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 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

Soon the Pilchuck River will be redirected to its original channel, after the removal of two dam structures that have held it back for more than 100 years.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This week, the Pilchuck River will be redirected to its original channel, after the removal of two dam structures that have held it back for more than 100 years. It’s a relatively small project, compared to the monumental dam removals on the Elwha River in 2014 or even this summer’s explosive demolition work on the Nooksack.

But taking down this 10-by-60-foot barrier promises to dramatically improve critical habitat for salmon and steelhead. 

A view of Seattle's ship canal on July 10, 2020.
Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

The first week of August is generally the hottest time of the year in Washington. This year, people in the Puget Sound region already have experienced some record temperatures, with highs topping 90 degrees for the first time in 2020 on Monday. Olympia reached an eye-popping 98 degrees. Seattle made it to 94.

But a cooling trend that will continue through Monday has started, says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass.

Amid nationwide calls to defund the police, Tacoma is calling on the public to show officials how it should be done. The city is facing a bigger deficit than it’s seen in years because of the coronavirus pandemic — more than $67 million, or about 15 percent overall.

It’s also in the midst of trying to transform the city government and its services through comprehensive anti-racism policies.

So, Tacoma officials have invited members of the public to try their hand using an interactive online tool. It’s called Balancing Act.

Washington State Department of Agriculture

Hundreds of people in Washington are contacting state agriculture officials to report suspicious packages they’ve received containing seed packets. The unsolicited shipments, which appear to be sent from China, have popped up in more than two dozen states nationwide.

FILE - In this July 13, 2007 file photo, a worker with the Pebble Mine project test drills in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska near the village of Iliamma, Alaska.
Al Grillo / The Associated Press (file)

Opponents of the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska say the fight to stop it is far from over. Leaders from the United Tribes of Bristol Bay are preparing a challenge after the Army Corps of Engineers released its final environmental impact statement (EIS) on Friday.

Daniel Sorenson walks through the new 5-acre park in unincorporated North Highline, east of White Center in King County.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Audio Pending...

King County is getting a new, 5-acre park. It will serve an urban area where residents currently have to travel at least 2 miles to get to open space. It’s coming together in record time, at a site in unincorporated North Highline, east of White Center.

Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

This story originally aired Aug. 23, 2019.

Most people have had that classic summer experience of driving along a warm road and seeing a shimmering patch ahead that looks like water. But when you get there, it’s gone. This is a trick of the atmosphere, caused by different densities of the air, associated with temperature.

The Comet Neowise is seen in the night sky above several trees, Wednesday, July 15, 2020, in Olympia, Wash. The comet is expected to be visible from earth most of the rest of the month before continuing on it's nearly 7,000 year orbit around the sun.
Ted S. Warren / Associated Press


It’s that most wonderful time of the year in the Pacific Northwest, when we get to enjoy clear skies, warm yet comfortable temperatures and 9 p.m. sunsets. Summers here are the payoff for our long, dark winters. And this week, the "perfect weather" many of us like to gloat about has finally arrived.

This summer, these conditions are coinciding with the appearance of a rare comet called NEOWISE. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass is among the astronomy enthusiasts who ventured out at 3 a.m. to see it.

Courtesy of American Rivers

A dam removal that has been twenty years in the making reached an important milestone this week. Explosives ripped through the concrete on the Middle Fork Nooksack, east of Bellingham.  

courtesy of Andy Mitby, commercial fisher and captain of The Ragnarok.

Washington state is receiving $50 million in CARES Act assistance to bail out its commercial seafood industry. This is the highest allocation among all state fisheries in the country -- only Alaska received as much. Yet officials are concerned it may not be enough.

KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says big displays like this one from Seattle in 2019 are not a significant source of pollution, compared to what personal shows produce - based on the air quality data after this year's July 4th festivities.
Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

People in the Pacific Northwest sometimes jokingly call the sixth month here "Juneuary," because of the persistently gloomy weather we often face in June. Now an abundance of offshore flow — marine air coming in off the cool Pacific Ocean — has KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass calling July "Julember."

An increase in private use of fireworks this year — like these sold at Wild Willy's Fireworks tent in Omaha, Neb., Monday, June 29, — likely added up to at least as much air pollution as normally registered from large communal displays.
Nati Harnik / The Associated Press

If you felt like there were more fireworks going off in your neighborhood this year around the Fourth of July, you’re probably right. Air quality data is in. And local agencies say even though all the major public displays were canceled, the small particle pollution registered was equivalent to previous years. 

Wearing a mask for protection against the coronavirus, Henry Powell, puts his groceries in his car after shopping at a Safeway store in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, March 19, 2020.
Rich Pedroncelli / The Associated Press (file)

No mask, no service. That’s the new mantra as of Tuesday, when Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest order meant to thwart the spread of COVID-19 takes effect. It requires businesses statewide to enforce the mask mandate or risk big fines. 

The order comes in response to the resurgence in cases in numerous counties. The statewide mandate is based on one that took effect about a week ago in Yakima County.

But many front-line workers still aren’t sure how it will pan out.

Fireworks at Gas Works Park in Seattle on July 4, 2013.
Wikimedia Commons

July 4 is upon us. Normally, that means our air quality takes a big hit. It's an issue that KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass often talks about. Mass has studied the impact of fireworks on our air quality. This year, things will be a little different. With all the major community fireworks displays canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition

Audio Pending...

Residents of Seattle’s Duwamish River Valley have long known they suffer from high levels of air pollution. Air pollution that comes from nearby heavy industry, highways and air traffic has plagued South Seattle neighborhoods.

