EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Federal agencies are a step closer to deciding how best to manage the Columbia River system and protect endangered fish. They outlined goals for a range of plans at a public meeting Thursday.

A series of public meetings this past year gave the agencies plenty to think about. They received more than 400,000 comments about how to protect endangered salmon and steelhead and, at the same time, maintain navigation channels for river traffic, control floods, and meet hydropower demands.

The Trump administration is rolling back a requirement for trains carrying highly explosive liquids — like the oil trains that run through the Columbia River Gorge en route to Northwest refineries.

The 2015 rule was supposed to make these hazardous trains more safe, following a number of derailments. But that was under President Obama, Now, President Trump's Department of Transportation says railroads with trains carrying highly flammable liquids will not have to update their braking systems.

A band of raccoons scamper over a downed tree. A coyote sneaks a drink from a mossy pool. The black and white photos that flash across Professor Mark Jordan’s computer screen look like they could have been shot out on the Olympic Peninsula or maybe at a remote spot in the Cascades — until a curious house cat sneaks out of the underbrush.

Oregon Sending Help To Battle Growing Southern California Fires

Dec 6, 2017

Teams from Multnomah County all the way down to Jackson and Josephine counties are en route to Southern California where a series of fast-moving fires continue to rip through the Los Angeles area. 

The Oregon State Fire Marshal sent 10 strike teams consisting of 50 engines and about 100 personnel overnight Tuesday, making Oregon the first state to send resources to the Golden State for this event.

NASA, Scientists Want Help Measuring The Snow

Dec 5, 2017

Cities, farmers, and conservationists all need to know how much water is in each winter’s snowpack.

But there aren’t many weather stations that measure the snowpack, and “they tend to be at lower elevations,” says David Hill, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Oregon State University.

That’s why a team of Northwest scientists and NASA are looking for help. They’re asking snowshoers, snowmobilers, and skiers in Washington and Oregon to measure snow depth in the backcountry.

 

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is calling for one of the Northwest’s national monuments to be reduced in size.

 Zinke released a months-old report Tuesday making recommendations to President Trump on the fate of national monuments that previous presidents had established or expanded. Among the recommendations: that the president roll back at least part of the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National monument.

Updated (Wed., Dec. 6, 7:45 A.M.): In lieu of the nation's withdrawal from an international agreement on climate change, 50 municipal leaders from around the country, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, signed a charter Tuesday committing their cities to emissions reductions. 

When Climate Change Makes It Hard To Breathe | Terrestrial

Dec 5, 2017

Climate change isn’t just contributing to drought, superstorms, sea level rise and flooding. It’s also making it harder for many people to breathe. People like 13 year old Estefany Velasquez. Her family faced a tough choice because of her asthma.  

Oregonians are still waiting to hear the fate Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument after President Trump announced Monday that he will shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah.

Southern Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou is on the short-list of national monuments being targeted by the Trump administration. The list also includes Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke toured Cascade-Siskiyou this summer as part of a far-reaching review of recently designated monuments across the country.

At a hearing in Portland Wednesday, Oregon environmental regulators took questions and comments on the new statewide air pollution rules they’re proposing.

The rules would limit the total health risk polluters can impose on their neighbors. In the first five years, they would target 80 yet-to-be identified polluters that pose the highest health risks and bring them into compliance.

This is the final part in a series on the future of fish farming in the Pacific Northwest. Read part 1 here.

Inside a chilly warehouse on the north end of Vancouver Island, eight giant tanks are lit with swimming pool lights. These are fish tanks — some of the biggest fish tanks around. Every so often the glistening back of a fish surfaces.

The Historic Multnomah Falls Lodge opened its doors to visitors Wednesday for the first time since the Eagle Creek Fire prompted its closure in September — peak visitor season.

Remnants of the fire remain, leaving popular areas off-limits to visitors including the lower viewing platform and trails surrounding the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon.

This is the first part in a series on the future of fish farming in the Pacific Northwest. Read the second part here.

The Hope Island Fish Farm floats in the middle of Puget Sound, about a 15-minute boat ride from Whidbey Island’s Deception Pass. Narrow metal walkways surround giant nets anchored to the bottom of the sound. Those nets hold thousands of Atlantic salmon--though it’s difficult to see them till they jump.

UPDATED (Wednesday, Nov. 29, 8:55 a.m.): Washington state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council voted unanimously Tuesday to turn down a controversial oil terminal planned for Vancouver, Washington.

The council’s decision to not recommend the project is another major blow against the massive oil-by-rail facility proposed by Vancouver Energy.

It’s also one of the last steps in a years-long permitting process to develop the oil terminal. The ultimate decision on whether the project goes forward will be up to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Autumn rains have washed away the smoke of the summer wildfires. But Congress remains embroiled in a high-stakes environmental debate over how to reduce the growing threat of catastrophic blazes in Western forests and rangelands.

Lawmakers are under more pressure to act after a wildfire season that was particularly harrowing. Nearly 9 million acres – an area about the size of New Jersey and Connecticut combined – burned. Intense smoke hit many of the West’s major cities, including Denver, the San Francisco Bay Area and Portland.

The long hunt finally paid off on the night of Aug. 6 for two employees of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. They’d spent a combined 85 hours and driven 752 miles in pursuit of the Harl Butte wolf pack in the northeast corner of the state.

They had already come close, spotting wolves twice but never firing a shot.

But finally, on a Saturday evening, they killed a young male. Two days later, an Oregon Fish and Wildlife employee fired a kill shot from a helicopter while patrolling the rolling forests and pastures. This time it was a young female.

A Washington energy council has released a massive environmental report that could decide the fate of a controversial $210 million oil terminal in Vancouver.

The state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, discussed findings from the Final Environmental Impact Statement Tuesday afternoon at a special meeting in Olympia.

Satish and Arlene Palshikar live in a house in Southeast Portland that's coated with recycled bluish-white paint. Their boxy silver television is a 1990s vintage model they plucked from the curb.

"It said, 'Works fine,' so we said 'OK, we’ll take it,'" said Arlene Palshikar. "No packaging. Just load it in the car.”

They collect and reuse rainwater, compost their own food waste and avoid plastic whenever possible. It takes two months to fill their trash can enough to put it out on the curb for pickup.

Last year, five activists from the Pacific Northwest shut off pipelines bringing oil into the US from Canada. All five were arrested and charged with various felonies and misdemeanors. Now, a development in one of their trials could set a new precedent for cases in which climate change activists have been arrested for acts of civil disobedience.

What happened that day in October of 2016?

What if you looked around, saw where things are headed on this planet, and said to yourself, I want to start fresh. A group of scientists did just that. But things didn’t go as planned.

Pages