environment

Conservationists are in a race against the clock to save a sizable forest on Whidbey Island. The Whidbey Camano Land Trust needs to raise about $2.5 million between now and next Thursday. Land trust director Pat Powell hopes the ugly pictures from the Gulf oil spill motivate donors.

Pat Powell: “People are really thinking about protecting natural heritage. This is a place – Whidbey Island – that is special for everyone. Protecting the forest helps protect the island, Puget Sound and really helps us to pay back our planet.”

Scientists hope to gain new information about salmon migration patterns now that an in-depth study is back on track. Researchers at Oregon State University had to put their efforts on hold for the past two years. That's because most salmon fishing was restricted along the west coast. The goal of the research is to more accurately pinpoint where salmon from specific rivers spend their time in the ocean. OSU marine researcher Gil Sylvia says that could eventually mean fewer wide scale shutdowns of the salmon industry to protect endangered fish.

MOUNT ST. HELENS, Wash. –The Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St. Helens is reopening for the season this weekend. That's just in time for the 30th anniversary of the volcano's epic blast. The visitor center re-opens with new short films and exhibits.

The Johnston Ridge Observatory is the closest visitor center to the crater of Mount St. Helens. This spring, highway crews plowed away snow to allow contractors to get in early to freshen up the displays. Monument scientist Peter Frenzen wanted the exhibit material to reflect technological advances in volcano monitoring.

John Ryan photo

Washington state auditors say the agency charged with cleaning up Puget Sound should clean up its own act too. A report out Wednesday says the Puget Sound Partnership has misspent public funds and circumvented various state laws. John Ryan has the story.

MOUNT ST. HELENS, Wash. –Where were you on May 18, 1980? The massive eruption of Mount St. Helens that day is one of those seminal events on par with 9/11 or the JFK assassination. Hard to believe it's been thirty years. The blast zone is once again teeming with life. Even scientists are amazed. Correspondent Tom Banse has more on the wider lessons ecologists draw on this anniversary.

“I can hear the mountain behind me rumbling. An enormous mud and water slide washed out the road...”

That's KOMO-TV cameramen David Crockett scrambling to escape unimaginable devastation.

BOISE - Religions frequently struggle to find a balance between the spiritual and material world. To some people Heaven and Earth often seem at odds. Today, though, many faith-based organizations are finding that balance...in the garden. In this installment of Edible Idaho, correspondent Guy Hand looks at Northwest churches that believe good soil can nurture the human soul. 

KELSO, Wash. – During timber's heyday, it was common to see tugboats pulling huge rafts of logs to area mills. In the process, many valuable old-growth trees sank to the bottom of Northwest rivers and lakes. That's given rise to different breed of logger. A few enterprising souls have sought to take advantage of the underwater hidden forest. But Washington State has moved decisively to shut down underwater timber salvage operations. That's effectively sunk the business in Oregon too.

Courtesy of USGS

PORTLAND – There's a sleeping giant in the Pacific Northwest that could wake very soon and shake us all up. That giant is a major quake on par with the one that rattled Chile earlier this year. Some seismologists say it's overdue. More than 500 of the world's leading earthquake experts are in Portland this week for their annual conference. Correspondent Tom Banse dropped by to find out when the next “Big One” might shake the region.

The National Park Service, community leaders, and a Northwest Washington Indian tribe marked a major milestone Friday toward removing two dams on the Elwha River. They're on the north Olympic Peninsula.

Air pollution from oceangoing ships will be dramatically reduced under new rules agreed to by shipping companies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and international regulators. The pollution rules affect container ships, cruise lines and oil tankers calling on West Coast ports.

Starting next year, some of the trash you toss out may end up in gas tanks instead of buried at a large regional landfill in eastern Oregon. 

