Chunky seabird in the crosshairs of state’s timber-cutting machinery – Crosscut

As I’ve recently said, state Democratic politics has gotten so bad lately, it seems the only way to get through even our Democratically controlled DNR, is to sue. This is a pathetic situation, but one that is absolutely needed.  We can’t have people running as Democrats, coming to the environmental community for funding and promising to run their organization in a better environmental way, and having them act just like their Republican predecessors, that we voted out. That a group of Goldmark supporters has to sue his organization to get them to do the right thing, is really outrageous.

Environmentalists say the marbled murrelet deserves much more protection than the state Department of Natural Resources are willing to give…. In a lawsuit filed March 31, the Seattle Audubon Society, the Olympic Forest Coalition and others are contesting two timber sales on the Olympic Peninsula that they say violate the state’s federal habitat conservation plan. The land is managed by the Department of Natural Resources and includes forests that had been specifically identified for protection and recovery of the endangered bird, according to the lawsuit. Martha Baskin reports. (Crosscut)

Beyond “Earth Day” – Google Subsidizes Wind & Solar Power

One of the most positive things I’ve read lately. A win for all of us. Now to get our Governor  to move on getting solar and wind integrated into *all* homes east of the Cascade Mountains (with obvious some exceptions).  That would be a real environmental win and not just political window dressing.

Just because Earth Day is over doesn’t mean we’re done doing good things for the planet. Yesterday we announced our biggest renewable energy purchase yet: an agreement with our Iowa utility partners to supply our data center facilities there with up to 407 megawatts of wind energy.

Today, we’re taking another step towards a clean energy future with a major new investment. Together withSunPower Corporation we’re creating a new $250 million fund to help finance the purchase of residential rooftop solar systems—making it easier for thousands of households across the U.S. to go solar. Essentially, this is how it works: Using the fund ($100 million from Google and $150 million from SunPower), we buy the solar panel systems. Then we lease them to homeowners at a cost that’s typically lower than their normal electricity bill. So by participating in this program, you don’t just help the environment—you can also save money.

This is our 16th renewable energy investment and our third residential rooftop solar investment (the others being with Solar City and Clean Power Finance). Overall we’ve invested more than $1 billion in 16 renewable energy projects around the world, and we’re always on the hunt for new opportunities to make more renewable energy available to more people—Earth Day and every day. 

Google Subsidizes Solar Panels to Homeowners

And this

You Can Now Invest in Your Neighbors’ Solar Energy Projects

Welcome to the latest innovation in renewable energy: The crowdsourced solar loan.

This all goes to show that our greatest tool in the human toolbox is our capacity to come up with new ideas. We may yet figure out new ways to get us through global warming and the acidification of the oceans.

The Dalai Lama on respecting the Earth

I think this about says it all…

 Help Scientists Record One Day of Sound on Earth - Wired

Bryan Pijanowski wants to capture the sounds of the world on a single day, and he needs your help. On Earth Day, April 22, Pijanowski hopes to enlist thousands of people in recording a few minutes of their everyday surroundings with his Soundscape Recorder smartphone app. All those sonic snippets could create an unprecedented soundtrack to life on Earth — and as they accumulate, year after year, scientists could use them to measure patterns and changes in our sonic environments. Brandon Keim reports. (Wired)

