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Josephine Marcotty

Investigative reporter | Health
phone: 612-673-7394
Josephine Marcotty writes about nature and the environment for the Star Tribune. Marcotty holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Michigan. She came to the Star Tribune in 1979 and has worked as a business reporter and as a health and science editor. She became a medical writer in 1999. Her work on the series “Your Choice: Health Care’s New Era,” received a National Headliner Award in 2009. She was honored by the Minnesota Associated Press in 2003 for “Cory’s Legacy,” the story of a transplant. She has received numerous awards for her coverage of mental illness in Minnesota. Before coming to the Star Tribune, Marcotty was a reporter at the Dayton Daily News in Ohio.
Recent content from Josephine Marcotty
PolyMet mine water could flow northward, toward BWCA

PolyMet mine water could flow northward, toward BWCA

A landscape changed by mining raises new questions about pollution decades in the future
Gov. Mark Dayton creates new citizens' pollution board, defies GOP

Gov. Mark Dayton creates new citizens' pollution board, defies GOP

Defying Republicans, he creates new panel to advise on environmental issues.
Newest invasive species on Minn. lakes puts squeeze on plants, fish

Newest invasive species on Minn. lakes puts squeeze on plants, fish

Starry stonewort, found in two lakes, chokes out even Eurasian milfoil.
Minnesota DNR proposes changes for people and fish at Lake Mille Lacs

Minnesota DNR proposes changes for people and fish at Lake Mille Lacs

Strategy includes hatchery, predation control and new panel.
BWCA land swap sparks major environmental review

BWCA land swap sparks major environmental review

The federal government has decided to undertake a comprehensive environmental review on how to swap about 50 square miles of state-owned land inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area with U.S. Forest Service land outside, a plan that has generated thousands of comments.
Fight looms over hog feedlot in Lake Superior watershed

Fight looms over hog feedlot in Lake Superior watershed

Foes rally against plan to build in Bayfield County; farmers cite their “way of life.”
Mille Lacs' troubled waters, walleyes' fate defy quick fixes

Mille Lacs' troubled waters, walleyes' fate defy quick fixes

Walleyes fight on many fronts for their survival while Minnesota’s most popular fishing lake has changed fundamentally.
Minnesota DNR exploring options for stocking Lake Mille Lacs

Minnesota DNR exploring options for stocking Lake Mille Lacs

A plan to recharge Lake Mille Lacs is already drawing skepticism.
Minnesota and Wisconsin ban gillnetting on Lake Pepin after sturgeon and paddlefish kill

Minnesota and Wisconsin ban gillnetting on Lake Pepin after sturgeon and paddlefish kill

DNR says that commercial fishing likely caused the death of protected species. State wildlife authorities said the step is unprecedented but was necessary
Twin Cities air pollution linked to 2,000 deaths a year

Twin Cities air pollution linked to 2,000 deaths a year

Despite the toll air pollution takes, Minnesota's air quality is generally rated good and meets current federal standards. Yet even low and moderate levels can contribute to illness and early death.

Zebra mussels found in Forest Lake

Invasive mussel is well established so lake cannot be treated
Wildlife group wants moose on endangered species list

Wildlife group wants moose on endangered species list

A national wildlife protection group wants to place moose alongside the polar bear as a tragic symbol of climate change by petitioning the federal government to protect it under the Endangered Species Act.
Minnesota's loons could benefit from BP Gulf payout

Minnesota's loons could benefit from BP Gulf payout

The migrating birds suffered oil contamination following 2010 Gulf spill.
Dayton asked to intervene in copper-nickel mine review

Dayton asked to intervene in copper-nickel mine review

Environmental groups launch an ad campaign to press Gov. Mark Dayton to get involved in the regulatory review of a contentious copper-nickel mine that’s been proposed for northeast Minnesota.

Incendiary environment bill exposes heated divisions

The agriculture and environment bill that became a final hurdle in completing the 2015 legislative session includes a dozen provisions with far-reaching implications for Minnesota’s…

After feedlot feud, a Minnesota citizens' board may bite the dust

After feedlot feud, Pollution Control Agency’s board became a lightning rod for agribusiness, GOP.
Minnesota researchers race to decode secrets of deadly bird flu

Minnesota researchers race to decode secrets of deadly bird flu

The worst avian flu outbreak in the nation’s history has spawned a series of investigations by Minnesota disease researchers to figure out why this new and exceptionally deadly virus is behaving in such bizarre ways.
U students play the music of the warming spheres

U students play the music of the warming spheres

U student Dan Crawford has enlisted a string quartet to perform music made from scientific data on climate change.

