‘To save a forest you have to destroy a nicer one’: U.S. Marines target forest in Guam

Y'all! I am so excited to share my newest article for Mongabay. It's been a bit of hell to write this one. I skimmed many thousands of pages of Environmental Impact Statements, and spent many thousands of Indonesian rupiah on overpriced Starbuck's hot chocolates in Jakarta to hunt down WiFi. But, I think it was all worth it.

You can read it here: ‘To save a forest you have to destroy a nicer one’: U.S. Marines target forest in Guam. Or, read on for the backstory.


In December I flew to the small Pacific island of Guam with my sister, Lisa, to visit her friend from college, Sienna. We had a great time viewing corals from an underwater dome (kind of like an inside-out aquarium), eating delicious CHamoru foods, and admiring cute toads. Photographic evidence below.

A tropical sea anemone in the family Stichodactylidae. Check out that beautiful symbiotic algae living in its body.


A delicious island breakfast of loco moco: white rice topped with hamburger, brown gravy, and fried egg.

Lisa and Sienna enjoying the Guam sun.

Sienna with noni (Morinda citrifolia) eyeballs.

"Star sand" made of foraminifers, a phylum of marine amoeboid protists that produce hard, pointed shells called "tests."

Cute, but invasive, cane toad (Rhinella marina).

Sienna is an exceptional botanist, so I had hoped to learn all about the island's plant life. I ended up learning so much more. Sienna's work to mitigate the deforestation from a massive new military project on Guam caught my attention. It's a tale full of characters, compromise, hope and despair, with biological twists and political turns.

In March, I had my first opportunity to pitch a story of my choice to my editor, Jeremy Hance. The Guam Build-Up and forest "enhancement" was an obvious choice.

Thank you to Lisa, Sienna and the ecosystems of Guam for bringing this story to me and now to all of you!

Comments

  1. I dropped in to Mongabay to read your article (left a comment there).

    The loco moco doesn't look like your typical tropical island food, but it does look delicious : )

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