Friday, September 22, 2017

9/22 EPA in PS, no LNG, Kalama gas, Illahee Preserve, Smith Is. restoration, Big One, cow gas

Praying mantis
Praying Mantis: beautiful but invasive
At KWIAHT, we have received several reports of the European Praying Mantis, Mantis religiosa, in the San Juan Islands, as well as a live specimen for confirmation. This is a concern for the conservation of pollinators and other beneficial insects that mantids will eat indiscriminately. Mantis eat everything they can subdue, and do not distinguish between (what humans regard as) harmful or beneficial insects. This large aggressive insect is native to the eastern Mediterranean region, and was first introduced to North America as early as 1890. Its arrival in the Pacific Northwest is more recent, however; and for many years the only significant population was in the Okanogan valley of British Columbia. Sightings in the Salish Sea have been scattered and few, but they are increasing. (Islands Sounder)

U.S. EPA commits funding to support PSI’s role in Puget Sound science
A collaboration between the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute (PSI), Oregon State University, Northern Economics, and the Puget Sound Partnership has been selected by the Environmental Protection Agency to coordinate the region’s science program. The four-year cooperative agreement provides an anticipated $7.25 million to create and communicate timely and policy-relevant science to support and enhance new recovery strategies. The collaboration also strengthens monitoring and modeling programs and identifies and promotes regional science priorities. The Puget Sound Partnership will receive and administer the primary award and other partners will receive sub-awards from PSP over the four year project period. Jeff Rice reports. (Puget Sound Institute) See also: Trump’s EPA Wants to Reverse Clean Water Protections  Removing the rule would put drinking water, rivers, and wildlife at risk. Here’s a chance to weigh in. John Abbots reports. (Sightline)

Protesters gather to say no to LNG plant in Tacoma
Demonstrators traveled city to city in a major protest against Puget Sound Energy on Thursday. It is to say 'no' to a liquefied natural gas plant that's now going up on the Tacoma tide flats. When finished, the $300 million project will have a giant storage tank in the middle of the site. To the utility this represents a better environment with cleaner emissions from ships by weaning them off of bunker oil. To protester,s it represents a threat to the environment. "Stop construction of the LNG plant in Tacoma now," said demonstrator Dakota Case of the Puyallup Tribe. "The only bridge that fracked natural gas provides is a bridge to hell on Earth." Keith Eldridge report. (KOMO)

Kalama methanol backers weigh options
Methanol proponents say they’re committed to seeing the $1.8 billion plant through in spite of a state board’s reversal on Friday of two major permits needed for the project. While the Port of Kalama and Northwest Innovation Works weigh their options, Gov. Jay Inslee maintained his support for the project, which would increase state greenhouse gas emissions by 1.28 percent annually…. Inslee has traveled to Kalama in support of the methanol project, which would use new technology to cut emissions by 31 percent compared to traditional manufacturing methods. Proponents also have argued the project would help China reduce its climate change impacts by replacing coal-based methanol with natural-gas based methanol, a key ingredient in producing plastic. Additionally, the Department of Ecology would require Northwest Innovation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.7 percent annually until 2035. Marissa Luck reports. (Longview Daily News)

Illahee storage proposal mired in wetland debate
In 2005, a landowner filed for permits to build a storage facility on a parcel bordering Illahee Preserve, sparking disagreement over the value of wetlands along the property line. A decade later, the proposal remains mired in debate. Representatives for the landowner, Kitsap County, the state Department of Ecology, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Suquamish Tribe, and Illahee Forest Preserve — the nonprofit group appealing the All Secure storage project — tromped the soggy stretch of woodland Thursday, collecting information that could finally settle the issue.  Tad Sooter reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Restoration project on Smith Island to cost $1.2M more
The cost of building a new dike to help restore tidal marshes on Smith Island is expected to cost Snohomish County $1.2 million more than originally thought. The salmon-habitat project is set to wrap up next summer at an overall cost of $28 million. That’s when a contractor would breach old dikes, allowing about 350 acres of low-lying farmland to flood. “The bottom line is that we’re still within budget,” public works director Steve Thomsen told the County Council on Tuesday. Thomsen said the project remains within budget because the original bid for the dike work came in lower than expected. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

Seismic Neglect: A Seattle Times Special Report
The earthquake nightmare public officials are failing to confront (Seattle Times)

And, finally: Gassy Cows Warm The Planet. Scientists Think They Know How To Squelch Those Belches
Cattle pass a lot of gas, and the methane from their flatulence and especially, their belches, is an expanding burden on the planet. The greenhouse gas has a warming potential 25 times of carbon dioxide. Livestock account for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, with over half of that coming from cattle according to a 2013 report from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Given that, some environmentalists might choose to eschew milk and beef, but scientists think they’ve figured out a way for us to one day have our cattle and eat them, too – gas-free. Angus Chen reports. (NPR)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  250 AM PDT Fri Sep 22 2017  
 Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 5 ft at  9 seconds.
 W wind to 10 kt in the evening becoming light. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 8 seconds.
 E wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at  11 seconds. A slight chance of showers in the morning.
 Light wind becoming W to 10 kt after midnight. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 12 seconds.
 Light wind becoming W to 10 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 11 seconds.

