Environment | KNKX

Environment

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

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courtesy Brandon Cadwell / National Park Service

Hot, dry weather is partly to blame for a wildfire in an unexpected place. At San Juan Island National Historical Park, hot metal debris from a historic weapons demonstration on Sunday caused a blaze that quickly spread across parched grassland prairie.

Courtesy of Oregon Department of Forestry

From Bend, Oregon, to Ellensburg, Washington, there is a fire weather watch Friday for hot temperatures, low humidity and breezy weather.

If you think there’s already been a lot of wildfires in the Northwest this year, you’re right. 

Courtesy Centers For Disease Control

It’s the height of summer and the forecast is looking very sunny, providing great conditions for water sports on local lakes.

That also means a higher risk of swimmer's itch, which is linked to another feature of summer that many people enjoy: the presence of waterfowl.

Starbucks.com

Starbucks has announced long-awaited plans to phase out plastic straws. The company will replace them with a strawless lid that looks a bit like a child’s sippy cup. They’ll also be offering straws made out of alternative materials such as paper and corn-based plastics that can be composted.

The policy applies to all of Starbucks’ stores around the globe. It is to be implemented worldwide, by 2020. The company says this builds on a $10 million commitment it made in March to work harder on creating truly recyclable cups.

Updated at 6:01 p.m. ET

Scott Pruitt will no longer lead the Environmental Protection Agency, President Trump announced Thursday afternoon via Twitter.

"I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt," Trump tweeted. "Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this," Trump also wrote.

Kristin Laidre / via PNAS

New trade routes have opened up in the Arctic as melting sea ice makes those waters passable. Because it’s just starting, relatively little data exists about the impacts of the increased shipping traffic on marine mammals.

courtesy Digital Third Coast. / Courtesy Digital Third Coast.

Public officials often express concern about emergency preparedness, with a key message to residents that we should have enough food, water and medication stowed in our homes to sustain us for at least a few days and as long as two or three weeks.

A new study ranks Washington State second in the country for natural disaster preparedness related to extreme weather. Oregon comes in third.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

You may have noticed more food service providers changing the kinds of disposable utensils you get with takeout. In Seattle, a ban on plastic straws and cutlery officially kicks in this weekend. As of July 1, all eateries in city limits are required to provide straws and utensils that can be composted.

Courtesy First American Project

A newly formed coalition of tribal leaders and communities of color plans to put its combined weight behind the latest voter initiative to curb carbon pollution.

Flickr via Compfight

Trees provide lots of benefits that make cities more livable and ecosystems healthier. Smaller cities around the region, including Redmond and Lake Forest Park, have ordinances in place to protect larger trees from being cut down by developers or homeowners.

Inciweb via AP

Summer this year in the Pacific Northwest is once again expected to be hotter and drier than normal. That means higher potential for wildfires from July through September.

Just in time for the heat, a new book on fighting and managing those fires is out from local publisher, Mountaineers Books. It’s focused on an elite wildland firefighting force in Boulder, Colorado.

Ellen Hoke / Great Pacific Race

Less than a week into an event that was expected to last well into July, Seattle climate rower Eliza Dawson is back on land.

All are safe, but strong Pacific winds ultimately thwarted her four-woman team’s attempt to travel 2,400 miles across the Pacific, on human-power alone.  

Ted S. Warren/file / AP Photo

Tribes and conservationists are celebrating a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that upholds tribal treaty fishing rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had already ruled squarely in favor of the tribes.

Zach Radmer / US Fish and Wlidlife Service

About fifty citizen scientists and volunteer experts are converging in the south Sound Saturday for a "bioblitz." That’s when people get together for a few hours and try to document as many species as possible in one place.

Jeremy Hainsworth / AP Photo

Canada’s government is buying the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline. It connects tar sands oil fields in Alberta to a terminus in British Columbia. Hidden in the details of the agreement with the Kinder Morgan corporation is a surprising fact that connects the deal to Washington state.   

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

The Olympic Peninsula is often thought of as a destination for coastal hikes along rugged beaches or cozy restaurants with stunning mountain backdrops. Olympic National Park, the "un-dammed" Elwha River, and the annual Lavender Festival in Sequim are some of the main attractions.

There’s also a year-round Saturday farmers market in Port Angeles that has been going since the early 1980s. It was one of the first in the region. At this time of year, it’s rich with all kinds of colorful produce, as well as arts and crafts.

One official says 2017 is going down in history as "the year of the smoke," in many communities.
Randy L. Rasmussen / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell is advocating for more use of prescribed burns to protect communities and their firefighters.

Coastal erosion is chewing away at one of the Northwest's most popular recreation areas. It's threatening the main campground and other amenities at Cape Disappointment State Park, which has the second most camper visits in the Washington State Park system.

Ellen Hoke / courtesy GreatPacificRace.com

Seattle Climate Rower Eliza Dawson is in California now, in the final phases of training for the Great Pacific Race.

Aptly nicknamed Washaway Beach, in Pacific County, Washington, has long suffered from the most extreme coastal erosion along the whole U.S. West Coast. Now a relatively low cost defense is raising hopes among property owners and nearby cranberry growers.

courtesy Rob Harmon, MEETS Coalition. MEETS stands for 'Metered Energy Efficiency Transaction Structure.'

One of the most effective sources of so-called ‘clean energy’ is increasing efficiency, so less is needed to heat or cool or light a building.

A new program from Seattle City Light incentivizes landlords to invest in those upgrades.

Gexydaf / <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/90821451@N00/5527708847/">Gexydaf</a> Flickr via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

The Federal Transit Administration has approved $75 million dollars for expansion of Tacoma’s Link Light Rail line.  

The money will be used to more than double the line, which currently runs from the Tacoma Dome to the Theater District downtown. The extension will connect it to a U-shaped route that heads first north to the Stadium District then back south into the Hilltop neighborhood.   

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A diverse array of groups from all over Washington State gathered in Seattle this week to rally support for Initiative 1631. That’s the latest proposal to curb carbon emissions by imposing fees on big polluters.

Courtesy Jenny Shrum / American Camp National Historical Park

It would be a bit of a stretch to call zoologist John Fleckenstein a beginner.  He recently retired from a long career as a kind of wildlife detective. He worked with Washington State’s Natural Heritage Program, looking for and studying the behaviors of all kinds of rare creatures.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Gov. Jay Inslee wants Washington’s maritime industry to be the most sustainable in the world. And Seattle’s strong ties with Norway are proving useful. A delegation of experts is visiting this week to share information on electric-powered ferries and autonomous ships.

Courtesy Long Live The Kings

Saving salmon and steelhead in Washington state can seem like a mission with miserable prospects.

But one nonprofit has made it into a game that they say is a lot like fantasy football, and schools are involved this year.

Senator Maria Cantwell questioned the acting head of the U.S. Forest Service, Vicki Christiansen, this week. Among the senator's top concerns: there may not be enough air support for fires in the West this year.

Ben Torkelson / Chelan County Fire District 3 via AP)

Wildfire season used to start in mid-June, say state officials coordinating the response. Now they’re already out fighting wildfires in April, even in places west of the Cascades.

"Fire season is already here,” said Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz.

A federal watchdog agency said Wednesday that it's hard to prove that Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant is safe. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Concerns about the future of Bothell Country Village top the agenda of the city’s Landmark Preservation Board meeting Tuesday evening.

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