Wednesday, November 6, 2013

11/6 Whatcom vote, oil pipe, CO2 levels, miracle salmon, safe fish, Cathedral Grove, Janine Boire, birdwatching, port zinc

Progressives sweeping Whatcom County races in early returns
If the Whatcom County Council elections were a referendum on a proposed coal export terminal, then the community appears to have taken a stand against it. The four progressive candidates held wide leads over their conservative opponents according to the first ballot count, released late Tuesday, Nov. 5. Incumbents Ken Mann and Carl Weimer, and challengers Rud Browne and Barry Buchanan, were portrayed by Washington Conservation Voters as opposed to a proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point. All four men maintained they were neutral on the issue, which they could help decide in their upcoming term. Ralph Schwartz reports.

B.C.-Alberta deal could clear the way for oil pipelines to our coast
B.C. and Alberta have agreed to endorse each other’s energy strategies in a move that could more easily pave the way for oil pipelines to B.C.’s west coast. B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford jointly announced a new framework agreement that they say will allow energy projects to potentially move product, like oil, across provincial boundaries to the B.C. coast to be shipped to overseas markets. With the deal in place, Alberta accepts B.C.’s five conditions for pipelines, including a fair economic benefit for the province. In return, B.C. agrees not to pursue Alberta’s royalty or tax revenues and will sign on to the Alberta-led Canadian Energy Strategy. Rob Shaw reports.

Greenhouse gas levels hit new record high  
Atmospheric volumes of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change hit a new record in 2012, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Wednesday. "For all these major greenhouse gases the concentrations are reaching once again record levels," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told a news conference in Geneva at which he presented the U.N. climate agency's annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. Jarraud said the accelerating trend was driving climate change, making it harder to keep global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius, a target agreed at a Copenhagen summit in 2009.

Salmon make a miraculous reappearance in East Vancouver
Chum salmon are spawning again at an urban creek in the heart of East Vancouver. The salmon returned this week to Still Creek, which sits in a ravine surrounded by warehouses and a nearby Skytrain line. The creek — running into Burnaby and through pipes to the Brunette and Fraser rivers — was once one of the most polluted streams in the province, thanks to urban garbage, sewage and toxic chemicals. According to area resident Carmen Rosen, last year was the first time in 80 years salmon had spawned at Still Creek. She's thrilled they're back now, proving that last fall’s occurrence wasn't a fluke.

State to Lay Out Options for Clean Water, Fish Consumption Updates
Fish consumption is at the heart of the state Department of Ecology's quest for compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, which aims to protect human health. Fish absorb toxins from polluted water. So when people eat it, their health might be at risk. That risk increases with more fish in their diet.  Right now, the state Department of Ecology officially assumes that people eat only about one meal of fish per month—a standard that’s known to be outdated and insufficient to protect human health. As a result, the state is working on proposals that would better reflect reality and force tougher limits on the amount of toxins industries and cities or water districts are allowed to discharge. The state will lay out its options for the first time at a public meeting on Wednesday. Bellamy Pailthorp reports.

Old-growth forest cutblock to be logged, groups fear
A new logging road through a formerly protected old-growth forest near Cathedral Grove has conservation groups, and one area MLA, worried that the area’s habitat is under immediate threat... Island Timberlands, the company that owns the land, also has closed south-ridge access to the Mount Horne trail — a popular hiking and mushroom-picking area. The area of concern is a marked 40-hectare cutblock, 300 metres from MacMillan Provincial Park and directly upstream from Cathedral Grove, an international tourist destination known for its ancient Douglas fir trees. Sarah Petrescu reports.

Sustaining curiosity: Janine Boire takes the helm at Port Townsend Marine Science Center 
“Meaningful change happens at the family level,” said Janine Boire, two months into her new job as executive director of Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC). “As an adult, it can be easy to fall into that mentality that you always have to be right, but science is more about the questions than the answers,” she told the Leader. “Youth remind us that it’s ok to explore, to take risks and to always remain curious.” Boire added that she sees curiosity as the core solution to the center’s mission to inspire conservation of the Salish Sea. Megan Claflin reports.

9 Rules for the Black Birdwatcher
Rule 3: "Don’t bird in a hoodie. Ever." And 8 more pointed gems by J. Drew Lanham in Orion Magazine.

Snow geese fly far faster than thought
Washington researchers have discovered new information about the migration and regional travel patterns of snow geese using satellite technology. Each year, thousands of snow geese make the flight from Wrangel Island in Russia to winter feeding grounds along North America’s West Coast, where they stay mid-October through early May. Of about 80,000 birds that land in Western Washington, the majority congregate on Skagit County’s Fir Island. Last February, after hunting season and before the birds headed back to the Arctic, researchers collected nine geese at Fir Island and one near Stanwood and gave them satellite transmission tags. The tags remotely monitor each bird’s travel and log data to an online computer program. Results have shown the birds complete their annual migration in a week or less, stopping off the coasts of Alaska and Siberia along the way, Fish and Wildlife’s waterfowl section manager Don Kraege said. Kimberly Cauvel reports.

And, for the birds, the 2013 Christmas Bird Count Regional Summaries for Canada, Central and South America, Mexico/Belize, Pacific Islands, West Indies/Bermuda, and United States
This is where you can peruse counts for British Columbia/Yukon Territory  and Washington/Oregon.

Tracing the source: Port of Port Townsend eyes wastewater solutions
Efforts by the Port of Port Townsend to collect and treat wastewater from the Port Townsend Boat Haven complex are failing to meet benchmarks set by the state pursuant to the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. Despite installing two stormwater Rx treatment Aquip units to treat stormwater in response to findings in 2011 – about a half-million dollar investment – samplings continue to measure higher than permit benchmarks for zinc and copper in stormwater runoff, Al Cairns, port environmental enforcement officer, told the Leader.... The Port of Port Townsend could face a lawsuit this November for failing to comply with requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. On Sept. 18, Seattle-based law firm Smith & Lowney, PLLC delivered a 60-day notice on behalf of Waste Action Project (WAP) to the public port district. The letter addresses port operations in regards to stormwater discharge, according to documents obtained by the Leader through a public records request. Megan Claflin reports.

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