March 12, 2010

March 12, 2010

Panel considers allowing more salmon fishing

The Pacific Fishery Management Council approved options that could give Southern Oregon salmon fleets a longer fishing season this summer.

The options include a fishing season that begins before Memorial Day and ends after Labor Day. Salmon runs have come in stronger than expected recently throughout the Pacific Northwest, generating optimism about a recovery for the struggling fishery.

More conservative options call for starting the recreational chinook season June 16 or July 3, but even those contain the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends coveted by coastal communities hit hard by sport and commercial fishing cutbacks in recent years.

Together, this year's options detail a summer ocean season for recreational anglers that's longer than any since 2007 and far more expansive than last year's token chinook season around Labor Day.

Read the full story at the Mail Tribune.

Wood energy under fire

Seneca Sustainable Energy plans to build a wood-burning plant by the end of the year that will release less pollution than burning slash piles.

But the plant, which will qualify for millions in tax credits, will also release more greenhouse gases than a comparable coal-fired plant.

Supporters, including state and federal leaders, say wood energy is effectively carbon neutral because the carbon emitted in burning it will be balanced by new trees that pull carbon from the atmosphere...

But community and environmental activists are raising questions about the wisdom of treating wood energy as green power.

Read the full story at OregonLive.com.

Farmers band together in tech country

Dave Vanasche, the president of the Washington County Farm Bureau, is leading the fight to protect farmland from development as major companies such as Intel, Genentech and SolarWorld expand on formerly rural properties.

Vanasche is a key influence in pushing Metro to designate more rural reserves rather than urban reserves.

Washington County farmland is "ground zero" for issues that arise when urban and rural collide: subdivisions adjacent to fields, neighbors who object to farmers' dust. long hours and equipment noise, water rights, traffic on rural roads and the idea of setting aside land for wildlife or as natural areas.

As a result, traditionally taciturn farm bureau members coalesced around a belief: "If you're in farming, you should be protecting the land," says [Jim Johnson] of the state agriculture department.

"They're very intelligent farmers, and Dave's the epitome of that," he says. "Over my 30 years of land-use planning, it never ceases to amaze me how farmers will get involved when they have to."

Read the full story at OregonLive.com.

Growth coming for Coos Bay hospital

Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay is set to break ground on a 97,000-square-foot expansion in summer 2011.

The $39 million project will likely take three years to complete, hospital officials say.

The new four-story wing will take shape just north of the existing facility, said CEO Paul Janke. Much of the hospital's outpatient care will move into the first floor, with a new intensive care unit on the second. The third floor will have a 30-bed inpatient ward, while the fourth floor will be left vacant for future growth.

The additional space won't mean additional services or staffers, Janke said. The idea is to give caregivers more space to do their work so patients have a better, safer experience.

Read the full story at The World Link.

Developer seeks tenants for Sunwest property

Salem developer John Miller is looking to buy 11 acres of Sunwest-held property at the Fairview Industrial Park.

Miller is hoping to attract specialty food processors to the property, which includes a 14,000-square-foot warehouse.

On Monday, the city's Urban Renewal Agency Board, which consists of the mayor and City Council, took action to help advance Miller's plans. But a federal judge will have the final say: Miller is attempting to buy property that is tied up in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The vacant land and warehouse are part of the holdings of Sunwest Management Inc. and its related entities, a Salem senior housing business whose nationwide operations collapsed amid financial problems and allegations of fraud.

Read the full story at the Statesman Journal.