Sound Action expands staff and drives agenda in Olympia

Sound Action, the relative newcomer to the Salish Sea environmental action scene, continues to expand. Diane Tilstra  joined the team to help  expand fundraising and capacity. Diane is passionate about Puget Sound and has a long history of helping organizations thrive. She spent many years as the development director at People for Puget Sound and was a liaison to the Alliance for Puget Sound Shorelines, which worked to find establish and private funding for common environmental projects around Puget Sound shorelines. Diane also serves as a board member for the Seabury School in Tacoma and volunteers with the National Alliance to End Veteran Suicide. I worked with Diane at People For Puget Sound and can attest that she is a great asset to have brought on to S.A. They are rapidly becoming the new organization that is actually challenging the status quo around the Salish Sea. Lord knows it needs it. Far too many endless meetings and far too little action.

Here’s a wrap up from Sound Action on their Olympia efforts. Given the general ‘do nothing’ nature of this last session, this is good work for such a small organization like theirs.

  • We are happy to say that the derelict vessel removal bill we supported, which created new tools for the derelict vessel program an DNR, passed with flying colors. This program helps to ensure habitat protection by allowing DNR to remove derelict and abandoned vessels from Puget Sound, which can pollute nearshore and marine waters with fuel and oil spills.
  • We also worked to defend Puget Sound from the impacts that would arise as a result of a bill related to floating homes. This bill initially proposed to amend the Shorelines Management Act in ways that expanded the definition of water-dependent, setting a dangerous precedent and opening the door to many more over-water structures in the nearshore. While the bill itself pass, the final legislation did not include this damaging language we opposed and the general integrity of the Shoreline Management Act was supported.
  • The forage fish bill we told you about last month unfortunately died before getting a floor vote. But, there was good progress in helping to spotlight forage fish issues in the legislature and laying  groundwork for next year.

Ocean salmon quota options reflect strong runs – Tacoma News Tribune

Good news at least from the forecast for these fish.

Under options approved this week, recreation anglers fishing off the Washington coast this year could see a higher catch quota for chinook salmon and certainly higher coho quotas. The three alternatives for ocean fishing, approved late Thursday by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, are in response to projections of a higher abundance of hatchery chinook and a significant increase in the number of coho bound for the Columbia River. The council establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast. Chinook options range from 47,500 to 60,000 fish, while the coho options range from 159,600 to 193,200 fish. Jeffery Mayor reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Read the whole story at:

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/03/14/3097998/ocean-salmon-quota-options-reflect.html

Olympic National Park seeks comments on wilderness stewardship plan options – PDN and OFC

Your opportunity to tell the ONP what changes you would like to see to their Wilderness Plan.

The public is invited to mix and match elements of four preliminary alternatives outlined for managing wilderness in Olympic National Park. Park staff are seeking public input on preliminary alternatives for the park’s first Wilderness Stewardship Plan before it puts together its draft environmental impact statement. The final plan, expected to be put into effect in late 2015, will guide management of most of the 922,650-acre park for the next 15 to 20 years. Comment can be made in person at meetings in Port Angeles and Forks this week and in Port Townsend next week. Comments also can be made in writing by mail or online by May 17. Arwyn Rice and Leah Leach report. (Peninsula Daily News)

Read the rest of the story.

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140317/news/303179990/olympic-national-park-seeks-comments-on-wilderness-stewardship-plan

From the Olympic Forest Coalition a bit more detailed viewpoint. The National Park Service has released a range of preliminary draft alternatives for the Olympic National Park Wilderness Stewardship Plan. The preliminary draft alternatives were designed to reflect key topics raised during the initial public scoping process last spring. “The public’s review and comment at this key stage of the planning process will ensure that we are developing the best possible future for the Olympic Wilderness,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Moreover, we want to ensure that we have accurately heard and addressed the public’s comments as we move forward in developing the plan.” This planning process applies only to lands within Olympic National Park and when complete, will guide the preservation, management and use of the park’s wilderness area. “In accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964, the goal of this wilderness stewardship plan is to restore, protect and enhance the overall wilderness character of the wilderness area within Olympic National Park,” Creachbaum emphasized. The preliminary draft alternatives and maps, along with extensive background information and a copy of the public comments submitted during last year’s public scoping period, can be reviewed online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/olymwild. Comments may also be submitted at that website. Six public workshops will be offered and are scheduled as follows:

Ninety-five percent of Olympic National Park was designated as wilderness in 1988, and is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservation System and established a policy for the protection of wilderness resources for public use and enjoyment. For more information or to be added to the Olympic National Park Wilderness Stewardship Plan, people should visit http://parkplanning.nps.gov/olymwild or call the park at 360-565-3004.

