Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, January 19, 2018, Page 14, Image 14

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January 19, 2018
La Nina peaks; NW snowpack on the line
Next few weeks key
for snowpacks
Capital Press
A weak to moderate La
Nina in the tropical Pacific
Ocean has probably peaked,
though it may have enough
punch left to swell North-
west snowpacks, climatolo-
gists report.
The National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
said that the cooler-than-nor-
mal ocean likely will begin
warming, but won’t reach
average temperatures until
the spring. Climatologists
estimated the chances of La
Nina sticking through the
winter at 90 percent.
La Nina stacks the deck
in favor of cool and wet
weather in the Northwest for
the next few weeks, Wash-
ington State Climatologist
Nick Bond said.
“It’s not going to go
away right away,” he said.
“There’s no reason to think
we won’t have a typical re-
sponse to La Nina.”
Temperatures along the
equator between South
America and the interna-
tional dateline were 0.8 de-
grees Celsius below normal,
the same as in December,
NOAA said in a monthly re-
port. Temperatures morethan
0.5 degrees below normal
qualify as La Nina condi-
La Nina conditions gen-
erally mean below-average
temperatures and above-av-
erage precipitation in the
northern tier of the U.S. La
Nina has the opposite effect
on the southern tier.
La Nina has yet to de-
tion Service.
“Our snowpack is OK,
but it’s not above normal
in most spots,” Bond said.
“The next week or two
should be on the wet side.
I think it’s going to turn
Precipitation will be
above normal for the North-
west and Northern Califor-
nia for the next two weeks,
according to a forecast is-
sued Wednesday by the Cli-
mate Prediction Center. The
odds are particularly high
EO Media Group File for wet weather in Oregon
Snow accumulates in the hills near Pendleton, Ore. Though the La and Northern California.
Also, temperatures are ex-
Nina in the Pacific Ocean may have peaked, weather forecasters
say there’s still plenty of time for the snowpack across the West to pected to be below average.
“We got off to a pretty
continue to build.
good start” on snowpacks,
liver huge amounts of snow of 109 percent of normal in Bond said. “While there was
for summer irrigation in the northeast Washington to a a hiatus in December, it looks
Northwest. Snowpacks in low of 70 percent in the south like it’s going to resume, at
11 basins in Washington on Cascades, according to the least for a while.”
Thursday ranged from a high Natural Resources Conserva-
planned to issue a new sea-
sonal outlook Jan. 18.
Oregon snowpacks in 12
basins are below normal for
this time of year, according
to NRCS.
The snowpacks ranged
from a high of 54 percent of
normal in northeast Oregon
to a low of 29 percent in the
Klamath Basin in Southern
Oregon on Jan. 11.
NRCS charts snowpacks
in 21 basins in Idaho. Pan-
handle snowpacks are around
100 percent of normal.
Snowpacks in the southern
half of the state are generally
The Owyhee Basin in the
southwest corner of the state
was 43 percent of normal on
In California, snowpacks
in six basins ranged from 86
to 68 percent of normal on
Jan. 11, according to NRCS.
There’s still room for more
cherries, promoter says
Capital Press
— Last year’s huge Pacific
Northwest cherry crop made
money for retailers and some
growers but the leader of the
industry’s promotional arm
says even larger crops can be
“We can grow the cher-
ry deal. The U.S. market
still has great potential for
growth. We just didn’t have
the movement we needed (in
2017) but we can grow that,”
B.J. Thurlby, president of
Northwest Cherry Growers,
told several hundred growers
at the Northcentral Washing-
ton Stone Fruit Day at the
Wenatchee Convention Cen-
ter on Jan. 16.
The 2017 PNW sweet
cherry crop totaled a record
26.4 million, 20-pound box-
es, besting the record 23.2
million boxes in 2014. It
came in June, July and Au-
gust on the heels of a record
April, May and June Califor-
nia crop. Total West Coast
production was 35.1 million,
20-pound boxes.
Thurlby said some grow-
ers are asking if it’s time
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Dan Wheat/Capital Press
Maria Adame picks Rainier cherries at Drescher Orchard, Orondo, Wash., last July. Too many
cherries caused prices to tumble this year, but an industry leader says there’s still room for more
larger cherries in the market.
to start yanking cherry or-
chards but that apple growers
thought the same thing when
apples reached 50 million,
40-pound boxes, then 100
million and now 140 million.
