Wednesday, April 9, 2014

4/9 ESA gophers, Vic sewage, Lk Whatcom, whale watching

Mazama pocket gopher (Wikipedia)
Gophers found in Thurston and Pierce counties to be added to endangered species list
After more than a decade of debate, environmental studies and lawsuits, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials plan Wednesday to list four subspecies of Mazama pocket gophers as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A threatened species is one that’s likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future if steps aren’t taken to protect it. The critters, known as the Olympia, the Roy Prairie, the Tenino and Yelm pocket gophers, are found only in Pierce and Thurston counties. Along with the listing rule, Fish and Wildlife officials say they’ve also designated 1,607 acres in Thurston County as critical habitat for the Olympia, Tenino and Yelm pocket gophers. A special rule will allow continued agricultural activities on farming and ranch lands, according to the agency’s new release. (Olympian)

Capital Regional District wants province to help with sewage impasse
Capital Regional District staff are recommending directors ask the province to intervene in its impasse with Esquimalt over building a sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point. Esquimalt council on Monday voted against rezoning height and buffer zone encroachments necessary to accommodate a plant, and asked staff to prepare a zoning amendment that would remove a sewage treatment plant as an acceptable use of the waterfront property. The decisions leave the CRD’s core area liquid waste management committee, which meets today, with few options, said chairman Geoff Young on Tuesday. Staff are recommending the CRD ask the province to overturn sections of Esquimalt’s amended bylaws. Sandra McCulloch reports. (Times Colonist)

Scientist: Lake Whatcom's problems persist, but are not getting worse
The quality of Lake Whatcom water may have stabilized, but it will likely take decades to get the city's drinking water source back to near-pristine levels. So says Robin Matthews, lead scientist on the team that conducts an annual study of the lake's water commissioned by the city. Tests of 2013 water samples show that levels of most-watched pollutants have been holding relatively steady for several years.... Matthews is director of the Institute for Watershed Studies at Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University. Like most research scientists, she is cautious drawing conclusions from the data she collects. But she acknowledged that stabilization in the lake's pollution levels may reflect efforts by the city, Whatcom County and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District to reverse years of damage caused by phosphorus-laden runoff. John Stark reports. (Bellingham Herald)

How whale watching can boost Olympic Peninsula tourism
Diane Schostak of the North Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau writes: “Amazing.  I just checked the North Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau Facebook page, and there it is: The reach from a recent post of orca whales jumping out of the water was nearly 130,000.  Nearly 3,000 “likes” and 1,400 “shares” brings the numbers up because so many see the photo in their news feeds and in their friends' activity.  I had a chance recently to visit with a local whale enthusiast who enlightened me on just how amazing the Olympic Peninsula is for whale watching....” See also: Where to see the gray whales — good viewing sites along North Olympic Peninsula's Pacific coast  (Peninsula Daily News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 243 AM PDT WED APR 9 2014
TODAY
NW WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING W 5 TO 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
NW WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
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