New Minnesota law beefs up buffers along waterways

Both houses passed it, but the final funding is not yet a done deal.
Minnesota Senate pulls back on pollinator protection

Minnesota Senate pulls back on pollinator protection

Bill says plants don’t need to be insecticide free to carry label.
Minnesota could redefine 'pollinator friendly' label

Minnesota could redefine 'pollinator friendly' label

A garden plant labeled that way would no longer need to be free of insecticides, under a proposed change in state law moving through the Legislature.
Obituary: Michael Dillon, semiconductor designer and passionate innovator

Obituary: Michael Dillon, semiconductor designer and passionate innovator

Sandra Mueller always told her daughters that their father, Mike Dillon, was a lot of things. But he was never boring. He was a tinkerer,…
Climate change is a culprit in walleye's decline

Climate change is a culprit in walleye's decline

As state’s lakes warm, walleye’s cold water prey fish lose ground, and resort owners pay price.
Half of S. Minn. waters found too polluted for safe swimming, fishing

Half of S. Minn. waters found too polluted for safe swimming, fishing

Pollution pervasive in southern Minnesota, and growing worse, but waters in the state’s central and northeast regions are much cleaner.
Minnesota's St. Louis River on 10 'most endangered' list

Minnesota's St. Louis River on 10 'most endangered' list

The St. Louis, the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior and an important wildlife breeding ground, is already contaminated with sulfate and mercury and now faces additional risks from a proposed copper-nickel mine nearby, said the national group American Rivers.
Dayton halts moose research over animals' deaths

Dayton halts moose research over animals' deaths

Gov. Mark Dayton Tuesday put an end to Minnesota’s ambitious moose research project out of concern that it is harming the animals it’s designed to help.

Part 4 of 5: Ruling out everything in search for answers

Leona Meikle was on the phone, answering the oddest questions. With each one, she was beginning to understand how hard it would be to find…

Part 1 of 5: What killed Reece Meikle?

Leona Meikle was on her way out the door when she saw her son lay his head down on the dining room table and begin…
What if studying moose calves in Minnesota puts them at risk?

What if studying moose calves in Minnesota puts them at risk?

High rate of radio-collared calf deaths could halt study of decline
Isle Royale wolf population plummets to three

Isle Royale wolf population plummets to three

The closely watched wolf population on Isle Royale National Park has dropped to just three — the lowest number recorded since scientists began tracking them more than 50 years ago and a sign that without human intervention, they will likely soon vanish from the island altogether.
McCollum bill would restrict mining near Minnesota's BWCA

McCollum bill would restrict mining near Minnesota's BWCA

Though it has slim chance of becoming law, the bill escalates a contentious environmental fight over a new and risky type of mining.
In Minnesota, buffer strips are rallying cry for cleaner water

In Minnesota, buffer strips are rallying cry for cleaner water

His proposal might be stalled, but the ancient way of protecting water supplies is making a comeback.
In Minnesota, buffer strips are rallying cry for cleaner water

In Minnesota, buffer strips are rallying cry for cleaner water

Gov. Dayton's proposal might be stalled, but the ancient way of protecting water supplies is making a comeback.
New protections for northern long-eared bats on the radar

New protections for northern long-eared bats on the radar

To slow the spread of white-nose syndrome, federal agency wants to restrict logging near breeding areas.
Minnesota floats complicated plan for wild rice rule

Minnesota floats complicated plan for wild rice rule

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency revealed its proposed plan for protecting the state’s official grain from pollution that comes off the Iron Range and from about 200 industrial plants statewide.
Dry Minnesota at risk of more, hotter fires this spring

Dry Minnesota at risk of more, hotter fires this spring

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Monday issued an unusually early alert, saying conditions across the state are ripe for more frequent and more intense fires this spring, thanks to an abnormally dry winter and record-breaking temperatures this month.
Farm-water cleanup project falls short, critics say

Farm-water cleanup project falls short, critics say

A $9 million federal grant to help farmers protect streams and rivers from chemicals was announced with fanfare. But sharp discord over the project reflects reflects a growing urgency about the best way to use $225 million a year in Legacy funding devoted to clean water

Frac sand mining ban to expire in Houston County after vote deadlocks

Houston County unable to agree on outright ban or an ordinance to regulate the sand-mining industry.
Can we save bison by eating them?

