Tuesday, December 18, 2018

12/18 Trumpeter swan, killing sea lions, Columbia dams, Skagit climate, orca plan, Sunshine Coast land, Illahee Preserve, herring, chlorpyrifos, Kevin Ranker, floating garbage

Trumpeter swan [Audubon Field Guide]
Trumpeter swan Cygnus buccinator
Trumpeter Swans once nested over most of North America, but disappeared rapidly as civilization advanced westward; by the 1930s, fewer than 100 remained south of Canada. With protection from hunting and disturbance, populations have rebounded in parts of the northwest.... Its healthy comeback is considered a success story for conservationists. (Audubon Field Guide)

State discusses killing seals and sea lions in Puget Sound
State wildlife commissioners heard testimony Friday about whether a seal and sea lion cull could help save salmon, and thereby restore food to the starving Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW).... "It's important to set the stage that this occurs in a very complex ecosystem and it is a very complex food web," said WDFW Research Scientist Scott Pearson.... "If you want a 25 percent reduction in the total juvenile Chinook consumption by seals, we have to reduce this number of 19,000 seals down to 14,300. If you subtract this number from this number, that's how many we have to remove 4,700 seals, and we have to annually remove 530 seals per year to keep it at that level," Pearson said. But the problem is, salmon also face a slew of other challenges, including hydropower, hatcheries, habitat, disease, and contaminants. Scientists told commissioners they don't know whether killing seals and sea lions will do anything at all.... "In my opinion, even if the seal consumption were somehow reduced or eliminated, there is no guarantee of a response by the salmon in terms of returning adults," said WDFW Research Scientist Joe Anderson. Alison Morrow reports. (KING) See also: Puget Sound resident orcas limited by social behavior  Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Changes to dams on  Columbia, Snake rivers to benefit salmon, hydropower and orcas
After decades of arguments and court challenges, a landmark agreement supported by states, tribes and federal agencies is expected to change how water is spilled at Columbia and Lower Snake River dams to boost the survival of young salmon while limiting the financial hit to hydropower. The agreement is to be recorded Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland and is intended to be in effect for the 2019 salmon migration season, and remain in place through 2021. The pact addresses how water passes over the hydroelectric dams during the crucial spring period when young salmon migrate downstream to the ocean. Hal Bernton and Lynda Makes reports. (Seattle Times)

Study: Climate change impacting Skagit River salmon, eagles
Climate change is impacting the Skagit River ecosystem and the salmon and eagles that congregate there each winter, according to a recent study. The study, published online Oct. 16 by the Journal of Applied Ecology, states the majority of chum salmon and the bald eagles that eat them are being seen in the Skagit River about two weeks earlier than they were in the 1980s. That shift in the timing of peak salmon and eagle migration to the Skagit River is likely in response to climate change, according to the study. The study, written by wildlife biologists with the North Cascades National Park Service Complex and the U.S. Geological Survey's National Climate Adaptation Science Center, used about 30 years of data about salmon and eagle populations in the mid-to-upper reaches of the Skagit River watershed in Skagit and Whatcom counties. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

The $1.1-billion orca plan could be a gamechanger
With their robust support for restoring salmon, fighting contamination and limiting boat traffic, Orca Task Force members are cautiously optimistic about Inslee's budget helping the Southern Residents.  Hannah Weinberger reports. (Crosscut)

Sunshine Coast 1,800-acre land parcel up for sale
Nearly 2,000 acres of land in one of B.C.’s most stunning fiords is up for sale for $3.2 million, prompting calls to turn the undeveloped land into protected park land. The 1,783-acre Sunshine Coast property — boasting more than four kilometres of ocean frontage, but also granite cliffs and steep terrain — is located on the south side of Princess Louisa Inlet, a popular destination for tourists and Pacific Northwest boaters. “It’s as close to heaven on Earth as you can get,” said Robert Rothe, president of the Princess Louisa International Society, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of the inlet. Cheryl Chan reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Campaign launched to expand Illahee Preserve
Jeremy Stitt remembers roaming free as a child through the forests of a still-wild Illahee.  Many years later, the East Bremerton native sees an opportunity to protect some of those same undeveloped places before they're lost forever. Stitt is one of many volunteers backing an effort to add dozens of acres to Illahee Preserve, a sprawling county heritage park between Bremerton and Silverdale. Organized by the non-profit group Illahee Forest Preserve, the capital campaign aims to purchase a series of parcels and conservation easements encompassing a furrowed and fern-choked swath of woods dubbed "The Lost Continent." Several of the properties targeted for acquisition could be cleared and built on if not added to the 572-acre park. And once they're gone, Stitt observed, "you can't get them back." Tad Sooter reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Test your herring knowledge
One of the first steps in protecting any species is understanding as much as you can about it. When it comes to Pacific herring in the Salish Sea, much is known but until recently many of the key scientific findings about the species had not been gathered together in a single place. A new state of the knowledge report published by the Puget Sound Institute and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is a step toward remedying that.The report, “Assessment and Management of Salish Sea Herring” was prepared with support from a grant from the SeaDoc Society. It will be used to advance herring conservation in the region, including potential herring recovery work related to the state’s Pacific herring ‘Vital Sign’. Herring are also a critical food source for many species such as Chinook salmon, which in turn feed Puget Sound’s endangered orcas. Tessa Francis of the Puget Sound Institute and Dayv Lowry of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife were the principle investigators on the report and received input from a cross-border team from state and federal agencies, universities and area tribes. (Puget Sound Institute)

A Toxic Pesticide Once Targeted For A Ban Was Probably Sprayed On Your Christmas Tree
The Trump administration decided not to ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. Records show it continues to sicken people. Tony Schick reports. (OPB/EarthFix) See also: U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz introduces bill to ban chlorpyrifos near schools nationwide  Nina Wu reports. (Star Advertiser) And also: This Pesticide Poisons Kids, But It's Still Sprayed On Washington Orchards   Eilis O'Neill reports. (KUOW)

Washington Senate investigating harassment allegation against Sen. Kevin Ranker
The state Senate is conducting an outside investigation into Democratic Sen. Kevin Ranker after allegations of improper conduct, the first test of the chamber’s new workplace policies adopted in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Through a public-records request, The Associated Press obtained a contract between the Senate and Tara Parker, an investigator with Ogden Murphy Wallace law firm in Seattle, who was hired by the chamber in October. Ann Larson, who served as Ranker’s legislative assistant for a year nearly a decade ago, said the investigation is related to sexual-harassment and hostile-workplace issues. She says she also was subjected to hostile encounters involving Ranker once she left to work as a legislative liaison for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Rachel LaCorte reports. (Associated Press)

Creator Of Floating Garbage Collector Struggling To Capture Plastic In Pacific
A crew of engineers in the middle of the ocean will try to fix a device that was intended to clean the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic have coalesced into a field of debris twice the size of Texas. The garbage catcher has been floating in the Pacific since its highly anticipated launch out of San Francisco in September, but it has yet to produce the results anticipated. Its inventor, 24-year-old Boyan Slat, told The Associated Press the solar-powered barrier hasn't collected any loads of trash because it's moving more slowly than the plastic it's trying to capture. Francesca Paris reports. (NPR)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  840 AM PST Tue Dec 18 2018   
 SW wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 16 ft  at 13 seconds. Rain. 
 SW wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell  16 ft at 13 seconds. Showers in the evening then showers likely  after midnight.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, December 17, 2018

12/17 Sculpin, BC fish farms, Zinke out, climate changes, Kalama methanol, oil investors, Elwha beaver

Tide pool sculpin [Stuart Halewood/Wikimedia]
Tide pool Sculpin Oligocottus maculosus
Pugnacious. Found in almost every tide pool. Tolerant of great changes in temperature, salinity and oxygen content; can even climb partly out of water for an extended period of time. Catches tiny crustaceans and darts after pieces of larger animals that fall into tide pool or shallows. Alaska to southern California. (Marine Life of Puget Sound, the San Juans, and the Strait of Georgia)

