Clam gardens call into question hunter-gatherer past of B.C. First Nations – CBC

It’s said that the victors write the history books. The dominant culture of both the US and Canada have crafted very ill informed histories of native culture in North America, and what they ‘found’ when they encountered them. While the last few decades have seen the rewriting of the story, to more accurately show what life was like, a new study from Canada adds more knowledge to our limited information.

The discovery of an expansive system of historic clam gardens along the Pacific Northwest coast is contributing to a growing body of work that’s busting long-held beliefs about First Nations as heedless hunter-gatherers. A team of researchers at Simon Fraser University has revealed that First Nations from Alaska to Washington state were marine farmers using sophisticated cultivation techniques to intensify clam production. In an article published recently in the journal American Antiquity, lead author Dana Lepofsky argued that the findings counter the perception of First Nations living passively as foragers in wild, untended environments. (CBC)

Also, if you are interested, I happened, through a mandolin connection,  to end up at the house in Canada of one of the main researchers on clam gardens, and the web site for their research is here.

We’re going to try and get her to come down to Port Townsend later this year to discuss her work. More to follow.

Populated Puget Sound sees stark shifts in marine fish species – Phys. Org

Those of us who have been working on protecting and restoring Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea, have known for years that human population growth is the biggest root cause of the decline in the waters. More science now arrives to point to that as well. It’s the underlying concern that we are not going to rehabilitate our waters to the levels we expect, without some pretty profound changes in land use, and our incessant demand to pour all our waste waters into the Sound as our toilet. And don’t get me started on Canadian lack of interest in protecting their waters. They are going backwards far faster than we are going forward on this issue.

The most populated areas of Puget Sound have experienced striking shifts in marine species, with declines in herring and smelt that have long provided food for other marine life and big increases in the catch of jellyfish, which contribute far less to the food chain, according to new research that tracks species over the last 40 years. The parallel trends of rising human population and declining forage fish such as herring and smelt indicate that human influences such as pollution and development may be eroding species that long dominated Puget Sound. In particular, the rise of jellyfish blooms may divert energy away from highly-productive forage species that provide food for larger fish and predators such as salmon, seabirds and marine mammals. The research by scientists from NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the University of Washington and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was published in April in Marine Ecology Progress Series. (Phys.Org)

Who’s Back?

The swallows have returned to my backyard. Photos when I can get them to stop!

Thank you to all who donated during “Give Big”!

Many Peninsula NGO’s were recipients of giving this year.

Seattle Foundation’s GiveBig fundraiser blows past 2014 totals
In its annual 24-hour online fundraising event, the Seattle Foundation raised $16.3 million for area nonprofits on Tuesday, surpassing the 2014 total raised by 12 percent…. The 2015 GiveBig event generated $14.3 million in online contributions, $850,000 in challenge grants and $1.1 million in stretch dollars. Becky Monk reports. (Puget Sound Business Journal)

Court orders new safeguards to prevent fish farm disease spreading to ocean – Canadian Press

Congratulations to Alexandra Morton, who has won a major victory against the powerful fish farming lobby. While the Canadian government of Harper continues to slash and burn their way through all environmental protections in Canada. At least some of the courts are not yet tainted by him and the industries policies. And on the Peninsula, I’ve personally heard some  representatives of the shellfish industry who love to denounce her, even though she has nothing to do with their industry. People who challenge the status quo, especially when carrying tools that are truth and facts that are irrefutable, are often the people most slandered. I just laugh and tell them, “Its all about the money. It always is.” They wouldn’t care a clam about Alexandra’s work if they didn’t have a direct stake in some way in her results.

The federal government must shield the Pacific Ocean from the potential spread of diseases by infected fish being farmed along the British Columbia coast, a Federal Court has ruled. The Department of Fisheries has been ordered to shore up its regulations to prevent infections from being transferred from dozens of fish farms to the open marine environment. The legal action was prompted by elevated concerns about one particular illness that attacks the heart and muscles of salmon, which the court heard could imperil the Fraser River sockeye. (Canadian Press)

CO2 levels reach monthly record – BBC

We are heading into totally uncharted territory, and we have only just begun to see the effects at scale. California is only one of many locations around the world, from sub-saharan Africa, Australia, and South America, dealing with the effects of our runaway economic practices. Here on the Olympic Peninsula, a serious drought hazard is building and with it, record low river flows, which affect salmon runs, and other creatures that rely on them.
The milestone was announced by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). They said it was the first month that the entire globe broke 400ppm, reaching levels that haven’t been seen for about two million years. Noaa’s Pieter Tans said that reaching the mark was “a significant milestone”. Scientists announced that CO2 had passed the 400 ppm level for the first time in the Arctic in 2012, and then at Mauna Loa in Hawaii in 2013. (BBC) See also: Summer 2015: The Northwest’s Global Warming Stress Test Cliff Mass reports. (Weather Blog)

North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center Natural Resources Program – An open letter for support

From supporters of the program:

Dear supporters of the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center Natural Resources program,

Your efforts leading up to and at the 4/28 Skills Center Administrative Council meeting allowed us to turn a corner in our effort to retain the Skills Center Natural Resources program.  Today saw encouraging developments in that the program has been verified as profitable (~$37K profit for 2014-15), and the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is willing to help the Skills Center fix some minor compliance issues with the current Natural Resources program delivery model.

Today, 5/6 at 1 pm at the Skills Center, the Administrative Council meets to vote on the future of the program.

Your attendance and participation in the most clear, respectful and civil way possible will help ensure the program’s survival and success.

To learn more, please visit and read the following points:

  • The program has now been demonstrated to be a net revenue producer.  This fully addresses the most widely alleged shortcoming of the program.
  • Multiple other alleged concerns have either been determined to be completely unfounded, or have been identified as easily resolvable.
  • Appropriate staff at OSPI have already indicated a readiness to assist in addressing any of these residual compliance and administrative concerns—including appropriate minor adjustments required to ensure proper alignment of the course structure & content with the instructor’s credentials.
  • There is extensive community support for continuation and expansion of the program, as demonstrated in two Administrative Council meetings, two PASD board meetings, and numerous other contacts and expressions of support.  The NOPSC and the respective school districts can count on increased involvement and assistance from existing partners, the program advisory committee, and the broader constituency that has shown its support.

Given all the above:

  • There is no logical reason to discontinue the program.
  • To the extent that Skills Center finances are a driving concern, it is clear that this program is a significant positive component in the Skills Center’s overall bottom line, with every reason to expect further growth.
  • Particularly in the financial context, it would be completely counterproductive to discontinue a program with a positive revenue stream, an established curriculum and constituency, and extensive community attention and support, only to try substituting any new program that would be starting from scratch.
  • The program has significant potential to expand in several ways, including closer relationships with existing partners, addition of more partners, and potential development of curriculum continuity into college-level content.
  • The remaining compliance and administrative issues, acknowledged by agency staff as being easily resolvable and in no way program-threatening, are essentially no different than the sort of periodic administrative and compliance issues that all Skills Center programs are accountable for or called upon to address in the normal progression and evolution of educational programs.

In spite of the above, it is possible that a resolution may be introduced to fully or partially lay off teacher Dan Lieberman or discontinue the NR program.  Please come to Wednesday’s meeting with the above information in mind.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 708 other followers

%d bloggers like this: