Friday, December 13, 2013

12/13 Thatcher Bay restoration, 'duck ban, bird count, flooding, climate wars, Arctic ice, YVR pipe, moon water



(PHOTO: Friends of the San Juans)
Friends leads restoration of Blakely surf smelt beach
Friends of the San Juans recently spearheaded the restoration of a documented surf smelt spawning beach along Blakely Island’s Thatcher Bay. Surf smelt are a food source for larger fish, seabirds and mammals. Loss of forage fish can lead to less salmon, seabirds and whales, decreasing wildlife viewing and fishing opportunities for all... The project uncovered 5,300 square feet of habitat that had been buried under rock and fill for more than 60 years, and then replenished it with a combination of pea gravel and sand. This sandy “fish mix” is where surf smelt spawn along the uppermost portions of the beach.

China Imposes First-Ever West Coast Shellfish Ban
China has suspended imports of shellfish from the west coast of the United States — an unprecedented move that cuts off a $270 million Northwest industry from its biggest export market. China said it decided to impose the ban after recent shipments of geoduck clams from Northwest waters were found by its own government inspectors to have high levels of arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning. The restriction took effect last week and China’s government says it will continue indefinitely. It applies to clams, oysters and all other two-shelled bivalves harvested from the waters of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California. U.S. officials think the contaminated clams were harvested in Washington or Alaska. Right now they’re waiting to hear back from Chinese officials for more details that will help them identify the exact source. Katie Campbell, Ashley Ahearn and Tony Schick report.

For the birds
While the weather may be frigid, trees dusted with frost, volunteers are gearing up for the National Audubon Society’s 114th annual Christmas Bird Count between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. Skagit area counts are organized by the local Skagit Audubon Society, as well as neighboring Western Washington chapters and other volunteer groups. Each year, counters take down anticipated high numbers of wintering waterfowl, but come across some rarities, too. The count is the longest-running citizen science survey in the world, which started in 1900 as a transition from an annual Christmas hunting competition to wildlife census, according to the National Audubon Society. The information gathered helps assess the health of bird populations and guide conservation efforts. It also contributes to scientific research and can act as an alert for environmental problems. Kimberly Cauvel reports.

Guest: How we can use nature to fend off flooding in Puget Sound
Michael Stevens and Mary Ruckelshaus in a guest editorial write: "SOMETHING is happening in our river valleys, on fertile farmlands and along our shorelines. Record floods and tides make clear that something has changed...To prevent the worst effects of this long-term trend, we must act now to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change and the rising waters it brings. Amazingly, nature itself can be used as a defense against these increasing threats. One of the most critical things we can do through public policy and smart investments is to give all that water someplace to go. We can protect farms, roads, towns and cities by protecting and restoring floodplains, marshes, wetlands and forests that can absorb or redirect water."

Inslee, Republicans draw lines in the sand over climate
Forget about being on the same page. Republicans and Democrats are not even in the same book on how Washington should tackle climate change issues. A legislative panel is supposed to decide by Dec. 31 on recommendations to the Washington Legislature on how to deal with climate change and carbon emissions. The Republicans and Democrats on the panel have put their own proposals on the panel's Web site. A public hearing on those proposals will be held today at 2 p.m. in Olympia. The panel is supposed to recommend a plan of action on Dec. 18. A bipartisan set of recommendations appears unlikely. John Stang reports.

Arctic Sea Ice Didn't Melt as Much in 2013, But Warming Woes Remain
The rapid melting in the Arctic eased up this year. But the government says global warming is still dramatically altering the top of the world, reducing the number of reindeer and shrinking snow and ice, while increasing certain fish and extending the growing season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its report card for the Arctic on Thursday, portraying 2013 as moderate compared with the roasting 2012... More ominous are long-term trends, NOAA's report card said. Average Arctic temperatures have increased 3.6 degrees since the 1960s, rising twice as fast as the rest of the world. The growing season has lengthened by nearly a month since 1982. Fish species are moving north, permafrost is melting, and shrubs are greening in ways that weren't seen before... "The Arctic is not like Vegas," [University of Virginia environmental scientist Howard] Epstein said. "What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic." Seth Borenstein reports.

YVR jet fuel plan given environmental approval
The B.C. government has granted conditional environmental approval to a controversial proposal that includes a pipeline through Richmond, tankers and a marine terminal.  B.C. Minister of Environment Mary Polak announced today the approval hinges on 64 conditions and said the government is taking into account the public's environmental concerns... Polak said the conditions will put in place all of the equipment and training necessary to prevent -- or in the worst case respond to -- a spill. The City of Richmond has strongly opposed the proposed project, which would see barges and tankers carrying jet fuel 15 kilometres up the river to the terminal, then link up with an on-land pipeline to YVR airport.

Hubble telescope sees geysers on Jupiter’s moon Europa
The search for life in the solar system took a turn Thursday with the announcement that Europa, a moon of Jupiter first discovered by Galileo, shows signs of water geysers erupting from its south pole. The new observations by the Hubble Space Telescope represent the best evidence yet that Europa, heated internally by the powerful tidal forces generated by Jupiter’s gravity, has a deep sub­surface ocean. The hidden ocean has long been suspected, but scientists have never seen anything as dramatic and overt as plumes of water vapor more than 100 miles high. Joel Achenbach reports.

Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST FRI DEC 13 2013
TODAY
SE WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING SW IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 8 FT AT 12 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
TONIGHT
S WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 8 FT AT 12 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
SAT
SE WIND TO 10 KT...RISING TO 10 TO 20 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS...BUILDING TO 1 TO 3 FT IN THE AFTERNOON. W SWELL 6 FT AT 11 SECONDS...SUBSIDING TO 4 FT AT 11 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON. A CHANCE OF RAIN IN THE MORNING...THEN RAIN LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
SAT NIGHT
SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT...BECOMING S AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 5 FT AT 10 SECONDS...BUILDING TO 7 FT AT
 17 SECONDS AFTER MIDNIGHT.
SUN
SW WIND 10 TO 15 KT...BECOMING W TO 10 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 11 FT AT 14 SECONDS.

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