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Eric de Place's Posts

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Invasion of the ecology snatchers

The many consequences of human interference with ecosystems

We all know them: English ivy, European starlings, Himalayan blackberry, Scotch broom. No, they're not foreign exchange students or international meals. They're part of the legion of exotic invasive species that threaten the ecological integrity of the Northwest. Of course, the Northwest is hardly alone. The American south is overrun with kudzu, for instance. The poster children of over-abundance are deer, as anyone in the Upper Midwest or the Northeast can tell you. Deer, of course, are native species, but because their predators have largely been eliminated, and because they thrive in semi-developed fragmented landscapes, they are legion. But deer …

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Young is the new old

Are old forests really returning west of the Cascades?

Are old growth forests growing back? According to an article in the Oregonian, new federal research shows that there are 600,000 more acres of old forest west of the Cascades than there were a decade ago. I'm suspicious. The structural characteristics of old growth forests are enormously complex. It's a lot more than just a few trees with thick trunks. Though there are many competing definitions of old growth, foresters generally agree that there must be a diversity of tree ages and species: everything from hemlock saplings to Godzilla-size cedars. There are standing and fallen dead trees, whose slow rotting …

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Scarce salmon stump scientists

Where did all the fishies go?

In all the Northwest's big dailies today: the annual run of big spring Chinook are nowhere to be found on the Columbia River. Normally, by this time of year, roughly 3,100 King salmon have made their way past Bonneville Dam on the Lower Columbia--the vanguard of a run that can easily number a quarter million. But this year so far, only 200 have arrived. It's the worst early showing since the Bonneville Dam was constructed in 1938. (The last time it was close was 1952 when only 478 had arrived by now.) Scientists are unanimous about only one thing: they …

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a howling good time

10th birthday for Yellowstone’s wolves

Next Monday will mark precisely 10 years since wolves re-appeared in Yellowstone National Park, from where they had been absent since the 1920s. The re-introduction program was a smashing success, far exceeding even optimistic predictions. On March 21, 1995, federal biologists finally opened the acclimation pens holding 14 gray wolves, sometimes called timber wolves, brought from Alberta. Earlier that year an additional 14 wolves had been set free in central Idaho's mammoth wilderness. And the following year, 17 more wolves were released into Yellowstone and 20 more into Idaho. A decade later, Yellowstone's wolf population has grown more than five-fold …

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Oily to rise

Hot off the presses, crude oil futures are trading above $53 a barrel today. An Associated Press article is rife with worrisome notes. Here are some: "Those people who think we've entered a new paradigm where high oil prices don't affect economic growth are wrong," said Lawrence Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation in New York. "I believe oil prices and the economy are on a collision course and that it's only a matter of time," [Peter] Beutel added, [president of Cameron Hanover Inc. of New Canaan, Conn., a provider of petroleum market analysis]. On the other hand, …

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