EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Even the cutest indoor cats can be dangerous predators. Research suggests house cats and strays together kill billions of birds every year. Four years ago, Portland's cat and bird advocates teamed up to promote a solution to this problem: Catios are enclosed outdoor patios that aim to protect both cats and backyard wildlife. This year, more than 1,200 people signed up for the city's annual Catio Tour, hosted by the Audubon Society of Portland and the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. The tour...

Lighter Winds Help Firefighters At 'Old Lady Creek' Fire

Sep 13, 2016

Washington State Patrol Fire Marshall Bill Slosson said weather conditions are favorable Tuesday for battling the Old Lady Creek fire 20 miles east of Goldendale, Washington. It has burned one home and is threatening approximately 40 others. Weve got five wildland strike teams of engines, which are brush trucks, working this fire today. Along with couple of 20 person hand crews," Slosson said. "And we just ordered a helicopter from the department of Natural Resources. Slosson said the wind...

Oregon health officials received a plan Monday intended to address Portlands problems with lead in drinking water. The Portland Water Bureau is working to finish a study by next year into how corrosive water affects the regions lead problem. But even under its proposed faster timeline, major changes wouldnt happen until mid-2022. The Environmental Protection Agency reviewed the pervasive lead results in Portland schools in a recent meeting with city and state officials . The EPA responded...

Growing up on a farm in the rural hills of Uganda, Carol Bogezi knew that fending off predators was critical to her familys survival. They used bows and arrows to keep monkeys from eating their vegetables and wild cats from harassing their goats. But beyond the predator-prey dynamics, there were complicated human dynamics to deal with, as well. Her father had three wives and 17 children so Carol often sought peace and quiet out in the fields where shed watch antelope frolic and study the...

How Dakota Access Pipeline Affects The Northwest

Sep 9, 2016

Its been a day of mixed messages when it comes to the Dakota Access Pipeline the partially-constructed oil pipeline thats galvanized thousands of Native Americans to protest in North Dakota. The pipelines route runs right by the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. And the tribe says that threatens both sacred burial grounds and drinking water. But today, a federal judge denied the tribes request to stop construction of the pipeline. Minutes later, three federal agencies stepped in and halted...

The Bureau of Land Management has reversed its decision to surgically sterilize more than 200 wild horses in southeast Oregon. The federal agency dropped its plan after a group called Front Range Equine Rescue filed a lawsuit against the program in July . The group argued the proposed surgical procedures were illegal, untested and dangerous. The proposed program stepped over the line by suggesting and proposing invasive sterilization of a type thats never been done and has potential for great...

Oregon Offshore Wind Project Stalls

Sep 9, 2016

A renewable energy project that would have put Oregon at the forefront of offshore wind development in the West appears to have stalled. The company behind the WindFloat Pacific energy project, Principle Power, wanted to install wind turbines about 15 miles off the coast of Coos Bay. Now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the federal agency that grants leases for these types of projects, says it is no longer processing Principle Powers application at the request of the company. The bureau...

Southeast Portland air near a manufacturing plant run by Precision Castparts is polluted with unhealthy levels of the heavy metals nickel, hexavalent chromium and arsenic. Thats according to the first batch of data from air monitors placed near the industrial manufacturer. Oregons Department of Environmental Quality released the data late Thursday. The DEQ said some levels of the metals are above the states health-based benchmarks. State health experts said there is no immediate public health...

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Seattle is making strides in reducing its carbon footprint. A new report from the city finds that greenhouse gas emissions fell by 6 percent over a six-year period. The report was prepared by the Stockholm Environment Institute . It looked at the years between 2008 and 2014. Energy-efficient homes and vehicles were among the biggest factors in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Higher temperatures also helped by reducing the energy required to keep homes and workplaces warm. Seattle added 75...

A plan to make room for more oil trains in the Columbia River Gorge is moving closer to a decision. The Wasco County Planning Commission heard testimony Tuesday on a proposal to build a second set of Union Pacific Railroad tracks along the Oregon side of the Columbia River. The added tracks would run about four miles, passing through the city of Mosier. Thats where an oil train derailed last June , resulting in an explosion, fire, and contaminated groundwater. Opponents held a rally in The...

The humpback whale has made a significant recovery since being listed as endangered nearly 50 years ago. But a federal review issued Tuesday indicates Northwest humpbacks are still showing signs of trouble. The review evaluated the Endangered Species Status of the whale worldwide. This time around, U.S. fisheries managers did something very different. Up until this review, humpback whales were listed under the Endangered Species of Act as a single species, Angela Somma of the National Oceanic...

Green Crab Invaders Show Up in Puget Sound

Sep 6, 2016

Sean McDonalds heart sank when he got the text last week. I was shocked and dismayed, said the University of Washington shellfish and crab expert, I was really hoping that wed have more time. Citizen scientists volunteering with the Washington Sea Grant had found an adult male green crab on a routine sampling trip to San Juan Islands Westcott Bay. The crabs were first documented on the west coast in the late 1980s but this is their first appearance in Puget Sound. Their populations have been...

Leaders with the city of Portland say the $746 million plan to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund Site isn't perfect, but it's good enough to move forward. The city submitted its comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday, along with several requests for changes. The city is asking the agency to prioritize cleaning up certain areas that are most often used by the public and to help ensure that the benefits of the cleanup including economic benefits are directed to local...

The headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge could remain closed for the rest of the year. Its been closed since the armed occupation in January . The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is installing security upgrades at the refuge headquarters and visitor center, and says the work could take until early next spring. The upcoming trial of eight defendants who occupied the headquarters, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy, is creating additional interest in the refuge. Jason Holm, spokesman...

Oregon Fish and Wildlife has unveiled the first update in 10 years to its species conservation strategy . That plan guides the monitoring and protection of non-game animals the kind that arent hunted or fished. It also determines how the state uses millions of dollars in federal conservation grants. The update identifies which habitats and species have the greatest need for conservation. That includes the American pika, a small mammal that strategy coordinator Andrea Hanson says is sensitive...

Lead-Tainted Water, Oregon's Lawmakers Drank It Too

Sep 2, 2016

Some drinking fountains have been turned off at the Oregon Capitol building after tests showed an unsafe level of lead in the water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says even small amounts of lead in drinking water can be hazardous, especially to children and pregnant women. An initial round of tests in the Capitol showed unsafe levels of lead in two water fountains. There was also lead in bathroom faucets in the oldest section of the Capitol building, which dates to 1938. That's...

Openings on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission have sport fishing groups eyeing an opportunity to gain a voice while some environmental groups worry theyll lose one. Two members are up for reappointment and another seat is vacant on the commission, which sets natural resource policies ranging from hunting and fishing rules to last years decision to remove gray wolves from the endangered list . The recreational angling industry hopes one of its longtime advocates, Liz Hamilton, can become...

Seaside School District has four schools in the tsunami zone. The school board unanimously approved a bond measure Thursday to build a new campus outside the tsunami zone. It tried to pass a bond to get them out in 2013, but that failed. Superintendent Doug Dougherty thinks this time itll be different. First, because Weyerhaeuser has donated land above the tsunami zone. And second, because Seaside is first in line to receive $4 million in matching funds from the state. The cost difference...

New rules are taking effect in Washington that require railroads to prove their readiness for an oil train spill. The rules, adopted this week, will require railroads to file plans informing the state Department of Ecology of the steps they will take if an oil train derails and spills. The state then reviews those plans and puts railroads through drills to test their preparedness. Spill planning was a longtime gap in oil train safety. Railroads in Washington must now meet the same planning...

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