Ashley Ahearn

Environment Reporter

Ashley Ahearn is the environment reporter at KUOW and part of the award-winning regional multimedia collaborative project EarthFix. Before joining KUOW Ashley was a producer and reporter for Living on Earth, a nationally aired environment program from Public Radio International.

She has a master's degree in science journalism from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California and has completed reporting fellowships with Vermont Law School, the Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island and the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources. She also serves on the board of the Society of Environmental Journalists. In her spare time Ashley enjoys riding vintage motorcycles, snowboarding and hiking in the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges of the Northwest.

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Salmon Spawning
10:30 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Washington Tribes Grow Impatient With Fish-Killing Dam

The pink salmon run is strong this year. That's presented a challenge to the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for moving returning salmon in the White River around the Buckley and Mud Mountain dams.
Credit EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Right now there are tens of thousands of salmon dying at the base of an outdated dam on the White River east of Tacoma in Buckley, Wash.

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Oil Transportation
11:14 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Shell Moving Ahead On Oil Train Project For Puget Sound Refinery

The oil refinery in Anacortes, Wash., with Mt. Baker in the background.
Flickr Photo/RVWithTito

On Thursday morning Shell Oil will be meeting with officials from a county in Washington state to talk about plans to build a rail extension to deliver oil from North Dakota to its refinery near Puget Sound.

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Salmon Recovery
10:39 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Can-Am Leaders Launch Salmon Recovery Effort

Salmon leaders from Washington and British Columbia gathered in Seattle for the launch of a new $20 million research and recovery project.
EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Leaders on salmon research and recovery from the United States and Canada came together in Seattle Wednesday to announce a new project.

It’s called the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, and it’s meant to address a major question: Why aren’t salmon and steelhead in Washington and Canadian waters recovering, despite the millions of dollars that have been spent on research and habitat restoration?

“We have a fairly clear idea of what salmon need and what they’re doing in the freshwater environment. We know considerably less about the marine systems,” said Jacques White, executive director of Long Live The Kings. The Seattle-based nonprofit is coordinating the effort along with the Pacific Salmon Foundation in B.C.

White says the project will focus on answering questions about what’s happening to salmon and steelhead when they leave the freshwater rivers and enter Washington’s Puget Sound and British Columbia’s Georgia Strait.

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Coal Train Study
10:21 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Seattle Mayor’s Coal Economics Study Released

Port of Seattle Photo/Don Wilson

The results of an economic analysis of coal export impacts on Seattle have just been released, more than a month after they were handed over to Mayor Mike McGinn, who commissioned the report.

The report, titled City of Seattle Economic Analysis of Proposed Coal Train Operations, cost $25,000. It was completed by Community Attributes and delivered to the mayor’s office on July 10.

But McGinn did not release the report to the public until The Seattle Times filed a public records request. Then the mayor posted the study to his blog on Friday afternoon, within nine minutes of giving a copy of the report to The Seattle Times.

When asked about the delay on the July 10 report, McGinn told EarthFix and KUOW, “That wasn’t the final because my staff and others provided comments to them and they made substantial revisions after that.”

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Animals
1:31 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Climate Change Could Spell Final 'Chuckle' For Alpine Frog

The Cascades frog is found only in the alpine wetlands of the Pacific Northwest, though its range used to extend down to Northern California and up to British Columbia. Scientists are concerned its range will continue to shrink with climate change.
Ashley Ahearn KUOW

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 4:33 pm

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Researching Amphibians
11:01 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Tracking An Alpine Frog That Chuckles And Beeps For Climate Change Research

The Cascades frog is only found in the alpine wetlands of the Pacific Northwest, though its range used to extend down to Northern California and up to British Columbia. Scientists are concerned its range will continue to shrink with climate change.
EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Maureen Ryan scales rocky trails at 5,000 feet elevation as nimbly as the mountain goats that wandered through camp earlier this morning.

The researcher of amphibians leads her team of scientists down off a ridge line in the Seven Lakes Basin of Olympic National Park to her “lab,” you might call it. It’s a series of pothole wetlands cupped in the folds of these green, snow-studded mountains: a perfect habitat for Cascades frogs (Rana cascadae).

Ryan, a researcher with the University of Washington, is an expert on alpine amphibians. She’s also part of a group of scientists from around the region, coordinated by the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative at the USGS, who are trying to understand and project how the warming climate will affect these frogs’ ability to feed, mate, and ultimately, survive.

