Paddlesports and the Outdoors

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John Day River Permits Now on Sale 
Permits ranging from $16 to $26 will be required this year, for running the river between May 1 and July 15. The various permits went on sale March 4. The Statesman Journal provides details: https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2020/02/29/john-day-river-float-permits-clarno-cottonwood-service-creek-painted-hills/4874115002/

OSMB Seeking Newberg Pool Rules Comment 
The Oregon State Marine Board is seeking public comment on proposed rules for towed watersport equipment. The proposed rules are intended to limit conflicts and environmental damage caused by the operation of these devices. You can find the rules, here: https://www.oregon.gov/osmb/info/Documents/Rulemaking/RulemakingNotice_NewbergPool.pdf

Comments will be accepted through March 22, and may be directed here: osmb.rulemaking@oregon.gov

 

Nature and the Environment

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Feds Find Willamette Wake Surfing May Hurt Salmon 
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has informed the Oregon State Marine Board that wake surfing on the Willamette River poses a potential threat to fish populations, specifically threatened salmon and steelhead. To permit such fish to be endangered would be a violation of the Endangered Species Act. (As noted above, in Paddlesports and the Outdoors, the OSMB is currently considering placing limits on wake surfing in the Newberg Pool area.) OPB has this story: https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-willamette-river-wake-surfing-salmon-harm-regulations/

State’s Response to Radioactive Dumping “A Joke” 
After it was discovered that some 2 million pounds of radioactive waste was illegally dumped in an Oregon landfill, the State of Oregon’s response has allowed the perpetrators to avoid any meaningful consequences. The Oregonian elaborates: https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2020/02/oregons-response-to-illegal-radioactive-waste-dumping-is-a-joke.html

Fragmented Habitat, Fractured Ecosystems, and Wildlife in Florida 
Rampant development has gripped Florida for decades upon decades, and the environment has paid a steep price. Taking a deep dive into the plight of the state’s Florida Wildlife Corridor, The Bitter Southerner exposes the realities on the ground, in the Sunshine State: https://bittersoutherner.com/a-corridor-runs-through-it-everglades

Solar Storms Found to Impair Whale Navigation 
Recent research points to solar storms, a.k.a. geomagnetic storms, as navigational disruptors affecting the migration of grey whales. The conclusions come from analyzing decades of data. The Smithsonian explains: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/solar-storms-might-throw-migrating-whales-course-180974278/

 

Health, Fitness and Safety

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Fish Oil Health Claims – Just More Snake Oil? 
A large study from Britain seems to belie the broad claims for fish oil supplements. Studying the data from over 100,000 participants, researchers concluded the supplements had little, if any health benefits. They did, however, still recommend eating fish. The BBC reports: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51674313.

Wildfire Smoke Thought to Cause Permanent Health Damage 
Wildfires have become an increasing threat, from Europe to Australia, from California to Brazil. In their wake, it appears the fires leave behind life-long harm to people’s health, in addition to their more tangible depredations. The BBC explores the issue: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51313538

Plastic Containers – Really Safe for Food? 
It may come as a surprise, given the decades for which plastic has been used to store foods, but the jury is still out whether the containers pose a health risk. While some plastics, like those containing BPA, have come under close scrutiny in recent years, the overall safety of plastics for food storage and processing has been suspect for some time. The Guardian investigates: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/18/are-plastic-containers-safe-to-use-food-experts

 

Travel, Photography and Animals

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People’s Poll Wildlife Photo Winners 
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award is out, and the BBC provides a dazzling gallery of the top images that competed: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51465064

Underwater Photographer of the Year 
French photographer Greg Lecoeur has won this year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year Award. His thrilling photo of seals playing around an iceberg can be found on this Smithsonian page, along with some breathtaking category winners: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/dazzling-display-seals-wins-2020-underwater-photographer-year-award-180974266/

 

Paddlesports and the Outdoors

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Zach Urness Visits the Illinois River 
The Statesman Journal reporter took a whitewater rafting journey on Oregon’s Wild and Scenic Illinois River, and has the photos to prove it. The Illinois is highly regarded for its rapids, and is considered a challenge for even world-class boaters. https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/travel/outdoors/2017/02/15/illinois-river-rafting-green-wall-oregon-rogue-kayaking/97949480/

Updated Tide Tables and River Conditions Links 
The Cascades Paddlers River Conditions Page, a handy list of links featuring river and environmental conditions reports, has been updated. A link to NOAA’s tide prediction services is particularly timely, as 2020 is the last year the agency will publish tide table books. Meanwhile, NOAA’s page offering sun and moon tables is currently unavailable, so the link has been changed to provide the Sunrise-Sunset.org‘s tables.