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

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

9/21 'I'iwi, State of the Sound, Seymour R. fish, Site C dam, 'Silicon Valley North'

'I'iwi [Bettina Arrigoni/Flickr]
‘I’iwi Bird Now Protected By Endangered Species Act
Facing extinction due in large part to the effects of climate change, the ‘i’iwi — a scarlet honeycreeper only found in Hawaii — will receive federal protection as a threatened species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday. Once common from mauka to makai throughout the islands, the small red bird is now found almost exclusively in high-elevation forests on Maui and the Big Island. The population on Kauai has plummeted 92 percent over the past 25 years and the bird is almost completely gone from Lanai, Oahu and Molokai. Nathan Eagle reports. (Civil Beat)

Note: Doug Myers, formerly of Puget Sound and now of Chesapeake Bay, wrote regarding the Monday news clipping about the local sighting of a swallow-tailed gull [This very rare bird in Edmonds is 4,000 miles from home]: "Very cool. One of my favorite birds from our recent Galapagos trip.  The red ring around the eye helps them gather infrared light to hunt for fish and squid on the wing at night!!!"

Puget Sound Partnership - State Of The Sound Report
Despite its stunning natural beauty, lots of problems lurk beneath the surface of Puget Sound. The state agency in charge of coordinating its cleanup meets this week to finalize its latest “State of the Sound” report.  One of the key points of discussion will be the status of efforts to recover Chinook salmon in Puget Sound. The agency’s deputy director, Laura Blackmore, says the iconic fish are still struggling, even after decades of work and hundreds of millions of dollars spent. "Chinook were listed in 1999," Blackmore said. "They were at historic lows at that point, and basically their populations have not shown any improvement since then." Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

More than 1,000 fish lifted over Seymour rock slide as project caps off its third year
More than 1,000 steelhead, coho and pink salmon have received a helping hand, over the last three years, getting over a large blockade in the Seymour River. A team of rescuers is capping off its third year trying to restore a major fish hatchery, after a landslide dumped over 80,000 cubic metres of rock into the Seymour River in 2014. Since 2015, volunteers have been transporting fish over the rock slide by hand using a variety of methods. The team has now transported over 1,000 fish, with the help of a floating fish fence that intercepts fish before they reach the rock slide. (CBC)

B.C. Utilities Commission strikes a note of caution on Site C dam
It’s too early to say whether the B.C. Hydro Site C project can be completed on time and on budget, according to a preliminary report from the B.C. Utilities Commission. In its report on the $8.8-billion hydro-power project, filed late Wednesday to meet a provincial government deadline, the Commission said the project is currently on time and, indeed, has a year’s worth of contingency time built in. It says B.C. Hydro appears to be pushing ahead more aggressively than planned and if it experiences no delays, it could be producing power a year ahead of schedule, in 2023. The Commission warns that diversion of the river to allow dam construction must happen in September of 2019 or the project could eat up its entire year’s leeway, and run up significant extra costs, before a September 2020 window to do the diversion. (Posmedia News)

Interview: Can ’Silicon Valley North’ change the way we think about Salish Sea recovery?
A strong economy propelled by a world-leading technology industry is expected to draw millions of new residents to the Salish Sea region within decades. This changing population brings with it new strains on the environment but also new perspectives. Incoming residents may not see Puget Sound the same way as previous generations. Many will have different relationships to the natural world or come from other cultural backgrounds and traditions. Technology will also play a role, not just as an economic driver, but as an influence on the way that people receive and share information…. Given this changing landscape, can Puget Sound recovery efforts adapt and keep pace? Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel member Robert Ewing says it’s absolutely critical. Jeff Rice reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  248 AM PDT Thu Sep 21 2017  
 E wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 8 ft  at 10 seconds.
 W wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft  at 9 seconds.

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

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

9/20 Orca deaths, Sound suit, Graham landfill, BC fish farm, imidacloprid, water trail, energy bill, coral reefs

Pacific cod [NOAA]
Pacific Cod Gadus macrocephalus
Pacific cod range from Japan to the Bering Sea and to Santa Monica, California, but are rare south of northern California. They are widely distributed in the cooler regions of the Pacific and adjacent seas.  Pacific cod are usually found near the bottom at water depths of 12 to 549 m (40-1,800 ft). Commonly caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls and longline gear.  Recreational harvest within Puget Sound is now closed, with the exception of restricted fishing in the San Juan Islands and Strait of Juan de Fuca. (WDFW)

Starving Killer Whales Are Losing Most of Their Babies
The southern resident killer whales of the northeast Pacific are in trouble. Despite having special protections from both the Canadian and American governments, there are only 78 of these salmon-eating whales left. And as recent research shows, the southern resident population is set to slowly atrophy and ultimately disappear. On top of habitat degradation, climate change, and other challenges, the whales have another problem: they’re not having enough babies. In a recently published paper, University of Washington biologist Samuel Wasser and his colleagues report that from 2008 to 2014, nearly 70 percent of southern resident killer whale pregnancies failed, either in miscarriage or with the calves dying immediately postpartum. Danielle Beurteaux reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Judge OKs Lawsuit Seeking Better Protection of Puget Sound
Washington's Department of Ecology faces the possibility of losing millions of dollars in federal money after a judge Tuesday declined to dismiss a lawsuit brought by an Oregon-based environmental group. The lawsuit, by Northwest Environmental Advocates, of Portland, is designed to force the state to do more to protect Puget Sound from pollution or risk losing more than $3.5 million per year in federal support. The federal government is supposed to cut certain funding for states that don't have an approved plan for protecting coastal waterways from pollution related to farming, logging and other activities. Cutting the funding — a punishment dictated by Congress — is supposed to pressure states to control the pollution. According to the lawsuit, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration haven't approved Washington's plan, but they keep giving the state money anyway. The state's orcas, salmon and other species remain in peril. Gene Johnson reports. (Associated Press)

