Tuesday, March 31, 2015

3/31 Orca baby, herring protest, hatcheries, creosote removal, oil tank cars, Pt Roberts eagles

(Jeanne Hyde, Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching/KIRO)
New baby orca born to Puget Sound J-Pod
A new baby orca was born to the Puget Sound J-Pod over the weekend, confirmed officials with the Center for Whale Research. This is the fourth calf born in three months.  Naturalist and researcher Jeanne Hyde of Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching captured images of the newborn calf near Active Pass in British Columbia Monday afternoon. (KIRO) See also: Orca pod off Cape Disappointment Monday (Chinook Observer)

Heiltsuk Nation members occupy DFO office to protest herring fishery
Members of the Heiltsuk Nation have begun occupying a federal government office to protest a herring fishery on B.C.’s Central Coast. The lockdown began at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans office near Bella Bella, according to a press release issued by the First Nation. “We will be here until DFO announces that Area 7 is closed to a gillnet fishery,” Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett said in the release. Bethany Lindsay reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Hatcheries flow on despite the evidence they harm salmon recovery
So, why are hatcheries still an issue? Because, decades after they gained notoriety as one of the factors that threaten salmon recovery,  people still catch salmon for fun and profit, and for most of them, catching a hatchery fish is just as much fun and just as profitable as catching one that didn’t start life in a concrete tank. Besides, to the uninformed eye, there’s not much difference. Daniel Jack Chasan reports. (Crosscut)

Another 50 tons hauled away in ongoing campaign against creosote
Over the past month, restoration crews from the Washington Department of Natural Resources removed more than 50 tons of toxic creosote-treated wood from public and private beaches on Lopez, Orcas and San Juan islands. Special thanks to the Puget Sound Conservation Corps members who did the hard work and to the concerned individuals who reported creosote debris to Friends of the San Juans for their support of improved beach conditions for people, fish and wildlife. (San Juan Journal)

Fixing railroad tank cars gains traction after recent derailments
While some government and industry officials have repeatedly said there’s no silver bullet to improve the safety of oil trains, a persistent problem runs through every new derailment: the tank cars…. Railroads have already spent heavily in recent years to improve their track for all kinds of freight and have pledged to spend more. Meanwhile, the companies that own and lease tank cars for transporting oil and other flammable liquids have been waiting for regulators to approve a more robust design to account for the exponential increase in energy traffic on the rails before they invest an additional cent. Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy) See also: Railroad wants to talk in private to fire chiefs about oil cars  The BNSF Railroad has pumped cold water on Washington Fire Chiefs request that it hand over worst-case scenarios and comprehensive emergency response plans for dealing with an oil train accident. The railroad has offered a private talk and an “overview” of its plans. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

Environmental Policy Fail For Eagles
In the case of Seabright Farms in Point Roberts, Washington, the SEPA application was so poorly written as to deliberately leave out most of the wildlife that uses the property, including leaving out an active eagles nest.  It’s all part of the development game where the property owner leaves out information that he knows will cost him time and money to deal with. (Eagle i Report)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT TUE MAR 31 2015
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON
TODAY
W WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 9 FT AT 13 SECONDS. SHOWERS. A CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 8 FT AT 13 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY.
--
"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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Monday, March 30, 2015

3/30 J50, oil trains, offshore orca, B'ham port, fish hatcheries, sea lions, algae energy, slave seafood, WA budget

J50 (Capt. Simon Pidcock Ocean EcoVentures/CBC)
If you like to watch: Baby orca J50 comes out to play
Once given only a 50 percent chance of survival, the newest additions to the endangered southern resident community of orcas appear to be thriving. The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) has observed two three-month old babies, J50 and J51, in the waters around the San Juan Islands breaching and frolicking — and just plain having fun. (CBC)

Lawmakers aim to toughen laws on oil trains
State lawmakers are trying to reach agreement on tougher rules for the transportation of oil in Washington, including a requirement that rail carriers give local firefighters advance notice of when oil trains are coming. Competing bills in the House and Senate could bring higher taxes for refiners, larger crew sizes on trains for railroads and more inspections of tracks and railroad crossings. Sponsors of the bills are trying to reconcile differences and avoid legislative derailment, but the chasm might be too great in the typically contentious final weeks of the legislative session. Jerry Cornfield reports. (Everett Herald)

Offshore killer whales gain attention from Canadian government
The Canadian government is calling attention to the special needs of offshore killer whales in a new document, “Recovery Strategy for the Offshore Killer Whale in Canada ( PDF 3.8 mb).” Offshores are a mysterious, little-understood group of orcas that roam the West Coast. They are related to the more familiar resident and transient killer whales, but they are genetically, physically and socially distinct. The name “offshore” sort of tells the story; they often remain miles off the coast, out of sight and out of mind for most researchers as well as the public. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Port of Bellingham could sign waterfront agreement Tuesday
The Port of Bellingham Commission will hold two special meetings Tuesday, March 31, to consider signing an agreement with an Irish developer that wants to redevelop the first portion of the downtown waterfront. A 3 p.m. public meeting will include a presentation on the master development agreement the port worked out with Dublin-based Harcourt Developments over the last year…. The commission will then take a recess and reopen the public meeting at 6 p.m. so those who work during the day and want to comment or learn about the agreement will get the chance to see the presentation and speak before the commission votes on the proposal. Samantha Wohlfeil reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Fish hatcheries: A 19th century fix that won’t die
If you found yourself recently in Marblemount, say, or North Bend, it might have been a good idea to visit the cold waters of the Cascade River or Tokul Creek and wave goodbye to the early winter run of Chambers Creek hatchery steelhead struggling upstream to the concrete tanks in which they were spawned. This winter’s run, a smaller batch next winter, and poof! Except for those released from a hatchery on the Skykomish River, near Monroe, we may have seen the last of those Chambers Creek fish. Or not. Daniel Jack Chasan reports. (Crosscut)

Boom times on the Columbia for California sea lions
Record numbers of sea lions are gathering in the Lower Columbia river this spring, intensifying the long-running challenge to protect salmon runs. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Algae into energy: New process studied at Sequim lab could lead to mass production of fuel while lowering carbon dioxide from the air
Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Marine Sciences Laboratory are working to develop a new, low-cost process to draw carbon dioxide out of the air to grow algae that can be refined into alternative gasoline and jet fuel. The beauty of fuel derived from algae is that it is “carbon-neutral,” meaning that the amount of carbon dioxide, or CO2, released when it is burned is equivalent to the amount the algae consumes during growth.  If it were cheap enough to be in mass production, algae-derived fuel could, scientists say, put the brakes on emission into the atmosphere of CO2, which accounted for 82 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2012, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Chris McDaniel reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

How Northwest Shoppers Can Avoid 'Slavery Seafood'
Marcie Sillman speaks with Tobias Aguirre, executive director of FishWise, about a recent AP report detailing slavery in Asian fisheries and what Pacific Northwest shoppers can do to avoid purchasing seafood that may have been caught by slaves. (KUOW)

Washington House Democrats Say 'Yes' To Capital Gains Tax, 'No' To Cap-And-Trade
Majority Democrats in the Washington state House have unveiled a proposed two-year, nearly $39 billion state budget and tax package. They embraced Governor Jay Inslee’s push for a state capital gains tax, but they’re not biting on the Democratic governor’s cap-and-trade proposal. The capital gains proposal House Democrats offered was slimmed down a bit -- a five percent tax rate instead of the governor’s seven percent. Austin Jenkins reports. (NW News Network)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT MON MAR 30 2015
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH TUESDAY MORNING
TODAY
S WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 9 FT AT 13 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN IN THE MORNING...THEN RAIN LIKELY IN
 THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
S WIND 20 TO 30 KT...BECOMING W 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 3 TO 5 FT. W SWELL 10 FT AT 12 SECONDS. RAIN.

