OFS / Oregonians
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A commercial crabbing boat capsized in rough waters off the Oregon coast, killing the three men aboard and sending a shock wave through a seafaring community already struggling from a month long delay to the annual crabbing season.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the vessel, the Mary B. II, overturned about 10 p.m. Tuesday as it crossed Yaquina Bay bar in Newport, Oregon. The bar is one of the most notorious off the Oregon coast, and authorities said crews faced 12- to 14-foot (3.6- to 4.2-meter) waves as they tried to rescue the fishermen.
James Lacey, 48, of South Toms River, New Jersey, was pulled from the ocean by helicopter and flown to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The body of Joshua Porter, 50, of Toledo, Oregon, washed up on a beach early Wednesday.
The body of the boat's skipper, Stephen Biernacki, 50, of Barnegat Township, New Jersey, was found on the hull of the boat after it, too, washed up on a jetty. more...
The Newport Fishermen's Wives are taking donations for the families. They have created a GoFundMe account for donations. There's also extensive coverage on their Facebook Page
In Session: NW
Take up Issues
The three Northwest legislatures go to work this month, addressing a wide variety of issues that will impact their state's farmers and ranchers. In Oregon and Washington, the changing climate tops the governors' legislative agendas. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee hope to help stanch global climate change by capping carbon production in their states. Though both proposals would exempt farmers and ranchers directly, the prospect of higher costs for fuel, energy and fertilizers caused by the caps poses a concern for agriculture. Meanwhile, in Idaho, legislators and new Gov. Brad Little must find a way to pay for a voter-mandated expansion of Medicaid coverage for Idaho residents even as tax revenues sink lower than originally forecast.
Oregon: Carbon Cap, Pesticide Restrictions
SALEM - While Oregon lawmakers are expected this year to wrestle with some perennial controversies impacting agriculture, those issues will be debated in a new light now that Democrats have won super-majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.
The tighter Democratic control over the House and Senate will primarily be relevant for tax-raising measures, which require three-fifths "super-majority" approval to pass in Oregon.
However, the change also has implications for restrictions on pesticides, biotechnology and antibiotics, since proponents of such regulations see left-leaning lawmakers as more sympathetic to their aims, said Jonathan Sandau, government affairs specialist for the Oregon Farm Bureau. more...
Rare in Oregon
Though some Oregon farmers are worried about facing accusations of contaminating marijuana with pesticides, state investigation records show such allegations have been relatively scarce.
So far, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has initiated just 11 investigations into on-farm pesticide drift related to cannabis, which includes marijuana and hemp.
"From what we know, it's a minor thing that is happening," said Sunny Summers, ODA's cannabis policy coordinator.
To compare, the agency has investigated more than 250 total cases in which routine tests detected pesticide contamination of marijuana, which was legalized by Oregon voters for recreational use in 2014, regardless of cause. more...
Environmental Groups Pull Out of Wolf Plan Talks
CLACKAMAS, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is forging ahead with a long-overdue update of the state's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, even as four environmental groups withdrew from mediation and announced they will oppose it.
In a Jan. 4 letter to Gov. Kate Brown, representatives for Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity said they will no longer participate in meetings hosted by ODFW to find common ground on wolf management with hunters and ranchers.
Wolf advocates criticized the negotiations, describing the process as flawed and skewed in favor of killing wolves to protect livestock, rather than prioritizing non-lethal forms of deterrence. The groups slammed ODFW staff for "leading us to a seemingly predetermined outcome," despite the agency paying more than $100,000 to hire a professional mediator.
On Jan. 8, the Wolf Plan work group - or what was left of it - met for the final time in Clackamas, Ore., with remaining members from the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Hunters Association and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. more...
Oregon Reaches Milestone as
New Labor Commissioner Val
Hoyle, Sworn in
Oregon's new labor
commissioner, sworn in on
Monday, has an ambitious
agenda but an investigation
pushed by her predecessor on
sexual harassment in the
state Capitol loomed, even
as the report drew new
The swearing in of Val Hoyle by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum marked the first time in Oregon history that most of the five statewide executive offices are held by elected women.
