Santa Monica moonscape: Biologists consider ways to restore badly burned national recreation area

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Santa Monica Park. 1,450 words.
  • 4 photos and captions below.

By RYAN FONSECA
LAist

LOS ANGELES – Last month’s Woolsey Fire destroyed 88 percent of public land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and experts with the National Park Service already are assessing the damaging and considering ways to restore the land.

NPS spokeswoman Kate Kuykendall previously described the park as a moonscape, and photos from the burn zone reveal the breathtaking scope to the devastation.

But although the Woolsey Fire was enormous, its overall intensity was not particularly severe, according to John Tiszler, a plant ecologist for the National Park Service who’s coordinating recovery efforts at the park. Continue reading “Santa Monica moonscape: Biologists consider ways to restore badly burned national recreation area”

Cronkite News Digest for Wednesday, Dec. 12

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Wednesday, Dec. 12. If you have questions on news stories, please contact Steve Crane in the Washington, D.C., bureau at 202-684-2398 or steve.crane@asu.edu, or call the Phoenix bureau: Executive Editor Christina Leonard at 602-361-5893 or christina.leonard@asu.edu or Content Editor Venita James at venita.hawthorne.james@asu.edu. Direct borderlands story questions to Vanessa Ruiz at 305-431-3082 or vanessa.ruiz.2@asu.edu. Sports story questions should go to Brett Kurland at bkurland@asu.edu or Paola Boivin at paolaboivin@asu.edu or 602-496-5134. Stories promised for today along with photos and links to multimedia elements will move on our client site at cronkitenews.jmc.asu.edu/clients.

Continue reading “Cronkite News Digest for Wednesday, Dec. 12”

Despite fits and starts, officials optimistic a water deal is close

  • Slug:BC-CNS-Water Torture,880
  • Photo, video available (emded code, thumbnail, caption below)

By BRENDAN CAMPBELL
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – After months of wrangling, state and tribal officials, industry and agriculture representatives walked out of a meeting at the end of last month with high hopes they were nearing agreement on a complex water-conservation plan.

And at the beginning of this month, they found themselves grappling with new demands that threatened to derail the deal.

That two-steps-forward, one-step-back process is typical of the delicate negotiations as Arizona officials try to hammer out how the state will implement its share of a multistate drought contingency plan that would take effect if water levels in Lake Mead continue to drop. Continue reading “Despite fits and starts, officials optimistic a water deal is close”

Arizona’s two abandoned-mine inspectors face daunting task: ‘We’re all by ourselves’

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Abandoned Mines 2. 2,285 words.
  • 12 photos and captions below.
  • Jordan Evans video here.
  • Cami Clark video here.

By CHRIS McCRORY
Cronkite News

WICKENBURG – Jerry Tyra started working underground in 1960, drilling ore samples to help mine companies figure out whether to develop a mine site.

Since 2007, the 75-year-old has been doing a different kind of exploration: scouring the state for the thousands of abandoned mines some of his former employers may have left scattered throughout the Arizona desert. When he finds one, Tyra uses wire and metal posts to fence it off, placing warning signs on the wire.

“I get my map programs out, and I just pick a township,” he said, standing near the edge of a 900-foot-deep mine shaft east of Wickenburg. “I take every little trail they’ve got. If I don’t find anything, I’ll go to the next one.”

Tyra is one of only two abandoned-mine supervisors in Arizona. The pair face an uphill battle trying to identify the estimated 100,000 abandoned mines in the state and render them safe, or at least safer. Continue reading “Arizona’s two abandoned-mine inspectors face daunting task: ‘We’re all by ourselves’”

A bookie, a bet, a basketball player: 25 years ago, point-shaving scandal rocked Arizona State

  • Slug: Sports-Point Shaving, 1670
  • Graphic available (thumbnail, caption below)
  • Podcast, parts one and two, available.

By ZACHARY PEKALE
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Through renovation and coaching changes, the ground floor of the Ed and Nadine Carson Student-Athlete Center at Arizona State has withstood the test of time.

The museum is designed to chronicle proud moments in ASU athletics history, highlighting alumni such as Houston Rockets guard James Harden and former San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds.

But hidden among the numerous plaques and glass cases stocked with memorabilia lies history buried in the shadows of infamy. Twenty-five years ago, the Arizona State men’s basketball program was at the center of a point-shaving scandal, one that has triggered new discussion in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in May to clear the way for states to legalize sports betting. Continue reading “A bookie, a bet, a basketball player: 25 years ago, point-shaving scandal rocked Arizona State”

In a hole: Arizona officials lack funds to find, secure at least 100,000 abandoned mines

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Abandoned Mines. 2,895 words.
  • 7 photos and captions below.
  • Video here.

