Environment

Stories about the environment focused on the Pacific Northwest, with many from KPLU's Environment reporter, Bellamy Pailthorp.

Commercial trade of pangolins, the aardvark-like mammal that is the world's most-trafficked animal, has been officially banned by the international body responsible for regulating the international trade of endangered species.

TOM BANSE / NORTHWEST NEWS NETWORK

The Washington State Department of Ecology says the fastest erosion on the West Coast is happening at aptly named Washaway Beach -- located between the southwest Washington towns of Grayland and Tokeland. Most places threatened by erosion try to fight back. But the erosion at Washaway Beach is so rapid, the question now is to fight -- or retreat.

Craig Staude / courtesy Washington Sea Grant

Researchers from the Washington Sea Grant confirm that a crab found by staff of the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is in fact one of the much dreaded invasive species. This is after one was trapped in San Juan Island’s Westcott Bay in late August.

Glen Alexander, the  Education Coordinator at the Padilla Bay Reserve, says he wasn’t really surprised when he found it, but it’s scary.

Stakeholders on all sides continue to grapple with a controversial management decision that would allow Washington state wildlife officials to exterminate an entire wolf pack in the Northeast corner of the state.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands presides over more than five and a half million acres of state forests and aquatic lands. It’s an open seat in the upcoming 2016 election, since incumbent Peter Goldmark announced his decision not to run for a third term. One of the top priorities of the office is the constitutional mandate to fund schools through logging. But conservation is also part of it.

Washington Environmental Council

The intersection of race and the environment is the focus this week of two community conversations taking place in Seattle. The public meetups are a first for members of the mainstream Washington Environmental Council and its partner, Washington Conservation Voters.

Researchers from the University of Washington and NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center found the opposite of what they expected when they used a new scientific method to sample the waters of Puget Sound.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

It’s been eight years in the making, but Washington state finally has a rule that places limits on carbon pollution from its largest sources. It comes in response to reduction targets on greenhouse gas emissions first called for by the Legislature in 2008. That law called for limits that would get the state back down to 1990 levels by 2020, to 25 percent below the 1990 level by 2025 and 50 percent below it by 2050.

Firefighters lit off two prescribed fires Thursday in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in central Washington state. It’s part of a wider $800,000 state pilot project to prevent huge fires like the Carlton Complex two years ago.

The floods that hit Louisiana last month were caused by rainfall that was unlike anything seen there in centuries. Most of the southern part of the state was drenched with up to 2 or 3 inches in an hour. A total of 31 inches fell just northeast of Baton Rouge in about three days; 20 parishes were declared federal disaster areas.

Climate scientists and flood managers suspect there could more like that to come — in Louisiana and in other parts of the country.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

The Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River has long been thought to have huge potential as a recreational area, less than an hour from Seattle. It’s at the heart of roughly 1.5 million acres of open space in the Mountains to Sound Greenway along I-90. But for decades, the valley was so trashed that even local law enforcement considered it dangerous.

That’s changing, now that a new paved road into the area is nearing completion.

In the past month, wildlife officials have shot six wolves from a helicopter in the Colville National Forest in northeast Washington state. That’s likely to come up during a two-day work session for members of the state’s Wolf Advisory Group that begins Wednesday.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

This week, scientists are scouring shoreline habitat near Westcott Bay on San Juan Island, hunting for green crabs. The Washington Sea Grant Crab Team, with help from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, will set dozens of traps in an effort to learn more about the population of the invasive species. 

When Washington state wildlife officials announced they would eliminate the Profanity Peak wolf pack, they were operating under a new management plan that came about after months of deliberation with various stakeholders ranging from livestock producers to conservation groups.

But some parties felt left out of the discussion.

The Camp of the Sacred Stone is full of all manner of people — kids, elders, lawyers, laid-back hippies, and representatives of several Native American tribes — all gathered alongside the Standing Rock Sioux Nation to resist construction of a controversial oil pipeline that would cut across the American heartland.

A deadly fungus that's been devastating frog populations is spreading across the globe — it's helped drive the extinction of 200 species so far. In California, the chytrid fungus has moved inexorably across the Sierra Nevada, leaving thousands of frogs dead.