Welcome to Earth Day… roll up your sleeves and get to work

So here we are, another Earth Day, another opportunity to get out and get dirty planting trees etc. If you expect me to say how special you are, forget it. The readers of this blog are not the average person who is tuned out to these issues. I’m talking to you, the folks who get this and come here to read this. While I’m all for doing something positive for the planet, the facts on the ground are not going in the right direction. There are positive things to report in specific locales where concerned local citizens have spent years working to solve problems. Chimacum Creek, Elwha, Dungeness, all improving. As to Puget Sound? Not according to the Puget Sound Partnership annual reporting. Orca numbers are down. There is a freak virus destroying all our sea stars. And ocean acidification isn’t waiting for another Blue Ribbon Panel in a few years. Political will? All in the talk, virtually none in the action, they throw us bones, barely enough to do much of anything, and that’s with another Democratic governor, a Democratic president and lots of Dems at all levels. Canada continues it’s spiraling down into the poster child of bad environmental policy, including Victoria’s ongoing reticence to spend money to stop spewing their untreated sewage into the Strait, and their Federal Government allowing oil drilling in National Parks. Places in Alberta resemble the northern version of the Niger Delta. All for oil. It shows what happens when you get a single political party and an electorate that is asleep. Don’t even get me started about China, India, and all the other places that are so far behind us that they make us look like saints. None of the current status quo there is going to turn things around. It has to stop. There has to be another way.

So what should you do? If you aren’t directly involved in something that is changing the planet for the better, then you need to do more. And I don’t mean turning off the lights when you leave a room or driving less. This is about getting out and telling your elected officials that the status quo won’t work. You expect more and now. If you like being part of politics then have at it, but be aware that the minute you do you will likely be marginalized. You won’t be able to criticize them because they are giving you the scraps. You might make minor shifts in direction of the government. Get a few small tasks done. If you are a Republican, you need to sit down with your legislators and  find out what it will take to get them to support environmental legislation. If you are a Democrat, you need to tell your legisators that simply blaming the R’s for inaction is unacceptable. As Billie Frank Jr. so aptly said after returning from Washington D.C. a couple of years ago, “No one is in charge back there. You are in charge right here.”

We need more people to shake up the status quo. More people willing to get the message out, loud and clear. Climb towers and put banners on them. Educate people to the issues. Make political hay.  Fund some law suits that have the right targets. Force change. The answer is not drilling more. Or building more pipelines. Or nuclear plants. Or coal trains. It’s about really changing the dynamic. I don’t know what it will look like, but it will emerge and become clearer as it happens, as all true major changes do. A program, perhaps like the Space program, geared at saving our air or water supplies. Maybe a challenge to put solar on all homes south of the Mason Dixon line by 2030. Do you have a few million to invest? Then put it to work at the grassroots of this movement. Don’t give it to politicians. They don’t produce anything but hot air. If you have nothing to invest then make a few phone calls and find out what you can do with a local organization to change things now. Get out from behind the computer and become part of something locally that is making it happen.

The politicians we have elected are not doing the job. I don’t care if they are Democrats or Republicans. After this last legislative session in Olympia, it seems clear that they  take our votes for granted. In the lead up to Earthday the governor hires a coal lobbyist for policy. The head of DNR rails against “anti-logging” forces. You need to change this. Now. You need to tell them you won’t fund them anymore without  seeing real change. Let them explain what they have accomplished. It’s time you stop putting up with their excuses.

You are the change. It won’t happen without you. And frankly, there are no sure things even if you do. Go plant a few trees if you want to, but don’t pretend that’s going to help the big picture. Earth Day is not today, it’s every day.

Time is of the essence.

See you in the front lines.

Happy Earth Day.


‘Pit-to-pier’ firm appeals Jefferson County’s Shoreline Master Plan- PDN

The Peninsula Daily News reports today that the Thorndyke Resources Project will take a legal challenge on the Shoreline Master Plan to the Growth Management Board. Given what the PDN reports, it seems unlikely to be successful, but hope springs eternal with these folks, and they apparently have the money to hire the lawyers to challenge it. 

Read the whole story here:



Crazy Dems – Inslee and Goldmark decide their base is irrelevant

Over the last week, I’ve read or listened to the most bizarre stories about our Democratic Governor Jay Inslee and Democratic Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark. After courting the environmental wing of the Democratic voters with their long standing support of environmental protection, we now find both of them throwing this base under the bus.

