EarthFix

News Fixed on the Environment.

EarthFix is a public media partnership of KLCC, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Idaho Public Television, KCTS9 Seattle, KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio, Northwest Public Radio and Television, Jefferson Public Radio, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Salem's Water Advisory 'Unlikely' To Be Lifted Monday

18 hours ago

A drinking water advisory for the city of Salem doesn’t look like it’s going away just yet.

After extending the advisory over potentially harmful cyanotoxins for two weeks on June 11, city officials now say it’s unlikely the warning will be lifted June 25.

“I’m not going to rule anything out, but it does seem unlikely,” said Heather Dimke, a management analyst for Salem’s public works department.

This is a guest post by Claire Schoen, a producer, documentary filmmaker and the creator of the Stepping Up podcast.

Richmond, California, is a working class town that grew up in the shadow of a Chevron refinery. The company ran both the economy – and the local government – for more than a century.

Oregon Approves Killing Of Eastern Oregon Wolf

Jun 21, 2018

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is permitting an Eastern Oregon rancher to kill one wolf from a pack that’s been injuring his cattle.

A Wallowa County rancher found three injured calves in a pasture on private land over a span of a few days last week. All three were confirmed wolf attacks.

Wildlife officials know of at least three wolves are in the area. The rancher has a permit to kill one wolf on that privately owned pasture or the adjacent stretch of public land where he is permitted to graze cattle. The kill permit expires July 10.

Salem Tests A New Way To Remove Toxins From Drinking Water

Jun 19, 2018

After issuing two drinking water advisories for toxins produced by a harmful algae bloom, the city of Salem is testing out a possible solution.

Algae in Detroit Lake is sending cyanotoxins into the North Santiam River, where Salem gets its drinking water.

At 2 o’clock on a recent Friday afternoon, the parking lot at the Mailbox Peak trailhead was almost full. This much was to be expected: Mailbox is a popular hike in the Middle Fork Valley, just outside of North Bend, Washington.

“I was just glad we got a parking spot,” Jason Gobin, a member of the Tulalip Tribes and their fish and wildlife director, said.

But, when Gobin was a kid, the Middle Fork Valley wasn’t like this. It didn’t have a paved road or fancy outhouses. And there weren’t many hikers. Back then, Gobin and his uncles hunted elk and bears on these lands.

Oregon’s problems with blue-green algae have spread to another lake. State officials have issued a health advisory for Upper Klamath Lake. It’s in southern Oregon, west of Klamath Falls.

Toxins from blue-green algae can be harmful to humans and animals.

In the affected areas of Klamath Lake, visitors should avoid swimming and activities such as water skiing or power boating. Toxins are not absorbed through the skin, but people with skin sensitivities may experience a puffy red rash at the affected area.

Why Do We Have Allergies?

Jun 14, 2018

Summer’s back and every plant wants to fertilize your nose. At least that’s what it feels like if you have allergies. Itchy eyes, runny nose, constant coughing and sneezing — pollen can make us miserable.

The federal government is reviewing the endangered species status of gray wolves in the Lower 48 states — a move that could lead to reduced protections. This includes the western parts of Oregon and Washington, where wolves are considered endangered under U.S. law.

Rare Whale Dolphin Washes Up On Oregon Coast

Jun 14, 2018

A rare right whale dolphin was found beached on the Oregon coast last week.

Experts say that this is only the fourth sighting of the dolphin species in more than two decades along Oregon’s northern coast.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Nehalem Bay State park staff found the dead female whale dolphin along Manzanita Beach last Friday. Park staff then reported the incident to the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which works to save stranded sea mammals and investigates what might have caused them to beach.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday argues the Oregon Department of Forestry's logging practices are hurting protected coho salmon and violating the Endangered Species Act.

Five conservation and fishing groups are making the case in U.S. District Court that logging on steep slopes and road-building in the Clatsop and Tillamook state forests of northwest Oregon are damaging salmon habitat by causing landslides and erosion.

When Cottage Grove's public works director heard about the water crisis in Salem, he met with the city's water production superintendent and asked what Cottage Grove was doing to make sure its drinking water was safe from harmful toxins caused by algae blooms.

Over the past year, more than 10,000 tons of Oregon’s recycling have been dumped in landfills because there was nowhere else for them to go.

It’s one of the consequences of new restrictions on shipping recyclables to China.

A tie in the U.S. Supreme Court may cost Washington state $2 billion.

The court's 4-4 split Monday settled a long-running court battle between tribes and the state over salmon-blocking road culverts.

Ashland Crime Lab Investigates A Mysterious Montana Animal

Jun 8, 2018

In mid-May, a rancher shot and killed a wolf-like animal on a ranch outside of Denton, Montana. The rancher reported the shooting, which is required by law, to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department.

But after wolf specialists saw photos of the animal, they raised doubts about whether it was actually a purebred wolf.

