Friday, March 16, 2018

3/16 Cherry blossoms, orcas, BC pipe, climate change, 'The Blob,' green WA lege, BC fish farms, hi-speed rail

UW cherry blossoms 2016 [UW]
UW cherry blossoms to reach full bloom in 5 to 10 days
[March 13] Spring is just around the corner, which means the cherry blossoms at the University of Washington’s Quad are almost in full bloom. Those delicate pink flowers will likely reach full bloom in five to 10 days, and will be in near full bloom by this weekend, according to UW arborist Sara Shores. The timing of full bloom varies year-to-year based on daylight and temperature consistency, Shores said. A stretch of high temperatures over 50 degrees creates favorable conditions for the cherry blossoms. Seattle has gotten over 50 degrees for the last seven days, including a record-setting 73 degrees Monday, according to the National Weather Service. About 1 percent of the blossoms have already emerged on the Quad, but the buds have advanced quickly over the last few days. In 2017, full bloom began the week of March 26. The UW cherry blossom trees, which are over 80 years old, were a gift from then-Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki in 1912 to mark a friendship between the United States and Japan. Thirty-four trees were planted in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum; later, 31 of the trees were relocated to the UW and are now planted in the Quad. (KING)

Killer whale research gets $12M infusion from Canadian government
The Canadian government has announced more than $12 million in new funding for research aimed at protecting B.C.'s endangered southern resident killer whales. Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc was in Vancouver Thursday to unveil the cash infusion, which includes $9.1 million for developing and testing technology to better detect the orcas and prevent collisions with vessels. Another $3.1 million will go toward research on how the whales react to underwater noise, and how they're affected by the decreasing availability of their prey. Bethany Lindsay reports. (CBC)

Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca protection order not enough, expert says
Governor Jay Inslee issued an executive order Wednesday, March 14, calling for more state action to protect the region’s orca population. “It’s not enough, but I certainly commend him for bringing attention to these whales and the situation they are in,” Ken Balcomb [said]. “But we have to do a lot more. The Salish Sea wasn’t the only place they found food in the ’70s when we began our study. They were also eating the Columbia-Snake River fish, the Sacramento-San Joaquin fish, and all up the coast of Vancouver Island. So we have to do restoration throughout range of these whales.” Balcom has been studying whales since the 1970s. He founded the non-profit Center for Whale Research in 1985. He specializes in the study of the southern resident killer whales. (KIRO Ron and Don Show)

Catherine McKenna says Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will make B.C. coast safer
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says marine safety improvements associated with the Trans Mountain expansion project will make B.C.'s coast safer than it was before. Citing new safety efforts like the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan, McKenna said even though the project would lead to more tanker traffic, spill response would be heightened. (CBC) See also: Ottawa 'determined' to see Trans Mountain pipeline expanded: minister anadian Press) And also: Trans Mountain granted indefinite injunction against pipeline protesters at two B.C. sites  (Canadian Press)

When It Comes to Climate Change, the Ocean Never Forgets 
If climate change were just a flirtation with disaster—that is, the world acted decisively and cut emissions, and the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide fell tomorrow to preindustrial levels—the planet would respond quickly. Within decades, land temperatures would return to normal. The ocean, however, would bounce back more slowly. Much more slowly. If greenhouse gas emission plummeted, the surface ocean—the top few hundred meters—would exchange heat with the atmosphere and recover relatively quickly, taking decades or maybe a century. But the deep ocean is like a roast in the oven, remaining hot long after the heat’s been turned off. Ramin Skibba reports. (Hakai Magazine)

FEMA Drops 'Climate Change' From Its Strategic Plan
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal government’s first responder to floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters, has eliminated references to climate change from its strategic planning document for the next four years. That document, released by FEMA on Thursday, outlines plans for building preparedness and reducing the complexity of the agency. The document does not say what could be contributing to “rising natural hazard risk,” or what conditions could require the “increased investments in pre-disaster mitigation.” Richard Gonzales reports. (NPR)

The Pacific Ocean Heat Wave Known As 'The Blob' Appears To Be In Retreat
Ocean conditions off the Pacific Northwest seem to be returning to normal after a three-year spike in water temperature. It’s promising long-term news for fishermen who are looking ahead in the short term to yet another year of low salmon returns. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) outlined the latest ocean observations for the organization that sets salmon catch limits off the West Coast. The Pacific Fishery Management Council will set those limits in early April. The extended marine heatwave of the past few years has been nicknamed “the Blob.” Jes Burns reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Environmentalists struggled for success in Olympia in 2018
You won’t pay an extra dime in the name of fighting climate change for every gallon of gasoline you buy. Puget Sound stands to be a tad better protected from oil spills when oil-tanker traffic jumps seven-fold, increasing the risk of a spill. And while your current microwave popcorn bag or burger wrapper likely contains a cancer-causing chemical, your future purchases — starting in 2022, or perhaps later — aren’t supposed to. Those number among the mixed environmental results from this year’s whirlwind 60-day session of the Washington Legislature, marked by a few environmental firsts but also some significant losses for the greens on climate change that go beyond their inability to pass a carbon tax. Environmentalists did succeed in banning fish farms raising Atlantic Ocean salmon, increasing funding to help protect endangered orcas, and closing a tax loophole to capture a whole lot more revenue from oil moved through pipelines to help protect against spills. Sally Deneen reports. (Investigate West)

