Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
3:06 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Mt. Hood Glacier Cave Featured By Oregon Field Guide Collapses

The Snow Dragon Cave is partially closed after a collapse.

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 9:51 am

One of Mt. Hood's glacier caves, Snow Dragon, has partially collapsed, according to Glacier Caves Explorers. Sometime between November 2014 and the end of January, the roof caved in near the entrance.

Brent McGregor of Glacier Cave Explorers said two skylights opened in the cave in November, and last month about hundred feet collapsed, possibly due to warm air entering through the skylights. This has also been a historically low snow year for Mt. Hood.

Read more
NPR Story
12:21 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Crews Work To Clean Up Yakima River Oil Spill

Emergency crews are responding to a 1,500 gallon oil spill in Central Washington’s Yakima River.

Emergency crews are responding to a 1,500-gallon oil spill in Central Washington’s Yakima River.

The used motor oil has threatened wildlife since it escaped Sunday from an above-ground storage tank at the site of a former feedlot. The heavy oil flowed across a paved area and into an irrigation ditch, known as Sulphur Creek, which drains into the Yakima River. An oil sheen flowed as south as Prosser, about 25 miles away.

Read more
NPR Story
3:14 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Public Input Sought On Plan For Grizzly Bear Reintroduction In Washington

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. The National Park Service is evaluating whether to reintroduce grizzly bears to Washington's North Cascades.

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 9:28 am

The North Cascades of Washington used to be home to thousands of grizzly bears. Their numbers have dwindled to only a handful over the past century, mainly after over-hunting for fur in the late 1800s.

Now, the federal government is asking for the public's input on its plans to boost grizzly bear numbers in Washington’s North Cascades.

Read more
NPR Story
2:15 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

An Oregon City Braces For Legal Pot To Drive Up Electricity Costs

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, a single marijuana plant grown outdoors in Southern Oregon can yield between 6 and 20 pounds of marijuana — or about 2,200 to 9,000 one-gram joints.

Legal recreational marijuana will become a reality in Oregon on July 1.

That's expected to create new market opportunities for large-scale indoor marijuana producers who rely on powerful grow lights.

“They’re energy hogs. They use an ungodly amount of electricity,” says Ashland City Administrator Dave Kanner.

Read more
NPR Story
9:14 am
Fri February 27, 2015

What Is The Value Of Nature?

An alpine meadow high above tree line in the Mount Hood Wilderness.

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 2:02 pm

Environmentalists agree that conservation is key, but there is a long-standing dispute over how much to focus on nature's intrinsic value rather than emphasizing its value to humans.

Read more
NPR Story
4:35 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

New Orca Baby Spotted Off Washington Coast

An orca calf spotted in December. Three of the baby endangered whales have been born in recent months.

When a family of killer whales swam near a small research vessel off the Washington coast this week, the scientists on board were excited by the large number of endangered orcas that they saw. Their excitement grew when they spotted an orange-tint in the water.

A baby calf.

“We saw it again this morning swimming with its mother,” Brad Hanson, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Thursday. “It’s probably just a few days old.”

Read more
NPR Story
4:28 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

Hyla Woods

A family-run timber company in Oregon's coast range defines profit differently. At Hyla Woods, cutting trees must profit the health of the forest more than the owners' bank account. Peter and Pam Hayes are 5th generation loggers whose philosophy embraces the public trust, not just personal wealth.

MORE INFORMATION

Hyla Woods Website

Oregon Forest Health Reports

Read more
NPR Story
10:50 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Tired Of Oil Trains? State Senator Wants To Consider Wash. Pipeline

Part of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. A state senator has proposed studying whether to build a Washington state pipeline.

President Obama has vetoed the KeystoneXL Pipeline, but as more oil moves through the Northwest by rail, one Republican state senator says a pipeline through Washington state could be a solution.

Rep. Michael Baumgartner of Spokane has introduced legislation that would provide $250,000 to study a possible oil pipeline through Washington state.

The pipeline would move oil from the middle of the country to refineries and terminals on the Washington coast.

Read more
NPR Story
5:38 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

A New System To Keep Troops Cool And Use Less Diesel

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researcher Pete McGrail shows off an air chilling system prototype.

Keeping cool may soon take a lot less energy. Northwest researchers have developed a new air cooling system that could be used in cars, buildings and on the Navy’s front lines.

The new air chilling system designed by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory could soon be helping to keep troops and cargo cool while they’re at sea.

Read more
NPR Story
3:43 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Japanese Fish Found Alive In Oregon Waters

Striped Knifejaw

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 4:59 pm

Oregon scientists are trying to figure out how a fish, native to Japan, was pulled out of a crab pot on the Oregon coast - alive.

"I've been thinking about it ever since I heard about it," says John Chapman, an invasive species expert at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

He says there's only a handful of ways the striped knifejaw could make it here: in the ballast water of a ship; someone could have dumped their aquarium into the ocean; or the fish survived under debris washed out to sea after the Japanese tsunami.

Read more
Earthfix
8:08 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Opponents of Leaded Aviation Fuel Could Be In For Long Wait

Mary Rosenblum, president of the Oregon Pilots Association, with her plane in her garage near Canby, Oregon. Rosenblum doesn't like the idea of leaded fuel, still used by many small aircraft, but she says alternatives are hard to find.

