Wednesday, April 16, 2014

4/16 Skykomish R., White R., Envision Skagit, BC pipelines

(Duane Bryce/Vitaliy Khustochka/BirdNote)
If you like to listen: Sapsuckers and Hummingbirds
The sapsucker is a type of woodpecker that notches rows of small holes in trees, causing sap to well out. The birds eat the sugary liquid flowing from these sapwells. Now tree sap is similar in sugar content to the nectar hummingbirds take from flowers. And it is no coincidence that just as the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers get their sapwells flowing in spring, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds come migrating north. Several species of hummingbirds partake of the bounty of sap released by sapsuckers, even nesting close to active sapwells and following the sapsuckers as they fly from one sap tree to another. (BirdNote)

PUD Changes Course: No Dam for Skykomish River’s Sunset Falls
Plans to put a dam on one of Washington’s most scenic rivers have been called off. The Snohomish County Public Utilities District says it has a better plan for the area on the Skykomish River near Index. But opponents of the project say it’s still too early to declare a victory.  Snohomish County PUD was planning an inflatable weir for the bend in the river near Sunset Falls, not far from Index. The utility said it had a design that would rise and fall with the river, making it safe for endangered fish runs and minimally disruptive to the scenic value of the area. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Washington's White River, 8th most endangered in the land
The American Rivers organization put the White River on its annual Most Endangered list. Why? The old Buckley Diversion Dam. Kate Harloe reports. (Crosscut)

County wraps up Envision Skagit 2060 project
County officials and residents gathered Tuesday to wrap up the long process of Envision Skagit 2060. The grant funds have been spent, and the final discussion was held to look over what had been done and what the county wanted to designate as important to do in the future. Envision Skagit 2060 was an effort to plan for the county’s growth over the next 50 years. Funded by grant money from the Environmental Protection Agency, a citizens group met for more than a year and came up with recommendations for the expected population growth. Rachel Lerman and Russell Hixson report. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Kitimat to make Northern Gateway opposition official with vote next week
After a divisive plebiscite that featured last-ditch campaigning from both camps, the District of Kitimat is expected to make its opposition to the $7.9-billion Northern Gateway project official next week. Council will vote next week on a motion that recommends the district take an official stance against the project, Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan said Tuesday. Wendy Stueck reports. (Globe and Mail)

First Nations/Aquilini pipeline plan gets lukewarm response from oil opponents
Northern B.C. First Nations adamantly opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline reacted coolly to a First Nations-backed organization that has partnered with the Aquilini Group to propose a new oil pipeline to the B.C. coast. While many First Nations in north-central and northwest B.C. are opposed to shipping bitumen from the Alberta oilsands, they say they have similar concerns about shipping synthetic crude, the type of upgraded oil being proposed by Eagle Spirit Energy to be shipped from the northwest coast to new markets in Asia. (Vancouver Sun)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT WED APR 16 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 11 AM PDT THIS MORNING
TODAY
SW WIND 15 TO 25 KT...BECOMING S TO 10 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT...SUBSIDING TO 1 FT OR LESS IN THE
 AFTERNOON. W SWELL 5 FT AT 10 SECONDS. RAIN.
TONIGHT
SW WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 11 SECONDS. RAIN.

--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

4/15 K pod, Kiss The Sky!, Octo-Mom, Mike Bursk, deep canyon, shy porpoise, timber money, debris

What LA saw (Gene Blevins/Reuters)
K pod makes rare spring visit to South Sound
K pod, one of the three pods of orcas that frequent Puget Sound, came south through the San Juan Islands yesterday and were spotted in South Puget Sound late this afternoon (Monday). It’s quite unusual to see K pod coming into Puget Sound this early in the year, noted killer whale researcher Brad Hanson of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. K pod contains 19 orcas and is often seen with other pods, but not this time. If history is any indication, they will soon be heading back out to the ocean. They are more likely to begin hanging out in the San Juan Islands in late May or early June. Chris Dunagan reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Win 2 Tickets to Kiss The Sky! The Orca Freedom Concert at the EMP April 22 by "liking" Sound Action and entering the drawing here.

If you like to watch: Octopus Life, Death and Birth at Three Tree Point  
Drew Collins and his search for the Real Octo-Mom and her eggs at Three Tree Point.

