Our National Parks are being Loved to Death

The popularity explosion goes beyond national parks, however; witness the early October “golden week” in the Cascades and Rockies when needles on Lyall’s larches in the high country turn gold.  Long lines of cars are parked at the Biue Lake and Maple Pass Loop trailheads near Rainy Pass on the North Cascades Highway.

Risking Hanford (Like We Needed One More Thing to Worry About)

It’s difficult to plumb the true depths of the hazards at Hanford. John Brodeur, an environmental engineer and geologist who worked at Hanford in the 1990s, wrote that the DOE’s leak-detection method is “not only flawed, but designed to avoid finding leaks.”

Leftward Ho! Washington Environmental Groups Make a Risky Political Bet

Heads are shaking among longtime acquaintances in the environmental movement.  Its victories over the years have come not via bullhorns and woke-left Tweets -- rather, through inclusion and finding common ground.

What Puget Sound Pilots Want You to Know

The bottom line is, if a ship is blowing its whistle at you, get out of the way. Make a clear course change; go astern of it.

How You Protect the Olympic Peninsula Wilderness

About the only place you can still see “No Wild Olympics” signs are beside Trump for President yard signs on the south shore of Lake Quinault.  The south shore is a redoubt of property rights activists with a history of adversarial relations with the National Park Service.

Grrr: Attorney General Bob Ferguson Versus the Growlers

As the AG took questions, Ferguson was interrupted by a sudden earsplitting roar. A Growler jet passed low overhead.  The jet circled south, made a pass over the Naval Outlying Landing Field, just south of Coupeville, and came around again.

EPA Betrays the Duwamish River (Again)

In recent years – significantly during the Trump era of climate denial -- there has been pressure on the EPA to roll back cleanup requirements, allowing higher levels of PCBs and other chemicals in the Duwamish, the most polluted rifer in the nation.

What Would You Trade?

I began to ask myself, just as an individual “thought experiment,”  what would I be willing to give up in order NOT to experience another heat dome? 

Biden’s EPA Finds a New Weapon in the War Against Alaska’s Pebble Mine

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving to permanently block the proposed Pebble Mine project, which would locate a mile-square copper and gold mine between two of the most productive river watersheds supporting the salmon fishery of Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

Climate Change Is Melting Permafrost on the Road to Denali

Alaska is changing fast. All told, according to climate records kept by the Matanuska Experimental Farm near Anchorage, the average yearly temperature has jumped by 6.9 degrees during the past century.  The annual number of frost-free days measured at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport has grown by 17 days.

Walking On Sunshine

It’s comforting to know my morning coffee is being brewed by sunlight. And I’ve become addicted to the app that tells me our excess rooftop electrons are flowing back to the Jefferson PUD, which promises to return the favor, watt for watt,  when the sun migrates south next winter.

The Melting Signs of Climate Change on Northwest Glaciers

We are used to life in a region surrounded by envy. As such, we have underestimated the speed at which impacts of climate change would arrive.

The Centralia Model: How to Shut A Coal Plant Without Shutting Down its Community

It’s too early to say what the grants’ overall impact has been on these counties. According to recipients, however, the investments have enabled the region to adapt.

A Puget Sound Tsunami: The Next One will be Catastrophic

Geological evidence indicates that the Seattle Fault has slipped catastrophically 3,200 years ago, 1,700 years ago and 1,100 years ago.  This suggests a frequency of about once every 750 years so the 1,100 years separating us from the last big one would indicate we are overdue. 

Protection Island: One Small Fire, Thousands of Seabirds at Risk

Biologists have barely begun to assess the damage from last week's fire, but the toll will eventually be measured in biological terms –- just another step backward in our collective effort to preserve the Puget Sound ecosystem.

Reckoning: Guemes Island Keeps Growing; The Water Supply Isn’t

Freshwater access has been an issue for as long as humans have been living on the island. Guemes lacks lakes and year-round streams. It depends on groundwater stored in two natural aquifers, accessed by wells, for fresh water. 

What You Learn from 30 Years Tracking Seagulls on Protection Island

Over those years, the genial, soft-spoken Michigan professor and researcher has spent two months each summer living in a rustic, three-room cabin on the island, observing the mating rituals, nesting, egg-laying, and the hatching and fledging of the glaucous winged gulls that breed there by the thousands.

Why the Snake River Dams Need to Go

One thing is clear: we can and must make space for climate change if we hope to recover and protect our northwest salmon.

Biden Reverses Trump and Saves Old-Growth Trees in Alaska’s Vast Tongass Forest

The environmental community has much to celebrate, having fought the clear cutting of old growth in the Tongas back to 1980 when Congress passed the Alaska Lands Act.

Who Owns the Oceans

If our goal is to depend more on alternative energy, then promoting efforts for sustainable mining both on land and in the ocean is in our interest.

“The People That Live Under the Sea”: Lynda Mapes Chronicles the Orcas

When people say to me, ‘They are just like us,’ the first thing that flashes through my mind is, don’t flatter yourself.”

Gift of the Pandemic: Return of Beavers and Other Shy Wildlife

You don’t have to live in the suburbs to spot native beavers building dams and raising kits inside the city. There are sightings along creeks and trailways in large parks, and this is the best time of the year to spot mothers and their young.

Saving the Seabed… Or Exploiting It?

The legislation is an apparent win for environmentalists. But the story is actually far more complex.

Water Wars: Klamath Basin in Peril

Resolutions over the water in the Klamath Basin keep running into two tough problems. There isn't enough water to go around, and the environmental groups are split.

Memo to Biden: Do More to Protect the Tongass, America’s Last Great Rain Forest

The mills are long closed, but the battle is not ended. Cheered on by the Alaska delegation, the Trump Administration last year rescinded, in the Tongass, the Carter-era “Roadless Rule” which blocked construction of new roads into unlogged national forest land. The move was designed to open 186,000 acres of old growth forest to commercial logging.

Kickstarting 30X30: Look to Alaska

Biden, in an executive order on climate policy signed last January, directed Cabinet secretaries to set the stage to “achieve the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.” The same executive order spoke of creating a Civilian Climate Corps modeled after FDR’s successful Civilian Conservation Corps which built much of the West’s recreation infrastructure.

Coastal Tribes work to Reduce Vulnerability to Sea Rise and Tsunamis

Intelligent, dedicated residents in Washington's coastal communities provided the leadership to overcome political inertia and partisan stupidity. The groundwork for safety has been laid, so when the next big wave comes, physical damage will be great, but the horrors recalled in myth and legend need not be repeated.

School’s Back in Session: Hundreds of Millions of Herring Return to Puget Sound

Some areas are in drastic shape, but those declines have been offset by remarkable increases in Elliott Bay. Much of the activity takes place along Alki Beach and off the Olympic Sculpture Garden.

Fast Responders: What the World’s COVID Response teaches us about Climate Change

When COVID-19 exploded out of Wuhan, different countries reacted in different ways. Countries which had experienced either SARS, MERS, or the last major round...

Citizen Science: “Will Anyone ever see this?”

Citizen science, sometimes referred to as “community science,” is a big deal these days. Researchers at the University of Washington recently estimated that 1.3 million citizen volunteers had participated in 388 research projects in just one area of research – biodiversity.