Environment

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

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courtesy of the National Park Service

A new census by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the population of non-native goats in the Olympic Mountains has more than doubled over the past 12 years. Officials at Olympic National Park are concerned about the impacts on native plants and park visitors.

Jackie Johnston, File / AP Photo

Salmon art and an orca puppet will parade through Seattle Thursday afternoon. The procession is to attract attention to restoration efforts for wild salmon and steelhead runs on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

courtesy Zhongxiang Zhao / University of Washington

As the Earth’s atmosphere warms because of greenhouse gas emissions, most of the heat gets trapped in the oceans. But measuring the change has proven difficult, especially at greater depths. A researcher at the University of Washington is proposing a new method that has some promise

Courtesy Washington DNR

One day is left in the public comment period on a proposal from the state Department of Natural Resources to expand one of its Aquatic Reserves.

It would limit use of an additional 45 acres of the area north of Bellingham known as Cherry Point.

Elaine Thompson, File / AP Photo

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final rule on the amount of toxic chemicals allowed in Washington state’s rivers and bays under the Clean Water Act. The standard is sometimes called the “fish consumption rule” because it is based in part on the amount of fish people consume. The water must be clean enough to safely eat fish caught there.

John L. Mone / AP Photo

Activists are gearing up for a national day of action Tuesday against the Dakota Access Pipeline. More than 200 protests are planned, with seven communities in the Puget Sound region taking part.

The action was planned before an announcement late yesterday that the Army Corps of Engineers has suspended work on the project while it looks into tribal concerns.

A project to demonstrate that jets could someday be powered by logging leftovers from Northwest forests gets a culminating test Monday morning. A Boeing 737 is scheduled to take off with fuel tanks filled partly with a wood-based jet fuel.

Alaska Airlines fueled a regularly scheduled cross-country flight from Seattle to Washington, DC with a blend of 80 percent regular jet fuel and 20 percent "biojet." In a sign of how safe the makers think this fuel is, the test flight will carry newly reelected members of Congress back to Washington, D.C., for a lame duck session.

Brent Foster / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A coalition of local politicians known as the Safe Energy Leadership Alliance meets Monday in Vancouver, Wash. Before their meeting, several of the group’s members including King County Executive Dow Constantine will tour the site of last June’s fiery oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon.  

Alternative energy and the companies that support it are here to stay, despite the changing politics in the other Washington. That was the sentiment as the state’s CleanTech Alliance held its annual meeting in Seattle.

The group, which lobbies on behalf of the sector, is getting ready to celebrate ten years since its founding. And over the last six years, the organization has grown from just 35 members in 2010.  

“And now we’re just about 300. So almost 10-time factor of growth,” said CleanTech Alliance President and CEO Tom Ranken.

Ted S. Warren, File / AP Photo

The Environmental Protection Agency has given a preliminary green light to ban all vessels from dumping sewage in Puget Sound. It’s the latest step in a long effort by the state and environmental groups.

Washington’s Department of Ecology has been working for several years to get a federal ban on sewage dumping for Puget Sound and issued a formal petition requesting it this summer. The EPA has established more than 90 of these so-called “no discharge” zones in 26 states, but this would be the first in the Northwest.

Elaine Thompson, File / AP Photo

A trial begins in federal court in Seattle Monday on whether the BNSF Railway Company can be held liable for claims that coal dust from its rail cars is causing water pollution.

The suit was brought by seven environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Puget Soundkeeper, in 2013. They say BNSF should be required to obtain a permit for coal dust pollution under the Clean Water Act.

A vast pool of warmer-than-normal ocean water off of the West Coast continues to mess with our weather and sea life. It's nicknamed "The Blob.”

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/52133016@N08/6309025687/">USFWS Pacific</a> Flickr via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>

Washington’s Department of Natural Resources will soon release a draft environmental impact statement on its long-term strategy for the marbled murrelet. But some conservation groups are crying foul. 

The marbled murrelet is an elusive seabird that’s listed as a threatened species under both federal and state law. It nests in old growth forests and DNR’s document outlines six options to help the bird survive. But the agency still needs to meet its constitutional mandate of generating revenue for schools through logging.

Courtesy of the Center for Whale Research

Corrected on October 31, 2016 - An earlier version of this story incorrectly placed the Snake River dams in Idaho. They are in Southeast Washington.

