Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse, KPLU’s and N3’s Regional Correspondent, roves the Northwest to report on broad themes and telling details. His topics run the gamut from business to the environment and human interest. Home base is in Olympia, a legacy of a previously held state government beat from 1991-2003. Although he grew up in Seattle, Tom's radio career began by chance in Minnesota at Carleton College’s student radio station. Tom's memorable moment in public radio: "I am indebted to many people for tips and tutelage, but certainly some of the bluntest -- at times unprintable -- guidance came from NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg. I interned at NPR in 1989 and was privileged to keep Nina's chair warm at the U-S Supreme Court or at the high-octane Iran-Contra trial of Oliver North, wherever she wasn't at the time. Heady stuff for a tenderfoot reporter."

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Rick Bowmer / AP Photo

Hydropower dams built without fish ladders have blocked migratory fish from the upper reaches of the Columbia and Snake Rivers for decades. Tribal leaders from across the region gathered this week in Portland to strategize how to return salmon to their full historic range.

AP Photo

Washington state environmental regulators are expecting a lively crowd in the coastal city of Hoquiam on Thursday when the public will get a chance to weigh in about increased crude oil train traffic. But one powerful state senator says the controversial oil trains are needed.

Developers are proposing side-by-side marine terminal expansions on Grays Harbor along the Washington coast. They would receive crude oil by rail from the Northern Plains and send it out by barge and tanker to West Coast refineries.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

 

State wildlife officers trapped and killed six salmon-chomping sea lions at Bonneville Dam earlier this week.

It's part of a renewed campaign against nuisance predators who follow the spring salmon run.

Tom Banse / Flags fly at half mast in front of Washington state Capitol.

Flags will fly at half-mast across Washington state until next Tuesday to honor the victims of last month's deadly landslide. Earlier Tuesday, the Snohomish County medical examiner raised the death toll by one to 37. Seven others remain missing.

InciWeb

 

Wildfire season officially starts on April 15 in Washington state. Oregon and Idaho have rolling starts to fire precaution rules, depending on local conditions.

Fire managers are looking ahead to a fairly "normal" wildfire season in Idaho and Washington this year. Drought-ridden central and southern Oregon though are classified at higher risk.

Tom Banse

Thanks to late-season snow that fell in many areas, some Cascade ski areas will welcome skiers and snowboarders well past Easter.

There will be end-of-season parties at at least nine Northwest ski resorts this weekend. Timing means everything for the bottom line of these resort companies. But a strong finish doesn't necessarily make up for a late start like we saw this season.

NWRFC

Irrigators, hydropower dam operators and tugboat captains are sitting pretty across most of the Northwest, according to the latest regional water supply forecast presented Thursday.

Andrew Russell / Flickr

A federal fisheries management panel approved what some charter captains are calling the best ocean fishing season in 20 years.

Meeting at a hotel in Vancouver, Washington, the Pacific Fishery Management Council on Wednesday adopted the 2014 season quotas unanimously after days of lengthy negotiations between commercial troll and recreational fishing representatives, treaty tribes and government regulators.

The quotas are a big turnaround from the recent past when ocean salmon fishing was sharply curtailed or not allowed at all.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says he's pleased with the federal disaster relief flowing to the state for last month's deadly landslide in Snohomish County. But during an interview with public radio Wednesday, Inslee said the arrival of the Federal Emergency Management Agency aid does not replace private charity.

Tom Banse

Here's a surprising fact: the largest bitcoin mine in North America is located on the outskirts of Wenatchee, Washington.

It's not a mine in the traditional sense. In these mines, you won't have helmets, lamps or pickaxes, and there's no danger of cave in. In this case, the mine consists of two warehouses that have been converted into a data center.

A big measles outbreak in British Columbia has crossed over the border into the American Northwest.

Health officers in B.C.'s Fraser Valley southeast of Vancouver have confirmed more than 350 cases of measles there since an outbreak started in early March. Six additional cases have now been diagnosed in Washington’s Whatcom County.

Erin Falcone / Cascadia Research under NOAA permit 16111

Think about how long you can hold your breath, then consider this.

Northwest-based whale researchers have documented a new breath-hold record among mammals. They timed a dive by a beaked whale that lasted 2 hours and 17 minutes.

A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One by scientists with the Cascadia Research Collective of Olympia revealed two new records. The researchers tagged Cuvier's beaked whales, a rarely-seen species which forages in deep ocean waters worldwide, including off the U.S. West Coast.

WSDOT

Heavy rain in Friday’s forecast threatens to hinder ongoing search and recovery operations at the side of the catastrophic mudslide near Oso.

Mother Nature is just not cooperating with the hundreds of searchers and heavy equipment operators at the scene of Saturday’s deadly landslide.

Spc. Matthew Sissel / 122D PAOC Washington National Guard

A local fire chief is warning communities around the deadly landslide in northwest Washington to brace for a jump in the death toll Friday.

Meanwhile, fresh crews are rotating in to relieve exhausted first responders. Friday is the seventh day of the rescue and recovery mission at the place known in shorthand as “the pile.”

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Emergency managers at the scene of Saturday’s deadly landslide near Oso say several hundred searchers will once again fan out over the debris field to look for victims on Wednesday. 

On Tuesday night, the local fire chief raised the death toll from 14 to 16, and said eight additional bodies have been located but not yet recovered.

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