EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife officials are debating whether to close the only Columbia River sturgeon fishery below Bonneville Dam to protect the fish until the population rebounds.

CORVALLIS -- An expansion project at Oregon State University’s Reser Stadium has uncovered ancient mammoth bones under the football field's end zone.

Construction crews digging in the north end zone Monday found a 4-foot-long femur bone that experts have confirmed came from a mammoth, a prehistoric species that went extinct at least 10,000 years ago.

Further exploration with the help of archaeologists revealed thousands of bone fragments from several extinct mammals including bison and some kind of camel or horse.

2 Oregon Rivers Named Scenic Waterways

Jan 27, 2016

Two Oregon rivers are being designated as scenic waterways.

Gov. Kate Brown announced that the new status is being assigned to portions of the Chetco in southwest Oregon and the Molalla, a tributary of the Willamette.

Oregon has 19 scenic waterways. This is the first time a river has been added to the list since 1988.

Voters passed a law in 1970 to protect scenic waterways for fish, wildlife, recreation and for their scenic, cultural and natural values.

Oregon’s previous scenic waterway designations are on

Clackamas River

Nestucca River

This story was updated at 6 p.m. PST

The City of Seattle is suing Monsanto for manufacturing a cancer-causing chemical that's contaminating the city's Duwamish Waterway.

Monsanto was the sole producer of the chemicals PCBs from the 1930s through the ‘70s. They were used globally to make coolants, paints, lubricants and for other industrial purposes. PCBs also served a fire protection and safety protection for the electrical and other industries, according to the company.

California is beginning its analysis of how three Klamath River hydroelectric dams are affecting water quality.

The state is in the middle of a series of scoping meetings, providing the public its first official chance to weigh in since the Klamath Basin Water Agreements fell apart at the end of December.

Will The Oregon Occupation Ruin Bird Habitat?

Jan 26, 2016

The employees of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have not been able to go back to their desks ever since the armed occupation started earlier this month.

They’ve been able to do much of their work off-site, but some important stuff is being left undone.

That includes the effort to eradicate an invasive fish from the refuge’s waters.

The common carp arrived in the refuge in the 1920s and multiplied like mad, crowding out native species and severely messing up the habitat.

1 Rancher Says He'll Ignore His Grazing Contract

Jan 23, 2016

A rancher from New Mexico signed a letter Saturday telling the federal government he will no longer honor his grazing contract.

Armed occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge had hoped more ranchers would step forward. But Adrian Sewell, who owns 160 acres in New Mexico, was the only one.

He bought his ranch four years ago for about $1 million. It included grazing rights to 33,000 acres of public land.

Sewell said his grazing contract allows for 140 head of cattle, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service is restricting him to 85.

Marijuana growers in the Northwest are going to use a lot of electricity in the next 20 years, enough to power up to 200,000 homes, according to a recent forecast.

That’s because a lighting module to grow four marijuana plants takes as much energy as 29 refrigerators.

After some hesitation, Washington utilities are now rewarding marijuana growers for reducing their energy use.

Washington state ends public comment Friday on a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council has taken public comment on the Vancouver Energy Project since November when it released its draft environmental impact statement.

The project is a joint venture backed by oil company Tesoro Corp. and logistics firm Savage Industries.

The agency is taking comments on its website until 11:59 p.m. Friday.

Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that paves the way for a partial closure of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant in Montana.

In the face of mounting environmental regulations, Puget Sound Energy wants to develop a plan to close two of Colstrip's four coal units – a move that could reduce the amount of coal-produced electricity used by Washington consumers.

The Washington utility is one of six owners of the overall plant, but co-owns units 1 and 2 with just one other company, Talen Energy.

If you'd like to comment on any of the topics in this show, please get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter, send an email to thinkoutloud@opb.org, or call us during the noon hour at 1-888-665-5865.

Occupiers Shout Down Environmental Protesters At Malheur Refuge

Jan 16, 2016

Editor's note: The raw audio of the confrontation between occupiers and protesters contains sensitive material.

Candy Henderson is in the middle of treatment for breast cancer. She said she's still sore from a recent surgery that removed part of her breast and lymph nodes. In a few weeks, she will start radiation treatment at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The story of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge starts with women’s hats - elaborate feathered hats that were part of a fashion craze that was sweeping Europe and the United States in the late 1800s.

The hats were audacious, colorful and sometimes included more than just feathers – picture heads, wings and whole stuffed birds sitting astride the fancy lady’s head.

Five climate change activists who blocked an oil train north of Seattle were convicted Friday of trespassing. But the verdict against members of the "Delta 5" group was cheered by environmentalists because the jury did not find them guilty of obstruction.

The Delta 5 activists had hoped to argue that blocking the BNSF Railway train tracks in 2014 was necessary because of the looming threat of climate change.

To help you learn more about our state animal, Think Out Loud compiled this list after talking to Frances Backhouse, author of "Once They Were Hats: In Search of the Mighty Beaver."

The armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is in its 11th day. Armed men who describe themselves as defenders of the Constitution and advocates for those who "work the land" took over the complex of buildings in Harney County, near Burns, on Saturday, Jan. 2.

For federal wildlife enforcement officers, time on the job means a lot of time alone, wandering remote areas. But one wildlife officer now has a new companion to keep him company on the trail: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's very first enforcement dog in the Northwest.

The first thing you might notice about the Ukkie is he that speaks Dutch.

“His name is actually Dutch slang for little one. He’s a little bit on the smaller side for a Belgian Malinois,” says officer Josh Hindman.

U.S. oil dropped below $30 a barrel during trading Tuesday. That’s the lowest price since December 2003.

The dip in price happened on the same day Washington state held a public hearing about a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

Oil was more than $100 per barrel when the Vancouver Energy Project was first announced back in the summer of 2013.

Still, backers of the oil terminal said the joint venture, between oil company Tesoro Corp. and logistics firm Savage Industries, is insulated from current market conditions.

Sinking Oil Prices Raise Questions Around Proposed Vancouver Terminal

Jan 12, 2016

As oil prices continue to sink, Washington state is still considering a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver. The state held a second public hearing on the proposed terminal Tuesday. At the time the terminal was first proposed, the price of oil topped $100 a barrel, but falling prices have many wondering about the economic viability of the terminal. However, the oil company, Vancouver Energy Project, says the need for the terminal is still high.

The Archive Project - January 6, 2016

Jan 12, 2016

“There’s something about putting yourself at the mercy of nature, where the risks are real, that enforces a certain humility that is valuable.” – Jon Krakauer

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