Environment & Planning

The Wilderness Act Part I: The Legacy Of Wilderness

Sep 2, 2014
David Steves / Earthfix

When you consider how long mountains, forests and deserts have been a part of the American landscape, 50 years is the blink of an eye.

But it’s something of a milestone when a law protecting these places turns 50. That’s happening this week.

To kick off our series on Wilderness, David Steves from our EarthFix team hiked into Washington’s Cascade Mountains. He brings us this report on what a half-century of wilderness protection has meant for a place called the Goat Rocks.

Rachael McDonald

A teen from Eugene has taken her activism on the road. KLCC’s Rachael McDonald spoke with her by phone as she walks across the U.S. in the Great March for Climate Action.

Study To Show Return For Fall Chinook On Siuslaw River

Aug 22, 2014
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

This fall, biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will capture adult Chinook salmon in the Siuslaw River near Mapleton. It's part of a study to estimate this year's return. The last time a study this extensive was conducted was 8 years ago.

Wikimedia Commons

A Britain-based company is making preliminary moves that could lead to a 4-thousand-acre open-pit nickel mine being established in the headwaters of the Smith and Illinois Rivers in southwest Oregon. The firm says it’s at the beginning of a long process of evaluating whether such a mine would even pencil out. But opponents in Oregon and California are taking no chances and, they’re going all-out to kill it in the cradle.

Barbara Ullian minces no words.

Barbara Ullian: “The best time to stop a mine is before it starts.”


About 200 canoeists and kayakers are floating the Willamette River Monday to learn about its history, ecology, and some of the issues that affect water quality.

The 14th annual "Paddle Oregon" trip starts in Corvallis and concludes Friday in Canby. Participants camp at a variety of parks, and private farms along the way and dine on local foods. Travis Williams is the Executive Director for the environmental group Willamette Riverkeeper. He says this year for the first two days they will be joined by the Grande Ronde Tribes Canoe Family.

Rachael McDonald

The City of Springfield's efforts to expand their Urban Growth Boundary to a rural area near Mount Pisgah have hit a snag. The largest landowners on Seavey Loop Road have changed their stance from neutral to opposed to the city's plans.

Bob Straub started acquiring land on Seavey Loop in the 1950s. The late Oregon governor's grandson manages the 56 acres with his sisters.

Straub: "My grandfather liked the idea of preserving the land for farming use. He always felt a close connection to the farming community."

Amelia Templeton / Earthfix

The plaintiffs are residents of Cedar Valley, a community near Gold Beach that was accidentally sprayed in October by a helicopter applying pesticides to nearby timberland.

The state recently handed down a fine and revoked the company’s license. But resident John Burns says that’s not enough.

Burns: “The state laws in effect have not done anything for us and we have been violated. Our civil and constitutional rights have been violated. Our property, our animals, livelihood, our health. Everything has been violated.”

Wikimedia Commons

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to oppose the designation of a National Marine Sanctuary in Oregon coastal waters.


Oregon’s highway system has about 35 thousand culverts built in to allow safe passage for fish. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, about one third of those are in poor condition and need to be replaced. But funding those repairs has become difficult as ODOT’s budget continues to experience shortfalls. An agreement between ODOT and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife could be a solution.

Seneca Sustainable Energy

A Eugene based environmental watchdog group has filed a federal complaint against the Lane County Air Protection Agency, or LRAPA, over its decision to allow a biomass plant to increase its emissions.


Crews are using a firm hand to keep a pair of small wildfires in the Willamette National Forest southeast of Oakridge from growing. The Staley Complex is just over 100 acres but it's in steep, rugged terrain which is hard for firefighters to access. Fire spokesman Peter Frenzen says the blazes were sparked by lightning.

Oregon Military Dept.

Wildfires in the West are getting bigger, hotter – and more costly. A new report from a national science advocacy group says climate change is one major reason wildfires are getting worse. And short-sighted development policies are a big reason they’re costing more.


Smoke from southern Oregon wildfires is making its way to the Willamette Valley and the central Cascades. That's what's creating hazy conditions. But state regulators say air quality is good for the Eugene-Springfield area. It's rated moderate in the Bend area.

Clinton Rocky is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. He says the hazy skies should stick around through Tuesday.

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

A controversial method of logging is being tested on a Bureau of Land Management forest in Southern Oregon. The idea is to remove trees in the same way nature does. It’s being touted as a model for the Pacific Northwest.

Critics say it’s just a new twist on the same old problem: too much logging and not enough environmental protection.

Steep hillsides slant toward a bright blue sky. This section of forest, known as the Buck Rising site, is a checkboard landscape. It ranges from intact forests, to stands of thinned trees, to clearcuts.

National Geographic

A fox found near a residence in Junction City has tested positive for rabies. It’s the first confirmed Oregon case of an animal with the disease this year.  Lane County Public Health says this is the first report of a rabid fox in Lane County since the 1960’s. The animal was tested and confirmed for rabies at the O-S-U Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Corvallis. Rabies, endemic in the bat population, is only rarely seen in foxes, especially in the U.S. It’s a viral disease, carried in the saliva of an infected animal, transmitted when the animal bites.

Eugene Passes Climate Ordinance

Jul 29, 2014
City of Eugene

Advocates of a climate reduction plan say Eugene is the first city in the country to put its carbon reduction targets into law. The City Council Monday passed the Climate Recovery Ordinance with a 6 to 2 vote.

