climate change

WA lands commissioner reflects on 2021 wildfire season

Oct 6, 2021
Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center

The wildfire season in the Inland Northwest is winding down. It was a season that began early and continued with intensity during the heat of July and August. More than a dozen big fires were regularly burning throughout the three states. The Methow and Yakima valleys experienced weeks of smoky air.

We asked Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz to compare the 2021 fire season with the 2020 version, which hit its peak during early September.

Bonneville Power/Flickr

More renewable energy development and less room for energy conservation are two of the biggest changes in the draft of the new regional power plan.

The Northwest Power Plan guides the electricity demand decisions of the Bonneville Power Administration over the next 20 years.

Energy experts say the draft of the 2021 Northwest Power Plan is dramatically different from previous versions.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

A slate of environmental groups are asking Governor Jay Inslee to appoint new, reform-minded leadership at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The requests come in the wake of an audit that recommends cultural changes.

In a letter sent Wednesday, a dozen environmental groups called on Inslee to fill two positions in the nine-member commission that leads the state agency.

Courtesy of the National Weather Service.

This summer’s average was the hottest on record for most of the Inland Northwest, with most communities seeing temperatures a few degrees higher than average.

The climate normal for a summer in the Spokane area is 67.8 degrees. The average temperature in Spokane this summer, a combination of both overnight lows and daytime highs, was 73.1, several degrees above the 30-year-average and beating the county’s 2015 record.

Help could be on the way to the Pacific Northwest’s infrastructure – which has been tested this summer with heat waves and wildfires.

Spokane Public Radio spoke to Senator Patty Murray about the federal infrastructure packages before Congress now, which have several provisions to address climate change.

Murray says provisions in both infrastructure deals before Congress could address the root causes of those disasters, and help communities build the resilience they need to withstand them.

Rebecca White/SPR

A judge ruled that an initiative that would have barred the Spokane City Council from regulating natural gas and hydropower will not be allowed to appear on the November ballot.

The “Spokane Clean Energy Protection Act” ballot act was sparked in opposition to a draft sustainability plan that called for the city to phase out natural gas hook-ups.

Wikimedia Commons

As drought conditions continue in Washington State, dry conditions and stagnating water are starting to impact Eastern Washington’s White Tail Deer population.

According to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, 50 deer have died outside of Colfax in the last few weeks from two drought related illnesses.

Two diseases are impacting Washington’s White Tail deer population this summer, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease – or EHD and Blue Tongue.

Courtesy of the Northeast Fire Information Center

The Ford-Corkscrew fire that has burned 15,000 acres in Stevens County is now 14% contained.

Stevens County Fire District 1 Chief Mike Bucy says a rough perimeter has been established around the fire. He likens the current activity to connecting the dots, where some gaps remain in areas with rougher terrain.

Tom Banse/Northwest News Network

A group of environmental advocates and a Spokane city councilwoman are suing to stop an initiative that would bar city leaders from banning new natural gas hookups. They want to keep it off the ballot.

They argue it would hamper the region’s ability to fight climate change.

This weekend air quality in the Spokane area reached unhealthy levels due to wildfire smoke. This summer air quality in Okanogan County briefly was the worst in the world due to wildfires.

National Weather Service

Eastern and central Washington should prepare for an intense, but short, heat wave this weekend.

National Weather Service meteorologist Rebekah Cheatham says temperatures on Friday and Saturday will be close to as hot as they were during the record-breaking heat wave at the end of June.

Spokane Sets Average Heat Record

Jul 29, 2021
Courtesy of National Weather Service

Weather forecasters say Inland Northwest temperatures will be back in triple digits as we head into the weekend.

From June 1-July 26, Spokane recorded its highest-ever average temperature, 73.7 degrees.

Spokane has received about half of the precipitation it normally receives by this time in the summer.

Since January 1, the city has seen only 4.88" of precipitation. The 30-year average is 9.58" for the same time frame. Even so, this year comes in as the fourth driest on record for that time period.

TVW screenshot

As wildfires burn around Washington, the state’s Department of Ecology has declared a climate emergency for most of the state. During a press conference on Wednesday, Governor Jay Inslee said most of the state is unnaturally dry.

Spokane Must Now Open Cooling Centers at 95 Degrees

Jul 13, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Cooling Centers opened in Spokane Public Libraries and at the Looff Carousel today and will be open until the temperature drops below 95 degrees.

