Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

A snowpack that is less than 20 percent of the normal amount has farmers and ranchers in southern Oregon worried, but the region’s rafting guides say in spite of the limited snowfall they expect to have plenty of water to float on this summer.

Pete Wallstrom, a guide and owner of Momentum River Expeditions, says he’s getting lots of calls from clients wondering if they should cancel their trips on Oregon’s iconic Rogue River due to drought.

Mt. Hood Snowpack At Record Low Ahead Of Final Measurement Thursday

Apr 8, 2015

This is the time of year when mountain snowpacks are usually at their deepest. But as of last week, three quarters of Oregon’s long-term snow monitoring sites had the lowest snowpack levels on record. On Mt. Hood, the final snow survey of the season will be conducted Thursday.

Julie Koeberle is a Snow Hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. She sat down with OPB’s Kate Davidson to talk about the year’s snowpack and what lies ahead.

The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission did not reject a controversial propane export terminal as opponents urged it to do on Tuesday.

Instead, the board voted 6-4 to recommend a zone change and a carbon fee. The recommendation goes to the Portland City Council for final approval.

The Northwest’s most iconic bird could get a conservation boost in the coming years.

On Wednesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing it will review the protection status of the Northern Spotted Owl. The result could be an endangered species listing.

The Swinomish Tribe has filed a lawsuit against BNSF Railway to stop oil trains from traveling through its reservation.

BNSF train tracks cross the top of the Swinomish Reservation in Skagit County. In recent years they’ve been used to move oil from North Dakota to two refineries in Anacortes.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has yet to make the final call, but initial reports indicate there aren't enough fish to open a sardine fishery on the West Coast this year.

That's bad news for several fishing towns in Oregon and Washington, where the majority of the West Coast sardines were landed in the past several years, and where some processors focus primarily on sardines.

The latest population estimates show sardines have fallen below the 150,000 metric ton cutoff for opening a West Coast fishery.

As Region Gets Drier, States Gear Up For Fire Season

Apr 6, 2015

Wildland firefighters from around the region will gather Tuesday in Vancouver to prepare for the upcoming fire season.

Drought and dry conditions around the Pacific Northwest are raising concerns that this fire season could be brutal.

Washington state has already declared drought in three regions.

The Oregon Drought Council approved three additional counties, and following approval from Gov. Kate Brown, it would expand the number of counties seeking assistance to five.

If you’re at the Seattle Mariners season opener Monday you might run into some folks with clipboards, gathering signatures for a newly-announced initiative for 2016 that would tax carbon emissions.

The circulation of petitions to put Initiative 732 on the 2016 ballot signals a new strategy that may come into play if Gov. Jay Inslee and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are unable to pass their own carbon cap-and-trade proposal.

If you’re at the Seattle Mariners season opener Monday you might run into some folks with clipboards, gathering signatures for a newly-announced initiative for 2016 that would tax carbon emissions.

The circulation of petitions to put Initiative 732 on the 2016 ballot signals a new strategy that may come into play if Gov. Jay Inslee and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are unable to pass their own carbon cap-and-trade proposal.

If you’re at the Seattle Mariners season opener Monday you might run into some folks with clipboards, gathering signatures for a newly-announced initiative for 2016 that would tax carbon emissions.

The circulation of petitions to put Initiative 732 on the 2016 ballot signals a new strategy that may come into play if Gov. Jay Inslee and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are unable to pass their own carbon-tax proposal.

Siuslaw Hairy-Necked Beetle

Apr 2, 2015

One of the rarest beetles in the world lives right here in Oregon. Its home is just a few patches of sand, each no more than a few hundred yards long. What do they need to survive? Apparently, they need bulldozers. Dune-clearing intended for the threatened snowy plover seems to be helping this rare tiger beetle hold on to survival.

Xerces Society

The tunneling machine known as Bertha has been stuck beneath the Seattle waterfront since December, 2013, stalling construction and racking up millions in cost overruns.

One local engineering firm has a fresh idea for the fumbling tunneling project: Instead of moving Subarus through the heart of the city, the tunnel should be used by salmon.

Orcas Spotted Off Oregon Coast

Mar 31, 2015

Even orcas head south for spring break. L- and K-pod ocras made their way to Cape Disappointment off the Oregon Coast, according to NOAA Fisheries West Coast — Science and Management on its Facebook page.

We'll hear from our EarthFix reporter, Cassandra Profita, to get some of the latest environmental news, including:

Copyright 2015 ERTHFX. To see more, visit .

Few people come into contact with farm chemicals the way agricultural workers do. That's why a new health report on a commonly used herbicide is raising special concerns about farmworkers and cancer.

Sage grouse used to roam all over Central and Eastern Oregon.

“It made its home in a variety of different areas, and flew across these landscapes sometimes so thick that it darkened the sky,” said U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Jewell, along with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, visited Bend, Oregon, Friday to announce a plan to help bring greater sage grouse numbers back to the state's sagebrush landscape.

California sea lions are literally piling into Astoria's East Mooring Basin. They've taken over every square foot of the boat docks, and they're even lying on top of each other for lack of space.

The latest sea lion count in the marina tallied a record 2,340 – a "mind-boggling number," according to Bryan Wright of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Meanwhile California is seeing starving sea lion pups washing up on shore.

Japan's Earthquake: Lessons For Oregon

Mar 26, 2015

Over the last 25 years, Oregon Field Guide has documented the evolution in understanding the earthquake threat Oregon faces. Scientists now think there’s a 1 in 3 chance of a magnitude 8 or 9 earthquake striking off our coast within the next 50 years. But what can we do about it? Can we better prepare?

Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco has been given the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, a major international environmental science award.

The award, announced Tuesday, honored Lubchenco for her long career building and promoting lines of connections between ocean health and community health.

Lubchenco's work has carried her from the laboratory and classroom to the highest levels of public policy administration.

If you weren't able to take advantage of the new powder this week, the clock is ticking.

The National Weather Service in Portland tweeted that Thursday is expected to be the warmest day so far of the season. Temperatures are forecast to range from about 60 on the coast to nearly 80 in parts of central Oregon.

Pages