Whale Researcher Mike Bursk at Welcome the Whales Festival www.orcanetwork.org
Mike Bursk of the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, CA, speaks about "The Friendly Whales of San Ignacio Lagoon - Early Research" at 3 PM on April 19 at the Langley United Methodist Church, 3rd and Anthes, on Whidbey Island. Mike is the captain of the institute's 71-foot research vessel, the Sea Explorer. Nearly 20,000 students annually board the Sea Explorer for an adventure at sea. Presented by Orca Network and Whidbey Watershed Stewards.

Scientists say a deep canyon feeds Puget Sound
University of Washington researchers said they are astounded by the volume of deep sea water that is flowing through an underwater canyon at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. They say it’s enough to fill Century Link Field every second.  Twenty to 30 percent more water comes up through that canyon than all of the rivers and streams that feed Puget Sound combined.  Scientists at the UW School of Applied Sciences said today that results from a machine they lowered into the canyon on a research mission last year, measured those massive flows. They describe it as an underwater river as big as the Columbia and Amazon combined that flows uphill from the depths of the Pacific and into the Strait. Gary Chittim reports. (KING)

Expert finds shy harbor porpoises off Anacortes
Small, dolphin-like creatures frequent the marine waters here, but they are so shy compared to their extroverted, tropical cousins like Flipper that little is known about them. A marine biologist who spent 10 years swimming with energetic bottlenose and spotted dolphins in the Bahamas moved to the Pacific Northwest on a mission to change that. The Pacific Biodiversity Institute’s Anacortes-based Harbor Porpoise Monitoring Network hired Cindy Elliser in January to take the five-year research project to the next level. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

State lands chief breaks vow, takes timber-industry money
During his successful 2008 campaign to become state lands commissioner, Peter Goldmark pledged not to accept timber money. But he has collected about $100,000 from those companies, and environmental supporters are concerned he is growing too close to the logging industry. Mike Baker and Jim Brunner report. (Seattle Times)

Tide of Japanese tsunami debris ending: scientist
The threat to the B.C. shoreline from Japanese tsunami debris is over, says Jan Hafner, a researcher at the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii. B.C.’s shoreline and beaches were expected to be hit with everything from corpses to radioactive material coming in with the tide, but have seen much less debris than anticipated. The March 2011 tsunami, the result of a devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake, swept an estimated five million tonnes of debris into the ocean. About 70 per cent was believed to have sunk off the Japanese coast, leaving about 1.5 million tonnes floating in the Pacific Ocean. Sandra McCulloch reports. (Times Colonist)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT TUE APR 15 2014
TODAY
SW WIND 10 TO 20 KT...EASING TO 10 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 8 FT AT 11 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN
 THIS MORNING...THEN RAIN LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
S WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING SW 10 TO 15 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 10 SECONDS. RAIN
 LIKELY.

--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

4/14 Kitimat vote, Elwha sediment, water quality, forest plan, radiation, Pt Wells, saving salmon, PS Pilots, SeaWorld, Thurston ranch, Shane Anderson

Picnic Tree (Laurie MacBride)
O-So-Berry Busy!
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "It’s been a long time since my last post, and since then, spring has definitely sprung around our place. The best spot to witness this vibrant season in all its beauty, aroma and fast-paced action has been our “Picnic Tree” – a large, multi-trunked Indian Plum (AKA Osoberry, Oregon Plum or Oemleria cerasiformis)..."

Kitimat, B.C., votes 'no' to Northern Gateway in plebiscite
One of the most divisive issues in Kitimat, B.C., in a generation came to a head Saturday night as residents voted 'no' against Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline project. The ballot count from Saturday's vote was 1,793 opposed versus 1,278 who supported the multi-billion dollar project — a margin of 58.4 per cent to 41.6 per cent. "The people have spoken. That’s what we wanted — it’s a democratic process,” said Mayor Joanne Monaghan in a statement on Sunday. “We’ll be talking about this Monday night at Council, and then we’ll go from there with whatever Council decides.” (CBC)

Total lunar eclipse begins at 10 PM tonight and will be visible if the sky is clear. Sigh. Total lunar eclipse, Mars close approach tonight

