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1st female grizzly in 40 years collared in Washington state

1st female grizzly in 40 years collared in Washington state

Wildlife biologists have captured a female grizzly bear in Washington state for the first time in 40 years, fitting it with a radio collar so they can track its movementsBy NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated PressJuly 15, 2021, 8:26 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleSPOKANE, Wash. — Wildlife biologists have captured a female grizzly bear in Washington state for the first time in 40 years, fitting it with a radio collar so they can track its movements, officials said Thursday.The grizzly, along with her three cubs, were released to help biologists learn more about the endangered animals, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists captured the bear about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the Washington-Idaho state line on U.S. Forest Service land.The three cubs ran into the surrounding woods while biologists did a general health check on the mother and fitted her collar, then returned to her when the people went away, the state agency said.“Grizzly bears once occupied much of the Cascade and Selkirk Ranges, but their numbers were severely reduced as a result of persecution by early settlers and habitat degradation,” said Rich Beausoleil, a biologist with the state. “Grizzly bear recovery started in 1981 and it took 40 years to confirm the first known female in Washington.”Biologists became aware of the bear through images captured on cameras inside the Selkirk Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone in a remote area of the Selkirk Mountains. That is one of six recovery zones in the U.S. identified by the federal recovery plan for grizzlies.Grizzlies in that area roam between northern Idaho, northeastern Washington, and southeastern British Columbia. The population there is considered healthy, and is growing about 3% a year, officials said.Biologists believe the recently collared female lives in the area, and is not a bear from outside of Washington state.“A group of bears – a mother and three cubs – were photographed on another occasion on a game camera in the same area three to four weeks prior to the capture,” said Wayne Kasworm, a grizzly bear biologist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The natal collar – the white ring around the neck – of one of the cubs leads us to believe this is the same family of bears.”Four adult males were captured in 1985, 2016 and 2018, but this was the first instance of a female capture, the state agency said.”Currently there are believed to be at least 70 to 80 grizzly bears in the Selkirk Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone,” Kasworm said. “About half those bears live on the Canadian side of the border, with the other half on the U.S. side.”Grizzly bears are listed as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act and classified as an endangered species in Washington state. The state agency works collaboratively with federal wildlife officials to monitor grizzly bear survival, reproduction, home range use, food habits, genetics, and causes of death.

Pacific Northwest strengthens heat protections for workers

Pacific Northwest strengthens heat protections for workers

SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington state on Friday became the second state in the Pacific Northwest in as many days to announce emergency rules that provide farmworkers and others who work outdoors more protection from hot weather in the wake of an extreme heat wave that is believed to have killed hundreds of people.The announcement comes a day after Oregon approved what advocates call the nation’s most protective emergency heat rules for workers and as temperatures are spiking again this week in parts of the U.S. West, though not as severely as the end of June. The heat is making it difficult to fight wildfires in parts of a region struggling with a historic drought tied to climate change.“The heat experienced in our state this year has reached catastrophic levels,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “The physical risk to individuals is significant, in particular those whose occupations have them outdoors all day.”Washington’s new rules take effect Tuesday and update existing mandates that are in place from May through September, when the state’s multibillion-dollar agricultural industry relies on tens of thousands of farmworkers to tend and harvest crops such as apples, cherries, hops and asparagus.Under the emergency rules, when the temperature is at or above 100 F (38 C), employers must provide shade or another way for employees to cool down and ensure a paid cool-down rest period of at least 10 minutes every two hours.The state already required employers to provide every outdoor worker with at least a quart of drinking water per hour, offer safety training on outdoor heat exposure and respond to any employee with symptoms of heat-related illness. A new requirement is that the water must be cool.The onus is on businesses under heat rules in Washington, Oregon and California, where Del Bosque Farms owner Joe Del Bosque was monitoring his workers Friday and into the weekend, when he was expecting temperatures above 110 F (43 C) in the Central Valley.“If we see it gets too hot and it’s a danger to them, we will shut down the operation and send them home,” he said.Del Bosque also said he educates workers who pick and pack melons on his farm about preventing heat illness and provides plenty of cool water and shade to rest.The scramble to protect workers follows a heat wave that hit the Northwest and British Columbia at the end of June and broke all-time heat records in places like Seattle and Portland, Oregon.An immigrant from Guatemala who was part of an outdoor crew moving irrigation lines at a Oregon plant nursery was among those who died in the heat wave. Nearly 200 deaths have been blamed on the heat in Washington and Oregon, while authorities in British Columbia say hundreds of people there may have died.The record-high temperatures were caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure worsened by human-caused climate change, which is making such extreme weather events more likely and more intense.Last month was the hottest June on record for the contiguous United States, smashing the record set in 2016 by nearly a degree, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday. The unheard-of extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest at the end of the month was a main driver as the country averaged 72.64 degrees Fahrenheit (22.58 Celsius) for June, beating the old record of 71.76 F (22 C). The 20th century average for June is 68.4 F (20 C).Usually records get beaten by one- or two-tenths of a degree, but “that’s a wide margin,” NOAA climate scientist Ahira Sanchez-Lugo said. “That is pretty remarkable.”While there is natural variability always involved, “our climate is changing,” she said.Eight states — Arizona, California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Utah — had their hottest June, while six more had their second hottest. NOAA records go back 127 years.“The recent heat wave is a reminder that extreme temperatures can be a real danger in the workplace. With more hot weather on the way, we’re taking action now,” said Joel Sacks, director of the Washington state Department of Labor & Industries.Its rules are similar to increased protections that Oregon adopted Thursday, but that state went further. Once the heat index rises above 90 F (32 C), employers in Oregon must ensure effective communication between workers and supervisors so employees can report concerns and must ensure employees are observed for alertness and signs of heat illness.At 80 F (27 C) or above, employers must provide sufficient shade and an adequate supply of drinking water.Agricultural-rich California adopted the nation’s first rules requiring shade and water for farmworkers in 2005 following 10 heat-related deaths — four of them farmworkers — in a two-month period.The regulations have since been beefed up, requiring employers to provide shade when temperatures rise above 80 F (27 C) and 15-minute breaks in the shade each hour when temperatures rise higher. Employers also must provide cool drinking water in easily accessible locations, toilets and hand-washing facilities. When it’s hot, many work in the middle of the night.———Associated Press Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington, D.C., and video journalist Terry Chea in Firebaugh, California, contributed to this report.

Washington state is latest to pass heat rules for workers

Washington state is latest to pass heat rules for workers

SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington state on Friday became the second state in the Pacific Northwest in as many days to announce emergency rules that provide farmworkers and others who work outdoors more protection from hot weather in the wake of an extreme heat wave that is believed to have killed hundreds of people.The announcement comes a day after Oregon approved what advocates call the nation’s most protective emergency heat rules for workers and as temperatures are spiking again this week in parts of the U.S. West, though not as severely as the end of June. The heat is making it difficult to fight wildfires in parts of a region struggling with a historic drought tied to climate change.“The heat experienced in our state this year has reached catastrophic levels,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “The physical risk to individuals is significant, in particular those whose occupations have them outdoors all day.”Washington’s new rules take effect Tuesday and update existing mandates that are in place from May through September, when the state’s multibillion-dollar agricultural industry relies on tens of thousands of farmworkers to tend and harvest crops such as apples, cherries, hops and asparagus.Under the emergency rules, when the temperature is at or above 100 F (38 C), employers must provide shade or another way for employees to cool down and ensure a paid cool-down rest period of at least 10 minutes every two hours.The state already required employers to provide every outdoor worker with at least a quart of drinking water per hour, offer safety training on outdoor heat exposure and respond to any employee with symptoms of heat-related illness. A new requirement is that the water must be cool.The scramble to protect workers follows a heat wave that hit the Northwest and British Columbia at the end of June and broke all-time heat records in places like Seattle and Portland, Oregon.An immigrant from Guatemala who was part of an outdoor crew moving irrigation lines at a Oregon plant nursery was among those who died in the heat wave. Nearly 200 deaths have been blamed on the heat in Washington and Oregon, while authorities in British Columbia say hundreds of people there may have died.The record-high temperatures were caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure worsened by human-caused climate change, which is making such extreme weather events more likely and more intense.Last month was the hottest June on record for the contiguous United States, smashing the record set in 2016 by nearly a degree, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday. The unheard-of extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest at the end of the month was a main driver as the country averaged 72.64 degrees Fahrenheit (22.58 Celsius) for June, beating the old record of 71.76 F (22 C). The 20th century average for June is 68.4 F (20 C).Usually records get beaten by one- or two-tenths of a degree, but “that’s a wide margin,” NOAA climate scientist Ahira Sanchez-Lugo said. “That is pretty remarkable.”While there is natural variability always involved, “our climate is changing,” she said.Eight states — Arizona, California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Utah — had their hottest June, while six more had their second hottest. NOAA records go back 127 years.“The recent heat wave is a reminder that extreme temperatures can be a real danger in the workplace. With more hot weather on the way, we’re taking action now,” said Joel Sacks, director of the Washington state Department of Labor & Industries.Its rules are similar to increased protections that Oregon adopted Thursday, but that state went further. Once the heat index rises above 90 F (32 C), employers in Oregon must ensure effective communication between workers and supervisors so employees can report concerns and must ensure employees are observed for alertness and signs of heat illness.At 80 F (27 C) or above, employers must provide sufficient shade and an adequate supply of drinking water.Agricultural-rich California adopted the nation’s first rules requiring shade and water for farmworkers in 2005 following 10 heat-related deaths — four of them farmworkers — in a two-month period.The regulations have since been beefed up, requiring employers to provide shade when temperatures rise above 80 F (27 C) and 15-minute breaks in the shade each hour when temperatures rise higher. Employers also must provide cool drinking water in easily accessible locations, toilets and hand-washing facilities. When it’s hot, many work in the middle of the night.———Associated Press Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed from Washington, D.C.

