Coronavirus threatens response to wildfires; firefighter camps ‘ideal’ to spread disease

Coronavirus could seriously hamper Washington’s ability to fight wildfires as agencies focus on organizing a response to the global pandemic. Despite concerns that the 2020 wildfire season could be worse than 2019’s, agencies that usually plan for fires and recruit firefighters in early spring are instead helping organize Washington’s response to COVID-19. Social-distancing concerns could mean a lower turnout of firefighters.

Covering Your Climate: Emerald Corridor Tries Flipping the Switch on C02

The latest entry in our ongoing “Covering Your Climate: The Emerald Corridor” special report looks at what the Pacific Northwest is doing to mitigate climate change, including reducing carbon emissions, limiting sprawl and congestion, pushing energy efficiency and pursuing carbon sequestration. Read the new tipsheet, plus check out our earlier report on climate impacts and our opening backgrounder.

State will study bias in searches by Washington state troopers

Washington state lawmakers have just passed a budget that pays for a collaboration between the Washington
State Patrol and Washington State University to find out whether state troopers exercise racial bias when they decide to search motorists. Additional funding will aim to improve the diversity of the State Patrol workforce. Critics aren’t convinced that the steps the Legislature and the State Patrol are taking will be enough to address implicit bias.

Make way for duplexes: Washington could join Oregon in banning single-family-only zoning

Two bills currently in the Washington Legislature aim to address the housing shortage in the state with legislation that would clear the way for duplexes and other multi-household homes. While the legislation could help reduce sprawl and commutes, as well as open up more pathways to home ownership, opponents worry that it would undercut property values and reshape neighborhoods.

Surge in abused, neglected kids housed at hotels ‘just another level of trauma’

Record numbers of foster children are sleeping in hotels and state offices as Washington State struggles to find beds for youth with mental health and behavioral challenges. Having previously sent some of the hardest-to-place foster youths to out-of-state homes, the state is now working to bring them back, but it’s facing a lack of qualified in-state facilities in part due to low payment rates by the state.

Senator: To help orcas and salmon, seawalls should be a last resort

Newly proposed legislation in the Washington Legislature would require waterfront homeowners along Puget Sound’s 2,500-mile shoreline to consider fish-friendly fixes when replacing concrete seawalls. Proponents believe it’s the best opportunity to soften the Sound’s shores and jumpstart populations of forage fish that feed juvenile Chinook salmon, the preferred food of endangered orcas. The building lobby and others aren’t convinced.