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Washington sees largest growth in population since 2008

Washington sees largest growth in population since 2008

Is your neighborhood beginning to feel a little crowded? According to the Washington office of Financial Management, the state population has increased dramatically in the past year by an estimated 1.5 percent. That's 85,500 people!

Washington's population has been growing at an increasing rate, mostly due to migration. In 2013 the state saw a net gain of 49,200 people moving into the state, more than double the 21,600 from 2012.

Net migration accounts for 57 percent of the state's population growth this year, with natural increase (births minus deaths) responsible for the other 43 percent.

Seventy-five percent of the state's total population growth occurred in the five largest metropolitan counties: Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane who's economic activity continues to attract migrants.  

Cracked Columbia River dam to be fixed this year

The cracked Wanapum Dam should be repaired and its reservoir on the Columbia River near Vantage refilled by the end of the year.

Grant County Public Utility District says it has started drilling holes that will be used to anchor the dam in bedrock.

A 65-foot-long crack was discovered in the dam in February, and the utility determined more concrete and steel should have been used in the spillway when the dam was built in the 1960s.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the final repair plan is awaiting approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission but drilling anchor holes in advance will save time.

Wildfire fighters train for the season

Wildfire fighters train for the season

Wildfire season is underway but what does it take to brave the front lines and fight those fires?

Stepping up to fight wildfires is a bold move.

"You pretty much dedicated your summer if you decide to do this," said Veronica Naccarato, wildfire fighter.

Not to mention the danger. Veronica Naccarato has been fighting fires for five seasons.

Friday she helped train more than 30 new firefighters.

"I started what's called a practice fire, just kind of gets them prepared for going out in a real life fire," said Naccarato.

The live burn exercise is the last part to a week long intensive training program.

Veteran firefighters say it is the most important test of the week.

"Live fire exercises at these guard schools are extremely important because once they leave here training is over and as soon as tomorrow they could be on an actual wildfire," said Josh Tellessen, wildfire fighter.

The trainees are from agencies throughout the area. Their ages range from 18 to 60, some are college students and others are just passionate about the environment, but now they all have the same goal.

DNR predicting above normal fire season

DNR predicting above normal fire season

The Department of Natural Resources is expecting this year's fire season to be above normal and that while the number of fires they see might not change, the size of the fires probably will.

"We're expecting higher than normal temperatures so in certain areas, especially in the Spokane area, we're expecting a slightly above normal fire season," Guy Gifford with the DNR said.

The fire season usually hits its peak in September, however with dry conditions and higher than normal temperatures it means the fire danger is rising more rapidly than usual. For Eastern Washington this is expected to cause more large project fires.

"The thing is in Eastern Washington our normal fire season is 500 fires a year. That's normal. Of those we can usually expect six to ten of that many fires a year becoming a Type 2 which we call a project fire," Gifford said.

These types of wildfires span between 500 and 800 acres and require more outside resources to get them contained.

"More large fires means more homes threatens and more homes lost in a normal fire year," Gifford said.

Will recreational marijuana supply meet public's demand?

Will recreational marijuana supply meet public's demand?

Recreational marijuana is being grown right now and will hit retail store across Washington in early July but will there be enough to go around?

"This strain is called Train Wreck, it's being harvested today," said Scott O'Neil with Pacific Northwest Medical, as he trimmed a 12" long 1/4 lb. marijuana bud.

Right now O'Neil works in the medical marijuana field but in two weeks he'll be on his own.

"And we'll be selling recreational marijuana," O'Neil added.

He hopes his new store will be the first recreational marijuana store to open in Washington; O'Neil Industries, an authorized retailer of Kouchlock.

"We've secured product from a couple of vendors, definitely working on getting more. The product we have right now is probably going to last a couple days," said O'Neil.

O'Neil said some producers are already sold out for the next year and that's weeks before retail stores even open.

That supply will depend on how many growers can get up to speed in the next couple of months. In hopes of building clientele early O'Neil says he's going for as much variety as he can get his hands on.

Health Department begins West Nile testing

Health Department begins West Nile testing

From the Washington State Department of Health:


The Department of Health is again monitoring for West Nile virus through mosquito testing and collecting reports of certain types of dead birds. The virus is now well-established in some areas of the state. West Nile virus typically becomes active in the spring and summer during mosquito season when the insects feed on infected birds.

Public comment sought on Grant County shoreline project

Public comment sought on Grant County shoreline project

From the Washington State Department of Ecology: