environment

Northwest forests that have significant damage from insects, like the mountain pine beetle or the western spruce budworm, might seem more prone to wildfires. Those critters can chew their way through a forest and leave large stands of dead trees in their wake.

However a new study from Oregon State University shows that's not necessarily the case.

The Fish Creek Fire in Interior Alaska isn't much to look at. It's about 7,500 acres in size, sitting about an hour south of Fairbanks near the twisty Tanana River. The main fire front — the made-for-TV part, with torching trees and pulses of orange heat — flamed out more than a week ago, leaving behind a quiet charred landscape.

Portland's Swan Island basin was still and remarkably quiet Saturday as a flotilla of kayakers dipped their paddles in and out of the water, pulling themselves north toward the Vigorous, the largest dry dock in America.

Then, with a cry, a drumbeat began. One hundred paddles smacked the water, and people yelled, "Shell no!"

Vancouver Oil Terminal Sparks Controversy, Concerns For Community

Jul 26, 2015

In Washington's Vancouver region, there is arguably no issue more hotly felt than the proposed Tesoro-Savage oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver. The port commission has been criticized for approving a lease to the company in 2013 without what many opponents felt was a proper public process.

The Oregon Forestry Board delayed a decision Thursday on logging restrictions to keep water cool for endangered salmon.

At issue is how many trees should be left standing to provide shade along fish-bearing streams. Cold water is essential for many Northwest fish. When too many trees are cut, direct sun causes water temperatures to rise.

Distressed Trees Prompt Early Watering Reminder

Jul 24, 2015

With high temperatures around state, the Oregon Department of Forestry is reminding people to water their trees.

Signs of distressed trees include leaves that are curling, wilting or appear scorched.

Cynthia Orlando, an ODF spokesperson, said deep watering is essential.

"Using a soaker hose and letting the water get down deep on all sides of the tree so that it soaks all the way down into the soil," she said. Additionally, she recommended putting out mulch to help retain moisture and maintain soil temperatures.

The massive Blue Creek Fire near Walla Walla, Washington, is putting the city’s drinking water supply in jeopardy. The fire is burning along the area’s watershed line as fire crews work around the clock to contain it.

Firefighters on the Blue Creek Fire burning just outside of Walla Walla are intensifying their fight to hold a line and keep the wildfire out of a watershed and residential area. Correspondent Anna King describes the scene:

Federal Bill Could Trump Oregon GMO Bans

Jul 23, 2015

Supporters of Jackson County’s proposed genetically-engineered crops ban were ecstatic when it was announced Measure 15-119 had passed by a two-to-one margin.

Organic farmer and campaign organizer Elise Higley said the vote was a strong statement of local values.

“I’m just so grateful that the community stepped up in supporting local farmers and showing that they really care about their food security and want to protect family farmers against the threats of genetically engineered pollen and crops,” she said.

Since 2009, elections for a seat on the Port of Vancouver commission have been relatively low-key affairs. Candidates who ran for a six-year term on the three-member board that oversees the port have won their elections unopposed in the last three races.

That was then.

Now, a proposed energy project at the port has sparked interest in a race for an open seat on the commission, turning the primary election into a hotly-contested race.

The Blue Creek Fire burning 10 miles east of Walla Walla, Washington, has grown to 5.500 acres and is the top priority fire in the Northwest for federal resource managers.

One thousand firefighters are fighting the Blue Creek Fire Thursday about eight miles outside of Walla Walla, Washington.

Chris Burns, natural resources technician with Washington’s Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, stands in the Dungeness River. Flows are roughly one-third of normal, prompting fears that salmon won’t be able to make it upstream to spawn.
EarthFix-KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

PORT ANGELES, Wash. – The fishing aisle at Swain’s General Store is stocked with tackle for catching salmon and trout on nearby rivers.

But something is missing among the rows of lures, floats and ornately tied flies: customers.

U.S. Geological Survey

Kathryn Schulz’s New Yorker article about Northwest earthquakes sent shockwaves through the Seattle area last week.

It described the damage a 9.0 magnitude quake offshore in the Cascadia subduction zone and resulting tsunami would do across a broad swath of the West Coast. The piece in the New Yorker itself was titled "The Really Big One," but a scarier headline appeared on social media: “The Earthquake That Will Devastate Seattle.”

The Blue Creek Fire burning about 10 miles east of Walla Walla, Washington, has grown to more than 5,500 acres. Evacuations remain in place as about 600 firefighters try to head off the flames burning in grass, bush and timber.

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