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Hundreds gathered at the Hilton Vancouver Convention Center and stayed late into the night Monday for a Vancouver City Council hearing on a resolution opposing what would be the Northwest's largest oil-by-rail shipping facility.

More than 140 people signed up to testify at the hearing. At 11 p.m., more than four hours after the hearing began, the council voted to extend the meeting even later to take additional testimony.

Wyoming Governor Visits Washington To Promote Coal Exports

Jun 4, 2014

LONGVIEW, Wash. -- A controversial coal export terminal proposed for this Columbia River town has a big supporter from the state of Wyoming.

Its governor was in Longview Tuesday to tour the old aluminum smelter where the The Millennium Bulk coal export terminal would move up to 44 million tons a year of Wyoming coal off trains and onto ships bound for Asia.

Can You Taste An Old Growth Forest In This Beer?

Jun 3, 2014

You can see some of the differences between an old growth forest and one that's been logged.

On a hike through an old growth forest near Portland, Matt Wagoner of the Forest Park Conservancy points out some of the most obvious ones: Older, taller, coniferous trees, dead trees both standing and fallen, and a wide variety of plants and animals living inside of and on top of that dead wood.

"One of the things that really defines old growth forests is biodiversity," Wagoner says.

This is the first part of a two-part series on managing landslide risk. Read the second part of the serieshere.

GLACIER SPRINGS, Wash. — Canyon Creek comes plunging fast and steep down the Cascade Mountains near Mount Baker.

Since the March 22 Oso landslide killed 42 people, county governments in the Northwest have been thinking more about how to plan for and mitigate the risk of landslides.

New Rules Make It Easier To Log Damaged Federal Forestland

May 28, 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has eased rules for logging millions of acres of Northwest forestland considered to be at risk of catastrophic fire.

These are forests where insects and disease have damaged trees and other vegetation, creating fuel for wildfires. These forestlands now have a special designation that allows a streamlined process for logging on larger tracts.

Arrests Highlight Threat To Ancient Redwoods

May 19, 2014

Two northern California men have been charged with damaging old growth trees in the Redwood National and State Forest. The arrests are the first in response to a recent increase in illegal poaching of redwood burl.

You’ve probably seen countertops or furniture made from redwood burl. The richly colored, swirling grain is prized for its beauty and can fetch a hefty price. A coffee table or bar top can sell for thousands. That kind of money — combined with a largely unregulated market for the wood — has proved irresistible to poachers in the northern California forests.

BLACK DIAMOND, Wash. -- Environmentalists have launched a full-on offensive against coal export terminals proposed for Washington and Oregon, but they might want to take a look closer to home.

A small open pit coal mine just outside of Seattle is looking to get back in business.

The John Henry Mine, formerly the Black Diamond Mine, has been in operation on and off since the late 1800s, but it closed down in 1999.

Public Voices Concerns Over WA Birth Defect Increases

May 16, 2014

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Over the past three years, a rare birth defect has shown up Central Washington at a rate that's four times the national average. Now, the state health department is turning to the public for clues about what’s causing the fatal condition.

Anencephaly is a rare, fatal birth defect. During the fourth week of pregnancy, the baby’s brain and skull don’t form completely. If babies survive the pregnancy they often live for only a few days.

Flickr Photo/goneforawander

New research from the University of Washington and other institutions provides detailed predictions for the collapse of an ice shelf in West Antarctica.

Oregon's Wandering Wolf May Have Met His Mate

May 13, 2014

Oregon's famous lone wolf isn't so lonely anymore.

Biologists say it appears the wandering wolf OR-7 has found himself a mate.

Their evidence came from trail cameras set up in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Southern Oregon.

The cameras captured an image of a black wolf in the area where they've been tracking OR-7 with a GPS collar. Then they captured an image of that same wolf squatting to pee.

School Districts Explore Solutions For Too Many Portable Classrooms

May 9, 2014
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

SPOKANE, Washington — Teachers at Spokane’s Jefferson Elementary don’t have to look far to know what they left behind.

States Don't Limit Use Of Portable Classrooms

May 8, 2014
EarthFix Photo/Cassandra Profita

AUMSVILLE, Oregon – After affixing the roof to the walls, five workers push a half-built classroom out the door of the Blazer Industries manufacturing plant. Clearly, this is a portable classroom.

It’s one of about 130 portables Blazer has been contracted to build this year. Most will go to overcrowded schools in Washington state, and most will be built in four to seven days. Inside this warehouse, the company has built entire schools, churches, hospitals and high-end homes — one truckable piece at a time.

EarthFix Photo/Tony Schick

Teacher Billie Lane’s portable is a world apart from other classrooms at her school.

Few Railcars Carrying Flammable Oil Get Inspected

Jan 14, 2014
oil train, transportation
Flickr Photo/Russ Allison Loar (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/aqtNAn

As we researched a recent story about train shipments of oil, we asked Washington and Oregon officials: How many of the trains coming through the Northwest are inspected?

Hotter Summers Mean More Health Risks In Urban Heat Islands

Oct 2, 2013
Cassandra Profita / Earthfix

PORTLAND – On hot summer days, 74-year-old HelenRuth Stephens doesn't dare leave her apartment. Not to get the mail or take out the trash.

Katie Campbell / Earthfix

SAMMAMISH, Wash. — A photograph displayed in Jacki and John Williford’s home commemorates a camping trip that would go down in family history.

Courtney Flatt / Earthfix

HOOD RIVER, Ore. — For 20 years, Victor Gonzales has traveled the West picking crops. In the Northwest that means pears, cherries and apples.

Right now, he’s working at a Hood River pear orchard. In the summer, temperatures here can reach 100 degrees. Gonzalez remembers one day when he’d been working really hard, sweating more than normal.

Gonzales felt like he was going to pass out. He was shaky and very sleepy, he says through a translator. Instead of sleeping, he went to the farmworker housing unit and drank a lot of water and rested until he recovered.

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.

Flickr Photo/Transportation Safety Board of Canada (CC-BY-NC-ND)

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.

Environmental Update With Ashley Ahearn

Jun 11, 2013
Flickr Photo/Tom Sparks

 From the Duwamish River cleanup efforts to coal terminals to chuckling frogs; David Hyde talks with KUOW and EarthFix reporter Ashley Ahearn about the latest in Northwest environmental news. Plus, Ahearn talks about EarthFix’s upcoming documentary, "Voices of Coal: And EarthFix Multimedia Special."

Earthfix / Ashley Ahearn

From where Mike McHenry stands he can see several gray, torpedo-shaped bodies moving slowly through the brown water of this side channel of the Elwha River, not too far from the site of the largest dam removal project in US history.

Earthfix / Ashley Ahearn

One of the two dams on the Elwha River has been completely removed and there are about 50 feet of the remaining Glines Canyon dam left. Already so much sediment has been released that it's clogged up and shut down one of the water treatment plants in nearby Port Angeles, temporarily halting the largest dam removal project in US history.

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