Tuesday, December 26, 2017

12/26 Lingcod, orcas, marine atlas, Forbidden Island, bitumen spill, fossil fuel divesture, Keystone, carbon tax, sustainable plane fuel, EPA brain drain, old-growth forests, mountain goats, lege records

Salish Sea Communications will take a break and return in January with news clips and commentary. Until then, chew on an end-of-year blog, America-- Made Great Yet? and do not go gently into the new year. Aloha, Mike Sato.

Lingcod [Chad King/NOAA MBNMS]
This blue-fleshed fish is a conservation success but its future is far from assured
If the West Coast’s colorful, bottom-dwelling rockfish have nightmares, the mouth of a lingcod — cavernous, tooth-studded, lethal — must take center stage. Lingcod lurk among rocky reefs from Baja, California, to the Gulf of Alaska, and they’re among the coast’s most fearsome predators, patient and indiscriminate ambush hunters that explode from their cover to nab whatever hapless prey swims past. Neither true ling nor true cod, lingcod belong to a family called the greenlings, though in truth Ophiodon elongatus is an evolutionary oddball, the only surviving member of its genus. As the Latin suggests, lingcod have long, eely bodies mottled in brown leopard spots that camouflage them on the seafloor, where they use their wing-like pectoral fins to prop themselves up while they wait. But it’s that grinning mouth—wide as the fish itself—that makes lingcod so fearsome. In one video, a lingcod clenches a live salmon, practically its own size, in its jaws, as though trying to figure out whether the unfortunate creature will fit in its belly. Ben Goldfarb writes. (Oceana)

Puget Sound orcas getting a break from boaters -- at no loss to whale-watch industry, study finds 
Restrictions on vessel traffic have helped keep more boaters farther from critically endangered southern-resident killer whales, while not harming the whale-watch industry, a new study has found. Federal restrictions enacted in 2011 require whale-watch boats and other vessels to stay at least 200 yards away from orca whales. That’s a long way — two football-field lengths — and doubled the buffer. Yet whale-watch tourism continues to grow, the technical memorandum from NOAA found. Lack of food — namely salmon in Puget Sound — as well as high levels of contaminants in their environment, and disturbance by vessel noise are the primary threats identified by the agency to the Puget Sound orcas’ survival. The new vessel restrictions were intended to help reduce stress on the whales, which spend less time foraging and more time traveling when disturbed by vessel noise, researchers have found. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Biologist with Pacific Wildlife Foundation compiles atlas of Salish Sea marine life
For about the past decade, biologist Rob Butler has gone where no one else goes — our own backyard. In his quest to create an atlas of the Salish Sea, he has conducted detailed monthly transects in a small boat in the Gulf Islands, Howe Sound, Burrard Inlet, Indian Arm, English Bay and off the Fraser River. What strikes Butler is how, within a metropolis of about 2.5 million people, he and his collaborator, Rod MacVicar, both of the Pacific Wildlife Foundation, would often be all alone with nature. During the transects, Butler and MacVicar take notes of seabirds and marine mammals, both unusual and uncommon species. The idea is to provide, perhaps by early 2019, user-friendly, online information on the annual movements of various species, incorporating mapping work done by Bird Studies Canada. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Forbidden island
To the northwest of Vancouver Island, long past the giant cedars and rainforests and on the precipice of the continental shelf, lies one of the most remote and vulnerable places in Canada. Hard to find on any map, it’s actually one of the most densely populated places on the B.C. coast — if you happen to be a seabird. Triangle Island, which is 45 kilometres from the northern tip of Vancouver Island and named for its roughly geometric shape, is home to about two million birds that fly in every spring and summer to breed. Chris Corday reports. (CBC)

Bitumen spill would harm swimming performance of migrating B.C. salmon: study
Salmon migrating through rivers and streams in British Columbia use all their strength, but new research says even tiny amounts of diluted bitumen weaken their chances of making it back to spawn. Exposure to diluted bitumen hinders the swimming performance of salmon, causes their heart muscle to stiffen and damages their kidneys, Sarah Alderman, a post-doctorate researcher at the University of Guelph, said in an interview. "We're seeing changes from molecules up to what the organ actually looks like. All of this is affecting how they can actually swim." Bitumen has the consistency of crumbling asphalt and doesn't flow freely like oil. It needs to be diluted with another petroleum product for it to flow through pipelines. Dirk Meissner reports. (Canadian Press)

The Movement to Divest from Fossil Fuels Gains Momentum
Tuesday should have been a day of unmitigated joy for America’s oil and gas executives. The new G.O.P. tax bill treats their companies with great tenderness, reducing even further their federal tax burden. And the bill gave them something else they’ve sought for decades: permission to go a-drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But, around four in the afternoon, something utterly unexpected began to happen. A news release went out from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, saying that New York was going to divest its vast pension-fund investments in fossil fuels. The state, Cuomo said, would be “ceasing all new investments in entities with significant fossil-fuel-related activities,” and he would set up a committee with Thomas DiNapoli, the state comptroller, to figure out how to “decarbonize” the existing portfolio. Cuomo’s office even provided a handy little Twitter meme of the type that activists often create: it showed three smoke-belching stacks and the legend “New York Is Divesting from Fossil Fuels.” The pension fund under Albany’s control totals two hundred billion dollars, making it one of the twenty largest pools of money on Earth. Bill McKibben reports. (The New Yorker)

Keystone Spill Likely Caused By Construction Damage, Investigators Say
Federal investigators say that construction damage was likely to blame for an oil spill earlier this month from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota. The Keystone Pipeline is a 2,687-mile crude oil pipeline that runs from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, where it then splits, with one portion running to Illinois and the other to Texas. It is owned by TransCanada, the same firm that is seeking to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The spill happened on rural farmland near the small community of Amherst, S.D., and was initially estimated to have released some 210,000 gallons of crude. Federal investigators say that they now have an “unconfirmed lower spill estimate,” without specifying how much. Merrit Kennedy reports. (NPR)

Tribes, environmental groups likely to unite behind carbon tax initiative for 2018
A rift between leaders of two influential tribes and an environmental group is on the mend, likely resulting in a muscular coalition behind a 2018 ballot measure to create a statewide tax on carbon emissions. Representatives from the Quinault Indian Nation and the Tulalip Tribes of Washington said Thursday their tribes expect to join the efforts of the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy after the group tweaked its original plan for combating climate change. The move is a reversal from earlier this year, when the same tribes announced they would split from the alliance and run their own ballot measure if the blocs could not reconcile their visions for a carbon tax. That could have fractured supporters and lowered the chances of either measure being approved. Walker Orenstein reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Port of Seattle Commission Becomes First U.S. Port with 10-Year Goal to Transition to Sustainable Aviation Fuels 
The Port of Seattle Commission became the first United States airport operator to set a specific timetable and goals for reducing the use of fossil fuels and transitioning all airlines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to commercially competitive sustainable aviation fuels. In a motion, the Commission called for a minimum of 10 percent of available jet fuel to be produced locally from sustainable sources within ten years, increasing to 50 percent by 2050. (AviationPros)

