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Thursday was supposed to be the day that a Washington state ballot measure to lower car registration fees took effect. But the state Supreme Court has let an injunction stand against what is known as the $30 car tabs initiative. That means hundreds of thousands of drivers will get full price bills in the coming months that they thought they had voted to reduce.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Today on Inland Journal, two segments about the health of forests in our region.

Later, we’ll hear part of a session from a Western Governors Association workshop conducted Tuesday in Post Falls. It focused on improving the resilience of forests in the region.

But first, this week, Washington state Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz released a plan to create a dedicated fund to pay for forest health and wildfire prevention. She proposes a surcharge on property and casualty insurance premiums. Her office estimates the increased cost for the average household will be a little more than a dollar a month and raise about $63 million a year.

steve jackson

A new statue was put in place in Redband Park in Spokane on Wednesday. Redband Park was formerly known as Glover Park in Peaceful Valley.

The statue is of a redband trout, a native fish of the Spokane River.

Sponsors of the project included the city of Spokane, Spokane Indians baseball team, TC Energy, Spokane Tribe, and the Spokane River Forum.

The forum’s Andy Dunau says the "Redband Rising" statue is designed to call attention to the fish, which has been in decline for many years.

the hole

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe has officially pulled out of a pact with the state to oversee the lake management plan and Governor Brad Little has asked for a third party to conduct a review and analysis of the previous lake management efforts.

In a barrier-breaking appointment, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has selected a Whatcom County judge to serve as the first known Native American justice on the state Supreme Court since its founding in 1889.

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis, 51, who is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Isleta tribe of New Mexico, will replace Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst when she retires in January.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Idaho Governor Brad Little says he’s pleased that state and federal agencies are making forest health projects a higher priority. The governor led a panel discussion Tuesday in Post Falls that was focused on natural resource management. That includes increasing timber harvests in the region’s federal forests.

The venue was a daylong Western Governors Association workshop to “Reimagine the Rural West.”

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Leaders in the western states have a variety of common issues with which they’re wrestling. One of the most pressing, especially in southern Oregon and northern California, is how to manage the power grid when wildfire danger is high.

That was one of several energy-related issues discussed at a Western Governors Association workshop, held today [Tuesday] in Post Falls, Idaho.

Habitat For Humanity Adds Housing In Deer Park

Dec 3, 2019
Habitat for Humanity/Bank of America

The Spokane chapter of Habitat for Humanity is dedicating four new homes in Deer Park today [Tuesday]. They’re the newest additions to what will eventually be a 114-home development in the north Spokane suburb.

Of Habitat’s Hope Meadows' new homeowners, one is a couple with six children that migrated from Sudan. They’re part of a development that CEO Michelle Girardot says is about half finished.

A blazing haystack puts out a ton of heat and light, and smells like a big cigar. 

Early Saturday morning, Nov. 30, in Washington's Tri-Cities region, a haystack was set alight north of Pasco in Franklin County. The fire was called in by an air traffic controller at the Tri-Cities airport in Pasco who could see it from miles away.

New earthquake research to be presented by Oregon-based geologists next week sounds like a B movie plot -- a great earthquake along the Pacific Northwest's offshore Cascadia fault triggers another great earthquake on the northern San Andreas Fault. In what may be a case where life imitates art -- or more precisely, where science catches up to the fertile imaginations of Hollywood script writers -- attendees at a major earth science meeting in San Francisco will hear evidence that this cascade of disaster happened many times over the past couple of millennia.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

The Medicaid program in Idaho will officially expand at the start of 2020. Voters last year approved an initiative that mandates that. State officials say almost half of Idahoans who are eligible (more than 43,000 out of 91,000) have signed up for coverage since the beginning of the registration period on November 1.

The state continues to negotiate with the federal government on a handful of waivers that would allow Idaho to deviate from Medicaid rules.

Operators at Chief Joseph Dam in eastern Washington will now have to reduce pollution from oil spills that leak into the Columbia River. That’s after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently reached a settlement with Columbia Riverkeeper.

P.primo at English Wikipedia

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission has reached a partial settlement with Avista for a rate increase in gas and electricity rates.

The settlement also deals with the company’s plans to phase out coal-generated power for its Washington customers.

Tri City Herald photo

While nurses at Spokane’s Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center are making strike preparations if no agreement can be reached on a new contract, their counterparts at Providence Kadlec Regional Medical Center in the Tri-Cities have reached a tentative contract agreement.

Sacred Heart nurses are getting strike training, after mediation with Providence last Friday produced no breakthrough, say nurses' union officials.

NOAA Fisheries

Efforts are underway to beef up the steelhead breeding population in the Snake River by releasing adult females that have already made one trip to the ocean and spawned previously.

