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Equifax Collects Your Data, and Then Sells It. Credit companies like Equifax make money by mining a huge trove of data.

SOURCE

BY KEN SWEET, AP BUSINESS WRITER

 

Equifax knows a lot about you. That is, in essence, how it makes money.

The company and its competitors have in their files the personal financial information of tens of millions of Americans like you, going back decades. Your mortgage loan totals. When you switched from a Macy’s card to a Target card. How much you still owe for college.

“It’s a pretty simple business model, actually. They gather as much information about you from lenders, aggregate it, and sell it back to them,” said Brett Horn, an industry analyst with Morningstar.

Equifax had more than $3.1 billion in revenue last year, largely from selling data to other companies. Experian’s revenue came to $4.34 billion, while TransUnion had $1.7 billion.

The trove of data — Equifax’s largest asset — has become its biggest liability after the company admitted that it didn’t keep the information safe from criminals who stole or accessed the data on 143 million Americans who are now at risk for identity theft. It’s now under investigation at the state and federal level, facing a series of lawsuits, and desperately trying to assuage the anger of the consumers who are its commodities.

What to know about how the credit companies work:

Where the money comes from

Equifax, Experian and TransUnion make most of their money selling bulk lists to banks and credit card companies.

American Express, for example, could purchase a list of potential customers 25 to 30 years old with credit scores above 650. Armed with that, AmEx will send out pre-approved credit card mailers, hoping to sign up new customers.

Hundreds of millions of credit reports are sold this way each year to companies like Capital One, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup. Since the banks buy the reports in bulk, they pay as little as a few dollars per report. While people can get their credit reports once a year for free, Equifax charges $15.95 for the report plus a credit score, while Experian charges $19.95 for a report and score.

The credit bureaus also sell credit reports to potential employers. About 45 percent of companies with 2,500 to 24,999 employees do background credit checks on some job applicants, according to a 2012 study by the Society for Human Resource Management. While employers cannot get a person’s credit score, they can discover legal judgments or bankruptcies.

And there are products like fraud protection services and credit monitoring. Equifax normally sells a package of credit monitoring services for $19.95 a month. Experian is more involved in that market, but has gotten into some hot water. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined Experian $3 million in March for selling misleading credit scores to consumers.

Critics of the credit companies argue that Equifax could make some money off its own security failings. Its TrustedID product, which it is offering free for a year to people whose information was exposed, could retain some customers. LifeLock, another identity theft product, has also seen increased interest since the breach — but it buys its protection services from Equifax.

Finally, the company charges fees to customers who want to freeze or unfreeze their credit files. Those fees vary by state, and Equifax has waived them in the wake of the data breach.

How the circle works

The credit companies get information, such as whether you’ve paid your bills on time each month, largely for free.

An estimated 10,000 different companies and sources report information about you to Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, according to a 2012 study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Industry experts say that figure could be as high as 30,000.

That information gets compiled into your individual credit report, pooled with data from banks to build a comprehensive picture of your financial history, and your potential financial risk.

Banks are just as reliant on the credit companies. Without the credit reports, a customer could default on a loan, then apply for another elsewhere without the new bank knowing the person’s history. The U.S. has thousands of individual lenders and banks, so very rarely could one bank offer a complete picture of a person’s financial history.

Often, banks make credit decisions based almost entirely on what they see in a credit report from these companies.

“They are the gatekeepers to whether you can get a credit card or an affordable car loan or a house,” said Chi Chi Wu, a longtime critic of the credit-reporting industry and a lawyer at the National Consumer Law Center.

The origin of credit companies

Equifax, TransUnion and Experian are often referred to as credit bureaus or agencies, which lends them an official air. But they’re private companies without government affiliation.

How the companies got to hold information on so many millions of people in the first place is largely due to their position in a lightly regulated part of the U.S. financial system. The credit companies are governed by one main federal law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires the companies to give you access to your data once a year and allow for disputes. Most of the regulation in the industry happens at the state level.

It’s also incredibly difficult to opt out of the system. You could live an all-cash lifestyle, never requesting credit from any bank, but still wind up with your information in the hands of the credit companies through less-obvious sources like cable or phone companies, property tax bills, or doctors’ offices.

