Environment

Environment & Planning

Ashley Ahearn

It’s been almost two months since China banned all shellfish imports from most of the west coast after finding high levels of arsenic in a sample from Washington.
The move has hit Washington hard. Particularly the geoduck clam industry.
These long-necked oddities are a delicacy in China… but here in the Northwest, not so much. That might be changing. Ashley Ahearn headed to one of Seattle’s hottest restaurants to find out how one chef is whetting appetites for this local clam.

It’s been almost 3 years since the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. Hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive water were released from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Fish there have been contaminated and some Japanese fisheries are still closed due to ongoing leaks. That’s made many people nervous about eating fish caught on this side of the Pacific Ocean.

It’s a gray Sunday morning at the Ballard farmer’s market in Seattle.

[Market sound “Hey Charlie. You got your seahawks gear on.”]

Several wildfires sparked overnight in the Oregon coast range and Cascade foothills. The National Weather service has issued a rare January Red Flag Warning for the region.

Trina Hartley is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland.  She says strong easterly winds encouraged the small blazes. A few are in the Cascades in southern Oregon But there were also several fires in the coast range.

Hartley: "On the coast in particular it's hard to get a fire started in July so to have these fire starts in January is extremely rare."

Rachael McDonald

The South Willamette Valley has been blanketed in fog and clouds with an air stagnation advisory in place for more than a week.

At the Oregon Coast Monday, the sun was shining and the temperature was in the mid-50s. Meanwhile Eugene-Springfield has been encased in fog and clouds with temperatures barely edging above 40.

No Logging In Store For Mildred Kanipe Park

Jan 20, 2014
nrttoday.com

There won't be any logging in Douglas County's *Mildred Kanipe (Can-ipe) Park, for now. County Commissioners decided to defer a proposed harvesting plan until all other options have been exhausted.

Douglas County assumed responsibilities for managing the 11-hundred acre plot of land in 2012. The County didn't want to use any of its general funds to develop it into a sustaining campsite. It proposed logging a 20-acre portion to pay for the changes. Douglas County Commissioner Doug Robertson says the group "Friends of Mildred Kanipe Park" offered to raise the funds themselves.

Rachael McDonald

Two young Eugene women had their day in court  Thursday in a lawsuit asking the state of Oregon to do more to prevent climate change.  A three judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals heard arguments at the University of Oregon Law School in Eugene.

mildredkanipepark.org

An outpouring of opposition to logging has delayed a decision by Douglas County Commissioners on the future of a public park.

Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park near Oakland is over a thousand acres. The parks department requires it to cover its own costs. A planning committee has recommended clear-cutting 20 acres of the park. A campground, built with the logging revenue, would make the park self-sustaining.

Gary Groth is Douglas County's Parks Director. He says the county has to follow a court judgment to raise money. It requires the county to use "sustained yield."

More oil is moving along Northwest railways. The Bakken Oil fields of North Dakota are booming. But Bakken oil is explosive at relatively low temperatures. There have been several oil train accidents since the boom began, one of them costing the lives of 47 people in Quebec.

That’s prompted KUOW’s EarthFix team to take a look at how prepared the Northwest is for the rise of oil train traffic. Ashley Ahearn reports.

University of Oregon

For years paleontologists have searched for a way to duplicate fragile fossils without damaging them. Now scientists with the University of Oregon say 3D printing is the secret.

The University’s Museum is building an exhibit on the evolution of salmon.

The centerpiece is the fossil head of a sabertooth salmon that spawned in Oregon roughly 5 million years ago.

Imagine a sockeye, “Put a big old gnarly tooth in the front jaw. That would be a saber-tooth salmon. And also make it a lot bigger.“

Tree Sitters Don’t Buy Logging Designed To Mimic Nature

Jan 10, 2014
Amelia Templeton

A group of protesters and college students has spent the past six months living in the woods on a ridge near Roseburg, Oregon. They’re using civil disobedience to try to prevent logging on the site. It sounds like an old story in the Northwest. But there’s a new twist. A forestry professor says the logging was designed to mimic nature.

Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management sold the rights to log a small grove of Douglas firs to a private company called Roseburg Forest Products.

Devan Schwartz

The Northwest wine industry has grown tremendously over the last few decades.

That’s had a big economic impact but that growth has also changed the region’s landscape.

In Oregon’s Willamette Valley, you don’t see a lot of oak trees anymore. Spacious oak savannas have been replaced by farms and vineyards.

Devan Schwartz reports on one family holding onto an old oak tradition, despite the odds.

Economists are predicting a global wine shortage, and that means demand for Northwest grapes will only grow.

Ski Industry Praying For Snow After Record Dry Year

Jan 3, 2014
Mt Bachelor Ski Resort

2013 was a record dry year in Eugene and Medford [Oregon]. Many areas around the region have gotten half of their average snowfall or less. That’s got Northwest ski resorts, many of which haven’t even opened yet, nervously waiting for snow. So are thousands of workers and retailers who depend on the ski season. And, there’s little relief in sight.

Tom Banse

Chances are you can't see the Milky Way at night. That's because the glare from city lights washes out all but the brightest stars where most people live. A smattering of Northwest cities and counties are taking action by passing new rules for outdoor lighting. It's not all about the stars. And some people take a dim view of light regulation.

Once you're aware of obnoxious lighting, you'll "know it when you see it," says City of Tumwater, Washington senior planner David Ginther.

Pixabay

2013 was a really dry year for Oregon. Climate scientists at Oregon State University say it was the driest on record for Eugene despite a soggy September.

Deputy Director of the Oregon Climate Service at OSU Kathie Dello says Eugene saw less than half of its normal precipitation this year. Dello says September brought a lot of rain but not enough to make up for the rest of the year. The snow-storm in early December was very dry. Dello spoke by cell from a ski trip in the Cascades.

Sauvie Island To Open To Waterfowl Hunters

Dec 30, 2013

Waterfowl hunters will soon have a new location at their disposal. The former duck hunting club, Flight's End on Sauvie Island opens to hunting January 1st. 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife acquired the property in September through the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program. The agreement guarantees more than $117 million for fish and wildlife habitat conservation and restoration, protecting a minimum of 16,880 acres of important native habitats.

Conservation Group Turns Christmas Trees Into Salmon Habitat

Dec 30, 2013
Michael D. Ellis

Before you kick your dying Christmas tree to the curb, consider this: Members of the conservation group Trout Unlimited would love to turn that tree into fish habitat.
 

On three Saturdays in January, the Tualatin Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited will be collecting Christmas tree donations at two locations in the Portland metropolitan area. Later, they’ll place the trees into a side channel of the Necanicum River near Seaside, where they will provide predator protection and food sources for baby coho salmon.

Creating A Northwest Lamprey Hatchery

Dec 27, 2013
Courtney Flatt

Pacific lamprey numbers are quickly declining throughout Northwestern waters. Tribal elders remember times when the Columbia River was black with the eel-like fish.

Now, Northwest researchers are trying to develop a lamprey hatchery – the first of its kind in the world. But, there are challenges ahead.

Pacific lampreys were once a major staple in Northwest tribes’ diets. The oils were a source of vitamins. Babies used lamprey tails as teething rings.

Now, as numbers decline, lamprey only make it to the table during ceremonies or special occasions.

Rodent Poisoning Harms Wildlife, Raptors

Dec 26, 2013
audobonmagazine.com

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife noticed an uptick of wild animals killed by rodent poison this fall.

ODFW Veterinarian Julia Burco says a lot of times, the problem stems from people not reading directions carefully enough. She says people may notice they have rodent problems but might not think of the consequences of other animals directly or indirectly ingesting bait.

Oregon Department of Agriculture

The federal government is counting on Willamette Valley farmers to help the recovery of a threatened bird. This fall, the streaked horned lark was added to the endangered species list.

The bird prefers open habitat, which has been declining, so it's showing up on agricultural land. Typically, finding an endangered species on your land would prohibit any disturbance to the area. But in this case, an exemption will not penalize farmers who find the lark on their property.

