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.

Four conservation groups are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an effort to limit the federal government’s use of deadly cyanide traps.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services killed a wolf using an M-44 cyanide trap targeting coyotes. The agency uses the devices to protect livestock from potential predators.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality has fined the Northwest’s biggest electronics recycler $164,000 for violating state hazardous waste laws.

Seattle-based Total Reclaim failed to label electronics shipments from its Portland facility as hazardous, despite their containing materials such as mercury and lead, according to DEQ spokesman Matthew Van Sickle.

Oregon's Bottle Deposit to Double Starting April 1

Mar 31, 2017

Oregon’s bottle deposit is increasing from 5 cents to 10 cents on April 1.

The Oregon Legislature decided in 2011 to increase the deposit if the redemption rate didn’t rise above 80 percent for two consecutive years. In 2015, the statewide redemption rate was only 65 percent.

“We expect that more Oregonians will choose to redeem their bottles and cans and we believe it will help continue to keep the bottle deposit and return program relevant and working for the 21st century,” said Jules Bailey with the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative.

Researchers measured the snowpack on Mount Hood on Thursday and found Oregon’s snowpack is at 125 percent of normal.

Scott Oviatt, snow survey supervisor with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said an above-average snowpack is a good sign for Oregon.

“Our April 1 water supply forecast values will reflect the amount of snow we currently have, so they should come out relatively optimistic with most areas forecast to have normal or above normal stream flows throughout the spring and summer,” he said.

But a lot can happen in the month of April.

People at home can now get a glimpse of the greater sage grouse mating ritual via a new livestream near Bend.

During mating season, male sage grouse strut near females, making a dramatic popping sound as they force air through big chest sacs.

The threatened birds gather at mating grounds, called “leks.” They’re sensitive to disturbance, so the live video stream is a good way to watch the unusual ritual.

You’ve heard of Keystone XL, the controversial pipeline rejected by the Obama administration but approved this week by President Trump.

And you know all about Dakota Access. That’s the oil pipeline that became a rallying point for Native American rights and environmental activism.

It’s expected to be up and running in April.

But have you heard of TransMountain, which could soon be the biggest pipeline of them all?

A judge has ruled that a federal lawsuit against Portland General Electric over water quality on the Lower Deschutes River can move forward.

In a lawsuit filed in August, the Deschutes River Alliance claimed PGE violated water quality standards for several years after installing a water-mixing device at Round Butte Dam. That’s one of three dams operated by the utility along the lower Deschutes River.

Port of Vancouver commissioner Brian Wolfe announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election this fall. He’s vacating his seat after nearly 12 years on the job.

Wolfe said he’ll be stepping down at the end of this year to spend more time with his wife.

Wolfe has supported a massive oil-by-rail project proposed for the port. He said increased pressure from opponents of the oil terminal have been taxing on him and his family.

A federal court ruled Tuesday that wildlife managers must reconsider a decision to deny endangered species protections to the coastal marten.

The red-orange mink relative was once believed to be extinct — a victim of the fur trade. But small populations have been found in the coastal mountains of Southern Oregon and Northern California.

In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided the marten did not qualify for listing under the Endangered Species Act because the population was not small enough or isolated enough to be at risk of going extinct.

On the northern panhandle of Idaho, the Kootenai River’s endangered white sturgeon are getting help from scientists who are “listening” to the river. A U.S. Geological Survey team is using soundwaves to learn how sediment is building up and affecting the fish’s ability to reproduce.

Every river has sediment. It’s the sand, gravel and general muck that rolls along with the current. Sediment can be both good and bad for a river.

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