Thursday, April 24, 2014

4/24 Rainbows, BC quake, Stilly spawn, peat bog saved, Skagit septics, orcas, marbled murrelets, Canada trains, Tacoma gas plant, Howarth Park, Larry Pynn

Rainbow trout (WI DNR/KPLU)
Scientists: Washington's State Fish Has A Remarkable Evolutionary Past
It turns out the Washington state fish is a piece of evolutionary wonder. An international group of scientists sequenced the genome of the rainbow trout and found some surprises.  About 100 million years ago, something odd happened to the ancestor of salmon and rainbow trout. Instead of inheriting two copies of chromosome sets — one from mom and one from dad, they managed to inherit four copies. In evolutionary terms, this was a recent and dramatic event. Rae Ellen Bichell explains. (KPLU) See also: Fishing report: Lowland lakes ready for trout opener  (Seattle Times)

B.C. earthquake: 6.6 magnitude quake hits near Port Alice, B.C.
A 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck Wednesday night shortly aftter 8 p.m. PT. The epicentre was located 40 kilometres southwest of Port Alice at a depth of 22 kilometres, according to the Pacific Tsunami Information Centre. The earthquake was initially reported at 6.7 magnitude, but the USGS National Earthquake Information Centre later changed the scale of the quake to 6.6. Although the earthquake was powerful enough to generate a local tsunami, the risk of one was quickly ruled out. (CBC)

Fish Still Spawning After Deadly Washington Mudslide: Biologists
Fisheries biologist Pete Verhey waded through the cold, clear creek that feeds into the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, scanning riffles and side channels looking for evidence of fish eggs. "We got one!" he shouted, pulling pink tape from his waders and marking the spot where a steelhead trout had buried eggs in the gravel. The redd, or spawning nest, is an encouraging sign that steelhead trout may be making their way upstream from Oso — above where a massive landslide decimated a riverside neighborhood a month ago and pushed several football fields worth of sediment down the hillside and across the river. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

County to buy land to protect rare peat bog from development
Snohomish County leaders moved Wednesday to buy land around a rare peat bog where a developer earlier planned to build luxury homes. The County Council unanimously voted to buy Hooven Bog for $1.6 million. The deal includes pasture land to the west that had been used for access. Along with the land acquisition, the agreement includes a developer dropping his court case seeking damages from the county over permit delays. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

County expands use of Clean Samish septic inspection strategies
While there aren’t thousands of acres of shellfish beds at stake in Padilla Bay, there is fecal coliform pollution that has resulted in closures for recreational shellfish harvest and swimming at Bay View State Park over the years. Skagit County is in the process of expanding its Pollution Identification and Correction program to the Padilla Bay watershed. The program, called PIC, was initially adopted to aid the Clean Samish Initiative in reducing pollution and commercial shellfish harvest closures in the Samish River watershed. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

If you like to watch: PHOTOS: West Seattle whale-watching – orcas back, day 3
Lots of orca-watching going on this [Wednesday] morning, from Beach Drive to Elliott Bay, where the newest reports are from – likely the same two transient male orcas who have been visiting the area for the past several days. (West Seattle Blog)

Chunky seabird in the crosshairs of state's timber-cutting machinery
Environmentalists say the marbled murrelet deserves much more protection than the state Department of Natural Resources are willing to give.... In a lawsuit filed March 31, the Seattle Audubon Society, the Olympic Forest Coalition and others are contesting two timber sales on the Olympic Peninsula that they say violate the state's federal habitat conservation plan. The land is managed by the Department of Natural Resources and includes forests that had been specifically identified for protection and recovery of the endangered bird, according to the lawsuit. Martha Baskin reports. (Crosscut)

Canada moves ahead of U.S. in phasing out older tank cars for shipping crude oil
In response to a deadly train derailment last summer, the Canadian government Wednesday ordered the country’s railroads to phase out tens of thousands of older, puncture-prone tank cars from crude oil transportation within three years. Though Transport Canada and its U.S. equivalent, the Department of Transportation, have been working together to address widespread concerns about the safety of moving large quantities of crude oil and ethanol in trains, the announcement puts Canada a step ahead. Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy)