Can we save bison by eating them?

A small but growing number of bison producers — including billionaire-turned-philanthropist Ted Turner — want to preserve the great landscapes of the west by changing how America gets its protein.
Houston County considers frac-sand ban; would be first in Minn.

Houston County considers frac-sand ban; would be first in Minn.

Scenic river bluffs, trout streams are top concerns.
April 13, 2013: U finds cancer risk grows with years on taconite job

April 13, 2013: U finds cancer risk grows with years on taconite job

But the five-year, $5 million study doesn’t fully answer question of whether the needle-shaped fibers in taconite dust are linked to mesothelioma.
Forests give way to fields, part of high-stakes transformation

Forests give way to fields, part of high-stakes transformation

The forests of central Minnesota are being cleared at an accelerating pace. Regulators are scrambling to protect them and the large watershed draining into the upper Mississippi.
Dayton wants tougher water and wildlife protection law

Dayton wants tougher water and wildlife protection law

Gov. Dayton proposes more, and better enforced, buffer strips along lakes and rivers.
Part 4: A scientist's aim: Save the bees

Part 4: A scientist's aim: Save the bees

Marla Spivak has become one of the country’s leading champions for bees. Now she’s fighting for their survival.

U.S. Ag Department gives $26 million to Minnesota environmental projects

$26 million targets flood control, water quality and songbird protection.
EPA pushes state for tougher limits on Minntac's Iron Range waste pit

EPA pushes state for tougher limits on Minntac's Iron Range waste pit

Plans to manage pollution leaking from Minntac’s tailings basin don’t go far enough, agency says.
Obituary: Audrey Huber graduated from high school at age 73

Obituary: Audrey Huber graduated from high school at age 73

Audrey Huber practically levitated across the stage on the day she received her high school diploma — handed to her with great pride by her…
Flu in Minnesota still widespread, 'vigorous'

Flu in Minnesota still widespread, 'vigorous'

The weekly update from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that 577 people have been hospitalized for influenza so far during the 2014 flu season.
Federal court ruling on wolves could take years to clarify

Federal court ruling on wolves could take years to clarify

The federal government may have to start over in devising a plan to protect them in the Upper Midwest and beyond before the state is allowed to resume its three-year-old hunting season.
New factor in road salt use: Saving money, environment

New factor in road salt use: Saving money, environment

Little changes to road de-icing can have big effect, but state officials say there is a lots of room for improvement.

Turkish journalist speaking at U avoided arrest

“My name was on the top of the list,” he says of detentions in Turkey.
Bison are welcomed home on the range

Bison are welcomed home on the range

Plains Indians tribes are adopting wild bison herds, hoping to revive the fading culture of their ancestors while also helping rescue an animal whose history is so deeply intertwined with their own.
Aug. 9, 2013: Fungus devastating to bats found at two Minnesota sites

Aug. 9, 2013: Fungus devastating to bats found at two Minnesota sites

White-nose syndrome, which has decimated bat colonies in eastern states, has been found at two sites in Minnesota.
Sept. 28, 2013: Minnesota moose die from wolves, ticks, abandonment and disease

Sept. 28, 2013: Minnesota moose die from wolves, ticks, abandonment and disease

The first year of a landmark study found higher mortality rates than normal and listed several causes. Researchers say more work is needed.
Powerful insecticide turns up in major Midwest rivers

Powerful insecticide turns up in major Midwest rivers

The chemical, which has been linked to bee die-offs, has not been widely discovered in streams and rivers until now.
Obituary: Dr. Mary Donahue, family physician in Monticello

Obituary: Dr. Mary Donahue, family physician in Monticello

Donahue was born on the eve of the Great Depression, and grew up the daughter of a country doctor.
New state law targets metro firms now sending recyclables to dump

New state law targets metro firms now sending recyclables to dump

More than half of companies in the Twin Cities will need to change their ways and start pulling out such valuable materials as ­aluminum, cardboard, plastic and steel. The law begins Jan. 1, 2016, for most commercial operations.
Minnesota lawmakers concerned for bees scold Ag Depart.

