Here are last week's news stories and headlines impacting the great outdoors.
This is an update from a news item covered a few weeks ago. A permit to potentially open a mining operation on the pristine North Fork Smith River in Southern Oregon was blocked by the Oregon Water Resources Department. However, the company, Red Flat Nickel Corporation, has challenged the permit denial. Environmental groups strongly oppose the mine, indicating that it may pose a threat to salmon and introduce large amounts of pollution into the watershed.
Willamette Falls in downtown Oregon City is the second largest waterfall by volume in the U.S. But, because it's surrounded by old mills and industrial buildings, visitors have little opportunity to get up close to it on land. With a redevelopment of Oregon City's riverfront, a developer has received approval to build a river walk along the downtown and close to the falls. Construction is slated to start in 2016.
Congress has passed a large defense bill that includes creating public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain. The Yakama Nation is objecting to the forced opening of public access; the mountain near Hanford, Washington is sacred. Washington State Congressman Doc Hastings has insisted that the public should be able to access the summit, with its "unparalleled views" of the Columbia Basin, citing Mount Rainier as a precedent.
Last week, the Senate passed the defense bill that will almost certainly be signed by the President. The bill included a number of measures not directly related to defense, some of which included 70 public-land measures. Combined they will add 250,000 acres to designated wilderness protections. But it will also transfer 110,000 acres into private ownership and it is largely considered a mixed-bag for environmentalists.
The answer is huge. A new study says there is at least 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean, collectively making up over 269,000 tons. So what does that mean? Grist.org made an infographic showing how much this would be in blue whales.