New beaches in the making: Elwha River mouth grows as unleashed sediment flows
What does roughly 3.3 million cubic yards of sediment look like? The ever-changing mouth of the Elwha River can offer some clue. Between November 2012 and September 2013, about 3.3 million cubic yards, or 2.5 million cubic meters, of sediment once locked behind two massive dams along the river has built up at the mouth of the river, according to U.S. Geological Survey data estimates. Jeremy Schwartz reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Water quality is defined by its effect on sea life
Chris Dunagan in Watching Our Water Ways writes: "For all my years of environmental reporting, I have to say that I’ve never really understood the meaning of water quality. Keeping the water free of chemicals and fecal bacteria is one thing. Safe levels of oxygen, temperature, acidity and suspended sediment are other important factors. But in the real world, you never find ideal conditions. You take what you get: physical conditions dictated by weather, climate and bathymetry; a strange brew of toxic chemicals; and a mix of nutrients and organic material, all drifting through complex cycles of life and death. Water quality means nothing without the context of living things. More than 1,000 species of tiny organisms live in or on the mud at the bottom of Puget Sound. In many areas, sensitive species have disappeared. We are left with those that can tolerate harsher conditions. Why are they dying off? What can be done about it?...." (Kitsap Sun)

The Northwest's forest plan: 20 years of fighting
Owls, jobs and habitat: Have there been any real winners in since the Clinton administration compromise? Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of the Northwest Forest Plan, the Clinton administration document designed to save Northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets, wild salmon and the many other critters that live in the Northwest's old-growth and mature federal forests. The federal Record of Decision was published on that date in 1994. Daniel Jack Chasan reports. (Crosscut)

Citizen scientists prepare to test West Coast for Fukushima radiation (with video)
All along the Pacific coast of North America and as far south as Costa Rica, people with little or no scientific background have volunteered to raise money for the program and collect the sea water samples needed to test for radiation. The crowdsourcing, citizen-scientist program is the idea of Ken Buesseler, a research scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the world’s biggest private-non-profit oceanographic agency. Buesseler began his career studying the spread of radioactivity from Chernobyl in the Black Sea and has been working with Japanese scientists since mid-2011 to understand the spread of radiation from Fukushima across the Pacific Ocean. (Vancouver Sun)

Point Wells developer wins court fight; more review ahead
After three years of fighting over legal and environmental issues, a complex of luxury condominiums and an urban village planned at the former tank farm at Point Wells are much closer to moving ahead. The State Supreme Court found that a Snohomish County board improperly invalidated the development permits a month after they were filed.... The development proposed by Israeli billionaire Shraga Biran, who has done similar projects around the world, would clean up more than 100 years of pollution at the site but bring an estimated 12,860 daily car trips along a two-lane road through a quiet neighborhood of houses facing the street and Puget Sound. Nancy Bartley reports. (Seattle Times)

Saving the salmon
Many salmon recovery efforts are taking place in Skagit County and around the region, from the large-scale levee setback at Fisher Slough on the Skagit River delta to small-scale culvert replacements on the upper Skagit River. Yet state and national data still do not have a clear picture of the wild population’s progress. Are more wild salmon returning to rivers like the Skagit? Or is habitat still being destroyed more quickly than restoration projects can replace it? While the number of restoration efforts in Skagit and the greater Puget Sound area has grown in the name of saving wild salmon, it is unclear whether the fish population itself is also growing.... Skagit falls into the Puget Sound watershed, which was listed on the “decreasing” side of the 2012 data... But state Department of Fish and Wildlife data that tallies upper and lower Skagit River chinook returns more closely shows an increase in both groups from 2011 to 2012. Kimberly Cauvel reports.

Vancouver 'City Bird' voting now open
The City of Vancouver has chosen six birds that live here all year,  to be named the city's official bird for 2014. The winning bird will be used to promote Bird Week in 2015. The city says the contest is designed to raise awareness about the diversity of birds in Vancouver and their importance to a healthy ecosystem. Vote here (CBC)

A chore requiring a backbone: scrubbing the jellyfish tank
Jellyfish are among the original drifters — going with the flow for millions of years, since before the dinosaurs. Moon jellies are one of the more than 300 species in Puget Sound. They’re translucent and only mildly toxic, unlike their lethal cousins from Australian waters that can kill a human. But for such simple, mainly made-of-water creatures, jellyfish require a complex environment if brought indoors to live in an aquarium. To stay healthy, the 150 jellyfish in the circular tank at Seattle Aquarium need to have their home cleaned quarterly. It is staff biologist and diver Kathryn Kegel’s task to scrub the interior surfaces in the 12-foot doughnut. Alan Berner reports. (Seattle Times)

