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.

Klamath Forest Wildfire Plan Faces Pushback

Mar 29, 2016

During the summer of 2014, wildfires burned more than 200,000 acres of the Klamath National Forest in northern California’s Siskiyou County. Last year, the U.S. Forest Service proposed a program of salvage logging, replanting and hazardous tree removal. That plan faced opposition from environmental groups and the Karuk Indian tribe. Now, a modified version of the plan has been approved, and was immediately met with a challenge in federal court.

Lisa Herbold at the former Linda Manor Apartments in West Seattle’s Gatewood neighborhood.
KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold about residents in her West Seattle district that illegally cut down over 150 trees to improve their view. 

Adopt A Beehive — Save A Beekeeper?

Mar 29, 2016

Beekeeper Nick French never knows what he'll find when he opens up his hives for the first spring inspections. Of the 40 hives he manages in Parker, Colo., French loses about one-quarter of his colonies every year.

"I work all summer long to raise healthy bees, but there are no guarantees they'll make it through the winter," says French, founder of Frangiosa Farm.

Oregon’s water is tested for suspended solids, certain chemicals and heavy metals — but not for pharmaceuticals.

With prescription drug use on the rise unused meds too often end up in the landfill or flushed down the toilet. In Oregon, Lane County agencies are stepping up their message of what to do with unwanted drugs.

Sarah Grimm, the waste reduction specialist for Lane County Public Works, said she's seeing a problem in her industry: pharmaceutical meds being flushed down the toilet.

Japanese Fleet Kills 333 Whales In The Antarctic

Mar 25, 2016

Japan's whaling fleet has returned to base with the carcasses of 333 minke whales, in apparent violation of a ruling by the International Court of Justice.

Reuters quoted a statement by Japan's Fisheries Agency that said 103 male and 230 female whales were caught during the fleet's summer expedition to Antarctic waters. Ninety percent of the mature females were pregnant.

In January and February, armed anti-federalists took over a wildlife refuge in Oregon for 41 days.

Air testing conducted early this month near two Portland glassmakers shows no urgent health risks, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Data collected from five monitors running 24 hours a day March 1-8 show no change in levels of metals in the air from the February testing results, and short-term health risk remains low, officials announced Thursday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is planning to release its proposed Portland Harbor Superfund Site cleanup plan early next month.

The plan, 16 years in the making, will include the agency’s preferred option for cleaning up a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River that’s highly contaminated from more than a century of industrial use. The EPA has spent years investigating the site and developing a range of options for reducing contamination to an “acceptable” level.

A still from Chris Morgan's short movie about grizzly bears.
grizzlybearfilm.org

If you feel like you're just waking up from a long winter, you're not alone. Bears feel the same way. And they're out and about in the North Cascades.

Beekeepers flock from all over the country to California every February and March to watch billions of honeybees buzz around the state's almond trees. Eighty percent of the country's commercial bees visit the Golden State each spring.

So I went to check out the scene at an almond orchard at the California State University, Fresno, in Central California.

"Really, the key is to stay calm around bees, because if you're afraid, then your body physiologically changes and they can sense that," beekeeper Brian Hiatt tells me. "They literally can smell fear."

Cantwell Opposes Mining Near Mount St. Helens

Mar 23, 2016

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell said Monday that she’s concerned about an exploratory mining project that’s proposed on Goat Mountain, just north of the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Ascot USA, Inc. wants to drill more than 60 exploratory holes on 23 sites in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The company’s searching for metals like gold, copper and silver.

Across the West, groundwater reserves are being depleted. Nature can’t replenish the aquifers as quickly as they’re being drawn down for irrigation, industry and drinking water.

Officials from at least three governments are considering the establishment of a local air authority in the greater Portland area.

Multnomah County chair Deborah Kafoury said during her State of the County address Friday that Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality should do more to crack down on air pollution.

Until the agency does, Kafoury said the county plans to hire a consultant to look into forming a local air agency. She said the effort has extended beyond Multnomah County.

Oregon’s Top Utility Regulator Resigns

Mar 19, 2016

Oregon’s top regulator of power companies announced her resignation Friday in a letter to Gov. Kate Brown.

Susan Ackerman is a longtime utility lawyer who was appointed to the Oregon Public Utility Commission in 2010 and promoted to chairwoman in 2012. The three-member board regulates investor-owned utilities including their natural gas and electricity rates.

Video: When Enforcement Lags For Livestock Grazing Rules

Mar 18, 2016

The federal government permits livestock grazing on more than 240 million acres of public land — an area bigger than Texas and Oregon combined.

And despite all its regulations to protect the land from livestock damage, some of those rules aren’t being fully enforced.

This 1-minute video explains what’s at stake with America’s unenforced grazing rules:

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