It wasn’t bad enough, that Inslee named former head of the Department of Ecology, Ted Sturdevant, to be his Policy chief. Sturdevant, who appeared clueless through the battles over the net pen controversy in Puget Sound in the last few years, and  allowed DOE   to fight Jefferson County for refusing to allow  net pens, which DOE had allowed to be banned in another county previously.

Now, Inslee has hired a coal lobbyist, albeit a Democratic one, to direct his policy office. Matt Steuerwalt, is going to run the policy wing of the governor’s office. Steurwalt has recently been the lead advocate for coal fired power plants and coal ports in the State. To be clear, Mr. Steurwalt might be a perfectly wonderful Dem, but in politics perception trumps reality. Why would any Democrat or environmentalist put a coal lobbyist in charge of policy at a point when policy for coal trains is being debated?

Yesterday, Inslee announced that he also would likely trade away concerns of the Tribes and the environmental community, and support business demands, by raising the limit of possibly cancer causing fish a person can eat. This was in lieu of asking for stricter controls on pollution by the likes of Boeing, whom promptly announced that they were shipping 1000 high paying jobs out of state anyway. Interesting who was behind the decision, none other than Ted Sturdevant.

Inslee article

Boeing article

Analysis by Billie Frank Jr. on behalf of the NW Indians Fisheries Commission

Also, in the last two weeks, we’ve had Department of Natural Resources head Peter Goldmark, first state, after the Oso landslide that his agency shouldn’t be blamed for allowing timber harvest on the top of the land that collapsed, instead blaming environmentalists for attacking DNR. There are a number of highly critical articles to his stand, including one in the New York Times, and one in the Stranger. I think that the lawsuits coming down the pike by the surviving homeowners and the estates of those who didn’t, will clearly establish who should be held responsible, and that is likely both Snohomish County land use staff (who might have changed zoning regs and given greater warning, no scratch that, any warning  to the homeowners there) and the politicians who supported those decisions, along with the departments in Olympia that did the scientific research, then ignored it, which seems to clearly be DNR. But fear not, you and I, the taxpayers, will likely foot the liability.

Then yesterday, Goldmark announced that, contrary to what he told supporters when he ran for the position, that he would never take industry money, actively reverse that stance and take $90,000 from the very interests that he regulates. While he may argue no quid pro quo, we all know that those with the biggest donation get the loudest voice in the battle for access to the powerful. If I had to venture a guess here, that in order to find the school funding that has been forced on the legislature by the McCleary Decision, that the pols in Oly have decided to get the funding by clear cutting their way out, enviros be damned. This so they don’t have to raise the Tax word in an election year. This puts Goldmark squarely in the hot seat, and my other guess is that he will not run again in 2 years. This would allow him to turn on his original funders, and never pay a price. In the meantime, Peninsula pols like Tharinger and Van de Wege, will be able to show support for the logging industry, which helps their Clallam County base. Just look at the parcels being clear cut on steep slopes on both sides of Hwy 20 near Eaglemount in Jefferson County near 101. Shades of Beaver Valley Road cutting in the early part of the 2000s.

With the  announcement that Inslee is not getting his way with the nomination of Jaxon Ravens to State Democratic Chairman instead of his choice of Dana Laurent, it certainly brings into question whether the base has turned on the elected officials in Olympia for failing to achieve anything of substance in the last session. It will be interesting to see, as Inslee and Goldmark get out to stump in the hinterlands this year, if they even do, whether they will face hostile party faithful in the areas that poured money into their campaigns and now find themselves wondering who these people actually represent.

Goldmark biting the hand that feeds…

Article questioning DNR decision to allow logging. that points to DNR ignoring scientific research on this very parcel.

Goldmark on campaign contributions:

Event(s): Public Showings of “Legacy of Our Ancestors: Treaty Resources of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe

I’ve worked on this for the last couple of years. Now’s your chance to see it and learn more about this very important neighbor of us here on the Peninsula. Various dates over the next two weeks. All showings are free, donations are welcome to help offset costs. Tonight at Hadlock at the Jefferson County Library.  Tribal Elder and Co-Creator Marlin Holden will be present to share his thoughts and answer questions. 

