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News Briefs

The recent announcement that two foreign investors have pulled out of the International Port of Coos Bay’s coal export proposal doesn’t mean the coal train plans have been entirely derailed. The announcement leads to even more questions, says Bob Ferris, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands, one of several Lane County groups working to stop the fossil fuel exports. 

Claiming support from both liberals and conservatives, a small group of Eugene citizens has organized a Political Action Committee (PAC) to campaign against Ballot Measure 20-211, the proposed fees for city residences and business that will be on the ballot in May. 

Citizens for Truth, Justice, and the American Way (CiTJAW) has a website at votenocityfee.org and the PAC directors are Bonny Bettman McCornack and Paul Nicholson, both former city councilors. David Monk is the treasurer.

Although only 46 wolves live in Oregon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently recommended the removal of gray wolves from the protection of the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48 states. 

• Rosboro LLC, 746-8411, plans to hire Western Helicopter, 503-538-9469, to aerially spray Velpar DF and/or Transline on 97 acres in the Coast Range near the headwaters of Swartz Creek and South Fork Ferguson Creek. See ODF notice 2013-781-00226.

Lane County has been feeling the pinch of budget cuts, and the conservatives on the County Commission have proposed a tax levy to fund jails. When it comes to Congressman Peter DeFazio’s plan to split some of Oregon’s public forests into a timber trust and a conservation trust, the controversy comes from all sides of the political spectrum. A resolution has been introduced into the Oregon Legislature that would support the timber plan.

Between climate change, pollution and resource depletion, the coastal areas have a lot to plan for. Oregon is preparing for these challenges by establishing five small marine reserves to preserve habitat and to monitor ecological and biological changes. Cape Perpetua south of Yachats is the closest marine reserve to Eugene. Conservationists are hoping that the marine reserves will help keep populations of fish and other species within the reserve high and potentially keep surrounding populations buoyed via a spillover effect. 

Oregon DEQ sent Georgia-Pacific Chemicals a warning letter Feb. 19 for exceeding the limit for total phenols in its Clean Water Act discharge permit by 200 percent at its Eugene facility on Hwy. 99 during November. Georgia-Pacific blamed the high level on laboratory error, but DEQ could not find supporting evidence for this claim. According to DEQ, phenol is toxic to many aquatic organisms, and DEQ has referred this violation to its Office of Compliance and Enforcement for formal enforcement.

When it comes to saving the environment, lawyers and protesters often go hand in hand, so it may come as no surprise that alongside (though not an official part of) the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the UO Feb. 28 to March 3, there were acts of protest.

The Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC) has fought for the rights of foster children, but now the organization wants to pass a bill that would let the kids know what their rights are. Currently on the table, with an upcoming hearing in March, is a bill of rights that helps youth understand what they can do in any situation. Lydia Bradley, the OFYC program manager, says this is a long time coming. 

“I doubt we’ll put in a Ferris wheel,” Brian Obie says of his proposed new development downtown. County Commissioners voted 4-1 on Feb. 26 to give Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson authority to enter into discussions for an interim lease and exclusive negotiating rights with Obie and Housing and Community Services Agency of Lane County (HACSA) for land at East 6th Avenue and Oak, near Obie’s 5th Street Public Market. 

The Cascadia Forest Defenders (CFD) have been using treesits, blockades and other forms of civil disobedience to halt logging in the Elliott State Forest for the past four years. But a bill, HB 2595, that was brought before the Oregon Legislature’s House Judiciary Committee in Salem March 4 would make free speech and protest activities a felony, complete with a mandatory minimum sentence. Another bill, HB 2596, also aiming to quell state forests protests, has also been introduced.

Deadlines for submitting comments to Oregon DEQ regarding over two dozen local facility’s industrial stormwater pollution control plans take place over the next eight days. Comments are due by 5 pm on the following dates. March 7: Rexius Forest By-Products, Frito-Lay Eugene, Teevin Bros Log Yard, Superior Steel, Spec Pipe. March 11: Western Pneumatics, Weyerhaeuser (Bertelsen Road), USF Reddaway, Western Coating, Tyree Oil.

