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News Briefs

Occupy Eugene (OE) is welcoming spring with a new print and online newsletter and more public events. An open house and volunteer fair will be from 2 to 4 pm Saturday, March 24, at OE’s headquarters, Occupy Eugene V (OEV) 1274 W. 7th. 

“We are excited to welcome the community to come and meet us and find out what we are up to and where we are headed,” says Larry Leverone of OE. “A dozen or more of our committees and working groups will be on hand with literature and newsletters.”

For years the rural residents of Triangle Lake have been trying to stop poisonous pesticide sprays from contaminating their houses, farms and bodies. After a study by Dana Barr of Emory University found pesticides in the urine of 44 people in the area, it seemed like the concerns and health issues of the Pitchfork Rebellion and other Triangle Lake groups would be at last be taken seriously. 

Portland and Eugene are nationally ranked as cycle-friendly towns, but there is more to boast about than the many urban bike lanes. Oregon is the only state in the nation with designated scenic bikeways. The two most recent additions start in Cottage Grove and Bend, bringing the state total to eight.

“We’re only looking for the best of the best bike rides in all of Oregon and these two made that cut,” says Alexandra Phillips, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department bicycle recreation coordinator. 

A southern Oregon community’s effort to protect forestland has become a race against the chainsaw. The Williams Community Forest Project (WCFP) is working to purchase a locally vital 320-acre tract of forestland where clearcutting has started, in order to preserve it as a “community forest.” 

The two Lane County commissioner races heading for the May primary have narrowed their fields. Conservative City Councilor Mike Clark dropped out of the North Eugene race against current Commissioner Rob Handy Feb. 28, and on March 1 political newcomer Kieran Walsh gave way in the contest for the South Eugene seat held by Pete Sorenson. 

Moving more than a thousand students to the intersection of three Eugene neighborhoods creates a lot of stakeholders. That’s why different organizations have joined together to form the Eugene Community Advisory Team (Eugene CAT) to examine the proposed Capstone project, which would bring 1,200 students into a downtown complex at 13th and Olive by fall 2014.

Weyerhaeuser (744-4684) plans ground and aerial spraying on at least 753 acres in areas including Mohawk River tributaries, Ritchie Creek on the McKenzie at Leaburg, Crow Creek, Farman Creek, Kelly Creek, Horton, Lorane, Michaels Creek and Owens Creek.

Lane County’s green credentials haven’t just slipped lower under the current conservative board majority, they’ve disappeared altogether.   

In 2010 the Lane County commissioners voted to protect the environment 10 out of 12 times, according to the Oregon League of Conservation Voters Environmental Scorecard.

In 2011 under a new, conservative county majority there were not enough votes on the environment to score the Lane County commissioners at all, the OLCV says. The Eugene City Council was also impossible to score, according to the OLCV.

Attempts to turn rural Parvin Butte into a gravel mine have turned the once peaceful hill and the town around it into a morass of legal and political controversy. In the latest twist, the decision to allow mining on Parvin Butte in Dexter without a site review was reconsidered by the Lane County hearings official on March 6, resulting in a partial victory for the Parvin Butte neighbors.

Despite the concerns of local animal advocates, Eugene and Lane County continue to work to transition to a “new model” for animal services. There are two upcoming “community input sessions” the public can attend to voice worries over the impending demise of Lane County Animal Services (LCAS).

Envision Eugene’s two-year process will wrap up over the next couple of months and City Manager Jon Ruiz will present his recommendations to the City Council after we go to press this week, drawing criticism from community members who are concerned that the manager’s secret analysis will short-circuit the public process. Adding to the concern is the manager’s canceling of a Tuesday morning meeting with the 70-member Community Resource Group (CRG) to preview his recommendations before they go to the council.

What will happen when a natural disaster shuts down our bridges, highways and rail lines and prevents the distribution of food to local stores? “Reality is, every community has about three days food supply available in grocery stores to feed itself,” says Deb McGee, who describes herself as a “Peaceful Valley subsistence farmer” in rural Eugene. “It is also true that 90 percent of what we eat could be grown locally if we chose to eat seasonally.”