Puget Sound Pilots object to proposed Navy dock in Port Angeles
Puget Sound Pilots, which operates the only pilot station in the Puget Sound region, has raised objections to a Navy proposal to build a dock for submarine escort and blocking vessels on Ediz Hook. The Seattle-based company, which has its own dock fewer than 100 yards from where the Navy pier would be built, said the new dock could lead to an exit from its home of seven decades... Master mariners who are partners in the company and stay at the pilot station board all non-exempt vessels — from yachts to tankers to container ships — and navigate them through the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the American side of the international border to and from Puget Sound. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

SeaWorld Loses Appeal Of Ruling On Death Of Orca Trainer Dawn Brancheau
A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld a federal occupational safety agency's finding against SeaWorld Entertainment Inc following the workplace death of one of its killer whale trainers. By a vote of 2-1, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that SeaWorld had violated its duties as an employer by exposing trainers to "recognized hazards" when working with killer whales. The ruling means the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can require SeaWorld to limit the interactions trainers have with killer whales. Lawrence Hurley reports. (Reuters)

Nonprofit to convert Thurston ranch into preserve
A large ranch in south Thurston County has been purchased by the Center for Natural Lands Management, which plans to turn it into a preserve, the California-based nonprofit announced Friday. Formerly known as the Northwest Equestrian Center and the Turner Brothers Ranch, the site, which is about 140 acres, has been renamed the Deschutes River Preserve. It’s on state Route 507, just south of Rainier. The property is home to Mazama pocket gophers, which were listed Wednesday as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and other rare plants and animals including the streaked horned lark and golden paintbrush, according to the nonprofit. Lisa Pemberton reports. (Olympian)

Soundings: Capital grad finds passion in speaking for steelhead
Wild steelhead have a tireless and passionate advocate in Olympia filmmaker Shane Anderson. Evidence of Anderson’s devotion to this iconic, imperiled West Coast species will be on display at 6:30 p.m. April 19 at the Olympia Film Society’s Environmental Film Festival at the Capitol Theater in downtown Olympia. That’s when Anderson will premiere his sober yet hopeful film: “Wild Reverence: The Wild Steelhead’s Last Stand.” ...Anderson, a Capital High School graduate, grew up loving to fish, especially on the wild and scenic rivers of the Olympic Peninsula. John Dodge reports. (Olympian)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT MON APR 14 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
TODAY
SE WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING W 15 TO 25 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 3
 FT AT 13 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 5 FT AT 13 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

4/11 Tar sands oil, Grays Harbor oil, BC pipes, Elwha steelhead, Stilly fish, drones eye elk

http://xkcd.com
Cantwell Questions Top U.S. Coast Guard Nominee on Tar Sands Oil Spill Readiness in the Northwest
The Obama administration's nominee to lead the U.S. Coast Guard told U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) [Tuesday] that increased shipping of tar sands oil is a concern, and that there is a lack of adequate technology to handle a large-scale tar sands oil spill in Northwest waterways.
At a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee hearing Tuesday, Senator Cantwell questioned Vice Admiral Paul Zukunft on his agency's preparedness for a tar sands oil spill.

Oil-by-rail terminal proposed for Washington state
U.S. Development Group is seeking permits to build an oil terminal on the Washington coast that could handle about 45,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The $80 million proposal at the Port of Grays Harbor is one of several in Washington that together would bring millions of barrels of oil by train from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana.... The Grays Harbor Rail Terminal project would bring about one unit train to the facility every two days. A unit train typically has 120 rail cars and each car can hold about 28,000 gallons. The company filed permit applications Monday with the city of Hoquiam, Skaggs said. The state Department of Ecology and the city are expected to begin an environmental review process. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Kinder Morgan’s pipeline studies may contravene park-research permit, critics say
Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. is conducting pipeline studies in B.C. parks under a permit that was issued at a time when any research was supposed to be focused on gathering scientific knowledge to help better manage protected areas. The permit falls in a grey area because while research related to potential industrial projects would be permitted in parks under new legislation – which passed just two weeks ago – Kinder Morgan got authorization last November. At that time, the regulations stated that research in parks “must contribute to the scientific knowledge of the protected area(s).” Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail)

Kitimat residents to cast ballots on Northern Gateway pipeline project
Residents of Kitimat will cast votes in a local plebiscite Saturday for or against the multibillion-dollar Northern Gateway pipeline. The District of Kitimat has remained neutral on the $6-billion project, but the vote will decide council's position.... The city on the North Coast would be the end of the pipeline and home of the marine terminal for loading oil onto tankers. Kitimat council's neutral stance went so far as to keep the city from participating in a federal review panel on the project. (Vancouver Sun)