17 fish farms could all be phased out under new agreement between B.C. government, First Nations
Seventeen open-pen fish farms in B.C.'s Broughton Archipelago could all be phased out by 2023 under a new agreement between First Nations and the provincial government, the premier announced Friday. However, under the terms of the agreement, seven of the sites could be spared. The plan includes room for aquaculture companies to come to agreements with First Nations to continue operations beyond 2023 at those seven sites, according to the province.. The decision is part of a set of recommendations reached through a government-to-government consultation between the province and the Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis, 'Namgis and Mamalilikulla First Nations. Megan Thomas reports. (CBC) See also: Broughton-area First Nations reach deal with B.C. on fish farms  Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Interior Secretary Zinke resigns amid investigations
Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted his resignation to the White House on Saturday, facing intense pressure from the White House amid multiple probes tied to his real estate dealings in Montana and conduct while in office. President Donald Trump announced Zinke’s exit via twitter Saturday morning, and offered praise for the embattled Interior chief. Darryl Fears, Juliet Eilperin and Josh Dawsey report. (Washington Post) See also: Zinke’s Likely Successor Is a Former Oil Lobbyist Who Has Influenced Trump’s Energy Policy  With Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke departing at the end of the year, the agency will likely be run, at least for a time, by its deputy secretary, David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist who has played a central role in enacting President Trump’s agenda of rolling back conservation measures and opening up public lands to drilling and mining. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Warm, dry summers taking toll on area trees, plants
Throughout some of Skagit County's traditionally lush, green forests, some trees and leaves are turning brown — a sign of plants starved for water and in distress. Foresters, forest advocates and public lands managers are seeing this in areas from Anacortes to Mount Vernon after several summers that were hotter and drier than normal. Western red cedars, sword ferns and salal are some of the species that have dried out during the past several summers, in some cases making them more vulnerable to disease. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald) See also: Climate Negotiators Reach an Overtime Deal to Keep Paris Pact Alive  Brad Pumer reports. (NYT Times)

About 600 attend hearing on proposed Kalama methanol plan, and most were opposed
A proposed $2 billion methanol plant in Kalama took heavy criticism Thursday night from an audience of about 600 people, many from outside Cowlitz County. Wearing anti-methanol red shirts, opponents packed the Cowlitz Expo Center for a four-hour public hearing held by the Port of Kalama on the plant’s potential impact on global climate change. The hearing had to be extended an hour, to 10 p.m., because of the size of the audience and demands to speak. Of the 498 people who signed up for a lottery for a chance to testify, 352 of them, or 71 percent, were from outside Cowlitz County. Attendees from Portland alone (109) nearly doubled the number of people from Longview (54) or Kalama (58). Rose Lundy and Katie Fairbanks report. (Longview Daily News) See also: Would a $2 billion gas-to-methanol plant in Washington state help combat climate change?   Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Climate change: The massive CO2 emitter you may not know about
Concrete is the most widely used man-made material in existence. It is second only to water as the most-consumed resource on the planet. But, while cement - the key ingredient in concrete - has shaped much of our built environment, it also has a massive carbon footprint. Cement is the source of about 8% of the world's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to think tank Chatham House. If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world - behind China and the US. It contributes more CO2 than aviation fuel (2.5%) and is not far behind the global agriculture business (12%).  Lucy Rodgers reports. (BBC)

Oilpatch stays home from B.C. conference after Whistler mayor calls for climate-change compensation
Oilpatch pushback to a letter written by the mayor of Whistler, B.C., has led to the cancellation​ of the energy-related portion of a high-profile investment conference held in the mountain community. In a recent letter, Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton asked the head of oilsands giant Canadian Natural Resources to commit to pay for its "fair share of the costs of climate change being experienced by Whistler."   After the missive became public this week, a number of companies decided they would not participate in the investment conference, hosted in Whistler by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Tony Seskus and Kyle Bakx report. (CBC)

Beaver return to the Elwha nearshore
Anne Shaffer of Coastal Watershed Institute writes: "Ending the year on an upnote. Eight empty months after the Elwha nearshore beaver was killed on the west levee, a new set of beaver have moved in. Beaver are crucial to the ecosystem restoration of the Elwha lower river, but are also challenged by the remaining impediments there, including the dike which they have to cross to get from their lodge to the river...."

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  837 AM PST Mon Dec 17 2018   
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 17 ft  at 17 seconds. Showers likely in the morning then rain in the  afternoon. 
 SE wind 20 to 30 kt becoming S 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 15 ft at 15 seconds.  Rain.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, December 14, 2018

12/14 Snow geese, orca budget, Inslee's budget, cap gains tax, breaching dams, Whale Watch Ass'n, OR rivers, BC LNG

Snow geese [Mike Hamilton/BirdNote]
Snow Geese: Too Much of a Good Thing
When small family farms gave way to large, industrial agricultural operations, the Snow Geese followed. Waste grain left over from harvests has allowed Snow Goose populations to jump. Now, there are so many Snow Geese they degrade their Arctic summer habitat, threatening other birds. Is there a right way forward from a “conservation” standpoint? (BirdNote)

Gov. Jay Inslee wants $1.1 billion to help save Puget Sound's critically endangered orcas
Gov. Jay Inslee wants $1.1 billion to pay for a broad-based, unprecedented state effort to help recover the critically endangered southern resident population of killer whales. The recommendations closely track those of the governor’s task force for orca recovery, the fruit of months of work by more than 40 members. Tax increases will be needed to pay for the recovery efforts, as well as other initiatives in Inslee’s proposed biennial budget, released in a news conference Thursday in Olympia. The initiatives are billion-dollar bold, and sure to be controversial, from seeking to revive salmon runs in the Columbia River, to a new panel charged with evaluating bypass of the Lower Snake River Dams; a three-year moratorium on whale-watching of the southern residents; developing options for managing seals and sea lions in Puget Sound and the Columbia River; and a spill program sending more water over the Columbia and Snake River dams to help salmon. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Gov. Inslee proposes big boost in state spending, new taxes over next two years  
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing a $10 billion increase in state spending over the next two years to maintain current services and fund new priorities, including mental health and orca recovery. To pay for his budget, the two-term Democrat is once again pushing for a new state capital gains tax as well as an increase in the business and occupation tax on professional services. Austin Jenkins reports. (NW News Network)

With Democrats in control, will Inslee finally get his capital gains tax?
It’s the vampire of Washington taxes. Remove the stake from its heart, and it rises from the grave again. Its the capital gains tax, and Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing it. Again. Pushing for a capital gains tax has been an annual ritual re-enacted by Inslee and House Democrats just about every budget cycle for the past decade. Each year, it has died — usually after a few House Democrats get squeamish, or from opposition in the Senate, which was dominated by Republicans until 2017. But as the governor pointed out during his Thursday morning unveiling at the Capitol Dome in Olympia, the odds are stacked in his favor. For the 2019 session, Democrats have a significant advantage in both chambers — 28-21 in the Senate and 56-42 in the House — which means they have enough votes to allow a few Democrats to slough off on these tax matters. John Stang reports. (Crosscut)

Study breaching Snake River dams for orca survival -- Inslee
Gov. Jay Inslee is going "all in" to save the imperiled Southern Resident population of orca whales, including a controversial proposal to "explore breaching of Snake River dams" to restore chinook salmon populations on which killer whales feed. Joel Connelly reports. (Seattle PI.Com)

Statement from Pacific Whale Watch Association about 3-year suspension of whale watching 
(San Juan Islander)

Federal Judge Orders Stronger Cold-Water Fish Protections In Oregon Rivers
A federal judge has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to rewrite its pollution cleanup plans for Oregon rivers. U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hern├índez rejected water quality standards that were submitted to the EPA by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Hern├índez’s ruling Wednesday came in response to a lawsuit filed by Northwest Environmental Advocates. The group charged in its lawsuit that the EPA should not have accepted those plans. They were used to decide regulation for activities that affect water temperatures — like cutting trees along river banks and discharging treated wastewater. David Steves reports. (OPB)

