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After nearly a week of fighting dozens of lightning-caused fires, agencies in several levels of government announced plans to better coordinate the firefighting.

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest announced "a multi-agency coordination group that will provide a mechanism for prioritizing incidents, sharing resources and putting fires out more efficiently."

For years, some farmers in central and eastern Oregon have been battling an unexpected new pest: a genetically modified strain of the soft, lush grass you’d commonly see on a golf course.

In 2003, a botched experiment by agribusiness giants Scotts Miracle-Gro and Monsanto unleashed a mutant strain of creeping bent grass across the state. It's a fight that raises questions about the regulation of GMOs and of who is on the hook when something goes awry.

UPDATE (12:30 p.m., Sunday, July 22) — Fire officials say crews have made significant progress fighting the Substation Fire burning near The Dalles, Oregon, which was 82 percent contained, burning just under 80,000 acres as of Sunday morning. All evacuation levels have been reduced to a Level 1 (be ready).

KUOW/Amy Radil

Do people getting their marijuana convictions vacated by the City of Seattle need to be notified? Are they entitled to legal counsel, and to reimbursement for the fines and fees they paid?

Policymakers, academics and regional industry leaders from the U.S. and western Canada are getting together in Spokane Monday to get an update on ongoing talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. So far, top U.S., Canadian and Mexican officials have missed numerous self-imposed deadlines to reach a deal.

During every berry picking season in the Pacific Northwest, blueberry and raspberry growers fight to prevent birds from gobbling up the crop before they can harvest it. This year, some farmers are trying something new and high tech to scare away the thieving birds.

A mural painted by artist Caratoes is shown on Tuesday, August 15, 2017, along the Sodo Track in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Kim Malcolm talks with Monica Guzman, editor of the Seattle daily newsletter The Evergrey, about some events to check out in Seattle this weekend.

Guzman recommends:

Citizen scientists count butterflies on Sauk Mountain, in the North Cascades.
Eilís O'Neill/KUOW-EarthFix Photo

Jean Bradbury lives in northeast Seattle. She’s an artist, and she loves swallowtail butterflies.

 

“These guys are big—like we think of a monarch, maybe—big like the palm of your hand,” Bradbury says. “They’re pale bright yellow. Very, very beautiful.”

 

She says she hasn't seen many swallowtail butterflies in Seattle before, but this summer she sees them every day.

Bellevue's new light rail tunnel will open in 2023
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

On Friday, Sound Transit finished a major milestone in bringing light rail to Bellevue: excavating a tunnel under the city's downtown. 

Are you ready for the Big One?

Jul 20, 2018
KUOW earthquake kit.
KUOW Photo/Katherine Banwell

Bill Steele is coordinator of the seismology lab at the University of Washington's Earth and Space Sciences department. He told KUOW's Katherine Banwell how to prepare for a major disaster.

Crews have finished drilling around 230 core samples in Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River in central Washington state.

UPDATE (July 20, 7:15 a.m. PT) — The Substation Fire burning east of The Dalles, Oregon, is now the nation's top priority fire. That means it's first in line for national fire resources as needed and available.

"This adds more people and tools to the 217 firefighters who are currently out here, and that's representing 73 fire agencies across our state," said Stefan Myers with the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office.

Dave Meinert, owner of the 5 Point Cafe, supports Seattle's minimum wage hike but he has cut workers' hours.
KUOW Photo/David Hyde

The woman waited in her car for the police. She lived in Shoreline, but was told earlier that day she needed to be within Seattle city limits to file a sexual assault report against nightlife entrepreneur David Meinert.

Milee Ballweg, 20, sits on the steps of a church in the University District where she sleeps just after 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW photo/Megan Farmer

Milee Ballweg sleeps on the steps of a church in Seattle’s University District.

She’s 20, her hair is blonde tinged with pink, and she wears ripped jeans and a Pokémon T-shirt. She sleeps wrapped in gray packing blankets that cover her face.

Linus Sticklin, age 7, wowed the crowd with his knowledge of natural disasters.
KUOW Photo/Kristin Leong

A catastrophe-focused crowd turned out last night for KUOW’s Disaster Night! — a quiz show about natural disasters (and disaster movies), at the Royal Room in Columbia City. 

