environment and natural resources

OSU Extension teams with community partners to test Sweet Home well water

SWEET HOME, Ore. – An Oregon State University Extension Service program is teaming with the Sweet Home Rotary Club and other partners to offer free well water testing in the area.

Analytical Laboratories & Consultants of Eugene also is playing a key role in the project.

Sweet Home area residents who pre-register for a class on well management will receive the free water tests, choosing from three different sessions – one on Saturday, Feb. 3, from 10 to 11:45 a.m., and the others on Thursday, Feb. 8, from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m. and 6 to 7:45 p.m. Classes will be held at the Sweet Home School District administration building board room, 1920 Long Street in Sweet Home.

Water samples will be tested for nitrates, coliform bacteria and arsenic, said Gail Andrews, coordinator of the OSU Extension Service’s Well Water Program. The arsenic samples will go to the Analytical lab in Eugene, which is doing the testing at a reduced cost for this community project. A microbiologist has volunteered to test the bacteria samples, and the Lebanon Hospital is allowing her to use their incubator. Trained students and community volunteers will screen the samples for nitrate during the class.

“It’s the great community involvement that has allowed this project to come together,” Andrews said. “The Sweet Home area is one of the few regions in Oregon that has had widespread arsenic in groundwater that supplies the water to wells used for drinking.

“In Oregon, household well owners aren’t required to test their water and it’s possible that people in the area may unknowingly be drinking water that contains arsenic.”

Interested persons may register for the class and pick up sample bottles from now through Feb. 7 from the Sweet Home Community Pool, the Sweet Home Boys and Girls Club, or the Sweet Home Forest Service Ranger Station during their regular business hours.

The OSU Well Water Program has held numerous such classes and workshops throughout Oregon, Andrews said, but usually tests only for nitrates. Testing for arsenic and bacteria is more expensive. However, a grant obtained by the Sweet Home Rotary Club will help pay for tests to the first 100 residents living in the region as outlined by area code – Sweet Home (97386), Foster (97345), Crawfordsville (97336) and Cascadia (97329).

For more information on safe drinking water from household wells, visit the OSU Well Water Program’s website at http://wellwater.oregonstate.edu

“It’s an important test,” Andrews said, “and the class will provide valuable information on proper care of household wells and drinking water safety.”

Story By: 

Gail Andrews,

Andrews Forest nominated for major national research effort

BLUE RIVER, Ore. – Leaders of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in the central Cascade Range of Oregon this month officially nominated it to become a core research site in NEON, the most ambitious and comprehensive ecological observation program ever planned in the United States.

If the effort is successful, this research site will become the primary biological “representative” of western Oregon and Washington, parts of northern California and southeastern Alaska – a huge Pacific Northwest land area that runs from the Pacific Ocean to the eastern edge of the Cascade Range.

Major construction programs, new research infrastructure, scientific instrumentation and other initiatives would turn the forest into one of the most intensively monitored ecosystem sites in the world, and part of a national initiative that will be supported by the National Science Foundation and managed by a new private entity, NEON, Inc.

The Andrews Forest is now operated by Oregon State University and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service as part of NSF’s Long Term Ecological Research system. But under NEON, it would undergo a quantum transformation to help answer some of the world’s most pressing ecological issues.

“The National Ecological Observatory Network, or NEON, is seen as the way the address some of what we call the grand challenge questions,” said Barbara Bond, a professor of forest science at OSU and co-director of the Andrews Forest. “These are things like predicting climate change, managing invasive species, or understanding the ecology of infectious disease.

“The type of integrated technology that NEON will provide will give us the big answers to the big questions,” she added.

Only one “core” research site will be chosen to represent large parts of a four-state, Pacific Northwest region, and experts say that the Andrews Forest – as a result of its history, ecological research orientation, location, elevation, over 50 years of existing data, geology, vegetation and many other features – is ideally suited to be that site. In particular, the H.J. Andrews is dominated by a sloping, hilly topography, a departure from the flatland locations that will be used in many other NEON sites, but hilly or mountainous terrain similar to a vast portion of the American West.

