Monday, November 6, 2017

11/6 SnoCo water, Whatcom dairy, Saanich enviro rule, Yukon rights, beavers, AK cod, Trump coal, eelgrass rot, Edmonds marsh, Vic Harbour, Euro orcas, walrus ESA, Cooke pens

Cratena peregrina [Gabriella Luongo/NY Times]
When This Sea Slug Eats, It Prefers the Turducken of the Sea
In a study published Wednesday in Biology Letters, a team of scientists from Britain and Italy described how the sea slug Cratena peregrina practices “kleptopredation,” which means it prefers to prey on organisms that have themselves just eaten. Steph Yin reports. (NY Times)

County settles lawsuit over water-quality issues
Snohomish County has settled a federal lawsuit that a water quality watchdog filed last year. The county finalized the agreement with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance on Wednesday. As part of the arrangement, the county pledged to retrofit drainage projects near Little Bear Creek and to host events promoting stormwater management practices known as low-impact development. The county must reimburse some of the nonprofit’s legal expenses. Elected officials also have started making technical amendments to the county’s stormwater rules. Both sides called the agreement cooperative. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

Whatcom dairy farmer fined $8,000 for allowing manure runoff to pollute water
A Whatcom County dairy farmer has been fined $8,000 for allowing manure runoff from his Snook Brook Farms to get into ditches at Grandview and Kickerville roads. The Washington State Department of Agriculture issued the fine Oct. 24 to Seth Snook for the dairy at 6804 Kickerville Road, northwest of Ferndale. Subsequent water quality tests showed elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Controversy swirls around proposal to cut stormwater surcharge
Budget season and flood season have run together in interesting ways this year for Snohomish County. A recent idea to save some south county homeowners a few dollars in annual stormwater fees has created a political tempest of sorts. When Councilwoman Stephanie Wright suggested getting rid of a surcharge that costs homeowners in urban unincorporated areas about $32 per year, it met with a stormy reaction from other quarters…. Wright’s idea comes as the council works on next year’s budget. Paring down tax increases for county services has been a focal point, as many property owners cope with hikes to pay for mass transit and state schools funding…. County Executive Dave Somers said Wright’s stormwater proposal would doom or delay a dozen projects to address the worst areas for urban flooding — particularly in her district covering southwest Snohomish County. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

Group plans rally to keep Saanich’s environmental bylaw
A group of Saanich residents is hoping to persuade Saanich to reverse course on its decision to kill the Environmental Development Permit Area bylaw. The group, calling itself Homeowners for Saanich’s EDPA, is calling on residents to rally in support of the EDPA at Saanich Municipal Hall at 6:30 p.m. Monday. After a heated public hearing last weekend, Saanich councillors voted 5-4 to scrap the EDPA. The bylaw was passed in 2012 with the goal of protecting sensitive ecosystems on about 2,200 private properties. The decision still has to be formally ratified. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

Canada legal fight may ‘destroy the faith’ in First Nations treaties
The indigenous groups thought they had reached a deal: A vast landscape in the north of Yukon Territory would be mostly set aside for preservation, with only a small percentage allotted to industrial development. But then the Yukon government decided to push aside this recommendation agreed to by a joint government-indigenous commission. Instead, it favored far more development in the wilderness, which has huge deposits of coal, gas and minerals, including 18 billion tons of iron ore claimed by Chevron, the U.S. petroleum giant. Now the 26,000 square miles of the Peel Watershed — an area larger than the state of West Virginia where mountain sheep graze on the sides of snow-capped peaks, and grizzlies and wolves hunt caribou and moose along the banks of six pristine rivers — is at the heart of a legal battle before Canada’s Supreme Court. Dan Levin reports. (NY Times)

