Environment | KNKX


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

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the rusty patched bumblebee an endangered species — the first such designation for a bumblebee and for a bee species in the continental U.S.

The protected status, which goes into effect on Feb. 10, includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. It also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funds.

Jeff Barnard / AP Photo / file

A controversial recreational activity called “suction dredge mining” has led to moratoriums on the practice in California and Oregon. But Washington continues to allow it. Conservation groups have now threatened to sue the state unless new regulations are passed.

Hundreds of thousands of people tuned in to an hours-long rescue operation of a deer hopelessly stuck on ice in Simsbury, Conn.

The scared deer splayed on the frozen river was streamed live by several television channels on Monday, in some cases for more than three hours, as rescue workers tried to get it to safety.

You can watch the full, agonizing rescue operation in this video — it begins about 2 1/2 hours in.

Jackie Johnston, File / AP Photo

Environmental groups are asking a federal court to halt 11 infrastructure projects on four lower Snake River dams in Washington state that could ultimately be removed following an environmental review now underway.

The notice filed late Monday in Portland, Oregon, estimates the cost of the projects at $110 million.

Andrew Reding / Flickr Creative Commons

How to protect marbled murrelet habitat in state-owned forests is in the spotlight this week in Washington, as the state’s Department of Natural Resources kicks off a series of public meetings on a range of strategies for a 50-year conservation plan of the endangered seabird.

A powerful winter storm in California has brought down an ancient tree, carved into a living tunnel more than a century ago.

The "Pioneer Cabin Tree," a sequoia in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, saw horses and cars pass through it over the years. More recently, only hikers were allowed to walk through the massive tree.

Over the weekend, a powerful winter storm slammed into California and Nevada, prompting flooding and mudslides in some regions. The Associated Press reports it might be the biggest storm to hit the region in more than a decade.

Andy Clayton-King / AP Photo

A coalition of activists will gather at the federal building in Seattle Thursday afternoon to demonstrate against the Dakota Access Pipeline. They’re calling on the public to join them in defunding the project by closing accounts at Wells Fargo Bank. 

The protestors say they’ll start the action across the street from the federal building at the Wells Fargo Center, where a large number of them will close their accounts and lodge complaints. That will be followed by speeches, singing and drumming from Native American activists and leaders. 

Courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources

In what's being praised by local tribes as a renewed victory for tribal treaty rights, Washington state's Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve is gaining 45 acres that were once left out for possible development. 

Laurie McKenzie / Organic Seed Alliance

As eating local and organic produce gains popularity, researchers are looking for more crops that can extend the growing season through the winter months in the Northwest.

Mark Schindler / Flickr via Compfight

Winter in the Northwest can be challenging, with so many dark days. One strategy for getting through is to go outside and enjoy the weather, whatever it is. Starting this weekend, you can snowshoe with a forest ranger at four locations in the Cascades. They even provide the snowshoes.

Fred Felleman

Sixteen environmental groups have sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers with concerns about increasing oil tanker traffic in the Salish Sea. They say a final environmental impact statement for expansion of an oil refinery north of Bellingham is long overdue — and needed now more than ever.  

On Monday, a rare and beautiful thing happened: There was a dusting of snow on the red sand dunes of the Sahara.

The snow fell on the northern Algerian town of Ain Sefra, which is known as the "gateway to the desert."

Karim Bouchetata, an amateur photographer there, grabbed his camera and took a number of photos before the snow melted later that day. He uploaded them to Facebook, where the surreal images quickly went viral.

Ted S. Warren, File / AP Photo

The Washington State Department of Ecology is recommending more aggressive efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the state. The agency has submitted new targets to the Legislature.

Ted S. Warren, File / AP Photo

It’s sometimes called the evil twin of global warming. Ocean acidification happens when carbon pollution from the sky is absorbed by the water. Washington state has been a leader in addressing the issue locally. 

And now the state has joined a new international alliance to fight ocean acidification on a global scale.  

Washington state began addressing the problem of ocean acidification in earnest back in 2011, when then-Governor Christine Gregoire appointed a blue-ribbon panel on the issue. 

For months, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others in North Dakota mounted a massive protest against the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, in part over concerns that any leak could contaminate their drinking water.

