A socially distanced vacation in eastern Oregon

July 13, 2020 by  
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A close-up view of an elk. The feeling of a lake rippling beneath your paddle board. The experience of huddling under a tree, waiting for an afternoon thunderstorm to pass while staring at snow-capped mountains . These are the sorts of summer activities nature lovers miss after being stuck inside for too long. As we move into the heart of summer and pandemic-fatigue has well set in, many folks are pondering how to travel safely. This means minimal contact with people outside of those you already live with. So forget airplanes, resorts and crowded beaches. This is the summer for road-tripping to natural and wilderness areas, bringing your own food and camping or renting a cabin. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Eagle-Cap-Chalets-img1-889×667.jpg" alt="log cabin in the woods" class="wp-image-2274790" Off to eastern Oregon For my husband, dog and me, who live in Portland, Oregon, east is the natural direction to get away from crowds. We booked a dog -friendly cabin with a kitchen near Wallowa Lake, about six hours east of Portland and close to the Idaho border. Then we packed up everything we could think of to create as self-sufficient a vacation as possible — two bags and a cooler full of food, hiking gear, my new inflatable stand-up paddle board (SUP), dog treats and, of course, masks. Related: An eco-travel guide to Bend, Oregon We were conscious of going from a big city into a rural area. Neither Portland nor Wallowa County had many COVID-19 cases at the time of our trip. But we weren’t sure if locals would welcome us. When we checked into our cabin at the Eagle Cap Chalets , I was the only person in the lobby wearing a mask. The young woman behind the desk said, “It’s a personal choice. Whatever you feel comfortable with.” It turned out they were more worried about a lack of tourists than contracting COVID-19 . “We have so many doctors per capita,” she told me. During our four days in the area, we saw more Trump/Pence signs than masks. Fortunately, we were able to maintain a good social distance the whole time. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Wallowa-Lake-img2-889×663.jpg" alt="lake in the foreground and mountains in the distance" class="wp-image-2274789" Wallowa Lake Wallowa Lake is one of those places where you feel like you walked into a postcard. The snow-topped Wallowa Mountains loom over the glacial lake , which is about 3.7 miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide. There’s a beach on each end with suitable shallow places for family swimming. But if you venture into the middle, you’ll be nearly 300 feet from the bottom. This means the water is pretty chilly, with the swim season limited to July and August for most people, except for the hardiest souls. You can tent or RV camp in Wallowa Lake State Park , get up early and enjoy the lake at its quietest. When we visited in June, I only got knee-deep in the water — just enough to launch my SUP. Good paddlers can spend the day paddling the lake’s circumference. Amateurs, like myself, can hug the edges, peering into the clear glacial water for fish and taking breaks to lie on your back and cloud-gaze. When the wind suddenly whipped up and I had to work to get back to shore, I was glad I hadn’t ventured into the middle. Weather can change quickly here, so bring a life jacket and know your limits. The Wallowa Lake Marina offers watercraft rentals, ranging from paddle boards to 22-foot pontoon boats that hold 10 people (at least in non-pandemic times). JO Paddle rents glass-bottomed kayaks for the ultimate lake views. The company also offers full moon tours, crescent moon tours and one focused on searching for Wally, the Wallowa Lake Monster. No, Wally wasn’t just made up for the tourists. Local Native Americans tell a tragic tale of a wedding that united the Nez Perce and Blackfeet tribes. When the newlyweds rowed off into the lake, a sea serpent shot up from the depths and gulped them down. I’m glad I didn’t hear this story until after my solo SUP excursions. Several hiking trails start close to the lake. We followed the West Fork Wallowa River Trail, which ventures into the Eagle Cap Wilderness.  We took in mountain and river views and looked for treasures, like the tiny hot pink calypso orchids that grow out of the conifer forest floor. An unexpected evening thunderstorm drenched us and frightened our dog. Again, the predictably unpredictable weather. A little rain jacket folded up in a backpack sure comes in handy when hiking in Oregon. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Wallowa-West-Fork-Trail-img3-889×667.jpg" alt="fallen logs on either side of a forest trail" class="wp-image-2274788" Nez Perce Country Long before European explorers came into North America, the Nez Perce lived in eastern Oregon and Idaho. When you visit Wallowa Lake, stop by the Old Chief Joseph burial site and pay your respects. This Nez Perce leader refused to sign an 1863 treaty that would sell out his homeland. He died in 1871, warning the younger Chief Joseph, “My son, never forget my dying words, this country holds your father’s body. Never sell the bones of your father and mother.” The cemetery that holds Old Chief Joseph’s remains is a national historic landmark and is sacred to the Nez Perce people. So if you visit, act with decorum. Travel a half-mile north to visit Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site , 62 acres of land set aside in 2009 by the Nez Perce and other local people. You’ll find easy graveled trails for walking or running, meadows, a stream and lots of wildlife. The Nez Perce call this part of the Wallowa Lake basin Iwetemlaykin. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Hells-Canyon-img4-889×667.jpg" alt="person looking out at Hells Canyon" class="wp-image-2274786" Hells Canyon This was my second visit to Hells Canyon. The first time was via jetboat from Lewiston, Idaho, which is the easiest and most relaxing way to see the area. All you have to do is sit back and look for big-horned sheep and admire the steep volcanic cliffs along the Snake River. But this time, we traveled by car — and a hair-rising time it was. Starting at Wallowa Lake you go northeast to Imnaha — so far, so good, so paved — but soon you reach the entrance to Hells Canyon National Recreation Area along with signs warning against passenger cars as the road turns to gravel. We have an SUV and my husband is a professional light rail operator, but I still spent much of the scenic drive with my eyes shut, hoping we wouldn’t meet a car coming the other way. We crept along a one-lane gravel road on high cliffs, sometimes slowing to seven miles an hour on steeper downhill stretches, sometimes facing obstacles in the road like a single chukar running along in front of the car before launching itself off the cliff and taking flight. Very few people live out here. We saw some ranches, four Forest Service workers and what might have been a remote gold mining operation on the Imnaha River. We stopped for a couple of short hikes. There are few trails out here, and they’re barely maintained, so you really feel the natural state of the land. We followed a cow trail up one steep hill, putting our feet in the small earthy stairs carved out by hooves. Once we reached the top, we had incredible mountain views of more of the same in every direction. We stayed a little late. The day turned to dusk and we were still on the treacherous, windy gravel roads. More animals appeared — elk, a herd of cows, bulls and calves on both sides of the road, all standing still and staring at us sternly, a flock of wild turkeys running in front of us. When we finally reached the pavement near Imnaha, it really felt like we’d been somewhere drastically removed from our daily lives — lives that had been completely overwhelmed by the constant stress of the pandemic. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: Like the author, we recommend taking the utmost care to keep those around you safe if you choose to travel. You can find more advice on travel precautions from the CDC and WHO .