Customers like this are known as “thin file” borrowers, because of the lack of information, but that doesn’t stop Equifax, Experian and TransUnion from building files on you. In these cases, the companies might only have a name, address, maybe a Social Security number — but that data could still be enough to start the process of identity theft.

Ken Sweet covers banks and consumer financial issues for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @kensweet.

–The Associated Press

Equifax Collects Your Data, and Then Sells It

Credit companies like Equifax make money by mining a huge trove of data.

Equifax Collects Your Data, and Then Sells It
Getty Images

Equifax knows a lot about you. That is, in essence, how it makes money.

The company and its competitors have in their files the personal financial information of tens of millions of Americans like you, going back decades. Your mortgage loan totals. When you switched from a Macy’s card to a Target card. How much you still owe for college.

“It’s a pretty simple business model, actually. They gather as much information about you from lenders, aggregate it, and sell it back to them,” said Brett Horn, an industry analyst with Morningstar.

Equifax had more than $3.1 billion in revenue last year, largely from selling data to other companies. Experian’s revenue came to $4.34 billion, while TransUnion had $1.7 billion.

The trove of data — Equifax’s largest asset — has become its biggest liability after the company admitted that it didn’t keep the information safe from criminals who stole or accessed the data on 143 million Americans who are now at risk for identity theft. It’s now under investigation at the state and federal level, facing a series of lawsuits, and desperately trying to assuage the anger of the consumers who are its commodities.

What to know about how the credit companies work:

Where the money comes from

Equifax, Experian and TransUnion make most of their money selling bulk lists to banks and credit card companies.

American Express, for example, could purchase a list of potential customers 25 to 30 years old with credit scores above 650. Armed with that, AmEx will send out pre-approved credit card mailers, hoping to sign up new customers.

Hundreds of millions of credit reports are sold this way each year to companies like Capital One, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup. Since the banks buy the reports in bulk, they pay as little as a few dollars per report. While people can get their credit reports once a year for free, Equifax charges $15.95 for the report plus a credit score, while Experian charges $19.95 for a report and score.

The credit bureaus also sell credit reports to potential employers. About 45 percent of companies with 2,500 to 24,999 employees do background credit checks on some job applicants, according to a 2012 study by the Society for Human Resource Management. While employers cannot get a person’s credit score, they can discover legal judgments or bankruptcies.

And there are products like fraud protection services and credit monitoring. Equifax normally sells a package of credit monitoring services for $19.95 a month. Experian is more involved in that market, but has gotten into some hot water. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined Experian $3 million in March for selling misleading credit scores to consumers.

Critics of the credit companies argue that Equifax could make some money off its own security failings. Its TrustedID product, which it is offering free for a year to people whose information was exposed, could retain some customers. LifeLock, another identity theft product, has also seen increased interest since the breach — but it buys its protection services from Equifax.

Finally, the company charges fees to customers who want to freeze or unfreeze their credit files. Those fees vary by state, and Equifax has waived them in the wake of the data breach.

How the circle works

The credit companies get information, such as whether you’ve paid your bills on time each month, largely for free.

An estimated 10,000 different companies and sources report information about you to Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, according to a 2012 study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Industry experts say that figure could be as high as 30,000.

That information gets compiled into your individual credit report, pooled with data from banks to build a comprehensive picture of your financial history, and your potential financial risk.

Banks are just as reliant on the credit companies. Without the credit reports, a customer could default on a loan, then apply for another elsewhere without the new bank knowing the person’s history. The U.S. has thousands of individual lenders and banks, so very rarely could one bank offer a complete picture of a person’s financial history.

Often, banks make credit decisions based almost entirely on what they see in a credit report from these companies.

“They are the gatekeepers to whether you can get a credit card or an affordable car loan or a house,” said Chi Chi Wu, a longtime critic of the credit-reporting industry and a lawyer at the National Consumer Law Center.

The origin of credit companies

Equifax, TransUnion and Experian are often referred to as credit bureaus or agencies, which lends them an official air. But they’re private companies without government affiliation.

How the companies got to hold information on so many millions of people in the first place is largely due to their position in a lightly regulated part of the U.S. financial system. The credit companies are governed by one main federal law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires the companies to give you access to your data once a year and allow for disputes. Most of the regulation in the industry happens at the state level.

It’s also incredibly difficult to opt out of the system. You could live an all-cash lifestyle, never requesting credit from any bank, but still wind up with your information in the hands of the credit companies through less-obvious sources like cable or phone companies, property tax bills, or doctors’ offices.

