Elemental: Covering Sustainability

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

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – On a recent morning, Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, a chemical engineering professor, sat down at a restaurant and ordered one of her favorite drinks: a blend of grapefruit, pineapple, celery, parsley, spinach and prickly pear cactus. Pascoe Ortiz for years has been drinking this blend known in Mexico as jugo verde (“green juice”), ...

April 4, 2019

WINDOW ROCK – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed a proclamation Tuesday that embraces a shift to clean energy development. This comes just days after the tribal council voted to drop its bid for the west’s largest coal-fired power plant. The proclamation says the tribe will provide off-grid solar to the 15,000 or so Navajo ...

April 3, 2019

Thomas Edison became a household name for inventing the first practical incandescent light bulb. But because of what happened in a small town in Colorado, his bitter rival Nikola Tesla won the bigger prize to electrify our modern grid. Over a century later, could revenge be in the offing? DENVER – In the late 1800s ...

April 2, 2019

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Debra Loney hunches over a batch of milkweed, then gets on her hands and knees to scour the plants for elusive monarch caterpillars and eggs. It’s no easy task: The eggs are no larger than a grain of sand. “I’m bringing knee pads next time,” said Loney, 64, who lives in ...

April 2, 2019

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK – Joshua Tree National Park is exploding with color after unusually heavy winter rains, just in time to celebrate the park’s expansion. Right now, visitors can see poppies, bluebells, fiddlenecks, and the huge, white, beehive-like blooms of the park’s famous trees. A federal bill signed into law earlier this month adds ...

April 1, 2019

WASHINGTON – The National Academy of Sciences said Thursday that a six-month study determined the Mexican gray wolf is a separate subspecies from other gray wolves, which recently lost their endangered species status. Mexican gray wolves were almost driven to extinction in the 1970s, but currently number about 100 animals in Arizona, New Mexico and ...

April 1, 2019

TUCSON – Citing sharply escalating financial losses in the city’s recycling program, Tucson officials said this week the city might have to stop taking glass bottles and newspapers until markets for those items recover. China was the leading buyer of U.S. recyclables for more than 25 years. But 18 months ago, the country, citing environmental ...

March 28, 2019

LOS ANGELES – The L.A. River is full of things that, one way or another, people put there – candy wrappers, plastic bags, shopping carts, concrete, clothing, goldfish, pigeons and the giant, invasive arundo donax reeds. Under his huge straw hat, Steve Appleton chops at a huge dry mat of arundo reeds. Three or four ...

March 28, 2019

PHOENIX – The 10X Water Summit opened in Phoenix Tuesday night with a goal of hosting vital conversations on water as it relates to the future of cities along the Interstate 10 corridor from coast-to-coast. Elemental collaborators are tracking some of the top takeaways from natural resource experts, public policy analysts and politicians sharing their ...

March 27, 2019

PHOENIX – Blankets of bright orange poppies and deep purple lupine cover the rugged hills and mountains at Picacho Peak State Park. Visitors have been flocking there to be dazzled by the flower-coated landscape, which is just a part of this year’s wildflower explosion across the Sonoran Desert. At Picacho Peak, about halfway between Phoenix ...

March 25, 2019

LOS ANGELES – First off, yes, this is a story about poop, which we all know is funny. So please get all the snickers, chuckles and chortles out of your system now, because this poop story has a valuable lesson about how Los Angeles residents share this wildland-urban interface with coyotes – and why it’s ...

March 25, 2019

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 ...

March 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 ...

March 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 ...

March 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” ...

March 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 ...

March 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 ...

March 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 ...

March 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 ...

March 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 ...

March 8, 2019

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