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Wildland firefighter killed by falling tree on Oregon blaze
Author: Associated Press

OAKRIDGE, Ore. — A firefighter who was hit by a falling tree while battling a wildfire near Oakridge, Oregon has died of his injuries, authorities said Thursday.

Collin Hagan, who was with the Craig Interagency Hot Shots from Colorado, died Wednesday of injuries he sustained while working on the Big Swamp fire in the Willamette National Forest, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said in a statement.

The 27-year-old Hagan was from Toivola, Michigan, Douglas County, Oregon sheriff’s officials told KOBI-TV in Medford.

The Big Swamp fire and several others in the area were started by lightning strikes about 10 days ago.

Fire crews have kept it to about two-tenths of a square mile in size.

Ruling clouds future of southeast Alaska king salmon fishery
Author: GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press

SEATTLE — A federal court ruling this week has thrown into doubt the future of a valuable commercial king salmon fishery in Southeast Alaska, after a conservation group challenged the government’s approval of the harvest as a threat to protected fish and the endangered killer whales that eat them.

The ruling, issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Richard Jones in Seattle, said NOAA Fisheries violated the Endangered Species Act and other environmental law when it approved the troll fishery.

The ruling means the federal agency will have to consider anew the effects of the fishery on orcas and on protected Puget Sound and Columbia River salmon stocks and whether a plan to offset the harvest by releasing more king salmon from hatcheries is sound.

It’s unclear whether trollers in the $800 million industry will be allowed to continue fishing for kings, also known as Chinook, while that happens. The court is expected to begin considering remedies for the agency’s legal violations in the next few weeks.

“We applaud Judge Jones’ ruling that is finally calling into question decades of unsustainable Chinook harvest management in Southeast Alaska and marks a watershed moment for the recovery of Southern Resident orcas and wild Chinook,” said Emma Helverson, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy, the group that challenged the approval of the fishery.

NOAA Fisheries said Wednesday it is still reviewing the decision. In a written statement, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said it was considering an appeal.

“We have a responsibility to look out for our fisheries and the Southeast coastal communities and families that rely on them,” said Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang.

Chinook, the largest of the Pacific salmon species, make up the bulk of the diet for endangered orcas in the waters of the Salish Sea between Washington state and Canada. Due to causes that include overfishing, dams, development and pollution, king salmon runs in the Northwest are at a small fraction of their historical abundance, and the orcas have suffered in turn, with just 74 whales remaining and scientists warning of extinction.

While the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales don’t typically venture as far north as Alaska, a huge amount of the Chinook salmon caught in the Southeast Alaska troll fishery — about 97 percent — originate from rivers to the south, in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. If those fish weren’t caught, many would be available for the orcas to eat as the salmon migrate to their natal rivers to spawn, the Wild Fish Conservancy argues.

In 2019, NOAA Fisheries issued a biological opinion approving the most recent decade-long plan for the commercial troll fishery for Chinook in Southeast Alaska, with harvest limits set during negotiations between the U.S. and Canada.

The agency acknowledged the harvest of Chinook was likely to hurt the orcas and protected Puget Sound and Columbia River king salmon stocks, but it said it would offset the harm by spending about $100 million on habitat restoration and to increase hatchery production of Chinook by 20 million smolts per year, thus providing more food for the whales.

Last year, a magistrate judge who reviewed the case, Michelle Petersen, took issue with that, finding that under federal law, NOAA Fisheries could not rely on hypothetical mitigation measures to offset actual harm to protected species. Because the funding for the restoration efforts was uncertain, because there were no binding deadlines for the mitigation measures and because the agency did not actually study what effect an increase of hatchery production would mean for wild salmon stocks or orcas, that mitigation was legally insufficient.

Jones adopted her recommendations in his opinion Monday and asked her to consider potential remedies. Possibilities include continuing to allow the trollers to fish for Chinook while NOAA fixes the legal errors, banning them from doing so, or something in between. It’s also possible NOAA could be ordered to desist from increasing hatchery production of king salmon unless it demonstrates the mitigation plan is sound.