PNW cherry acreage, at
62,000, has grown 46 percent
since 2000 and volume has
grown 336 percent, he said.
June prices and returns
were good but in July whole-
sale prices tumbled below
$16 a box, unprofitable for
all involved. Some picked
fruit was dumped.
“Retailers told me of nor-
mal repeat customers who
only bought twice this year.
What they bought wasn’t
very good so they switched
to blueberries and grapes,”
Thurlby said.
Twenty-two percent of
the crop was 11-row (the
number of cherries per row
in a box) in size and small-
er and doesn’t sell as well as
10-row and larger, he said.
The average wholesale on
10-row red cherries to Asia
was $46 per box. More than
6 million boxes were export-
ed to Asia, he said.
In any given year, crop
size, quality, the amount of
competition from other fruit
and other variables affect
supply and demand, he said.
Group files lawsuit against Forest Service
Capital Press
Conservationists in north-
east Oregon are suing the
U.S. Forest Service for reau-
thorizing livestock grazing
on 44,000 acres of grasslands
within the Hells Canyon Na-
tional Recreation Area.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 10
by the Greater Hells Canyon
Council in La Grande, Ore.,
seeks to protect a rare and en-
demic species of plant known
as Spalding’s catchfly — a
summer-blooming member
of the carnation family.
Spalding’s catchfly is list-
ed as threatened under the
Endangered Species Act. It
is found today only in east-
ern Washington, northeast
Oregon, west-central Idaho,
western Montana and a small
sliver of British Columbia,
Veronica Warnock, conser-
vation director for the Greater
Hells Canyon Council, said
livestock grazing further jeop-
ardizes the viability of Spal-
ding’s catchfly in the area, as
cattle displace soil, trample
habitat and spread invasive
Fewer than 1,000 catch-
fly plants are known to exist
in the grazing area along the
lower Imnaha River. Howev-
er, the Forest Service renewed
permits in 2015 on four win-
ter allotments, including Cow
Creek, Toomey, Rhodes Creek
and Lone Pine.
All permits are held by
McClaran Ranch, based
in Joseph, Ore. Scott
McClaran, ranch manager,
could not immediately be
reached for comment.
The Forest Service is ob-
ligated to protect Spalding’s
catchfly under the Hells Can-
yon National Recreation Area
Comprehensive Management
Plan, Warnock said. The law-
suit also lists Kris Stein, Hells
Canyon National Recreation
Area district ranger, as a de-
Grazing is currently under-
way on the allotments, though
Warnock said the group is not
asking for an injunction.
“This isn’t about a ranch-
er doing something wrong,”
Warnock said. “This is about
the Forest Service ignoring
management recommenda-
tions on how to protect and
recover a threatened species,
something it is required to do
in Hells Canyon.”
A spokesman for the Forest
Service said the agency cannot
comment on pending litiga-
The Hells Canyon National
Recreation Area is part of the
Wallowa-Whitman National
Forest, though they are tech-
nically managed under dif-
ferent forest plans. In 2015,
Stein, the forest district ranger,
signed off on the Lower Imna-
ha Rangeland Analysis, which
authorized commercial graz-
ing on the four allotments.
The Greater Hells Canyon
Council argues that decision
violates the agency’s obli-
gation to protect threatened
Spalding’s catchfly under the
National Forest Management
Act. The species was listed
as threatened by the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service in 2001
due to agricultural and urban
Lawmakers will deal with wolves, wine, soybeans and ag credits
Capital Press
BOISE — During Idaho’s 2018 leg-
islative session, there will be an effort to
create a moratorium on soybean produc-
tion in parts of the state where dry beans
are grown.
A bill that would extend the life of
the state’s wolf depredation control
board will also be proposed, as will
legislation that seeks to require all high
school students in the state to complete
at least two agricultural education class-
es to graduate.
Unlike last year, it appears unlikely
there will be revived efforts to change
the state’s law on the use of dyed fuel,
which is heavily used in the agricultural
The Idaho Bean Commission and
Idaho-Eastern Oregon Seed Association
will introduce legislation that would ban
soybeans from being grown in south-
central and southwestern Idaho, where
the state’s dry bean industry is centered.
Those groups worry soybean seed
could bring in diseases that could harm
Idaho’s $70 million dry bean industry.
They will conduct a presentation on the
issue before the House and Senate ag
committees later this month before in-
troducing legislation, said IEOSA Exec-
utive Director Roger Batt.