Some of the top whale researchers in the Pacific Northwest are calling on the federal government to breach four dams on the Lower Snake River in Southeast Washington. They say that’s the surest way to restore the Chinook salmon runs that endangered orcas primarily feed on.

After years of negotiations, nations have reached an agreement to establish the world's largest marine sanctuary in Antarctica's Ross Sea.

Twenty-four countries and the European Union reached the unanimous deal at an international meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Hobart, Australia on Friday.

Courtesy of King County

Day-old rice and stale bread might not sound like the ingredients in a fine meal. But King County is putting them in the spotlight Thursday evening for a feast of “food too good to waste.” 

The banquet will showcase things we most often toss into the trash or compost bin, but that with a bit of imagination can be used to make something good, such as a salad based on produce scraps.

Catching the biggest fish usually comes with the biggest bragging rights, but now a new breed of anglers working to hook those at the other end of the spectrum. The catch might not be as big, the bragging rights are.

As the owner of Tombstone Tackle bait shop in Columbia, Mo., Adam Wolf has a lot of ways to catch fish.

"Night crawlers, minnows, shiners, goldfish, and the frozen bait like chicken liver, turkey liver, shad guts, shad sides, skipjack herring, vacuum seal whole shad," says Wolf as his list of lures goes on.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Washington farmers and food processors contribute more than $50 billion to the state’s economy, or about 12 percent of the economic activity overall. Eastern Washington is famous for crops such as apples, wheat and hops, that are exported all over the world.  But nearly half of the state’s farms are smaller operations, located west of the Cascades.

More than a thousand of them make their livelihoods working the fertile soil of the Skagit Valley, where a river of the same name provides water and nutrients that first attracted farmers more than a century ago.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

Efforts to restore and protect Puget Sound are getting a big boost from the Obama administration.  

Local advocates for that work have long argued that, as one of the nation’s largest and most iconic estuaries, Puget Sound is a national treasure and deserves protections on par with Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes.

Now a federal task force has formed to prioritize the pressing need for salmon restoration in the Sound, due in large part to what officials say is a steadfast commitment to local tribes’ treaty fishing rights.

There's a heated debate in the Arctic Circle. It's about reindeer. Lots of them.

Russian health officials want to cull a quarter million animals by Christmas, The Siberian Times reports. That's enough reindeer to fill about 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

courtesy Ted Griffin and Jason Colby

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.

courtesy Woodland Park Zoo

The U.S. State Department is looking to an unlikely source for help in its efforts to combat international wildlife trafficking: a hackathon at the Woodland Park Zoo this weekend.  

Woodland Park is one of six zoos around the world simultaneously hosting the so-called “Zoohackathons.” About 60 Seattle-area techies have signed up to spend 22 hours Saturday and Sunday creating an app, software program or other tool to help in the fight against wildlife trafficking.

AP Photo / Elaine Thompson

The Shell Oil Company has pulled the plug on its plan to add an oil train facility to its Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes. The company says global economic conditions no longer support the cost for the new equipment to unload and process Bakken crude from the Midwest. They had argued they needed oil trains to remain competitive with other refineries in the area that all take in oil by rail. 

NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center via AP, File

Federal biologists have indefinitely suspended a satellite tagging program to track endangered orca whales. The move comes after an expert panel concluded a fungal infection contributed to the death of a 20-year-old member of the L pod.

A new proposed ballot initiative in Spokane, Washington, could prohibit coal and oil companies from transporting their products through the city by rail. It comes after the city council rolled back a similar effort last month.

This time around, the proposal targets the owners of the rail cars and not the railroad companies tasked with transporting them.

Finally — some good news for the bees of Hawaii.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given endangered status to seven species of yellow-faced bees native to the islands. These are "the first bees in the country to be protected under the Endangered Species Act," according to the Xerces Society, which advocated for the new designation.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

It’s often said that one of the most pressing issues of our time is climate change. Yet, even after years of discussion, Washington state still lacks a policy to limit the pollution that causes it. A recent clean air rule announced by the state Department of Ecology is not yet in effect and is already the subject of multiple lawsuits. So, despite its reputation as an environmentally progressive Ecotopia, the Evergreen State is left without a mechanism to reign in carbon emissions.

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.

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