Environment

Environment & Planning

Hottest Summer on Record for Eugene

Sep 17, 2014
Schin Haakenson / Inciweb

Eugene experienced its hottest summer on record this year. The area saw 34 days of 90 degree temperatures or higher. The old record was set in 1958. On average, only about 12 days of 90 degree temperatures are expected, according to Clinton Rocky with the National Weather Service in Portland.

“We just lost our good classic onshore flow that brought us those morning clouds. This year not the case. So instead, we got the warm days plus we got all those obnoxious warm nights where the temperature sometimes had a hard time getting back down under 60 degrees.”

Coos County

The Oregon Health Authority has issued an advisory due to high levels of blue-green algae in Tenmile Lakes south of Reedsport. The toxins in the water can be harmful to humans and animals.

David Farrer is a toxicologist with the Oregon Health Authority.
He says people, especially children and pets, should avoid any contact with the water of Tenmile Lakes. Farrer says the blue-green algae produces the same toxin that led authorities in Toledo, Ohio to place a municipal ban on drinking water last month.

Danny Didricksen

Flash floods this August swept mud, debris, and ash through north-central Washington. All that gunk has created an unusual problem for farmers and migratory fish.

Farmers usually install screens on the end of irrigation pipes to prevent clogs. Those screens also keep fish from being sucked out of the water and into farmers’ fields. But fish screens do little good when they get inundated with debris and mud.

Danny Didricksen is with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. He says crews have been working non-stop to help unclog fish screens.

The Oregonian

A 2 thousand acre wildfire near Estacada is creating unhealthy air quality in many parts of Oregon. The Department of Environmental Quality says the impacted areas range from Portland to the Southern Willamette Valley and will likely continue until Wednesday morning. DEQ spokesman Greg Svelund  says if people need to know the air quality in their area, sometimes it's best to look outside.

www.bringrecycling.org

Passive solar. LED lighting. Urban gardens. This weekend, BRING Recycling's Home and Garden Tour in Eugene highlights sustainable design and low-impact construction.

Julie Daniel is the Executive Director of BRING. She says the tour started as a showcase for re-used materials. Over six years, it's expanded:

Daniel: "There's more than one new building on the tour this year. Some are still under construction. There's a net zero home, which is a home that uses no energy, it actually returns more energy than it uses to the grid, including charging their electric car."

Inciweb

Hot, dry, windy weather is forecast for the next few days in Oregon. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag warning for most of the state.

Matthew Cullin is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. He says the most of the state will be at risk for fires to spark and grow rapidly through Saturday.

Cullin: "Most notably it's hot and it's very dry. The relative humilities are going to be very low which promotes fire growth, if you were to have a spark, it would rapidly be able to start a fire. So, along with that, we have quite gusty winds."

Stephen Baboi / Earthfix

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The landmark environmental law requires that wilderness areas remain roadless and untrammeled by people. As part of our series on the law, EarthFix reporter Cassandra Profita visited a proposed wilderness area in the southeast corner of Oregon. She explains why it's harder to create wilderness now than it was half a century ago.
 

Hansen: "Echo!"

Chris Hansen calls out into a desert canyon in Southeast Oregon's Leslie Gulch.

Hansen: "Hello!"

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

Scientists say whitebark pines are one of the Northwest’s most iconic and ecologically important trees — the majority of which are found in rugged wilderness.

Wilderness areas are preserves where human disturbances are outlawed. And yet, whitebark pines face the possibility of extinction. And many of the tree’s threats are connected to human-caused climate change.

The Wilderness Act Part I: The Legacy Of Wilderness

Sep 2, 2014
David Steves / Earthfix

When you consider how long mountains, forests and deserts have been a part of the American landscape, 50 years is the blink of an eye.

But it’s something of a milestone when a law protecting these places turns 50. That’s happening this week.

To kick off our series on Wilderness, David Steves from our EarthFix team hiked into Washington’s Cascade Mountains. He brings us this report on what a half-century of wilderness protection has meant for a place called the Goat Rocks.

Rachael McDonald

A teen from Eugene has taken her activism on the road. KLCC’s Rachael McDonald spoke with her by phone as she walks across the U.S. in the Great March for Climate Action.

Study To Show Return For Fall Chinook On Siuslaw River

Aug 22, 2014
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

This fall, biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will capture adult Chinook salmon in the Siuslaw River near Mapleton. It's part of a study to estimate this year's return. The last time a study this extensive was conducted was 8 years ago.

Wikimedia Commons

A Britain-based company is making preliminary moves that could lead to a 4-thousand-acre open-pit nickel mine being established in the headwaters of the Smith and Illinois Rivers in southwest Oregon. The firm says it’s at the beginning of a long process of evaluating whether such a mine would even pencil out. But opponents in Oregon and California are taking no chances and, they’re going all-out to kill it in the cradle.

Barbara Ullian minces no words.

Barbara Ullian: “The best time to stop a mine is before it starts.”

WillametteRiverkeeper.org

About 200 canoeists and kayakers are floating the Willamette River Monday to learn about its history, ecology, and some of the issues that affect water quality.

The 14th annual "Paddle Oregon" trip starts in Corvallis and concludes Friday in Canby. Participants camp at a variety of parks, and private farms along the way and dine on local foods. Travis Williams is the Executive Director for the environmental group Willamette Riverkeeper. He says this year for the first two days they will be joined by the Grande Ronde Tribes Canoe Family.

Rachael McDonald

The City of Springfield's efforts to expand their Urban Growth Boundary to a rural area near Mount Pisgah have hit a snag. The largest landowners on Seavey Loop Road have changed their stance from neutral to opposed to the city's plans.

Bob Straub started acquiring land on Seavey Loop in the 1950s. The late Oregon governor's grandson manages the 56 acres with his sisters.

