Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

Earthfix
9:25 pm
Sun April 12, 2015

NW Forestland Could Be Leased For Geothermal Development

Geologists Dave Tucker (left) and Pete Stelling (right) at the Mount Baker hot springs in Washington's Cascade Mountains. The Forest Service says the springs will not be disturbed, but they are within the large tract of federal land that could one day be open for geothermal development.

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 10:13 am

The volcanic ridges of the Cascades have long been poked and prodded by people who want to know what kind of geothermal energy they'll find beneath the surface.

But many of the Northwest's hot spots are on public lands. And in some cases, federal land managers have prevented access by companies seeking to convert that magmatic force into clean electricity.

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Earthfix
4:07 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Oregon River Guides Expect Plenty Of Whitewater, In Spite Of Lousy Snowpack

Fish and fisheries will be better off with the removal of dams on the Klamath, reports conclude. They also say Whitewater rafting will decline in the Hell’s Corner reach of the Klamath.

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 8:16 am

A snowpack that is less than 20 percent of the normal amount has farmers and ranchers in southern Oregon worried, but the region’s rafting guides say in spite of the limited snowfall they expect to have plenty of water to float on this summer.

Pete Wallstrom, a guide and owner of Momentum River Expeditions, says he’s getting lots of calls from clients wondering if they should cancel their trips on Oregon’s iconic Rogue River due to drought.

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NPR Story
1:14 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Mt. Hood Snowpack At Record Low Ahead Of Final Measurement Thursday

The snow water equivalent percent of normal represents the current snow water equivalent found at selected SNOTEL sites in or near the basin compared to the average value for those sites on this day. Data based on first reading of the day.

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 10:18 pm

This is the time of year when mountain snowpacks are usually at their deepest. But as of last week, three quarters of Oregon’s long-term snow monitoring sites had the lowest snowpack levels on record. On Mt. Hood, the final snow survey of the season will be conducted Thursday.

Julie Koeberle is a Snow Hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. She sat down with OPB’s Kate Davidson to talk about the year’s snowpack and what lies ahead.

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NPR Story
11:20 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Portland Planning Board Approves Propane Terminal But Adds Climate Fee

Hundreds turned out for a hearing on a controversial propane export terminal proposed at the Port of Portland.

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 8:52 am

The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission did not reject a controversial propane export terminal as opponents urged it to do on Tuesday.

Instead, the board voted 6-4 to recommend a zone change and a carbon fee. The recommendation goes to the Portland City Council for final approval.

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Earthfix
9:32 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Wildlife Officials Consider Endangered Listing For Spotted Owl

Spotted Owl

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 3:55 pm

The Northwest’s most iconic bird could get a conservation boost in the coming years.

On Wednesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing it will review the protection status of the Northern Spotted Owl. The result could be an endangered species listing.

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NPR Story
1:38 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Puget Sound Tribe's Lawsuit Aims To Keep Oil Trains Off Its Reservation

Tank cars carrying petroleum crude oil are stationed at BNSF Railway's Willbridge Yard in Northwest Portland. The train come into Portland through the Columbia River Gorge, headed for a terminal in Clatskanie, Oregon.

The Swinomish Tribe has filed a lawsuit against BNSF Railway to stop oil trains from traveling through its reservation.

BNSF train tracks cross the top of the Swinomish Reservation in Skagit County. In recent years they’ve been used to move oil from North Dakota to two refineries in Anacortes.

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NPR Story
5:33 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Managers Likely To Cancel West Coast Sardine Fishery

A sardine boom that peaked in 2007 has apparently gone bust. The population is so low this year, managers may not be able to open a fishery.

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 7:38 am

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has yet to make the final call, but initial reports indicate there aren't enough fish to open a sardine fishery on the West Coast this year.

That's bad news for several fishing towns in Oregon and Washington, where the majority of the West Coast sardines were landed in the past several years, and where some processors focus primarily on sardines.

The latest population estimates show sardines have fallen below the 150,000 metric ton cutoff for opening a West Coast fishery.

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Earthfix
10:46 am
Mon April 6, 2015

As Region Gets Drier, States Gear Up For Fire Season

Scientists at the Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference in Seattle said modeling suggests large wildfires are increasingly likely to occur going forward.

Wildland firefighters from around the region will gather Tuesday in Vancouver to prepare for the upcoming fire season.

Drought and dry conditions around the Pacific Northwest are raising concerns that this fire season could be brutal.

Washington state has already declared drought in three regions.

The Oregon Drought Council approved three additional counties, and following approval from Gov. Kate Brown, it would expand the number of counties seeking assistance to five.

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NPR Story
10:25 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Climate Group Launches Initiative For A Carbon Tax In Washington

The Washington Capitol in Olympia, where Gov. Jay Inslee will have to keep working to convince Republican lawmakers before he can succeed in pushing his climate-change agenda.

If you’re at the Seattle Mariners season opener Monday you might run into some folks with clipboards, gathering signatures for a newly-announced initiative for 2016 that would tax carbon emissions.

The circulation of petitions to put Initiative 732 on the 2016 ballot signals a new strategy that may come into play if Gov. Jay Inslee and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are unable to pass their own carbon cap-and-trade proposal.

