Terra in Print: Fall 2010

Fall 2010 cover, Countdown on the Columbia

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Welcome to the Fall 2010 issue of Terra magazine

Talking on the Water

Lest we forget that environmental and human health are intimately connected, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill delivered that message in spades. Dead birds and seaturtles were the poster animals for an event that closed fisheries and elevated health risks from volatile oil-based compounds in the air and water. Oregon State University researchers are working there with colleagues on marine mammals, fish and airborne toxins. A lot is riding on the results of these and other studies (not the least of which is settlement of costs), but as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner wrote, “Verifiable knowledge makes its way slowly and only under cultivation . . . .”

Stegner was writing about the American West and the outlandish promises made to lure Easterners to the plains in the 19th century. The bait: rich soils, an ideal climate, a never-ending bounty of food. While the Good Life went bust for many, the Pacific Northwest was blessed with rivers that could deliver myriad benefits. The Columbia and its tributaries have been a source of sustenance for millennia.

The dams and reservoirs built over the last 75 years have turned America’s fourth largest river into an industrial engine that powers cities, irrigates farmland and serves as food source, playground and highway. To Stegner, the cost was too high. The wild river, he wrote, had been reduced to “tamely turning turbines.”

Since three-quarters of the Columbia’s water comes from the Canadian Rockies, managing the river has been a shared responsibility between the United States and Canada. The 1964 treaty that defines that international relationship could come up for reconsideration as early as 2014. Our cover story describes what’s at stake and OSU’s role in laying the groundwork for future negotiations.

Terra is entering its sixth year of publication, and we are marking this milestone with a makeover, both in print and online. The magazine has more room for photos and other art and two new departments, TerraBytes and Perspectives, bringing you updates on stories you may have read in past issues and opinions from OSU researchers. Online, you’ll find a portal to OSU’s research community with stories, upcoming events, news, faculty and student blogs, videos and other multimedia. We hope you find them enjoyable and engaging. Please visit us at oregonstate.edu/terra.

— Nick Houtman, Editor

The Greening of Wood Products

The Greening of Wood Products

Departments, Fall 2010, Healthy Economy, Innovation, New Terrain

Wood composites offer resilience, efficiency and strength.


Spin-Offs Boost Oregon’s Economy

Spin-Offs Boost Oregon’s Economy

Departments, Fall 2010, Healthy Economy, Innovation, New Terrain

Young companies based on research at OSU are attracting investment capital and creating job.


Linking Climate Sciences and Society

Linking Climate Sciences and Society

Fall 2010, Healthy Planet, New Terrain, Stewardship

The Oregon Climate Change Research Institute will lead efforts to assist government agencies and the public.


Neil Shay to Lead OSU’s Wine Institute

Neil Shay to Lead OSU’s Wine Institute

Fall 2010, Healthy Economy, Innovation, New Terrain, Stewardship

A molecular biologist who makes wine from his own grapes will lead research to support Oregon’s wine industry.


Farming on the Fringe

Farming on the Fringe

Fall 2010, Healthy Economy, Stewardship

Urban homeowners and farmers don’t always see eye-to-eye, but along with new neighbors come opportunities.


Seismic Safety

Seismic Safety

Departments, Fall 2010, Footprints, Innovation

In an earthquake, Tom Miller knows which buildings to avoid.


A Way Forward for Oregon’s O&C Forests

A Way Forward for Oregon’s O&C Forests

Fall 2010, Healthy Planet, Perspectives, Stewardship, Terra Blog

Any fair-minded reading of the history of the O&C (Oregon and California Railroad) lands in Western Oregon would conclude that they were intended to provide economic support for the 18 counties in which they reside.


Talking About Water

Fall 2010, Healthy Planet, Stewardship, Terra Blog

Lest we forget that environmental and human health are intimately connected, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill delivered that message in spades. Dead birds and seaturtles were the poster animals for an event that closed fisheries and elevated health risks from volatile oil-based compounds in the air and water. Oregon State University researchers are working […]


Countdown on the Columbia

Countdown on the Columbia

Earth, Fall 2010, Features, Healthy Planet

More than 400 dams produce power and control floods in the nation’s fourth largest river basin. The U.S./Canada treaty that established responsibilities for water flow and power sharing is due for renewal.


DIRT Camp

DIRT Camp

Fall 2010, Healthy Planet, Student Research

Scott Sell earned a paycheck on the way to his degree.


A Feeling for Family

A Feeling for Family

Fall 2010, Multimedia, Summer 2010

When Shelley Jordon was a little girl growing up in Brooklyn, she got in trouble for pulling her mother’s books off the shelves and drawing in the white spaces. Her need to create was so strong that she couldn’t resist, despite knowing her mom would be angry. Many years later as an adult reeling from […]


A World Apart

A World Apart

Fall 2010, Features, Healthy People, Student Research

Jennifer Kue was just a little girl when she began assisting Portland’s Hmong community.


Nature’s Medicine Chest

Nature’s Medicine Chest

Fall 2010, Healthy People, Summer 2010

Taifo Mahmud opens the incubator and, picking up the stacked petri dishes one by one, raises them to the light. Each round, lidded container displays a colorful pattern pocked or sprayed across the agar. The researcher points with pride to the branching abstractions of yellows and rusts, oranges and greens, the visible etchings of billions […]


Birding by Ear Online

Birding by Ear Online

Fall 2010, Healthy Planet, Stewardship, Summer 2010

Recording the subtle syllables, notes and motifs that distinguish one bird species from another requires some pretty sophisticated gear. But for OSU researchers, collecting audio data in an old-growth forest last summer was a walk in the park compared with analyzing it. “It’s a lot of data,” reports Jed Irvine, a faculty research assistant in […]


The Persistence of Species

The Persistence of Species

Fall 2010, Healthy Planet, Summer 2010

In the tropics of Costa Rica, this violet sabrewing hummingbird is helping researchers understand the effects of forest fragmentation on ecosystems.


Stones on Ice

Stones on Ice

Fall 2010, Features, Healthy Planet

Why should the residents of Seattle, San Francisco, New York City and Boston worry about warming in Greenland, an ice-laden island in the North Atlantic? Because if all the water locked in the massive Greenland Ice Sheet flowed into the oceans, low-lying coastal cities worldwide would be inundated. “The Greenland Ice Sheet could contribute up […]