Animal advocates want to know why Lane County isn’t considering trimming salaries over $90,000 instead of cutting much-needed services. Budget cuts at the city of Eugene and at Lane County have led to a proposal that Lane County Animal Services be ended and a new plan put in its place. But no new plan has been drafted, and who and what would take over dealing with the area’s homeless pets from LCAS is unclear. 

The name of the anonymous company that wants to export six to 10 million tons of dirty coal a year from Coos Bay via trains running through Eugene might be made known at the beginning of April. Public records requests for more information on the secretive proposal have been met with charges of thousands of dollars.

Everyone has boundaries, and some of us get a little hot under the collar when those boundaries are pushed. Lane County doesn’t want so much to push Eugene and Springfield’s boundaries, as it wants to control all the lands around the cities. One of the things that could be affected is water quality.

In western Lane County, Weyerhaeuser (541) 744-4684 plans to aerially spray Atrazine 4L, Transline, Velpar DF, Sulfomet XP and 2,4-D Ester with Foam Buster on 51 acres about 1-1/2 miles south of Cottage Grove near a tributary of Wallace Creek. Notice 2012-771-00156.

You might have noticed a chemical spill, a man foaming at the mouth and folks in hazmat suits if you were driving down Hwy. 99 by the Georgia-Pacific Eugene Resin Plant on the cold snowy morning of Feb. 29. 

Two farmers and a priest walk into a bar and … oh wait, is that how the joke goes? Springfield’s Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) is hatching Sprout!, which is no joke — it’s a food hub that will be housed in the former First Christian Church on 4th and A streets.

NEDCO Assistant Director Sarai Johnson says the hub will have three main components: a year-round farmers market, a central kitchen that can accommodate up to five businesses at once, and an expansion of NEDCO’s Hatch business incubator program.

The problems with cheap plastic bags don’t end with environmental ramifications, according to Environment Oregon’s Sarah Higginbotham, and that’s why businesses and members of the recycling industry are joining environmentalists to support a Eugene ban on plastic grocery bags. The City Council voted unanimously (with Councilor Mike Clark absent) on Feb. 27 to draft a plastic bag ban ordinance.

The top of Parvin Butte, which sits in the middle of the rural community of Dexter, is now almost completely leveled, according to neighbor Arlen Markus. 

But the Dexter/Lost Valley community 20 miles outside Eugene has hope that residents won’t be woken up at 8 am in the morning by the sounds of their scenic butte being ripped and torn into gravel by Lost Creek Rock Products: Lane County has asked Hearings Official Gary Darnielle to reconsider his Feb. 14 ruling that gravel mining could continue at the butte. The hearings official is a neutral party.

The city of Eugene and Lane County are planning to do away with Lane County Animal Services (LCAS), sparking an outcry from local advocates for dogs, cats and other pets, who worry this could bring the county back to the days when thousands of stray pets were killed each year.

Lane County, Eugene and Springfield are forming an interagency task team to explore and develop a new model of service delivery for animal services, the county says.

OSU has “deactivated” the snares it put around its sheep farm after Eugene-based Predator Defense and OSU neighbors protested the lethal traps that they say have caught and killed everything from raccoons to coyotes to a baby fawn.

Neighbors say traps have been within 200 feet of at least one home, and well within the range of children, dogs and cats. 

The snares, which were set by the USDA’s Wildlife Services, “wantonly destroy predators and target anything coming through that fence,” according to Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense.

Most Eugeneans probably assume that human trafficking is an international phenomenon, plaguing far-off nations like India and Thailand. This is decidedly not the case. Trafficking is an issue that affects the U.S., and prostitution and servitude in Oregon is on the rise. In order to raise awareness for this pressing human rights issue, and as part of its annual International Women’s Day Forum, the Zonta Club of Eugene-Springfield is holding a luncheon and panel on sex trafficking 11:30 am Thursday, March 8.

Congressman Peter DeFazio’s long-awaited forest plan has gone public, but the bill is under fire from conservation groups, and it’s questionable whether the controversial proposal that aims get funding for Lane and other cash-strapped counties will go anywhere at all.