Monday, January 21, 2019

1/21 Witch hazel, Inslee's orcas, pinks, Tacoma LNG, eelgrass, Burnaby fire, plastic bans, sea lion cancers, Toxic Pearl, replacing Ranker, goshawks

Witch hazel Hamamelis virginiana
Witch Hazel: Queen of Winter
Imagine walking into your garden on a frosty midwinter morning. The sun is just peeking through the overhanging branches of a magnolia. You come across a small tree, barren of leaves but possessing a great multitude of curious golden yellow tufts. As the sun illuminates these tiny fists, suddenly wispy fingers unfurl in response to the new warmth: the shrub’s spidery flowers burst forth along the branches like tiny sulfur flames. Then your olfactory senses are treated to an intoxicating citrus scent. A smile crosses your face. Just maybe, you think, immersed in the sublime winter luminosity of a witch hazel, spring is not that far off. Earl Nickel writes. (Pacific Horticulture)

Orca task force is briefed on state budget
Gov. Jay Inslee is committed to saving the Southern resident orca population and has requested more than $1 billion to do so. Members of Inslee’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force attended a webinar hosted by the Washington State Office of Financial Management on Jan. 10 to get a breakdown of the proposed budget which contains several of its recommendations....Inslee’s orca budget allocates $66 million to operating costs, $594.8 million toward capital improvements and $408.7 million to transportation improvements. Financial management representatives hope that the budget is signed by Inslee no later than June so initiatives can begin. Mandi Johnson reports. (Islands Weekly) See also: Orcas, climate, oil spills and more – can Inslee, Dems make progress in just 105 days?  Brad Shannon reports. (Investigate West)

Scientists see another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon
Over the years, scientists have identified dams, pollution and vessel noise as causes of the troubling decline of the Pacific Northwest’s resident orcas. Now, they may have found a new surprising culprit: pink salmon. Four salmon researchers were perusing data on the website of the Center for Whale Research, which studies the orcas, several months ago when they noticed a startling trend: that for the past two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years. In a newly published paper, they speculate that the pattern is related to pink salmon, which return to the Salish Sea between Washington state and Canada in enormous numbers every other year — in odd-numbered years — though they’re not sure how. They suspect that the huge runs of pink salmon, which have boomed under conservation efforts and changes in ocean conditions in the past two decades, might interfere with the whales’ ability to hunt their preferred prey, chinook salmon. Gene Johnson reports. (Associated Press)

Flood of response pushes completion of latest Tacoma LNG review to March
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has slowed its time line for completing its review of comments on the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on Puget Sound Energy’s liquefied natural gas facility planned for Tacoma. In an update emailed Friday (Jan. 19), the agency said its work is “ongoing and we do not anticipate completing it until March 29, 2019.” The agency had previously targeted Feb. 1 as its anticipated completion date. It’s been nearly a year since the agency called for the SEIS for greenhouse gas emissions analysis and impacts for the Tacoma LNG site. Debbie Cockrell reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Researchers probe into region's 'blue carbon'
The slender green leaves of eelgrass that sway in the waters of Padilla, Samish and Skagit bays are widely recognized as key habitat for species including salmon, crab and great blue herons.  Eelgrass meadows are also starting to be seen as sources of "blue carbon" — carbon dioxide found in plants and sediment in coastal habitats that if released could contribute to climate change. An effort is underway to document how much blue carbon coastal habitats, including those along Skagit County's shoreline, are capable of holding.  Understanding what's there and how fast it can accumulate is the first step toward encouraging preservation and restoration of coastal habitats to help limit the world's greenhouse gas emissions, according to scientists, government agencies and restoration advocates. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Burnaby Mountain fire lights concerns around Kinder Morgan tank farm
Opponents of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project said they are worried about fire risk at the Kinder Morgan tank farm on Burnaby Mountain, after flames from a dramatic fire on Saturday came within hundreds of metres of tanks storing petroleum products. "I'm glad there were no explosions because that tank farm that is just 250 metres from there is like a bomb waiting to go off in our community," said Elan Gibson with Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan. On Saturday, a fire broke out in a storage facility at a property owned by a demolition company on Aubrey Street near Pinehurst Drive. The facility is surrounded by forest, with a residential neighbourhood on one side and the tank farm on the other. It took 34 firefighters to keep the flames from spreading, while the structure was destroyed. (CBC)

