Environment

Environment & Planning

Nick Dobric, Oregon Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

Oregon is being praised for its efforts to remove invasive juniper trees, which are harmful to the greater sage grouse.

A report issued from the Natural Resources Conservation Service says Oregon has been a leader in removing juniper and replanting native grasses and sagebrush. NRCS Agency Chief Jason Weller says sophisticated mapping has helped the State locate the invasive plant.

Oregon’s low snowpack is result of one of the warmest winters recorded. That’s according to a report released by Oregon State University.

In February, more than 100 high temperature records were broken throughout the state. Director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute Phillip Mote says the state also experienced unusually long intervals without rain or snow.

oregon.gov

Oregon's new governor has asked for a delay in a hearing on a youth lawsuit over climate change. Governor Kate Brown wants time to look over the case in which she is a defendant. The hearing had been scheduled for this week.

Scott McGuffin

Arsenic in drinking water supplies is a worldwide problem. A discovery by scientists at the University of Oregon could lead to a new way to remove the toxic chemical, making groundwater supplies safer for communities.

Call it a cleanse. Or detoxification. That’s basically the process happening in groundwater, identified by University of Oregon geology professor Qusheng Jin.

He tested well-water in Creswell, Oregon, and found microbes are naturally transforming toxic water-born arsenic into a gas that can rise and get trapped in the soil, where it’s less of a problem.

Ask any Northwest skiers and they’ll tell you it’s been a bad year for snow.
They’re right. Snow levels are at record lows for Washington and Oregon.
But it’s not time to hit the panic button yet.

Scott Pattee, a water supply specialist with the National Resources Conservation Service, checks snow levels at Stevens Pass ski resort in Washington's Cascade Mountains.Credit Ashley Ahearn / EarthfixEdit | Remove

Scott Pattee: "Alrighty, off we go."

New Hydroelectric Turbine Running In Astoria

Mar 4, 2015

A new hydroelectric turbine is up and running in the City of Astoria. The renewable energy project is expected to save the city thousands in annual power costs.

The turbine is located in Astoria’s Bear Creek Reservoir and will balance the amount of power used by the city’s water treatment plant. Pacific Power spokesman Tom Gauntt says the idea for the hydroelectric turbine began in 2006 when the city was looking for renewable energy ideas. The generator was partially funded by donations from Pacific Power customers.  

Crater Lake Has Record Low Snow Levels

Mar 2, 2015

Crater Lake is experiencing record low snow levels for this time of year.  Sunday it was at 37 inches. That's about a third of what the average depth is for this date. Marsha McCabe works for the park. She explains where she notices the lack of snow the most:

"It's pretty unusual because you can actually see out of the windows on the first floor of the buildings. Which, normally this time of year, they would be buried."

A Human Rights View Of Fracking

Mar 2, 2015

Recorded on: February 27, 2015

Air Date: March 2nd, 2015

A relatively new, and currently controversial, process for extracting natural gas (methane) and oil from shale formations is high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Fracking, as it is called, has motivated the creation of a substantial literature of personal narratives recounting fracking’s adverse impact on humans.

500 Mule Deer To Be Collared In Blue Mountains

Mar 2, 2015
oregonstate.edu

Sunday the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife begun the process of collaring about 500 mule deer in the Southern Blue Mountain Range near Prineville.

Corinne Boyer

An olive ridley turtle now in Newport recovering from hypothermia will be moved to San Diego tomorrow (Tuesday).

The turtle was named “Solstice” because she was found on a northwest beach on December 21st. Erin Paxton is with the Oregon Coast Aquarium. She says the endangered animal was scheduled to recuperate there a little longer, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has ruled her healthy enough to travel. Paxton says this is good news:

Egan Warming Centers Open Sunday, February 22nd.

Feb 22, 2015
Egan Warming Center

As temperatures are expected to drop this evening to the upper 20's in Lane County, Egan Warming Center locations will be activated. All Egan volunteers are asked to check in through the Egan Warming Center website.  There is also a new site opening tonight at Lane Community College. For more information call (541) 689-6747, or visit eganwarmingcenter.com.

