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.

Mount Rainier National Park.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with Bruce Barcott about the character of Mount Rainier and the place it takes in the lives of people who live around Puget Sound. Barcott is the author of "Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier." 

KUOW has profiled all three of the national parks in Washington to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. You can also hear our conversations about Olympic National Park and North Cascades National Park

Serious algae outbreaks have hit more than 20 states this summer. Organisms are shutting down beaches in Florida, sickening swimmers in Utah and threatening ecosystems in California.

The blooms are a normal part of summer, but the frequency, size and toxicity this year are worse than ever.

And water managers are rattled.

"Everyone's on edge with the cyanobacteria," says Bev Anderson, a scientist with the California Water Resources Control Board.

Emails reporting outbreaks of cyanobacteria — or blue-green algae — fill Anderson's inbox every morning.

Relations between federal land managers and residents of the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon have long been strained by disputes over the Bureau of Land Management’s forest plans.

With another large forestry project now under consideration, I went on a field trip with BLM staff and Applegate residents to look at the proposed Nedsbar timber sale on Bald Mountain.

Kristi Mastrofini, a field manager in the Medford, Oregon, office of the Bureau of Land Management, points the group toward our destination.

This November, Washington voters must decide how to vote on the nation’s first ever carbon tax. Initiative 732 would increase taxes on fossil fuel consumption to fight climate change, but cut business and sales taxes.


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.

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