2025 to its solar power plants so customers can keep using solar energy when the sun sets. Arizona’s largest utility announced last week that a new plan to add 850 megawatts of battery storage and at least 100 megawatts ...

Feb. 27, 2019

LOS ANGELES – First, California taxed plastic bags. Then it curbed plastic straws. Now a group of legislators wants to completely phase out single-use plastics. “It’s time to get serious about this,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), who is spearheading legislation targeting the use of plastics along with Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica). ...

Feb. 25, 2019

GRAND CANYON – Grand Canyon National Park’s safety, health and wellness manager caused a stir this week when he reported that three buckets of uranium ore stored in the park’s museum collections building had exposed visitors and staff to radiation for years. Scientists, however, say unprocessed ore poses little danger unless exposed at very close ...

Feb. 22, 2019

PICACHO, Ariz. – About 80 million tons of asphalt are recycled every year throughout the U.S., but the Arizona Department of Transportation is using old pavement from Interstate 10 to build new eastbound lanes near this unincorporated community. In the process, an ADOT spokesman says the department is saving money and time, and decreasing its ...

Feb. 22, 2019

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