By Brian Hagenbuch | National Fisherman

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Her father was a fisherman who never gave up, so was her husband. And Ellie Kinley does not plan on giving up either. Kinley is a Lummi tribal member who lives outside Bellingham, Wash. Her family’s seiner, the F/V Salish Sea, is one of some 560 boats in the nation’s largest native fleet.

Both her father and husband have passed, and Kinley now seines for salmon along with her kids, Luke, 27, and Kyle, 23. Poor salmon runs over the last few years have limited the Kinleys’ harvest. …


Decades ago, freshwater ecologist Robin Matthews started work on monitoring Lake Whatcom.

Reporting by Ben Leung

Robin Matthews, freshwater ecologist and Director of Western’s Institute for Watershed Studies from the mid-80’s to 2019, transformed an early Lake Whatcom monitoring program into an organized and comprehensive research effort — research that advanced lake protection policy and water management programs. Our public editor Ben Leung spoke with Matthews. Here is their conversation, edited for clarity.

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Robin Matthews, former Director of Western’s Institute for Watershed Studies, started her work around Lake Whatcom in 1985. Photo courtesy of Robin Matthews.

Q: How would you describe this project to someone who doesn’t have much scientific experience?

A: When I was directing it up to December of 2019, the Institute for Watershed Studies was responsible for monitoring the water quality in Lake Whatcom as part of trying to provide baseline information on a public drinking water source.

Q: Could you tell me about how you wound up managing the project?

A: When I showed up in 1985, the director of the Institute for Watershed Studies was…


How a transgender-owned alpaca ranch in Colorado foretells the future of the rural queer West.

By Eric Siegel | High Country News

A year ago, transgender rancher Penny Logue found the dome. Fed up with a hostile landlord in the city and fearful for their safety amid record-high deaths in the transgender community nationwide, Logue and her business partner, Bonnie Nelson, sought refuge in the rural, open rangelands.

The geodesic dome perched on sprawling acreage in the remote Wet Mountain Valley on the eastern flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range, near the rural ranching hamlet of Westcliffe, Colorado. They were intrigued. “Domes are funky and cool and a bit against the status quo — and they help the planet,” Logue told me. So they bought it.

“They are weird but useful,” she said, “which is the essence of queer.”

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Penny Logue reclines on a pile of hay as she coaxes the friendliest members of the ranch’s alpaca herd closer to her. Luna Anna Archey/High Country News

If the dome caught their attention, the dramatic Wet Mountain Valley convinced them to stay. “We fell in love,” said Logue. “You emerge out of the mountains into the valley and the Sangre de Cristo range just breaks in front of you.” She and Nelson were unexpectedly taken with Westcliffe too — its quaint storefronts and theater, the wide sidewalks, signs for “Shakespeare in the Park.”

They bought the dome, and by March, with the pandemic raging and a divisive presidential election roiling, relocated to the valley and created the Tenacious Unicorn Ranch…


The Planet magazine stands for racial equity on all fronts and takes an active stance against racism. The environmental movement and journalism both have a legacy of and current struggles with racism that The Planet has not properly acknowledged in the classroom or in the publication. In light of the demonstrations of racial inequities in 2020, as well as in the past, including violence against People of Color and the disproportionate death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are speaking up in support of racial justice and against racism, and committing to work to address these issues in the class…


In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, Huxley College reckons with student demands to make up for racism in the institution's history.

Story and photos by Emily Amos

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The Environmental Studies building on Western’s campus awaits the return of people back to campus once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Founded in the late 1960s, Huxley College was one of the first environmental schools of its type in the nation.

Since the founding of Huxley College of the Environment, white faces have dominated all facets of the institution. Today, only 20% of students within Huxley are people of color. Scrolling through the names and photos of faculty and staff at the college, there is a distinct lack of diverse complexions staring back from the screen.

“There are so many [black, indigenous people of color] students in Huxley College who don’t…


An agricultural age gap may threaten the future of farming, but organizations like Viva Farms and Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland are set on saving the farming lifestyle.

By Gabriel Guevara

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Incubator farmers use Viva Farms wash/pack facility and cold storage unit in Mount Vernon, Washington. The infrastructure and equipment is leased by Viva Farms to provide crucial support for farmers to flourish and offer vital assistance in the everyday work. Photo credit: John Paul Minor.

Between the Cascade Mountain Range and the Puget Sound, northwest Washington is bursting with rich agricultural land, nurtured by a mild coastal climate and high rainfall. But, as the average age of farmers rises, the local and regional food economy stands at risk if there isn’t a new generation ready to take their place.

Located in Skagit and King County, nonprofit organization Viva Farms is helping to secure the future…


Ravaged by wildfire, the town of Malden looks to the future.

Story and Photos by Sydney Beckett

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The Babb Road Fire that burned on September 7, 2020 near Spokane, Washington decimated many homes in the small town of Malden and neighboring Pine Creek. The damage was sporadic, with some homes untouched, while others nearby were obliterated.

Driving into the town of Malden, Washington in mid-October, the evening sun casts a golden glow on a small green and white sign that reads “Welcome to Malden.” However, it’s obvious that something isn’t right. Concrete front porches lead up to piles of ash and debris. Brick fireplaces with chimneys stand tall and exposed. Six weeks after the Babb Road Fire, residents of Malden are digging through the rubble of what used to be their homes. …


Dear Reader,

Today I gathered all of The Planet’s printed issues that I have dutifully collected over the years into a pile. I searched the pages for tidbits of wisdom, words of inspiration, reminiscing over my time with the magazine. I had to laugh when I flipped open to the first page of the Conservation Issue where my predecessors had mulled over the eventual day when The Planet would switch from print to pixel.

I laughed because in the end, the decision wasn’t in the name of conservation or the environmental movement like they had expected, but rather events that…


Researchers are looking for answers to the mysterious die-off of sword ferns in Seattle’s Seward Park.

Story and Photos by Emma Bjornsrud

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The dead, colorless crown of a sword fern is all that remains of what was once a lush, green and healthy specimen. Unfortunately, evidence like this of the sweeping sword fern die-off can be found in many areas of Seward Park.

At Seward Park, a diverse ecosystem of old growth forest, wetland and prairie on the west shore of Lake Washington in Seattle, researchers and nature lovers have teamed up to solve the mystery of the dying sword ferns.

Sword ferns, a dominant understory species of Pacific Northwest forest ecosystems, have 75 to 100 fronds that grow, pointed and blade-like, up to one meter long. Each frond arches outwards in a crown, creating a lush, round and delicately feathered…


Jocelyn Akins and her team at Cascades Carnivore Project venture into the mountains to track down one of the region’s most elusive animals: the wolverine.

Story and Photos by Duncan Mullen

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Sparsely-forested subalpine ridges like this one south of Mount Rainier are frequented by the national park’s wolverines.

The Planet Magazine

The Planet is Western Washington University’s award-winning quarterly environmental publication and the only undergraduate environmental magazine in the U.S.

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