EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

By Eric Keto/KCTS 9

What does your future commute look like? Will you be taking a self-driving car, a solo-wheel, the hyperloop?

What about a self-driving bike?

In this episode of "ReInventors," we look at how Professor Tyler Folsom and his students at University of Washington Bothell are spearheading a grassroots effort to test and develop lighter, more affordable, personal rapid transit: self-driving bikes.

Oregon regulators have fined a Washington County company for violating asbestos rules more than 100 times.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality fined the company, Oregon Environmental LLC of Cornelius, more than $436,804. It also revoked the company’s license to handle asbestos.

Crews Turn The Corner On The Klamathon Fire

Jul 11, 2018

Five days after the Klamathon fire raced across the dry grasslands along the Oregon-California border, crews have fought the fire to a standstill. Even after days of gusty winds, containment lines have held and the fire has not increased in size since Monday.

“Any time our lines hold after strong winds like that, that next day is always a good day,” CalFire Team 4 Chief of Operations Mark Brown said at a briefing in Yreka Tuesday evening. “Today we had a good day.”

Fire managers have expressed cautious optimism that they will be able to continue making progress against the Klamathon fire in the coming days.

So far, the fire has burned 36,500 acres in northern California and southern Oregon and is 40 percent contained. 34 homes and 43 other structures have been destroyed, and more than 3,100 people have been evacuated or sheltered.

You know that expression, "Leave no stone unturned?"

That’s how Washington State University neuroscientist Allison Coffin goes about catching midshipman fish — at least during mating season.

Standing on the rocky, oyster-covered shoreline of Hood Canal, she rolled over a beach-ball sized rock to reveal a small pool of water just barely covering two fish.

“Oh yeah! Another female,” she said. “And then there’s the male right there.”

Because it’s low tide, some of the fish she and her research partner Joe Sisneros uncovered aren’t in any water at all.

Backers of an initiative to fund clean energy projects in Portland with a new business tax say they have gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot in November.

The Portland Clean Energy Fund would pay for programs like home weatherization, energy efficiency upgrades and job training in the renewable energy and energy efficiency fields. Many of the programs would be earmarked for low-income Portlanders and communities of color.

A new report finds significant air quality problems at a middle school building slated to open this fall in North Portland.

Oregon has adopted new rules to protect farmworkers from pesticides. 

The new regulations establish zones around pesticide applications that workers cannot enter. It also allows workers the choice to take shelter in housing or other structures instead of moving away.

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Recreation in an untamed part of Southern Oregon generated far more economic benefit than grazing and logging put together. Yet it's difficult to say how changing the boundaries of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument might alter that mix.

Walla Walla County might just be the only place on Earth where you have to brake for bees.

“You can see the signs here,” says Mike Ingham, as he drives by a 20-mile-per-hour speed limit sign with a smaller sign below stating “Alkali Bee Area.” “There’s actually a county ordinance to slow the cars down who go by here, because a speeding car can kill a lot of alkali bees.”

The U.S. House approved a bill Tuesday that makes it easier to kill a limited number of sea lions that threaten imperiled salmon and steelhead populations.

The legislation was co-sponsored by Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.

“What we currently have on the Columbia River is an ecosystem seriously out of balance,” said Herrera Beutler, who believes the bill is necessary to save fish runs on the brink of extinction.

A new report examines a variety of ways the Portland metropolitan area can reduce toxic air pollution.

Inciweb.gov

Federal officials anticipate a big wildfire season in the Northwest throughout July, August and possibly into September.

The latest forecasts show droughts throughout much of Oregon and Southeast Washington and the potential conditions for large fires if the region sees a week or longer stretch of hot and dry weather, according to the latest drought and climate outlook.

Federal officials anticipate a big wildfire season in the Northwest throughout July, August and possibly into September.

The latest forecasts show droughts throughout much of Oregon and Southeast Washington and the potential conditions for large fires if the region sees a week or longer stretch of hot and dry weather, according to the latest drought and climate outlook.

“If everything lines up with the dry condition and lightning, we could see an above-normal fire season across Oregon,” said Ed Delgado of the National Interagency Fire Center.

Pikas are little rabbit-like mammals that could fit in the palm of your hand. They’re often seen scurrying around rocky alpine slopes with their mouths full of wildflowers.

Pikas like it cold, so, as the climate has warmed, they’ve disappeared from lower elevations where they used to live.

For years, scientists thought pikas were adapting to climate change by moving uphill. But new research indicates the news is even worse than that.

Salem's Water Advisory 'Unlikely' To Be Lifted Monday

Jun 22, 2018

A drinking water advisory for the city of Salem doesn’t look like it’s going away just yet.

After extending the advisory over potentially harmful cyanotoxins for two weeks on June 11, city officials now say it’s unlikely the warning will be lifted June 25.

“I’m not going to rule anything out, but it does seem unlikely,” said Heather Dimke, a management analyst for Salem’s public works department.

This is a guest post by Claire Schoen, a producer, documentary filmmaker and the creator of the Stepping Up podcast.

Richmond, California, is a working class town that grew up in the shadow of a Chevron refinery. The company ran both the economy – and the local government – for more than a century.

Oregon Approves Killing Of Eastern Oregon Wolf

Jun 21, 2018

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is permitting an Eastern Oregon rancher to kill one wolf from a pack that’s been injuring his cattle.

A Wallowa County rancher found three injured calves in a pasture on private land over a span of a few days last week. All three were confirmed wolf attacks.

Wildlife officials know of at least three wolves are in the area. The rancher has a permit to kill one wolf on that privately owned pasture or the adjacent stretch of public land where he is permitted to graze cattle. The kill permit expires July 10.

Salem Tests A New Way To Remove Toxins From Drinking Water

Jun 19, 2018

After issuing two drinking water advisories for toxins produced by a harmful algae bloom, the city of Salem is testing out a possible solution.

Algae in Detroit Lake is sending cyanotoxins into the North Santiam River, where Salem gets its drinking water.

At 2 o’clock on a recent Friday afternoon, the parking lot at the Mailbox Peak trailhead was almost full. This much was to be expected: Mailbox is a popular hike in the Middle Fork Valley, just outside of North Bend, Washington.

“I was just glad we got a parking spot,” Jason Gobin, a member of the Tulalip Tribes and their fish and wildlife director, said.

But, when Gobin was a kid, the Middle Fork Valley wasn’t like this. It didn’t have a paved road or fancy outhouses. And there weren’t many hikers. Back then, Gobin and his uncles hunted elk and bears on these lands.

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