Regulator schedules hearings for BC LNG natural gas pipeline challenge
The National Energy Board is scheduling hearings over the next three months to consider a jurisdictional challenge of the approval of a pipeline needed to supply natural gas to the recently sanctioned $40-billion LNG Canada project. But planning for construction to begin early next year will continue based on the $6.2-billion Coastal GasLink Pipeline’s provincial approvals and permits, said a spokeswoman for the project. The NEB hearings will consider only the question of whether the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission had jurisdiction to issue approvals for the project, the NEB says. Dan Healing reports. (Canadian Post)

Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  145 AM PST Fri Dec 14 2018   
 SE wind 25 to 35 kt. Combined seas 15 to 17 ft with a  dominant period of 14 seconds. Rain likely in the morning then  rain in the afternoon. 
 W wind 30 to 40 kt becoming SW 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Combined seas 18 to 19 ft with a dominant period of  12 seconds subsiding to 15 to 16 ft with a dominant period of  12 seconds after midnight. Showers likely in the evening then a  chance of showers after midnight. 
 S wind 5 to 15 kt becoming SE 15 to 25 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft building to 2 to 4 ft in the  afternoon. SW swell 11 ft at 11 seconds subsiding to 9 ft at  11 seconds in the afternoon. A chance of rain. 
 E wind 25 to 30 kt becoming SE 20 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. SW swell 10 ft at 10 seconds  building to 16 ft at 14 seconds after midnight. 
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. SW swell 18 ft  at 14 seconds. 
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt becoming S after midnight. Wind  waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 21 ft at 20 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

12/13 Water jelly, groundfish catch, orca budget, Ted Griffin, shooting sea lions, John Beal, Big Oil, sewage spill, chlorpyrifos

Water Jellyfish [Sierra Blakely/Wikipedia]
Water jellyfish Aequorea victoria
Our largest hydrozoan jelly by far (to 5 inches in diameter). Transparent bell is thick and gelatinous; underparts are lined with 50 to 150 radial canals. An equal number of long slender tentacles hang from margin of bell. Perhaps the most luminescent of our large jellyfishes; glows in the dark when touched. (Wikipedia) See also: Claudia Mills, Bioluminescence and other factoids about Aequorea, a hydromedusa

Catch limits increase for key West Coast groundfish species
Federal officials said Tuesday they are increasing catch limits for several species of West Coast groundfish that were severely depleted more than a dozen years ago in a crisis that posed a threat to the commercial and sports fishing industries. Limits for yelloweye rockfish will more than double, while substantial increases will be allowed for California scorpionfish, bocaccio and Pacific Ocean perch, the National Marine Fisheries Service said. Those species have recovered enough to allow for the greatest expansion of a West Coast fishery in years. The formal announcement of the revised catch limits will be published Wednesday and the changes go into effect on Jan. 1, the first day of the new fishing season. Gillian Flaccus reports. (AP)

Gov. Inslee to speak at orca rally in Olympia following budget announcement
People who love Puget Sound orcas and want to save them from extinction will rally in Olympia tomorrow. And Gov. Jay Inslee plans to join them, immediately after announcing his budget priorities for the coming year. Many are wondering how Inslee’s budget will respond to the 36 recommendations proposed by the Orca Recovery Task Force, a group consisting of nearly 50 stakeholders who were convened by the governor in May. When Inslee addresses the crowd Thursday, it will be one of the first opportunities for task force members to hear feedback on their proposal. Bellamy Pailthorp and Kari Plog report. (KNKX)

The orca and the orca catcher: How a generation of killer whales was taken from Puget Sound
Namu was Ted Griffin’s greatest prize, a live killer whale, put on display at Seattle’s waterfront. The orca’s journey from wild to captive would spark a worldwide sensation and change everything we knew about "blackfish." Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Sea lions have enemies. Now someone is shooting them in the head.
There’s a sea lion killer on the loose in the Pacific Northwest. Or quite possibly several. Since September, the hulking carcasses of 18 of the aquatic predators have washed up on the Puget Sound shores of west Seattle and neighboring Kitsap County. A dozen contained bullets or shotgun pellets in the head, assassination-style, according to X-rays conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The remaining six may also have been victims of the shooting spree, but some drifted away in the tide before state veterinarians could perform a post-mortem. Another couldn’t be X-rayed because it had been decapitated, and the heft of the body would have required a crane to haul the animal out of the water and into a facility where it could be more thoroughly examined. Jason Bittel reports. (Washington Post)

How a man with four months to live restored Hamm Creek
If you knew that you only had four months to live, what would you do? After suffering three heart attacks, John Beal was told that he was going to die. He decided to use the rest of his life to clean up Hamm Creek, an offshoot of the Duwamish River so polluted the water was yellow. That decision changed the course of John's life and transformed Hamm Creek. Will Rasmussen reports. (KUOW)

The Oil Industry’s Covert Campaign to Rewrite American Car Emissions Rules
When the Trump administration laid out a plan this year that would eventually allow cars to emit more pollution, automakers, the obvious winners from the proposal, balked. The changes, they said, went too far even for them. But it turns out that there was a hidden beneficiary of the plan that was pushing for the changes all along: the nation’s oil industry. Hiroko Tabuchi reports. (NY Times)

Faulty gate the cause of 200,000-gallon sewage spill
A malfunctioning gate at Bremerton's east side wastewater treatment plant is being blamed for about 200,000 gallons of sewage and runoff spilling into Port Washington Narrows and Dyes Inlet on Tuesday. The Kitsap Public Health District had to issue a no-contact advisory for waters between Silverdale and Bremerton. The health district says people should avoid direct skin contact with those waters through Dec. 18. Heavy rains Tuesday activated Bremerton's east side wastewater treatment plant near Lions Park, a facility only used during storms when runoff overwhelms the city's sewer system. But a gate inside the treatment plant wouldn't open, pushing the rainwater and sewage into an emergency overflow valve. Josh Farley reports. (Kitsap Sun)

This pesticide poisons kids, but it's still sprayed on local orchards — including Christmas trees
On Easter Sunday of 2017, the five Perez children were hunting for Easter eggs in their backyard when they smelled something unusual. “Plasticky and rotten eggs,” their dad, Eric Perez, recalled.... Washington’s Department of Agriculture investigated and found that a pesticide called chlorpyrifos had drifted onto the Perez property from the neighboring orchard. A court battle is currently raging over whether or not the EPA should ban chlorpyrifos nationwide. In the meantime, Pacific Northwest farmers keep using it. In 2016, Washington farmers used more than 200,000 pounds of the chemical on orchards and vineyards, and the majority of Christmas tree farmers also rely on chlorpyrifos. The reason chlorpyrifos is controversial is because of its health effects. When the pesticide drifts onto farm workers and farm neighbors, it can cause symptoms like the ones Perez described: nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, wheezing, and muscle weakness and twitching. Eilis O'Neill reports. (KUOW)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  200 AM PST Thu Dec 13 2018   
 NW wind 20 to 30 kt becoming NE in the afternoon. Wind  waves 3 to 4 ft. W swell 16 ft at 15 seconds. Rain. 
 SE wind 25 to 35 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell  16 ft at 15 seconds. Rain.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

12/12 Spieden Is., sea lion kill, Skagit funding, Van Is fishing, Frognal logging, journalists, local news, Dave Zeeke, GBH comment, Antarctica melt

Spieden Island [USGS]
Spieden Island
Spieden Island is a privately owned island (James Jannard—founder and major shareholder of Oakley, Inc.) in the San Juan Archipelago.... It has a land area of 516.4 acres (209.0 ha) and no permanent resident population as of the 2000 census... Two miles long, half a mile across at its widest point, and 374 feet above sea level at its highest point, it is less than a mile north of San Juan Island, across the Spieden Channel.... Spieden Island was named by Charles Wilkes during the Wilkes Expedition of 1838-1842, to honor William Speiden, the purser of the expedition's Peacock. In the 1970s and 1980s the island was used for big game hunting; game animals were imported and a lodge, airstrip, and small hangar built to accommodate visitors. This no longer occurs due to the risk of shots carrying across to highly populated San Juan Island. The Island Institute, an environmental education camp run by Jane Howard, was located on the island. It is no longer in operation.The resident animal population still includes exotic animals such as Mouflon sheep from Corsica, fallow deer from Europe, and Sika deer from Asia.(Wikipedia)

