Environment | KNKX

Environment

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

Ways to Connect

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.

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.

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.’                                         

Pages