Washington state blackouts hit same customers repeatedly

Washington state blackouts hit same customers repeatedly

The rolling blackouts that cut electricity for tens of thousands of Spokane, Washington, residents amid this week’s record-breaking heat wave mostly hit the same power customers repeatedlyBy NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated PressJuly 1, 2021, 6:08 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleSPOKANE, Wash. — The rolling blackouts that cut electricity for tens of thousands of Spokane, Washington, residents amid this week’s record-breaking heat wave mostly hit the same power customers repeatedly because of strains on equipment that couldn’t handle the blistering temperatures, utility officials said.And there was plenty of power available for customers in Spokane despite increased demand. That’s in contrast to the blackouts imposed in Texas last winter amid freezing temperatures, when there wasn’t enough electricity to meet the demand, and during a hot spell in California last summer.In Spokane, Avita Utilities officials blamed lack of transmission capacity combined with heat strain on equipment for their decision to impose the blackouts as the city’s 217,000 people endured sweltering heat that hit a record of 109 degrees Fahrenheit (42.8 Celsius) on Tuesday.Some people in the city never had their power cut while those unlucky enough to live in neighborhoods with equipment affected by the heat were targeted with blackouts that hit some repeatedly, said Heather Rosentrater, Avista’s senior vice president for energy delivery.“We haven’t been able to spread where those outages are occurring across different customers,” she said.On Monday, the high heat and high demand for power caused transformers to heat up, creating a danger of explosions and problems were detected at four substation transformers, Rosentrater said.“Two of them were alerted based on that temperature alarm. That would be a signal that it was based on age, that it wasn’t able to meet the run at the capacity it was rated for,” Rosentrater said.One of the substations impacted was in the midst of a rebuild process that takes several years, said Avista spokeswoman Casey Fielder.Heat is suspected as the cause of death for three people in Spokane, though details of the deaths have not been made public. Officials have said that heat is probably to blame for the deaths of hundreds more in the Canadian province of British Columbia, elsewhere in Washington state and in Oregon.The heat wave that enveloped the regions last weekend was caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure over the Northwest and worsened by human-caused climate change, which is making such extreme weather events more likely and more intense.Seattle, Portland and many other cities shattered all-time heat records, with temperatures in some places reaching above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius).The Spokane outages affected 24,000 Avista customers on Monday, with as many as 9,300 without power at the same time. The number of customers notified that they could face blackouts was 22,000 on Tuesday and 5,800 on Wednesday — though smaller numbers actually had their power cut those days.Lower temperatures on Thursday and conservation by customers prompted Avista to announce that no outages were expected. Avista asked customers to continue conserving energy as temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) are forecast through the end of the week.

