EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Second Portland Glass-Maker Suspends Use Of Cadmium

Feb 9, 2016

A second glass-making company in Portland has voluntarily suspended its use of cadmium in response to tests showing elevated levels of the metal in nearby moss.

Uroboros Glass in North Portland announced Thursday it would stop making red, yellow and orange glass colors because they rely on the use of cadmium, a heavy metal that can raise the risk of lung cancer at elevated levels of exposure.

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In December, Congress adjourned without passing legislation to ratify a trio of agreements meant to end the long-standing water wars in the Klamath Basin. This essentially killed the deal, which was arrived at through years of painstaking negotiations between farmers, ranchers, tribes and other groups.

Now, there’s a move to demolish four dams on the Klamath River through a separate regulatory process, bypassing the need for Congressional approval. This unexpected turn could shape the ongoing Klamath saga.

Oregon conservation groups say volunteers are lining up to help reverse damage done to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during the ongoing occupation.

At the end of January, the Oregon Natural Desert Association put out a call for volunteers interested in doing environmental restoration at the refuge after the occupation is over. In just a week, more than 600 people from all over the Northwest have signed up.

Watch Now: Discovering Valhalla

Feb 4, 2016

Oregon Field Guide assembles its largest, most complex expedition ever to take you on an unparalleled adventure of discovery. They travel deep into the wilderness to explore and bring back the first images of a hidden geologic wonder right here in Oregon.

Related Content: Go Behind The Scenes Of OPB's Toughest Shoot

A glass facility in Southeast Portland has suspended the use of cadmium and arsenic in its operations after testing found unhealthy levels of those metals in the air nearby.

Since construction workers discovered prehistoric mammoth bones under the end zone of Oregon State University's football stadium last week, thousands of extinct animal bones and fragments have been excavated.

But one last pile of dirt is still being explored by university students in an extraordinary on-campus assignment.

Secret's Out! Have You Been To Valhalla?

Feb 3, 2016

This summer, Oregon Field Guide documented Valhalla, a half-mile gorge in the massive Mount Jefferson Wilderness. The rugged destination includes a slot canyon and is home to beautiful glades and jaw-dropping waterfalls.

Eugene-based birder Noah Strycker just completed his "Big Year." That's what birders call an attempt to rack up the largest number of bird species sightings in one year within a certain geographical area. Strycker's area? The world. He traveled to 41 countries in 2015 and saw or heard 6,042 species of birds. The previous world record was 4,341. Think Out Loud interviewed Strycker. Here are six things we learned:

1. Just planning the complicated logistics of this trip took more than four months. But it sounds like it paid off.

For decades, a growing number of consumers have turned to organic produce as a healthier alternative to vegetables and fruits grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

It turns out that organic crops are better suited for farmlands subjected to drought conditions, according to a study published today in the the journal Nature Plants.

The state inspector thought his visit to Odessa, Washington, would be routine: a knock on the door, a chat with the operators, a look around the corrugated metal warehouse where they ran a biodiesel plant.

But when Jerry French arrived at the TransMessis Columbia Plateau facility in eastern Washington this past March, the door was locked. It seemed abandoned, but he could see chemical drums inside through the windows.

It just didn’t look right, he thought.

After getting the door unlocked, French discovered the mess.

Oregon and California have struck a deal with PacifiCorp and federal regulators on a new path to removing four aging dams on the Klamath River without congressional approval.

The move was hailed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the Obama administration as a key step forward after years of delays in implementing a landmark agreement designed to resolve ongoing conflicts over water.

"Oregon is moving forward in the Klamath Basin," she said in an statement. "We can't afford to sit back and wait for another crisis to batter these communities."

Following the militant occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the Obama administration is weighing whether to move forward with a huge land conservation proposal in an Oregon county that has drawn strong local opposition.

A decision by President Barack Obama to protect up to 2.5 million acres surrounding the remote Owyhee Canyonlands could help cement his legacy for protecting the country’s wild lands.

Capturing Valhalla: OPB's Toughest Shoot

Jan 30, 2016

In the summer of 2015, OPB’s Oregon Field Guide and a team of highly skilled canyoneers embarked on a journey to explore Valhalla — an uncharted gorge hidden in the Oregon wilderness.

The expedition was a dream come true for crewmembers who have spent their lives working in and exploring the outdoors. It would prove to be the most challenging project in Oregon Field Guide’s 27-year history.

Descending Into Uncharted Territory

Jan 30, 2016

For most of the crew, a nearly 100-foot waterfall crashing down moss- and fern-covered rock was an awe-striking symbol of the journey ahead. The previously uncharted falls boomed through their bodies; the echo carried far past their sight and off into the mysterious canyon.

Discovering Oregon's Secret Canyon

Jan 30, 2016

The forest is a lush green, tangled with downed logs and whips of vine maple. Mike Malone calls out to the hikers behind him.

“Watch out, there’s devil's club right here,” he says, pointing to the spiny shrub near his path.

Malone and his companions are pushing their way through miles of rough terrain. It is a tossup if the forest is preferable to the icy cold stream. But crossing through both are necessary to get to Valhalla.

Park officials are partially crediting the record number of Crater Lake National Park visitors last year with a low snowpack that opened roads and facilities earlier.

The Bulletin reports a news release from the park shows visitation up 13.5 percent compared to 2014, at 664,000 visitors in 2015.

The park has been closely tracking visitors for 25 years.

Last winter's low snowpack allowed the park's roads and facilities to open earlier in the spring.

It might be the best classroom assignment professor Loren Davis’ students will ever get.

On Friday, Davis directed his anthropology students to dig through a pile of soil excavated from the school’s football field, where workers recently discovered the remains of an ancient mammoth.

They spent the afternoon searching for extinct animal bones and fragments and learning how to identify them.

Anthropology student Annie-Rose Eaton said it's the first time she's done any excavating.

One of the most distinctive sounds in mountainous regions of the Northwest is the territorial honk of the American pika. Their call kind of sounds like a duck accidentally ate a dog’s squeaky toy.

Climate change has long been considered a threat to the small mammal.

“We’ve long suspected that the American pika… vulnerable to changing climate. So we wanted to dig in to learn more about what kinds of factors were pushing them towards extinction,” says National Park Service Ecologist Tom Rodhouse, co-author of the study.

Low Oil Prices Hurting Northwest Oil Terminals

Jan 29, 2016

With plans for new oil terminals still pending throughout the Pacific Northwest, low oil prices are hampering operations at existing crude-by-rail operations in the region.

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