Monday, January 13, 2020

1/13 Ptarmigan, green lege priorities, Oly port settlement, BC pipe indigenous rights, free parks, Snohomish rail tracks, hazards plan, dams v salmon, Aussie coal

Ptarmigan in winter [Paul Bannick/BirdNote]
Ptarmigan in Winter
Both the Willow Ptarmigan and these White-tailed Ptarmigan, feathered mostly brown in summer, are utterly transfigured by an autumn molt. As snow begins to mantle their world, both species, now all white, blend in superbly. But the ptarmigan pulls another trick. It adds dense white feathering on both the tops and bottoms of its feet. And its claws grow longer. The bird grows snowshoes! (BirdNote)

Environmental groups identify top legislative priorities as Legislature convenes in Olympia
As the new session gets underway in Olympia today, environmental groups have released their legislative priorities. Items topping their list this year are renewed attempts to pass a clean fuels standard to reduce carbon pollution from transportation, as well as a statewide ban on thin, single-use plastic bags.  A new priority this year has to do with restoring salmon habitat around Puget Sound, which is important for endangered Southern Resident killer whales. Nick Abraham with the Environmental Priorities Coalition says it aims to revise the current policy, in which development projects must show "no net loss" of salmon habitat. It would instead require an increase. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Port settles lawsuit with environmental group for $1.3M
The Port of Olympia agreed this week to pay roughly $1.3 million and take corrective steps to settle a federal lawsuit that alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at the port’s marine terminal. Waste Action Project of Covington announced that it intended to sue the port in April 2017, then followed through on that lawsuit two months later. Waste Action Project alleged that the port was violating the Clean Water Act by discharging polluted stormwater into Budd Inlet. “We’re not going to stand here and watch it happen,” Waste Action Project Executive Director Greg Wingard said at the time. “The port can step up and take care of it or we’ll step up and fix it in federal court.” That “fix” happened this week. The port commission — Joe Downing, Bill McGregor and E.J. Zita — met in executive session on Tuesday to discuss the litigation, then emerged and voted unanimously to approve the proposed settlement. Rolf Boone reports. (Olympian)

B.C. human rights commissioner asks Canadian government to halt pipeline project
British Columbia’s human rights commissioner has called on Canada to stop building a contentious natural gas pipeline until the affected Indigenous groups consent to the construction. Kasari Govender said she believes Canada is shirking its obligations as a signatory to the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. “I join (the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) in urging Canada to immediately cease the forced eviction of Wet’suwet’en and Secwepemc peoples, to prohibit the use of lethal weapons, and to guarantee no force will be used against them,” she wrote on Twitter. “This is a matter of fundamental human rights.” (Canadian Press)

Who Doesn't Like Free? Legislature Ponders Washington State Park Entry Fees
Remember back when it didn’t cost anything to visit a state park for the day? A senior Republican in the Washington Legislature says the state’s budget surplus should make it possible for park access to be free again. Eastern Washington Sen. Mark Schoesler has drafted a bill to eliminate state park access and parking fees, effective this summer. The Senate minority leader said now is a good time to go back to free day use because the state can afford it....Schoesler needs support from the Democratic majority in the Washington Legislature to advance his idea. It’s uncertain if he will get it. Tom Banse reports. (NW News Network)

Changes coming for coastal train tracks that endanger salmon
Much like its human residents, Snohomish County’s chinook salmon are trying to navigate the 73 miles of BNSF railway tracks trimming Puget Sound to access the water. For young fish, a natural nursery habitat at the spot where streams meet the sound is often blocked by pipes that route waterflow under the tracks. A collection of state and federal agencies just wrapped up a year-long effort to prioritize nearly 200 streams and determine where projects to increase fish access would have the most bang for their buck. Of the 74 stream crossing sites in Snohomish County, six are considered a high priority. They include spots at Meadowdale Park, Japanese Gulch and Boeing Creek. Julia-Grace Sanders reports. (Everett Herald)

County seeks input on hazard mitigation plan
After months of reviewing risks faced by communities throughout Skagit County from natural hazards including from volcanoes in the North Cascades and tsunamis from the Pacific Ocean, the county Department of Emergency Management has released a draft plan for keeping communities safe. The draft 2020 Skagit County Multi-Jurisdiction Hazard Mitigation Plan is open for public comment by email or mail through Jan. 20. Emergency Management leads the development of a local natural hazard mitigation plan in coordination with cities, towns and local districts including those for schools and fire responders. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Dams Vs. Salmon: Workshops Aim To Get Past 'My Study Can Beat Up Your Study' On Snake River
Salmon need our help, but solutions aren’t going to come easy. That was the common thought from speakers Tuesday night in Clarkston, Washington. The panel kicked off the first of three workshops to discuss issues that bog down the fate of four lower Snake River dams in Washington. More than 300 people showed up to hear speakers talk about why it’s important to either keep or alter the dams. The panel stems from a Washington state study that will guide the state’s position on dam removal. Courtney Flatt reports. (NW Public Broadcasting)

Siemens resists climate protests over Australia coal project
German engineering giant Siemens says that despite protests by climate activists it will fulfil a deal to help develop a huge coal mine in Australia. The controversial open-cast mine in Queensland, owned by India's Adani group, is to go operational next year. Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser said "we should have been wiser about this project", but "we need to be a supplier who sticks to its commitments". Extinction Rebellion activists have protested outside Siemens HQ in Munich. (BBC)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  403 AM PST Mon Jan 13 2020   
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 17 ft  at 13 seconds subsiding to 9 ft at 12 seconds. A chance of showers. 
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 7 ft  at 15 seconds.

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