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News Briefs

“Buffalo, for Lakota people, are our relatives,” Goodshield Aguilar says of his tribe’s origin story. “Because if it wasn’t for the buffalo, we wouldn’t exist.” Around 30-60 million bison (often referred to as buffalo) once thundered through the Great Plains of North America. Today only 4,900 unfenced, wild plains bison remain, most of them huddled within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. 

After eight months and 11 meetings, the Bethel School District and its teachers union are still at a standstill in their bargaining process and will need a mediator to continue. The teachers union is asking for a 2 percent cost of living adjustment and a 3 percent insurance adjustment, but the district says it needs to reduce furlough days and lower class sizes before adding back dollars to the salary schedule.

Did you drive to the Eugene People’s Climate March? That’s one of the questions being hotly debated in web comments and listserv discussions following the climate rally and march in Eugene Sunday, Sept. 21, corresponding with rallies in New York City and in 130 countries around the world. Some Eugeneans even flew to New York for the massive march there.

ODOT recently sprayed Highways 36 and 126. For daily information call ODOT Herbicide Application Information Line (888) 996-8080. Or call Tony Kilmer at the Springfield office at 744-8080 for herbicide and additives information and to ask what time a highway was sprayed.

University of Oregon professor emeritus Cheyney Ryan was a consultant in settling a 2011 federal case against Yale that led to changes in how that school addresses sexual violence. But last week the UO sent out an email to alumni in the Portland area appearing to criticize Ryan’s competence, saying that TV station KATU had misrepresented “the expertise of a retired UO faculty member” in a series on sexual assaults and the university. 

In mid-July, Eugene resident David Nickles was at the canoe landing below the River House on the Willamette River, a stretch of water he visits with his son two or three times a week, when he alleges he saw the city essentially “dumping trash into the river.”

Portland School Board member Steve Buel has a reputation for stirring things up with his vocal criticisms of the Common Core State Standards. On Sept. 24, he’ll bring his thoughts on high-stakes standardized testing to Eugene, the first talk in this year’s series of Community Alliance for Public Education’s community dialogues.

“Probably some of my fondest olfactory memories are the smell of burning marijuana at the University of Oregon,” says Joshua Marquis, district attorney for Clatsop County. “I smoked dope when I was a freshman, and it didn’t kill me, and it didn’t turn me into a drug addict.” 

ODOT plans to spray Highway 36 as it did in May. A notice was received as follows: “This is to give our two week notification of ODOT shoulder spraying on Highway 36 between MP 0-24 and 32.2-52.5. The herbicide application schedule is tentative and is subject to change due to weather, equipment breakdowns and availability of product.” For daily information call ODOT Herbicide Application Information Line (888) 996-8080. You may also call Tony Kilmer at the Springfield office at 744-8080.

When you live in Eugene, the phrase “track town” is so ubiquitous it borders on cliché. 

But as the latest movie being filmed in Eugene by former UO runner and filmmaker Alexi Pappas, Tracktown hopes to illuminate the allure of the local running obsession. 

On Friday, Aug. 29, Pappas and her team rounded up 150 or so locals and 20 professional runners to be extras for a scene with legendary local runners Andrew Wheating and Nick Symmonds filmed at UO’s Hayward Field. 

Four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Halliburton is paying $1.1 billion to residents, local governments and businesses affected by the disaster. 

 Oregon DEQ recently sent Oregon Resources Corporation (ORS) a pre-enforcement notice for serious violations of environmental law discovered via a DEQ compliance inspection of the stormwater collection and treatment system for ORS’s chromite mining operation outside of Coos Bay. Violations include millions of gallons of unreported discharges, and false statements to DEQ associated with these discharges. 

This November, Oregonians have the chance to make their state the first to require genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled as such. In the wake of failed GMO-labeling ballot initiatives in Washington and California, representatives of Oregon’s “Yes on 92” campaign have invited biologist Michael Hansen to drum up support for the measure.

In 2003 the Lane County Commission voted to move to a “last resort” program in using herbicides on county roadsides. The plan to put a moratorium on pesticide use was in response to concerns for human health as well as concerns for Willamette River steelhead and Chinook salmon. On Sept. 9, with impetus from Commissioner Jay Bozievich and with the encouragement of pro-pesticide group Oregonians for Food and Shelter, the county’s Integrated Vegetation Management Program “last resort” policy will be up for discussion. 