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

More than half of the new revenue in the budget proposal announced by Governor Inslee this week comes from the introduction of a tax on carbon pollution. That’s even after Washington voters resoundingly rejected a carbon tax proposal on the fall ballot.

But research from the non-profit Nature Conservancy shows Inslee’s proposal is actually consistent with what voters want, even though only about 40 percent of Washington voters supported Initiative 732, the “carbon-neutral tax swap,”


Seattle leaders are considering cutting ties, at least temporarily, with a bank financing the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Wells Fargo manages $3 billion of the city's operating funds under a contract that began in 2013 and is set to expire at the end of 2018. The bank says it is also one of 17 institutions providing loans for the oil pipeline through the Midwest.

Some New England fishermen are pinning their hopes on a new kind of trawl net being used in the Gulf of Maine, one that scoops up abundant flatfish such as flounder and sole while avoiding species such as cod, which are in severe decline.


Canada’s recent approval of an expansion plan for the Trans Mountain Pipeline with a terminus in Vancouver BC is raising concerns in the Puget Sound region.

David Goldman / AP Photo

Native American tribes and environmentalists all over the U.S. have been celebrating the decision by the Army Corps of Engineers not to grant an easement for completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Several from the Pacific Northwest are viewing it as a victory, not just for the Standing Rock Sioux, but for the power of tribal treaty rights in general.

Brian Cladoosby is chairman of the Swinomish Tribe in La Conner and president of the National Congress of American Indians. He says the Army Corps of Engineers did the right thing in what he calls a historic decision.

Think globally; act locally. The old motto has new validity as the nation gets ready for the change of administration in the other Washington.

Regional leaders on climate change are forging ahead, despite President-elect Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris accord. 

courtesy of the City of Seattle

Cities produce 70 percent of the world’s carbon emissions and can do a lot to reduce that pollution, even without national leadership. That was the sentiment at the C40 Mayors Summit taking place in Mexico City this week.

Washington State Department of Natural Resources

The last few weeks of heavy rains in Western Washington means the possibility of landslides in certain areas is higher. But this is only the beginning of the rainy season.  

If you look at Seattle’s landslide maps, you can pinpoint thousands of properties that are prone to sliding.

courtesy of the National Park Service

A new census by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the population of non-native goats in the Olympic Mountains has more than doubled over the past 12 years. Officials at Olympic National Park are concerned about the impacts on native plants and park visitors.

Jackie Johnston, File / AP Photo

Salmon art and an orca puppet will parade through Seattle Thursday afternoon. The procession is to attract attention to restoration efforts for wild salmon and steelhead runs on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

courtesy Zhongxiang Zhao / University of Washington

As the Earth’s atmosphere warms because of greenhouse gas emissions, most of the heat gets trapped in the oceans. But measuring the change has proven difficult, especially at greater depths. A researcher at the University of Washington is proposing a new method that has some promise

Courtesy Washington DNR

One day is left in the public comment period on a proposal from the state Department of Natural Resources to expand one of its Aquatic Reserves.

It would limit use of an additional 45 acres of the area north of Bellingham known as Cherry Point.

Elaine Thompson, File / AP Photo

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final rule on the amount of toxic chemicals allowed in Washington state’s rivers and bays under the Clean Water Act. The standard is sometimes called the “fish consumption rule” because it is based in part on the amount of fish people consume. The water must be clean enough to safely eat fish caught there.

John L. Mone / AP Photo

Activists are gearing up for a national day of action Tuesday against the Dakota Access Pipeline. More than 200 protests are planned, with seven communities in the Puget Sound region taking part.

The action was planned before an announcement late yesterday that the Army Corps of Engineers has suspended work on the project while it looks into tribal concerns.

A project to demonstrate that jets could someday be powered by logging leftovers from Northwest forests gets a culminating test Monday morning. A Boeing 737 is scheduled to take off with fuel tanks filled partly with a wood-based jet fuel.

Alaska Airlines fueled a regularly scheduled cross-country flight from Seattle to Washington, DC with a blend of 80 percent regular jet fuel and 20 percent "biojet." In a sign of how safe the makers think this fuel is, the test flight will carry newly reelected members of Congress back to Washington, D.C., for a lame duck session.