Customers like this are known as “thin file” borrowers, because of the lack of information, but that doesn’t stop Equifax, Experian and TransUnion from building files on you. In these cases, the companies might only have a name, address, maybe a Social Security number — but that data could still be enough to start the process of identity theft.

Ken Sweet covers banks and consumer financial issues for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @kensweet.

–The Associated Press

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Portland property owner installing bike racks to deter camping

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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – After months of camping, crime, and drug use outside one of his buildings in downtown Portland, real estate mogul and philanthropist, Jordan Schnitzer, is using bike racks to clean up the sidewalk.

Schnitzer installed about two dozen metal bike racks along the block of Northwest Broadway between Northwest Flanders and Glisan Street. He’s not the only local business owner to do so in the downtown area. Planters and bike racks have been popping up in front of businesses in the “Furnishing Zone” of sidewalks. That’s the area between the curb and the pedestrian thorough-way that tends to have mailboxes, plants, and trash cans. It’s also a zone where many of the unhoused pitch a tent. Schnitzer’s bike racks take up the zone and the goal is to keep the space from being used to camp.

“It’s one way for us to promote bikes to people who ride bikes and two to help clean up the streets so tenants will look at this building and want to be here for their business,” Schnitzer said.

Schnitzer donates millions each year to help the unhoused get back on their feet. He owns the property Bybee Lakes Hope Center sits on. It houses 300 people and in its first year, the center saw 500 people experience homelessness walk through its doors. Schnitzer believes more investment in centers like this one will help make an impact on the crisis instead of encouraging camping on city streets.

“The bike racks are one solution, planters are another but the key is really helping people get off the streets and into facilities like the Bybee Lakes,” Schnitzer said.

Schnitzer admits he didn’t get permits for the bike racks because he didn’t know one was required. The Portland Bureau of Transportation said they were not aware of the bike racks and are looking at “next steps.” Schnitzer said he filed for a permit last Friday.

Schnitzer said there needs to be a fine line between helping those on the streets and remembering tax-paying stakeholders. In Schnitzer’s eyes, a successful and vibrant city starts with the real estate market and a vibrant downtown core. So the bike racks area small part in trying to bring Portland’s image back.

“We use to be a jewel nationally,” Schnitzer said. “Every other month the New York Times used to have an article about us being a foodie city or to visit, or about the mountains, or about the beach, or about all things we love. How this has gone down the sinkhole to be one of the embarrassments nationally, is staggering.”

What to Do in Oregon in June

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Mouth, Data, Stef, Andy, and Brand discover some of the Oregon Coast’s subterranean secrets in 1985’s The Goonies.

Between the Rose Festival, a packed calendar of LGBTQ+ events for Portland Pride, and Portland Beer Week (but isn’t that every week?), there’s plenty to hold our interest close to home this month. But from crab derbies to maximum “Goonies never say die” vibes, the rest of the state is calling to us, too.

Nehalem Bay Crab Derby

6 a.m.–5 p.m. June 4, Wheeler 
Kelly’s Brighton Marina, on Nehalem Bay between Wheeler and Rockaway Beach, puts number tags on 26 crabs and releases them the morning of this annual event. Derby entrants catch as many as they can, and bring them to the marina by 5 p.m. for a drawing for the grand prize of $1,000. (There’s no mammogram or vasectomy on offer this year, thought they’ve been on the prize list in previous years.) There’s a $10 entry fee for the event, which is a fundraiser for the Mudd Nick Foundation and Animal Haven by the Sea Rescue. The derby also features vendors, raffles, and live music starting at 6 p.m. —Margaret Seiler

Goonies Day

June 7 (but there are events June 3–8), starting times and locations vary  
Dust off your treasure maps and nylon jackets for this year’s Goonies Day celebration, when fans of the Astoria-set 1985 movie flock to the coast to check out shooting locations like the old Clatsop County Jail at the Oregon Film MuseumHaystack RockEcola State Parkthe Lower Columbia Bowland the Flavel House Museum. While the official Goonies Day is June 7 (the 37th anniversary of the film’s release), the Astoria-based celebration runs June 3–8 and includes a costume contest and movie screening, an ’80s dance party, and a photo op in the “Goonies Jeep.” At the Oregon Film Museum or Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce, visitors can snag a copy of the 37th Anniversary “Become an OrGOONian” booklet—complete at least 15 of the 37 activities and come back for a commemorative button. —Michelle Harris

