Monday, October 19, 2015

10/19 Elwha, vote, fish passage, Arctic drill, coal ports, Shell train, mussel power, buffleheads, new allies, orca breeding, saving turtles, Derek Kilmer

Elwha 10/15/15 (Tom Roorda/CWI)
Elwha Nearshore October 15, 2015
Anne Shaffer of Coastal Watershed Institute writes: "The last lovely days of low flow early fall in this captivating place and time. Thank you to Tom Roorda for continuing to provide these important photos. And what it means? The main river channel is much shorter and closer to its original length than in past months of dam removal. The delta on the other hand has grown by around 45 hectares and is much more diverse habitat wise. Fish use the new areas. They began using them as soon as the habitat was available. Upshot? Most of the new delta fish habitat is side channel and estuary-not main river channel. The quiet weather patterns should soon give way to fall winds, swell, and rain, and re-activate the marine and river hydrodynamic engines. This will include pushing sediment east where it is so sorely needed!"

What you need to know for Monday’s federal election
B.C. polling stations are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19. One of the longest federal election campaigns in Canadian history comes to a close at 7 p.m. Monday, after the final ballots are cast in British Columbia. Cindy Harnett reports. (Times Colonist)

Judges hear Washington challenge to fish-passage ruling
In a case that could have implications for dams and development in the Northwest, federal appeals judges heard arguments Friday about whether Washington state should have to spend billions of dollars to replace large pipes that allow streams to pass under roadways — but which also block salmon from migrating upstream to their spawning grounds. The lawsuit is the latest twist in more than 40 years of litigation between Washington and Native American tribes over fishing rights since a federal court decision guaranteed the tribes the right to half of Northwest salmon harvest. Washington's tribes, backed by the U.S. Justice Department, sued the state in 2001, trying to force the state to replace the culverts with bridges or other structures that better allow fish to pass. Gene Johnson reports. (Associated Press)

Seattle Enviros Celebrate Cancelation of Oil Drilling Leases In The Arctic
Local environmentalists are celebrating the Obama administration’s announcement that it is canceling upcoming auctions for drilling rights in the Arctic’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. The Interior Department also announced it has denied requests for extensions of Arctic leases currently held by Shell and Statoil. Shell’s Arctic fleet became a lightning rod for activism in Seattle this summer, launched by flotillas of “Kayaktivists” and others opposed to drilling. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Wyoming and Montana to promote coal ports in Washington
A delegation of Wyoming and Montana state lawmakers and others are looking to highlight the economic importance of opening ports to export U.S. coal to Asian markets and counter arguments against the ports during a trip to Washington. “We hope to have a broader conversation about why these terminals are important not only to Washington state, but to the people and economies of Wyoming and Montana,” said Jocelyn McCabe, a spokeswoman for the Keep Washington Competitive group, which is sponsoring the visit on Monday. (Associated Press)

Refinery, rail lines: How far should EIS scope reach for Shell rail project?
Skagit County government and the state Department of Ecology are collecting public input on a project that, if built, would mean more oil trains moving through the Skagit Valley. Together, the agencies will review the Shell Puget Sound Refinery’s East Gate Rail Project under the state Environmental Policy Act. But before starting an environmental impact statement, the agencies are trying to determine the scope of study. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald) Some groups want rail EIS to extend beyond Shell refinery  Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)  Shell wants limited EIS scope for oil-by-rail project Aaron Weinberg reports. (Skagit Valley Herald) Oil train hearing set for Monday in Lynnwood  Jerry Cornfield reports. (Everett Herald)

Penn Cove mussels to help track pollution flowing into Puget Sound
Late at night when the tide is low enough, an army of volunteers will fan out along Puget Sound and help anchor cages of native Penn Cove mussels near the shore. Starting Oct. 26, the cages will go into 73 spots around Puget Sound. Eight of those will be in Whatcom County, with California Creek where it flows into Drayton Harbor as the farthest point to the north and Clark’s Point in Chuckanut Bay the southernmost spot. The cages will be put in over seven days, and the mussels will stay there until February 2016. Their job is to help scientists find out what contaminants are washing from land into the sound during fall and winter, when Western Washington is wet. The bivalves also will show how well efforts to protect Puget Sound against stormwater pollution are working over time. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Punctual ducks feted with All Buffleheads Day
Californians celebrate the punctuality of the swallows of Capistrano. So why don’t Islanders celebrate the annual arrival of bufflehead ducks? The bufflehead is every bit as regular as the swallows, arriving in the waters of Victoria and south Vancouver Island each Oct. 15 (plus or minus a day).
… Now the Friends of Shoal Harbour and Nature Canada are hoping to earn some recognition for the bufflehead’s remarkable punctuality. On Friday, B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon marked Oct. 15 as All Buffleheads Day. Richard Watts reports. (Times Colonist)

New alliance has big goals for salmon, orca recovery
Even with Endangered Species Act protection, two iconic Salish Sea species are struggling, and a newly formed alliance is calling attention to their plight. “It’s pretty critical that we have to do something, so let’s put the prey and predator together and let’s save them,” said Ken Balcomb, executive director of the Center for Whale Research based on San Juan Island. The center is one of many local, national and international groups that recently formed the Orca Salmon Alliance. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald) See also: Critics of Snake River dams say it’s time to tear them down  The decades-old idea of breaching four giant dams that interfere with endangered salmon runs has gained new momentum Nicholas Geranios reports. (Associated Press)

SeaWorld to challenge Calif. ban on orca breeding
SeaWorld announced Thursday that it will challenge a state ruling that banned the company from breeding captive killer whales at its San Diego park. The announcement comes a week after the California Coastal Commission endorsed a $100 million expansion of the tanks SeaWorld uses to hold orcas in San Diego. That ruling also outlined a series of restrictions on SeaWorld, including a ban on breeding and prohibitions on the sale, trade or transfer of the whales. Michael Blood reports. (Associated Press) See also: Orca pod spotted in Howe Sound  Tracey Tufnail reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Endangered western painted turtles get new beach
A population of western painted turtles in Burnaby will soon have a clean new home, free of the chunks of metallurgical coal they have been living with since a train derailed in their backyard last year. For the last few days, Deanna MacTavish and other members of the Coastal Painted Turtle Project have been digging turtle hatchlings out of a nesting beach near Silver Creek in Burnaby Lake Park. The group built the beach in 2010 and turtles were thriving there until a Canadian Pacific train operated by a Canadian National crew on CN tracks derailed in January 2014, dumping coal into the creek. When crews and officials arrived to clean up after the spill, they scrambled to dig up the nesting turtles before the machines moved in. The hatchlings that were saved were reared off site, then brought home later that spring. Matthew Robinson reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Feds eye refuges for cold-water species in 5 states
Federal scientists using new technologies have mapped what is being called a Cold Water Climate Shield, an area spanning five western states that could support viable populations of native species if the region continues its warming trend. Mapping the cold-water refuges for cutthroat trout, a favored sport fish among anglers, and threatened bull trout could help resource managers make decisions aimed at preserving populations of those and other cold-water native species in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Wyoming. Keith Ridler reports. (Associated Press)

Conservancy names Rep. Derek Kilmer ‘Champion of Nature’
The Nature Conservancy in Washington state has given U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer its “Champion of Nature” award. Mike Stevens, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Washington state, presented the award Oct. 8 after he and members of the organization’s trustee board and staff traveled to Capitol Hill to urge Congress to renew the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired Sept. 30. Kilmer, a Democrat from Gig Harbor and a Port Angeles native, represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula. (Peninsula Daily News)

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