Multinational group proposes $1.8 billion gas-conversion plant in Tacoma
A multinational consortium of energy, chemical and investment concerns is planning the largest financial investment — $1.8 billion — ever made to create a Tacoma industrial facility if the Port of Tacoma Commission next week grants it a long-term lease on a key Tacoma Tideflats tract. Northwest Innovation Works is proposing to build a plant to convert natural gas into methanol on the former site of the Kaiser Aluminum smelter near the port’s Blair Waterway. The methanol in liquid form would be exported in tankers to Asia from a wharf on the port’s busiest industrial waterway. Those tankers would deliver most of their cargo to China, where the methanol would be used as a basic feedstock to create plastics. John Gillie reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Howarth Park beach to close for 4 months
One of Everett’s most popular beaches is set for a temporary closure this fall to make way for a project to benefit people and fish. The work will remove a bulkhead at Howarth Park. It also involves replenishing sand at up to three other spots along the beach between the Mukilteo city limits and the Port of Everett. Construction is scheduled to begin in November and last about four months. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

Sun reporter to receive environmental award
Larry Pynn, The Vancouver Sun's Environment and Special Projects reporter, will be presented Thursday with the Frank Sanford Award for Community Service by Nature Vancouver in recognition of his "outstanding contributions to community awareness about environmental issues.

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-300 AM PDT THU APR 24 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS EVENING
TODAY
SW WIND 15 TO 25 KT...BECOMING S 20 TO 30 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 3 TO 5 FT. W SWELL 5 FT AT 9 SECONDS...
 BUILDING TO SW 7 FT AT 9 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON. RAIN THIS MORNING...THEN SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
SW WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING S 5 TO 15 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 9 FT AT 10 SECONDS. SHOWERS
 LIKELY...THEN A CHANCE OF SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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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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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4/23 Earth Day, Obama in Oso, slide rules, BC fish, oil trains, humpbacks, bullfrogs, Sarah Rubenstein, whale concert

Earth Day  (AP/The Post-Crescent, Dan Powers)
New blog: Puzzling Over Saving the Earth
Help me puzzle out where we are heading on this annual celebration of Earth Day.  It hasn’t helped to have read Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction earlier this month. From a scientific point of view, it looks pretty clear that continuing as we are on our highway of carbon emissions, we are driving to an end much of life as we know it....

Obama in Oso
President Barack Obama saw the devastation of the Oso mudslide for himself today, touring the area by helicopter. Marine One flew directly over the site, giving him a view of the massive debris field and blocked North Fork Stillaguamish River. A couple of bright-yellow excavators could be seen operating below, digging in the earth as part of the ongoing effort to recover the bodies of those who died. Amid the wreckage, an American flag flew at half staff. Rikki King and Amy Nile report. (Everett Herald)

Snohomish County to weigh development moratorium in landslide areas
The Snohomish County Council will consider an emergency moratorium on development in areas at risk of landslides. Dave Somers, president of the council, said he’ll propose a vote on the six-month ban at a council meeting Wednesday. Somers, who was in Arlington Tuesday during President Obama’s visit to the site of the March 22 mudslide, said the moratorium would apply to new construction throughout the county within a half-mile of landslide hazard areas mapped by the county. The ban would not halt projects that have already received building permits, Somers said. The moratorium would give the county time to do a more detailed assessment of landslide risks and develop new policies if needed, he said. Jim Brunner reports. (Seattle Times)

Canada's first land raised Atlantic salmon enters the retail market
The KUTERRA farm, the first land-based commercial Atlantic salmon farm in North America, marks Earth Day by bringing to market Canada's first Atlantic salmon raised on land. KUTERRA LP, owned by the 'Namgis First Nation, was founded to offer a sustainable alternative to conventionally farmed salmon. "The effects of conventional farming on the marine environment are very real to us," says 'Namgis Chief Bill Cranmer. "This enterprise shows the way forward for the industry. It also fits with our economic plans and with our history as a fishing and trading people." (CNW PR News)

Tank car fleet inadequate for crude oil, rail industry says
None of the tank cars currently in service carrying Bakken crude oil is adequate for carrying that product, a rail industry representative testified Tuesday, April 22, but until new federal regulations are completed, the use of inadequate cars will continue. That includes tank cars built to higher standards adopted by the industry since 2011. Such cars have failed in at least two recent derailments. Yet in the absence of the new rules, crude oil shippers and refiners continue to rely on them to meet the demands of North America's energy resurgence. Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy)

Wash. Legislator: Oil Trains ‘Going To Be With Us For A While’
Environmental regulators in Washington state are expecting a lively crowd Thursday in the coastal city of Hoquiam, where the public gets a chance to weigh in about increased crude oil train traffic. Developers are proposing side-by-side marine terminal expansions on Grays Harbor along the Washington coast. They would receive crude oil by rail from the Northern Plains and send it out by barge and tanker to West Coast refineries. This would add to the already fast-rising number of crude oil trains crossing the Northwest. Environmentalists, shellfish growers and coastal tribes are organizing in opposition. But one powerful state senator asserts that oil trains are “going to be with us for a while.” Republican Doug Ericksen represents a district in northwest Washington that is home to two oil refineries. Tom Banse reports. (NW News Network)

