In this week's Landscape Reads, we learn all about Yellowstone's "Zone of Death," the bitter rivalry of pallet companies (yes, pallet companies), the ultimate cause behind Alaska's Funny River fire, and more.

How to Get Away With Murder in Yellowstone

There is a 50 square mile "Zone of Death" in Yellowstone because, you see, funny things happen when national parks cut through state borders. I'll leave it to Vox's Dylan Matthews to explain the loophole, which has inspired legal scholarship and thrillers alike. [Vox]


Blue v. White: The Great American Pallet War

As unassuming wooden pallets have been quietly transporting our goods, a bitter war was waged between recyclers of whitewood pallets and CHEP, a subsidiary of a multination corporation that rents pallets painted bright blue. This obscure-sounding dispute, which continues in some form today, quite literally underpins our global economy. [Cabinet]

The Amish Are Leaving Pennsylvania And It's All Our Fault

There's a Heisenberg effect to tourism. When tourists come to town with their vans and their money, things change and not always for the better for locals. That is what's happening in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. As an influx of tourism has made the Amish farmland more expensive, the Pennsylvania Dutch are departing for greener (cheaper) pastures. [NPR]


The Origins of Alaska's Funny River Fire

Poor Alaska has suffered through a spate of bizarre weather lately: a warm, wet winter that triggered an avalanche, a snowless Iditorad, and now a 200+ square mile fire burning near Funny River. This is a sign of things to come, writes Eric Holthaus for Slate, as he connects the dots between climate change, beetles, and the raging Funny River fire. [Slate]


Top image: A false color, infrared satellite image of Alaska's Funny River Fire. The burning fire front is a bright pink. Two pyrocumulonimbus clouds—thunderclouds that only form above the superheated heat of a fire—are visible above it. NASA Earth Observatory

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Sooo... Global warming, I mean climate change, made the bark beetles eat more trees which made bigger fires. Hmmm

Some Alaska wild fires of the past...

1700's = 39,000 Sq miles

1997 = 953 Sq Miles

2004 = 7,812 Sq Miles

aaand 2014 = 200 Sq Miles

Knowing is half the battle.