Graham landfill sued for polluting Muck Creek, wetlands
A Graham-area landfill has been illegally polluting a nearby tributary of the Nisqually River for years, according to an environmental advocacy group’s lawsuit. The Puget Soundkeeper Alliance alleges polluted stormwater from the LRI Landfill discharges into the waterway, known both as Muck Creek and South Creek, as well as its unnamed tributary and wetlands adjacent to the facility. Alexis Krell reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

First Nations video shows ‘thousands’ of wild fish in B.C. salmon farm
Video shot at the Sonora Point salmon farm appears to show large numbers of wild fish inside the pens used to grow Atlantic salmon. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society posted footage shot by Hereditary Chief George Quocksister Jr. of the Laichwiltach Nation at a fish farm owned by Marine Harvest. In the video, a farm worker can be heard saying the pen is empty, while the footage shows large numbers of fish swirling just beneath the surface of the water. Underwater footage appears to show several species of fish that may have entered the pen through the netting. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

New report assesses environmental impacts of the pesticide imidacloprid
Oyster growers have requested a new permit from the Washington Department of Ecology to use the pesticide imidacloprid on burrowing shrimp in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. Before considering the permit, Ecology has assessed the potential environmental impacts from the use of the pesticide on tidelands. Ecology has compiled its findings in a formal report, officially referred to as a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, and is seeking public review and feedback through Nov. 1, 2017. Two public meetings have been scheduled in October – one in South Bend and one in Olympia. See also: Lawsuit Filed to Stop Expansion of Aquaculture Industry that Decimates Marine Life   The Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with an expansion of industrial shellfish aquaculture on the Washington state coast without any water quality or marine life protections from pesticide use and habitat loss. (Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2017)

Salish Sea joins Canada’s Great Trail
A paddling route used for thousands of years between Vancouver Island and the mainland has officially become part of the Great Trail. In Nanaimo Saturday, a colourful flotilla of 150 kayaks and canoes celebrated the opening of the Salish Sea Marine Trail, paddling from Nanaimo Harbour to Newcastle Island. There, Snuneymuxw elder Lorraine White welcomed the paddlers to their traditional territory…. The route is part of the Great Trail, also known as the Trans-Canada Trail, a 24,000-kilometre cross-Canada network of multi-use land and marine trails. Louise Dickson reports. (Times Colonist)

The good and very bad of Cantwell-backed energy bill
…. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have teamed up to write an omnibus energy bill, the Energy and Natural Resources Act 2017. The bill would do some good things: it would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the country’s most successful conservation program; it would provide support for state and local governments efforts on energy efficiency and for further research development of alternative energy technologies. Nevertheless, the Energy and Natural Resources Act 2017 would be a disaster for our ability to curtail climate change — and our ability to stop projects like the Tacoma LNG. Over 350 green groups — including, Food and Water Watch, and Friends of the Earth — have signed on to a letter expressing explicit opposition to the bill…. The main reason for the concerted opposition to the bill is that the Energy and Natural Resources Act 2017 would facilitate the expansion of the gas industry — in Murkowski’s summary of the bill she states that it will “streamline pipeline permitting, facilitate LNG exports” — and gas is an absolute disaster for our climate. A crucial fact that Sen. Cantwell seems to be having a very hard time accepting. Alec Connon reports. (Crosscut)

Building a Better Coral Reef
As reefs die off, researchers want to breed the world’s hardiest corals in labs and return them to the sea to multiply. The effort raises scientific and ethical questions. Damien Cave and Justin Gillis report. (NY Times)

Now, your tug weather--
 West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  240 AM PDT Wed Sep 20 2017  
 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. Isolated  showers.
 SW wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell  5 ft at 10 seconds.

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

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

9/19 Kalama gas, farmed salmon, Trumpeter Cr., monuments, Navy training, Van sewage, BC pipe, big oil, balloon ban, coral threat

Caddisfly adult [Stockphoto/Thinkstock]
Caddisfly (order Trichoptera), any of a group of mothlike insects that are attracted to lights at night and live near lakes or rivers. Because fish feed on the immature, aquatic stages and trout take flying adults, caddisflies are often used as models for the artificial flies used in fishing…. Caddisflies are widely distributed in freshwater habitats throughout the world…. Approximately 7,000 species of caddisflies are known. (Brittannica)

Ruling Invalidates Key Permits For Kalama Methanol Plant
A Washington state board has invalidated two key permits for a methanol project proposed in Kalama, Washington. In denying the permits, Washington’s Shorelines Hearings Board sided with Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, three environmental groups that appealed the permits in June. The board ruled that the Port of Kalama and Cowlitz County violated the law by failing to fully evaluate greenhouse gas emissions from what would be the world’s largest gas to methanol plant if it’s built. Molly Solomon reports. (OPB)