Brain Drain At the EPA
More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Donald Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration. Of the employees who have quit, retired or taken a buyout package since the beginning of the year, more than 200 are scientists. An additional 96 are environmental protection specialists, a broad category that includes scientists as well as others experienced in investigating and analyzing pollution levels. Nine department directors have departed the agency as well as dozens of attorneys and program managers. Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced. The departures reflect poor morale and a sense of grievance at the agency, which has been criticized by Trump and top Republicans in Congress as bloated and guilty of regulatory overreach. That unease is likely to deepen following revelations that Republican campaign operatives were using the Freedom of Information Act to request copies of emails from EPA officials suspected of opposing Trump and his agenda. Lisa Friedman, Marina Affo and Derek Kravitz report. (New York Times and ProPublica)

Old-Growth Forests Can Provide Last Refuge For Declining Songbirds As Climate Changes
A new study from Oregon State University scientists finds that old-growth forests could be an important refuge for songbirds in the face of climate change. Lead author and ecologist Matt Betts tracked songbird populations in different kinds of forests – including old growth and mature tree plantations. “We asked whether or not those declines could be mediated by what forest type is out there.  And the old growth-associated landscapes tended to show reduced declines in the face of warming,” he said. The birds, the Wilson’s and hermit warblers, have been in steady decline over the past three decades, especially in areas where average summertime temperatures have risen. Jes Burns reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Proposed plan would relocate mountain goats to North Cascades
Those exploring the high altitudes of the North Cascades may see mountain goats more often if a proposed plan is approved. The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service, along with the state Department of Fish & Wildlife and area tribes, have proposed relocating hundreds of goats from the Olympic Mountains to the North Cascades beginning as early as mid-2018. The plan aims to boost recovery of the species in the North Cascades. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Judge Weighs Arguments in Legislative Records Case
Whether or not individual lawmakers in Washington state fall under statutory definitions that would require their records to be subject to more stringent public disclosure was at the heart of a two-hour hearing Friday in a case brought by a coalition of news organizations. Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese peppered attorneys for both the Washington Legislature and the media with numerous questions, trying to pin down why lawmakers believe they don't have to turn over records ranging from daily calendars to work emails, and whether tweaks to state statutes over the years actually did exempt lawmakers, as they now say. "I think you can tell by my questioning that I am somewhat skeptical that legislative offices are not subject to the public records act," Lanese said. Rachel La Corte reports. (Associated Press)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  907 PM PST Mon Dec 25 2017  
 E wind 10 kt or less. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell  6 to 7 ft at 13 seconds.
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  5 ft at 11 seconds. Rain likely.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

12/22 Grizzly, extreme weather, bad traffic, spotted owl, kelp, spending bill, affordable housing, Jingle Bells

North American Brown Bear [Wikipedia]
Grizzly Bear
The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos ssp.) is a large subspecies of brown bear inhabiting North America. Scientists generally do not use the name grizzly bear but call it the North American brown bear…. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first described it as grisley, which could be interpreted as either "grizzly" (i.e., "grizzled"—that is, with golden and grey tips of the hair) or "grisly" ("fear-inspiring", now usually "gruesome"). The modern spelling supposes the former meaning; even so, naturalist George Ord formally classified it in 1815 as U. horribilis, not for its hair, but for its character. (Wikipedia)

Weather extremes now surpassing the realm of natural possibilities
A new report from the American Meteorological Society makes a rather stunning statement about climate change. For the first time, researchers have concluded that specific weather-related events could not have happened without the influence of climate change caused by human activity. Three events studied in 2016 were so extreme that they did not fit into the context of natural climate conditions, according to researchers working on separate projects. One involved the global heat record for 2016; another was focused on warmth across Asia; and the third was the “blob” of warm ocean water familiar to folks who follow weather in the Pacific Northwest. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

The Shortest Days Of The Year, And The Worst Traffic Of The Season

As the sun sets on this winter solstice, bringing an end to the shortest day of the year, headlights will flicker on in traffic jams across the country, according to estimates from AAA. Wednesday and Thursday afternoon were expected to see the most crowded roads for this holiday season. In New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston, the worst day for travel was Wednesday. But in other cities — including Washington, D.C, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Atlanta and Detroit — the real backlog is predicted to kick in on Thursday afternoon. As holiday travelers combine with everyday commuters, drivers can expect trips to take as much as 2 1/2 times longer than usual.  Camila Domonoske reports. (NPR)

On This Day in 1994: Federal Judge Upholds Controversial Spotted Owl Plan 
On Dec. 21, 1994, Federal District Court Judge William L. Dwyer (1929-2002) upholds the federal spotted owl management plan in a key National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) court decision. The case has important repercussions for logging and environmental protection in the Northwest, and it also creates important precedents in interpretation of NEPA, the nation’s environmental protection statute. The decision holds that the federal government’s “ecosystem analysis” approach sufficiently complies with the intent of NEPA. It also, for the first time, emphasizes that compliance is dependent on careful monitoring in the future. (HistoryLink.Org)

World War I-era maps help track history of kelp forests in Pacific Northwest
In the early 1900s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recognized a problem. The United States relied heavily on fertilizer to grow crops and support its burgeoning economy, yet a crucial ingredient for fertilizer — potash, a mixture of potassium and salts — was mined almost exclusively in Germany…. Seeking ways to ease this dependency, the USDA commissioned several surveys of an alternative source of potash: kelp beds in the Pacific Northwest… [The] USDA sent surveyors—including George Rigg, an ecologist from the University of Washington—to map the kelp beds along the coast of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Rigg set out in a yacht with a 40-horsepower motor and mapped the coastline around Puget Sound in 1911-12. More than 100 years later, scientists at the University of Chicago used these maps to track historical changes in the kelp forests of the Pacific Northwest. As it turned out, the original maps from the kelp surveys ended up at the University of Chicago Library, where Cathy Pfister, professor in the department of ecology and evolution, discovered them. She worked with the library’s preservation staff to digitize the maps, and compared them to modern surveys conducted by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources over the past 26 years. What they found is a relatively rare positive story when it comes to ecological studies in a time of accelerating climate change. The abundance of most modern kelp beds along the Washington coast has remained constant over the last century despite a seawater temperature increase of 0.72 degrees Celsius. The few exceptions are kelp beds closest to Puget Sound, Seattle and Tacoma. Matt Wood reports. (UChicago News)

Congress Passes Bill To Avert Government Shutdown
After a monumental legislative victory on taxes this week, Republicans in Congress have been scrambling to avoid a chaotic government shutdown that could overshadow their signature tax bill before it even gets signed into law. The House and Senate passed a spending bill on Thursday that would push a deadline to fund the government back from midnight on Friday to Jan. 19, allowing lawmakers to head home for the holidays without resolving much of their unfinished business. In addition to most Republicans, about a dozen House Democrats and several Senate Democrats also voted for the bill.  Miles Parks reports. (NPR)

Tax reform's impact on affordable housing, local nonprofits
After a final procedural vote in the House sent a sweeping set of tax reforms to President Donald Trump, Republicans celebrated a move they said would put more money in people’s pockets and save corporations billions, which they’d use to hire more people and raise wages. But in Washington state, low-income housing advocates worry a provision in the bill will lead to thousands of fewer affordable housing units being built — at a time when the need couldn’t be greater. Nonprofit groups, meanwhile, worry a doubling of the standard deduction for individuals will mean fewer people will file itemized returns. And without the incentive of writing off charitable donations, they say people could donate hundreds of millions of dollars less each year to nonprofits in the state. Kerry Murakami reports. (Crosscut)

