EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

More than 100 people attended a Forest Service community meeting in John Day Tuesday to discuss last summer’s Canyon Creek Fire.

Many residents in Grant County still have questions or bitterness about the massive Canyon Creek fire that destroyed 43 homes. Agency leaders said the meeting was necessary for the community to heal, and they wanted to give residents a chance to voice questions. And people did have questions.

A new study finds the West is likely to see slower-growing Douglas fir trees in the future, as temperatures and droughts increase with climate change.

Researchers with the University of California-Davis took core samples from 122 Douglas fir trees across the region to measure how fast the trees grew over a 91-year period.

The results clearly show that the trees grew more slowly in drought years, according to researcher Christina Restaino.

Just days after the Bureau of Land Management finalized two forestry plans for Oregon, conservation and timber interests have each filed lawsuits in federal court.

The Western Oregon plans will govern how forests are managed for the coming decades – including what land will be logged and what will be set aside to protect water quality and endangered species habitat.

More than 20 fires were sparked in eastern Oregon over the weekend — mostly in Baker and Malheur counties.

Though only four of those fires were significant in size, said Robyn Broyles with the National Interagency Fire Center, a majority were caused by lightning strikes throughout the Northwest.

"There's quite a bit of lightning that came in to our general area that came up from the southwest and spread northwest coming across Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oregon," said Broyles. "Essentially a lightning pattern came across the corners of those states."

The Bureau of Land Management on Friday finalized two plans to manage more than 2 million acres of public land in western Oregon. These forests, once owned by the Oregon and California Railroad, have been particularly controversial because counties have traditionally relied on them for logging income to fund local services.

Nestle’s plans to build a commercial water bottling plant in another Northwest town is stirring up more controversy. Waitsburg, Washington's mayor resigned this week amid accusations of backroom deals and protests of the plan by many area residents.

Nestle wants to build a water bottling plant in the Northwest. It first looked to Cascade Locks, Oregon, but voters in Hood County effectively blocked that plan.

If you live in an apartment complex in the greater Seattle area, you might open your door this summer and find a pair of college students in green polos on your front step. They won’t try to get you to vote, buy their wares or convert you. They just want you to recycle.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden says Canada is tipping the scales for its lumber companies by undercharging them for publicly-owned timber.

As a result, the Oregon Democrat says, Canadian companies have an unfair advantage over U.S. lumber producers — especially in the Northwest.

But Canadian leaders disagree. The two countries have fought over the issue for decades. They’re currently renegotiating a 2006 agreement that expired last year.

A fire near Crater Lake grew to more than 700 acres Tuesday and is 12 percent contained. But the national park is still open.

Visitors to Crater Lake National Park have been asked to get ready to evacuate in case the Bybee Creek Fire makes a big run. But at this point, most roads and visitor services remain open. You can still camp there, or even take a boat ride on Crater Lake.

Lucinda Nolan, public information officer with the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership, says weather will play a big role in the firefighters’ progress.

Washington environmental regulators will soon find out if their new water-quality rule is good enough for the Environmental Protection Agency.

The fish consumption rule, as it’s called, sets tougher limits on how much toxic pollution cities and businesses can discharge into lakes, rivers and marine waters.

Since floods closed a rail line through the Coast Range in 2007, people have looked to build a trail — spanning from Banks in Washington County to the city of Tillamook — in its place.

A board of state, county and tribal officials is tackling the costs, land ownership and other issues before the so-called Salmonberry Trail can be completed and opened.

A Portland company has received state backing to perfect using a solar technology to clean farm and factory pollution.

State research investors with Oregon BEST believe Portland-based Focal Technologies has a promising technology based on using the sun's rays to clean up contaminated water.

The idea is not new, according to commercialization director at Oregon BEST, Ken Vaughn. He said scientists have long worked to use solar energy to purify water.

Thick black smoke that spewed from a derailed oil train burning in Mosier, Oregon, was not the visual Vancouver Port Commissioner Jerry Oliver wanted in people’s minds.

“It was unfortunate for the community," Oliver said. "It’s also unfortunate because it gives a tremendous black eye to anything related to fossil fuels.”

Oliver has been a vocal supporter of what would be the largest oil-by-trail terminal in the country, known as the Vancouver Energy Project. It’s controversial, to the point Oliver said he’s even lost friends over his stance.

Washington’s Attorney General said Friday that he is opposed to a proposal to build the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver, Wash.

“Protecting the environment and public safety are top priorities of my office,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement. “The bottom line is that the potential benefits of this project are dramatically outweighed by the potential risks and costs of a spill.”

Washington state regulators have issued a $176 million fine against Volkswagen for violating air quality laws by equipping diesel cars with software programmed to cheat emissions tests.

Volkswagen deceived more than 21,000 customers in Washington and 13,000 in Oregon who bought vehicles made from 2009-16 that emitted high levels of air pollutants linked with asthma attacks and premature death from respiratory or cardiovascular disease.

For the last five weeks, Washington’s energy council has conducted a trial-like review of the Vancouver Energy Project. Those proceedings end with a public hearing Friday.

A judge has presided over what's known as the adjudicative portion of the energy council's review process. Proponents have been able to make their case for the oil terminal, while opponents have made their arguments too. There’s even been cross examinations as both sides have strived to depict the dangers or benefits of the oil terminal.

A recent independent investigation into Portland Public Schools’ handling of high lead levels in school drinking water forced Superintendent Carole Smith’s retirement. But it also revealed deeper problems: a school district where management practices were even more deficient than the aging schools kids attend every day.

It's a problem all-too-familiar to the people responsible for making sure our schools are safe, every day.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, warning that “we are the last generation” that can combat climate change, is featured in a video produced by filmmaker James Cameron for airing Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention.

The 5 1/2-minute video portrays climate change as a slow-moving disaster movie, replete with scenes of devastation from hurricanes, floods, drought and wildfires.

After last month's fiery oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge, federal regulators put the blame on Union Pacific Road for failing to maintain its track.

Soon questions arose about the railroad's safety record. Watchdog groups compared Union Pacific's track maintenance standards to those employed by BNSF Railway, the West's other major carrier, which also runs oil trains through the Columbia Gorge. (BNSF's tracks run along the Washington side of the river.)

Wild Horse Advocates Sue BLM Over Spay Procedures

Jul 26, 2016

An advocacy organization has announced it will sue the Bureau of Land Management over proposed spaying procedures for wild horses in eastern Oregon.

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