Literally lousy: Parasite plagues world salmon industry
Salmon have a lousy problem, and the race to solve it is spanning the globe. A surge of parasitic sea lice is disrupting salmon farms around the world. The tiny lice attach themselves to salmon and feed on them, killing or rendering them unsuitable for dinner tables. Meanwhile, wholesale prices of salmon are way up, as high as 50 percent last year. That means higher consumer prices for everything from salmon fillets and steaks to more expensive lox on bagels. The lice are actually tiny crustaceans that have infested salmon farms in the U.S., Canada, Scotland, Norway and Chile, major suppliers of the high-protein, heart-healthy fish. Scientists and fish farmers are working on new ways to control the pests, which Fish Farmer Magazine stated last year costs the global aquaculture industry about $1 billion annually. Patrick Whittle reports. (Associated Press)

B.C. farmed salmon gets 'good alternative' rating in U.S.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program has upgraded its rating of British Columbia farmed Atlantic salmon from "avoid" to "good alternative," but Canadian seafood sustainability groups still say buying farmed fish is not recommended. The improved U.S. rating comes as part of a routine review of updated scientific research on the Atlantic salmon being raised in pens in B.C. The last assessment by Seafood Watch in 2014 landed the fish in the program's lowest ranking, red, but it's now in the middle category, yellow. Rafferty Baker reports. (CBC)

Project underway to restore flow of Trumpeter Creek
A usually quiet area where tall grasses surround a murky creek just northeast of Mount Vernon was bustling Monday as a group worked to catch fish in nets. The fish were being taken out of Trumpeter Creek as part of a restoration project. Skagit County, the Skagit Land Trust and Ducks Unlimited are working together on the project, which will restore Trumpeter Creek to a flow that will meander through the grassy landscape and eventually be flanked by trees and shrubs. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Leaked Memo Suggests Shrinking Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
New details about a proposal to shrink the size and loosen protections for Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument are being greeted with anger and dismay by opponents. Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is on the short list of wild lands that President Trump’s administration wants to shrink. New details about the recommendations by President Trump’s interior secretary surfaced Sunday in a memo obtained by The Washington Post. The memo was short on specifics. It suggested the monument’s boundaries, which President Obama had expanded in 2017, should be “revised through the use of appropriate authority … to reduce impacts on private lands and remove O&C Lands to allow sustained yield timber production.” Courtney Flatt reports. (NWPR/EarthFix) See also: Shrink at least 4 national monuments and modify a half-dozen others, Zinke tells Trump Juliet Eilperin reports. (Washington Post)

Group sues over Navy's plans for training in national forest 
A new lawsuit is challenging a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to let the Navy use Olympic National Forest for expanded electronic-warfare training exercises. The Forest Service in late July issued the Navy a special permit that will allow it to drive three mobile electronic transmitters onto roads in the forest and park them at 11 spots, mostly above cliffs or other viewpoints facing west to the ocean. The transmitters would engage in exercises with radar-jamming jet pilots from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, and they would operate about 12 hours per day on up to 250 days per year. A group called Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics sued over the decision in U.S. District Court on Friday. It says the Forest Service failed to consider whether the transmitters could be parked on private land instead, or whether the Navy's use of the land is compatible with the public's enjoyment of the land. Those considerations are required under Olympic National Forest's management plan, the lawsuit said. (Associated Press)

New North Shore sewage treatment plant could produce renewable energy
Metro Vancouver’s board will decide this week whether to spend $17.9 million on a system to capture thermal energy from treated sewage at the new North Shore Waste Water Treatment Plant. Staff have recommended the expenditure, along with an agreement to sell the energy to the the City of North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Energy Corporation, and the regional district’s utilities committee gave it the green light last week. Jennifer Saltman reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Enbridge pipeline project cited for safety, environmental protection issues 
The National Energy Board is ordering a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc. to take measures to improve worker safety and environmental protection after several infractions were spotted during field inspections of a B.C. pipeline expansion project. The agency says it issued three orders to Spectra Energy Transmission concerning construction of its High Pine natural gas pipeline expansion project near Chetwynd, B.C. The NEB says the new pipeline poses no immediate environmental or public safety concerns. (Canadian Press)

FOI hints at petroleum industry influence on B.C. climate policy
Provincial government officials held a series of meetings with oil and gas industry representatives in Calgary at the start of 2016 to talk about B.C.’s climate-action plan, which the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives argues constituted undue influence over public policy. Langley MLA Rich Coleman, who was then Minister of Natural Gas Development, characterized the sessions as consultation aimed at hitting greenhouse-gas-reduction targets “while maintaining strong economic growth.” To the CCPA, however, the meetings, which it only found out about through Freedom of Information requests, speak to “regulatory capture” of government by the energy industry, argues Shannon Daub, the centre’s associate director in B.C. Derrick Penner reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Balloon ban motion defeated by Vancouver Park Board
The Vancouver Park Board has deflated a proposal to ban balloons in all city parks.  In a 5-2 vote, commissioners rejected the motion, which had gained national attention since it was introduced last week.  Green Party Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon, who introduced the motion, said its most important effect would be to let people know the environmental hazards of balloons. Justin McElroy reports. (CBC)

