Nature and the Environment

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84% of Wildfires Human Caused 
Looking at wildfires in the U.S., researchers from the University of Colorado concluded that 84% had origins in human activity. The Smithsonian has the disturbing news: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/study-shows-84-wildfires-caused-humans-180962315/

Pirate Fishing Spotted by Satellite 
With the world’s ocean stocks in dizzying decline, eliminating pirate fishing takes on new importance. Now it has been shown that a little creative use of existing commercial satellites can go a long way in identifying the malefactors. Ars Technica explains: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/02/to-catch-a-thief-with-satellite-data/

Fracking Found Fraught With Spills 
A new analysis of spills associated with fracking operations suggests prior assessments have underestimated the problem. The BBC investigated: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39032748

Bee Population Declines Mapped 
A new map shows how bee populations in the U.S. are declining. This has important ramifications for agriculture and our future food supply. The Smithsonian provides details: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-map-highlights-bee-population-declines-across-us-180962268/

Solar Power Jobs Now Double Coal Jobs 
There are now twice as many people working in solar power than in the coal industry, according to a recent analysis. Vox has the story of this turnaround: http://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/2/7/14533618/solar-jobs-coal

Banned Toxins Persist in Deep Ocean 
Long-banned toxic substances have been found in startling concentrations in deep ocean environments. The BBC relates the grim news: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38957549

 

Health, Fitness and Safety

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Few Mosquito Repellents Found to Work  
Researchers at New Mexico State University did some well-controlled tests with a variety of insect repellents to determine which worked. The winners formed a short list. Ars Technica has the biting news: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/02/in-high-tech-mimic-of-your-patio-scientists-find-the-best-mosquito-deterrent/

Heartburn Remedies Implicated in Alzheimer’s 
A popular class of heartburn drugs, the proton-pump inhibitors, are now believed to contribute to a range of ills, including dementia. Scientific American has the unsettling news: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/studies-link-some-stomach-drugs-to-possible-alzheimer-rsquo-s-disease-and-kidney-problems/

Fasting Diet Triggers Pancreas Regeneration in Diabetics 
Researchers are reporting success in treating both Type 1 and 2 diabetes with a “fasting-mimicking diet”, to restore pancreatic function. The encouraging news is covered by the BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39070183

Would You Like to Supersize Those Fluorinated Carcinogens?
A lot of the health liabilities of fast food are pretty well documented. You can, however, add a new dimension to the assault fast food makes on the body: carcinogenic chemicals in packaging. Researchers found troubling amounts of the stuff in wrapping and packaging used with fast food items. CNN reports: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/01/health/fast-food-packaging-chemicals-pfas-study/index.html

 

Travel and Photography

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Malayan Tiger Cub Cuteness 
The Cincinnati Zoo recently cared for three Malayan tiger cubs, which provided the fodder for the following adorable video, if you’re so inclined: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=90&v=DHNZJXE8_nU

Synchronous Fireflies Provide Rare Light Show  
While fireflies are common, the synchronous ones are not so much. Should you wish to observe the uncommon event, the BBC offers insights: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20170112-a-surreal-synchronised-wave-of-light

 

March Excursions

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

March 19
Luckimute River, Luckimute Landing to Buena Vista – Class A – 3± miles
A short but scenic run, with few opportunities to stop, but plenty to look at. We will find a place to stop for lunch, so bring provisions.
Jim Bradley
jim.cascadepaddlers@gmail.com

March 26
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

Paddlesports, Outdoors and Wildlife

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Bills Seek to Put Fees on All Boaters 
At least two bills expected to come before the Oregon Legislature this year are aimed at imposing fees on all boats and boaters. One, HB 2320, is aimed at imposing registration fees on all non-motorized boats. The other, HB 2321, has the intent of expanding the Aquatic Invasive Species Permit program to boats under ten feet in length. Both bills are Oregon State Marine Board initiatives.

This is hardly the first time the board has attempted to impose registration on paddle craft. One significant difference this time around is the agency has made an attempt to identify ways in which it might serve the paddling public. Unfortunately, it is hardly clear that public was well represented in the process. The advisory committee formed by the board was heavy on members with commercial interests in paddlesport, and very light on private boaters. The interests of the two groups often intersect, but far less commonly are they in harmony. The result of this imbalance seems to have left the concerns and welfare of many, if not most private boaters in the margins.

The board has invested heavily in trying to remain relevant as motor craft use has declined. While their efforts appear to be in good faith, the approach these bills take is heavy handed and overly broad. For instance, rather than focus fees on facilities users, like a Sno-park permit, they seek facilities fees from every boater. The idea behind “pay-to-play” is paying for your own play, not someone else’s. And, of course, all of it runs contrary to the mandate given the State of Oregon upon statehood, by the federal government, to maintain our state’s waterways as “freely navigable”.

Of course, many predicted that the AISP fees would prove to be the camel’s nose in the tent. HB 2321 seems to confirm that view. While the statistics I’ve seen on the boat inspections suggest that non-motorized boats over 10′ comprise a fraction of 1 percent of the problem, such boaters pay for their permits at a rate 200 percent that of their fuel-burning peers. Now, with no apparent factual evidence to support the action, we see an attempt to force the smallest of boats into this inequitable arrangement.

While it makes sense for the Marine Board to realign its thinking with the new realities of 21st Century boating, the agency’s approach this time around relies on the same big-government thinking of the past. The benefits the agency can provide the paddling public are nuanced and limited. Any programs to serve that public need to reflect this fact. Instead, these two bills try to indiscriminately pull revenue from every boater, and offer little but vague justifications and with little specification as to how the money will benefit Oregonians. Indeed, parts of the proposals make it sound as if the board wishes to turn our waterways into fun parks, with the OSMB as gatekeeper and concessionaire.

