Environment

Environment
10:20 am
Wed February 26, 2014

UW Prof Confirms Pine Trees Make Particles From Thin Air, Counteract Greenhouse Effect

labspic Flickr

When you walk into an evergreen forest, you get a whiff of that unmistakable smell of pine.

It turns out some of those vapors come from newly-discovered particles that seem to come out of nowhere and cool the forest. 

Researchers at the University of Washington have confirmed the finding, which they say will help scientists more accurately forecast climate change.

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Environment
5:01 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Who You Should Call If You Trip On A Tree Root In Seattle

Younger trees can cause hazards because of poor planting conditions, such as here. The soil is too shallow.
Erin Hennessey photo KPLU News

Seattle is well-known as a city that loves its trees. The city even has a plan to increase its tree canopy to cover 30 percent of its open skies by the year 2037.

But the trees can sometimes get out of hand. Their powerful roots can be downright treacherous when they push through sidewalks.

So, what to do if you see one that has you worried? Or if you stub your toe on a bulging root? 

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Environment
4:34 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Boaters Beware: State Wants to Ban Sewage Dumping in Puget Sound

Bellamy Pailthorp

It might surprise you to learn that you can dump the contents of your toilet into Puget Sound and not get in trouble. That’s essentially what some boaters do when they discharge their sewage into the water instead of pumping it out at a dock or marina.

The state Department of Ecology has proposed a federally-enforced ban on dumping in Puget Sound to stop the practice.

Amy Jankowiak with the state Department of Ecology says the state has been working on evaluating the feasibility and appropriateness of putting a dumping ban in place for two years. The department has now written the proposed law, which is ready for public comment.

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Environment
9:14 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Lawsuits Could Lead To Changes At Fish Hatcheries

In this photo taken on Tuesday Feb. 4, 2014, at a hatchery in Parkdale, Ore., a hatchery worker measures and weighs salmon as part of a study to track their growth.
Gosia Wozniacka AP Photo

People on the West Coast have counted on fish hatcheries for more than a century to help rebuild populations of salmon and steelhead and bring them to a level where government would no longer need to regulate fisheries.

But hatcheries have thus far failed to resurrect wild fish runs and artificially bred fish have come to dominate rivers. Critics say their influx harms wild salmon and masks the fact that wild populations are barely hanging on.

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Environment
5:01 am
Mon February 17, 2014

With Second Dam Nearly Gone, New Era Blossoming On The Elwha River

Courtesy of John Gussman

The slow-motion demolition of two hydroelectric dams on the Elwha River is radically changing the landscape near Port Angeles, but it’s not a scene you can witness on your own. 

Just a handful of dedicated photographers and filmmakers have been given permission to place their cameras at key posts near the Glines Canyon Dam to capture the changes as crews of skilled technicians carefully notch into the concrete walls and place dynamite in just the right places.

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Hiking
4:47 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Hikers Aim To Preserve The Tri-Cities' Dramatic Ridgelines

Sharon Grant heads down the ridge of Candy Mountain in the Tri-Cities, Wash. Badger Mountain can be seen in the distance.
Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 9:30 am

The close proximity of a group of mountains known as The Rattles to the the Tri-Cities in southeast Washington, means urban dwellers can hike a 1,500 foot peak and enjoy dramatic views on their lunch break -- or even after supper.

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Environment
10:18 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Sweeping Environmental Review For Longview Coal Terminal

A train hauling coal to British Columbia heads north out of downtown Seattle and in view of the Space Needle Tuesday afternoon, May 29, 2012.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

State and local regulators say they'll consider a sweeping environmental review of the impacts of a proposed terminal in southwest Washington that would export millions of tons of coal to Asia.

The state Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County said Wednesday its review includes looking at train traffic impacts along the entire route as the coal is moved by train from Montana and Wyoming throughout the state. The review will also study global-warming effects of burning the exported coal in Asia.

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Environment
5:06 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Risk Of Falling Trees Shutters Northwest Camping Areas

U.S. Forest Service

Forest managers in western Washington and northern Idaho will be closing some popular camping areas this year. They say nearby trees are infected with root rot and post a threat to campers. It’s a problem Northwest forests may see more of in the coming years.