Humpback whales removed from ‘threatened’ species list
The Harper government is downgrading the protection of the North Pacific humpback whale despite objections from a clear majority of groups that were consulted. Critics say the whales could face greater danger if two major oilsands pipeline projects get the go-ahead, since both would result in a sharp increase in movement of large vessels on the West Coast that occasionally collide with, and kill, whales like the humpback. The decision was made under the Species At Risk Act, and declares the humpback a “species of special concern” rather than “threatened.” Peter O'Neil reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Brace for amphibian predator invasion, B.C. warned
Amphibian hunter Stan Orchard says now’s the time to get the jump on a population of invasive predators on southern Vancouver Island. The dinner-plate-sized American bullfrogs have mouths nearly as wide as their bodies and will gobble down anything they can, including bugs, birds and fish. Municipal officials with the Capital Regional District around Victoria, B.C., sprang into action against the bully bullfrogs back in 2006 and have nearly doubled the budget for the control program this year. (Globe and Mail)

Director named to head Port Townsend maritime program
A Blue Heron Middle School teacher is the manager of a new program to integrate maritime curriculum into Port Townsend School District coursework. Superintendent David Engle selected Sarah Rubenstein over two other candidates to run the Maritime Discovery Initiative. (Peninsula Daily News)

Earth Day concert benefits whale research
Whale advocate Michael Harris pulled together Graham Nash, Joan Jett, Country Joe and others who are joining Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart in an Earth Day concert in a killer benefit for killer whales. On Tuesday afternoon Ann and Nancy Wilson signed guitars for a benefit auction, tonight they will play them for a cause near and dear to their hearts - orca whales. Gary Chittim reports. (KING)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT WED APR 23 2014
GALE WATCH IN EFFECT FROM 5 PM PDT THROUGH THURSDAY MORNING
TODAY
S WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING SE 10 TO 20 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 8 FT AT 12 SECONDS. SHOWERS
 LIKELY THIS MORNING...THEN RAIN LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
E WIND 15 TO 25 KT...BECOMING SE 20 TO 30 KT DURING THE EVENING. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT...BUILDING TO 3 TO 5 FT AFTER
 MIDNIGHT. W SWELL 6 FT AT 10 SECONDS. RAIN LIKELY...THEN RAIN AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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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

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

4/22 Earth sounds, Big Bang, BC pipe, spill risks, tankers, alpine mercury, Orca Tour, Japan mussel, land-farmed salmon, stormwater

For the Earth: Help Scientists Record One Day of Sound on Earth
Bryan Pijanowski wants to capture the sounds of the world on a single day, and he needs your help. On Earth Day, April 22, Pijanowski hopes to enlist thousands of people in recording a few minutes of their everyday surroundings with his Soundscape Recorder smartphone app. All those sonic snippets could create an unprecedented soundtrack to life on Earth — and as they accumulate, year after year, scientists could use them to measure patterns and changes in our sonic environments. Brandon Keim reports. (Wired)

For the Earth and the Universe: Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans
While scientists believe the universe began with a Big Bang, most Americans put a big question mark on the concept, an Associated Press-GfK poll found. Yet when it comes to smoking causing cancer or that a genetic code determines who we are, the doubts disappear. When considering concepts scientists consider truths, Americans have more skepticism than confidence in those that are farther away from our bodies in scope and time: global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and especially the Big Bang from 13.8 billion years ago. Seth Borenstein and Jennifer Agiesta report. (Associated Press)

Key native group in Northern B.C. threatens to stop talks on pipelines
Another crack has appeared in the government’s energy strategy, with a key native group in northern B.C. threatening “to stop discussions [regarding] any and all proposed pipeline development” in their territory. The Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs, whose traditional lands near Hazelton lie in the path of several proposed oil and gas pipelines, say they will block those projects unless the government withdraws controversial treaty deals offered to two neighbouring bands. Gwaans – chief negotiator for the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs whose English name is Beverley Clifton Percival – said Monday the threat to pull out of pipeline talks was made to get the government’s attention and drive home the importance of the issue. Mark Hume and Justine Hunter report. (Globe and Mail)

Vancouver seeks oil spill risk assessment
The city of Vancouver [WA] is seeking an independent assessment of the region's readiness for possible oil spills, explosions or other accidents that may result from the Northwest's largest proposed oil-by-train terminal. "We don't have experience with this kind of crude or volume," Deputy Fire Chief Dan Olson said. Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies want to build an oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver to handle as much as 380,000 barrels of crude a day. The state's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is weighing the proposal. The council will make a recommendation to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has the final say. Aaron Corvin and Erin Middlewood report. (Columbian)