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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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Friday, March 27, 2015

3/27 Ice melt, orca travels, dairy sued, ocean warming, Vic sewer, flatfish fishing, walkabout

(Reuters/Landov, Mariano Caravaca)
The Antarctic is far away, freezing and buried under a patchwork of ice sheets and glaciers. But a warming climate is altering that mosaic in unpredictable ways — new research shows that the pace of change in parts of the Antarctic is accelerating. Many of the ice sheets that blanket Antarctica run right down to the land’s edge and then out into the ocean, where they form floating ice “shelves.” Some of those shelves have been shrinking lately. Now, a team of scientists has discovered that shelves in the West Antarctic are shrinking a lot faster than they realized. Christopher Joyce reports. (NPR)

L-pod and K-pod whales continue their travels along the West Coast
L-84, a 25-year-old male killer whale named Nyssa, continues to transmit his location and that of his traveling companions who keep moving north and south along the West Coast, going as far south as Eureka, California. Here’s a quick update, going back to when the orca was first tagged…. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Lynden dairy fined $7,500 for manure runoff
A Badger Road dairy farm was fined $7,500 for violations of the Clean Water Act. The R. Bajema Farm at 792 E. Badger Road was hit with the fine for a manure runoff incident in 2013, according to a news release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. During an inspection of the farm, EPA staff observed the discharge of water polluted with manure to a ditch that flows into Fishtrap Creek and the Nooksack River. That ditch empties in waters off Whatcom County near shellfish beds. Dave Gallagher reports. (Bellingham Herald)

How warmer waters will affect our swimming creatures
Scientists nicknamed it “the blob” last summer. Since then the mass of water penetrating the North Pacific has become persistent in waters from Alaska to Baja, showing up as red and orange when scientists map it.  A new report by NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center and Southwest Fisheries Science Center notes record-high sea surface temperatures characterized by as much as 5.4 degrees F higher than average. Martha Baskin reports. (Crosscut)

We’re not stalling on sewage … just incompetent
Stumbled across a YouTube video from Poland today: 12 burly men in a dragon boat, half of them facing one way, half the other, madly paddling in opposite directions in a wacky kind of swimming pool tug-of-war. It looked just like a CRD sewage committee meeting. The Americans are mad at us again — or rather, still — over Victoria’s lack of sewage treatment. Jack Knox reports. (Times Colonist)

Hood Canal flatfish proposal closer to fruition
Last year, Jefferson County Parks and Recreation District 2 (Brinnon Parks and Recreation) gathered more than 1,000 signatures in a bid to expand fishing opportunities in the healthier section of the canal.  The list of names was presented to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and after a underwater reconnaissance of the area, the state put forth a proposal to allow fishing for numerous species of flatfish, but not halibut, in waters shallower than 120 feet in Quilcene and Dabob bays, north of a line stretching east from Point Whitney to the Toandos Peninsula.Fishing for a variety of species, including flatfish, has been closed in Hood Canal since 2004 to provide additional protection for fish populations that are susceptible to low-dissolved oxygen events, said Craig Burley, manager of Fish and Wildlife’s fish management division. Michael Carman reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Office workers 'too sedentary'
Office workers need to get off their backsides and move around more, according to a new campaign. On Your Feet Britain says sitting for long periods at work is linked to a host of health problems, which are not undone by working out in the gym. It is calling on people to stand regularly, walk around more and embrace ideas such as standing meetings or standing desks. James Gallagher reports. (BBC) So: Five favorite hikes on San Juan Island  Brian Cantwell reports. (Seattle Times) And: 3 Places To Visit In B.C., Far Away From Vancouver  Ed Ronco & Matthew Brumley report. (KPLU)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 301 AM PDT FRI MAR 27 2015
TODAY
S WIND 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 7 FT AT 12 SECONDS. RAIN IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
SW WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING W 10 TO 15 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 8 FT AT 12 SECONDS. RAIN
 IN THE EVENING...THEN SHOWERS LIKELY AFTER MIDNIGHT.
SAT
SW WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 7 FT AT 11 SECONDS. RAIN LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
SAT NIGHT
S WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING 10 TO 20 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 6 FT AT 11 SECONDS...
 BUILDING TO 8 FT AT 9 SECONDS AFTER MIDNIGHT.
SUN
S WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 10 FT AT 11 SECONDS.

--
"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.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

3/26 BC lions, Vic sewage, oil tank cars, Shell drill, BC ferries, Skagit GI, slave seafood

The Lions of March (Laurie MacBride)
If you like to watch: The Lions of March
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "I can’t recall whether March came in like a lamb or a lion this year – but I certainly won’t forget the lions that arrived mid-month. California sea lions, that is…. The reason they’re here is that a bumper run of spawning Pacific herring has arrived along our shores this year – creating a feast for Harbour seals, Bald eagles, masses of gulls and herds of sea lions, all chasing the little silvery, nutrient-rich fish. I’ve lived on Gabriola Island for 30 years, and though I’ve seen herring spawn along our other beaches, I’ve never seen it before at Drumbeg Park – where last week, the water in the bay turned milky white with herring spawn…." See also: Herring harvest continues to be controversial on B.C. coast  Derrick Penner reports. (Vancouver Sun)

New blog: Talking About Race, With or Without Coffee
It’s OK to talk about race if you have something to say about it and you’re not just talking about talking about race. I’ll start with a personal disclosure....

