environment

Most Christmas trees get kicked to the curb and ground up into mulch after the holidays. But a Portland-area conservation group is trying to change that.

The Tualatin Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited has found used Christmas trees make great salmon habitat when placed in coastal waterways.

Next month, they're launching the third year of a program they call Christmas for Coho. They'll collect used Christmas trees on three Saturdays in January and place them in the Necanicum River, coastal stream in northwest Oregon.

Oregon hunters will be able to bag more cougars next year, following wildlife officials' increase in the number that can be killed statewide.

By the 1960s, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the cougar population in the state had fallen to about 200 animals. The reason, said spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy, was bounty hunting: killing animals for financial reward.

The U.S. Department of Interior has a great Twitter account (@interior) that frequently makes lists of best Twitter feeds.

Major changes are underway, with more on the horizon for Oregon’s pioneering bottle deposit system.

Those changes -- the biggest since the Bottle Bill's adoption a generation ago -- have been slowly playing out as grocery stores close their return stations in favor of centralized off-site redemption centers.

And the state will soon determine if the deposit paid for each bottle and can of soda, water or beer will remain at a nickel or double to a dime.

Those changes are all about increasing the rate of empties -- and deposits -- that get returned.

An environmental cleanup company with engineering headquarters in Richland, Washington, has just flown its second water treatment system to Japan with a massive plane.

The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Obama administration delivered a trade war victory Tuesday to an Oregon solar manufacturer and others in the U.S. sector.

The Commerce Department sided with SolarWorld by upholding tariffs on solar panels imported from China and Taiwan.

The Commerce Department ruled that competitors from those two countries have been using illegal foreign government subsidies and dumping solar panels in the US market at below-cost prices.

After a more than a year of testing, dairies in Washington’s Lower Yakima Valley are trying to reduce water pollution from manure. A report from the Environmental Protection Agency had found the dairies were likely sources of nitrate pollution to nearby residential wells.

A new report by the federal Government Accountability Office calls for a better plan for leaking tanks of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state.

EVERETT, Wash. -- A judge ruled against a couple Tuesday after they sued for the right to drill a well and build a new home on their property in Skagit County.

The case marks the latest battle in the ongoing fight over water rights in Washington's Skagit River valley.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Appel dismissed the case brought by property owners Richard and Marnie Fox. He told the couple that they can't build a home on their property because they don't have legal access to water.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making a high-stakes bet that it will prevail in a pending lawsuit over Snake River dredging.

Governor Jay Inslee unveiled a new transportation plan at a Eastside Transit Project site atop SR520 on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Governor Jay Inslee has been traveling around the state to unveil portions of his budget proposal. Tuesday morning he stopped in Medina, where workers are completing the Eastside Transit Project atop the 520 floating bridge, to announce his transportation plan.

File photo.
Flickr Photo/eutrophication&hypoxia (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with David Roberts, a blogger for Grist, about a clean fuel standard. 

The work of rearing threatened plants and animals for restoration to the wild takes time and patience and it is labor intensive. In Oregon and Washington, a growing population doing that work is inmates.

Editor's Note: This story was updated Saturday, Dec. 13.

One small point in a spending bill approved by Congress Saturday could be a big deal for sage grouse.

A spending bill rider would delay a decision about whether to extend endangered species protection to the greater sage grouse. A decision about whether to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act is currently scheduled for September, 2015.

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