A proposal to continue the wolf dep-
redation control board indefinitely has
already been introduced; the board’s
statutory authority to exist would end
after this year otherwise.
The proposal would trim the amount
the state provides to the board from
$400,000 to $200,000 annually. The
state’s cattle and sheep producers pro-
vide $110,000 per year to the board, as
do Idaho sportsmen groups.
The money is used by the board to
fund efforts to control problem wolves.
“We need that wolf control board,”
said Idaho Cattle Association Executive
Vice President Cameron Mulrony. “The
impact that wolves are having is grow-
ing and we need that ability to control
wolves when it’s necessary.”
Rep. Judy Boyle, a Republican
rancher from Midvale and chairwoman
of the House Agricultural Affairs Com-
mittee, has supported efforts to raise
money to control problem wolves.
But she told Food Producers of Ida-
ho members Jan. 17 that she doesn’t like
the idea of cutting the amount of money
the state provides in half.
“That’s going to be a controversial
(proposal),” she said.
Two bills dealing with dyed diesel,
which is tinted red so it can easily be
identified and is exempt from state and
federal fuel taxes because it is only for
off-road use, were defeated last year.
One would have created a dyed die-
sel enforcement program and the other
would have done away with dyed fuel
altogether in Idaho and required people
eligible to use it to apply for a tax re-
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildflife photographed
this wolf shot by a ranch employee in northeast Washington.
WDFW determined the shooting was lawful because the wolf was
one of two wolves chasing cattle.
Washington ranch
hand says hazing
led to shooting wolf
WDFW releases
investigative report
Capital Press
A ranch employee told a
Washington wildlife officer
that she was just trying to
haze two wolves chasing cat-
tle when she shot one last year
in the state’s first official case
of a wolf killed in the act of
attacking livestock, accord-
ing to a report released by the
state Department of Fish and
The ranch hand said she
didn’t think she had hit either
wolf, but found the carcass
the next day and sent a text
message to a department em-
The investigator conclud-
ed the shooting was lawful
after interviewing the em-
ployee, who was paraphrased
in the report as saying, “There
was nothing else I could do.”
The report, obtained
through a public records re-
quest, describes the depart-
ment’s probe into the June 30
shooting of an adult female
from the Smackout pack in
Stevens County.
WDFW investigated a sec-
ond case of a wolf shot while
attacking cattle in Oct. 27 in
Ferry County. The department
concluded that killing was
lawful, too. The department
is still reviewing a request
for records related to that in-
Washington’s caught-in-
the act law applies only to
the eastern one-third of the
state. In the other two-thirds
of the state, wolves are feder-
ally protected. If WDFW con-
cludes shooting a wolf isn’t
justified, the shooter can be
charged with a gross misde-
meanor and face up to a year
in jail and a $5,000 fine.
WDFW blacked out the
name of the ranch employee
as well as her employer. State
lawmakers last year passed
a law instructing WDFW to
withhold the names of ranch-
ers and their employees who
report that wolves are attack-
ing livestock.
According to the report,
the ranch tried to haze wolves
to keep them away from cat-
tle grazing on Forest Service
land. No dead cows or calves
had been found, but cattle
were bunching together and
had broken through a wire
fence, signs they were being
threatened, according to the
WDFW investigator.
The ranch employee said
that the day before she shot
the wolf, she shined a spot-
light on a wolf and fired four
or five times to scare it away
from cattle.
“This particular produc-
er has tried nearly every
tool imaginable to prevent
WDFW wolf policy coordi-
nator Donny Martorello said
Monday. “You can’t lose sight
of all that effort and time and
energy to address the conflict
On the morning of the
shooting, the ranch employee
said she saw two wolves chas-
ing cattle, which were running
toward her camping trailer.
She fired and the wolves ran
“(The employee) explained
she was just trying to haze the
wolves from the field, adding
she didn’t think she hit either
of them,” according to the re-
The next day, the ranch
employee found the female
wolf, which had been shot
through the stomach. The
wolf had previously been
trapped by WDFW and was
wearing a radio-transmitting
collar, according to the re-
The Smackout pack con-
tinued to be a problem for
ranchers. WDFW trapped and
euthanized two wolves in the
pack in July to stop chronic
The pack has attacked
livestock belonging to at
least three producers in the
past four years, according
to WDFW. The most recent
confirmed depredation by the
pack was in October.