Hemp to be grown sort of legally in Oregon

Oregon is about to become the seventh state in the nation, and the second in the West, to permit cultivation of industrial hemp. Although it's similar to marijuana, hemp is not exactly the same thing, in that it doesn't contain more than trace amounts of psychoactive THC. So it can't get you high. However, it can produce material for clothing and other uses, and some think research could allow its oil to help ease our greenhouse-gas problems. David Steves' article in the Eugene Register-Guard notes that Oregon doesn't have the greatest climate for raising hemp. But farmers in Canada are growing it, so it might work as a niche crop in Oregon. Hawaii is the other Western state that allows hemp cultivation. Despite the state laws permitting hemp, it's still verboten under federal law -- a situation not unlike that of medical marijuana, which was the subject of an interesting story out of California over the weekend by the AP's Marcus Wohlsen and Lisa Leff.

Locavores in OR find eating local not easy

Further on food: Jessica Musicar of The World in Coos Bay, OR, is the latest journo to take on the eating-local idea. Or should we say ideal? Along the Oregon coast, that apparently would mean eating mostly cranberries and blueberries. Of course, how difficult the exercise proves would depend on what one defines as "local."

Oregon moving to make gray-water use easier

Hard to believe that in Oregon, known for prodigious rains, it is becoming necessary to recycle household water wastes. But it's true. Stefanie Knowlton of the Salem Statesman Journal writes that the state is launching an effort to make use of  "gray water"  easier under the law. However, it appears it will take a few years to get all the codes rewritten.

WOPR of a loss for timber industry

The Obama administration is tossing out a Bush administration plan governing logging across 2.6 million acres in Oregon, saying it was not legally sustainable or supported by science. The Western Oregon Plan Revision was adopted in the waning days of the Bush administration, and stemmed from lawsuits filed by the timber industry. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar repeatedly cited influence on the plan by Bush's now-disgraced deputy Interior Secretary Julie MacDonald, according to the AP story by Jeff Barnard.  Did this story break late? Neither the AP version nor the Oregonian's story has comment from the timber industry, which was a big supporter of the plan.

Update 10:53 a.m.: Kim Murphy of the LA Times has timber comment.

Update 11:57 a.m.: Whoops. Mattew Preusch, author of the Oregonian piece, points out that that story we picked up from the Oregonian's home page earlier today was an early version. The more-complete story is here.

As unemployment soars, ranks of gleaners grow

From southern Oregon comes news that there is growth in the ranks of gleaners – low-income or unemployed people who perform a second harvest on farm fields to supplement their food supplies. Whitney Malkin’s look at the practice  in the Eugene Register-Guard notes that advocates of the practice say it helps build self-esteem among the poor. A person whose income qualifies him or her for the gleaning groups must work eight hours a month for the group, and must pay a small amount to cover gas and insurance. Farmers involved get a tax credit worth 10 percent of their crop.

What hue are 'green' jobs?

So-called “green” jobs account for 3 percent of employment in Oregon and pay an average of about $15 an hour, says a new state report. An uncritical look at the report that appears to be excerpts from it rather than an actual news report ran in the Statesman-Journal in Salem. The report by the state’s Workforce & Economic Research Division defined green jobs as those that increase energy efficiency or produce renewable energy; prevent, reduce or mitigate environmental damage; clean up the environment; or provide support to workers in those categories. The top “green” jobs make one wonder about the rankings – carpenters, farmworkers, truck drivers, hazardous materials removal workers, and landscaping and groundskeeping workers. As for what constitutes a green job, “We realize our definition is broad,” the report’s authors wrote.

Portland’s Jobless Growth Rate Tops Nation – Even Detroit

The rate at which unemployment grew in Portland over the last year outstripped every other major U.S. city - including Detroit, Richard Read reports today for The Oregonian (http://bit.ly/UCqKT).

The jobless stats for May 2009 showed an increase of 6.7 percentage points from May 2008, to an unemployment rate of 11.6 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Detroit's year-over-year stats for May were just a tad lower, showing an increase of 6.6 percent. However, the overall employment rate in Detroit is higher than in Portland. Read's story, as currently posted, doesn't give us the overall employment rate for Detroit. But we checked, and it's 14.9 percent. (http://bit.ly/Dc07X) The greater Portland area includes once-bustling Vancouver, Washington, across the Columbia River. None of the rates in the report are seasonally adjusted.

'Stumptown' Is Spreading; who’ll save trees?

Columnist Andy Parker of The Oregonian has an interesting piece of news that makes us wonder how well things are going for Oregon’s supposedly wonderful growth-management law: Towns outside the urban growth boundary suddenly see a need to pass ordinances to protect their tree canopy.  Long known by the derisive dismissal “Stumptown,” Oregon’s largest city was long ago denuded of most of its trees, some of which were  up to 40 feet in diameter. Now that phenom seems headed for outlying Washington and Clackamas counties. Parker sums up a new report: “Some cities are doing admirable jobs of establishing and enforcing tree codes that set high bars for preserving tree canopy. Yet, in our two fast-growing counties, we do virtually nothing to preserve trees.” http://bit.ly/2wy9j7