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NPR Story
7:27 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Climate Activists Launch Initiative For A Carbon Tax In Washington

The Washington Capitol in Olympia, where Gov. Jay Inslee will have to keep working to convince Republican lawmakers before he can succeed in pushing his climate-change agenda.

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 9:09 am

If you’re at the Seattle Mariners season opener Monday you might run into some folks with clipboards, gathering signatures for a newly-announced initiative for 2016 that would tax carbon emissions.

The circulation of petitions to put Initiative 732 on the 2016 ballot signals a new strategy that may come into play if Gov. Jay Inslee and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are unable to pass their own carbon cap-and-trade proposal.

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NPR Story
10:47 pm
Sun April 5, 2015

Group Launches Initiative For A Carbon Tax In Washington

The Washington Capitol in Olympia, where Gov. Jay Inslee will have to keep working to convince Republican lawmakers before he can succeed in pushing his climate-change agenda.

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 7:08 am

If you’re at the Seattle Mariners season opener Monday you might run into some folks with clipboards, gathering signatures for a newly-announced initiative for 2016 that would tax carbon emissions.

The circulation of petitions to put Initiative 732 on the 2016 ballot signals a new strategy that may come into play if Gov. Jay Inslee and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are unable to pass their own carbon-tax proposal.

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NPR Story
3:23 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

Siuslaw Hairy-Necked Beetle

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 9:55 am

One of the rarest beetles in the world lives right here in Oregon. Its home is just a few patches of sand, each no more than a few hundred yards long. What do they need to survive? Apparently, they need bulldozers. Dune-clearing intended for the threatened snowy plover seems to be helping this rare tiger beetle hold on to survival.

Xerces Society

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NPR Story
1:05 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Could Seattle's Tunnel Deliver Salmon Salvation?

In the Northwest, fisheries managers move salmon around dams using trucks and cannons. Why not a tunnel under the city of Seattle?

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 8:56 am

The tunneling machine known as Bertha has been stuck beneath the Seattle waterfront since December, 2013, stalling construction and racking up millions in cost overruns.

One local engineering firm has a fresh idea for the fumbling tunneling project: Instead of moving Subarus through the heart of the city, the tunnel should be used by salmon.

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Earthfix
4:56 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Orcas Spotted Off Oregon Coast

Orca calf spotted off the Washington Coast last week of February 2015.

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 1:56 pm

Even orcas head south for spring break. L- and K-pod ocras made their way to Cape Disappointment off the Oregon Coast, according to NOAA Fisheries West Coast — Science and Management on its Facebook page.

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NPR Story
12:03 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Environmental Update on Cormorants and Sea Lions

Sea lions rest on top of one another on a dock in Astoria's East Mooring Basin.

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 6:56 am

We'll hear from our EarthFix reporter, Cassandra Profita, to get some of the latest environmental news, including:

Copyright 2015 ERTHFX. To see more, visit .

Earthfix
4:36 pm
Sun March 29, 2015

Why There's More Concern For Farmworkers After Pesticide Cancer Study

Farmers all over the world use tractors to apply herbicides like glyphosate to their fields.

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 4:36 pm

Few people come into contact with farm chemicals the way agricultural workers do. That's why a new health report on a commonly used herbicide is raising special concerns about farmworkers and cancer.

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Earthfix
4:28 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Ranchers, Government Agree To Expand Sage Grouse Conservation in Oregon

A male sage grouse inflates the air sac in his chest as part of a mating dance.

Sage grouse used to roam all over Central and Eastern Oregon.

“It made its home in a variety of different areas, and flew across these landscapes sometimes so thick that it darkened the sky,” said U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Jewell, along with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, visited Bend, Oregon, Friday to announce a plan to help bring greater sage grouse numbers back to the state's sagebrush landscape.

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Earthfix
5:15 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Hungry Sea Lions Pile Into The Columbia River

The latest sea lion count in Astoria's East Mooring Basin was a record 2,340, shattering last year's record 1,420.

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 10:38 am

California sea lions are literally piling into Astoria's East Mooring Basin. They've taken over every square foot of the boat docks, and they're even lying on top of each other for lack of space.

The latest sea lion count in the marina tallied a record 2,340 – a "mind-boggling number," according to Bryan Wright of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Meanwhile California is seeing starving sea lion pups washing up on shore.

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NPR Story
3:30 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Japan's Earthquake: Lessons For Oregon

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 4:33 pm

Over the last 25 years, Oregon Field Guide has documented the evolution in understanding the earthquake threat Oregon faces. Scientists now think there’s a 1 in 3 chance of a magnitude 8 or 9 earthquake striking off our coast within the next 50 years. But what can we do about it? Can we better prepare?

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NPR Story
3:29 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Environmental Prize Winner Sees More Americans Accepting Climate Science

Humpback whale calf off the Atlantic coast.

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 1:52 pm

Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco has been given the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, a major international environmental science award.

The award, announced Tuesday, honored Lubchenco for her long career building and promoting lines of connections between ocean health and community health.

Lubchenco's work has carried her from the laboratory and classroom to the highest levels of public policy administration.

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