Environment & Planning

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Desmond: Since wolves first started returning to Washington and Oregon in the late 1990s, the population has been increasing steadily – especially over the past few years.

Now wildlife officials are taking a look at the species’ protected status. In late April, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission initiated the process of removing wolves from the state’s endangered species list.

All this brings up questions of whether the wolf has actually recovered enough to dial back protections.

With me now with some answers is EarthFix Correspondent Jes Burns.

Chris Hansen

Oregon's Southeastern desert canyon country has a new group of volunteers dedicated to preservation projects and organizing special events. "Friends of Owyhee" is part of an informal network of individuals who enjoy the area near Burns and Ontario. Tim Davis is the founder of the group. He says it's becoming harder to find places to escape to.

Willamette National Forest

 Jude McHugh is spokeswoman for the Willamette National Forest. She says a lot has changed in more than 20 years. She says the forest managers hope to hear from folks in the middle ground.

McHugh: "There's also we know a great number of people who generally don't get their voices heard about the national forest that maybe they recreate in, that they appreciate knowing are there for quietude and solitude. Maybe they go up and they get firewood or other forest products, and we don't get to hear from those people that often."

Wikimedia Commons

Friday the Bureau of Land Management released a menu of options for managing its public forests in Western Oregon. At stake are 2.5 million acres. They’re called O&C Lands because they were once owned by the Oregon and California Railroad. This is being closely watched by conservation groups, timber companies and local governments:

Timber sales on O&C Lands traditionally provided a lot of money for counties in Western Oregon. But that funding nearly dried up in the 1990s. That’s when a number of endangered species protections went into effect.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Friday began the process of removing gray wolves from the state’s endangered species list.

The Commission asked Fish and Wildlife staff to develop two proposals - one that would delist the wolf statewide and another that would allow for a partial delisting that would maintain protections for wolves in the western part of the state.

Wildlife biologists say there are now 77 wolves in Oregon and certain key conservation goals have been met.

Last week, Governor Kate Brown declared drought emergency in two more Oregon counties—Wheeler and Baker. Currently, more than half of the state is eligible for emergency federal aid—and it's only April. KLCC’s Tiffany Eckert spoke with one of the state’s leading climatologists about regional drought and what the future holds.

Kari Greer / U.S. Forest Service

Nearly a quarter-million acres of forest burned in last summer’s fires in and around the Klamath National Forest in (northern California’s) Siskiyou County. The U-S Forest Service is proposing a recovery plan that includes salvage logging and other elements critics say will damage wildlife habitat and make future fires more likely.

Melisa Pinnow / Orca Network and the Center for Whale Research

Beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean it can get pretty noisy.
Hundreds of big ships, barges, fishing boats and other vessels motor up and down the Northwest coast every year.
Some new research details how that noise could make life harder for endangered marine mammals.

Picture yourself at a noisy bar. You realize that you have been shouting at the top of your lungs all night in order to be heard. Well, orcas in Puget Sound are in kind of the same situation.

Cassandra Profita / Earthfix

A lot of energy in the Northwest comes from hydropower and wind turbines – all carbon-free.
There will be even less greenhouse gas pollution in the coming years, because the only coal plants in Oregon and Washington are scheduled to shut down. But that won’t stop coal-fired power from flowing into the region from out-of-state plants. So, Northwest clean energy advocates are taking aim at coal plants in Wyoming, Montana and Utah.

Davis: "The next level's the coal bunkers."

Wikimedia Commons

California is four years into a historic drought, and water for human use is vying with the water needs of wildlife, such as threatened salmon.

In parts of northern California, an explosive and unregulated increase in marijuana cultivation is contributing to the problem. Now, a study says the impact of pot grows on fish-bearing streams is threatening their survival.

Researchers monitoring water levels in streams in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties last summer say the water impacts of cannabis grow operations are dramatic.