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.

Annual Bird Count Opens A Window Into Climate Change

Dec 30, 2016

Scott Atkinson and Diana Antunes are tramping around a flooded field in an abandoned farm just north of Everett. They pick their way through blackberry brambles and wade through water halfway up to their knees. Antunes stops short when she spots something in the distance.

“What do you got?” Atkinson asks her.

Antunes points to a peregrine falcon perched on a tree, eating a bird.

“Oh! Nicely done!” Atkinson says.

President Obama has turned two vast sections of Nevada and Utah into national monuments. The Bears Ears monument in Utah covers 1.35 million acres; Nevada's Gold Butte monument is closer to 300,000 acres.

A monument under consideration for southeastern Oregon would be larger than both those monuments combined. But there’s no word on whether such a designation is coming for the Owyhee canyons of southeastern Oregon.

Conservation groups have been pushing for creation of an Owyhee national monument, but ranchers and local leaders generally oppose that.

Coal Train Derails Near Vancouver, Washington

Dec 28, 2016

A single Burlington Northern Santa Fe train car carrying coal derailed early Wednesday about 5 miles east of Vancouver, Washington.

The train was traveling from Montana to British Columbia, Canada.

Gus Melonas, a spokesperson with BNSF, said the railroad has a team on site that's investigating the cause of the derailment, but so far it has ruled out track failure.

New Year Means New Laws In Oregon

Dec 28, 2016

The new year means a slate of new laws will take effect in Oregon. One example: Starting Jan. 1, it will be against the law to release sky lanterns in Oregon.

A sky lantern is essentially a miniature hot air balloon. But of course, there's no one along for the ride. According to Rich Hoover of the Oregon State Fire Marshall's office, that lack of control is a huge problem.

"Essentially," he said, "you are letting go an open flame and you have no control over what direction it takes or where it ends up landing. And that's an extreme fire hazard."

The National Guard has closed facilities across the country to the public because of lead contamination, following an investigation by The Oregonian newspaper.

Normally, the Guard rents out the buildings where it trains and practices, called armories, for community events, from weddings to Cub Scout sleepovers.

Oregon, there's nothing to do here. Count that among sentiments you'll hear from pretty much nobody, ever.

Even after 28 years of producing stories for "Oregon Field Guide," Oregonians have never let us down. We have never run out of stories to tell or spectacular places to visit.

Every year we get invited somewhere we've never seen before, called to join some crew on a wild new adventure, implored to showcase some hidden geologic wonder, or find inspiration to explore a town we've never paused to enjoy. And to that we say, "Grab the cameras and load em' up!"

Oregon’s Updated Streamside Logging Rules Get A Chilly Response

Dec 25, 2016

Cilde Grover braces herself with her cane as she ducks through a small arch in the pasture fence.

“Molly, come!” she calls out, as her dog bounds ahead and blurs into the forest in the misty distance.

Grover remembers wide open pastures on her family's homestead near Brookings in Oregon's southwestern-most corner. That was back in the 1950s and '60s, when she and her three sisters were growing up. But now the trees have the upper hand.

“I look around and I go 'it's closing in on me!'" she laughs, glancing around at the forest all around her.

Oregon’s Marine Mammal Institute is trying to introduce a new vehicle license plate — featuring whales.

The plate would have mother and calf grey whales, with a lighthouse in the background and the title ‘Coastal Playground,' “The idea is that the coast is a wonderful place to come and play for ourselves, but there are other things out there living and playing also,” said Oregon State University professor, Bruce Mate.

Marijuana growers use a lot of pesticides — especially when these mildew- and mite-sensitive plants are grown indoors.

But a growing number of farmers and shops are trying to give their customers a satisfying cannabis high without the downer of pesticide-related environmental or health risks.

Johnny Vanella is among them. At the JV Ranch outside Goldendale, Washington, he harvested his first organically grown cannabis crop this fall.

The Federal Railroad Administration is requiring Union Pacific railroad to increase its inspections and the quality of its track maintenance.

The agreement announced Friday comes in response to a fiery oil train derailment in June in the Columbia River Gorge.

Under the agreement, Union Pacific will need to increase track inspections to twice per week.

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