February 23, 2001 No. 23

FARMERS, FFA MEMBERS AND FRUIT-INDUSTRY WORKERS PARADED THROUGH Wenatchee Thursday to draw attention to the economic crises facing orchardists, and to urge consumers to demand that supermarkets sell locally grown produce.

(AP/Seattle Times, Feb. 23) "Our supply of safe, abundant and environmentally friendly food is in jeopardy," said Chelan/ Douglas County Farm Bureau President Britt Dudek. Tim Smith, with the WSU Extension Service, said growers contribute $700 million a year to the economies of Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan and Grant counties, but the farmers lost almost $200 million last year. The Associated Press estimated that about 1,000 people participated in the parade of tractors, flatbed trucks and other vehicles.

Judiciary Committee Thursday calling for the creation of a 51st state east
of the Cascades. (AP/ Seattle Times, Feb. 23) But committee chairman Adam
Kline, D-Seattle "made it clear from the outset" that neither a bill sponsored by Morton to ask Congress to create a new state, nor a bill sponsored by state Sen. Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane, to create a state committee on boundaries, stood a chance of passing. State Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, said the real problem is urban vs. rural, not East versus West. Splitting off Eastern Washington from the rest of the state "would just be condemning my area to be King County's park," Hargrove said.

THE OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION HAS OK'D A PLAN TO CONTINUE efforts to keep Caspian terns from nesting on Rice Island, in the Columbia River estuary where they consume millions of juvenile salmon. (Portland Oregonian, Feb. 23) In a lawsuit brought by environmentalists, federal agencies are under a court order not to harass the terns, but the injunction does not include state agencies. Last year, Oregon state biologists erected netting and other devices to discourage the birds from nesting.

AN OREGON JUDGE THURSDAY RULED THAT A VOTER-APPROVED MEASURE THAT requires the state to compensate property owners when regulations restrict the use of their property, and thus reduces its value, is unconstitutional. (Portland Oregonian, Feb. 23) Marion County Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb ruled on technical grounds, arguing that voters were not told enough about changes the measure would make to the state constitution. Because the measure would change more than one section of the constitution, Lipscomb said it also violated a requirement that constitutional amendments be voted on separately. Supporters of the measure said they would appeal.

WATER LEVELS BEHIND TWO PUGET SOUND ENERGY DAMS ON THE SKAGIT RIVER could fall so low that the utility is unable generate electricity. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Feb. 23) The dams are expected to run dry Sunday; while there would still be water in the reservoirs, the level would fall below the openings that send water through the turbines. The Baker Lake and Shannon Lake dams produce about 100 megawatts of power. Downriver flow is expected to drop to about 4,500 cubic feet per second, about a third the normal flow, which threatens protected runs of salmon.

IN A SPEECH AT THE ANNUAL AGRICULTURAL OUTLOOK FORUM IN WASHINGTON, D.C., Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said the U.S. farming industry needs to increase efforts to develop alternative biomass fuels, such as grain-based ethanol. (Reuters, Feb. 23)

reprint from www.Sierratimes.com

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