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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.  

Deviant Art/Wikimedia

This interview explores the flip side of the coin on the Oregon Supreme Court decision on PERS, the Public Employee Retirement System.  

The court decision will cost state and local governments millions of dollars more than expected in benefit payments to retirees.  

The Oregon School Boards Association is assessing the impact on school districts. 

Bill McLean / JPR

Once upon a time, most of our children were so isolated from the social ills of our culture that adults thought them innocent, and unable to understand, much less resolve, serious social  problems.

Today’s youngsters, though, are often surrounded by troubling situations. The Oregon Community Foundation is using local schools to teach children to be philanthropists in their own communities.

AmeliaTempleton/EarthFx

Josephine and Curry counties occupy Oregon’s rural southwest corner. For many residents, a call to 9-1-1 could well be answered by a dispatcher saying there’s no one available to come to your aid.

Voters in both counties will decide on May 19 the fate of proposed property tax levies. The measures would raise money to restore severe cuts in law enforcement that were made after voters repeatedly and decisively shot down previous levies.

California Department of Water Resources

Snow surveys are supposed to find snow.  But in the mild winter we had, little precipitation fell as snow. 

Most of the later-in-the-season surveys turned up dirt. 

California's snow surveys came out even worse than Oregon's. 

W.W. Norton

Even people who do not know much of the Bible know the story of Noah's flood... the gigantic flood that supposedly wiped out all land creatures except the ones Noah took aboard his ark.

The search for evidence of that flood led to the beginning of the science of geology, and ultimated contributed to an ongoing tension between science and religion.

So says David Montgomery, geologist at the University of Washington. 

He's written a book on the flood called The Rocks Don't Lie, and he brings a lecture by that name to Southwestern Oregon Community College this week (May 16th). 

Liam Moriarty/JPR

The federal government has been telling Oregon for over a decade that its rules to protect threatened coastal salmon are not up to snuff. Now, the state is faced with a loss of federal dollars unless it gets with the program.

In response, the Oregon Board of Forestry is weighing whether to require timberland owners to leave more trees standing along streams to better protect fish habitat. And that’s got owners of small timber lands especially worried.

John R. McMillan/NOAA Fisheries

Salmon and other threatened fish need cold water to thrive. Research shows current logging rules in Oregon can result in streams warming up more than is allowed under standards meant to protect the fish.

That could force the state Board of Forestry to require more trees be left standing alongside fish-bearing streams. And that would be an economic hit to private forest landowners.

In Part Two of this story – reported in collaboration with InvestigateWest -- JPR looks at how science has ended up at the center of this debate. 

The Future is Now for Three Small Forests

May 12, 2015

Some of Oregon’s forest owners are seeking innovative ways to make a living off their land without logging it hard. Oregon’s small forest landowners, those with 10 to 5,000 acres, are responsible for just 15 percent of the timber harvest on average even though they lay claim to 44 percent of the state’s privately owned timberland.  Here is a look at three forests where owners are purposely going light on the land:

Can Carbon Markets Help Oregon's Small Forests?

May 12, 2015
Ben DeJarnette / InvestigateWest

When cancer comes calling, what if owners of small forest plots had another choice but to sell or to cut.

That’s the premise of a pilot program being launched in Washington and Columbia counties of northwest Oregon.

Standingonsacredground.org

The concerns of California's Winnemem Wintu Tribe get an airing on public TV with the creation of the film series "Standing On Sacred Ground."

The title is apt for the tribe, which is not currently federally recognized, and concerned about plans to raise Shasta Dam. 

The resulting raising of the lake would inundate what few historic sacred sites the tribe still has access to. 

Wikimedia

Oregon is on its way to joining California and New Jersey as states that ban "conversion therapy" for gay minors.   Both houses of the legislature passed a bill putting the controversial therapy off-limits to people under the age of 18. 

The therapy purports to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals, and is not accepted by much of the psychiatric establishment. 

The bill is welcomed by Basic Rights Oregon and the National Center for Lesbian Rights

Public Domain

The fate of the gray wolf stands in sharp contrast to that of the northern spotted owl. 

While conservation groups seek to move the owl from threatened to endangered, the gray wolf could move in the other direction. 

But are a few dozen wolves in Oregon enough to consider a stable population?  Under the current rules, yes. 

Russ Morgan is the Wolf Coordinator for Oregon Fish & Wildlife

Colin Hay Live Session

May 8, 2015
Soleil Rowan

Colin Hay may be best known as the lead singer for Men At Work, the platinum selling Australian band that topped worldwide charts in the '80s with anthems like “Down Under,” “Overkill,” and “Who Can It Be Now?” Hay’s justifiably proud of his place in pop history, but since moving to Los Angeles in 1989, he’s made 12 solo records in a new chapter of his lengthy and prosperous career. His most recent is called "Next Year People," released in 2015.

Edward J. O'Neill/National Fish and Wildlife Service

The ongoing efforts to distribute water in drought years always cause concern for someone. 

We recently visited with the Klamath Water and Power Authority about its program to pay some landowners to pump groundwater rather than irrigate. 

Some observers are less interested in the details than in the fact that it happens at all. 

Klamath River observer and critic Felice Pace certainly has some questions. 

Whitehorse Live Session

May 8, 2015

Whitehorse formed in 2010 by husband and wife solo musicians Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. The two toured in each other’s bands for years, but they put aside their award winning individual careers to build a new band out of their exceptional guitar playing, his and her harmonies and a flair for dramatic, narrative songwriting.

River Design Group

When the talk turns to removing dams from streams, the attention turns to the Klamath River. 

But while the long process of (maybe) removing four large dams inches forward, smaller projects are underway. 

WaterWatch of Oregon is one of several players working to remove a pair of small dams from Evans Creek, a tributary of the Rogue River. 

A magnitude 3.3 earthquake hit Wednesday morning just outside Redding, California.

The US Geological Survey reports the epicenter of the quake, which struck at 11:30 a.m., was about 2.5 miles northwest of Redding, near the intersection of Keswick Dam Road and Quartz Hill Road.

NOAA

Earlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown issued an historic order mandating that the state cut its water use by 25 percent. That's not an across-the-board cut.

While water hogging cities will have to cut their water use by as much as 36 percent, water super-savers like Santa Cruz may barely see any cuts.

It's all being hashed out by state regulators right now, who are are expected to finalize the cuts later this week. So who are the state's biggest water hogs, and water savers?

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