Jes Burns

Earthfix Reporter

Jes Burns is the Southern Oregon reporter for EarthFix, a public media collaboration covering energy and the environment in the Northwest.  Based in the JPR newsroom, Jes provides stories to stations throughout the Northwest. She previously worked for KLCC, the NPR station in Eugene, as a reporter and All Things Considered host. Jes has a bachelor's degree in English literature from Duke University and a master's degree from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communications.

Oregon Department of Forestry

Tuesday we’ll be getting more information about the fate of Oregon’s Elliott State Forest.  You might remember that the state put the 82,000-acre public forest near Coos Bay up for sale.

Just one bid came in – led by a private timber firm.  But the State Land Board decided to hold out and see if another, more publicly-minded offer would emerge.

Late last week, Governor Kate Brown released an alternative plan. Jes Burns, of our EarthFix team, spoke with JPR’s Liam Moriarty about what’s going on. 

Cilde Grover braces herself with her cane as she ducks through a small arch in the pasture fence.

“Molly, come!” she calls out, as her dog bounds ahead and blurs into the forest in the misty distance.

Grover remembers wide open pastures on her family's homestead near Brookings in Oregon's southwestern-most corner. That was back in the 1950s and '60s, when she and her three sisters were growing up. But now the trees have the upper hand.

“I look around and I go 'it's closing in on me!'" she laughs, glancing around at the forest all around her.

Jes Burns, OPB/EarthFix

It was an unseasonably warm June week when I visited Oregon’s Diamond Lake.

This made for some lovely fishing weather, but it wasn’t ideal for fish stocking. And that’s what a small group of employees with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife were there for.

“As soon as Greg gives me the word, I’ll dump ’em in,” said the fish deliveryman.

The thousands of fish had traveled via small trailer through the night from a hatchery in Utah. The driver arrived about two hours early in an attempt to beat the heat.

Winter storms have been eroding coastal bluffs at California's Redwood National Park, and as the cliffs disappear, the buried remains of Native American archaeological sites are at risk for falling into the ocean.

One such site is called Summer Place, says Suntayea Steinruck, a member of the Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation and a tribal heritage preservation officer. Her ancestors hunted and fished around what used to be a small village there.

Oregon Department of Transportation

This year, state lawmakers moved to get Oregon off of coal-fired electricity  by 2030.  That means replacing one-third of the state’s power supply in just 14 years. Renewable energy will likely benefit – and in particular, Oregon’s new laws are setting up solar as a potential big winner.  JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke with EarthFix reporter Jes Burns about the emerging landscape for solar power. 

Tami Heilemann/ Interior Department

Wednesday was a historic day for the Klamath River. Federal, state and tribal officials joined the head of a major power company to sign a pair of agreements.

Now, four privately owned hydropower dams are on track to be removed from the Klamath. It’s described as the largest river restoration project in the country.

EarthFix reporter Jes Burns was there for the signing. JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke to her afterwards.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

People have been fighting over scarce water resources in the Klamath Basin for decades.  After nearly ten years of negotiations, a series of agreements were reached.  They were designed to provide irrigation certainty for farmers and ranchers while preserving river and fishery health.  

But congressional approval for these locally-negotiated pacts is needed for them to move forward.  And after years of delay, the Klamath Restoration Agreements are approaching an end-of-the-year deadline. 

Jes Burns/EarthFix

As cooler, wetter weather comes to the Northwest, wildfire season is coming to a close. This year’s fires are leaving behind more than just charred forests. They’re setting the stage for what’s expected to be a fundamental shift in the landscape. Because of a changing climate, what grows back could permanently look very different than what was there before. 


Wildfire season is in full swing, with more acres burned than average in the Northwest so far. Scientists are studying the connections between climate change, drought and wildfire.  And policymakers and fire managers are trying to keep pace with new demands on resources as firefighting costs continue to rise. Jes Burns of our EarthFix team spoke with JPR’s Liam Moriarty about the latest thinking on these issues.

The Oregon legislature recently adjourned for the year, leaving some unfinished business when it comes to a state forest that’s been the subject of controversy. Conservation groups expressed dismay last year when state officials decided to sell parts of the Elliott State Forest to timber companies.

Wildfire season in the Northwest started early this year. Crews recently subdued the 5,345-acre Buckskin fire near southern Oregon’s Illinois Valley.

The Buckskin fire is called a “reburn” because it’s on land that was scorched by wildfire in the recent past. These reburns are a positive indication that the forests are recovering from decades of fire suppression.


The Northwest Forest Plan just turned 20 years old, but "Happy Birthday" might not be the appropriate comment. 

The plan was designed to preserve both old growth timber and spotted owls, and both are still in decline. 

The monitoring apparatus that came with the plan just released a 20-year progress report. 

Rob Manning/OPB

Northwest  forest policy is once again heating up.  Last week, federal officials presented their latest assessment of the Northwest Forest Plan, which covers more than 2 million acres of federal land in Washington, Oregon and California.  Jes Burns from our EarthFix team gets together with JPR’s Liam Moriarty to break it all down.

BLM/Public Domain

A federal appeals court Friday threw out a lower court ruling that required the Bureau of Land Management to increase timber sales in Southern Oregon.

The marina at Howard Prairie Lake is high and dry. The docks tilt awkwardly this way and that, stranded on the uneven lake bottom.

“Normally, on a year when the lake is full, we’d most likely have 15 to 16 feet of water above our heads. So, yeah, it’s a little pasture right now,” says Steve Lambert, Program Manager of Jackson County Parks.

Laura Daugherty balances a small tray on one gloved hand, like a waiter at black-tie restaurant.

Today’s main course is ring-necked pheasant – freshly skinned and raw.

Her patrons are a teeming pile of flesh-eating beetles.

“I’m sure they’re pretty hungry,” she says of the half-inch long insects. “And this is a nice fresh body for them to work on.”

Some of Oregon’s most colorful hills could see increased protections under legislation introduced Thursday.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is proposing to create 58,000 new acres of Wilderness covering the Painted Hills and Sutton Mountain. The area is located northeast of Prineville in Eastern Oregon.

The bill also proposes a 2000-acre land transfer from the Bureau of Land Management to Wheeler County for economic development projects, like a new RV park.

Oregon Fish & Wildlife

Since wolves first started returning to Washington and Oregon in the late 1990s, the population has been increasing steadily – especially over the past few years.

In late April, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission started the process of removing the predator from the state’s endangered species list.

All this brings up questions of whether the wolf has actually recovered enough to dial back protections. JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke with Jes Burns, from the EarthFix environmental news team. 

ASHLAND, Ore. -- Southern Oregon University is vying to join a small but growing number of campuses around the country turning to biomass energy -- or put more simply, burning wood and forest debris -- to produce power on campus.

Tucked away on the backside of Southern Oregon University is a modest 1950s-era warehouse. Puffs of cloud-white steam emerge from the smokestack on top. They're a result of burning natural gas to produce heat for the campus.

Springfield unveiled a brand new mural Monday celebrating the city's connection to "The Simpsons."

In 2012, after decades of speculation by fans, show creator Matt Groening revealed the cartoon Springfield was named for the Oregon city.  Springfield officials wasted little time, and commissioned a mural in a prominent spot downtown.

Yeardly Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, was on hand for the celebration.

Smith: "We have always said that Springfield is every town in America.  But that is a dirty lie.  Springfield is obviously in Oregon."