Besides these “core” research sites, other smaller ecological monitoring facilities would be set up at different locations, perhaps including one or more “land use gradients” that could include a site in downtown Portland, areas near the Portland and Eugene urban fringe, and extending into the Cascades.

The core research site would include a new, 3,000-square-foot headquarters building, several large monitoring towers, a tree canopy microclimate system, and other technology that would convert the area into a “cyber forest,” with sophisticated new instrumentation sending back constant streams of data about everything from air movement to pollutant monitoring and stable isotope composition.

Each of 20 core NEON sites around the nation, including Alaska and Hawaii, will have similar technology, instruments, research protocols, and coordinated scientific approaches so that data at various sites can be combined to answer ever more complex questions, using such things as advanced computation, computer modeling and ecological studies at all time and geographic scales.

Researchers at OSU in the College of Forestry and College of Engineering, in fact, are already working to create some of the advanced technology that will be used in NEON – novel ways to provide power for instruments to study the interactions among climate, soils, and vegetation.

Millions of dollars have already been spent by the National Science Foundation just in planning NEON, and millions more are in the budget for this year awaiting final Congressional approval. Organizers hope the plan will link studies from the genome to the biosphere, and dramatically improve both our understanding of nature and the effects of human interaction with it.

Managing the Earth in a sustainable fashion for future generations, scientists say, requires better answers to what are being called the “grand challenges.” The National Research Council identified these critical environmental questions in 2001, and they include questions about biodiversity, biogeochemical cycles, climate change, hydroecology, infectious disease, invasive species and land use. At stake, scientists say, is sustained ecosystem function, management of a changing planet, supplies of clean water, defense against new and spreading diseases, and human welfare.

“The ecological changes we will face in the United States are enormous, and it’s going to take the type of infrastructure envisioned by NEON to address them,” Bond said. “This is clearly the way to go. I’m guessing that only in hindsight will we really appreciate just how valuable this initiative is, the way it will empower us to answer questions we otherwise just could not tackle.”

In addition to becoming a key player in the NEON initiative, Bond said, the increased monitoring and technology made possible by that plan would greatly enhance the current work at the Andrews Forest. Already well known for its old-growth and watershed science studies that have helped shape major forest management policy changes in the U.S., the Andrews Forest now is employing some of the same type of sensor engineering, mathematical and computer systems, and social science studies that NEON proposes.

“At the Andrews we already have one of the premier forestry research sites in the world, including programs integrating forestry with the humanities that are a model for the nation,” Bond said. “NEON would only make these programs better.”

Story By: 

Barbara Bond,

History of forest battles offers view to future

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Some of the changing social values and demands to ensure “species viability” that ultimately caused the collapse of national forest management plans in the 1980s and 90s have been addressed, scientists say, but other topics still have similar potential for conflict.

A historical analysis by researchers at Oregon State University, published in the professional journal Forest Policy and Economics, concluded that many lessons have been learned by management agencies following the contentious battles of the last 20 years, when one Forest Service management plan after another was invalidated by courts due to inadequate measures to protect wildlife species.

A fundamental change has taken place in management agencies, which now incorporate ecological science much more heavily into their decisions, have a greater understanding of what it takes to protect habitats and species, and have raised the bar in terms of protecting species at the expense of dramatically lower timber harvests on public lands.

But the heightened attention being paid to species protection, researchers say in their report, is no guarantee that other forest management controversies based on different conflicts won’t result in the same “crisis management and angry voices” that have become the undesirable norm in recent decades.

“Some lessons have been learned, and some changes made in regulations as a result of different political administrations,” said Sally Duncan, policy research director with the Institute for Natural Resources at OSU. “But substantive change is a very slow process and there will be more crises in forest management; you can count on that. It may just be in different areas.”

