environment

The Bureau of Land Management released new plans Thursday for managing sage grouse habitat across public lands in Oregon, Idaho and eight other Western states.

Sage grouse populations have been hit hard east of the Cascades: from habitat loss, invasive species, grazing, and wildfires. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has called these threats “a death of one-thousand cuts.”

The agency will decide by this September whether to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. Coast Guard

A new report from The National Transportation Safety Board says poor planning and risk assessment by Shell Oil led to the wreck of the Kulluk oil rig off the coast of Alaska in December 2012.

As the sun rises over a remote rye field in northwestern Colorado, about 170 greater sage grouse dance in a distinctive mating display. Males make popping and whooshing sounds and fight to attract the female’s attention.

“All these males that you see out here, less than 10 percent will actually get to breed,” whispers Brian Rutledge, the director of the Audubon Society’s Wyoming office.

Obama Administration Finalizes Clean Water Rule

May 27, 2015

The Obama Administration Wednesday announced a new clean water rule. The Environmental Protection Agency says it will help limit pollution in streams and wetlands.

The rule is meant to clarify uncertainty about who can regulate these smaller waterways and water bodies.

Environmentalists say the new rule will keep drinking water clean. Lauren Goldberg is the staff attorney with Columbia Riverkeeper. She says this new rule will provide critical protection for clean drinking water and fish habitat.

In the last couple of years, we've detected a faint buzz about crispy crickets and crunchy mealworms. Companies pedaling scorpion lollipops and peanut butter-and-jelly protein bars made with cricket flour have thrust their wares into our hands and mailboxes.

Two branches of the federal government struck a deal Tuesday on when to clean up radioactive sludge near the Columbia River.

The push for cleaner fuels in Oregon and Washington has led to proposals that would bring the region more crude oil and a new refinery along the Columbia River.

Riverside Energy, a subsidiary of Houston-based company Waterside Energy Inc., intends to build a refinery to process mostly crude oil and some biofuels that can meet a growing demand for low-carbon fuels in the Portland metro area, according to interviews and documents.

Officials Start Killing Columbia River Cormorants

May 27, 2015

Crews with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services have started killing cormorants on an island in the Columbia River, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The federal government has been telling Oregon for over a decade that its rules to protect threatened coastal salmon are not up to snuff. Now, the state is faced with a loss of federal dollars unless it gets with the program.

In response, the Oregon Board of Forestry is weighing whether to require timberland owners to leave more trees standing along streams to better protect fish habitat. And that’s got owners of small timber lands especially worried.

The Future is Now for Three Small Forests In Oregon

May 26, 2015

Some of Oregon’s forest owners are seeking innovative ways to make a living off their land without logging it hard. Oregon’s small forest landowners, those with 10 to 5,000 acres, are responsible for just 15 percent of the timber harvest on average even though they lay claim to 44 percent of the state’s privately owned timberland.

Here is a look at three forests where owners are purposely going light on the land:

Acres: About 1,000 acres in the northern Oregon Coast Range, Hyla Woods is about an hour’s drive west from Portland.

Can Carbon Markets Help Oregon's Small Forests?

May 26, 2015

When cancer comes calling, what if owners of small forest plots had another choice but to sell or to cut.

That’s the premise of a pilot program being launched in Washington and Columbia counties of northwest Oregon.

Anchored by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and an $820,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Forest Health/Human Health Initiative envisions what planners call an “A-Tree-M” card for forest owners who are threatened by medical bills but don’t want to cut or sell.

Kim Malcolm talks to EarthFix reporter Katie Campbell about the underground shellfish poaching industry in the Northwest. 

British Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott in the KUOW offices, May 2015.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

David Hyde speaks with British Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott about a unique environmental partnership between Washington state and the United Kingdom. They also discuss the recent tussle between Shell Oil and the City of Seattle. 

Go Undercover With Northwest Shellfish Detectives

May 26, 2015
Detective Wendy Willette of Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife in the police van. Willette heads an operation to unravel a shellfish black market that has sprung up in South Puget Sound.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A man and woman drive a blue pickup to the back of a Chinese restaurant.

A man approaches them with a scale as the woman pulls a bag heavy with clams from the back of the truck.

The transaction is quick and casual, as though they’ve done this before. And they have. But this time, a hidden camera has captured their transaction. 

Poaching 100-Year-Old Geoducks For Big Money

May 26, 2015
Officer Natalie Vorous unpacks boxes of geoduck at Sea-Tac searching for evidence they were harvested legally. These were not. They were confiscated.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Of all the shellfish that sell on the black market, one clam is above the rest -- the geoduck.

Pronounced gooey-duck, these hefty clams bury themselves in sand where they stay for 100 years, doing little more than stretching their meter-long, fleshy siphon up to feed on phytoplankton.

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