Review backs B.C.’s fish farm science, dismisses minister’s concerns
VICTORIA — An independent review of a B.C. government scientific laboratory for its work on farmed fish concluded Thursday it was operating at a high standard, without any conflicts of interest among its scientists. The review dismissed concerns raised by Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, who had at first targeted a specific ministry scientist who is disliked by environmental and First Nations activists opposed to open-pen ocean fish farms. The reviews by Premier John Horgan’s deputy minister, Don Wright, and the independent consulting firm Deloitte, failed to back up any of the minister’s concerns and instead gave the Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford a clean bill of health. Rob Shaw reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Vancouver to Seattle ultra-high-speed rail announcement due on Friday
A fast train to Seattle looks to be a step closer to reality. On the heels of the Washington state legislature voting to move forward on further study of high-speed rail in the region, the B.C. government has announced Premier John Horgan will be joined in Downtown Vancouver on Friday by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to make an announcement regarding ultra-high-speed corridor service connecting Vancouver with Seattle and Portland. The legislature voted Monday to approve the study, which will examine ridership, possible alignments and economic benefits of the alignment. Patrick Johnston reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  248 AM PDT Fri Mar 16 2018  
 SE wind to 10 kt in the morning becoming light. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 10 seconds.
 W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 10 seconds.
 SW wind to 10 kt becoming NW 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 12 seconds. A slight  chance of showers in the afternoon.
 W wind to 10 kt in the evening becoming light. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 11 seconds.
 Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 4 ft at  14 seconds.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

3/15 Wren, saving orcas, freeing Tokitae, feeding transients, plastic water, BC pipe, mussel watch, sea star disease

Pacific wren [Cameron Eckert/All About Birds]
Pacific Wren Troglodytes pacificus
Pacific Wrens are tiny brown wrens with a song much larger than themselves. One researcher deemed them a “pinnacle of song complexity.” This tinkling, bubbly songster is more often heard than seen within the dark understory of old-growth evergreen forests where they live. When Pacific Wrens sing they hold their tail upright and their entire body shakes with sound. [Pacific Wren sings] They move like mice through the forest understory, hopping along logs and upturned roots. (All About Birds)

New Washington directive aims to help endangered orcas
[Washington Governor Jay] Inslee said the orcas are in trouble and called on everyone in the state to do their part. His directive aims to make more salmon available to the whales; give them more space and quieter waters; make sure they have clean water to swim in; and protect them from potential oil spills. "The destiny of salmon and orca and we humans are intertwined,"…"As the orca go, so go we." Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Humans aren’t the only ones to blame for dwindling salmon population in Puget Sound
As salmon populations dwindle in Puget Sound, natural predators from killer whales to bald eagles are on the hunt for the precious calories the fish bring. But some predators are taking more than ever. Seals and sea lions have hunted salmon for eons. And as their numbers in the Puget Sound area increase, they're taking more food than they have in the past 100 years. (KCPQ)

Freeing Lolita from the Miami Seaquarium is a ‘sacred obligation’ for this tribe
Supporters of releasing the Miami Seaquarium’s killer whale, Lolita, have a message for the theme park: We aren’t going anywhere. They now count among their ranks Florida gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine and the Lummi Nation tribe of Washington state, whose traditional territory in the Salish Sea also served as Lolita’s native waters. Chabeli Herrera reports. (Miami Herald) See also: Lummi Nation joins effort to bring Lolita home to Puget Sound  Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Herring season draws massive pods of transient orcas off Campbell River
Herring season is giving people on the mid-island a front-row seat to a seaside spectacle. A large pod of at least 20 orcas was spotted off Campbell River, heading south for lunch on Tuesday. "I think this is the largest gang we've seen come through this spring, yeah," said Nick Templeton of Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions. The whales are transients likely heading back toward the herring run near Hornby and Denman islands, but not to snack on the fish. The killer whales are focusing their hunt on sea lions out looking for the herring, according to Templeton. (CTV News)

Plastic particles found in bottled water
Tests on major brands of bottled water have found that nearly all of them contained tiny particles of plastic. In the largest investigation of its kind, 250 bottles bought in nine different countries were examined. Research led by journalism organisation Orb Media discovered an average of 10 plastic particles per litre, each larger than the width of a human hair. Companies whose brands were tested told the BBC that their bottling plants were operated to the highest standards. (Read the full scientific report) David Shukman reports. (BBC) See also: Scientists discover microplastics in Vancouver water samples  (CBC)

Trans Mountain seeks permanent injunction against protesters in court
Social media posts suggest anti-pipeline activists are determined to continue blockades at two terminals in Burnaby, B.C., as they cause more irreparable harm to the Trans Mountain project, says a lawyer seeking a permanent injunction against the protests. Maureen Killoran told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck on Wednesday that activists have conspired to recently intensify blockades with the aim to disrupt construction projects at the Burnaby Mountain and Westbridge Marine terminals before a mid-March deadline to meet environmental standards. Affleck granted a temporary injunction on Friday, saying it would expire Wednesday and restrict protesters from coming within 50 metres of the facilities where protests began last November. (Canadian Press)