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A socially distanced vacation in eastern Oregon

Right Whales now ranked as critically endangered species

July 13, 2020 by  
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The International Union for Conservation (IUCN) has uplisted the North Atlantic Right Whales from endangered to critically endangered . This move now raises concern about the possible extinction of these whales. The Right Whales have for a long time been listed as an endangered species in a bid to lobby authorities for protection. However, the state of care for the whales has not changed, pushing the species to the brink of extinction. The uplisting follows the sad news concerning the death of a Right Whale calf. The calf was one of the only 10 Right Whale calves born during the last calving season. According to NOAA, the calf was killed by a vessel strike on the coast of New Jersey . Related: Federal agencies propose designated marine habitat to help protect Pacific humpback whales IUCN updates its Red List of threatened species every year. According to the organization, overwhelming scientific evidence now shows that the Right Whales are dying at an alarming rate because of humans. The main causes of death include vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. Despite the listing of these Right Whales as endangered species previously, they have continued to be killed by human actions. IUCN now hopes that by listing the whales as critically endangered, more efforts will be geared toward their protection. Since 2017, over 31 deaths of Right Whales were reported. Additionally, more than 10 Right Whales were reported as having serious injuries. Such a large number of dead and injured whales brought a sharp focus on the declining population of the Right Whales. Today, there are less than 400 existing right whales, and conservation groups are sounding an alarm over the state of this endangered species. Scientists warn that if the Right Whales are not protected, the situation will be irreversible within a decade. Conservationists are now lobbying governments to enhance the protection of the remaining whales. The NRDC has proposed establishing a Right Whales conservation act and advises that governments put in place legislation that will end the killing of the whales by vessel strikes . + IUCN Via NRDC Image via Allison Henry/NOAA

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Right Whales now ranked as critically endangered species

Why the electric vehicle wave is still coming

April 29, 2020 by  
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Buckle up: this year will be rough, but this road trip still looks promising.

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Why the electric vehicle wave is still coming

Telecommuting has benefits, but here’s why employers aren’t more flexible

January 17, 2020 by  
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One of the benefits is getting workers off the road.

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Telecommuting has benefits, but here’s why employers aren’t more flexible

Episode 203: Conversations about the State of Green Business

January 17, 2020 by  
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Plus, an interview with John Schulz, director of sustainability integration at AT&T, and outtakes from the State of Green Business webcast.