A scientist at Oregon State University is developing edible food packing as well as edible coating for fruits and vegetables. Her goals: reduce plastic waste and keep food fresher longer. Katie Herzog visits Yanyun Zhao in her lab for a taste test.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has decided not to elevate the endangered species status of the marbled murrelet after all.

The board reversed its earlier vote on the issue at a meeting Thursday.

Commissioners had voted in February to change the “threatened” status of the seabird to “endangered.”

For the second time in two weeks, Salem is under a drinking water advisory, and there’s very little the city can do about it.

Test results released Wednesday from water collected four days prior found an algae-produced toxin was present at levels deemed unsafe for certain groups to drink. It’s left city and state residents asking how it happened and wondering if it will happen elsewhere.

UPDATE (1:40 p.m. PT) — Salem has issued yet another drinking water advisory Wednesday for the city’s vulnerable populations – just four days after lifting an initial advisory that prompted Gov. Kate Brown to issue an emergency and activate the National Guard.

The new advisory is based off of water samples taken on June 3-4. 

UPDATE (June 2, 1:13 p.m. PT) — After about four days under a drinking water advisory for Salem's vulnerable populations, the city has declared water safe for all residents.

The decision to lift the advisory was based on water samples taken on Wednesday and Thursday. The city says the results confirm that toxin levels are below health advisory levels and that water is now safe to drink.

Toxins Decrease In Salem's Water, But More Apologies From City Officials

Jun 1, 2018

Salem’s four-day algae nightmare might be ending soon.

In a special meeting of the Salem City Council on Friday afternoon, city officials revealed that the most recent test results for the city’s drinking water showed levels of cyanotoxins were below thresholds that create health concerns.

Tribal leaders on both sides of the border said Canada's purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline would not weaken their opposition to the pipeline's planned expansion.

The project would triple the amount of oil flowing from Alberta tar sands through British Columbia and increase oil tanker traffic to refineries on Puget Sound.

Agencies Taking 'Abundance Of Caution' After Toxins Found In Salem Water

May 30, 2018

The city of Salem began regular, voluntary water sample testing at several locations in early May, when algae blooms started appearing in Detroit Lake.

The lake, which flows downstream and into the city's drinking water intake, was free of toxins. That was until test samples taken last week and received Saturday revealed low levels of cyanotoxins caused by the blooms.

You Thought The Eagle Creek Fire Was Out? Think Again.

May 29, 2018

You probably thought the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge had died out — but no.

A small hot spot flared up early Tuesday morning about a half-mile east of the Herman Creek Trailhead.

It’s less than a quarter of an acre with little chance that it will spread. Firefighters are using nearby creek water to extinguish it.

Gas prices are up this Memorial Day weekend, but in Oregon the carbon emissions per gallon of fuel are down, according to a new report on the state’s Clean Fuels Program.

The program requires annual reductions in carbon pollution from Oregon’s transportation fuel with a goal of cutting emissions 10 percent by 2025.

A Southern Oregon tribe is accusing federal water managers of failing to keep Upper Klamath Lake full enough to ensure the continued survival of two endangered species of sucker fish that its people once depended on for subsistence.

The Klamath Tribes leveled their claim in a lawsuit filed late Wednesday federal district court against the Bureau of Reclamation.

Water quality in the lake is generally poor and that can be exacerbated in drought years like the one we’re in.

A new study has found that if the climate warms as projected, warmer streams could compound the effects of global warming by adding more heat-trapping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Scientists tested the carbon output of streams at seven locations across the globe, including watersheds in Oregon, Puerto Rico, Alaska and Australia.

The Puyallup Tribe welcomed the first salmon of the year back to the Puyallup River in Tacoma on Tuesday.

Strangely, perhaps, that chinook's epic journey from mid-Pacific Ocean to a Puyallup fishing net begins with a sloshing tanker truck.

Tribes from Alaska to California have held annual "first salmon" ceremonies for centuries to thank the wide-ranging fishes for coming home after years at sea.

But some years, the Puyallup River barely has enough chinook salmon to support a ceremony, let alone a tribe whose diet used to be mostly salmon.

The judge in the Eagle Creek Fire case has ordered the teen boy who admitted starting the blaze to pay $36.6 million in restitution.

Oregon's juvenile delinquency statute requires youth to fully pay any economic damages they cause to victims of the Columbia River Gorge fire. 

A University of Oregon student died Saturday morning at California's Shasta Lake while attending an annual camping event.

University officials identified the student as 21-year-old fraternity member Dylan Pietrs. According to the Oregonian/OregonLive, Pietrs was drinking the day before fellow students found his body, but it is not clear yet whether that contributed to his death.

Police do not suspect foul play in the incident.

Byrne Miyamoto is finished with juniper. At least he wants to be. 

For the past three years, the Oregon State University graduate research assistant has been hauling juniper from Eastern Oregon and cutting it up to avoid knots.

"Getting a small clear sample out of a tree that is twisted and has knots everywhere is very difficult," he said with a chuckle.

Miyamoto would then run the knot-less boards through a series of tests at the university’s wood testing lab.

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