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Our 8 Most Popular Environmental Stories of 2017

Detail of California infographic | Image: Dennis Nishi/KCETLink
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As the current administration scales back environmental regulation, advocates are fighting harder to protect the natural world. In the past year, movements surged to save national monuments, stand up against big oil (including high-profile arrests), and challenge federal climate change policy. We brought you these stories along with others that helped us understand our environment, showcased its beauty and described the challenges it faces. Below, you will find the most-clicked environmental stories of 2017 from "Earth Focus," "Tending the Wild" and "SoCal Connected."

Your Favorite Desert Getaway Alternatives

Five Secret Desert Places To Visit This Year Instead of Joshua Tree

Amboy Crater in Mojave Trails National Monument
Amboy Crater in Mojave Trails National Monument

Joshua Tree has become a popular destination for locals and international tourists alike. But if you're looking to get away from humanity for a bit, here is a list of other places in the California desert where you can find quiet, wide open spaces.

Your Favorite Environmental Redemption Story

Parkour Team Apologizes for Joshua Tree Spree

An English parkour team put out a couple of videos documenting an impressive list of rule violations during their visit to Joshua Tree. Tourists flocked to the park. Further environmental misbehavior ensued.

Your Favorite Environmental Conspiracy Theory

Why Do People Believe in Chemtrails?

Hand pointing at a contrail | Photo: Stuart Anthony, some rights reserved
Hand pointing at a contrail | Photo: Stuart Anthony, some rights reserved

Is a contrail a chemtrail? Are the linear clouds of condensed water vapor left behind by passing jet planes truly visible evidence of a massive conspiracy, in which airlines and government agencies are working together to spray substances into the atmosphere? It depends who you ask.

Your Favorite Dark Places

These Are California's 10 Darkest Places For Stargazing

Night sky over the Rae Lakes
Night sky over the Rae Lakes, in a 297-second exposure that reveals the mountains as well. | Photo: Sathish Jsome rights reserved

Fortunately, even in overdeveloped California, there are still pockets of very dark skies without LED streetlight haze getting in the way of you witnessing comets and other faint wonders.

The Most Unpopular Weed Killer

That Perfect, Toxic Lawn: American Suburbs and 2,4-D

A pesticide applicator spraying a residential lawn | Photo: iStockPhoto
A pesticide applicator spraying a residential lawn | Photo: iStockPhoto

Before World War II, keeping your lawn “weed-free” was a lot harder, requiring never-ending physical labor to pull out the offending plants before they could go to seed. But wartime chemical weapons research solved that problem. What is 2,4-D and what does it mean for public health?

Your Favorite Story About Native Ecological Knowledge

Untold History: The Survival of California's Indians

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A young Cahuilla woman in the early 20th Century | Photo: Edward S. Curtis

No matter what you learned in fourth grade, California Indians didn't conveniently vanish when the 49ers arrived. This article traces a more comprehensive history of Native peoples and how they shape the landscape we all depend on to this day.

Your Favorite Bird Species

Parrots: Pleasure, or Problem?

When purple-leaved plums flower in SF's Embarcadero in February, the conures make short work of the blossoms. | Photo: Chris, some rights reserved
When purple-leaved plums flower in SF's Embarcadero in February, the conures make short work of the blossoms. | Photo: Chris, some rights reserved

Learn about parrots, natives of the tropical Andes, and how they attained a degree of local stardom after first appearing in San Francisco in the 1980s.

Your Favorite Documentary

Tending The Wild


This documentary examines how humans are necessary to live in balance with nature and how traditional practices can inspire a new generation to tend their environment.

The Most Surprising Urban Pollutant

Blowing Concerns


Motorized outdoor equipment like leaf blowers and lawnmowers will soon surpass cars as California's top pollutant. “SoCal Connected'” investigates in this episode.

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Getty Images - Filibuster - Harry Reid

Kill the Senate Filibuster and Save a Bipartisan American West That Cares About the Environment

Former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid along with 18 Democratic senators say the filibuster may need to be reformed or abolished to break the partisan logjam holding up legislation on the most urgent crises facing our nation, including climate change.
Promo images for Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival films

2021 Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival: Tickets and Information

The third annual Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival is going virtual, from April 12-23.
Kai Anderson's power map of the environmental campaigns led by Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada during his long career in Congress.

Mapping Power and Strategy for Conservation Victories: An Interview with Kai Anderson

Kai Anderson’s eye-catching, multi-colored, hand-drawn thematic maps have developed a cult following in conservation circles in the American West. He walks us through a map he created of Sen. Harry Reid's major environmental campaigns.