Washington state blackouts hit same customers repeatedly

Washington state blackouts hit same customers repeatedly

The rolling blackouts that cut electricity for tens of thousands of Spokane, Washington, residents amid this week’s record-breaking heat wave mostly hit the same power customers repeatedlyBy NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated PressJuly 1, 2021, 6:08 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleSPOKANE, Wash. — The rolling blackouts that cut electricity for tens of thousands of Spokane, Washington, residents amid this week’s record-breaking heat wave mostly hit the same power customers repeatedly because of strains on equipment that couldn’t handle the blistering temperatures, utility officials said.And there was plenty of power available for customers in Spokane despite increased demand. That’s in contrast to the blackouts imposed in Texas last winter amid freezing temperatures, when there wasn’t enough electricity to meet the demand, and during a hot spell in California last summer.In Spokane, Avita Utilities officials blamed lack of transmission capacity combined with heat strain on equipment for their decision to impose the blackouts as the city’s 217,000 people endured sweltering heat that hit a record of 109 degrees Fahrenheit (42.8 Celsius) on Tuesday.Some people in the city never had their power cut while those unlucky enough to live in neighborhoods with equipment affected by the heat were targeted with blackouts that hit some repeatedly, said Heather Rosentrater, Avista’s senior vice president for energy delivery.“We haven’t been able to spread where those outages are occurring across different customers,” she said.On Monday, the high heat and high demand for power caused transformers to heat up, creating a danger of explosions and problems were detected at four substation transformers, Rosentrater said.“Two of them were alerted based on that temperature alarm. That would be a signal that it was based on age, that it wasn’t able to meet the run at the capacity it was rated for,” Rosentrater said.One of the substations impacted was in the midst of a rebuild process that takes several years, said Avista spokeswoman Casey Fielder.Heat is suspected as the cause of death for three people in Spokane, though details of the deaths have not been made public. Officials have said that heat is probably to blame for the deaths of hundreds more in the Canadian province of British Columbia, elsewhere in Washington state and in Oregon.The heat wave that enveloped the regions last weekend was caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure over the Northwest and worsened by human-caused climate change, which is making such extreme weather events more likely and more intense.Seattle, Portland and many other cities shattered all-time heat records, with temperatures in some places reaching above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius).The Spokane outages affected 24,000 Avista customers on Monday, with as many as 9,300 without power at the same time. The number of customers notified that they could face blackouts was 22,000 on Tuesday and 5,800 on Wednesday — though smaller numbers actually had their power cut those days.Lower temperatures on Thursday and conservation by customers prompted Avista to announce that no outages were expected. Avista asked customers to continue conserving energy as temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) are forecast through the end of the week.

Rolling blackouts in parts of US Northwest amid heat wave

Rolling blackouts in parts of US Northwest amid heat wave

As the Pacific Northwest swelters in an unprecedented heat wave, an electrical utility in the Washington state city of Spokane has announced that there will be more rolling blackouts that will cut off electricity and air conditioningBy NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated PressJune 29, 2021, 8:59 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleSPOKANE, Wash. — The unprecedented Northwest U.S. heat wave that slammed Seattle and Portland, Oregon, moved inland Tuesday — prompting a electrical utility in Spokane, Washington, to warn that people will face more rolling blackouts amid heavy power demand.The intense weather that gave Seattle and Portland consecutive days of record high temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celcius) was expected to ease in those cities. But inland Spokane was likely to surpass Monday’s high temperature — a record-tying 105 F (40.6 Celsius).About 8,200 utility customers in parts of Spokane lost power on Monday and Avista Utilities warned that there will be more rolling blackouts on Tuesday afternoon in the city of about 220,000 people, with the high temperature predicted at 110 F (43.3C), which would be an all-time record.Avista had to implement deliberate blackouts on Monday because “the electric system experienced a new peak demand, and the strain of the high temperatures impacted the system in a way that required us to proactively turn off power for some customers,” said company president and chief executive Dennis Vermillion. “This happened faster than anticipated.”Customers on Tuesday should expect more “targeted protective outages” Tuesday, he said.A high of 117 degrees F (47 C) was predicted in the southeastern Washington cities of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco. The state’s highest-ever recorded temperature was 118 degrees F (47.7 C), recorded in 1961.The United Farm Workers urged Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to immediately issue emergency heat standards protecting all farm and other outdoor workers in the state with a strong agricultural sector. The state’s current heat standards fall short of safeguards the UFW first won in California in 2005 that have prevented deaths and illnesses from heat stroke, the union said in a statement.Unlike workers in California, Washington state farm workers do not have the right to work shade and breaks amid extreme temperatures.“I was off today so I was helping distribute water and information to the cherry harvesters,” said Martha Acevedo, a wine grape worker from Sunnyside, Washington, said in a union statement. “They were struggling. No shade, not even cold water.”Garbage collectors in Walla Walla started their shifts at 3 a.m. instead of the usual 7 a.m. in an effort to beat the heat.Seattle was cooler Tueday with temperatures expected to reach about 90 F (32.2 C) after registering 108 degrees F (42 Celsius) on Monday — well above Sunday’s all-time high of 104 F (40 C). Portland, Oregon, reached 116 F (46.6 C) after hitting records of 108 F (42 C) on Saturday and 112 F (44 C) on Sunday.President Joe Biden, during an infrastructure speech in Wisconsin, took note of the Northwest as he spoke about the need to be prepared for extreme weather.“Anybody ever believe you’d turn on the news and see it’s 116 degrees in Portland Oregon? 116 degrees,” the president said, working in a dig at those who cast doubt on the reality of climate change. “But don’t worry — there is no global warming because it’s just a figment of our imaginations.”The heat wave was caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure over the Northwest and worsened by human-caused climate change, which is making such extreme weather events more likely and more intense.The temperatures have been unheard of in a region better known for rain, and where June has historically been referred to as “Juneuary” for its cool drizzle. Seattle’s average high temperature in June is around 70 F (21.1 C), and fewer than half of the city’s residents have air conditioning, according to U.S. Census data.