Proposed oil terminal in B.C. could increase Strait tanker traffic
The number of oil tankers sailing along the Strait of Juan de Fuca bringing cargos of crude from Alaska has diminished dramatically in the past few years, according to oil and ship-movement records, but a plan for Alberta tar sands crude could increase the number of tankers in the Strait if it comes to pass. Many of the ships that currently head for Ferndale, Anacortes, Tacoma and other refinery points on Puget Sound often anchor in Port Angeles Harbor. Many of those anchored that sit “low in the water” with full cargos await clearance to proceed to their refineries. (Peninsula Daily News)

New Study: Mercury Found In Sport Fish In Remote Northwest Lakes
Some bad news for backcountry in the West: Some of the fish in the region’s wild alpine lakes contain unsafe levels of mercury, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. In the broadest study of its kind to date, the USGS tested various kinds of trout and other fish at 86 sites in national parks in 10 western states from 2008 to 2012. The average concentration of mercury in sport fish from two sites in Alaskan parks exceeded federal health standards, as did individual fish caught in California, Colorado, Washington and Wyoming. But perhaps more importantly, mercury was detected in all of the fish sampled, even from the more pristine areas of the parks. Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)

If you like to watch: March's Point Heron Colony
The heron colony on March's Point is believed to be the largest nesting area for Great Blue Herons in all of Western North America. Herons have nested at this site on Padilla Bay since the late 1970s. In 1984, just 42 nests were counted at this site, with a steady increase ever since. In 2006 Skagit Land Trust estimated over 700 active nests in the area! Now we think there are about 600.

Orca Tour 2014 - California, Here We Come!
The Whale Trail hosts a pre-kickoff and fundraiser on May 24 beginning at 6:30 PM at C&P Coffee in West Seattle for the Orca Tour which will feature orca expert Erich Hoyt in talks in two countries and three states in May. There will be a small silent auction and plenty of orca-themed door prizes. Friends from Seal Sitters, and emmy-nominated diver Laura James will also be on hand. Light appetizers and desserts, and no-host beer and wine. Admission is $5 adults, kids free, at Brown Paper Tickets.

Stowaway mussel surfs Japanese tsunami debris to B.C.
A sea creature unfamiliar in Canadian waters has hitchhiked its way across the Pacific ocean on a piece of suspected tsunami debris from Japan’s 2011 earthquake. The federal fisheries department has identified a non-indigenous mussel on one piece of wreckage believed to have drifted to B.C. after the devastating Japanese tsunami. The department says at this time it hasn’t conducted a full risk-assessment for the species, called mytilus coruscus... (Canadian Press)

Land-farmed salmon: Coming (temporarily) to a restaurant or store near you
Still have farmed salmon crossed off your short list of eco-friendly fish? A local version that’s available for a limited time in the Washington area could temporarily rewrite your rules. Most farmed salmon are raised in open nets or pens in the ocean, where their waste and potential to introduce parasites, diseases or non-native fish to the wild present serious environmental concerns. The Freshwater Institute, a program of the Arlington-based Conservation Fund, has been trying another way. For two years, the institute’s researchers have been growing Atlantic salmon at a recirculating aquaculture facility in Shepherdstown, W.Va., 70 miles from the District. They have been chipping away at the sustainability issues that plague this farmed fish’s reputation by growing it in land-based tanks without the use of antibiotics or hormones. They’ve acclimated the fish to grow in fresh water and are reusing 99 percent of it while reducing the amount of forage fish required to feed the growing predators. Whitney Pipkin reports. (Washington Post)

Rolling rain gardens at Port of Seattle
The Port of Seattle is testing a contraption that combines a boxcar, soil, plants and pipes to treat storm water runoff. The Port of Seattle is constantly looking for ways to reduce the runoff from its miles of concrete surfaces into Puget Sound.  The Splash Boxx may be a viable method. Splash Boxx is a Seattle Company that custom designs boxcar style containers that are packed with soild and plants and used to capture, slow down and treat stormwater in a natural, inexpensive process. Gary Chittim reports. (KING)

Now, your Earth Day tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT TUE APR 22 2014
TODAY
SW WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 8 FT AT 12 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
TONIGHT
S WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 7 FT AT 13 SECONDS...BUILDING TO 9 FT AT 13 SECONDS AFTER MIDNIGHT.
 SHOWERS...THEN SHOWERS LIKELY 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

Follow on Twitter.

