Monday, September 18, 2017

9/18 Rare bird, salmon, orcas, sturgeon, crabs, shellfish, glaciers, carbon, Charlene Aleck, La Nina, ANWR, Colstrip, Twyla Roscovich, deer

Swallow-tailed gull [Morgan Edwards/Everett Herald]
This very rare bird in Edmonds is 4,000 miles from home
It has all the appearances of Hollywood paparazzi — clusters of people with cameras with long lenses mounted on tripods, others using binoculars, and some just waiting in anticipation. All this has been happening on beaches from Seattle to Edmonds to Everett, not in search of a movie star, but a swallow-tailed gull, a bird nearly 4,000 miles from its home in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of South America. News of local sightings quickly spread among the birding world, earning a “rare” designation on the American Birding Association blog. Sharon Salyer reports. (Everett Herald)

After salmon release, activists want net pens out of Rich Passage
After a structural failure at Cooke Aquaculture’s Cypress Island fish farming facility last month, thousands of the site’s 305,000 non-native Atlantic salmon streamed out into Puget Sound. Since they scattered, Atlantic salmon have been caught as far away as Monroe, Hoodsport and off the state’s Pacific coastline. As environmental activists worry about the effects of the site failure, they’re turning their attention to similar operations Cooke runs in Rich Passage and calling for the company to leave Puget Sound. Nathan Pilling reports. (Kitsap Sun) See also: Flotilla protest calls for ending fish farm net pens  Saturday dozens of fish and wildlife activists protested a fish farm net pen near Bainbridge Island. Ryan Takeo reports. (KING)

Can we save the orcas with ... mud?
If we want more of our iconic but endangered black-and-white Puget Sound orcas, we might want to start by providing more mud. The same is true for the region’s other endangered marine symbol, chinook salmon. It’s simple: Salmon depend on healthy habitat, including muddy areas along the edges of Puget Sound’s estuaries. And a southern resident killer whale eats salmon. Chinook salmon. Research indicates that most of the year, the orcas eat almost nothing else. In late summer and fall, when other salmon species are more abundant, they branch out. If there were more chinook, AKA king, salmon, they might branch out a lot less. Daniel Jack Chasan reports. (Crosscut)

Nonprofit to use new funding to try to find reason steelhead die near Hood Canal Bridge
A Seattle nonprofit that works to restore wild salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest has received a $750,000 appropriation to help determine why steelhead are dying near the Hood Canal Bridge. Long Live the Kings received the funding in the state’s 2017-18 biennial budget in support of the current $2.5 million phase of the Hood Canal Bridge Ecosystem Impact Assessment, the nonprofit announced. Rob Ollikainen reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Pacific coast’s warm waters having impact on salmon numbers
The mass of warm water known as “the blob” that heated up the North Pacific Ocean has dissipated, but scientists are still seeing the lingering effects of those unusually warm sea surface temperatures on Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead. Federal research surveys this summer caught among the lowest numbers of juvenile coho and Chinook salmon in 20 years, suggesting that many fish did not survive their first months at sea. Scientists warn that salmon fisheries may face hard times in the next few years. Fisheries managers also worry about below average runs of steelhead returning to the Columbia River now. Returns of adult steelhead that went to sea as juveniles a year ago so far rank among the lowest in 50 years. (Associated Press)

Fraser River sturgeon catch-and-release fishery under scrutiny
The provincial government is pursuing two new studies of the Fraser River white sturgeon, while First Nations conservationists call for the recreational fishery to be curtailed. “We have a longtime moratorium on killing sturgeon that (First Nations) adopted voluntarily back in the ’90s,” said Ken Malloway, chairman of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance. The alliance has also called for fishing to be banned on spawning grounds, similar to protections in place on the Columbia River…. The provincial government catch-and-release sturgeon fishery in the Fraser River is out of proportion to the number of fish left in the river, Malloway said. Nearly 17,000 recreational fishing licenses for sturgeon are now sold each year in B.C. — a combination of one-day, eight-day and annual permits — up from 9,828 in 2009. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

'A bloodbath, basically': Crab poaching a problem in B.C.'s Lower Mainland: biologist
Earlier this month, Andrew Newman was dismayed to witness two people rip the claws off undersized crabs in White Rock, B.C. and toss them back into the ocean. Newman, the owner of White Rock Sea Tours and Whale Watching, described the scene as an act of "greed and cruelty" and called authorities. He later posted a video of the RCMP bust that resulted in fines for two people accused of removing the meaty claws from undersized and female crabs…. Fisheries officials did not have statistics on poaching in B.C., but a biologist at Vancouver Island University said crab poaching is a problem in the Lower Mainland. Stefanie Duff, chair of the fisheries and aquaculture program at the University of Vancouver Island, said she has noticed a number crabs without their claws, especially in intertidal areas where recreational fishermen often pitch their traps. Ash Kelly reports. (CBC)

