Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse covers business, environment, public policy, human interest and national news across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be heard during "Morning Edition," "Weekday," and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

Before taking his current beat, Tom covered state government and the Washington Legislature for 12 years. During the early 1990s, he worked in the Seattle bureau of United Press International. He got his start in radio at WCAL–FM, a public station in southern Minnesota. Reared in Seattle, Tom graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota with a degree in American Studies. In 1996, he spent two months reporting from Bonn and Berlin, Germany on an Arthur F. Burns Fellowship. In 1999, he traversed the globe to cover the Pacific Rim (Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan) on a Jefferson Fellowship.

When not sifting through press releases, listening to lobbyists, or driving lonely highways, Tom enjoys exploring the Olympic Peninsula backcountry and cooking dinner with his wife and friends. Tom's secret ambition is to take six months off work and travel to a faraway place where there are no radios.

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Recreation Permits
5:50 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Coastal County Tries Tax Gambit To Stop Recreation Fees

Credit Horia Varlan / Flickr

A coastal Northwest county is the first to strike back against pricey recreation permits now being required by some large timber companies. The Grays Harbor County commission voted unanimously Monday to take a tax deferral away from private timberland owners that charge for public access.

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Seasonal Access Permits
7:34 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Timber Giant Begins Selling Seasonal Permits, But Some Push Back

Vandalism and illegal dumping like this on the St. Helens Tree Farm was a key reason for the new access policy says Weyerhaeuser.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Timber giant Weyerhaeuser is joining the pay-to-play and pay-to-hunt trend. This week, the largest private forestland owner in Oregon and Washington will begin selling seasonal access permits to hunters, horse riders, hikers and other recreators. The Washington state-based company is not the first to charge access fees. But the breadth and high prices it will charge are generating more push back than before. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Seattle Delta Hub
7:26 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Delta Air Lines Building Hub In Seattle, Putative Partner’s Hometown

Port of Seattle fire trucks salute a Delta Airbus A330 as it departs for Hong Kong on Monday.
Credit Port of Seattle

Pacific Northwest travelers will get ringside seats to see if two airlines can be partners and rivals at the same time. One of those "frenemies" - if you will - is Seattle-based Alaska Airlines. And in the other corner is Delta Air Lines. The two are long-term contractual allies. But the relationship is being tested.

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Aircraft Laser Danger
7:56 am
Fri June 6, 2014

FBI Offers Big Reward To Rat Out People Who Aim Lasers At Aircraft

The FBI is offering rewards up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of people who have aimed laser pointers at aircraft. Deliberate targeting of aircraft in flight has increased significantly in the last couple of years in the Northwest. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Lamprey Ceremony
7:20 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Lamprey Fishing Blessing Ceremony Has Tribal Sovereignty Undertone

Children and tribal elders alike danced the eel dance at Clackamette Park on Monday.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

You've no doubt heard people say they're "goin' fishin'." But how about going "eeling?" As in, fishing for eel.

For centuries, Native Americans from Boise to Wenatchee to the southern Oregon coast have harvested Pacific lamprey, colloquially called eels. Monday, the Warm Springs and Yakama tribes held a season-opening "blessing ceremony" at Willamette Falls. Correspondent Tom Banse reports the event happened against a backdrop of treaty rights tension over management of the dwindling fish.

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Rainier Climbing Accident
5:26 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Six Climbers Presumed Dead After Long Fall On Mount Rainier

Six climbers are presumed dead after a fall on Mt. Rainier.

Six climbers who were descending from near the top of Mount Rainier have perished in the worst accident on the snow-capped volcano in decades. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Age Discrimination Lawsuit
6:09 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Age Discrimination Lawsuit Leaves Wounds In Seniors-Only Retirement Haven

Ryderwood's place in history is noted as you enter the town, pop. 400.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

When you approach your golden years, who doesn't look forward to peace and quiet surrounded by a supportive community? That desire led some retirees to relocate to a tiny town deep in the woods of southwest Washington. Ryderwood bills itself as the nation's first seniors-only retirement village. But the tranquility that lured people there went missing during a long and divisive lawsuit. The case questioned whether this 400 or so strong community could be so exclusive. It came replete with allegations of shunning, death threats, uncollected garbage and the tossing of a headless rabbit. Correspondent Tom Banse reports on the relief that has followed a settlement.

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Oso Landslide
7:16 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Landslide Tragedy Prompts Board To 'Take Stock' Of Logging Rules Around Unstable Slopes

The Oso landslide area.
Credit Photo courtesy Washington Governor's Office

State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark repeated Monday that "It's still too early to tell" if there is a connection between logging and this spring's deadly landslide near Oso, Washington. Even so, a state panel that sets timber harvest rules decided it was worthwhile to take an all-day look at landslide hazards. Correspondent Tom Banse reports the widow of a slide victim delivered a call to action.

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Native American History
7:31 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Gathering The Stories Of Northwest People "Left Out" Of History

Author LLyn De Danaan at home in Mason County, Washington.
Credit Mary Randlett

It started with the discovery of long-forgotten gravestones in a thicket of bramble and alder. That set one author on the faint trail of a feisty Native American woman and oyster farmer who lived in 19th century western Washington. The biographer is using the resulting book to inspire other Northwesterners - particularly tribal members. She wants to bring out the stories of people who, in her words, have been "left out of our histories." Correspondent Tom Banse reports from Oyster Bay in Mason County, Washington.

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Mount St. Helens
4:51 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Magma Rising Beneath Mount St. Helens, But No Eruption Imminent

File photo of Mount St. Helens
Credit Wes Peck/Flickr

Scientists monitoring Mount St. Helens confirmed Wednesday that magma is on the rise and "re-pressurizing" the volcano in southwest Washington. However, they also stress there are no signs of an imminent eruption. 

Scientists keep tabs on Mount St. Helens with seismometers and very sensitive GPS instruments. Earthquake activity is still low. The GPS stations are more revealing. They show the volcano swelling modestly.

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