Here is the full document if you are interested:

ONP Draft Alternate

 

Six public workshops will be offered and are scheduled as follows:

Tues., March 18, 2014

5:00-7:00 p.m.

Port Angeles Library

2210 S. Peabody St.

Port Angeles, Wash.

Phone: 360-417-8500

Wed., March 19, 2014

5:00-7:00 p.m.

Dept. of Natural Resources

411 Tillicum Lane

Forks, Wash.

Phone: 360-374-2800

Mon., March 24, 2014

5:00-7:00 p.m.

Cotton Building

607 Water Street

Port Townsend, Wash.

Phone: 360-379-4412

Wed., March 26, 2014

5:00-7:00 p.m.

Quinault Lake School

Amanda Park, Wash.

Phone: 360-288-2260

 

Tues., April 1, 2014

5:00-7:00 p.m.

Civic Center (Meeting Room 1)

525 W. Cota St.

Shelton, Wash.

Phone: 360-426-4441

Thurs., April 3, 2014

5:00-7:00 p.m.

Seattle Public Library

Wright/Ketcham Room; Level 4, Room 2

1000 4th Ave., Seattle, Wash.

Phone: 206-386-4636

Public comments may also be mailed or delivered to:

Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum

Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan
Olympic National Park
600 E Park Ave
Port Angeles WA 98362-6757

‘Tides of Change’ explores the health of ocean waters off North Olympic Peninsula – PDN

“Tides of Change” is a new Science Minute Movie by the North Coast and Cascades Science Learning Network that takes viewers behind-the-scenes of Olympic National Park with coastal ecologist Steve Fradkin as he traverses “one of the most wild, scenic coastlines in North America” to monitor the health of the park’s rocky intertidal community. (Peninsula Daily News)

Read the whole story:

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140317/NEWS/140319981/video-8212-tides-of-change-explores-the-health-of-ocean-waters

An Undammed River’s Sediment Brings New Life Downstream – Earthfix

Anne Shaffer sits on the sandy shoreline of the Elwha River and looks around in amazement. Just two years ago, this area would have been under about 20 feet of water. So far about 3 million cubic yards of sediment — enough to fill about 300,000 dump trucks — has been released from the giant bathtubs of sediment that formed behind the two hydroelectric dams upstream. And that’s only 16 percent of what’s expected to be delivered downstream in the next five years. All of that sediment is already reshaping the mouth of the Elwha, which empties into the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the northern shore of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Katie Campbell reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/water/article/an-undammed-rivers-sediment-flush-delivers-new-hab/

Sterilise farm salmon, say experts – The Scotsman

While this is not directly related to around here, it does have some interesting scientific findings that are relevant to our own battles against net pens. Read the whole article. It’s quite worth it. Wonder if it’s totally a one to one fit with our fish farming industry?

FARMED salmon should be sterilised to prevent them breeding with wild fish and introducing genetic weaknesses that will hamper their survival, experts have urged.

New research shows that while salmon reared in captivity to be eaten are genetically distinct from their wild relatives, they are just as fertile and pose a potential danger to naturally occurring populations if they escape and breed with them. Millions of salmon escape from fish farms each year and can find their way into wild spawning groups, where they can reproduce and introduce undesirable traits.

Read the rest of the story at

http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/sterilise-farm-salmon-say-experts-1-3334304

 

Canada- DFO ‘fudging the numbers,’ court finds; bars commercial fishery off Vancouver Island – Globe & Mail

If you were thinking of getting your fishing boat together to get up and take part in the herring fisheries off Vancouver Island, think again. The Canadian Federal Government continues it’s amazing lack of even rudimentary fact finding on whether to allow commercial fishing. It looks like the First Nations and the courts are standing up to these people. None too soon. Is the tide finally starting to turn?  Allowing Canada to wipe out their herring stocks does not help our fishing fleets either. As we all know, salmon live on the herring and we catch their fish, just like they catch ours.