A view from Seattle, May 3, 2020.
Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

The curse of the wet weekend is making another appearance as June comes to an end. The month sometimes referred to as "Juneuary" in the Pacific Northwest has actually included quite a few lovely summer days this year, with temperatures hitting the 80s under bluebird skies. (Just not many on weekends.)

But our somewhat soggy spring this year in Washington has nothing on what folks north of us in British Columbia have been experiencing.

A map of King County shows the rates of positive cases of COVID-19 by location. A statewide survey aims to add data and influence policy on food and economic security.
Public Health — Seattle & King County

How hard you’re hit by the coronavirus pandemic could be determined by your ZIP code. That’s according to researchers looking into how the outbreak has impacted the economic and food security of people in  Washington state.  

A new study finds that plastic pollution is not just a problem for the world’s oceans. It’s everywhere – including in the air, where tiny fragments known as microplastics can be carried by wind and rain to places as remote as national parks and wilderness areas.

In a Sept. 28, 2011 file photo, a native fisherman displays a salmon he pulled from his net on the Duwamish River, in Seattle
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press (file)

A coalition of environmental groups, commercial fishermen and the Makah Tribe are suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to roll back water quality regulations in Washington state. At issue are human health standards that the EPA itself forced the state to adopt just a few years ago.

Southern resident orca whales, seen frolicking in 2008 less than 200 yards from shore near the light house at Lime Kiln Point State Park.   The one breaching is Canuck L-7, in the foreground is Faith L-57. Neither is still living.
Jeanne Hyde

This story originally aired on March 30, 2019.

Author’s note: Sometimes the best stories are not planned out or deeply researched in advance, but rather the product of simply listening and letting a narrative take you where it wants to go. This one came about because I had always wanted to learn more about how orcas communicate: the extent to which we know they have some sort of language. I asked around and learned the person to contact is Jeanne Hyde, a wonderful character who has devoted more than a decade of her life to constantly listening to killer whales. Jeanne’s passion for telling the stories of these orcas is infectious. And her collection of sounds provides unique perspective, especially on the tragic grief ritual of mother orca Tahlequah, who caught the world’s attention in 2018. You’ve gotta listen! (This story originally aired March 29.)

A cloudy Friday night in Seattle, February 21, 2020.
Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

If you feel like you’re being punished by the weather for staying indoors during the workweek, you’re not alone. Lots of people in Western Washington have noticed a pattern of fair and sunny weather that abruptly turns to rain as soon as the weekend arrives.

Thousands of people flooded the streets of Seattle on Friday, June 12, for a silent march in honor of Black lives lost to police brutality. The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired solidarity statement from Native groups.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This week, the National Native American Bar Association issued a statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It followed statements about police conduct, in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, from the National Bar Association, the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the Native American Bar Association of D.C.

Wesley Hull / Courtesy of Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association

A federal judge has thrown out a general permit for the shellfish industry in Washington that has reduced the regulatory burden on them for decades. Now, growers will have to apply individually to continue existing operations. And an industry group is planning to appeal.

A protester hangs a sign stating "Racism is a Pandemic" at the All Black Lives Matter march , organized by black LGBTQ+ leaders, on Sunday, June 14, 2020, in Los Angeles.
Paula Munoz / Associated Press

The King County Board of Health is expected to take action Thursday on a resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis. 

Executive Dow Constantine and Public Health Director Patty Hayes issued a declaration by blog post last week, after Hayes announced the initiative during a meeting of the county’s Board of Public Health.

Another mostly wet weekend lies ahead as an area of low pressure moves in, bringing rain and showers through Monday night.
Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

We’re in for another cool, wet weekend. Rain and rain showers dominate the forecast through Monday night. High temperatures won’t get past the mid-60s.

This is the kind of forecast most of us have come to rely on as we plan our activities, using radar viewers and other online tools to know what’s coming our way, sometimes down to the hour.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

She will be home in 2020.

That was the word from members of the Lummi Nation who have not given up on their efforts to free the captive Southern Resident orca some call "Lolita" from her cement tank at the Miami Seaquarium. A nonprofit law group has now joined the fight, bringing new legal tactics to the battle.

Protesters rest on the sidewalk in Seattle after getting hit with tear gas during a protest.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Health officials and care providers are urging people who have attended large protests to get tested for the coronavirus.

It’s still unclear whether the large-scale demonstrations in recent weeks will cause a new wave of COVID-19.

Alexa's Cafe on Bothell's Main Street is getting ready to reopen for table service — and hopes to utilize new outdoor seating when the city closes Main Street to vehicles on June 15.
Courtesy of Alexa's Cafe

Restrictions on businesses and personal activities are starting to ease all around the Puget Sound region. Fourteen counties advanced in the governor’s phased Safe Start plan on Friday. Now, only five counties remain with the toughest restrictions, at Phase 1.

Sunset, seen from the shores of Seattle on May 28, 2020.
Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

Gray skies, rain showers and possible thunderstorms are in the forecast again. It’s a pretty typical for this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, where most people rattle off phrases such as "June Gloom" and "June-uary" to describe this kind of weather.

The exception here is thunder and lightning. Intense storms that are common in other parts of the country are rare here.

Joey Manson, center director of the Seward Park Audubon Center, birdwatching Sunday with his colleague Armand Lucas at Be’er Sheva Park, in Seattle's Rainier Valley.
Glenn Nelson

Audio Pending...

If you’re Black in America, something as innocent as bird-watching can cause suspicion. A social media campaign is celebrating African Americans taking back that space. It’s called Black Birders Week.