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

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

A long-awaited roadmap is in place for the cleanup of Seattle’s only river.

The Lower Duwamish Waterway was listed as a Superfund site in 2001. Now, after extensive public feedback, a final cleanup plan has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

  The Navy is holding two additional public meetings this week in response to concerns about a proposed expansion of its fleet of EA-18-G Growler planes based on Whidbey Island.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Forget any hopes you may have had for skiing over the holiday weekend. But you might see some snow at sea level.

Seattle City Light is moving forward with plans to upgrade residential electrical meters with advanced technology, often called “smart metering.”

Pat Teglia / Flickr

The week before Thanksgiving is normally the wettest, stormiest part of the year in the Pacific Northwest. And true to form, the rains and wet clouds are back, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“If you look at the records going back decades, this is the week: ground zero for storms and wetness here in the Northwest. And it may not disappoint,” Mass said.

Ryan Hawk / Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo has announced it will phase out its elephant program by moving its two remaining females to a larger herd.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Western Washington has all the conditions that make it prime territory for landslides: lots of loose material that our glaciers left behind as they carved steep slopes into a landscape that gets lots of heavy rainfall.

Still, predicting exactly when landslides will happen is extremely complex.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Seattle’s South Park neighborhood got a visit Monday from Gov. Jay Inslee. 

The governor was highlighting the disproportionate health impacts of air pollution there as part of his statewide climate tour. It’s one more argument in favor of his plan to cap carbon emissions.

Tim Durkan

Keep your hats and scarves handy. The clear skies and cold temperatures we’ve been experiencing will continue through the middle of next week, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Courtesy Puget Sound Energy / Flickr

Gusty winds are posing some unusual challenges for Puget Sound Energy, toppling trees and taking out power lines as the cold air races in from the east.

The utility has called in outside crews to help with repairs, especially in the hardest-hit areas of South King County. Less than half of the 70,000 Puget Sound Energy customers who lost power overnight were still in the dark Tuesday afternoon.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

How to prevent unsafe logging on steep slopes that could cause future landslides will be at the center of discussions in Olympia Wednesday. In the wake of the Oso tragedy, the state’s Forest Practices Board is in the process of updating permitting guidelines. 

Aaron Brethorst

Sick of the howling winds that swept through Thursday? KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass has good news: “We’re not going to see that the rest of the weekend, and early next week, just the opposite.”

Courtesy of SDOT

Seattle is joining other big cities with a new tool to make it easier to use public transportation. The city’s first TransitScreen is up and running at the Seattle Municipal Tower. The big screen display gives commuters in the building real-time information about their best travel options. And more TransitScreens are on the way. 

Michael Duff / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington will not follow the lead of states imposing harsh restrictions on health workers back from treating Ebola patients.

Governors in New York, New Jersey and Illinois have announced that people returning from Ebola-affected countries may be subject to mandatory quarantine. Inslee says Washington will take a lighter touch, based on guidelines from federal health authorities.

Undaunted and optimistic – that’s the attitude Gov. Jay Inslee says he has about working with the legislature after Tuesday’s elections.

Courtesy of James G. Murphy Co.

A sketchbook thought to come from the hand of Pablo Picasso is among the thousands of lost treasures that will be auctioned off later this month. The items are the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes, and every few years, the state Department of Revenue is required to sell them.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

More than 100 Washington businesses are calling for action on climate change and urging others to join them.

Companies including Microsoft, Foss Maritime, REI and Virginia Mason Medical Center have signed an open declaration, saying climate change is real and happening and that more action is needed to address it.

Tim Durkan

Enjoy the sunbreaks while you can.  Heavy rain returns Friday night and we’ll return to a wetter, windier pattern, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“It’ll be basically dry, partly cloudy during the afternoon, you know, probably even some sun,” Mass said of Friday. “So, a really nice day.”

But that’s going to change rapidly, Mass says, as a warm front associated with a center of low pressure off the coast moves northward.

Democrats are eager to win back control of the state Senate in Washington. That means they need to take two seats from the Republican majority. One of the most hotly contested races is Whatcom County’s 42nd District, where incumbent Republican Doug Ericksen faces Democrat challenger Seth Fleetwood

It’s more conservative than a traditional swing district. But outside money is pouring, in and framing this contest as a battle over environmental interests. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Editor's Note: Fifteen years ago, Puget Sound salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act. Despite the billions of dollars spent on recovery since, the results remain mixed. Some runs are seeing record returns while others are facing one of their worst years ever.