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Monday, April 21, 2014

4/21 Killer sponge, oil traffic, Keystone, BC LNG, fish risk, Oso clearcut, stormwater rule, sea lions killed, shellfish closures, PA trash, Ala Spit

“Killer sponge” (Canadian Press/Vancouver Sun)
4 new species of 'killer' sponges discovered off Pacific coast
They look like fuzzy fingers, waving gently from the depths of the ocean floor but make no mistake — they're stone cold killers. Scientists have discovered four new species of carnivorous sponge off the Pacific Coast, including one deadly variety found hanging from the deep-sea ridges off southern Vancouver Island. Fortunately, these killers are about the size of a piece of spaghetti and they feed only on the tiny, shrimp-like amphipods and copepods that drift through the sea. (CBC)

Surging oil traffic puts region at risk
Efforts to transform the Northwest into a fossil-fuel hub for North Dakota’s crude, Alberta’s oil sands and coal from the Rocky Mountains mean the risks of major spills and explosions in and around Washington state are rising and poised to skyrocket. Millions of gallons of oil are suddenly transiting our region by train. Barges now haul petroleum across the treacherous mouth of the Columbia River and on to Puget Sound. Oil-tanker traffic through tricky channels north of Puget Sound may well increase dramatically in coming years. “People who are paying attention are rightfully nervous about all of this,” said Martha Kongsgaard, chairwoman of the leadership council for the Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency leading cleanup of the Sound. “It’s just scarier than heck. It makes you want to put your hands over your ears.” Craig Welch reports. (Seattle Times)

Keystone pipeline decision delayed, likely till after elections
The Obama administration is indefinitely delaying a decision on approving the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, likely putting off any action until after the November midterm elections. The State Department said Friday that federal agencies needed more time to comment on the project because a Nebraska court ruling had thrown the route into question. State Department officials said they couldn’t proceed until the Nebraska issues were settled. There’s no timetable for a decision at this point. Sean Cockerham reports. (McClatchy)

B.C. environment minister warned about LNG greenhouse gas emissions
British Columbia Environment Ministry staff have warned their minister that the province's dreamed-of liquefied natural gas industry poses some big challenges with greenhouse gas emissions. Internal briefing notes prepared for Environment Minister Mary Polak since she took office last year and obtained by The Canadian Press, single out methane emissions for concern. On top of emissions from combustion and flaring of natural gas, methane and carbon dioxide escape during hydraulic fracturing process, or fracking, the documents said.... "A small increase in the percentage of natural gas that escapes can have a significant impact on overall emissions." (CBC)

Inslee weighs tenfold increase in cancer risk for fish eaters
How much risk of cancer from eating fish is too much? Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has privately advanced a proposal that would likely pass legal muster but that worries Indian tribes and environmentalists. It would allow a tenfold increase in allowable cancer risk under the law. It’s either that, the governor has told a panel of his advisers, or the state will have to consider regulatory breaks for polluters that the state has not traditionally granted in the past. For example: Giving factories, municipal sewage treatment plants and others who dump pollution into waterways 20 years or perhaps even more to come into compliance with new toxic-waste limits. Robert McClure reports. (InvestigateWest)

Governor discusses environmental issues with West End tribes during first North Olympic Peninsula visit
Environmental issues dominated discussion as Gov. Jay Inslee met with leaders of West End Native American tribes in his first visit to the North Olympic Peninsula as the state’s chief executive. Inslee spoke Friday with Quileute and Hoh tribal officials about their efforts to move out of tsunami zones and with the Makah about the need for a multi-agency committee for oversight of oil and coal freight ships in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Joe Smillie reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

DNR Postpones Clear-Cuts It Approved Near Oso Landslide
Washington state officials have postponed selling 250 acres of timber on steep slopes near the town of Oso. The Washington Department of Natural Resources had scheduled the 188-acre "Riley Rotor" timber sale and the 62-acre "Home Repairs" timber sale for auction this Wednesday, a month and a day after the March 22 landslide that killed at least 39 people in Oso. The Riley Rotor site is on state land about five miles southwest of the deadly Oso slide. Much of the site is so steep that the DNR had proposed logging it with helicopters. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

Washington Board Upholds Stormwater Rules
The Pollution Control Hearings Board—the legal body presiding over state environmental regulations—has upheld the stormwater permits governing Western Washington cities and counties. The decision was issued this spring by the three-person board after permittees challenged the rules. The state Department of Ecology in August last year approved the municipal stormwater permits, which aim to clean up and control polluted runoff that fouls Puget Sound and local lakes, rivers, and streams. The permits require cities and counties to update their development regulations so they require the use of green technologies that catch and soak rain water where it falls, instead of sluicing it across asphalt and roofs and into gutters and drains that dump it into sensitive waterways. The green solutions include permeable pavement that rain percolates through to the ground and extra-absorbent, souped-up rain gardens called “bioretention facilities.” Lisa Stiffler reports. (Sightline)

