Monday, August 29, 2016

8/29 Pelicans, Elwha beach, Camano beach, fuel cleanup, train protest, Fraser sturgeon, tribal rights, BC trees, Navy pier, mussels

White pelicans on Padilla Bay (Katie Campbell/EarthFix)
Puget Sound Has New Climate Refugees. They’re Pelicans.
American white pelicans are conspicuous birds. With their long orange bills and their nine-foot wingspan, they stand out, even at a distance. Sue Ehler easily spots a squadron of them through her binoculars from over a mile away, coming in for a landing on Puget Sound’s Padilla Bay. “They’ve got that pure white. It just shines like a bright light out there. More than the other white birds,” Ehler says.  Katie Campbell reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Eroded Elwha River beach transformed after armoring removed
It didn’t take long for a half-mile section of eroded beach to be transformed after derelict armor was removed east of the Elwha River mouth. In one tidal cycle, parts of the sediment-starved, coarse-cobble shoreline were covered by 6 feet to 10 feet of sand as the Beach Lake Acquisition and Restoration project was put into motion last weekend. “It was an incredible beach transformation, literally overnight,” said Jamie Michel, nearshore biologist with the Coastal Watershed Institute and project manager. Nearly 3,000 cubic yards of riprap and concrete slab were removed from the shore as part of a $2 million, multi-agency effort to restore the beach and coastal wetlands for fish and wildlife habitat. Rob Ollikainen reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Nature lovers scramble to save wild beach on Camano Island
A group of nature lovers north of Seattle is scrambling to pull off a rare feat in the densely populated Puget Sound region: creation of an expansive, new waterfront park. If the Whidbey Camano Land Trust succeeds in its mission, nearly 130 acres of privately held forest, bluffs and beach will be open to the public for the first time since settlers acquired the property in the early 1900s…. The future park would include more than 2.5 miles of forested trails and a mile-long stretch of wild beach. Mount Baker dominates the horizon to the north, while the view to the east takes in the broad expanse of Port Susan Bay, where the Stillaguamish River spills into the Sound. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times)

Cleanup set to start on fuel terminal property near Edmonds
Cleanup work is expected to begin this fall on property formerly used as a fuel terminal near the waterfront. The bulk fuel terminal was operated from 1923 to 1991 by Unocal, now a subsidiary of Chevron Corp. The property is adjacent to a fish hatchery, Willow Creek and the Edmonds Marsh. Two areas on a 22-acre site are contaminated by petroleum products. The first part of the cleanup, expected to begin later in the fall or winter, involves removal and treatment of petroleum-contaminated water, according to Larry Altose, a spokesman for the state Department of Ecology. Sharon Salyer reports. (Everett Herald)

Protesters on railway trestle in Chuckanut Bay stop trains for nearly 11 hours
Trains were delayed for nearly 11 hours between Saturday afternoon, Aug. 27, and early Sunday morning when three protesters blocked the tracks on a trestle in Chuckanut Bay. The delays began around 4:30 p.m. when a man used three 20-foot-long poles to erect a tripod on the trestle in the path of a northbound BNSF Railway freight train, said Gus Melonas, a BNSF spokesman based in Seattle. Kyle Mittan reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Fraser River sturgeon fishery: Study says fish get stressed
A new international study is raising serious questions about a lucrative catch-and-release sport fishery for threatened white sturgeon in the lower Fraser River. The Canadian-led study, published in the online journal Conservation Physiology, simulated fishing conditions using 24 wild-but-captive sturgeon in winter and 24 in summer at a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service facility in Longview, Wash. The results found that sturgeon suffered wide-ranging physiological stress and some even died during the experiment. Researchers noted that actual fishing conditions could be worse due to warmer summers in the lower Fraser River and the potential for some large sturgeon to be played for more than two hours before being reeled in. The study called for further research and raised the spectre of fishing restrictions in summer, at a minimum, when sturgeon are most vulnerable to catch-and-release fishing. It also suggested that there is little science to support catch-and-release sport fishing for the species. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

How a historic court decision is driving a new wave of First Nations protests
Fish farms along British Columbia's West Coast have been at the centre of political and environmental battles for years, but this time it's a two-year-old legal decision that's behind the string of recent protests by First Nations against the industry. In 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the Tsilhqot'in First Nation — and in turn all other First Nations in Canada — can have aboriginal title to lands outside of native reserves. At the time, experts predicted that unless First Nations got a greater say in how their traditional territories were being used, B.C. would soon be awash in new protests and new legal cases.  Now, two years later, those predictions appear to be coming true. Richard Zussman reports. (CBC)

Millions of trees on the way for ravaged B.C. forests, according to new climate plan
The B.C. Climate Leadership Plan was met with lukewarm reviews last week, but the province's reforestation industry sees the potential for a major surge in tree planting operations. To meet carbon reduction goals, the province has called for 300,000 hectares of forests damaged by wildfire and pine beetle be rehabilitated over the next five years in order to turn the forests back into a carbon sink. It's titled the Forest Carbon Initiative. While the overall Climate Leadership Plan was panned by environmentalists who don't believe it will lead to any meaningful reduction in GHGs, for many members of the province's forestry sector, the commitment stands out. Jon Hernandez reports. (CBC)

Study One Of First To Document Ecological Consequences Of Amphetamine Pollution In Urban Streams
Pharmaceutical and illicit drugs are present in streams in Baltimore, Maryland. At some sites, amphetamine concentrations are high enough to alter the base of the aquatic food web. So reports a new study released today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, which is one of the first to explore the ecological consequences of stimulant pollution in urban streams. (Columbia Basin Bulletin)

Navy making strides with Port Angeles Harbor pier plans
A pier and support facilities for Naval Base Kitsap submarine escort vessels will jut into Port Angeles Harbor from Ediz Hook at U.S. Coast Guard Group/Air Station Port Angeles within the next 18 months. A contract for the 22,303-square-foot trestle and floating pier is expected to be awarded Tuesday, naval base spokesman Jake Chappelle said Thursday in an email. Congress has approved $20.6 million for 2016 for the project as part of the naval base’s Transportation Protection System (TPS) for ballistic-missile submarines plying the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the base on Hood Canal. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Mussels disappearing from New England waters, scientists say
New England is running out of mussels. The Gulf of Maine’s once strong population of wild blue mussels is disappearing, scientists say. A study led by marine ecologists at the University of California at Irvine found the numbers along the gulf coastline have declined by more than 60 percent over the last 40 years. Once covering as much as two-thirds of the gulf’s intertidal zone, mussels now cover less than 15 percent. “It would be like losing a forest,” said biologist Cascade Sorte, who with her colleagues at the university conducted the study and recently published their findings in the Global Change Biology journal. Patrick Whittle reports. (Associated Press)

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