Mountain snowpack above normal across Washington state – AP

Good news for now. But we are also hoping for more snow between now and April.

Mountain snowpack came in above normal in Washington state, raising hopes the normally soggy state will not repeat last year’s drought conditions that helped fuel the worst wildfire season in its history, a federal agency said Monday. Winter snowpack was 109 percent of normal across the state, but the numbers varied by location, according to a Feb. 1 report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Some areas came in just below 70 percent, while others ranked close to 150 percent of normal. Nicholas Geranios reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/mountain-snowpack-above-normal-across-washington-state/

Photo of the Day – Alabaster Nudibranch

Another gem from photographer Bruce Kerwin. This one taken off Bainbridge Island.

DSC_7375 Alabaster Nudibranch - Norrander Reef

Gulf Of Mexico Open For Fish-Farming Business – NPR

NOAA continues its promotion of the aquaculture fish farming industry. Since the government destroyed huge swaths of the Gulf with its lack of stiff enforcement of oil drilling, now it has decided that fish farming there is a great idea. No environmentalists  anywhere in the world that have looked at this industry think it’s a good idea. And the fish farming industry and NOAA are targeting  opening  up the Salish Sea for more fish farming also.  Their science on it, when you read it, is missing key issues of investigation, such as long term affects of the bottom and the general larger habitat around the fish. The experience of fish farming in British Columbia, Norway and other locations, is one of vast overuse of antibiotics, needed because of dense packing in the cages, which create a vector for disease, like sea lice infestations that are infecting wild stocks that pass by the cages. Escaped farm fish compete with native species, coverups of massive problems with disease by the highly secretive farming industry and smear campaigns for highly credible scientists and their labs, including using the Government of Canada to arbitrarily shut down the labs involved after they publish their results (under the Harper and Christie government two and three  years ago) and a basic lack of concern for anything but their own bottom lines. While I support much of what NOAA does, this area is very suspiciously looking like it has been corrupted by the industry that it is supposed to be impartially regulating.

This is yet another example of a Democratic administration doing exactly what we would expect from a Republican one. It is the kind of arrogance towards our shared environment and the people of the Gulf that fuels the anger of the electorate towards Washington D.C. and the administrators there that choose business over the environment time and time again.  It’s worth remembering that Obama opened up offshore oil drilling against environmentalists concerns just weeks before the Gulf Spill in March 2010, saying it was ‘safe’ and that we had great safeguards. He was proven wrong in May of that year. He has since reopened drilling off the coast, even after the BP spill, against the wishes of Governors of those coastal states affected by the decision. Now he is opening up Gulf waters for large scale fish pens. We are also targeted for that same treatment, as fish farms are proposed west of Port Angeles at present time. The State demanded that counties not ban fish farming in their Shoreline Master Programs, and actually have held up approval of the Jefferson County SMP over that very issue. Luckily we have had Phil Johnson an ex-fisherman, fighting this issue with the State, but at present it is still legal to open a fish farm in Jefferson County, over the objections of both a scientific panel and a citizen advisory group of 20 citizens that included a shellfish farmer. When I questioned the previous head of the State of Washington Department of Ecology, he had no idea that it was even a problem worth addressing. The latest head of DOE is a lawyer as well as an administrator and she is unwilling to seriously discuss reversing her department’s decision.

To be clear, while I’m  disappointed in the administration for allowing this, voting in the opposition will simply make it worse, as the Republicans have never seen an environmental law they like. Just look at Flint Michigan for a great example of Republican oversight of the environment.  Our best efforts are to fight decisions like this in the courts, contact our representatives to make them aware of the public feelings on the issue, make it an issue at elections, and elect people like Phil Johnson who will fight against the influence of big money industries trading off the environment and our wild fish for short term profits.

To their credit, NPR does point out the  criticisms of this decision.

The Gulf of Mexico is now open for commercial fish farming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last month that, for the first time in the U.S., companies can apply to set up fish farms in federal waters. The idea is to compete with hard-to-regulate foreign imports. But opening the Gulf to aquaculture won’t be cheap, and it could pose environmental problems. Tegan Wendland reports. (NPR)

http://www.kplu.org/post/gulf-mexico-open-fish-farming-business

Public access in works for new beaches on east side of Elwha River mouth – PDN

I had no idea there wasn’t public access to the east side of the Elwha mouth. Thought the Tribe had a public access point there. Glad to hear that one will be put in.

Public access to the new beaches on the east side of the Elwha River mouth is expected to be available by the summer of 2018. ….The only present public access to the 80 to 100 acres of beaches at the mouth of the Elwha River is on the west bank of the river, which is across private property and where parking and public services are very limited. Arwyn Rice reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20160207/NEWS/302079977/public-access-in-works-for-new-beaches-on-east-side-of-elwha-river

See also: Elwha River beach, sea life settling into a new normalhttp://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20160207/NEWS/302079997/elwha-river-beach-sea-life-settling-into-a-new-normal(Peninsula Daily News)

Water rights bill passes state Senate committee – Skagit Valley Herald

Another bad bill from our Republican controlled Senate.  Want to get around the rules to protect the water sources for rivers and aquifers for community waters sources so you can use as much as you want? Our state is legally charged with protecting water levels in rivers  for endangered salmon. In the Dungeness Basin, for example, the Dungeness River Management Team has brought together a wide array of stakeholders, for over 20 years, to come up with water management of the river and it’s flows. Now a couple of disgruntled people are pushing for a change that would give a workaround for collaborative processes like these. I doubt the Supreme Court would find this possible law constitutional, given their earlier ruling.

A state legislative bill that would give landowners a process for overwriting water use regulations tied to instream flow levels passed its first committee in the state Senate on Thursday. The bill, which passed the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee, still needs to go through the Senate Rules Committee before it could see a floor vote, according to a news release from the office of Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe. Senate Bill 6584, sponsored by Pearson, would task the state Department of Ecology with devising a method of determining if a landowner’s water supply affects instream flow levels of a river, which the bill calls “proof of water reliance.” The bill is of importance to landowners in the Skagit River basin. A 2013 state Supreme Court ruling effectively revoked water rights from well users in the basin when the river is below a certain level. Brandon Stone reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

http://www.goskagit.com/all_access/water-rights-bill-passes-state-senate-committee/article_086697fb-e342-5118-9bc3-dd19f1e8a5e6.html

Northwest Volunteers Want To Help Restore Malheur Refuge – Earthfix

You can help once the remaining terrorists at Malheur surrender.
Oregon conservation groups say volunteers are lining up to help reverse damage done to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during the ongoing occupation.  At the end of January, the Oregon Natural Desert Association put out a call for volunteers interested in doing environmental restoration at the refuge after the occupation is over. In just a week, more than 600 people from all over the Northwest have signed up. Jes Burns reports. (EarthFix)

http://www.opb.org/news/series/burns-oregon-standoff-bundy-militia-news-updates/northwest-volunteers-restore-malheur-refuge-occupation-oregon/

Photo of the Day – Pacific Red Octopus in Hood Canal

Bruce Kerwin captured this wonderful photo of a Pacific Red Octopus at the dive site of Sund Rock in Hood Canal.

DSC_6995 Pacific Red Octopus On the move - North Wall Sund Rock

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