Staff Picks 2013: Top 10 Inlander outdoors and environmental stories


Evening view from Mt. Spokane - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Evening view from Mt. Spokane

We spend a lot of time outdoors in the Inland Northwest. We take our "Near Nature" pretty seriously. In covering environmental and outdoor issues, we try to balance our recreation and our responsibilities. The region offers many rewarding activities, but also faces a few challenges. We're looking forward to getting out there again this year.

But until then, here's a list of 10 of the top Inlander natural resource stories of 2013 — covering a wide range of topics from salvaging roadkill to wolf hunting to megaload protests in the region. In chronological order:

1. Salvaged Salvation, Jan. 29:
With a special permit, regional volunteers respond to reports of roadkill to collect the meat for local food banks and shelters. Spokane has one of the state's highest rates for traffic-animal collisions, providing thousands of pounds of deer, elk and other meat.

2. Nuclear Powered, March 27:
In a region closely tied to the nuclear power industry at Hanford, this year's newly discovered leaks of radioactive waste brought new concerns about environmental impacts and economic security.

3. Safeguarding the Aquifer, April 17:
Who protects the regional aquifer flowing far below our feet? With more than 500,000 people depending on the water source, local advocates partner on projects to educate residents on the threats facing the aquifer.

4. Deadly Catch, April 23:
Tribal members face increased health risks after consuming more contaminated fish as officials issue warnings over toxins in area fish populations.

5. From Forest to Table, May 28:
Walk in the woods with a professional forager, collecting edible mushrooms, berries and other rare delights.

6. Man vs. Wolf, June 19:
Meet Robert Roman, one of the most prolific wolf hunters in Idaho, where a bitter debate has broken out over the protection or extermination of the predator.

7. Megaload Mayhem, Aug. 13:
Ride with eco-protesters into remote Idaho to stand against massive oil equipment shipments, called megaloads, as they move through tribal land.

8. A Summer on Engine 446, Sept. 17:
A rookie wildland firefighter spends her first season on a Department of Natural Resources engine, making friends and working at the edge of inferno.

9. Even Trade, Sept. 24:
My brother and I head into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness for solitude and learn about earning your way out on the trail.

10. Game Plan, Dec. 26:
A Sandpoint woman commits to hunting her own food and rises to the final four in the national Extreme Huntress competition.