And Cottage Grove's Beds for Freezing Night Coalition are activating their warming center located at the Perpetual Help Catholic Church.

541-968-3357

Desmond O'Boyle

The 77th Annual Oregon Logging Conference returned to Eugene last weekend. Industry professionals, equipment, and networking are the main attractions. Saturday morning featured family activities and some friendly competition.

All the heavy equipment is on display and demonstrations are ongoing here at the 2015 Oregon Logging Conference. This mobile wood splitter can dissect a tree into firewood fast.

Big toys and industry information sharing aren't the only activities going on Saturday.

Oregon Snowpack Levels Well Below Average

Feb 11, 2015
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Oregon’s snowpack is at a record low for this time of year. Some areas of the Cascades haven’t received any snow yet. Ski areas are suffering and the lack of snow could affect stream flows this summer.

Oregon could experience decent storms through late March before the snowpack levels peaks in April. Liana Ramirez with the National Weather Service in Portland says the low snow levels may cause warmer water temperatures this summer.

Ashley Ahearn / Earthfix

This congressional session could be a big one for climate change.
Democrats have introduced legislation on behalf of Governor Jay Inslee that would charge polluters for the CO2 emissions they release into the atmosphere.
Republicans are in control of the senate and have signaled that they’re not interested in working with the dems on the Governor’s climate legislation.
Is there any common ground?

Tom Larsen is the City of Eugene’s Traffic Engineer.  His purview includes traffic signals, calming zones and street signs. In conversation last week, he began with what brought him to the position he's now held for a decade.

Oregon Zoo

It's been a really warm winter so far in Western Oregon. On this Groundhog Day, we checked in with the National Weather Service for a forecast.

Punxutawny Phil of Pennsylvania saw his shadow, which means 6 more weeks of winter. That's may be true for the east coast, but not in Oregon. Meteorologist Amanda Bowen:

Bowen: "Any local groundhogs likely would not have seen their shadow, since it was fairly cloudy so that would theoretically indicate an early arrival of spring for us and sure enough we're expecting warmer than usual weather over the next month or so."

Recorded on Friday, January 30th, 2015

Air Date: Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015 from 12:05 to 1:20 p.m.
Downtown Athletic Club, 3rd Floor Ballroom

Lou Sennick / The World

Construction is wrapping up on a new marine museum and aquarium on the Southern Oregon Coast.

After seven years of planning, the Charleston Marine Life Center expects to open its doors to the public this spring. The 6,000 square foot museum overlooks the Charleston Harbor. It’s a part of the University Of Oregon Institute Of Marine Biology.

Director Craig Young explains how the design of the building incorporates the landscape:

Jes Burns / Earthfix

If you’ve hiked anywhere in the Northwest, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an illegal trail. Often they’re quick shortcuts or paths to off-trail viewpoints. But in extreme cases, they’re longer, surreptitiously constructed trails that wind through public and private land.

The unauthorized trails can cause a range of problems in wild areas. As more and more people spend time in the woods, closing down these illegal trails has become increasingly difficult.

There's one case where wildlife officials and trail users are trying to solve the problem together.

Willamettepass.com

In preparation for heavy snow on the East Coast, airlines have canceled flights and officials have declared states of emergency. At the same time, Oregon ski resorts are facing a winter with little snow.

Willamette Pass resort’s homepage says simply: “Keep praying for snow.” Both it and Hoodoo opened for a handful of days early this season, but have been closed since. Still, there are some bright spots in Oregon:

:Berg: “We’re so lucky to have Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline where they have three, four, five feet of snow. It really makes a difference.”

Oregon State University

19 environmental groups have signed a letter urging Oregon legislators to tightens the rules for aerial spraying of weed killer.

The Eugene-based Beyond Toxics has been pushing for stricter rules since a group of Southern Oregon residents claimed such spraying poisoned them in 2013.

Director Lisa Arkin says the letter gives the effort more diverse support.