The cooling centers re-opened after the Spokane City Council updated an ordinance outlining when the city needs to provide shelter – during heat, winter and smoke events.

Councilwoman Lori Kinnear called on the mayor’s administration to plan ahead for those events, which are likely to become more common due to the worsening climate crisis.

The State Of Northwest Fires At The Beginning Of The Week

Jul 11, 2021
Courtesy of Idaho Fire Map

Wildfire season has intensified in the Inland Northwest, with the central Idaho mountains and the area where Washington, Oregon, and Idaho meet as the hot spots.

Courtney Flatt/NW Public Broadcasting

Tribes across the Northwest called for immediate action to remove the four Lower Snake River dams during a two-day Salmon and Orca summit in western Washington. The group called on President Biden and congressional members to “take bold action, now.”

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

As temperatures approach record levels, the city of Spokane will open the Looff Carrousel in Riverfront Park as well as public libraries to those with no other option to escape the heat.

Courtesy of National Weather Service

Weather forecasters have warned for days of extremely hot weather headed our way this weekend. Steve Bodner from the National Weather Service said those toasty temperatures will stick around for several longer, threatening Spokane’s record for consecutive days in triple digits.

Anna King/Northwest News Network

Northwest farmers are pouring on the water to moisten soils ahead of the triple-digit temperatures and possible record highs expected this weekend.

As the temperature climbs, Drex Gauntt in Washington’s Walla Walla County has some baby sweet corn he’s pretty worried about.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The city of Spokane has released a plan, which focuses on both greenhouse gas emissions and inequities in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

The city’s recently released Sustainability Action Plan Draft, gives the city two overarching goals, make the entire community more resilient, and reduce sources of pollution, and greenhouse gases, says Kara Odegard, the city’s manager of sustainability initiatives.

Gonzaga To Debut New Climate Center On Earth Day

Apr 19, 2021
Courtesy of Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University this week will formally announce a new center devoted to studying and teaching about climate change.

The new Gonzaga Center for Climate, Society and the Environment will, appropriately enough, get its public unveiling on Thursday, Earth Day.

While the vice presidential nominees were debating in Salt Lake City, several Spokane area candidates met virtually to debate climate change.

The forum was sponsored by Gonzaga’s Environmental Studies program and several Spokane area environmental groups.

The candidates were asked about their concerns about climate change, both locally and around the world.

Spokane Council Takes Two Steps Related To Climate Change

May 21, 2020
Global Covenant of Mayors

The Spokane City Council this week took steps not related to the virus. It approved two resolutions related to climate change.

In one, Council President Breean Beggs says the council voted to rejoin a group of more than 1,700 local governments that are working on sustainability issues.

City Of Spokane Releases Climate Survey Results

May 7, 2020
City of Spokane

Health and economic issues are top of mind for most people right now. But results of a survey released this week by the city of Spokane show the environment is still important to people.


More than 1,400 residents answered questions in a recent online poll about climate change.

City Of Spokane Surveys Residents About Climate Change

Feb 27, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A Spokane City Council citizens committee studying climate change has developed a survey for city residents. The results are expected to be used to help the city update its Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz has unveiled a Plan for Climate Resilience for the state.

Franz’s plan proposes a range of ways Washington can protect itself from the effects of climate change. That includes a strategy Franz has been vocal about: using timber harvests and controlled burns on state forest lands to prevent the frequency and intensity of wildfire.


A number of health care providers in Washington are coming together to ensure they are prepared to deal with climate change and its impact on patients.

The Washington Health Care Climate Alliance includes eight health care systems statewide that represent 40 hospitals.

University of Washington

Today on the Inland Journal podcast, we talk about climate change and human health.

A few weeks ago, Gonzaga welcomed University of Washington researcher Dr. Kristie Ebi [E-bi] to campus for its Next Generation Medicine lecture series. The topic was how a warming planet is affecting human health. What are some of the challenges, especially right in our backyard? And how might this affect our food supply?

Dr. Ebi has studied climate change and public health for about 25 years. She’s a professor of environmental and occupational health sciences and global health. She spoke with us before her talk at Gonzaga.

Spokane Candidates Discuss Climate Change

Oct 3, 2019
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane’s mayoral and city council candidates have addressed a wide variety of issues during this fall campaign, from homelessness to land use.

On Wednesday evening, the topic of the day was one that some of the candidates don’t even consider a local issue: climate change.