Penalties Of $2,800 For Wilsonville Bee Deaths

Dec 23, 2013
Rich Hatfield, Xerces Society

Penalties are in for a company implicated in the deaths of bumblebees in Oregon earlier this year. The Oregon Department of Agriculture has issued civil penalties to the pesticide company and its employees.

$2,886. That’s how much pesticide company Collier Arbor Care and four of its employees will pay for bumblebee kills.

The most notable incident killed 50,000 bumblebees in Wilsonville, Ore. Collier employees incorrectly applied a pesticide to blooming linden trees.

The fine also includes a smaller incident in downtown Portland.

Oregon Department of Forestry

The timber industry practice of spraying herbicides on clear cuts to ensure replanted saplings can take hold has been cause for controversy in Oregon.  Now the Eugene-based anti-pesticide group Beyond Toxics has released an analysis finding industry spraying in one rural community increased over a three year period.  

Executive Director Lisa Arkin:

Brett Cole, Oregon News Service

Senator Ron Wyden's long-awaited bill to promote logging on national forests in Eastern Oregon has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The Oregon Democrat's Senate Natural Resource's Committee approved the bill Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Timber industry and conservation groups that had once supported Wyden's efforts to use logging to promote healthier national forests while helping small mills survive are not happy with the latest changes. Tom Partin of the American Forest Resources Council says it puts ecological restoration ahead of economic considerations.

Electric water heaters eat up a lot of power -- and can take up about a fifth of your electricity bill. But there’s a hot new thing in the water heater world.

It’s called the heat pump water heater. Most Northwest utilities claim the new device can save you a lot of money, and they’re offering big rebates to people who make the switch from standard electric.

But heat pump water heaters aren’t right for everyone.

A refrigerator in reverse

Public Colleges & Universities

Warmer Weather Coming This Weekend

Dec 12, 2013

Freezing rain is expected in the early afternoon Thursday, but normal temperatures will begin creeping up this weekend.

The South Willamette Valley should be experiencing warmer weather as early as Friday, with temperatures predicted to reach the mid 40s in the afternoon. Hydrologist Andy Bryant of the National Weather Service says despite some Friday night cold, the weekend should be warmer.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

The job of learning what it is Oregon's hikers, bikers, swimmers and other recreators want improved rests with Kreg Lindberg.  He's an associate professor of tourism and outdoor leadership at O.S.U.'s Cascades Campus.  Each year he helps determine local and recreational priorities with a statewide survey he conducts.  In this audio report, Lindberg tells of the origins and nature of this survey, and what was most recently learned.

The weeks leading up to Christmas are the biggest retail shopping time of the year.  But this month’s unusually cold weather is keeping people indoors – hurting some businesses in the Eugene-Springfield area. Other businesses, though, are seeing a boost.

Oregon Department of Forestry

Tuesday the Oregon State Land Board gave the green light to sell five scattered tracts in the Elliott State Forest east of Coos Bay.

The 27-hundred acres have been managed by the state for almost a century. Earnings from timber sales go to the state's Common School Fund. Due to restricted harvests, the School Fund lost money in 2013, reducing payments to all Oregon school districts. Jim Paul is with the state land board. He says this sale may set a precedent for future state land sales.

Lane County:
Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner has canceled his Community Meeting Scheduled for Wednesday evening at the Cottage Grove Community Center

• Lane Council of Governments - LCOG - Meals on Wheels in Lane County are closed except in Florence. Cafe 60 Dining Rooms in Lane County are closed except in Florence. Posted: Wed. 11th, 07:45 AM

City of Eugene:

Winter Weather Closure Information For Tuesday

Dec 9, 2013

University of Oregon:
 UO will resume its regular schedule Tuesday morning at 8.

Oregon State University:
Campus reopens at 9am Tuesday.

Lane Community College:
Lane Community College:  LCC Eugene and Cottage Grove locations opening at noon: 8 and 10 a.m. finals will be rescheduled. 12 p.m. finals will be on time. Florence center open.

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