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.

How Drones Are Helping Washington's Moose

Dec 22, 2017

Deep in the forests of northeastern Washington, snow blankets the ground. Through the trees, it’s hard to see the moose wandering in the woods.

But from a bird’s eye view? You can see a little brown splotch — with antlers.

Wildlife researchers are ditching the usual (costly, time consuming and invasive) ways they count moose. They’re taking to the sky and taking a new drone for a spin.

A new study from Oregon State University scientists finds that old-growth forests could be an important refuge for songbirds in the face of climate change.

Lead author and ecologist Matt Betts tracked songbird populations in different kinds of forests – including old growth and mature tree plantations.

They’ve been called devil fish. They’re No. 1 on the hit-list for invasive aquatic life in Washington waters.

And they’re creeping farther and farther down the Columbia River system.

So far, northern pike have reached Lake Roosevelt, the reservoir that's impounded behind Grand Coulee Dam.

Oregon Democratic lawmakers unveiled more details Wednesday for their plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

With the February legislative session only two months away, some Democrats are hoping to gather momentum to turn a cap-and-trade proposal into law during the six weeks they are in Salem this winter.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, helped draft the policy and said he hopes Oregon could eventually serve as a template for other progressive states to emulate when passing similar carbon-capping proposals.

Portland City Council voted to create a community outreach program to improve communications about the health and safety hazards associated with eating fish from the Portland Harbor Superfund area.

The vote came just one day after the Environmental Protection Agency signed an agreement finalizing the next big step in Superfund cleanup.

  

Although it's been decades since the Patterson-Gimlin film turned a Northwest legend, Bigfoot, into a household name, the footage and stories behind it still remain fascinating 50 years later.

The filmmakers, and namesakes of the film, are two former rodeo men from Yakima County in Washington. One, Bob Gimlin, still lives there. Roger Patterson died in 1972. They shot the footage off the banks of Bluff Creek in Northern California.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s attempt to lower the Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions has suffered a setback:  A judge's ruling that the state can't implement parts of his signature Clean Air Rule.

The ruling, issued last Friday, strikes down the Washington Department of Ecology’s plans to curb greenhouse gases from imported petroleum and natural gas products. Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon said the state needs the Legislature to pass a law okaying that part of the rule.

State and Portland city officials have agreed on a compliance schedule that outlines how the city plans to build and construct a water filtration plant in the Bull Run Watershed that will treat water for the parasite cryptosporidium.

The agreement marks the official end of a variance that made Portland the only city in the country that didn't have to treat its water for the parasite. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized the next big step in cleaning up the Portland Harbor Superfund site: inking an agreement for how pollution levels will be tested.

Four Washington landowners in the Moses Lake area are facing stiff penalties after illegally pumping more than 500 million gallons of water from a declining aquifer.

That illegally pumped water could have provided water to more than 4,000 homes for a year.

The Odessa aquifer in central Washington has been rapidly losing water since 1980. But that didn’t stop the four  landowners from illegally using the water to irrigate their alfalfa, timothy hay and potatoes last season.

There was a moment when Janisse Ray realized she couldn’t call herself an environmentalist and an activist and keep traveling by airplane.

The Trump administration is suspending efforts to bolster the grizzly bear population in Washington's North Cascades. That would leave this part of the mountain range with fewer than ten of the imperiled bears.

More trouble for the Canadian company that let 160,000 of its Atlantic salmon escape into Puget Sound this summer: Washington state officials announced Sunday that they had terminated Cooke Aquaculture's lease for its fish farm in Port Angeles after finding “serious safety problems” there.

In an emailed response, Cooke vice president Joel Richardson said the multinational company will use “all means at our disposal to protect our ability to continue to operate at this farm site.”

UPDATE (Dec. 17, 3:26 p.m. PST) — The city of Salem has shut off water from the North Santiam River, activating its groundwater and reservoir supply after a tanker truck carrying 11,500 gallons of gas crashed near Idanha, Oregon, Friday evening, spilling an unknown amount of gasoline into the river.

The city of Portland has reached a settlement with attorney John DiLorenzo and three plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit alleging misspending of ratepayer dollars by the city’s Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services.

Under the terms of the $10 million settlement, the city will transfer $7 million from its general fund to the utility funds — essentially reimbursing two agencies that rely on ratepayers to pay the bills — and will pay $3 million to the plaintiffs for legal bills. 

Two activists were acquitted of felony charges Thursday for protesting a liquefied natural gas plant currently under construction at the Port of Tacoma.

Marilyn Kimmerling, Cynthia Linet, and three other protesters linked themselves together last May to block construction crews from working on the future plant site.

A 3.9 magnitude earthquake hit near Molalla, Oregon, about 30 miles south of Portland on Wednesday evening.

