Bellamy Pailthorp | KNKX

Bellamy Pailthorp

Environment Reporter

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat from the Seattle offices of KNKX Public Radio News, where she has worked since 1999. She also hosts and produces the weekly segment, The Weather With Cliff Mass, which airs every Friday. She holds a Masters in journalism from New York's Columbia University, where she completed the Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business reporting in 2006 mid-career during her stint on KNKX’s Business and Labor Beat from 2000-2012.

From 1989-98 she lived in Berlin, Germany freelancing for NPR and working as a bi-lingual producer for Deutsche Welle TV after receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1989 for a project on theater studies and communist history. She holds a Bachelors’ degree in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. (Yes, she is fluent in German.)

She strives to tell memorable stories about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Character-driven narratives of exploration and innovation excite her. 

Outside work, she practices and instructs yoga, walks half marathons with friends, backpacks with her husband and extended family, reads and watches fiction with nieces, enjoys tasting new foods and admiring all kinds of animals -- especially her two house cats, who often remind her she should spend more time sitting on the couch with them.

Ways to Connect

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

Friday is officially the final day of summer, marked by the fall equinox. Showery weather is ushering in the transition in western Washington, though it’s expected to make way for some glorious conditions next week.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Monday is the deadline for comments on proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act. Conservation advocates gathered Wednesday at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo to voice their concerns. They say the federal law is under attack and that the proposed changes would gut it.  

ANDREW REDING / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

The conservation strategy for an enigmatic sea bird could chart the future of our state-owned forests.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Washington Department of Natural Resources are taking comments on the latest set of management options. All aim to balance logging revenue with steps to save the marbled murrelet.

Bellamy Pailthorp

There's one coal-fired power plant left in Washington state. But it won't be burning coal for much longer: It's scheduled to shut down or to switch to natural gas by 2025.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Communities concerned about marine health in Washington and British Columbia will take part Saturday in a Salish Sea Day of Action.   

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Heavy rain hit many parts of western Washington overnight and into Friday morning – a change welcomed by many, after what was reportedly the state’s third-driest and third-hottest summer of the century.

Jackie Johnston, File / AP Photo

California made headlines this week as Governor Jerry Brown signed a pledge to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. Clean energy advocates in Washington State say we can do it here too.

Katy Foster / NOAA Fisheries, under permit 18786-03.

Experts say they’re preparing a plan to capture and treat a sick, critically endangered orca if there is no way to save it in the wild.  They're preparing to rescue the animal known as J-50 if she separates from her family or gets stranded while alive.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The good news is that air quality has improved dramatically, and we no longer have to worry about breathing in smoke from wildfires. The bad news is that the clouds and showers moving in with a rapid cooldown this weekend are just the beginning of what will likely be several months of cooler fall weather.

“Summer is over,” said KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

There’s a push to restore tidelands and wetlands all over the country. It’s widely acknowledged that these more natural landscapes provide big benefits to water quality and wildlife.

But, what if following this trend would mean eliminating a manmade feature that’s become integral to a community -- and is a signature feature of the state capitol?  That’s the debate heating up in Olympia, where the fate of Capitol Lake hangs in the balance. A $4-million dollar process to study the options for its future has just begun.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

People in the Pacific Northwest are breathing easier, now that a big push of cool marine air has surged in from the coast, clearing local skies of smoke and ash from forest fires throughout the western states and Canada.

After another week with some of the worst air quality ever experienced here, clouds and cooler temperatures come as a huge relief. But KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s not completely over yet.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

A cloudy start to Friday with slightly cooler temperatures signaled a return to more normal conditions in the Puget Sound region after a week in which air quality reached its worst levels ever for a 24-hour period, measured by the particulate matter in the air.

U.S. Forest Service / file photo

Wildfires know no boundaries. They jump from public to private land, from national forests to state parks. And local communities are often the best experts on which forested areas should be managed first to tame the risk of their spread. That’s the word from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has announced a new, collaborative approach for managing wildfire risk.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Beyond the Frame – To Be Native is the name of a series of exhibits around the region, honoring the 150th birthday of Seattle photographer Edward S. Curtis.

Curtis is a controversial figure. He sought to document Native American cultures, based on the belief that they would soon vanish. 

Katy Foster / NOAA Fisheries, permit #18786.

