EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Cannon Beach Has A Rabbit Problem

22 hours ago

Many years ago, someone released their pet bunnies at Cannon Beach.

Pets don’t usually do well in the wild. They can’t easily find food and aren’t well prepared for predators. But for some reason, these rabbits survived to do what their species does best: Reproduce, again and again and again.

Now the coastal town is split between those who love their fluffy neighbors and those who want to be rid of them.

Can Genome Sequencing Help Northwest Orcas Recover?

Oct 10, 2018

This summer, an orca known as J-35 made national headlines while carrying the body of her dead calf for 17 days in the waters of the Salish Sea.

Her loss gripped the nation and was also a huge blow for the Southern Resident killer whale population. That’s because over the past 30 years the population of these Pacific Northwest orcas has declined 25 percent.

Good ideas seem less like good ideas when a short winter day is quickly getting dark, snow is falling harder, and the trail ahead is marked only by small yellow ribbons dangling from distant pines.

Carla Danley had fallen several times. At 7,000 feet, the elevation was making it hard for her to breathe. And after cross-country skiing for more than five hours, her legs, she said, were "spaghetti."

Danley had forged her life in the outdoors, but she was beginning to wonder if she'd taken on more than she was prepared for.

Opponents of Portland’s gross receipts tax measure say the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits initiative could actually cost Portland residents more than initially expected.

Federal wildlife managers are proposing to list the Humboldt marten as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. This comes after a long legal battle with conservation groups.

Environmental groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a couple years back after it initially denied the listing. But a judge ordered the Service to reconsider by this month.   

Only a few hundred Humboldt martens are left, living in small coastal pockets of forest in Northern California and Southern Oregon.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is pushing back against Trump administration rollbacks of environmental protections at the federal level. On Wednesday morning she announced legislation that would maintain Oregon’s water and air quality rules at the same level or higher than they were the day before the president took office.

One of the stated goals of the legislation is to protect public health welfare from the adverse effects of pollution and climate change.

Grand Ronde Tribal Chairwoman Cheryle Kennedy is standing above Willamette Falls in Oregon City looking down on a torrent of whitewater alongside the Portland General Electric dam.

Somewhere in the water below, tribal workers are making their way in boats to the site where they hope to build a fishing platform – the first to be built at the falls in a generation.

The tribe had planned on accessing the site by land through PGE property but they recently learned that's not an option.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley took credit this week for securing nearly $30 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for piping in the Tumalo Irrigation District system. The pipes will replace about 70 miles of inefficient open-air canals.

“In some places, we can lose up to 50 percent of the water we put in the canal,” said Tumalo watermaster Chris Schull.

The lean profile of the whale known as K25 is yet another sign of trouble for the region’s endangered orcas.

On Sunday, the Globe and Mail reported “dismal” returns of chinook salmon in British Columbia’s Fraser River, one of the most important food sources for the southern resident killer whales.

Public Asked To Help Plan Future Trails At Cascade Head

Sep 26, 2018

People who care about a popular coastal headland near Lincoln City can help shape its future. There’s an open house Thursday in Lincoln City to discuss a sustainable trails plan for Cascade Head Scenic Research Area.

Cascade Head is the terminus of the Cascade Mountains at the edge of the continent. The headland looms north of Lincoln City and has native grasses, rare wildflowers and the Oregon silverspot butterfly. It features official and unofficial hiking trails. Hebo District Ranger Debi Wilkins says the area has become more popular.

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.