At the start of the ceremony in the Oregon House of Representatives, Hoyle, Gov. Kate Brown and Rosenblum sat together under a mural showing Oregon pioneers - all men - at a historic meeting in 1843 when the provisional government was established.
"Now more than ever, leadership in our state is reflective of Oregon's people, and that's a really good thing," Brown said, triggering applause from officials and well-wishers who packed the chamber. more...
OSU to Host
How pollinator-enhancement programs can be developed and enhanced is the subject of the PNW Pollinator Summit & Conference slated for Feb. 14-16 at the Oregon State University CH2M Hill Alumni Center in Corvallis.
A goal is to improve on-the-ground initiatives and reduce knowledge gaps by better coordinating natural resource professionals, land managers, pollinator enthusiasts, university extension agents and other educators, organizers said in a news release.
Scheduled keynote speakers are wildlife biologist Sam Droege of Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the U.S. Geological Survey; agricultural extension and research specialist Elina Nino of University of California-Davis Cooperative Extension; and assistant biology professor Rebecca Tonietto of the University of Michigan-Flint and The Porch Project. About 20 speakers and presenters are scheduled.
Organizers include OSU's Extension Service and College of Forestry, state agriculture and forestry departments, Oregon Bee Project and Nectar Creek. more...
From all Sides
MEDFORD, Ore. - The federal government has been defending its management of six national wildlife refuges against legal challenges from both farmers and environmentalists.
The U.S. Interior Department is facing three lawsuits filed by three environmental groups who allege its plans for the 200,000-acre Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex along the Oregon-California border violates several federal laws.
A fourth complaint from six farms and agricultural groups alleges the agency has unlawfully exceeded its authority by restricting leases of refuge land for agricultural purposes.
The agricultural plaintiffs -Tulelake Irrigation District, Klamath Water Users Association, Tally Ho Farms Partnership, Four H Organics, Woodhouse Farming and Seed Co. and Tulelake Growers Association - claim a comprehensive conservation plan adopted in 2017 will substantially reduce acreage available for farming within the refuge complex.
Under the plan, certain new agricultural leases will be subject to “special use permits” that include new requirements for “compatibility” between agriculture and waterfowl habitat.
These stipulations include flooding fields after harvest, limiting tillage in the autumn, prohibiting the planting of genetically engineered crops and disallowing the hazing of waterfowl during the first four months of the year.
According to the farm plaintiffs, these restrictions will render agriculture less productive and undermine its future viability in the area by reducing revenues and creating operational difficulties.
The Tule Lake and Lower Klamath national wildlife refuges were established with the purpose of leasing land for agriculture, which is worth about $30 million in the two areas and supports about 600 jobs in the region, the complaint said.
Environmental groups suing over the management of the Klamath-area national wildlife refuges take aim at other aspects of the government’s plan: the amount of water allotted for waterfowl habitat, the continued use of pesticides and the impacts of grazing on federally protected species.
Announces 16 Town
District in January
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) today announced he will hold 16 town halls in January, with meetings in Josephine, Jackson, Klamath, Deschutes, Jefferson, Crook, Harney, Malheur, Baker, Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, Morrow, Gilliam, Hood River, and Wasco counties. Full details on the town hall meetings are included below.
"I'm pleased to announce that I'll be holding 16 town halls across Oregon's vast Second District," said Walden. "I look forward to getting together with people on the ground and hearing your concerns and ideas and suggestions about this new session of Congress, and giving you an update on the things we've accomplished and what we want to work on going forward."
Oregonians who cannot attend Walden's town hall meetings but would still like to ask questions or provide input are encouraged to visit his website at www.walden.house.gov. There, Oregonians can find Walden's views on local and regional issues, send him an email to provide input, and sign up for his free, regular newsletter. more...
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