Northwest News

Northwest Public Radio is a participant and contributor in the Northwest News Network (N3), a collaboration of public radio stations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Our reporters bring a regional perspective to coverage of Northwest states' government, environment, economy, and other news of widespread interest to residents of the Northwest. Regional news on Northwest Public Radio is a part of Morning Edition every weekday morning, and All Things Considered in the afternoons.

It’s September, the month when monarch butterflies are at their peak in the Pacific Northwest.

These are western monarchs, not the eastern monarchs that spend their winters in Mexico. Western monarchs breed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and eight other states and then migrate to their winter home in California.

New research shows these monarchs are disappearing even faster than their eastern cousins. Scientists are trying to figure out why.

Before the fire, the Skamania County Fairgrounds were empty. Now, the sun-scorched field is full of RVs and tents.

Almost everyone here has been evacuated from Cascade Locks, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. Others have fled the Archer Mountain Fire, which started when the Eagle Creek Fire jumped the river earlier this week into Washington state.

The Oregon Department of Transportation said Thursday a section of Interstate 84 near the Eagle Creek Fire will remain closed through the weekend — and possibly even longer.

During a tour of fire damage along I-84, ODOT spokesman Dave Thompson said there is no current estimate for when the major east-west highway in the region will reopen.

"I’ve got to say that I- 84 at this moment is a bit of a mess," said Thompson, "just because of the number of tress that have fallen, the number of trees that might fall, the number of rocks that are all over the road."

Federal workers say they are trying their best to keep the water flowing and the power going at Bonneville Dam in the Columbia River Gorge despite the wildfires.

The Eagle Creek Fire raced through the Columbia River Gorge, forcing more than 500 homes and farms to evacuate.

Pushed by eastern winds, the fire moved fast, growing to more than 10,000 acres Monday and emptying communities from Cascade Locks to Corbett.

But as the winds eased Tuesday morning, landowners and a team of volunteers returned to the evacuated areas to help rescue the horses and cattle people had to leave behind in the middle of the night.

Rep. Dave Reichert said Wednesday that he won't seek re-election in a race that could decide whether Republicans still control Congress. 

Labrador Calls on Congress to Pass Wildfire Bill

Sep 7, 2017

Idaho Republican U.S. Representative Raul Labrador is pushing his colleagues to pass a bill aimed at reducing the risk of wildfires.

On Wednesday afternoon, Labrador issued a statement calling for the House to vote on a bill known as the Resilient Federal Forests Act, a bill on which he’s a co-sponsor. The Republican-led House approved it last year, but the Senate never considered it.

DACA Supporters Rally In Yakima

Sep 7, 2017

Yakima County, Washington, predominantly voted for Donald Trump during the general election. But just hours after President Trump announced he was ending the DACA program in six months, 75 DACA supporters gathered downtown.

Randy L. Rasmussen / ASSOCIATED PRESS


Federal authorities rejected pleas for firefighting help just as wildfire season was heating up according to Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

Washington National Guard soldiers and airmen are being called up to help with the rash of Northwest wildfires. Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Saturday because of wildfires, which cleared the way for the activation of the Guard. 



Washington joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging President Trump's plan to end DACA , a federal program protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation.



Investigators have identified a 15 year old male from Vancouver, Washington as a primary suspect in the Eagle Creek Fire burning across more than 32,000 acres in the Columbia River Gorge.

The forest fires raging in the Columbia River Gorge are unlikely to disturb adult coho salmon right now. But Northwest tribal fishers are worried about what will happen in the fall.

Could a hacker alter your voter registration to disrupt an election? According to a study by Harvard researchers out Wednesday, the answer is yes.

The top three nationally reported STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis and they are all on the rise in the Northwest and across the nation.

St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, the flagship hospital of CHI Franciscan Health, is coming under fire for allegedly shirking its legal duty to provide charity care to the uninsured poor. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a consumer protection lawsuit Tuesday.

The director of Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced a series of steps to address the workplace culture in the agency and encourage employees to come forward if they witness harassment or other misconduct.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network


Washington state's top lawyer Bob Ferguson says his office is coordinating a joint lawsuit by Democratic attorneys general in order to protect young immigrants from deportation. The Trump administration plans to phase out the so-called DACA program.

Eagle Creek Fire Jumps Columbia River Gorge Overnight

Sep 5, 2017
U.S. Forest Service

UPDATED (10:55 a.m. PST): The Eagle Creek Fire jumped the Columbia River Gorge overnight, sparking a smaller fire on the Washington side of the river Tuesday morning according to the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office.

Eagle Creek Fire Shuts Down Rail Lines

Sep 5, 2017


The Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge is shutting down rail lines. Union Pacific has closed portions its tracks out of concern for crews’ safety. Train traffic is expected to be stopped for one to two days.

Several uncontrolled wildfires in the Columbia River Gorge burning near Bonneville Dam are challenging the Bonneville Power Administration.

Ian McCluskey / Oregon Public Broadcasting

A Portland woman says the young hikers suspected of starting a fire now consuming the Columbia River Gorge giggled as one threw a firecracker into Eagle Creek Canyon.

Eastern Washington’s Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the most powerful Republican woman in the U.S. House of Representatives. And now, she’s speaking out against President Donald Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—or DACA.

Washington Fire Threatens Thousands Of Homes

Sep 5, 2017


A fire in Central Washington is threatening thousands of homes. The Jolly Mountain Fire -- just outside of Cle Elum -- showed no signs of slowing this weekend. It’s now burning more than 20,000 acres. High temperatures and low humidity mean the fire could continue to grow.

Gilbert Le Moigne / Wikimedia Creative Commons

  Most beaches in the central Puget Sound area are closed to recreational shellfish harvesting, because of unsafe levels of toxins that can be fatal. The presence of Paralytic Shellfish Poison has resulted in a closure extending from Seattle’s Alki Beach south to the Pierce County line, including Vashon Island.  

Washington Governor Declares State Of Emergency

Sep 4, 2017
Washington Governor's office

  Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed a state of emergency in all counties across Washington state due to growing wildfire concerns.

Amelia Templeton

All 153 hikers who spent the night on the Eagle Creek Trail were rescued Sunday. The hikers were cut off by a fast-moving wildfire.

The stranded hikers included a group of high school juniors from Salem, two families with children, and a person hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Two dogs were also rescued.

As Seattle and Portland struggle with how to accommodate homeless residents, Spokane is catching flack for it’s “tough-love” approach to homeless camping.

In the wake of disasters like Hurricane Harvey, you often hear calls to donate blood. In this instance, it was people who gave blood before the storm who helped the disaster victims.

If you give blood at this point, your donation is likely to stay home -- where it is welcome and needed.



Cooke Aquaculture and state officials knew at least six months ago that the floating salmon farm that collapsed in August was "nearing the end of serviceable life," with accelerating corrosion eating away at its hinges and steel structure.