Federal judges deny request for emergency injunction against steelhead planting in Elwha River
A panel of federal appellate judges has rejected a wild-fish advocacy group’s request to stop the planting of hatchery-born steelhead in the Elwha River.  The ruling clears the way for Lower Elwha Klallam tribal hatchery managers to proceed with their planned release of as many as 175,000 steelhead — an ocean-going salmonid trout species — from the $16.5 million hatchery built to help restore Elwha River fish runs.  The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday dismissed a request from four wild-fish advocates for an emergency injunction to stop the steelhead plantings. The appellate court upheld a U.S. District Court judge’s decision to reject the injunction March 12. Joe Smillie reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Scientists Monitoring Oso Slide’s Effects On Stillaguamish Fish Runs
As the search for victims of the Oso mudslide continues, scientists are monitoring its effects on endangered fish runs. The cloudiness of the Stillaguamish River due to sediment washing down after the slide is a big concern. But it looks like initial fears of devastation are giving way to optimism.  Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Drones plot upriver elk herd’s size
Looking out over the town of Hamilton in the upper Skagit River valley from a hillside on state Department of Natural Resources land, a team of federal unmanned aircraft operators and local researchers scouted for elk. They couldn’t see elk themselves from that high up, but they knew they were there. Using radio monitors, they noted the general location of collared animals before sending a former military drone over the landscape to capture video footage. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 248 AM PDT FRI APR 11 2014
TODAY
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 10 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
SAT
LIGHT WIND...BECOMING SE TO 10 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
SAT NIGHT
SE WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
SUN
E WIND 10 KT...BECOMING SE 15 TO 20 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT...BUILDING TO 2 OR 3 FT IN THE AFTERNOON. W SWELL
 5 FT AT 15 SECONDS.
--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

4/10 Salmon quotas, BC tidal power, sewage plants, oil-train safety, BC farmlands, PS Action Agenda, Everett polluter, VanAquarium captives, otter flu, BC landslides

Salmon life cycle (Wikipedia)
New Quotas Clear Way For Banner Summer Salmon Fishing In Pacific Ocean
A federal fisheries management panel approved what some charter captains are calling the best ocean fishing season in 20 years. Meeting at a hotel in Vancouver, Washington, the Pacific Fishery Management Council on Wednesday adopted the 2014 season quotas unanimously after days of lengthy negotiations between commercial troll and recreational fishing representatives, treaty tribes and government regulators. The quotas are a big turnaround from the recent past when ocean salmon fishing was sharply curtailed or not allowed at all. Tom Banse reports. (KPLU)

Island company hopes to harness tides for power
Western Tidal Holdings has applied to the province for permission to investigate installing undersea turbines to generate power at sites close to Trial Island and Race Rocks. The projects are part of a suite of 14 tidal-power projects the Nanaimo-based company is proposing on B.C.’s coast. Last year, the company made similar applications for another site near Race Rocks, as well as sites in Active Pass and a location between Mayne and Pender islands. Those applications are still under review. Andrew Duffy reports. (Times Colonist)

Project at sewage treatment plant forges ahead near Chambers Bay
Four tower cranes up to 175 feet tall soar above a maze of concrete and rebar at Pierce County’s sewage treatment facility, where a $353 million expansion is in full swing. The project next to Chambers Bay golf course in University Place will expand sewage capacity to accommodate growth. And it will allow the county to meet anticipated stricter environmental rules. Workers will take a break before the crowds arrive for the 2015 U.S. Open golf championship. Steve Maynard reports. (News Tribune of Tacoma)

B.C. environment minister loath to take on sewage mess
The Capital Regional District will ask the province to set aside Esquimalt’s bylaws so the CRD can build a sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point. But Environment Minister Mary Polak said she’s unlikely to get involved. “Certainly, we will review whatever request they forward to us, but I am not inclined to intervene in what is, ultimately, a decision that should be made by local governments,” Polak said. Bill Cleverley and Lindsay Kines report. (Times Colonist)

Sen. Murray seeks safety assurances as state oil-train transport increases
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday held the first congressional hearing focused solely on the safety of transporting crude oil by rail — an issue that hardly existed a decade ago and which reached Washington state only in 2012. The hearing, chaired by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, of Washington, was prompted by a recent spate of oil-train accidents that have followed a resurgent domestic production driven by the Bakken shale oil and gas boom. Kyung M. Song reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Communities not prepared for risks of crude oil train derailments, Congress told  (McClatchy)