Canadian researcher faces far-right backlash after research uncovers Jingle Bells' racist past
A Canadian professor teaching at Boston University in the U.S. is facing severe backlash online after she published a research paper outlining the racist origins of the beloved Christmas song Jingle Bells. "It has been quite surreal. It's been a crash course in public relations and internet trolling," said Kyna Hamill, a lecturer at Boston University. For years, Hamill has been studying the history of the song Jingle Bells, but only recently uncovered the song's racist past. In a peer-reviewed research paper published in September, she says the song was originally performed in blackface in a minstrel show as One Horse Open Sleigh at Ordway Hall in Boston, Mass., in September 1857. She writes that the composer "capitalized on minstrel music and entered upon a 'safe' ground for satirizing black participation in northern winter activities." Chris Walker and Jaimie Kehler report. (CBC)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  845 PM PST Thu Dec 21 2017  

 E wind 5 to 15 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft in the afternoon. W  swell 5 ft at 14 seconds. A chance of rain.
 E wind 20 to 30 kt becoming 25 to 30 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 5 ft at 14 seconds.
 E wind 25 to 30 kt. Wind waves 4 to 5 ft. W swell 4 ft at  13 seconds.
 E wind 20 to 30 kt easing to 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. SW swell 4 ft at 11 seconds.
 E wind 20 to 30 kt easing to 10 kt in the afternoon. Wind  waves 3 to 5 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less in the afternoon. SW  swell 5 ft at 10 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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12/21 Winter solstice, ocean acid, fish farm virus, fish processing plants, Portland Hbr, PSE carbon, beavers

Stonehenge [Mirror]
Winter Solstice December 21, 2017 8:23 AM PST
Winter Solstice 2017 in the Pacific Northwest is at 8:23 AM PST. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the official beginning of winter. The solstice itself is the moment the sun is shining farthest to the south, directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. The winter solstice is a major pagan festival, with rituals of rebirth having been celebrated for thousands of years. Every year revellers gather at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise on the shortest day. Many of the traditions we now think of as being part of Christmas - including Yule logs, mistletoe and Christmas trees - have their roots in the pagan celebrations of winter solstice. Sophie Curtis reports. (Mirror)

Ocean Acidification In Washington Still Getting Worse
It’s been five years since Washington first launched a strategy to tackle ocean acidification. A new report from the state says it’s still getting worse, but advances are being made on how to adapt and mitigate the problem. The state has renewed its commitment to those pursuits with the report, which updates the the strategic plan by outlining accomplishments over the past 5 years as well as areas of focus needed for continued progress.  Called Ocean Acidification, From Knowledge To Action – Washington State’s Strategic Response, it was released on Wednesday. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Risk of viral transfer from B.C. fish farms to wild sockeye is low: study
New research released by the federal government Wednesday says there are minimal risks of farmed Atlantic salmon from B.C.'s Discovery Islands transferring a deadly viral disease to wild sockeye making their way to the Fraser River. This report looked specifically at one virus called Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), a disease that affects fish raised in fresh and saltwater. Fisheries and Ocean Canada research scientist Kyle Garver says the virus occurs naturally in the north Pacific and occasionally spills over to Atlantic farmed salmon.  But the findings show there is little chance of the virus transferring from farmed to wild fish. (CBC)

Province announces review of fish processing plants
B.C.'s environment minister, George Heyman, has announced the province will undertake an immediate review of fish processing plants to ensure wild salmon stocks are not impacted by any waste products from plants.  "Today's announcement is to say, 'We've heard the public. We thank people who brought this to our attention," said Heyman. Specifically, Heyman thanked B.C. photographer Tavish Campbell, whose underwater images released last month drew attention to waste discharged from processing plants. (CBC)

Agreement Sets Pollution Testing Plan For Portland Harbor Superfund Site
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized the next big step in cleaning up the Portland Harbor Superfund site: inking an agreement for how pollution levels will be tested. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, which raised concerns about the agreement in October, says the plans will deliver some but not all of the data needed to track and clean up widespread contamination of a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette River. Four of the companies responsible for cleaning up contamination at the site took the lead in negotiating the agreement: Schnitzer Steel, Evraz, The Marine Group and Arkema. Until today, those names were being kept confidential. They represent a fraction of more than 150 public and private parties responsible for paying for the cleanup. Cassandra Profita reports. (OPB/EarthFix) See also: As Portland Harbor Cleanup Progresses, City Wants Clearer Fish Advisories /  Ericka Cruz Guevarra reports. (OPB)

Puget Sound Energy announces plans to reduce carbon footprint in half by 2040
Puget Sound Energy recently announced its plans to reduce its carbon emissions in half by 2040, which an environmental group is criticizing. The Bellevue-based utility company, which serves energy to more than 1.5 million homes and businesses in the Puget Sound area, said they will accomplish this through a variety of different initiatives. Their plan comes at a time when Washington state has agreed, under the Paris Climate Accords and through Gov. Jay Inslee’s goals, to reduce greenhouse gases by 80 to 95 percent across every sector of the state’s economy, including transportation, industrial processes and energy grids, by 2050. With the retirement of half the Colstrip Power Plant units in Montana by 2022 and the shutdown of the Centralia Power Plant in 2025, PSE estimates it will be “nearly 90 percent clean,” or non-coal generated, and on the path to 100 percent “clean” by the early 2030s…. However, the Sierra Club, an environmental group with a Seattle chapter, doesn’t buy it. “This is more smoke and mirrors than an actual commitment to get off dirty fossil fuels, reduce climate pollution and meet our state’s climate goals,” Doug Howell, a senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, said. “Puget Sound Energy is likely to exceed this commitment under the status quo, as previous commitments to retire some of its dirty coal plants go ahead in the coming years.” Raechel Dawson reports. (Bellevue Reporter)

Beavers Emerge as Agents of Arctic Destruction
Even as climate change shrinks some populations of arctic animals like polar bears and caribou, beavers may be taking advantage of warming temperatures to expand their range. But as the beavers head north, their very presence may worsen the effects of climate change. The issue isn’t just that the beavers are moving into a new environment — it’s that they’re gentrifying it. Take the dams they build on rivers and streams to slow the flow of water and create the pools in which they construct their dens. In other habitats, where the dams help filter pollutants from water and mitigate the effects of droughts and floods, they are generally seen as a net benefit. But in the tundra, the vast treeless region in the Far North, beaver behavior creates new water channels that can thaw the permanently frozen ground, or permafrost. Kendra Pierre-Louis reports. (NY Times)

Death of young beaver in Port Moody draws call for investigation 
The drowning of a young beaver in a Port Moody sewer last weekend is drawing calls for an investigation by a local wildlife group. According to a media release from the City of Port Moody, last Friday a city crew was “working to safely remove a beaver family, along with their den and food cache, from a city storm sewer pipe in Pigeon Creek, to prevent a potential blockage that could cause flooding and damage to property in and around Port Moody’s Klahanie neighbourhood.” During that effort, a young beaver became trapped in a pipe and was unable to escape as water levels rose after other beavers apparently blocked off a temporary drainage pipe. Patrick Johnston reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  241 AM PST Thu Dec 21 2017  
 S wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft  at 13 seconds.
 S wind to 10 kt becoming E 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 15 seconds. A slight  chance of rain in the evening then a chance of rain after  midnight.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