Another Growing Threat To Hawaii's Coral Reefs: Invasive Algae 
Hawaii’s corals appear to have been spared this summer from another mass bleaching, a stress response caused by warmer waters that has ravaged reefs in recent years. But they haven’t been so lucky with another emerging threat. An invasive algae called leather mudweed is rapidly spreading in places where it had been mostly removed and has been found in new areas around Oahu, according to a site survey last month by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources. Nathan Eagle reports. (Civil Beat)

Now, your tug weather--
 West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  242 AM PDT Tue Sep 19 2017  
 Light wind becoming NW 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves less than 1 ft becoming 2 ft or less in the afternoon. W  swell 12 ft at 14 seconds subsiding to 10 ft at 13 seconds in the  afternoon. Scattered showers.
 SW wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell  8 ft at 12 seconds. Showers likely in the evening 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 (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

9/18 Rare bird, salmon, orcas, sturgeon, crabs, shellfish, glaciers, carbon, Charlene Aleck, La Nina, ANWR, Colstrip, Twyla Roscovich, deer

Swallow-tailed gull [Morgan Edwards/Everett Herald]
This very rare bird in Edmonds is 4,000 miles from home
It has all the appearances of Hollywood paparazzi — clusters of people with cameras with long lenses mounted on tripods, others using binoculars, and some just waiting in anticipation. All this has been happening on beaches from Seattle to Edmonds to Everett, not in search of a movie star, but a swallow-tailed gull, a bird nearly 4,000 miles from its home in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of South America. News of local sightings quickly spread among the birding world, earning a “rare” designation on the American Birding Association blog. Sharon Salyer reports. (Everett Herald)

After salmon release, activists want net pens out of Rich Passage
After a structural failure at Cooke Aquaculture’s Cypress Island fish farming facility last month, thousands of the site’s 305,000 non-native Atlantic salmon streamed out into Puget Sound. Since they scattered, Atlantic salmon have been caught as far away as Monroe, Hoodsport and off the state’s Pacific coastline. As environmental activists worry about the effects of the site failure, they’re turning their attention to similar operations Cooke runs in Rich Passage and calling for the company to leave Puget Sound. Nathan Pilling reports. (Kitsap Sun) See also: Flotilla protest calls for ending fish farm net pens  Saturday dozens of fish and wildlife activists protested a fish farm net pen near Bainbridge Island. Ryan Takeo reports. (KING)

Can we save the orcas with ... mud?
If we want more of our iconic but endangered black-and-white Puget Sound orcas, we might want to start by providing more mud. The same is true for the region’s other endangered marine symbol, chinook salmon. It’s simple: Salmon depend on healthy habitat, including muddy areas along the edges of Puget Sound’s estuaries. And a southern resident killer whale eats salmon. Chinook salmon. Research indicates that most of the year, the orcas eat almost nothing else. In late summer and fall, when other salmon species are more abundant, they branch out. If there were more chinook, AKA king, salmon, they might branch out a lot less. Daniel Jack Chasan reports. (Crosscut)

Nonprofit to use new funding to try to find reason steelhead die near Hood Canal Bridge
A Seattle nonprofit that works to restore wild salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest has received a $750,000 appropriation to help determine why steelhead are dying near the Hood Canal Bridge. Long Live the Kings received the funding in the state’s 2017-18 biennial budget in support of the current $2.5 million phase of the Hood Canal Bridge Ecosystem Impact Assessment, the nonprofit announced. Rob Ollikainen reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Pacific coast’s warm waters having impact on salmon numbers
The mass of warm water known as “the blob” that heated up the North Pacific Ocean has dissipated, but scientists are still seeing the lingering effects of those unusually warm sea surface temperatures on Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead. Federal research surveys this summer caught among the lowest numbers of juvenile coho and Chinook salmon in 20 years, suggesting that many fish did not survive their first months at sea. Scientists warn that salmon fisheries may face hard times in the next few years. Fisheries managers also worry about below average runs of steelhead returning to the Columbia River now. Returns of adult steelhead that went to sea as juveniles a year ago so far rank among the lowest in 50 years. (Associated Press)

Fraser River sturgeon catch-and-release fishery under scrutiny
The provincial government is pursuing two new studies of the Fraser River white sturgeon, while First Nations conservationists call for the recreational fishery to be curtailed. “We have a longtime moratorium on killing sturgeon that (First Nations) adopted voluntarily back in the ’90s,” said Ken Malloway, chairman of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance. The alliance has also called for fishing to be banned on spawning grounds, similar to protections in place on the Columbia River…. The provincial government catch-and-release sturgeon fishery in the Fraser River is out of proportion to the number of fish left in the river, Malloway said. Nearly 17,000 recreational fishing licenses for sturgeon are now sold each year in B.C. — a combination of one-day, eight-day and annual permits — up from 9,828 in 2009. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