Saving Oregon's Beavers From Federal Wildlife-Killing Agency Will Help Salmon Survive: Lawsuit
The beaver may be Oregon’s official state animal but that status is not shielding it from being killed by the hundreds by a federal agency. The killing could end, though, if two environmental groups prevail with their new lawsuit challenging the practice. They contend that it’s harming more than just the state’s marquee mammal. Beavers can create a lot of environmental benefits to a landscape. They build dams from sticks, mud, and rocks. That creates ponds, which provide habitat for lots of wildlife , including the federally threatened Oregon spotted frog and Oregon coast coho salmon. “Beavers are such amazing little creatures,” said Collette Adkins, with the Center for Biological Diversity. “They’re nature’s engineers.” That’s why the center and Northwest Environmental Advocates on Thursday filed a formal notice of intent to sue Wildlife Services — a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Courtney Flatt reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Climate change preview? Pacific Ocean 'blob' appears to take toll on Alaska cod
Gulf of Alaska cod populations appear to have nose-dived, a collapse fishery scientists believe is linked to warm water temperatures known as “the blob” that peaked in 2015. The decline is expected to substantially reduce the Gulf cod harvests that in recent years have been worth — before processing — more than $50 million to Northwest and Alaska fishermen who catch them with nets, pot traps and baited hooks set along the sea bottom. The blob also could foreshadow the effects of climate change on the marine ecosystem off Alaska’s coast, where chilly waters rich with food sustain North America’s richest fisheries. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Anger over Trump support for coal at UN climate talks
Plans by the Trump administration to promote coal as a solution to climate change at a major UN meeting have angered environmentalists. An adviser to the president is expected to take part in a pro-coal presentation in Bonn this coming week. Separately, a group of governors will say that the US is still committed to climate action despite Mr Trump's rejection of the Paris agreement. The talks begin on Monday and aim to flesh out the rules for the Paris pact. This meeting, officially known as COP23, will be the first full gathering of climate negotiators since President Trump vowed to take the US out of the Paris treaty. Matt McGrath reports. (BBC)

Researchers document eelgrass wasting disease in Skagit, San Juan counties
Squatting on a muddy beach on the north end of Fidalgo Island, Morgan Eisenlord untangled several slippery strands of eelgrass. Most of the strands were a shiny green, similar to giant, damp blades of grass. Some bore patches of brown — a sign of eelgrass wasting disease. Eisenlord — a Cornell University doctoral student doing her dissertation at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs — is searching for the disease in areas on Fidalgo Island and on the San Juan Islands. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Edmonds plans study to evaluate health of marsh
One of the city’s landmarks is its 28-acre fresh- and saltwater marsh. Visitors can spot up to 225 species of birds there. Its cattails and wetlands are remnants of what was once a 100-acre marsh, stretching from what is now Marina Beach Park north to Brackett’s Landing. Now the city wants to know more about the marsh’s health, analyzing issues such as the impacts of stormwater, how the marsh could be affected by different buffer requirements, and how plans to daylight Willow Creek, which flows into the marsh, will impact it, City Council member Mike Nelson said. Sharon Salyer reports. (Everett Herald)

Harbour cleanup to remove hazardous material
Cleanup work to remove hazardous substances from Victoria Harbour is scheduled to begin this month. Transport Canada has awarded a $5.3-million contract to Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc. to remove hazardous materials from the seabed around Laurel Point Park.  The cleanup is part of a remediation project to help restore the bay and foreshore areas, said Annie Joannette, spokeswoman for Transport Canada. About 1,200 cubic metres of contaminated sediments will be dredged, Joannette said. Michael D. Reid reports. (Times Colonist)

A last refuge for Europe's blighted killer whales
Europe's killer whales wowed in the BBC's Blue Planet II series but these animals face extinction. Chris Gibson travelled to the small Norwegian island of Kvaløya where the orcas retain a strong foothold. But for how much longer?…. Across Europe, these cetaceans are declining rapidly. In the Mediterranean and the North Sea, they have vanished. Elsewhere, there are now only eight killer whales in the NW Scotland-Ireland population, and only 36 left in the Strait of Gibraltar population. Scientists believe they are doomed to extinction due to harmful chemicals manufactured by man. (BBC)

On Thin Ice: Walruses Threatened After U.S. Declines To List As Endangered
Walruses are facing a “death sentence” after the Trump administration declined last month to list the Pacific walrus as endangered, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The conservation group, which took legal action starting in 2008 to get walruses on the list, says the White House’s decision puts the species in a dire state as it confronts the effects of climate change. Samantha Raphelson reports. (NPR)

Here’s what went down when that Atlantic salmon farm went down
Owners of the Atlantic salmon farm that collapsed in August have released a detailed timeline of that accident as well as an earlier accident it suffered in July. Though it has received little scrutiny, the July mishap was severe enough to snap nearly half of the football-field-sized farm’s 22 anchor lines and cause the entire steel structure to move "considerably" to the south. Neither Cooke Aquaculture nor Washington state officials conducted a formal investigation of the July accident…. “You could call it two accidents. I would say that it’s one big, long accident that took the span of 30 days,” said Tom Wooten, tribal chair of the Samish Indian Nation in Anacortes.  John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  231 AM PST Mon Nov 6 2017  
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM THIS EVENING THROUGH
 TUESDAY AFTERNOON  
TODAY
 E wind 10 to 20 kt becoming SE 15 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 4 ft at 9 seconds.
TONIGHT
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. SW swell  3 ft at 13 seconds.

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