Pacific Northwest braces for record-breaking heat wave

Pacific Northwest braces for record-breaking heat wave

SPOKANE, Wash. — Record-high heat is forecast in the normally mild-weathered Pacific Northwest this weekend, raising concerns about wildfires and the health of people in a region where many people don’t have air conditioning.City officials in Seattle were opening libraries as cooling centers and crews were being sent to places in Oregon where the risk of wildfires was high.The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch and predicted “dangerously hot” conditions Friday through at least Tuesday. The heat wave will cover portions of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, with temperatures rising to 114 degrees Fahrenheit (45 Celsius) in places, the agency said.“This will likely be an historic heat wave,” the agency said. “Chances are good that many long standing records will be broken.”Among those might be the record high temperature for Spokane, Washington, of 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 Celsius), set in 1921 and 1968, the Weather Service said.AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno warned that the heat wave is arriving in an area where many people do not have air conditioning. That’s especially true west of the Cascade Range, where cities such as Seattle and Portland, Oregon, typically enjoy more moderate weather.According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey of 2015, only one-third of households in Seattle had air conditioning, as the average high temperature in June is 71 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius). Nationally, 89% of households have air conditioning.In Oregon, forecasters predicted record-setting weekend temperatures between 102 and 106 degrees Fahrenheit (38 and 41 degrees Celsius) — and possibly higher — in the Portland metropolitan area. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Portland was 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41 Celsius), in 1965 and 1981. Cooling centers will open in the Portland area on Friday.Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkin this week issued guidance outlining ways for residents to stay cool as temperatures are forecast to top 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius).“We’re reopening many city facilities for individuals to stay cool, but many of our city’s indoor spaces remain closed or at reduced capacity,” because of COVID-19, Durkan said in a statement.She also urged residents to drink water, reduce strenuous activities and check on neighbors.Thirteen branches of the Seattle Public Library with air conditioning will be open at some point this week, Durkan’s office said. The branches are still restricted to 50% capacity and masks are still required.Communities scrambled to initiate burn bans in the Portland area and fire crews were pre-positioned in high-risk wildfire areas. The heat could exacerbate efforts to fight several fires already burning in central and southern parts of the state.The Bonneville Power Administration, the federal agency responsible for electrical supply in the Northwest, did not expect the heat to produce rolling blackouts like those that have happened in other parts of the country during heat waves.“We’re in pretty good shape,” said Doug Johnson, spokesman for the Portland-based agency.He noted the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant is back on line after a spring refueling outage. There is also plenty of water behind hydroelectric dams, such as the giant Grand Coulee Dam, to turn electric turbines, the agency said. Hydropower is a major electricity source in the Northwest.Meanwhile, the Red Cross warned of increased wildfire risks, because of high temperatures coupled with severe drought conditions.“After back-to-back years of record-breaking wildfires, this year it’s more critical than ever to get ready now,” said Alex Dieffenbach, head of the Northwest Region of the Red Cross. “Wildfires are dangerous and can spread quickly, giving you only minutes to evacuate.”The Red Cross suggested people create an evacuation plan, build an emergency kit with food and water and plan for dealing with their pets.“Because of the pandemic, include a mask for everyone in your household,” the Red Cross said.———Gillian Flaccus in Portland, Ore., contributed to this report.

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