Bellamy Pailthorp

Environment Reporter

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat from the Seattle offices of KPLU Public Radio News, where she has worked since 1999. She holds a Masters in journalism from New York's Columbia University, where she completed the Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business reporting in 2006 mid-career during her stint on KPLU’s Business and Labor Beat from 2000-2012.

From 1989-98 she lived in Berlin, Germany freelancing for NPR and working as a bi-lingual producer for Deutsche Welle TV after receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1989 for a project on theater studies and communist history. She holds a Bachelors’ degree in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. (Yes, she is fluent in German.)

She strives to tell memorable stories about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Character-driven narratives of exploration and innovation excite her. 

Outside work, she practices and instructs yoga, walks half marathons with friends, backpacks with her husband and extended family, reads and watches fiction with nieces, enjoys tasting new foods and admiring all kinds of animals -- especially her two house cats, who often remind her she should spend more time sitting on the couch with them.

Ways To Connect

Tim Durkan Photography

Friday is the best day of the weekend to recharge your vitamin D stores by soaking up sun and warmth, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

But the whole weekend looks pretty glorious. He says the small amount of clouds present are limited to places near the water.

“A few fog patches along the coast, those are burning off, so – great day,” he said of Friday’s weather. “Temperatures will get into the lower to mid-seventies, with total sun, no precipitation, so – wonderful.”

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A statewide citizens’ committee on pipeline safety has criticized a federal proposal to take additional control of pipeline safety away from the states and remand it to the federal government. 

The latest annual report from 13-member the Citizens’ Oversight Committee says the federal proposal effectively would take away states’ authority over interstate pipelines. The committee's concern is that inspectors would have to come from too far away, slowing response times and loosening enforcement.

The citizens committee on pipeline safety was created by the legislature fifteen years ago, after a tragic explosion in Bellingham that killed a man and two boys.  According to an investigation by the state that took three years to complete, the line to the oil refinery at Cherry Point had ruptured and the Olympic Pipeline Company was at fault. 

John Grade

A storefront in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood has been the site of an ever-evolving sculpture, of a tree turned on its side. About a year ago, the site became a hub for a new kind of collaboration with one of the city’s most productive public artists.

Sculptor John Grade and his supporters at the Mad Art Gallery invited hundreds of people in, to help assemble Middle Fork. It’s now a 40-foot long model of a Western Hemlock, suspended inside a large gallery space that’s just down the block from a Tesla Motors showroom and across from the Seattle offices of Microsoft.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU


Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said the Port of Seattle can't host Royal Dutch Shell's offshore Arctic oil-drilling fleet unless it gets a new land-use permit.

Shell has been hoping to base its fleet at the port's Terminal 5. Environmentalists have already sued over the plan, saying the port broke state law in February when it signed a two-year lease with Foss Maritime, which is working with Shell.

Tim Durkan

Enjoy the sunny weekend –but keep your rain gear ready – we’re going to have a nice scenario for gardening and other outdoorsy pursuits this weekend.

That’s according to KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, who is also excited about the recent news of El Nino and La Nina. (Click “listen to our podcast and hear his information about all that.)

AP Images

One member of a Seattle-based climbing group's Everest team died Saturday as a result of an avalanche that hit the mountain following the Nepal earthquake. But several other local climbing organizations reported that their teams were safe. 

Among those is Alpine Ascents, the climbing and expedition company that has called Seattle its home for 27 years. The company had six clients and three guides on Mount Everest  at the time of the 7.8 magnitude quake.  

courtesy WSDOT

Interstate 405's notoriously crawling traffic might accelerate if the state's new system of express toll lanes and increased carpool minimums works as expected.

Tim Durkan

Windy weather this weekend will make umbrella use a bit problematic, but you probably will need a parka or other rain gear, at least for the next day or so.

“We have an upper level trough over us and that brings cold air and unstable conditions where we get the cumulous (puffy clouds) and thunderstorms developing,” said Mass.

