Paddlesports, Outdoors and Wildlife

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HB 2320 and HB 2321 – A Tale of Two Bills 
2321, the bill extending the requirement for an AISP permit to all boats, regardless of length, is sailing right along. It saw a flurry of activity in April, moved from the house to the senate, and is currently before the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

HB 2320, the attempt to extend licensing to all nonmotorized boats, has seen little activity, but there’s not much reason to draw cheer from that. I imagine to legislators this looks like an easy fix that doesn’t involve general fund dollars. The fact that it is an inequitable head tax may not get much sympathy, since the political backlash is probably perceived as limited. One might hope that directly contravening the Admission Acts would cause some hesitation on the part of our elected representatives, but that remains to be seen. Anyway, the bill is currently before the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

Salem River 2 Ridge Relay Announced 
Salem is set to have a new athletic competition, of the triathlon variety. Featuring running, biking, and paddling, the race will run a winding route from Wallace Marine Park to Silver Falls Park. The Statesman has the details: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2017/04/20/race-salem-silver-falls-use-boats-bikes-and-boots/100666304/

 

Nature and the Environment

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Neonics Found in US Drinking Water 
The class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids have been implicated in a variety of environmental problems, perhaps best known is their suspected connection with devastated bee populations. Now it has been discovered that the chemicals have found their way into American drinking water. Little is know about what this could mean for health, and you can be sure more research is on its way, but the BBC has the story for now: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39504487

Road Salt Poisoning US Lakes 
In recent years, the use of road salt has been debated in Oregon, but not generally adopted. In parts of the country where salting roads is an established practice, troubling results to the environment have developed: local lakes are reaching levels of contamination toxic to aquatic life. Ars Technica provides details: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/04/thousands-of-us-lakes-probably-getting-saltier-thanks-to-road-salt/

Currents Sweeping Microplastics to Arctic 
The vast tons of microscopic plastic debris that enter our oceans each year spread far and wide. It has now been discovered that ocean currents are working like a “conveyor belt”, carrying and dumping the particles in arctic areas previously pristine. The Smithsonian elaborates: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/part-arctic-ocean-suffering-plastic-pollution-180962985/

Global Food Trade Driving Water Depletion 
The pressures on water supplies worldwide are substantially exceeding sustainability, and agriculture is a primary driver of this overuse. Global trade, rather than serving to mitigate these effects, is greatly exacerbating them. The BBC reports: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39431680

 

Health, Fitness and Safety

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Diet Soda Tentatively Linked to Dementia, Stroke 
You may have seen headlines touting a newly-discovered link between diet soda consumption and the diseases dementia and stroke. There are, however, some pretty big “maybe”s that go along with that claim. Ars Technica describes the real bottom line: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/04/study-claims-a-link-between-diet-sodas-and-stroke-and-dementia/

Exercise Sharpens Mind for Over-50 
Once again, a study has found a link between physical activity and mental acuity. This dovetails with studies showing a link between mental exercise and brain health. To be perfectly clear, however, this does not mean that thinking about exercise is enough. The BBC reports: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39693462

Antibacterial Toothpaste May Promote Superbugs in Gut 
Some toothpaste manufacturers include triclosan, purportedly to combat gingivitis. A recent study, while limited, found troubling evidence that triclosan disrupts the gut’s microbiome, in a variety of ways, some of which are implicated in the development of drug-resistant pathogens. Ars Technica has details: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/04/bacteria-killing-toothpastes-may-be-good-for-your-teeth-bad-for-your-gut/

Recent Saturated Fat Headlines “Misleading” 
It turns out that recent headlines, which you may have seen, calling into question the accepted benefits of a low-fat diet, are questionable in themselves. Cherry-picked statistics and spurious conclusions are among the criticisms leveled against the research. Also worth noting, the researcher in question gets his money from the meat and drug industries. Ars Technica has more: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/04/experts-headline-grabbing-editorial-on-saturated-fats-bizarre-misleading/

