1. Bagby Hot Springs:
The U.S. Forest Service is looking at privatizing the famous/infamous hot springs in Mt. Hood National Forest. Opponents of the plan say that would mean more controlled access and admission fees. This episode from 2008 explains the headaches the agency has faced in maintaining the site, and offers some great visuals for those of us who have never been there (or had our car vandalized while we soaked). The forest service held a public meeting last week to take input on its privatization plan.
2. Mountain Pine Beetles
The mountain pine beetles have destroyed millions of acres of forests in the Pacific Northwest, and now they’re caught up in a dispute between the U.S. and Canada over timber prices. The U.S. is accusing the government and industry in British Columbia of conspiring to use beetle-kill timber to drive down the price of lumber being exported into the U.S. This episode will explain how the beetles are killing trees.
3. Portland Biking:
Portland Mayor Sam Adams has had some trouble explaining a part of his 20-year bike plan that pairs bioswales (green space designed to absorb stormwater and keep it out of the sewer system) with bike boulevards (side streets that are modified to discourage car traffic). This episode explains some of Portland’s bicycle-friendly road rules – including bike boulevards.
4. Snowy Plover:
In December the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department signed a deal with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that commits the state to improving western snowy plover habitat at three new beach areas on the North Coast: Columbia River South Jetty, Nehalem Spit and Necanicum Spit. (If needed, Netarts Spit could be added to the mix.) In exchange, the fish and wildlife service granted the state an “incidental take” permit that allows the beaches to remain open to the public and acknowledges some birds may be harmed by visitors using the areas. The areas will be closed to driving, and dogs will have to be leashed to protect the threatened birds, which have been steadily rebounding in recent years. This episode explains the threats to the birds and captures them on video.
5. Umatilla Contaminated Fish
Two recent stories have highlighted the threat of toxins in Columbia River fish. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is proposing new standards for toxic water pollutants that are designed to ensure fish in Oregon rivers aren’t toxic to humans. And a cleanup of a contaminated site near Bonneville Dam is responding to high toxin levels in crayfish and small-mouth bass. This episode discusses the problem of toxics throughout the Columbia River Basin.