As The State Turns…

stateturnssymbolThe Snow Drought Continues
This may sound a bit silly to those of us that just experienced about a foot of snow in Benton County, but the snow shortage statewide has continued to avalanche into a pile of troubles. With early signs cropping up in the form of financial suffering for the mountain hospitality industry, the National Resources Conservation Service has reported snow packs across the state reduced to 50 percent of normal. Unless conditions change between now and spring, everything from wildfire intensity to fisheries and hydroelectric power could be heavily impacted for months. Worst of all is the irrigation situation – as planting seasons approach, many farmers are feeling the burn of severely depleted levels of water.

Oregonians of all kinds will be watching the skies for signs of relief over the next couple of months.

A Chubby Victory
What’s three and a half inches long, loves a good bog and has reason to celebrate? Why, the Oregon chub, of course. Having dropped below 1,000 total fish in the early 90s as a result of invasive predators as well as dams and the drainage of wetlands, the chub was classified as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act. Thanks to conservation and protection efforts, including many volunteer land owners, the chub population has expanded to as much as 160,000. This grants the little minnow the title of being the first fish to be removed from the endangered list.

Removal from the list will be final when plans for continued monitoring of the chub are solidified.

Safer Oil Tankers?
Tesoro, a company that transports crude oil through the Pacific Northwest, has announced plans to upgrade 10 percent of their fleet to safer tanker cars. A company spokesperson has suggested that the cars will promote a much higher level of safety in terms of derailments and other similar issues. While on the surface this seems like a move in the right direction, some groups are concerned that this is too little, too late. With an oil car explosion that killed nearly 50 people in Canada last year, public concern with the transportation of oil and other hazardous materials are at an all-time high.

More Failures, Please
In a shocking move (read: sarcasm), Oregon Senate Republicans have voiced their desire to root out more parties responsible for the Cover Oregon debacle. Although an independent assessment is ongoing from the group First Data, the initial list of those to be interviewed failed to contain the name of Carolyn Lawson, Cover Oregon’s former chief information officer. Despite the fact that the term “independent” means that First Data chooses who to interview, well, independently… state Republican senators such as Ted Ferrioli seem determined to shoot first and ask questions later.

However, given what Oregonians have experienced so far with Cover Oregon, that might be an understandable tactic.

by Johnny Beaver