EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

The Trump administration has finalized a roll back of Obama-era regulations for oil trains.

Seattle's New Seawall Is Built To Help Salmon

Sep 24, 2018

The waterfront is getting a redesign.

From a kayak under Pier 66 in downtown Seattle, the new seawall and pier don't look like what you would expect.

For one, it’s not dark under the pier. The sidewalk that covers Pier 66 is now made of opaque glass, and light floods down onto the water.

The design is supposed to be friendlier for fish.

Down here on the waterfront, the Alaska Way Viaduct is months from being torn down. The city is also redesigning this area for migrating salmon, making it more like the shoreline that was here before there was a city.

Trees Accidentally Killed By ODOT To Be Logged

Sep 24, 2018

The U.S. Forest Service was scheduled to present a plan Monday in Sisters to log trees that the Oregon Department of Transportation accidentally killed along a scenic drive. The culprit is an herbicide that state regulators still allow for roadside weed control.

The Forest Service says it needs to log as soon as possible along a 12-mile stretch of scenic road corridor through the Deschutes National Forest. Some of the trees to come down are hundreds of years old.

A year after the start of the 49,000-acre Eagle Creek Fire torched areas of the Columbia River Gorge and prompted closures at Multnomah Falls, crews are scheduled to continue clearing lingering brush remnants from the fire that could pose dangers to visitors at the iconic waterfall.

On Tuesday arborists are scheduled to spend most of the day removing hazardous trees that are at risk of falling from the slopes around Multnomah Falls

It’s September, so the hops harvest is in full swing in Washington’s Yakima Valley. At the Carpenter family’s farm in Granger, workers are making their way between rows of trellises, pulling down vines and feeding them into a sorting machine.

The Carpenter family has been growing hops in the Yakima Valley since the 1860s. Brad Carpenter, who helms the operation these days, said farmers in this dry valley depend on one thing: water.

This November, Portland voters will decide whether the city should tax certain businesses to create a clean energy fund.

The measure is referred to as the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Initiative — or the Portland Gross Receipts Tax, depending on who you ask.

Proponents of Measure 26-201, which will formally show up on ballots as the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Initiative, say the city needs money to fund clean energy projects if it's serious about meeting its clean energy goals.

By John Stang/Crosscut

Abe Garza of Richland worked around Hanford underground radioactive waste tanks for 34 years.

The 67-year-old former instrument technician has lived through many different safety cultures.

Respirators are not needed with the protective clothes, workers were told. Then, respirators must be worn. No, respirators are not needed. Back and forth. Back and forth.   

Wildlife officials are still searching for cougars near the area where hiker Diana Bober was fatally attacked.

They haven't seen any signs since Friday, when the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spotted a female cougar on a trail camera near where Bober's backpack was found. By the end of the day, they had tracked the animal with hounds, treed and killed it.

To understand what climate change is doing to the Pacific Ocean scientists need data.

Lots of it.

Traditionally, data has been expensive to secure because it involves large equipment and ocean voyages. But the miniaturization of technology and some clever new machines mean scientists are now getting lots of data — sometimes delivered via phone to the comfort of an office chair.

A good example can be found on the deck of the Forerunner, a small Clatsop Community College research vessel that sails out of Astoria. 

When toxins from algae made Salem’s drinking water potentially hazardous earlier this year, the city was unprepared to deal with both the public relations fallout from the breach and the more concrete matter of helping citizens access clean water.

The search continued Friday for the cougar thought to have killed hiker Diana Bober in the forests near Mount Hood. Her death is considered the first to result from an attack by a wild mountain lion in the state. It has led the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to close 14 trails and 29,000 acres of national forest so the hunters can search unimpeded.

By Ted Alvarez/Crosscut

For the third year in a row and the second time this month, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced plans to kill wolves roaming Ferry County. Since Sept. 4, members of the Old Profanity Territory pack have killed one calf and injured five others on U.S. Forest Service grazing lands.

Wildlife advocates are pushing federal officials to stop using spring-loaded cyanide devices to poison predators in Oregon. They filed a petition Thursday asking for an official rulemaking to ban the practice and remove the devices currently out on the land.

The petitioners call the M-44 devices “cyanide bombs” because when triggered, they shoot a burst of deadly cyanide powder in the air. Federal animal control agency Wildlife Services states it uses M-44s to kill problem coyotes, foxes and feral dogs.

A federal court has upheld an environmental law that protects fish habitat from a certain type of gold mining in Oregon rivers and streams.

 The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the Oregon Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown were within their rights to adopt a ban on suction dredge mining.

Closing A Highway To Save Washington Salmon

Sep 11, 2018

Swauk Creek runs through the dry dirt and the fir and pine trees of the Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest. Right now, it’s no more than a few inches deep and perhaps 5 to 6 feet across. But, in the spring, this creek is 20 feet wide.

By Jason Buch/Crosscut

In the early 1980s, a group of recreational fishermen dropping lines near the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard, Washington, started complaining about a particularly large and wily California sea lion.

The shore anglers had good reason to be annoyed. Each time they hooked a fish, this sea lion would pop up and eat it off their line.

Deaths related to air pollution from wildfires could double by the end of the century, according to newly published research into the links between climate change, wildfires and human health.

UPDATE (9:19 a.m. PT) — Interstate 5 partially reopened to traffic Monday morning as fire officials continue to battle the growing Delta Fire. California’s transit agency says one lane is open in each direction over a 17-mile stretch. The stretch of highway between Redding and Mount Shasta had been closed since Wednesday, Sept. 5. Drivers are warned to expect lengthy delays.



Behind Wildfire Suppression, A Human Toll

Sep 8, 2018

Jay Crawford was face-first against the dirt. Somehow, he was still alive.

He looked around the forest and checked himself over to make sure he really was.

Then he glanced downhill toward his friend John Hammack. Crawford saw brush and the giant trunk of a fallen Douglas fir.

No sign of Hammack.

He shouted. No answer.

On the morning of Aug. 1, 2013, Crawford and Hammack had set out to cut a single Douglas fir tree burning in the woods outside Sisters, Oregon.

Most people probably aren’t thinking about vultures.

“We don’t notice they’re there, but we would notice if they weren’t,” said Travis Koons, animal curator at the Oregon Zoo.

Known for their scavenging tendencies and bald, fleshy heads, vulture species such as California condors are much more than ugly birds, Koons said.