Bill To Allow Killing Sea Lions To Help Northwest Salmon Heads To Trump's Desk
Congress has agreed to make it easier to kill sea lions threatening fragile runs of salmon in the Northwest. A bill approved by the House Tuesday changes the Marine Mammal Protection Act to lift some of the restrictions on killing sea lions to protect salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries.... The Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act had already cleared the Senate. If it is signed into law by President Trump, it would streamline the approval process for the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho as well as several Northwest Tribes. The Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission celebrated the news that several tribes will now have the authority to manage sea lions.... Critics say sea lions are being unfairly blamed for problems that are actually caused by dams. Cassandra Profita reports. (OPB)

Skagit County nets $1.3 million in salmon funding
Of $18 million in grants the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced Monday for fish projects in 30 counties, Skagit County netted the largest sum — $1.3 million. The majority of that funding was awarded to a project sponsored by Seattle City Light and the Skagit Land Trust. The Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded about $1 million to that project, which will involve purchasing at least 100 acres in the Skagit River watershed that provides habitat for threatened chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Spawning salmon have one less barrier in an urban creek
Restoration projects like one along Highway 531 in Arlington are gradually undoing damage to habitat. Melissa Slager reports. (Everett Herald)

Summer fishing closures proposed for Vancouver Island streams
The province is proposing summer fishing closures for most streams on southern Vancouver Island in response to droughts in recent years that produced stressful conditions for fish. Fishing can put an added burden on fish stocks when stream flows are low and the water temperature is warmer than usual, said Brendan Anderson, a senior fisheries biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Megan Thomas reports. (CBC)

OPINION: No to whale-watching moratorium: Done responsibly, it can help our orcas survive  Responsible, commercial whale watching both protects whales on the water and contributes to their recovery off the water. David Bain writes. (Seattle Times) OPINION: Yes to whale-watching moratorium: Cut the engine noise, save the orcas  Will suspending vessel-based whale watching be enough to save this population? No, but it will help. Tim Ragan writes. (Seattle Times)

Lacey scuba gear business fined $197,000 for dumping hazardous waste in toilet, storm drain
Seasoft Scuba Gear of Lacey has been fined $197,000 for dumping hazardous waste down a toilet, into a storm drain and on to the ground, the state Department of Ecology announced Tuesday. The waste, which contained lead and arsenic, was created by removing corrosion from lead shot reclaimed from shooting ranges. The clean lead was used to manufacture diving weights, according to a news release. Property leased by the business at 8294 28th Court NE is now listed as a toxic cleanup site. Rolf Boone reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Judge reverses Frognal order, says logging can move ahead
An environmental group wanted to halt work at the Mukilteo-area subdivision until a court hearing next year. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018 recognises journalists
Killed and imprisoned journalists - "The Guardians" - have been named 2018's "Person of the Year" by Time. The magazine featured four different covers with journalists who have been targeted for their work this year.... Time said they were chosen "for taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts, for speaking up and for speaking out". (BBC)

Starving The Watchdog: Who Foots The Bill When Newspapers Disappear?
There are plenty of ways today to pay little—or nothing—to read the news. There are free blogs. There's Facebook and Twitter. Who needs a subscription to a local newspaper?Millions of Americans have decided they don't. But new research suggests this strategy may have costs in the long run. That's because newspapers are not like most things we buy. If you decide not to buy a watch or a cappuccino, you save money. But if you decide not to pay for a police department, you might save money in the short run, but end up paying more in the long run. Whereas most of us treat newspapers like consumer products, new research from Paul Gao, Chang Lee, and Dermot Murphy suggests that they might be more like police departments. Gao, Lee, and Murphy looked at how newspaper closures might affect the cost of borrowing in local governments. What they found is a price tag that may give many taxpayers sticker shock. Shankar Vedantam reports. (Hidden Brain/NPR)

The News Tribune publisher David Zeeck leaves amid McClatchy shakeups
The McClatchy Co., owner of The News Tribune in Tacoma, announced Tuesday that the paper’s publisher and executive editor, David Zeeck, is leaving after 24 years. Zeeck's departure is the latest in a series of recent newsroom management changes by McClatchy amid a slump in its stock price.... Rebecca Poynter, McClatchy’s vice president of local sales for the west region and publisher for The Idaho Statesman, will replace Zeeck while maintaining her current role. She will also take over as publisher of the company’s other newspapers in Western Washington, The Bellingham Herald and The Olympian.... Asia Fields reports. (Seattle Times)

Reader Don Norman responds to yesterday's news article about Great Blue Herons eating young salmon [Hungry great blue herons in Stanley Park eating young salmon]: "I always have to respond to any GBH report, but in this case, it deals with the tags found.  Gary Shugart from the UPS Slater Museum in Tacoma collected excrement from a Caspian Tern colony in Tacoma and we found lots of coded-wire tags.  We gave a summary of that at the Puget Sound Research Conf. back in 2001.  If one was to place sheets or some way to collect the scat over time, one could estimate when the salmonids were eaten!  Perhaps someone knows where the Caspian Terns are nesting in Puget Sound as they are all over, or roosting, as indeed they are in the Duwamish, as I saw reports of over 400 in eBird.  It was easy to separate the Coded-Wire Tags out.  A great volunteer project. It would be great to get a reader for checking scat from other heron colonies!  The large hairy bolus scat found under some colonies indicates rodent predation, especially Townsend's Voles, which I do not think are being pit-tagged. Don's paper: Thompson, C., D. Norman, E. Donelan, A. Edwards, and M. Tirhi.  2001.  Breeding Phenology and Diet of Caspian Terns in Southern Puget Sound.  Presentation: Puget Sound Research, Feb. 2001, Bellevue, WA"

East Antarctica's glaciers are stirring
Nasa says it has detected the first signs of significant melting in a swathe of glaciers in East Antarctica. The region has long been considered stable and unaffected by some of the more dramatic changes occurring elsewhere on the continent. But satellites have now shown that ice streams running into the ocean along one-eighth of the eastern coastline have thinned and sped up. If this trend continues, it has consequences for future sea levels. There is enough ice in the drainage basins in this sector of Antarctica to raise the height of the global oceans by 28m - if it were all to melt out. Jonathan Amos reports. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  226 AM PST Wed Dec 12 2018   

 SW wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 15 ft  at 13 seconds. A slight chance of showers in the morning then  rain in the afternoon. 
 S wind 30 to 40 kt becoming SW 20 to 30 kt after  midnight. Combined seas 15 to 18 ft with a dominant period of  15 seconds. Rain.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

12/11 Sablefish, WDFW wins, CWA revision, Skagit water, Hood Canal resotration, Inslee's carbon, Arctic melt, Trump's coal, tanker ban, plastics, whale alert, salmon smell, GBH predation

Sablefish [WDFW]
Sablefish Anoplopoma fimbria
Sablefish are commonly caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls, jig handline, and longline gear.  Juveniles are occasionally caught by recreational harvesters in Puget Sound, which is a sablefish nursery. They range from Japan north into the Bering Sea and south through Alaska and British Columbia to Mexico, with highest concentrations in Alaska.  Sablefish are wide-ranging and often migratory. Adults can be found on mud bottom in depths of 300 to 1,500 m (984-4,900 ft). Sablefish can live to at least 90 years. (WDFW)