With the help of volunteers, mussels reveal pollutants 
On a dark night in February, three men in rubber boots set out down the Weaverling Spit beach and returned with a cage full of mussels. Three months earlier, the men had anchored the cage to the shore so the mussels inside could collect information about water contaminants as the tides came in and out, data the state Department of Fish & Wildlife uses to monitor pollution in urban areas throughout the Puget Sound. Wayne Huseby, Pete Haase and Tom Flanagan, all of Anacortes, are three volunteer citizen scientists who signed up to participate in the statewide mussel monitoring program. The Weaverling Spit monitoring site in Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve is one of about 90 scattered throughout Puget Sound, all run by volunteers who set and retrieve the cages and then transport the mussel samples to Olympia for testing, Huseby said. Jacqueline Allison reports. (

More than one culprit is killing sea stars
Scientists are beginning to unravel the complicated connections among viruses, the environment, and wasting diseases among sea stars in the waters of the Pacific Northwest. As ocean temperatures rise and oceanic diseases proliferate, species like sea stars struggle to survive, and scientists are looking for underlying causes. To bring clarity to the sea star disease problem, the scientists propose giving the syndrome a more precise name. Previous work suggested that sea star-associated densovirus (SSaDV) was the best candidate pathogen responsible for sea star wasting disease (SSWD) among about two dozen species affected by it. But researchers noticed viruses didn’t correlate in some hard-hit species. “Disease among sea stars is likely caused by multiple factors, not just one factor like SSaDV or rising temperature,” says Ian Hewson, associate professor of microbiology at Cornell University and lead author of the paper in Frontiers in Marine Research. Blaine Friedlander reports. (Futurity)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  250 AM PDT Thu Mar 15 2018  
TODAY  E wind 15 to 20 kt. Wind waves 2 or 3 ft. W swell 5 ft  at 10 seconds.
 E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6  ft at 11 seconds.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

3/14 Newt, orcas & salmon, BC pipe, no coast drill, forst restoration, Lolita, Dockside Flats, Pt Hudson

Rough-skinned newt [Henk Wallays/IUCN Red List]
Rough-skinned Newt
In Washington, Rough-skinned Newts occur primarily west of the Cascade Crest in the Pacific Coast, Puget Trough and West Cascades Ecoregions. When threatened, newts arch the head towards the tail (unken reflex). This posture reveals the bright orange coloration of the underside that warns predators of its toxicity. With the exception of the Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), few vertebrate predators can survive ingesting a Rough-skinned Newt. The highly toxic nature of this species allows them to be one of the few terrestrial salamanders active and conspicuous during the day. The toxin (tetrodotoxin) is produced within the skin, not secreted. Newts can be handled safely but care should be taken with small children prone to putting things in their mouths. After handling any amphibian, one should avoid touching the mucus membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth until hands have been washed. (WDFW) See also: Rare Salamander's Survival Threatened By Logging, Environmentalists Say  Jes Burns reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Stephen Hawking: Visionary physicist dies aged 76
The truth is out there.

Gov. Inslee to request more work for chinook, orca recover
With the region’s southern resident orca population continuing to decline, Gov. Jay Inslee is calling on state agencies to work toward the recovery of the whales and the chinook salmon they rely on for food. Inslee will issue an executive order today requesting that state agencies take immediate action and make long-term plans to recover the salmon and orca populations, according to a news release…. Inslee’s order requires state agencies, in collaboration with tribes, stakeholders and other governments, do more to develop policies to protect the fish and whales that are integral to the region’s identity and economy. The order directs the formation of a state task force and directs that task force to coordinate its efforts with Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon, California and Idaho. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Government announces details of $1.5B plan to protect coasts, encourage trade
The federal government released details today of its plan to sink at least $1.5 billion into Canada's ocean coastlines in a bid to protect killer whales, guard against oil spills and enable trade. The Oceans Protection Plan "is the largest investment ever made to to protect Canada's coasts and waterways," Transport Canada said in a release. Transportation Minister Marc Garneau told reporters and shipping industry representatives that the program would be implemented over the next 11 years.  Malone Mullin repots. (CBC)

CAPP opposes threat to cut off oil to B.C. in Kinder Morgan battle
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) says the threat by Alberta's premier to cut off oil supply to British Columbia is not "the appropriate tool" to pressure the province into supporting the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.... Instead, the provincial government should pressure the federal government to solve this debate, [president and CEO Tim McMillan said ]. Rachel Ward reports. (CBC) See also: Alberta legislature unanimously passes motion in favour of Trans Mountain expansion  (CBC)

Zinke To WA Lawmaker: West Coast Lacks 'Resources Of Any Weight' For Offshore Drilling
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told a Washington state lawmaker that his proposal for offshore oil and gas drilling will reflect the “interests of Washington.” “You should know off the coast of Oregon, Washington, most of California, there are no known resources of any weight,” Zinke told Washington State Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing Tuesday. “And again I put everything on so we could have a dialogue and then take what’s appropriate off. I think I’m going to mark down Washington as opposed to oil and gas drilling.”  Ericka Cruz Guevarra reports. (OPB)

Can an experiment reinvigorate Washington's coastal forests?
The Nature Conservancy is trying to figure out how to bring back forests that once dominated our coast. Dan Chasan reports. (Crosscut)

New effort to bring 'Lolita the killer whale' back to Northwest from Miami Seaquarium

The Lummi Nation is making a serious effort to return Tokitae, also known as Lolita the killer whale, back to her ancestral waters of the Northwest. On Tuesday, leaders of the Lummi Nation will join Florida gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine and the Orca Network to ask the Miami Seaquarium to formally release Tokitae from captivity. The killer whale was taken from the waters of Penn Cove in 1970 and for the last 47 years, she’s been living in a tank at the Miami Seaquarium…. The Lummis believe they have an ancestral and treaty rights to bring Tokitae back to the waters from where she was taken. The tribe is in negotiations with a landowner on Orcas Island to create a permanent pen in a cove that would separate Tokitae for her safety but still allow her to communicate with other whales. Matt Markovich reports. (KOMO)