Cleaner Liberty Bay now open to commercial shellfish harvesting
Liberty Bay’s health is improving, leading state health officials to open a large swath of the bay up to commercial shellfish harvesting for the first time in decades. State Department of Health officials announced Thursday that 760 acres of the bay are now open for commercial harvests. Health officials hailed the move as a sign of the health of the bay, following efforts over the last decade to staunch flows of pollutants into its waters. For the state to open an area up for commercial shellfish harvesting, tests must show average levels of fecal coliform bacteria, which signal sewage or animal waste leaking into the water, to be low in locations throughout the area to be reclassified, said state Department of Health environmental engineer Mark Toy. Nathan Pilling reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Thurston County Commissioners approve septic plan for shellfish protection district
The Thurston County Commissioners has unanimously approved an ordinance to re-enact rates and charges to continue funding the Henderson Inlet Shellfish Protection District’s on-site sewage system work plan. The program was set to expire Dec. 31. The new ordinance will add a $10 annual charge for each additional residential septic system on a property, and adjusts rates for larger non-residential systems. After the increase, most property owners will pay $40, although some will have increases of $100 or more, officials say. About 6,700 septic systems are affected by the ordinance. Lisa Pemberton reports. (Olympian)

Area glaciers continue losing ice
With the summer heat having melted much of the snow on Mount Baker, a rocky peak covered with light blue sheets of glacial ice has been revealed. That ice has been fast disappearing in recent years — a trend seen in glaciers throughout the North Cascades. “When I first came here in the 1980s, the glacier was still just above that waterfall there,” geologist Jon Riedel said while looking out from a rocky ridge at Easton Glacier on the south side of Mount Baker. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Washington's tribes may push second carbon tax initiative in 2018
Tribal leaders might forge ahead with their own plan to tax carbon emissions in Washington state, breaking away from another group that’s working on a statewide carbon-tax initiative for the November 2018 ballot. A top tribal leader said the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy didn’t seek feedback from Native American tribes when it began developing the carbon-tax plan it hopes to send to voters next fall. Now, it’s unclear if the tribes and the Alliance can reconcile their separate visions for how to combat climate change, said Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation. Melissa Santos reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Return to the Salish Sea: Tsleil-Waututh Councilor Charlene Aleck
One of the biggest concerns about the future of the Salish Sea is the likely expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. It carries tar sands oil from Canada’s eastern provinces to a terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia, just north of Vancouver. The expansion, which was approved by Canada’s federal government last year, would twin the pipeline, triple the amount of oil coming through and increase by as much as seven-fold the number of oil tankers traversing the Salish Sea. The terminal is on Burrard Inlet, across from Cates Park, where visitors will find references to the First Nations community called the Tsleil-Waututh. The park includes sacred lands. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Why you might want to start preparing for a cold, wet winter
With that chill in the morning air this week, it might have you thinking about the colder weather ahead. And forecasters don’t exactly have good news on that front. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center released its latest outlook on Thursday, showing a 55 to 60 percent chance we’ll see La Nina this fall and winter. Abby Spegman reports. (Olympian)

Trump administration moves to open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling studies
An internal Interior Department memo has proposed lifting restrictions on exploratory seismic studies in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a possible first step toward opening the pristine wilderness to oil and gas drilling. The document proposes ending a restriction that had limited exploratory drilling to the period from Oct. 1, 1984, to May 31, 1986. It also directs the agency to provide an environmental assessment and a proposed rule allowing for new exploration plans. The document, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, was first reported by The Washington Post. The refuge, which covers more than 30,000 square miles, has been closed to commercial drilling for decades because of concerns about the impact on polar bears, caribou and other animals. Opening it up has been a priority for Republicans. Lisa Friedman reports. (NY Times)

Colstrip Deal Moves Northwest Residents Closer To Coal-Free Electricity
Thousands of Northwest residents will be getting less electricity from burning coal. That’s because of a new agreement to fast-track the closure of a coal-fired power plant in Montana. The announcement came Friday as part of a rate settlement from Puget Sound Energy. The investor-owned utility has agreed to be financially ready to close its coal plant in Montana nearly two decades ahead of what they’d originally planned. To do this, PSE will increase customer’s electric rates by about 1 percent. That increase will be offset by a 4 percent cut in natural gas rates. Courtney Flatt reports. (NWPR/EarthFix)

Body of missing filmmaker Twyla Roscovich found on Vancouver Island
The family of Twyla Roscovich says her body has been found on Vancouver Island.  The 38-year-old filmmaker, activist and mother vanished a week ago, prompting a widespread search. In a written statement, Roscovich's family said her body was discovered Friday near Fisherman's Wharf in Campbell River. The family didn't release any details about her death but said no foul play was suspected. A search had been underway along the jagged coastline that Roscovich loved. She created films about the region in an effort to protect the salmon and the environment and raise awareness about everything from First Nations to oil tankers. (CBC)

Oh, deer. If you’re a Bellingham resident who likes to do this, you might have to stop
Feeding wild deer in city limits could soon be prohibited. The Bellingham City Council is considering a ban after hearing from residents frustrated by neighbors who purposefully feed deer, drawing them in great numbers and exacerbating problems that come with a burgeoning deer population, according to city officials. But neighbors don’t have any recourse when they complain because the city doesn’t have a rule on the books. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  244 AM PDT Mon Sep 18 2017  
 S wind to 10 kt becoming SE 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 9 seconds. Numerous  showers and a slight chance of tstms.
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  8 ft at 13 seconds building to 11 ft at 14 seconds after  midnight. A chance of showers in the evening then a slight chance  of showers after midnight.

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