U.S. Rep. Kilmer urges Canada to stop dumping sewage from Victoria into Strait of Juan de Fuca
Maybe it's time for a Mr. Floatie comeback tour. U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, on Wednesday urged the Canadian parliament to stop dumping raw sewage from Victoria into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Mr. Floatie is the 6-foot character, costumed as a bow-tie-wearing, sailor-capped piece of excrement, who tried to shame the Canadians into doing just that. But the Victoria suburb of Esquimalt declined to build a sewage treatment plant last spring. “It's time for Canada to solve this sewage problem,” Kilmer said Wednesday. James Casey reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

‘Get them off rails now,’ Sen. Cantwell says of some oil tank cars
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., introduced legislation on Wednesday that would immediately ban the least sturdy tank cars from carrying crude oil after a series of recent fiery train derailments. The bill also would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to regulate the volatility of crude oil transported by rail, particularly oil extracted from shale formations in North Dakota’s Bakken region. Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy)

Port Of Seattle Rejects Calls To Cancel Arctic Drill Rig Lease
After nearly two hours of public testimony Tuesday, Seattle port commissioners upheld their decision to let Arctic oil-drilling rigs dock at the Port of Seattle. They did vote 5-0 to make it harder for Shell Oil to use the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 beyond the two-year term of the lease the port approved in January. Under the measure approved Tuesday, any changes or extensions to that lease would require a public process and a public vote by the Port of Seattle Commission. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

BC Ferry fares to increase April 1
Ferry fares are going up again in B.C., after the BC Ferries commissioner on Wednesday approved a tariff hike. A fee increase for vehicles and passengers of 3.9 per cent and a fuel rebate of one per cent will take effect April 1, so fares wil go up 2.9 per cent. On the northern routes, between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert and Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, fares will increase two per cent. BC Ferries said the fuel rebate should be in place all summer, and possibly into next year. Tiffany Crawford reports. (Canadian Press)

Corps requests Skagit River GI extension, more money
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is asking Skagit County to contribute $810,000 toward the next phase of a flood protection study and estimates it will take until the end of 2016 to complete. Those are the latest official cost and timeline estimates, which county officials received Friday from the corps. Finishing Phase 2 of the five-phase Skagit River General Investigation study is expected to cost an additional $1.89 million, according to the corps’ request. Of that, the county would contribute $810,000. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Investigation tracks slave-caught seafood to U.S. supply chain
The Burmese slaves sat on the floor and stared through the rusty bars of their locked cage, hidden on a tiny tropical island thousands of miles from home. Just a few yards away, other workers loaded cargo ships with slave-caught seafood that clouds the supply networks of major supermarkets, restaurants and even pet stores in the United States. Here, in the Indonesian island village of Benjina and the surrounding waters, hundreds of trapped men represent one of the most desperate links criss-crossing between companies and countries in the seafood industry. This intricate web of connections separates the fish we eat from the men who catch it, and obscures a brutal truth: Your seafood may come from slaves. Robin Mcdowell, Margie Mason & Martha Mendoza report. (Associated Press)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 320 AM PDT THU MAR 26 2015
TODAY
E WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING SE IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 7 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT IN THE EVENING...BECOMING LIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS.

--
"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.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

3/25 Herons, Portage Bay, Lolita, oil train plans, Exxon Valdez, Fir Island, Bainbridge who?

Herons (Darrell Benedict/KING)
If you like to watch: Explore the PNW: Sammamish River Heron Colony
You don't have to travel far to enjoy great bird watching in the Puget Sound area. Recently, my husband Darrell and I spotted a heron colony along the shore of the Sammamish River while kayaking. The big birds nest high in the treetops and were easy to spot since the branches haven't leafed out yet. Darrell later returned to the spot on foot to photograph the nesting pairs as they prepared to raise a new batch of chicks. Evonne & Darrell Benedict report. (KING)

Pollution partially closes nearly 500 acres of Portage Bay shellfish beds
Commercial shellfish harvesting is being banned on nearly 500 acres of Portage Bay for about half the year because of worsening water quality caused by fecal coliform bacteria, the Washington state Department of Health announced Tuesday, March 24. Portage Bay is home to Lummi Nation’s ceremonial, subsistence and commercial shellfish beds. State health officials last week changed the classification of nearly 500 of the 1,300 commercial shellfish harvesting acres in the bay from “approved” to “conditionally approved” because of water quality. That means harvesting in the conditionally approved area will be closed each year April through June and again October through December. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Appeals court hears arguments over license for orca 'Lolita'
Animal rights groups that want a captive killer whale removed from Miami Seaquarium asked federal appeals judges Tuesday to send their lawsuit against the tourist attraction and the U.S. Department of Agriculture back to a U.S. district court. The case concerns an orca named Lolita that has lived at the Seaquarium since 1970. Last year, a federal judge in Miami dismissed the groups' lawsuit alleging that the tank that holds Lolita violates USDA standards for its care under the Animal Welfare Act. Jennifer Kay reports. (Associated Press)

Fire Chiefs demand oil train disaster plans from BNSF Railroad
The Washington Fire Chiefs, in a pointed letter, have asked the BNSF Railroad to turn over “Worst Case Scenarios” for an oil train accident as well as “Comprehensive Emergency Response Plans” for high hazard flammable trains…. The letter comes as three oil trains pass through Seattle each day en route to northern Puget Sound refineries. Railroads now transport one-tenth of U.S. crude oil output — approximately 1.1 million barrels a day. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Anniversary: Effects, Facts, Pictures, Captain's Drinking Rumors
At 12:04 a.m. on March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in the Prince William Sound off the coast of Alaska. It was one of the worst oil spills in history at the time, leaking nearly 11 million gallons of oil – think 17 Olympic swimming pools’ worth – into a pristine sea and ultimately coating more than 1,300 miles of shoreline coated with black, sludgy oil. “We’ve fetched up hard aground, and evidently we’re leaking some oil,” Exxon Valdez Captain Joseph Hazelwood said in a recording during the crash. Elizabeth Whitman reports. (International Business Times)

Fir Island dike setback moves forward  
New dikes are expected to go up on the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fir Island Farm this summer, making way for removal of about a mile of the old ones next year. The project will inundate land formerly farmed for waterfowl to create fish habitat where the Skagit River meshes with Skagit Bay. It’s more than twice as ambitious a restoration project as The Nature Conservancy’s earlier work at Fisher Slough. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Ever look over to Bainbridge Island and wonder who Bainbridge was?
Starting the New Year on an 11-boat raft up in Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island, I was curious to know if anyone else ever wondered who Bainbridge was? Why was an island named after him? And what did he do? Mark Aberle reports. (Three Sheets Northwest)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT WED MAR 25 2015
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
TODAY
SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT...BECOMING S IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 6 FT AT 10 SECONDS. RAIN.
TONIGHT
S WIND 15 TO 25 KT...EASING TO 10 TO 20 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT...SUBSIDING TO 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 8
 FT AT 10 SECONDS. RAIN LIKELY IN THE EVENING...THEN A CHANCE OF RAIN 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.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

3/24 Samish Bay poop, Surrey Docks coal, ocean acid, NEB free speech, Shell drill, oil spills, BC skiing

Blau Oyster Company
Samish Bay misses upgrade target, partners keep eye to the future
Despite the efforts of more than 20 groups and organizations working for years to clean the Samish watershed, it has again failed a state pollution evaluation. That means the bay cannot get an upgrade this year, but Clean Samish Initiative partners remain hopeful that the watershed will eventually make the mark. Last year, Samish Bay failed the state Department of Health’s eligibility test for a shellfish harvest upgrade within the first three weeks. This year it held out only a few days longer. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Fraser Surrey Docks seeks to pump coal waste water into Metro Vancouver’s sewer system
Fraser Surrey Docks is asking Metro Vancouver for a permit to discharge treated waste water from its planned coal transfer facility into the regional sewage system. The company’s permit application says it is proposing “comprehensive water-based dust suppression systems” that will generate run-off, as will washing down of machinery. Rain that falls on the coal piles would also be collected. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Ocean acidification: Research here will add to what we know
Mira Lutz of Anacoretes is an Extended Education faculty member for Western Washington University. She provides a short tutorial on ocean acidification: "We folk of Fidalgo are island dwellers. We look over bays and channels, straits and coves as a normal course of commutes. We take in the beauty and bounty of scenic vistas, a good day’s catch and life is as it should be. Yet we hear all is not as it should be under the surface. There are toxins from dumping and runoff accumulating in the food web from plankton to killer whales, and something even more fundamental. The pH level of the ocean — the entire ocean — is decreasing at geologically unprecedented rates…." (Anacortes American)