Fish and Wildlife can regulate land to protect fish 
Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife can regulate construction on dry land if the agency decides fish may be affected, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday. The court rejected a lawsuit by five counties that alleged Fish and Wildlife was overstepping its authority by requiring local governments to get permits from the agency to build and maintain bridges that span but do not touch water. More broadly, the decision affirms Fish and Wildlife's jurisdiction over a host of activities on public and private land, such as clearing brush, maintaining dikes and stabilizing river banks. Critics, including some farm and landowner groups, say the department's reach threatens the use of private property. Dan Jenkins reports. (Capital Press)

Trump Prepares to Unveil a Vast Reworking of Clean Water Protections
The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to unveil a plan that would weaken federal clean water rules designed to protect millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams nationwide from pesticide runoff and other pollutants. Environmentalists say the proposal represents a historic assault on wetlands regulation at a moment when Mr. Trump has repeatedly voiced a commitment to “crystal-clean water.” The proposed new rule would chip away at safeguards put in place a quarter century ago, during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, who implemented a policy designed to ensure that no wetlands lost federal protection. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

County plan gives rural residents well water access
Skagit County debuted a process Monday that makes it possible for all rural residents to have access to well water. In a presentation to the state water availability task force, Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki said the county will issue building permits to residential well users who are willing to install a tank that stores rainwater, then put the water back into the ground, thereby mitigating water used. Will Honea, senior deputy civil prosecuting attorney with the county, said the county started working on this plan in January, soon before Skagit County was left out of a piece of state water availability legislation that is often called the Hirst Fix. Brandon Stone reports. (Skagit Valley Heald)

Major funding advances for restoration projects in Hood Canal region
More than $20 million in ecosystem-restoration projects along the Skokomish River in Southern Hood Canal could be under construction within two years, thanks to special funding approved by the Army Corps of Engineers. Meanwhile, Washington state’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced this morning that it would provide $18 million for salmon restoration projects statewide — including a portion of the funding needed to purchase nearly 300 acres near the mouth of Big Beef Creek in Kitsap County. The Army Corps of Engineers has secured $13.6 million in federal funds for restoration on 277 acres in the Skokomish River watershed. Included in the work are levee removals, wetland restoration and installation of large-woody debris, said Mike Anderson, chairman of the Skokomish Watershed Action Team, known as SWAT. About $7 million in state matching funds is moving toward approval in the next Legislative session. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Electric ferries, no more coal power: After carbon-fee defeat, Inslee rolls out clean-energy proposals 
Rebounding from the defeat of a carbon-fee initiative he strongly backed, Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing a suite of state legislation to fight climate change, including a plan to rid electric utilities of fossil fuel-generated power by 2045. Calling his proposals “a clean energy smart deal” during a news conference Monday in Seattle, Inslee said they would put Washington on track to meet a target in state law of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035. Other proposals in Inslee’s legislative package include phasing out “super-pollutant” hydrofluorocarbons used in air conditioning, a clean-fuels standard targeting auto emissions, incentives for electric vehicles and increased energy-efficiency regulations for buildings. Jim Brunner reports. (Seattle Times)

The Arctic’s Warmest 5 Years on Record: 2014-Present
The Arctic has been warmer over the last five years than at any time since records began in 1900, and the region is warming at twice the rate as the rest of the planet, scientists said Tuesday. The rising air temperatures are having profound effects on sea ice, and on life on land and in the ocean, the scientists said. The changes can be felt far beyond the region, especially since the changing Arctic climate may be influencing extreme weather events around the world. Those assessments were part of the latest “Arctic Report Card,” issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a federal agency, and presented Tuesday at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington. John Schwartz reports. (NY Times)

Trump Team Pushes Fossil Fuels at Climate Talks. Protests Erupt, but Allies Emerge, Too.
Trump administration officials at high-stakes climate talks here offered an unapologetic defense of fossil fuels on Monday, arguing that a rapid retreat from coal, oil and gas was unrealistic. While that stance brought scorn from environmentalists and countries that favor stronger action to fight global warming, there are signs that the administration is finding a receptive audience among other major fossil-fuel producers, including Russia, Saudi Arabia and Australia. Brad Plumer and Lisa Friedman report. (NY Times) See also: Trump’s missed opportunity on coal and climate change  Amy Harder reports. (Axios)

Climate data helping guide Skagit Land Trust 
The Skagit Land Trust has made climate change part of its conservation strategy that guides the trust on which lands to protect to provide the most benefit to the community and area wildlife. Skagit Land Trust Conservation Project Manager Kari Odden said the local nonprofit has included climate change in the organization’s conservation strategy since 2014. But the emergence in recent years of local data on sea level rise, groundwater availability and species’ habitat needs has helped the land trust better evaluate lands through the lens of climate change. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

First Nations lobbying for lift on tanker ban off B.C.’s coast
Several Indigenous groups across Western Canada are backing a First Nations-led pipeline proposal that has received the endorsement of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and which they say would serve as an alternative to the imperilled Trans Mountain expansion. However, a federal law making its way through the Senate would legislate a ban on oil-tanker traffic off of British Columbia’s North Coast and would quash their hopes for future development. Such a law, they argue, would be a violation of their Indigenous rights. The clashing interests of First Nations looking at pipelines as an economic lifeline while other Indigenous groups oppose tanker traffic on environmental grounds will leave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau facing a dilemma before next year’s federal election. The proposed tanker ban has already raised the ire of political leaders in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Justin Giovannetti reports. (Globe and Mail)

Turtles’ Tummies Found Clogged with Plastic
Tiny pieces of plastic in the ocean are killing juvenile loggerhead turtles, a new study shows, threatening the survival of the endangered species. Wind, waves, and sunshine break down discarded plastic—from water bottles to fishing gear—into tiny pieces. About 90 percent of the estimated 150 million tonnes of plastic that litters the ocean measures less than five millimeters across, or about half the width of a pinky finger. Plastic like this can now be found littering a brown seaweed called sargassum, in which loggerhead turtles forage for food. Allison Salerno reports. (Hakai Magazine)

New alert system warns large ships of nearby whales off B.C. coast
A new alert system is launching off B.C.'s coast to warn large vessels about nearby whales, with the aim of reducing the number hit by boats.... With more than 10,000 large vessels sailing through local waters each year, it's these kinds of collisions that experts are trying to reduce with the new Whale Report Alert System.... The new alert warns ships by text message of any whales spotted in the previous three hours within 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometres) of the vessel. Ship captains can see the location of the whale on a map, with details about the sighting.  Clare Hennig reports. (CBC)

Scientists help hatchery salmon find the sweet smell of home
Apparently, salmon don’t like the smell of watercress. The aroma of shrimp doesn’t pique their interest either. And the fragrance eau de steelhead? A definite no-go. “The fish did not like it at all. We tried. They did not like it,” said Oregon State University researcher Maryam Kamran. “They’re very picky.” It turns out this could be helpful information to know when you’re trying to figure out how to keep salmon raised in hatcheries from interbreeding with wild fish — a phenomenon called “straying.” Yes Burns reports. (Crosscut)

Hungry great blue herons in Stanley Park eating young salmon
The excrement of great blue herons in Stanley Park has produced the equivalent of scientific gold. The findings are part of the first study to show that herons eat so many young salmon, or smolts, that they should be considered predators of the fish in the wild. “The most interesting part is to confirm that herons are a significant predator of migrating salmon smolts,” said Zachary Sherker, a masters of science student at the University of B.C. In the summer of 2017, Sherker went to the heron rookery by the tennis courts in the park with a mobile detector looking for passive integrated transponders or PIT tags. Each tag is a thin glass tube with a microchip about 12 mm in length. They’ve been placed in the stomach of salmon in the Capilano River since 2008. Sherker found about 600 tags underneath the heron nests in the bird’s excrement. Kevin Griffin reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Northwest Watershed Institute study suggests reason behind eagle gathering at Dabob Bay 
Why do eagles gather along more than a mile of shoreline in east Dabob Bay on Hood Canal, and what is the impact of human interference and commercial aquaculture operations on that habitat? Peter Bahls, aquatic ecologist and executive director of the Northwest Watershed Institute (NWI) set out to answer those questions. The study suggests that the eagles gather in large numbers on tidelands between the months of May and July to feed on spawning plainfin midshipman (porichthys notatus), a bottom dwelling fish that lives in ocean depths of nearly 1,000 feet along the Pacific coast. In the spring, the fish migrate up from the depths to the intertidal zone to spawn. Researchers found that the Dabob Bay eagles were hunting midshipmen under clumps of oysters or in rocks. Foraging was tied closely to the tidal cycle, with gatherings occurring in larger numbers during low tides and more fish captured during outgoing tides. Jeannie McMacken reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  157 AM PST Tue Dec 11 2018   


TODAY  SW wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. NW swell 11  ft at 10 seconds. Rain. 

