Tuesday, October 10, 2017

10/10 Salmon woes, Lorraine Loomis, SRKW, hypoxia, fish farm flaws, Pt Wells condo, SuperFund cleanup, Sally Jewell, coal rules

Black huckleberry [NativePlantsPNW]
Black Huckleberry Vaccinium membranaceum
Black huckleberries are among the most delicious of all our Vanccinium species, and they are produced in great abundance on some sites, especially old burns that have only sparse tree regeneration. In parts of the Cascade Mountains, the berries are picked for sale… In Nuxalt taxonomy, this berry is the type species of fruits and its name translates as 'berry/fruit.' The Kwakwaka'wakw cooked the berries with salmon roe, and the Schelt smoke-dried them using the plant's own branches as fuel. (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast)

Acidic oceans, warm rivers threaten Northwest salmon
What is the future of the Columbia River and its salmon? Look to 2015. That year’s extraordinary combination of overheated river water and low flows killed hundreds of thousands of returning sockeye salmon, devastating a run that had rebounded from near-extinction. Millions of new sockeye and steelhead smolts migrating the opposite way, to the Pacific, died throughout the river system; only 157 endangered sockeye made it back to the Sawtooth Valley this year. By the middle of this century, scientists suggest, the temperatures we saw in 2015 will be the norm. The low snowpack and streamflows were examples of what the Pacific Northwest should expect at the end of this century due to rapid climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels, climatologists say. Rocky Barker reports. (Idaho Statesman)

Empty nets signal trouble for Columbia River salmon
Scientists have been hauling survey nets through the ocean off the coasts of Washington and Oregon for 20 years. But this is the first time some have come up empty. “We were really worrying if there was something wrong with our equipment,” said David Huff, estuarine and ocean ecology program manager in the fish ecology division at NOAA Fisheries. “We have never hauled that net through the water looking for salmon or forage fish and not gotten a single salmon. Three times we pulled that net up, and there was not a thing in it. We looked at each other, like, ‘this is really different than anything we have ever seen.’ “It was alarming.” Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Buoyed by the legacy of Billy Frank Jr., Lorraine Loomis continues the fight
Lorraine Loomis’ office resides just a short walk from the Swinomish Channel in Skagit County. Across the waterway, with its fishing vessels awaiting their next adventure, sits quaint La Conner. Across the street is the Swinomish Fish Company. Seagulls cackle as they fly above the water. The air is pungent with sea salt…. Now pollution, loss of habitat and urban growth are wreaking havoc on sea life and the environment. At age 77, Loomis is taking on those challenges and uncertainties of the salmon’s future as chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC), a position once held by the late Billy Frank Jr. Mark Yuasa reports. (Crosscut)

Experts gather in Vancouver to brainstorm on southern resident whale recovery
With only 77 orcas remaining, scientists, Indigenous groups, industry and government look for answers. The latest endeavour for the recovery effort of the whales — listed as endangered in the United States and species at risk in Canada — comes this week to Vancouver where scientists, industry, Indigenous groups, government officials and others meet Oct. 11-12 in a symposium looking for solutions. The symposium is being held as part of the federal government's Oceans Protection Plan that was announced last November. Terri Theodore reports. (Canadian Press)

Coastal Researchers, Fishermen Concerned About More Frequent Low Oxygen Zones
Scientists in Oregon and Washington are noticing a disruptive ocean phenomenon is becoming more frequent and extreme. It involves a suffocating ribbon of low oxygen seawater over our continental shelf. The technical term is hypoxia, sometimes called "dead zones," It's an unwelcome variation on normal upwelling of cold, nutrient rich water from the deep ocean. When the dissolved oxygen drops too low, it drives away fish and can suffocate bottom dwellers such as crabs and sea worms who can't scurry away fast enough. Tom Banse reports. (NW News Network)

State gives fish farm operator 60 days to fix flaws in Puget Sound net pen
The operator of a salmon farming operation in Puget Sound has been given 60 days to fix flaws in its Rich Passage net pen facility or face possible closure, state officials said Monday. The order comes after an inspection by the state Department of Natural Resources found problems with Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon net pens in Rich Passage. Cooke Aquaculture's other net pens off Cypress Island collapsed Aug. 19, releasing tens of thousands of Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound, and now the company wants to transfer about 1 million juvenile Atlantic salmon from a hatchery near Rochester to the Rich Passage net pens…. On Monday, DNR issued a "letter of default" to Cooke Aquaculture, which gives the company 60 days to make repairs to the Rich Passage facility. If the company cannot make those repairs in that time, its lease for the state-owned aquatic lands on which the facility sits can be terminated. (KOMO)

Plan for 3,080 waterfront condos still lacking, county says
A developer needs to address lingering questions about plans to build 3,080 waterfront condos at Point Wells, including parking, landslide hazards and cleaning up industrial contamination, Snohomish County staff said Friday. Blue Square Real Estate has until Jan. 8 to supply missing information, according to a letter from county planners. The deadline is intended to give county staff time to review the information before BSRE’s permit applications are set to expire in mid-2018. The next step in the approval process would be a draft environmental impact statement. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

Portland Harbor Superfund Site Cleanup Could Be Delayed By EPA
The Trump administration has a new plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund site that Oregon officials say could reverse progress toward cleaning up toxic pollution in the Willamette River. Oregon environmental regulators and officials with the city of Portland have sent letters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressing their concerns about a draft agreement between the EPA and some of the companies responsible for cleaning up the site. The agreement would require redoing complicated environmental studies and investigations, they say, which would delay a process that has already taken more than 16 years. Furthermore, they say the EPA left key state and tribal leaders out of the negotiations and may have violated previous agreements. Cassandra Profita reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Sally Jewell on what’s at stake in Trump’s Interior Department
Sally Jewell was Interior secretary under President Barack Obama from April 2013 until his term ended in January 2017. At the department, the former CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. undertook a “forward-looking reform agenda,” emphasizing science-based land and water conservation, renewable energy development on public land, and better relations with Native American tribal nations. Brian Calvert reports. (High Country News/Crosscut)

EPA Chief Announces Reversal Of Obama-Era Curbs On Coal Plants
The Trump administration will scuttle an Obama-era clean power plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, made the announcement in Hazard, Ky., on Monday, saying the rule hurt coal-fired plants. “The EPA and no federal agency should ever use its authority to say to you we are going to declare war on any sector of our economy,” Pruitt said, speaking at an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “That rule really was about picking winners and losers,” the EPA administrator said. According to The Associated Press, the EPA is “expected to declare the Obama-era rule exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards that power plants could not reasonably meet.” Scott Neuman reports. (NPR) See also: Trump killing the Clean Power Plan does little for Montana coal energy  Tom Lutey reports. (Billings Gazette) And also: 'I just couldn't do it:' The ambassador who quit over climate change  Ashley Ahearn reports. (Terrestrial)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  247 AM PDT Tue Oct 10 2017  
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM PDT THIS MORNING
 THROUGH THIS EVENING  
TODAY
 W wind 10 to 20 kt rising to 20 to 25 kt by late this  morning. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft, building to 3 to 5 ft. W swell 6  ft at 13 seconds. Rain likely in the morning.
TONIGHT
 W wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft subsiding to 2 ft or less after  midnight. W swell 8 ft at 12 seconds. A slight chance of showers.

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