To learn more about the challenges of salmon recovery, this series follows one Chinook run from the open ocean to Puget Sound, through the Ballard Locks, past Renton and finally home to native spawning grounds on the Cedar River.

For more than a hundred years, the aqueduct at Landsburg Park near Maple Valley was the end of the line for salmon in the Cedar River watershed. Built between 1899 and 1901 through a voter initiative to provide water for the city of Seattle after the great Seattle fire, Seattle’s water system is the envy of municipalities all over the country.

Read the full story on our companion site, northwestsalmon.org >>>

Tim Durkan

This weekend will start off wet and cloudy, but the rain will give way to milder conditions, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Mass says things will steadily improve over the weekend, with each day a bit better than the last.

The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the U.S. Navy to reroute a creek and clean up a decades-old dump in Kitsap County.

The EPA says contamination from the Gorst Creek Landfill is posing risks to public health and salmon habitat.

AP Photo

Think we don’t have an accent here in the Pacific Northwest? Think again.

Scientists say we do, in fact, have an accent, though our native ears may not always pick up on it. The longer we’ve lived here, the harder it is for us to hear our own distinct subtleties, according to experts.

So let’s put our ears to the test. We asked three people to say the same sentence: “Please put the fish you caught at dawn in the bag, not in the bowl.” Click on the three audio clips below to hear them, then pick out the voice you think belongs to a native Northwesterner. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Editor's Note: Fifteen years ago, Puget Sound salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act. Despite the billions of dollars spent on recovery since, the results remain mixed. Some runs are seeing record returns while others are facing one of their worst years ever.

To learn more about the challenges of salmon recovery, this series follows one Chinook run from the open ocean to Puget Sound, through the Ballard Locks, past Renton and finally home to native spawning grounds on the Cedar River.

About five miles from the clogged freeways, shopping malls and airplane hangars at the south end of Lake Washington, the Cedar River starts winding its way through Maple Valley.

It’s here, along some 30 miles of streambeds, some just a few paces off the highway, where life begins and ends each fall for hundreds of Lake Washington chinook.

Read the full story on our companion site, northwestsalmon.org >>>

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Gleaning is an ancient word for a practice that dates back to Biblical times. Farmers allowed peasants to take leftover crops after the harvest was over. The practice has been making a comeback in recent years as a way to fight hunger locally and cut back on food waste. 

At Clean Greens Farm in Duvall, Washington, a field of kale is overflowing. It's been picked before, but it just keeps on coming, says farm manager Tommie Willis, as he leads a group of volunteers to one patch and shows them how to glean. 

Spappy.joneS / Flickr

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include a link to Craig Welch's response. 

A warmer planet will certainly cause more intense rains in the Northwest and we should start getting ready for that now, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Aaron Brethorst

Fall is in the air, and you’ll want to keep a raincoat handy, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Mass says we can expect a big transition to deep autumnal clouds and rain early next week. But the weekend forecast is not as wet as predicted a few days ago, and Sunday should bring a break from the rain.

(Michael Holden/Flickr)

Editor's Note: Fifteen years ago, Puget Sound salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act. Despite the billions of dollars spent on recovery since, the results remain mixed. Some runs are seeing record returns while others are facing one of their worst years ever.

To learn more about the challenges of salmon recovery, this series follows one Chinook run from the open ocean to Puget Sound, through the Ballard Locks, past Renton and finally home to native spawning grounds on the Cedar River.

One of the most intriguing questions about Lake Washington chinook is the mystery of how they survived after we replumbed the region with the construction of the Ship Canal, which was completed in 1916. It dropped the level of the lake by nearly 10 feet and cut it off from what used to be its southern outlet, the Green River.

Read the full story on our companion site, northwestsalmon.org >>>

Brian Glanz / Flickr

Seattle’s City Council has declared the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day. They voted unanimously in favor of the resolution to replace city celebrations of Columbus Day and encourage other institutions to do the same.  

Mel Sheldon, former chairman of the Tulalip Tribe, was among many who testified in favor of the measure before the vote. To rounds of drumming and warm applause, he said thanks in his indigenous language, Coast Salish. 

"This initiative makes me proud. It makes all Indian people proud, because you're thinking about the future generations — the children, the little ones, who are not born yet," Sheldon said.

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