First Nuisance Sea Lions Of 2014 Killed At Bonneville Dam
State wildlife officers trapped and killed six salmon-chomping sea lions at Bonneville Dam earlier this week. It's part of a renewed campaign against nuisance predators who follow the spring salmon run. Wildlife managers from Oregon, Washington and Idaho have standing permission from the feds to use lethal measures to protect endangered fish runs from hungry sea lions. Tom Banse reports. (KPLU)

New patrol boat to help with Puget Sound security
Island County secured a $225,000 grant to purchase a new all-weather patrol vessel. Funding for the boat was issued through the Homeland Security Grant Program under Operation Stonegarden. The purpose of Operation Stonegarden is to “increase border security in direct coordination with state and local law enforcement,” according to county documents. The vessel will be used to increase joint law enforcement marine patrols in the Puget Sound in order to gain a better grasp on cross border activity and to prevent illegal crossings. Janis Reid reports. (Whidbey News-Times)

Portage Bay shellfish areas again threatened with closure
Portage Bay is among 14 commercial shellfish growing areas in the state that could be closed to harvesting if fecal coliform pollution worsens, the Washington state Department of Health warned. The agency's shellfish program, which monitors more than 101 commercial shellfish growing areas in the state, has stopped commercial harvesting in part of Vaughn Bay in Pierce County because of unsafe levels of fecal bacteria, according to a news release. Shellfish growing areas in Portage Bay have been under "threatened" status since 2012 because of poor water quality, according to a representative for the agency's shellfish program. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald) See also: Fecal bacteria threatens Puget Sound beaches  (KOMO)

Trash pushed over the bluff: Port Angeles regional dump abuse goes back decades
The fragile landfill expected to cost taxpayers $19.6 million to fix sits on an eroding bluff where city and other Clallam County residents freely dumped garbage, cars and other trash from at least 1947 until 1971. Early disposal methods included pushing cars and other garbage over the bluff to the Strait of Juan de Fuca beach below. Paul Gottleib reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Island County outlines plan for Ala Spit
A preliminary plan for the restoration of Ala Spit County Park was approved Monday with the aim of making the area more hospitable to salmon. While the initiative has been applauded by conservationists, some say the work has created a safety hazard for park visitors. Island County removed 800 feet of rock and crushed concrete from a center portion of the spit in 2012 in order to restore it to its original state. The intent was to repair the salmon habitat made vulnerable by erosion caused by the blockage. Removal of the bridge-like rocks have made the spit, at high tide, intraversable. Last year, at least two near-drownings occurred when fishermen attempted to cross the spit at full moon high tides. Janis Reid reports. (Whidbey News-Times)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT MON APR 21 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON
TODAY
SE WIND TO 10 KT THIS MORNING...BECOMING LIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 10 FT AT 13 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS THIS MORNING...THEN SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 9 FT AT 13 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY...THEN 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

Follow on Twitter.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

4/18 Texada coal, pipe critics, Tesoro oil, pit-to-pier gravel, tribe steelhead, South Sound fecals, marine ed

(PHOTO: Scott Terrell/Skagit Valley Herald)
Victoria approves major coal terminal expansion on Texada Island
Groups that want a full environmental review of an expansion at a Texada Island coal-handling facility are outraged the B.C. government quietly approved an amended permit without telling local residents or First Nations. The amended permit allows Lafarge to store 800,000 tonnes of coal, double the previous amount. The will enable Lafarge to handle thermal coal from the proposed $15-million Fraser Surrey Docks coal-handling facility. (Vancouver Sun)

Old-school coal is making a comeback
Coal, the former king of American energy, is making a comeback after being left for dead in favor of cleaner-burning natural gas. For years coal has been losing market share as the American fracking boom created a flood of cheap and abundant natural gas. But natural gas prices have edged upward, and the frigid winter created unprecedented energy demands. Power plants have increasingly been turning to coal as the solution. There's serious doubt whether the resurgence in coal can last in America with stricter environmental rules coming. But the global outlook for coal is bright, and U.S. coal producers hope to take advantage by increasing exports to other countries hungry for cheap energy. The International Energy Agency believes coal will be the No. 1 fuel for meeting the worldwide increase in energy demand. Sean Cockerham reports. (McClatchy)