Environmental advocates take NEB fight to Supreme Court
An environmental organization and a group of concerned citizens are asking the Supreme Court of Canada to hear a complaint that the National Energy Board is violating their rights to free speech. ForestEthics Advocacy Association, and several individuals who live near the route of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, say the NEB is acting unfairly in limiting who can speak at the public hearings and in restricting the topics to be discussed. Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail)

Seattle worries Arctic drilling would impact its port
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is poised to help Shell clear a major hurdle in its effort to resume drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean, despite opposition from her hometown of Seattle, where the company’s drilling fleet would be moored at the city’s port. All nine members of the Seattle City Council signed a letter on Monday calling on Jewell to block the Arctic drilling, said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who spearheaded the effort.,,, Jewell is expected, possibly as early as Wednesday, to sign off on the revised environmental impact statement for Shell’s Chukchi Sea lease, a major step toward the company’s goal of drilling in the Arctic Ocean this summer. Sean Cockerham reports. (McClatchy)

'Small' Oil Spills Can Add Up To Big Costs
State Fish and Wildlife Biologist Brian McDonald is careful not to raise his voice as he approaches a row of baby cribs in a warehouse in Pasco, Washington. Each one holds mallard ducks…. The ducks were hit by an oil spill in Sunnyside earlier this month. McDonald says oil coats the ducks’ feathers and breaks down their natural waterproofing, “so each time they go into the water, it’s like a scuba diver going in without a wetsuit.” Though they don’t always make headlines, 95 percent of oil spills in the U.S. are relatively small — less than the size of a tanker truck you might see on the highway. Washington State’s Department of Ecology responds to about 400 oil spills a year, nearly all of them a few thousand gallons or less. Rowan Moore Gerety reports. (Northwest Public Radio)

Mt. Seymour, Cypress Mountain close for ski season
Mt. Seymour and Cypress Mountain announced Monday that their ski resorts were closing early after a dismal season of meagre snowfall. "We made a huge amount of quality snow during the season but got virtually wiped out on four separate occasions with unearthly amounts of rain," Cypress said in an email to season passholders…. Mt. Seymour has been on standby and was operating its Mystery Peak Express and the Goldie Magic Carpet simultaneously for 12 days. It's now offering season passholders an 88 per cent credit towards the next season. Tamara Baluja reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT TUE MAR 24 2015
TODAY
SE WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 7 FT AT 12 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
TONIGHT
SW WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING SE 15 TO 25 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS...BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT AFTER
 MIDNIGHT. W SWELL 6 FT AT 11 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN IN THE EVENING...THEN RAIN AFTER MIDNIGHT.

--
"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.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter.

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Monday, March 23, 2015

3/23 Slides, herring, Shawnigan Lk, Shell drill, SaltSpring, toxin levels, Skagit steelhead, fracking, Edmonds buffers, snowpack, BC ants

Friday's blog: Skunk Cabbage Welcomes Spring
Today’s vernal equinox in the neighborhood was celebrated under breezy gray skies and sporadic rain. Let the early bloom’d cherry blossoms, daffodils and tulips droop; the real harbinger of spring is the skunk cabbage….

If you lke to watch: Watch a baby hummingbird grow up
In celebration of spring, GirlScientist shares a 2012 video of a rufus hummer by Bellingham's Ann Chaikin-- with music. (The Guardian)

Rules for building in landslide-prone areas virtually unchanged
Snohomish County's rules for building near potential landslide dangers remain more or less unchanged from when the deadly Oso mudslide hit a year ago. The County Council is likely to enact stricter regulations by mid-year, beyond the temporary construction ban already in place for the immediate Oso slide area. Recommendations include expanding the areas near steep slopes where the county would require geotechnical engineering reports before issuing building permits. A summary of the engineer's report would need to be recorded on the title of the property. The property owner also would have to sign a waiver, holding the county harmless should anything go wrong, before a building permit would be issued. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald) See also: Year after Oso disaster, land-use rules slow to change  Lewis Kamb and Jim Brunner report. (Seattle Times)

Heiltsuk First Nation threatens to blockade commercial herring fishery
The Heiltsuk First Nation on B.C.'s Central Coast is vowing to blockade a Fisheries and Oceans Canada approved commercial fishery to preserve what it calls "weak" Pacific herring stocks. Fisheries and Oceans Canada says its science forecasts show herring abundance continues to support modest commercial harvest opportunities. But the Heiltsuk claim herring stocks are on the verge of collapse. (CBC)

Dumping tainted soil near Shawnigan Lake gets go-ahead
A ruling by the Environmental Appeal Board has cleared the way for South Island Aggregates to start receiving tonnes of contaminated soil at its facility near Shawnigan Lake. Concerned the site could contaminate Shawnigan Lake, three area residents, the Shawnigan Lake Residents Association and the Cowichan Valley Regional District had appealed a B.C. Ministry of Environment permit granted to South Island Aggregates. It allowed the company to receive up to 100,000 tonnes a year of contaminated soil at a site on Stebbings Road. Bill Cleverley and Jeff Bell report. (Times Colonist)

Judge OKs lawsuit over lease for Shell Arctic drilling fleet
A lawsuit challenging the Port of Seattle's decision to lease one of its terminals as a homeport for an Arctic oil-drilling fleet can go forward, a Washington state judge ruled Friday. Environmental groups say the port broke state law in February when it signed a two-year lease with Foss Maritime Co. to rent 50 acres at Terminal 5 near downtown Seattle. Foss' client is Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which plans to base its Arctic fleet there. Gene Johnson reports. (Associated Press)

Jack Knox: Saltspring now Salt Spring? This is anarchy
Flew back from a week’s holiday, landed in a dystopian nightmare. To be precise: Sometime in my absence, Saltspring Island became Salt Spring Island…. Never mind. Here at the Times Colonist, we have always stuck with the official version, Saltspring, as adopted by the Geographic Board of Canada in 1910…. And now we have the shift from Saltspring to Salt Spring, as dictated in a memo from on high. “Every time we use Saltspring, we are sending a message that we know better than the people who live there,” read the directive. “That is not a good message to send.” Jack Knox bemoans. (Times Colonist)