TONIGHT  W wind 20 to 30 kt becoming 20 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. NW swell 12 ft at 11 seconds  building to 14 ft at 12 seconds after midnight. Rain.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

12/10 Marmot, COP24, BC pipe, Skagit salmon, sea lion kills, public access, Anacortes sued, Everett bag ban, humpback play, Clallam murrelets, Frognal halt, OR crabs

Olympic marmot [Chad Collins/Flickr]
Olympic marmot Marmota olympus
The Olympic marmot is a rodent in the squirrel family, Sciuridae; it occurs only in the U.S. state of Washington, on the middle elevations of the Olympic Peninsula. The closest relatives of this species are the hoary marmot and the Vancouver Island marmot. In 2009, it was declared the official endemic mammal of Washington. This marmot is about the size of a domestic cat, typically weighing about 8 kg (18 lb) in summer. The species shows the greatest sexual dimorphism found in marmots, with adult males weighing on average 23% more than females. It can be identified by a wide head, small eyes and ears, stubby legs, and a long, bushy tail. Its sharp, rounded claws aid in digging burrows. The coat color changes with the season and with age, but an adult marmot's coat is brown all over with small whiter areas for most of the year. (Wikipedia)

Climate change: COP24 fails to adopt key scientific report
Attempts to incorporate a key scientific study into global climate talks in Poland have failed. The IPCC report on the impacts of a temperature rise of 1.5C, had a significant impact when it was launched last October. Scientists and many delegates in Poland were shocked as the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait objected to this meeting "welcoming" the report. It was the 2015 climate conference that had commissioned the landmark study. Matt McGrath reports. (BBC)

At new First Nations consultations on Trans Mountain pipeline, ceremony, tears — and accusations the fix is in 
In a drab, windowless room at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre this week, at the tail end of a weeks-long series of hearings that some have called a sham, there was a rare break from the formal proceedings. Three National Energy Board (NEB) panel members assigned to gather oral evidence from Indigenous leaders about the possible effects of marine traffic related to the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion were asked to assemble in the middle of the room to watch members of the nearby Snuneymuxw First Nation re-create a salmon-honouring ceremony.... But this moment of quiet rapture and human connection was, according to observers and transcripts of previous hearings, more the exception than the rule during three weeks of oral testimony that concluded Thursday. In fact, many participants were not shy in telling the NEB panel they had little faith in the process and feared it was headed for a “predetermined outcome.” Douglas Quan and Maura Forrest report. (Canadian Press)

Seattle City Light surveys help protect salmon
After salmon fight their way upstream in the Skagit River to lay their eggs, they die — providing a source of food for scavengers including bald eagles and black bears but leaving their young defenseless until they hatch. Seattle City Light, which operates three hydroelectric dams on the upper Skagit River, is tasked as part of its federal license with protecting those eggs if possible. The goal is to protect 100 percent of the habitat where salmon and steelhead lay eggs between the utility’s Gorge Dam near Newhalem and where the Sauk River meets the Skagit near Rockport. Seattle City Light fisheries biologist Erin Lowery and Stan Walsh of the Skagit River System Cooperative said the utility consistently protects 97 percent or more of that habitat by maintaining adequate river flows. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Two more sea lions confirmed shot and killed; brings total to 12
Two more sea lions have been confirmed shot in the head, bringing the total shot dead in Puget Sound up to 12. Casey Mclean, from SR, a local nonprofit dedicated to marine wildlife welfare, examined them just last week. (KIRO)

Anglers win Supreme Court battle against U.S. billionaire over access to lakes, roads
A precedent-setting B.C. Supreme Court decision has ruled that the public should be able to access fishing lakes near Merritt, B.C., after years of what has been described as a "David and Goliath" legal battle. For years, the Douglas Lake Cattle Company (DLCC), the largest working ranch in Canada, owned by U.S. billionaire Stan Kroenke, and a group of determined anglers have been going head to head. Their dispute centred primarily on access to two fishing lakes and a road. Minnie Lake and Stoney Lake are surrounded by land owned by the large ranch, which claimed the access roads, water bodies and fish in them are private property. Members of the Nicola Valley Fish and Game club argued the lakes and roadway are Crown land and should be free for anyone to useIn a lengthy decision released Friday, which cited historical documents, photos, and testimony from members of the Indigenous community, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Joel Groves determined that both lakes are public.  Michelle Ghoussoub reports. (CBC)

Anacortes sued over stormwater management
An environmental group is suing the city of Anacortes under the Clean Water Act, alleging it is failing to manage stormwater pollution. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle by Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, a Seattle-based nonprofit that focuses on water issues. The lawsuit alleges the city has failed to comply with permits that regulate discharge of stormwater into streams, rivers, lakes and Puget Sound, posing a threat to water quality. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Everett City Council approves ban on single-use plastic bags
It will go into effect in September. Shoppers will be able to purchase a thicker plastic or paper bag for $0.05. Liz Giordano reports. (Everett Herald)

If you like to watch: Rare footage of humpback playing with log near Comox Harbour
A Vancouver-based non-profit has posted rare footage of a humpback having a “whale” of a time, playing with a log in B.C. waters. The four-year-old whale, named Lorax, was recorded doing the sea mammal’s version of the log driver’s waltz off Comox Harbour on Dec. 2. “Logging is a term referring to when whales and dolphins are resting,” said Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Ocean Friends Director. “This rare type of ‘play logging’ adds to our knowledge of their complex lives.” Harrison Mooney reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Clallam County commissioners approve letter to Department of Natural Resources
The Clallam County commissioners have agreed to send a letter to the state Department of Natural Resources, telling the department that its financial analysis on the Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the long-term conservation strategy of the marbled murrelet is inadequate.... The letter says that while the county values protecting the marbled murrelet, a species that has continued to have a population decline, the county also values protecting a source of revenue that affects the entire county.... Commissioners have expressed concern about the amount of timberland set aside near Clallam Bay, saying it will create a financial burden for junior taxing districts such as the Cape Flattery School District. Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Judge halts work at Frognal housing development, for now
A group is fighting in court to overturn logging and grading approvals for the subdivision near Mukilteo. Neighbors and environmental groups oppose the 112-home subdivision by Frugal Estates development near Picnic Point because, they say, it poses risks to a salmon-bearing stream and could increase the chances of landslides. (Everett Herald)

Oregon Crab Season Delayed Again Until Start Of 2019
Oregon’s Dungeness crab fishery will not open until at least Dec. 31 after testing by state fishery managers revealed crabs are still too low in meat yield in some areas of the coast. The valuable commercial fishery traditionally opens on Dec. 1. In November, fishery managers announced the season would be delayed until mid-December because crabs were not plump enough. Katie Frankowicz reports. (Daily Astorian)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  249 AM PST Mon Dec 10 2018   
 SW wind to 10 kt becoming S 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 9 ft at 14 seconds. A chance of  showers. 
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt rising to 25 to 35 kt after  midnight. Combined seas 7 to 9 ft with a dominant period of  13 seconds. A chance of rain in the evening then rain after  midnight.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, December 7, 2018

12/7 'Living Coral,' EPA water rule, warm globe, sage grouse, coal plants, saving whales, Fraser chinook, glass sponges, Bellingham waterfront, plastics