12/20 Prickleback, Tacoma LNG, spill study, ANWR drilling, greenhouse-gas rule, AK snow, fish farm ruling, EPA $s

Rock prickleback [David Jamison/Puget Sound Sea Life]
Rock Prickleback   Xiphister mucosus
This fish is not an eel, but it certainly has an eel-like appearance.   It is a citizen of rocky habitats that are exposed to moderate wave action, where it can be found under rocks and algae at low tide…. They are called pricklebacks because the dorsal fin is mostly composed of hard spiny rays with sharp tips (rays are supports of the fleshy fin).  There are around 20 species in the Pacific Northwest, many of which live in the subtidal zone and are only seen by divers…. The rock prickleback ranges from SE Alaska to southern California.  It is unique in that it seems to eat a high percentage of algae along with feeding on small animals.  It lays its eggs under rocks and vegetation where the male coils around them for protection. (Puget Sound Sea Life)

Puyallup Tribe leads protest against liquefied-natural-gas plant at Tacoma Port
About 200 opponents sought to shut down access Monday to Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) construction of a $310 million liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) plant at the Port of Tacoma. Some workers made their way into the plant Monday morning, but others had been turned away as self-described “protectors” blocked access to a road to the construction site. The actions continued into Monday afternoon, with no injuries or violence reported, said Loretta Cool, spokeswoman for the Tacoma Police Department. Two arrests were made for misdemeanor offenses, including blocking traffic, she said. “We are keeping it peaceful and prayerful,” said Puyallup tribal member Dakota Chase, who with the other opponents was at the site before dawn to attempt to stop work by chaining themselves together in front of gates to the worksite. “The Puyallup Tribe opposes the siting of this facility,” said Puyallup Tribal Council member Annette Bryan, who joined in the action. The tribe was not meaningfully consulted about the project, Bryan said, which the tribe opposes as a threat to its lands, waters and people. Lynda Mapes and Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Ottawa spending $80-million to study oil spills
The federal government is spending $80-million on oil spill research, looking at how to prevent spills as well as their effect on the marine environment. "Our government is committed to protecting our marine and coastal areas so that they are safeguarded for future generations," said Treasury Board President Scott Brison. He announced the funding Monday at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax. Brison said a $45.5-million research program will be set up to foster collaboration among researchers in Canada and around the world, with $10-million a year to bring scientists together to study how oil spills behave, how to clean and contain them and how to minimize environmental damage. (Canadian Press)

Opponents vow to fight on as Congress opens Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to drilling as part of massive tax bill
Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil development was included in a massive tax bill that was headed to passage by Congress. The measure would authorize oil leasing within the refuge’s 1.5 million-acre coastal plain, a move opponents decried as destructive and dishonest. The provision was put within the tax bill because it could not have passed on its own, opponents, including Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “The process … was a sham,” Cantwell said during her speech. “Drilling in the Arctic has nothing to do with a serious budget policy, and everything to do with evading regular order to pass something which by regular order could never pass.” Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Resistance isn't just for the young. Just ask these self-described 'old broads' who are suing Trump   Danny Westneat reports. (Seattle Times)

Judge: Washington state can't enforce Inslee order to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 
Dealing a setback to Gov. Jay Inslee’s climate agenda, a judge has invalidated major portions of a state rule requiring greenhouse-gas cuts by refineries, fuel distributors and dozens of other major industrial emitters. In an oral ruling Friday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon sided with employer groups who sued last year, contending the state Department of Ecology lacked authority to impose the Clean Air Rule without legislative approval. Dixon agreed the state cannot force emission reductions on gasoline and natural-gas distributors and similar businesses that do not burn fuels themselves, according to business and environmental representatives who were on hand for the ruling. Jim Brunner reports. (Seattle Times)

Massive uptick in snowfall on Alaska peaks 'shocks' experts
A team of scientists presented data Tuesday suggesting that even as the state of Alaska has warmed up extremely rapidly in recent years, snowfall in the iconic Denali National Park has increased dramatically during the era of human-driven global warming. The researchers from Dartmouth College; the University of Maine, Orono and the University of New Hampshire set up a camp at 13,000 feet atop Mount Hunter, within view of Denali. There, they drilled into the snow to extract lengthy cores of ice that provided a historical record of snowfall patterns going back more than 1,000 years — and found a marked change over the past 150 years or so. Chris Mooney reports. (Washington Post)

State says decision to terminate Port Angeles Atlantic salmon farm is final
Cooke Aquaculture says its troubles with state regulators that led to the shutdown of its Port Angeles Atlantic salmon farm last week are all a misunderstanding, but the decision to revoke Cooke’s license is final. “An inspection of the Port Angeles site from December 4-9 revealed significant lease violations that endanger public safety and the health of Puget Sound,” Carlo Davis, communications director for the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), wrote in an email to The Seattle Times on Monday. “The decision by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz to terminate the lease is final. DNR will work cooperatively with Cooke Aquaculture Pacific to dismantle the facility in a safe and appropriate manner.” Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

EPA announces funding for Puget Sound protection, conservation & recovery
The Northwest office of the Environmental Protection Agency announced today (12/13/17) that through its National Estuary Program it is providing $25.2 million in grant funds to state, local and tribal Puget Sound recovery and conservation efforts. “A healthy Puget Sound is vital to the environmental and economic health of Washington state,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA is succeeding in protecting and restoring habitats and water quality by supporting local partners and projects.” Among the efforts funded in whole or in part with National Estuary Program funds announced today are: The restoration of an additional 5,000 acres of key Orca and salmon habitat; The re-opening of about 4,000 acres of shellfish beds in Puget Sound; and Improvement of biological condition from fair to good for at least 30 streams. (EPA News Release)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  255 AM PST Wed Dec 20 2017  
 N wind 5 to 15 kt becoming E in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 9 ft at 12 seconds.
 SE wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell  6 ft at 11 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

12/19 Rooster, AMTRAK, oil trains, no grizzly hunt, no grizzly plan, Ballard Locks, rich folk tax cut

Rooster [James Orr/BirdNote]
The Rooster
The chicken is perhaps the most widespread avian species in the world - and the exotic Red Jungle Fowl is the ancestor of the hybrid Araucana and Rhode Island Red. From DNA analysis, scientists postulate that chickens were first domesticated from jungle fowl in India, some 5,000 years ago. Traders and travelers then carried them far and wide, to Asia Minor, Africa, and Europe. Julius Caesar is said to have noted that the Britons “kept them for pleasure, but not for the table.” The farming of chickens for their meat and eggs developed later, until today, when the chicken is probably the most numerous avian species in the world. Dominic Black and Chris Peterson write. (BirdNote)

Officials: Amtrak train traveling 50 mph over limit shortly before fatal derailment
An Amtrak train on its inaugural run from Seattle to Portland derailed Monday morning, sending at least one train car off an overpass and onto a busy Interstate 5 below. The derailment happened in DuPont, about 40 miles south of Seattle near Joint Base Lewis-McChord, around 7:30 a.m., during the morning rush hour. The cause of the crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. A spokeswoman from the agency said late Monday night that investigators were able to download the event data recorder from the rear locomotive. The data show the train traveling at about 80 miles per hour on a 30 miles per hour part of track shortly before the derailment. (KUOW)

