Thursday, December 19, 2013

12/19 Snow, oil tankers, BC pipes, nearshore protection, Judd Cr., Barlow Bay, orcas, Whatcom salmon

Calliope Hummingbird © oldbilluk via BirdNote
Central Flyway Stand-out Species: Calliope Hummingbird
Put a penny in your hand, just a single penny. That's how much a Calliope Hummingbird weighs: two and a half grams! Now, consider that this species migrates up to 5,500 miles - more than double the distance between Los Angeles and New York - every year. Such epic migrations require energy reserves usually found in much larger species. In fact, the Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest "long-distance migrant" in the world. From our friends at BirdNote. Make a donation and keep the love coming. 

Friday Snow: Understanding the Uncertainties
Climate scientist Cliff Mass writes: "The chances of snow on Friday morning are now very high and in this blog I will explain why.  I will also paint out some of the uncertainties, including the snow depths and when snow will give way to rain. But the bottom line is clear:  the commute time on Friday morning will be a white one, so be prepared."

Tanker traffic would soar under proposed Canadian pipeline
A big Houston-based energy company would triple the capacity of a Canadian pipeline that ships oil from Alberta to the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, a project that would increase from five to 34 tankers a month traveling through sensitive international waters. Kinder Morgan Canada formally submitted its application to nearly triple, from 300,000 barrels a day to 850,000, the capacity of its Trans-Mountain Pipeline. The purpose of the increased capacity is to serve what the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers describes as “rapidly growing markets in Asia.” The tankers would travel through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and through Haro Strait, which forms the boundary between the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island.  They would pass just off two famed beauty spots of the new San Juan Islands National Monument, Turn Point on Stuart Island and Patos Island.... On Thursday, Canada’s federal government is expected to endorse construction of an even larger pipeline in northern British Columbia.... If Northern Gateway is build, and the capacity of Trans-Mountain is tripled, an estimated 650 oil tankers will enter and leave British Columbia’s sensitive coastal waters each year. Joel Connelly reports.

Northern Gateway pipeline by the numbers
Review panel will release recommendation on the proposal Thursday afternoon

State Environmental Groups and Tribes Weigh In On Protecting Nearshore Habitats
Eleven state environmental groups last week addressed the importance of strengthening nearshore habitat protections in a joint letter commenting on the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s proposed revisions to the state’s hydraulic code.  The code is the state's principal regulatory tool to ensure the protection of nearshore and stream habitats and fish life from the harmful impacts of in-water development and construction work. “Our review found that much of the proposed language creates exemptions and regulatory loopholes and utilizes language that appears to diminish both department responsibility and the ability to ensure the mandated protection of vital habitats,” said Sound Action executive director Amy Carey. The group's comments can be downloaded here. The rule revisions also drew comments from the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and the Skagit River System Cooperative.

Couple leaves a legacy of protection at Judd Creek
When Jim and Elaine Scott moved to their property at the mouth of Judd Creek 50 years ago, the creek teemed with salmon. But now the Scotts, 93 and 88 respectively, haven’t seen a salmon outside their home in years. While coho and chum salmon do still make their way up the stream, their numbers, as in all  of Puget Sound, are a fraction of their historic levels.... The Vashon Maury Island Land Trust now hopes to see that trend reversed. In what some are calling the most significant conservation purchase on Vashon in recent history — aside from the purchase of the Glacier property on Maury Island — the Scotts recently sold their 10-acre plot at Judd Creek to the land trust. Natalie Martin reports.

Toxic Creosote Being Removed
FRIENDS of the San Juans partnered with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Tulalip Tribes to remove creosote pilings and a pier in Barlow Bay off Lopez Island. This project improves water quality, eelgrass growing conditions, and upper beach habitat at a documented Pacific sand lance spawning site... Twenty-six in-water creosote pilings and approximately 1,200 square feet of remaining overwater structure (pier decking) was removed from Barlow Bay. In addition, 200 square feet of upper beach habitat will be unburied by removing rock and fill, as well other debris including concrete, creosote and tires.

Scientists uncover more clues in a whale of a mystery
Resident killer whales are one the most studied mammals on the West Coast, but after more than 40 years of observations, researchers are unable to definitively say where they go in winter. From November until April, the estimated 300 orcas that make up the northern and southern resident populations disappear from B.C. waters, leaving a hole in the scientific understanding of an iconic species that in some areas has become endangered. Knowing where they go, and what they feed on year-round, is important to protecting whales in the long term, scientists say. And while it remains a mystery for the moment, there are increasing signs that the mystery could soon be solved. Mark Hume reports.

Whatcom County groups receive more than $1.6 million to help salmon  
Three organizations in Whatcom County were awarded more than $1.6 million for salmon recovery efforts, the state Recreation and Conservation Office announced. The money is part of $42 million granted to organizations around Washington for projects to restore and protect habitat for endangered salmon. The Nooksack Indian Tribe received two grants totaling a little more than $1 million for two projects....Whatcom Land Trust was awarded $518,840, which it will use to buy 100 acres in the Skookum Reach of the south fork of the Nooksack River, between Skookum Creek and Van Zandt. The purchase will help conserve the reach. Kie Relyea reports.

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PST THU DEC 19 2013
TODAY
SE WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING S 10 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 9 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
S WIND 10 TO 15 KT...BECOMING SE 15 TO 25 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 2 FT...BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 3 FT
 AT 11 SECONDS. CHANCE OF RAIN...THEN RAIN AND SNOW LIKELY AFTER MIDNIGHT.
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"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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