Environment

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

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

BOISE, Idaho – This year might not be a record year for Idaho’s endangered sockeye salmon. But biologists with Idaho Fish and Game say the returning adult salmon count is already above expectations for the year. They get an idea of those numbers during the annual “Sockeye Roundup.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress is set to renew the Endangered Species Act this fall. One of the hot button debates emerging in the nation’s capital revolves around the killing of a north Idaho grizzly bear.

Idaho’s congressional delegation has introduced a bill on the issue that critics call redundant.

Medford, Ore -- The Environmental Protection Agency placed a housing development in Southern Oregon on the superfund list Thursday.

Eighty people, about half of them children, used to live at North Ridge Estates in Klamath Falls. The EPA began cleaning up asbestos there in 2003. The agency removed almost 150 tons of contaminated soil and debris, the remains of army barracks that had once been on the site. But each spring, more asbestos worked its way to the surface.

National Park Service

Six webcams will snap pictures throughout the day during the three-year removal process the Elwha River dams.

Carol Munro / Flickr

RICHLAND, Wash. – As salmon wind their way through dams on the Columbia River, a small percentage ultimately end up passing through turbines. A project that helps fish move more safely through turbines recently received a grant to expand its scope.

U.S. Army / Flickr

RICHLAND, Wash. – As the Pacific Northwest begins to integrate more renewable energy, grid operators sometimes have trouble predicting the variability that comes with it. Researchers have found a way to use electric vehicles to help balance wind power’s inconsistency.

BOISE, Idaho – Two wolf advocacy organizations officially made their case last week in federal court to get wolves listed as endangered species. They want the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule that taking wolves off the Endangered Species list earlier this year was unconstitutional.

EPA

An environmental clean-up settlement could also be a mini-stimulus for the Inland Northwest economy. A federal judge has approved the Hecla Mining company's $263 million settlement in one of the largest superfund clean-up projects in the country.

Courtesy Washington State Department of Natural Resources

The state is adding 15,000 acres of protected land around the Nisqually Reach Wildlife Refuge, exempting it from commercial development of any kind.

All the land is under water. It’s the seventh and southern-most area in Puget Sound to be designated as an Aquatic Reserve. Signing of a new management plan takes place today at 1:30 p.m.

bikehikedive / Flickr

Responsible fishing and fish consumption were among the agenda items at the annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society in Seattle. The conference (in its 141st year) has brought thousands of scientists, wildlife managers and other experts together for five days of wide-ranging discussions.

One of the more intriguing messages: Eating more sardines may be one of the best things you can do to help keep the planet healthy.

Lynette Schimming / Flickr

RICHLAND, Wash. – It's been 30 years since the last outbreak, but now white butterflies are flitting between pine trees across areas of eastern Oregon and Washington.

The same forces of nature that create natural hot springs and volcanoes may soon become a source of electricity in Snohomish County. The county’s Public Utility District has broken ground on a deep geothermic well, just north of the town of Skykomish.

The exploratory well is the first of its kind in Washington. 

RICHLAND, Wash. – New projects in the Pacific Northwest may soon improve the efficiency and reduce costs of hydropower generation, thanks to a new round of federal spending announced today.

Two projects in Washington received grants to help improve hydropower generation.

Ballard Raingardengue blog

Just a year ago, Seattle was promoting its roadside rain garden project in Ballard. Now, the city is spending half a million dollars to dismantle huge sections of it.

Some neighborhood residents say, despite good intentions, the whole thing has been a fiasco.

Photo courtesy Children's Hospital

It’s been eight months since Nissan made its first delivery of its all-electric Leaf car to a customer in the pacific Northwest.

Now, driving an all-electric vehicle is well on its way to becoming mainstream reality. A pilot program is installing thousands of electric car charging stations in the Puget Sound region and making them more available to regular folks.

