Environment

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

Ways to Connect

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

The public comment period  ends next month on a federal proposal to nearly triple visitor fees to the nation’s most popular national parks. Those include Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks where visitors would pay $70 in peak months (up from $25) starting this May.

Courtesy Karla Salp, Wash. State Dept of Agriculture

Gypsy moths are back in Washington State – with a vengeance. Officials at the Washington State Department of Agriculture say they’re evaluating options after the agency’s annual trapping program caught 117 of the invasive species this summer – the highest number in more than 20 years.

It’s normal for Agriculture technicians to find one or two gypsy moths in those triangular cardboard traps you sometimes see on trees.

Ted S. Warren/file / AP Photo

Washington’s Department of Ecology has a plan to spend nearly $113 million on cleaner transportation technologies.

The money is part of the state’s settlement with Volkswagen after the German car manufacturer was caught installing illegal software on many of its diesel vehicles to cheat on emissions tests. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Over the past three months, KNKX has hosted a series of weekly interviews about the iconic waterway that includes Puget Sound and extends into British Columbia. Return to the Salish Sea took listeners to locations all around the shores of this shared ecosystem to hear from people who are deeply connected to it and concerned about its future.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The federal government’s latest special report on climate change directly contradicts the Trump administration’s policies. Hundreds of pages long, the report outlines the latest science and states that humans are the main cause of planetary warming.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

A local wild-salmon advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against Cooke Aquaculture in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The Wild Fish Conservancy says the Canadian company must be held responsible for the collapse of its net pen in Deepwater Bay off Cyprus Island this summer.

Oregon and Washington will be part of a group discussing climate change initiatives with two neighboring nations. The agreement between the more than a dozen U.S. states and Mexico and Canada is the product of meetings at an international climate conference in Bonn, Germany.

Abhinaba Basu / Wikimedia Commons

If you trek to Mount Rainier National Park every summer to catch the spectacular display of wildflowers, take note: In the future, some flower species may bloom earlier while others could disappear altogether, according to a study from the University of Washington.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

The Salish Sea is home to more than three thousand species. Among them are 253 fish, 172 birds, 38 mammals and two reptiles.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is in Bonn, Germany, this week for the United Nations latest conference on climate change. He’s part of a panel of local leaders talking about sub-national strategies for meeting commitments made in the Paris agreement, even after the U.S. withdrawal.

Don Ryan,File / AP Photo

Environmental groups are declaring victory in two key races after initial ballot returns. The Washington Conservation Voters say their record spending is paying off, as the community came together to counteract the influence of spending by big oil interests.

More than 30 times this year, the federal government has received reports of whales tangled in fishing gear along the West Coast. Sometimes the whales manage to wriggle free. Other times they don't, and you see heart-rending pictures on the news or a rescue mission.

Voters in Spokane are now weighing in on the future of coal and oil trains. An initiative on the local ballot would regulate coal and oil shipments by rail through specific areas of the city.

Proposition 2 would impose a $261 fine on every rail car carrying uncovered coal and some types of oil through Spokane.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee are set to take part in an international conference on climate change Bonn, Germany. Brown and Inslee were invited to the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference by Fiji’s Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, who is presiding over conference proceedings this year.

Samish Indian Nation tribal chairman Tom Wooten.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The culture  of the Samish Indian Nation aligns closely with the Salish Sea. Its headquarters are on Fidalgo Island, near Anacortes, and its people are scattered throughout the area, on both sides of the border between the U.S. and Canada.

Historically, they lived on five islands in the central Salish Sea:  Fidalgo, Guemes, Lopez, San Juan, and Samish.

Channi Anand / AP Photo

It may sound like science fiction, but researchers are getting closer to making it possible to geoengineer the climate.

A symposium at the University of Washington Thursday and Friday is exploring the ethics of this possible future.  One team is developing a way to cool the atmosphere by brightening clouds.  

There could be big changes on the horizon for the way the state of Washington manages its wolf population to minimize the conflicts between wolves and livestock.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The state agency charged with leading the restoration of Puget Sound says it cannot meet its inaugural goal of recovering the ecosystem by 2020.

That’s one of the takeaways from the Puget Sound Partnership’s 2017 “State of the Sound” report, which comes out Wednesday. The reports are issued every two years.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A proposal to spray a neurotoxic pesticide on oyster beds in Southwest Washington is back on the table. Growers in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor are looking for ways to address an infestation of burrowing shrimp.

The state is taking comments on the controversial plan through Wednesday.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The Salish Sea is a complex web of waterways that includes Puget Sound and the straits of Juan de Fuca and Georgia. It also has inflows from 64 rivers and 99 wastewater treatment plants in the U.S. and Canada.

When commercial fishermen spool out long lines in pursuit of sablefish— better known to consumers as black cod—seabirds looking for an easy meal dive to steal the bait off the series of hooks.

Some unlucky birds get hooked and drown as the line sinks to the deep. 
And when the drowned bird is an endangered species such as the short-tailed albatross, it triggers scrutiny.

Cristina Mittermeier / Sea Legacy

The Great Barrier Reef, the Galapagos Island, the Great Wall of China: These are all geographic treasures, internationally recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Washington State has one: the Olympic National Park. A nonprofit in Canada is now petitioning its federal government to add the Salish Sea to that list.                       

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.  

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.

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.

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. 

Overcast: What's Going On With Salmon In Washington?

Oct 13, 2017
Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

Washington's local ecosystems have been through a lot recently.

First, there was the release of more than 100,000 non-native Atlantic Salmon this summer into the Salish Sea. Now, scientists are also reporting alarmingly low numbers of young salmon from the Columbia River system out in the Pacific Ocean.

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.

Courtesy of Washington State Committee on Geographic Names

As any expectant parent knows, names aren’t something to be taken lightly. That’s definitely the case in the naming of Washington State’s geographic features, like creeks and hills. 

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.

Pages