Tree Sleuths

Lauren Markham examines the potential for tree DNA, and the work of experts like tree geneticist Richard Cronn, to help curb the illegal timber trade and poaching of valuable wood like big-leaf maple and black walnut.

Could he help Huff’s team determine whether there was a genetic link between the felled trees in the Olympic National Forest and the wood that Wilke sold to the lumberyard?

To fight big-leaf maple theft more broadly, law enforcement would need samples from the species’s entire range. The creation of such a database would require hundreds of samplers fanning out across thousands of miles, and the Forest Service still lacked the resources for such an undertaking.

Published: Jul 18, 2022
Length: 15 minutes (3,889 words)

Can We Move Our Forests in Time to Save Them?

“Trees have always migrated to survive. But now they need our help to avoid climate catastrophe.”

Source: Mother Jones
Published: Oct 4, 2021
Length: 20 minutes (5,077 words)

The Crow Whisperer

“What happens when we talk to animals?”

Published: Mar 15, 2021
Length: 19 minutes (4,800 words)

For the Love of Mail: Letter Writing in a Pandemic

“To mail a letter is to send something out in the world with a faith that it will reach its destination. Writing is the same way. We write with hope that our work, like a letter, will find its way to where it needs to go.” Lauren Markham muses on the magic of the U.S. Postal Service.

Source: Literary Hub
Published: Sep 4, 2020
Length: 12 minutes (3,063 words)

The Last Train Trip Before Everything Changed

On solitude, snow, and finding reasons to write.

Source: LitHub
Published: Apr 6, 2020
Length: 10 minutes (2,529 words)

The Heat Reporter

What you see in the aftermath of California’s fires.

Published: Mar 25, 2020
Length: 14 minutes (3,690 words)

No End in Sight

What happens when immigrant-rights advocates reach a breaking point?

Source: VQR
Published: Mar 2, 2020
Length: 46 minutes (11,500 words)


A telekinetic teenager became a convicted killer. Can a group of strangers prove that Christina Boyer is really a victim of injustice?

Source: The Atavist
Published: Feb 28, 2020
Length: 48 minutes (12,000 words)

This Route Doesn’t Exist on the Map

What would you endure to find safety and security? Now that Europe has slammed its doors shut to migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Nigeria, just to name a few countries, many are attempting to enter the United States via a long, arduous journey that includes crossing the Darién Gap — a treacherous forest without roads that connects Columbia and Panama.

Published: Feb 26, 2018
Length: 26 minutes (6,743 words)

Prince of Peace

San Salvador’s upstart mayor, Nayib Bukele, has promised a new way forward for a city besieged by decades of violence. His biggest obstacle, however, may not be the city’s gangs, but the city’s idea of itself.

Source: VQR
Published: Oct 5, 2016
Length: 25 minutes (6,425 words)