environment

EarthFix Reports
8:50 am
Mon March 17, 2014

A Lost Season For An Oregon Ski Area

The Mt. Ashland ski area in Southern Oregon will not open this season due to a regional drought and a lack of snow. Here's what it looked like in early 2013, when the slopes were open for business.
Devan Schwartz

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 12:45 pm

Oregon’s southernmost ski resort, Mt. Ashland, announced Friday that it will not open due to lack of snow. That’s the first non-opening in the mountain’s fifty-year history.

A snowpack of less than 20 inches and forecasts for March temperatures in the 60s weighed in the final decision, said Kim Clark, general manager of the non-profit ski resort.

“The daffodils are up and the trees are blooming down here, and people are starting to think about springtime activities unfortunately,” Clark said.

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EarthFix Reports
5:15 am
Mon March 17, 2014

A Ladder To Help Lamprey Swim Upstream

Pacific lamprey will now be able to more easily swim past the McNary Dam on the Columbia River. The Army Corps of Engineers has installed new lamprey passage system – the first of its kind for lamprey.
Flickr Creative Commons: USFWS Pacific

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:02 pm

Pacific lamprey will now be able to more easily swim past the McNary Lock and Dam on the Columbia River. Dam managers have installed new lamprey passage system -– the first of its kind for the toothy, eel-like fish.

Pacific lamprey numbers have dropped dramatically in the past 25 years. No one is really sure why – but fish biologists suspect difficulty swimming upstream is partly to blame.

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Public Utilities
5:13 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Canada, U.S. Disagree Over Value of Columbia River Treaty Benefits

File photo of the Columbia River's Chief Joseph Dam near Bridgeport, Washington. The dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 7:12 pm

British Columbia has staked out a negotiating position on a cross-border water treaty that puts it at odds with public utilities and ratepayers in the U.S. Northwest.

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EarthFix Reports
5:02 am
Mon March 17, 2014

You Know Your Car’s Fuel Efficiency. What About Your House?

This home's energy performance score is 37. Pretty good, considering the scale runs from zero to 200, and zero is the best score you can get.
Credit Courtesy of Vintage Real Estate

The first month’s electric bill at my new house was a shocker: $348. Granted, the house has electric heat, and the bill was for February when it got pretty darn cold in Portland. But still – yikes!

So, when I heard that Portland homeowner Brooks Shephard cut his monthly electric bills from $280 to $100, I had a vested interest in learning more.

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Cracked Dam
8:01 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Wanapum Dam River Drawdown Churns Up More Old Bones

Washington State officials are worried over the safety of newly-found human remains and artifacts on miles of newly-exposed Columbia River shoreline.
Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 2:04 pm

State officials are reporting the discovery of a second set of human remains near the cracked Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River in Eastern Washington state.

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EarthFix Reports
9:06 am
Thu March 13, 2014

EarthFix Conversation: Using Environmental Law To Combat Climate Change

Mary Wood is the founder of the University of Oregon's Environment and Natural Resources Law Program.
Credit Courtesy of University of Oregon

Can environmental laws protect the planet from climate change? They haven't so far, according to University of Oregon law professor Mary Wood. But she says one day they could.

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News From Canada
4:16 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Quebec's Media Mogul, South Korean Trade Pact, And Victoria's Sewage Plan

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and South Korean President Park Geun-hye reach a historic free trade agreement.
Flickr Photo/Stephen Harper (CC BY-NC-ND)

Steve Scher talks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about Canadian media mogul, Pierre Karl Péladeau, throwing in his lot with the separatists. Canada also signs free trade agreement with South Korea, and Palmer updates us on Victoria’s latest plan to build its sewage treatment plant.

Ski Resort Damages
8:46 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Intentional Avalanche Destroys Crystal Mountain Chairlift

The remains of a slab avalanche at Crystal Mountain.
Crystal Mountain Resort

An avalanche destroyed a chairlift at the Crystal Mountain resort near Mount Rainier on Monday afternoon when the resort was closed. The avalanche was intentionally set off by the resort's ski patrol and no one was hurt.

Despite the destruction, patrollers say they have no regrets.

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Hanford Site
8:38 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Hanford Whistleblowers: Senate Hearing Forces Few Answers Into The Open

File photo of Hanford whistlerblower Walt Tamosaitis testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight in 2011.
US Senate

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 4:17 pm

In Washington, D.C. Tuesday, Hanford whistleblowers Donna Busche and Walt Tamosaitis weren’t allowed to speak before a Senate hearing.

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Wanapum Dam
8:35 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Old Questions About Newly-Exposed Bones On Columbia River Shore

Newly exposed riverbank sprawls out upstream on the Columbia River from Wanapum Dam
Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 6:17 pm

Grant County officials and Native Americans are patrolling round the clock to keep sacred and sensitive sites protected on miles of exposed Columbia River shoreline.

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Disaster Debris
8:34 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Three Years Later, Where Did Japanese Tsunami Debris Go?

File photo of a fishing skiff found on the Washington coast in May 2013.
Eyewitness photo Wash. Marine Debris Task Force

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 4:26 pm

It's been exactly three years since a huge tsunami in March 2011 took thousands of lives in Japan and washed whole villages out to sea.

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Natural Disaster
3:44 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Reconstructing Japan Three Years After The Earthquake And Tsunami

People mourn for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 11, 2014.
AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

Marcie Sillman talks with Seattle Times science reporter Sandi Doughton about Japan's efforts to rebuild after the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

EarthFix Reports
9:08 am
Tue March 11, 2014

An Undammed River’s Sediment Brings New Life Downstream

About 3 million cubic yards of sediment have been flushed down the Elwha River since dam removal began in 2011. That’s only 16 percent of what’s expected to move downstream in the next five years.
Credit EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Anne Shaffer sits on the sandy shoreline of the Elwha River and looks around in amazement. Just two years ago, this area would have been under about 20 feet of water.

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Population 'Irruption'
2:28 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Trapping And Tracking The Mysterious Snowy Owl

Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 4:04 pm

This is Hungerford, a large female snowy owl. Last summer she was just a hatchling — a gray ball of fuzz in the middle of the Arctic tundra. In the fall, newly equipped with adult plumage, she flew thousands of miles south until she reached the coast of Maryland. And this winter, she became an important part of an unprecedented research project.

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Black Gold
12:06 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Turning Food Waste Into Fuel Takes Gumption And Trillions Of Bacteria

The digester eggs at Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn contain millions of gallons of black sludge.
Courtesy of New York City Department of Environmental Protection

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 10:12 am

Every year, Americans send millions of tons of food to the landfill. What if you could use all of those pizza crusts and rotten vegetables to heat your home? That's already happening in one unlikely laboratory: the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn.

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