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Washington state’s guidelines for fish farms include things like where they should be located and how many fish can be farmed in how much water. These guidelines are more than three decades old: they date back to 1986.

“We know that the old recommendations are out of date,” says Department of Ecology spokesperson Curt Hart.

Wildfires have consumed more than a half-million acres in Oregon so far this year. That number includes blazes on both public and privately-owned land. According to the Oregon Department of Forestry, roughly 528,000 acres have burned so far, with more than a dozen uncontained wildfires still active in Oregon.

Ron Graham is the Deputy Chief of the Fire Protection Division of the Oregon Department of Forestry. He says that number will likely grow, because it could be several more weeks until wildfires subside in a meaningful way.

As flames from the Eagle Creek Fire pushed closer to the Columbia River, Oregon officials had a quick decision to make.

The Fish and Wildlife hatcheries in the fire’s path housed six million fish, mostly chinook and coho salmon and steelhead.

And some of those fish were in trouble.

“Their water source, which at the time was Tanner Creek at Bonneville Hatchery, was literally engulfed in flames. The hatchery intake on the creek got clogged up, and we weren’t able to get water to the fish,” said Ken Loffink, a spokesman for ODFW.

UPDATE (6:56 p.m. PST): The human-caused Eagle Creek Fire — which exploded in growth Monday evening and jumped the Columbia River to ignite a Washington fire early Tuesday — slowed its movement westward early Wednesday as winds shifted, leaving it a few miles east of Crown Point.

A Portland woman says the young hikers suspected of starting a fire now consuming the Columbia River Gorge giggled as one threw a firecracker into Eagle Creek Canyon.

One suspect has been identified as a 15-year-old male from Vancouver, Washington. Oregon State Police spokesman Bill Fugate said if charged, the suspect could face the same state charges as an adult. Fugate said OSP will release the suspect's name if and when charges are filed. It is believed he and others may have been using fireworks which started the forest fire along the Eagle Creek Trail. 

UPDATED (10:55 a.m. PST): The Eagle Creek Fire jumped the Columbia River Gorge overnight, sparking a smaller fire on the Washington side of the river Tuesday morning according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office.

 Cascade Locks remained eerily quiet Monday morning.

No gas. No food. Businesses along the main drag were either closed or forced to evacuate.

The perpetual scent of fire, the sun's rays muted by smoke, and the occasional drizzle of ash greeted visitors to the town as the Eagle Creek Fire continued to burn about a mile away, threatening hundreds of homes and other structures.

As of Monday morning, the human-caused wildfire was about 3,200 acres, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. That marks a small increase from what officials reported Sunday.  

Advocates are worried that Trump administration policy changes will damage the ability of national parks to deal with climate change.

Studies show climate change could have serious impacts on national parks in the Northwest.

The Bumblebee Hunter

Sep 3, 2017

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The National Weather Service says last month was the hottest August on record for Portland and Salem.

Even the coast experienced warmer-than-normal temperatures. Astoria experienced its third hottest August on record.

And summer isn't over yet. Hot temperatures are expected to spill into September as well; meteorologists say it's hard to predict when the heat will let up.

"It's just a big warm air mass over the area with not a lot of change in the weather pattern," said Treena Jensen, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

A disease that can be deadly to deer has been found for the first time in Washington. Wildlife managers are asking people to not give deer food or water — in hopes of minimizing the spread of the infection.

Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease — or AHD — is common in other western states. Washington’s first confirmed case was found in a herd east of Goldendale.

The disease is often fatal for fawns. It’s not a risk to people, pets, or livestock — it’s only transmitted from deer-to-deer.

Cooke Aquaculture and state officials knew at least six months ago that the floating salmon farm that collapsed in August was "nearing the end of serviceable life," with accelerating corrosion eating away at its hinges and steel structure.

Even so, they agreed to fill the damaged structure with a full load of 3.1 million pounds of Atlantic salmon in an area regularly swept by strong currents.

Cycle Oregon has been canceled this year, just over a week before the ride was scheduled to start.

Wildfires and smoke in Central Oregon and the Willamette Valley raised safety concerns for event organizers. While Cycle Oregon originally planned on rerouting this year’s ride, alternate routes were also deemed unsafe.

Is That Mask Really Protecting You From The Smoke?

Aug 31, 2017

The persistent haze of smoke from the wildfires burning around the Northwest has led many people to wear face masks to protect their lungs. But health officials say many of those masks aren’t doing what the wearers think they are.

As the days of thick, smoky air drag on, you’re seeing more people wearing those little paper masks you can get at the hardware store. Dr. Jim Shames has seen them, too. But, he says, while those masks may filter out some of the ash that’s floating around people need more protection than that.

Air quality in the Portland metro area was rated by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality as unhealthy Tuesday. Areas near Grants Pass and Medford also had substantial haze from nearby wildfires.

