Environment

Environment & Planning

Jes Burns / Earthfix

Drought is creating problems in river systems all around the Northwest. Nowhere is this more evident than on the Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Scientists there say there’s not enough cool water flowing, and a fish kill of young Chinook [shin-’nook] salmon is likely.

Releasing more water from upstream reservoirs could help the fish stay healthy.
 

Dan Ayres / Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

The west coast is seeing the largest bloom of toxic algae in more than a decade. It's led to the closure of some commercial crab and shellfisheries in Oregon, Washington and California.
 

Wildlife managers spotted a sea lion in Longview, Washington that was arching its back, and then having seizures. They had to euthanize it.

The cause?

Pseudo-nitzchia. It’s a type of algae that releases a neurotoxin. If people eat shellfish or crabs contaminated with it, they can also suffer seizures, short term memory loss and even death.

OR Department of Forestry

It’s officially wildfire season in Oregon. As of Tuesday, every district in the state is subject to fire restrictions.

Most years, it’s around July 4th before the northwest part of the state declares fire restrictions. The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Rod Nichols says low snowpack and dry weather have accelerated the season. He says the rules apply mostly to industrial work:

Nichols: “Logging operations for example need to have a fire watch present after they finish logging for the day and they also have to have fire suppression equipment positioned on site.”

State of Oregon

Governor Kate Brown Friday confirmed drought emergencies in Coos, Douglas, Gilliam and Jefferson counties. That makes 19 Oregon counties, officially in a state of drought.

Drought emergencies have now been declared in more than half of Oregon's 36 counties. Lane and Deschutes were recently added to the list.

Governor Brown cites low snowpack and low water levels in her declaration.

Brown: "Oregon is only just beginning to face what is likely to be an unprecedented wildfire season and drought. We must now rise to the challenge that a changing climate brings."

Jes Burns / Earthfix

You’ve probably heard by now that reservoirs in the Northwest are low on water, but you may be surprised just how dry they are.

Many lakes levels are lower this spring than they’ve been in 30 years. This is especially true at some of the most popular recreation lakes.
 

The marina at Howard Prairie Lake is high and dry. The docks tilt awkwardly this way and that, stranded on the uneven lake bottom.

Steve Lambert: “Normally, on a year when the lake is full, we’d most likely have 15 to 16 feet of water above our heads. So, yeah, it’s a little pasture right now.”

Cascadia Wildlands

The latest report card is out for the Northwest Forest Plan. The landmark forest management plan covers more than 2 million acres of public lands in Washington, Oregon and California.

Jes Burns of our EarthFix team says the newly-released 20-year monitoring report examines how well those federal forests are meeting economic and habitat restoration goals.

Oregon Fish and Wildlife.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recently picked up a yearling bear cub after people saw it begging for food near their campsite in Sweet Home. It's common to see baby animals this time of year and ODFW is reminding people not to take them from the wild.

When the bear cub was found, she weighed 25lbs. She's now doing better but cannot be returned to the wild according to ODFW's Michelle Dennehy. The agency believes the bear was taken out of the wild as a cub and returned just before winter began.
 

Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

Wildlife cops have uncovered a problem on the Columbia River. Poachers are catching and killing giant sturgeon. They're driven, in part, by global demand for black market caviar. And they're putting the whole sturgeon population at risk. As part of our EarthFix series on wildlife crime, Cassandra Profita went on patrol and brings us this report:

It’s a high-speed pursuit in an unlikely place: The Columbia River. Wildlife cops are chasing a boat with illegal sturgeon on board.

Officer: “Stop right now!”

www.oregongeology.org

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries published a tsunami guide for fisherman, mariners and boaters on Tuesday. The recent earthquakes off the coast of Oregon did not produce any tsunamis, but the guide lets boaters know how they should be prepared.

The guide is brand new says Ali Ryan with the department of Geology. She says depending on where boaters are in the event of a local or distant tsunami determines whether they should evacuate or go out to sea.

Jes Burns / Earthfix

Before you can prosecute a thief, you have to know what he stole. This holds true for crimes against people - and crimes against nature.

Southern Oregon is home to the world’s only criminal forensics lab dedicated to this kind of evidence. Its traditional focus has been on endangered animal cases.

But that’s changing, thanks to an international push to stem the trafficking of hardwood from illegally logged forests.
 

Pages