Environment

Environment & Planning

Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

Willamette Valley anglers will be delighted to find an early bonanza of hatchery trout in local waterways.  A dam malfunction turns out to be good news for folks who want to go fishing for New Years.

Willamette Riverkeepers

Rising water and colder temperatures have driven many illegal campers from the banks of the Willamette River. Behind, they leave a remarkable amount of trash. Recently, 50 volunteers got together to clean up a one-mile stretch of river in Eugene. 

Volunteers are walking the riverbank along the railroad tracks off Franklin Blvd., and removing anything that doesn't belong. It's no easy task. The nearly 2 tons of trash collected by volunteers includes soiled mattresses and broken television sets. And that's just the debris they could touch.

Ashley Ahearn / Earthfix

It may be pretty wet this time of year in the Northwest, but that hasn’t stopped an ongoing battle over water in Washington’s Skagit river valley.

Richard and Marnie Fox want to build a new house on their land, but they can’t get a building permit. The state says there’s not enough water in the area to support any more new residences without endangering salmon - especially during the drier parts of the year.

The Foxes are taking legal action. Their case will go before a judge on Tuesday.

Wind Warning Surges Along Oregon Coast

Dec 11, 2014
Amanda Butt

A high wind warning is in effect along the Oregon coast today. Winds are expected to reach up to 85 miles per hour in the higher coastal elevations. This extreme weather threat caused Siuslaw school district to shut down for the day and public officials prepared for emergencies.

The National Weather Service has forecast high winds all along the Oregon Coast. Siuslaw Fire and Rescue Chief Jim Langborg began warning the Florence community on social media and preparing his responders when he heard the storm was on its way.

Oregon Department of Forestry

The Oregon State Land Board is meeting in Salem Tuesday [Dec. 9] to discuss how to increase revenues from the Elliott State Forest. Earlier this year, after the forest began losing money, the Board decided to sell off parcels to timber companies.

But now the state is moving away from private auctions and focusing on public management.

Anna King

As Congress prepares to adjourn next week, still unresolved is a pair of bills with wide-reaching implications for southern and western Oregon. Over the past year, Senator Ron Wyden has pushed hard for compromise measures that would address long-standing conflicts over logging and water. But now those bills are in limbo.

oregon.gov

Oregon is looking to protect farmland by the use of conservation easements. The voluntary agreement between a land owner and a land trust or government agency limits the use of land for conservation purposes.

Conservation easements are popular in other states to protect farming and could give Oregon a strong tool to keep farms from disappearing. Tom Salazer is General Manager of the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District. He says the state should look at easements to protect farm land on a permanent basis.

Tony Schick / Earthfix

Forest owners in the Northwest use helicopters to spray weed killer after logging.
It’s an effective way to kill plants like blackberry and alder that compete with the next crop of tree seedlings. But it’s controversial. Last year people near the coastal Oregon city of Gold Beach claimed they were poisoned. State officials and timber lobbyists blamed that incident on mistakes by the pilot. But sometimes, communities report drift even when timber companies appear to be following the rules.

Climate Change And Indigenous Peoples Conference

Dec 2, 2014

Tuesday evening, the third annual Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples Conference begins at the University of Oregon. 63 undergraduate students conducted research and will be presenting their findings.

Rising temperatures and ocean water levels are threatening Native American traditions in the Northwest. The conference will look at how indigenous sovereignty and culture are affected by climate change.  

forestcamping.com

New camping rules for parts of the Umpqua National Forest near Cottage Grove go into effect today (Monday). Officials say long-term, homeless campers have created unsanitary conditions.

Camping along portions of Brice Creek and Sharps Creek will be limited to 14 days in a 45-day period. Melissa Swain is with the Cottage Grove Ranger District. She says the rule is changing because some campers have not kept clean sites:

Courtney Flatt / Earthfix

This summer, the Carlton Complex wildfire swept through north-central Washington. The fire consumed more acres than any other fire in the state’s history. Now, ecologists are trying to make forests more sustainable to help prevent these large-scale fires.

Fire ecologist Susan Prichard was driving from Seattle to her home in Winthrop just as the Carlton Complex fire picked up.

Prichard: “I saw the plume of smoke, and I felt the wind. At that moment, I hadn’t even possibly considered that the fire could race all the way down to the Columbia River.”

Be Noble Foundation

A 26-acre property in South Eugene will be preserved thanks to a private / public partnership between the City of Eugene and the Be Noble Foundation.

The property includes the headwaters of Amazon Creek and is habitat for wildlife and a favorite hiking place for locals. The city and Be Noble Foundation purchased three lots for a total of $1.75 million.

Ashley Ahearn / Earthfix

Seattle’s dirty river is gearing up for a major overhaul. The Environmental Protection Agency is about to release its final decision on the Duwamish River Superfund cleanup. The river has been polluted by industry for decades. The question now is how much cleanup will be required, and at what cost?

You might say Ken Workman is an old school Duwamish River celebrity.

His people have lived along the banks of this waterway and others in the region for thousands of years. He’s the great great great great grandson of Chief Seattle.

Jes Burns / Earthfix

As universities around the country try to meet carbon reduction goals, a growing number are opting to burn wood to produce power on campus. Southern Oregon University is vying to be the first campus in the Northwest to adopt this biomass technology, as it’s called.

Tucked away on the backside of Southern Oregon University’s Ashland campus is a modest 1950s era warehouse. Puffs of cloud-white steam emerge from its smokestack, the result of burning natural gas to produce heat for the campus.

City of San Diego

A pile of food waste can make rich compost for the garden. But some Northwest companies are going beyond composting. This week we’ve been bringing you stories on the challenges of wasted food. We discovered three companies that are using it to power homes, race cars and city buses.