Opposition grows to BC government's plan to weaken farmland protection
The chorus of opposition to the B.C. government's planned rewrite of the agricultural land reserve is growing. A letter with more than 100 signatures, mostly from academics, biologists and naturalists, has been sent to Premier Christy Clark critical of Bill 24, which was introduced in the legislature on Mar. 27. The letter contends that the bill "reduces the ability for science to inform land use decisions...will increase pressure to remove land from the reserve at a cost to the general good" and overlooks the importance of farmland as habitat for wildlife and endangered species. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Public invited to learn about 2014-15 Puget Sound Action Agenda updates
Community members are invited to learn more about the Puget Sound Action Agenda and revised Near Term Actions for 2014-15 at one of two public open houses: April 15: 5 to 7 p.m.  at the Center for Urban Waters, 326 East D St., Tacoma; April 16: 5 to 7 p.m. at the Edmonds Library, Plaza Room, 650 Main Street, Edmonds. More on the updates (Puget Sound Partnership)

Department of Ecology reduces fine for Everett company
An Everett metal finisher will pay a reduced fine of $24,000 after taking measures to improve the handling of toxic chemicals, according to the state. Blue Streak Finishers, at 1520 80th St. SW, was fined $60,000 last fall by the state Department of Ecology after inspections revealed several violations of state law in the company’s handling of waste. That included a discharge of dye penetrant into the sewer system; tossing unused paint in with regular garbage; failure to designate, identify and properly handle paint and other chemicals; and lack of proper testing, labeling and inspection of waste storage tanks. Bill Sheets reports. (Everett Herald)

Vancouver Aquarium whales should be phased out, mayor says
A hot civic debate is stirring once more over whether the Vancouver Aquarium should be allowed to keep whales and dolphins in captivity. Mayor Gregor Robertson said he wants them gone, in time, but doesn't want the issue to go to a referendum. Earlier this week, the mayor issued a statement praising the aquarium for its conservation work and educational activities, and noting that is is a significant tourist draw, but said he's personally against the idea of having cetaceans in captivity. (CBC)

Researchers: We Shared The Flu Virus With Olympic Peninsula Sea Otters
Humans are particularly generous with the flu, otter-wrangling scientists have found. People shared the 2009 swine flu epidemic with ferrets, dogs, cats, raccoons and pigs, and new research shows even wild sea otters in Washington state got hit. "These otters, which we think were living in a relatively pristine environment off the Olympic Peninsula, were exposed to pathogens that are more commonly associated with people," said Virologist Hon Ip with the U.S. Geological Survey, who co-authored the study published in the May 2014 issue of “Emerging Infectious Diseases.” Rae Ellen Bichell reports. (KPLU)

Landslide disaster in U.S. highlights risks in B.C.
Several areas of the Lower Mainland have geology strikingly similar to that of Oso, Wash., where a wall of mud wiped out much of the community in late March, killing as many as 45. While past tragedies have forced some B.C. municipalities to face the risks and become leaders in prevention, others are still catching up. Justin Giavannetti reports. (Globe and Mail)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 245 AM PDT THU APR 10 2014
TODAY
W WIND 10 KT...BECOMING NW IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 10 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT.

--
"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

4/9 ESA gophers, Vic sewage, Lk Whatcom, whale watching

Mazama pocket gopher (Wikipedia)
Gophers found in Thurston and Pierce counties to be added to endangered species list
After more than a decade of debate, environmental studies and lawsuits, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials plan Wednesday to list four subspecies of Mazama pocket gophers as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A threatened species is one that’s likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future if steps aren’t taken to protect it. The critters, known as the Olympia, the Roy Prairie, the Tenino and Yelm pocket gophers, are found only in Pierce and Thurston counties. Along with the listing rule, Fish and Wildlife officials say they’ve also designated 1,607 acres in Thurston County as critical habitat for the Olympia, Tenino and Yelm pocket gophers. A special rule will allow continued agricultural activities on farming and ranch lands, according to the agency’s new release. (Olympian)