'Living Coral' [Pantone Color Institute]
A Royal Hue: 'Living Coral' Crowned Color Of The Year For 2019
As December draws its darkest hours ever longer, inching moment by moment toward the shortest day of the year — in the northern hemisphere, at least — the Pantone Color Institute is striking a defiant tone. The global experts in hue have crowned "living coral" as their annual color of the year for 2019. You can also call it by its official Pantone code, 16-1546 — though admittedly that doesn't have quite the same ring to it. It would also miss the point, in a way, since the institute selected the color for its "vibrant, yet mellow" life-affirming qualities — both our physical lives and those we lead online. "Representing the fusion of modern life, PANTONE Living Coral is a nurturing color that appears in our natural surroundings and at the same time, displays a lively presence within social media," the institute explained in a release Wednesday. Colin Dwyer reports. (NPR)

Trump Rule Would Limit E.P.A.’s Control Over Water Pollution
The Trump administration is expected to put forth a proposal on Tuesday that would significantly weaken a major Obama-era regulation on clean water, according to a talking points memo from the Environmental Protection Agency that was distributed to White House allies this week. The Obama rule was designed to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water, protecting sources of drinking water for about a third of the United States. It extended existing federal authority to limit pollution in large bodies of water, like the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, to smaller bodies that drain into them, such as tributaries, streams and wetlands. But it became a target for rural landowners, an important part of President Trump’s political base, since it could have restricted how much pollution from chemical fertilizers and pesticides could seep into water on their property. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Global warming today mirrors conditions during Earth’s largest extinction event: UW study
More than two-thirds of life on earth died off some 252 million years ago, in the largest mass extinction event in Earth’s history. Researchers have long suspected that volcanic eruptions triggered “the Great Dying,” as the end of the Permian geologic period is sometimes called, but exactly how so many creatures died has been something of a mystery. Now scientists at the University of Washington and Stanford believe their models reveal how so many animals were killed, and they see frightening parallels in the path our planet is on today. Models of the effects of volcanic greenhouse-gas releases showed the earth warming dramatically and oxygen disappearing from its oceans, leaving many marine animals unable to breathe, according to a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science. By the time temperatures peaked, about 80 percent of the oceans’ oxygen, on average, had been depleted. Most marine animals went extinct. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times)

Trump Plans Major Rollback of Sage Grouse Protections to Spur Oil Exploration
The Trump administration on Thursday published documents detailing its plan to roll back Obama-era protections for the vast habitat of the greater sage grouse, a chickenlike bird that roams across nearly 11 million acres in 10 oil-rich Western states. The earlier proposal to protect the bird, whose waning numbers have brought it close to endangerment, was put forth under the Interior Department in 2015 and set out to ban or sharply reduce oil and gas drilling in 10.7 million acres of its habitat. The Trump plan, by contrast, would limit the grouse’s protected habitat to just 1.8 million acres, essentially opening up nine million acres of land to drilling, mining and other development. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

E.P.A. Will Ease Path to New Coal Plants
The Trump administration is poised to roll back a significant climate change regulation on coal-fired power plants, making it easier to build new coal plants in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce the plan on Thursday, according to four people familiar with the administration’s proposal who were not authorized to speak about it publicly. The proposal will eliminate Obama-era restrictions on newly built coal plants that in effect required them to include systems to capture the carbon dioxide they produced — a technology that is still not in use on a commercial scale. The replacement measure eases those constraints, sending a powerful signal to the coal industry, as well as to other countries struggling with the political difficulties of addressing climate change, that the United States is trying to pave the way for coal-burning plants. Lisa Friedman reports. (NY Times)

Federal whale-saving efforts threaten Vancouver Island livelihoods, say group
Federal government efforts to save threatened southern resident killer whales could endanger the survival of communities on Vancouver Island whose economies depend on sport fishing and tourism revenues, a coalition of tourism, business and recreational fishing groups said Thursday. About two dozen leaders gathered at a popular sport fishing marina near Victoria to warn the federal government almost 10,000 jobs are at stake as well as the futures of several cities, towns and villages on the Island that base their incomes on fishing and tourism. The coalition calls itself Thriving Orcas, Thriving Communities and said the federal government has extended a 5,000 square kilometre critical habitat zone off the southwest coast of Vancouver Island that could result in fishing closures to protect the whales, whose population stands at 74. Dirk Meissner reports. (Canadian Press)

Fraser River chinook critical to orcas are in steep decline, new research shows
Fraser River chinook, one of the most important food sources for southern resident killer whales, are in steep decline and should be listed for protection as an endangered species, a Canadian independent science committee has announced. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, an independent advisory board to the Canadian federal government, issued a grim list of species at risk of extinction this month. Among the animals are some of the most beloved in Canada, from its biggest bear, the polar bear, to its biggest salmon — chinook. The decline of chinook in the Fraser and its largest tributary, the Thompson River, over just three generations is so steep some runs are at historic lows, others have dwindled to just a few hundred fish, and others cratered by more than 50 percent. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Monique Keiran: Glass sponges are worthy candidates for protection
A friend tells me that, back in the 1970s, he used to dive in Saanich Inlet to visit a local reef. He says it was spectacular. It included strange, pillowy sponges and a community of shrimps, crabs, fish and other critters. But, he says, the reef vanished decades ago. With the critters gone and any remains buried under 40 years of sediment, it would be difficult to determine if the reef had been one of B.C.’s now-iconic glass-sponge reefs. With hard tissues made of tiny shards of silicate minerals — glass — the sponges are extremely fragile. A crab pot dragged across a reef, for example, can shatter the sponges into smithereens. Equipment from a bottom trawler can plow swathes through them. Long thought to be extinct, living glass-sponge reefs were discovered in the deep waters of Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound in the late 1980s. Scientists have since located glass-sponge reefs in shallower waters in Howe Sound, off Tsawwassen and Parksville, and off Bowen, Mayne, Galiano and Gabriola islands, and in Chatham Sound near Prince Rupert. Similar reefs have also been found in Alaska’s Lynn Canal and off Washington state. Monique Keiran writes. (Times Colonist)

After 12 years of more talk than action, work on Bellingham's central waterfront is finally underway
AT ONE OF the many new local brewpubs — locals stopped counting after the first dozen — wisecracking skeptics up in the Fourth Corner might be tempted to write off the spendy, long-delayed Bellingham waterfront redevelopment project as a cruel joke, sprung on graying-hippie local residents by fleeing captains of industry: “Want your precious natural waterfront, free of our toxins (and jobs), to remake on your own terms, in your own greenie image? Knock yourselves out, kids.” Most of the redevelopment work is still in the works, but even now, residents actually can access Bellingham Bay. Ron Judd writes. (Seattle Times)

If you like to watch: Plastic Free Salish Sea
Carl Davis's new video about what it takes to make the Salish Sea plastic free. Produced for the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee. (20:37)  See also: The Riddle of the Roaming Plastics  It is one of the modern world’s biggest mysteries—99 percent of the plastics that enter the ocean are missing. Matthew Halliday reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  259 AM PST Fri Dec 7 2018   
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 6 ft  at 15 seconds. 
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell  4 ft at 15 seconds. Rain after midnight. 
 SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft  at 14 seconds. A slight chance of rain in the afternoon. 
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell  4 ft at 10 seconds. 
 E wind 10 to 20 kt becoming SE to 10 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 to 3 ft subsiding to 1 ft or less in the afternoon.  W swell 8 ft at 12 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

12/6 Madrone, global carbon, BC climate plan, Tacoma refinery, 20o dolphins, Frognal trees, grants, Littleneck Beach, restoring McNeil Is., rain garden, 42nd LD election, Tacoma LNG

Pacific madrone [Laurie MacBride]
The Prize at the End of the Trail
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "In my previous post I described the trail at Francis Point Provincial Park, and how we were encouraged to carry on by a hiker who assured us we’d reach the end soon. 'You’ll know you’re there when you get to the arbutus trees,' he said casually. It was a hot day, and we’ve seen innumerable Arbutus menziesii over the years – they are, like my husband and me, native to our region – so it was tempting to give it a miss and head back to our boat for a cool drink. But I’m glad we carried on, because what greeted us at the end of the trail was no “ordinary” arbutus grove (if there is such a thing). This was a unique and expansive forest of brilliant orange trunks and limbs…"

