Spanning the State: Shake those winter blues, Edition

Carla Axtman

After a long winter's worth of short, grey days, many Oregonians start to get an itch to get out in the fresh air. Given the wildly diverse geography of our state, there are SO MANY amazing options for soaking in the natural beauty of Oregon, it can be hard to choose.

1859 Magazine has compiled a short list of winter hikes that can soothe (or even inspire) your savage beast and help you shake off those winter blues. From the rough high desert trails at Sutton Mountain near Fossil to the lush waterfalls along Highway 30 in the Columbia Gorge, there's something for every lover of Oregon.

And now, let's Span the State (some more)!

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There's a lot of cringing from certain parts of our state when it comes to protecting native species (think Spotted Owl). But that short-sighted view can often be harmful to the very thing those same eye-rollers truly seek to protect: their bottom lines. One example: the Oregon sage grouse. This rather goofy looking bird, known for it's mating dance, happens to require habitat that is particularly helpful to cattle ranching. In Ontario, the Malheur County Natural Resource Conservation Service is putting saving the bird's habitat as one of their big priorities.

A popular subsidy in St. Helens appears to have avoided budget cuts. Senior citizens in the Columbia County burg receive a $20 subsidy every two months on their water bill. The St. Helens City Council decided against a proposal made last year to end the city’s subsidy of senior citizens’ water bills in favor of an income-based assistance program. The subsidy costs the city about $160,000 per year. The proposal would have come on at a cost of $84,000. But outrage from the city's elderly residents cowed the city council, which will hold a formal vote later this year.

Two brothers from the Hermiston area are hoping to open a marijuana dispensary in Baker City. Bud and Ted Minton are interested in purchasing property on Court Ave, despite the Baker City Council's known efforts to ban such dispensaries in their town. On a side note: the Oregon House Judiciary Committee is taking up Senate Bill 1531, which would allow cities to regulate such dispensaries but not ban them.

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