And so on  Friday, Mass says expect some showers, especially in the mountains and South Sound.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

When Kathy Holzer was a kid living on the outskirts of Chicago, she would climb her parents’ apple trees in their orchard. She was always up in the tree -- with her dog sleeping below.

“And they'd always know where I was because there was the dog so I must be in that tree,” Holzer said. “And I always broke out the dead branches that were in my way, because it always seemed -- intuitively -- that the tree didn’t need them.” 

My poor dad, Holtzer continued,  would see the piles of dead branches underneath the trees and wonder, 'Who's been doing this?'

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

It’s Earth Day. Some volunteers will celebrate by digging in the soil at community gardens.

But one Seattle neighborhood is taking that idea to a whole new level, at the Beacon Food Forest.  

Jackie Cramer, one of the founders, stands at the top of a hillside that was once an all-green manicured lawn, raking up at the end of the day.

Beneath her, raised beds and special compost bins are transforming the landscape. Two acres are on their way to becoming a woodland forest.

Lucas Randall-Owens / KPLU

On the shore of Seaview Park in West Seattle, a group of young activists stands behind a row of bright yellow kayaks.  Most of them are new to boating. An instructor from Alki Kayak Tours gives a safety briefing before they head out for a sunset paddle. 

Tim Durkan Photography

Gardeners can get out the gloves and seed but skiers will have to stow their gear. Clear skies and warm temperatures headed our way will melt the small blanket of new snow from last week, said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“On Thursday, we had almost complete sunshine,” Mass said, adding that his team of meteorologists at the University of Washington measures the amount of solar radiation coming in. “And there were virtually no clouds getting in the way of our sensor, so it was total, maximum sunshine.”

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Vendors of Seattle’s homeless newspaper Real Change are now able to sell digital copies and take payments with a new Android smart phone app. 

While the cashless, e-version of the street-corner paper isn't yet available for iPhones or through Windows mobile,  the makers and sellers of Real Change are calling it a big breakthrough.

Lindsey Wasson, Seattle Times / AP Photo (Pool)

The tragic landslide in Oso more than a year ago appears likely to have a silver lining for firefighters and the communities they serve: A legislative measure that would allow small town fire departments to share resources more effectively has unanimously passed out of the state senate and looks poised to become law.

Fire chiefs say they’ve been working for years to get more government help in natural disasters and accidents where nothing’s on fire.

Firefighters are trained to respond to all kinds of emergencies – especially in small towns. People call for everything from cat rescues to devastating accidents. And if there’s a big disaster such as an earthquake or oil spill, says Chief Brad Reading from Snohomish County Fire District 1, the law currently doesn’t cover the cost of outside help, unless something is burning. But it looks like that’s set to change.

Donna Gordon Blankinship / AP Photo

A drill rig that could be used for oil drilling in the Arctic will arrive in Port Angeles on Friday and remain there for about two weeks before it heads to Seattle.

Protesters have said they plan to meet it when it arrives in Seattle in May.

In a statement, the Port of Port Angeles said the 400-foot Polar Pioneer will be off-loaded and then have equipment installed.

The Coast Guard says protesters will have to stay 100 yards away from the rig when it is anchored - and 500 yards away when it is in transit.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

In an effort to raise revenue for public schools and transportation projects, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee  wants to charge polluters for their carbon emissions.

Tim Durkan

Cliff Mass is one of the region’s clearest communicators about the weather. We talked this week about the impacts of climate change in the next century. He has indicated in the past that we are relatively lucky when it comes to climate change.

But there will be changes, in the future.

elvis_payne / flickr

When you turn on the tap and water comes out, there’s a tendency to think it’s free.

But increasingly, there’s a push to recognize water as the precious commodity it is, by putting a higher price on it. 

Water as the oil of the 21st Century was the headline on an event in Seattle put on by the Clean Tech Alliance.     

