Environment

protecting songbird
9:30 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Can this rare songbird be lured away from risky neighborhoods?

A streaked horned lark is seen in this photo.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A songbird called the streaked horned lark has a curious propensity for risky neighborhoods. That's not a good quality for a bird proposed for listing as a threatened species. Its preferred hangouts include airports, Army training fields, and dredge spoil dumping sites along the lower Columbia River. A two-state experiment seeks to find out if these rare larks can be enticed to safer habitats.

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HANFORD NUCLEAR RESERVATION
5:20 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Some Hanford water cleanup moving faster than expected

At the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the 100-DX Pump and Treat system, which treats groundwater near the D and DR reactors along the Columbia River.
Photo courtesy of CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company.

Cleanup of a hazardous chemical in the groundwater at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is going faster than expected.

Hexavalent chromium is the nasty stuff that made Erin Brockovich famous down in California. The chemical was used to inhibit rust in coolant water in Hanford’s reactors. But that water was dumped into the desert, and now the carcinogen is making its way toward the Columbia River in large groundwater plumes.

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Environment
5:01 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Inslee issues greenest-yet budget pledge for Climate Solutions

Governor Inslee addressing the 2013 Climate Solutions fundraiser.
Bellamy Pailthorp Photo KPLU News

As the special legislative session gets underway in Olympia, Gov. Jay Inslee says some of the most important parts of his two-year budget proposal are investments in clean energy.

During a fundraiser for the nonprofit group Climate Solutions on Monday, the governor said he is pushing for a state budget that includes funds to start a new research center at the University of Washington.

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Environment
10:59 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Greening up historic buildings: Seattle’s Town Hall as case study

Town Hall Seattle received Landmark status last year, but it's also embarking on a multi-million dollar green retrofit. Meeting requirements of both is the subject of a "design charette" Wednesday during the 2013 Government Confluence in Seattle.
Bellamy Pailthorp Photo KPLU News

Seattle has been in the spotlight lately as the home to the world’s greenest new office building, the Bullitt Center. Also under construction is the headquarters of Brooks Sports in Fremont, which promises to be “deep green.”

But what about all the buildings that are already standing?

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Ways of the Wild
5:01 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Eagles return, drive entire colony of herons out of Kiwanis Ravine

A great blue heron is seen building a nest at Commodore Park.
Philip Maser Heron Habitat Helpers

The great blue heron is one of Washington’s most iconic birds, as is the bald eagle. Now, it seems eagle attacks on heron nests are driving herons to abandon the largest colony in Seattle. And volunteers are asking local residents to help them figure out where the herons have gone.

For more than a decade, Pam Cahn has monitored the dozens of heron nests at Kiwanis Ravine near Discovery Park in northwest Seattle. The volunteer citizen-scientist has kept track of eggs laid, chicks hatched and fledglings flown, then sent the data to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife for record-keeping.

But Cahn says this season, eagles have wreaked havoc on the approximately 90 heron nests in Kiwanis Ravine.

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northwest fishermen
8:04 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Pebble Mine opponents put value of Bristol Bay fishery at $1.5 billion

Sockey salmon in Bristol Bay support about 12,000 jobs annually in fishing and processing industries, according to a new economic impact report from the University of Alaska's Institute for Social and Economic Research
toddraden Photo Flickr

Though it’s thousands of miles away, a proposed mine for gold and copper in Alaska’s Bristol Bay threatens to destroy the livelihood of thousands of people in the Puget Sound area. 

Seattle’s fleet of commercial fishermen and seafood processors have been a big part of the opposition to the so-called Pebble Mine.

A new economic report puts the value of Bristol Bay’s salmon at $1.5 billion per year, and says more than a quarter of the jobs it generates are located in Washington state.

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Sustainability
5:01 am
Thu May 9, 2013

'Slow Flowers': Seattle author's case for sustainably-grown flowers

Debra Prinzing

Like many other holidays, Mother’s Day has become quite commercialized. Along with a Hallmark card often comes a perfect-looking bouquet of flowers that have traveled thousands of miles to get to your front door.

But for those who long for flowers with a local tie and fewer pesticides, there are other options.

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sequester
3:53 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Canceled open house latest effect of sequester on parks, science

Mount St. Helens is seen from Johnston's Ridge Observatory.
woodleywonderworks Flickr

A much-loved open house at the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver did not take place over the weekend. The center is run by the U.S. Geological Survey, which had to cancel the program due to the federal budget sequestration.

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shopping green
4:14 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Want to be green? Have your groceries delivered

Amazon Fresh is one of the grocery delivery options in Seattle. Others include Safeway.com and the new Seattle startup, Geniusdelivery. Google is testing a service in the San Francisco area. FreshDirect serves New York City.
leff Flickr

Having your groceries delivered might seem like a self-indulgent luxury.

But researchers at the University of Washington have found that, most of the time, you can feel good about doing something for the environment when you order your groceries online and have them delivered instead of making a trip to the store.

“We like to call it 'the bus for groceries,'” said Anne Goodchild, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UW.

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Light Rail expansion
5:01 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Tacoma City Council favors Hilltop area for light rail extension

City of Tacoma

Tacoma is on the brink of more than doubling the length of its Sound Transit Link Light Rail line.

Under a plan just recommended by the Tacoma City Council, the current starter line between the Tacoma Dome and the city's downtown would extend north into the Hilltop neighborhood. 

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urban planning
10:48 am
Thu April 18, 2013

Micro-housing boom has some Seattle neighborhoods up in arms

DarthNick photo Flickr

New buildings packed with dorm-like rooms for rent have been popping up in Seattle’s densest neighborhoods.

A grey area in the law is allowing these so-called “micro-housing” projects to go up without neighborhood comment. A brown-bag discussion on the issue of takes place at City Hall today.

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wastewater settlement
1:35 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Seattle, King County to spend $1.5 billion on wastewater upgrades

Concrete culvert with street sewer water draining from an embankment into Seattle's Carkeek Park.
Wonderlane photo Flickr

The city of Seattle and King County will spend $1.46 billion on upgrades to public sewer systems aimed at reducing the amount of polluted water entering the Puget Sound and other waterways, according to a federal settlement filed under the Clean Water Act. 

Under the agreement, the city and county will also pay $750,000 in fines for dumping raw sewage into the Sound and several lakes. 

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Shoreline protection
6:01 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

New environmental group to serve as Puget Sound watchdog

Sound Action says it will protect shoreline habitat by honing in on existing state law.
zenobia_joy photo Flickr

With its eelgrass beds and rocky beaches, Puget Sound’s shoreline is frequented by hundreds of species of fish and other creatures. State and federal agencies spend hundreds of millions of dollars on its restoration.

But Amy Carey, Executive Director of a new group called Sound Action, says the marine ecosystems that support sensitive species are still declining.

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Environment
10:27 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Opposition stirring against plans for big bottling plant in Anacortes

EJP Photo Flickr via Compfight

In the city of Anacortes, plans are underway to build what might become the biggest beverage bottling plant in the country.

Some residents are worried the scale of the operation will ruin their quality of life and put undue strain on the area’s water supply. Skagit County is considering a zoning change tonight to make room for the plant - and activists are planning to turn out against it.

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Environment
1:06 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Spring cleaning in Seattle includes keeping 'junk food' away from fish

LItter waiting for a little rain to carry into a storm drain.
KPLU

With spring comes spring cleaning. And Seattle is no exception. The city is asking residents to tidy up their neighborhoods - helping out with everything from picking up litter to painting over graffiti. Another thing the city could use help with is stenciling storm drains as a way to protect Puget Sound.

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