An unprecedented court injunction has barred the Department of Fisheries and Oceans from opening a commercial fishery off Vancouver Island after a judge concluded DFO was “fudging the numbers” and that the federal minister declared it open against her own bureaucrats’ advice. The Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, whose herring-roe fishery has been closed since 2006, went to court last month seeking the injunction. The ruling has prompted the Haida First Nation to threaten similar court action. And the central coast First Nations say they’ll do whatever it takes to protect their fisheries. The First Nations say the fisheries should not be opened because they have not recovered enough to allow harvesting safely. In the Nuu-chah-nulth case, court documents showed that DFO experts agreed that all three areas should remain closed, but federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea chose to open the fisheries anyway. Zoe Tennant reports. (Globe and Mail)

 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/dfo-fudging-the-numbers-court-finds-bars-commercial-fishery-off-vancouver-island/article17391117/

Cantwell Calls for NOAA Study on Ocean Acidification’s Effects on Seafood and Fishing

In Senate hearing Cantwell also backs ‘robust funding’ in Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization for fish stock assessments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called for new federal action to examine ocean acidification’s potential threat to seafood and the commercial fishing during a hearing on the law that guides management of American commercial fisheries.

During testimony at the Senate hearing on the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Reauthorization, the Alaska Regional Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service told Cantwell that ocean acidification is a “cause for concern.”

Cantwell highlighted the need for a study that identifies which fisheries and fish habitats are most at risk from the effects of ocean acidification –as an expansion of a Puget Sound monitoring system for shellfish that she was instrumental in establishing in 2010.  She cited previous research that showed adverse effects on Alaska’s red king crab fisheries.

Such research also would be critical to understanding potential impacts to Washington state’s $30 billion maritime industry.  The sector supports 57,000 direct jobs and 90,000 indirect jobs, 60 percent of which are in the fishing industry.

“We want to make sure we understand the risks to our fisheries. We have some real life situations that are occurring,” Cantwell said today during the hearing of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard. “On this issue, I think we definitely need a study to understand the impacts.”

 Read the rest of the story here:

http://www.cantwell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=c0bd9f45-b98f-4932-adc4-ff928c337c2e

Tribes challenge PUD tidal turbine proposal – South Whidbey Record

We’ll have to keep an eye on this and see what it means to this project. The hearing started yesterday.

The Island County hearing examiner will listen for two days to arguments regarding permits for a proposed tidal turbine pilot project in waters off Whidbey Island. The Tulalip Tribes and the PC Landing Corp. are appealing permits issued by Island County for the temporary installation of two tidal energy generators in Admiralty Inlet and related onshore equipment structures. The project is proposed by Snohomish Public Utility District. The hearing starts Thursday, March 6. Jessie Stensland reports. (South Whidbey Record)

Read the rest of the  story at:

http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/news/248634141.html

Video on mysterious epidemic devastating starfish population off the Pacific Coast – KCTS & Earthfix

Short video on that covers the issues of the disease that is destroying a key predator in the marine habitat. If you have kids, this is a good quick overview. Lots of underwater shots.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/mysterious-epidemic-devastates-starfish-population-pacific-coast/

Alexandra Morton Web Site now up and running

Alexandra Morton, Canada’s leading activist and researcher into the effects of Atlantic Net Pen aquaculture on the environment, has finally created her own web site. It’s listed to the left, and also here.

http://www.alexandramorton.ca/

In addition, the web site of the Salmon Alert (found here http://salmonalert.org/) is the clearing house for all scientific literature on research into the effects of farmed salmon.

And is there an alternative to in-water (in the same waters as our wild salmon)? Yes.

http://salmonalert.org/ally-organizations/closed-containment/

Study: Olympic National Park tourism brings in benefit to tune of $220 million – PDN

Another reminder that while many of us think that forestry is our largest industry, protecting those forests for tourism, is also a good return on our money. Read the whole story at the Peninsula Daily News.

The National Park Service says more than 2.8 million visitors to Olympic National Park in 2012 spent $220 million in the park’s surrounding communities.

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140304/NEWS/303049981/study-olympic-national-park-tourism-brings-in-benefit-to-tune-of

Wave Energy Developer Pulls Plug On Oregon Project – Earthfix

Developers have scrapped their plans to build the nation’s first large-scale wave energy project off the Oregon Coast, saying the costs were too high to make it work. The much-anticipated project would have placed a flotilla of 100 energy-producing buoys, each the size of a school bus, in the waves off the coast of Reedsport, Ore. The project’s developer, Ocean Power Technologies, surrendered its preliminary permit with the federal government, Oregon regulators disclosed Monday. Devan Schwartz reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/energy/article/wave-energy-developer-pulls-plug-on-oregon-project/

Is the Hood Canal Floating Bridge Causing The Problems in Hood Canal?