Sarah McLachlan

June 10, Bend & June 12, Jacksonville 
So she cameoed on Portlandia, but now she’s skipping Portland on this tour? Building a mystery, we guess, or maybe she’s afraid of the path of thorns. Instead, she’s drawn to the rhythm at Bend’s Hayden Homes Amphitheater on June 10 (where she’ll perform with the Indigo Girls, who are coming to Portland this month), hopscotches us for a Gorge Amphitheater gig June 11 with Brandi Carlile, and then sweet-surrenders to Jacksonville’s Britt Pavilion June 12. Why no love, Sarah? Are we not good enough? Have you written us off as an Aimee Mann town? We will remember this. —MS

Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest

June 10–12, Cannon Beach 
This 58th annual coast event also includes a bonfire the night before and a fun run the day after, but the main activity is Saturday, June 11, when groups in divisions from young “sand fleas” to masters will start building at 2 p.m., with the judging commencing at 7. Natural materials found on the beach only, the rules state, and “no artificial coloring, paint, flour, sugar, starch, adhesives, or cement.” —MS

Oregon Bach Festival

June 17–July 5, Eugene 
Since the 1970s this event has grown to be one of the largest celebrations in the US of the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Opening night features violinist, conductor, and longtime Portland Baroque Orchestra artistic director Monica Huggett, and the coming weeks bring lectures, choral groups, quartets, and more. —MS

Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival

June 17–19, Astoria
While the Northwest is home to many descendants of Scandinavian immigrants, festival organizers stress that anyone can discover their “inner Viking” at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds, which will host a beer garden, an Icelandic horse area, armor-making demonstrations, a midsummer pole raising and dance, an æbleskiver eating contest, and the coronation of Miss Scandinavia 2022. —MS

Wine Country Pride

June 25, McMinnville 
Yamhill County is having its first-ever Pride street fair, and plans include a drag queen story hour at 1 p.m., a pet parade at 2, and a round of “speed friending” at 3:30, plus a dance party and a local talent show. All month long, restaurants, wineries, stores, and even an auto repair shop are participating in Wine Country Pride’s Rainbow Quest, offering a special item for sale as a fundraiser for the event and other community initiatives. —MS

 

Backyard Garden Cleaning Time with Pressure Washer. Men Cleaning Garden Cobble Stone Path.

15 Home Maintenance Tips for Spring

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After a long, dark winter, spring’s bright sun and warm winds are, well, a breath of fresh air. The only downside? All that sunshine spotlights your leaf-filled gutters, cracked sidewalks and the dead plants in last year’s flower beds. Follow this checklist to target the areas that need maintenance so you can get your chores done quickly, leaving you time to go outside and play in the sunshine.

Examine Roof Shingles

Examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter, recommends Dwight Barnett, a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer. Download a spring home maintenance checklist.

Probe the Wood Trim

Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.

Check the Gutters

Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris. Consider installing gutter screens or protectors to help keep debris out of the gutters.

Use Compacted Soil

Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects.

Examine the Chimney

Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.

Check the Attic

Check your attic for proper ventilation and birds’ nests. Look for obstructions over vents, damaged soffit panels, roof flashing leaks and wet spots on insulation. Keeping a good airflow will save you when it comes to cooling costs. When you’re rooting around, wear long sleeves and gloves to protect yourself from insulation.

Inspect the Concrete

Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs except pool decks should drain away from the home’s foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. When weather permits, power-wash and then seal the concrete.

Examine Brickwork and Stucco

Spalling is a chipping or popping away of a brick’s face, leaving the brick’s interior susceptible to moisture and crumbling. Look for this and any deteriorated mortar that typically occurs on older homes. If your brick is plagued with efflorescence, those unsightly white deposits caused by soluble salts left behind during water evaporation, the Brick Industry Association recommends dry brushing in warm, dry weather to remove it. If you discover water penetration in brick, consider sealing the brick with an appropriate sealant.

Replace Rotted Siding or Trim

If any of your trim or siding is has begun to rot or crumble, replace and repaint it. Repainting siding or trim is often more than a one-weekend project. For color consistency, you just can’t just touch it up—you need to paint a whole section.