This analysis was done, researchers say, to help determine why forest plans developed in the 1980s and ‘90s so regularly ended up in court, and why “ad hoc” groups of scientists who examined the plans so consistently concluded that they did not allow for enough species protection – beginning with the northern spotted owl, but later broadening to concerns much beyond that.

“The plans crafted by the Forest Service in the 1980s were universally deemed inadequate,” said Jonathan Thompson, an OSU doctoral candidate in the Department of Forest Science. “We wanted to understand how the same basic set of laws and regulations could result in such completely different conclusions, and hopefully learn how these types of problems might be avoided in the future.”

The issues that led to forest management gridlock began with the rise of the modern environmental movement in the 1960s, and were intertwined with the post-World War II demand for more housing, increasing urbanization, and timber production gradually giving way to a view of forests as places valuable for recreation, fish and wildlife protection, and scenery.

The Forest Service had become “by default a timber agency” and struggled to adapt to these social changes and ever more conflicting mandates, the report noted, and like many large bureaucratic institutions was reluctant to change.

A host of environmental laws passed in the 1960s and ‘70s added to the pressures, membership in environmental groups surged, and interest groups became adept at using court challenges to halt timber sales. As forest plans began to fail, specialized science groups were appointed to examine the types of species protection provided in these plans, and frequently found them inadequate.

“The species protection standards were very new, and the regulations were often vague, hard to interpret, sometimes almost impossible to achieve,” Thompson said. “Management agencies often did not have the scientific background, ecological expertise or the latest data, all of which were available to the groups examining their plans, and the scientists and agencies often came to very different conclusions.”

Prior to the 1980s, the researchers noted, ecological science was often a minor part of forest plans and scientists in that field were rarely consulted. Now it has become a primary force in these plans and some scientists are being criticized for being “too involved” in policy issues and management decisions.

Another hypothesis the study explored was the level of risk to species. At first, many forest planners believed that a few, isolated old-growth reserves would take care of most species concerns. But for the northern spotted owl, necessary room for protection rose from an initial estimate of 30 acres to 3,000. By the early 1990s, the number of species under consideration was more than 1,000. Species protection moved from a minor constraint on timber production to a driver of planning and management.

The end result of all these forces, researchers said, was a major decrease in timber production from public lands, a disruption of traditional approaches used by the Forest Service, a groundswell of environmental awareness and concern, and major political and court fights.

Many participants interviewed in the research, the study authors said, now feel that problems with species protection are largely in the past, that management agency approaches have changed, more science is being used in plan development, and a broad body of case law is now available to add consistency to the process – at least so far as it relates to species viability.

But the broader controversies of recent years, the study noted, showed a process “crippled by the incremental nature of scientific understanding, institutional problems, and larger social dynamics” – forces that have not gone away.

Story By: 

Sally Duncan,

Pesticide Roundup nets 17,000 pounds of toxics; more to come in February

EUGENE, Ore. – Hauling bulging sacks and rusting containers, more than 50 farmers turned in old pesticides, fertilizers, and solvents in Lane County's first agricultural chemical collection program last November. Now organizers are set to repeat the success in an upcoming collection effort, sponsored by the Oregon State University Extension Service and other local agencies.

Farmers in the McKenzie River and Middle Fork Willamette watersheds brought in more than 17,000 pounds of agricultural chemicals, according to one of the organizers, Ross Penhallegon, a horticulturalist with the OSU Extension Service in Lane County.

“It was truly amazing to see all the old chemicals that came in,” said Penhallegon. “Obsolete pesticides such as DDT, aldrin and chlordane, sacks of caked fertilizer, waste oil, solvents with no label…some of the old pesticides, especially those such as DDT, were taken off the market decades ago.”

Another collection event is scheduled in early February. The goal of this agricultural collection program is to remove potential groundwater contaminants out of the area and dispose of them properly at hazardous disposal sites, explained Penhallegon.

