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

Courtesy of Eric Warner

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, our Swimming Upstream 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.

Note: KPLU will air the entire series at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 2, and again at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 3. You can also find the entire series on >>>

Seattle Municipal Archives


Engaging with his audience is something KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass very much enjoys.

Courtesy of University of Puget Sound

The strings of bright lights that hang all around us during the holidays provide cheer for many people in the depths of winter.

But imagine a time when only the very wealthy could afford them and Christmas trees were lit up with candles. An exhibit at the University of Puget Sound explores the history and the future of electric power. 

Tim Durkan

If you ever have a question about the weather, KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass wants to hear it. We’ve assembled answers to a range of listener queries and will be answering them over the next two weeks. Here’s the first batch.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says it’s time to make polluters pay for carbon emissions. He’s proposed a cap-and-trade system that he says will raise a billion dollars a year while helping the state drastically reduce its contribution to global warming. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The safety of the Alaskan Way viaduct will be back on the table Monday when the Seattle City Council will hear from the Washington State Department of Transportation about planning for a short- or long-term closure of the busy highway that runs along Seattle's waterfront. 

Puget Sound Energy

Winds that toppled trees and caused about 150,000 power outages around the Puget Sound region have subsided, but they made for some exciting weather Thursday night, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. 

Tim Durkan

Stormy weather is not unusual this time of year. But the wind has blown in an all-time record high December temperature.

The National Weather Service says 66 degrees were charted Wednesday at Sea-Tac Airport. It’s the warmest for any December going back to 1945, when record keeping began. That caught the attention of KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A state review of logging near the deadly March landslide in Oso has found that a timber company logged one acre more than was allowed under a 2004 permit, but the report was inconclusive on whether logging strayed into a more restrictive area.

Washington Department of Commerce photo

Imagine a future in which a third of our nation’s electricity came from wind power. Activists around the country say that’s possible in the next 15 years. Here in Washington, it would mean getting eight times more electricity from windmills.

That’s according to a new report from Environment Washington, the organization that has been spearheading policies to phase out disposable plastic shopping bags here and all over the country. The group, which is part of a nationwide network, released its report, titled More Wind, Less Warming, in about 20 states simultaneously this week.

Joel Telling / Flickr

Replace your wool hat and gloves with your rain gear. We’re back to warm and wet weather, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

The rain will settle in Friday and temperatures will rise into the 50s, says Mass, setting the stage for the rest of the weekend.

Rick McGuire / Courtesy of Washington Wild

Washington stands to get a new national park and thousands of acres of wilderness and wild and scenic river areas if the U.S. Senate approves a massive defense package that has passed the House.

The package, which has a handful of public lands bills tacked on to it, appears headed for passage next week. And in a curious twist, the tragic landslide in Oso seems to have opened the door to a bipartisan solution.

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.