In 2010 I worked on a video for the Puget Sound Partnership called, “Voices of the Strait”. In that video I interviewed old timers from all over the Peninsula, and asked them about their experiences and changes in the environment. Off camera, I happened to meet one old fisherman, a man who had fished here for his whole life, and was in his 80s. We got to talking over coffee about the Hood Canal problems, and he had an interesting thing to tell me.

“It’s my opinion,” he said, “that ever since the Hood Canal Floating Bridge went in, we have seen a collapse of fish stocks and water quality down there. None of this ever seemed to be a problem before that. I bet the bridge is the cause of it all.”

I remember that conversation clearly, but didn’t ask him to be on camera, because it was, as we say, more of a hypothesis than a proof. You could insert many other hypothesis’ and be just as likely to be right, given a lack of data.

Now, it appears the old timer may have been correct in his observations. At a meeting of restoration recovery organizations held in Port Townsend, Scott Brewer, the head of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council, stood up and validated what the old timer had said. Brewer said that preliminary research  has shown, especially with steelhead, that the bridge might be stopping the fish from moving out to sea. Radio tagged fry have been seen swimming up to the bridge and are unable to figure out how to get around it. They appear to pool against the bridge, which is 30 feet deep, and get picked off by seals or sea lions.  The fry tend to stay on the surface layer of the water, so are stymied by the blockage. Additionally, the bridge may be affecting tidal water exchange.

This poses an interesting problem. Obviously, if accurate, short term fixes might look something like fish ladders or perhaps some kind of underwater fence that could direct the fish towards one end or the other. But longer term, if the bridge is the problem, the question of replacing the bridge will have to be raised. The health of an entire ecosystem might be at stake.

While all this is preliminary and speculative, we’ll keep an eye on this issue and report back as we get more data. But it’s worth remembering that most of the major and minor fundamental scientific advancements, up to the 20th century, were usually amateur local scientists, relying on observation, and hypothesis based on that knowledge of local systems from living there. It’s well worth keeping an open mind to even the oddest possible root causes. The notion that we can throw down a bridge and  have it not affect the body of water it lies on is  something that most bridge planners probably never anticipated. And the findings also point out that the revolution in miniaturization of computer and GPS tracking, will have profound effects on our ability to better understand natural processes.

10 million scallops are dead; Qualicum company lays off staff – Parksville Qualicum Beach News

This in from just over the border. What I understand about scallops is that they are the hardest shellfish to grow, and recent attempts to re-establish them in US Puget Sound waters have been unsuccessful (to commercially viable sizes). Maybe this is why.

High acid levels in the waters around Parksville Qualicum Beach have killed 10 million scallops and forced a local shellfish producer to scale operations back considerably.

Island Scallops CEO Rob Saunders said the company has lost three years worth of scallops and $10 million.

“I’m not sure we are going to stay alive and I’m not sure the oyster industry is going to stay alive,” Saunders told The NEWS. “It’s that dramatic.”

Small sewage leak closes Port Townsend’s North Beach – PDN

A “no contact” advisory is in effect for the waters off North Beach Park in Port Townsend, where city officials reported an intermittent leak of treated sewage Monday. Jefferson County Public Health issued the health advisory for all of North Beach, with warning signs at the county park. The public is advised to avoid surfing, swimming, boating, fishing and the harvesting of shellfish and seaweed at North Beach. Shellfishing always is closed in the area because of the proximity of the sewage plant outfall. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140225/NEWS/302259980/small-sewage-leak-closes-port-townsends-north-beach

UPDATE: This has been repaired and is no longer a threat, though the beach there is always closed to shellfish harvest because the outfall is out there. 3/7/2014.

Judge overrules minister’s decision to open herring fishery – Vancouver Sun

B.C.’s First Nations declare victory over Department of Fisheries in fight to conserve fish.

B.C. First Nations won a major victory Friday when a Federal Court judge granted an injunction blocking the opening this year of a herring fishery on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The decision came after an internal memo revealed Fisheries Minister Gail Shea overruled recommendations of scientists in her own department.