Bellamy Pailthorp

Highly volatile Bakken  crude oil poses a serious threat to the safety of communities located along rail lines. Just since February, there have been four fiery derailments in the US and Canada.  Now Democrats in the U.S. Senate are pressing for more regulation.

Supporters of a carbon tax are gathering signatures from Washington voters for a possible ballot initiative.

Governor Jay Inslee has a bill on a cap-and-trade system already working its way through the legislature. But climate change activists are also laying the groundwork for the measure, which would add a tax of $25 dollars per ton of carbon dioxide.

Tim Durkan

The thunderstorms that hit our region a couple of days ago are a classic sign of spring in the Northwest. And the temps we’ve been experiencing lately are entirely normal for this time of year, says KPLU weather expert, Cliff Mass. 

So if you’ve been shivering and wishing for the balmy temps that made Monday seem like summer, Mass says you might as well get used to it for a while. We’re in for a cloudy, unsettled weekend, with “plenty of clouds around," according to Mass.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Legislation that would ensure more safety when oil trains roll through communities is still pending before lawmakers in Olympia. That’s nearly a year and a half after the fiery train derailment in Quebec that killed 47 people.

Two proposals that would help protect people from an oil train accident have been moving through the legislature in Olympia.  One is backed by environmentalists, the other more by industry.

Tim Durkan

Another unusually warm weekend is in store, but KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s not one for the history books.

“It’s not going to be as hot as we’ve had,” he said.

That’s in contrast to Thursday, when the mercury hit 71 degrees in Seattle, an all-time record high for that day.

Elaine Thompson / AP

One of the biggest challenges Seattle faces is its transportation systems. The city is launching a series of talks at the library about the future of mobility. The aim is to get the public thinking about urban design as the population grows. 

Debra Scollard

It was an emotional day in Oso, exactly one year after the mudslide on Highway 530 near the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.

Families and first responders came together to commemorate their loss and celebrate their community. 

Bagpipes sounded out as pipe and drum corps from Snohomish and King counties led the way for first responders and elected officials.

All were paying tribute to the 43 people who died in the Oso mudslide. Those honoring them gathered in the middle of the highway, which was closed for three hours to commemorate the loss and recovery.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

In Oso this weekend, thousands of people are expected to turn out for memorial gatherings to mark the anniversary of one of the nation’s deadliest landslides.

First responders and families of the 43 people who died are asking the public to give them space.

Stephanie Sinclair

Spring is officially here.

The vernal equinox means that days and nights are of equal length. From here on out, the days will get longer. It’s also a great season for cloudgazing, which KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass knows a lot about.

This weekend will bring plenty of opportunities for admiring all kinds of clouds.

“Clouds like altostratus and altocumulus that will be thickening in,” Mass said. “Another cloud that’s very popular around here we’ll see tomorrow morning: the stratocumulus – low clouds that have these heaps and clear skies in between.”

One year ago, a mudslide wreaked havoc on Oso, a small community in Washington state. It took just a few minutes to topple dozens of homes, leaving 43 people dead. Volunteers and first responders rushed to the scene to save trapped residents. Yet, remarkably, none of them were hurt, at least not physically.

In the weeks and months following the landslide, thousands of people from the outlying areas formed teams. Loggers brought in heavy equipment; Red Cross and other groups organized volunteers and protected families from the throngs of media.

Bellamy Pailthorp

A year ago Sunday, 43 people died in the devastating Oso mudslide. Thousands of volunteers turned up to help. And, even if they hadn't lost someone themselves, coping this past year has been tough.

LISTEN: Two volunteers describe their experience:

A TV set depicting a Zombie Apocalypse will go up in Olympia on Tuesday.

The makers of the sci-fi series “Z-nation” are setting up shop at the state capitol to show how many kinds of jobs are involved when film crews come to town. They’re pressing lawmakers to approve more incentives for movie making in Washington state.

"Z-Nation" is filmed in Spokane, but for one day, an apocalyptic set inspired by the show will be in Olympia to demonstrate how many jobs are linked to film work.