Monday, January 29, 2018

1/29 Rain, belly rub, FishViews, seafood fraud, screech owls, water rule, First Cr, Pebble Mine, Fairyslipper Forest, rare plants, SEALs, Eagle Spirit Energy, BC hunters, halibut, blue moon

Hat Island [Joel Rogers]
Hat Island (Skagit County)
Hat Island is one of the eastern most islands in the San Juan group, located in Padilla Bay between Anacortes and Bayview. Douglas fir, Pacific madrone and Pacific yew are the dominant tree species. Passers-by view grass headlands of sloping terraces composed of blue wildrye, red fescue, camas and clover. This 91 acre Hat Island Natural Resources Conservation Area provides habitat for bald eagles, seabirds and shorebirds. (WDNR) [Note: Gedney Island aka Hat Island is a private island in Possession Sound between the city of Everett, Washington, and the southern part of Whidbey Island.]

Sick of rain? Sorry, there's more in the pipeline
Another atmospheric river is headed for Western Washington, bringing warmer temperatures and heavy rain and threatening to raise some rivers close to flood level. The soggy system is expected to smack the region Sunday afternoon, with the brunt of the moisture initially headed north to Vancouver Island. By Monday, though, the fire hose could swing south and drench communities north of Seattle, according to the National Weather Service. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Threat Of Landslides High: Special Weather Statement   A special weather statement from the National Weather Service warns of increased landslide risk across all of Puget Sound this week. A serious rainstorm will dump up to 1-1/2 inches across the area through Monday afternoon, which will destabilize already saturated soil. Neal McNamara reports. (Patch)

If you like to watch: Orca belly rubbing off Sunshine Coast beach thrills onlookers
A beach-goer near Sechelt B.C. has captured a rare sight on video: killer whales rubbing their bodies along a pebbly shoreline. On Saturday, Martin Michael managed to film a group of seven of the mammals, ranging in size from two to eight metres in a few metres of water or less. Chad Pawson reports. (CBC)

If you like to watch: “FishViews” Mapping Tool Provides Virtual Tours Of Local Rivers
Many people are familiar with Google Street View, the online map that allows you to take a virtual walk or ride through a neighborhood. Now there’s a similar tool that lets you float down local rivers and waterways.  FishViews has just finished mapping its sixth Northwest river, the Stillaguamish. Other tours include Lake Washington, Lake Union, Shilshole Bay and the Locks. They’re all enabled for virtual reality headsets and you can cruise along at your preferred speed, or zoom around the panoramic images with your cursor, like you might on Google. You can even take a peek underwater. There’s definitely a “gee whiz” factor. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

DNA barcoding reveals widespread seafood fraud in Metro Vancouver
UBC researchers are developing new techniques to identify the seafood sold in Metro Vancouver and they say their findings, released Friday, point to widespread seafood fraud. By using a technique called DNA barcoding, researchers were able to identify the genes of fish from a survey of 300 samples in Metro Vancouver from both sushi restaurants and grocery stores. The barcoding method compared all the data with an extensive library of fish DNA constructed by researchers at the University of Guelph, who have been growing their database for a decade. Dr. Xiaonan Lu, UBC associate professor of food science, said the most commonly mislabelled fish sold on the market is red snapper. Anna Dimoff reports. (CBC)

Conservationists sound alarm over Victoria's western screech owls
Conservationists in Victoria are asking the public to keep an ear open for the distinctive call of the western screech owl as they aim to bring the bird back from the brink. Threatened by habitat loss from logging and development, and at risk from predators such as cats and the much larger barred owl, the western screech owl population has plummeted by 90 per cent over the past decade. Paige Erickson-McGee, a stewardship coordinator with the Habitat Acquisition Trust in Victoria, says there are just 20 left in the Victoria area. (CBC)

Skagit County not included in new water legislation
While the rest of Washington’s rural communities celebrated the Legislature’s new law on water rights, Skagit County residents waiting for water won’t be seeing relief. Senate Bill 6091, signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on Jan. 19, will let rural property owners in Washington’s other 38 counties dig new wells for residential use as a variety of groups spend the next several years developing plans for governing water use. But the new law leaves out Skagit County, saying “additional requirements” apply to water here. State legislators and the state Department of Ecology, which oversees water policy, understand this to mean the law does not apply to Skagit County…. in Skagit County, there has been a moratorium on new wells since a 2013 Supreme Court case, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community v. Department of Ecology, affirmed a 2001 instream flow rule that essentially cut off the Skagit River basin to new water rights in order to preserve stream flows. Brandon Stone reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Vancouver creek to be restored, connecting Kitsilano park to ocean
The Vancouver Park Board plans to restore a waterway that once connected Tatlow Park to English Bay. Kitsilano was once home to First Creek, a salmon-filled stream that ran north through Volunteer Park, across what is now Point Grey Road, and into the ocean. The park board received a $700,000 donation from a community member to pursue the restoration. Clare Hennig reports. (CBC)

EPA halts plans to lift proposed mine restrictions in Alaska
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday halted plans to withdraw proposed restrictions on mining activity near a major Alaska salmon fishery, drawing praise from opponents of the Pebble Mine project. Last year, in settling a legal dispute with the Pebble Limited Partnership, which wants to build a copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, the EPA agreed to initiate a process to withdraw restrictions proposed during the Obama administration. But in a release Friday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said based on comments the agency has received, “it is my judgment at this time that any mining projects in the region likely pose a risk to the abundant natural resources that exist there.” Becky Bohrer reports. (Associated Press)

