Emily Schwing

Two weeks ago, the Spokane City Council approved a ballot measure that garnered national attention. It would impose a fine on every rail car that transports coal or oil through the heart of the city.  Monday the council could consider its withdrawal.

If it had to happen, the worst case scenario couldn’t have played out more smoothly. That’s the sentiment in Mosier, Oregon, where a train loaded with highly volatile Bakken crude oil derailed two months ago.

Oil that spilled from a derailed train in the Columbia River Gorge in June contaminated nearby groundwater. Starting in the next week, Union Pacific Railroad will be working with Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality to clean it up.

Hot temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds forecast for this weekend have land managers across the Northwest worried about wildfires. The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings in both Oregon and Washington.

Spokane’s City Council Monday voted on a November ballot initiative that would make the shipment of oil or coal by rail through the city a civil infraction. If it passes, every rail car carrying oil or uncovered coal will generate a $261 fine.

Over the weekend, hundreds of dancers joined traditional drummers at the Northwest’s largest powwow in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Emily Schwing shares this audio postcard and video from the weekend's events.


A Native American caucus is in Philadelphia this week to speak for the priorities of Northwest tribes at the Democratic National Convention.

After a year-long hiatus, the largest powwow in the Northwest has returned to traditional grounds of the Coeur D’Alene Tribe. Julyamsh was cancelled last year after the state of Idaho legalized horse-racing machines at a park where the celebration used to be held.

Over orchards and vineyards across the Northwest, European starlings are eating fruit to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. And when the traditional methods of keeping the birds away -- like scarecrows, pyrotechnics and netting -- don’t work, it’s time to call Falcon Force.

The National Congress of American Indians invited four presidential candidates to its mid-year conference in Spokane this week. But only one addressed the Congress directly.

There’s been a lot of political buzz this week at the mid-year conference of the National Congress of American Indians in Spokane. Tribal leaders say the next president must understand the importance of tribal sovereignty.

The condition of watersheds in Washington state continues to decline. That’s according to the the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. The organization delivered the news to the National Congress of American Indians Wednesday.

The National Park Service Wednesday announced it will allow Native Americans to gather plants on federal land managed by the agency.

Every five years, a team convenes to evaluate long-term water supply and demand for the Columbia River Basin. For eastern Washington, the water supply will increase, but not when demand is highest.

The limbs of Central Washington’s cherry trees are heavy with ripe fruit. In Moxee, crews are scrambling to bring in a harvest while the skies are clear and the weather is dry.

A day after tribal leaders and governors in all 50 states received a letter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell paid a visit to the Spokane Indian Tribe.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has announced a visit with the Spokane Indian Tribe Thursday. The visit comes as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed off on a plan that includes a casino.

"Vegan" rainbow trout will be the hot topic at this year’s International Symposium on Fish Nutrition and Feeding in Sun Valley, Idaho.

In Paris Monday, an auction of 400 artifacts included a pair of leggings that could have been worn by a woman from the Nez Perce Tribe of northern Idaho in the 1890s. Questions about whether many of the items had been acquired legally nearly halted the auction.

Dozens of people drove hundreds of miles from Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to Spokane Thursday to weigh in on a proposed coal export terminal. The terminal would sit along the Columbia River in Longview. But the permitting agencies want input from inland cities along the train tracks.

For one month each fall, residents of interior Alaska don chest waders and splash through the clear, frigid water of the Chatanika River. With large homemade lanterns hanging from their necks and spears in their hands, the fishermen keep their eyes peeled for whitefish.

Lifelong Alaskan Cory Kuryla leads his best friend Dave Ensley and me down a dark forest trail.

"We make rookies take a bite out of the first fish they catch!" he says.

Idaho endurance cyclist Jay Petervary set a new race record in the Iditarod Trail Invitational early Wednesday.  The 350 mile race follows part of Alaska’s famous Iditarod trail. The 40 year old Petervary is among 36 bikers and runners who started their race near Anchorage Sunday.

“I didn’t sleep at all and I didn’t spend an hour at any checkpoint," Petervary says.

The plummeting mercury in Alaska this time of year doesn't keep bikers inside. More and more of them are heading to recreational trails and to the office on "fat bikes." They look like mountain bikes on steroids, with tires wider than most people's arms.

Kevin Breitenbach runs the bike shop at Beaver Sports in Alaska's second-largest city. Aboard a fat bike, he makes his way down a trail that winds through a forest as wet, quarter-sized snowflakes drop from the sky. Visibility is low, and the snow hides the roughest spots on the trail.

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Idaho saw 30 large scale fires burning in the state this year.  Eighteen of those are still active, but the season is quickly drawing to a close. Don Smurthwaite, with the National Interagency Fire Center, says part of the reason for that is becasue of a storm front that’s expected to bring precipitation and even snow at higher elevations to the state int eh next few days.   “Given those factors,” says Snmurthwaite, “it’s safe to say we can bring the current down on the Idaho fire season before much longer.”

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