By CHRIS McCRORY
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – After he started hallucinating, John Waddell began to believe he would die. He had fallen 100 feet to the bottom of an abandoned gold mine in western Maricopa County, leaving him with a broken leg and rope-burned hands.

“It’s like a black cloud that’s a little stringy, and these figures were coming out of this little cloud: It almost looked like animals,” he recalled during an October news conference at Banner-University Medical Center in Phoenix. “They were going around and around inside the mine.

“That was kind of freaky. If I stayed down there, I knew I was going to die.”

Waddell, 60, survived three days in El Tigre mine, fighting off rattlesnakes and praying somebody would look for him. He had explored the mine, which is on his property near Aguila, for decades, hoping to find gold still glittering in the dark tunnels.

He’s among potentially thousands of people – often spurred by curiosity, greed or dumb luck – who seek out or stumble into Arizona’s vast store of mines abandoned by long-dead prospectors. Continue reading “In a hole: Arizona officials lack funds to find, secure at least 100,000 abandoned mines”

Population boom in West putting humans closer to devastating wildfires

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Fire Neighbors. 1,195 words.
  • Photo and caption below.
  • Video here.

By LAURA FRANK
Rocky Mountain PBS

DENVER – Nearly half the population of the West lives in an area with potential for wildfire danger. And both the risk of fire and the population in harm’s way are rising in this fast-growing part of the nation.

Eighty-four percent of the risk area has not yet been developed.

“Which means the problem is going to get much worse,” said Ray Rasker, executive director of the nonprofit Headwaters Economic Group, a Montana research organization studying wildfire risk and community development.

Since 2000, more than 1 million people in Colorado, 3 million in Arizona and 21 million in California have been threatened by wildfires that came within 10 or fewer miles of their towns, according to data from Headwaters. Continue reading “Population boom in West putting humans closer to devastating wildfires”

20 years later, victims of Baptist Foundation of Arizona scheme still recovering

  • Slug:  BC-CNS-Scheme Survivors. 1,405 words.
  • 3 photos and captions below.

By VERONICA GRAFF
Special for Cronkite News

PHOENIX – It’s 5 a.m. and Anna Mezzapelle Cacace, 85, is getting ready for another day at work.

She sits up in faded powder-blue sheets and slides on her clear-framed prescription glasses before getting dressed, putting on a number of dainty gilded necklaces and rings that catch the light in small clusters of diamonds.

She eats alone at a kitchen table littered with yesterday’s newspapers, then grabs her keys, packs up her Ford Fusion and heads to her job as a licensed insurance broker for UnitedHealthcare, selling Medicare and Medicaid supplementary benefits.

Cacace is still working at 85 because she can’t afford to retire. In 1998, she and her husband, Joseph, invested more than $100,000 in a fund run by the Baptist Foundation of Arizona, lured by its promise of 6 percent returns and the backing from a highly respected religious institution. Continue reading “20 years later, victims of Baptist Foundation of Arizona scheme still recovering”

CORRECTIONS to Dec. 4 and Dec. 6 stories on tree-thinning controversy and animal-hunt bans

EDS: Clients who used a KJZZ story (distributed by Cronkite News) slugged BC-CNS-Forest Thinning that moved Dec. 4 under a FLAGSTAFF dateline are asked to use the following correction. A corrected version of the story has been posted here.

FLAGSTAFF – A Dec. 4 KJZZ story distributed by Cronkite News about a controversy involving the cutting of old-growth trees in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest misspelled the reporter’s name in the byline. The reporter is Laurel Morales.

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EDS: Clients who used a KJZZ story (distributed by Cronkite News) slugged BC-CNS-Coyote Killing that moved Dec. 6 under a FLAGSTAFF dateline are asked to use the following correction. A corrected version of the story has been posted here.

FLAGSTAFF – A Dec. 6 KJZZ story distributed by Cronkite News about the Dewey-Humboldt Town Council condemning animal-killing contests misspelled the reporter’s name in the byline. The reporter is Laurel Morales.

 

Native Americans hope to protect ancestral sites threatened by multibillion-dollar copper mine

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Mine Monitors. 1,690 words.
  • 10 photos and captions below.
  • Video here.

By DAISY FINCH
Cronkite News

TONTO NATIONAL FOREST – LeRoy Shingoitewa dug his hiking boots into loose gravel and sand, watching the early November morning sunlight slowly spread across shrubby hills and rocky valleys near the proposed site of an enormous copper mine.

Resolution Copper plans to develop the mine east of Superior and predicts the mine will meet about a quarter of the nation’s demand for copper once it is in full production. The company says the mine, which may cost as much as $8 billion, is the “largest single investment in Arizona history.”