Smoke from large fires burning in southwestern Oregon and northern California is blowing north and blanketing the Willamette Valley. This includes smoke from megafires such as the Chetco Bar Fire — burning over 100,000 acres near Brookings, Oregon — and the Miller Complex of fires.  

It's been a busy August for the Oregon National Guard.

More than 600 guard members have been called up to fight wildfires burning out of control in the state. They've dropped more than 750,000 gallons of water on the fires by helicopter.

Even as the firefighting continues, two small teams with the Oregon Air National Guard's 125th Special Tactics Squadron are being sent on a very different mission: assisting the relief effort in Texas.

The Chetco Bar Fire in southwest Oregon has been burning since July. It's now scorched about 118-,000 acres and it’s still completely uncontained. Last week it was designated the nation’s top priority wildfire.

The megafire is still burning just five miles outside the coastal city of Brookings. OPB/EarthFix reporter Jes Burns is on the scene asking questions and getting answers.

What’s The Status This Afternoon Of Both The Fire And The Evacuations It’s Caused?

Hot, dry weather Sunday on the southern Oregon coast made it difficult for fire crews to stop the spread of the Chetco Bar Fire. Fire crews were refocused to keep it from creeping closer to coastal communities.

Residents of the coastal town of Brookings have been dealing with smoke and evacuation warnings for weeks now. Hundreds of them gathered Sunday evening at Brookings-Harbor High School to learn the latest on the fire burning just a few miles from town.

Q&A: So Why Are Atlantic Salmon In The Northwest?

Aug 25, 2017

Last weekend, a net pen broke apart near Washington’s Cypress Island. The pen held 305,000 Atlantic salmon, non-native fish.

The company that owns the pen, Cooke Aquaculture, says it is unsure exactly how many Atlantic salmon escaped. It estimates somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 fish. Cooke and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are inventorying fish are still inside the pens.

The U.S. Forest Service is moving forward with a plan to allow exploratory mining near Mount St. Helens.

The agency issued a draft decision approving Canadian company Ascot Resources Ltd.’s plans to drill for copper and gold in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Patrick Lair with the U.S. Forest Service drove into the Ochoco National Forest to see how things looked after hosting thousands of eclipse visitors.

He drove the same road on Wednesday that more than 30,000 people took to get into the massive Symbiosis Festival on Big Summit Prairie – a patch of private land in the middle of the national forest.

"At one point, we had bumper-to-bumper traffic from the prairie out past Prineville," he said. "I'm kind of amazed not to see more trash on the sides of the road."

Deer graze on tall prairie grass. Bushy-tailed foxes chase rabbits across a windswept landscape. Bald eagles perch along cliffs overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and snow-capped Olympic Mountains.

The southern tip of Puget Sound’s San Juan Island is a wildlife-viewing wonderland.

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior is recommending reducing southern Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, according to the Washington Post.

The boundary shift comes after a Trump administration review of more than 20 national monuments across the West.

State wildlife officials have authorized the killing of two wolves from a pack in Eastern Oregon after confirming four attacks on livestock.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said non-lethal deterrents failed to prevent the Meacham Wolf Pack from attacking cattle and sheep on private land in Umatilla County.

Portland Public School students will still not be able to use campus water fountains when the new academic year starts next week. 

Instead, students returning to school on Wednesday will continue drinking bottled water while PPS begins the process of replacing non-classroom water fixtures to deal with the problem of high lead levels in its water. The replacements will be installed in six waves of 15 schools at a time. 

Q&A with OPB reporter Kristian Foden-Vencil

Geoff Norcross: So just how bad is this fire now?

Kristian Foden-Vencil: Well, it’s destroyed 20 outbuildings, 13 vehicles and five homes. A Level 3 mandatory evacuation order was in place for 3,400 homes. That's been dropped to level 2 now as firefighters have made some progress and the weather has turned more cooperative. But in total, up to 4,000 people have been affected.

Commercial fishing boats are scrambling to catch as many Atlantic salmon as they can after a net pen broke near Washington's Cypress Island. Fishers reported thousands of the non-native fish jumping in the water or washing ashore.

A fish farm's net pen failed Saturday afternoon when an anchor pulled loose and metal walkways twisted about. Onlookers said it looked like hurricane debris.

Rural Economy | Sage Grouse Plans | Steelhead

Aug 10, 2017

Rural Oregon was hit harder by the recession than urban areas, and it is still recovering. Central Oregon regional economist Damon Rundberg shares a report showing that even after seven years of uneven economic recovery, Oregon’s rural counties remain below peak employment. And we hear from OPB’s Amanda Peacher about one ranch that’s trying a new economic model.

This is a guest post by Sarah Craig, assoc

The benefits of an above-average snowpack measured in most locations statewide earlier this year have yet to be fully realized due to extreme heat and little precipitation.

While water reservoirs have reaped rewards from winter snow, people who rely on small tributaries for farming or irrigation are looking at potential shortages.

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