Bellingham council could weigh in on state fish consumption, pollution rules
Bellingham City Council is considering asking the state for tighter pollution rules protecting water and the fish people eat. On Monday, March 23, the council will discuss signing a letter to the Department of Ecology that would request tighter water quality standards than what the department is currently proposing as part of a years-long update process. That would go against the grain of many other cities around the state that support the plan from Ecology and Gov. Jay Inslee as a compromise on health standards and strict pollution guidelines that affect wastewater treatment plants. Samantha Wohlfeil reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Fishless future
Twelve years is a long time to take a break from one of your greatest passions, but some Skagit River fishermen have no choice. Steelhead will soon cease to return during the December-to-February fishing season, which is expected to cut off the treasured recreational opportunity on the mighty river. The steelhead hatchery’s closure last spring, for a 12-year period, is expected to put a near end to tribal customs as well as recreational and commercial fishing…. The fish aren’t expected to return because a year ago, juvenile hatchery fish were barred from being released as a result of a lawsuit between the Wild Fish Conservancy and state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The conservancy argued Fish and Wildlife, which co-manages the state’s hatcheries with treaty tribes, violated the U.S. Endangered Species Act by using Chambers Creek steelhead in the Skagit River system. The state agreed April 25, 2014, not to release 720,000 fish into Puget Sound that spring and to close hatchery operations using the Chambers Creek fish on the Skagit River for 12 years. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Fracking: US tightens rules for chemical disclosure
The Obama administration said Friday it is requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, the first major federal regulation of the controversial drilling technique that has sparked an ongoing boom in natural gas production but raised widespread concerns about possible groundwater contamination. A rule to take effect in June also updates requirements for well construction and disposal of water and other fluids used in fracking, as the drilling method is more commonly known. Matthew Daly and Josh Lederman report. (Associated Press)

Environmental report on Whatcom coal terminal expected no sooner than mid-2016
The original schedule for completing an environmental review of a proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point was overly optimistic, and Whatcom County officials are preparing a new contract that will continue the work until mid-2016…. The original contract assumed the two coal-terminal applicants — SSA Marine and BNSF Railway, which would build additional rail to accommodate the coal trains — would provide all requested information within the first month. Some of that information is only coming together now. Other information was never provided, particularly by BNSF. Ralph Schwartz reports. (Bellingham Herald)

In comments to state, Port of Edmonds takes stand against increasing Harbor Square buffers
As the deadline nears for comments on an update to the Edmonds Shoreline Management Program, the Port of Edmonds reiterated Friday that it is strongly opposed to a City of Edmonds proposal to increase the size of setbacks and buffers around the Edmonds Marsh, located adjacent to the port-owned and -managed Harbor Square business complex. (My Edmonds News)

‘Dismal’ snowpack may be new normal in Northwest
Wonder what the weather will be like in Western Washington 50 years from now? Look around. Climatologists say we’re experiencing a sneak preview now. Winter 2014-15 — regarded by many as almost freakishly warm and snowless — will be the new normal, if climate change continues as expected. The basic combination projected for the Northwest by climate models — higher temperatures and about average precipitation — has had a dramatic effect in the Cascades and Olympics. There’s almost no snow. Rob Carson reports. (News Tribune of Tacoma)

Fire Ants force CP to incinerate Arbutus rail ties
CP Rail will begin incinerating old railway ties from the Arbutus Corridor next week in an attempt to control the European Fire Ant. The invasive species has been causing problems in B.C., with reports they have now made their way into virtually every district in the Lower Mainland…. Research has also shown that one of its relatives, the Impressive Fire Ant, has been linked to runway delays at the Vancouver International Airport where birds swarming to eat the ants are crashing into planes. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT MON MAR 23 2015
TODAY
SE WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 7 FT AT 12 SECONDS. SHOWERS. A SLIGHT CHANCE OF TSTMS.
TONIGHT
S WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 7 FT AT 12 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
--
"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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Friday, March 20, 2015

3/20 DMPs, tank car gas, leak reports, herring spawn, Samish shellfish, steep slope logging, weather ?

Yellow Warbler(Daniella Theoret)
If you like to listen: Dawn Song - Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson: "The Birds begun at Four o'clock..." As the first rays of sunlight fill the trees on a spring morning, a symphony of birdsong erupts. As early morning light extinguishes the stars, male birds begin to belt out their songs. One of the magical gifts of spring is the dawn song. Early in the morning, sparrows, chickadees, thrushes, finches, wrens, blackbirds, and warblers - like this Yellow Warbler - all sing at once. (BirdNote)

Tiny particles delay study of coal port
They are so small you can’t see them in the air — but you inhale them, and they can go to your lungs and even your bloodstream. They come from many sources, but among them are diesel train engines and coal in trains or storage piles. Doctors worry about them, researchers study them, and now the microscopic critters — called Diesel Particulate Matter, or DPMs — are delaying the finish of a lengthy environmental assessment of a giant coal-export terminal proposed for Cherry Point in Whatcom County. Agencies handling the protracted Environmental Impact Statement process say the EIS process has been delayed — perhaps for a year or more — by disagreements over how to study particulates. BNSF Railway’s refusal to share documents and studies with consultants has also contributed to the delay, along with other factors. Floyd McKay reports. (Crosscut)

Gases in oil tank cars: How volatile, Cantwell wants to know
Three oil trains pass through Seattle each day, headed to north Puget Sound refineries, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., is prodding federal regulators to take a long, hard look at what will happen to their cargoes if a train derails. Cantwell wants something called the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to probe the volatility of gases in tank cars hauling Bakken crude oil, and how that can contribute to the risk of explosions if cars derail. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

State rail regulators: Fine BNSF for not reporting leaks immediately
Washington state regulators have recommended BNSF Railway be fined up to $700,000 for failing to properly report more than a dozen hazardous materials spills in recent months despite the fact state staff had reminded the company how to do so last fall. On Thursday, March 19, the state Utilities and Transportation Commission staff announced it found BNSF had failed to report 14 releases of hazardous materials, including crude oil leaks, within a half hour of learning about the leaks, as required by state law. Samantha Wohlfeil reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Massive herring spawn on South Beach
Masses of herring spawn, up to 3 inches deep in spots, washed ashore on South Beach March 12, portents of a potential bumper crop of herring this year. Pacific herring deposit their eggs on subtidal eelgrass and algae, and a sharp eye can spot the tiny larval fish in each transparent egg. Point Roberts is a spawning ground for two distinct stocks of herring, the Semiahmoo Bay stock, which spawns from January through April, and the Cherry Point stock, which is unique in Washington, spawning from April through June. Meg Olson reports. (All Points Bulletin)

Samish Bay to reopen to shellfish harvesting
Samish Bay will open to shellfish harvesting this afternoon, according to the state Department of Health. The bay was closed to harvest activities Sunday due to river rise that exceeded the state’s threshold for conditionally approved areas. The bay is conditionally approved because of its history with recurring fecal coliform bacteria pollution funneled in from the Samish River. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

State tackles steep challenges to step up logging oversight
Mike Janicki has spent 40 years as a logger, and his work brings him to the unstable hillsides around this upper Skagit Valley town. During past decades, there have been large and small slides here, some on cut land and some on forested land. Those slides have damaged homes, dumped a hillside of silt into a reservoir and spilled onto roads. Again and again, Janicki and other loggers have returned to harvest fir, cedar and other trees. Since the Oso disaster in neighboring Snohomish County one year ago, there has been only one application to log nearby slopes behind Concrete. That compares with a half-dozen requests in the 15 months before the landslide in the same 11,520-acre area. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

