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News Briefs

During the first presidential debate Oct. 3, when Mitt Romney professed to “love Big Bird” yet said he would “stop the subsidy to PBS,” he triggered an immediate internet outcry, one that prompted former Eugenean and political activist Sam Chapman to start a fundraising campaign for the Sesame Street character. Chapman’s campaign swiftly made national headlines with mentions in papers such as USA Today.

In celebration of final local approval of West Eugene EmX, a party to celebrate and thank everyone who has worked to support EmX is being planned for 5:30 to 7 pm Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Broadway Commerce Center, 44 W. Broadway. Mayor Kitty Piercy, LTD Board Chair Greg Evans and other local leaders are expected to attend. RSVP to rsvp@emxyes.org

Gov. John Kitzhaber has entered the federal forests and county funding fray by proposing a forest panel made up of environmentalists, county officials and timber interests. The panel, which is based on the proposed DeFazio-Walden-Schrader forest legislation, is tasked with coming up with a plan for using federal Bureau of Land Management O&C forests to fund payments to cash-strapped Oregon counties.

You’ve probably never seen a streaked horned lark — a little bird with feather tufts on its head that call to mind the horns of a teeny-tiny buffalo — because they are only about 6 to 8 inches long and there are only about 1,600 of them left in the world. But some of the few little yellowish and brown birds that remain live in the Willamette Valley and they have a liking for airports. The streaked horned lark and a fellow prairie species, the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, have been proposed by the U.S.

The UO is honoring the life and work of music professor and former dean of the School of Music and Dance Anne Dhu McLucas, who died Sept. 8. Plans are proceeding on the second of a two-part symposium on “Oral Traditions, Old and New” Oct. 19 and 20. 

The October portion of the symposium will be dedicated to McLucas, with musicians and scholars from across the U.S. and abroad presenting their work in her memory. The theme of the symposium was chosen to honor her 2010 monograph, the “The Musical Ear: Oral Tradition in the USA.”

Despite the controversy surrounding coal trains running through Eugene and Lane County, the Board of Lane County Commissioners had scheduled a vote in support of coal trains and the Coos Bay Bulk Terminal for Oct. 3 with no public input. After outcry against the resolution arose, Commission Chair Sid Leiken suggested the vote be moved to Oct. 17. The commission will take public comments at that time, and also at its Oct. 16 vote in Florence.

Oregon’s vivid landscapes will hit the big screen at the Living River Film Festival, a three-day event presented by the McKenzie River Trust. The festival, which begins Oct. 12 and includes 11 films with guest appearances by the filmmakers, provides the public with an opportunity to connect to MRT’s conservation goals. 

“We purchase land in order to protect critical fish and wildlife habitat,” says Liz Lawrence, operations manager for MRT. “Basically, we’re in the conservation real estate business.”

A free dental clinic for extractions only is coming up Saturday, Oct. 26, for people who are uninsured, low income, have a tooth that needs to be removed, and have not had recent dental care. Patients need to have a phone number where they can be reached to confirm appointments.

The event is being organized by the Occupy Eugene Medical Clinic in cooperation with St. Vincent de Paul. Dentists can work on only one quadrant at a time so only one upper or lower jaw, left or right side, can be treated at this clinic. A limit of 20 people can be treated.

At a City Council meeting Monday Oct. 8, the downtown exclusion zone, which allows people charged with certain crimes to be excluded from downtown Eugene prior to conviction, transformed into a different beast — one that activists and the homeless hope will turn on itself.

Toxic tar sands oil has not been in the news lately in the Northwest, but a blockade against the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would carry the crude from Canada to the Gulf Coast of the U.S. has drawn Eugene-based activists down to Texas to oppose the pipeline’s construction. Ben Jones, a member of the Cascadia Forest Defenders who is in east Texas with the Tar Sands Blockade, calls the Keystone XL is one of the largest and most destructive infrastructure projects in the world.

Well water that students were drinking at Triangle Lake Charter School, located outside of Eugene, contained the pesticide imazapyr, according to a sample sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for testing in April 2011. Now a study by the USDA in the spring of 2012 of 22 Oregon rural schools using wells shows that one other Eugene-area school and two Corvallis-area schools had pesticides in their water. The Triangle Lake school was also tested and had imazapyr in the water again.

The Cascade mountains of the Willamette National Forest are a popular summer tour for people from all over the state and beyond, well known for great hiking and biking trails in particular — but along Hwy 126, the small town of Blue River is getting less traffic stopping in than it should, says a man who’s trying to change that. 