Minnesota lawmakers concerned for bees scold Ag Depart.

Seventeen DFL legislators rebuked the state Department of Agriculture late last week over its planned review of the controversial pesticides implicated in the decline in honeybees.
Feb. 24: Rogers takes DNR dispute to court

Feb. 24: Rogers takes DNR dispute to court

State says his bears are a risk to humans around Ely.
Who's protecting Minnesota's rural rivers from cropland runoff?

Who's protecting Minnesota's rural rivers from cropland runoff?

Detailed maps show that many farms lack protective “buffer strips” -- 50 feet of wild grasses, trees or shrubs required by state law — to keep runoff out of streams and rivers.
Star Tribune Special Report: Saving the great north woods

Star Tribune Special Report: Saving the great north woods

Across Minnesota, a determined counterattack is emerging against a looming threat to the northern forest — climate change.
Iron Range rebellion halted wild rice initiative

Iron Range rebellion halted wild rice initiative

Gov. Mark Dayton and top state pollution officials abruptly reversed a decision to publicly affirm a water-quality rule designed to protect wild rice after Iron Range legislators intervened in late February, according to internal records.
Pesticides that hurt bees don't help farmers, study finds

Pesticides that hurt bees don't help farmers, study finds

Neonicotinoid, common pesticide associated with bee die-off, doesn’t help yields, according to an environmental group's analysis.
Pellet gun felled Isabelle the wolf

Pellet gun felled Isabelle the wolf

One of the famous Isle Royale wolves, she had recently crossed the ice to the mainland.
REVIEW: 'The Ogallala Road,' by Julene Bair

REVIEW: 'The Ogallala Road,' by Julene Bair

NONFICTION: A third-generation farmer in the Kansas grasslands tries to work the land without contributing to its demise.
Pellet gun felled Isabelle, the wolf that escaped Isle Royale

Pellet gun felled Isabelle, the wolf that escaped Isle Royale

The 5-year-old lone wolf left Isle Royale for the mainland on an ice bridge that formed on Lake Superior this winter.
PolyMet copper mine in northeastern Minn. gets cautious EPA approval

PolyMet copper mine in northeastern Minn. gets cautious EPA approval

After four years and $22 million, PolyMet Mining’s proposed copper mine in northeastern Minnesota cleared a major hurdle when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave plans for the controversial project a passing grade.
Feb. 21: Minn. Poll: Nearly half favor PolyMet mine

Feb. 21: Minn. Poll: Nearly half favor PolyMet mine

Among Minnesotans who have an opinion on the issue, the largest group supports approval for a controversial copper mine proposed for the northeast corner of…
Feb. 26: Wild rice protections costly

Feb. 26: Wild rice protections costly

Next week, in a decision with far-reaching implications for the state’s mining industry and the preservation of its most famous plant, state pollution officials are expected to announce their recommendation for a “sulfate standard” — how much mineral salt Minnesota industries can discharge into the clear, calm waters across the state where wild rice likes to grow.
Feb. 16: Bitter winter, pup survival alter Isle Royale wolf debate

Feb. 16: Bitter winter, pup survival alter Isle Royale wolf debate

Both developments are likely to only confound a precedent-setting decision that faces the National Park Service
Bald eagles win a round vs. Red Wing wind farm

Bald eagles win a round vs. Red Wing wind farm

Wind turbines won't sprout near Red Wing for at least a year, state regulators decide.
Plight of Minnesota moose not so dire as believed

Plight of Minnesota moose not so dire as believed

Researchers continue to study environmental threats to the northern Minnesota animals.
Packed, testy hearing airs pros, cons of PolyMet copper mine

Packed, testy hearing airs pros, cons of PolyMet copper mine

Foes are leery of the long-term environmental costs of PolyMet mine; regulators say state laws would protect taxpayers.
Feb. 11, 2014: Price tag on future pollution underlies debate

Feb. 11, 2014: Price tag on future pollution underlies debate

Minnesota is trying to set the size of PolyMet’s financial guarantee in case water pollution, environmental calamities or mining company bankruptcies occur decades, even centuries, after a proposed mine opens.
Wasps winning war in bug vs. bug battle

Wasps winning war in bug vs. bug battle

Stingless wasps, the natural ash borer predator that were introduced in three sites in Minnesota two years ago, are reproducing, spreading, and killing ash borers, the state Agriculture Department reports.
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