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Episode 203: Conversations about the State of Green Business

ICE Driver Education: Eco-Friendly Tips for the Road

August 19, 2019 by  
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Perhaps you are thinking about switching to an electric vehicle … The post ICE Driver Education: Eco-Friendly Tips for the Road appeared first on Earth911.com.

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ICE Driver Education: Eco-Friendly Tips for the Road

Michelin and GM are moving down the road with airless wheel prototype

June 21, 2019 by  
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The term, “Sustainable mobility” is likely to become increasingly more common as we work to identify ways for transportation to have less of an impact on the environment. This year, recognizable names Michelin and GM teamed up to deliver this message with the reveal of an airless wheel at the Movin’On summit for sustainable mobility. The Uptis prototype (Unique Punctureproof Tire System) is the product of a joint venture between the two companies with a common goal to introduce the airless wheels on passenger vehicles as early as 2024. To ensure long-term durability and safety, the product will endure intense testing starting with a fleet of test cars that will be monitored beginning later this year. The selection of Chevrolet Bolt EVs will hit the road in Michigan while being observed for performance. Related: These new airless 3D-printed bicycle tires never go flat The airless design eliminates the possibility of tire blowouts, which obviously adds a significant safety feature to vehicles on the road. In addition to safety, the simultaneous goal is to change the future of tire design for the sake of the planet. Currently, manufacturing and post-consumer waste from tires is a growing environmental concern. Michelin estimates that approximately 200 million tires worldwide are scrapped prematurely every year as a result of punctures, damage from road hazards or improper air pressure that cause uneven wear. However, this waste is diminished with a tire that doesn’t require air pressure and won’t go flat from a puncture. At the same Movin’On summit in 2017, the company outlined plans for the new design with four pillars of innovation: airless, connected, 3-D printed and sustainably made from renewable or bio-sourced materials. Two years later, the developed prototype is headed for the road. “Uptis demonstrates that Michelin’s vision for a future of sustainable mobility is clearly an achievable dream. Through work with strategic partners like GM, who share our ambitions for transforming mobility, we can seize the future today,” says Florent Menegaux, chief executive officer for Michelin Group. + Michelin Images via Michelin

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Michelin and GM are moving down the road with airless wheel prototype

Singer-Songwriter Plugs In & Promotes ‘Drive Electric Earth Day’

April 12, 2019 by  
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Performer Rick Denzien is on the road often, tooling around … The post Singer-Songwriter Plugs In & Promotes ‘Drive Electric Earth Day’ appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Singer-Songwriter Plugs In & Promotes ‘Drive Electric Earth Day’

Maven Moment: Eat Your Greens!

March 27, 2019 by  
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I was walking down the road yesterday when I spotted … The post Maven Moment: Eat Your Greens! appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: Eat Your Greens!

Lyft vows to help customers find electric vehicles with Green Mode

February 14, 2019 by  
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Lyft is making important strides to decrease carbon emissions in the ride-hailing industry. The company just announced a new initiative called Green Mode, which will make it easier for customers to find electric vehicles (EVs) through the platform. The company, which was the first of its kind to get a carbon-neutral label last year, is planning to introduce a score of electric vehicles in 2019. Putting thousands of EVs on the road will offer a more eco-friendly alternative to customers while putting more money in the pocket of its employees. According to Lyft , the Green Mode program will eventually be incorporated in cities around the world. The company hopes that introducing electric vehicles to cities will significantly curb carbon emissions and reduce the number of gas-powered vehicles on the road. With electric vehicles producing half as much greenhouse gases as their traditional counterparts, Lyft’s program is promising. Lyft will introduce Green Mode in Seattle first before branching out into other cities in the United States. Other locations have yet to be announced. Once the program is widespread, customers will be able to use Green Mode in the company’s app to filter electric and hybrid vehicles . The Green Mode program is also beneficial to drivers. Individuals who use Lyft are always looking for ways to decrease fuel costs, and providing electric vehicles would be a major step to make that happen. That is why Lyft plans to offer an electric vehicle rental service, in which drivers can rent EVs without worrying about mileage or maintenance costs. The company would also pay for the insurance. Lyft will incorporate the rental costs into the driver’s weekly rate. Because electricity costs much less than gasoline, this will put more money in the pocket of drivers who use electric vehicles. In fact, the company estimates that its Green Mode initiative will save employees thousands of dollars every year — and that only accounts for fuel savings. + Lyft Image via Lyft

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Lyft vows to help customers find electric vehicles with Green Mode

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