Jack Knox: B.C. pipeline critics silenced at hearings
Easter weekend, start of the driving season, and — just like clockwork — gas prices and blood pressure spike in concert. Nothing like a 13-cent-a-litre jump to fill talk radio with purple-faced callers sputtering about all things petro-related. Here’s one place you won’t hear as much debate as expected: the hearings into Kinder Morgan’s proposal to triple the size of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby. Those with official intervenor status have been told they will not, as has been the case in the past, be allowed to orally cross-examine witnesses when the National Energy Board’s hearings into the proposal begin in January. Instead, they will be limited to submitting a couple of written questions. For a parallel, think of an episode of Law & Order in which the prosecutor only gets to pass the accused notes, not give him a real grilling. Jack Knox writes. (Times Colonist)

Washington Congresswoman Airs Oil Terminal Concerns
Gov. Jay Inslee, who will have the ultimate say over the construction of what would be the Northwest’s largest oil-by-rail transfer terminal in Vancouver, hasn’t taken a stand on the project. But members of the state’s congressional delegation are weighing in. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., was in Vancouver on Tuesday and stopped to visit with The Columbian’s editorial board. Cantwell was asked if she were a Vancouver resident, would she support building the oil-handling facility? “It wouldn’t be something I would be promoting,” she said. Lauren Dake reports. (Columbian)

‘Pit-to-pier’ firm appeals Jefferson County’s Shoreline Master Plan
A company that seeks to construct a 4-mile-long conveyor belt to move gravel and rocks from a quarry to Hood Canal has filed an appeal of Jefferson County’s recently enacted Shoreline Master Plan. Obstacles won’t stop the company’s plans for the project known as “pit-to-pier,” said Dan Baskins, project manager for the Thorndyke Resources Project.... James Tracy, Thorndyke’s attorney, filed a challenge to the plan with the Washington Growth Management Hearings Board on Monday. Charlie Bermant reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Crazy Dems – Inslee and Goldmark decide their base is irrelevant
Al Bergstein writes: "Over the last week, I’ve read or listened to the most bizarre stories about our Democratic Governor Jay Inslee and Democratic Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark. After courting the environmental wing of the Democratic voters with their long standing support of environmental protection, we now find both of them throwing this base under the bus..." (Olympic Peninsula Environmental Network)

Lummi Nation among tribes opposing attempt to shut down hatchery steelhead program
A conservation group's lawsuit aimed at shutting down Washington state's hatchery steelhead program on the Nooksack River and other streams is provoking an outcry from Lummi Nation and other tribes who harvest the big trout. "We need to have hatcheries to provide fish for everyone's grandchildren, tribal and non-tribal," Lummi Natural Resources representative Randy Kinley said in a press release. Kinley could not be reached immediately for additional comment, but Scott Schuyler, natural resources director for the Upper Skagit Tribe, said the hatchery steelhead are important to tribal fishermen, providing a chance to catch fish and earn some money during winter months when no other fisheries are available. Wild steelhead runs are nowhere near numerous enough to support a fishery. John Stark reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Fecal bacteria levels close Pierce County shellfish harvesting area
Shellfish harvesting in part of Vaughn Bay in Pierce County has been closed because of high levels of fecal bacteria, and health officials have identified 14 additional shellfish growing areas that could be closed if fecal pollution worsens, the Washington state Department of Health said today. The samples taken at growing-area stations failed to meet classification standards because of the amount of fecal bacteria from animal and human waste, according to the health department. Fecal bacteria can contaminate shellfish and make the people who eat them sick. Paige Cornwell reports. (Seattle Times)

'Hands-on, Feet Wet'; marine education program for teens
It was just over a year ago that President Obama proclaimed Washington State’s San Juan Islands "a refuge of scientific and historic treasures and a classroom for generations of Americans." In line with these educational ideals, Spring Street International School has launched Inland Ocean Studies, an immersive summer program for 14-18 year olds devoted to marine science and maritime ecology. The program’s goal is to introduce inquisitive young people to world-class scientists researching the marine environment of these biologically diverse islands. Caroline Grauman-Boss writes. (San Juan Journal)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT FRI APR 18 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON PDT TODAY
TODAY
W WIND 10 TO 20 KT...EASING TO 5 TO 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 10 FT AT 10 SECONDS...SUBSIDING TO 7
 FT AT 12 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
NW WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING SE 15 TO 25 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS...BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT AFTER
 MIDNIGHT. W SWELL 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
SAT
SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT...BECOMING S 15 TO 20 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 4 FT AT 11 SECONDS. RAIN
 IN THE AFTERNOON.
SAT NIGHT
SW WIND 15 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 7 FT AT 14 SECONDS...BUILDING TO 14 FT AT 16 SECONDS AFTER
 MIDNIGHT.
SUN
SW WIND 10 TO 15 KT...BECOMING S 10 TO 20 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 17 FT AT 17 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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Thursday, April 17, 2014