'A bloodbath, basically': Crab poaching a problem in B.C.'s Lower Mainland: biologist
Earlier this month, Andrew Newman was dismayed to witness two people rip the claws off undersized crabs in White Rock, B.C. and toss them back into the ocean. Newman, the owner of White Rock Sea Tours and Whale Watching, described the scene as an act of "greed and cruelty" and called authorities. He later posted a video of the RCMP bust that resulted in fines for two people accused of removing the meaty claws from undersized and female crabs…. Fisheries officials did not have statistics on poaching in B.C., but a biologist at Vancouver Island University said crab poaching is a problem in the Lower Mainland. Stefanie Duff, chair of the fisheries and aquaculture program at the University of Vancouver Island, said she has noticed a number crabs without their claws, especially in intertidal areas where recreational fishermen often pitch their traps. Ash Kelly reports. (CBC)

Cleaner Liberty Bay now open to commercial shellfish harvesting
Liberty Bay’s health is improving, leading state health officials to open a large swath of the bay up to commercial shellfish harvesting for the first time in decades. State Department of Health officials announced Thursday that 760 acres of the bay are now open for commercial harvests. Health officials hailed the move as a sign of the health of the bay, following efforts over the last decade to staunch flows of pollutants into its waters. For the state to open an area up for commercial shellfish harvesting, tests must show average levels of fecal coliform bacteria, which signal sewage or animal waste leaking into the water, to be low in locations throughout the area to be reclassified, said state Department of Health environmental engineer Mark Toy. Nathan Pilling reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Thurston County Commissioners approve septic plan for shellfish protection district
The Thurston County Commissioners has unanimously approved an ordinance to re-enact rates and charges to continue funding the Henderson Inlet Shellfish Protection District’s on-site sewage system work plan. The program was set to expire Dec. 31. The new ordinance will add a $10 annual charge for each additional residential septic system on a property, and adjusts rates for larger non-residential systems. After the increase, most property owners will pay $40, although some will have increases of $100 or more, officials say. About 6,700 septic systems are affected by the ordinance. Lisa Pemberton reports. (Olympian)

Area glaciers continue losing ice
With the summer heat having melted much of the snow on Mount Baker, a rocky peak covered with light blue sheets of glacial ice has been revealed. That ice has been fast disappearing in recent years — a trend seen in glaciers throughout the North Cascades. “When I first came here in the 1980s, the glacier was still just above that waterfall there,” geologist Jon Riedel said while looking out from a rocky ridge at Easton Glacier on the south side of Mount Baker. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Washington's tribes may push second carbon tax initiative in 2018
Tribal leaders might forge ahead with their own plan to tax carbon emissions in Washington state, breaking away from another group that’s working on a statewide carbon-tax initiative for the November 2018 ballot. A top tribal leader said the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy didn’t seek feedback from Native American tribes when it began developing the carbon-tax plan it hopes to send to voters next fall. Now, it’s unclear if the tribes and the Alliance can reconcile their separate visions for how to combat climate change, said Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation. Melissa Santos reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Return to the Salish Sea: Tsleil-Waututh Councilor Charlene Aleck
One of the biggest concerns about the future of the Salish Sea is the likely expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. It carries tar sands oil from Canada’s eastern provinces to a terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia, just north of Vancouver. The expansion, which was approved by Canada’s federal government last year, would twin the pipeline, triple the amount of oil coming through and increase by as much as seven-fold the number of oil tankers traversing the Salish Sea. The terminal is on Burrard Inlet, across from Cates Park, where visitors will find references to the First Nations community called the Tsleil-Waututh. The park includes sacred lands. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Why you might want to start preparing for a cold, wet winter
With that chill in the morning air this week, it might have you thinking about the colder weather ahead. And forecasters don’t exactly have good news on that front. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center released its latest outlook on Thursday, showing a 55 to 60 percent chance we’ll see La Nina this fall and winter. Abby Spegman reports. (Olympian)

Trump administration moves to open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling studies
An internal Interior Department memo has proposed lifting restrictions on exploratory seismic studies in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a possible first step toward opening the pristine wilderness to oil and gas drilling. The document proposes ending a restriction that had limited exploratory drilling to the period from Oct. 1, 1984, to May 31, 1986. It also directs the agency to provide an environmental assessment and a proposed rule allowing for new exploration plans. The document, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, was first reported by The Washington Post. The refuge, which covers more than 30,000 square miles, has been closed to commercial drilling for decades because of concerns about the impact on polar bears, caribou and other animals. Opening it up has been a priority for Republicans. Lisa Friedman reports. (NY Times)

Colstrip Deal Moves Northwest Residents Closer To Coal-Free Electricity
Thousands of Northwest residents will be getting less electricity from burning coal. That’s because of a new agreement to fast-track the closure of a coal-fired power plant in Montana. The announcement came Friday as part of a rate settlement from Puget Sound Energy. The investor-owned utility has agreed to be financially ready to close its coal plant in Montana nearly two decades ahead of what they’d originally planned. To do this, PSE will increase customer’s electric rates by about 1 percent. That increase will be offset by a 4 percent cut in natural gas rates. Courtney Flatt reports. (NWPR/EarthFix)

Body of missing filmmaker Twyla Roscovich found on Vancouver Island
The family of Twyla Roscovich says her body has been found on Vancouver Island.  The 38-year-old filmmaker, activist and mother vanished a week ago, prompting a widespread search. In a written statement, Roscovich's family said her body was discovered Friday near Fisherman's Wharf in Campbell River. The family didn't release any details about her death but said no foul play was suspected. A search had been underway along the jagged coastline that Roscovich loved. She created films about the region in an effort to protect the salmon and the environment and raise awareness about everything from First Nations to oil tankers. (CBC)

