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News Briefs

Beekeepers have been saying for years that they see a link between neonicotinoid pesticides and bee die-offs, but the recent deaths of 50,000 bees near Portland are finally giving pesticide foes some traction: A federal bill, the “Save America’s Pollinators Act of 2013” was introduced on July 16. A “Nix the Neonics” rally is planned for noon July 20 at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza in downtown Eugene.

Eugene Sunday Streets, the annual street shutdown that celebrates walking, biking and community, is back for two more rounds. On Sunday, July 21, downtown stretches of 8th and 10th avenues and Broadway between Pearl and Almaden will be closed to automobiles while the residents use the public space to build community and try out walking and biking in a safe environment. A second event will be held in the Bethel area in September.

It’s not great, but it could have been worse. That’s the latest from the Eugene Education Association (EEA) regarding the education budget of $6.75 billion in school funding for the state of Oregon in the now-ended legislative session. For the 4J School District, which already suffers under the strain of financial woe, it means assessing what changes are in store for the upcoming school year. 

• Freres Lumber, Inc., (503) 859-2121, plans to hack and squirt 160 acres near Swartz Creek in the Coast Range with Imazapyr. See ODF 935-2283 notification 2013-781-00610 for more information.

• ODOT is spraying roadsides along state highways: call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information.

Willamette Street, one of Eugene’s most collision-prone roadways, will get a makeover in 2018. The city’s community meetings to consider reengineering the street to work better have been packed to the brim. When the Eugene City Council considers alternatives later this summer or in early fall, it will choose from three options: the four-lane street’s current configuration; three lanes, including a center turn lane, and bike lanes in both directions; and three lanes with wider sidewalks.

Organized opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 is rolling into Lane County. People Against the NDAA (PANDA) question the act’s authority to undermine basic rights in cases of suspected terrorism, with two subsections in the 2012 NDAA allowing for indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens without trial. The law affirms the 9/11-era Authorization for Use of Military Force that granted the president enhanced powers against suspected terrorists until the “end of hostilities” in the “War on Terror.”

The Eugene Police Department’s longstanding policy of requiring officers to destroy their written notes after creating an incident report has changed. The new policy defines investigative notes — written and electronic — as public records and requires their retention for a minimum of two years. EPD did not respond to inquiries about whether defendants will be given the notes as routine evidence or will be required to request them as public records.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a penalty of $2,400 against Bear Mountain Forest Products on July 3 for violating the Clean Air Act permit for its wood pellet manufacturing facility in Brownsville in September. Bear Mountain violated the opacity limit in its permit; opacity is an indicator for particulate emissions, which can contribute to respiratory distress, affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health problems such as decreased lung function, irregular heartbeat and chronic bronchitis.

Small animals shouldn’t be given away as prizes, according to Heather Crippen of Red Barn Rabbit Rescue (RBRR), who has been working along with her daughter to stop bunnies from being chased and caught at the Cottage Grove Rodeo. RBRR has also been working on developing an ordinance that would stop bunnies, chickens and other small animals from being the trophies at giveaways and contests. Crippen brought the idea before the Lane County Animal Services Advisory Committee on July 8 and is also considering city and statewide regulations. 

Lane County enviros and liberal politicos want Congressman Peter DeFazio to know that they aren’t pleased with his green credentials lately. They have signed on to a letter to Nancy Pelosi endorsing Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) as the next ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. About 200 environmental and conservation groups from across the country signed the letter.

• Weyerhaeuser, 744-4600, plans to aerial and ground spray Accord XRT II, Polaris SP and/or Sulfomet Extra with additives Induce, Foam Buster, MSO and/or Metcel on 67 acres near the Long Tom River. See ODF notification 2013-781-00600 for more information.

ODOT is spraying roadsides along state highways, call Tony Kilmer at ODOT District 5 (Lane County area) at 744-8080 or call (888) 996-8080 for herbicide application information. 

The Pacific Northwest is being hit with another fossil fuel threat: oil trains. Oregon and Washington have been faced with megaloads of tar sands equipment, liquefied natural gas pipelines and terminals, coal trains and now what conservationists are calling oil pipelines on wheels. Dan Serres, conservation director for Columbia Riverkeeper, says the trains are already under way here in Oregon carrying fracked crude oil from the Bakken oil field of North Dakota. A Sightline Institute report says that there’s nothing to stop the trains from being used to ship Canadian tar sands oil through the Northwest as well as the fracked oil.