An international team of whale researchers has administered an emergency shot of antibiotics to an endangered, wild killer whale.

The highly unusual move took place near San Juan Island on Thursday during an observation session that lasted about six hours.

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

Enjoy the warmth while you can. After a long string of warmer-than-usual, sunny skies in the greater Puget Sound area, cooler temps and rain are in the weekend forecast.  

KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says Friday will be the last really warm day for a while.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Encouraging more inclusiveness so that people of color can better enjoy public lands is a topic that’s been in the news a lot in recent years.

One person behind that message is local journalist and photographer Glenn Nelson. He’s a former writer for The Seattle Times and the founder of a nonprofit advocacy web site called The Trail Posse.

Katy Foster / NOAA Fisheries

Federal scientists and tribal fishermen have been preparing to take unprecedented action to help an ailing orca whale – if they ever see her again.

NOAA Fisheries/Vancouver Aquarium / via AP / File

A multitude of factors are harming Puget Sound’s local population of endangered orcas: water pollution, noise, loss of habitat.

But topping that list right now for many scientists is recovery of their primary food source: Chinook salmon.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

Cloudy skies, cool marine air and patches of drizzle greeted folks in the Puget Sound region Friday morning for a second day.

The filtered light and soft cloud layer signaled a return to more typical weather after nearly three months of dry skies and above-normal temperatures. The days of temperatures in the 90s are done, says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

It’s early days yet, but the first draft of a new law to protect and increase Seattle’s tree canopy is out. The proposed ordinance extends safeguards to all trees that have a diameter at breast height of six inches or more.  

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Seattle is working on changes to its tree protection ordinance. Trees provide shade and clean the air. They’re acknowledged by the City of Seattle for the ecosystem services they provide, which are increasingly called for as the climate warms. 

P. Granger / Washington Sea Grant

As the climate warms, oceans expand and polar ice caps melt. This means sea level rise is a reality that land owners and local governments must prepare for. It brings with it associated risks, such as flooding and erosion which can impact everything from sewage treatment plants to roads and bridges.

A new report from Washington’s "Coastal Resilience Project" homes in on exactly how high the tides could rise in 171 different sites and communities based on the latest science.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

It’s been hot in the Pacific Northwest, with nearly two weeks of clear blue skies and temperatures near 90 degrees. There has been no rain in sight, just a glorious backdrop for mountain and water views, perfect weather for swimming or running through sprinklers.

Expect more of that over the weekend and through Monday at least, says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Courtesy King County, Freshwater Algae Bloom Program

Lakes close because of toxic algae every year, especially as temperatures climb in summer. 

Pierce County’s Lake Tapps is the latest example. Authorities warned people not to swim in the northeast part of the lake last week.

In King County, caution signs remain up at Mallard Lake in White Center, where a sample showed toxicity at levels higher than the state’s guidelines advise on July 10.

Jeremy Hainsworth / AP

The Canadian government has taken another step towards buying the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline. This is the latest move in a deal that would lead to a massive increase in oil tanker traffic through Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, made possible by the Canadian government. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Youth activists concerned about climate change are gearing up for protest marches worldwide this weekend. On Saturday, for the second year running, they’ll take part in an event called The Zero Hour that was conceived by a young woman from Seattle.

Jaime Margonlin, a student at Seattle’s Holy Names Academy, was inspired by the women’s marches around the country and wanted to do something similar for climate. She’s in D.C. for the main march this year. But the movement she started is growing. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A mild and cloudy Friday will give way to gradually warmer temps, with sunny skies by Sunday and hot weather in the 90s Monday and Tuesday.

That’s all we’re telling you about the specifics of the forecast this week because we have something to celebrate. It’s been 5 years since I started hosting the show, so we thought it would be a good time to pull back the curtain on what we’re aiming for with the segment and why.

courtesy Brandon Cadwell / National Park Service

Hot, dry weather is partly to blame for a wildfire in an unexpected place. At San Juan Island National Historical Park, hot metal debris from a historic weapons demonstration on Sunday caused a blaze that quickly spread across parched grassland prairie.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Where there’s heat, there is often fire. The fire risk on both sides of the Cascade Mountains is high in the week ahead, as temperatures will be zooming up as high as 90 degrees after a rather dry June.

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