Planet Oregon

oregonplanetTo Rain, Or Not to Rain? Not Much Of A Question
If it doesn’t seem like it has rained much lately, that’s because it hasn’t, especially across the Northwest. As it turns out, some traditionally rain-drenched Oregon counties had experienced record setting lows in rainfall in 2013, according to the National Weather Service. The Portland chapter of the American Meteorological Society reported that Portland has only gotten about 26.5 inches of rain this year, which is quite a bit less than the average 36 inches. Despite heavy rains in September, the city is seeing a dry spell that hasn’t been repeated since 1985.

While ski resorts and farms may feel the sting of no rain, the rest of us don’t seem to miss it… especially not this soon after that last freeze.

Politically Correct Deforestation?
A popular method of deforestation that attempts to mimic nature by cutting older growth is being used in a small area near Myrtle Creek by Roseburg Forest products. Last year they purchased the area from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for $1 million. However, so far that money may have been transformed into a wooden nickel by a group of tree sitters protesting the deforestation. So far no arrests have been made, but that could have something to do with the fact that at least one sitter is hanging about 100 feet above the ground.

While forestry professors Norm John and Jerry Franklin of Oregon State University and the University of Washington firmly believe that this method is the best way to manage a forest that’s going to see cuts regardless, protestors disagree – and they’re not alone. Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild, “an educational, scientific and charitable organization” that seeks to protect Oregon wildlands, waters and the creatures that live within them is an outspoken opponent, claiming that there are still proven, less damaging ways to go about harvesting timber.

Oil… Of the Crude Variety
The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued an alert in Washington because the oily stuff coming on over from the Bakken rock formation in North Dakota poses a “significant risk.” Why? Well, it’s more flammable than usual. As in, it can catch on fire at temperatures as low as 73 degrees. While some refineries in the state are already shipping the oil in, a handful of ports in the Northwest at large are also considering doing the same. This includes building sufficient means to transfer the stuff from train to ship.

BNSF, the Railway doing the heavy lifting, neither releases information about train hauls or pays into emergency funds for spills. While Washington is paying well over half a million dollars in 2014 in case of a spill, let’s hope that if Oregon gets in on the Bakken oil trade that we won’t roll over for BNSF so easily.

By Johnny Beaver and Patrick Fancher