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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Old Growth
9:11 am
Thu July 24, 2014

A State Forest In Oregon Could Be Sold To Timber Companies

The Elliott State Forest contains old-growth forest that conservation groups say shouldn't be sold to private owners.
Oregon Department of Forestry

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 5:16 pm

The Elliott State Forest has been a losing proposition for the state of Oregon. Annual management costs are about $3 million dollars more than what it brings in by selling timber for logging companies to cut.

One option being considered to make money off the Elliott is to sell all 93,000 acres of the forest -- including old-growth tracts -- on the south Oregon coast to private timber companies. The proceeds of such a sale would go into the state's Common School Fund, which supports public education.

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Radiation
8:53 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Donors Pay To Test Seawater For Traces Of Fukushima Radiation

Fukushima seawater radiation plume dispersal model by Rossi et. al.
Deep-Sea Research journal

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 4:47 pm

It's been more than three years since the Fukushima nuclear plant accident resulted in a spill of millions of gallons of radioactive cooling water into the Pacific. Oceanographers projected that it could take until this year for highly diluted traces of that spill in Japan to reach the West Coast of North America.

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Wildfires
4:02 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

How The 1910 Fire In Washington Helped Shape Firefighting

Ross Reynolds talks with Tim Egan, columnist for the New York Times, about the Devil's Broom fire in 1910. The conflagration was the largest in United States history, burning 3 million acres in the Pacific Northwest, and set the stage for modern firefighting.

EarthFix Reports
8:44 am
Wed July 23, 2014

New Report: Oso Landslide Rooted In Long History Of Slides

Lidar imagery from a new report shows a history of landslide activity, as well as the contributions of groundwater from nearby basins, such as Headache Creek, which may have weakened slope stability..
GEER Report http://www.geerassociation.org/GEER_Post%20EQ%20Reports/Oso_WA_2014/GEER_Oso_Landslide_Report.pdf

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 2:40 pm

SEATTLE -- Scientists have concluded that rain, groundwater seepage and a long history of big landslides likely contributed to the massive landslide of March 22 that killed 43 people and destroyed dozens of homes near Oso, Washington.

Those findings came out Tuesday, the result of a scientific team's rapid-fire assessment of geology and localized factors.

Joe Wartman, a University of Washington associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and a co-lead author of the study, said rainfall very likely played a key role in the slide.

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Oso Landslide
3:15 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Scientists Draw Lessons From Oso Landslide

The site of the Oso mudslide in March.
Flickr Photo/Washington State DNR (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with David Montgomery, professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington, who was part of a team of scientists studying the aftermath of the Oso mudslide in order to help other communities prepare for future disasters.

EarthFix Reports
6:51 am
Mon July 21, 2014

How To Listen For A Spotted Bat

People can hear the spotted bat's echolocation. One group of nature lovers recently spent a night out tracking the bats in central Washington to check-in on how bat populations are doing in the state.
Paul Cryan

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 12:00 pm

Moses Coulee is a bat-lovers paradise. Washington is home to 15 species of these flying mammals and you can find 14 of them in this deep ravine about 45 minutes north of Ephrata.

And one of those species is the most rare type of bat in the state: the spotted bat.

There’s one thing especially cool about this bat: people can hear its echolocation. (Audio courtesy of Neal Hedges.)

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Global Health
7:37 am
Sun July 20, 2014

As Polar Icebox Shrinks, Infectious Pathogens Move North

Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 9:08 am

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Infectious diseases may be spreading more quickly, thanks to global warming. Viruses that were kept in check by the polar ice box are being released. And as some animals move north to keep cool, they're bringing all sorts of parasites with them, from microbes to ticks. Christopher Solomon has written about this in the August issue of "Scientific American." And he joins me now from Montana Public Radio in Missoula. Welcome.

CHRISTOPHER SOLOMON: Good to be here, Arun.

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EarthFix Reports
7:42 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Ag Secretary In Oregon To Tout Conservation Partnerships

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in Portland Thursday. He was in the Northwest to tout a new conservation program.
Alexi Horowitz

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 5:04 pm

PORTLAND -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met Thursday with Oregon conservation leaders to discuss a new effort to get farmers and conservation groups working together.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program was created by the Farm Bill that passed this year in Congress. Lawmakers set aside $1.2 billion for the program. Partnerships around the country are competing for a share of the money for initiatives that protect soil, water quality, and wildlife habitat.

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Wildfires
7:41 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Northwest Crews Continue To Battle Many Large Fires

A view of the Bridge 99 Complex fire along Green Ridge near the Lookout and east of Camp Sherman and the Metolius River.

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 5:17 pm

The next few days will be critical for crews battling more than a dozen wildfires in the Northwest. Forecasters have issued a Red Flag Warning for a large swath of eastern Oregon and Washington.

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Climate Change
7:41 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Endangered Species Listing For Wolverine Looking Doubtful

File photo of a wolverine

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 12:22 pm

A federal threatened species listing for the wolverine is looking increasingly unlikely.

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EarthFix Reports
7:59 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Oregon Nickel Mine Proposal Runs Into Stiff Opposition

North Fork of the Smith River, near Hiouchi, California.
PGHolbrook/Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 11:52 am

ASHLAND, Ore. -- A Britain-based company is making preliminary moves that could lead to a 4,000-acre open-pit nickel mine being established in the headwaters of the Smith and Illinois Rivers in southwest Oregon.

The firm says it’s at the beginning of a long process of evaluating whether such a mine would even pencil out. But opponents in Oregon and California are taking no chances. They’re going all-out to kill it in the cradle.

Barbara Ullian minces no words.

“The best time to stop a mine is before it starts,” she says.

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EarthFix Reports
7:29 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Wildfire Destroys Homes, Burns More than 2,000 Acres In South-Central Oregon

Julie Moseley is one of many residents living outside Sprague River, Oregon, who lost their homes to a wildfire.
Devan Schwartz

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 1:39 pm

SPRAGUE RIVER, Ore. -- The Moccasin Hill wildfire has burned about 2,500 acres and destroyed up to 20 homes, forcing residents to seek shelter while waiting for federal aid to arrive.

Red Cross volunteers set up in the community center to help the victims.

Whistler’s Trading Post, one of a few stores in town, extended its hours and expanded its operations, serving food, taking in horses and providing overnight shelter for displaced residents.

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EarthFix Reports
7:28 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Feds Phase Out Bee-Harming Pesticides In Northwest Wildlife Refuges

By 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to phase out the use of bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides on wildlife refuges in the Pacific Northwest.
Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/5695870557/in/set-72157626541514605

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 2:23 pm

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to eliminate the use of bee-harming pesticides on wildlife refuges in the Pacific region by 2016.

A new rule phases out the use of neonicotinoid pesticides – a class of chemical that has been linked to several bee die-offs in Oregon in the past two years, including one that killed 50,000 bumblebees in a Wilsonville parking lot.

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Wildfires
7:51 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Weekend Lightning Could Lead To 'Sleeper' Fires

Firefighters along Highway 97A are battling the Mills Canyon fire in central Washington state.

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 4:22 pm

Wildfires continue to rage around the Northwest. and forecasters say weather conditions are ripe for more fires to develop in the coming days. 

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Moon Snails
8:16 am
Mon July 14, 2014

What's Killing Clams? Solve This Low Tide Mystery

Why did so many healthy clams turn up dead at low tide last week?
Credit KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

One of the lowest tides of the year this weekend revealed a "crime scene" at the beach at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle.

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