Monday, March 27, 2023

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Mobilizing Georgia voters in a non-election year is crucial for voting rights groups, Philadelphians over 50 will play a major role in the mayoral primary, and the EPA is finalizing a new air quality rule.

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Michigan becomes the first state in decades to repeal a "right to work" law, death penalty opponents say President Biden is not keeping campaign promises to halt federal executions, and more states move to weaken child labor protection laws.

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Finding childcare is a struggle everywhere, prompting North Carolina's Transylvania County to try a new approach. Maine is slowly building-out broadband access, but disagreements remain over whether local versus national companies should get the contracts, and specialty apps like "Farmers Dating" help those in small communities connect online.

Bill in Congress Would Protect Smith River Watershed in OR

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Monday, February 6, 2023   

A new bill in Congress would add greater protections to a river and its watersheds in southern Oregon.

Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have introduced legislation to expand the Smith River National Recreation Area by 58,000 acres.

Owner of the Northwest Rafting Company Zach Collier said it's a remote and special part of the state well known for its biodiversity, from Chinook salmon to rare and endangered plants.

"This water provides spawning habitat for fish, which people catch downstream," said Collier, "but also provides clear, clean water for people to enjoy who are rafting downstream, kayaking downstream, fishing downstream and also drinking that water downstream."

The bill would protect the watershed of the North Fork of the Smith River in Oregon. The Smith River flows downstream into California, an area Collier said is well known for whitewater rafting.

It would safeguard 74 miles of waterway, including creeks adjacent to the Smith River.

It would also ensure that mining couldn't disrupt this sensitive habitat. Collier said nickel mining in particular has been proposed in the region.

"Nickel mining is not good on places," said Collier. "It involves strip mining and tons of chemicals. It's not the cleanest way to mine. It would devastate this area that's uniquely special to the world."

Collier said it's important to protect the landscape and fish habitat. But he noted that it's a special place that looks like it would be home on a different planet - literally.

"That area gets tons of rain," said Collier. "It reminds me of being on Endor in 'Return of the Jedi.' It's just very lush, very green - and just a magical, magical river."

The bill has the support of two California senators as well. It's been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.



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