Move Firewood

Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground at least 2 feet from the structure.

Check Outside Faucets

Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you’re at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.

Recaulk Windows and Doors

Inspect and, if necessary, caulk around your home’s windows and doors annually. That will help keep out heat and humidity in the summer and cold drafts in the winter—and save money on your utility bills all year round. Open and close all windows as well. Do they all open easily, yet close tightly? If not, check the weather stripping. There are a number of different types to consider.

Repair Window Screens

To fix a small hole in a window or door screen, dab clear household cement over the hole with a toothpick. If the screens are plastic, test the cement on a scrap to make sure it won’t melt the material. Use the same technique to repair screen tears. Pull the two halves of the tear together and hold them in place with masking tape on one side. Apply the household cement to the tear, then smooth with a putty knife. When it’s dry, gently remove the tape and apply cement to the other side.

Service the AC Unit

Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.

Check Power Equipment

Check your gas- and battery-powered lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yardwork easier.

Take a Look at the New Serena Williams Building at Nike

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The namesake building is the largest yet to grace the sprawling campus, and it’s baller.

Nike’s just opened its biggest office building yet in Beaverton and it’s dedicated to one of the biggest names in tennis. Opened just last month, the Serena Williams Building is equal in scale to 140 full-size tennis courts at 1 million square feet.

From the 23 columns in the atrium that represent the number of Grand Slam titles she’s won, to the slash above the garden walls that’s modeled after her tennis stroke, to the 140-seat Olympia Theater named after her daughter, the building is one giant love letter to Williams. (Nike has a history of naming its buildings after prominent sports figures, including Michael Jordan, Nolan Ryan, and more recently, LeBron James; the Serena Williams Building is among its most ambitious-ever builds).

Designed by Skylab Architecture, the complex was built atop a parking lot and service road that runs along a creek —the intention being to minimize car presence while incorporating the area’s natural environment into the building’s aesthetic. Over 20 percent of the LEED-Platinum certified building is made from locally harvested and manufactured recycled content, and it boasts 648 solar panels.

The new building will be occupied by Nike’s Consumer Creation teams, including the design department, consumer insight, and product merchandising; interior spaces include everything from showrooms and workspace to a footwear materials library, and a color lab. In the main lobby, Williams donated memorabilia for display, including shoes, outfits, and trophies.

“We knew that Serena was going to be named for the building pretty early on in the design. So, we tried to imbue her power and strength as an athlete throughout the building,” says Susan Barnes, one of the Principals with Skylab who was involved in the building design.

Want to see for yourself? The campus isn’t open to the public, but you can check out the new Serena Williams building in our handy slideshow, as Barnes highlights some of its coolest features.

Steigerwald aerial 2

Steigerwald Reconnection Project

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Steigerwald Lake is a US Fish & Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge situated along the banks of the Columbia near Washougal, Washington, at the Gateway to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Through a collaborative partnership, the lands and waters of the Refuge and the Columbia River were recently reconnected. The collaborative Steigerwald Reconnection Project reconnected 965 acres of Columbia River floodplain after generations separated by a levee, reduced flood risk from Gibbons Creek, improved habitat for fish and wildlife, and created new trails for recreation at the Refuge.
Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge was first protected in 1987 and by 2019 comprised approximately 1,200 acres of wetlands, fields, woodlands, and a channelized Gibbons Creek. But since the 1960s until 2021, the Columbia River was cut off from the area by a 5.5 mile levee.
The US Army Corps of Engineers constructed the levee to reduce flood risk, however it separated the Columbia from its vast historic floodplain. And although the levee protected the Refuge and adjacent properties from Columbia River floods, it exacerbates internal flooding from Gibbons Creek. The creek was constrained to an artificially elevated channel as it flowed through the Refuge. Even moderate rainfall events often caused flooding that spilled over into the Port of Camas-Washougal and other nearby municipal, commercial and residential properties. This internal flooding required the Port to maintain a costly pumping system.
Partners including the Port, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Estuary Partnership worked together to develop the project with the shared goals of flood protection, restoring habitat and natural ecosystem functions, and improving recreation opportunities at the Refuge. The project cost more than $31 million dollars and took three years to construct.