The proposal includes a plan to reduce the city's output of greenhouse gasses, monitor progress, and requires the city manager to bring back a community carbon reduction goal. Councilor Alan Zelenka proposed the ordinance, but he credits young people for pushing for action on climate change.

Eugene City Council To Vote On Climate Change Ordinance

Jul 28, 2014
City of Eugene

The Eugene City Council is set to vote on a Climate Recovery Ordinance tonight. The proposal includes a plan to reduce the city's output of greenhouse gasses, monitor progress, and requires the city manager to bring back a community gas reduction goal. Councilor Alan Zelenka proposed the ordinance. He says the majority of Eugenians showed support for the measure during the public comment period last week.

Angela Kellner

The fire that destroyed a Springfield mill a week ago likely also caused a fish die-off in the nearby millrace.

Oregon Department of Forestry

The 93,000 acres of a state forest on the south Oregon coast could be sold to private timber companies.

That’s one option being considered by Oregon’s Department of State Lands, which says the forest drains millions of dollars from a trust fund that supports public education.

The Elliott State Forest has been a losing proposition for the state of Oregon. Annual management costs are about $3 million dollars more than what it brings in by selling trees to timber companies.

Update - Warning To Avoid Willamette River Lifted

Jul 20, 2014

Lane County Emergency Management has been notified by the Department of Environmental Quality the lab results for the water samples taken from the confluence of the Springfield Mill Race and Willamette River at Island Park down to Alton Baker Park do not show any past or present public health threat.  The advisory to stay out of the water has been canceled as of Sunday (7/20)  morning.

An abnormal number of fish deaths prompted the State of Oregon to warn people from eating the fish or going in the water Friday. The cause of the fish deaths is still unknown.


Bandon residents continue to have mosquito problem. Another round of larvicide was applied Sunday by air to a section of the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

Residents living near the marsh started noticing a drastic increase in mosquitoes last year. Coos County officials approved the use of the larvicide Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, or Bti, to deal with the problem. Bti is designed to gum-up mosquito's digestive systems after they hatch but before they become adults. Environmental Health Manager Rick Hallmark says the timing of a Bti application is crucial.

The Oso Mudslides: Lessons For Oregon

Jul 14, 2014

Meeting Date: July 11, 2014

Air Date: July 14, 2014

Landslides are intrinsic to the geology of the Pacific Northwest. Many natural features of this region resulted from slides triggered by weather or seismic activity. Less than 4 months ago, about 350 miles from Eugene, a massive landslide was hard to miss.

The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund has been distributing money to the states for 50 years. Last week, Governor Kitzhaber announced Oregon's 2014 allocation.

Oregon will receive over 650 thousand dollars this year, to be used to acquire land and develop outdoor recreation areas. The amount is on par with funding over the past few years. Chris Havel is with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. He says the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been remarkably long-lived, supporting thousands of projects over the years.

Chelan County Emergency Management

Crews battling wildfires in eastern Washington and southeastern Oregon are dealing with sizzling hot temperatures not just from flames, but also a general heat wave. Correspondent Tom Banse reports firefighters are gaining ground this weekend despite the wilting heat. Four out of the five largest fires are nearly 100 percent contained.

Coos County Controls Summer Mosquito Populations

Jul 9, 2014
Napa County Mosquito Abatement District

Residents living near the Bandon Marsh on the southern coast were plagued by thousands of biting mosquitoes last summer. It’s getting better. After public pressure, officials have reduced the bug population.

The number of Aedes dorsalis mosquitoes in the Bandon Marsh area is significantly lower than last year. But Coos County’s environmental health program manager Rick Hallmark says the numbers have been increasing lately. Just a few weeks ago there were only 10 to 15 in each trap.

Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz / Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the U-S Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to California’s clean fuel law. Supporters of the law – and of similar efforts in Oregon and Washington – say the high court’s decision clears the way for the West Coast to take the lead in reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. But opponents in the petroleum industry say the law is still a bad idea.

Cascadia Forest Defenders

Updated: 7:20pm

Three people were arrested at a protest yesterday at the Seneca-Jones Biomass plant in north Eugene.  The Lane County Sheriff's Office says about 100 people gathered outside the facility to oppose the bio-mass operation and the company's plans to log old growth trees in southwest Oregon.  

Michael Werner

Crude oil shipments by rail increased by more than 80 percent, nationally, last year.
Most of it is coming from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That crude is more flammable than other types of oil, and has been shown to catch fire and explode when trains derail. More than 15 trains of Bakken oil move through some parts of the Northwest each week, en route to refineries and terminals in Washington and Oregon. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway transports the majority of that oil.

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

Much of the West is entering a second straight summer of drought. In Southern Oregon’s Klamath Basin, ranchers are once again watching their pastureland go dry for a lack of water. That has them preparing to sell their livestock earlier – and for lower prices – than they’d like.

Those ranchers are part of an unlikely alliance that could lead to a historic solution to the region’s long-standing water wars.

Watermaster Scott White has a difficult job. He’s the one who tells ranchers to turn off the water they use for cattle and crops.

Katie Campbell / Earthfix

On the west coast sea stars, or starfish, are dying by the millions. Scientists have called the disease Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, and it’s decimated populations from Mexico to Alaska. But scientists aren’t exactly sure what’s causing the die-off. This spring, the epidemic has spread into Oregon, and now, Hood Canal and the San Juan Islands in Washington.

The village of Eastsound on Orcas Island draws thousands of tourists in the summer months. They come to see whales, bald eagles… and for avid beach combers -- sea stars.