Thursday, May 18, 2017

5/18 ESA Day, SRKW, Chinook release, Cherry Pt, Surrey coal, Coos Bay LNG, EPA rules, Samish fails, big tooth, whale ban, barn owls, Chimacum

Endangered Species Day
On May 19, 2017 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will observe Endangered Species Day in order to recognize the national conservation efforts to protect our nation's endangered species and their habitats.

Southern resident killer whales to be recognized on Endangered Species Day
Southern Resident Killer Whales will be recognized in a display on the San Juan County courthouse and council chamber lawns on Endangered Species Day, Friday, May 19. There will be 86 orca whale dorsal fins displayed representing the 78 living free members of the Southern Resident Killer Whale J, K and L pods, plus the one living in captivity (L-25, Tokitae aka “Lolita”) and the 7 that died in 2016-17. (San Juan Journal) See also: Help people watch whales at Westside Preserve  (San Juan Journal) And: Events will mark 15th anniversary of Springer, the orphaned Northern Resident killer whale’s rescue  Celebrate Springer! May 20, 1 PM, Vashon Theater

Over 220,000 young Chinook to be released to help B.C.'s endangered orcas
It's a project started by a group of B.C fishermen that could produce big results in just a few years. By the end of May, the first batch of around 220,000 young Chinook salmon will be released into the ocean to help feed B.C.'s endangered orcas. The project, long in the works, is privately funded and was approved by the federal government last year. It involved catching wild fish and facilitating their reproduction in a hatchery — and now the smolts are set to be released off the docks of the Sooke Harbour Resort and Marina. Justin McElroy reports. (CBC)

Whatcom Council OKs new policies for development at Cherry Point
The Whatcom County Council has approved new policies for development of heavy industry at Cherry Point that include limiting new piers and conducting a study that will delve into what the council can and can’t do regarding unrefined fossil fuels moving through the community. Council members approved the measures 6-1 Tuesday night after hours of public comment from opponents and supporters of the changes to the county’s comprehensive plan that are related to Cherry Point. Council member Barbara Brenner voted no. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Environmental lawyers ask court to quash Surrey coal transfer facility
The Federal Court heard Wednesday from environmental lawyers that are trying to overturn the Vancouver Port Authority's approval of a coal transfer facility on the Fraser River. The project would see four million tonnes of thermal coal pass through the Lower Mainland every year. The coal would be brought in from Wyoming, barged to a site on Texada Islands and then exported to Asia. Tina Lovgreen reports. (CBC)

Coos County Voters Reject Measure Targeting LNG Facility
Coos County voters rejected a measure Tuesday designed to prevent a liquefied natural gas plant from being built on Oregon’s coast. Measure 6-162 would have essentially blocked an LNG export terminal and pipeline proposed by Canadian company Veresen. The measure failed with 75.91 percent of voters opposed and only 24.09 percent of voters in favor, according to election results released by Coos County. Ryan Haas reports. (OPB)

EPA public comments favor environmental protections for air and water
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency put out a call for comments about what regulations are in need of repeal, replacement or modification. The effort stemmed from an executive order issued by President Trump earlier this year instructing agencies to reexamine regulations that “eliminate jobs, or inhibit job creation” and/or “impose costs that exceed benefits.” More than 55,100 responses rolled in by the time the comment period closed on Monday — but they were full of Americans sharing their experiences of growing up with dirty air and water, and with pleas for the agency not to undo safeguards that could return the country to more a more polluted era. Brady Dennis reports. (Washington Post)

Samish Bay fails spring pollution evaluation 
Just days after a visit from Gov. Jay Inslee to discuss progress being made in cleaning up bacterial pollution in Samish Bay, the bay failed an annual state evaluation. Rain during Inslee's visit Monday increased the flow of the Samish River, prompting water sampling and a precautionary shellfish harvest closure on Tuesday. Skagit County Water Quality Analyst Rick Haley said Wednesday afternoon that the amount of bacteria in the water samples was about 10 times the limit set by the state Department of Health. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

A big find: Locals stumble upon mammoth molar on Sequim beach
Sequim residents Lori Christie and Dean Flowers were taking their regular walk along a Sequim public beach when they stumbled upon a rare find: a Columbian mammoth molar weighing just over 10 pounds. Christie, a managing broker at JACE Real Estate in Sequim, said she is a regular hiker and hikes about 20 miles a week. She and Flowers were looking for petrified wood and rocks along a local beach — where it is permissible to pick up objects — when they saw something different from the surrounding rocks. (Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Vancouver Aquarium 'will fight to the end' on cetacean ban
The Vancouver Aquarium is vowing to fight the new Vancouver Park Board bylaw which prevents it from bringing in new cetaceans.  "We will fight to the end to preserve our programs," said John Nightingale, long-time CEO of the aquarium.  Nightingale didn't rule out taking legal action, saying they were "keeping all options open."  Tina Lovgreen reports. (CBC) See also: Vancouver park board worries whale fight could sour relations with aquarium  Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Dramatic video shows killer whales hunting sea lion in Salish Sea
A whale watching group caught dramatic video of killer whales hunting a sea lion in the Salish Sea. Traci Walter with Western Prince Whale Watching says the family group is called the T123's. The group includes a 32-year-old mother, Sidney, her 17-year-old son, Stanley, and 5-year-old daughter, Lucky. (KOMO)

Vehicles, lack of hunting and nesting sites threaten urban barn owls
One of Canada's largest populations of barn owls may be more aptly named bridge or overpass owls because they're losing normal roosting spaces and struggling to adapt to urbanization, a new study says. It was based on owls around Metro Vancouver and found that habitat loss, road deaths and rodent poison have a lethal impact on the birds but changes to green-space policies and public education could mitigate the loss. Terri Theodore reports. (Canadian Press)

Ferry Chimacum preparing for Bremerton debut
State ferry workers continued to put the Chimacum through its paces, spinning doughnuts and slamming on brakes in Elliott Bay. The third of four Olympic-class vessels is preparing for a June 25 debut on the Seattle-Bremerton route. Washington State Ferries accepted the Chimacum from shipbuilder Vigor on April 7, outfitted it, is now conducting sea trials and on Friday will begin training its four 15-person crews. Pulling away from Colman Dock Tuesday, the new boat accelerated quietly, like an electric car. Ed Friedrich reports. (Kitsap Sun)

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