Neighbors Hope To Derail Vancouver Oil Terminal

Jan 26, 2015
Conrad Wilson / OPB

An oil company wants to build the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country on the banks of the Columbia River. The Vancouver Energy Project would ship oil daily from the Port of Vancouver, Washington to refineries along the West coast. The companies backing the project promise jobs. But, neighbors are worried.
 

Linda Garcia drives along the streets of the Fruit Valley neighborhood in Vancouver, Washington. For almost the last 20 years, it’s the place she’s called home.

“My neighborhood is my family.”

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Cente

2014 was the hottest year on record. That’s according to data released Friday by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In the Northwest, temperatures also rose above normal.

After a warm summer and winter, last year was the second hottest on record for Oregon and the fifth hottest on record for Washington.

The hottest year for both states is still 1934, when the Dust Bowl plagued the West.

Karin Bumbaco is the assistant state climatologist in Washington.

oregon.gov

Over the past five years Oregonians have reported pesticide misuse, now there is a clear path to address their concerns. The State has created a document describing how information is exchanged and which state agency will be assigned to a person's case. Oregon's Pesticide Analytical and Response Center, or

PARC, serves as the liaison between state agencies and citizens. Dale Mitchell is with the Department of Agriculture. He says people need to know who to contact and what to do if they are exposed to pesticides.

Predator Defense

Hunters in Eastern Oregon are having another Coyote Derby this weekend. Predator advocates say these contests highlight an outdated approach to wildlife management in Oregon.

The Harney County Coyote Classic offers prizes of guns and cash for teams of hunters who kill the most coyotes.
Brooks Fahy heads Predator Defense of Eugene.

Cascadia Wildlands

Two environmental groups are challenging a timber sale outside of Springfield that they say is the largest clear-cut on federal land in 20 years. The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Eugene.

The project, called The Second Show Timber Sale, is on nearly 260 acres of Bureau of Land Management Land near Shotgun Creek outside Springfield. Nick Cady is with Cascadia Wildlands, one of the conservation groups which filed the lawsuit. He says the BLM neglected to analyze the effects of the project in relation to other private logging projects in the area.

Bend has made it to the semifinals in a national competition to save energy. The two year challenge is called the Georgetown University Energy Prize. A launch party to kick off the Bend Energy Challenge is Wednesday.

Bend is one of 50 communities around the country still in the running for a $5 million prize based on the city's reduced energy use.

The Environmental Center in Bend first learned of the competition in fall 2013. Since then, the city has been filing paperwork and constructing a plan on how to save energy.

Jes Burns / Earthfix

The West Coast of the United States and Canada is like a superhighway for migratory birds. Dozens of species travel from summer nesting grounds in Alaska down into Washington, Oregon and California. The cackling Canada goose is one of them.

In the 1980s there were only about 25-thousand left, but now the population is averaging more than a quarter million.

It’s farmers in Oregon and Washington that are paying the price for the recovery.
 

Marie and Joe Gadotti are sick of the geese.

Marie Gadotti: “I have my own pet name for them; they’re flying rats.”

What Illegal Four-Wheeling Does To Public Lands

Jan 5, 2015
Courtney Flatt / Earthfix

This time of year, back roads are getting muddy. This is when enforcement officers start to worry about people driving their cars illegally on public lands – through the mud. Spinning tires and heavy rigs can destroy habitat. It’s also costly to repair the damage.

“Drivers, are you ready?”

They call it mudding. Mud is everywhere. Liquid brown splashes up for feet high. Jeep, after truck, after four-wheeler plunges into a mud bog in Ethel, Washington. The vehicles race through the mud to see how far they can go.

EWEB

The Eugene Water and Electric Board is hoping to get one of two malfunctioning roll gates on the Leaburg Dam repaired by mid-January.

One of three roll-gates broke down on the 85-year old dam on the McKenzie River in 2012. EWEB has been working on repairs and hopes to have it back in operation in a couple of weeks. Late last month, a 2nd roll-gate malfunctioned. EWEB spokesman Lance Robertson says the utility hasn’t yet determined why.  He says the dam is basically out of commission- with only one gate working.

Pages