EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

After a mysterious disease killed millions of sea stars up and down the West Coast in recent years, they’ve shown some signs of recovery in pockets of southern California. But, in the Pacific Northwest, they’re still suffering.

About 100 yards down a steep shrubby slope, there’s a low post supporting a green and blue plastic jug. It’s straight out of a psychedelic Tupperware party.

“This is a blue vane trap,” says Sydney Watkins, an Oregon State University field technician.

Watkins can’t see the ultraviolet light reflecting off the funnel-shaped mouth of the trap, but bees can.

“The bees really like the UV, so that's what attracts them,” she says. “We can look inside to see if we got anything.”

She peers through the narrow opening.

How Drones Are Helping Washington's Moose

Dec 22, 2017

Deep in the forests of northeastern Washington, snow blankets the ground. Through the trees, it’s hard to see the moose wandering in the woods.

But from a bird’s eye view? You can see a little brown splotch — with antlers.

Wildlife researchers are ditching the usual (costly, time consuming and invasive) ways they count moose. They’re taking to the sky and taking a new drone for a spin.

A new study from Oregon State University scientists finds that old-growth forests could be an important refuge for songbirds in the face of climate change.

Lead author and ecologist Matt Betts tracked songbird populations in different kinds of forests – including old growth and mature tree plantations.

They’ve been called devil fish. They’re No. 1 on the hit-list for invasive aquatic life in Washington waters.

And they’re creeping farther and farther down the Columbia River system.

So far, northern pike have reached Lake Roosevelt, the reservoir that's impounded behind Grand Coulee Dam.

Oregon Democratic lawmakers unveiled more details Wednesday for their plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

With the February legislative session only two months away, some Democrats are hoping to gather momentum to turn a cap-and-trade proposal into law during the six weeks they are in Salem this winter.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, helped draft the policy and said he hopes Oregon could eventually serve as a template for other progressive states to emulate when passing similar carbon-capping proposals.

Portland City Council voted to create a community outreach program to improve communications about the health and safety hazards associated with eating fish from the Portland Harbor Superfund area.

The vote came just one day after the Environmental Protection Agency signed an agreement finalizing the next big step in Superfund cleanup.

  

Although it's been decades since the Patterson-Gimlin film turned a Northwest legend, Bigfoot, into a household name, the footage and stories behind it still remain fascinating 50 years later.

The filmmakers, and namesakes of the film, are two former rodeo men from Yakima County in Washington. One, Bob Gimlin, still lives there. Roger Patterson died in 1972. They shot the footage off the banks of Bluff Creek in Northern California.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s attempt to lower the Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions has suffered a setback:  A judge's ruling that the state can't implement parts of his signature Clean Air Rule.

The ruling, issued last Friday, strikes down the Washington Department of Ecology’s plans to curb greenhouse gases from imported petroleum and natural gas products. Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon said the state needs the Legislature to pass a law okaying that part of the rule.

State and Portland city officials have agreed on a compliance schedule that outlines how the city plans to build and construct a water filtration plant in the Bull Run Watershed that will treat water for the parasite cryptosporidium.

The agreement marks the official end of a variance that made Portland the only city in the country that didn't have to treat its water for the parasite. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized the next big step in cleaning up the Portland Harbor Superfund site: inking an agreement for how pollution levels will be tested.

Four Washington landowners in the Moses Lake area are facing stiff penalties after illegally pumping more than 500 million gallons of water from a declining aquifer.

That illegally pumped water could have provided water to more than 4,000 homes for a year.

The Odessa aquifer in central Washington has been rapidly losing water since 1980. But that didn’t stop the four  landowners from illegally using the water to irrigate their alfalfa, timothy hay and potatoes last season.

Trump Administration Suspends Efforts to Bring Back Northwest Grizzlies

Dec 19, 2017
MICHAEL WERNER/KCTS9

The Trump administration is suspending efforts to bring back Washington’s grizzly bear population. That would leave the Northwest with fewer than ten of the imperiled bears.

There was a moment when Janisse Ray realized she couldn’t call herself an environmentalist and an activist and keep traveling by airplane.

The Trump administration is suspending efforts to bolster the grizzly bear population in Washington's North Cascades. That would leave this part of the mountain range with fewer than ten of the imperiled bears.

More trouble for the Canadian company that let 160,000 of its Atlantic salmon escape into Puget Sound this summer: Washington state officials announced Sunday that they had terminated Cooke Aquaculture's lease for its fish farm in Port Angeles after finding “serious safety problems” there.

In an emailed response, Cooke vice president Joel Richardson said the multinational company will use “all means at our disposal to protect our ability to continue to operate at this farm site.”

UPDATE (Dec. 17, 3:26 p.m. PST) — The city of Salem has shut off water from the North Santiam River, activating its groundwater and reservoir supply after a tanker truck carrying 11,500 gallons of gas crashed near Idanha, Oregon, Friday evening, spilling an unknown amount of gasoline into the river.

The city of Portland has reached a settlement with attorney John DiLorenzo and three plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit alleging misspending of ratepayer dollars by the city’s Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services.

Under the terms of the $10 million settlement, the city will transfer $7 million from its general fund to the utility funds — essentially reimbursing two agencies that rely on ratepayers to pay the bills — and will pay $3 million to the plaintiffs for legal bills. 

Two activists were acquitted of felony charges Thursday for protesting a liquefied natural gas plant currently under construction at the Port of Tacoma.

Marilyn Kimmerling, Cynthia Linet, and three other protesters linked themselves together last May to block construction crews from working on the future plant site.

A 3.9 magnitude earthquake hit near Molalla, Oregon, about 30 miles south of Portland on Wednesday evening.

Portlanders almost immediately took to social media to report shaking, as did residents in Salem, Woodburn and Canby.

The earthquake struck at a depth of 17.3 kilometers (a little less than 11 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake struck around 5:24 p.m.

A smaller 1.9 magnitude earthquake hit in roughly the same area on Nov. 28, according to USGS data.

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