Writings and observations

trail

 
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources opened a new trail for mountain bikes August 30, in Tiger Mountain State Forest in eastern King County. The addition of the 2.5-mile-long Off-the-Grid Trail increases the forest’s mountain bike trail system to approximately 15 miles. (photo/Washington Department of Natural Resources)

 

In this coming week, Monday is Labor Day, and after that – the general election campaign season gets underway in earnest. Some political ads have been airing up to this point, but the number will increase greatly in the next few weeks. Only about six weeks remain, after all, until ballots begin to hit the mail.

In Idaho, the Snake River Basin Adjudication has been one of the most significant legal-economic-environmental developments in Idaho over the last quarter-century, though it has proceeded quietly, mostly, over the last decade or so. Last week, a milestone: The signing of the final, or unified, decree. Look for coverage in the View and Legal sections.

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grandcouleeG24-Runner-removal

 The Bureau of Reclamation prepared for turbine removal and disassembly by mapping the inside of the Third Power Plant at the Grand Coulee Dam to ensure laydown space and safe working conditions for 12 to 15 years of complex mechanical overhaul activities. (photo/Bonneville Power Administration)

 

Yet another week of heavy duty wildfires in Washington, in what’s beginning to look like an ongoing cycle that may last another month and more.

As stories emerged nationally about the arming of local police – with military surplus equipment, sometimes stronger than that used by soldiers in actual war zones – Oregon emerged as, in relative terms, one of the less heavily armed states. More on this in View in this issue.

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Snag Canyon
 
The Snag Canyon fire started on the afternoon of Saturday, August 2. The fire was ignited by lightning. It is currently estimated at 8,842 acres and is 25% contained. Despite Red Flag Warnings for high winds, crews were able to hold the fire and make good progress on containment lines.. (photo/Inciweb)

 

Washington’s primary election (see the results spread over several pages in this issue) yielded little by way of shockers, but plenty of general interest. Such as a first, in pitting two Republicans against each other in a congressional district (the 4th). And a series of prospectively hotly contested state Senate races.

Politics in Oregon seem fairly static – at least, that’s what you draw from the SurveyUSA report appearing in the politics section. It seems to suggest that what you think will happen (based on past experience), probably will be happening, this year, again.

Water would seem to be just the solution for a state wracked by wildfires. And so it was last week, to a point. But recent flash flooding now has deluged – in sudden surprises – Pocatello and Twin Falls, and wiped out stretches of some key backcountry roads. Looking ahead for the next week: More hot and dry (and fire conditions?).

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lightning
 
Fierce lightning hit the Willamette Valley on the night of July 31, in some places knocking down trees and doing other damage. This photo was taken near Carlton in Yamhill County. (photo/Brad Salter)

 
This week offered a little bit of a breather on the fire front, as burning on the massive Carlton Complex eased back. But emergency conditions persist across much of the state, and we’re still just about to enter what is normally the peak of wildfire burning season.

In Oregon and Idaho, political television spots for the fall general election season are just about to hit the airwaves – August being the month that starts to happen. Watch for some dark money ads coming in this time around. Meanwhile, Washington prepares for it top two.

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tolo bridge
 

Spanning Interstate 5 north of Central Point, the 58-year old Tolo Road Bridge (milepost 36) will undergo repairs, which requires a six-week closure to traffic beginning Monday, July 28. Local traffic will use Willow Springs Road as a detour. The Tolo Road Bridge is being repaired to extend its life and prevent it from being load-limited. The Tolo Road Bridge rehabilitation is part of the same project that is repaving I-5 from Rock Point (exit 43) to Evans Creek (MP 49). Knife River of Central Point is the prime contractor. . (photo/Department of Transportation)

 
Check out this week’s list of wildfires around Oregon – a list nearly as long as the list of wildfires all across the country. The saving grace is that none of them were of the enormous size (none anywhere close to as large as Washington’s Carlton Complex) but they add up to a lot.
Fire was an even bigger story in Washington, where the Carlton Complex turned into the biggest single fire in the state’s history.
And fire season still is early.

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lookout view

 
Taken from Scott Mountain Lookout, 11 miles to the north and with a straight view towards the fires. It was taken at 5 PM on July 18. Wash Fire is the smoke on left, Grimes Fire is the smoke on right. (photo/Boise National Forest)

 
Fire became the big story of the week all over the northwest (at least, from the Cascades east). The fire sizes were not notably large – yet – but a number of them were aggressive, and at least one ravaged several human settlements. This is an early point in the year for this sort thing; it portends a rough season ahead.

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holmes at store
 
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes joined other major I-502 sponsors at noon Tuesday at the opening of Cannabis City, the first of Seattle’s allotted 21 retail marijuana stores to open. Holmes became the fourth person to make a purchase at Cannabis City – two packages of two grams each of “OG Pearl.”
“Just over three years ago I stood with Alison Holcomb in Seattle’s Central Public Library to announce the launch of what became Initiative 502, to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for adult recreational use,” Holmes said. “Now I’m honored to stand with Alison again at the opening of the very first I-502 store in Seattle, Cannabis City.” Holcomb was the architect of the I-502 campaign while Holmes was a prime sponsor. (Photo/Office of the Seattle City Attorney)

 

Summer has finally arrived, in some force, with hotter temperatures than up to now – and hotter in most places than normal for this point in July. With the outbreak of mid-sized wildfires around the region, there’s some concern growing about fire risk and about water supplies.

The big Washington story was, of course, the opening of several state-legalized pot shops; Oregon and Idaho saw less dominant stories in the week after Independence Day.

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otter at rally

 
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter speaks at the God and Country Festival of the Treasure Valley July 2 at the Idaho Center at Nampa. (image/Otter campaign)

 

The big story last week almost everywhere in the Northwest: The great weather surrounding the 4th of July holiday, and the local celebrations within. That became part of the political story too, as many candidates participated in Independence Day events. (Tougher activities will ensue in coming months.)

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guard training

 
Two Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers with Golf Troop, 141st Brigade Support Battalion, guard an entry control point at the 2-218th Field Artillery Battalion compound at Yakima Training Site, Wash., June 21. Several Oregon Army National Guard units converged on the training site for their two-week annual training cycle. (Photo/Master Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs).

 

The federal section is busy this week with congressional action. That may reflect the upcoming congressional recess (over the July 4 period), when congressional news usually slows. Many members of Congress will be back in their home states and district in the coming week, up through July 7 or so.

Next week may be a little quieter, given the long (and Friday-driven) weekend this week for the 4th.

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yakima fest
Yakima last weekend held its first Blues and Brews Bash on North Front Street.

 
A little more emphasis this week on economic news, which is looking up a bit: The jobs picture is improving a little (the percentage rate stayed about the same in Washington, but the number of jobs is up, and the jobless rate fell in Idaho) and, as an indicator, state tax revenues are coming in higher than expected.

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