Work is now wrapping up before the Refuge reopens in May 2022. The Refuge will also briefly close in August and September 2022 to finalize construction.
Crews broke ground in summer 2019, when BioHabitats, Inc., a Portland-based restoration company, anchored 84 large wood habitat structures in the Gibbons Creek historic alluvial fan. Some of the wood installed was donated by BNSF Railroad. The structures help stabilize the area and support a variety of species once Gibbons Creek was released into its alluvial fan in the fall of 2021.

Meanwhile, workers with certified B Corp. Ash Creek Forest Management treated invasive species and reforested another 53 acres of the alluvial fan in during the first year of construction.
Over the 2020 and 2021 construction seasons, crews from Vancouver-based Rotschy, Inc. built setback levees to the east and west to protect the neighboring Port of Camas-Washougal industrial park and other landowners, while allowing the Refuge to be reconnected to the Columbia River.

In summer of 2021, Rotschy crews removed more than 2 miles of the current levee and created four direct connections with the Columbia River, allowing for seasonal flooding and providing unfettered access to the area for salmon and lamprey.
A critical component of reconnecting the refuge was reconfiguring Gibbons Creek as it flows through the Refuge. For decades, the creek was diverted by a weir and constrained to an artificial elevated canal before it connected to the Columbia River through a fish ladder. This configuration also caused flooding, as Gibbons Creek frequently overflowed its channel. This internal flooding cost the Port of Camas-Washougal thousands of dollars in pumping and maintenance costs.

Before Gibbons could be released from its elevated canal, crews from Washougal’s LKE Corporation created a more natural, meandering channel, and added large wood and gravel riffles. Finally, in fall 2021, crews from Rotschy removed the weir, elevated channel, and fish ladder. This video gives an overview of work done on the creek.

There are also over 115 acres of new wetlands that were created, along with extensive replanting with native species. Overall throughout the project, contractors including Ash Creek Forestry and R. Franco Restoration planted more than half a million trees and shrubs and 14,000 pounds of native seeds. Estuary Partnership staff made a concerted effort to expand the existing wapato community at the site by harvesting and planting wapato tubers, seeding wetland areas with wapato seed, and transplanting live plants that would otherwise be impacted by levee construction. Wapato is an important first food and members of local Tribes will be able to harvest here in the future.

Additionally, in coordination with the Washington Department of Transportation, the project raised State Route 14 three feet to bring it up to the Columbia River’s 500 year flood stage.

 

The project also includes a new parking lot and amenities, viewing platforms, and adds more than a mile of trail to the Refuge’s trail system.

Over the three years of construction, the project also creates 503 local family wage jobs and provide opportunities for thousands of local students and community members to volunteer and contribute to the project.

RID-bag-pickup-troutdale-035

$10 million in state funding helps Metro expand dumped garbage solutions

Metro officials are ready to use new state funding to clean up the greater Portland region.

House Bill 5202, approved by the Oregon Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown, will send $10 million to the Metro region for clean-up of public spaces. Metro, the elected regional government in the greater Portland region, regulates and guides the garbage and recycling system in most of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties.

The funding will give Metro even more tools to clean public spaces in the greater Portland region enhancing existing services and providing opportunities to explore new options. Metro’s RID Patrol has already cleaned over 1,400 sites in 2022, collecting an average of 3 tons of trash each day. Metro’s Regional Refresh Fund will continue to be a key mechanism to distribute funds as it focuses on supporting community-led efforts that promote livability and improve equity in garbage and recycling service.

About 75 percent of the funding will be allocated towards efforts strictly focused on cleanup programs. Initial plans include expanding programs that provide resources directly to non-profit and community-based organizations, school districts, public agencies and local governments to increase their capacity for dumped trash clean-up. Metro also plans to work with the Oregon Department of Transportation to increase the number of crews clearing trash dumped on property it maintains and pursuing options for more voluntary disposal options for difficult-to-dispose items like sharps, derelict RVs and boats, and hazardous materials.

The remaining money will be split between mitigating impacts of garbage and recycling issues, and curbing reoccurring problems. This will be seen in installation of sharps boxes, vegetation and signage replacement, graffiti abatement and fencing.

“Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen a significant increase in the amount of illegal dumping and littering, and government has struggled to keep up with the problem,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. “We appreciate the Governor and the state legislature making this influx of funding available to support our efforts in the region.”