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 8:28 am

It’s no secret lead exposure is dangerous. Even low levels can affect a child’s brain.

It’s also no secret that airports are one of the last remaining sources of airborne lead in the U.S.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attests to both these facts.

And yet, the EPA has yet to declare an “endangerment finding” for leaded aviation fuel. That means it hasn’t said whether those emissions pose enough of a threat to public health or welfare to trigger the long and complex process of regulating them.

Read more
Earthfix
5:10 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Northwest Faces Greater Risks From Acidifying Waters

A Puget Sound oyster. A new report issued Nov. 4, 2013 identifies oysters as one of many species affected by climate change. Oysters' ability to grow strong shells is compromised by increasingly acidifying waters that result from carbon emissions.

The Pacific Northwest faces a higher risk of economic harm from ocean acidification than other parts of the country, according to a new study released Monday.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found a "potent combination" of risk factors along the coasts of Oregon and Washington. The region has cold ocean water that absorbs carbon dioxide more readily than warmer water, and it has upwelling ocean currents that bring corrosive water to the surface.

Read more
NPR Story
4:40 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

A Coastal Community In Washington Contemplates Oil Terminals

Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation, stands on the docks as tribal crabbers unload their catch. The tribe has vowed to fight the oil train-to-ship terminals  proposed for Grays Harbor.

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 8:40 am

HOQUIAM, Wash. -- Grays Harbor, with its deep-water berths and fast access to Pacific Ocean shipping routes, has all the ingredients to be a world-class port.

In some respects, it already is. The Port of Grays Harbor once bustled with shipments of lumber from nearby forests. Next came cars, grains and biofuel. Now, local leaders are warming up to the idea of adding crude oil to the mix.

Read more
NPR Story
4:49 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

The Story Behind The Success Of The Oregon Chub

The Oregon chub, a tiny minnow, is the first fish ever taken off of U.S. Endangered Species Act protection because it's no longer threatened by extinction.

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 2:07 pm

This little Oregon minnow has the big distinction of becoming the first fish to come off of the endangered species list.

Read more
NPR Story
4:42 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Railriders

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 4:27 pm

Hop aboard your own pedal-powered railcar for a spectacular 12-mile round-trip on the old Joseph Branch rail line between Joseph and Enterprise, Oregon. Part bike, part old-fashioned railcar, a trip on a "railrider" is a one of a kind experience in Oregon. The brainchild of Kim and Anita Metlen, this excursion is one of just a few legal "railrider" operations in the country. The line veers away from the road, passing through forest and ranch and and gives you a view of Wallowa county you can't see any other way.

MORE INFORMATION

Read more
NPR Story
4:35 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Rockfish and Marine Reserves

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 9:21 am

Oregon's Marine Reserves are now a few years old. Fishing is banned in them. Scientists are using SMURFS, drifters, satellites and even high controlled fishing to determine if they have an impact. The ambitious plans to save entire ecosystems in the ocean may take many years to have an effect.

MORE INFORMATION

Oregon Marine Reserves Website

Oregon Policy Advisory Council Website

Read more
NPR Story
4:02 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Heed Those 'Closed Trail' Signs If You Want To Help Wildlife

Mule deer roam in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 2:27 pm

Bluebird skies, warming temperatures, and snow-free terrain might have you itching to hike your favorite trail.

But be prepared to encounter a "closed trail" sign. Several Northwest hiking routes are off-limits to humans this time of year. That's because the region’s migrant mule deer still need a few months to themselves.

“Giving them a little bit of space and a little consideration can be helpful to ensure that we have healthy deer populations,” said David Volsen, a district wildlife biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Read more
NPR Story
11:19 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Wildlife Working Together - Maybe They Could Build A Bridge Over The Columbia

The folks at Metro have put together an amazing time-lapse video using night-vision cameras to show beavers and nutria working together to build a dam in the Smith and Bybee Wetlands. Other critters, mostly ducks and herons, stop by to watch.

Read more
Earthfix
6:08 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

W.Va. Oil Train Derailment Has NW Lawmakers Thinking About Safety

Reports say up to 18 oil trains a week travel along the Washington side of the Columbia River, and up to six oil trains a week are traveling through the state of Oregon along the Columbia River and through central Oregon.

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 9:08 am

This week’s fiery oil train derailment in West Virginia has lawmakers thinking about oil-by-rail safety through the Northwest. There has been a dramatic increase in oil trains traveling through the region to reach West coast refineries.

Read more
Earthfix
6:03 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Government Whistleblowers Say Klamath Irrigators Misusing Federal Funds

The Klamath Basin spans northern California and southern Oregon and has seen frequent water crises between the farming, ranching, tribal and environmental communities.

Two government biologists say millions of dollars in federal funds intended to secure water for fish in the Klamath Basin were instead used to directly compensate local farmers and ranchers.

Irrigators have long come up against the water needs of fish and wildlife in the drought-prone region of Southern Oregon and Northern California. There isn’t enough surface water to go around, and efforts are underway to find other irrigation sources for agriculture.

Read more

Pages