Legacy Public Screenings PosterLegacy Public Screenings Poster

Researchers: We Shared The Flu Virus With Olympic Peninsula Sea Otters – KPLU.ORG

There are a lot of hypothesis’ that can be created out of this. The first one I thought of was, “is this related to sewage being dumped into the oceans?”  Another one is, “If otters are being affected by human organisms, could the starfish wasting disease also be caused by something we are dumping into the ocean that we haven’t dumped before?”  Ultimately, we have to prepare for a time when we must stop using our oceans as large scale septic tanks. It’s not just our poop and pee, it’s all the chemicals that get flushed down the drain, and the chemicals we put in our bodies.

Humans are particularly generous with the flu, otter-wrangling scientists have found. People shared the 2009 swine flu epidemic with ferrets, dogs, cats, raccoons and pigs, and new research shows even wild sea otters in Washington state got hit. “These otters, which we think were living in a relatively pristine environment off the Olympic Peninsula, were exposed to pathogens that are more commonly associated with people,” said Virologist Hon Ip with the U.S. Geological Survey, who co-authored the study published in the May 2014 issue of “Emerging Infectious Diseases.” Rae Ellen Bichell reports. (KPLU)

New Quotas Clear Way For Banner Summer Salmon Fishing In Pacific Ocean – KPLU.ORG

Good news for sports fishermen this year.

A federal fisheries management panel approved what some charter captains are calling the best ocean fishing season in 20 years. Meeting at a hotel in Vancouver, Washington, the Pacific Fishery Management Council on Wednesday adopted the 2014 season quotas unanimously after days of lengthy negotiations between commercial troll and recreational fishing representatives, treaty tribes and government regulators. The quotas are a big turnaround from the recent past when ocean salmon fishing was sharply curtailed or not allowed at all. Tom Banse reports. (KPLU)

EVENT- April 5- Living with the Coast – A workshop for Marine Shoreline Landowners in Jefferson County

Free workshop for shoreline homeowners

Free workshop for shoreline homeowners

Just to follow up. This was a standing room only crowd. We intend to run this again later in the year, for those who missed it.

Group to sue state over Dungeness water rule – PDN

Sad, but expected. They likely will lose, as other suits have, and cost the State hundreds of thousands to defend.

The Olympic Resource Protection Council has decided it will sue the state over a rule that governs water use in the Dungeness Valley. In a meeting Thursday night at the Sequim library, the group membership agreed to pursue a lawsuit against the state Department of Ecology in an effort to force the agency to review the Dungeness Water Rule…. Water use in the basin was restricted by the Dungeness Water Rule, a measure instituted January 2013 by Ecology with the aim of preserving water in the Dungeness River for both human use and for aquatic species when its flow diminishes in dry summer months. Joe Smillie (Peninsula Daily News)

Lands Commissioner: Logging Factor In Oso Slide ‘Entirely Speculative’ - KPLU.ORG

Yep. Speculative based on some pretty compelling science and background.

Speaking for the first time since the Oso landslide hit Snohomish County, Washington Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark suggested anti-logging interests want to use the disaster to advance their cause. In an exclusive interview, the two-term Democrat said he is indignant in the wake of news reports that have focused on past logging on the plateau above the slide.

Jefferson County – Michelle McConnell leaves for Ecology

Michelle McConnell, who has been a stalwart at the Jefferson County Dept. of Community Development for many years, has chosen to leave and work for the Department of Ecology. Michelle has had the extremely hard job of shepherding the Shoreline Master Program through over the last 8 years. She has always been a steady hand and been a sea of calm in the midst of turbulent public meetings over the SMP. We will miss her guidance on these issues. No word on a replacement yet. Best of luck to Michelle in future endeavors.

I’m pleased to announce I have accepted a new job and will be leaving DCD the week of April 7; my new position will be as a Shoreline Planner with WA Department of Ecology.

