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News Briefs

This November, Oregonians have the chance to make their state the first to require genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled as such. In the wake of failed GMO-labeling ballot initiatives in Washington and California, representatives of Oregon’s “Yes on 92” campaign have invited biologist Michael Hansen to drum up support for the measure.

In 2003 the Lane County Commission voted to move to a “last resort” program in using herbicides on county roadsides. The plan to put a moratorium on pesticide use was in response to concerns for human health as well as concerns for Willamette River steelhead and Chinook salmon. On Sept. 9, with impetus from Commissioner Jay Bozievich and with the encouragement of pro-pesticide group Oregonians for Food and Shelter, the county’s Integrated Vegetation Management Program “last resort” policy will be up for discussion. 

Lane County Commissioners are meeting at 9 am Tuesday, Sept. 9, to consider the use of herbicides along county roads. Chemical agriculture lobbying groups want the county to use toxic sprays. Sign up at Harris Hall at 8:45 am to voice your concerns.

• Giustina Land & Timber, 345-2301, plans to hire Western Helicopter Services, Inc., 503-538-9469, to aerially spray 43 acres near Crow Creek with aminopyralid, glyphosate, imazapyr, metsulfuron methyl and/or sulfometuron methyl. See ODF notification 2014-781-00875, call Brian Peterson at 935-2283 with questions.

Oregon DEQ has settled Christopher John Bartels’ appeal of the civil penalty assessed against him by DEQ in July of 2013 for illegally discharging wastewater from his meat processing and packing facility to ditches flowing to Fern Ridge wetlands on two occasions in 2011 (EW 6/27/13, goo.gl/Xb41PD), by reducing the $15,600 penalty originally assessed to $10,200. DEQ’s settlement with Bartels also includes an additional $7,600 penalty for illegal discharges of blood waste to Fern Ridge Reservoir in February of this year (EW 5/8, goo.gl/BhX5vP).

Park goers might have noticed an oily sheen hugging the banks of Delta Ponds these past few weeks, oozing only a few wing flaps away from the hunting green herons and basking Western pond turtles that frequent the wetlands across from Valley River Center. Don’t worry, says Jonathan Wilson, a stormwater regulatory compliance coordinator for the city of Eugene — it’s just a natural form of shiny bacteria.

With the new school year kicking off Sept. 3, Eugene School Board 4J wants to reformat its current curriculum adoption process. After three years of using College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) in the district, the board has not yet actually voted on the official adoption or rejection of the controversial middle school and high school CPM curriculum. Part of this revamp includes reconvening the Instructional Policy Council, which according to board members has not met for years and once played a role in choosing district curriculum. 

From old-growth forests to dynamic desert landscapes, Oregon’s legacy of diverse ecosystems lives on through its protected wilderness areas. That’s exactly what Oregonians will celebrate Sept. 3 for the 50-year anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which protects around 2.5 million acres across 48 sites in Oregon and 110 million acres total nationwide. While observances will be happening all over the U.S., the weeklong celebration in Eugene will be classic Oregon fare: talks, hikes and beer.

Alex Paige, a trans woman from Portland, describes the gender dysphoria she experienced as “a supreme unhappiness with the way my body looked, the way it felt, the way other people interacted with me.” Thanks to an Aug. 14 vote by the Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC), treatments for gender dysphoria will be covered under the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) beginning January 2015. 

Oregon DEQ has settled Christopher John Bartels’ appeal of the civil penalty assessed against him by DEQ in July of 2013 for illegally discharging wastewater from his meat processing and packing facility to ditches flowing to Fern Ridge wetlands on two occasions in 2011 (EW 6/27/13, goo.gl/Xb41PD), by reducing the $15,600 penalty originally assessed to $10,200. DEQ’s settlement with Bartels also includes an additional $7,600 penalty for illegal discharges of blood waste to Fern Ridge Reservoir in February of this year (EW 5/8, goo.gl/BhX5vP).

The data is in: Kids benefit academically when they attend kindergarten all day instead of half the day. An Oregon bill mandating that the state must pay for full-day kindergarten goes into effect in the 2015-2016 school year, and while the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) says it will fund the transition, some worry the funds won’t cover the full cost of implementation when districts switch from half-day to full-day. 

Weyerhaeuser is a name long associated with timber, but back in 2010 the company became a REIT — real estate investment trust. Local land-preservation advocates from LandWatch Lane County say that Weyerhaeuser is one of the many landowners in the region moving property lines around on forestland to allow more houses to be built on what’s called an “impacted forest zone” on the edges of towns in Oregon.