The Lane County dump smells like fundraising to Commissioner Faye Stewart. A bill that has been introduced to the State Legislature, SB 248, would increase garbage “tipping” fees up to $10 more per ton at Short Mountain Landfill in order to raise funds for what has been dubbed the Goshen Region Employment and Transition (GREAT) Plan. The fee would apply to the entire county and would likely raise residential and business garbage fees.

When you think of the gender gap, you probably think of fields like math and science or construction. But Wikipedia says it has its own gender gap in female entry writers, and it’s trying to fix the problem. The Center for the Study of Women in Society, the Fembot Project and the ASUO Women’s Center will host workshops to train women as Wikipedia editors March 8-9.

Local women’s advocacy group Women Amplified celebrates its first birthday on International Women’s Day, Friday, March 8, with a party to benefit Womenspace. In January, the nonprofit for domestic violence survivors announced that it would have to end its emergency walk-in counseling services due to nearly $4 million in funding cuts. 

“We wanted to give back to them because they’ve been such a critical part of our community and very needed,” Terra Williams of Women Amplified says. 

The 4J School Board last week voted to place a bond measure on the May 21 ballot and addressed teachers’ concerns over schedules at middle and high schools.

Rep. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, is pushing for House Bill 2756, which would force school districts to get rid of free-standing, self-contained units — seclusion cells — but would not change Oregon laws that regulate non free-standing seclusion rooms.

Passionate lectures were strewn throughout the UO campus in February, and they weren’t solely from professors in classrooms. Panels and workshops were held at the Social Justice, Real Justice Conference, with speakers discussing everything from the history of racism in Eugene to activism in changing foreign policy (see story last week). Emotions were flying particularly high in the Alumni Center and the law building — as high as the drones being discussed hover over distant lands. 

Eugene-based Beyond Toxics wants the city’s public parks and public lands to go pesticide free, but the group says it’s still having trouble finding out just what toxins are being sprayed in the city and what public money is being spent on them. A public records request to the city of Eugene for the information was met with a fee estimate of more than $7,000. 

• Roseburg Resources Company 935-2507, plans to ground spray glyphosate, imazapyr, triclopyr amine and/or triclopyr ester on noxious weeds on its forest lands in Townships 18S 06W, 18S 08W and 19S 06W, a countywide notification. See ODF notice 2013-781-00163.

• Weyerhaeuser Company Springfield Operations 988-7502 plans to backpack spray any of several chemicals listed on 97 acres near Parsons and/or McGowan and several other creeks and/or tributaries. See ODF 

Thanks to what a local land use attorney calls “poorly written” land use code in Lane County, there’s no end in sight for the gravel mining of Parvin Butte. The 600-foot butte continues to be quarried by Lost Creek Rock Products (LCRP); the Dexter and Lost Creek neighbors who protest the mining have lost some ground in a recent Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) decision. LUBA decided Feb. 6 that LCRP does not need to undergo a site review in its mining operation at Parvin Butte. 

Fritz, an Australian shepherd mix and the beloved pet of John Beere and Cindy Corder, died on Jan. 20 while out for a walk at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery near Otis, Ore. The dog was strangled by an 8-inch conibear trap set to kill river otters that had been eating rainbow trout out of the hatchery’s ponds. 

As winter turns to spring, the McKenzie River flows toward Eugene with impressive force. While powerful, the river is not invincible — in fact, snow-fed rivers with slow drainage systems like the McKenzie are more susceptible to the effects of climate change than other kinds of river systems, according to a new study out of OSU in Corvallis. 

Oregon DEQ followed up its Dec. 13 pre-enforcement notice to Norpac Foods, Inc., (EW 12/27) with a civil penalty in the amount of $9,600 on Jan. 31. Norpac over-applied food processing wastewater to a field near Scio, resulting in illegal discharges to a ditch that drains to the North Santiam River.