 

Travel and Photography

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Blue Whale Filmed Feeding 
It has always been a challenge to get video of blue whales feeding. The view is limited from a boat and helicopters disturb the sensitive cetaceans. Now, with modern drone technology, researchers have acquired striking video of a great blue decimating a krill swarm. The Smithsonian provides: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/cool-video-shows-blue-whale-nomming-krill-180962974/

Mangroves Protect Vietnam’s Mekong Delta 
As sea levels rise, areas like the Mekong Delta are threat. For the time being mangrove forests are helping to mitigate the problem. But the future is uncertain, and a way of life is at risk. BBC Travel looks at the situation in an article replete with striking photographs: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20170413-the-trees-keeping-vietnam-afloat

Space Shots of California’s “Super Bloom”
As you probably know, this winter’s rains have inundated the golden state. As a result, the state in the midst of a great wildflower bloom, the like of which hasn’t been seen in a long, long time. The color can even be seen from space, as the BBC shows us: http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-39671753/wildflower-super-bloom-seen-from-space

 

Health, Fitness and Safety

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Alarming Increase in Colorectal Cancer in Young 
A study from the American Cancer Society shows a sharp rise in the rate of colorectal cancer in young adults, even while the disease has been declining in the elderly. The Smithsonian has more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-study-shows-sharp-rise-colorectal-cancers-among-young-adults-180962318/

False Penicillin Allergies Boosting Superbugs 
It turns out that many people mistakenly report to healthcare providers being allergic to penicillin. This is fueling the rise of antibiotic resistant “superbugs”. Ars Technica provide the details: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/false-penicillin-allergies-fuel-superbugs-and-doctors-are-fighting-back/

Pink Noise May Aid Sleep in Older Adults 
As people age, the quality of their sleep suffers, which is thought to adversely affect memory. A new study suggests pink noise can help restore sleep quality for such individuals. The Smithsonian has the news: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/pink-noise-may-improve-sleep-and-memory-older-adults-180962466/

B vitamins May Protect Lungs From Dirty Air 
While Oregon doesn’t suffer from air pollution as badly as much of the world, it is still a reality of urban life, here. Trials in the US now suggest high doses of vitamin B can protect lungs from damage from fine particulates. The BBC explains: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39231896

European Genes Demand More Vegetables and Grains 
It turns out that if you have European heritage, your genes have evolved to favor a diet high in vegetables and grains. Interestingly enough, this finding tends to debunk the concepts behind the paleo diet. Ars Technica elaborates: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/europeans-evolved-to-eat-more-vegetables-several-thousand-years-ago/

World’s Healthiest Hearts Found 
The Tsimane people of Bolivia have been found to have the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease in the world. Their big secret? Diet and lots of exercise, (and maybe intestinal worms). Wanna go paddling now? The BBC expands: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39292389

Using GPS Switches Off Brain’s Guidance System 
An intriguing study detailed in Scientific American suggests that using GPS guidance systems causes the portions of brain associated with direction finding to turn off. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-brain-takes-a-guided-tour-of-london/

Drains Splash Pathogens Easily 
“Down the drain” is generally considered gone and forgotten. Not so fast. Research has found that germs in the P-trap can climb out when the tap is turned on, causing the microbes to splash out. Major hospital infections of antibiotic-resistant pathogens are attributed to the phenomenon. Ars Technica has the disturbing news: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/superbugs-fester-in-sink-p-traps-and-can-crawl-back-up-to-cause-infection/

BPA Alternatives Just As Bad? 
While the shift from plastics giving off BPA was supposed to solve the problem, new research suggests that at least some of the replacements are no cure. At issue are the hormone-mimicking characteristics of the substances, and Ars Technica has the details: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/bpa-free-another-stand-in-chemical-also-disrupts-hormones-in-lab-tests/