• Coast Range Conifers, 335-1472, plans to hire Western Helicopter Services, Inc., (503) 538-9469, to aerially spray Escort, Oust, Oust Extra and/or Surfactant L-11 or LI-700 on 60 acres near Swartz Creek, using a helicopter landing pad on BLM land. See ODF notification 2014-781-00754, call Robin L. Biesecker at 935-2283 with questions. 

In Springfield on Tuesday, Aug. 12, a dog named Kiki was shot in the head by a Springfield police officer responding to what police say was a vicious dog call. Such shootings have happened all over the country — in July, a police officer in Idaho shot a Labrador through the glass window of a van it was sitting in. The window was partially open and the officer thought it was lunging at him. 

Betty and the Boy and four other folk, pop and punk bands will play at a benefit show to raise money for the annual Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp. TWAC was initially born from the idea of creating a safe space for trans and/or women in the social and environmental justice movement, according to Ariel Howland, organizer of and participant in the benefit show and camp. Eventually, that idea came into its own: a weeklong camp that focuses on community building and political activism.

Oregon DEQ followed up on the pre-enforcement notice it sent to Keven Cruickshank in June for operating a failing septic system since at least February at 82855 N. Butte Road in Creswell (EW 7/10, goo.gl/KbsSuw) with a $9,305 civil penalty on July 31. DEQ also assessed a $4,707 penalty against Albany-based Dave Hunter Company on Aug. 4 for hazardous waste law violations at its industrial machine shop in Albany.

A bumblebee handing out shots amid a flood of flashy, radiant costumes on the Saturday Market stage at the downtown Park Blocks marked the beginning of this year’s SLUG (Society for the Legitimization of the Ubiquitous Gastropod) queen coronation Aug. 8. This observance of unconventional beauty was a heated competition between four colorful candidates that was ultimately won by Bulbous Slimebledore, aka local software developer Daniel Borson.

The Lane County Commission acted against Eugene’s paid sick leave ordinance before the city had its public hearing on the issue. The three ordinances that the county rushed to vote contain a typo in a reference to Oregon law, and they are similar to model legislation to preempt sick leave put forth at the state level by the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

An upcoming camp for teenagers presents an opportunity for kids to get involved in climate change justice. The Next Generation Climate Action Camp, hosted by the Civil Liberties Defense Center, is aimed at empowering youth to make change in their communities, according to Amber Mongan, associate director of CLDC. “We wanted to provide the sort of action camps that are available to adults, but specify it for teenagers,” Mongan says. “Public schools don’t cover this kind of stuff, so we want to fill that need.” 

M Three Timber Company LLC, 767-3785, plans to spray Polaris AC on 30 acres near Muslin Creek tributaries. See ODF notification 2014-781-00784, call Brian Peterson at 935-2283 with questions.

Expansion of Lane Transit District’s EmX bus rapid system into west Eugene could run up utility costs to LTD exceeding $9.2 million, according to a memo sent July 28 to the EWEB board from EWEB Engineering Manager Mel Damewood and planner Jon Thomas. The memo was on the agenda for the Aug. 5 EWEB board meeting as an information item and no board action was anticipated.

Louise Shimmel, executive director of the Cascade Raptor Center, recalls a great horned owl that was found in a pond last winter. “You could actually see the bruises on his neck where the blood was seeping out of his jugular because his blood was so thin and he was essentially bleeding to death,” she says. “We were not able to save that one.”

Beyond Toxics has been calling attention for years to what it says are the “disproportionate environmental and human health effects” of the Seneca biomass burning plant on nearby communities. Seneca Sustainable Energy is located in the West Eugene Industrial Corridor, an area with a higher-than-average number of low-income and Latino residents, according to Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics.

• Oregon Department of Forestry, 935-2283, plans to hire Nick’s Timber Services Inc., 503-910-1120, to spray herbicides including Rodeo, Accord XRT II, Polaris SP, Element 4, MSM 60, Sulfomet XP with additives including LI700, MSO and red or blue dye for site prep and release on a total of 356 acres near Liebre, Gall, Nelson and Wildcat creeks and tributaries. See ODF notification 2014-781-00727, call ODF at 935-2283 with questions.

Legalization of marijuana for adult use qualified for the November ballot the same day a panel of legalization advocates outlined how the new Measure 91 will work if it passes. What will it do? How is it different from Washington’s and Colorado’s marijuana laws? What will be the impact on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program? How will the tax revenues be allocated? What about hemp? What about the huge black market that currently distributes pot?