On the fate of Hanford

  Dear HCN,


I appreciate your Hanford issue (HCN, 1/22/96) since I was born and raised in Othello, a small town to the northeast of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Our farm, which my brother still owns, lies a little more than a mile away from the northern border. Our father was also raised nearby, on a homestead in what is now the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.


From childhood I have been consumed by the history of the area, and as I follow wagon roads of the 1850s, I find traces of surviving native deer populations, migrating bands of sandhill cranes, horned larks and coyotes: The land is rich in native wildlife.


My brother recently went to work for one of the major Indian tribes of the area. He investigates toxic waste sites and researches the environmental effects of proposals that might alter what the Indians continue to consider their sacred sites. A comment he made about the proposed opening of the northern bank of the Columbia River to agriculture was particularly relevant to me. He pointed out that seepage from existing irrigated farms in the area is already creating massive land movements on the face of the White Bluffs. As water-saturated layers of the bluffs sag and slough off toward the Columbia, the river channel is forced to compensate by eroding the banks of Locke Island, a prehistoric gravesite that sits beneath the bluffs.


In my own days as a desert wanderer, I have watched the White Bluffs turn yellow with saturation and grow weeds that couldn't have survived there before. Despite the new pools of seepage that have accumulated on the desert floor, White Bluffs remains one of the more interesting historical sites in the state.


Eastern Washington's deserts, however, are being discovered by the motocross crew which has ripped vicious vertical ruts into the flanks of Saddle Mountain. I have nothing against motorcycles in the desert, so long as they are kept on established roads where they won't damage the extremely fragile environment.


When I compare the damage done by motorcyclists in a single afternoon with the remains of footpaths that date from the Ice Age, I am saddened. But perhaps 200 years from now, when we have run out of fossil fuels and motorcycles are all in the museums, hikers will one day add motocross trails to the catalog of ancient traces that are found on the relatively untouched slopes of the Northern Hanford reach. That is, if we can keep the plows out.





Mark E. Danielson


Bellingham, Washington


High Country News Classifieds
  • NORTHERN NEW MEXICO PROJECT MANAGER
    New Mexico Land Conservancy is seeking a qualified Northern New Mexico Project Manager to provide expertise, leadership and support to the organization by planning, cultivating,...
  • GRAPHIC AND DIGITAL DESIGNER
    Application deadline: December 17, 2022 Expected start date: January 16, 2023 Location: Amazon Watch headquarters in Oakland, CA Amazon Watch is a dynamic nonprofit organization...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eugene, Ore. nonprofit Long Tom Watershed Council is seeking a highly collaborative individual to lead a talented, dedicated team of professionals. Full-time: $77,000 - $90,000...
  • GIS SPECIALIST
    What We Can Achieve Together: The GIS Specialist provides technical and scientific support for Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, data management, and visualization internally and...
  • LOWER SAN PEDRO PROGRAM MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Lower San Pedro Program Manager directs some or all aspects of protection, science, stewardship and community relations for the...
  • FOREST RESTORATION SPATIAL DATA MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Forest Restoration Spatial Data Manager fills an integral role in leading the design and development of, as well as...
  • WATER PROJECTS MANAGER, SOUTHERN AZ
    What We Can Achieve Together: Working hybrid in Tucson, AZ or remote from Sierra Vista, AZ or other southern Arizona locations, the Water Projects Manager,...
  • SENIOR STAFF THERAPIST/PSYCHOLOGIST: NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENT SPECIALIST
    Counseling Services is a department strategically integrated with Health Services within the Division of Student Services and Enrollment Management. Our Mission at the Counseling Center...
  • THE NATURE CONSERVANCY IS HIRING A LOCAL INITIATIVES COORDINATOR
    The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming seeks a Local Initiatives Coordinator to join our team. We're looking for a great communicator to develop, manage and advance...
  • LAND AND WATER PROTECTION MANAGER - NORTHERN ARIZONA
    We're Looking for You: Are you looking for a career to help people and nature? Guided by science, TNC creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our...
  • SENIOR CLIMATE CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE
    The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) seeks a Senior Climate Conservation Associate (SCCA) to play a key role in major campaigns to protect the lands, waters,...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Southern Nevada Conservancy Board of Directors announces an outstanding opportunity for a creative leader to continue building this organization. SNC proudly supports Nevada's public...
  • CORTEZ COLORADO LOT FOR SALE
    Historic tree-lined Montezuma Ave. Zoned Neighborhood Business. Build your dream house or business right in the heart of town. $74,000. Southwest Realty
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • STRAWBALE HOME BESIDE MONTEZUMA WELL NAT'L MONUMENT
    Straw Bale Home beside Montezuma Well National Monument. Our property looks out at Arizona fabled Mogollon Rim and is a short walk to perennial Beaver...
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • A CHILDREN'S BOOK FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS!!
    "Goodnight Fossil Fuels!" is a an engaging, beautiful, factual and somewhat silly picture book by a climate scientist and a climate artist, both based in...