Bellamy Pailthorp

Environment Reporter

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat from the Seattle offices of KNKX Public Radio News, where she has worked since 1999. She also hosts and produces the weekly segment, The Weather With Cliff Mass, which airs every Friday. She holds a Masters in journalism from New York's Columbia University, where she completed the Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business reporting in 2006 mid-career during her stint on KNKX’s Business and Labor Beat from 2000-2012.

From 1989-98 she lived in Berlin, Germany freelancing for NPR and working as a bi-lingual producer for Deutsche Welle TV after receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1989 for a project on theater studies and communist history. She holds a Bachelors’ degree in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. (Yes, she is fluent in German.)

She strives to tell memorable stories about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Character-driven narratives of exploration and innovation excite her. 

Outside work, she practices and instructs yoga, walks half marathons with friends, backpacks with her husband and extended family, reads and watches fiction with nieces, enjoys tasting new foods and admiring all kinds of animals -- especially her two house cats, who often remind her she should spend more time sitting on the couch with them.

Ways to Connect

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Beneath the surface of the Salish Sea, there are hundreds of species of seaweeds growing. They provide habitat and nutrition for many forms of marine life. In Sooke, just west of Victoria in British Columbia, one entrepreneur has developed a line of skin-care products made from foraged kelp.  

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

Stormy weather that took out power for tens of thousands of residents in the Pacific Northwest this week made national headlines as The Washington Post commented on the fascinating “river in the sky” that has been dumping rain on the region.

Ted S. Warren, File. / AP Photo

New research shows that stormwater runoff, which flows into waterways when it rains, can kill Coho salmon in as much as 40 percent of their local habitat.

Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press via AP

A King County judge has voided a ballot measure that would have banned safe injection sites for drug users.

Superior Court Judge Veronica Alicea Galvan ruled Monday that Initiative 27 extends beyond the scope of the initiative power. She ordered that it not be placed on the February ballot.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

For many people in the Northwest, the undamming of the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula marked a dramatic turning point. The largest dam removal in the world at the time, it unleashed the lifeblood of a watershed that fronts on the Salish Sea.

courtesy Ted Griffin and Jason Colby

This story originally aired on October 8, 2016.

These days, the prospect of seeing the Pacific Northwest’s iconic orca whales in the wild attracts thousands of tourists annually to whale-watching boats or shore-side excursions.  But it wasn’t that long ago that these majestic endangered creatures were seen as a menace.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

A colorful totem pole has hit the road from Bellingham on a 5,000-mile journey, meant to shine a spotlight on threats to the health of the Salish Sea. The Lummi Totem Pole Journey will make stops in Seattle and Tacoma this weekend. 

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

If the cool and cloudy weather that’s been dominating in the Puget Sound region this week has got you down, hang in there. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says the weekend forecast is “improving” and there will be a fair amount of sun poking through, especially on Sunday.

Shina Wysocki holds an oyster raised at Chelsea Farms in Olympia, Wash.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The ocean is becoming more acidic and fossil fuel emissions are making it worse. That can be lethal for oyster larvae because it inhibits their ability to form shells.

But there is one variety of oyster that seems to be more able to adapt to that change. A small, family-run growing operation in Olympia has made growing it a priority.

David Siu / flickr via Compfight

An abundance of crisp blue skies have ushered in a relatively dry start to fall this year in the Pacific Northwest, providing a stunning backdrop as the leaves begin to turn. Some sunnier afternoons allowed folks to keep wearing their shorts and sandals. But KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says there are some sure signs of autumn.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

When you think of the Salish Sea, the image that first comes to mind probably doesn’t include grassy plains and meadows. But, in fact, the concept of this shared ecosystem that unites the U.S. and Canada extends to the entire basin of the watershed.

Craig McCulloch / KNKX

A hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, could determine the future of a controversial pipeline expansion.

Kinder Morgan is tripling the capacity of its Trans Mountain Pipeline, which brings Alberta crude to the west coast.  Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal begins hearing consolidated challenges to approval of the expansion on Monday.

