Part of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington.
Flickr photo/ Philo Nordlund

Kim Malcolm speaks with Anna King of Northwest News Network about the most recent lawsuit involving the Hanford nuclear site in eastern Washington.

Human-Caused Fires Strain Resources In The Northwest

Sep 3, 2015

Ninety-seven large wildfires have burned on 1.5 million acres across Oregon and Washington this season. Of those fires, 43 were started by lightning. At least 12 were human-caused, but dozens more remain under investigation.

In a series called Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound, Morning Edition has been profiling scientists who explore the natural world by listening to it.

But sometimes listening isn't enough — scientists have to record animals and even talk back to them to figure out what they're saying.

Fire managers in the Northwest say the recent rain doesn't mean the wildfire danger is over. Some parts of the Northwest got more than an inch of rain in the last week of August.

A view of the sea near Kivalina, Alaska, in May 2014. Normally the ice would have been solid into June.
Suzanne Tennant

President Barack Obama becomes the first sitting president to set foot on U.S. soil north of the Arctic Circle on Wednesday. Marcie Sillman talks to Nadine Fabbi, managing director of the Canadian Studies Center at the University of Washington, about why the Arctic is increasingly important to U.S. foreign policy.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson Wednesday announced a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy and some of its contractors over worker safety at the Hanford nuclear site.

Houseboats on Lake Union in the Eastlake area.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Marcie Sillman speaks with Ken Brettmann, senior water manager for the Army Corps of Engineers' Seattle District, about why Lake Washington and Lake Union have hit record low water levels, what the consequences might be for boaters and floating homes, and what he's doing to fix the problem.

Tom Zbyszewski
Courtesy of Jesse Michener

Among the three firefighters who lost their lives last month fighting the wildfires in Okanogon was one with a connection to poetry. Tom Zbyszewski, 20, grew up in the Methow Valley.

That got KUOW's literary producer and Washington state poet laureate Elizabeth Austen thinking about how Pacific Northwest poets have responded to wildfires. She talked with Marcie Sillman about poems by Kevin Goodan and Nance Van Winckel.

A wildfire can burn more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s more than twice as hot as the surface of Venus. Its flames can reach more than 50 meters high.

Wildfires can get so big that they create their own weather systems, with hurricane force winds. On the ground, the average wildfire moves twice as fast as the average person can run.

How do wildland firefighters tame such an inferno?

After Denali, Should Oregon Change Mount Hood's Name?

Sep 2, 2015

Days after President Barack Obama signed an executive order renaming Alaska’s Mount McKinley to its traditional Alaska Native name, “Denali,” OPB’s Think Out Loud discussed the idea of changing Mount Hood’s name to the Native American name Wy’east.

Daniel Lyon is seen this summer, his first season as a firefighter.
Courtesy Lyon Family

Daniel Lyon, the firefighter severely injured during the deadly Twisp River Fire, is slowly making progress but not out of danger, his doctors said Tuesday.

Smoke from wildfires in the Northwest stream in this photo taken from the International Space Station.

Marcie Sillman speaks with Sarah Mirk, online editor for Bitch Media, about what Portlanders are doing in response to Oregon's drought. (Hint: not much.)

This is the second story in our two-part series on how drought and climate change are changing the way the Northwest looks to reservoirs to meet its water needs. Read part one here.

This summer’s hot, dry weather has left Northwest apple growers hurting for water to irrigate their orchards. It’s a hint at what’s predicted as the climate continues to warm.

Kent Stokes says hundreds of miles of fenceline will have to be rebuilt after last year's Carlton Complex and this year's Okanogan Complex wildfires. Cattle ranchers depend on good fences and good neighbors to manage thier lands well.
N3 Photo/Ian C. Bates

In the poem “Mending Wall,” Robert Frost lays down the well-worn quote, “Good fences make good neighbors.” In this year’s dramatic Northwest wildfires, ranchers and neighbors are cutting down “good fences” of all kinds.

Obama's Alaska Trip Prompts Arctic Drilling Protest

Aug 31, 2015

People protesting oil drilling in the Arctic marched through downtown Portland Monday, and held a “die-in.” They're trying to send President Obama a message as he travels to Alaska this week.

Several dozen protesters carried placards, chanted and made their way to the federal building downtown, where some lay down for a “die-in.”

They said drilling in the Arctic will wreak havoc on the fragile ecosystem, and could bring the world closer to the 2 degree Celsius temperature increase scientists are warning about.