Dockside Flats waterfront project before hearings examiner
Dockside Flats, which aims to transform the former Les Schwab building at 210 State Avenue NW into a mixed-use development, is set to come before the Olympia hearing examiner next month. The hearing examiner meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. April 2 at Olympia City Hall, 601 Fourth Ave. E. The hearing examiner will hear public comment before making a decision on the shoreline substantial development permit and shoreline conditional use permit for the proposed project. Both are required because the project falls within 200 feet of the shoreline. Rolf Boone reports. (Olympian)

Northwest Maritime Center offers plan to Port of Port Townsend for Point Hudson
The Northwest Maritime Center has proposed to the Port of Port Townsend that the nonprofit maritime center manage the day-to-day operations of Point Hudson through a 50-year master lease, which would give the organization control over the maritime heritage campus and marina. The proposal would cost $6 million and would be funded by donations to a fundraising campaign, which would begin if the port agrees to the plan. Jeannie McMacken reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PDT Wed Mar 14 2018
TODAY  SW wind to 10 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. SW swell 7 ft at 10 seconds. A chance of showers.
 SW wind 5 to 15 kt becoming SE after midnight. Wind waves  2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 9 seconds. A slight chance of showers.

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

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

3/13 Red sponge, WA lege climate, Navy training, BC pipe, BC Ferries, LNG

Red sponge and red nudibranch []
Red sponge Ophlitaspongia pennata
The red sponge is a beautifully coral-red form with a velvety surface. De Laubenfels (1932) remarked that it occurs clear up to the half-tide mark (higher up than any other sponge), especially on vertical rocks under pendant seaweed, hence shaded from direct sunlight. Ophlitaspongia pennata is recorded from Vancouver Island to near Puertocitos, Baja California. The red sponge can be found on the undersurfaces of many of the larger rocks that are in the intertidal zone. Sponges are filter feeders and belong to the Phylum Porifera. Rostanga pulchra, the red nudibranch, feeds on the red sponge. (Race Rocks Taxonomy)

Wash. Environmental Coalition Says Progress Made, Despite Failure Of Key Climate Policies
Environmental groups had high hopes going into the special legislative session that ended Thursday in Olympia. But even with Democratic majorities in both chambers of the legislature, passage of critical climate policies did not happen. The push to put a price on carbon pollution is now up to voters. Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal narrowly failed. It would have made Washington the first state with a carbon tax, pushing the issue into the national spotlight. Backers filed an initiative the day after its demise and say they will start collecting signatures early next month. Hopes were high for another climate policy that some said Inslee wanted as a consolation prize – the Clean Energy Standard –which would have forced utilities to transition to 100 percent fossil-free electricity by 2045, including a complete phase out of coal by 2030. That also failed. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Navy wants to use more Washington state parks for stealth SEAL training
The Navy wants to step up special-operations training at state parks along Western Washington coastlines, releasing a proposal that would more than quintuple the number of sites. The Navy currently has a permit to conduct exercises at five state parks. The preferred option in a planning document calls for the possible use of 29 parks ranging from Cape Disappointment at the state’s southwest tip to Deception Pass in northwest Washington. In addition to the parks, the Navy is considering private lands as well as other public sites such as the Port of Anacortes, a Tacoma wastewater plant and a closed prison on McNeil Island. This is part of a broader push in recent years by the Navy and Army to increase the scope of training activities in Washington, an effort that has stirred criticism in a state with a tradition of environmental and citizen activism. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

B.C. recruits noted constitutional lawyer for court action over Trans Mountain expansion
A high-profile constitutional lawyer will represent British Columbia in an upcoming court action over Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The province announced Monday that Joseph Arvay has been appointed external counsel for B.C. in a reference case that could establish whether or not B.C. can restrict bitumen transported through the province. A reference case is where the court is asked to weigh in on a particular legal matter, often when the constitution or division of powers between the federal and provincial governments is involved. Liam Britten reports. (CBC)

16,000 people sign petition urging province to bring BC Ferries under government control
People who live in ferry-dependent communities on the B.C. coast are calling on the province to bring BC Ferries into the Ministry of Transportation. A petition with more than 16,000 signatures was delivered to legislature on Monday by Jim Abram, a Strathcona Regional District director and longtime advocate for B.C. ferry users. Prices spiked and routes were cut back after the previous Liberal government turned BC Ferries from a Crown corporation into an independent commercial organization in 2003, he said. Abrams is calling for BC Ferries to be brought back under government control rather than returned to a Crown corporation…. Since forming government, the NDP has moved ahead with a campaign promise to freeze fares on major routes, reduce fares on minor routes by 15 per cent, and bring back a senior's discount. It's also conducting a promised review of BC Ferries that will seek to identify improvements that can be made to the existing operations — but that review is not considering governance of the ferry system. Megan Thomas reports. (CBC)

