Environment | KNKX

Environment

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

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NOAA Fisheries under NMFS research permit #19091.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca recovery task force has issued a draft report with possible recommendations. It's 53 pages long and contains about 50 detailed potential actions.

The public is invited to comment as the task force works to narrow their list before submitting it to the state Legislature.

Andrew Selsky / AP Photo

State and federal agencies are working to build their capacity for the use of prescribed fire to manage forests.  

That process began Sunday in Cle Elum as participants in a training exchange gathered for exercises that will continue over the next two weeks. They include intentionally set fires on up to 930 acres in central and eastern Washington.

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.  

Ed Ronco

People who love nature love to be in the wilderness. The problem is if too many nature-lovers visit one location, it's no longer wild. This conundrum is more likely to happen in the areas around a major population center like Seattle. 

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.   

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.

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.

In 2013, the U.S. Forest Service was looking for someone to reduce wildfire risk and rehabilitate a stand of overgrown trees on the Colville National Forest in northeastern Washington.

Colville-based Vaagen Brothers Lumber submitted the one and only proposal to take on the ‘A to Z’ project. It’s called A to Z because what the company accepted responsibility for was everything – from start to finish. That includes a lengthy and federally required environmental analysis, public comment and the actual work.

Wildfire activity in the American West is likely to get worse in coming years. A new study out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences points to the lack of precipitation in the summer as the major driving factor when it comes to increasing fire severity.

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.

Fires across the region have blanketed the Northwest in smoke. Blazes in California and British Columbia are also adding to the thick, reddish-gray haze.  

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. 

After carrying her deceased baby for at least 17 days and 1,000 miles, an orca mother has shown signs of returning to normal.

She was seen Saturday with fellow members of her pod, chasing a school of salmon. She is no longer carrying her baby, and she looks healthy. "Her tour of grief is now over and her behavior is remarkably frisky," according to a statement on the Center for Whale Research's website.

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.

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.

Associated Press

Two orca stories have been prominent in news in recent days: An endangered orca is still clinging to her dead calf more than two weeks after it died. And scientists are considering intervening to help a different young orca, known as J-50, which they fear is sick and near death. 

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.

An emaciated orca from the Pacific Northwest’s critically-endangered resident killer whale population could get a pole injection of medicine under the latest prefered option of an emergency response team. 

An emaciated, 4-year-old Pacific Northwest orca is drawing alarm.

NOAA Fisheries spokesman Michael Milstein said feeding live Chinook salmon to the female orca, possibly laced with medication, is being considered.

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.

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.

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. 

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