Environment

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

AP Photo

Seattle is on its way to joining Spokane and Bellingham in demanding tougher scrutiny of oil trains traveling through the city. A resolution that would restrict oil shipments until further review has passed out of a city council committee, and is scheduled for a vote before the full council on Monday.

Michael Matti / Flickr

Washington would have an official state waterfall under a measure heading to Gov. Jay Inslee's desk.

House Bill 2119 passed through the Senate 46-3 Tuesday. It would designate Palouse Falls in southeastern Washington as the official state waterfall.

AP Photo/Grant County Public Utility

Water behind the Wanapum Dam near Vantage is being drawn down 26 feet to relieve pressure on the big crack in the structure. Officials say dozens of engineers are on site, and more around the country are studying the problem.

Robin W. Baird / AP Photo/ Cascadia Research Collective

Active sonar is the Navy’s best weapon to detect the presence of hostile submarines. But that same powerful underwater pulse of sound can harm or even kill whales and other marine mammals.

Now, the Navy is seeking permission to continue using a huge swath of the Northwest coast, from northern California to the Canadian border, for a wide range of naval training and practice, including sonar. The Navy says it’s taking precautions to protect whales, but others say it’s not enough. 

Al Grillo / AP Photo

Washington's U.S. senators are praising a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency for starting a process that could potentially restrict the development of proposed gold-and-copper mine in southwest Alaska.

The EPA on Friday asked Alaska and those behind the proposed Pebble Mine to make their case for the project.

Courtesy of Washington Sea Grant

Garfield High School students will put their smarts to the test to defend their title at the annual Orca Bowl at the University of Washington this weekend.

In a competition that slightly resembles the TV game show “Jeopardy,” 20 teams from around the state will try to answer multiple-choice questions about marine sciences, many of them specifically geared toward this year's theme of ocean acidification. Then finalists from Ocean Science Bowls around the country will meet again in May to vie for the national title. This year, it's taking place for the first time in Seattle.

The environmental group Climate Solutions is urging Gov. Jay Inslee to exercise his executive power to adopt a clean fuels standard. 

The group's leaders spoke to reporters on Thursday in hopes of adding momentum to their efforts to follow in the footsteps of California and British Columbia.

labspic / Flickr

When you walk into an evergreen forest, you get a whiff of that unmistakable smell of pine.

It turns out some of those vapors come from newly-discovered particles that seem to come out of nowhere and cool the forest. 

Researchers at the University of Washington have confirmed the finding, which they say will help scientists more accurately forecast climate change.

Erin Hennessey photo / KPLU News

Seattle is well-known as a city that loves its trees. The city even has a plan to increase its tree canopy to cover 30 percent of its open skies by the year 2037.

But the trees can sometimes get out of hand. Their powerful roots can be downright treacherous when they push through sidewalks.

So, what to do if you see one that has you worried? Or if you stub your toe on a bulging root? 

Bellamy Pailthorp

It might surprise you to learn that you can dump the contents of your toilet into Puget Sound and not get in trouble. That’s essentially what some boaters do when they discharge their sewage into the water instead of pumping it out at a dock or marina.

The state Department of Ecology has proposed a federally-enforced ban on dumping in Puget Sound to stop the practice.

Amy Jankowiak with the state Department of Ecology says the state has been working on evaluating the feasibility and appropriateness of putting a dumping ban in place for two years. The department has now written the proposed law, which is ready for public comment.

Gosia Wozniacka / AP Photo

People on the West Coast have counted on fish hatcheries for more than a century to help rebuild populations of salmon and steelhead and bring them to a level where government would no longer need to regulate fisheries.

But hatcheries have thus far failed to resurrect wild fish runs and artificially bred fish have come to dominate rivers. Critics say their influx harms wild salmon and masks the fact that wild populations are barely hanging on.

Courtesy of John Gussman

The slow-motion demolition of two hydroelectric dams on the Elwha River is radically changing the landscape near Port Angeles, but it’s not a scene you can witness on your own. 

Just a handful of dedicated photographers and filmmakers have been given permission to place their cameras at key posts near the Glines Canyon Dam to capture the changes as crews of skilled technicians carefully notch into the concrete walls and place dynamite in just the right places.

The close proximity of a group of mountains known as The Rattles to the the Tri-Cities in southeast Washington, means urban dwellers can hike a 1,500 foot peak and enjoy dramatic views on their lunch break -- or even after supper.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

State and local regulators say they'll consider a sweeping environmental review of the impacts of a proposed terminal in southwest Washington that would export millions of tons of coal to Asia.

The state Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County said Wednesday its review includes looking at train traffic impacts along the entire route as the coal is moved by train from Montana and Wyoming throughout the state. The review will also study global-warming effects of burning the exported coal in Asia.

U.S. Forest Service

Forest managers in western Washington and northern Idaho will be closing some popular camping areas this year. They say nearby trees are infected with root rot and post a threat to campers. It’s a problem Northwest forests may see more of in the coming years.

The Bumblebee Campground near the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River is typically full of people every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But Jason Kirchner of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests says inspectors recently discovered all 25 campsites were close to at least one diseased tree at risk of falling.

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