Around 1,000 permit-holders fish in the Southeast Alaska commercial troll fishery each year, according to court documents, and the industry supports thousands more full-time jobs. The trolling occurs 10 months out of the year, primarily divided between winter and summer seasons. The fishers also go after coho and chum salmon, but Chinook is the most valuable.

The Alaska Trollers Association, which intervened as a defendant in the lawsuit, criticized the Wild Fish Conservancy for filing the lawsuit, saying it had no regard for fisheries in Alaska.

“Our hook and line king salmon fishery is low impact, harvesting one fish at a time, and our harvests are annually limited to about a third of what we historically harvested,” the association said in an email Thursday. “We’ve been fishing for over one hundred years using this method, and are committed to continuing to do so in a sustainable manner. … We will continue to fight to preserve our fishery and our way of life.”

Last fall the Wild Fish Conservancy separately sued the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, accusing it of massively expanding hatchery production to increase prey for orcas without undergoing environmental review and procedures required by state law.

Gas prices dip just below $4 for the first time in 5 months
Author: Associated Press

DALLAS — Gasoline prices have dipped under $4 for the first time in more than five months — good news for consumers who are struggling with high prices for many other essentials.

AAA said the national average for a gallon of regular was $3.99 on Thursday, down from the mid-June record of $5.02. However, that’s still about 80 cents higher than the average a year ago.

Energy is a key factor in the cost of many goods and services, and falling prices for gas, airline tickets and clothes are giving consumers a bit of relief, although inflation is still close to a four-decade high.

Glen Smith, a for-hire driver, sized up the price — $3.85 a gallon — while waiting between rides at a gas station in Kenner, Louisiana.

“I’m not tickled pink, but I’m happier it’s less than what it was,” Smith said. “There for a while, every two days I put $50 of gas in my car. It’s $12 to run from the airport to drop off in the city — $12 a trip!”

Oil prices began rising in mid-2020 as economies recovered from the initial shock of the pandemic. They rose again when the U.S. and allies announced sanctions against Russian oil over the country’s war against Ukraine.

Recently, however, oil prices have dropped on concern about slowing economic growth around the world. U.S. benchmark crude oil has recently dipped close to $90 a barrel from over $120 a barrel in June.

It is unclear whether gasoline prices got so high that consumers cut back on their driving. Some experts believe that is true, although they acknowledge that the evidence is largely anecdotal.

“I don’t know that $5 was the magic amount. I think it was the amount of increase in a short period of time,” said Peter Schwarz, an expert on energy pricing and an economics professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “People were starting to watch their driving.”

Schwarz expects oil prices to remain relatively stable at least for the next month or so, particularly after OPEC and partners including Russia agreed to only a small oil production increase in September, which won’t be enough to drive prices lower.

Christian vom Lehn, an economics professor at Brigham Young University, said the price of oil is the key factor for gasoline, but that seasonal trends could also keep prices from surging again.

“We are coming to the end of summer, and summer is a peak travel season, so demand is naturally going to fall,” he said. “That is certainly contributing to the most recent decline” in gas prices.

The average gas price has dropped 58 straight days, but that streak will end soon, predicted Tom Kloza, head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service. He said the industry will face challenges to meet gasoline demand for the rest of the year.

Kloza noted that it’s still early in the hurricane season, which in the past has shut down some of the nation’s biggest refineries that sit in hurricane-prone areas of the Gulf Coast; the Gulf of Mexico is speckled with oil-producing platforms. Also, he said, “refinery runs will come down because of a lot of delayed maintenance that can’t be delayed indefinitely.”

Prices at the pump are likely to be a major issue heading into the mid-term elections in November.

Republicans blame President Joe Biden for the high gasoline prices, seizing on his decisions to cancel a permit for a major pipeline and suspend new oil and gas leases on federal lands.

Biden said over the weekend that a family with two cars is saving $100 a month because prices have dropped from their peak in mid-June.

“That’s breathing room,” he tweeted. “And we’re not letting up any time soon.”

Biden has also sparred with oil companies, accusing them of not producing as much oil and gasoline as they could while posting huge profits. “Exxon made more money than God this year,” he said in June.