Oh, deer. If you’re a Bellingham resident who likes to do this, you might have to stop
Feeding wild deer in city limits could soon be prohibited. The Bellingham City Council is considering a ban after hearing from residents frustrated by neighbors who purposefully feed deer, drawing them in great numbers and exacerbating problems that come with a burgeoning deer population, according to city officials. But neighbors don’t have any recourse when they complain because the city doesn’t have a rule on the books. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  244 AM PDT Mon Sep 18 2017  
 S wind to 10 kt becoming SE 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 9 seconds. Numerous  showers and a slight chance of tstms.
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  8 ft at 13 seconds building to 11 ft at 14 seconds after  midnight. A chance of showers in the evening then a slight 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 (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

9/15 Old fish, plastic oysters, bad air, BC LNG, Oly goats, animal rights, Vic sewer, porpoises, DFO drone

Elwha nearshore 9/3/17 [Tom Roorda/CWI]
We’re Killing the Oldest Fish in the Sea
Humans are killing the oldest fish in the sea, a new study suggests. That is likely altering ocean food webs and making populations of many important species eaten by people less stable and resilient. In one of the first studies of its kind, a team of fish experts used models and fish-catch data to analyze 63 major fish populations around the United States and Europe, from Atlantic cod and Greenland halibut to rockfish, hake, grouper, and sole. They found significant declines in the oldest fish in nearly 80 percent of the populations. In roughly one-third, the number of older fish had declined by more than 90 percent. Craig Welch reports. (National Geographic)

Dining On Oysters With A Side Of Microplastic
Sarah Dudas doesn’t mind shucking an oyster or a clam in the name of science…. And lately, the shellfish biologist is making other unappetizing comments to her dinner party guests—about plastics in those shellfish. In 2016, she and her students at Vancouver Island University planted thousands of clams and oysters across coastal British Columbia and let them soak in the sand and saltwater of the Strait of Georgia. Three months later, they dissolved hundreds of them with chemicals, filtered out the biodegradable matter, and looked at the remaining material under a microscope. Inside this Pacific Northwest culinary staple, they found a rainbow of little plastic particles. Ken Christensen reports. (KCTS9/EarthFix)

People Of Color Are Living With More Polluted Air Than Whites Are
Air pollution can contribute to asthma and heart disease. And it puts children at greater risk of developmental and behavioral problems. But not everyone is equally likely to be exposed to air pollution. While regulations and cleaner energy have meant the air’s getting a little cleaner for everyone, a new study by University of Washington researchers shows that, at every income level, people of color are still exposed to more air pollution than white people. EilĂ­s O'Neill reports. (KUOW)

Aurora backs out, dealing another blow to B.C.'s LNG industry
Aurora LNG has backed out of a plan with Calgary-based Nexen to build a Liquefied Natural Gas plant in northwestern B.C., saying the current economy doesn't support its vision for a large operation on Digby Island. It's another blow to the LNG industry that former premier Christy Clark promised would bring riches to B.C. during her provincial election campaign in 2013. Of the 19 projects listed in April 2017 on the government's LNG site, this project was one of only three which seemed to be moving forward. Now there is only the Woodfibre LNG proposal near Squamish and the WesPac marine terminal on Tilbury Island in Delta. Yvette Brend reports. (CBC)

Mountain goats in Olympic National Park: Their days may be numbered
Officials are nearing a decision on what to do with an overpopulation of mountain goats — some of which are aggressive — in Olympic National Park. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times)

Giving legal rights to nature, animals would help protect the environment, says UBC legal expert
Giving animals, rivers and natural place rights might seem like a radical step, but a new book argues that's exactly the kind of powerful transformative idea the environmental movement needs. David Boyd, an environmental lawyer and professor at the University of British Columbia, says planet earth is at a crossroads. Roshinni Nair reports. (CBC)

CRD dumps sewage-sludge trip to Europe
In the face of a public backlash, Capital Regional District directors have dropped a proposed tour of European and North American sewage-sludge processing sites. Last week, CRD directors at a meeting of the integrated resource management committee voted to send two staff and three directors, at an estimated cost of $8,500 each, to tour plants in Spain, France, Germany and Belgium. The aim was to help determine criteria for local integrated resource management, which processes different types of waste together to create a beneficial end product — and, hopefully, revenue. But on Wednesday, members of the environmental services committee, in a move later endorsed by the CRD board, rejected that idea and passed a resolution saying there would be no travel associated with developing such a plan. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

Researchers continue work to document harbor porpoises
A two-person research team in Anacortes continues to collect data about harbor porpoises seen off of some of the city’s shores. Some days, seeing harbor porpoises from the shore requires a watchful eye, while other days dozens can be seen in the shimmering water. Cindy Elliser and Kat MacIver of the nonprofit Pacific Mammal Research in Anacortes spend two or three days a week on the brown cliffs above Burrows Pass watching for porpoises. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

DFO loses pricey new submersible on first deployment
Researchers with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are hoping their fancy new oceanic surveying tool reappears, but there's been no sign of the submersible glider since July 28, and it's likely been lost. The Slocum glider, manufactured by US company Teledyne Marine, looks something like a two-metre yellow torpedo, but it's slow-moving and propelled by diving and rising in the ocean, rather than a propeller. It's outfitted with various high-tech sensors and equipment to take measurements in the ocean. Rafferty Baker reports. (CBC)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  301 AM PDT Fri Sep 15 2017  
 E wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 3 ft  at 7 seconds.
 Light wind becoming W to 10 kt after midnight. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 7 seconds.
 Light wind becoming NW 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 12 seconds.  SAT NIGHT  W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  3 ft at 11 seconds.
 E wind 5 to 15 kt becoming S in the afternoon. Wind waves  2 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 10 seconds.