Nighttime Bathroom Trips Linked to Salt 
If you are beset with the inconvenience of frequent potty trips during the night, your salt consumption may, at least partially, be to blame. The BBC elaborates: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39382339

 

Nature and the Environment

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Wildfire Increase More From Humans Than Climate
Humans are responsible for 84 percent of the wildfires in the US. Human activities have extended the fire season, and are starting blazes when and where natural causes wouldn’t. Of course, one could reasonably argue climate change is just another human-caused contribution, but I’ll let Ars Technica give you the scoop: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/in-the-us-added-wildfires-due-to-carelessness-not-climate-change/

Video Shows When Plastic Enters the Food Chain 
As we all know, plastics are fouling the world’s waters, both fresh and salt. Microplastics, fibers and particles which stem from many sources, are one of the biggest problems. They enter the food chain, harming wildlife from the microscopic to apex predators. Now, the BBC has video showing such microplastics entering the food chain: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39217985

Native American Ethnobotany Workshop June 3 
Stephanie Hazen has pointed out this workshop, sponsored by the Luckiamute Watershed Council. What’s ethnobotany? Try the workshop’s web page to learn more: http://www.luckiamutelwc.org/2017-ethnobotany-workshop.html

 

Paddlesport, Outdoors and Wildlife

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The Ongoing Saga of HB 2320
The Oregon State Marine Board’s drive for absolute hegemony over our state’s boaters and navigable waters continues, unabated. The likely outcome of all this is a costly, protracted legal battle. In the end, the board’s attempt to weasel around Section 2 of the Oregon Admission Acts by claiming a registration fee is not a fee on navigation is likely to founder, because if you can’t navigate our waters without paying the fee, it is a de facto fee on navigation. There is little reason to believe the courts will be amused by the agency’s contortions.

All of this could have been avoided if the agency had actually worked with the nonmotorized-boating community in good faith. Instead they clearly set this result as their goal, and manipulated the process to achieve it. This can be seen not only in the board’s attempts to sidestep Section 2, but in their stacking the deck on their Nonmotorized Boating Advisory Committee. Of the 14 members on the committee only one was without commercial ties to the sport. This makes as much sense as having motorists represented by car dealers. The reason for the agency’s actions is simple; commercial interests align much more closely with the board’s agenda than those of private individuals.

To be clear, these shortcomings were brought to the attention of agency personnel early on. The result was sidestepping, denial, and dismissal of the concerns, basically saying, “We have what we want, now go away.”

As with the other aspects of the agency’s process, the online questionnaire was designed to give a patina of legitimacy to the board’s ambitions. In reality, the questionnaire was tilted to give the agency the result it wanted.

Not the least of the smoking guns here is the agency’s cobbling together of two completely separate issues into one bill: life jackets for floaters and nonmotorized boat registration. Such a measure would never qualify for the ballot, but here it gives the board the chance to claim an emergency regarding the floaters, while ramming through the onerous registration of boaters on that premise.

Adding insult to injury, to advance their agenda the board characteristically portrays nonmotorized boaters as deadbeats, unwilling to pay our way. The reality is that it is the board which refuses to earn its way. In this specious characterization of us, the agency conveniently neglects to mention that we are floating the Aquatic Invasive Species program. While we pay $5 per year for the permits, power boaters get theirs at $5 for two years, as part of their registration. Now they plan to extend the fees to those with boats under 10-feet, yet little outcry against this has arisen. Bear in mind, the board’s own statistics indicate our boats represent less than 1 percent of those found with infestations. Yet we pay at 200 percent the rate of power boaters, aren’t complaining, (much), and yet we are deadbeats. The board seeks to offset the appearance of inequity this poses by insisting that the transferrability of our permits makes up the difference, all the while knowing that most individuals have only one boat, or if they do have another boat, they usually get a permit for it so a guest can paddle it. Unfortunately, the legislators HB 2320 has come before seem to have little awareness of how they are being spun.