Lane County Commissioners are meeting at 9 am Tuesday, Sept. 9, to consider the use of herbicides along county roads. Chemical agriculture lobbying groups want the county to use toxic sprays. Sign up at Harris Hall at 8:45 am to voice your concerns.

• Giustina Land & Timber, 345-2301, plans to hire Western Helicopter Services, Inc., 503-538-9469, to aerially spray 43 acres near Crow Creek with aminopyralid, glyphosate, imazapyr, metsulfuron methyl and/or sulfometuron methyl. See ODF notification 2014-781-00875, call Brian Peterson at 935-2283 with questions.

Oregon DEQ has settled Christopher John Bartels’ appeal of the civil penalty assessed against him by DEQ in July of 2013 for illegally discharging wastewater from his meat processing and packing facility to ditches flowing to Fern Ridge wetlands on two occasions in 2011 (EW 6/27/13, goo.gl/Xb41PD), by reducing the $15,600 penalty originally assessed to $10,200. DEQ’s settlement with Bartels also includes an additional $7,600 penalty for illegal discharges of blood waste to Fern Ridge Reservoir in February of this year (EW 5/8, goo.gl/BhX5vP).

Park goers might have noticed an oily sheen hugging the banks of Delta Ponds these past few weeks, oozing only a few wing flaps away from the hunting green herons and basking Western pond turtles that frequent the wetlands across from Valley River Center. Don’t worry, says Jonathan Wilson, a stormwater regulatory compliance coordinator for the city of Eugene — it’s just a natural form of shiny bacteria.

With the new school year kicking off Sept. 3, Eugene School Board 4J wants to reformat its current curriculum adoption process. After three years of using College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) in the district, the board has not yet actually voted on the official adoption or rejection of the controversial middle school and high school CPM curriculum. Part of this revamp includes reconvening the Instructional Policy Council, which according to board members has not met for years and once played a role in choosing district curriculum. 

From old-growth forests to dynamic desert landscapes, Oregon’s legacy of diverse ecosystems lives on through its protected wilderness areas. That’s exactly what Oregonians will celebrate Sept. 3 for the 50-year anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which protects around 2.5 million acres across 48 sites in Oregon and 110 million acres total nationwide. While observances will be happening all over the U.S., the weeklong celebration in Eugene will be classic Oregon fare: talks, hikes and beer.

Alex Paige, a trans woman from Portland, describes the gender dysphoria she experienced as “a supreme unhappiness with the way my body looked, the way it felt, the way other people interacted with me.” Thanks to an Aug. 14 vote by the Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC), treatments for gender dysphoria will be covered under the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) beginning January 2015. 

Oregon DEQ has settled Christopher John Bartels’ appeal of the civil penalty assessed against him by DEQ in July of 2013 for illegally discharging wastewater from his meat processing and packing facility to ditches flowing to Fern Ridge wetlands on two occasions in 2011 (EW 6/27/13, goo.gl/Xb41PD), by reducing the $15,600 penalty originally assessed to $10,200. DEQ’s settlement with Bartels also includes an additional $7,600 penalty for illegal discharges of blood waste to Fern Ridge Reservoir in February of this year (EW 5/8, goo.gl/BhX5vP).

The data is in: Kids benefit academically when they attend kindergarten all day instead of half the day. An Oregon bill mandating that the state must pay for full-day kindergarten goes into effect in the 2015-2016 school year, and while the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) says it will fund the transition, some worry the funds won’t cover the full cost of implementation when districts switch from half-day to full-day. 

Weyerhaeuser is a name long associated with timber, but back in 2010 the company became a REIT — real estate investment trust. Local land-preservation advocates from LandWatch Lane County say that Weyerhaeuser is one of the many landowners in the region moving property lines around on forestland to allow more houses to be built on what’s called an “impacted forest zone” on the edges of towns in Oregon.

• Coast Range Conifers, 335-1472, plans to hire Western Helicopter Services, Inc., (503) 538-9469, to aerially spray Escort, Oust, Oust Extra and/or Surfactant L-11 or LI-700 on 60 acres near Swartz Creek, using a helicopter landing pad on BLM land. See ODF notification 2014-781-00754, call Robin L. Biesecker at 935-2283 with questions.