environment

Gonzaga University

Three City Council candidates and a school board candidate promised to take climate change seriously, and look for ways to promote local environmental policy in a forum Wednesday.

City Council candidates were asked in a climate forum at Gonzaga University’s third annual climate forum whether they would work to make Spokane more resilient, and if they would support climate intervention policies.

Naghmana Sherazi, a candidate for the Northeast Spokane City Council District, called for the city to include communities of color in climate planning.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Despite drought, wind and unusually warm temperatures, all factors for wildfire spread, Spokane County saw less unhealthy air quality than it has in previous years.

Since the beginning of this year air quality in Spokane County has fallen below the unhealthy for some group’s standard on eight separate days.

Lisa Woodard, the spokeswoman for the Spokane Clean Air Agency, said this year is an average of what the area has already seen, and will see in the coming years.

Flikr

The refrain “paper or plastic” will still be heard at your local supermarket, but starting today the plastic bags will be a lot sturdier.

The ban was approved in 2020 by the Washington State Legislature, but its implementation was delayed at the start of the pandemic.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Faith leaders and environmental groups will meet Sunday to raise awareness of a waste repository in North Idaho and the area’s legacy of pollution.

Washington State Department of Agriculture

A new Asian Giant Hornets nest was eradicated this Thursday in northwest Washington.

Asian Giant Hornets are an invasive species that can destroy a honey bee nest in a matter of hours. Nests have been found in Canada, and today’s discovery was the fourth found in Washington.

Karla Salp, a spokesperson for the Washington state Department of Agriculture, said one queen, several worker bees and larva were found in the nest.

“We were able to eradicate the nest before they produced any reproductives that could go on to start new nests,” she said.

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.

The Spokane Regional Health District is asking the public to stay out of Newman Lake due to a toxic algae bloom.

Toxic algae blooms are caused by warm temperatures, low water levels and phosphorous.

A common source of phosphorous is lawn, or agricultural fertilizers. They can also be caused by overgrowth of invasive aquatic plant species.

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.

East Of The Cascades Under Air Quality Alert

Aug 12, 2021
Washington State Department of Ecology.

All of Eastern and Central Washington is under an air quality alert due rapidly spreading wildfires fueled by unusually hot and dry conditions.  

Lisa Woodard, the spokeswoman for the Spokane Clean Air Agency, said the alert is in effect until Monday due to worsening conditions.

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.

U.S. Forest Service

People in northeast Washington are weighing in on a proposal to add new wilderness areas to the Colville National Forest. Some support the idea, others are wary.

The proposal is part of the management plan for the Colville National Forest that was released two years ago. It calls for designating 61 thousand acres as wilderness. That means it would be essentially off limits to motorized travel, with a few exceptions.

That concerns Merrill Ott, a former Stevens County commissioner who represents the Tri-County Motorized Recreation Association.

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.

Pandhandle Health District.

The hot temperatures this summer have promoted algae growth at some area lakes, and Idaho officials are warning people to try to avoid contact with contaminated lake water, which can be a health threat.

The algae appears as discolored water, streaks or globs of scum, or thick green matts along the shore.

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.

Fernan Lake Under Health Advisory After Algal Bloom

Jul 28, 2021
Courtesy of Panhandle Health District

The Pandhandle Health District has detected toxins that are dangerous to human health in Fernan Lake.

According to a press release, toxins have been found across the entire body of water due to algal blooms. The dramatic increase in algae looks like thick green mats or scum in the water.

Health officials are urging people who recreate, or fish on the lake to be cautious and avoid exposure to the water. Toxins can’t be removed by boiling or filtration, and can contaminate fish caught in the lake.

Conrad Gowell

This summer’s heat wave led to some unhealthy hot water for salmon. But, fish managers said it hasn’t been as devastating for salmon runs as the warm water temperatures were in 2015.

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.

Algal Bloom Puts Hayden Lake Under Health Restrictions

Jul 27, 2021
Panhandle Health District

Panhandle Health officials are urging people to be cautious when swimming, or fishing in the northern portion of Hayden Lake due to a harmful algal bloom.

Algal blooms can produce dangerous bacteria in high concentrations.  They can look like an algal mat or murky, or scummy water.

Health officials are asking people who use Hayden Lake for drinking water to be careful, because boiling, or filtering it may not remove the toxins.

They are also urging people who are exposed algae to wash with clean water.  

Flikr Commons

Spring means there are a number of new baby animals in the great outdoors.

But experts warn that it's not a good idea to try to care for any animals you assume have been abandoned.

Courtesy of Silver Valley Community Resource Center

Earth Day will be formally celebrated on Thursday, April 22.

Three Inland Northwest environmental groups that share a common focus are combining their efforts to sponsor an early celebration.

Three young environmental activists are visiting Sandpoint, this Saturday, to talk about a pair of lawsuits challenging government to do more to combat climate change.

The trio is involved in two lawsuits filed by young people, ranging from age 9 to 21, that say the government has failed in a duty to protect young people from the ravages of climate change.

One suit is making its way through federal court in Oregon, another has been filed here in Washington State.

A federal civil trial in Seattle against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is on hold pending a tentative settlement in a case brought by seven environmental groups that has been in litigation since 2013.

Plaintiffs argued coal dust and pieces of coal the company ships from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin across the Northwest have been polluting Washington’s waterways for years in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

Nature will begin to restore fire-blackened acreage next spring, but it will likely use a nasty vegetative troll to do it - cheatgrass.

EPA Told to Quit Stalling on Pesticide Issue

Aug 11, 2015

This has been a bad week for the US Environmental Protection Agency. On the same day the agency had to admit that it fouled a Colorado river with millions of gallons of toxic mine waste, federal judges in Seattle told the EPA to quit stalling and dithering about a controversial pesticide.

New Wetlands May Grow From Old Logs

Jun 10, 2015

It may sound odd to think of restoring a vital wetlands on Lake Pend Oreille by throwing old logs, tree limbs and dirt into it. But that's what government agencies and volunteers are doing in the rapidly disappearing Clark Fork River delta.

Environmentalist Julian Powers died on Tuesday in Spokane. Verne paid tribute to him this morning on the Morning Classical program. Read more about Julian Powers here.  

An unusual experiment begins this summer on Idaho's Hayden Lake - testing of man-made floating wetlands that may save the lake from slowly choking to death. The Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board and the Kootenai Environmental Alliance have teamed up to make the artificial wetlands.

They call it "biomimickry technology."

The idea is launch the floating pads, made from recycled plastic and planted with native wetland vegetation, and let them eat up nutrients - primarily phosphorus - which are slowly strangling Hayden Lake.

Campgrounds Quarantined Because of Sick Trees

May 19, 2015

A couple of popular public campgrounds - one in Idaho and one in Washington - are out of commission for the entire year for an unusual reason --- sick trees above both campsites.

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