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As expected, the heat and drought are piling on this year. Already, many streams are at the lowest levels seen in decades. The fire danger is at critical, and fire restrictions are in place across the region. June set temperature records, and so far July shows little promise of relief. The Pacific Northwest is hot and dry to an uncharacteristic degree, and it’s affecting recreational opportunities, as well as the landscape.

There are still a lot of good places to go paddling, but you need to plan for low water and the complications it can introduce. From algal blooms to gravel bars, it pays to consider and prepare.

Drought and Water Issues
Although it is rarely mentioned, a significant amount of the water used in U.S. agriculture ends up going to foreign markets in the foodstuffs we export

Public policy is rooted in the information policymakers use to formulate their designs. But what happens when such information is inadequate or deeply flawed? The ongoing water crisis in the Western U.S. serves as an example.

Fish in Pacific Northwest streams are in real trouble. What little water still flows in the region’s waterways is too warm and oxygen-depleted to keep them alive. Fish are dying and are expected to continue doing so. This can also put pets at risk, in particular dogs.

Paddling and Recreation
A great deal of camping and campsite reservation information for Washington and Oregon is available online.

In the valley named for it, the Willamette River is a dominant recreational resource, and a good venue for streamside camping.

South Slough, a pristine estuary on the Southern Oregon coast, offers paddling and other recreational opportunities.

Not only is it true that Los Angeles has a river, (who’d have thought?), but some people are actually paddling it.

Nature, the Environment, and Conservation
Recently, Portland suffered another round of bee die-offs, and investigations are ongoing at this time.

A strong case continues to be made that the ecology of the Grand Canyon requires periodic flooding events, events it has been largely denied since its extensive damming.

Rules aimed at documenting fracking operations on public lands are being challenged in federal court by the frackers.

Photos and Travel
The Oregonian featured a nice gallery of Oregon’s snakes.

In a remarkable example of wildlife adapting to human presence, Alpine ibex are scaling nearly vertical dam faces in Italy.