But scientists are trying to turn the tide against the fungus with an experimental treatment, one that could matter to frogs worldwide.

Most populations of humpback whales no longer need endangered species protections, according to a decision by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The U.S. government listed all humpback whales as endangered back in 1970, after commercial whaling had drastically reduced their numbers.

The Washington kids who filed suit against the state Department of Ecology to get tougher limits on carbon pollution say current policies don’t go far enough. Together with their backers, they’ve unveiled more aggressive legislation they say would protect their constitutional right to clean air.  

From the air, it looks like a 2,300-square-mile field of submerged doughnuts on the ocean floor.

The limestone circles amount to a second, deeper reef behind the Great Barrier Reef, researchers say. The scientists who discovered it off the coast of northern Australia say they're surprised by its vast size — and by the strange shapes.

Hamilton McCulloh / greenrubino.com

One of the promises of legalized marijuana was keeping it healthier through regulations. But some still worry about pesticides in pot products. King County is considering an ordinance that would implement spot checks on marijuana retailers, much like inspections in the restaurant industry.

The state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board has a long list of chemicals that are approved as pesticides for marijuana. Despite that, King County health officials recently acknowledged finding high levels of banned pesticides in some products.

A $7 million, comprehensive census of African elephants has found that the population decreased by nearly a third between 2007 and 2014.

The Great Elephant Census was conducted over three years, and set out to effectively count every savanna elephant in 18 countries in Africa, accounting for 93 percent of the savanna elephants in those countries. The conclusion — that the population declined by 144,000 animals in just seven years — is sobering.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

A 22-foot-long totem pole carved by members of the Lummi Nation is making its way from Bellingham, traveling 5,000 miles across the U.S. and Canada. The colorful sculpture is the focal point for a tribal journey meant to unify native people with their allies in the fight against increased fossil fuel exports.

On a recent stop in Seattle, supporters filled the steps of St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, as tribal members burned sage, drummed and chanted in a traditional smudging ceremony.

Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to kill an entire wolf pack in the northeast corner of the state. The decision comes after at least 12 cattle were killed in the area.

Mark Musick / King Conservation District

Communities around Puget Sound have invested about $150 million over the past two decades to clean up the water and improve habitat for endangered salmon. Yet we continue to lose ground when it comes to a crucial part of that environment. King County watershed managers recently hosted a guided boat tour to spread the word about the importance of restoration work in recovering the so-called ‘nearshore.’                                         

Debbie Miller / USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

August is the peak time of year to find aggressive wood-boring insects that lay their eggs beneath tree bark. Early detection can prevent pests from laying waste to forests and urban tree canopy. That’s why state agencies are asking residents to check their yards for harmful pests this month.

The USDA has dubbed August national Tree Check Month and they’re asking people to take ten minutes to look for signs of trouble.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Seattle’s Seward Park is located in one of the nation’s most ethnically diverse zip codes. It’s also home to one of the city’s chapters of the Audubon Society and is part of the national conservation organization’s push to build a constituency that is “as diverse as nature.”  So what’s Seward Park Audubon’s summer camp like? KPLU environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp met with Audubon Center Director Joey Manson to learn more.

Aaron Barna / USFWS - Pacific Region

When the marbled murrelet was first listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1992, so little was known about the elusive sea bird that the state postponed finalizing its long-term habitat conservation plan, opting instead for interim strategies until more scientific research could inform the best strategies.

YouTube

The Pacific Northwest is known as a Mecca for bird watchers. Diverse habitats offer shelter for hundreds of species throughout the state. In summer, urban parks offer viewing of everything from osprey and bald eagles to chickadees and warblers, hummingbirds, owls and woodpeckers.

Buried below the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland, there's an abandoned U.S. Army base. Camp Century had trucks, tunnels, even a nuclear reactor. Advertised as a research station, it was also a test site for deploying nuclear missiles.

One year ago — on Aug. 5, 2015 — an EPA crew at the Gold King Mine in southwest Colorado accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of orange water filled with mercury and arsenic.

The toxic spill flowed into the Animas River, eventually running into New Mexico's San Juan River and into Lake Powell. So far, disaster response and water quality monitoring have cost the EPA about $29 million — and the problem isn't over yet.

Pages