EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

The U.S. Forest Service is moving forward with a plan to allow exploratory mining near Mount St. Helens.

The agency issued a draft decision approving Canadian company Ascot Resources Ltd.’s plans to drill for copper and gold in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Patrick Lair with the U.S. Forest Service drove into the Ochoco National Forest to see how things looked after hosting thousands of eclipse visitors.

He drove the same road on Wednesday that more than 30,000 people took to get into the massive Symbiosis Festival on Big Summit Prairie – a patch of private land in the middle of the national forest.

"At one point, we had bumper-to-bumper traffic from the prairie out past Prineville," he said. "I'm kind of amazed not to see more trash on the sides of the road."

Deer graze on tall prairie grass. Bushy-tailed foxes chase rabbits across a windswept landscape. Bald eagles perch along cliffs overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and snow-capped Olympic Mountains.

The southern tip of Puget Sound’s San Juan Island is a wildlife-viewing wonderland.

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior is recommending reducing southern Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, according to the Washington Post.

The boundary shift comes after a Trump administration review of more than 20 national monuments across the West.

State wildlife officials have authorized the killing of two wolves from a pack in Eastern Oregon after confirming four attacks on livestock.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said non-lethal deterrents failed to prevent the Meacham Wolf Pack from attacking cattle and sheep on private land in Umatilla County.

Portland Public School students will still not be able to use campus water fountains when the new academic year starts next week. 

Instead, students returning to school on Wednesday will continue drinking bottled water while PPS begins the process of replacing non-classroom water fixtures to deal with the problem of high lead levels in its water. The replacements will be installed in six waves of 15 schools at a time. 

Q&A with OPB reporter Kristian Foden-Vencil

Geoff Norcross: So just how bad is this fire now?

Kristian Foden-Vencil: Well, it’s destroyed 20 outbuildings, 13 vehicles and five homes. A Level 3 mandatory evacuation order was in place for 3,400 homes. That's been dropped to level 2 now as firefighters have made some progress and the weather has turned more cooperative. But in total, up to 4,000 people have been affected.

Commercial fishing boats are scrambling to catch as many Atlantic salmon as they can after a net pen broke near Washington's Cypress Island. Fishers reported thousands of the non-native fish jumping in the water or washing ashore.

A fish farm's net pen failed Saturday afternoon when an anchor pulled loose and metal walkways twisted about. Onlookers said it looked like hurricane debris.

Rural Economy | Sage Grouse Plans | Steelhead

Aug 10, 2017

Rural Oregon was hit harder by the recession than urban areas, and it is still recovering. Central Oregon regional economist Damon Rundberg shares a report showing that even after seven years of uneven economic recovery, Oregon’s rural counties remain below peak employment. And we hear from OPB’s Amanda Peacher about one ranch that’s trying a new economic model.

This is a guest post by Sarah Craig, assoc

The benefits of an above-average snowpack measured in most locations statewide earlier this year have yet to be fully realized due to extreme heat and little precipitation.

While water reservoirs have reaped rewards from winter snow, people who rely on small tributaries for farming or irrigation are looking at potential shortages.

The Interior Department has released new recommendations for a plan to protect greater sage grouse. The guidelines will give more leeway to mining, ranching and industry groups. They’ll also change a conservation plan that took years to devise.

Sage grouse are iconic birds in the West — including in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. But their numbers in 11 states have dramatically declined with their loss of habitat.

The time is almost here. On the morning of Monday, Aug. 21, many in America will collectively raise their heads to the sky to witness the first total solar eclipse in the region in 38 years. This time around, Oregon is ground zero and the state is preparing for a phenomenon that has been embraced by people from all over the world. Here are some key things to know before the solar eclipse completely covers our lives.

Oregon officials say Willamette River steelhead are on the verge of extinction because they’re getting eaten by sea lions at Willamette Falls.

They're asking Congress for permission to kill some of the sea lions this year to protect the fish.

Native winter steelhead are already on the Endangered Species List because they’re threatened by the impacts of dams and habitat loss.

But with more and more sea lions feasting on fish below Willamette Falls, new data show the steelhead now face about a 90 percent chance of being wiped out altogether.

Lawmakers in Congress passed a major win for West Coast crab fishermen that now goes to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature.

The bill permanently extends a tri-state fishery management agreement in Washington, Oregon and California.

The Cinder Butte fire burning 10 miles outside of the town of Riley, Oregon, was burning 52,223 acres as of Saturday morning. 

The fire is threatening archeological sites with strong cultural and historical significance to the Burns Paiute and Klamath tribes.

"We're working with our partners to identify those and be very respectful while working to contain the fire in those areas," said Nick Cronquist, a public information officer with Northwest Incident Management Team No. 10.

Wildfires across the Northwest could prolong smoky conditions in the Willamette Valley.

The National Weather Service says westerly winds could clear smoke Friday night into Saturday as temperatures dip below triple digits, but smoke is expected to return.

“There’s a good chance that the smoke is going to be coming back in Sunday or Monday depending on how strong the wind is and how long the wind shift holds,” said David Bishop with the National Weather Service in Portland.

Oregon To Kill Wolves That Preyed On Livestock

Aug 3, 2017

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has decided to kill members of the Harl Butte wolf pack in Eastern Oregon in an attempt to disrupt the pack’s behavior and prevent future livestock losses.

The decision comes after Wallowa County ranchers requested lethal control because the pack has attacked cattle seven times in the past 13 months. It marks the eighth time state officials in Oregon or Washington have taken lethal action on wolves that preyed on livestock.

Two Oregon wildlife photographers will have their their pictures of honeybees featured in the new Protect Pollinators Forever postage stamps scheduled to be released this week.

The stamps are designed to pay tribute to pollinating insects. Studies show native bees and butterflies are at risk from pesticide exposure and habitat loss.

The series features five photos of honeybees and monarch butterflies on various flowers.

Two of the five stamps in the series showcase images of honeybees by photographers Michael Durham of Portland and George Lepp of Bend.

Winds from the north and northeast have carried wildfire smoke from British Columbia over Washington and Oregon.

“We didn’t expect it to go that far so quickly,” says Ranil Dhammapala, with the Washington State Department of Ecology. “It’s pretty much blanketed the whole state.”

And forecasts predict smoke will keep coming and continue to blanket Washington and Oregon throughout the weekend. In eastern Washington, the winds will shift and bring smoke from Montana. And, in western Washington and Oregon, the winds will bring back smoke that’s drifted over the Pacific.

Pages