Crude oil in Washington tops 1 million barrels per week
Figures show railroads ship more than 1 million barrels of crude oil across Washington each week. The Spokesman-Review reports information from October 2016 through September of this year indicate railroads shipped nearly 56 million barrels of crude oil across Washington in 82,000 rail cars. Most of the oil trains enter the state from Idaho, transporting light crude from North Dakota. The state last year began requiring facilities that receive crude oil by rail to notify the state officials in advance of shipments. The information is shared with emergency managers along the rail route. The Department of Ecology later publishes quarterly reports summarizing the volumes. (Associated Press)

Province ends grizzly bear hunt throughout all B.C.
B.C. is ending the grizzly bear hunt throughout the entire province. First Nations still will be able to harvest grizzly bears in accordance with Aboriginal rights for food, social, or ceremonial purposes, or treaty rights. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said the decision came about during the ministry's consultation process on implementing the end of the trophy hunt, first announced in August. "It's mostly a social values issue," Donaldson said. "When it comes down to it, this species is seen as an iconic species for B.C., and people just weren't willing to accept the hunting of grizzly bears anymore in this province." CBC)

Trump administration halts work on Cascades grizzly plan
Plans to help increase the grizzly bear population in the North Cascades ecosystem have been halted. The U.S. Department of the Interior reportedly ordered that work be stopped on a key planning document — the environmental impact statement for the grizzly restoration project. North Cascades National Park Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich announced the order to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee last week, according to The Missoulian. Work to restore grizzlies in the North Cascades has been planned for decades. Earlier this year, the National Park and U.S. Fish and Wildlife services released a draft plan and environmental impact statement. The document presented possibilities for boosting the grizzly population from the handful that might be living in the North Cascades today to as many as 200 bears in the coming decades. Three proposals call for bringing in bears from elsewhere. A fourth would focus on improving habitat, but would not introduce new bears. Kari Bray reports. (Everett Herald)

Ballard Locks, federal infrastructure, deserve more funding
Washington lawmakers are right to press President Donald Trump’s administration to fund much needed maintenance and upgrades at the Ballard Locks in Seattle. In a letter sent Friday, a coalition of representatives urged Trump and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fund the locks improvements in their 2018 and 2019 budgets. This work is needed to ensure that the Lake Washington Ship Canal’s linkage to Puget Sound continues to operate safely and reliably…. The letter was sent by Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, along with U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Adam Smith, Rick Larsen, Dave Reichert, Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer…. It would especially help to add the voices of U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas. They serve on the House appropriations energy and water subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Army Corps civil works. Help from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, would also be welcome. Seattle Times Editorial Board opines. Seattle Times)

CHARTS: See How Much Of GOP Tax Cuts Will Go To The Middle Class
The Republican tax bill that the House and Senate are set to pass as soon as Tuesday night would give most Americans a tax cut next year, according to a new analysis. However, it would by far benefit the richest Americans the most. Meanwhile, many lower- and middle-class Americans would have higher taxes a decade from now ... unless a future Congress extends the cuts. The average household would get a tax cut of $1,610 in 2018, a bump of about 2.2 percent in that average household's income, according to a report released Monday by the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank that has been critical of the tax overhaul plan. However, extremes make averages, and the benefits would be much larger for richer households. A household earning $1 million or more would get an average cut of $69,660, an income bump of 3.3 percent. Compare that to the average household earning $50,000 to $75,000, which would get a tax cut of $870, or 1.6 percent. The numbers look bleaker a decade out for most American households. To help ensure their bill met the budget limits Republicans had set for themselves, lawmakers set many individual income tax changes to sunset after 2025 (they made cuts to corporate tax rates permanent, meanwhile).  Danielle Kurtzleben reports. (NPR)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  249 AM PST Tue Dec 19 2017  
 E wind 15 to 25 kt becoming NW in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 8 ft at 14 seconds. Rain.
 NW wind 10 to 20 kt becoming N to 10 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less after  midnight. W swell 9 ft at 13 seconds. A chance of showers in the  evening then a slight chance of showers after midnight.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

12/18 Pt Susan Bay, fish farm nixed, Andeavor permit, BC microplastics, Quadra leeches, Vic bag ban, big Sitka, bullet train $, Campbell freed

Port Susan Bay [The Nature Conservancy]
Port Susan Bay
Located in northwest Snohomish County, this Important Birding Area comprises the northeast portion of Port Susan, the mudflats of Livingston Bay, the Stillaguamish River Delta, and the surrounding fields…. This area contains extensive estuaries an tidal mudflats, providing critical habitat for large numbers of shorebirds, mostly Western Sandpipers and Dunins both in winter and during spring and fall migrations…. Large flocks of wintering ducks, primarily Northern Pintail, Mallard, American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal, use the estuarine sloughs and sheltered shallow waters. In winter, Trumpeter and Tundra Swans and large numbers of Snow Geese forage along the shoreline and also in the farm field of the floodplain. (Important Birding Areas of Washington)

Violations prompt Washington state to cancel Atlantic salmon farm lease at Port Angeles
Cooke Aquaculture Pacific has lost the lease for its Atlantic salmon net-pen farm in Port Angeles and must shut down and remove it, said Hilary Franz, state commissioner of public lands, who terminated Cooke’s lease. The farm, operated by a series of owners since 1984, currently holds nearly 700,000 Atlantic salmon. Franz said the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would work with other state agencies to enforce an orderly shutdown and complete removal of the farm. Franz said her decision is final. “There is no room for negotiation.” Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Environment groups appeal Skagit County permit for refinery project
A coalition of environment groups is appealing the Skagit County hearing examiner’s recent approval of a permit for a proposed Andeavor Anacortes Refinery project. The groups filed an appeal Thursday with the Skagit County Board of Commissioners. The appeal states the refinery project would potentially harm the environment, thereby affecting the members of the environment groups as well as the mission of each, “protecting the natural resources of Skagit County and the Salish Sea and safeguarding those natural resources from irreparable harm for future generations of Washingtonians.” Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Swimming in it: Microplastics abound in Sunset Beach water
The weather is gloomy, even by seasonal Vancouver standards. Dark clouds scud low overhead, a flash of torrential rain pelts down, and a hundred crows swirl around like black leaves scattered by the wind. The waters lapping Sunset Beach in Vancouver’s West End, however, seem gin-clear and pristine. A mere illusion, it turns out. Peter Ross, a marine researcher, wades in with gumboots and scoops up samples of surface water to be tested for tiny plastics, then pours them through sieves with the help of his lab manager, Megane Neauport. Microplastics are considered to be smaller than five millimetres. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Swarms of leeches on spawning salmon worry Quadra Island residents
People on Quadra Island, B.C., are concerned that leeches may be killing salmon in a spawning creek. Several dozen chum salmon that had not yet spawned have been found dead by residents. Bill Dubois, who has lived near Hyacinthe Creek for decades, says he has seen leeches on salmon who returned to spawn in the past. But he says he's never seen anything like what happened this year…. The leeches are believed to be a natural phenomenon, but the amount this year is concerning, said Lauren Miller, a director with the Quadra Island Salmon Enhancement Society. Megan Thomas reports. (CBC)