Participating growers were under an amnesty of sorts. Growers were invited to bring in and safely dispose of the hazardous waste from their farms, no questions asked and no disposal fees charged, on several days this past November. Normally disposing of hazardous waste from farms is prohibitively expensive for many growers.

“Until the collection event, most farmers had few options for disposing of unwanted chemicals, since many of the chemicals had become illegal to use,” Penhallegon said. The collection of the chemicals was handled by trained personnel and shipped to a hazardous waste disposal site near Kent, Wash.

The southern Willamette Valley is heavily dependent on well water for drinking and agriculture and is especially vulnerable to groundwater contamination, especially from nitrogen. Scientists from the OSU Extension Service, the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, along with other agencies and citizen volunteers have worked for more than 15 years to closely manage and protect the area’s aquifers.

Another similar event has been slated for Feb. 7-9 and Feb. 21 for commercial growers at the Glenwood Collection Center in Springfield. Farmers who would like to participate in this program need to complete a farm chemical survey and submit it to OSU Extension Service Lane County by Jan. 26.

The Eugene Water and Electric Board, Springfield Utility Board, Lane County Waste Management, the South Willamette Valley Groundwater Management Program and other local and state entities also sponsor the chemical collection program.

To learn more about the program contact:

• Amy Chinitz at 541-744-3745, if you live in the Middle Fork Watershed (i.e., south Springfield, Pleasant Hill, Jasper, Fall Creek, Lowell, Dexter, and Oakridge)

• Karl Morgenstern at 541-341-8552 or Nancy Toth at 541-344-6311, ext. 3318, if you live in the McKenzie Watershed (i.e., Leaburg, Marcola, Walterville, Vida, etc.)

• Ross Penhallegon at 541-682-4243 or Audrey Eldridge at 541-776-6010, ext. 223, if you live in the Upper Willamette (i.e., Eugene, Cheshire, Coburg, Junction City, Veneta, etc.)

For further information or to print off the survey form, visit the OSU Extension Service Lane County website at: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lane/horticulture/index.php.


Ross Penhallegon,

Environmental Author, Panel to Consider Future

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A prominent environmental author and scholar will be interviewed in a panel discussion at Oregon State University on Thursday, Jan. 25, exploring the topic “What Are Our Obligations to Future Generations?”

David Orr, a pioneer of environmental literacy in higher education, author of five books and a distinguished professor of environmental studies at Oberlin College, will be the featured speaker at the event, which will be from 2-3 p.m. in the Memorial Union, Journey Room. The discussion is free and open to the public.

Panelists posing questions to Orr include Charlie Tomlinson, mayor of Corvallis; Courtney Campbell, chair of the OSU Department of Philosophy; Cristina Eisenberg, OSU graduate student and president of the Graduate Student Association of the OSU College of Forestry; and Kathleen Dean Moore, OSU philosophy professor and author of “The Pine Island Paradox.”

The event is sponsored by the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word; and the Starker Lectures in the OSU College of Forestry.

Orr and the panelists will explore such topics as the fossil fuels we burn or conserve; the toxins we choose, or choose not to introduce into the air and water, the natural resources we mine or steward, and the carelessness or creativity brought to important decisions that may affect future generations.

Orr is the author of five books, including “Earth in Mind” and “The Last Refuge: Patriotism, Politics, and the Environment,” and editor of The Campus and Environmental Responsibility.

Orr will also deliver a Starker Lecture, "To Ourselves and our Posterity: Climate Change and the Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property," at 4 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25 in the CH2M-Hill Alumni Center, Cascade Ballroom 110.

Story By: 

Charles Goodrich,

'Getting Biofuels Right' Topic of Lecture at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – “Getting Biofuels Right: The Biofuel vs. Food and Environment Dilemma” is the subject of a free public lecture at Oregon State University on Monday, Feb. 25, by G. David Tilman, an ecologist with the University of Minnesota.

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the C&E Auditorium at OSU’s LaSells Stewart Center.