The most asked weather question, answered.
"What is the difference between partly cloudy and partly sunny?" Cliff Mass answers. (Weather Blog)

Now, your first Spring weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT FRI MAR 20 2015
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT
TODAY
SE WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 7 FT AT 10 SECONDS. RAIN.
TONIGHT
S WIND 10 TO 20 KT BECOMING W. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 8 FT AT 10 SECONDS. RAIN.
SAT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 1 OR 2 FT. W SWELL 7 FT AT 11 SECONDS. CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
SAT NIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT BECOMING S. WIND WAVES 1 OR 2 FT. W SWELL 7 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
SUN
SE WIND 10 TO 15 KT RISING TO 15 TO 25 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 2 FT BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT IN THE AFTERNOON. W SWELL 5 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
--
"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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Thursday, March 19, 2015

3/19 Jeff Co shores, B'ham cleanup, Capitol Lake, BC oil, sinking barge, BNSF, marine safety

(PHOTO: Kalla Walton/CBC)
If you like to watch: Northern lights dance across B.C.
Social media lights up with photos of stunning auroras as geomagnetic storm hits. (CBC)

State board dismisses challenges to Jefferson County Shoreline Management Program; one petitioner may appeal
The state Growth Management Hearings Board has dismissed 19 challenges to the newly enacted Jefferson County Shoreline Management Program. The decision, issued Monday, said “the board concludes that petitioners failed to provide clear and convincing evidence demonstrating the challenged action.” The challenges the plan enacted in February were made by three petitioners: Hood Canal Sand and Gravel — which may appeal, a spokesman said — the Olympic Stewardship Foundation and the Jefferson County chapter of the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights. Charlie Bermant reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Interim cleanup plan for Bellingham waterfront site up for public comment
A $14 million cleanup plan for part of a contaminated Fairhaven waterfront site is ready for review. The plan calls for the removal of contaminated sediment, soil and creosote-soaked pilings from the shipyard at 201 Harris Ave. The Port of Bellingham property has been used for shipbuilding and maintenance since the early 1900s. The contamination is from past activities, and is not due to the current tenant, according to the state Department of Ecology. Sampling and investigations have found gasoline, diesel, oil, arsenic, metals, polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs) and more in the soils, sediment and groundwater. Their concentrations exceed standards set by the state’s cleanup law. These contaminants are typical of historic shipyard operations throughout the Puget Sound, according to Ecology. Samantha Wohlfeil reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Lake, estuary camps are finally talking
There’s a new wrinkle in the years-long debate over the future of Capitol Lake. Representatives of the pro-lake and pro-estuary camps have conducted two face-to-face meeting already this year with another one scheduled next week. The Capitol Lake Improvement & Protection Association and the Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team are seeking common ground while agreeing to disagree on whether or not to remove the Fifth Avenue Dam that keeps the Deschutes River from flowing unfettered into Budd Inlet. The two citizen-based, nonprofits can’t determine the fate of the lake alone. But political leaders and state agencies welcome the talks after years of impasse. John Dodge reports. (Olympian)

Vancouver-based upstart refinery eyes profits in Alberta-to-Asia exports
A fledgling B.C. bitumen refinery project makes economic sense even in a world of low oil prices, says a consultant to Pacific Future Energy. The Vancouver-based upstart, which wants to refine Alberta oil and ship it to Asia, expects the cost of bitumen supplies from the oil sands will be sharply lower than the revenue from exporting refined petroleum products, said Ron Loborec, Canadian energy leader at Deloitte & Touche LLP…. Prices for benchmark Western Canadian Select heavy oil are lower than those for West Texas intermediate light crude, so that provides a further cushion for the planned B.C. refinery to have cheaper costs for supplies, Mr. Loborec said. Brent Jang reports. (Globe and Mail)

Investigation underway into barge sinking off Vancouver Island
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating after a barge sank in the Strait of Georgia near Vancouver Island. Spokesman Dave Paddon said the barge, named Lasqueti Daughters, took on water and began sinking while 16 people were aboard on Saturday. A rescue operation ensued. None of the passengers were hurt. The barge was salvaged and towed to Campbell River. (Canadian Press)

BNSF seeks closure of Valley View Road near Custer
BNSF Railway requested permission to permanently close the crossing at Valley View Road, a half mile south of Portal Way. In response, Whatcom County officials asked for a hearing before the state Utilities and Transportation Commission because county officials aren’t prepared to assess the impact the closure would have on county traffic. County officials believed the closure would be required later to make room for trains headed to a proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point, according to a March 10 letter to the commission requesting the hearing…. BNSF said in its request for the road closure that the siding extension is needed so that trains to the oil refineries don’t block the main line, and so passenger trains can get through Custer without delays. BNSF estimated it would begin expansion of the siding in late spring. Ralph Schwartz reports. (Bellingham Herald)

First Nations hold marine safety talk
Delegates from more than 50 First Nations on and around Vancouver Island will gather in Sooke next week to discuss marine safety and potential disasters. “The environment comes first with potential risks in our territories,” said T’Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes. The First Nation, already known as a leader in environmental management thanks to its solar program, is hosting the summit. Sarah Petrescu reports. (Times Colonist)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 230 AM PDT THU MAR 19 2015
TODAY
SE WIND 10 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 7 FT AT 11 SECONDS. RAIN.
TONIGHT AND FRI
SE WIND 10 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 7 OR 8 FT AT 11 SECONDS. RAIN.

--
"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.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

3/18 Tulip bloom, B'ham deal, Shell EIS, warm ocean, Stanley Park herons, shellfish safety, Oly Pen booms

Tulip Town ( Brandy Shreve/Skagit Valley Herald)
Tulip Town to open early
Tulip Town is set to open Friday — nearly two weeks early — setting a new record for the 35-year-old tulip farm. Jeanette DeGoede, who co-owns the farm with husband Anthony DeGoede, said the unseasonably warm weather and rain have everything to do with the flowers blooming early this year, and while it’s not uncommon for their opening day to fluctuate, this is sooner than usual. Shelby Rowe reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Port of Bellingham could sign waterfront deal at special March 31 meeting
An Irish development group could start rebuilding part of the city’s waterfront as soon as 2017, if all goes according to plan. A year after starting negotiations with Dublin-based Harcourt Developments, the Port of Bellingham has finished hashing out the terms of a master development agreement that would allow Harcourt to start work on the first 18.8-acre piece of the site. The negotiations have involved the northwestern corner of a contaminated section of Bellingham’s waterfront that was formerly home to a Georgia-Pacific Corp. pulp and tissue mill. Samantha Wohlfeil reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Shell files lawswuit over EIS
Shell Oil Co. filed a lawsuit Monday in Skagit County Superior Court against Skagit County and County Hearing Examiner Wick Dufford, seeking a review of Dufford’s decision requiring Shell perform an environmental impact statement before building a crude oil unloading facility at the Shell Puget Sound Refinery. The suit was filed before the county commissioners met Tuesday to decide whether further administrative appeals were available. The commissioners approved a resolution declaring the matter out of their jurisdiction. In the lawsuit, Shell claims that Dufford’s decision exceeds his jurisdiction and is not related to the “reasonably foreseeable” impacts of Shell’s proposal. Shannen Kuest reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Warm Ocean Temperatures Could Mean Trouble For Marine Life
It’s a double-whammy kind of year for the Pacific. An unusually warm winter in Alaska failed to chill ocean waters. Then this winter’s El Nino is keeping tropical ocean temperatures high. Combine these and scientists are recording ocean temperatures up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average off the coasts of Oregon and Washington. Jes Burns reports. (KUOW)