Statewide bans on plastic bags, straws are on Dems' green to-do list in Olympia
As an Edmonds City Council member in 2009, Strom Peterson championed the city’s initiative to become the first municipality in Washington to ban plastic grocery bags. Ten years later, he’s the lead sponsor of a bill in the state Legislature to ban single-use plastic bags across the state. HB 1205, which is supported by the Washington Hospitality Association, would prohibit retail establishments from giving customers single-use plastic carryout bags, or paper bags that do not meet recycling requirements. With hefty majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, Democrats say the time is ripe for a shift away from the material that has polluted waters and clogged recycling centers. Jake Goldstein-Street reports. (Seattle Tims) See also: Edmonds bans single-use plastic containers  The city already prohibited plastic bags. It will target plastic straws and utensils next. Lizz Giordano reports. (Everett Herald)

Scientists Puzzled By High Cancer Rate Among West Coast Sea Lions
Erin Ross writes: "I watched a sea lion die last summer. The large animal was emaciated, its spine and ribs visible below its fur. Its hind limbs were immobile as it dragged itself from the shore to the water. Once in the harbor, without the use of its rear flippers, the sea lion struggled to stay afloat. It sank, resurfaced and sank again. I called a hotline, but it was too late. The animal never came back up. I later learned that it probably had an advanced form of cancer. This particular cancer starts in the genitals and then attacks the spine before spreading throughout the body. It’s extremely common — in fact, sea lions have one of the highest rates of cancer among all wild animals. Scientists are just beginning to understand the causes...." (OPB)

An Important New Book Describes How the WA Shellfish Industry is Poisoning our Shoreline Environment
Cliff Mass writes; "In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote a book, Silent Spring, that documented the profound harm of the pesticide DDT on the natural world.  This book led to the of banning of DDT and energized the U.S. environment movement. During the past week, an important new book has been published, one that may well join the ranks of Silent Spring.  The book, Toxic Pearl,  describes the poisoning of Washington State's shorelines by some politically connected and highly irresponsible members of the shellfish industry.  Toxic Pearl documents the spraying of herbicides and pesticides over State shorelines from Puget Sound to Willapa Bay, the careless spread of plastic pollution, and the physical destruction of shorelines areas by some members of the shellfish industry more concerned with profit than the environment...." (Weather and Climate Blog)

County officials may be excluded from Sen. Ranker's seat
The state Democratic Party has determined that two candidates to replace Sen. Kevin Ranker are ineligible because they serve on county boards that will vote on the appointment. Anna Berch-Norton, acting chair of the 40th District Democrats Executive Board, said the state party reached its conclusion after being provided a legal opinion by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.... The state party’s determination means Whatcom County Councilman Rud Browne and San Juan County Councilman Jamie Stephens cannot be appointed to fill Ranker’s seat, Berch-Norton said. Brandon Stone reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Haida Gwaii home to a distinct but vulnerable pocket of northern goshawks
Haida Gwaii's population of northern goshawks are the last remnant of a highly distinct genetic cluster of the birds, a new study by University of British Columbia researchers has found. Researchers estimate the population of birds may have been evolving separately on Haida Gwaii for 20,000 years — right around the last time the glaciers melted, causing the sea levels to rise and potentially separating the birds from their kin. While the birds can fly long distances — with goshawks from Michigan and Manitoba travelling as far away as the central United States — they don't seem to like travelling over water, which could account for their long-term isolation, said study co-lead Armando Geraldes. Hina Alam reports. (Canadian Press) See also: Six Vancouver Island bald eagles dead, six in treatment due to poison  (Vancouver Sun)


Now, your tug weather--
855 PM PST Sun Jan 20 2019
  
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM LATE MONDAY NIGHT THROUGH
 TUESDAY AFTERNOON
MON
 W wind to 10 kt becoming S in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft. NW swell 6 ft at 5 seconds. 
MON NIGHT
 S wind to 10 kt becoming SE 10 to 20 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. NW swell 6 ft at 5 seconds. A  slight chance of rain in the evening then rain after midnight.


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