This project is a joint venture between landfill operator Waste Management Inc. and a small engineering company based in Bend called InEnTec. The partners announced they'll build their first waste-to-energy plant at the big landfill near Arlington, Oregon. The planned facility will vaporize trash in a very high temperature melter. Spokeswoman Jackie Lang says the resulting superheated gases can then be recombined to make synthetic fuel.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The water system is sick in a huge swath of Eastern Washington -- from Union Gap near Yakima to Benton City near the Tri-Cities. State and federal officials announced Thursday that much of the ground water in the lower valley is dangerous to drink. Correspondent Anna King reports. 

The Yakima Valley is like a multi layered cake punched with a network of drinking straws. There are irrigation drainage pipes, farm canals, deep wells, really old shallow wells, aquifers and rivers all coming. Somehow lots of nitrates and bacteria are getting into the ground water.

What do Nike, R-E-I, the Vancouver Olympics, and the Washington State government have in common? They've all promised to eliminate their impact on the climate by going 'carbon-neutral'. R-E-I aims to have zero output of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide by the year 2020. But since REI set the zero-impact goal, its emissions have been heading rapidly in the opposite direction.

What do Nike, R-E-I, the Vancouver Olympics, and the Washington State government have in common? They've all promised to eliminate their impact on the climate by going 'carbon-neutral'. R-E-I aims to have zero output of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide by the year 2020. But since REI set the zero-impact goal, its emissions have been heading rapidly in the opposite direction.

RICHLAND, Wash. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu named a blue ribbon panel Friday to find a final resting spot for the nation's nuclear waste and spent fuel. It has just two years to come up with an alternative to Nevada's Yucca Mountain. As Richland Correspondent Anna King reports, the commission's findings have big implications for how the Hanford Nuclear Reservation deals with its high-level radioactive sludge. 

SALEM, Ore. - Many of Oregon's major transportation corridors would be impassable if a major earthquake hit. That's the upshot of a study released today by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

ODOT engineers used a new computer simulation program to subject Oregon bridges to hypothetical major earthquakes. The result? Many bridges along the state's biggest highways would be out of commission for months, if not longer, if a huge quake hit. That includes Interstate 5, according to ODOT's Dave Thompson:

Oregon is pushing its coastal counties to standardize the sound of tsunami warning sirens. Washington state has already done so. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Oregon's Emergency Management Office uses the words “mish mash” to describe the current array of tsunami warning sounds. Seaside, Oregon for example has used a steady siren wail during evacuation drills.

Columbia and Snake River irrigators have run out of patience with the state of Washington's slow work to increase irrigated acreage that was agreed to in 2006, according to Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association leaders.

If the state will not support efforts to allow irrigators to use some of the water freed up by conservation efforts, irrigators will no longer be willing to support the state's other conservation projects, said Darryll Olsen, a consultant to the irrigators association, during a meeting with the Herald editorial board.

photo by Ray Bosch, U.S. F&WS

The federal government today removed brown pelicans from the endangered species list. Nowadays, the migratory seabird is a common sight along the Oregon and Washington coasts between June and October. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the pelican was declared endangered in the early 1970's.

HELENA — A new federal Environmental Protection Agency study shows concentrations of toxic chemicals in fish tissue from lakes and reservoirs in nearly all 50 states, though those levels aren't considered dangerous in the Montana lakes tested.

According to the agency, the study marks the first time the EPA has been able to estimate the percentage of lakes and reservoirs nationwide that have fish containing potentially harmful levels of chemicals such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.

Today in northeastern Washington, state attorneys will try a man accused of buying gall bladders that were taken from bears. Authorities say the organs are popular items on the black market. The practice of buying and selling bear parts is illegal in Washington, as Inland Northwest Correspondent Doug Nadvornick reports.

A watchdog group is crying foul on the federal government's plan to pump more water out of the Columbia River in Eastern Washington. The government plans to build a massive pipeline near Moses Lake with federal stimulus money. Richland Correspondent Anna King explains. 

At issue is the federal government's plan to build a massive pipeline near Moses Lake to pull more water out of the Columbia River to help irrigate crops. Rachael Paschael Osborn with the group Center for Environmental Law & Policy says she became concerned with the pipeline when she realized how large it was.

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