MIT Researchers Untangle Knot Mysteries 
Knowing your knots is a basic boating and outdoor skill. But which is the best knot in a given situation? Scientists and mathematicians at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have made recent progress in definitively identifying which knot has the best characteristics for a given application. SciTechDaily reports: https://scitechdaily.com/what-exactly-makes-one-knot-better-than-another-has-not-been-well-understood-until-now/

 

Nature and the Environment

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Dungeness Crabs Hammered by Ocean Acidification 
Shellfish worldwide are suffering from the devastating effects of ocean acidification. It should come as no surprise, then, Oregon’s Dungeness crabs are suffering, too. While more sensitive species have already shown marked effects from the acidification of our coastal waters, the crabs have proven more resilient. Now, as those waters continue to acidify at a much higher rate than the world’s average, the crabs are feeling it. The Oregonian explains: https://www.oregonlive.com/environment/2020/01/ocean-acidification-is-impacting-dungeness-crabs-oregons-most-valuable-fishery-study-shows.html

Flushable Wipes – A Sewage Nightmare 
Research has shown that the great majority of products sold as “flushable” simply do not break down adequately to warrant the designation. The predictable results are clogged sewage treatment systems and additional municipal expense. To quote one professional, “Wipes are kryptonite — they should not be flushed.” Examining the situation is Undark: https://undark.org/2019/12/23/flushable-wipes/

The Statesman Journal also has an apropos article: https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2020/01/27/sewage-spills-keizer-claggett-creek-mill-creek-turner/4591162002/

Missing Ocean Plastics – The 99% 
It may come as a surprise, given the attention the observable plastics in the ocean receive, but 99 percent of the plastic known to enter the ocean is missing. Where did it go? Well, answers are starting to come in, and they aren’t encouraging. The Guardian reports: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/dec/31/ocean-plastic-we-cant-see

Garden Plants to Attract Native Bees 
While honeybees get the attention, the common European honeybee is not native, and they actually make matters worse for our imperiled native bees. Carefully choosing your garden plants can help, however. Oregon State University Extension Service has composed a list of 25 garden plants which will attract and help to sustain Oregon’s own wild bees: https://today.oregonstate.edu/news/25-plants-attracting-native-bees-garden

Plastic Bags Are Winning 
While Oregon is one of a handful of states which prohibit plastic bags for numerous uses, many more have enacted legislation protecting these environmental malefactors. The chemical industry has money to burn fighting environmental action, and Politico has the story: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/20/plastic-bags-have-lobbyists-winning-100587

 

Health, Fitness and Safety

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Big Pharma Jacks Prices for The New Year 
Drug price increases continue to outstrip inflation by a significant margin, while the evidence of price gouging continues to accrue, along with plump industry profits. It would seem the rich get richer while the poor get sicker. Ars Technica looks at the figures: https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/01/big-pharma-celebrates-new-year-by-raising-prices-on-over-250-drugs/

At the same time, some major health insurers, fed up with spiraling pharmaceutical prices, are collaborating to fight back. The partnership has initiated a nonprofit organization aimed at producing popular medications which can sell for a much lower cost. Again, Ars Technica reports: https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/01/sick-of-big-pharmas-pricing-health-insurers-pledge-55m-for-cheap-generics/

Do Vegan Diets Impact Intelligence? 
While the findings are not without controversy, much of the research to date has suggested that vegans have a hard time avoiding a cognitive hit from their lifestyle. The BBC investigates: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200127-how-a-vegan-diet-could-affect-your-intelligence

Counterfeit Refrigerator Water Filters – A Health Hazard 
It has come to light that many of the replacement water filters for popular refrigerators sold online are counterfeits, some posing real health risks. Even generally accepted sites like Amazon or eBay are host to such products. The Oregonian details why the buyer should beware: https://www.oregonlive.com/business/2020/01/buy-a-new-refrigerator-water-filter-it-might-be-a-dangerous-fake.html

 

Travel, Photography and Animals

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The BigPicture Natural World Photo Contest 
The winners of the California Academy of Science’s 2019 BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition provide a gallery of stunning delights, at My Modern Met: https://mymodernmet.com/big-picture-photo-contest-2019/

2019 Ocean Art Contest Photos 
The Underwater Photography Guide’s 2019 Ocean Art Contest winners offer spectacular views of the oceans and their denizens. Bored Panda shares: https://www.boredpanda.com/ocean-art-contest-winners-2019/

Wiki Loves Earth Photo Contest Winners 2019 
Once again the Wikimedia Foundation’s annual Wiki Loves Earth photography contest has produced some breathtaking winners. You can find them here: https://wikimediafoundation.org/news/2019/12/02/imagination-becomes-reality-in-the-winners-of-the-2019-wiki-loves-earth-photo-contest/