News Stories for Thu., Jul. 27, 2017

Nez Perce leader Casey Mitchell was sworn in as chairman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Wednesday. He was elected by his peers from the Warm Springs, Yakama, Nez Perce, and Umatilla tribes. At 38, Mr. Mitchell is one of the youngest individuals to ever chair the four-tribe commission. He assumes the position from Leland Bill, a tribal council member from the Yakama Nation. Mitchell is the Secretary of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, the tribe’s governing body. He has spent the past twenty years serving his tribe and community, focusing his efforts on tribal treaty rights and natural resources issues. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Northwest Indian College in Bellingham Washington, afterward teaching Ecology there. He then returned to the Nez Perce Reservation and worked for the tribe’s fisheries program as a biologist in the Watershed, Harvest, and Production divisions, specifically working on fisheries management issues throughout the Columbia River Basin. The other CRITFC officers elected were Ryan Smith (Warm Springs), vice-chair; Jeremy Red Star Wolf (Umatilla), secretary; and Leland Bill (Yakama), treasurer.

Firefighters spent the afternoon chasing several new starts ignited by lightning storms that passed through parts of Central Oregon on Wednesday. Firefighters had responded to—and contained—9 new fires, all under ½ acre. Firefighters continued constructing and improving containment lines on the Emerson Fire, burning approximately 5 miles northeast of Madras on private land and the U.S. Forest Service managed Crooked River National Grassland. Minimal growth on the Emerson Fire was reported yesterday and fire officials say it is now estimated to be 10,619 acres and 30% contained. A Type 3 incident management team comprised of Prineville Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service firefighters has command of the fire and will continue working with Jefferson County Rural Fire District to manage the blaze. This fire was determined to be human caused.  The highway remains open; however motorists should use caution due to fire suppression vehicles and crews working in the area. If smoke affects visibility, motorists should reduce speed and turn on headlights.

For the first time in the United States, scientists have edited the genes of human embryos, a controversial step toward someday helping babies avoid inherited diseases. According to MIT Technology Review, the experiment was just an exercise in science — the embryos were not allowed to develop for more than a few days and were never intended to be implanted into a womb. The publication first reported the news on Wednesday. Officials at Oregon Health & Science University confirmed that the work took place there and said results would be published in a journal soon.

Multnomah County is expected to vote today to designate opioids as a “public nuisance.” That’s significant because it would lay the groundwork for the county to sue pill makers in the future, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. The Department of Health and Human Services has reported the U.S. is the middle of an epidemic of opioid abuse — with thousands of people dying each year and a cost to taxpayers of $55 billion. By declaring opioids a “public nuisance” Multnomah County is taking the first step in a legal battle to recoup some of those costs from manufacturers. Lawyers for the county are expected to argue drug manufacturers knew how addictive their products were and didn’t do enough to control misuse.