As the State Turns

By Johnny Beaver

oregonFungus Among Us
Valley fever is on tour, and it looks like Oregon may be its next stop. Conjuring images of Indiana Jones, blow darts, and really big leaves and whatnot (at least in my mind), the potentially fatal fungus behind the illness has been confirmed in Washington counties that border our state. While only 40 percent of those that come in contact with the spores get sick, those that do can suffer flu-like symptoms and infections that damage skin, bones, and can inflame the brain. There’s also the possibility of pustules, and that’s just gross.

So far three people have come down with the illness in Washington, all of them thankfully surviving. Each year 160 people die from it nationally, among 150,000 that are stricken with it to varying degrees. The fungus is much more common in arid desert areas such as New Mexico and Texas, where the environment allows it to thrive.

An Oregonian Wolf in Oregon
For those of you that have been following OR-7, the famous-in-certain-circles wolf that has been wandering about the Cascade Mountains for a while, I have some great news for you: biologists have spotted a female wolf in the area, and hopes are high that they’ll pair up and engage in some crazy wolf sex in the bushes somewhere. Although this is the equivalent of an overzealous friend crossing their fingers in an attempt to hook their single friend up with a random person at the bar, if action does indeed happen between our two furry friends, it’ll be marking the first observed wolf breeding in the area in around 100 years.

Kitzhaber Election Effort Update
A new poll of Oregon voters suggests that they largely will not support sweeping tax reforms—something Kitzhaber seems to be banking the bulk of his re-election campaign upon. A veteran of failed sales tax ballot measures, Kitzhaber has been involved in three such incidences, one of which was so brutally crushed that some say he hasn’t walked quite the same since.

While it is unclear whether or not tax reform will actually become a major issue in the election, Kitzhaber currently sits in a favored, but vulnerable position. This is largely to do with the Cover Oregon cataclysm that included a $300 million price tag for building and promoting a website that is now being abandoned.

Seneca Timber 1, Conservationists… 0.2
The first battle in the war over Elliot Forest has ended, and state land managers have come out victorious. A temporary injunction was sought after to stop the state from selling 788 acres of forest land to the Seneca Jones Timber Company; however, a Lane County judge declined to grant it.

While the attempt was a failure in and of itself, conservation groups hope that this will at least serve to delay the process and give them more time to move forward with the larger lawsuit they have filed. The lawsuit alleges that the parcel of land in question was once part of the national forest system, which, under state law, would prohibit it from being sold.

With millions of dollars at stake, this classic instance of industry vs. conservation is not likely to see resolution any time soon.