The Eugene-based Oregon Toxics Alliance has published a report that looks at pesticide use on 5 state highways in Lane County. The organization wants the state to reduce its use of chemicals along roadways.

Tim / Flickr

EAST SAND ISLAND, Wash. — An attempt by government wildlife experts to control seabirds at the mouth of the Columbia River has led to some unintended consequences, all of which have been detrimental to salmon.

Northwest News Network

BOISE, Idaho – As Idaho opened it’s 2011 wolf hunt today, critics started voicing their concern across the country.

One group asked people at Central Park in New York City to call Idaho Governor Butch Otter and ask him to stop the hunt.

The New York based group Friends of Animals says this is a last minute effort in response to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week to turn down a request to stop the wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana.

Chris Pike / Flickr

Sockeye salmon returning to Canada this year will be tested by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for radiation contamination that might be picked up in the North Pacific from Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster.

However, Washington state officials have no plans to test salmon specifically for radiation related to the Japanese disaster because earlier environmental testing showed so few signs of radiation that current levels in fish, if any, would be "undetectable," a spokesperson for the Department of Health said.

Melissa Randazzo / Courtesy of the Northwest Raptor and Wildlife Center

SEQUIM, Wash. — Nine orphaned barn owl owlets that were raised with the help of a couple of surrogate mother barn owls have flown the nest at the Northwest Raptor and Wildlife Center in Sequim.

More details are coming out about the north Idaho man accused of killing a grizzly bear on his property. That's spurring Idaho politicians to take aim at the federal government and the environmental regulations the man is accused of violating.

Wildlife experts say bear attacks are rising – but then, so is the number of people in bear country. Yellowstone National Park officials confirmed that a grizzly bear killed a hiker from Michigan. That's the second grizzly-caused death in the park this summer.

According to the Montana-based Center for Wildlife Information, run-ins with grizzly and black bears have increased in the last 20 years in North America. To some degree, that's expected. Bear populations have dramatically increased, and more people live and recreate in bear habitat now.

Seth Bynum / Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Now a little over two months after their birth, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium's two clouded leopard cubs, named Taji and Sumalee, are more active than ever, if the new photos released are anything to go by. (More photos inside.)

Courtesy of the Department of Energy.

RICHLAND, Wash. — U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings says he is pursuing legislation to recognize the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor as a national historic park.

Idaho politicians are questioning the federal government's decision to press charges against a man for killing a grizzly bear near his house. Governor Butch Otter sent a letter to the Department of the Interior asking Secretary Ken Salazar to look into the north Idaho case. Senator Mike Crapo is also pushing for answers from the Interior Department.

Thirty-three-year-old Jeremy Hill faces up to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine for killing a grizzly bear. The grizzly is a threatened species.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Researchers recently received a grant to develop a better process to capture carbon dioxide that could save more than half of what coal-fired power plants now spend on the technology.

An oil-loving clay used to sop up creosote in the Portland Harbor has been so successful that it will be applied to a much larger project this fall on the Grand Calumet River in Gary, Indiana.

University of Texas Professor Danny Reible worked on the Willamette River cleanup site. Thousands of tons of a specially-formulated clay were used to cap the sediment.

Sam Beebe / Flickr

The U.S. Army says its contractors have quickened the pace of weapons incineration at the Umatilla Chemical Depot. Fewer than 400 ton-sized containers of deadly liquid mustard agent remain at the northeast Oregon site.

WSDOT photo

Get ready to pay if you drive on the floating bridge across Lake Washington. The state Department of Transportation has announced the much-delayed tolls on the 520 bridge will start in December.

Tolling on the bridge was originally set to begin this spring, then that was bumped to this summer. Now, the state says the all-electronic system will be up and running four months from now. 

Kerry Lannert / KPLU

The sweet smell from your dryer vent could contain toxic pollution.

A new study from the University of Washington found hazardous chemicals in the air after clothes were laundered with scented detergents and dryer sheets. At least two of the chemicals are considered carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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