Thursday, February 25, 2016

2/25 Bluffs, Vic sewer, Skagit coho, coal mine, Risso's dolphin, orca tag, carbon tax, Skagit water, Malheur

Dungeness Bluff (Anne Shaffer/CWI)
Olympic Peninsula's Dungeness Bluff Retreats
Coastal Watershed Institute's Anne Shaffer writes: "Record rainfall has resulted in dramatic high bluff erosion this winter. Here on the Olympic Peninsula some high bluff tops along the Dungeness Bluffs, up drift of Dungeness Spit, have retreated well over 35 feet in the last few months. These events are not being driven by marine energy at the base of the bluff, but instead water conveyance (including storm water, non-point, and septic issues associated with development) along bluff tops. The importance of ecosystem services provided by high bluff erosion, including metering wave energy, maintaining beaches, feeding forage fish spawning beaches, and salmon migration, feeding, and refuge (think Dungeness Bay) can't be overstated. Common sense is clear: these high bluffs are not the place to develop. For homes built along high bluffs in the past, land owners can protect and promote long lived native vegetation, manage water on the site, and, sooner than later, retreat from the eroding bluff."

McLoughlin, Clover, Macaulay points back on table for sewage
After three hours of debate Wednesday, Capital Regional District directors asked staff to examine the feasibility of the three sites. Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen was behind a push to revisit McLoughlin — the CRD’s former preferred site for a treatment plant that was rejected after Esquimalt council refused to approve minor zoning amendments to allow the plant to be built. Jensen argued potential cost savings of building at McLoughlin in conjunction with a second facility, likely in Colwood, were too big to be ignored. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

Skimpy Skagit salmon run blamed on ‘blob’ in the ocean
 The Skagit River coho run of 2015 ranked as the worst on record, and the few salmon that did make it back to freshwater spawning grounds were scrawny and undersized. While an average adult coho spawning in the Skagit weighs some 6 to 8 pounds, the vast majority of fish that returned last fall weighed only 3 to 4 pounds. “I personally have never seen them any smaller, and I have been doing this for 26 years,” said Brett Barkdull, a district biologist based in Skagit County. The dismal run was less than 12 percent of the Skagit’s average of the past decade, and was part of a broader implosion of coho salmon returns to Puget Sound and rivers in Washington and Oregon. Scientists say that “the blob” — a vast expanse of abnormally warm coastal waters — was the most likely suspect in the poor show of fish because it reduced the food supplies for coho that primarily forage in the coastal waters. Hal Bernton reports. The blob is expect to undermine some of this year’s runs, as well. (Seattle Times)

Owner of Central Montana coal mine says it’s worth nothing
A central Montana coal mine that’s seen layoffs, production cuts and permitting troubles faces more uncertainty after one of its co-owners reported taking a $362 million writedown on its investment in the mine. Executives with Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy said the company had reduced to zero the value of its stake in Signal Peak Energy’s Bull Mountain Mine, according to a transcript of a company conference call with analysts. FirstEnergy cited depressed coal markets, which have curbed domestic and international demand for the fuel. The company has a one-third share in the 240-worker underground mine south of Roundup. Matthew Brown reports. (Associated Press)

Rare dolphin washes up in Haida Gwaii
The carcass of a rare species of dolphin washed up on the shore of Haida Gwaii in B.C. this weekend.  Two local residents discovered a female Risso's dolphin washed up on a beach Feb. 20. The species is found worldwide in warmer climates but is rarely sighted in Canadian waters. A pair of researchers from the Vancouver Aquarium and the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network were on the island and helped drag the 3.3-metres long animal away from shore.  (CBC)

