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.

Wildfires Burning In Oregon, Southwest Washington

Jul 10, 2017

Wildfires burning in Oregon and Washington Monday are not as serious as fires in other parts of the West. Still, the Ana Fire in Oregon and the Dry Creek Fire in Washington are slowing traffic and prompting some pre-evacuation notices.

Drivers on the main route between Bend and Lakeview should expect delays of up to two hours, but Oregon Highway 31 has reopened to traffic. Hundreds of firefighters are in the area battling the Ana wildfire, which is burning largely out of control over more than 3000 acres of grass, sage brush, and juniper.

Oregon’s Sitka Center for Art and Ecology expanded this week, with the acquisition of a Lincoln County property called Grass Mountain.

The Sitka Center, located near the town of Otis, has offered artist residencies and workshops in bookbinding, fiber arts and more since 1970. Director Ben Shockey says that the original campus is currently operating at full capacity, hosting up to 20 artists-in-residence and serving about 1,000 workshop participants each year.

A new bill in Congress would make sure Washington's four lower Snake River dams stay standing. It’s push back against a recent court order to find “a new approach” to protect threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead.

That approach could include removing or altering the dams.

That's not something Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, thinks would be good for the Northwest. Newhouse introduced the legislation, along with four other Northwest representatives.

Oregon state lawmakers want to use $100 million in state bonds to help keep the Elliott State Forest in public hands.

Oregon legislators released their list Monday of projects to bond in the next two years. Money for the Elliott State Forest is the most controversial item.

The 82,500-acre Southern Oregon forest is supposed to be used to raise money for education, but revenue from timber harvests has dropped in recent years. State leaders had planned to sell the forest to a private timber company and a partnering Native-American tribe. But environmentalists objected.

The deadline to reach a decision on a controversial oil terminal planned for Vancouver has been pushed back again. The Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, filed an extension that will give it until Aug. 31 to make a recommendation to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

The extension is the sixth time the state energy board has pushed the deadline for a recommendation.

An oil train bill was pulled from the Oregon House floor and returned to committee Friday over concerns about language that would make secret railroad spill contingency plans and financial responsibility documents.

The House voted 31-26 to return the bill to the Joint Committee On Ways and Means.

Counting Mountain Goats on Mount St. Helens

Jun 30, 2017

Prior to the eruption of Mount St. Helens, few people realized there were mountain goats living in the area. While that population was likely wiped out by the blast, anecdotal sightings of these high-climbing, sure-footed animals began to crop up in the 1990s. Over the years, U.S. Forest Service biologist Mitch Wainwright heard more reports of mountain goat sightings, prompting him to put together the first official mountain goat survey in 2014.

A lot can happen in seven years. Just ask Jim Thayer, who spent nearly that long searching for the perfect hiking route from Portland to the Oregon Coast. Thayer, an avid hiker, wanted an accessible trail through the Coastal Range that avoided highways and stayed on public land. After years of trekking through forests and creeks, he’s finally found it.

The secret to Thayer’s coastal trail? What he calls the “Blue Gate Rule.” Many logging roads along the route have blue gates, meaning they’re open to the public for recreational use.

Many Oregonians dream of throwing their belongings in a backpack, getting off the grid and hitting the trail. But what if you love the wilderness but don’t want to carry a heavy pack to experience it? For Monica Drost, the answer was simple: Llamas.

“We couldn’t carry the heavy packs that we needed to carry anymore,” says Drost about her and her hiking friends. So we researched about llamas carrying all our gear.

Chad Brown Helps Kids (And Himself) By Fly-Fishing

Jun 30, 2017

Yeah I ran away from a salmon,” laughs Brown. “How about that?

Though that was Brown’s first experience with a salmon, it was far from his last. Thanks in part to a friendship he struck up that day with Chou, Brown discovered a passion for fly-fishing. And as someone who struggles with PTSD, he found healing there as well.