The Bumblebee Campground near the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River is typically full of people every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But Jason Kirchner of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests says inspectors recently discovered all 25 campsites were close to at least one diseased tree at risk of falling.

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Northwest Lifestyles
5:01 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Lesson Learned From 'Bucket List Of Gardens In England': Plant For The Future

Wisley Glasshouse Borders are Piet Oudolf designed borders inspired by the prairie. Oudolf designs in masses of perennials and grasses chosen for color and structure to also create habitat for birds in particular. Plants are not watered or fertilized.
Nan Sterman photo Plant Soup, Inc.

  From growing your own food to planting native or drought-resistant plants, sustainability themes abound at this year’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle. At least one presenter took that idea to the next level by sharing a lesson she learned while admiring some of the world's most famous gardens. 

Nan Sterman is a garden writer from San Diego who attends the show in Seattle just about every year. This year, she presented a talk titled “From Sustainability to Stewardship” based on a tour of old English gardens she led last summer in the U.K.

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Environment
3:18 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Crude Oil Train Oversight Divides Lawmakers

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2013 file photo is a warning placard on a tank car carrying crude oil near a loading terminal in Trenton, N.D. U.S.
Matthew Brown AP Photo

State lawmakers in Olympia are going down divergent tracks in how to respond to the rapid increase of crude oil trains crossing the region. Timely public disclosure of train cargoes and safety risks is one point of contention.

Four recent derailments and explosions of crude oil trains in other parts of North America have raised alarm in city halls and state capitols in the Northwest. But state and local officials soon discovered their hands are largely tied because the feds have sole jurisdiction in this arena.

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Climate Change
5:00 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Jewell Visits Mount Rainier, Discusses Climate Change At UW Roundtable

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell leads a roundtable discussion at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

"The best classrooms are the ones without walls," said U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, standing inside a classroom at the University of Washington, her alma mater, on Tuesday.

The former CEO of Seattle-based REI spent two days at home this week, wrapping up her visit with a roundtable discussion about the president's Climate Action Plan and the local impacts of climate change. 

To illustrate the need to reduce carbon pollution, Jewell visited Mount Rainier National Park and toured areas affected by climate change.

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Environment
5:01 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Activist Groups Seek Tighter State Scrutiny Of Oil Trains, Export Terminal Permits

A train carrying crude oil heads west through the small town of Shelby, Mont. on Nov. 7, 2013.
Matthew Brown AP Photo

Faced with increasingly volatile sources of crude from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week issued an executive order directing his state agencies to review safety regulations and response plans.

Now community activists in Washington are asking Gov. Jay Inslee to do the same for the state’s coast.

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Environment
5:00 am
Thu January 30, 2014

'Pump, Don't Dump': Campaign Urges Boaters To Avoid Sewage Spills With Free Kit

Bellamy Pailthorp

A rubber adapter may be the answer to preventing illegal dumping in local waterways, according to a new campaign by Washington Sea Grant.

The pathogens in untreated wastewater can cause everything from minor skin rashes to serious gastrointestinal illnesses like Giardia and norovirus. But it happens, and often by accident. Many boaters know better, but lack proper equipment or information on how to pump out safely. 

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Energy Futures
5:01 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Sunset Falls Dam Fight: Citizen Activists Accuse SnoPUD Of Waste, Secret Meeting

Snohomish County PUD wants to install a small, inflatable dam at this bend on the south fork of the Skykomish River.
Bellamy Pailthorp

New accusations are fueling an ongoing controversy over a proposal to put a small inflatable dam on one of the Northwest’s scenic treasures. Opponents accuse the Snohomish County PUD of clouding the issue with confusing information and a secret meeting.

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Electric Cars
12:54 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Slow Uptake Of Electric Cars Prompts Calls To Extend Washington Tax Break

Nissan Leafs charge on the Washington state Capitol campus Tuesday.
Tom Banse

The slow uptake of electric cars by Northwest drivers is prompting calls to extend a tax break in Washington state for new vehicles powered by alternative fuels. A sales tax exemption is set to expire next year.

Washington and Oregon have been among the best sales markets in the country for plug-in cars. But still, the number of fully electric and other alternative fuel vehicles on the road remains a tiny fraction of total registrations.

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