Environment

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

AP Photo/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via The Bulletin

A new study suggests steelhead trout can have trouble using the Earth's magnetic field to navigate if they were raised in a hatchery, where the field may be distorted by iron pipes.

Chris Kittredge Photo

In recent years, the Samish River Basin in Skagit County has suffered severe pollution from fecal coliform bacteria. Water polluted with untreated sewage and manure leads to frequent closures of shellfish beds and beaches. County authorities are testing a new method to find the sources: poop-sniffing dogs

Tim Hill / Washington Department of Ecology

Jawless and eel-like with concentric rings of teeth, the Pacific lamprey's unsavory looks may be one reason why populations have declined. Now, some people are taking charge of restoring the fish.

There's Now An App To Report Sightings Of Invasive Species

May 29, 2014
Martin Jambon / Flickr

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Utility crews are about to take a busy northeast Seattle thoroughfare out of commission for six months.

But in exchange for shutting down five blocks of 35th Avenue Northeast, utilities officials say the neighborhood will get relief from chronic flooding and a very new look for the city's longest creek.

The north and south branches of Thornton Creek converge just east of 35th Avenue. Floodwaters often submerge sections of the street after big storms and can inundate homes, Meadowbrook Community Center and nearby Nathan Hale High School.

Kim Keating / USGS

Bighorn sheep in the Northwest have their lambs in early spring. About now, those babies start playing together in the mountains — a sort of lamb daycare.

But that sweet, social behavior is spreading a deadly disease in several herds throughout the region.

EPA

With the weather warming up, work has resuming at one of the largest Superfund sites in the nation. The EPA is trying to clear decades of mine pollution from Idaho's Coeur d'Alene River Basin and the upper reaches of the Spokane River. And this summer, managers are using an environmental remedy you might not expect: pavement.

Sushan Han and Kristin Mansfield / Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to find out the cause of a fast-spreading hoof disease plaguing elk in southwest Washington.

The disease causes hoof claws to swell, grow long, twist around each other and sometimes slough off completely, leaving some animals limping around on nubs.

Kristen Steele / Flickr

Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington will likely adopt a California-style pollution limit on gasoline and other transportation fuels.

Inslee recently ordered a feasibility and cost study of a low-carbon fuel standard.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A small herd of mountain caribou found in the Northwest will retain federal protection, officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said, but it will be as a threatened species rather than endangered.

These caribou are the last in the Lower 48 states. It's believed there are 20 to 30 of them left.

Photo by andreyphoto.com Flickr

Global climate change is having tangible effects all over the country, including in Washington and the greater northwest.

That’s according to the latest National Climate Assessment released Tuesday by the Obama administration.

In the wake of the deadly disaster in Oso, many people may be worrying about the potential for mudslides in their neighborhoods.

Don Ryan / AP Photo

Scientists monitoring Mount St. Helens confirmed Wednesday that magma is on the rise and "re-pressurizing" the volcano in southwest Washington.

However, they also stress there are no signs of an imminent eruption.

Potjie photo / Flickr via Compfight

In 2011, biofuels in the Northwest got a huge boost. The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $80 million in grants to researchers at the University of Washington and Washington State University. It’s meant to help turn woody biomass into environmentally-friendly fuels for cars and jets.

Now they’re at about the half-way point in their research, and several hundred are attending a conference on wood-based biofuels in Seattle.  

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.

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