Ban on plastic bags to start in Victoria July 1 with range of fines
Victoria’s planned ban on single-use plastic bags is moving ahead and set to take effect July 1. City councillors have agreed to implement the new bylaw and set aside $30,000 from 2017 surplus funds for public education on the ban. Under the bylaw, businesses will be prohibited from providing customers single-use plastic bags. They will be allowed to provide paper or reusable bags to customers, for a minimum fee of 15 cents for paper bags and $1 for reusable bags, increasing to 25 cents and $2 respectively on July 1, 2019. Businesses could be fined for providing customers a bag without asking if they want one, or for providing a bag free of charge. Fines could range between $100 and $10,000 for corporate offenders and between $50 and $500 for individuals for every offence. Enforcement is not set to begin until 2019. Bill Cleverly reports. (Times Colonist)

Massive near-record Sitka spruce tree found on Vancouver Island
A forest advocacy group says it has discovered an unprotected old-growth forest that is home to a near-record sized Sitka spruce tree on Vancouver Island. The Ancient Forest Alliance says the 3.3-metre wide tree was found on lands owned by TimberWest Corporation, near the town of Port Renfrew, also known as Canada’s tall tree capital. According to the Big Tree Registry, the tree is the tenth widest Sitka spruce in Canada. Now the group, which lobbies to keep old-growth forests from being logged, is petitioning B.C.’s New Democrat government to buy the land from TimberWest. Tiffany Crawford reports. (Vancouver Sun)

'Astronomical' Cost Estimate For Portland-Seattle-Vancouver Bullet Train
A brand new feasibility study of bullet train service between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, BC, puts a sky-high price tag on construction costs. But Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signaled he's not deterred and is asking the Legislature to pay for further study. A consultant hired by Washington state Department of Transportation examined several different train technologies that could whisk you along the I-5 corridor at 250 miles per hour or faster. The options reviewed include: high speed rail as found in Europe and East Asia; even faster magnetic levitation—or maglev—trains in limited use in Asia; and the still conceptual Hyperloop, which involves passenger capsules propelled through tubes or tunnels maintained in partial vacuum.  Consultant Scott Richman of the firm CH2M pegged the ballpark cost to acquire right-of-way and build a system at between $24 to 48 billion, which even he called "astronomical." Tom Banse reports. (NW News Network)

New lease on life for Vancouver Island sea lion
A California sea lion plunged into the ocean at a boat ramp near Sooke, B.C., on Friday, after a few barks and a quick look back over his shoulder at his rescuers. The animal — dubbed Campbell — was found emaciated and dehydrated on a beach near Campbell River in October…. Campbell was taken to the Vancouver Aquarium for two months of treatment for a fractured flipper and pneumonia in his lungs. Megan Thomas reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  258 AM PST Mon Dec 18 2017  
 W wind 10 to 20 kt easing to 10 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less in the afternoon.  W swell 8 ft at 11 seconds. A slight chance of rain.
 E wind to 10 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft after midnight. W  swell 7 ft at 14 seconds. Rain.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

12/15 Snowberry, BC pipe protest, Tacoma LNG acquittal, ed funding, fed fish bill, Fraser sockeye, Bothell park, stormwater, Storming the Sound, Portland Hbr cleanup

Snowberry [Starflower Foundation/WNPS]
Common Snowberry Symphoricarpos albus
The white waxy berries are considered poisonous by aboriginal people. They are given names like 'corpse berry' or 'snakes's berry' in several languages. One Stl'atl'imx story identifies the berries as 'the saskatoon berries of the people in the Land of the Dead.' However, one or two berries were eaten by the Stl'atl'imx to settle the stomach after too much fatty food. (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast)

Pipeline protesters block trucks from entering Burnaby marine terminal
A group of protesters calling themselves the "Justin Trudeau Brigade" gathered Thursday morning outside the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby. They have blocked vehicle access to the terminal with the goal of delaying construction on the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project. "If there are more delays, the investors will realize this is a bad investment and they'll take their money elsewhere, they'll invest their money in something less dangerous, that's less likely to fail, " said protestor David Mivasair. (CBC)

Protesters of Natural Gas Plant at the Port of Tacoma Acquitted
Two activists were acquitted of felony charges Thursday for protesting a liquefied natural gas plant currently under construction at the Port of Tacoma. Marilyn Kimmerling, Cynthia Linet, and three other protesters linked themselves together last May to block construction crews from working on the future plant site. Kimmerling says she was protesting the project because the processing and burning of liquefied natural gas would contribute to climate change, and expose nearby residents to the risk of explosions. An explosion at a similar facility in 2014 sent five people to the hospital. Eilis O'Neill reports. (KUOW)

Inslee proposes tapping reserves, carbon tax in new plan to fully fund education
Gov. Jay Inslee wants to pull $950 million from budget reserves to satisfy a state Supreme Court deadline for Washington to end chronic and unconstitutional underfunding of public education. As part of a 2018 supplemental budget proposal announced Thursday, Inslee asked the Legislature to dip into the reserves to hasten a state investment in salaries for teachers and other public-school employees. To backfill the withdrawal, Inslee, a Democrat, said he’ll once again propose a tax on carbon pollution, with details to come next month. Inslee said his plan would finally bring the state into compliance with the 2012 school-funding order known as the McCleary decision. The state has been in contempt of that order since 2014, accruing a fine of $100,000 a day. Jim Brunner reports. (Seattle Time)

Federal Fisheries Bill Has Advanced, Despite Opposition From Scientists, Chefs and Seafood Producers
Legislation is moving through the U.S. House that would weaken how fisheries are managed. That has several groups calling foul, including scientists, seafood producers and chefs, many of them in the Northwest. Two bills, H.R. 200 and H.R.3588,  would revise and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which was first passed in 1976 to prevent overfishing and rebuild over-fished stocks. It did so by establishing regional management councils that can set quotas and other policies to ensure sustainability. The legislation would take many of those tools off the table, says Shems Jud, West Coast Fisheries Director with the Environmental Defense Fund. He says it eliminates annual catch limits on a number of fisheries and also gets rid of deadlines that protect vulnerable species. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

‘Endangered’ Fraser sockeye may never get official protection
The eight Fraser River sockeye spawning populations now assessed as endangered may never be officially protected by the federal government. The Cultus Lake sockeye run was deemed endangered in 2003 by a committee of independent scientists, but has still not been officially added to the list of endangered species under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). “In practice, most marine fishes that are (commercially) exploited are never listed under SARA, even though many of them are highly endangered,” said Eric Taylor, chairman of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, which advises the federal government. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Old Wayne Golf Course becomes Bothell's largest parkland acquisition
A large property in Bothell, that was once almost turned into townhomes has now become the city's largest parkland acquisition ever. "Words can't describe what this park means to me," said interim Parks Director Tracey Perkosky. A few years ago, the old Wayne Golf Course was on the verge of turning into luxury townhomes. Now it's not only the city's newest park, but at 90 acres it's also the largest. "A group of very engaged citizens discovered that this land was going to be converted into housing, and they wanted to preserve this gem that is part of the center of our community," said Perkosky. Mitch Pittman reports. (KOMO)

Stormwater report urges cities and counties to get up to speed on rules
Christ Dunagan in Watching Our Water Ways writes: "In Kitsap County, stormwater has been a major issue — and the subject of ongoing newspaper stories — for a very long time. As a local reporter working for the Kitsap Sun, I followed the prolonged struggle among engineers, developers, planners and environmentalists to approve new rules for reducing toxic runoff washing into Puget Sound. After the legal battles were over, local governments were called on to update their stormwater codes, and many key provisions went into effect last year. It was with some surprise that I read a new report called “Nature’s Scorecard,” which reveals that more than half of the 81 cities and counties around Puget Sound have failed to follow through in a meaningful way to encourage low-impact development, which is required by state rules. Low-impact development, or LID, involves techniques that filter rainwater into the ground as close to the source as possible…."

