EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Oregon Health Authority Offers Free Soil Tests

Oct 5, 2016

The Oregon Health Authority is offering free soil screenings at a public meeting in Portland next week.

The event comes after concerns about toxic metals in the air.

Whether you’re growing a lettuce in a window box or your whole yard’s been turned over to vegetables, health officials say it's good to know what's in the soil.

OHA spokeswoman Julie Sifuentes said people can bring soil samples from anywhere in their yard.

Swan Lake Valley is a patchwork of farm fields and grazing land about 20 minutes from Klamath Falls. The slopes of the surrounding juniper-scattered hills rise sharply from the valley floor, brown against the green of hay and alfalfa below.

Gov. Kate Brown's Natural Resource Policy Director Richard Whitman will be stepping in as the next interim director of the troubled Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Whitman as a replacement for interim director Pete Shepherd, who was appointed by the commission in April. Whitman will assume the position Oct. 15 and stay in the role until a permanent director is hired.

'The Names Of The Stars' | UCC President

Oct 3, 2016

Copyright 2016 ERTHFX. To see more, visit ERTHFX.

For the past decade, hikers on the Timberline Trail have had to contend with a hazardous gap in the 40-mile loop around Mount Hood. Now, those days are gone. The U.S. Forest Service recently completed a new route that reconnects the loop.

The rugged trail winds its way through alpine forest and meadows, past waterfalls and over numerous glacier-fed drainages as it circumnavigates the volcano.

Uroboros' Impending Closure Deals Another Blow To NW Art Glass

Oct 1, 2016

Portland art glass manufacturer Uroboros just announced that the company plans to close the plant that it has operated on North Kerby Ave. in Portland for more than 43 years.

In a letter to customers and the business community, the company attributed its decision to close to the fact that its business model and location have “lost viability for the long term.” Uroboros intends to phase out production of sheet glass by late November and continue making some specialty products until mid-2017.

Train traffic congestion and railroad noise are two of the major impacts of the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export project in Longview, Washington, according to an environmental review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The agency released its draft environmental impact statement on the project Friday, outlining the potential environmental damage to air, water, fish, wildlife, and communities. The agency will be taking public comments on the review until Nov. 29.

Regulators say an oil terminal proposed for a coastal Washington state harbor poses several environmental problems.

The state Department of Ecology identified those problems in its final environmental review released Friday for the Westway oil terminal proposed at the Port of Grays Harbor in Hoquiam, Washington.

Hydroelectric power may not be a carbon-free energy source after all.

A new study from Washington State University finds that reservoirs behind dams produce more greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought.

Portland-based glass maker Uroboros announced Wednesday it will discontinue operations in 2017 barring its sale, according to a news release.

Uroboros president and founder Eric Lovell wrote in the release the company could be sold and continue Portland operations.

"I am already in active discussions with credible interested parties," Lovell wrote. "My goal is to find a way to provide a continuation of jobs for our staff if at all possible."

A new report shows that it’s increasingly difficult for young people to get into farming in Oregon.

The study shows that the average farmer in Oregon is 60 years old — that’s the oldest average age for farmers in state history. The report also shows that Oregon land prices are a major hurdle for young people who want to farm.

"A high price of land means that a farmer has an almost insurmountable barrier to buying into a farm business," said Nellie McAdams, program director with Rogue Farm Corps, one of the co-authors of the report.

Oregon leaders know there’s a one in three chance of a massive earthquake and tsunami over the next 50 years.

Those are high odds. And they’re the reason why some people are frustrated Oregon State University plans to build a $50 million dollar research center smack in the middle of the tsunami zone.

In Newport’s harbor, moored next to all the fishing boats, lies the Newport Belle.

It’s an old stern-wheeler that’s been turned into a bed and breakfast by owner, Michael Wilkinson.

A county planning commission has given its approval to a rail expansion in the same stretch of the Columbia River Gorge where a Union Pacific oil train derailed and burst into flames.

The derailment in June resulted in an oil spill that contaminated groundwater. It also galvanized opposition to increased oil train traffic in the Northwest.

Emily Grason and Sean McDonald trudge through the mud of San Juan Island’s Westcott Bay on the hunt for something they hope not to find: A 3-inch menace: the European green crab.

In late August, a single adult male was found for the first time in Washington’s inland sea. University of Washington researchers responded, arriving at the location of that first sighting with hundreds of traps in tow.

Earthquakes Rattle Southern Oregon Coast

Sep 25, 2016

A pair of moderate earthquakes rattled the coast of Southern Oregon and Northern California late Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A magnitude 5.0 quake occurred in the Pacific Ocean nearly 100 miles off the coast of Gold Beach, Oregon, around 10:01 p.m. Saturday. A magnitude 4.6 quake rumbled nearly 100 miles off the coast of Brookings, Oregon, nearly five hours later.

Farmworker Groups Seek Ban On Pesticide

Sep 21, 2016

Farmworker advocacy groups are pushing for a ban on a pesticide known to damage the nervous system, which they say poses an unacceptable risk to farmworkers and their families.

Nestle Water Bottling Plan Draws Protest — Even After It's Voted Down

Sep 21, 2016

Last May, it looked like voters had stopped the Nestle corporation from putting a water-bottling plant in the Columbia River Gorge. But four months later, activists are raising concerns the project could still happen.

Opponents gathered at the Oregon State Capitol on Wednesday, joining a Native American activist who has spent the week there fasting, in protest. The target of their ire: what they see as continued efforts to bring a water bottling plant to Cascade Locks, an Oregon city in the Columbia River Gorge.

When 3-year-old Charlie McGlynn-Wright was born, her parents felt pressured to immediately start looking for a preschool.

Their search confirmed what other parents had warned -- Many Seattle preschools have years-long waitlists and tuition bills that rival the cost of attending college.

Charlie’s father Teddy McGlynn-Wright works for the City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative. That makes him all too aware that a lack of affordable, high-quality preschools means minority children from low-income families end up falling behind.

Dead Whale Returns To Oregon Coast

Sep 20, 2016

The humpback whale whose carcass washed ashore near Arch Cape over the weekend, and then left with the high tide, is back again.

This time, the remains washed up at Oswald West State Park just south of Arch Cape.

State park staff plan interpretive talks at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday about the whale at the park, whether the remains are still there, or not.

"The twice-daily high tides predicted over the next few weeks are not expected to be high enough to take it back out to sea, though it is still possible for it to wash out," staff said in a press release Tuesday.

For his latest book of nonfiction, Simon Winchester has taken on nearly 64 million square miles. "Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers" is divided into 10 chapters encompassing singular events in the ocean's history, including nuclear testing at the Bikini Atoll, and the invention of surfing.

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