I have learned a lot during my eight years with the County and it has been both challenging and rewarding to have served as Project Manager for major, multi-year projects including the Shoreline Master Program Update and Watershed Stewardship Resource Center/SquareONE.  I’m proud of the many positive contributions I’ve made to the never-ending, fast-paced and varied work of DCD.

Thanks to all the good folks I’ve met and worked with along the way!

Best wishes,


Port Townsend marine center focuses on local sea life for Friday season opener – PDN

Always a good thing to do with kids or grandkids. 

An intimate display of animals that can be found in local waters will be on view to the public this Friday as the Port Townsend Marine Science Center opens its doors for the season… The marine display, which features 14 tanks with thousands of different animals, is located at the end of the pier that extends from Fort Worden State Park. The new season begins Friday with a public feed where visitors are invited to help feed the animals at 2 p.m.. Charlie Bermant reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

25 Years Later, Exxon Valdez Spill Effects Linger – Associated Press

25 years later, and the pain and destruction just keeps on keepin on. This is why we are so hard core about protecting us from an oil spill. I want to point out that we should be very proud of the Coast Guard here in the Sound that have done an excellent job of vessel traffic control, and our politicians like Representative Kevin Van De Wege who helped push through the rescue tug at Neah Bay (with the help of the Tribes, many governmental and NGOs too over 15 years of work).  There are new threats coming, and the need to be ever vigilant is never going to leave. But we have done a great job up to now. Knock on wood.

Before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, there was the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, at the time the nation’s largest oil spill.

The 987-foot tanker, carrying 53 million gallons of crude, struck Bligh Reef at 12:04 a.m. on March 24, 1989. Within hours, it unleashed an estimated 10.8 million gallons of thick, toxic crude oil into the water. Storms and currents then smeared it over 1,300 miles of shoreline.

Read the whole story at:

Fukushima Crisis – Georgia Strait Alliance

Looking for a ton of scientific information on the Fukushima Crisis and it’s affects on us? The good folks at the Georgia Strait Alliance in Canada have put this web site up. A web site of web sites. Likely I’ll refer to some of this on the left side of this blog someday as well.

Georgia Strait Alliance has put up a web page to update the crisis: “The devastating explosions in 2011 at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan released huge quantities of radioactive isotopes into the ocean and our atmosphere….”

Fukushima Crisis

Oil And Water Don’t Mix— Never Have – Salish Sea Communications

From my good friend Mike Sato:

I learned about the Exxon Valdez going aground 25 years ago while working in corporate communications for the investor-owned utility, Hawaiian Electric Company. We sadly watched the national news for days as 11 million gallons of oil spread and coated the pristine shorelines.

Read the rest of the story at:

Report from the Front: Herring Country Safari – UW Blogs

Herring Country Safari

Puget Sound Institute lead ecosystem ecologist Tessa Francis writes: “Hood Canal never disappoints me. We’re in year 2 of our herring habitat study, asking whether Puget Sound herring populations are limited by the availability of spawning habitat…. Substrate type doesn’t matter. What does matter, we found, is where that substrate occurs. We found greater differences in egg mortality among spawning sites — Elliott Bay versus, say, Hood Canal — than among spawning habitat within sites. This year, we’re looking closely at why herring egg survival varies among spawning sites….”

It all goes to show that more research into the Salish Sea is needed to better understand the processes and root causes of their success or failures.

Jefferson County Commissioner John Austin decides against third run for seat – PDN and others

Jefferson County Commissioner John Austin has decided not to run for a third 4 year term. I have appreciated his strong stand on environmental issues over the last years, and will miss him on the Commission Board. He has been a very solid vote for environmental protection, health care for all county residents, and a man willing to deliberate over a position.  Politics is about trying to make everyone feel like they are being considered, and some in this county have not felt that way over the last few years, but that wasn’t for a lack of trying by John. Good luck John in all your future travels. I thank you for your friendship and consultations.


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