Storming the Sound 2018
Registration is now open for the 19th annual conference connecting northwest Washington environmental educators. It's held at Maple Hall in LaConner, 9 AM to 4:30 PM, January 25, 2018. Register here.

Officials 'Cautiously Optimistic' About Portland Harbor Cleanup After EPA Meeting
A high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency official visited Portland to meet with state and local groups and officials Wednesday. Superfund Task Force Chair Albert “Kell” Kelly met with many people interested in understanding what it means to have the Portland Harbor Superfund identified as one of 21 sites the EPA says it’s targeting for immediate attention. Meanwhile, stakeholders are anticipating the release of a long-awaited plan for how to execute baseline sampling of pollutants at the Portland Harbor Superfund Site in the Willamette River — a plan that will determine how cleanup at the site is allocated amongst responsible parties. Officials, community members and Portland environmental groups expressed cautious optimism after the meeting. They say it quelled concerns about transparency in the cleanup process, but that the meetings didn’t lead to conclusive action plans.   Ericka Cruz Guevarra reports. (OPB)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  217 AM PST Fri Dec 15 2017  
 NW wind to 10 kt rising to 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft in the afternoon. W  swell 6 ft at 12 seconds. A chance of rain in the morning then a  slight chance of showers in the afternoon.
 W wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 8 ft  at 11 seconds.
 Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 6 ft at  11 seconds. Rain likely in the morning then rain in the  afternoon.
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  5 ft at 11 seconds.
 S wind to 10 kt becoming W in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. W swell 8 ft at 11 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

12/14 Fish disease, Chinook quota, BC steelhead, Dcrabs, Cooke fine, Nooksack R., Bowser poop, electric WSF, wildlife pix

Lunchtime [PHOTO: Laurie MacBride]
Encounter at Low Tide
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "During a shoreline paddle in the Gulf Islands earlier this year, I stopped to admire this busy character.  How could I resist the combination of a gorgeous fur coat and such skill at finding a delicious shellfish lunch underneath all that seaweed?… I’m always fascinated to watch raccoons at work, using the keen sense of touch they have in their front paws to locate food, even in places where it looks all but impossible to find. I admit, though: had I encountered the same character at home in my garden, I would not have been quite so charmed. Context is everything, isn’t it?"

New research shows wild salmon exposed to fish farms have 'much higher' rate of disease
Wild salmon exposed to open-net fish farms are much more likely to be infected with piscine reovirus (PRV) than those that don't have that contact, a new study has concluded. The data also show that the virus makes it more difficult for wild salmon to swim upstream to their spawning grounds, which has major implications for the sustainability of the populations. "The government has to remove this industry from the key salmon migration routes or we risk the complete loss of wild salmon in this province," said Alexandra Morton, lead author on the report and an outspoken advocate for wild salmon. Ash Kelly reports. (CBC)

Salmon fishing restrictions may get 'severe'
A salmon fishing agreement between the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and tribal co-managers is fueling continued angst by many recreational fishermen who fear it will force severe closures. The Comprehensive Management Plan for Puget Sound Chinook was recently released after a long secret court mediation process. If approved, it could place severe restrictions on salmon fishing around Puget Sound. Because the plan was reached in secret, it's also reignited a rallying cry for transparency from WDFW and tribal co-managers…. Both the Attorney General's office and representatives from WDFW explained that the mediation process required non-disclosure from all parties. If approved by NOAA, the plan would reduce the exploitation rate from 12 percent to 8 percent on wild Chinook for the next 10 years. That means only 8 percent of the wild Chinook expected to return to their natal streams can be impacted by fishing. Alison Morrow reports/ (KING)

Wildlife committee launches emergency assessment for B.C. steelhead
A dismal return for steelhead salmon in British Columbia’s Interior Fraser River system has prompted an emergency assessment of the species. Eric Taylor, chair of Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, said two recent requests from the public for an investigation into the species in addition to mounting evidence of the steelhead decline led to last week’s decision to take action. Linda Givetash reports. (Canadian Press)

Dungeness crab population declining in south sound
The winter crabbing season is set to close at the end of the month, but several marine areas did not even open for crabbing in the fall — after countless crabbers came up empty-handed repeatedly last summer. In fact, of the state’s 13 marine areas, five of them — all in the south sound — remained closed to crabbing when the winter season opened on Oct. 7. Don Velasquez, a fish and wildlife biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), stressed this is not the norm…. Numerous islanders were upset when few Dungeness crabs found their way into pots last summer, and now that the state has finished compiling statistics, it is clear just how poor the season was — and how few crabs appear to be living in nearby waters. Sue Riemer reports. (Vashon Beachcomber)

Aquaculture company fined for violating ecology regulations
Washington state regulators have fined Cooke Aquaculture $8,000 for water quality violations at its farmed salmon operations off Bainbridge Island. The violations are unrelated to the company's Cypress Island net pens, which collapsed in August and released tens of thousands of non-native Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound. The state is currently investigating that collapse. The Department of Ecology on Wednesday said Cooke repeatedly cleaned dirty equipment and sent polluted wastewater into Puget Sound in Rich Passage. It penalized the company for pressure washing equipment over the water, changing boat engine oil over the water and other practices. (Associated Press)

A Visual Journey of the Proposed Nooksack Wild & Scenic River
Jonathan Stumpf writes: "We’re working to permanently protect 113 river miles and nearly 35,000 acres of riverside land in Washington’s upper Nooksack River system as Wild and Scenic. Join us for a visual journey of this amazing river and then take action to help us protect this special place." (American Rivers)

RDN to proceed with Bowser Wastewater Project
Despite facing possible legal repercussions and strong protest from residents, the Regional District of Nanaimo is going to proceed with the controversial Bowser Village Wastewater Project.… With the bylaws now officially in place, the RDN will enter into a Development Cost Charge (DCC) Front-ender Amendment agreement, dated Dec. 12, with four local developers who will be financing $2.6 million of the $10.7 project. The wastewater project was previously granted $7.6 million under the federal and provincial Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF)…. Residents outside the proposed service area have expressed strong opposition to the marine disposal option chosen for the project. The majority expressed these concerns at RDN-hosted public information sessions, in letters sent to the regional district, and online. The project consists of a collection system, treatment system and marine disposal, which Randy Alexander, general manager for regional and community utilities, indicated are a “proven and reliable method of managing treated effluent.” Michael Briones reports. (Parksville Qualicum Beach News)