Unlike salmon, steelhead can migrate to the ocean and return to spawn more than a single time. But few of the fish that have previously spawned make it that far back upriver after their first breeding because of the difficulty in migrating past all the dams.

Tensions are typically high in the Yakima City Council chambers. That was especially true at a Nov. 5 council meeting. It was a regular Tuesday — one that happened to be election night. 

Even small issues explode into arguments, like when a resident who didn’t fill out a form properly stood up to testify during public comment. 

“We are not having a debate,” Mayor Kathy Coffey yelled in frustration after councilmembers erupted in argument over whether the resident should be allowed to testify. “I’m trying to move on.”

In the shadow of Washington’s Capitol dome is a broad boulevard -- called Deschutes Parkway -- with a popular walking and running path that curves along Capitol Lake and links the city of Olympia to the neighboring city of Tumwater.

The parkway, the adjacent lake and nearby Marathon Park are technically part of Washington’s expansive Capitol campus complex.

It’s along this picturesque stretch of road, where parking is not restricted, that in recent months motorhomes, trailers and campers in various states of disrepair have begun to take up residence.

State officials are worried about a possible mess at Pacific Northwest airports and driver licensing offices. Next October, the Transportation Security Administration will stop accepting regular Washington and Oregon driver licenses to pass through airport screening checkpoints.

A new survey conducted by several Spokane organizations finds a real need for affordable healthcare in the community.

The survey quizzed over 200 people of low or moderate income who have received assistance from the Spokane Regional Health District, Transitions, The Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, and other organizations.

NOAA photo

The Department of Ecology says Washington State saw a small decrease in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the most recent data released.

According to the latest data from the department, total carbon emissions rose 1.7 percent in 2016 to 97.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, then fell slightly in 2017 to 97.5 million metric tons.

November is National Native American Heritage Month, and the downtown branch of the Spokane Public Library is featuring an exhibit by local photographer Robert Charloe which showcases decades of his work exploring the experience of American Indians in the northwest and beyond.

As families of people with developmental disabilities in Washington struggle to get access to state-paid services, there’s a renewed push to link funding increases to growth in population.

Currently, nearly 14,000 people who meet the state’s criteria as developmentally disabled are not receiving services. They’re on what’s known as the no-paid services caseload.

Food and Drug Administration

The Washington State Board of Health today voted to ban an additive contained in vaping products that they believe could be responsible for a rash of lung injuries reported nationwide.

The additive is called vitamin E acetate. It's used in many vaping products, often as a thickening agent.

At a hearing in Spokane Monday, the health department’s Kathy Lofy described how CDC testing found the compound to be a common element in samples of fluid collected from lungs of 29 patients in 10 states with vaping-associated lung disease.

It's been more than 15 years since a British Airways Concorde made its final landing in Seattle. The needle-nosed supersonic jet was added to the collection of the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field.

Now, new companies are poised to bring back supersonic commercial flying. A recently-formed industry group wants to designate airspace over the inland Northwest for the flight testing.

NASA photo

An astronaut who grew up in Spokane is part of the program put on by the Spokane Symphony this weekend in their tribute to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

The performance features three space-themed music selections, Holst’s The Planets, Berlioz’s Around the Earth in 90 Minutes, and Debussy’s Claire De Lune.

Washington Department of Health

The Washington State Department of Ecology held a workshop this week to discuss ways that dischargers that release chemicals called PCBs into the river can meet legal limits of those chemicals, even though current technology is not quite ready to do that.

The so called “variances” would loosen the current standard of 7 parts per quadrillion for the chemicals that have been linked to cancer in humans by allowing the dischargers more time to meet those standards, in some cases as long as 20 years.

Dr. Jose Francisco Salgado

The Spokane Symphony is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing this weekend with a special performance that features three space-themed music selections.

Those selections include Holst’s The Planets, Berlioz’s Around the Earth in 90 Minutes, and Debussy’s Claire De Lune, with special guest conductor Roger Kalia.

Cindy Wendle has conceded the race for Spokane City Council president to Breean Beggs.

With the latest count released late Thursday afternoon, Beggs now leads Cindy Wendle by 503 votes. Wendle had been ahead in the race in early results in the days following the election last week.

Beggs says he plans to meet with Wendle to compare notes on the election, and will also meet soon with Mayor-Elect Nadine Woodward.

Photo by Joe Bruce

Attorneys for a south Spokane neighborhood organization have filed a suit against the Spokane County Planning Department’s director for allowing a large development to go forward.

The Spokane Youth Sports Association has plans to construct a 20-acre sports complex in the Glenrose neighborhood.

Neighbors say that project would bring increased traffic, congestion and lights to the area and hurt its rural character.