It has been passionately opposed by some Native Americans who say it will destroy a sacred site near Oak Flat Campground in the Tonto National Forest about 70 miles east of Phoenix. Continue reading “Native Americans hope to protect ancestral sites threatened by multibillion-dollar copper mine”

Pulling no punches: 14-year-old girl aspires to be first Navajo boxer to win Olympics

  • Slug: Sports-Female Navajo Boxer. About 1,700 words.
  •  Photos available

By ISAAC COLINDRES
Cronkite News

CHINLE – Even with modern technology, it’s nearly impossible to find the homemade boxing gym identified by a tattered wooden sign that reads, “Damon-Bahe Boxing Gym.”

In and around this small town on the Navajo Reservation, house numbers rarely exist. And Google Maps can’t quite explain that, off Indian Route 7, less than a quarter mile west of the Chevron gas station, there’s a dirt road that, after three right turns, leads to the gym and another sign, this one warning “Beware of Dog.”

The modest gym, which was built on a patch of land once dedicated to raising goats, now is dedicated to the Olympic-size dreams of a 14-year-old Navajo girl, Mariah Bahe. Continue reading “Pulling no punches: 14-year-old girl aspires to be first Navajo boxer to win Olympics”

A battle beneath the waves: Purple urchins thrive, starving out red urchins used in sushi

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Purple Urchins. 460 words.
  • 3 photos and captions below.
  • Video here.

By EMILY FOHR
Cronkite News

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Boats bobbed on a gentle current as Jeff Maassen, a sea-urchin diver for 30 years, filled up his fuel tank at the wharf.  He waved to fellow fishermen, then set out for the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara, where he would dive for the next few days.

Maassen harvests red sea urchins, which he sells to processors in Oxnard, Long Beach and Los Angeles. Sushi restaurants prepare the urchins as uni, a delicacy that comes from the meaty gonads of red sea urchins.

But Maassen and other divers aren’t harvesting as many red sea urchins because climate change has raised ocean temperatures, allowing the purple sea urchin to thrive along the California coast. Purple sea urchins, which are not harvested for human consumption, devour the kelp forests, leaving nothing for red sea urchins.

“We’re seeing more El Niños. We’re seeing warmer water currents dominating our coastal ecosystem, and that’s changing everything as we used to know it,” Maassen said. Continue reading “A battle beneath the waves: Purple urchins thrive, starving out red urchins used in sushi”

Caught between DACA and ACA, Dreamer’s hopes for kidney transplant dim

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Kidney Confusion,2070
  • 5 photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By REBECCA SPIESS
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – He holds out his forearm, pointing to the area right below a bandage near the crook of his elbow. One of his veins is much thicker — it looks like a caterpillar under his skin, but it’s a fistula serving as the entry port for his hemodialysis treatment.

“It’s like they stitch two of your veins together into a Schwarzenegger vein,” he says, crudely explaining how his doctors created the fistula. He is sitting in the living room of his parents’ modest home in Phoenix. Family pictures and signed baseballs rest atop the TV, where a Spanish talk show plays on low volume.

His first name is Paul and he has been on dialysis since he was 2 because his kidneys aren’t able to filter waste, salt and extra water from his blood. Until he was 12, the blood was filtered inside his body, using a special fluid injected through a port in his abdomen. Now, he goes to a dialysis center to have his blood gradually removed, cleaned and returned to his body through the port in his arm. Continue reading “Caught between DACA and ACA, Dreamer’s hopes for kidney transplant dim”

Arizona sports scene suffers another blow after Diamondbacks trade Paul Goldschmidt

  • Slug: Sports-Diamondbacks Goldschmidt Gone. About 500 words.
  •  File photo available

By BLAINE McCORMICK
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – During a time when two of Arizona’s top franchises have played to a combined 7-29 record, the sports community took another hit with news that the Diamondbacks had traded their best-known player.

Paul Goldschmidt was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday in exchange for three young players and a draft pick. “Goldy” spent eight seasons with Arizona, was a six-time All-Star, won three Gold Gloves at first base and four Silver Slugger awards.

The trade left many to wonder who will replace him as the face of the franchise. Continue reading “Arizona sports scene suffers another blow after Diamondbacks trade Paul Goldschmidt”

Dewey-Humboldt Town Council condemns coyote-killing contests

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Coyote Killing. 315 words.
  • Sound clip here.

EDS: A previous version of this story included misinformation. The article misspelled the reporter’s name in the byline. The story here has been corrected, but clients who used earlier versions are asked to run the correction that can be found here.