Researchers locate orcas off the coast; new satellite tag attached
As luck would have it, the satellite transmitter used to track K-33, a male orca named “Tika,” fell off or stopped transmitting last Thursday — just three days before a research team set out from Newport, Ore., to find the whale and any others traveling with him. That satellite tag had been transmitting regularly since New Year’s Eve, when it was first attached. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Carbon-tax initiative’s backers say it’s flawed, needs legislative fix
Supporters of an initiative to create a carbon tax in Washington are facing backlash over estimates the measure — advertised as “revenue neutral” — would actually cut state tax collections by $900 million over four years. While Initiative 732 supporters strongly dispute that figure, some suggest the Legislature could cure any perceived flaws by sending a tweaked alternative version to the ballot this fall. “I am very eager for them to pass a ‘732 B,’ ” said Joe Ryan, co-chair of Carbon Washington. He recently testified to a legislative committee on possible fixes, including correcting an “error in drafting” I-732 that inadvertently would grant a new tax break on the sale of commercial aircraft by Boeing and others. Jim Brunner reports. (Seattle Times)

Water rights case heads back to court
Richard and Marnie Fox will have their water rights dispute with Skagit County heard Friday by the state Court of Appeals. The Sedro-Woolley husband and wife have been trying for years to get a building permit for a piece of property they own in Concrete, but the county has balked because of what the state Department of Ecology calls its instream flow rule. The 2001 rule states that when the Skagit River’s water level drops, the state can deny access to water in an effort to protect fish. Brandon Stone reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Morse Creek rearing ponds move west to Elwha watershed
Rearing ponds at the Morse Creek fish hatchery have been moved to the watershed they were built to protect. Four 100-foot-long, 10-foot-wide fiberglass raceways have been moved from the creek east of Port Angeles to the fish rearing channel on the Elwha River, state Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said Wednesday. The raceways were installed on the west side of Morse Creek near U.S. Highway 101 bridge in 2010 to protect the threatened Elwha chinook from being wiped out by heavy sediment during the removal of the two Elwha River dams. Rob Ollikainen reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Proposed Spending Plan Includes Up To $2 Million For Malheur Occupation
The costs associated with the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are still being tallied up. They include police overtime, lodging, meals and fuel. Initial estimates show the total will easily top $1 million. The legislative budget proposal includes up to $2 million that will be doled out to both state and local agencies as bills come due. Peter Buckley, the top budget writer in the Oregon House, said the long-term goal continues to be to have the federal government reimburse the state. Chris Lehman reports. (KPLU)

Vancouver Island’s hinterland attracts affordability refugees desperate to buy a family home
Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, is becoming a real estate option for families who cannot afford the mainland city's sky-high housing prices. Three times a week Neil Valsangkar escapes Canada’s most expensive real estate market by paying $100 for a 20-minute float plane ride to his Vancouver office from his home across the Salish Sea. The 50-kilometre aerial commute allows the father of three to live in Nanaimo, where homes cost about a quarter of those in Vancouver, one of the world’s frothiest markets with average homes selling for $1.3 million. He’s encouraging some of his employees to do the same. Jeremy van Loon reports. (Bloomberg) See also: Commuting from Nanaimo is possible... if you have about $40,000 a year to spare, or an extra five hours a day  Scott Brown reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  257 AM PST THU FEB 25 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM
 PST THIS MORNING  

TODAY
 E WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 10  FT AT 14 SECONDS...SUBSIDING TO 7 FT AT 14 SECONDS.

TONIGHT AND FRI
 E WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W  SWELL 5 TO 6 FT AT 12 SECONDS. RAIN ON FRI.
--
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1 comment:

  1. Forest Shomer comments: "Thanks for the Anne Shaffer quote. Can't tell you how many times I've been called to consult on stabilizing bluff top erosion, but when I counsel to not mow vegetation to the edge, to not cut out all native shrubs, the property owners of those view lots tune out my advice. They only want the unobstructed view from the living room window, and they don't understand the hydrology of borrowing water from somewhere to irrigate a manicured lawn which is undermining itself with more water than there is permeability. I hope otherwise, but anticipate lots more bluff recession as more of these lots get developed."

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