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Climage Change Impacts Considered
1:29 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Regulators Announce New Scrutiny Of Proposed Coal Export Terminal

The scope of the environmental impact of a proposed coal export terminal will include transporting coal by rail from Wyoming and Montana to the terminal near Beillingham, Wash.
Katie Campbell

A proposal to build the West Coast’s biggest coal export terminal will face stiff environmental scrutiny.

On Wednesday a joint release from the Washington Department of Ecology, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and Whatcom County, Wash., announced they will consider climate change, human health and the environment when it comes to a coal port near Bellingham, Wash. And they’ll look at the entire route from Western mines to coal-burning plants in Asia.

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Shellfish Safety
10:57 am
Thu July 25, 2013

Diarrhetic Shellfish Toxin Closes Some Harvesting Beds In South Puget Sound For First Time

The biotoxin responsible for Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) was found at unsafe levels in shellfish near Olympia for the first time.
EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Washington’s Department of Health closed some shellfish beds in South Puget Sound Wednesday for the first time because of elevated levels of diarrhetic shellfish toxin.

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Invasive Species
11:20 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Crayfish Turf Wars Of The Northwest

Red swamp crayfish aren't native to the Northwest but where they've been introduced, they're taking over.
Earthfix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Gumbo and jambalaya may not be at the top of Northwest menus. But if the invasive red swamp crayfish has its way, that could change.

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Washington Train-To-Ship Oil Terminal
11:55 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Port Of Vancouver Reconsiders Proposed Oil Terminal

Washington's Port of Vancouver is reviewing a proposal for an oil terminal fed by the Bakken fields in North Dakota - the same source of oil attached to the train explosion in Quebec last weekend.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT

UPDATE 7/10/13, 4:09 p.m. PT: The Associated Press is reporting that the death toll for the Quebec train crash that rocked a small town over the weekend has reached 50. Canadian officials have declared that the missing people in the explosion are now presumed dead.

The tragedy has given the commissioners of the Port of Vancouver in Washington pause as they consider a proposal for a terminal to move oil from trains onto ships.

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Oil Transportation
10:31 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Canada's Oil Train Disaster Sparks Northwest Concern

Freight train burning in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada.
Flickr Photo/Transportation Safety Board of Canada

The weekend’s deadly oil-train derailment and explosion in the Canadian province of Quebec has raised concerns in the Pacific Northwest, where there are several proposals to increase the amount of oil transported into to the region by train.

By Monday afternoon the confirmed death toll had reached 13, with 50 people still missing after Saturday’s derailment of more than 70 tanker cars. They were filled with oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota — home of the largest oil boom in recent US history.

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Energy Subcommittee Hearing
8:33 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Army Corps To Congress: Climate Change Of Burning Coal Won't Be Considered

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn speaks out against coal export terminals at a coal export hearing in Seattle in Dec. 2012.
Michael Werner

The federal agency in charge of approving Northwest coal export terminals delivered a setback for environmentalists, telling a congressional panel Tuesday morning that it will not be considering the area-wide effects of transporting coal, or the global impact of burning it in Asia.

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Superfund Clean-Up Training
9:11 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Seattle’s Dirty River Offers Gift Of Green Jobs

14 people from the neighborhoods surrounding the Duwamish River Superfund site are undergoing training, provided by the EPA, so they will be qualified to work on the clean-up.
Ashley Ahearn Earthfix

In a classroom at South Seattle Community College 14 local residents shimmy into hazmat suits, waving their arms like Michelin men and women. They’re part of a program run by the EPA to train people who live near Superfund sites to qualify to work on the cleanup.

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US Department Of Interior Report
1:19 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Government Report: Coal Companies Are Pocketing Millions At Taxpayers’ Expense

Heavy equipment moving coal at a mine in Wyoming. A new federal report says taxpayers aren't getting the full value of coal mined on public land.
Katie Campbell Earthfix

Coal mining companies are saving tens of millions of dollars that should be going into state and federal treasuries, according to a new report by the Inspector General at the US Department of Interior.

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Claims Of Clean Water Act Violations
9:18 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Environmental Groups Sue Railway Alleging Coal Dumping

Ron Eng is a geologist at the Burke Museum. He took a look at samples collected by a diver in the water near Seattle's Ballard Locks. These and other field samples were gathered for a lawsuit against coal companies and a railway.
Ashley Ahearn Earthfix

A coalition of environmental groups in Washington and Oregon has sued BNSF Railway and several coal companies, alleging trains are dumping coal in violation of the Clean Water Act.

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