Tilman’s presentation is part of a 2007-08 OSU lecture series called “Food for Thought: History, Technology, Gastronomy,” sponsored by the university’s Horning Endowment in the Humanities, in collaboration with the Outreach in Biotechnology Program.

Concerns over rising oil prices and greenhouse gases from fossil fuels have caused biofuels to be touted as a solution to both our energy and climate change dilemmas. Yet available biofuels, Tilman says, offer no real solution. Corn ethanol and soybean biodiesel provide small energy gains, but both directly and indirectly release more greenhouse gas than fossil fuels. Moreover, any food-based biofuels made by converting rain forests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands release substantially more carbon dioxide than the annual greenhouse gas reductions that these biofuels provide by displacing fossil fuels.

In this lecture, Tilman suggests solutions: Biofuels can be produced from perennials grown on agriculturally degraded lands without displacing food production or causing loss of biodiversity through habitat destruction. Similarly, biofuels made from waste biomass, manure, corn stover, forest slash, or thinnings offer immediate and sustained advantages and net energy gains.

Tilman is the Regents’ Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in Ecology at the University of Minnesota, and director of the university’s Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. His research explores how managed and natural ecosystems can sustainably meet human needs for food, energy, and ecosystem services.

He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. Tilman was founding editor of the journal Ecological Issues. His many awards include the Ecological Society of America’s Cooper Award and its MacArthur Award, the Botanical Society of America’s Centennial Award, and the Princeton Environmental Prize.

He has written or edited five books and published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed literature, making him the world’s most highly cited environmental scientist for 1990–2000 and for 1996–2006, according to the Institute for Scientific Information.

The Food for Thought lecture series also is supported by the Wait and Lois Rising Lectureship Fund and the OSU history department.

Story By: 

Elissa Curcio,

Multimedia Downloads

Prof. David Tilman, Director-Cedar Creek Natural History Area

G. David Tilman

Nitrogen study may improve accuracy of ecological predictions

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The pattern of nitrogen release from decaying plant material is remarkably similar and predictable across the planet, researchers have concluded in a new study, which should make it easier to understand nutrient dynamics, vegetation growth, estimate carbon release and sequestration, and better predict the impacts of climate change.

The findings, to be published Friday in the journal Science, are the results of one of the largest and longest studies ever done on nitrogen release during plant decomposition, involving dozens of researchers working for 10 years in 27 sites, ranging from Arctic tundra to tropical forests of North and Central America.

“The availability of nitrogen is one of the key factors limiting vegetation growth around the world, but its release from plant litter can be very slow,” said Mark Harmon, a professor of forest science at Oregon State University and the coordinator of the study. “For the first time, we studied this process at enough sites and over a long enough time period to really understand what’s happening.”

The surprise, researchers said, is that the basic pattern of nitrogen release is pretty much the same wherever it occurs, and is driven primarily by the initial concentration of nitrogen present in the decaying plant material. It has little to do with location, soil types, microbes present, or other factors.

The speed of the process is affected by climate, particularly temperature and precipitation, the study concluded. But the overall pattern, or “trajectory” of nitrogen release remains much the same regardless of the site.

There is significant interest in the way that nitrogen recycles in the ecosystem, scientists say, because it plays such a critical role in the growth of almost all vegetation – grasses, shrubs, trees and agricultural crops. The presence or absence of adequate amounts of nitrogen can often dictate what types of vegetation are able to survive in a certain area, and how quickly it grows. Very little of this nutrient is made available from geological sources.

Plant growth, in turn, is one of the main factors that affects the input or removal of carbon from the atmosphere – an issue of growing importance during an era of global warming. Plant decomposition releases more carbon each year than all of the fossil fuel combustion produced by humans, the researchers note in their study.

“If we hope to better predict carbon dynamics, climate change and other issues, we first must understand these basic ecological processes,” Harmon said.

