University of California Press


We've known for a long time that lead can do some horrible things to the human body. 

And so the government took steps to curtail the ways in which lead is used... it is no longer an ingredient in paint or gasoline, for example. 

But critics point out that the government has been slow to take further steps that might have protected people, but also would have caused some business impacts. 

The critics include science historians Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, the authors of the book Lead Wars

Little Mountain 5/Wikimedia

While planning and zoning laws and codes are plentiful, businesses that are less environmentally-friendly can still set up shop, as long as all the permits are in place. 

kcmckell/Live Aloha

Hypothetical: if we all have the same opportunity for success in society, but some of us live in environmentally degraded areas, are we all receiving justice?  Under the concept of environmental justice, the answer is no. 

It's not a new concept; the Oregon Legislature created an Environmental Justice Task Force nearly a decade ago. 

The task force meets in Medford this week (September 25th) with the heading "Fairness For the Land and the Worker." 

The Northwest Forest Worker Center and the farmworker group PCUN are among the sponsors.


  One bloom of toxic blue-green algae is a concern.  Two is a problem. 

A whole series approaches the realm of crisis, and that's where we are. 

Researchers at Oregon State University are taking note of the many--and increasing--incidents of toxic algae blooms, and the challenge they represent for managers of recreational and drinking water. 

Not to mention the challenge for all of us who use water. 


Offshore drilling for oil and gas is often opposed by people who favor the protection of sensitive and significant lands. 

Except for one thing: the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund

LWCF uses offshore oil and gas lease income to purchase property for public use; grants have bought big chunks of land in both states. 

But two issues loom: Congress often diverts money from the fund for other purposes... and the fund will expire this year without Congressional intervention. 


Oregon's love of natural areas, the push for economic development, and a governor who resigned under pressure... these are just some of the elements that converge in the state's proposed land swap in the Bandon area. 

A deal approved last year would turn 280 acres of the Bandon State Natural Area over to a private developer for a golf course. 


There's only so much anyone can learn in a classroom.  Learning about things like the environment get a lot easier IN the environment. 

That's the basic premise of the Fall in the Field program offered by Southern Oregon University. 

Graduate students in environmental education set up courses for kids in the 4th grade and up at several locations around the region. 

Wild And Scenic And On Camera

Nov 3, 2014

Our region is home to some of the most scenic rivers in the country… make that the world. 

And, for the second year, it is also home to a film festival dedicated to wild and scenic waterways. 

The 2nd Wild and Scenic Film Festival comes to Ashland on Sunday, November 9, featuring a slate of short films about rivers near and far.

"Two Talking Wolves" Sit And Stay A Bit

Oct 15, 2014
Oregon State University

Take a journalist who covers conservation issues and pair him up with a wildlife biologist who specializes in species recovery, and what do you call the duo? 

They chose (or somebody chose for them) "Two Talking Wolves."

Todd Wilkinson is the journalist wolf, Bob Ferris is the biologist. 

They visit the Rogue Valley to talk about their work and their concerns for the planet. 

Andy Kerr In The Wilderness

Oct 9, 2014
Oregon Wild

At one time, Andy Kerr might have been the most hated man in Oregon.  And he's fine with that. 

Kerr was instrumental in the fight to protect Northwest forests through the endangered species-listing of the northern spotted owl. 

And he's still plenty active in conservation issues, including paying tribute to the Wilderness Act in this, its 50th anniversary year. 

Selling Carbon Credits To A Car Company

Sep 8, 2014
SOU Center For Sustainability

Green is IN at Southern Oregon University. 

Not in school colors, but certainly in attitude. 

SOU prides itself on its environmental friendliness, with greater efficiencies in its newer and recently remodeled buildings. 

The efforts include selling carbon credits to Chevrolet.  Yes, the car company. 

Blocking Mines On Scenic Streams

Aug 14, 2014
PGHolbrook/Wikimedia Commons

Some of the prettiest waterways in our region could also be the richest in other ways. 

Hard-money ways, because of potentially valuable mineral contents. 

And miners have shown an interest in extracting some of the hard-rock riches of the streams. 

Which is why environmental groups including KS Wild just delivered thousands of letters to federal agencies, requesting a mineral withdrawal. 

Expanding The Oregon Caves

Jul 23, 2014
National Park Service/Public Domain

It takes a very long time to make a cave. 

All that dripping and calcifying takes hundreds of thousands, even millions of years. 

But making the legal boundaries of the Oregon Caves bigger only takes an act of Congress. 

And Congress is on it; the Senate just passed the Oregon Caves Revitalization Act and sent it on to the house. 

Suing To Help The Bull Trout

Jul 22, 2014
U.S. Fish & Wildlife/Public Domain

Environmental groups are keeping their own and government lawyers busy. 

Cascadia Wildlands and other groups recently announced an intention to sue the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management over the bull trout. 

The groups say the land agencies need a "timeout" to consider how projects on the lands they manage would affect the threatened trout. 

Cleaning Up Behind The Mine

Jul 10, 2014

It's one of the sharper debates in extractive industries: what happens to land that has been mined. 

Think about strip mines and mountaintop-removal mining. 

Now think happier thoughts, because Oregon rewards companies that do good work in reclaiming mined land. 

Wilderness Now And For The Future

Jun 2, 2014
Public Domain

Our country has taken steps to protect some of its wild areas, but the picture in the rest of the world can be grim. 

And no matter where the wilderness, climate change presents another set of issues. 

These and more will be discussed at the upcoming Oregon Wilderness Conference in Portland, hosted by the group Oregon Wild. 

In the absence of state regulations, many cities around the country are banning plastic single-use bags from store checkout counters. 

The City of Ashland just followed suit, though the ban will not take effect for six months. 


Our region is home to a vigorous environmental movement. 

It is also home to a large number of film buffs.  Both crowds will gather for the 2014 edition of the Siskiyou Filmfest in Grants Pass next weekend. 

December has been one of the driest months ever recorded in California, which is spurring some cities and counties in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region to issue water conservation orders earlier than usual.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the city of Folsom has already imposed a mandatory 20-percent water conservation order, while Sacramento County has asked residents in unincorporated areas to reduce water use by 20 percent.

Bureau of Land Management

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is introducing his long-awaited bill to promote logging on national forests in Eastern Oregon

The Oregon Democrat's Senate Natural Resources Committee is to take up the bill today.