Transforming Goshen, a small, unincorporated town south of Eugene off I-5 and Hwy 58, was designated as a specific goal for 2012 by the Lane County Board of Commissioners in this year’s State of the County Address, and now Goshen has been declared a “Regionally Significant Industrial Area” (RSI) by the Oregon Economic Revitalization and Review Council. 

You might have noticed there’ve been a lot of really big, kind of scary, brown spiders running around lately. It’s not your arachnophobia making you paranoid; late summer into fall is mating season for the arachnids. 

Lane County’s parks suffer from off-season vandalism, and homeless people who are currently prohibited from sleeping in their RVs or campers in Eugene need a legal place to sleep. The Lane County Parks Advisory Committee, the Homeless Coalition and St. Vincent de Paul think they might have found a way to reduce both problems.

Beginning around Thanksgiving, or by the holidays at the latest, the Lane County Parks Division will experiment with using homeless people who own RVs or campers as hosts in parks with hookups for power, water and septic systems.

The fight over transporting coal is heating up not only in Eugene, which faces the possibility of coal trains coming through town, but in Washington, D.C., as well. “The Republicans were in full election mode,” Congressman Peter DeFazio says of the recent House vote on the “Stop the War on Coal” bill. 

Will the next controversial public health issue in Oregon please stand up? Oh wait, it just did. On Sept. 12, the Portland City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to authorize the Portland Water Bureau to fluoridate the city’s water supply in order to “reduce tooth decay and promote good oral health.” The move effectively resurfaces the fluoridation issue in Oregon, where, according to the Oregon Dental Association, only about 20 percent of residents drink fluoridated water. 

Each year, the Civil Liberties Defense Center’s Harvest Feast benefit highlights civil liberties issues related to food production, like pesticide sprays and genetically modified organisms. This year’s theme, “Fiesta en el Jardin,” honors the work that CLDC and its partners have done for immigrant communities in Oregon.

CDLC’s Oct. 5 Harvest Feast at Mount Pisgah features a five-course organic Latin dinner, wine, sangria and Ninkasi beer, plus music from Sol de los Andes. 

Saving the Amazon sounds like a project for South America, not south Eugene, but local conservationists and land use advocates have long been fighting proposed development in the headwaters of Amazon Creek in Eugene’s south hills. They say the creek is Eugene’s primary watershed, covering about 60 percent of the city’s area. This week Southeast Neighbors announced that an independent land use hearings official in Eugene has rejected a proposal to construct the 75-lot Deerbrook PUD (planned unit development) in the sensitive Amazon headwaters.

Svitlana Kravchenko literally wrote the book on human rights and the environment. The widely lauded UO law professor died of a heart attack in February of this year at the age of 62, but she will be both honored and remembered this week as two UO law journals and the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide join to present “New Directions for Human Rights and the Environment: A Symposium Inspired by Svitlana Kravchenko,” to be held free and open to the public Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28-29, at the Knight Law Center, 1515 Agate St. in Eugene.

Attorneys for a mentally ill homeless man say Lane County refuses to turn over documents related to a case against the county that alleges officials violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and violated Mark Andrew Kemp’s constitutional rights.

Gumby is back, he’s in Lane County and he’s green. The clay animation character was always green in color, but after more than a decade of quiet living outside Cottage Grove, Gumby’s only authorized impersonator — Michael West when he’s not in his Gumby suit — wants to bring Gumby back out and embrace the environmental movement.

The Eugene Peace Team will join the international Culture of Peace Initiative to observe the 2012 U.N. International Day of Peace Sept. 21 with a series of events.

From 7 to 8:30 am Friday at the Eugene Hilton will be an interfaith community breakfast with Anita Weiss, Ph.D., speaking on “Understanding Women’s Rights in Islam.” Cost is $5-$25.

• ODOT plans to do herbicide spot and structure (guardrail) spraying along Highway 36 for noxious weeds from Sept. 24 through Oct. 5. They do not plan to do any spraying in the section from milepost 24 to 32.2 at Amy Road in the Beyond Toxics Adopt-A-Weed program.

• Giustina, 245-2301, is hiring Washburn Contract Services, (503) 831-1593 to do roadside and other spraying on many miles near the Long Tom River, Owens Creek, Jones Creek and Swartz Creek. See ODF notice 2012-781-00659.