EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Idaho has the distinction of dropping the farthest in ranking in the 2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Lead author on the report Annie Downs attributed Idaho’s decline to “not keeping up with peers in utility spending and savings.”

The Washington State Department of Ecology is working to update the state’s fish consumption levels. Plans are to release a draft plan soon for public comment.

They range from 125 grams to 225 grams per day; the current standards are based on 6.5 grams.

The proposed higher standards are based on the diets of some coastal Native Americans.

The standards under consideration would require reducing pollution discharges by 50 percent to 97 percent.

Gilchrist State Forest May Expand By 29,000 Acres

Nov 7, 2013

The Oregon Department of Forestry is seeking public input about a property acquisition that could incorporate 29,000 acres into the Gilchrist State Forest.

The 60-day public comment period began Nov. 5 and will close Jan. 3. A public hearing will be Dec. 5 in Klamath Falls, according to an ODF press release.

The proposed acquisition includes a 3,000-acre parcel privately owned by Central Oregon Land Holdings and a 25,453-acre parcel owned by the Conservation Fund, the press release said. Both properties are adjacent to the Gilchrist State Forest.

(Editor’s note: EarthFix Field Notes are reporters’ personal impressions and experiences from their coverage of the Pacific Northwest. In this entry, Idaho-based Producer Aaron Kunz takes a close look at water’s scenic value, its importance to the economy, and its function as the veins and arteries of southern Idaho’s arid sagebrush steppe.)

Editor's note: Check back for updates on this story later today.

Whatcom County, in northwestern Washington, had four seats up for grab on their seven member county council, members who will eventually vote on permits for the largest coal export terminal proposed for the West Coast.

ICYMI: Caves, Climate And Creatures

Nov 6, 2013

In case you missed it, a roundup of some of the interesting Northwest environmental news stories (from our team and others) in October.

A Week For Polar Bears, Too

Nov 5, 2013

First there was Shark Week. Now conservation group Polar Bears International is hoping to bring the same fame (and awareness) to the snow white bears with Polar Bear Week.

Are 'Megaloads' In E. Oregon's Future?

Nov 4, 2013

JOHN DAY – Industrial hauler Omega Morgan, at the heart of a controversial “megaload” project in Idaho, is eyeing U.S. Highway 395 through Eastern Oregon as a possible route for at least three oversized shipments, starting in late November.

Crews were in John Day, Mt. Vernon and other sites along the highway last week, measuring intersections and checking power line locations to see how the route might work.

A Fashionable Climate Model

Nov 4, 2013

Some clever and well-dressed scientists are using a pun to spur some fun educational outreach.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and Washington Governor Jay Inslee set ambitious goals when they signed a regional climate change agreement last week with the leaders of California and British Columbia.

But the governors can't reach those goals without their state legislatures, and both governors face legislative roadblocks to upholding the agreement – particularly when it comes to putting a price or a cap on carbon emissions.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will soon help advise the White House on how to respond to the effects of climate change. President Barack Obama appointed Inslee Friday to a task force that includes governors, mayors and tribal officials.

The group will advise the federal government on climate issues like increasing wildfires and ocean acidification, and extreme heat waves. Obama first mentioned establishing the task force in a speech on climate change this June.

Feasting On "Trash Fish" For Sustainability

Nov 1, 2013

When commercial fishermen go out to catch salmon, halibut or black cod, they also bring in some other, lesser-known species.

Wolf eel, sand dab, and skate wing can be delicious, too. But they’re usually thrown out because nobody wants to buy them. Hence, these “trash fish” get wasted even though they could be served on a white tablecloth and paired with wine.

A malodorous invasive bug has gone from a worry to a certifiable nuisance for some Northwest farmers and gardeners. The name of this insect is a mouthful: the brown marmorated stink bug.

Researchers say the population really seems to have taken off this year. With the approach of winter, these stink bugs are leaving the fields and may just crawl into your home.

"A little bit like sweaty socks"

SEATTLE -- The state agency that's leading the cleanup of Puget Sound has released its latest annual report on the health of Puget Sound.

Last year Puget Sound Partnership referred to the Sound as a patient in “critical condition.” This year things don’t look much better.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- The polar regions of the world have long been a source of awe and wonder.

But that inspiration often comes second hand. Most of us won’t see these places up close with our own eyes.

Instead we rely on photographers, filmmakers, painters and writers who journey to far flung frozen lands to capture their extreme nature and raw beauty.

First 'Farm To School' Census

Oct 30, 2013

As October winds down, so does this year’s National Farm To School Month. In 2010 Congress passed the resolution formally recognizing the annual celebration.

The USDA describes the ‘movement’ on their website:

Wildlife biologists fitted a pair of young wolves from the Umatilla River pack with GPS collars after the animals were inadvertently trapped Oct. 26 in a forested area east of Weston.

The pups, born in April, were on private land when caught in separate foot-hold traps by a licensed trapper who intended to trap coyotes, according to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said the trapper followed regulations and immediately reported the situation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A dried-out 3-mile-stretch of creek in central Washington will soon swell again with water. It’s part of a project near Ellensburg to pipe irrigation water from the Yakima River to keep water in the creek for salmon and steelhead.