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As soaring, record temperatures compound a drought of epic proportions, all forms of outdoor recreation are held in thrall to the searing, dessicating weather. Campfires are banned across the region, restrictions on fishing are in place, hapless piscenes are dying in hordes, suffocating in torrid, de-oxygenated water. At the same time, toxic algae blooms affect ocean and fresh waters, alike. All-in-all, it’s a hairball of environmental cause-and-effect, out there.

So, you might ask, “Why bother paddling in these conditions?” Well, this is still one of the best times to get out and enjoy our rivers and lakes. The scene may not look like the promotional brochure, but most popular waterways are still navigable and competition for space and resources is surprisingly sparse; many don’t realize the opportunity that beckons, so only the major swimming holes seem to harbor crowds. My advice is to get out there and make the most of what we have. If you miss this opportunity, well, “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on. Not all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”

Environment and Conservation

While this year’s legislature produced only the most watered-down legislation to protect the environment and the public from irresponsible pesticide applicators, one such transgressor, caught red-handed, is let off without a fine, only a suspension.

Remembering Deepwater Horizon: On the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Ars Technica has assembled a photo gallery that helps bring the impacts of the crisis home.

Even while the Deepwater Horizon is still evolving as a monumental environmental horror, other offshore wells are ticking time bombs, as well.

It probably would surprise no one to learn that the oil industry has known for decades that burning fossil fuels was leading to global warming. Also not surprising is that, in reprehensible fashion, the players funded climate-science denial, to preserve profits while trashing the planet. Take Exxon for example.

While we’re on the oil industry, you might not have noticed that carbon emissions benefits claimed for fracking are mostly hot air. I’m sure you’re shocked.

The Oregonian has a nice gallery of local spiders, for the non-arachnophobic.

El Niño Then and Now: Scientists report that a powerful El Niño has developed in the Pacific and is expected to last through the winter. It bears a disturbing resemblance to the 1997 event.

Shell Oil’s plans to drill in the arctic were temporarily monkey-wrenched by environmental activists, first in Seattle, then in Portland. If you somehow managed to miss the news regarding the Portland protests, the BBC has a good, brief recap.

Finally, in what appears to be good news, it is reported that President Obama is poised to implement more aggressive policies to reduce America’s carbon emissions.

Paddling and Recreation

A portion of the Molalla River is being considered for State Scenic Waterway status. The Molalla offers a variety of paddling opportunities, from slower moving water to some challenging whitewater.

The 15th annual Paddle Oregon event is scheduled for this month, runs for five days, and starts August 17.

Terry Richard at the Oregonian reminds us of the paddling and camping opportunities offered along the Cascade Lakes Highway.

The Statesman Journal helpfully offers tips on identifying poison oak, frequently found in riparian environs.

Photos and Travel

An insight into the nature of lightning can be had by watching this short collection of time-lapse videos.

The Smithsonian has a gallery of photos that display the striking landscape of Iceland.

BBC Earth has a charming gallery of some smaller creatures. While big things seem to get the lion’s share of attention, there really are some incredibly beautiful tiny ones.