Up close with Stanley Park’s herons
The Vancouver park board is launching a webcam at 10 a.m. Wednesday to document the lives of Stanley Park’s tall, long-legged Pacific great blue herons, who live in one of North America’s largest urban colonies with over 100 birds…. The webcam will take people inside the nests of the herons, highlighting the birds’ courtship and mating rituals, nest building and egg-laying. Viewers will watch chicks hatch and their parents fend off eagles, raccoons and other predators. Brian Morton reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Shellfish safety plan updated
The state Board of Health has adopted revisions to the state’s vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria control plan, which aims to reduce illness caused by eating shellfish, according to a press release Monday. Samish Bay shellfish growers have supported the plan, seeing it as a way to reduce unnecessary harvest closures and cut down on illness among those who prefer to eat raw shellfish…. The revisions set water temperature thresholds that prompt shorter harvest times or full closures when exceeded. For inland areas, closures will occur at 66 degrees and last until 24 hours after the temperature drops back into normal range. Also among the revisions is a requirement to report harvest quantity and water temperatures to the state. The reports will enable the state to look at the ratio of sickness to the number of shellfish consumed, according to the release. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Railroad seeks to close Walnut Street crossing
The Burlington City Council is opposing a request from BNSF Railway to close down a railroad crossing on Walnut Street…. Because the Walnut Street crossing is within a block of another crossing on Spruce Street, BNSF officials previously decided they would close the crossing, essentially closing the road. Kera Wanielista reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Sound solution: ‘Explosive welding’ might account for some of the mysterious booms recently heard on Peninsula
A business conducting “explosive welding” on property west of Port Angeles says it might have been a source of the loud booms that rattled west Port Angeles and Joyce residents recently. But other booms felt elsewhere on the North Olympic Peninsula remain mysterious. Joe Munn, operations manager of Souriau PA&E Bonded Metals Division at 2249 Diamond Point Road, said his company has been doing such welding west of Port Angeles. Arwyn Rice reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT WED MAR 18 2015
  TODAY
 SE WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING E IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
 TONIGHT
 E WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING SE AFTER MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS. A SLIGHT CHANCE OF RAIN.

--
"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.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

3/17 Rain, sewage overflow, rain gardens, eulachon, 'humane' fishing, Samish cleanup, Shell fumes, US-CA traffic

L121 and mother L94 (Candice Emmons,
NWFSC, NOAA Research Permit #16163)
2015 Killer Whale Research Survey, presentation by Brad Hanson
Last month NOAA researchers were the first to spot new orca calf L121 during a research cruise on the Northwest coast. Join The Whale Trail at 7 pm on March 26 at C&P Coffee in West Seattle to hear about the cruise from lead researcher Brad Hanson. Get tickets early - this will sell out!

Deluge and Divine Intervention
On Friday, Governor Inslee declared a drought emergency.   He is obviously a favorite of the weather gods...they have answered his plea.   Deluge. You can tell that divine intervention was involved because the actual weather deviated greatly from the consensus of many of our best forecast models.  This is very unusual at such a short range.   A relief to forecasters, such as myself, who had worried that they had missed something. Cliff Mass writes. (Weather Blog) See also: Sunday’s soaking sets rainfall records, stops train service  Lynn Thompson reports. (Seattle Times)

Rainfall pushes 7 million gallons of diluted sewage into Port Angeles Harbor; health officials urge that people stay out of water
Stay out of Port Angeles Harbor for the next week, Clallam County public health officials advised today after heavy rainfall on Sunday pushed 7 million gallons of diluted sewage into the water. The advisory will remain in effect until next Monday, March 23. The environmental health section of county Health and Human Services said that contact with fecal-contaminated water can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. The overflow contained heavily diluted raw sewage but was mostly rainwater, city Engineer Mike Puntenney said Monday. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Seattle helping pay for rain gardens
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and King County on Monday invited 14,000 more Seattle residents to get thousands in rebates for installing rain gardens in their yards. SPU said there are now a total of 55,000 homes eligible for the Rain Wise rebates. Contractors direct roof drains to the gardens, which are holes filled with drainage friendly plants and soils. Many residents use them as colorful features to their yards. SPU said currently there are 600 homes participating; combined they reduce annual runoff by 9 million gallons. Gary Chittim reports. (KING)

Eulachon fish run draws crowds along B.C.'s Skeena River
The eulachon fish —  not totally understood by science or capitalism — is suddenly a star, as spectators gather in droves to watch the oily, shiny fish make their run down B.C.'s Skeena River…. The run is drawing spectators, not fishermen, because of the show that comes with it — when sea lions, eagles and other wildlife chase after the fish. The eulachon — also known as the oolichan, hooligan, ooligan, candlefish or Pacific Smelt — has no market value and isn't eaten widely in Canada by non-aboriginal people. Due to the fact that Fisheries and Oceans Canada doesn't consider it economically viable, it's often ignored by scientific research. (CBC)

Blue North Fisheries CEO works towards a ‘humane harvest’
echnology to stun cod as they are brought out of the water could improve the fish’s last moments as well as its taste and shelf life, says CEO Kenny Down. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Samish River cleanup effort gets a 90-day jolt
In an effort to expedite a shellfish harvest upgrade for Samish Bay, Clean Samish Initiative partners have launched a new 90-day plan with ambitious goals for the watershed…. Due to high river flows Sunday, Samish Bay was closed to shellfish harvest. The Office of Shellfish and Water Protection expects water sampling results Tuesday afternoon, according to Scott Berbells, state Department of Health growing section supervisor. If bacteria levels are high, the bay will remain closed. Clean Samish Initiative partners hope to achieve an upgrade for Samish Bay from the state’s characterization as conditionally approved to approved. Under conditionally approved regulations, harvest is closed whenever river flow exceeds a certain threshold, whether bacteria is confirmed present or not. Under approved status, the bay is only closed if bacteria is actually found in water samples. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Study Finds Some Fish Can Live In Low-Oxygen Dead Zones
Concerned that low-oxygen dead zones in the Pacific off the West Coast are getting more common as the climate changes, scientists are looking at how commercially valuable fish are reacting. A study published in the journal Fisheries Oceanography found overall numbers and diversity of fish declined as oxygen levels dropped in deep waters, but some fish remained, able to ride it out. (Associated Press)