Exxon said it has increased oil production. The CEO of Chevron said Biden was trying to vilify his industry.

Biden has also ordered the release of oil from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve this year. While not large enough to account for the drop in gasoline prices, the extra supply from reserves might have helped stem the rise in pump prices, according to analysts.

The nationwide average for gas hasn’t been under $4 since early March. Prices topped out at $5.02 a gallon on June 14, according to AAA. They declined slowly the rest of June, then began dropping more rapidly. The shopping app GasBuddy reported that the national average dropped under $4 on Wednesday.

Motorists in California and Hawaii are still paying above $5, and other states in the West are paying close to that. The cheapest gas is in Texas and several other states in the South and Midwest.

A year ago, the nationwide average price was just under $3.19 a gallon, according to AAA. After a long climb, that price has dropped steadily this summer, falling 15 cents in the past week and 69 cents in the last month,

“If you talk to people who are not economists, gas prices always go up faster than they come down,” said Schwarz, the energy-pricing expert. “These are still high gas prices.”

Camas Post Record

County warns of toxic algae at Lacamas Lake
Author: camaspost_admin

Clark County Public Health has issued a warning advisory at Lacamas Lake due to elevated levels of cyanotoxins from harmful algae. 

Public Health has been monitoring harmful algal blooms at Lacamas Lake since early July. A warning advisory was in place at the lake for a few weeks last month but was lifted after water quality improved.

Results from water samples taken from Lacamas Lake on Monday, Aug. 8, revealed cyanotoxin levels were once again above the threshold levels recommended by the Washington Department of Health. Warning signs are being placed at public access points at the lake. 

Cyanotoxins can be harmful to people, especially young children, and deadly for small pets that drink the water. Health officials recommend:

  • No swimming or water skiing.
  • No water contact for animals.
  • Avoiding areas of scum when using motorized boats, paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing.
  • No drinking lake water.
  • Cleaning fish well and discarding organs.

Public Health will continue to monitor Lacamas Lake and, while blooms are present, take weekly water samples to test toxin levels. Signs will be updated as conditions change.

Harmful algal blooms can pose a significant health risk if the cyanobacteria or toxins are ingested, inhaled or contact skin. Inhaled bacteria or toxins could cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Skin contact could lead to rash, itching, blisters and eye irritation.

If water with cyanotoxins is accidentally swallowed, symptoms could include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, numbness of the lips, tingling in fingers and toes, and dizziness.

Additional information about harmful algal blooms and current advisories are posted on the Public Health public beach website. To report algal blooms in other bodies of water, visit the Public Health website.

Portland Business News

Eco-branded shoe maker Allbirds puts a bird on it with new Portland design headquarters
Author: Jonathan Bach
The new move of a nationally recognized brand into the region injects a note of optimism into Portland.

Washington State News

Trubisky to start vs. Seahawks

Teresa Varley

The Steelers open the preseason on Saturday night against the Seattle Seahawks at 7 p.m. at Acrisure Stadium, and it will be the first time one of training camps most interesting battles will be on display in a game.

The battle for who will be the team's starting quarterback when they open the regular season is still ongoing, and on Thursday Coach Mike Tomlin outlined the division of labor fo

The Chronicle - Centralia

Celebration of Life for Earl and Neva Conzatti

Please join us for a celebration of life to honor Neva and Earl Conzatti. 

Stop by anytime between 1 and 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 14, at Riverside Golf Club and Bistro in Chehalis. It will be open house style.

We would love to see you, and bring a memory to share!

In Loving Memory of Berenice Barney: 1920-2022

Vincent Barney, of Tenino, was born Aug. 23, 1920, in Bucoda, Washington, and passed away Aug. 2, 2006, in Tenino. 

Berenice Barney was born Nov. 19, 1920, in the Hanaford Valley in Centralia, Washington, and passed away at 101 years old on Aug. 2, 2022, in Prestige Care of Centralia. 

They both graduated from Centralia High School and being high school sweethearts married Sept. 10, 1939. Together they owned and operated Barney's Auto Service of Tenino for 46 years, retiring in 1991. 

