EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit over dams in the Columbia River Basin are asking the court to order federal agencies to spill more water over the dams this spring to help threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead

Conservation groups together with the state of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe filed a motion in U.S. District Court on Monday.

Todd True, an EarthJustice attorney representing the conservation groups, said new science shows spilling more water over the dams in the spring will improve the survival rate of imperiled fish by helping them reach the ocean.

The Navy is scraping the hull of a decommissioned aircraft carrier docked at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard just outside of Bremerton. The goal is to prevent potentially invasive species from traveling with the ship when it’s towed to Texas to be dismantled.

Port Of Vancouver Names CEO Finalists

Jan 10, 2017

The Port of Vancouver has named three finalists for CEO.

The candidates include: Edward Galligan, the executive director for the Port of Olympia; Arthur Scheunemann, the former CEO of the economic development council for Seattle and King County; and Julianna Marler, the Port’s current interim CEO.

The finalists were chosen from about 80 applicants, according to Port officials, who hope to have a new CEO in place by March.

The next CEO will be tasked with navigating how to handle what would be the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal.

Predicting Toxic Algae Blooms Just Got Easier

Jan 9, 2017

Scientists at Oregon State University have figured out a way to predict outbreaks of a dangerous neurotoxin called domoic acid in the Pacific Ocean. The toxin is produced during algae blooms and can make crab and shellfish unsafe to eat.

A few years back, Oregon State University researcher Morgaine McKibben noticed that the ocean off Oregon had warmed considerably. It was part of a natural climate cycle called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

2016 was the year one modest Forest Service research project turned the Northwest’s storied art glass industry upside down.

Samples taken near two Portland art glass factories were shown to carry dangerously high concentrations of heavy metals. These companies make supplies for glass artists all over the world, from stained glass church windows to fancy light fixtures in big hotels — even most the blown glass holiday ornaments you might have had hanging around the house last month.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is raising the price of cleaning up the Portland Harbor Superfund Site from $746 million to $1.05 billion in a final plan that calls for more dredging and capping of contaminated soil along a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River.

West Coast lawmakers are seeking a permanent ban on offshore drilling along the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. Democrat-sponsored bills have been introduced into both the Senate and House of Representatives.

There have been no oil and gas lease sales off the West Coast since 1984. But as the Trump administration prepares to take office, concerns are growing that could change.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality drafted a report that identified logging as a contributor to known risks for drinking water quality in communities up and down the Oregon coast.

But the report has never been published.

It was scrapped by the agency after intense pushback and charges of anti-logging bias from the timber industry and the state’s Department of Forestry, according to interviews and public records.

A northwest Washington tribe's shellfish beds are a step closer to getting cleaned up after years of contamination.

On Thursday, the Lummi Nation signed an agreement with dairy farmers to keep cow manure out of streams that drain into Portage Bay, where the tribe's shellfish operations have been closed because of contamination by fecal coliform. Over the past two years, Lummi clam diggers have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Port of Portland is suing agriculture giant Monsanto Corp. for widespread PCB contamination on port property, the Port announced Thursday.

The lawsuit doesn’t state a dollar amount, but wants the company to pay for its portion of the clean up in the Columbia and Willamette rivers.

“The damages for the Port of Portland range anywhere between tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in total PCB clean-up costs,” said John Fiske, a California-based attorney representing the Port of Portland.

Tiny School | George And Hillary Atiyeh

Jan 4, 2017

Copyright 2017 ERTHFX. To see more, visit ERTHFX.

Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark announced Tuesday he will deny a sublease request for the coal export project proposed in Longview and expand an aquatic reserve at Cherry Point in Puget Sound where another coal terminal was proposed.

Goldmark, who is leaving his post this month when his term expires, says he doesn’t have a position on coal exports.

As the clock ticks down on the Obama administration, federal land managers released a flurry of rules Friday focused on mining in the Northwest.

The White House could still create a national monument in southeastern Oregon.

But in the meantime, the Bureau of Land Management finalized several plans months or years in the making.

Annual Bird Count Opens A Window Into Climate Change

Dec 30, 2016

Scott Atkinson and Diana Antunes are tramping around a flooded field in an abandoned farm just north of Everett. They pick their way through blackberry brambles and wade through water halfway up to their knees. Antunes stops short when she spots something in the distance.

“What do you got?” Atkinson asks her.

Antunes points to a peregrine falcon perched on a tree, eating a bird.

“Oh! Nicely done!” Atkinson says.

President Obama has turned two vast sections of Nevada and Utah into national monuments. The Bears Ears monument in Utah covers 1.35 million acres; Nevada's Gold Butte monument is closer to 300,000 acres.

A monument under consideration for southeastern Oregon would be larger than both those monuments combined. But there’s no word on whether such a designation is coming for the Owyhee canyons of southeastern Oregon.

Conservation groups have been pushing for creation of an Owyhee national monument, but ranchers and local leaders generally oppose that.

Coal Train Derails Near Vancouver, Washington

Dec 28, 2016

A single Burlington Northern Santa Fe train car carrying coal derailed early Wednesday about 5 miles east of Vancouver, Washington.

The train was traveling from Montana to British Columbia, Canada.

Gus Melonas, a spokesperson with BNSF, said the railroad has a team on site that's investigating the cause of the derailment, but so far it has ruled out track failure.

New Year Means New Laws In Oregon

Dec 28, 2016

The new year means a slate of new laws will take effect in Oregon. One example: Starting Jan. 1, it will be against the law to release sky lanterns in Oregon.

A sky lantern is essentially a miniature hot air balloon. But of course, there's no one along for the ride. According to Rich Hoover of the Oregon State Fire Marshall's office, that lack of control is a huge problem.

"Essentially," he said, "you are letting go an open flame and you have no control over what direction it takes or where it ends up landing. And that's an extreme fire hazard."

The National Guard has closed facilities across the country to the public because of lead contamination, following an investigation by The Oregonian newspaper.

Normally, the Guard rents out the buildings where it trains and practices, called armories, for community events, from weddings to Cub Scout sleepovers.

Oregon, there's nothing to do here. Count that among sentiments you'll hear from pretty much nobody, ever.

Even after 28 years of producing stories for "Oregon Field Guide," Oregonians have never let us down. We have never run out of stories to tell or spectacular places to visit.

Every year we get invited somewhere we've never seen before, called to join some crew on a wild new adventure, implored to showcase some hidden geologic wonder, or find inspiration to explore a town we've never paused to enjoy. And to that we say, "Grab the cameras and load em' up!"

Cilde Grover braces herself with her cane as she ducks through a small arch in the pasture fence.

“Molly, come!” she calls out, as her dog bounds ahead and blurs into the forest in the misty distance.

Grover remembers wide open pastures on her family's homestead near Brookings in Oregon's southwestern-most corner. That was back in the 1950s and '60s, when she and her three sisters were growing up. But now the trees have the upper hand.

“I look around and I go 'it's closing in on me!'" she laughs, glancing around at the forest all around her.

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