By LAUREL MORALES
KJZZ

FLAGSTAFF – The Dewey-Humboldt Town Council has passed a resolution condemning animal-killing contests, three weeks before a coyote contest in central Arizona called the Santa Slay Coyote Tournament.

Dewey-Humboldt – which is southeast of Prescott and bills itself as “Arizona’s Country Town” – joins Tucson, Pinal County, Albuquerque and California and Vermont in passing similar resolutions or bans on such hunting contests. People win cash prizes and bragging rights on social media in such contests as the Santa Slay event, which runs from 5 a.m. Dec. 15 to 2 p.m. Dec. 16. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Sportsmen’s Alliance, which advocates for hunting rights across the country. Continue reading “Dewey-Humboldt Town Council condemns coyote-killing contests”

Arizona Western eliminates football, leaving only one JC in state with sport

  • Slug: Sports-JC Football Cut. 253 words.
  •  File photo available

By MATTHEW ROY
Cronkite News

PHOENIX — Arizona Western College announced on Wednesday the elimination of its football program, effective immediately.

In a statement, the Yuma school said in the past year it has tried to “navigate a series of seismic changes at the league and two-year collegiate level but was unsuccessful in carving a sustainable path forward for the program.”

“It was an incredibly difficult decision for me and my team to make,” AWC President Dr. Daniel Corr said in the statement. Continue reading “Arizona Western eliminates football, leaving only one JC in state with sport”

ASU, Arizona make effort to enroll Chinese students

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Chinese Outreach,1320 words.
  • 3 photos, graphic available (thumbnails, captions below).

By LAUREN INTRIERI
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Summer in Phoenix made Weihan Chu feel dizzy as he came off of the plane at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport three years ago.

He was thankful volunteers of Arizona State University’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association were there to greet him so he didn’t have to wait outside in the triple-digit swelter.

“The deepest impression (was) just hot,” he said.

Chu, 23, is in his final semester as an international student at ASU. He is vice president of CSSA, a student organization that helps incoming Chinese students adjust to American life, including picking them up from the airport, organizing outings and holding events.

Chu is just one of thousands of Chinese students who come to Arizona each year. With more than 23,000 international students, the state ranks 12th in the country, and more that 35 percent of those students are from China. Continue reading “ASU, Arizona make effort to enroll Chinese students”

Why llamas may be the key to help humans fight the flu

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Llama Antibodies,520 words.
  • 1 photo available (thumbnail, caption below).

By EMILY FOHR
Cronkite News

LA JOLLA, Calif. – Flu season is underway in Arizona and across the country. Although vaccinations are the main way to combat influenza, people one day could get relief from llamas.

New research suggests llama antibodies – the protective proteins that mobilize to protect the body from viruses – may hold the key to helping humans stave off the flu, which costs the nation more than $10 billion a year, and last year killed more than 79,000 Americans.

A recent study published by a team of scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, in collaboration with Janssen: Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, found that llama antibodies, synthesized into a “four-in-one” mega-protein and given to mice through a nasal spray, successfully protected the mice from 59 strains of influenza A and B. Continue reading “Why llamas may be the key to help humans fight the flu”

Farmers, officials celebrate demise of pink bollworm, a cotton crop-killing pest

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Pink Bollworm,270 words.
  • 1 photo available (thumbnail, caption below)
  • Audio story available.

By MATTHEW CASEY
KJZZ

PHOENIX – The pink bollworm has destroyed cotton crops in the United States for a century.

But it’s been eradicated from cotton-producing areas in the lower 48.

An undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture was in Arizona last month to celebrate the pests’ demise. The pink bollworm first invaded Texas in 1917, according to the USDA. Continue reading “Farmers, officials celebrate demise of pink bollworm, a cotton crop-killing pest”

Will Arizona’s saguaros survive climate change and drought?

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Baby Saguaros, 1691 words
  • 6 photos (thumbnails, captions below)
  • Video here.

By STEPHANIE MORSE
Cronkite News

TUCSON – The click of container lids and swoosh of zippers filled the air on a still morning in Saguaro National Park East.

Tom Orum and his wife, Nancy Ferguson, pulled measuring equipment from the trunk of their dusty white truck, parked in a flat landscape of majestic saguaros towering over teddy bear cholla, prickly pear, woody shrubs and spiny plants.

Orum, 71, and Ferguson, 74, have visited this spot for four decades. Their job is always the same: to monitor the health of more than 600 saguaros on 60 acres of the park. They’re the third generation to measure and monitor these iconic symbols of the West since 1941, and the work has become a treasured ritual for them. Continue reading “Will Arizona’s saguaros survive climate change and drought?”