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Tag Archives: oregon

Potentially Invasive Fish Found In Columbia River

More bad news on the alien invader front: This time, biologists have found a tiny Asian fish,the Amur goby, in the Columbia River, reports the Vancouver Columbian. The goby isn’t the first Northwest transplant, and scientists aren’t sure what its eventual impact will be on the river’s ecosystem — but another competitor or possible preditor for endangered salmon can’t be a good thing. How the goby got here will remain a mystery. The two likely scenarios are by getting sucked into a ship’s ballast water in Asia then dumped out over here; or, being released wild by some goof with an aquarium. In addition to the Columbia, the goby was found in the East Fork of the Lewis River, north of Vancouver, Wash.

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Genetically Modified Grass Has Escaped an Oregon Test Field

Frankenstein’s monster appalls us at first glance for the way his head was sewn onto a mismatched torso, an arm here, a leg there, bolts sticking out of his neck. The hideous appearance was not a reflection of the monster, though, but of the man who created it: A scientist who flouted moral law by playing God, then failed in an utterly pragmatic way by letting the monster escape to play havoc in the world. It makes for great fiction — but terrible reality. Unfortunately, the Frankenstein tale threatens to retell itself in Oregon, with news this week that a genetically modified strain of bent grass is on the loose. The grass is an abomination - a genetically modified (GM) strain produced by Monsanto and the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. to resist the herbicide Roundup, which is also made by Monsanto. The idea was to grow anherbicide-resistant turf for golf courses and similar lawn operations; the courses could plant the GM bent grass, then soak the area in Roundup, killing weeds without having to get their hands dirty or harming the (now-resistant) grass. So Monsanto and Scotts planted a test crop of the bent grass near Madras, Ore., harvested it and then killed it off — with non-Roundup herbicide. But, like Frankenstein’s monster, the grass refused to die so easily, and escaped. The grass sent pollen more than a dozen miles, which is three miles outside a buffer zone. Two of the handful of escaped grass plants were growing in the Crooked River National Grassland, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, as reported in the Oregonian...

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Westlund Calls It Quits, the Weenie

Ben Westlund, independent Oregonian, today: "At the beginning of this campaign, I made a commitment to the people of Oregon, and that was: I was in it to win it…  And that I absolutely would not play a spoiler role. Therefore, today, with no regrets (but some sadness) I am here to honor that commitment. I am proud to keep that promise to the people of Oregon ... despite the fact that I unquestionably could qualify for the ballot... by announcing my withdrawal from the race for Governor." Odd, this, coming after the apparently successful signature-gathering from the Westlund campaign. I don't recall this vaunted promise to avoid being a spoiler at all costs, either — a rather silly promise from an independent candidate, anyway. But alright. Here's some scuttlebutt about what may have influenced Westlund to run away from the fray. Perhaps Westlund was too scared to talk to us about land use and took the easy way out instead? (I kid, I kid!) But it does occur to me that Westlund had an obligation to see this thing through, at least a bit further, to put the fear of God into the Tweedle Dee-and-Dum candidates from the Democrats and Republicans. If Westlund had hoped to shake things up, fighting to get into a debate and eventually acting as a spoiler would actually have been effective. At least next time, the major parties would have had to think and worry about another independent candidate, and been forced to address his issues in a campaign. By dropping out, Westlund may be sort of innoculating the powers-that-be against the idea of a vital centrist candidate. 'Oh, he'll never make it - just wait a few months and he'll drop out.' Sigh.

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Thorny Questions of Oregon Land’s Future, and the Gorge’s Scenic Area, Go To the Courts

When Oregonians passed Measure 37 two years ago, they thought to strike a blow for fairness, a defense of the little guy against big government. And perhaps, by jump-starting the land-use conversation, they did. They also raised a number of thorny questions. One of Measure 37’s central unanswered questions, as I wrote previously, is transferability. There are three cases on this issue — one each in Oregon’s Crook, Jackson and Columbia counties — in the courts now, awaiting resolution. The point at issue in these cases, and no doubt dozens or hundreds of other M37 claims, is whether a property owner can sell his development rights secured under M37. Meanwhile, the Oregon Court of Appeals is expected to soon hear another, perhaps even more far-reaching case: Does Measure 37 trump the gorge's National Scenic Area?...

