environment

EarthFix Reports
5:06 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Landslide Mapping An Unfinished Task For Geologists

A preliminary map of the landslide area in northwest Washington.
Credit U.S. Geological Survey

The last time the U.S. Geological Survey made a national map of landslide hazards, it did so on paper. It didn’t use laser imaging for landslide detection and it didn’t render the maps with high-powered geographic software near-universally used in today’s maps.

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Elephant Captivity
3:23 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Changes Coming To Woodland Park Zoo's Elephant Program

"Bamboo" is one of the Asian elephants at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
Credit Flickr Photo/Cara_VSAngel (CC BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Woodland Park Zoo Chief Operations Officer Bruce Bohmke about changes coming to the zoo's elephant program.

Land Use Issues
11:41 am
Tue April 1, 2014

DNR Investigates Out-Of-Bounds Clear-Cut, Other Possible Factors In Oso Landslide

Geomorphologist Paul Kennard at Discovery Park in Seattle.
Credit KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Seattle just wrapped up its wettest March on record, with 9.4 inches of rain reported at Sea-Tac International Airport. 

Geologists say near-record rain in the Cascade foothills was key in triggering the fatal landslide near the town of Oso, Wash., on March 22. But they say clear-cutting nearby could also have worsened the risk of the hillside collapsing.

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EarthFix Reports
7:01 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Court Orders Agencies To Consider Fewer Hatchery Fish For The Elwha

In this 2011 photo, Lower Elwha Hatchery Manager Larry Ward feeds the steelhead and coho that are being raised in a hatchery for introduction to the Elwha.
Katie Campbell

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 5:28 pm

A judge has ordered federal agencies to reconsider the number of planned hatchery fish releases into the Elwha River on Washington's Olympic Peninsula

As crews finish the largest dam removal in history on the Elwha, managers are working to restore fish runs above the dam sites. Their plan includes releasing more than 7 million hatchery salmon and steelhead into the river.

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Environment
4:18 am
Mon March 31, 2014

U.N. Report Raises Climate Change Warning, Points To Opportunities

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report.
ipcc.ch

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 7:07 am

  • From 'Morning Edition': NPR's Geoff Brumfiel on the U.N. panel's report

"The effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans," and the world is mostly "ill-prepared" for the risks that the sweeping changes present, a new report from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes.

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EarthFix Reports
6:06 pm
Sun March 30, 2014

U.S.-China Talks On Shellfish Ban Lead To New Testing For Contaminants

A geoduck clam from Puget Sound. China's ban on importing such shellfish remains in place, but recent U.S.-China talks have led to plans for a new testing protocol to ensure food safety.
Katie Campbell

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 9:15 am

U.S. officials say they will develop a new testing protocol to detect certain contaminants in shellfish, following their meeting with the Chinese government to discuss an end to that country's ban on importing shellfish from most of the U.S. West Coast.

U.S. officials said during a briefing with reporters Friday that the Chinese are satisfied with U.S. testing methods for paralytic shellfish poisoning but they’re still concerned about arsenic. High concentrations of inorganic arsenic, a carcinogen, were found in the skin of geoduck harvested near Tacoma, Wash., last fall.

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Oso Mudslide
11:11 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Clear-Cut Crossed Into No-Logging Zone In Oso

Washington Department of Natural Resources image shows 2005 clear-cut (near dotted purple line) extending into no-logging zone (marked with yellow line) at site of Oso landslide.
Credit Washington Department of Natural Resources

KUOW's John Ryan talks with host Ross Reynolds about his report.

State officials say they didn't approve clear-cutting inside a no-logging zone directly above Saturday's deadly landslide that struck the town of Oso. But aerial photos show a clear-cut extending into the zone where a loss of trees would heighten the risk of landslides.

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Oso Mudslide
8:39 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Landslide Debris Field Has To Be Approached As Hazmat Scene

Homes destroyed by the Oso landslide are barely recognizable as such.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 6:10 pm

In a clearing on a hillside above one side of the mudflow, searchers in all sorts of uniforms and bright safety vests are picking through the crushed and barely recognizable remains of homes.

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EarthFix Reports
3:00 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Fish-Eating Birds To Be Killed At 5 Dams

The ring-billed gull. It's one of three types of bird that will be shot if non-lethal hazing fails to stop them from eating juvenile salmon and steelhead at five dams on the Columbia and lower Snake rivers.
Flickr Photo/Ken Slade (CC BY-NC-ND)

Operators of five dams on the Columbia and lower Snake rivers will start killing birds that eat migrating juvenile salmon.

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Oso Mudslide
8:53 am
Thu March 27, 2014

National Guard Searcher Describes 'Sifting' Through Crushed House

Washington National Guard searchers are assisting in the effort to locate victims of the Oso landslide in Snohomish County.
Washington National Guard

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 5:31 pm

The Washington National Guard has now deployed two Black Hawk helicopters to the Oso landslide. On the ground, specially-trained search teams looked for victims in the mud and debris.

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Environment
4:27 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Concern Over Landslide-Logging Connection Near Oso Is Decades Old

WSDOT photo of Oso slide area annotated by retired fisheries biologist Bill McMillan of Concrete, Wash.
Courtesy of WSDOT / Bill McMillan

Saturday's deadly slide was the latest in a long string of landslides to hit the area known as the Hazel or Oso slide along the North Fork Stillaguamish River.

State and tribal officials have known about and tried to block landslides on that spot for half a century.

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Anthropology
4:21 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Bones Found Near Wanapum Dam Repatriated To Northwest Tribes

File photo. Two skeletons were found several weeks ago along newly exposed Columbia River shore.
Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 4:46 pm

Two skeletons found upstream of the cracked Wanapum Dam have been handed over to Northwest tribes.

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Oso Mudflow
4:05 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

A Call For Landslide Insurance For Homeowners

The death toll continues to rise as crews search under the debris after Saturday's mudslide in Oso.
Flickr Photo/GovInslee (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Scott Burns, a geologist and landslide expert at Portland State University, about how he hopes the tragedy in Oso will lead to landslide insurance for homeowners and better landslide hazard maps to prevent future devastation.

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Oso Mudslide
3:47 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Representative Suzan DelBene Joins Mudslide Relief Efforts

Representative Suzan DelBene speaking at a press conference on Sunday, March 23, 2014, in Arlington, Wash.
KUOW Photo/Phyllis Fletcher

Marcie Sillman checks in with U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene, who serves the 1st Congressional District, about helping on the scene of the Oso mudslide.

Oso Mudslide
3:03 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Geological Circumstances Behind Washington Mudslide

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 12:26 pm

As search efforts intensify around the site of Washington state’s devastating mudslide, geologists are looking into causes of the rapid collapse of the 1,500-foot-wide segment of hillside in Snohomish County that suddenly cut away and crushed the homes and roads below.

The chief culprit appears to have been the glacial composition of the hillside, which is made of silt, clay and soil, and very little rock, which tends to be very loose.

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