Monday, December 23, 2019

12/23 Partridge, Columbia water, farmed salmon escape, natural gas fight, low snowpack, Trump's bulbs, Duckabush restoration, Pebble mine, bad mistletoe

Salish Sea News and Weather wishes you happy holidays and will return -- unless there is breaking news-- after New Year's Day. Mike Sato.

Chukar [National Geographic]

Do Partridges Really Live in Pear Trees?
Possibly the most famous avian in the Christmas diddy is the partridge. To most, a partridge probably brings to mind something like the plump little chukar, a partridge native to Eurasia and introduced to North America as a game bird. There are 92 known species of partridges, which are relatives of quail and live in grasslands the world over. Sadly, though, the birds are ground nesters, and not "likely to roost in pear trees," says Michael Ward, avian ecologist at the University of Illinois...Next thing they'll be telling us reindeer don't get air miles. Liz Langley writes. (National Geographic)

Federal appeals court orders EPA to create plan to lower water temperatures on Columbia River
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Friday ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a plan to limit water temperatures on the Columbia and Snake rivers, which could intensify the debate over breaching or removing the Lower Snake River dams, and others, too. A three-judge panel sided with the Columbia Riverkeeper in its Clean Water Act lawsuit against the EPA and affirmed a prior ruling in the Western District of Washington, according to an opinion published Friday. The court’s opinion said the agency “has failed” to create a temperature plan and that the “time has come — the EPA must do so now,” giving the agency 30 days. The ruling came on the same day that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office released a report on the consequences of potentially breaching or removing the Lower Snake River dams, a hot-button issue at the intersection of conflicts involving power generation, agriculture, orca and salmon recovery and transportation. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times)

Up to 21,000 Atlantic salmon escape after B.C. fish-farm fire damages net pen
A fire at a fish farm near Port Hardy, B.C., at Queen Charlotte Strait has resulted in the escape of more than 20,000 farmed Atlantic salmon. Fish farm company Mowi, formerly known as Marine Harvest, says in a statement divers are investigating the damage resulting from a fire at its salmon farm at Robertson Island. Mowi says it has notified federal regulators and area First Nations about the fire and the subsequent escape of the estimated 21,000 Atlantic salmon from the damaged net pen. Mowi says the damaged net pen will be towed to land and an investigation will be undertaken to determine the cause of the fire, which is believed to have occurred Friday night. (Canadian Press)

Natural gas industry's $1 million PR campaign sets up fight over Northwest's energy future 
Washington and Oregon natural-gas companies, rattled by local proposals that could shift more buildings to electricity, will spend $1 million on a public-relations campaign to promote their fuel as part of the region’s clean-energy future. The gas companies are forming a coalition of unions, businesses and consumer groups to tout the benefits of natural gas and to help “prevent or defeat” initiatives that inhibit its use, according to internal industry documents obtained by The Seattle Times. They’re calling the coalition “Partners for Energy Progress,” and a public launch is scheduled next year. The planning documents provide a window into the industry’s broader effort to ensure that natural gas continues to be piped into American homes and other buildings, even as municipal and state governments grapple with how to combat climate change. Hal Bernton and Daniel Beekman report. (Seattle Times)

Despite recent storms, snowpack less than half of normal
With significant rain and snowfall since Wednesday, area rivers have risen to normal levels and several inches of snow has accumulated in the North Cascades. The recent storm system, however, comes at the close of an unusually dry fall, during which river flows and snowpack in the region were below normal, particularly during November. That means representatives of the Office of the Washington State Climatologist and of the Natural Resource Conservation Service, which monitors snowpack, are concerned that spring and summer 2020 may see drought conditions.More snow is needed to improve the outlook for streamflows during the drier months, Mark Mastin of the U.S. Geological Service’s Washington Water Science Center said. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Trump Administration Blocks Energy Efficiency Rule for Light Bulbs
The Trump administration announced Friday that it would block a rule designed to phase out older incandescent bulbs and require Americans to use energy-efficient light bulbs. In announcing the move, the secretary of energy, Dan Brouillette, who is a former auto lobbyist, said the administration had chosen “to protect consumer choice by ensuring that the American people do not pay the price for unnecessary overregulation from the federal government.” The new rule was unnecessary, he said, because innovation and technology are already “increasing the efficiency and affordability of light bulbs without federal government intervention.” John Schwartz reports. (NY Times)

Hopes still rising for ecological benefits from a new Duckabush bridge
A major bridge-replacement project over Hood Canal’s Duckabush River is advancing toward a final design, and a growing number of people are thrilled with the ecological benefits expected from the estuary restoration. Construction could begin within four years. The project, estimated to cost roughly $90 million, is being designed to improve the migration and survival of salmon and trout native to the Duckabush River, which flows out of the Olympic Mountains. Special attention is being given to Hood Canal summer chum, Puget Sound Chinook and Puget Sound steelhead — all listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The project also will aid coho salmon, a federal species of concern, and pink salmon. Chris Dunagan reports. See also: State awards more than $4.1 million for Peninsula salmon recovery projects   Michael Foster reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Copper versus salmon: Why an Alaska mine matters in the Northwest
Hidden beneath that soggy expanse of southwestern Alaskan tundra is the Pebble deposit, one of the world’s largest undeveloped reserves of copper and gold. The remote tundra plateau also sits at the headwaters of two river systems, the Kvichak and the Nushagak. They are key arteries of the Bristol Bay watershed, the sockeye salmon capitol of the world. More than half of all the sockeye caught in the world come from Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The clash reaches far beyond Alaska. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

The little-known, parasitic mistletoe stunting B.C. trees
Every so often, David Rusch climbs into his white pickup truck and rumbles up a gravel forest service road into the endless lodgepole pine forests surrounding Williams Lake, B.C. He's on the hunt for mistletoe, and not the festive kind. Rusch is tracking local dwarf mistletoe because it's a destructive, explosive parasite that races through the woods and sucks the life from trees at a blistering pace. Rusch, a veteran forest pathologist with province's Ministry of Forests, can spot bristly clusters of infection sapping strength from a single, free-standing tree as the truck lurches past. Rhianna Schmunk reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  223 AM PST Mon Dec 23 2019   
 S wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft  at 11 seconds. 
 S wind to 10 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 11 seconds. A chance of  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 (@) 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