Pronghorn and Coffee
The year is nearly closing and my final two stories are about pronghorn and habitat restoration as well as coffee.
One of the largest wildlife refuges in the lower-48 has gone through a massive habitat restoration project in the past decade plus. Specifically, miles upon miles of barbed wire fences have been removed.
Why this matters is twofold: first, these fences fragment habitat, and second they are a death trap for the pronghorn antelope.
This refuge is located in the far north part of the state, borders Oregon, and spaces nearly 1,000 square miles. It is the last remaining intact sagebrush steppe ecosystem. The Great Basin is over 200,000 square miles and yet so little remains relatively intact.
Intact means as close to a natural state as possible. Much of the Great Basin has been inundated with invasive weeds, cattle, feral horses, and development. This has altered and changed the landscape. The Sheldon Wildlife Refuge has become a stronghold for what this ecosystem represents.
With a wide diversity of species, it is home to not just pronghorn, but bighorn sheep, mountain lions, coyotes, birds of prey, sage grouse, bobcat, and much more. About 270 species call this region home. Thanks to the hard work of Friends of Nevada Wilderness, it is nearly a fence-free region. Be sure to read about it later this month over at The Nevada Independent.
For this story, I spoke with two wildlife biologists, volunteers, and the refuge manager. They each had insight and perspective on why removing fences is something worth pursuing.
I love coffee. It helps get me going and the strong, deep bitter taste is a pleasure to my taste buds. Yet coffee does not thrive in North America meaning tons upon tons are shipped into the country. What is the toll on the climate? Moving something as bulky and heavy as coffee beans requires a lot of energy.
My story will look into where coffee shops throughout northern Nevada get their coffee. Do they roast it themselves? We shall see. This story will be part explainer and part dive into the climate impacts of our morning brew.