There's still hope for liquefied natural gas on the West Coast
The once sky-high aspirations to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry on Canada's West Coast have crashed to the ground, but experts say the window of opportunity has yet to close as demand for the resource continues to rise around the globe. After several project delays and cancellations, the LNG industry has struggled to take off in British Columbia. Meanwhile, the sector is blossoming in the United States as natural gas pipelines and LNG facilities are constructed.  Kyle Bakx reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PDT Tue Mar 13 2018  
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. SW swell 6 ft at  10 seconds. Rain.
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft. SW swell 8 ft at 11  seconds. Rain 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, March 12, 2018

3/12 Skunk cabbage, BC pipe, Andeavor, drill rules, Fukushima radiation, biofuels plant, B'ham woods, climate debate, local media, Utah's parks

Skunk cabbage [Ian Terry/Herald]
Swamp Lantern Festival celebrates our native spring flowers 
A flower show at an environmental center sounds improbable, but it’s true. The Northwest Stream Center’s half-mile elevated boardwalk provides an introduction to the beauty of the region’s wildflowers. Look for mock orange nicco, the delicate white blossoms of Indian plum, red elderberry’s cheery dashes of color, the star-shaped blooms of salmonberry and the heart-shaped leaves of false lily of the valley. “Anyone who’s into native plants and the looks of spring, this is the place to come,” said Tom Murdoch, director of the Adopt A Stream Foundation, based in Everett’s McCollum Park. And then there’s the plant — the skunk cabbage — whose flower is the namesake of the annual event that’s now under way. Sharon Salyer reports. Everett Herald)

Protesters rally for and against Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline plan
Protesters around Vancouver held duelling rallies on Saturday, some welcoming Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project with others decrying it. Both sides delivered impassioned arguments about the proposed expansion. Indigenous leaders beat drums and sang out against the project Saturday morning, saying they won't step aside for construction. The pipeline runs between Edmonton and Burnaby. Kinder Morgan received federal approval for an expansion in November 2016. Rueben George, of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, told protesters that it will take more rallies and protests to stop the $7.4-billion project, which is set to increase the flow of oil products to 890,000 barrels up from 300,000 barrels per day…. The pro-pipeline march began at 2 p.m. PT at the Olympic flames in downtown Vancouver under signs reading: "Enough politics. Just build the pipeline." (CBC) See also: Deep divide between anti- and pro-pipeline rallies in Metro Vancouver  Nick Eagland reports. (Vancouver Sun) And also: Thousands of marchers in British Columbia say no to Trans Mountain pipeline  Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Trans Mountain granted interim injunction against blockades at 2 B.C. terminals
A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has granted Trans Mountain an interim injunction aimed at preventing anti-pipeline activists from protesting construction at two terminals in Burnaby. The company listed 15 individuals, along with John Doe, Jane Doe and "persons unnamed" in a notice of civil claim as part of its request to restrict protesters from coming within 50 metres of the facilities. Justice Kenneth Affleck agreed with that condition today and said the injunction will last until Wednesday, when a hearing on the matter will continue. Camille Bains reports. (Canadian Press)

Alberta oil restrictions to punish B.C. would cause collateral damage
Alberta might want to punish British Columbia by threatening to restrict oil and gas shipments to the province, but the rest of Canada would suffer collateral damage, according to one legal opinion. Premier Rachel Notley, on Thursday, raised the spectre of curbing its oil and gas shipments to defend Alberta’s interests over B.C.’s obstruction of Kinder Morgan’s $7.9 billion Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project. Alberta does have the power to do that, according to University of Calgary law professor Nigel Bankes, but he is doubtful that the province could target just B.C., according to his reading of the Constitution Act of 1982. That act includes a clause that gives any province the right to make laws related to the export of non-renewable resources from the province to another part of Canada. Derrick Penner reports. (Vancouver Sun)

County commissioners deny appeal of refinery permit
The Skagit County Board of Commissioners on Friday denied an appeal of a permit for the Andeavor Anacortes Refinery’s proposed Clean Products Upgrade Project. The commissioners voted unanimously to deny the appeal filed by six environmental groups, upholding Skagit County Hearing Examiner Wick Dufford’s earlier decision to issue the permit…. Because the permit in question is a shoreline substantial use permit, the county commissioners said they were limited to considering only shoreline development and the impacts of that development within 200 feet of the refinery’s wharf off March Point…. The environment groups that appealed the permit said during the Feb. 27 hearing that while they like the idea of reducing emissions at the refinery, their concerns center on vessel traffic — which would increase by 60 ships per year to transport xylene — and greenhouse gas emissions from transporting that product. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Trump Rollbacks Target Offshore Rules ‘Written With Human Blood’
…. While attention has been focused on President Trump’s disputed decision in January to reverse drilling restrictions in nearly all United States coastal waters, the administration has also pursued a rollback of Obama-era regulations in the Gulf. Those rules include safety measures put in place after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010, a disaster that killed 11 people and resulted in the largest marine oil spill in drilling history. Smaller oil and gas companies, many backed by Wall Street and private equity firms, say they need the relief to survive financially, and the top safety official at the Interior Department appointed by Mr. Trump has appeared an enthusiastic ally. Eric Lipton reports. (NY Times)

No adverse effects from 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster on B.C. coast: SFU researchers
Seven years after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan released radioactive elements into the environment, researchers say those elements pose minimal risk to human or salmon health along British Columbia's coast. A team of researchers at Simon Fraser University's nuclear science lab collected soil and salmon samples from the Quesnel and Harrison rivers and used a high-resolution gamma-ray spectroscopy to search for signs of radioactive isotopes. The isotopes — Cesium 134 and 137 — are fission fragments that do not exist in nature and, therefore, can be directly attributed to nuclear reactions. Amy Smart reports. (Canadian Press)