While climate change poses a threat in the immediate future to Chinook salmon and other Oregon endangered species, UO paleontology instructor Edward Davis says it’s also important to think about climate change on a much larger time scale, on the order of millions of years. On July 9, Davis will speak at the Eugene Public Library about his work on evolutionary hotspots, areas of habitat where conditions are right for new species to form, and why these areas need protection.

Medical marijuana patients too sick or inexperienced to grow their own cannabis might have new options. House Bill 3460 passed 31-27 in the Oregon House June 24, and the Senate was gearing up to vote as EW went to press June 26.

Hang onto your cash, bus riders. While the bus routes to the Oregon Country Fair have always been free, this year the entire LTD system will cost nothing for the duration of Fair, which runs July 12-14.

“It’s the first time that anybody’s bought out the entire system,” says LTD spokesperson Andy Vobora. The Fair, which has long emphasized sustainability and public transit, paid $32,370 to sponsor all of LTD’s routes during the three-day event.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a penalty of $15,600 against Christopher John Bartels on June 20 for illegally discharging wastewater from his meat processing and packing facility to ditches flowing to wetlands on two occasions in 2011. The facility is located on Central Road, south of Perkins Peninsula Park. According to DEQ, Bartels has made significant improvements to his wastewater treatment and disposal system since the 2011 violations.

Though the Oregon Legislature is still tied up in session, Oregon dogs will no longer be tied up on short leashes or for long periods of time, thanks to an anti-dog-tethering bill. That’s just one of several animal-oriented bills that came up this session. Animal advocates are cheering the ones that have passed (and cheering some that died) and expect some more good news for the beasties to come through before the session ends.

Children can enjoy free lunches through the Summer Food Service Program, a federally funded nutrition program open to all kids ages 1-18. In addition to lunch, some sites also offer breakfast and snacks to accompany a day of activities.

Successes in Native American forestry, despite huge financial challenges, are proving a model for future stewardship, according to the Indian Forestry Management Assessment Team (IFMAT).

“The tribes have been here for thousands of years,” says George Smith, executive director of Oregon’s Coquille Tribe. “They have a direct connection to the land and the long-term consequences of its management.”

The White Castle pilot project is an unusual kind of logging proposal and it’s led to an unusual forest defender vs. forest scientist dynamic. When forestry professor Norm Johnson of OSU, who created the project along with Jerry Franklin of the University of Washington, found out that the Cascadia Forest Defenders (CFD) had taken to the trees last week to stop the proposed logging, he decided he would head out to the site near Roseburg and talk to the protesters.

Gold mining and all its negative environmental effects have made their way to the waterways of Lane County. River guide Frank Armendariz was out walking his dog early in May in an open section of Armitage Park when he says he saw a Jeep parked inside a portion of the park still locked behind gates and a man digging away at the riverbank. Gold mining in southern Oregon has led not just to the degradation of rivers but also to shootings and legal battles, but, until now, it has not been much of an issue on the McKenzie River. 

In objection to the planned West 11th EmX extension, perennial bus-rapid-transit-opponents Our Money Our Transit (OMOT) filed a lawsuit against the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) June 11, calling for the project to be halted pending further review. The suit claims that the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) that the FTA issued after reviewing the expected effects of the LTD project’s impact was improper, but LTD says that it thinks the FONSI will hold up in court, and there’s not much chance that the EmX extension will be delayed.

After a brief but vociferous debate, the Eugene City Council voted 5-3 June 17 to grant Core Campus, a Chicago-based developer, approximately $4.5 million in tax exemptions over 10 years for a planned 12-story student apartment building. In response, neighborhood advocate Paul Conte announced that he would file a ballot initiative petition to abolish any Multiple-Unit Property Tax Exemptions (MUPTEs) granted after April 2013.

One bunny had a broken jaw and was missing its tail. Three more wound up at the home of a Cottage Grove employee after a co-worker said her kids couldn’t keep them. Heather Crippen of Red Barn Rabbit Rescue says that those were a few of the results of a previous “animal scramble” at the Cottage Grove Rodeo.