Remember that last scene in Back to the Future?

Doc: “Marty you’ve got to come with me.”
Marty: “Where?”
Doc: “Back to the Future.”

Doc tears into Marty’s driveway in the DeLorean time machine and raids the trash can.

Doc: “I need fuel”

Katie Campbell / Earthfix

Portland and Seattle are working to reduce the environmental impacts of food waste by offering curbside composting. But no one said it would be easy. We’ve been taking a look this week at the challenges and opportunities of wasted food.  Cassandra Profita from our EarthFix team looks at what two Northwest cities are doing to get people to put the right things in the compost bin.

Paul Kelly was assigned a new task this year. He's standing in a lake of purple liquid, picking through a pile of rotting food with a pitchfork.

Taylor White / Earthfix

A new report published Monday identifies the culprit behind the mysterious disease that’s been killing millions of West Coast starfish.

After months of research, scientists have identified the pathogen at the heart of the starfish wasting disease. They say it’s different from all other known viruses infecting marine organisms.They’ve dubbed it “sea star associated denso virus.” Oddly enough, West Coast starfish have been living with the virus for decades.

In the U.S., we waste about 40 percent of all of the food we produce. A lot of that food winds up rotting in landfills and releasing air pollution. But many cities are trying to turn it into something more valuable and less harmful to the environment. EarthFix reporter Cassandra Profita kicks off our series of reports this week on food waste by exploring the virtues of curbside composting:

Fish Passage Upgrades Proposed For Fall Creek Dam

Nov 14, 2014
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to upgrade the fish collection facility at Fall Creek Dam. The enhancements would improve passage for Willamette River Chinook, steelhead, and other native fish. Scott Clemans is a Spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Portland. He says the proposed upgrades are designed to reduce the amount of contact with the fish.

Clemans: "Because physical handling means stress, and stress often results in fish dying before they are able to spawn."

Ryan Hasert / Earthfix

Washington has more glaciers than any other state in the lower 48.
Besides Alaska, it's the number one glacial stronghold in the U.S. Glaciers are a key part of our water supply in the Northwest. But they’re melting away.

Guess how many glaciers feed into the Skagit River? Just take a guess.

Answer: 376.

No joke.

Jon Riedel is hiking up to one of them, on the slope of Mount Baker in Washington’s North Cascades.

Rachael McDonald

Thursday the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed a new version of Oregon Senator Ron Wyden’s bill to boost logging on public forests called O & C lands -- named for the Oregon and California Railroad that once owned them.

Jes Burns of EarthFix explains some of the changes.

Tom Banse

An east wind is pushing arctic air from the central U.S. to the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures have plummeted in the last couple of days. 

The cold front is forecast to bring snow to the mountains and central Oregon and even into the Willamette Valley overnight and into Thursday. Laurel McCoy is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. She says the snow isn't likely to stick around in the South Willamette Valley. But it's good news for Oregon's ski areas.

WHOI

An oceanography institute announced Monday that trace amounts of radioactivity from Fukushima have been detected off the West Coast. This stems from the 2011 nuclear plant accident in Japan. Radiation experts say the very low levels of radioactivity measured do not pose a health threat here.

A Second Silent Spring

Oct 27, 2014

Recorded on: October 24th, 2014

Air Date: October 27th, 2014

We have been hearing about the hazards of chemical contaminants in the environment since Rachel Carson presented her argument against DDT in her book Silent Spring. Although chemical companies opposed her views, the environmental movement she inspired has led to policy changes. More than half a century later, Professor Tyrone B. Hayes — a biologist and professor of Integrative Biology at University of California, Berkeley — faces similar opposition.

Oregon Coast Aquarium

A team of divers has discovered thousands of young sea stars off the Oregon coast near Florence. Some say it could be a sign of recovery from a disease that's been wiping out sea stars all along the Pacific coast.

Tiffany Eckert

Landowners, small farmers and urban park enthusiasts exercised their First Amendment rights today (Wednesday) with a march on Springfield City Hall. They want the city to immediately abandon plans to place an industrial zone near the entrance to one of the largest urban parks in the world…Buford Park. KLCC's Tiffany Eckert was on the march route and has this story.

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www.nmfs.noaa.gov

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has some new tools to help anglers avoid fishing in designated marine reserve areas off the coast. There's a new app for both apple and android smart phones called "Fish Alerts" that displays borders for all protected areas and includes rule summaries. Stacy Galleher is ODFW's Community Outreach Coordinator.

Galleher: "It's hard to pop out a paper map and know exactly where you are, and it's just more intuitive as we keep going with technology that people are looking to their electronic devices to know where they are."

Lindsay Eyink

Last spring, voters in two southern Oregon counties passed measures to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. Now, Oregon voters statewide are being asked to approve a measure to require genetically engineered foods to be labeled. As with the similar, unsuccessful ballot measures in Washington and California, lots of out-of-state money is flooding into the campaigns on both sides.

Is Alaska Safe For Sea Stars?

Oct 15, 2014
Taylor White / Earthfix

A deadly disease has been wiping out West Coast starfish for more than a year. One place that has held off the disease the longest is Alaska. Researchers recently traveled there to search for new clues.

City Club of Eugene - Oregon’s Geology: Scientists Warn of Hazards, But Do Lawmakers & Agencies Respond?

Meeting date: October 10, 2014

KLCC air date: October 13, 2014

Natural disasters are often followed by a period of public reflection: Did anyone know something like this could happen? Had we taken precautions to prevent and minimize the damage from the earthquake, hurricane, flood or other event that just turned life upside down?

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