'We are in trouble.' Global carbon emissions reached a record high in 2018.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record, scientists projected Wednesday, in the latest evidence of the chasm between international goals for combating climate change and what countries are actually doing. Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained largely flat, leading to hopes that the world was beginning to turn a corner. Those hopes have been dashed. In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent. The rise in 2018 is projected to be 2.7 percent. The expected increase, which would bring fossil fuel and industrial emissions to a record high of 37.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, is being driven by nearly 5 percent emissions growth in China and more than 6 percent in India, researchers estimated, along with growth in many other nations throughout the world. Emissions by the United States grew 2.5 percent, while emissions by the European Union declined by just under 1 percent. Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney report. (Washington Post)

Tax breaks at centre of B.C.'s long-term climate plan
B.C. has unveiled its long-awaited clean climate plan, outlining the province's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the province by offering tax breaks for home retrofitting and zero-emission vehicles. The plan, Clean B.C., also redirects revenue from the carbon tax into incentives for the province's biggest industries to move to cleaner operations. "We want to make shifts: shifts in our home, shifts in our vehicles and shifts in our industry away from fossil fuels and into green energy," Premier John Horgan told reporters. Rhianna Schmunk reports. (CBC) See also: B.C.'s clean climate plan targets natural gas and oil sector  B.C.’s new greenhouse gas-emission target calls for a 40-per-cent reduction by 2030 over 2007 levels, a decrease of 24 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun) And also: 'LNG-sized gap' in B.C.'s climate plan raises questions about government's priorities  Liam Britten reports. (CBC)

With eye on discounted Bakken crude, Par Pacific buys refinery
A Houston-based energy infrastructure company will pay nearly $340 million for a Washington refinery advantaged because of its connection to Bakken crude. Par Pacific has agreed to acquire U.S. Oil & Refining Co.’s Tacoma, Washington-energy complex that includes a 42,000-bpd refinery and 107-rail car facility capable of handling nearly 60,000 bpd of Bakken and other crude sources from the Rockies or Canada.Par Pacific has been in talks with the private equity-backed U.S. Oil & Refining since the spring and now has a deal set that will help it connect crude from the Bakken and Western Canada to energy operations in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Much of the crude is used to make gasoline, distillate or asphalt. Barges and pipelines in Tacoma will move product that stays in the continental U.S. to West Coast locations. Luke Geiver reports. (North American Shale)

If you like to watch: 'Never seen anything like it': 200 dolphins spotted swimming from ferry
The day started off like any other ferry ride that Henry Irizawa has taken. He's lived in Comox for 10 years and was on a Tuesday morning ferry to Horseshoe Bay — one that he's done "at least 300 times." About 40 minutes into the trip, Irizawa recalls the captain came on the PA system to say a large pod of dolphins was swimming in front of the vessel.  Irizawa rushed onto the deck and and whipped out his phone. Tamara Baluja reports. (CBC)

Trees fall at Frognal development as activists look on 
A developer Wednesday began taking initial steps ahead of major logging and grading at the Picnic Point project. Neighbors and environmental groups oppose the 112-home subdivision, which they say poses risks to a salmon-bearing stream and could increase the chance of landslides. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

Northwest Indian College awarded $3.5 million grant from National Science Foundation
Northwest Indian College’s Salish Sea Research Center was awarded a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant partners with Lummi Natural Resources and forms a network of other partners, which will focus on community-driven issues related to environmental impacts on the Salish Sea that affect Coast Salish peoples. The grant will fund the creation of the Tribal Advancement Enterprise Center for Community Marine Research. The center will give time, resources and space to facilitate research, drawing from local expertise to produce the next generation of indigenous scholars to serve as decision makers and intellectual resources for their communities. In total, the National Science Foundation gave $14 million to establish these centers and support scientific and engineering research at four tribal colleges around the country. (Bellingham Business Journal)

Russell Family Foundation Awards $2.3M In Grants
The Gig Harbor-based Russell Family Foundation this week announced it will award $2.3 million in grants to 25 nonprofits serving folks in the Pacific Northwest. The wide-ranging grants dispersal will assist groups that support and advocate for young women, students, houseless individuals, and minority communities, as well as environmental and economic equity groups. (Patch)

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe seeks to rename clamming beach
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is seeking to rename a beach at the mouth of Dean Creek near Blyn. The tribe filed paperwork with the state Department of Natural Resources to rename the beach to Littleneck Beach, a name it said honors the generations of S’Klallam ancestors who have gathered clams at that location. The beach is one of very few that naturally sustains colonies of native littleneck clams, according to the tribe. Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily New)

McNeil Island becoming known for fish and wildlife, not just prison
Christopher Dunagan in Watching Our Water Ways writes: "If you’ve heard of McNeil Island, you are probably thinking of a former federal or state prison in South Puget Sound — not the rare and exclusive habitat that has won high praise from fish and wildlife biologists. I never realized that McNeil Island was such a gem until I learned about state restoration plans that could lead to near-pristine conditions for the island, located about seven miles southwest of Tacoma. To be sure, more than 90 percent of the island’s 12-mile-long shoreline remains in a natural state, including large trees bending over the water . The restoration — the result of a longtime planning effort — will focus on discrete areas that have been highly degraded by human activities, some for more than a century...."

A rain garden can beautify your landscape and turn you into an environmental hero at the same time
YOU MAY FIND yourself in a beautiful house. With a beautiful wife. You may ask yourself, “Where does my rainwater go?” Even if you aren’t a Talking Heads fan, you should be asking that question. It’s important because if you live in the Seattle region, the runoff from your roof probably is affecting the water quality of Puget Sound. In many neighborhoods, runoff goes into an antiquated sewer system that overflows into the Sound during heavy storms. In other areas, it runs down the street directly into the Sound, after picking up some engine oil and garbage along the way. Both of these scenarios present hazards to the ecosystem. In fact, storm runoff is the largest source of pollution in the Sound, creating problems for fish, birds, vegetation and every other living thing that depends on fresh water. Colin McCrate writes. (Seattle Times)

Election recount affirms win of two Whatcom incumbents
A hand recount has confirmed the Nov. 6 election victories of two incumbents in the 42nd Legislative District of Whatcom County — races so close that extra ballot scrutiny was required under state law. Both state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and state Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden retained their seats, each by fewer than 100 votes out of more than 72,000 cast, according to the final Canvassing Board meeting Wednesday afternoon.... Ericksen won his third Senate term, defeating Democratic challenger Pinky Vargas, a Bellingham City Council member, by 45 votes —49.9 percent to 49.8 percent — out of 72,779 votes cast.... Van Werven won her third House term, defeating Democratic opponent Justin Boneau of Bellingham by 50 percent to 49.9 percent, or 81 votes. Robert Mittendorf reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Silently withholding records - such as Tacoma LNG safety studies - betrays open government
The [Tacoma] News Tribune editorial board writes: "Here’s a refreshing lesson in government transparency, one that touches on Tacoma and the controversial liquefied natural gas plant being built on the Tideflats. You don’t always have a right to know every secret that Washington public officials are keeping from you. But you do always have a right to know the secret exists, and why they’re hiding it. When officials play cat-and-mouse games over documents whose disclosure could be sensitive or embarrassing, it’s called “silent withholding.” Washington’s exalted Public Records Act doesn’t condone misleading tactics, and the state Supreme Court reinforced the law in a 1994 decision that expressly bars silent withholding...."

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  246 AM PST Thu Dec 6 2018   
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 5 ft  at 18 seconds. 
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 6 ft  at 17 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Salish Sea News: Communicate, Educate, Advocate

Follow on Twitter. 

Salish Sea Communications: Truth Well Told