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.

It’s the hottest day of the year so far, and a small garter snake decides to take a swim in Steamboat Creek. The thin creature wriggles its way lackadaisically across a deep green pool.

It doesn’t seem to notice the 170 adult steelhead hovering just a few feet below the surface.

“It’s really trying to tempt one of those steelhead to go grab it,” says John Kober, executive director of the conservation group Pacific Rivers.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said it has killed six wolves in the Profanity Peak Pack. Members of that pack are blamed for at least 12 cattle kills in the northeastern part of the state.

Dougsley, the corpse flower at Volunteer Park Conservatory
Courtesy of Terry Huang

Volunteer Park has a fragrant new tenant. 

The University of Washington Biology Department has loaned the Volunteer Park Conservatory a so-called corpse flower that emits an odor reminiscent of a decaying body. 

Bill Radke sits down with Orca Network co-founder and activist Howard Garrett to talk about the newest developments in the controversy over Lolita the Orca. The whale has been in captivity for over 40 years, and recently unsealed documents reveal many alarming details about her conditions. 

Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to kill an entire wolf pack in the northeast corner of the state. The decision comes after at least 12 cattle were killed in the area.

A wildlife rehabilitation facility in Central Oregon is under investigation by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The High Desert Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center voluntarily gave up its permit to care for wildlife after a visit from ODFW officials earlier this month.

"When that occurred, we went into the facility and dealt with those animals," said Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for ODFW. She said the center was caring for mostly birds or small mammals that were then transferred to other care centers, released or euthanized.

There will be free admission to all national parks from Thursday through Sunday to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. President Woodrow Wilson signed the law creating the National Park Service on August 25, 1916.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has officially asked President Obama to designate a remote area in southeastern Oregon as a national monument.

Blumenauer is the only member of Oregon’s Congressional delegation to openly ask Obama to create an Owyhee National Monument.

An interagency incident management team has taken over the Hart Fire burning on the Spokane Indian Reservation. The wildfire spread rapidly onto tribal land, but response hasn’t kept up with the pace of the blaze. Strong winds spread the fire fast enough to force an initial attack crew to flee.

Lawyers for victims of the deadly 2014 Oso landslide say the state of Washington has engaged in a “shocking” cover-up to hide evidence. The allegation, first reported by The Seattle Times, comes just five weeks before the state goes on trial.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday declared a state of emergency in 20 counties mostly on the dry side of the Cascades, an area vulnerable to wildfire. Resources are stretched thin in the battle to save homes and property.

A large group of mountain goats moves along slope near Mount Baker. The photo was taken from the air in late July by state wildlife researchers.
Courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

That’s a lot of mountain goats – 90 to be exact. The aerial photo was taken in late July near Mount Baker by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

There's been a recent rebound for a species that was decimated decades ago by hunting, the department’s Rich Harris told KUOW’s Emily Fox.


The rain fell for days, sometimes 3 inches or more in a single hour, as streets became rivers and rivers ate up entire neighborhoods in southeast Louisiana.

Between Aug. 11 and Aug. 14, more than 20 inches of rain fell in and around East Baton Rouge, one of the hardest-hit parishes. And in some parishes in the region, as much as 2 feet of rain fell in 48 hours.

The National Weather Service says the likelihood that so much rain would fall in so little time was about one-tenth of 1 percent. A flood this bad should only happen once every thousand years.

When a fast-moving, erratic wildfire ignites, firefighters right away try to save homes and steer the flames away from life and property. But experts say the real danger often occurs in the hours after the big wall of flames rips through.

Finding beauty along Seattle's toxic scar

Aug 22, 2016
Courtesy of Tom Reese

Bill Radke speaks with photographer Tom Reese and journalist Eric Wagner about their book, "Once and Future River: Reclaiming the Duwamish." The three talk about the history of the Duwamish, how it became Seattle's forgotten river and the efforts to clean it up.

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