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Badger mountain may be home to a future landslide

Geologists at Washington State University, Tri-Cities have been looking into landslides throughout the area and found there could be a possibility of one at Badger Mountain.

Stephen Reidel.

Stephen Reidel and Karl Fecht have been following the landslide activity for almost 40 years.

The two have been following the landslide on Rattlesnake Ridge for over a year now and that slide is still moving at just over a half a foot each week.

“These ridges are giant fault zones rocks have been broken up as the ridge grew,” Reidel said.

But both say there may be a possibility of a landslide in the Tri-cities at Badger Mountain due to it’s history.

They said that over 10,000 years ago landslides did happen on the mountain as the Earth shifted and glacier ice accumulated.

With houses being developed on the mountain and the increase in water supply, a chance of a landslide is more likely.

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NBC Right Now

Emergency medicine expert connects climate change, human health

One of the world’s leading experts in wilderness and emergency medicine will talk about the intersection of climate change and human health in the 2019 Lane Family Lecture in Environmental Science, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center on the WSU Pullman campus.

Paul Auerbach.

Dr. Paul Auerbach, a physician, author and professor of medicine, will present “Climate Change and Human Health — There Are No Boundaries.” Preceding the lecture at 4 p.m. will be a reception.

The event is free and open to the public.

“Climate change is one of the most important challenges of our time,” said WSU environmental science instructor Kara Whitman. “Virtually everyone will be directly or indirectly impacted by it. In his lecture, Dr. Auerbach will provide the WSU community with a hard look at the real human health consequences of our quickly changing climate.”

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WSU Insider

Women in wildlife: Managing critters from bugs to bears gains its own workforce diversity

Increasing numbers of women are moving into wildlife management positions in state and federal agencies as well as private companies, organizations, and universities.

While women make up about 30 percent of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Program statewide and 40 percent in the Habitat Program, seven of the 14 wildlife staffers in the Spokane Region headquarters are women.

The trend is more obvious in the pipeline.

Lisa Shipley.In recent years, women have made up 60-70 percent of enrollment at Washington State University’s School of Environment, said Professor Lisa Shipley, who specializes in big-game forage and nutrition.

“It’s a full phenomenon in biology in general,” Shipley said. “Males are still the majority in fields like physics and engineering, but in biology and veterinary medicine it’s pretty much flipped.”

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The Missoulian

Why water matters

From cities to rural and wild areas, Kevan Moffett wants to better understand the role of water on the planet.

Kevan Moffet.

On the southern slope of Mount Adams in Washington, Moffett and her students are working to learn how soils recover moisture following wildfires so that trees and plants can sprout again. The field area has suffered three fires in the last 14 years — the McDonald Ridge fire of 2004, the Cold Springs fire of 2008 and the Cougar Creek burn of 2015.

“With three fires in overlapping areas, we can study field sites that have overlapping fires or just one,” said Moffett, an assistant professor of environmental hydrology at WSU Vancouver. “That’s the whole point of this project: These repeated fires are becoming more common. Finding a special spot to study them that’s really convenient is a unique opportunity.”

The research is supported by a National Science Foundation grant Moffett shares with Andrés Holz of Portland State University. They are studying “short‑interval reburns” to better understand the effects of repeated wildfires on Cascades forest ecology and hydrology. Over the next few years, Moffett, Holz and their student research teams will examine whether an altered hydrological cycle and changes in soil moisture may change how plants regrow after a fire and also make them more vulnerable under some conditions to repeated fires in the future. They will also help identify whether, and over what time scales, reburns might mitigate or worsen the downstream flood risks that often follow fires.

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WSU Insider

A WSU researcher lived with grizzly bears in Alaska. She came away convinced humans and grizzlies can coexist

Woman tending to a sedated bear in a meadow surrounded by mountains.
Joy Erlenbach takes a blood sample from a bear in Alaska.

A small seaplane drops her off and flies back toward civilization, leaving Joy Erlenbach there among the bears and the wild.

Erlenbach looks for a place to set up camp as she hikes through Alaska’s Hallo Bay. Swarms of bugs fill the salty air. On one side, miles of sandy beach stretch along the shore undisturbed. On the other, towering, snow-covered volcanoes poke into the sky as dozens of grizzly bears graze below in an open meadow.

This is grizzly country — with no signs of humans, no roads and no trails leading into it. Erlenbach knows that if anything goes wrong, she could be days from help.

Erlenbach, a bear biologist and Ph.D. candidate in environmental studies at Washington State University, is there to study the bears. Yet before that first research trip in June 2015, she had never lived with formidable, 1,000-pound predators in the wild before.

“All of the sudden,” Erlenbach says, “my life revolved around getting along with bears.”

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The Inlander