ENVIRONMENT

Greening the region

It was 1868 — when looking down from the Hill District to smokestacks belching fire and smoke, a riverbank littered with coal barges and railroads, and a bottomland saturated with muddy streets and gritty row houses pressed hard against the Allegheny River, Boston writer James Parton described Pittsburgh as “Hell with the…

A World Leader

Sitting in the bright, airy café at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Richard Piacentini stamps his foot on the floor. The tiles he thuds against are simple white squares. However, that hardly noticed floor has proven to be both bane and catalyst to a sea change in thinking about every…

Was Rachel Carson Right?

Patricia DeMarco, Director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University, has heard the question before. Has history — and science — proven that Springdale, Pa., native Rachel Carson was right in her book, “Silent Spring”? Not just about the most celebrated of her attacks — the impact on the environment of the widely used herbicide…

The urban bear

State bear biologist Mark Ternent pulls an oversized syringe from an arsenal of gear at the back of his truck, loads it with a strong sedative, and affixes it to a dart with hot-​pink fletching.

Return of the Falcon

A pigeon flaps lazily above the University of Pittsburgh campus. Suddenly, a streaking peregrine falcon dives toward its unaware prey at 100 to 150 miles an hour.

Sideling Hill

One of the wonderful qualities of western Pennsylvania is that it offers out-​of-​the-​way locations with varied landscape and terrain.

Bold & Beautiful

I have always had a thing for road kill; not for death as spectacle, but for the opportunity to see something wild up close. Though there are limits to what I’ll inspect, I’m usually drawn to at least making an identification of the species, particularly if it happens to be…

White Rocks

One of the region’s most beautiful and diverse outdoor destinations is the Laurel Highlands. When people think of visiting the Laurel Highlands, they often focus on some of the best-​known spots, such as Ohiopyle State Park, Fallingwater and Bear Run Nature Reserve, or the Ligonier Valley.

The Common Nighthawk

It’s the seventh inning stretch on a warm night at PNC Park. The sun has gone down, and the bright lights of baseball illuminate the summer sky. Downtown buildings glow across the river: Federated, Highmark, UPMC, the arched alcove of the Renaissance Hotel.

High-​Tech Sylvania

On a cool morning late in 2006, the phone rang in Esther Barazzone’s office, a suite overlooking Chatham University’s cozy Shadyside campus. Preoccupied by the re-​accreditation of the undergraduate women’s program and preparations for new graduate degrees, the president was unprepared for the question she heard on the line from Dan…

Facing Extinction

Wildlife biologists Greg Turner and DeeAnn Reeder slip into the sort of coveralls you would expect to see on an infectious disease ward and enter the cold, musty confines of an old Fayette County mine.

Bring Back the Paddlefish

A century ago, as work neared completion on the region’s locks and dams and Pittsburgh was producing half of the nation’s steel, paddlefish disappeared from the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.

Raccoon Creek

In 1960, newspaper columnist max henrici recounted his first visit, 20 years prior, to Raccoon Creek Wildflower Reserve: “It was a revelation. My eyes were opened to a multitude of interesting things… It is not too much to say that my life was revolutionized by this experience….”

Chimney Swifts

Chimney swifts twitter, but they do not tweet. These are creatures not of the virtual world, but of our vernal skies. When warm weather returns to Pittsburgh and the new green of spring washes over the hills, Chimney Swifts will soon appear.

The Bald Eagle

Whenever I see something white in a riverbank tree, I’m hopeful it’s a Bald Eagle. More than once, I’ve called out the sighting in eastern Pennsylvania, crossing the Susquehanna at 70 miles an hour. Most of the time, I’ve been wrong. And why would there be a Bald Eagle in…
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