Of course, you are welcome to come to your own conclusions about this legislation. If, though, you feel as I do, I would suggest you make your legislators aware of your position. Otherwise, you may soon be paying for someone else’s fun.

The text of HB 2320 can be found in this PDF: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2320/Introduced

HB 2321’s text is here: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2321/Introduced

As the session proceeds, the status of the bills will change. To fully follow their progress, you can find the main tracking page, here: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/citizen_engagement/Pages/Find-a-Bill.aspx

Festival of Sail Dates Set 
The festival brings historic sailing vessels to coastal ports, which includes Coos Bay, June 1-4: http://festofsail.com/

Minto Island Bridge Opening Delayed to April 
The bridge is now expected to open in April for foot and bicycle traffic, it will close again in summer for the removal of the construction support structures. The final completion of the project is expected in July. The Statesman has more: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2017/01/19/minto-island-bridge-open-april/96722680/

 

Health, Fitness and Safety

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Experiments Implicate Roundup in Liver Disease 
Glyphosate-based herbicides, including the popular brand Roundup, appear to cause liver disease in low, environmentally-relevant concentrations. Nature published the study: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep39328

Reuters Investigates the Drug-resistant Pathogen Crisis 
In this multi-part series, Reuters shines a light on a growing, though often hidden, medical crisis in America: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/section/usa-uncounted/

Rates of Dementia Found Higher Near Busy Roads 
A recent study in Canada suggests that proximity to major roads could be a complicating factor in dementia. The research indicates that the risk increases with proximity, and may be responsible for an 11 percent higher rate of dementia in those living closest to roads. The BBC explains: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38506735

Flashing Lights to Treat Alzheimer’s 
A study at MIT had promising results using blinking lights to treat mice induced to exhibit the symptoms of the disease. The Smithsonian has the details: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/could-flickering-lights-help-treat-alzheimers-180961762/

Possible Caffeine Benefit for Age-related Inflammation 
The Stanford University School of Medicine reports that caffeine appears to be of benefit in counteracting age-related inflammation: http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2017/01/caffeine-may-counter-age-related-inflammation-study-finds.html

 

 

Nature and the Environment

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Federal Land Transfer Proposal Sparks Access Concerns 
Efforts underway in congress to transfer federal lands to the states is leading to concerns on the part of outdoor enthusiasts over access to those lands. The Oregonian elaborates: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2017/01/proposal_to_transfer_federal_l.html#incart_river_index

Marine Preserves: Do They Work? 
Protected marine areas have grown worldwide, in recent years, with the U.S. leading the push. How effective the preserves have been at protecting species and habitat is, however, still a question. Unsurprisingly, given the spotty knowledge we have of marine ecosystems, the results appear to have been variable. The Smithsonian tackles the issue: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/momentum-grows-ocean-preserves-how-well-do-they-work-180961690/

Helping the Insects That Help Us 
Along with more photogenic species of plants and animals, insects are suffering from the environmental changes wrought by mankind. The Smithsonian has an article detailing steps home gardeners can take to boost beneficial insect populations: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/creating-insect-habitat-ripley-garden-180961898/

Meanwhile, in the Seychelles an experiment in removing invasive plants led to almost immediate results, with bees, butterflies and birds returning to restored areas within six months. The BBC has details: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38800967

 

February Excursions

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

February 26
Willamette River, Social Sec. Park to Salem – Class A+ – length 7 miles
Wide vistas largely define this trip, with a few interesting backwaters, and Rickreal Creek thrown in. We will stop for lunch, so bring ample provisions.
jim.cascadepaddlers@gmail.com

March 2
Monthly Meeting – 6:30 p.m. – Boon’s Treasury – 888 Liberty St. N.E.
Spring paddling! (Need I say more?)
jim.cascadepaddlers@gmail.com

January Excursions

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

January 22
Willamette River, Soc Sec Park to Salem – Class A+ – length 6 miles
A little shorter trip for these shorter days, but a good chance to get some fresh air and feel the water underneath your hull. Dress warm and bring backups and provisions.
jim.cascadepaddlers@gmail.com

 

Paddlesports, Outdoors and Wildlife

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How Oregon Rivers Got Their Names 
The Oregonian ran an article about river names in the state, and it’s a bit of fun: http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2016/12/how_oregons_rivers_got_their_n.html#0

Kayaking and Canoeing Adventure Talk Jan. 18 
The Loucks Auditorium, at the Salem Library, will host a presentation in the Outdoor Adventure Series regarding the where and how of paddling in the Salem area. The event is scheduled from 7 to 8 pm. [Thanks to Stephanie Hazen for the heads up.]

Legislation Slated to Effect Paddlers 
As the legislature convenes, two bills with implications for paddlers will be waiting to be read. HB 2320 apparently implements a non-motorized boating program while HB 2321 addresses the aquatic invasive species program. Details won’t be public until the bills are read, after which their content may be found at the legislature’s bill tracking site: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/citizen_engagement/Pages/Find-a-Bill.aspx

OSMB Boating Facilities Planning Survey 
Toward formulating a new six-year facilities plan, the Oregon State Marine Board would like to solicit your thoughts on the matter. You can access the survey, here: http://www.oregon.gov/OSMB/forms-library/Pages/Six-Year-Plan.aspx