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Property Rights, Abortion, Term Limits … One Interesting November

Oregonians — whose political initiatives so often stand alone, or at least first, in the country — will have 10 initiative measures on our ballots this November. They are Measures 39 through 48, and their range of issues sound familiar themes: Property rights and term limits, parental notification and expanding the state prescription drug program. Blogger Ridenbaugh has a quick take on the chances of each measure for passage here. There are a number of these measures which will require thought and debate for me to take a stand for or against. That said, several measures are slam-dunk, either deserving passage or those that absolutely shouldn’t be law. Those that I’ll support: ”¢ Measure 39: Bans governments from taking land under eminent domain for private projects or sales. Eminent domain is a necessary power sometimes used for public projects. But governments have no business taking a person’s home on behalf or a private company or developer....

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“Corruption Is An Element of Human Behavior”

What, corruption? In Oregon? Nah. It could never happen here. Sure it can, says Pat Hearn, Oregon’s departing state government ethics chief. Hearn tells Willamette Week, “corruption is an element of human behavior. And I don't think human behavior recognizes any geographical boundary. So I think it's almost pompous of Oregonians to think that if it happens in these other places, it's not happening here either.”

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Mt. Hood Wilderness Vote Coming Soon

The bipartisan Oregon plan that would grow the Mt. Hood national wilderness area by 41 percent could get a Congressional vote this month, after passing the House Resources Committee with a unanimous vote. The “Mt. Hood Legacy Act” is the brainchild of U.S. Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., of Hood River, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore ., of Portland. By granting 77,000-plus acres of federal land new protection, the bill would, Blumenauer told the Oregonian, “push the limits in terms of consensus.”...

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Westlund Has the Signatures — But Does He Have the Guts To Tackle Land Use?

Last week I received a call from the Ben Westlund campaign, inviting me to a backyard barbecue at his Portland campaign headquarters. I went. Westlund’s independent run for the Oregon governorship has interested me since its earliest rumor, months before it was formally announced. That is partly because I have become a single-issue nerd, and partisan politics-as-usual have not been kind to land use planning in Oregon. But most of all, it’s because I felt he just might win. Here was a charismatic, independent, no-business-as-usual, legislation-savvy, disgruntled-former-Republican who grew up ranching in central Oregon. Being a single-issue nerd, I wondered where his multifarious roots left him standing on land-use questions that completely stymied the 2005 legislature and now lurk and stew within polarized camps heading into the fall elections. It’s not the biggest issue, and not likely to be one on which he’ll win or lose; but it is as significant, deeply felt, and preoccupying as healthcare and taxation and education. Like these, it has to do with the very future of our state. So, I set to pestering the campaign, off-and-on for several months, hoping to get Westlund on the record about land use. And then came the call. “Ben will be there; you’ll have the chance to talk,” said the message. “Hello, I’m Ben,” he said, and shook my hand. He said we could talk but this probably wasn't the time and place. I floated a couple of land-use questions and got fairly generic answers; he seemed a bit uncomfortable with the topic — and then I started to worry whether I might be backing totally the wrong horse. ...

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Six Questions: Big Look Committee Outlines Oregon’s Land-Use Future

Can Oregon's entire land-use debate be not only summed up in six questions, but solved by answering them? Some serious, thoughtful citizens think so. In Java, the mark of power is to hold opposing viewpoints in dynamic tension, reconciling them both in the moment and over the long haul. The Oregon State Land Use Task Force — known as the Big Look task force — now five months into its three-year charge to recast the state’s planning program, shows no signs of believing it will do any less. At its retreat held Sunday and Monday in Lincoln City – the first of several meetings planned away from Salem’s familiar halls – the 10 Big Look members boosted confidence that they can find workable solutions to an issue now seeming to preoccupy every breathing soul west of the Colorado front range: how to balance landscape protection with property rights. By the end of the weekend, the Big Look had framed the issue in six questions. Early next year, it hopes to start answering them...

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Oregonians Will Get To Vote On Another Property Rights Law — A Good One, This Time

Oregonians will have as many as 12 ballot initiatives to vote on in November, including abortion-notification, government spending limits and making health care a fundamental right. Among the likely qualifiers after the Secretary of State's Office tallies the valid signatures is Initiative 57, a property rights follow-up to Measure 37. Initiative 57 would prohibit governments in Oregon from taking a person's property under the power of eminent domain, if the purpose is to transfer the property to another private person or company. I've written much in recent months critical of another property rights law, Measure 37, which voters passed in 2004. Measure 37's a flawed law that attempts to solve the substantial problem of inflexible planning and zoning rules by essentially scrapping them for longtime property owners. The law operates under the idea that regulatory land is the same as taking it which, most of the time, is nonsense. Limiting eminent domain, however, is a fine idea. Measure 57 seems as reasonable and straight-forward as Measure 37 was poorly conceived and ideologically driven...

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