Science and Innovation

Coconino National Forest

Tourism has declined throughout much of Arizona because of the pandemic, but that’s not the case on national forest lands. Officials say record numbers of visitors came to forests around Flagstaff, Sedona, and the Mogollon Rim this summer to camp and hike in places where it’s easy to keep a safe physical distance from others. But, the spike in forest visitation also had some downsides. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with Coconino National Forest ranger Matt McGrath about some of the problems connected to the increase.

Grand Canyon National Park

Arizona tourism took a hard hit this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. Significantly fewer people visited state and national parks compared to last year, and air travel and hotel reservations dropped off, as well. On the other hand, outdoor recreation is on the rise, with more hikers and campers flocking to forest lands in Northern Arizona looking for a safe way to recreate during the coronavirus pandemic. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with Josh Coddington of the Arizona Office of Tourism about what he calls the “summer of the road trip.”

File photo

Many western cities have been able to shrink their total water use in recent decades, even as their populations grew. That’s the finding of a new study published in the journal Water last week. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with lead author Brian Richter about how simple water conservation measures could be a cost-effective way to combat shortages in the Colorado River Basin.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

A space mission led by the University of Arizona will make a daring attempt tomorrow to scoop up some pebbles from an asteroid. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is more than two hundred million miles from Earth and it has to touch a spot on the asteroid Bennu the size of a couple of parking spaces. It’s the first U.S. attempt to an asteroid sample back to Earth for analysis. Scientists say it could answer some big questions. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with the mission’s science team chief Mike Nolan.

Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer is recruiting tens of thousands of volunteers to test a possible new vaccine for the coronavirus disease. Some will be from the Navajo Nation. A legacy of systematic racism and unethical research has left many Navajos wary of participating in clinical trials. But health experts say it’s critical for Indigenous people to be involved for an equitable and scientifically sound process. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke about this dilemma with Laura Hammitt, of Johns Hopkins’ Center for American Indian Health, who is overseeing the trial on Navajo.