Surrey, B.C. unveils 'state-of-the-art' biofuel plant, promises no foul smells
Surrey garbage trucks will soon be running on fuel made from food scraps. The city unveiled its new industrial-scale biofuel plant Friday, where organic waste will be converted into natural gas, fuelling the city's waste collection fleet. The Surrey Biofuel Facility has capacity to transform up to 115,000 tonnes of organic waste into biofuel, according to the city. At the grand unveiling Friday, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said it will reduce local greenhouse gas emissions by 50,000 tonnes per year. (CBC)

Decades have been spent to protect these 82 wooded acres. Is that finally ending?
A lawsuit that sought to dissolve the Chuckanut Community Forest Park District and related property tax has ended now that the state Supreme Court won’t take up the case.  The state’s high court on Wednesday declined to review a Court of Appeals decision on Oct. 30 that ruled against those who filed the lawsuit…. The Hundred Acre Wood is the community’s fond name for what is now known as the Chuckanut Community Forest. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

The E.P.A Chief Wanted a Climate Science Debate. Trump’s Chief of Staff Stopped Him
John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has killed an effort by the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to stage public debates challenging climate change science, according to three people familiar with the deliberations, thwarting a plan that had intrigued President Trump even as it set off alarm bells among his top advisers. The idea of publicly critiquing climate change on the national stage has been a notable theme for Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the E.P.A. For nearly a year he has championed the notion of holding military-style exercises known as red team, blue team debates, possibly to be broadcast live, to question the validity of climate change. Mr. Pruitt has spoken personally with Mr. Trump about the idea, and the president expressed enthusiasm for it, according to people familiar with the conversations. Lisa Friedman and Julie Hirschfeld Davis report. (NY Times)

When local media struggles, so does our democracy
With fewer news outlets, and fewer employees, local journalism is a troubled — but still essential — institution. Ron Judd reports. (Seattle Times)

Mr. Outdoors: Swearing off Utah's national parks
Seabury Blair writes: "I can't enjoy the great outdoors in Utah anymore. I love skiing the fine powder of Park City, Solitude, Alta, Brighton and Snowbird. And hiking, biking and camping in the five national parks of Utah is very popular these days. The Utah Office of Tourism continues to put out these spiffy television ads touting Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion national parks. But the sad fact is the state of Utah doesn't care a whit about the land that belongs to you and me. State politicians, including the governor, supported the reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments ordered by Donald Trump. That prompted outdoor gear maker Patagonia to declare on its home page "The President Stole Your Land." (Kitsap Sun)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PDT Mon Mar 12 2018
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 5 ft at  14 seconds.
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt becoming 10 to 20 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 5 ft at 12 seconds. A chance of rain  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, March 9, 2018

3/9 BC pipe, PS nutrients, VanAqua suit, kids' climate, Audubon climate, murrelets, mtn goats, USFS

Black-capped chickadee [Gerald Hiam/BirdNote]
Singer's Brain Changes with the Seasons
In higher animals, the brain is like a BMW — amazing engineering, but expensive to run. In a human, the brain uses about 10 times more energy than other organs. A bird's system is exquisitely attuned to this expense. Several species, including Black-capped Chickadees, have adapted in a clever way. You can usually hear these chickadees calling throughout fall and winter. But they aren’t singing much, because they don’t need to. In their brains, the centers that control how they learn and give voice to songs shrink. But as the birds resume singing during spring, the control centers in the brain rejuvenate. (BirdNote)

'Like Standing Rock': Trans Mountain pipeline-expansion opponents plan B.C. protest
Building in the courts and halls of Canadian government for years, conflict over the mammoth Trans Mountain tar- sands oil-pipeline expansion is expected to spill into the streets of British Columbia Saturday with massive civil disobedience demonstrations. Indigenous leaders from along the pipeline route and the U.S. are expected to join a march and rally beginning Saturday in metro Vancouver. Nearly 7,000 Coast Salish Water Protectors — as the pipeline opponents call themselves — have signed up to participate, said Will George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, spokesman for the Protect the Inlet movement. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Alberta premier threatens to cut off oil to B.C. in fight over pipeline: throne speech
The Alberta government is taking a page from the playbook of former premier Peter Lougheed by threatening to cut oil exports in its fight against B.C.'s efforts to stop the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. In Thursday's throne speech, the government threatened to "invoke similar legislation" if B.C. takes "extreme and illegal actions" to stop the $7.4-billion project. Premier Rachel Notley suggested in a news conference earlier in the day that the province is particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in supply. Michelle Bellefontaine reports. (CBC)

Is the Trans Mountain pipeline really an ocean-murdering hellspawn like B.C. says it is?
If you ask the B.C. government why they’re trying to block the federally approved Trans Mountain pipeline, they will say that it’s all about protecting the ocean. “I’m standing up for the coast, man,” B.C. premier John Horgan said last month. Rather than crude oil, the Trans Mountain pipeline will carry diluted bitumen, a heavier and more viscous petroleum product. Pipeline opponents maintain that this makes the project a uniquely dangerous environmental threat. There may be some truth to that, but it’s safe to say that B.C. is currently awash in a galaxy of pipeline fears that don’t necessarily square with reality. [We] attempt to explain the risks, debunk the myths and illustrate, as best as possible, whether the Trans Mountain pipeline really is the destroyer of worlds that activists says it is. Tristin Hopper reports. (National Post)

