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.

Conservation groups want the state of Oregon to ban the trapping of Humboldt martens in coastal forests.

Five groups filed a petition Wednesday asking the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect these rare forest carnivores.

Humboldt martens are relatives of minks and otters that live in old-growth forests and shrub along the coast in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Some of Oregon’s solar customers are going to miss out on thousands of dollars in savings, thanks to the expiration last weekend of Oregon’s solar tax credit.

And to add a little sting, some of those deadline-missing customers were victims of installation delays beyond their control.

While lawmakers in nearby Washington recently approved new incentives for solar power, Oregon lawmakers killed their state’s tax credit last year. That created a rush to buy solar systems before the incentive vanished.

Portlanders Likely To See A 10 Percent Increase In Garbage Bill

Apr 2, 2018

An emergency increase in Portland’s garbage bills is expected to be approved this month because of stricter Chinese recycling requirements.

China recently required paper and plastic bales to contain no more than 0.5 percent of other garbage.

That’s extremely low compared with the general market.

The result is most of the recyclables that U.S. cities produce are being stored as processors search for new markets.

Last summer’s wildfire season had the distinction of being one of the smokiest in Oregon’s history. And you might see evidence of that showing up in an unusual place: your glass of pinot noir.

The aroma and taste of smoke can make it into nearby grapes and linger in the wine, even after it’s been fermented and distilled. That’s worrying growers and winemakers here in Oregon.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is gearing up for its biggest-ever planned spill of water over dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

It’s a controversial move that was ordered by a federal court to help endangered fish avoid extinction. To make sure it’s done right, dam managers tested their options first, using miniature models of Northwest dams way down in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Brian Cladoosby and his fellow fishermen stood on the dock of a channel that empties into Puget Sound. They talked about getting their boats ready in time for summer salmon runs.

Cladoosby is the chairman of the Swinomish Tribe. He said those summer salmon runs aren’t what they used to be.

"A lot of the fishermen — Indian and non-Indian — are stuck on the banks now,” he said.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke came to Washington's North Cascades Friday to make one thing clear: He wants his agency to get back to work deciding by year's end whether to reintroduce grizzlies to the North Cascades.

"I’m in support of the Great Bear,” Zinke told a small audience at the North Cascades National Park Headquarters in Sedro-Woolley, Washington.

Cities need to plan ahead to accommodate the growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs). That’s from a Eugene-based manufacturer and a state public policy group. As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, Arcimoto and OSPIRG jointly announced a new report on March 19, 2018.

Last year, 200,000 EVs were sold in the U.S., nearly double the amount sold in 2015. OSPIRG and research partner Frontier Group estimate Eugene could see 12,000 EVs on local roads by 2030.

OSPIRG’s Charlie Fisher says they’re making the case for officials to increase the number of public plugs more than tenfold.

Atlantic salmon farming has been banned from Washington state waters. 

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the ban on non-native fish farms into law Thursday morning in Olympia. 

“These present a risk to our wild salmon runs that we cannot tolerate,” Inslee said.

The move comes eight months after an ill-fated fish farm near Anacortes started to come undone in a strong current on an otherwise calm summer day. The floating farm, owned by New Brunswick, Canada-based Cooke Aquaculture, tore apart a month later, letting as many as 250,000 Atlantic salmon escape into Puget Sound.

Lawmakers Revive Funding For Rural Oregon, But It's No Long-Term Solution

Mar 22, 2018

Members of Oregon's congressional delegation say they've revived funding for an expired federal aid program that provided money to rural counties whose economies relied heavily on federal timber harvesting.

In lieu of timber receipts, counties received federal aid. After 15 years of temporary funding extensions, the money ran out in 2015.

Gray whale sightings are up on the Oregon and Washington coast in recent weeks.

Counts at Oregon’s Whale Watching Center at Depoe Bay have been between five and 10 per day, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, although many more pass the along the coast undetected.

Park ranger Luke Parsons says the actual number of whales passing by on their way from Baja to feeding grounds in the Arctic is relatively typical for this time of year.

Congress appears to be ending a long impasse over how to attack the West's growing wildfire problem.

Negotiators say they've reached a deal to offload the costs of the most catastrophic fire seasons onto the nation's disaster relief budget.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., hailed the deal, calling it "an important step forward" in grappling with wildfire and forest health. He issued a statement just as Congress released the text of the omnibus spending bill that includes the wildfire and forest management provisions.

Federal officials hit a milestone Tuesday for a new program designed to stabilize and grow the populations of two endangered species of sucker fish in the Klamath Basin.

At a calm cove on Upper Klamath Lake, Alan Mikkelsen, senior advisor to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, ceremonially released the first small group of suckers from a new rearing program.

"We got a lake full of food, little guy," he told them.

Mikkelsen upturned a net with three fish and watched the 8-inch juveniles disappear into the murky water.

First responders say they continue to deploy law enforcement and search and rescue teams to rescue hikers entering closed-off areas of the Columbia River Gorge that were damaged in the Eagle Creek Fire.

The U.S. Forest Service says responders continue to be placed at great risk rescuing hikers who ignore barricades and signage in burn-affected areas still at risk of landslides, rockfall and falling trees.

