Environment

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

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Leaders of the Snoqualmie Tribe announced it would donate $275,000 to six groups and agencies responding to last weekend's deadly mudslide in Oso.

Tribal elders announced donations of $50,000 to the Oso, Arlington and Darrington fire departments on Friday. They'll also contribute $50,000 apiece to the Red Cross and the Cascade Valley Hospital Relief Foundation, in addition to $25,000 to the Snohomish County Search & Rescue K-9 team.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Though much of the Puget Sound region is "especially vulnerable" to landslides like the one that claimed 14 lives in Snohomish County over the weekend, only a handful of Washington homeowners' insurance policies would cover damages from a similar disaster.

25 Years Later, A Look Back At The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

Mar 24, 2014
Kimbal Sundberg / Alaska Dept Fish and Game

At midnight 25 years ago, a ship called Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound, spilling enough crude oil to fill 17 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Gary Kramer / AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Don’t be alarmed if you hear the eerie sound of wolves howling in the distance at noon today. The group howl heard in the city will be put on by humans.

The howl is a protest action aimed at stopping active management programs that allow the killing of a species, which, until recently, was listed as endangered under federal law. 

hj_west / Flickr

Federal regulators have given unanimous approval for an underwater energy project powered by the tides in Washington’s Admiralty Inlet.

Two turbines will take advantage of the fast-moving currents and daily tidal movements in the busy passage west of Whidbey Island, at a depth of about 200 feet.

Tom Banse

Once upon a time, salmon and steelhead swam more than a thousand miles upriver to the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, at the foot of the Rockies in British Columbia.

Those epic migrations ended in 1938 with the construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

This week, tribes from both sides of the U.S.-Canada border along with scientists and policymakers are meeting in Spokane to figure out how Columbia River fish could be restored to their entire historical range. The idea draws passionate supporters, but has unknown costs that you might be asked to help pay.

University of Washington

It’s often said that the best way to reduce our carbon emissions is through energy conservation. One way to do that more effectively is by using computer technology to make the electric grid more intelligent.  

It’s known as smart grid technology and for the past two years, the U.S. Department of Energy has been spending $178 million to test it in five Northwest states.

One of the biggest demonstration projects is on the campus of the University of Washington where knowledge of when power is used is saving big money.

Bellamy Pailthorp

Washington state has banned hatchery-raised steelhead from three tributaries of the Upper Columbia River basin. The aim of these so-called "gene banks" is to maintain strongholds for wild fish, and the state plans to designate additional gene banks in the future.

So why were the state and federal governments back in court this week, defending the decision to place a new hatchery on the Elwha River as part of the dam removal process?

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Puget Sound Partnership, one of the state’s newest agencies, is holding a two-day meeting on salmon recovery this week. 

On the agenda is a presentation called “report card forum,” but there won’t be an announcement of a letter grade. That’s because there isn’t yet a grading system in place, says Jeaneatte Dorner, the agency’s Director of Local Ecosystem and Salmon Recovery.

“And until we actually have that system in place, it’s sort of like we don’t have the test scores to actually give a grade,” she said.

Earl Steele / Flickr

Steelhead trout may be Washington’s official state fish, but they also make up some of the region's most vulnerable populations, first listed as threatened in the Columbia River basin in 1998. 

In an effort to reverse their decline, the state has designated three tributaries of the Columbia River as wild steelhead gene banks, which means they’re off-limits to hatchery fish.

Olympic National Park

A centuries-old red western cedar tree in Olympic National Park fell victim to a storm over the weekend.

Olympic National Park spokesperson Barb Maynes said the beloved tree known as the “Kalaloch cedar” split in two on Saturday, and a large portion of it fell away.

“It certainly has been an iconic tree for many, many years,” said Maynes. 

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

U.S. senators pulled an all-nighter Monday night to call attention to climate change. Democrats Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Barbara Boxer of California led the effort to shine light on the need for more curbs on carbon emissions.

Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray were both present for the event. Cantwell took the floor early Tuesday morning following more than 12 hours of testimony. She said the issue isn’t about the future; it’s about negative effects that industries here are already seeing.

AP Photo/Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Exactly three years have passed since a huge tsunami in March 2011 took thousands of lives in Japan and washed whole villages out to sea. Suspected tsunami debris started arriving on our shores the following December, but it's been less than feared.

USGS

Three years ago today, a massive earthquake ripped through Japan, and the resulting tsunami sent thousands of tons of debris floating toward North America.

But a tsunami could also happen right along the Northwest coast, on the Cascadia subduction zone, which stretches from northern Vancouver Island to California’s Cape Mendocino.

Matthew Brown / AP Photo

Seattle has joined Spokane and Bellingham in passing a resolution to restrict oil shipments by rail until further review.

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed the resolution co-sponsored by council member Mike O’Brien and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

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