Head Of Washington State Ferries Has Plans To Electrify The Fleet 
A new state initiative called Maritime Blue is pushing for more sustainability in the sector. A 20-member advisory council appointed by Governor Jay Inslee is developing innovation strategies, with the help of consultants from Norway. That has the head of the Washington State Ferries system dreaming big about how to electrify the fleet. Speaking at the launch of Maritime Blue, State Ferries Director Amy Scarton presented her vision, which she said was inspired by cajoling from the staff of the new council. She noted that the state Department of Transportation is falling behind on meeting its reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions. And that if you look at the emissions from all of the vehicles run by WSDOT – all of the heavy equipment, snowplows, cars, trucks and boats – it turns out the ferry system is the biggest culprit. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

If you like to watch: Here Come The Penitent Penguins: The Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards Are Back
Penitent penguins. A seal aghast. A turbocharged wigeon, a vain gnu and a kickboxing kangaroo. The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are back. This year’s winners were announced Thursday morning. The annual awards are “ingeniously titled to avoid any confusion,” according to their website, and recognize images that are “light-hearted, upbeat, possibly unpretentious and mainly about wildlife doing funny things.” Like a fox pooping in one of the holes on a golf course, for example. Not a lot pretentious about that. Rebecca Hersher reports (NPR)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  210 AM PST Thu Dec 14 2017  
 SE wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 7 ft at 15 seconds.
 SE wind to 10 kt becoming SW after midnight. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 7 ft at 14 seconds. A chance of rain  after midnight.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

12/13 Tanager, net pens, BC steelhead, chum run, Snake salmon, EPA grants, #StopSucking, youth suit, pyrosomes

Summer tanager [Ho-Melissa Hafting/Canadian Press]
Rare and off-course bird turns up in Vancouver
Bird watchers are flocking to British Columbia's Lower Mainland after a wayward summer tanager was spotted pecking at peanuts on a south Vancouver balcony over the weekend. Saturday's sighting was the first time a summer tanager has been recorded in the Metro Vancouver area, and only the sixth time for all B.C., said Melissa Hafting, who runs a blog on rare birds. "He's bringing a lot of joy to birders in the area," Hafting said in an email. "He has a small bill deformity but is eating very well." Summer tanagers typically winter from central Mexico to Bolivia and Brazil, and their summers are usually spent around the southeastern United States. (Canadian Press)

Net pens, climate dominate as Clallam commissioners take testimony on draft shoreline plan
Clallam County commissioners were flooded with public testimony on net pens, climate change and other parts of the draft shoreline plan Tuesday. Seventeen of 28 speakers objected to in-water net pen aquaculture, which would be allowed as a conditional use under the proposed update to the 1976 county Shoreline Master Program. Others who testified in a three-hour hearing said the 258-page draft falls short in addressing climate change. Commissioners took no action on the proposal Tuesday, opting to review the testimony and to seek further information from staff.  Rob Ollikainen reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Actor William Shatner calls for 'immediate action' on declining steelhead population
Canadian actor William Shatner is calling on the federal government to take action on the declining steelhead salmon population in the Thompson River watershed in B.C's southern Interior. Shatner sent a letter to Dominic LeBlanc, federal minister of fisheries, calling out "gill nets and other non-selective fishing methods" for contributing to this particular population of steelhead being unable to reach their spawning grounds. "It is difficult to imagine that the Canadian government would stand idly by, allowing a 'business as usual' approach to prevail when a species is facing extinction," Shatner said in his letter. "Thompson steelhead, an international treasure, need and deserve your immediate action." Courtney Dickson reports. (CBC)

Two reasons why the chum salmon run was off this fall
A sharp decline in chum salmon returns to Whatcom County this year is likely cyclical and isn’t an immediate cause for concern, a Bellingham fisheries scientist said. “The chum run was really low this year,” said Sara Smith, an instructor in fisheries and aquaculture sciences at Bellingham Technical College…. “It looks like a really drastic decline but salmon runs are naturally highly variable from year to year,” she said. “It’s not a dire situation, but it was pretty darn low.” Smith said it was difficult to cite a reason for this year’s decline, but she said that she and other scientists think a likely cause is the “warm blob” of Pacific Ocean water off the Western Washington, Canadian and Alaskan coastlines.  Robert Mittendorf reports. (Bellingham Herald)

'A Lot More Work To Do' To Recover Snake River Chinook, Steelhead
One of Idaho’s struggling salmon species could eventually become self-sustaining in the wild under the federal government’s new recovery strategies. The two new recovery plans are meant to help three species of Snake River Basin fish that are considered to be threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act. While they point to a number of  ways to improve conditions for salmon and steelhead, the plans stop short of suggesting breaching any of the four dams on the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington. Among the three species, the Snake River’s fall chinook are faring the best, said Ken Troyer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northern Snake Branch chief. Courtney Flatt reports. (NW Public Radio/EarthFix)  See also: New plans for some threatened salmon are insufficient, feds say  Rocky Barker reports. (Idaho Statesman)

Area tribes awarded EPA grants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday $2 million in grants for dozens of projects planned by Pacific Northwest tribes to manage water quality. About $1 million is for nonpoint pollution projects, according to a news release. Nonpoint pollution comes from fields, roads and other sources. The other $1 million will go toward projects that will restore and protect water quality, according to the release. Projects range from controlling invasive species and water temperature to improving fish passage and habitat. The Samish, Sauk-Suiattle, Stilliguamish, Swinomish and Upper Skagit are among the tribes awarded grants. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

If you like to watch: Lonely Whale Foundation's #StopSucking PSA
We use 500 million plastic straws every day in the U.S. Many of those plastic straws end up in our oceans, polluting the water and harming sea life. If we don’t act now, by 2050 plastics in the ocean will outweigh the fish. One small change can have a big impact: #stopsucking on plastic straws. Take the challenge: stopsucking.strawlessocean.org Want more? Watch Sucker Punch #StopSucking and Help Create a #StrawlessOcean  (Lonely Whale Foundation)

Climate Change Suit Filed By 21 Youths Hits 9th Circuit Appeals Court
Attorneys for a group of youths suing the U.S. government over climate change were back in court Monday, arguing before a federal appeals court that it should reject a government request to dismiss the case and instead allow it to go to trial in Eugene, Oregon. While Monday’s hearing happened in San Francisco before a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, some of the plaintiffs’ biggest fans gathered in a lecture hall on the University of Oregon campus to watch a live feed of the proceedings…. Plaintiffs in the federal case include 21 youths ages 10 to 21, along with well-known climate scientist James Hanson. Six of the plaintiffs are from Eugene; 11 of them are from Oregon. Jack Moran reports. (Register-Guard/EarthFix)

Thousands Of Pickle-Shaped Pyrosomes Washing Up On Oregon Beaches
The pyrosome invasion continues. Thousands of the strange, pickle-shaped gelatinous creatures continue to wash up on Clatsop County beaches months after ocean biologists first recorded masses of them drifting offshore during a research cruise in the spring. Very little is known about pyrosomes or why they have shown up in force now. Research into what they eat and what it means to have them in the ecosystem is ongoing. Pyrosomes have been seen in Oregon and Washington state waters before but never in such large numbers. This spring, there were enough floating in the water column to clog up fishing gear on commercial shrimp boats. Katie Frankowicz reports. (Daily Astorian/EarthFix)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  213 AM PST Wed Dec 13 2017  
 E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 or 2 ft. W swell 6 ft at  13 seconds.
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  7 ft at 15 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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