The state’s funding authorization requires that the money is used to collect, dispose of and increase capacity for dumped garbage. Metro must ensure the money is not used to move any camps or people experiencing homelessness and that funds are not used to backfill any budget shortfalls.

Metro is looking forward to working with local government partners to accelerate clean-up efforts within the region and find solutions to the concerns raised by community members.

State approves extra $120M for I-205 projects, Abernethy Bridge

SOURCE – Jaelen Ogadhoh / May 02 2022

Inflated costs for first phase of highway widening financed through House Bill 3055 funds

PMG FILE PHOTO: LESLIE PUGMIRE HOLE - Abernethy Bridge spans Interstate 205 between Oregon City and West Linn.

PMG FILE PHOTO: LESLIE PUGMIRE HOLE – Abernethy Bridge spans Interstate 205 between Oregon City and West Linn.

The Oregon Transportation Commission on Friday, April 29, approved $120 million to fund unanticipated cost increases in the first phase of construction on Interstate 205 designed to address safety and congestion issues.

Construction is slated to begin this summer on Phase 1A of the I-205 Improvements Project, which the Oregon Department of Transportation says will provide Oregonians with “safer, more reliable access to work and critical services, even after an earthquake or other major disaster.”

Contractor bids for widening the Abernethy Bridge between Oregon City and West Linn, and for a new sound wall near Exit 9 and new roundabout at the Highway 43 interchange, came in “significantly” higher than expected according to transportation officials.

Phase 1A will be financed partially with funds approved through House Bill 3055 in the 2021 Legislative Session, increasing ODOT’s short-term borrowing cap to $600 million and “allowing ODOT to take out short-term debt that will be repaid by toll revenue or the proceeds of bonds,” pending the conclusion of a federally required environmental assessment about I-205 tolling, per ODOT officials.

“To address the repayment of the short-term borrowing, the Oregon State Legislature has identified future toll revenue as the primary source of funding for this project and directed ODOT to develop a toll program for the I-5 and I-205 corridors,” ODOT officials said.

“The process to implement a toll program is lengthy and it will take several years before any revenues are available to finance the project in total. Tolling is currently being evaluated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The earliest tolling could be implemented is late 2024, and toll revenue will not be available until that time,” officials continued.

ODOT says it initially plans to fund the series of I-205 projects with a combination of bonding on $30 million previously provided by HB 2017, cash reserves and short-term borrowing before tolling revenues are available.

An initial bid of $512 million, submitted by contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., came in $137 million above the initial $375 million total cost programmed in ODOT’s 2021-2024 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, department officials say.

“The primary reason for the higher than anticipated bids are the escalation of the steel and high performance concrete unit prices,” ODOT officials report, citing deep soil mixing as an additional cost driver.

Following the cost review period in March, ODOT’s Urban Mobility Office negotiated Kiewit Infrastructure’s bid down to $495 million due to factors including “reallocation of risk,” as well as deferral of deep soil mixing and constructing two sign structures.

The total increase of $120 million will be programmed into the 2021-2024 STIP following unanimous approval from the commission during a special meeting at 9 a.m. on Friday. ODOT officials say they will update the commission on Phase 1A every six months as the project progresses.

What to Do in Oregon in April

Ah, sun-soaked April, our first full month of spring and daylight savings time! You’d be forgiven for simply spending the month moving your picnic blanket around a city park or contenting yourself with a wildflower stroll, but road trips near and far can fill your flower quota, too, or fill you with cheese or land you in an open-air theater at the Shakespeare Fest.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest

9 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon–Fri, 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Sat–Sun, through May 1, Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, 33814 S Meridian Rd, Woodburn


It’s tulip time in Oregon, so grab a good pair of walking shoes and get your cameras ready for the 38th annual Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival. Spend the day wandering around 40 acres of colorful tulip fields with more than 100 varieties, and take silly family photos you might regret later at the cutout board. Not in the mood for walking? Take a ride on the Tulip Tour Train ($10 per person, noon–5 p.m. daily), which has several photo stops. Other activities include wooden shoe making demonstrations, the infamous duck races, and hot air balloons (if weather allows). Visit the Tulip Market and Field Greenhouse Tent for flower purchases. Those over 21 can take a guided tour of Wooden Shoe Vineyards and enjoy wine pairings along the way. Tickets for the wine tour start at $60, while individual entry tickets for the festival vary by age and day. All tickets must be bought online in advance. 