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

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

9/14 Spiders, Atlantics, nuked fish, Tacoma tide flats, salmon PSAs, balloon ban, spill tracking

Garden cross spider [David Horemans/CBC]
Spider boom? Hot summer might have helped webs they weave
If you're suddenly seeing big fat spiders crafting delicate webs all over the place, you're not alone. Spider webs are a normal harbinger of fall, but this year, a Vancouver pest control company said they're getting an unusual number of calls about them. "Definitely an increase in the numbers of them and the amount of webs that people are seeing on their properties," said Mike Londry of Westside Pest Control. He credits the hot, dry summer, saying it made living easy for spiders. Lisa Johnson reports. (CBC)

Washington State’s Great Salmon Spill and the Environmental Perils of Fish Farming
Just after the thrill of the total solar eclipse, a troubling nature story emerged from northwestern Washington State. On August 22nd, Cooke Aquaculture, a multibillion-dollar seafood company, reported that, three days earlier, extreme tides coinciding with the eclipse had torn apart its enormous salmon farm off Cypress Island, a teal idyll near the college town of Bellingham. More than three hundred thousand non-native Atlantic salmon, housed in a steel underwater pen, were at risk of escape. Tens of thousands of the fish had already spilled into Puget Sound, and some had begun to instinctively swim upstream, toward the mouths of local rivers, as if to spawn. E. Tammy Kim reports. (New Yorker) See also:  Escaped Atlantic salmon reported 250 km north of collapsed fish farm  (CBC)

Japan’s nuclear disaster didn’t affect fish or human health: B.C. scientist 
Radioactive contamination following a nuclear power-plant disaster in Japan never reached unsafe levels in the north Pacific Ocean for either marine life or human health, says a British Columbia scientist. Chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen of the University of Victoria has monitored levels of contamination from radioactive isotopes, used in cancer therapies and medical imaging, since the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011 following a tsunami triggered by an earthquake. Camille Bains reports. (Canadian Press)

Draft regulations could prohibit heavy industry on Tacoma tide flats 
The City of Tacoma’s planning commission held a public hearing Wednesday to receive feedback on a proposed draft of interim regulations that could in part prohibit certain types of heavy industry from coming to the tide flats, including coal and fossil fuel facilities. "We do need these interim protections simply because Tacoma is in the bullseye for new and expanded fossil fuels," said Mindy Roberts, Puget Sound director for the Washington Environmental Council. Melissa Malott, who is part of Citizens for a Healthy Bay, is in support of the interim regulations as Tacoma figures out what industry to welcome next in this area. Jenna Hanchard reports. (KING)

Pacific salmon star in new round of Hinterland Who’s Who
The Canadian Wildlife Federation has released a new set of three videos starring the Pacific salmon in the memorable style of Hinterland Who’s Who. The public service announcements are timed to promote awareness of a research project designed to explain the persistently poor returns of Chinook salmon in the Yukon River…. A 30-second version uses the same mini-doc style and haunting flute music that became indelibly stamped on the memories of Canadian children when the series was first aired in 1963. Other versions employ a modernized style with different music and a young female host. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Bainbridge bans balloon releases but stops there 
You can have a balloon on Bainbridge, but hold on tight. On Tuesday night, the City Council approved an addition to Bainbridge’s litter codes that bans releases of balloons, after it considered a broader ban of balloons last week. “No person shall release any balloon into the environment within or from the city of Bainbridge Island for any purpose, including but not limited to as part of a private, public, or civic event or celebration; promotional activity; or product advertisement,” the ordinance text states, noting that the ban doesn’t apply to human-piloted hot air balloons, or to balloons used in scientific or research projects. Nathan Pilling reports. (Kitsap Sun)

New Spill Tracker Enlists Crowd to Help Monitor Pollution After Hurricanes
After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, a nonprofit organization that uses satellite imagery to monitor the environment launched a tool for citizens to report pollution caused by flooding. Built on the crowdmapping platform Ushahidi, the Harvey Spill Tracker maps reports of oil, chemical, or hazardous waste spills and other incidents based on satellite images, eyewitness accounts, and National Response Center alerts. Later today the organization will release an updated version that expands the region covered to parts of the country impacted by Hurricane Irma. Jessica McKenzie reports. (Civic Hall)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  324 AM PDT Thu Sep 14 2017  
 SE wind to 10 kt in the morning becoming light. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 8 seconds.
 W wind 5 to 15 kt in the evening becoming light. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 3 ft at 8 seconds.

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

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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