Tuesday, January 17, 2017

1/17 Portage Bay, orcas, Growlers, Swinomish suit, Huu-ay-aht appeal, Matt Horne, public lands, sea lion

[PHOTO: Laurie MaBride]
The Pond Creatures
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes; "Some strange and wondrous beings visited our backyard pond in recent days, taking advantage of the unusually cold weather we’d been experiencing. They disappeared last night, and I doubt I’ll see them again this year.  After a month of sunshine and extreme (for us) low temperatures, we’re finally getting back to our “normal” west coast winter: grey skies, rain and – mercifully – warmer temperatures…."

Lummi clammers, dairy farmers team up to clean bacteria-polluted bay, rather than fight
For more than two years now, Lummi Nation has been unable to reliably open its prime clam beds on its reservation for harvest because of bacterial pollution in Portage Bay near Bellingham. Now in an unusual leap of faith, tribal leaders and seven family dairy-farm operators in Whatcom County are launching a collaborative effort to clean up the bay. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Salish Sea Communications Guest Blog: Oil v. Orca
Shaun Hubbard writes: "The San Juan Islands, smack-dab in the middle of the Salish Sea, attract thousands and thousands of summer visitors – the two-legged kind. One of the main reasons they choose to visit the islands is to see our other summer visitors – the finned kind. The Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW), or orca whales, do not show up in the thousands however, but are fewer than 80 in number and, with the 7 reported dead or missing last year, are declining still…." (read more)

Killing the Killers: A Leading Indicator of Planetary Ecological Destruction
Mark Anderson writes: "There are two top predators on the planet…. While humans are clearly “in charge” on the planet, it turns out that the story is more complicated than that. Humans are the top predators on land, for example, but orcas (killer whales) are the top predators in the sea. And the sea is three-quarters of the planet’s surface area…." (Orca Relief Citizens’ Alliance)

Drones are added to orca protection zone
Most San Juan Islanders know vessels and aircraft can’t be within 200 yards of the Southern resident orcas, thanks to a state law adopted in 2008, but what about drones? That’s the question San Juan County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord asked the Washington State Attorney General’s Office to clarify last spring…. The attorney general’s opinion, released on Dec. 30, clarified that drones are part of the statute’s ambiguous term of “other objects” prohibited from entering the 200-yard protection zone. Haley Day reports. (San Juan Journal)

More public comment allowed on Growler jets at Whidbey
The Navy has decided to extend, by 30 days, the public-comment period for a draft environmental study of the effects of adding up to 36 EA-18G Growler aircraft to the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island-based fleet. The new Feb. 24 deadline results from requests by Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen for more time for public review of the draft study. More than 80 Growler jets are based at Whidbey Island, where the Navy is a mainstay of the economy. The noise they emit during crew training has been a big concern for many residents who live near two landing strips and underneath the flight paths. In the San Juan Islands, a county website has received more than 6,500 noise reports since May 2014. (Seattle Times)

Court refuses to throw out Swinomish suit against BNSF
A U.S. District Court refused Friday to throw out a lawsuit filed by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community against BNSF Railway. The tribe sued the railway in April 2015, claiming that BNSF violated an agreement with the tribe by failing to disclose cargo of certain trains traveling through the Swinomish reservation, and by not correctly seeking approval for an increase in rail traffic, according to court documents. Brandon Stone reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Ottawa to appeal $13.8 million award to Vancouver Island First Nation
The federal government is appealing a decision by a special claims tribunal to award $13.8 million in compensation to a Vancouver Island First Nation over a historic logging dispute. The Huu-ay-aht First Nation, based in Anacla near Bamfield, received notice of appeal on Thursday. The specific-claims tribunal, which hears claims by First Nations against the federal government regarding past wrongs, found the federal government failed in its duty to the community relating to logging contracts between 1948 and 1969. Katie DeRosa reports. (Times Colonist)

Vancouver hires well-known environmentalist to guide green policy
The City of Vancouver has hired a well-known environmental advocate to help guide its quest to become the greenest city on the planet. Matt Horne, the former associate director of environmental think-tank the Pembina Institute and a member of B.C.'s climate leadership team, is the city's new climate change policy manager. Horne is specifically tasked with shepherding the city's "The Greenest City 2020 Action Plan" — adopted in 2011 — and creating further policies and plans to be implemented to make the transition. (CBC)

Rule easing public lands transfer concerns hunters, others
A change in U.S. House rules making it easier to transfer millions of acres of federal public lands to states is worrying hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts across the West who fear losing access. Lawmakers earlier this month passed a rule eliminating a significant budget hurdle and written so broadly that it includes national parks. President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Interior secretary, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, voted for the rule change as did many other Republicans. The Senate would have to weigh in on public land transfers as well. Keith Ridler reports. (Associated Press) See also: What's In Store For Public Land Under President Trump?  Emily Schwing reports. (NWNews/KNKX)

State and federal officials euthanize Steller sea lion beached in Port Angeles
State and federal officials have euthanized a suffering Steller sea lion that was beached at the Nippon Paper Industries USA mill near Ediz Hook since at least Jan. 6. It was a joint decision between the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network, said Melissa Williams, executive director for Feiro Marine Life Center…. By Saturday, when it was euthanized, the animal couldn’t lift its head and was hardly opening its eyes, she said. An aquatic animal veterinarian and a DFW biologist determined the sea lion to be beyond recovery and chose to end its suffering, Williams said. Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

4 ways the Legislature can make Washington greener
Joan Crooks of the Washington Environmental Council writes: "There isn’t really a way around it — the 2016 national election was a big change for our country’s political calculus. President-Elect Donald Trump has nominated the most anti-environmental cabinet in the past century. But here at home, the changes we saw were mostly positive." (Crosscut)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  252 AM PST TUE JAN 17 2017  

GALE WARNING IN EFFECT THROUGH LATE TONIGHT
 
TODAY
 SE WIND 25 TO 35 KT. COMBINED SEAS 12 TO 14 FT WITH A  DOMINANT PERIOD OF 14 SECONDS. RAIN.
TONIGHT
 SE WIND 25 TO 35 KT...BECOMING S 15 TO 25 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. COMBINED SEAS 12 TO 13 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF  13 SECONDS. RAIN.

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