CSIS helped government prepare for expected Northern Gateway protests
Canada's spy agency helped senior federal officials figure out how to deal with protests expected last summer in response to resource and energy development issues — including a pivotal decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service prepared advice and briefing material for two June meetings of the deputy ministers' committee on resources and energy, documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show. Jim Bronskill reports. (Canadian Press)

La Conner files fumes complaint about Shell emission
La Conner Mayor Ramon Hayes has filed a complaint with the Northwest Clean Air Agency against Shell Puget Sound Refinery for its Feb. 20 discharge of fumes. Several La Conner residents had headaches, coughs and watery eyes due to the fumes, and Hayes wants to get to the bottom of the cause of the odor, he said. The city wants a detailed investigation into what happened and why, as well as a breakdown of exactly what was released, said Town Administrator John Doyle. Shannen Kuest reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

New U.S., Canada border deal geared to improving traffic flow
A new preclearance agreement between the U.S. and Canada could make it easier for private companies to move people across the border. The agreement, signed Monday, March 16, by U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Canadian Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, would allow for some inspections to take place prior to arriving at the border, potentially reducing congestion and delays. Both countries must enact legislation for the agreement to be implemented. This should be good news for ferry, bus and small airplane companies that take people into either country, said Laurie Trautman, associate director at the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University. Dave Gallagher reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT TUE MAR 17 2015
TODAY
SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT...BECOMING E IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 3 FT AT 12 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
SW WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 4 FT AT 14 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
--
"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.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

3/16 Grays, oil spill, trains, coal dump, BC LNG, octopus, orca feeding, Howe Sound, Oso slide

Tofino gray (Remote Passages Marine Excursions/CBC)
If you like to watch: National Geographic highlights Tofino as whale watching destination
National Geographic has named Tofino whale-watching as one of its best spring-trips for 2015. The publication's "Best Spring Trips 2015" on-line article, says up to 20,000 gray whales pass by the waters off Tofino each year, and advises whale watchers to come prepared for the weather. (CBC) See also: 50 feet of gray, now showing in Puget Sound  Gray whales, which grow to 50 feet long and 40 tons, can live to be 70. Little Patch is one of about a dozen grays that break off from the 20,000-whale migration every year to eat ghost shrimp in shallow Saratoga Passage, earning the nickname “Saratoga grays.” Steve Ringman reports. (Seattle Times) And also: Whale-hunt scolds are off target  Patronizing the Makah Indians or portraying them as somehow not real Indians isn’t going to stop them from hunting gray whales. A more respectful approach would be to make them a better offer. Danny Westneat writes. (Seattle Times)

Feds: Defective valves led to crude oil leaks on train cars in Washington state
Roughly 6,000 tank cars could have defective valves that leaked crude oil and other hazardous materials in several incidents across the country in recent months, including at least one in Washington state, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. In a directive Friday, March 13, the FRA gave all tank car owners notice they have 60 days to replace the defective 3-inch ball valves, which were not approved for use in tank cars. The train cars can be used in the interim, according to the FRA. Samantha Wohlfeil and Curtis Tate report. (Bellingham Herald/McClatchy)

Coal train delays traffic during rush hour in Mount Vernon
A loaded coal train passing through Mount Vernon on its way from Wyoming to British Columbia was stopped on the tracks, blocking Hoag Road for more than an hour Friday afternoon. The train was stopped for a mechanical inspection, blocking street traffic and delaying two trains, said Gus Melonas, Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman. (Skagit Valley Herald) And: BNSF halts railway traffic between Seattle, Everett due to weather  BNSF Railway said Sunday it had interrupted freight and passenger traffic between Seattle and Everett due to mudslides resulting from heavy rainfall. Angel Gonzalez reports. (Seattle Times)

Students Push University of Washington Regents to Dump Coal
Student activists at the University of Washington urged the Board of Regents on Thursday to dump the university's investments in coal. Coal is the leading source of the greenhouse gas emissions that are disrupting the planet's climate. Graduate student Alex Lenferna with Divest UW also blamed the coal industry for government inaction on the climate. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

Three LNG projects lead the pack in B.C.
Three LNG projects have emerged as leaders in reaching so-called project development agreements under negotiation by the B.C. government. On the list is the large Petronas-led Pacific NorthWest LNG and two smaller projects, Woodfibre LNG and AltaGas-led Douglas Channel LNG, says the province. Two large projects not on the negotiation list — for the moment at least — are Kitimat LNG led by Chevron and Canada LNG led by Shell. The agreements, unprecedented in B.C. and more common in countries with unstable political climates, are meant to provide long-term certainty around items such as tax rates, gas royalties and possibly greenhouse gas emissions. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

If you like to watch: Five sort-of signs of the octopus uprising
This month, we couldn't help but notice there have been an awful lot of octopus stories in the news lately. It could just be a coincidence, or we could just be remembering them more than stories about other things (octopuses are pretty fascinating, after all).  Or perhaps the hyper-intelligent, many-armed ocean dwellers are planning something. Daniel Martins reports. (Weather Network)

Skagit River GI study needs more money, time
The Skagit River General Investigation Study will hit another delay before its next expected “milestone,” much to the frustration of Skagit County officials. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and county staff said in October they expected the study to wrap up the feasibility phase in June, allowing it to move on to the third phase in a five-step process. The GI study launched more than two decades ago, in 1993, but has been stuck in phase two since 1997. Now the corps says it will need additional time — and money — before the study can move to phase three, which involves engineering and design. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

If you like to watch: Killer whales' feeding frenzy caught on camera
A Vancouver Island man got a treat when a group of orcas came really close to shore and had a feeding frenzy on Friday.  Chad Giesbrecht said he was walking along the Dodd Narrows around 4:20 p.m. PT when he spotted the killer whales. (CBC)

Woodfibre LNG worries Squamish First Nation amid Howe Sound revitalization
After years of heavy industry in Squamish, marine life is starting to return to Howe Sound, but the Squamish First Nation says it's concerned that trend could be reversed if the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant is approved. The project would export just over two million tonnes of LNG from an export facility built at the site of the old Woodfibre pulp mill in a boat-access only area of Howe Sound about seven kilometres from Squamish, B.C. (CBC)

Was Oso mudslide nature's mystery or man's mistake?
Nearly a year after the worst disaster in modern Snohomish County history, a legal battle continues to take shape over whether somebody should be held responsible. Was the March 22, 2014, mudslide near Oso a tragic display of natural forces reshaping the land, or a calamity caused by human hands?
Did local governments have a duty to discourage people from making their homes along the banks of the North Fork Stillaguamish River beneath a slide-prone hill, a place where 43 people later lost their lives?
So far, four lawsuits have been brought in King County Superior Court by those who lost family and homes. Three of the cases, representing the bulk of the plaintiffs, have been consolidated for a single trial, now scheduled for October. Scott North report. (Everett Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT MON MAR 16 2015
TODAY
SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. NW SWELL 5 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
TONIGHT
SE WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. SW SWELL 3 FT AT 9 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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