Plowing with Horses and Mules at Champoeg State Heritage Area

9 a.m.–3 p.m. Saturday, Apr 2, 8239 Champoeg Rd NE, St. Paul
Sure, that modern John Deere has its charms, but for a dose of agriculture’s past head to Champoeg for this living history presentation, where horses and mule teams will pull 19th-century equipment to plow, disc, and plant a wheat field. The state park, on the site of a since-washed-away town that hosted the vote to establish Oregon’s first provisional government in 1843, is also home to a visitor center and museum, trails for a leisurely bike or stroll, Willamette River access, and a disc golf course. A $5 parking fee or state parks pass is required.

Oregon Cheese Festival

11 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m Sunday, Apr 2–3,  Jackson County Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point
If cheese is your jam, you’ll want to get your dairy-ere to the Oregon Cheese Festival in Central Point, near Medford. The event, which takes place at the Jackson County Expo, will house 19 cheese vendors—including Portland Creamery and Tillamook—and more than 50 other food and drink vendors to sample and support. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Oregon Cheese Guild. Leave the kiddos behind (maybe with a lactose-intolerant baby-sitter), as this event if for adults 21 and up. Tickets start at $20/day.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2022 Opening Shows

Apr 12–Oct 30, various stages, Ashland
Following “18 months of crisis, closure, and now rebirth,” according to artistic director Nataki Garrett, the 2022 Oregon Shakespeare Festival opens April 12 with the musical Once on This Island, first produced on Broadway in 1990, and the West Coast premiere of Mona Mansour’s Unseen. Those are contemporary works, but Shakespeare titles on the way include The Tempest and King John. Look for lower ticket prices this year (that … happens?), part of OSF’s effort to increase accessibility.

Dark Skies Exhibit at the High Desert Museum

9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, exhibit runs Apr 16–July 10, 59800 US 97, Bend


Tetons at night.

If you’ve never visited the High Desert Museum, it might be high time to make the three-hour trek to Bend to check it out. This April, the museum will be unveiling Vanishing Night: Conserving Dark Skies in the High Desert, a new exhibition displaying gorgeous photos of the starry night sky, while simultaneously warning onlookers about the environmental toll of urban light pollution. Vanishing Night aims to educate about the high desert’s “disappearing darkness,” discuss the impact of light pollution on wildlife, and offer solutions as to how we can limit our artificial light usage. And, of course, it will make us ooohh and ahhh at pretty pictures of stars that very frustratingly can never be properly captured with our phones. General admission $20, April–October.

Harney County Migratory Bird Festival

Apr 21–24, various locations in Burns and around Harney County, Oregon
See the spectacular spring migration for yourself at the annual Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. Started in 1981, the event celebrates the larger-than-life migration of birds passing through Harney Basin on the Pacific Flyway. Over 300 species of birds pass through each spring. This year’s festival is bringing fluorescent back with a 1980s throwback theme, which includes a retro logo design. Join fellow birders and get a chance to meet with biologists and other bird experts while driving through up to 10 select birding locations in Harney County during the bird crawl—kind of like a pub crawl but with feathered friends instead. You can also register for one of the timed experiences, which includes guided birding tours, a movie in the park (Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black play competitive bird-watchers in 2011’s The Big Year, from the director of The Devil Wears Prada), and a working ranch tour. Can’t make it to Eastern Oregon? You can still take part in the festivities virtually with interactive presentations throughout the week. For an added bonus, purchase a Bird Crawl Passport, and if you get it stamped at a minimum of eight locations, you’ll earn yourself a commemorative pint glass and discounts at select local shops. Some scheduled activities run $15–100, but the bird crawl and movie screening are free.

Astoria Warrenton Crab, Seafood, and Wine Festival

4–9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sunday, Apr 22–24, Clatsop County Fairgrounds, 92927 Walluski Loop, Astoria (see website for parking and shuttle info) 
Summer might be beach season, but seafood lovers know months with an r in their names are prime time for eating. So this 40-year-old shoulder-season coastal food fest, back in person after two years off in the pandemic, is timed just right. Arts and crafts and beer and wine vendors join food stalls offering seafood ramen, crab and shrimp melts, and more. Day tickets $10–20 advance, $15–25 at door.