They are survived by three children, Sheri Barbeau, Vici Wicklund and Larry Barney (Georgia), and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. 

A private committal for Berenice will be held at Forest Grove Cemetery in Tenino.

In Loving Memory of Harry Warren: 1931-2022

Harry Warren passed away peacefully on June 28, 2022, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend. He was born on Aug. 31, 1931, in Centralia, Washington, to Rena and Harry Warren. After graduating from Centralia High School, he joined the U.S. Army, where he was a radio repair instructor. After being honorably discharged, he began his college education at Centralia Junior College. During this time, he had a variety of jobs, including working as a golf caddy, cab driver and service station mechanic at LeDuc’s. In 1960, he married Elva Mae Harwood and they moved to Bellingham, where Harry earned a degree in education from Western Washington State College. After graduating, his first teaching job was as an industrial arts teacher at Renton High School. During this time, Harry and Elva had three kids, Lisa, Jeff and Gary. Harry then moved to teach at Hazen High School, where he eventually became vice principal. 

The family moved to Burlington in 1977, where he became the principal at Burlington-Edison High School. He was proud of his time as a principal and rarely missed any school activity that involved his students. He retired in 1994 after 35 years in education and built a home at Lake Samish. Even after retiring, Harry continued to make a difference by mentoring student teachers from Western Washington University.

On Feb. 15, 1997, he married Theresa Gilmore at their home at Lake Samish. Harry and Terry treasured retirement together, especially traveling and family celebrations. Harry cherished the many friendships he made as a long-time member of the Burlington Kiwanis Club. He also liked tinkering in the garage with woodworking and motorcycle projects.

Harry was preceded in death by his parents and stepson, Max Gilmore, and is survived by his wife, Theresa Warren. He is also survived by his daughter, Lisa (Mark) Wolfe; sons, Jeff Warren and Gary (Rose) Warren; stepdaughter, Tammie Shannon; stepson, Sean Gilmore; ten grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

His patience, sense of humor and capacity for unconditional love were gifts he shared with everyone he met. His family would like to thank Whatcom Hospice House for the extraordinary and compassionate care they provided for Harry during his last days.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his memory to Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation, M/S 818-F, PO Box 5371, Seattle, 98245-5005, or Burlington-Edison Alumni Foundation Scholarship Fund, PO Box 350, Burlington, WA, 98233.

In Loving Memory of Mildred Lehman: 1929-2022

Mildred E. Lehman, 92, of Centralia, Washington, passed away Wednesday, July 27, 2022, just 10 days shy of her 93rd birthday. 

Mildred was born Aug. 6, 1929, in Tacoma, Washington. She was adopted by Harry and Helen Terry of Chehalis, Washington, not long afterward. 

A graduate of the original Chehalis High School, Mildred later attended and completed business school. Over the years, she worked for Sears, the City of Chehalis, Gar-Penley Accounting, Durgin and Calkins Accounting, and The Berry Basket. 

Mildred married her sweetheart, Arthur R. Lehman, on her birthday in 1955. The couple met on a blind date and enjoyed a short courtship before the wedding. He preceded her in death on March 21, 2019. 

Mildred was a sweet and kind woman who loved and enjoyed her family dearly. This included her church family at the Twin Cities Church of Christ, and the many friends she met over the years. While she is tremendously missed from our presence, we are happy she is together again with dad. 

Mildred is survived by her son James “Jim” Lehman and daughter-in-law Beth; daughter Karen Groshong and son-in-law Scot; former son-in-law Richard (Rick) Longabaugh; grandchildren James Longabaugh (Melinda), Cameron Longabaugh (Kajsa), Jacob Ponce, Morgan Lehman and Sarah Mendiola; and great-grandchildren Tate Longabaugh (James and Melinda), and Lux and Benni Longabaugh (Cameron and Kajsa). 

A graveside service was held on Aug. 4, 2022, at Mountain View Cemetery in Centralia. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Twin Cities Church of Christ at 502 E. Plum St., Centralia, or the Friends of the Seminary Hill Natural Area, at 627 N. Pearl St., Centralia.

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