By Karen Janowitz, Washington State University Energy Program
The Columbia Plateau boasts important ranchlands and are important to many endangered and threatened species and habitats as well as Tribal cultural resources. Photo: Ferdi Businger.
The passage of Washington State’s Clean Energy Transformation Act in 2019 mandates an electricity supply free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. Large-scale renewable energy projects are one way to achieve this mandate. Solar companies see this as an opportunity and are pursuing projects in the sunniest, least developed part of the state—the Columbia Plateau region. As many of you know, the area boasts some of the most productive farmland and ranchland in the state, as well as many endangered and threatened species and habitats, and Tribal cultural resources.
Concerned about losing these values to large renewable energy developments while acknowledging the need for renewables, the 2019 Washington State Legislature directed the Washington State University Energy Program (WSUEP) to pursue a Least-Conflict Solar Siting project for the Columbia Plateau. The project must be completed by June 30, 2023, and we are in the midst of working with a wide-ranging and diverse set of interests to produce maps that can help us balance the need for renewable energy with protecting Washington State’s productive farmland and ranchland, Tribal rights and resources, and species and habitats. You can assist with the project by reviewing draft maps, which will be available soon. Read on to gain an understanding of this novel and important process. Continue reading →
The Northwest Climate Resilience Collaborative is accepting applications for funding of climate resilience projects through its Community Grants Program. The Resilience Collaborative, a program of the Climate Impacts Group, seeks to fund justice-focused, environmental and climate projects that advance community-centered resilience priorities. Nonprofits, community organizations and Tribes in Washington, Idaho and Oregon that serve frontline communities are eligible to apply. Letters of Interest for the Community Grants are due February 28, 2023. Continue reading →
By John Rizza and Emily Jane Davis, Oregon State University Extension
After mechanical treatments occur, prescribed fire can help to reduce the accumulation of fuels so that the landscape is more resilient to future wildfires. Photo: Emily Jane Davis.
The health and function of many of Oregon’s forest ecosystems have historically been driven by and supported with fire. The warming and drying climate conditions observed in recent years are adding to the likelihood of severe, large-scale disturbances. The data and literature suggest that wildfires, along with insects and disease issues, are altering the landscape at an accelerated rate (Schimel et al., 2021). After nearly two centuries of decreased fire frequency, our landscapes have accumulated heavy fuel loads that are increasingly likely to feed very large fires. The fire effects are also becoming more severe, which is contributing to the decline in the health of these valuable landscapes. Prescribed fire, an important tool for reinstating fire’s beneficial role in these landscapes, is challenging to implement. To address some of these barriers to prescribed fire use, efforts are underway in Oregon that take a new approach. Continue reading →