To be fair, the board has argued that nonmotorized boaters use agency-funded facilities, without paying. That argument has some legitimacy. But, also to be fair, it has to be noted that a gravel beach makes a better launch for many of us, than a boat ramp. In many cases, such natural areas have been paved over by the board to build their environment-damaging, habitat-destroying facilities. Having made it so we have little choice but to cross board-funded facilities to access the water, they now want to hold us responsible for paying for that inconvenience. To be fair.

As you might imagine, a three-decade long drive by the board to impose this head tax on Oregonians has generated many more examples of egregious behavior and attitudes on the part of the board. I’ll spare you from the full discussion, but suffice it to say: HB 2320 is bad law aimed at depriving every Oregonian of their birthright to navigate our waters free from taxes or fees, and the board’s arguments to support it are largely disingenuous.

Kroc Tries New Kayak Sessions 
Salem’s Kroc Center pool will be hosting Friday, daytime kayak sessions on a trial basis, starting April 7 and running to mid-May. The sessions will run from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. You can contact the center at 503.566.5762 for more information.

 

April Excursions

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TERMS, CONDITIONS, DISCLAIMERS AND WAIVERS CAN BE FOUND ON THE “ABOUT” PAGE.

April 23
Willamette River, Buena Vista to Independence – Class A – 12 miles
The Rogue Ales tasting room is back open, so we’ll give it a visit. Both food and potables can be had at Rogue, though bring adequate provisions if you won’t be availing yourself of the hospitality.
Jim Bradley
jim.cascadepaddlers@gmail.com

April 30
North Santiam, Greens Bridge to Jefferson – Class 1 Whitewater – length 3.5 ± miles
This run is always popular for its beauty and delightful break spots. Bring appropriate staples and potables. We’ll be taking it slow and easy, with plenty of time for reflection.
Jim Bradley
jim.cascadepaddlers@gmail.com

Paddlesports, Outdoors and Wildlife

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The 3/1 hearing on HB 2320, Non-motorized registration 
As previously mentioned, the legislature held a hearing, March 1, on the Marine Board’s proposal to license all boats used on Oregon waters. A variety of speakers addressed the inequities of this blunderbuss approach taken by the board. Most important, in my view, was testimony brought forward regarding the Oregon Admission Act. The act states, “… all the navigable waters of said State, shall be common highways and forever free, as well as to the inhabitants of said State as to all other citizens of the United States, without any tax, duty, impost, or toll therefor. [11 Stat. 383 (1859)]”

I had expressed concerns, during the board’s process in developing the proposed legislation, in regard to this stipulation on Oregon’s waters, and basically got blown off. The Transportation Committee seemed less disposed to disregard the admission act than the agency had proven to be.

Perhaps the best summation of the other testimony would be to say that it pointed out how the board’s proposal was a one-size-fits-all solution to a complex and nuanced issue. The agency’s proposals call for all non-motorized boaters to pay for facilities and services that would be utilized by only a subset. For the agency, it’s a convenient head tax on boaters; for boaters it is in inequitable redistribution of funds to the board’s favored projects.

To keep track of HB 2320’s progress, you can go here: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/HB2320

Minto Bridge Progresses, Slowly 
Advances continue toward the delayed opening of the pedestrian bridge, across Salem’s Willamette Slough, linking Riverfront Park to Minto-Brown Park. On tap for the nearish future is a limited, soft opening. Work to remove temporary construction structures will not take place until June, and the bridge is expected to close again for that. A full opening is now slated for August. Maybe. The Statesman has the details:  http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2017/02/23/countdown-soft-opening-salem-pedestrian-bridge/98263806/

Oregon’s Illinois River – A Whitewater Jewel 
Zach Urness at the Statesman did an article on one of Oregon’s most esteemed whitewater rivers, the Illinois, a tributary of the Rogue: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/travel/outdoors/2017/02/15/illinois-river-rafting-green-wall-oregon-rogue-kayaking/97949480/