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The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation are now custodians of 1,200 acres of critical habitat along the Middle Fork John Day River, thanks to a recent land transaction with The Nature Conservancy.

Ownership of the property, called the Dunstan Homestead Preserve, transferred to the Tribes in April. It is located northeast of John Day.

The land’s critical fish and wildlife habitat will remain under perpetual protection and stewardship as a result of the partnerships between The Nature Conservancy, the Tribes and the Bonneville Power Administration.

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The state has asked the Oregon Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court ruling against Walmart, saying it created a “dramatic change” in the way wetlands fill projects are considered.

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WASHINGTON—The federal grazing fee for 2019 will drop to $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM) for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.35 per head month (HM) for lands managed by the USDA Forest Service.

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The OSU Extension is again offering its “Master Naturalist Eco Region” course in Wasco County, as well as in Hood River County. Applications are due by March 15.

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In the wake of last year’s Eagle Creek Fire, a group of citizen scientists ventured out to the Columbia River Gorge with one question on their minds: How are the pikas?

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It was a good year for pikeminnow anglers in the Columbia and Snake rivers. More than 3,000 people registered for the 2018 Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program. Combined, they spent more than 23,000 angler-days catching and removing 180,271 of the salmon-eating fish, which helps protect young salmon and steelhead from predation.

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Federal, state and tribal partners have developed an agreement on how much water to spill for fish survival during operation of federal dams in the Columbia River Basin, the Bonneville Power Administration reported last week. The agreement calls for flexible spring spill operation premised on achieving improved salmon survival while also managing costs in hydropower generation, the agency said.

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State officials wrongly granted a wetland fill permit to Walmart for a proposed super-store in The Dalles, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday in a precedent-setting case. In issuing a fill permit to Walmart in 2013, the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) wrongly stated that it was “inconclusive” whether public need outweighed damage to wetlands, the court ruled.

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Bipartisan legislation to protect endangered salmon and steelhead from sea lion predation has been passed by the U.S. Senate. “For too long, predatory sea lions have been taking an unhealthy chomp out of Oregon’s salmon and steelhead stocks,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

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A grant request to build a second deep well in Mosier, moving a heavy agricultural user out of a depleting aquifer currently being used by the town, was declined at this time. The Oregon Water Resources Commission told the grant seekers to come back with more information for reconsideration in the next funding cycle.

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The City of The Dalles has applied three times to the state for a $1 million grant to help replace the leaking, wooden, century-old Dog River pipeline, which provides half the city’s water. It has gotten closer to funding each time, and in mid-November, state staffers finally recommended the grant be funded. But then the Oregon Water Resources Commission delayed a decision on the staff recommendation until early next year.

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Following the first facilitated wolf plan stakeholder meeting in The Dalles in August, during which little consensus was reached, the committee met Oct. 9 in Salem. According to a report by Jim Akenson of the Oregon Hunter Association, the second meeting resulted in progress on reaching consensus on radio-collaring efforts, the definition of chronic depredation of livestock, and which agencies and staff could review depredations in the field.

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SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown wants to guard against a rollback of federal environmental rules by moving them into state law where the Trump administration couldn’t touch them. “As states, we can take a leadership role in preventing the erosion of core laws that protect our environment,” Brown said in remarks at an event at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Wednesday.

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The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area will conduct prescribed burning in the eastern Gorge this fall and winter as part of an ongoing fire fuels management program that hopes to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and improve forest health. “We’re coming into a weather window – which means temperatures, humidity, and ground moisture are just right for successfully burning while still maintaining control of the fire,” said Roland Rose, a fire fuels planner with the national scenic area.

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On Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, a 50th anniversary ceremony was held at the John Day Dam powerhouse. As part of the ceremony, Kevin Moynahan, operations project manager at the dam, recapped the history of the facility.

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Steelhead retention in the Columbia River and lower John Day River closed effective Monday, Aug. 27 through the end of the year due to poor returns. The states of Oregon and Washington decided to close the retention fishery after the run size was downgraded from a preseason forecast of 182,000 to 110,000 adult summer steelhead on Monday.

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A class action lawsuit against AmeriTies alleging that odors from the plant diminished the use and value of area properties has reached a proposed settlement of $1.25 million. Almost all of The Dalles is included in the boundaries covered by the settlement, according to a map posted on the website of one of the law firms involved.

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Wheat fields burnt in the Substation Fire — 79,121 acres in Wasco and Sherman County — are now at risk of both wind and water erosion, according to soil and water conservationists with the United States Department of Agriculture personnel in The Dalles. “Both wind and water can be a problem,” said Clinton Whitten, who works on soil issues with farmers in both counties.

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Fire season is back in Oregon. Too soon, it seems, for residents still recovering from last year’s devastating Eagle Creek Fire. In the aftermath, many residents have banded together to work on helping the Gorge heal and shown how deeply the community is affected by the wellbeing of its landscape — just like Colorado, environmental journalist Heather Hansen says.

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SALEM — Oregon's Department of State Lands is looking into whether other entities, including counties or private companies, could manage certain state trust forests more cheaply than the state Department of Forestry.

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A three-part series this week first looked at the AmeriTies West tie plant operations and then at what the plant has done to address odor complaints concerning naphthalene. Today, it recaps an investigative series by the Cascadia Times that says residents in The Dalles are breathing toxic air.

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A three-part series this week first looked at the AmeriTies West tie plant operations. Today’s second installment focuses on what the plant has done address to odor complaints concerning naphthalene. Tomorrow’s story recaps an investigative series by the Cascadia Times that says residents in The Dalles are breathing toxic air.

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