Portlanders almost immediately took to social media to report shaking, as did residents in Salem, Woodburn and Canby.

The earthquake struck at a depth of 17.3 kilometers (a little less than 11 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake struck around 5:24 p.m.

A smaller 1.9 magnitude earthquake hit in roughly the same area on Nov. 28, according to USGS data.

Washington adopted new federal rules Wednesday that establish protections for farmworkers working with and around pesticides.

They bringing state regulations in line with new federal Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

The state has been trying to navigate ambiguity around the status of the EPA rules. Hector Castro of the Washington Department of Agriculture says they acted after learning the federal regulations would take effect next month.

Oregon Field Guide Favorite Places 2017

Dec 13, 2017

“Hey, what’s your favorite place in Oregon?” That’s probably the most frequently asked question we hear on our travels while working for "Oregon Field Guide." And while we are known to keep our secrets when secrets are in order, the truth is, many of Oregon’s great places lie in plain sight and we’re happy to remind you that these gems are out there and are worth exploring.

Here are a few stories that bring back fond memories from the great "Oregon Field Guide" road trip circa 2017:

Trek The Spectacular Wallowa Mountains With A Legendary Mule Packer

OPB's 2017 Photos Of The Year

Dec 13, 2017

A counter-protester named Anthony holds his hands in the air after being hit with pepper spray balls by Portland police during protests downtown Sunday, June 4, 2017. 

Coya Crispin stands outside her St. Johns neighborhood apartment with her daughter, Saraia, and her son, Titan, February 2017.

5 Most Important Environmental Issues Of 2017

Dec 13, 2017

From Paris to the White House to the wildlands of the Pacific Northwest, the environment was big news in 2017. 

It was a year when a new president set the United States on a drastically different path. That's certainly true when it comes to the role of science and government policy in curbing greenhouse gasses and protecting wild places and imperiled species.

The Oregon Health Authority is pushing back release of a public health assessment on airborne hazards in the vicinity of the southeast Portland production headquarters of Bullseye Glass.

The assessment, scheduled for release this month, was delayed as the company’s attorneys prepared to file a $30 million lawsuit against Oregon.

A Dec. 8 letter from the Oregon Health Authority to community partners notified them that the key health report, promised for early- to mid-December, would be pushed back for a “significant extension” until sometime in 2018.

One of Idaho's struggling salmon species could eventually become self-sustaining in the wild under the federal government's new recovery strategies.

UPDATE (2:59 p.m. PST) – Portland-based art glass maker Bullseye Glass has filed a federal lawsuit against Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and several state and local agencies claiming discrimination against the company’s civil rights. The federal civil suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Oregon, names leaders at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Health Authority and the Multnomah County Health Department as defendants.

Dagoberto Morales’ car winds along the rural backroads of the Rogue Valley. Winter is coming and the pear orchards stand stark and skeletal. Morales used to work these orchards and lived in the housing right next to them.

“We used to play futbol in here,” Morales said, pointing to an open area near a group of houses. 

The Environmental Protection Agency says it’s targeting a former creosote plant in the Seattle suburb of Renton for “immediate attention.”

The Quendall Terminals, on the southern shore of Lake Washington, joins Oregon’s Portland Harbor on the EPA's list of 21 Superfund sites across the country for expedited cleanup and redevelopment.

Ocean Trash: What You Need To Know

Dec 11, 2017

The story of a piece of litter doesn’t end at your curbside. Every year, millions of tons of trash find their way down storm drains and rivers to the ocean. Ocean currents take over from there, carrying man-made stuff thousands of miles away to far-flung corners of the planet—even to places otherwise thought to be untouched by people. And that makes marine debris difficult to clean up.

Here’s what you need to know about the trash that’s piling up on Pacific Northwest beaches and around the world’s oceans:

The Environmental Protection Agency says its targeting the Portland Harbor Superfund Site in the Willamette River for immediate attention.

California billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer is hoping Oregon will be the next state to fight the Trump administration’s policies on climate change.

Oregon Democrats are working on legislation for the upcoming February session that would cap greenhouse gas emissions. Steyer, who was active in California’s push to pass cap-and-trade legislation, is lending his financial support to the state’s progressive endeavor.  

'OPB Politics Now': Oregon National Monument Faces An Uncertain Future

Dec 8, 2017

President Trump ordered the shrinking of two national monuments in Utah this week. Attention immediately shifted to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says should also be smaller. We talk through the politics of these moves and get into Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's actions on the thorny issues of the state budget and PERS. Short answer: task forces!

Geoff Norcross talks with EarthFix reporter Jes Burns along with OPB political reporters Jeff Mapes and Lauren Dake.

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