4/17 Matt Steuerwalt, carbon exports, tar sands shipping, BC monitoring, water festival, welcome whales

Osage County coal mining
Gov. Jay Inslee hires coal lobbyist to direct his policy office
Gov. Jay Inslee has hired a coal lobbyist to direct his policy office, an eyebrow-raising selection for a governor who has insisted on sweeping scrutiny of coal export terminals proposed at Cherry Point, north of Bellingham, and along the Columbia River at Longview. The new appointee is Matt Steuerwalt, who has been through the revolving door in recent years. He was a top energy/climate adviser to then-Gov. Chris Gregoire, then went to work for the Seattle-based Strategies 360 group. At Strategies 360, he represented TransAlta, the Canadian-based owner of the Centralia Coal plant and the state’s only coal plant and its largest greenhouse gas emitter. Joel Connelly reports. (seattlepi)

Oil, coal, gas: Export proposals are growing
The Big Energy Export Train aimed at Pacific Northwest deep-water harbors is looking to add a new cargo: liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), also known as propane and butane. The new export LPG cargo would be added to a menu that includes coal from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana; crude oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota; and liquefied natural gas (LNG) from . . . well, you get the idea. Petrogas, a Calgary-based energy company, plans to upgrade a small export terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County, near a proposed coal-export terminal and two oil refineries. The facility has had several owners since 1976 and has exported a small amount of LPG to Ecuador and Asia. A Texas energy company, Sage Midstream, has announced plans for a new LPG export terminal at Longview; the site is near a proposed coal-export terminal, Millennium Bulk Products. At least two proposals for liquefied natural gas terminals are on the table in Oregon: a longstanding one at Astoria near the mouth of the Columbia and a newer one at Coos Bay on the southern Oregon Coast. The Coos Bay project would include a 232-mile-long pipeline from south-central Oregon. Floyd McKay reports. (Crosscut)

San Juans gain voice in Canada's review of tar sands shipping proposal
Letters and citizen action seeking intervenor status for San Juan County and other interested local parties has resulted in Canada's National Energy Board selecting the county and nearly a dozen local advocacy groups and individuals as either "commenter" or "intervenors" in the review process for the Kinder Morgan tar sands shipment project. The National Energy Board selected 1,650 individuals and entities to participate in the review process; 468 applications were denied. Other applicants from Washington State and San Juan County allowed to participate are San Juan Islanders for Safe Shipping, Lopez NoCoalition, Orcas NoCoalition, and Friends of the San Juans, as commenters. Orca scientist and underwater hydrophone specialist Dr. Val Veirs was granted "intervenor" status in the review. (Journal of the San Juans)

B.C. falling short on environmental monitoring, ombudsman says
The B.C. government lacks oversight of an environmental regulation meant to protect the areas that border rivers, lakes and streams, says the provincial ombudsman. Kim Carter’s latest report looks at the Riparian Areas Regulation, which applies to 15 regional districts in populated areas from Vancouver Island to the Interior. “One of the important and recurring roles of government in modern society is to find an appropriate balance between two sometimes competing public interests such as development and environmental protection,” Carter said in the report released Wednesday. The flaws in monitoring and enforcement of the rules for riparian zones are “an example of what can occur when there is shared federal, provincial and local government responsibility for environmental protection.” (Globe and Mail)

Water Festival marks 20 years
Water, water and more water. If there was anything Kitsap County students learned about at the Water Festival, it was about the importance of H2O. On Tuesday, more than 1,000 students from across the peninsula scattered across the Kitsap County Fairgrounds to learn more about the precious commodity during the 20th anniversary of the event. In an effort to spread the word about the importance of water conservation, professionals from environmental and natural resources fields shared their knowledge with students from 23 schools across the county. The goal of the festival was to provide hands-on learning experiences in a fun atmosphere outside the classroom. Seraine Page reports. (Central Kitsap reporter)

Annual Langley Whale festival set for Saturday
Twelve gray whales will receive a grand welcome from whale enthusiasts in Langley this weekend. The annual Welcome the Whales Day Parade and Festival begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 19, at the Langley United Methodist Church, where attendees can learn about whales and other sea mammals through exhibits set up in Fellowship Hall. Children will have the opportunity to make whale costumes and paint their faces like whales in preparation for the second part of the event, the Welcome Parade. Grace Swanson reports. (South Whidbey Record)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT THU APR 17 2014
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
TODAY
S WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 6 FT AT 11 SECONDS. RAIN.
TONIGHT
W WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 8 FT AT 10 SECONDS. A 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.

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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.

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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