Tuesday, July 28, 2015

7/28 Marbled murrelet, drought, aquifer, BC LNG, science reporting, whale deaths, Nisqually

Marbled murrelet (Rich MacIntosh/USFWS/Seattle Times)
Little seabird’s advocates hope protection plan is near
In 1992, a small, speedy seabird called the marbled murrelet was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Its home — the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest — had dwindled, leaving it few places to nest. Twenty-three years later, the population of the bird has continued to decline. By some counts, its numbers are 50 percent lower than they were a decade ago. Now its advocates have joined together in a new campaign to save the bird, which can fly at up to 100 mph, swims underwater and has a roundish body. Maria Mudd-Ruth, whose 2005 book about the species was reissued in 2013, described it as a “brown potato with a beak.” The Murrelet Survival Project, which started last August, is pressuring the state and federal governments to come up with a long-term conservation plan, aimed at increasing the murrelet’s nesting habitat. Miguel Otarola reports. (Seattle Times)

Water Shortage Response Plans Ask For Conservation, Don't Mandate It
Seattle, Tacoma and Everett have activated their water shortage response plans. The hot, dry weather has increased demand for water just as river levels are at historic lows. Seattle Public Utilities, Tacoma Public Utilities and the city of Everett issued a joint  release announcing the implementation of the first stage of the response plans. In the first stage, no one will be forced to stop watering their lawn…. If water supplies go too low, Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, which supplies water for most of Snohomish County, would move to stage two, which would mean asking customers to voluntarily cut back. Under stage 3, mandatory restrictions would kick in. Paula Wissel reports. (KPLU) See also: Drought prompts water-use advisories in Everett, Seattle and Tacoma  Chris Winters reports. (Everett Herald) See also: Tacoma Water joins Seattle, Everett in water shortage plan  Kate Martin reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Massive underground aquifer helping to keep Vancouver green
As Vancouver increasingly relies on an underground aquifer to water its street trees and the Langara golf course in the midst of this summer’s punishing drought, one hydrology expert is cautioning that we don’t know enough about how readily it can be replenished. For more than 25 years, Vancouver’s parks department has used the city’s largest aquifer to irrigate its Langara golf course, taking pressure off the region’s treated drinking water supplies. Now, as the Lower Mainland experiences a drought that shows no signs of ending, Vancouver is considering gently expanding its use of the vast underground Oakridge aquifer for non-potable water needs. Jeff Lee reports. (Vancouver Sun)

B.C. LNG job numbers overstated, report claims
The B.C. Liberal government’s claim that liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports will create 100,000 jobs is a vastly exaggerated forecast, says a report by a think tank that has touched off a controversy about how much of an employment boon the sector will actually create. “We find that this claim is not credible and that potential employment impacts have been grossly overstated,” said the study by the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Brent Jang reports. (Globe and Mail)

A few random thoughts about reporting and environmental science
Christopher Dunagan, who retired from daily reporting at the Kitsap Sun and now blogs, wrote of his 35 years of reporting: … "I grew up believing that science was a particular set of facts that explained the workings of nature. For the longest time, I failed to see that the most important thing about science was formulating the right questions about things we don’t know. Science teachers should, of course, convey what is known, but I believe they should also lead their students to the edge of the unknown, revealing some of the questions that scientists are attempting to answer right now. That is what much of my reporting on Puget Sound has been about. We’ve known for years that the health of the waterway is in decline. It has been rewarding to help people understand why things have been going wrong and what can be done to reverse the downward trends. While there is much work to do, we’re at a point where we can expect Puget Sound residents to limit their damage to the ecosystem and become part of the restoration effort." (Watching Our Water Ways)

Scientist: Whale deaths off Alaska island remains mystery
Researchers may never solve the recent deaths of 18 endangered whales whose carcasses were found floating near Alaska's Kodiak Island, a scientist working on the case said Monday. Samples taken from one of the 10 fin whales were at least a week old, which could throw off test results, said Kate Wynne, a marine mammal specialist for the University of Alaska Sea Grant Program. The carcasses of eight humpback whales also were found. The carcasses of the marine mammals were discovered between Memorial Day weekend and early July. Most of the animals were too decomposed for sampling. Rachel D'Oro reports. (Associated Press)

Explore the Nisqually wildlife refuge during walks, programs
The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a great destination when you want to get outdoors and only have a few hours to spend. There are several miles of trails for hiking, a multitude of places to watch resident and migrant birds and spots to look for other wildlife. Along with its natural attractions, the refuge also is offering a number of programs in the coming weeks…. The refuge is located just off Interstate 5, at Exit 114. For more information, call the refuge at 360-753-9467 or go to fws.gov/refuge/nisqually. (Olympian)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT TUE JUL 28 2015
TODAY
LIGHT WIND...BECOMING W 5 TO 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES LESS THAN 1 FT...BECOMING 2 FT OR LESS IN THE AFTERNOON. W
 SWELL 3 FT AT 9 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 15 TO 20 KT...EASING TO 5 TO 15 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 4 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
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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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