Straub: "My grandfather liked the idea of preserving the land for farming use. He always felt a close connection to the farming community."

Amelia Templeton / Earthfix

The plaintiffs are residents of Cedar Valley, a community near Gold Beach that was accidentally sprayed in October by a helicopter applying pesticides to nearby timberland.

The state recently handed down a fine and revoked the company’s license. But resident John Burns says that’s not enough.

Burns: “The state laws in effect have not done anything for us and we have been violated. Our civil and constitutional rights have been violated. Our property, our animals, livelihood, our health. Everything has been violated.”

Wikimedia Commons

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to oppose the designation of a National Marine Sanctuary in Oregon coastal waters.
 

washingtondnr.wordpress.com

Oregon’s highway system has about 35 thousand culverts built in to allow safe passage for fish. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, about one third of those are in poor condition and need to be replaced. But funding those repairs has become difficult as ODOT’s budget continues to experience shortfalls. An agreement between ODOT and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife could be a solution.

Seneca Sustainable Energy

A Eugene based environmental watchdog group has filed a federal complaint against the Lane County Air Protection Agency, or LRAPA, over its decision to allow a biomass plant to increase its emissions.

Inciweb

Crews are using a firm hand to keep a pair of small wildfires in the Willamette National Forest southeast of Oakridge from growing. The Staley Complex is just over 100 acres but it's in steep, rugged terrain which is hard for firefighters to access. Fire spokesman Peter Frenzen says the blazes were sparked by lightning.

Oregon Military Dept.

Wildfires in the West are getting bigger, hotter – and more costly. A new report from a national science advocacy group says climate change is one major reason wildfires are getting worse. And short-sighted development policies are a big reason they’re costing more.

Inciweb

Smoke from southern Oregon wildfires is making its way to the Willamette Valley and the central Cascades. That's what's creating hazy conditions. But state regulators say air quality is good for the Eugene-Springfield area. It's rated moderate in the Bend area.

Clinton Rocky is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. He says the hazy skies should stick around through Tuesday.

Devan Schwartz / Earthfix

A controversial method of logging is being tested on a Bureau of Land Management forest in Southern Oregon. The idea is to remove trees in the same way nature does. It’s being touted as a model for the Pacific Northwest.

Critics say it’s just a new twist on the same old problem: too much logging and not enough environmental protection.

Steep hillsides slant toward a bright blue sky. This section of forest, known as the Buck Rising site, is a checkboard landscape. It ranges from intact forests, to stands of thinned trees, to clearcuts.

National Geographic

A fox found near a residence in Junction City has tested positive for rabies. It’s the first confirmed Oregon case of an animal with the disease this year.  Lane County Public Health says this is the first report of a rabid fox in Lane County since the 1960’s. The animal was tested and confirmed for rabies at the O-S-U Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Corvallis. Rabies, endemic in the bat population, is only rarely seen in foxes, especially in the U.S. It’s a viral disease, carried in the saliva of an infected animal, transmitted when the animal bites.

Eugene Passes Climate Ordinance

Jul 29, 2014
City of Eugene

Advocates of a climate reduction plan say Eugene is the first city in the country to put its carbon reduction targets into law. The City Council Monday passed the Climate Recovery Ordinance with a 6 to 2 vote.

The proposal includes a plan to reduce the city's output of greenhouse gasses, monitor progress, and requires the city manager to bring back a community carbon reduction goal. Councilor Alan Zelenka proposed the ordinance, but he credits young people for pushing for action on climate change.

Eugene City Council To Vote On Climate Change Ordinance

Jul 28, 2014
City of Eugene

The Eugene City Council is set to vote on a Climate Recovery Ordinance tonight. The proposal includes a plan to reduce the city's output of greenhouse gasses, monitor progress, and requires the city manager to bring back a community gas reduction goal. Councilor Alan Zelenka proposed the ordinance. He says the majority of Eugenians showed support for the measure during the public comment period last week.

Angela Kellner

The fire that destroyed a Springfield mill a week ago likely also caused a fish die-off in the nearby millrace.

Oregon Department of Forestry

The 93,000 acres of a state forest on the south Oregon coast could be sold to private timber companies.

That’s one option being considered by Oregon’s Department of State Lands, which says the forest drains millions of dollars from a trust fund that supports public education.

The Elliott State Forest has been a losing proposition for the state of Oregon. Annual management costs are about $3 million dollars more than what it brings in by selling trees to timber companies.

Update - Warning To Avoid Willamette River Lifted

Jul 20, 2014

Lane County Emergency Management has been notified by the Department of Environmental Quality the lab results for the water samples taken from the confluence of the Springfield Mill Race and Willamette River at Island Park down to Alton Baker Park do not show any past or present public health threat.  The advisory to stay out of the water has been canceled as of Sunday (7/20)  morning.

An abnormal number of fish deaths prompted the State of Oregon to warn people from eating the fish or going in the water Friday. The cause of the fish deaths is still unknown.

Earthfix

Bandon residents continue to have mosquito problem. Another round of larvicide was applied Sunday by air to a section of the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

Residents living near the marsh started noticing a drastic increase in mosquitoes last year. Coos County officials approved the use of the larvicide Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, or Bti, to deal with the problem. Bti is designed to gum-up mosquito's digestive systems after they hatch but before they become adults. Environmental Health Manager Rick Hallmark says the timing of a Bti application is crucial.

The Oso Mudslides: Lessons For Oregon

Jul 14, 2014

Meeting Date: July 11, 2014

Air Date: July 14, 2014

Landslides are intrinsic to the geology of the Pacific Northwest. Many natural features of this region resulted from slides triggered by weather or seismic activity. Less than 4 months ago, about 350 miles from Eugene, a massive landslide was hard to miss.

Pages