The same critters with the horrible name causing issues in Oregon are impacting crops in California.

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Jun 1, 2015

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A federal judge's decision Friday leaves Jackson County's ban on genetically engineered crops (GMO) on the books, due to take effect June 5th.

Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke's decision, released Friday afternoon, rejects an attempt by the law's opponents to block it under Oregon's "Right to Farm" law.

Lawns will die and crops will wither in the fields, but California's economy may not suffer as much from drought as you might think.

You don't know much about them until something goes wrong, like recently happened off the California coast when a pipeline ruptured spilling 21,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean just north of Santa Barbara. As it turns out, the federal and state agencies responsible for regulating pipelines in the U.S. don't know as much as they should.

It's been a big week for Oregon State Senator Jeff Kruse

He's squarely in the middle of two hot items in the legislative hopper: marijuana regulation and school mascots. 

Kruse supports further regulation of medical marijuana, and the state school board's move to ban Native American mascots certainly hits home for a guy who represents Roseburg, where the Roseburg Indians play. 


The basic science is deceptively simple: streams with trees around them tend to be cooler because of the shade.

Streams with no trees warm up and become less hospitable to fish.

But getting people to agree on where to leave trees, and how many, takes a lot of work.

The Oregon Department of Forestry monitors logging on private lands in Oregon, and ODF is under pressure to change its rules on stream protection.

It's a mixed bag for California business these days; unemployment is down, but so is the water supply. Governor Jerry Brown told the state Chamber of Commerce that the state is in good shape despite the challenges.

The massive bee die-off in the Portland area two years ago thrust the Xerces Society and pollinators into the spotlight. 

Xerces wants protections for bees and other pollinators, and the White House is on board. 

Just last week the Administration announced a national strategy to save troubled pollinator species. 

Shades of "Cash for Clunkers," California offers incentives for drivers to ditch their older, dirtier vehicles in favor of cleaner-burning cars and trucks.


Fish and Wildlife Departments in our states need money to continue doing their job, and the answer may be a hike in fees for hunting and fishing licenses. 

As it is, agents are having trouble keeping up with poachers, and are seeing declines in some wildlife species as a result. 

Our EarthFix unit is tracking this and other angles in a series of stories called "Wildlife Detectives." 


The University of Oregon Environmental Studies Program put a new class on its schedule in the academic year now ending... a class combining environmental justice and the media. 

So students learned about making documentaries on environmental issues. 

The first one finished is called "Drift", about aerial herbicide spraying that landed on people in the Gold Beach area in October 2013. 


Jackson County's ban on GMO crops is set to take effect on June 6th, unless the federal judge hearing a suit against it blocks it.

Another vote on a GMO ban, in Benton County (Corvallis), failed this week, by a wide margin.  Benton County is home to Oregon State University, which performs research on GMO crops.

And OSU's agriculture dean, Dr. Dan Arp, sat on a task force reporting on GMO agriculture just last year.

The only ski area in Southwestern Oregon could have more weddings than ski days this year. 

Mount Ashland Ski Area only opened for 38 skiing days last winter... which is still 38 more than the winter before. 

Weddings and other warm-season events could become a more important part of the area's income down the road, if details can be worked out with the landlord, the U.S. Forest Service. 

Public comments are now being taken on summer recreation activities (see below). 

JPR's website will be in transition this morning (Thursday, May 21) starting at about 9:30am as it gets a facelift to a more mobile and tablet friendly design. The new "responsive" design will optimize the site’s layout for each individual user according to the screen size of the device being used to access


The potential impact of the Oregon Supreme Court's decision to stop the state from reforming the PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) benefits paid to retirees runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Oregon State Representative Peter Buckley (D-Ashland) will play a significant role in addressing this issue moving ahead. 

Buckley is the House Co-Chair for the Joint Ways and Means Committee, which helps shape state budgets.

Charlotte Duren/JPR News

Genetically modified crops--universally called GMO--are not going away, and neither is the controversy over them. 

Industry and many regulatory bodies insist they are safe, but many consumers and activists want them tightly controlled, if used at all. 

Jackson County passed a ban on growing GMO crops in May of 2014, the only binding local measure in Oregon.  That measure is set to take effect on June 6th, but first it has to clear a court challenge. 

Our Family Farms Coalition pushed for the measure. 


Voters rejected another public safety levy in Josephine County in Tuesday's election, adding to a string of levy failures dating back several years.

Vote returns showed the No side winning the night, 54 percent to 46 percent.  Measure 17-66 was crafted as a five-year serial levy to pay for more patrol deputies, more jail officers, and the reopening of the Josephine County juvenile shelter.

But the measure would have raised property taxes by $1.40 per thousand dollars assessed valuation.  Josephine County's tax rate for county services is the lowest in Oregon at 58 cents per thousand.


You can be forgiven if you forget that marijuana is still illegal in California, except for medical uses. 

And part of the confusion comes from various state and local government agencies setting up rules and guidelines for marijuana cultivation. 

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is among them, working toward a set of water quality regulations for marijuana growers. 

Unregulated use of water causes issues both coming and going; involving water taken from streams and wastes put into them. 

M.O. Stevens/Wikimedia

One decision from the Oregon Supreme Court will have a tremendous impact on state and local governments for years to come.  

The decision turned back a move by the legislature and governor to save money on public pensions, by reducing cost-of-living allowances for retirees.  

The court ruling nixed that, so the state, counties, cities, and school districts are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars of additional benefit payments.  

The Oregon School Employees Association is relieved by the decision.