Wednesday, March 30, 2016

3/30 BC Ferries, orca health, quakes, WA budget, sea rise, old growth, Saul Weisberg, March Pt. closure, B'Bay cleanup

BC Ferries' newest vessels will be covered with First Nations art
The exteriors of all three of B.C. Ferries’ new Salish-class vessels will feature Coast Salish art livery designed by local artists. Earlier today (Tuesday), the ferry corporation unveiled the designs for the first vessel to be ready for service, the Salish Orca. Esquimalt Nation member Darlene Gait’s design of orca whales and wolves of legends was selected from a group of nine finalists. Some areas of the interior of the ferry vessel will also be decorated with the art designs. Kenneth Chan reports. (VanCity Buzz)

Scientists build health database for Puget Sound killer whales
The orcas that frequent Puget Sound are about to have in-depth personal health records, thanks to several research groups coming together to share data. There's no shortage of data on the southern resident population of killer whales. According to the experts, these 84 whales are some of the most studied marine mammals in the world. But up until now, that data has been spread out between all the different research groups that study the whales.  Experts from the SeaDoc Society, the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, NOAA Fisheries and the National Marine Mammal Foundation gathered in Seattle on Monday and Tuesday to formulate a plan for putting all that data in one place to make tracking the health of each whale and the population as a whole that much easier. Daniel Demay reports. (

Study confirms link between fracking, earthquakes in Western Canada
New research has confirmed the link between fracking in the oil and gas fields of Western Canada and flurries of earthquakes that have been shaking the region. The research looked at 12,289 fracking wells and 1,236 waste-water wells in an area along the B.C.-Alberta border. It linked 39 fracking wells and 17 wastewater disposal wells directly to several earthquakes of magnitude 3 or larger. Although only a small percentage of wells caused earthquakes, those earthquakes accounted for more than 90 per cent of the magnitude-3 seismic activity in the region over the past few years. Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail) See also: U.S. Geology Maps Reveal Areas Vulnerable To Man-Made Quakes  (NPR)

Washington Lawmakers Announce Budget Deal, Vote To Override Inslee's Vetoes 
After weeks of gridlock, the Washington House and Senate have reached an agreement on an update to the state’s two-year budget. The deal announced late Monday ends weeks of gridlock that resulted in a 30-day special session. A joint announcement from the House and Senate says the budget update will increase funding for mental health and homelessness and start to address the state’s teacher shortage -- top priorities of House Democrats. The budget will also still balance over four years, something Senate Republicans insisted upon. Austin Jenkins reports. (NW Public Radio)

A Million-Dollar Question: As Sea Levels Rise, How Can Coastal Communities Adapt?
It’s one of the more dramatic sounding aspects of climate change: as carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases speed up global warming, sea levels are expected to rise too. And the effects will have widespread impacts locally. Tacoma and Island County are among coastal communities in Western Washington that are already considered vulnerable.  Both those jurisdictions are partners in a federally-funded coastal resilience project, backed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists working under the umbrella of NOAA’s Washington Sea Grant program have begun collecting data and developing best practices for planners, to help communities adapt and plan for significant risks. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KPLU)

Vancouver Island’s old-growth forest an ‘ecological emergency’: Sierra Club
Looking down from an elevation of 400 kilometres or so, Vancouver Island appears to be covered by a mostly intact jade-green forest from one end to the other. Using a Google Earth mapping tool that incorporates logging data, however, the Sierra Club of B.C. has created a different image – one showing just a few remaining pockets of rich old-growth forest. “This can be described as an ecological emergency,” said Jens Wieting, forest campaigner for the Sierra Club of B.C. “The last big, contiguous old-growth areas with giant trees, such as the Walbran on the southern island and East Creek on the northern island, should be considered as rare as white rhinos.” Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

North Cascades Institute: 30 years of teaching about the wild
In the mid 1980s, Saul Weisberg, now the executive director of the North Cascades Institute, was a climbing ranger in North Cascades National Park and finishing up a graduate degree in biology. It was the time of timber wars and fights over spotted owls. There was a lot of tension around public lands. Weisberg and his friends wanted a way to find a way to counteract that tension. They wanted to bring people out to really experience the park and learn about it. Jessi Loerch reports. (Everett Herald)

State closing March Point beaches to shellfish harvest
March Point beaches will be closed to recreational shellfish harvest this year due to potential health concerns, according to state officials. Starting Monday, March Point will be off limits for clam and oyster harvest. This is the first official state Department of Fish & Wildlife closure for the site, shellfish biologist Philippa Kohn said. In the past, recreational harvest has been allowed year-round…. Department of Health shellfish growing areas manager Scott Berbells said water quality at the site is not regularly monitored and the state has concerns about potential fecal bacteria contamination from wastewater discharges and from nearby agricultural land. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Crew cleans up aquatic preserve
A team of Conservation Corps members and officials from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources are continuing their efforts this week to remove creosote-soaked pilings and trash from the Maury Island Aquatic Preserve. The local work is part of a statewide effort by the department’s Aquatic Restoration Program to remove toxic debris and restore oceanfront environments. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Restoration Specialist Kristian Tollefson said his crews began work on Maury Island in January at Point Robinson. Anneli Fogt reports. (Vashon Beachcomber)

State taking input on central Bellingham waterfront cleanup
The public can comment on an interim cleanup plan for Bellingham’s central waterfront through April 12. The plan involves 55 acres between the Whatcom and I and J waterways, and Roeder Avenue and the wastewater treatment lagoon. Some of the work in the plan is needed for the new 60,000-square-foot marine manufacturing building and launch route that the Port of Bellingham will construct for All American Marine. The new AAM building and its foundation will cover a portion of the old Roeder Avenue landfill, which was used for city garbage and waste from the former Georgia-Pacific Corp. pulp and tissue mill from 1965 to 1974. Samantha Wohlfeil reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Clovis point discovery could change understanding of B.C. First Nations' history
An archaeologist working near Fort St. John says a newly discovered spear point could change our understanding of First Nations history. Steve Kasstan and his team discovered a Clovis point, a rare, distinctive spearhead with fluted edges and points. Clovis points were developed by the Clovis culture of modern-day New Mexico, but were eventually copied by other cultures…. The site itself is over 13,000 years old and is the farthest-north site of its type discovered so far. Kasstan says the discovery could change the story of how indigenous peoples settled North America. It was originally believed that indigenous peoples crossed the Bering Land Bridge from Asia during the Ice Age and travelled south through the Ice-Free Corridor. Kasstan says this point's age tells a different story: that humans crossed the Bering Land Bridge and arrived in Chile 16,000 years ago and then moved north later to sites like this one. Liam Britten reports. (CBC News)

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