Read the whole story at the Vancouver Sun

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Judge+overrules+minister+decision+open+herring+fishery/9541803/story.html

Jefferson County shoreline program gains state approval

February 12th. So it’s finally done. No thanks to The Department of Ecology for stonewalling our County  on banning net pens in our county for years, on behalf of the net pen industry. It has been an incredibly divisive effort, that has called into question  Ecology’s mission and their allegiances. Their intransigence in being unwilling to look at the issues and concerns of citizens and their representatives who have legitimate questions about the net pen industry seemed to be entirely self serving of that industry, instead of supporting those who are spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars trying to recover wild fish. While just to the north of us in British Columbia, the scientific evidence continues to mount that net pens are very likely to be contributing to the decline in those stocks.

Much thanks to County Commissioner Phil Johnson who fought for the ban tooth and nail for many years, along with David Sullivan and John Austin, to Michelle McConnell for sheparding this through, the two volunteer groups that spent years going over the existing Program and updating it, and for the Planning Commission all of whom took time to deliberate whether what was done was acceptable. It was a Herculian task. Also thanks to the Jefferson County Democrats, who have fought hard at the State level to promote banning net pens in our waters.

Ecology webpage about our SMP Update (with related documents)

The new SMP (full document, non-codified version; 40 MB)
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/shorelines/smp/mycomments/jefferson.html

Press release announcement

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved Jefferson County’s updated shoreline master program.
The county’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the water quality, protection, use, development and restoration of about 250 miles of marine shorelines including Hood Canal and the Strait of Juan de Fuca; roughly 600 miles of river shorelines, including portions of the Quinault, Hoh, Elwha and Dungeness rivers; as well as along the shores of numerous lakes and streams.

Jefferson County is one of nearly 90 local governments that have completed shoreline program updates. The new master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

Before they can take effect, each locally-tailored city and county shoreline master program must be approved by Ecology to affirm compliance with the state’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act (SMA) and the most current shoreline master program regulations.

About 150 cities and counties statewide are in the process of, or soon will be, updating or crafting their master programs.

“We are pleased with how the new shoreline program addresses net pens and establishes local controls that include a conditional use permitting process,” said Sally Toteff, Ecology Southwest and Olympic Region director.

The conditional use permit process allows the county to evaluate proposals based on site-specific concerns, and to require mitigation or use other measures to offset impacts. Any permit application would also trigger an environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act.

Shoreline master programs are the cornerstone of the SMA. The law requires cities and counties with regulated shorelines to develop and periodically update their locally tailored programs to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to public lands and waters.

“It’s very impressive how Jefferson County brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively through tough issues,” Toteff said.

Jefferson County conducted extensive public outreach and facilitated technical and policy advisory committees. The committees included shoreline property owners and experts from various disciplines and agencies.

The county’s shoreline master program:

  • Provides shoreline regulations that are integrated with the Jefferson County growth management planning and zoning, floodplain management and critical areas ordinances as part of a unified development code.
  • Limits new stair towers in landslide hazard and feeder bluff areas.
  • Limits the length of new residential docks and piers.
  • Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods and limits construction of new shoreline armoring such as bulkheads.
  • Includes a restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment.
  • Helps support the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound.
  • Once approved by Ecology, the local shoreline plan becomes part of the state shoreline master program. If needed, the department will help defend Jefferson County’s shoreline program against legal challenges.
  • All of Washington’s cities and counties with regulated shorelines are updating their programs to meet a December 2014 deadline. They are following regulations adopted in 2003 that resulted from a negotiated settlement among 58 different parties including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology and the courts.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Linda Kent, 360-791-9830, linda.kent@ecy.wa.gov; @ecySW

Navy Looks To Renew Permits For Bombing And Sonar Exercises In The Northwest – Earthfix

The Navy is pursuing permits to continue conducting sonar and explosives exercises in a large area of the Pacific Ocean — and that’s putting marine mammal advocates on high alert. Public hearings kick off next week as the Navy gathers public comments on its draft environmental impact statement for the Northwest training and testing range. The range stretches from northern California to the Canadian border. Ashley Ahearn reports.

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/navy-looks-to-renew-permits-for-bombing-and-sonar-/

Battery small enough to be injected, energetic enough to track salmon – Science Daily

Scientists have created a microbattery that packs twice the energy compared to current microbatteries used to monitor the movements of salmon. The battery is just slightly larger than a long grain of rice, however is not the world’s smallest battery. Engineers have created batteries far tinier than the width of a human hair, but those smaller batteries don’t hold enough energy to power acoustic fish tags. The new battery is small enough to be injected into an organism and holds much more energy than similar-sized batteries.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218143330.htm

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 233 other followers

%d bloggers like this: