Environment

Environment & Planning

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.

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