environment

Going For Launch With The Salmon Cannon

Sep 24, 2014

WASHOUGAL, Wash. -- Salmon may soon have a faster way to make it around dams. There’s a new technology that’s helping to transport hatchery fish in Washington. It’s called the salmon cannon -- yes, you read that right.

First, let's set the record straight: there’s not really an explosion. But the salmon cannon does propel fish from one spot to another.

That was demonstrated Tuesday, when the salmon cannon transported fish from southwest Washington’s Washougal River to a nearby hatchery. The goal is to make the move easier on the fish, in three steps.

Earth Ministry's Facebook page

Marcie Sillman speaks with Jessie Dye, outreach director for Earth Ministry, about the 2014 UN Climate Summit and the involvement of religious groups in environmental work.

Biologists Try To Figure Out Large Fall Chinook Runs

Sep 23, 2014

Thousands of fall chinook salmon are swimming up the Columbia River every day right now. This year’s migration is expected to be one of the largest in recent years. Researchers aren’t sure exactly why fall chinook have made such a big comeback.

Salmon and steelhead restoration has been a big push throughout the Northwest -- from Puget Sound to coastal streams to the Columbia-Snake River Basin -- where fall chinook were nearly extinct by the 1960s.

SEATTLE – Changing wind patterns are the primary cause of warming temperatures in the Northwest, according to a study published Monday.

The authors lined up historical wind data with coastal sea surface temperature in the Northeastern section of the Pacific Ocean since the beginning of the 20th century. They found that up to 90% of the warming in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California is driven by changes in wind patterns.

SEATTLE -- The Northwest's biggest oil-by-rail transporter is giving its assurances that it can safely move millions of gallons of volatile crude through the city of Seattle.

BNSF Railway's letter describing its safety measures follows a report by Seattle public safety agencies highlighting several weaknesses in the city’s ability to respond to an oil train accident.

Train Spills 2,000 Gallons Of Diesel In Washington

Sep 22, 2014

A rock punctured a BNSF train engine Friday outside Pasco, Washington, causing about 2,000 gallons of diesel to spill along the tracks. The engine held about 3,000 gallons of diesel.

None of the fuel has leaked into the Columbia River, a BNSF spokesman said.

The boulder tumbled early Friday morning from nearby cliffs and onto the track, where the train ran atop it. The 108-car train was carrying freight to Seattle.

On September 28, several hundred people are expected to gather at a vineyard near Salem, Oregon, to chew on the problem of invasive species.

Fisheries experts say the return of Chinook salmon to the Columbia River may not quite break records this fall as expected.

Dying Starfish Could Get Help From Congress

Sep 19, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Researchers have been scrambling for more than a year to make sense of a strange disease that’s causing West Coast starfish to die by the millions.

Now it looks like help could be coming from Congress.

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck from Olympia introduced a bill Thursday that would dedicate federal funds for researching the epidemic, which has now spread along North America’s Pacific coast from Alaska to Mexico and in some places on the East Coast as well.

Shellfish Tell Puget Sound's Polluted Tale

Sep 19, 2014

SEATTLE -- Scientists used shellfish to conduct the broadest study to date of pollution levels along the shore of Puget Sound.

And in some places, it's pretty contaminated.

This past winter the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife put mussels at more than 100 sites up and down Puget Sound.

After a few months, volunteers and WDFW employees gathered the shellfish and analyzed them for metals, fossil fuel pollution, flame-retardants and other chemicals. The WDFW just released the results.

I know, I know. You have Putin to worry about, ISIS to worry about, Britain's near breaking, Washington's broken, and the globe keeps getting warmer — so why bring up Japanese giant hornets? You have worries enough. But I can't help myself. I've got to mention these hornets because, as bad as they are — and they are very, very bad ...

... this story has a happy ending.

Hornets From Hell

Algae Bloom Tested In Portland's Willamette River

Sep 18, 2014

State officials are testing water from a stretch of the Willamette River near downtown Portland. The tests come after a trail of scum appeared in the river between Ross Island and the Fremont Bridge.

The water is being checked to see what species of blue-green algae is involved. That’ll give health experts an idea of the level of toxins and whether the bloom might be harmful to people.

Rebecca Hillwig with the Oregon Health Authority says it’s unusual to have an algae bloom in such a large, relatively fast-flowing river.

A study published Wednesday reveals household laundry water is washing chemical flame retardant pollution into the Northwest's biggest waterway.

Scientists with the Washington Toxics Coalition tested household dust as well as laundry wash-water from 20 homes in the Washington cities of Longview and Vancouver. They also took samples of incoming and outgoing water from two wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the Columbia River. They detected flame retardants in all of those tests.

A new report by public safety agencies highlights several weaknesses in Seattle's ability to respond to an oil train accident.

The report to the Seattle City Council was complied by the Seattle Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management.

At the top of the report's list of concerns: the 100 year old tunnel that runs through the middle of downtown Seattle. The report said that the lack of safety systems in the Great Northern tunnel will present significant challenges to first responders.

After years of litigation, one of North America’s imperiled wildcats, the Canada lynx, is now federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. But conservation groups say not enough of the cat’s habitat is protected under the law, especially in the Northwest.

Lynx resemble bobcats with very furry paws and short tails. They thrive in dense boreal forests, where they can easily hunt snowshoe hare.

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