Environment

KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

A fire that started Sunday afternoon jumped lines around noon Monday and burned across Interstate 90 near George, Washington. The fire has grown to about 900 acres, but so far no structures have burned.

Mark Huff was a young post-graduate student back in 1978 when the Hoh Fire burned 1,250 acres not too far from the site of the current Paradise Fire. He’s been studying Olympic rainforest fires ever since. Historically, these fires occur every 500-1,000 y
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

PORT ANGELES, Wash. -- It’s 6 a.m. and a special team of fire response coordinators is gathered at Port Angeles High School.

This incident command center is more than 100 miles from the wildfire they’re dealing with: the Paradise Fire, which is burning on the western edge of Olympic National Park.

Climate change activists in Portland are planning to take to the water in kayaks to engage in civil disobedience when an ice-breaking vessel working for the the Royal Dutch Shell oil company arrives at a local dry dock for repairs.

In recent years, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has waged a protest campaign against SeaWorld, saying that the U.S. theme parks' treatment of trained orcas is cruel. Now, PETA says it has identified a SeaWorld "agent" in its midst.

This year is poised to be a difficult firefighting season in the Pacific Northwest. Most parts of Oregon and Washington experienced the warmest January to June since record keeping began in 1890, and the drought that has devastated California is steadily advancing north.

Making the season even more tense, firefighters are reporting an increasing number of near misses with unmanned drones, many of which appear to be sent by hobbyists or photographers trying to document fires.

Washington is getting less rain than Phoenix, Arizona, state Ecology Danager Maia Bellon said during a press conference in Lacey Friday.

Compost trash
Flickr Photo/Jason Tester Guerilla Futures (CC BY ND 2.0)

Ross Reynolds speaks with Brian Hodges, an attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation. Hodges is suing the city of Seattle on behalf of eight Seattle residents who say inspection of their garbage to enforce food waste laws is an invasion of their privacy.

Oregon and Washington officials are curtailing fishing starting Saturday on many of the states' rivers in hope of helping salmon, trout and steelhead survive drought conditions.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is imposing restrictions on 30 of the state's rivers. On some waterways it will be a complete closures; on others the prohibition takes effect from 2 p.m. until midnight.

Maybe you learned about it in high school, heard it on OPB, saw it in newspapers or maybe you have a subscription to The New Yorker. Or maybe all this earthquake talk is new to you.

Seismologists predict that the Northwest has a 37 percent chance of experiencing a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake happening in the next 50 years. It will be so disruptive, it will change the Pacific Northwest forever.

Does this orange peel belong in the trash, recycling or compost?
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

It probably comes as little surprise that Seattle gets an A for recycling.

Seventy percent of all our trash ends up in compost or recycling; just 30 percent goes to the landfill.

Warm Waters Cause Central Oregon Salmon Die-Off

Jul 16, 2015

Record heat that has warmed rivers in the Northwest has caused another fish die-off. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported 109 wild spring chinook salmon died last week in Central Oregon.

Water temperatures in the the Middle Fork John Day River reached the mid-70s. Biologists say those high temperatures combined with low stream flows are what likely caused the die off.

Biologists say they expect more salmon die-offs this summer, until spawning begins in September. Overall the John Day Basin has seen strong salmon returns this year.

An earthquake in 1949 collapsed ancillary structure to commercial building in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/King County, WA (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Kim Malcolm talks to Seattle Times reporter Sandi Doughton about what to expect and how to prepare for when a big earthquake shakes the Northwest.

Cooler temperatures around the region have slowed the number of wildfires burning in the Pacific Northwest.

"This is a nice reprieve in the middle of July," said Robin DeMario, a spokesperson with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center in Portland.

Right now, fire crews are making gains on seven large-scale fires that are burning about 60,000 acres in Oregon and Washington.

The cool and at times even wet weather during the past week has given the 1,300 firefighters scattered around the Pacific Northwest the upper hand, at least for now, DeMario said.

The death of his prized horse has a Washington state lawmaker warning about a noxious weed that’s spreading in the Northwest. That weed is toxic to horses and can have a gruesome effect on their hooves.

David Hyde speaks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about seismic upgrading in British Columbia and how the province would fare if the region were hit by a big earthquake.

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