Thursday, February 4, 2016

2/4 Toxic water, BC coast road, Harriet Spanel, sand lance, salmon declines, ESA hatchery review, fuel spill, drinking water bills, UBC fossil fuel

Winter wren (Paul Bannick/BirdNote)
If you like to listen: The Savvy Wren
This plucky bird takes advantage of food, wherever and whenever it can! Because many birds are largely silent in winter, it may seem that they have left us. But many remain, and even the shy and secretive sometimes reveal themselves. A Winter Wren may dart from hiding to grab a meal. The Winter Wren of the East and the Pacific Wren of the West are tiny woodland birds. Their songs are as elaborate as their plumage is drab. This wren is one of the few birds to be heard singing in winter. (BirdNote)

Newest effort from state not protective enough, critics say
The state’s latest effort to create new standards governing water pollution has run into a buzz saw of criticism. The new rules don’t do enough to dial back pollution levels and give polluters too many avenues to delay implementation, critics said. Kelly Susewind, water-quality program manager for the state Department of Ecology, said the proposed rules, released Wednesday, strike the right balance between the state’s earlier proposed standards and a rule issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year after the state failed to meet deadlines to act…. The EPA’s version regulates more pollutants more tightly and does not provide the same tools for permit holders that could in some cases provide more time to implement the rules or variances from them. “You could draw some Orwellian references to say these implementation tools are for nonimplementation,” said Chris Wilke, executive director of Puget Soundkeeper, a nonprofit in Seattle dedicated to cleaning up Puget Sound. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Sunshine Coast-Lower Mainland highway link study launched by B.C. government
The "hot topic" of a highway link from the Vancouver area to B.C.'s Sunshine Coast will now get a $250,000 government study to see if its feasible, according to B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone. R.F. Binnie, a Vancouver-based civil engineering firm, has been contracted to study a range of possibilities to connect to the Sunshine Coast to the Lower Mainland…. The Sunshine Coast, including the communities of Gibsons, Sechelt and Powell River, is on the B.C. mainland, but cut off from the Vancouver area by deep inlets — and accessible by ferry or air, but not by road. (CBC)

Former Sen. Harriet Spanel of Bellingham dies
Harriet Spanel, who served Whatcom County for more than two decades as a state legislator, died Tuesday, Feb. 2. She was 77. “She was so responsive, so ethical, so vibrant, so interested in everything that concerned the district,” said Mary Kay Becker, a former Whatcom County Council member and state lawmaker and now a judge with the State Court of Appeals. “The phrase is, good citizen.” Service arrangements are pending. Dean Kahn reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Sand Lance found hiding in existing salmon data
Recently a team of scientists from the Northwest Straits Commission and the SeaDoc Society took a deep dive into decades of data collected by scientists looking for juvenile salmon in the nearshore. But they weren’t interested in salmon. Instead, Jamey Sellek, Caroline Gibson, Suzanne Shull and SeaDoc’s Joe Gaydos were interested in Pacific Sand Lance, which are often caught by accident during salmon sampling. They discovered a treasure trove of data about these important fish, which are vital to the ecosystem because they turn plankton into fat for other animals higher up the food web. Within the salmon data, they analyzed findings from over 15,000 beach seines that captured Sand Lance, spanning 1,630 sites along 320 miles of shoreline. The results of the study were published in the scientific journal Northwestern Naturalist. (SeaDoc Society)

The steady decline of salmon runs in Lake Washington | Part II
Elizabeth Mooney is a Kenmore biologist involved with the grassroots environmental group People for an Environmentally Responsible Kenmore. She is concerned with waterfront development the city of Kenmore is proposing, namely developing the Swamp Creek area, which also houses Squire’s Landing park. What worries her most is the plans to develop a gravel or sand beach at Log Boom Park, and how all these developments will affect already fledgling salmon populations in the Sammamish River and north Lake Washington. “My worry is that if we mess up the shallow area, and push (salmon) out into deeper water, the larger fish like bass will eat them,” she said. Aaron Kunkler reports. (Bothell/Kenmore Reporter)

Work under way on Endangered Species Act hatchery plans
The National Marine Fisheries Service says it has completed work on plans for 26 Columbia River hatcheries and is actively working on Endangered Species Act review of 32 more, including 16 on lower Columbia tributaries in Washington. The numbers from the federal fishery agency were provided in response to a 60-day notice of intent to sue announced Jan. 13 by the Wild Fish Conservancy, which claims the government is funding Columbia River hatcheries prior to meeting mandated review of plans under the Endangered Species Act…. Jones said 135 plans have been submitted to his agency for review and they currently are working on 31 in Puget Sound, 32 in the Columbia River, 42 on the Oregon coast and a handful in California. Another 143 plans are in the works by hatchery operators. Jones said he expects those plans will begin arriving at his office soon. Al Thomas reports. (Columbian)

Fictions in Collision
Whatcom County Council held a long and crowded, rancorous session on the update of the county’s Comprehensive Plan last week. The Comp Plan update is intended to shape a shared vision for the future in the context of expected growth and economic development. The reason for the ruckus was obvious—by hook and by crook, in a roundabout way, after spending nearly seven long pent-up years mincing around and avoiding the subject, County Council finally heard public testimony on the proposed coal pier at Cherry Point. The catalyst for the eruption was amended language proposed by the Lummi Indian Business Council for Chapter 2 of the Comp Plan on land use… (Cascadia Weekly)

Victoria's harbour authority upset with research vessel's response to fuel spill
The crew of a research ship that spilled diesel fuel into an area around a Victoria port should have immediately put up a spill boom around the entire vessel, says the CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority On Monday, Feb. 1 an estimated 10 to 20 litres of diesel mixed with gas leaked out of a generator on shore that was being used to power the EV Nautilus, a 64-metre vessel anchored at Ogden Point. "The response by the vessel was less than spectacular, and quite frankly, it is their responsibility to ensure that any type of spill boom is put out immediately," said GVHA CEO Ian Robertson. (CBC)

Bills take aim at drinking water protections
Three bills currently working their way through the Washington state legislature would limit the government’s ability to crack down on farms and other industries that pollute groundwater, the source of drinking water for over 60 percent of the state’s 7 million residents. The most extreme appears designed to deregulate groundwater completely. At least two of the bills are a reaction to new rules proposed by the state Department of Ecology which would create new regulations around the handling of manure. Ecology says manure from farms and dairy operations is the primary contributor to nitrate pollution in groundwater, a major issue in parts of the state. Drew Atkins reports. (Crosscut)

University of B.C. won't quit investing in fossil fuels
The campaign to get the University of British Columbia to stop investing in fossil fuel companies will push forward even after the board committee voted against divesting, organizers say. UBC's finance committee on Wednesday rejected a student and faculty-supported proposal to divest its $1.46-billion endowment fund of fossil fuel investments. About $85 million of that is invested in the energy sector. Tracy Sherlock reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  257 AM PST THU FEB 4 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
 

TODAY
 SW WIND 10 TO 20 KT EARLY...BECOMING SE 15 TO 25 KT.  WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT EARLY...BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 15 FT  AT 18 SECONDS. SHOWERS IN THE MORNING...THEN RAIN IN THE  AFTERNOON. 


TONIGHT
 E WIND 10 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 13 FT  AT 16 SECONDS...SUBSIDING TO 11 FT AT 15 SECONDS AFTER MIDNIGHT. A  CHANCE OF RAIN IN THE EVENING.

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