Environment

wildlife
6:25 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Saving The Greater Sage Grouse

Male Sage Grouse
Credit USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

The West’s greater sage grouse are in trouble. The birds make their homes in desert sagebrush country. But their habitat is shrinking – because of people, wildfires, and agriculture. With fewer wide-open places to live, sage grouse numbers are dwindling. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt takes a look at one program that’s relocated sage grouse from Oregon to Washington.

It’s early in the morning, hours before sunrise.

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Water Contamination
9:25 am
Sun May 11, 2014

Eugene Springfield Wastewater Facility Fined For Sewage Spill

An areal view of Metropolitan Wastewater Management Treatment Plant
Credit http://www.mwmcpartners.org

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined a Eugene Springfield sewage treatment company for a spill that occurred during a harsh February storm.

Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission was fined $7,800 dollars for releasing approximately 54,000 gallons of sludge into a drainage ditch connected to Flat Creek. The reason for the overflow was a pump failure caused by a power outage. Esther Westbrook is a Compliance and Enforcement Officer for the Oregon DEQ.

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Wetlands
7:21 am
Tue May 6, 2014

The Wetland That Saved Highway 101 From Flooding

Allowing the Necanicum River to flood this pasture kept Highway 101 dry this winter.
Credit Cassandra Profita / Earthfix

Video: “Here we go, through the water!”

You can see the extent of the Highway 101 flooding in YouTube videos made by people driving through it. In this one, the car radio plays a local commercial while a woman in the front passenger seat films the view from the dashboard. It’s all water.

Video: “Oh, my God. Um. This is a lot worse than I thought it was going to be.”

At one point, she turns the camera to the right. The water level is almost as high as the passenger window.

Video: “We are in a lake.”

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Bees
1:10 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Beekeeper Removes Swarm From Behind KLCC

Honeybees swarm the trellised gate behind the Starlight Lounge next door to KLCC.
Credit Rachael McDonald

Honeybees swarmed Wednesday morning behind the KLCC studios in downtown Eugene. They may have come from wild hives on the roof of the nearby Rogue Brewery. When bees swarm, there's a list of people who can come and take them away.

 
Brent Hefley is on the Lane County Bee Keepers Association Swarm list. He got a call from the Rogue and came out to the parking lot behind KLCC. He brought a wooden box.

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Oregon Mining
6:54 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Oregon's 1872 Mining Law Could Get An Update

Highly acidic mine runoff flows from a culvert near the abandoned Formosa mine near Riddle, Oregon.
Credit Liam Moriarty, Jefferson Public Radio

The federal legislation that regulates mining for copper, zinc, gold and many other minerals was originally signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. In ways, the law reflects reflect a 19th century view of natural resources: limitless and there for the taking. Now, a legacy of pollution at tens of thousands of abandoned mines across the West is prompting an Oregon Congressman to head a new effort to revise the General Mining Act of 1872.

Chris Cora stands on what used to be a mountaintop in the Umpqua Basin of southern Oregon. Now, it’s essentially a landfill …

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Rivers
6:43 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Natural Solutions to Manmade Problems on Oregon Rivers

McKenzie River
Credit wikepedia

For decades, the government has relied on regulations to protect water quality. But what if cities tried something other than simply telling people what they can -- and cannot -- do?

What if cities actually rewarded people for managing their land in ways that keep rivers cool and clean?

Two Oregon cities are trying this approach.

Marilyn Cross lives alongside the McKenzie River. It’s home to salmon and steelhead and the source of drinking water for the downstream city of Eugene.

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Environment
4:00 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Lane County Group Re-files Initiative To Limit GMO Crops

GMO Sugar Beet crops are being grown in the Willamette Valley.
Credit Earthfix

A Lane County group chose Earth Day for their latest legal move. Today (Tuesday) “Support Local Food Rights” filed its third attempt at an ordinance to protect area farms and limit certain agricultural practices. 

Last month, a judge ruled that the previous version of the Lane County Local Food System Ordinance did not comply with pre-election requirements. Attorney Ann Kneeland says the county now has five days to decide if this newest incarnation is acceptable.

Kneeland: “If they determine it complies, the county will have a period of time to draft a ballot title.”

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Elliott State Forest
8:41 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Lawsuit Challenges Sale Of Elliott State Forest Parcel

Credit Oregon Department of Forestry

Logging in the Elliott has been restricted to protect a threatened seabird called the Marbled murrelet. As a result, the state is selling five parcels of the forest to make up for lost revenue.

The Audubon Society, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity say the state can't legally sell one of those parcels.

That's because the tract used to be part of the Siuslaw National Forest. The groups say Oregon has a law that prohibits the sale of state forest land if it used to be part of a national forest.

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Wanapum Dam
7:25 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Endangered Chinook Migrate Via Trucks Around Cracked Dam

At Priest Rapids Dam workers practice transporting salmon in trucks. They'll have to transport hundreds of fish a day so the salmon can get past the lowered water and several dams.
Credit Anna King

The Columbia River will remain drawn down at least until June because of the cracked Wanapum Dam in southeast Washington. That means fish can’t reach their traditional ladders. Engineers are working on a fix. But this week, hundreds of Chinook salmon are being rounded up and loaded into tanker trucks to hitch a ride around the problem.

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Jordan Cove
6:22 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Southern Oregon Natural Gas Project Brings Environmental Debate

An artist’s rendering of the Jordan Cove facility on Coos Bay.
Credit Jordan Cove Energy Project

There is so much natural gas coming out of the ground in North America that companies are looking for ways to get it to growing economies in Asia and beyond.

One of these companies wants to make Oregon the first place on the West Coast to export natural gas.

But before construction can begin, federal energy regulators must size up the environmental consequences.

The Jordan Cove Energy Project would start with a pipeline carrying natural gas more than two hundred miles from south-central Oregon to a coastal port town: Coos Bay.

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