Does Puget Sound need a diet? Concerns grow over nutrients
As the region's population grows, scientists say we can expect to see increasing amounts of nitrogen and other elements flowing into Puget Sound. Known as “nutrients” these elements are naturally occurring and even necessary for life, but officials worry that nutrients from wastewater and other human sources are tipping the balance. That could mean big problems for fish and other marine life, gradually depleting the water of oxygen and altering the food web. Chris Dunagan reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

Vancouver Aquarium ends lawsuit that boosted interest in critical documentary
Gary Charbonneau says he'll miss the free publicity the Vancouver Aquarium brought to his otherwise obscure documentary by suing him for copyright infringment. But the filmmaker isn't complaining about the aquarium's decision to drop the suit this week. "It was a major faux pas for the aquarium to bring this lawsuit forward. My numbers went from 5,000 views to 30,000 views after they sued me within a week. And the conversation about the aquarium and the film has been non-stop because of the lawsuit," said Charbonneau. Jason Proctor reports. (CBC)

'Climate Kids' Lawsuit Against US Government Cleared For Trial
The so-called “climate kids” again have had their novel case against the federal government cleared for trial. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday unanimously rejected the government’s request for an order that would have directed a judge to dismiss a climate lawsuit filed by 21 youths ages 10 to 21, along with well-known climate scientist James Hanson. Six of the plaintiffs are from Eugene; 11 live in Oregon. The plaintiffs allege that their constitutional rights are being violated by a government that has known about the dangers of climate change for decades, but nonetheless promotes fossil fuel production while failing to protect the nation’s natural resources. Jack Moran reports. (Eugene Register-Guard)

Audubon Society Sets Sights On Washington Climate Policy
2018 is the year of the bird. The Audubon Society is celebrating the centennial of what it calls the most important federal bird protection law ever passed. But the group says local climate policies are just as important, including one still in play in Washington state. Audubon is taking 2018 to celebrate the importance of birds in peoples’ lives and their role in ecosystems. Each month, people all over the country are doing something – like growing native plants – to help support their feathered friends. Audubon has joined with about 100 other organizations including National Geographic and many agencies such as state Fish and Wildlife offices to spread the word. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Congresswoman Herrera Beutler asks Interior to analyze murrelet strategy
U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler in a letter last week urged U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to make sure the habitat conservation plan (HCP) for marbled murrelets is based on science and not politically motivated. Under the bird's long term conservation strategy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is requiring rural counties like Pacific and Wahkiakum to set aside state-managed trust timber land from possible harvests to protect the species, thereby jeopardizing the counties’ ability to harvest timber and generate revenue to provide basic services to their residents, the congresswoman said. In the letter, Herrera Beutler stated the seabird's population is healthy in Alaska, where the majority of the population lives, but troubled in Washington's Puget Sound area. (Wahkiakum County Eagle)

Public meetings set for mountain goat relocation proposal
The state Department of Fish & Wildlife will hold four meetings with the public this month to discuss plans to move mountain goats from the Olympic mountains to the North Cascades. One of the meetings will be held in Sedro-Woolley and another in Darrington. Mountain goat relocations could begin this summer. The Sedro-Woolley meeting will be at 7 p.m. March 20 at the Mt. Baker Ranger District Office, 810 Highway 20, while the Darrington meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. March 21 at the Darrington Library Meeting Room, 1005 Cascade St. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Female firefighter to lead Forest Service amid scandal
A female wildland firefighter has been tapped by the Trump administration to steady the U.S. Forest Service as it reels from allegations of sexual misconduct and struggles to change its male-dominated culture. Vickie Christensen was appointed interim chief of the 35,000-employee agency late Thursday. The move came roughly 24 hours after former Chief Tony Tooke abruptly retired following revelations of an investigation into alleged relationships with subordinates. Christiansen, a University of Washington graduate, has been with the Forest Service for seven years and became a deputy chief in 2016. Before joining the federal government she’d worked in forestry for 30 years at the state level, in Arizona and Washington. Matthew Brown reports. (Associated Press)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  246 AM PST Fri Mar 9 2018  

TODAY  W wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 10 kt this morning. Wind  waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less. SW swell 9 ft at 11  seconds subsiding to 7 ft at 11 seconds in the afternoon. A chance  of showers in the morning.   

TONIGHT  SW wind to 10 kt becoming E after midnight. Wind waves  1 ft or less. SW swell 6 ft at 9 seconds.
 E wind 5 to 15 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 to 2 ft building to 2 to 4 ft in the afternoon. SW  swell 4 ft at 8 seconds.
 SE wind 15 to 20 kt becoming E 10 to 20 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 4 ft at 13 seconds.
 E wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 5 ft at 13 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, March 8, 2018

3/8 Whiting, oil safety, no to coast drilling, Salish Sea protection, fish farming on land, BC LNG, helping WDFW, PA bag ban, Tony Tooke quits

