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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Forests and grasslands in Eastern Washington state are at high risk for large, intense wildfire. This spring Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to using controlled burning on more than 1,000 acres in Okanogan, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Confronting the likely effects of climate change can feel overwhelming. One recent graduate in atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington is channeling that fear into an ambitious athletic feat.

Eliza Dawson is joining three other women to row across the Pacific to Hawaii this summer. They hope to beat the world record in what she’s calling a race for the climate.  

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

More than 1,300 scientists, policy makers and other interested parties are attending next week’s Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle.

The meeting happens every two years and alternates between the U.S. and Canada.  This year, the 30th anniversary since the first one took place in 1988, there’s an emphasis on ecosystem recovery across the international border.

The U.S. Department of Energy is launching a federal investigation into a demolition site at the Hanford nuclear reservation where radioactive waste from the site has been spreading in unexplained ways.

Now that electric cars are a common sight on the nation's highways, and prototypes exist for electric trucks and airplanes, could electric ferries be next?

The 2018 state transportation budget signed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday includes money to look at converting some of the state ferry fleet.

The new person in charge of regional firefighters at the U.S. Forest Service has called for an increase in prescribed fire and a change in attitude about wildfires.

Alan Vernon / flickr via Compfight

Scientists from the Audubon Society and the National Parks Service have teamed up to look at the effects of climate change on birds. The study predicts the behavior of 513 species across 274 national parks in summer and winter.     

The authors found on average nearly a quarter of the bird species found in popular park destinations could be completely different by mid-century.  

Mr. Jincks Flickr via Compfigh cc

The pressure is on Starbucks to create a disposable coffee cup that doesn’t end up in the trash. After a lengthy campaign that featured a huge puppet made of discarded cups and a petition with more than 800,000 signatures, the company announced a new $10 million initiative to develop a cup that is fully recyclable or compostable. 

It may still be wet and muddy out there, and snow may even be on the ground in some places, but it’s also the time of year when wildland firefighters start to gear up for hot, dry weather and wildfires.

Northwest Senators had a lot of questions for U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry during a Senate committee hearing Tuesday morning. They grilled him on the safety of steel in a massive treatment plant under construction at the Hanford nuclear site.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Local tribes are calling on the memory of legendary civil rights activist Billy Frank Jr. to rev up the fight for salmon recovery. They met in Tulalip Monday for what they dubbed a “first-annual” Pacific Salmon Summit, named in his honor.

Courtesy of the National Park Service

A proposed federal management plan aims to eliminate the growing population of mountain goats in and near Olympic National Park by relocating as many as possible to areas in the North Cascades.

If approved, captures would start this summer. Public meetings about the plan take place all week in towns near the areas that would receive the animals, starting Tuesday evening in Sedro Wooley.

The U.S. Department of Energy is demanding thousands of pages of documentation from one of its top contractors at Hanford. They want to know exactly what grade of steel is being used in a massive radioactive waste treatment plant at the decommissioned nuclear site. 

If all goes according to plan, there could soon be salmon above the Grand Coulee Dam again. That’s according to Cody Desautel, director of Natural Resources for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville. 

courtesy of Puget Sound Energy

A major upgrade to the electric grid along the eastern shores of Lake Washington is facing public opposition.

Puget Sound Energy has plans to build a new substation and improve about 18 miles of existing transmission lines from Redmond to Renton. Cost estimates for the project range from $150-300 million.

The Pacific Northwest’s beloved orcas will not survive unless humans do more to ensure adequate food and cleaner, quieter waters. That was one of the messages at a crowded signing ceremony in Seattle convened by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Environmental groups had high hopes going into the special legislative session that ended Thursday in Olympia. But even with Democratic majorities in both chambers of the legislature, passage of critical climate policies did not happen.

DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

A massive, indigenous-led protest is scheduled to start 10 a.m. Saturday in Vancouver, British Columbia, against the planned expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. More than 7,000 people have signed up, with several groups on this side of the border lending support.

Prompt communication between workers and management at the Plutonium Finishing Plant did not occur,  so radioactive waste continued to spread at Hanford. That’s according to a new report out Thursday.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

2018 is the year of the bird. The Audubon Society is celebrating the centennial of what it calls the most important federal bird protection law ever passed. But the group says local climate policies are just as important, including one still in play in Washington state.

Elected officials in Washington state say they’ll fight the Trump administration’s proposal to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.

The plan could open up waters off the coasts of Washington and Oregon.

If you're thinking about buying an electric car in Washington state, you might want to act fast. That's because the state Legislature is on the verge of letting a hefty sales tax break expire. In Oregon, an electric car rebate faces a challenge in court next week.

The Washington Legislature approved a phase out of Atlantic salmon farming in state waters on Friday and sent the measure to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, who is expected to sign it.

Brian Witte / AP Photo

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is hosting a public meeting Monday afternoon in Olympia on its plan to open 90 percent of the country's offshore waters to oil and gas drilling. It's one of several around the country but the only one in Washington state.

But several environmental groups say it’s not really a hearing because officials are only taking written comments.

Ted S. Warren, File / AP Photo

Legislation that would have made polluters pay by putting a tax on carbon emissions does not have enough votes to pass the Washington state legislature. That’s according to Governor Jay Inslee and the bill’s prime sponsor, speaking late Thursday.

But, less than a day later, backers of a carbon fee had already filed an initiative to the people in its place.

Courtesy of the Thurston Conservation District

An election at a Thurston County land stewardship board is getting more attention than usual.

Saturday's election for an open seat on the Thurston Conservation District's board comes as the body faces a state investigation into allegations of dysfunction. 

Have you ever wondered how big your personal contribution is to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change?

Hundreds of residents of Seattle and Edmonds are finding out by taking part in local competitions to see who can reduce their emissions the most over the next two months.  The game is called “Taming Bigfoot.”

Every year, wildlife officials keep track of how many salmon return to their spawning grounds. This year, they expect low returns of salmon in Washington state—and that could change the fishing outlook.



Researchers at Gene Coulon Park in Renton, Wash.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It’s been nearly 20 years since the federal government listed Puget Sound Chinook salmon as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The fish inhabit one of the most urbanized watersheds in the region. Local governments have just updated a 10-year recovery plan. One of the new priorities they’re addressing is a possible link between fish mortality and artificial light.  

COURTESY WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Cooke Aquaculture is applauding members of a state House committee after they took no action on a bill that would have phased out net-pen farming of non-native salmon in Washington waters.

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