Monday, August 12, 2013

8/12 Longview coal, Victoria birds, Pitt Marsh, estuarium, Fraser sockeye, canoe journey, oil cleanups, knotweed, Skagit floods, GM food

Western grebe (WikiCommons)
Preliminary work begins next week for an environmental impact study on plans to build a coal shipping terminal in Longview. Cowlitz County, state and federal officials will take public comments on the scope of the environmental study between Aug. 16 and Nov. 18. Comments will be accepted by email, through regular mail, on the project website and in person at a series of community meetings... Five community meetings will be held: Sept. 17 in Longview, Sept. 25 in Spokane, Oct. 1 in Pasco, Oct. 9 at the Clark County Fairgrounds, and Oct. 17 in Tacoma. Donna Gordon Blankenship reports. Environmental review of Longview coal terminal set to begin

Friday blog: “Today [Friday] marks 68 years since the United States dropped atomic bombs on Nagasaki, three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The bombs and the aftermath of radiation killed 90,000 to 166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000 to 80,000 people in Nagasaki. I wish the bombs that were dropped had not been named “Little Boy” and “Fat Boy.” Today is a beautiful August day in the Salish Sea and a bit difficult to think deeply about something that happened 68 years ago in another time and to another people. Most of the world probably has come to feel the same about our 9/11...”  Ban the Bomb  

Local ornithologist James Clowater no longer takes students on field trips to Ogden Point. There’s been too much decline in the marine bird species they can watch there, including loons, red-necked and horned grebes, cormorants and alcids — “a group of seabirds that fly underwater,” he said. An expert on the western grebe, Clowater also noted this species’ flock from Mill Bay to Patricia Bay was down to 400 a year or two ago from 3,200 in 1994. Nobody knows the cause of the decline, Clowater said. Katherine Dedyna reports. Decline of Greater Victoria birds a mystery, experts say    Meanwhile: Nuisance birds on the rise in Victoria   

The earthen dike bordering Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area stretches like a line in the sand. In contrast to the adjacent monoculture of cranberries — owned by the family of Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini — the Pitt marsh is a diverse habitat thriving on the edge of a metropolis. “It’s like an oasis, within half an hour of urban areas,” confirms Dan Buffett, head of conservation programs with Ducks Unlimited Canada. “The perfect place to lose yourself for a bit.” As Ducks Unlimited Canada celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, the wetland-conservation organization is busy with its largest project to date in Metro Vancouver, a $600,000 facelift to the water-control structures within the 1,342-hectare Pitt marsh. The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation is a co-funder of the project. Larry Pynn reports. Pitt-Addington marsh undergoes major facelift

The South Sound Estuary Association’s estuarium was abuzz with activity Sunday as several adults and children dropped by about noon to check out the month-old marine life discovery center. Inside the 700-square-foot estuarium, which is not far from the Olympia Farmers Market, visitors can take a gander at marine life that occupies the intertidal zones of Puget Sound, as well as learn about Puget Sound, including its history and some of the environmental challenges it faces. Rolf Boone reports. Estuarium brings Puget Sound to life

Vancouver Coastal Health issued a swimming advisory for Sunset and Second beaches in Vancouver’s West End Friday after E. coli levels rose above acceptable levels.  High E. coli levels lead to swimming advisories for Sunset and Second beaches

Regrettably, it would appear that all hope of recreational opportunity around the south coast to retain Fraser sockeye this year is now past. Last Friday came news that food fishing by First Nation’s for these fish would be ending so until these fisheries are underway once again, unlikely at best under present circumstances, the commercial and recreational sectors have no cause to be optimistic for a sockeye fishery.  After an encouraging start to the Fraser sockeye season in which both the first two run-timing components, the Early Stuart and Early Summers, exceeded the mid-point pre-season forecast, the Summer run fish have to date returned well below the same benchmark. It was this run-timing group which were expected to provide the bulk of any fishing opportunity. Jeremy Maynard reports. Fraser River low levels, high temperature a major concern

The incoming tide breaks at Angie Mason’s shins and soaks her rolled jeans. She stands unfazed by the surf, waiting to welcome her son and daughter ashore on their tribe’s canoe. To Mason — of the Bella Bella First Nation — the splashing salt water is the least of her worries. Traveling from the remote central coast of British Columbia, the Bella Bella tribe paddled south for more than a month, logging 15 to 20 miles a day. The tribal canoe journey is an annual celebration that recognizes the cultural importance of canoe travel to indigenous people. This year’s journey was the Paddle to Quinault, with a final destination at the shores of the Quinault Indian Reservation on the Olympic Peninsula. Mason was one of thousands gathered to welcome 89 canoes there last week. Katie Campbell, Sarah Vaira and Ryan Hasert report. A Challenging Tribal Canoe Journey Strengthens Culture  

As the Obama administration inches closer to a decision on whether to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, costly cleanup efforts in two communities stricken by oil spills portend the potential hazards of transporting heavy Canadian crude. It has been three years since an Enbridge Energy pipeline ruptured beneath the western Michigan town of Marshall, spewing more than 840,000 gallons of thick oil-sands crude into the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek, the largest oil-pipeline failure in the country’s history. In March, an Exxon Mobil pipeline burst in Mayflower, Ark., releasing thousands of gallons of oil and forcing the evacuation of 22 homes. Both pipeline companies have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to recover the heavy crude, similar to the product Keystone XL would carry. River and flood plain ecosystems have had to be restored, and neighborhoods are still being refurbished. Legal battles are being waged, and residents’ lives have been forever changed. Dan Frosch reports. Amid pipeline debate, 2 costly cleanups forever change towns  

A fast-growing, non-native plant that can damage roads and houses with its powerful roots is the target of a regional eradication campaign. Knotweed, which resembles bamboo, has been known to grow through pavement, house foundations and drainage systems, and to harm fish and wildlife habitat. In parts of the United Kingdom, where it has become particularly widespread, it has led to mortgages being refused. The plant is considered one of the worst invasive plant species in the world, according to experts. Jeff Bell reports. Knotweed: a growing threat that has Victoria on offensive  

Since 1895, Burlington’s Dike District 12 has protected life and property north and west of the Skagit River.... The district’s latest proposal would increase levee height by up to 4 feet in some places east of South Gardner Road and widen the landward side by up to 60 feet. If approved, the work could begin as early as 2015.... (But)  Sedro-Woolley officials say (the) Burlington plan to strengthen levee would force more water their way during flood.... (And) opponents of the improvements say the effort is less about protecting life and property and more about stoking the economic future of Burlington at others’ expense. Kate Martin reports.  Water fight?

Get ready for a food fight. When Washington voters decide Initiative 522 this fall, they will do more than determine whether to label food that contains genetically engineered ingredients. They also will take sides in a national battle that has raged for two decades about the benefits and safety of manipulating the DNA of food — something many people view suspiciously but do not really understand. Melissa Allison reports. On voters’ plates: genetically engineered crops  

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