Ashley Ahearn

Landslides
6:46 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Living in the Shadow of Landslide Risk

Ben Van Dusen has lived in a landslide and flood-prone area near Mt. Index in Washington's Cascade Mountains for 20 years. He says he loves the beauty of the place but feels "stuck".
Credit Ashley Ahearn

The landslide in Oso, Washington served as a devastating reminder of one fact of life in the Northwest: landslides happen.

In some places, it’s a risk people have learned to live with.

Landslides have wiped out the only access road to one rural community along the Skykomish River three times since December. A dozen homes in the Mt. Index River Sites community were destroyed by the slides. Fortunately no one was hurt.

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Land Use Planning/Disasters
8:43 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Landslide Science Not Connecting With County Planning Decisions

Bonnie Brown's cabin in Oso, Washington before the March 22 landslide.
Credit Bonnie Brown

The Northwest is a region prone to landslides. That, of course, is on many people’s minds as the town of Oso, Washington recovers from the tragic slide that happened there this past weekend. There is a lot of scientific data and maps showing where landslides have occurred in the past. The question is whether or not it’s getting used.

Bonnie Brown sent me a picture of the cabin her parents built on the Stillaguamish River in the 70s.

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Endangered Species
6:43 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Stalking Puget Sound Steelhead with Science

Crew members of the research vessel "Chasina" drop an acoustic telemetry receiver down into Puget Sound. The device will record the passage of tagged steelhead.
Credit Ashley Ahearn

Steelhead in Puget Sound have been listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act since 2007.

Millions of dollars have been spent improving the habitat of this iconic fish, but the population isn’t increasing.
In fact, a lot of the fish aren’t even making it out of Puget Sound.
And scientists can’t pinpoint why. KUOW’s Ashley Ahearn jumped in a boat with one scientist who’s looking for answers.

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Shellfish
7:28 am
Wed January 29, 2014

As China's Shellfish Import Ban Drags On Northwest Chefs (re)Learn How To Cook A Geoduck

A geoduck crudo prepared by chef Michael Gifford.
Credit Ashley Ahearn

It’s been almost two months since China banned all shellfish imports from most of the west coast after finding high levels of arsenic in a sample from Washington.
The move has hit Washington hard. Particularly the geoduck clam industry.
These long-necked oddities are a delicacy in China… but here in the Northwest, not so much. That might be changing. Ashley Ahearn headed to one of Seattle’s hottest restaurants to find out how one chef is whetting appetites for this local clam.

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Environment
8:27 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Scientists Say Stop Worrying About Fukushima Radioactivity In West Coast Fish

It’s been almost 3 years since the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. Hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive water were released from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Fish there have been contaminated and some Japanese fisheries are still closed due to ongoing leaks. That’s made many people nervous about eating fish caught on this side of the Pacific Ocean.

It’s a gray Sunday morning at the Ballard farmer’s market in Seattle.

[Market sound “Hey Charlie. You got your seahawks gear on.”]

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Environment
1:04 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Information Gap In Northwest Oil Train Emergency Response

More oil is moving along Northwest railways. The Bakken Oil fields of North Dakota are booming. But Bakken oil is explosive at relatively low temperatures. There have been several oil train accidents since the boom began, one of them costing the lives of 47 people in Quebec.

That’s prompted KUOW’s EarthFix team to take a look at how prepared the Northwest is for the rise of oil train traffic. Ashley Ahearn reports.

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Business
3:43 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Pacific Northwest Suffers After China Bans Shellfish Imports

A geoduck farm near Totten Inlet, Washington.
KBCS/Bellvue/Seattle/Flickr

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:23 am

China has closed its doors to all shellfish imports from an area that stretches from northern California to Alaska. The state of Washington says it's losing as much as $600,000 a week.

Among the shellfish not being harvested is the geoduck, a long-necked clam that can fetch up to $150 per pound in China. It's a major export for the Pacific Northwest.

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