Canadian oil has found a new route to Asia: It’s moving by rail through Washington to a shipping terminal in Portland.

In the long run, Canada wants to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline to move oil from the Alberta tar sands west to British Columbia — and from there onto ships that would travel through the Salish Sea and then onto Asia.

But that expansion has yet to begin. And oil producers have instead begun shipping that oil by rail to Portland and loading it onto vessels for export.

Ocean conditions off the Pacific Northwest seem to be returning to normal after a three-year spike in water temperature.

It’s promising long-term news for fishermen who are looking ahead in the short term to yet another year of low salmon returns.

In Klamath Falls Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order declaring a drought emergency in Klamath County. This is the 11th time a governor has declared drought in the Klamath Basin in the past 16 years.

The governor signed the order, which makes available various types of state assistance to help water users. Brown met with local officials, as well as representatives of the stakeholders who’ve been fighting over the region’s scarce water for years.

Ali Amhaz left Las Vegas on his black Honda motorcycle and rode for Utah. He wanted his $28,000 back.

A month earlier he’d signed up with Legend Solar to put some panels on the roof of his house.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told a Washington lawmaker that his proposal for offshore oil and gas drilling will reflect the "interests of Washington."

"You should know off the coast of Oregon, Washington, most of California, there are no known resources of any weight," Zinke told Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing Tuesday.

Environmental groups are petitioning the federal government to add an Oregon salamander to the federal endangered species list. They say plans to boost logging on federal land are a major concern.

The Siskiyou Mountains salamander lives only in its namesake mountains straddling the Oregon-California border. It lives in damp mossy areas of old growth forest

While the orcas of Puget Sound are sliding toward extinction, orcas farther north have been expanding their numbers. Their burgeoning hunger for big fish may be causing the killer whales' main prey, Chinook salmon, to shrink up and down the West Coast.

Chinook salmon are also known as kings: the biggest of all salmon. They used to grow so enormous that it's hard to believe the old photos now. Fishermen stand next to Chinooks almost as tall as they are, sometimes weighing 100 pounds or more.

Southern Oregon Salmon Fishery May Open Again

Mar 9, 2018

Salmon forecasts are now out, and the organization that sets catch limits for the Pacific Northwest will soon decide what kind of commercial and recreational fishing season is ahead.

Salmon forecasts for the north region are low, but farther south, things are looking somewhat more positive.

Pacific Northwest salmon runs have been hurting the past few year. So much so that the ocean fishery off of Southern Oregon and Northern California was closed in 2017.

Shavon Haynes tromps into a small, quiet clearing in the woods on Mount Ashland. He drops a black pack into the knee-deep snow. He pulls out a snow sampler, two lengths of worn metal pipe and screws them together.

“I've dubbed it Excalibur, because when it's put together it looks like a large sword. And Excalibur is the only sword I really know the name of,” he says.

Haynes works as the Jackson County Watermaster. He plunges Excalibur into a fresh patch of snow, calling out a measurement to his colleague Ben Thorpe.

Supporters of Oregon’s cap and trade bill say their plan isn’t dead yet – even though lawmakers failed to pass it this session.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, and Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, have a plan to revive the controversial bill, which aims to reduce the state's contributions to climate change.

Oysters are a cornerstone of Pacific Northwest cuisine. But there was a time when our region’s oysters were in trouble, all but obliterated by over-harvesting and pollution.

Then a Japanese immigrant helped turn things around.

His name was Masahide Yamashita, and he came to Seattle from Japan in 1902.

“He was only 19 years old,” said Patrick Yamashita, Masahide's grandson. “And I think he came here in part because he didn’t want to get drafted into the army in Japan.”

An environmental group is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to increase protections for a small ground-nesting bird called the streaked horned lark.

The lark once ranged from the grasslands of Southern Oregon north into Canada, but now can only be found in the Willamette Valley and Puget Sound region. It was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2013.

While the orcas of Puget Sound are sliding toward extinction, orcas farther north have been expanding their numbers. Their burgeoning hunger for big fish may be causing the killer whales’ main prey, chinook salmon, to shrink up and down the West Coast.

Chinook salmon are also known as kings: the biggest of all salmon. They used to grow so enormous that it’s hard to believe the old photos now. Fishermen stand next to chinooks almost as tall as they are, sometimes weighing 100 pounds or more.

Lani Estill's family ranches on thousands of acres in Modoc County on the border of Nevada and California. Her operation, Bare Ranch, sits in a place called Surprise Valley. It's a beautiful, almost forgotten place "Where the West still lives" — that's the county's motto.

"We have things going on here that you just don't see going on everywhere in the nation," Estill says. "Cattle are still gathered on horseback. We have cattle drives down the main country road."

It’s been nearly a month since a barrage of hikers overwhelmed the Mount St. Helens online permit system. But starting Monday, those hoping to nab a coveted climbing permit have a second chance.

When permit sales first opened on Feb. 1, it took just 20 minutes for the Mount St. Helens Institute server to malfunction. That’s because nearly 15,000 people — more than three times as many as last year — overloaded the system. 

An industrial mining explosives manufacturing company pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Friday for failing to notify authorities of the release of 13,000 pounds (6.6 tons) of ammonia into the air at its St. Helens plant.

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