UPDATE (July 19, 8:41 a.m. PT) — One person died as a result of the Substation Fire east of The Dalles, Oregon, and county officials have called in state help in determining whether someone intentionally set the blaze.

UPDATED COVERAGE: Man died trying to protect neighboring land from Substation Fire.

Seattle's Chinatown-International District
Flickr Photo/Curtis Cronn (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9hVGFD

The Chinatown International District will soon become a light rail hub in Seattle. Lines from Bellevue (2023), West Seattle (2030) and Ballard (2035) are planned to connect here. 

For almost 80 years, the Charles E. Nelson House stood abandoned and alone, tucked into a hollow on the high plains of Oregon. A clapboard farmhouse, sun-bleached, empty, leaning against the wind. It was widely considered the most photographed abandoned farmstead in Oregon.

Now, it's gone.

The iconic house near The Dalles burned to the ground in the Substation Fire, which had burned more than 36,000 acres and left one person dead as of this story's publishing on Wednesday.

The Oregon Health Authority says there are higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria in the water at Nye Beach in Lincoln County and Sunset Bay State Park Beach in Coos County.

The bacteria can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes and upper respiratory infections — especially among children and older people.

Increased pathogens and fecal levels come from shore and inland sources like sewer overflows, failing septic systems and animal waste.

Sam Farrazaino poses for a portrait on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, in his office at Equinox Studios in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Georgetown is only five miles south of downtown Seattle, but it feels like another city. Instead of gleaming skyscrapers, this is a neighborhood of modest wood homes and low-slung warehouses that shudder every time a plane roars away from nearby Boeing Field. Michigan Avenue slices through the community, a path for the trucks that rumble between the interstate and the factories on East Marginal Way.


City Light Superintendent Gordon Vickery with a prototype AMC Gremlin electric car, 1973
Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/UYLihW

Tesla tried to go mass market last year by starting production on the Model 3 – price tag starting at $35,000.

It didn’t go well. 

UPDATE (July 18, 12:44 p.m.) — A fast-growing wildfire east of The Dalles, Oregon, that forced evacuations Tuesday night and Wednesday morning is expected to make a push to the south and east due to dangerous fire conditions in the area, fire officials said. 

UPDATED COVERAGE:  Substation Fire may have been human-caused, officials say.

Three decades after Oregon blazed a trail by enacting statewide sanctuary laws, voters will have a say in repealing them this fall.

The past eight months have been a whirlwind of victories for Tarra Simmons—an honors law school graduate with a criminal past.

Edmonds City Council President Mike Nelson demonstrates how he uses a safe for his pistol.
KUOW Photo/Casey Martin

The city of Edmonds could soon fine people who don't lock up their firearms.

The ordinance is being proposed by a gun owner.


Plans for a wooden high-rise in downtown Portland are no more.

Developers behind a 12-story building project known as Framework say the project has been put on hold for the foreseeable future. They cited inflation, escalating construction costs and market changes.

For the first time in 40 years, there are Oregon silverspot butterflies on Saddle Mountain.

With containers full of caterpillars loaded painstakingly into backpacks, a team of biologists, zookeepers and park rangers winds its way up an increasingly steep trail. They're headed for the few, isolated meadows capable of supporting the endangered butterfly.

Carmen Best, center, smiles while standing with her husband, left, and Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan, right, during a press conference on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, at City Hall in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

After public uproar following the initial selection for the city's new head of police, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Tuesday morning that Interim Police Chief Carmen Best would be taking over the role permanently.

The legend and theorizing about Northwest skyjacker D.B. Cooper just won’t die. A new documentary about the unsolved 1971 hijacking introduces a new twist to the tale. It suggests we might have been looking for D.B. Cooper and his loot in the wrong place for all these years.

In response to the #MeToo movement, the Washington state Senate will create a new human resources officer position to investigate complaints of harassment and other workplace misconduct, replacing a previous system of “facilitators” who served as a go-to resource for victims.

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