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Articles by Lois Parshley

Lois Parshley is an award-winning independent investigative journalist. Follow more of her climate reporting @loisparshley on social media.

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In the first flush of an Arctic spring, the boreal forest begins to stir, emerging from a silvered quiet. Icicles shatter like glass. Meltwater babbles, braiding in puddles and then in deltas. Snow drops in clumps from the branches of black spruce. Saplings remain crooked from a long wait, as if Dr. Seuss had drawn springtime.

The trees’ twisted crowns are evidence of the forest’s scrappiness: A black spruce seed riding the wind in 1728 — the year the first Danish explorer crossed the Bering Sea between Asia and North America — might have found purchase in the rocky till revealed by retreating glaciers. When ice turned Captain Cook back from the Arctic Ocean a few decades later, the sapling would have just been bearing its first cones. A century later, when the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million in gold, the slow-growing tree might only have reached 30 feet. By the time the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act created the sprawling system that now manages many of these forests, the aging spruce might still have been a spindly perch for some of the bill... Read more

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