State considers conservation options for marbled murrelet – Skagit Valley Herold

Some of the marbled murrelet habitat is in western Jefferson County. 

The state Department of Natural Resources is reviewing conservation plan options for the marbled murrelet, a seabird that is found along the state’s coast, including several bays on Skagit County’s shoreline. The state agency worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to draft five strategies to conserve the bird’s habitat. The options would protect between 594,000 and 734,000 acres of land managed by Natural Resources. The marbled murrelet is considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act, meaning it is likely to become endangered. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Restoring Bird Colonies with Social Attraction – Birdnote

Interesting ideas. Might be of use here in the Sound.

What does relocating Caspian Terns from an island in the Columbia River have to do with luring Short-tailed Albatrosses away from an active volcano in Japan? They both use methods of social attraction pioneered by Dr. Stephen Kress. Social attraction utilizes visual cues such as decoys and audio recordings of birdcalls. Using these, scientists can entice bird colonies out of harm’s way. These Atlantic Puffins represent another successful use of social attraction: Kress and his team established new colonies of puffins on the coast of Maine! (BirdNote)

DNR buys lands around Taylor Shellfish hatchery for long-term conservation – PT Leader

I missed this story. More good news from DNR, Taylor Shellfish and the Northwest Watershed Institute. Moving forward on protecting shorelines that are key to aquaculture  from development. We need cooperative agreements where the habitat calls for it.

On Sept. 17, Taylor Shellfish Farms sold four undeveloped shoreline parcels, totaling 15 acres, to the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for preservation as part of the Dabob Bay Natural Area, according to a press release.

Millions of B.C. salmon mysteriously ‘just disappear’ in troubling year – Globe and Mail

More bad news for our fishing fleets.

Although spawning salmon are still returning to British Columbia’s rivers – including some, surprisingly, to urban streams – early returns indicate another troubling year, despite some bright spots…. There were good sockeye salmon returns to the Great Central Lake system on Vancouver Island and to the Nass River on the North Coast, he said. But contrasting that were very poor returns on the Fraser River, where only about two million sockeye returned, far short of the more than six million predicted in preseason forecasts. Even more dramatic was the collapse of the pink salmon on the Fraser, with only about five million fish showing up when more than 14 million had been forecast. Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail)

Lawsuit Claims Commercial Salmon Farms Harm Native Fish In Puget Sound – KUOW

Finally, someone decides to question (and challenge) the prevailing assumption that having lice ridden net pens (and dumping antibiotics to protect the salmon from them) of Atlantic salmon in the midst of an endangered run of wild salmon is a good thing. It’s not. It’s a recipe for disaster. We, the taxpayers, are funding millions of dollars to save our wild stocks. Supporting an industry that is known to have problems as a vector for disease and lice is counterproductive. If you wish to help support this lawsuit, even with $10, contribute to The Wild Fish Conservancy. 

The Wild Fish Conservancy is suing federal environmental and fisheries agencies for inadequately monitoring the impact of commercial salmon farms in Puget Sound. The lawsuit filed Wednesday says commercial farms pose many risks to wild salmon. In 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Marine Fisheries Service found the opposite. They concluded that commercial salmon farms are unlikely to harm wild salmon. Kate O’Connell Walters (KUOW)

Jefferson County Dems Adopt Marbled Murrelet Resolution

The Jefferson County Democrats adopted, on Tuesday, a resolution urging the Board of Natural Resources to adopt the strongest of the alternatives it is considering for protection of marbled murrelet habitat. As a federally listed threatened species, the murrelet is protected on federal lands, but not on private lands. The bird has been protected on state trust lands under an interim conservation strategy since 1997, years before most research on the murrelet’s ecological requirements took place.

“The state’s own scientists showed in 2008 that this threatened species is still declining because of our logging practices,” said Bruce Cowan, Chair of the Jefferson County Democrats. “If this species is going to survive, we can’t just keep cutting the trust lands where these birds nest.”

The meeting followed a presentation by Kevin Schmelzlen of the Murrelet Survival Project. Not until 1974 did scientists discover that, unlike any other seabird, the murrelet nests in forests, flying as far as fifty miles inland to nest on large branches high in old growth forests. Breeding pairs switch places daily, with one parent feeding on small fish while the other incubates their single egg.

The Washington State Board of Natural Resources is currently considering five alternatives for habitat protection on state trust lands. According to Shmelzlen, only Alternative E responds to the 2008 Science Report, developed by researchers for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The issue of murrelet habitat conservation has been contentious. In 2013, the courts halted a DNR approved harvest of 12,000 acres of timber in Southwest Washington. The Forest Resources Council, an advocate for the timber industry, was unsuccessful in its attempt to have the murrelet de-listed as a threatened species.

“We’ve waited long enough for action,” said Cowan. “Adopting a clear policy based on the 2008 Science Report will make it easier for DNR to do its work. With fewer lawsuits, the flow of timber revenues to state and local governments will be more predictable,” said Cowan. “The set aside is not huge, and it could save a species from extinction.”

Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish  – Bellingham Herald

As if you needed to better understand the importance of rain gardens, stormwater runoff and salmon, after my last post, here’s the next thing in my inbox. Another recent experiment that shows the affects that stormwater has on aquatic species.

Just hours into the experiment, the prognosis was grim for salmon that had been submerged in rain runoff collected from one of Seattle’s busiest highways. One by one, the fish were removed from a tank filled with coffee-colored water and inspected: They were rigid. Their typically red gills were gray….. This was the fate of coho salmon exposed to the everyday toxic brew of dirt, metals, oil and other gunk that washes off highway pavement after rains and directly into Puget Sound. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)


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