Monday, September 5, 2016

9/5 Green crab, Salish Sea, Tacoma LNG, NEB, Nisqually, Joemma Beach, waterfowl, bird kills, goose buster, Oly oyster, coastal flooding

San Juan Island green crab (KING)
Invasive crab in Puget Sound concerns scientists
Volunteers just found an invasive crab in Puget Sound. Now, scientists want to know how many there might be…. The crab is invasive, likely a hitch-hiker on ships and El Nino currents. They're skilled at killing shellfish and have voracious appetites. They populate rapidly and tear up fragile eel grass beds…. The crabs were discovered on the coast in the late 1990s. This is the first time anyone's documented one in Puget Sound.  Scientists are increasing monitoring patrols to see just how many there are. After that, they'll decide on a plan to get rid of them. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Four-month campaign to name Salish Sea a World Heritage Site begins
A campaign has kicked off on Canada’s west coast to have the Salish Sea declared a World Heritage Site. "The Salish Sea is a unique inner sea with a long history of providing food and sustenance, habitat and biodiversity for marine species, and a wealth of resources to all those living alongside its shores," stated Laurie Gourlay, the interim director of the Salish Sea Trust that's in charge of the new campaign. The Salish Sea, which has been registered as a non-profit society, extends across the U.S.-Canada border and has been the subject of many studies, conferences and proposals…. The Salish Sea Trust has begun its four-month campaign to submit the application to be reviewed by Parks Canada. It will then be forwarded to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Site program in January. (CTV)

Port extends withdrawal option for LNG plant lease
The Port of Tacoma has extended the period in which Puget Sound Energy can withdraw from its lease for a proposed 30-acre liquid natural gas plant. According to a news release distributed Friday afternoon, Port CEO John Wolfe authorized the extension of the feasibility period of the lease. The change takes the feasibility period from an Aug. 31 expiration to an Oct. 31 expiration. The release says the change is to “provide additional time for Puget Sound Energy to secure permits before construction begins.” Derrick Nunnally reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Tweaks planned for the NEB, but it may need an overhaul
The federal government wants to tweak Canada's national energy regulator, but a former pipeline review panel member believes the NEB needs more than cosmetic changes. Hans Matthews, one of three NEB panel members to evaluate Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, is convinced the regulator needs a complete overhaul to be effective. The NEB will decide later this week at the earliest how and when it will continue with hearings into TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline after protests in Montreal delayed the proceedings. Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr wants the timing of continued hearings resolved immediately. Kyle Bakx reports. (CBC)

Five years on, Nisqually River dike removals showing results
Five years after the last dike near the mouth of the Nisqually River was removed, the freed delta is well into its rebirth. The final stretch of river from Interstate 5 to Puget Sound, which for the century the dikes stood was 1 1/2 miles of fairly straight channel, is now a free-flowing, 21-mile network of winding waterways of various winding widths, which has vastly increased the habitat for juvenile chinook salmon…. Already, observers have counted about 20 bald eagles with regular outposts along the marsh. This, scientists and observers say, is a portrait of restoration in action. The removal of eight-plus miles of dikes opened up 762 acres of coastal estuary. Derrick Nunnally reports. (Olympian)

Joemma Beach Eelgrass Restoration Underway
“What are you guys doing?” asked curious onlookers on the dock at Joemma Beach State Park in late July. Local volunteers assisted an enthusiastic team of scientists and students working to restore eelgrass beds in the sub-tidal zone off Joemma Beach…. The multi agency restoration project is part of the Nearshore Habitat Program, which monitors and evaluates the status and trends of marine vegetation for the Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Resource Division, the agency that acts as steward for state-owned aquatic lands in conjunction with the Puget Sound Partnership. Eelgrass meadows provide essential habitat in shallow waters for a wide variety of species including salmon, Dungeness crab and herring that use it for food, shelter and spawning grounds. Eelgrass reduces ocean acidification and removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making it critical to combating the effects of climate change in Puget Sound. Lisa Bryan reports. (Key Peninsula News)

State waterfowl population appears down, but more are flying in
Autumn and winter are looming, and waterfowl hunters will like what’s in store for the upcoming liberal 107-day season…. The statewide general waterfowl hunting season is Oct. 15-19 and Oct. 22 through Jan. 29. There is a special youth-only hunt Sept. 17-18. Duck-population estimates within the state were down 121,500 (59,900 for mallards) compared to 193,100 (86,400) last year. That is a 37 percent decrease from the 2015 estimate and 28 percent below the long-term average. State waterfowl managers attribute the decline for in-state ducks to one of strongest El Nino patterns in the last two decades, which brought warm temperatures and dry winter weather from 2015 to 2016. Mark Yuasa reports. (Seattle Times)

Protesters Rally In Olympia To Stop Wolf Pack Killing
Dozens gathered outside of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Olympia Thursday evening to protest the killing of a pack of wolves in northeastern Washington. The group rallied in opposition of the agency's decision to eradicate the Profanity Peak pack in order to protect cattle…. Fish and Wildlife officials have confirmed wolves from the Profanity Peak pack have killed or injured six cattle, and probably five others, since mid-July. And so far, about half of the members of the wolf pack have been killed. Tom Banse and Associated Press report. (KNKX)

U.S. judge: Gov’t can keep killing salmon-eating birds
A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Army Corps Engineers can continue killing double-crested cormorants that prey on Columbia River salmon and steelhead in a move that shows just how complex the debate has become over how to best sustain imperiled fish species emblematic of the Pacific Northwest. Following the ruling made public Thursday, the Audubon Society of Portland on Friday called the decision “deeply disappointing.” Along with other groups, it contends that hydroelectric dams pose the greatest threat to the fish and says it is unnecessary to reduce the number of fish predators by shooting thousands of cormorants and spreading oil on thousands of nests to prevent cormorant eggs from hatching. (Associated Press)

Drone acts as goose buster in Nelson
The city of Nelson has been using a drone as part of its battle against the pesky Canada goose. The geese graze on the grass in Lakeside Park, but they've become a nuisance to children who use the playing fields. The beach adjoining the park was also recently shut down due to high E. coli levels — possibly caused by goose feces…. The drone isn't used alone. Workers also use bangers and screamers — a small gun that can make a variety of different noises. They also use a turf sweeper that can sweep up goose droppings and chase geese away. (CBC)

Bringing back the Olympia oyster
Walking into the mudflats of Fidalgo Bay at low tide, boots sticking with each step, Paul Dinnel points out a dark purple object about the size of a potato chip. It's a growing Olympia oyster, a once-abundant native shellfish species that Dinnel, a retired marine scientist, is helping bring back to these waters. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun
Huge vertical rulers are sprouting beside low spots in the streets here, so people can judge if the tidal floods that increasingly inundate their roads are too deep to drive through. Five hundred miles down the Atlantic Coast, the only road to Tybee Island, Ga., is disappearing beneath the sea several times a year, cutting the town off from the mainland. And another 500 miles on, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., increased tidal flooding is forcing the city to spend millions fixing battered roads and drains — and, at times, to send out giant vacuum trucks to suck saltwater off the streets. For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline. Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun.  Justin Gillis reports. (NY Times)

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