EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

UPDATE (June 2, 1:13 p.m. PT) — After about four days under a drinking water advisory for Salem's vulnerable populations, the city has declared water safe for all residents.

The decision to lift the advisory was based on water samples taken on Wednesday and Thursday. The city says the results confirm that toxin levels are below health advisory levels and that water is now safe to drink.

Toxins Decrease In Salem's Water, But More Apologies From City Officials

Jun 1, 2018

Salem’s four-day algae nightmare might be ending soon.

In a special meeting of the Salem City Council on Friday afternoon, city officials revealed that the most recent test results for the city’s drinking water showed levels of cyanotoxins were below thresholds that create health concerns.

Tribal leaders on both sides of the border said Canada's purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline would not weaken their opposition to the pipeline's planned expansion.

The project would triple the amount of oil flowing from Alberta tar sands through British Columbia and increase oil tanker traffic to refineries on Puget Sound.

Agencies Taking 'Abundance Of Caution' After Toxins Found In Salem Water

May 30, 2018

The city of Salem began regular, voluntary water sample testing at several locations in early May, when algae blooms started appearing in Detroit Lake.

The lake, which flows downstream and into the city's drinking water intake, was free of toxins. That was until test samples taken last week and received Saturday revealed low levels of cyanotoxins caused by the blooms.

You Thought The Eagle Creek Fire Was Out? Think Again.

May 29, 2018

You probably thought the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge had died out — but no.

A small hot spot flared up early Tuesday morning about a half-mile east of the Herman Creek Trailhead.

It’s less than a quarter of an acre with little chance that it will spread. Firefighters are using nearby creek water to extinguish it.

Gas prices are up this Memorial Day weekend, but in Oregon the carbon emissions per gallon of fuel are down, according to a new report on the state’s Clean Fuels Program.

The program requires annual reductions in carbon pollution from Oregon’s transportation fuel with a goal of cutting emissions 10 percent by 2025.

Trump Administration Says It Won't Sell Off BPA Transmission Lines

May 24, 2018
Bradley W. Parks/OPB

The Trump administration has abandoned its bid to sell off the Pacific Northwest’s publicly owned utility transmission lines, according to Republican members of Congress who were briefed on the decision.

A Southern Oregon tribe is accusing federal water managers of failing to keep Upper Klamath Lake full enough to ensure the continued survival of two endangered species of sucker fish that its people once depended on for subsistence.

The Klamath Tribes leveled their claim in a lawsuit filed late Wednesday federal district court against the Bureau of Reclamation.

Water quality in the lake is generally poor and that can be exacerbated in drought years like the one we’re in.

Byrne Miyamoto is finished with juniper. At least he wants to be. 

For the past three years, the Oregon State University graduate research assistant has been hauling juniper from Eastern Oregon and cutting it up to avoid knots.

"Getting a small clear sample out of a tree that is twisted and has knots everywhere is very difficult," he said with a chuckle.

Miyamoto would then run the knot-less boards through a series of tests at the university’s wood testing lab.

A new study has found that if the climate warms as projected, warmer streams could compound the effects of global warming by adding more heat-trapping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Scientists tested the carbon output of streams at seven locations across the globe, including watersheds in Oregon, Puerto Rico, Alaska and Australia.

The Puyallup Tribe welcomed the first salmon of the year back to the Puyallup River in Tacoma on Tuesday.

Strangely, perhaps, that chinook's epic journey from mid-Pacific Ocean to a Puyallup fishing net begins with a sloshing tanker truck.

Tribes from Alaska to California have held annual "first salmon" ceremonies for centuries to thank the wide-ranging fishes for coming home after years at sea.

But some years, the Puyallup River barely has enough chinook salmon to support a ceremony, let alone a tribe whose diet used to be mostly salmon.

The judge in the Eagle Creek Fire case has ordered the teen boy who admitted starting the blaze to pay $36.6 million in restitution.

Oregon's juvenile delinquency statute requires youth to fully pay any economic damages they cause to victims of the Columbia River Gorge fire. 

A University of Oregon student died Saturday morning at California's Shasta Lake while attending an annual camping event.

University officials identified the student as 21-year-old fraternity member Dylan Pietrs. According to the Oregonian/OregonLive, Pietrs was drinking the day before fellow students found his body, but it is not clear yet whether that contributed to his death.

Police do not suspect foul play in the incident.

A new stretch of land has reopened since the Eagle Creek Fire last September, allowing the public back onto several trails and lakes in the Columbia River Gorge.

The area includes Starvation Creek State Park, which acts as an access point for the strenuous Starvation Ridge trail, Mount Defiance trail and Warren Lake. Several more lakes and their access trails are also open for fishing and hiking, and Forest Road 1310 is now open to vehicles.

But as with any outdoor recreation, there are risks, and those risks are greater in damaged areas.

When I opened my front door to Enhabit Home Energy Score Adviser Peter Kernan, I was actually feeling fairly confident about my home's energy efficiency.

I bought the 1938 Tudor in the dead of winter five years ago and my first electric bill was $250. To heat the home, I had to turn on the original electric wall heaters with their glowing, red-hot coils. The leaky, old single-pane windows failed to keep the snow out of my bedroom.

How Dangerous Are The Northwest’s Volcanoes?

May 17, 2018

  

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, chances are good you can see a volcano from where you stand.

In Oregon, Washington and Idaho, magma has erupted out of the ground in at least 25 places in the last 10,000 years, a mere instant in the lifetime of volcanoes that can be hundreds of thousands of years old.

The 15-year-old boy who pleaded guilty to igniting the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge last September could be required to pay more than $36 million in restitution to 11 parties related to fire damage.

Judge John Olson did not reach a decision on how much to award in court and said he would issue a written order on the amount of restitution as early as Friday. 

The unnamed Vancouver, Washington, teen did not attend the restitution hearing in Hood River County Thursday morning. He was represented by his attorney Jack Morris.

An environmental group sued the Southern Oregon city of Medford Wednesday over wastewater discharge in the Rogue River. The suit alleges outflow from the sewage treatment plant violates the Clean Water Act.

Northwest Environmental Advocates says the city’s wastewater treatment plant releasing nutrients into the river. They says Medford has known about the issue for years and has not moved to correct the situation.

A group of senators from western states want to expand a national effort to boost timber production and restore natural conditions on overstocked forests using thinning and other restoration work.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, would extend the Forest Service’s expiring Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program for the next 10 years and double its annual budget to $80 million.

Oregon To Replace 450 Old Diesel School Buses

May 14, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

The state of Oregon will pay to replace 450 old diesel school buses using some of the $72.9 million dollars it expects to receive through the Volkswagen emissions cheating court settlement.

About 2,800 of Oregon's diesel school buses were built before 2007, which means they release far more pollution than newer buses. The older buses could be replaced with newer diesel buses, or with alternative vehicles powered by natural gas or electricity.

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