In plant decomposition, it’s not unusual for the microbes which are decomposing the plant matter to first retain nitrogen from the dying plants and other sources, until they have all they need for the decomposition process, Harmon said. This “immobilization” of nitrogen can actually cause a reduction in available soil nitrogen for an extended period of years, until at some point the plant material is sufficiently broken down that nitrogen in excess of decomposer needs becomes available.

It had been thought that this process might be highly variable, depending on several interacting factors. In fact, the study found that it is pretty predictable, affected primarily just by the initial nitrogen concentration in the plant material which is decaying.

“It was really surprising to see how similar these processes were across wide geographic and climatic scales,” Harmon said. “The basic trajectory is much the same regardless of many variables. A fairly simple model can accurately predict it.”

The overall decomposition process, he said, does speed up in warmer or wetter conditions, which many anticipate as a result of climate change and global warming. In that event, nitrogen should more rapidly be made available to plants, at least initially spurring increased vegetation growth and offsetting carbon losses from increased decomposition.

Less clear is the overall long-term impact on carbon sequestration and storage, Harmon said. That may depend on whether the growth that occurs is in the form of vegetation parts that quickly die, such as leaves, or in wood that lives much longer. So whether increased vegetation growth on a global basis will increase enough to offset global warming is still uncertain, he said, and requires further study.

This research, called the Long-Term Inter-site Decomposition Experiment, or LIDET study, was funded by the Long Term Ecological Studies program of the National Science Foundation. Participants included OSU, Colorado State University, University of California/Berkeley, LSI Logic, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Northern Arizona University, and 23 other institutions that conducted the field work.

A wide range of “biomes,” or general types of ecosystems, were included in the research to increase its applicability on a global scale. Among the sites was the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in the Cascade Range of Oregon, one of the state’s leading programs of long term ecological research.

Story By: 

Mark Harmon,

Fish and Game Association Creates OSU Scholarship Fund

CORVALLIS, Ore. — The disbanding Santiam Fish and Game Association of Albany will live on through its creation of a new scholarship fund at Oregon State University. The nonprofit group recently gave $100,000 from the sale of its property at Clear Lake to assist students enrolled in OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Through the Santiam Fish and Game Association Endowed Scholarship, the organization will promote care of the natural world in perpetuity, said board chair Dale Wollam of Lebanon.

“A lot of older people have good memories about the association and want to see others benefit from what we’ve put so many years into,” he said. “We’ve had great joy in it.”

Established in 1929, the Santiam Fish and Game Association managed cabins and boats at Clear Lake on the Santiam Pass. Once numbering as many as 800 families from Corvallis, Albany and Lebanon, the group decided to disband last year amidst declining membership. They sold the resort to Linn County Parks and Recreation, and their charter directed that assets would fund scholarships at OSU.

Supporting young people who want to enter careers in fish and wildlife fields is a natural extension of the association’s history, Wollam said. The group promoted wise use of natural resources and encouraged community residents to get outside and enjoy the region’s wild places.

“Without good management, generations to come won’t be able to experience what we’ve had,” Wollam said.

Because the principal will never be spent, scholarships will be awarded on an ongoing basis. “People are welcome to add to the endowment, perhaps as a memorial to those who have been active in the association,” Wollam said.

Three scholarships will be awarded annually: to an upperclass undergraduate, a graduate student, and a student participating in a fisheries and wildlife public education internship. All recipients must have completed one year of the fisheries and wildlife major in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. First preference will be given to Linn or Benton county residents.

“We wanted to help students who are seriously committed to the fisheries and wildlife program,” said Tamara Hamilton of Albany, association board secretary. “Our hope is that the recipients will choose to go and be a part of the Linn County team and work within the community, educating future generations of people who come to the lake.”

The association board was greatly pleased that the county was able to buy the resort, Hamilton added. “They’ve already done things we could only dream about,” she said. “It’s in good hands.”

College leaders noted that scholarships are part of the reason OSU’s wildlife program has been ranked as number one in the nation. Its fisheries program is ranked second.