Fairyslipper Forest permanently protected as Thetis Island’s first publicly accessible nature reserve
Fairyslipper Forest on Thetis Island is now permanently protected as a nature reserve. The new 16-hectare (40 acre) nature reserve on lower Burchell Hill is the result of a partnership between the Islands Trust Fund, the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy and the Cowichan Community Land Trust, and named after the delicate calypso ‘fairyslipper’ orchids that bloom on the hill each spring. The property is Thetis Island’s first publicly accessible nature reserve, offering residents and visitors opportunities for walking and hiking on nature trails through the forest. To maintain the natural features of the land, only low-impact and First Nations traditional use activities will be permitted. (Chemanius Valley Courier)

Rare plant communities in B.C. not being protected from logging: Forest Practices Board
A Forest Practices Board report into a B.C. Timber Sales operation on the Sunshine Coast has revealed that rare plant communities are not receiving adequate protection from logging in B.C. The report, based on a complaint by environmental group Elphinstone Logging Focus, found that two cutblocks totalling 18.3 hectares of mature timber on the southwest slope of Mount Elphinstone contained plant communities considered at risk by B.C.’s Conservation Data Centre — red-listed (meaning threatened or endangered) western red cedar/sword fern, and blue-listed (of special concern) western hemlock/flat moss. Despite those conservation concerns, B.C. Timber Sales had no legal obligation to protect the two ecosystems because neither of the two plant communities had been designated as a species-at-risk or regionally important wildlife under the Forest and Range Practices Act, the report found. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Navy seeks to expand special operations training in region
Curious onlookers might soon spot gear-laden warriors scaling the towering cliffs at Deception Pass State Park or a drone hovering above one of Naval Base Kitsap's installations as the Navy seeks to expand the scope of special operations training in the region. The Navy has conducted SEAL training in the Northwest for the past 30 years, and the growing demand for special operation missions "has triggered the need for an increase in the training tempo," said Navy Region Northwest spokeswoman Sheila Murray. The Navy initially released a proposal in April 2017 with a plan to expand operations. After accepting comments on that proposal and refining it, the Navy released an updated draft environmental assessment on Jan. 23 that called for ramping up training in the region even further. Julianne Stanford reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Indigenous-led energy company plans GoFundMe to legally challenge federal tanker moratorium
Over the past several years, Indigenous groups have gone to court to try to stop energy projects, arguing they were not adequately consulted. But this week, an Indigenous-led energy company announced it will sue the federal government for the opposite reason. Eagle Spirit Energy wants to build a pipeline from Alberta to northern B.C. — with backing from the Vancouver-based Aquilini Investment group — but says a federal oil tanker ban, Bill C-48, is getting in the way. Eagle Spirit Energy has also launched a GoFundMe account to raise funds for the legal effort, said Calvin Helin, chairman and president of the company. ​ (CBC)

B.C. releases documents revealing hunting culture among conservation
After repeatedly denying the existence of such documents, the B.C. government has finally complied with a freedom-of-information request revealing a strong hunting culture within the conservation officer service. The person who successfully navigated the bureaucracy where others couldn’t and who refused to take no for an answer is Bryce Casavant, the former conservation officer who gained international attention and support when he refused a superior’s order to kill two young bear cubs on Vancouver Island in 2015. The FOI documents reveal that 75 of 106 mainly uniform and patrol officers — 70 per cent — have hunting records and that 48 specifically purchased hunting licences last year. Four officers unsuccessfully applied for limited-entry grizzly bear hunts, which have since been banned by the NDP government except for First Nations for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Names of the officers aren’t included in the documents. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

U.S., Canada fail to agree on cuts to annual halibut harvest
U.S. and Canadian members of the International Pacific Halibut Commission adjourned their annual meeting in Portland on Friday without reaching agreement on how to make conservation cuts in the annual harvest. It was a rare failure of negotiations by the six-person commission that regulates the catch of the prized flatfish pursued by sport, commercial and tribal fishermen in waters off California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. Surveys indicate downturns in the numbers of young halibut that represent the future of the fishery. Both U.S. and Canadian commissioners believe that harvest cuts are required, but sparred over where the catch reductions should be made. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Snohomish brings out its bullfrog, hoping for sign of spring
For a bullfrog, he is revered by his town. He was paraded down the street on Saturday, escorted by Snohomish High School athletes in letterman jackets and dark sunglasses. People lined up to give the frog a kiss. Every year, he is the bearer of important news. People wait outside in the cold and wind in anticipation. They listen for a croak or a ribbit, meaning spring is on the way. Caitlin Tompkins reports. (Everett Herald)

How to watch the 'blue moon' lunar eclipse
If you live on the west coast, you're in for a rare treat in the wee hours of Jan. 31: a "blue moon" lunar eclipse. We've come to expect a full moon every month. While that is mostly true, sometimes we get two in one month, something that is referred to as a "blue moon." …January's second full moon occurs on Jan. 31 — which also happens to be the day of the first lunar eclipse of the year. On top of that, the moon will be just two days past its perigee, which is the time in which the moon is closest to earth in its monthly orbit. In popular culture, people have recently adopted the name "super moon" for the time when a full moon is at its perigee. So, some people are calling the coming lunar display a "super blue blood moon." Nicole Mortillaro reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  256 AM PST Mon Jan 29 2018  
 S wind 15 to 25 kt becoming SW by midday. Wind waves 2  to 4 ft. W swell building to 13 ft at 12 seconds during the  morning. Rain.
 SW wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 13 ft at 12 seconds. Rain  in the evening then showers after midnight.

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