Phillip Elden Shares Advice on Cohabitating with Cougars


Cougars are native to Oregon and an important part of the local environment. However, they are known as fierce and territorial creatures, says Phillip Elden. It is only through education, awareness, and diligence that humans can safely and humanely cohabitate with these large cat-like creatures.

Q: How many cougars currently live in Oregon?

Phillip Elden: The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that there is greater than 5,000 cougars living in the state. They are most common in the Blue Mountains, Cascade Mountains, and the northeastern part of the state.

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Phillip Elden | US Government, NOAA Rejects Oregon’s Pollution Plan

Phillip-Elden-OregonNearly two decades after the deadline, Oregon submitted a revised  – and rejected – coastal pollution plan. NOAA and EPA have now threatened to withhold federal funds if not adequately amended by summer. Phillip Elden explains:

Q: What is the Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Program?

Phillip Elden: This is a federal program required in 29 states. It essentially says these states and territories must more closely regulate nonpoint pollution sources. Nonpoint pollution refers to pollutants from things such as agricultural runoff or wind-born debris.

Q: What actions may the government take against noncompliant states?

Phillip Elden: According to federal law, noncompliant states such as Oregon can lose 30% of funds they receive from the Coastal Zone Management Act and Clean Water Act. Currently, Oregon receives approximately $4 million from these sources. Many environmental groups, including Northwest Environmental Advocates, believe that reducing funds does nothing but perpetuate the problem and have lobbied the government to postpone financial withdrawal. However, many of these same groups acknowledge that the threat could jumpstart state environmental agency leaders into action. Continue reading

Phillip Elden Answers Questions about Fines for Dumping Food in With Trash

Phillip EldenPhillip Elden is the Conservation Director and co-founder of Native Oregon, a conservation group committed to protecting Oregon’s native wildlife and forests.

Q:  Why has Seattle enacted a law that imposes fines on residents for putting food in their trash?

Phillip Elden: A Seattle ordinance requiring curbside food-waste collection was passed in 2005 with a ten year goal to recycle and compost sixty percent of waste. With the dawn of 2015, Seattle was falling short of its goal. Seattle officials decided it was time to take measures to ensure the public complied with the regulation.

Q:  But a fine for putting dirty napkins and food boxes in the trash, isn’t that a little severe?

Phillip Elden:  Not when you consider the consequences not enforcing the regulation has for environment and taxpayers. The amount of refuse the city delivers to landfills is costly and the greenhouse-gas the waste discharges into the atmosphere is detrimental to the environment. This new ordinance is an attempt to reduce both. The fines levied are done so as an added incentive to citizens who aren’t complying with the rule. Continue reading

Phillip Elden Explores the History of the Mazamas

Phillip EldenPhillip Elden is a longtime member of the Mazamas, a Portland based nonprofit that offers more than 900 hikes and 350 climbs annually for over 13,000 participants. According to Phillip Elden, the Mazamas offer a variety of classes and activities for every skill and fitness level, which are open to both members and nonmembers. Through his association with the Mazamas, Phillip Elden has climbed several mountains and volcanoes, including Mt. Hood, Mt. Washington, and the Three Sisters.

In 1894, an Oregon newspaper announced a meeting to organize a mountaineering club on the summit of Mt. Hood. The 105 organizers decided to name their club the Mazamas, Spanish for mountain goat, says Phillip Elden.

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Phillip Elden on what it Means to Be a Mazama

Phillip EldenPhillip Elden, an active member in the West Coast mountain climbing group Mazamas, describes how others can get involved in an activity that provides physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Q: What must an individual do to be a member of the Mazamas?

Phillip Elden: To be considered a member of the Mazamas, an individual must do three things. First, climb to the summit of at least one glaciated peak and provide some form of photographic proof. If that isn’t possible, a detailed story will work nicely. Then, a membership application should be completed. These items are submitted along with an application fee and the first year’s dues.

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Phillip Elden on His First Glacial Climb at Mount Hood

Phillip EldenPhillip Elden climbed Mt. Hood for the first time 12 years ago with a small group including his wife, Cindi. Below, he explains the course of events from this life-changing experience.

Q: When was your climb up Mt. Hood?

Phillip Elden: The climb took place in early June. It started at Timberline Lodge around midnight. If you don’t start between midnight and 3 a.m., you can’t do the climb as the snow becomes too slushy during the late morning and throughout the afternoon to make the climb safely. Climbers are then picked up by a snowcat and taken up to the starting point near the ski resort.

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Phillip Elden on the Beauty of the Cascade Range

Phillip EldenPhillip Elden, a member of the mountain climbing club Mazamas, explains how the Cascade Range of western North America is a sight to behold.

Q: First of all, tell us about the Cascade Range.

Phillip Elden: The Cascade Range, also known as the Cascades, is a large mountain range that extends from British Columbia through the states of Washington and Oregon, and then into parts of northern California.  

Q: How does the Cascade Range compare to other mountainous areas?

Phillip Elden: The Cascade Range is truly one of the most interesting and beautiful geographical locations in the world. Part of what attracts people to this region is its fragile nature.

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