Capital Regional District wants province to help with sewage impasse
Capital Regional District staff are recommending directors ask the province to intervene in its impasse with Esquimalt over building a sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point. Esquimalt council on Monday voted against rezoning height and buffer zone encroachments necessary to accommodate a plant, and asked staff to prepare a zoning amendment that would remove a sewage treatment plant as an acceptable use of the waterfront property. The decisions leave the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee, which meets today, with few options, said chairman Geoff Young on Tuesday. Staff are recommending the CRD ask the province to overturn sections of Esquimalt’s amended bylaws. Sandra McCulloch reports. (Times Colonist)

Scientist: Lake Whatcom's problems persist, but are not getting worse
The quality of Lake Whatcom water may have stabilized, but it will likely take decades to get the city's drinking water source back to near-pristine levels. So says Robin Matthews, lead scientist on the team that conducts an annual study of the lake's water commissioned by the city. Tests of 2013 water samples show that levels of most-watched pollutants have been holding relatively steady for several years.... Matthews is director of the Institute for Watershed Studies at Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University. Like most research scientists, she is cautious drawing conclusions from the data she collects. But she acknowledged that stabilization in the lake's pollution levels may reflect efforts by the city, Whatcom County and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District to reverse years of damage caused by phosphorus-laden runoff. John Stark reports. (Bellingham Herald)

How whale watching can boost Olympic Peninsula tourism
Diane Schostak of the North Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau writes: “Amazing.  I just checked the North Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau Facebook page, and there it is: The reach from a recent post of orca whales jumping out of the water was nearly 130,000.  Nearly 3,000 “likes” and 1,400 “shares” brings the numbers up because so many see the photo in their news feeds and in their friends' activity.  I had a chance recently to visit with a local whale enthusiast who enlightened me on just how amazing the Olympic Peninsula is for whale watching....” See also: Where to see the gray whales — good viewing sites along North Olympic Peninsula's Pacific coast  (Peninsula Daily News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 243 AM PDT WED APR 9 2014
TODAY
NW WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING W 5 TO 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
NW WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
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"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

4/8 Vancouver Aquarium captives, Vic sewage, Skagit floodway, BC pipe protesters

Beluga whales, Vancouver Aquarium (Darryl Dyck)
Should Vancouver Aquarium keep whales and dolphins?
More than 11,000 people have joined an online petition to get the issue of whales and dolphins in captivity on Vancouver's municipal election ballot in November. The petition calls on Mayor Gregor Robertson, Vancouver Park Board and City Council to let voters decide in a referendum whether whales and dolphins should be kept at the Vancouver Aquarium. Park Board commissioners Constance Barnes and Sarah Blyth have already signed the petition, stating publicly they want all whales and dolphins at the Vancouver Aquarium phased out. (CBC)

Esquimalt rejects rezoning for sewage plant, aims to block construction
Esquimalt councillors didn’t just turn down the Capital Regional District’s requested rezoning for a sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point Monday, they rubbed the CRD’s nose in it. Not only did councillors unanimously reject height and buffer zone encroachments necessary to build the plant, they asked township staff to prepare a zoning amendment that would prohibit a sewage treatment plant from being built at McLoughlin. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

New blog: Early April 2014: 3 Down, 9 To Go
We’re a fourth of the way through the year and the short list of things I said I’d be looking for in 2014 has gotten shorter, while the verdict’s still out on a few...

Skagit floodway violations threaten federal insurance availability
A federal review of Skagit County’s compliance with flood safety requirements found more than 50 violations in east county that will need to be corrected or risk increased flood insurance rates for county residents. The county participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, which allows property owners to purchase federally backed flood insurance. The county could be dropped from the program if it doesn’t meet state and local safety requirements, meaning property owners in unincorporated Skagit County would have to purchase private-market flood insurance. Private flood insurance can cost four to five times as much as federally backed insurance, said Jack Moore, county building official and floodplain manager. Rachel Lerman reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Pipeline protest leaders vow to maintain right-of-way blockade
Leaders of a small native camp in central B.C. that is blocking the right-of-way of a proposed gas pipeline say they won’t be moving any time soon, even if a court orders them to. Freda Huson and her husband, Dini Ze Toghestiy, who are both Wet’suwet’en members, said they have been dug in so long on the Pacific Trail Pipeline Project route that they consider the camp their home now. Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 258 AM PDT TUE APR 8 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON
TODAY
SW WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 7 FT AT 12 SECONDS. RAIN.
TONIGHT
SW WIND 10 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 6 FT AT 11 SECONDS. SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS.

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"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter.

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told