Pacific whiting (hake) [PHOTO: NOAA Fisheries]
Pacific Whiting (Hake) Merluccius productus
Pacific whiting, or hake, is a prevalent fish species found off the West Coast of the United States and Canada. There are three stocks of Pacific whiting: a migratory coastal stock, ranging from southern Baja California to Queen Charlotte Sound; a central-south Puget Sound stock; and a Strait of Georgia stock. While the status of the latter stocks has declined considerably, the coastal stock remains large and is the most abundant commercial fish stock on the Pacific Coast. Setting harvest levels of coastal Pacific whiting is accomplished through a bilateral agreement between the United States and Canada, known as the Pacific Whiting Treaty. Traditionally, domestic commercial fishermen harvested whiting with midwater trawl gear between May and September along northern California, Oregon, and Washington. The Makah Tribe also has an active fishery for whiting entirely within their usual and accustomed fishing grounds off the Olympic coast. (NOAA Fisheries)

Washington Legislature OKs bill to boost oil safety measures
The Washington Legislature has passed a measure that aims to boost safety around the transportation of oil in the state. The House on Wednesday approved the bill on a 62-35 vote. It earlier cleared the Senate and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee. The bill extends the state’s oil barrel tax to pipelines. That tax pays for spill response and prevention measures and currently applies to oil received by train or vessels. The measure also directs state regulators to address the risks of certain types of oil that sink or submerge as well as to study ways to reduce oil risks in Puget Sound. (Associated Press)

West Coast, East Coast, Gulf lawmakers agree: No drilling
A cross-country group of 227 legislators, representing 17 coastal states, delivered a blunt message Monday to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke:  The Trump administration's planned offshore oil and gas leasing will hurt our economies and our environment. They applauded Zinke for removing Florida's coasts from the program, which would allow drilling in more than 90 percent of America's Outer Continental Shelf waters. "Given that one state has been removed from the program, we strongly urge you to grant other states the same opportunity to protect their economy and coastal and marine resources," said the lawmakers' letter. The letter, signed by 45 members of the Washington Legislature, was drafted by State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas, and California Senate President Kevin de Leon. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com) See also: 'Drill Baby Drill': Trump speeds oil leasing in Arctic Refuge  Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

Ranker Salish Sea Protection Bill Heads to House
The Orca Whale Protection Act (SB 5886) passed the Senate 34-15. This legislation bolsters orca protection laws by requiring boats to give orcas an adequate buffer. The new laws are intended to decrease noise pollution. The bill also provides funding for improved education and enforcement by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and calls for a trans-boundary discussion of orca whale protection and preservation. A $5 increase for an endangered wildlife special license plate helps fund the efforts.
The Salish Sea Protection Act (SB 6269) passed the Senate 42-7. This legislation will provide additional funding for Washington state oil spill prevention and response activities, update our geographical response plans, and provide funding to research and make recommendations for both tug escorts and a stationed, rescue tug for all vessels carrying large quantities of oil across the Salish Sea. It calls for a significant increase in coordination with our Canadian neighbors. Both bills now head to the House of Representatives for further consideration. (From Senator Kevin Ranker)

B.C. government 'very interested' in moving open-net fish farms onto land, minister says
The B.C. minister in charge of aquaculture tenures for the province is hinting at a sea change in the provincial government's approach to Atlantic salmon farming in Pacific waters. Doug Donaldson, the B.C. minister of Forest, Land and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, says the provincial government can't ban open-net fish farms -— as Washington state did last week — because they are regulated by the federal government. However, with provincial tenures for 22 fish farms coming up for renewal in June, the minister said the provincial government's vision for the future includes moving them out of the ocean and into land-based operations, wherever possible. Deborah Wilson reports. (CBC)

Australian LNG company pulls out of project near Prince Rupert, B.C.
Woodside Petroleum, Australia's leading liquefied natural gas producer, says it's pulling out of an LNG export plant north of Prince Rupert, B.C., so it can concentrate on another LNG site near Kitimat. The company has announced it won't renew an agreement to develop the North Coast operation at Grassy Point after the rights to the region expired in mid-January. (CBC)

Wait is over for tufted puffin
Too many possible endangered species, too little time. That’s the reality at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, where staff are assessing candidates for the state’s endangered species list, according to Joe Gaydos, science director of the SeaDoc Society. Staff at SeaDoc, a scientific nonprofit based on Orcas Island, has stepped in to ease the burden of the agency’s backlogged candidates by writing reports needed to decide if species will be classified as threatened or endangered. WDFW, said Gaydos, is underfunded and understaffed, so SeaDoc raised private funds to hire a scientist to help write reports, normally done by state employees, in a one-of-a-kind relationship. “This is a public-private partnership that hasn’t been done anywhere else in the country,” he said. Hayley Day reports. (Islands Sounder)

Port Angeles council considers plastic bag ban
The Port Angeles City Council has conducted a first reading on a proposal to ban single-use plastic bags at stores within the city. A 5-2 majority of the council said Tuesday they were inclined to support a revised version of the ordinance when it comes to a vote later this month. The council will conduct a second public hearing on the plastic bag ordinance before taking action March 20. The hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. or soon thereafter in the City Council chambers at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St. Rob Ollikainen reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

U.S. Forest Service Chief Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Accusations
The head of the United States Forest Service stepped down Wednesday amid an investigation into sexual harassment accusations against him, a spokesman for the Agriculture Department said. The resignation of the agency’s chief, Tony Tooke, comes days after “PBS NewsHour” reported that the Agriculture Department was investigating sexual misconduct complaints against him, including that Mr. Tooke had relationships with subordinates before his appointment to the top role. Emily Baumgaertner reports. (NY Times)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  205 AM PST Thu Mar 8 2018  
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 4 ft  at 15 seconds. Rain.
 W wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. SW swell  9 ft at 12 seconds. Showers in the evening then scattered 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.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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