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.

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EarthFix Reports
10:07 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Rafting The Dam-Free Elwha

Rafters enjoy Elwha River after it opened for exploration with the removal of the dams.
Credit KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

The waters of the Elwha River are clear right now, for a change.

For nearly three years, this glacier-fed river on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula has been sluicing millions of tons of sediment that were held back for a century by a pair of dams.

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Wildfires
7:14 am
Tue August 26, 2014

After Wildfires, Dams Fail In North Central Washington

Water from thunderstorms last week ran down barren hillsides and funneled into the canyons below.

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 4:04 pm

The State of Washington and residents in Okanogan County are concerned that more small dams could be at risk of failing after three of them burst in a thunderstorm event last week near Twisp in northcentral Washington.

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Ferguson Connection
9:58 am
Mon August 25, 2014

How Military Surplus Worked In Oso’s Favor

The North Fork Stillaguamish River and the headwall left behind by the Oso landslide.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

You might not think there's much of a connection between the deadly Oso landslide and this month's racially charged unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

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EarthFix Reports
9:23 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Northwest Researchers Work To Boost Geothermal Power

A geothermal power plant. There’s been a lot of hype around geothermal power, which uses heat from the below the earth’s surface to provide energy. Several Northwest researchers are hoping to push the renewable energy forward.
Flickr Creative Commons: Scott Ableman

Originally published on Sun August 24, 2014 1:00 am

There’s been a lot of hype around geothermal power, which uses heat from the below the earth’s surface to provide a steady, renewable source of energy. But the sector has been slow to take off, even though the U.S. is the world's top producer of geothermal energy.

With help from federal grants, several Northwest researchers are hoping to push the technology forward.

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EarthFix Reports
9:23 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Oregon Approves Subsidies For Oil Transport, Not For Coal

The Port of St. Helens applied for grants through the ConnectOregon program to expand this dock, which is used to ship crude oil and would also be used to export coal for the Morrow Pacific project.
Cassandra Profita

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 2:00 pm

The Oregon Transportation Commission voted Friday to approve nearly $5 million in subsidies for rail and dock infrastructure tied to controversial coal export and oil-by-rail projects.

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Mudslide
9:21 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Twisp Digs Out From Flash Flooding After Carlton Complex Fires

Maggie Garrett's jeans were caked with mud after she went up Finley Canyon Thursday to save her eight horses.

Originally published on Sun August 24, 2014 8:36 pm

Maggie Garrett’s eight Arabian and Appaloosa horses whinnied and struggled last Thursday night in their pens, mud up to their bellies. Garrett had jumped in a truck with her neighbor to save the horses she calls her babies from drowning in a flash flood.

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Fires And Storms
9:21 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Wildfires Still Rage Amid Mudslides In Central Washington

Crews build a fire line at the Carlton Complex.

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 4:32 pm

The National Weather Service says slow-moving storms creeping through Central Washington could bring another round of mudslides this evening.

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Wildfire Aftermath
9:21 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Benson Creek Road Residents Sort Their Life Out Of A Torrent Of Muck

Aaron Dunlap digs his SUV out of sand and mud that washed over his cannabis farm in a flash flood near Twisp, Washington, Thursday night.

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 4:23 pm

Residents are digging out from flooding that looks 300 yards wide in some places after mudslides brought down hillsides and torrents of mud ran down creeks outside of Twisp, Washington, Thursday night.

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Wildfire Aftermath
9:21 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Houses In Mud, Fish On Land After Twisp Landslides

Aaron Dunlap found his car stuck in the sand after flash floods hit his cannabis farm Thursday near Twisp, Washington.
Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 3:55 pm

Aaron Dunlap started Friday morning with his car stuck in sand and a fish stuck in the dirt outside his cannabis farm. Dunlap is one of many people stuck digging themselves out today after landslides and flash floods near Twisp, Washington.

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Environment
12:12 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Proposed Coal Terminals Denied Permit In Oregon

Ross Reynolds talks with KUOW reporter Ashley Ahearn about what the denial of a key permit for a coal terminal in Oregon means for Washington state.

EarthFix Reports
8:25 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Feds Consider Grizzly Bear Reintroduction In Washington Cascades

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. The National Park Service is evaluating whether to reintroduce grizzly bears to Washington's North Cascades.
National Park Service

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 2:45 pm

Only a handful of grizzly bears now roam the North Cascades of Washington.

Their numbers are so small that none of the 20 grizzlies have been sighted since 2010. The bears may now be getting some help.

A three-year process from the National Parks Service will find out if grizzly bears should be restored in the North Cascades. Officials are looking at a wide range of options. Those options include letting the bears recover on their own to transplanting bears from British Columbia.

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EarthFix Reports
8:25 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Washington Approves Killing Wolves After Livestock Attacks

Washington wildlife officials have authorized killing wolves from a pack outside of Spokane if they go after sheep from a herd that the Huckleberry Pack has attacked recently.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 3:27 pm

A rancher in northeastern Washington will be allowed to shoot wolves approaching his herd of sheep. State officials made the decision after they confirmed wolves killed dozens of his sheep.

The Huckleberry Pack usually roams around the Spokane Tribe of Indians reservation. But data from a radio-collared wolf shows it attacked a rancher’s sheep herd.

Officials confirmed 16 sheep were killed over a two-week period. The rancher used guard dogs and a herder to try to scare away the wolves.

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EarthFix Reports
8:24 am
Fri August 22, 2014

A Visit To The Largest Elwha River Dam In Its Final Moments

For 100 years the Glines Canyon Dam blocked the Elwha River, forming Lake Mills. Now, the lake has drained and that last 30 feet of the dam are set to be blown up next week.
Ashley Ahearn

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 6:43 am

PORT ANGELES, Wash. -- The National Park Service is in the final phase of the largest dam removal in U.S. history, taking place on the Olympic Peninsula.

Just 30 feet of concrete dam stand between the Elwha River and its freedom.

And early next week, it’ll be gone.

A giant orange crane moves slowly overhead as Don LaFord looks down from a narrow walkway over the Elwha River.

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Environment
8:25 am
Thu August 21, 2014

EPA Says Idaho Must Clean Up The Air In The Silver Valley

File photo. Wood stoves are a major contributor to air pollution throughout the Northwest.

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 5:03 pm

The EPA has given the state of Idaho notice that a corner of the Idaho panhandle isn't meeting stricter new air quality standards. The agency intends to change that by forcing the state to reduce what are called “fine particulates” in the air.

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EarthFix Reports
7:49 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Oregon To Decide On Controversial Coal Export Dock Permit Monday

Members of the Yakima and Umatilla tribes say they fish here, where the Morrow Pacific coal export project has proposed to build a dock in Boardman.
Courtesy of Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 9:44 am

Oregon regulators plan to decide Monday whether to deny a permit for a coal export dock in Boardman to preserve tribal fishing on the Columbia River.

The Morrow Pacific coal export project needs a permit from the Oregon Department of State Lands to build a dock for coal barges. The project would ship nearly 9 million tons of coal from Wyoming and Montana to Asia. It would transfer coal shipments from trains to barges in Boardman, and load the coal onto ships at a dock in Clatskanie, Oregon.

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