“These scholarships create an educational legacy in an area where the Santiam Fish and Game Association has already made a significant impact on conservation,” said Dan Edge, head of the OSU fisheries and wildlife department. “We are very grateful to the association for making this assistance available to our students.”

Oregon State University officially launched “The Campaign for OSU” on Oct. 26. Guided by OSU’s strategic plan, the campaign seeks $625 million to provide opportunities for students, strengthen Oregon, and conduct research that changes the world. Approximately $386 million has been committed to date, including more than $60 million toward a $100 million goal for scholarship and fellowship support for students.


Dan Edge,

Novelist to Speak on Mountaintop Removal Mining

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The author of a new novel set in West Virginia’s coal-mining country will visit Oregon State University on Friday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m.

Ann Pancake, author of “Strange as This Weather Has Been,” will read from her work and answer questions in OSU’s Valley Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Pancake grew up in Appalachia where, she says, the mountains and their communities are under threat of destruction by mountain-top removal mining practices. In her book, Pancake evokes the powerful floods and disfigurement of the landscape, as well as the humanity of local families struggling to hold on to their traditions and a sense of place.

At the center of the story is a courageous 15-year-old girl named Bant, whose private quest to discover the disaster looming above her impoverished community gives the novel its suspense as well as its heart.

The novel, which took seven years to research and write, is based on interviews and real life events from individuals and communities who have directly experienced – and fought against – the devastating impact of this form of coal-mining. Pancake describes its toxic waste pools and heaps of slurry, and the constant threat of a “black flood” that might sweep away a whole town.

Published this fall by Shoemaker and Hoard, the novel received rave reviews in the New York Times Book Review, and O Magazine, among others. The author and environmentalist Wendell Berry says that it “brings at last within reach of imagination the almost unimaginable description of land and people in the Appalachian coalfields. Its completeness is made possible by its full acceptance of the heartbreak of its subject…it is one of the bravest novels I have ever read.”

Pancake’s previous work, the short story collection “Given Ground,” won the 2000 Katherine Bakeless Prize, as well as the prestigious Whiting Award for a new young talent. She lives in Seattle and teaches fiction writing at Pacific Lutheran University.

The author’s visit to OSU is co-sponsored by the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word and the OSU Center for the Humanities. Books will be available for sale and signing.

Story By: 

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Esquivel to Meet With Students, Give Talk at OSU for PeaceJam

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel will visit the Oregon State University campus on Feb. 22-24, where he will call on Pacific Northwest high school students, teachers and OSU students to step forward to create a better world through community service and global action.

He also will present a free public lecture on Friday, Feb. 22, beginning at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom titled “Human Rights and Justice for All.”

His appearance is part of PeaceJam, an international education program that works with Nobel Prize laureates to engage youth in volunteerism and encourages them to work to transform themselves, their local communities and, ultimately, the world.

“This is the fourth year that Oregon State University has had the honor to host PeaceJam, which is an extraordinary opportunity for high school and college students to personally interact with a Nobel Prize recipient,” said Frank Ragulsky, OSU’s student media adviser and a campus coordinator of PeaceJam.

“It is a memorable experience for students and the benefit continues as they return home and become more actively involved in their own communities,” he added.

Esquivel received the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership and advocacy for human rights and democracy in Latin America.

More than 200 high school students and teachers from Oregon, Washington and California will attend the two-day PeaceJam conference Feb. 23-24 at OSU. A number of OSU students will serve as mentors during the conference. PeaceJam co-founder, Dawn Engle will kick-off the conference.

The students will work in groups of about a dozen on a variety of community service projects in the Corvallis area, attend workshops, and have the opportunity to present individual or school plans for furthering peace to Esquivel.

This year’s community service projects will focus on the Global Call to Action, a movement inspired by the 12 Nobel Peace laureates, who sit on the PeaceJam International board of directors. They are asking youth to take leadership in eradicating world hunger, preserving the environment and leading us to a time of peace.

For more information, go online to oregonstate.edu/peacejam or www.peacejam.org.

Story By: