Environment & Planning

Liam Moriarty / JPR

The federal government has been telling Oregon for over a decade that its rules to protect threatened coastal salmon are not up to snuff. Now, the state is faced with a loss of federal dollars unless it gets with the program. In response, the Oregon Board of Forestry is weighing whether to require timberland owners to leave more trees standing along streams to better protect fish habitat. And that’s got owners of small timber lands especially worried.

Kai-Huei Yau

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington is one of the most contaminated places on earth. It’s also one of the most sacred landscapes for Northwest tribes.

One woman is working to heal it.


Downstream from the Yakima Greenway, Hanford is changing. Cleanup is happening. But Natalie Swan is also changing, because of the southeast Washington nuclear site.

“I’m a quiet person,” she said. “But I’m getting a little bit louder.”

Fighting for Treaty rights

Brian Davies / Register Guard (pool)

Monday, a State judge ruled against a climate change lawsuit brought by two Eugene teens. The suit sought to force Oregon lawmakers to do more to reduce carbon emissions and help prevent climate change.

Theresa Tilson / Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

A record number of sea lions have been feeding in the Columbia River this spring. A lack of food in the ocean and a big run of smelt drew them in. And now they’re eating salmon. That has a lot of people debating the best way to manage these hulking pinnipeds. While some are shooting at them, and arguing for their lethal removal, others are rushing to their defense.

In Astoria's East Mooring Basin, big blubbery sea lions have taken over the docks that are supposed to harbor boats. Bill Hunsinger oversees those docks as a commissioner with the Port of Astoria.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Desmond: Since wolves first started returning to Washington and Oregon in the late 1990s, the population has been increasing steadily – especially over the past few years.

Now wildlife officials are taking a look at the species’ protected status. In late April, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission initiated the process of removing wolves from the state’s endangered species list.

All this brings up questions of whether the wolf has actually recovered enough to dial back protections.

With me now with some answers is EarthFix Correspondent Jes Burns.

Chris Hansen

Oregon's Southeastern desert canyon country has a new group of volunteers dedicated to preservation projects and organizing special events. "Friends of Owyhee" is part of an informal network of individuals who enjoy the area near Burns and Ontario. Tim Davis is the founder of the group. He says it's becoming harder to find places to escape to.

Willamette National Forest

 Jude McHugh is spokeswoman for the Willamette National Forest. She says a lot has changed in more than 20 years. She says the forest managers hope to hear from folks in the middle ground.

McHugh: "There's also we know a great number of people who generally don't get their voices heard about the national forest that maybe they recreate in, that they appreciate knowing are there for quietude and solitude. Maybe they go up and they get firewood or other forest products, and we don't get to hear from those people that often."

Wikimedia Commons

Friday the Bureau of Land Management released a menu of options for managing its public forests in Western Oregon. At stake are 2.5 million acres. They’re called O&C Lands because they were once owned by the Oregon and California Railroad. This is being closely watched by conservation groups, timber companies and local governments:

Timber sales on O&C Lands traditionally provided a lot of money for counties in Western Oregon. But that funding nearly dried up in the 1990s. That’s when a number of endangered species protections went into effect.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Friday began the process of removing gray wolves from the state’s endangered species list.

The Commission asked Fish and Wildlife staff to develop two proposals - one that would delist the wolf statewide and another that would allow for a partial delisting that would maintain protections for wolves in the western part of the state.

Wildlife biologists say there are now 77 wolves in Oregon and certain key conservation goals have been met.

Last week, Governor Kate Brown declared drought emergency in two more Oregon counties—Wheeler and Baker. Currently, more than half of the state is eligible for emergency federal aid—and it's only April. KLCC’s Tiffany Eckert spoke with one of the state’s leading climatologists about regional drought and what the future holds.