Lindley Ashline / Flickr

Seattle saw the mercury hit 86 degrees on Thursday, breaking another daily heat record as people all over the Puget Sound region donned their shorts and sandals and experienced one last taste of summer-like weather.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

The prospect of a major oil spill is something that has many people concerned about the future of the Salish Sea, especially now that the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion has been approved by Canada.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

Residents of the greater Puget Sound region have already been feeling the transition to fall with a shift down to lower temps and more clouds last week. But Friday marks the official end of summer, with the autumnal equinox on the calendar.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

One of the biggest concerns about the future of the Salish Sea is the likely expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. It carries tar sands oil from Canada’s eastern provinces to a terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia, just north of Vancouver.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

If you’ve ever driven on I-5 north of Olympia, you’ve likely been struck by the unique landscape of the Nisqually River Delta.

With Mount Rainier looming in the distance, a huge expanse of marshlands extends on either side of the highway where the fresh water of the river meets the salt water of southern Puget Sound. This is the southern end of the Salish Sea.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

The eerie tinge to the air that deposited showers of ash in many areas of the Puget Sound region Tuesday seems to be subsiding. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says the worst of the smoky skies is over, pushed out by the approach of an upper level trough and cooler air moving in from the ocean.

Inciweb via AP

Wildfire smoke has darkened skies and even scattered ashes in neighborhoods throughout the Puget Sound region. The orange-tinged light has an eerie glow that has many people wondering what on earth is going on? How bad is this year’s fire season and how is it different than previous years?

Courtesy Recreational Shellfish Program, Washington State Department of Health

Mild summer weather is nice for enjoying a day at the beach. But the sunny days also create favorable conditions for poisonous bacteria that can cause illness and closures for shellfish harvesting.

Numerous beaches in the central Puget Sound area are closed to recreational shellfish harvesting. The presence of Paralytic Shellfish Poison, known as PSP, resulted in a new closure extending from Seattle’s Alki Beach south to the Pierce County line, including Vashon Island. It spread there from Kitsap County.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Squid eggs and harlequin ducks are the latest signs of renewed life on the beach at the mouth of the Elwha River. They have only recently returned, some three years after the completion of the largest dam removal in the world, here on the shores of the Salish Sea.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

It’s been a hot summer in the Pacific Northwest, and this Labor Day weekend won’t change that trend at all.

“It's going to be warm and dry,” says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

A big issue in the Salish Sea right now is concern about increasing oil tanker traffic. Plans by Kinder Morgan to expand its Trans-Mountain pipeline could more than triple the amount of crude oil arriving at the pipeline’s terminus in Vancouver, B.C.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Lots of sunshine and warmer temperatures are in the forecast all over the Puget Sound region. Once again, the mantra is “no rain.” And if you’ve been feeling like this has been a very dry summer – you’re right.

KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says he’s sure we’ll at least tie the record for the driest summer in Seattle history, going all the way back to 1914.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

This story was updated at 3:09 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25.  See correction below.

Along with cooling the air and dimming skies in the region, this week’s solar eclipse caused high tides. The resulting currents damaged a net pen and released unknown numbers of farmed Atlantic salmon into open waters south of the San Juan Islands.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Music that connects people to the land and sea has been with us for centuries. Recent singer-songwriters such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell have built on that tradition.

Here in the Puget Sound region, you can add another name to that list: Dana Lyons.

Matthew Brown, File / AP Photo

The public has one last chance to comment on a proposal to place the nation’s largest terminal for oil-by-rail in Vancouver, Washington.

Art James / Courtesy Art James

Cloudy weather and milder temperatures have come back to the Puget Sound region recently.  We’ll have partly cloudy skies, no rain and temperatures in the mid-70s this weekend.

But come Monday, skies will clear over most of the region, just in time for the total eclipse.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

We often hear about development pressure changing communities all over the region. Case in point: A popular farm-themed shopping destination in Bothell might soon be replaced by condos.

The family that owns Bothell Country Village has a lucrative offer from a developer. It’s not a done deal yet. Some residents and shop-owners are still looking to save this neighborhood icon.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

One day nearly a decade ago, a Canadian-born colleague came knocking at cartographer Stefan Freelan’s door.

Bert Webber, a professor of Geography and Environmental Social Sciences at the time, was trying to spread the word about a newly-named body of water. He asked Freelan to help him by making a map of the Salish Sea.

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