A few random thoughts about reporting and environmental science – Chris Dunagan

Chris shares his thoughts on 35 years of environmental reporting. I know that he has been an inspiration to my work on this blog since I started it in 2007.

Christopher Dunagan, who retired from daily reporting at the Kitsap Sun and now blogs, wrote of his 35 years of reporting: … “I grew up believing that science was a particular set of facts that explained the workings of nature. For the longest time, I failed to see that the most important thing about science was formulating the right questions about things we don’t know….While there is much work to do, we’re at a point where we can expect Puget Sound residents to limit their damage to the ecosystem and become part of the restoration effort.” (Watching Our Water Ways)

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2015/07/25/a-few-random-thoughts-about-reporting-and-environmental-science/

Navy easement on hold until lawsuit settled – Kitsap Sun

Disappointing but not unexpected news. Working piecemeal on this apparently.

The Navy has suspended its application for a restrictive easement along Hood Canal’s Kitsap County shoreline until a lawsuit over a similar easement on the Jefferson County side is settled. Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor applied with the state Department of Natural Resources in August 2013 for an easement from the Hood Canal bridge south to the county line near Holly that would prohibit new commercial wharves, piers, docks and floats. It would comprise a strip of state-owned bedlands from 18 feet below the average low tide to 70 feet down. Ed Friedrich reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Worth noting that the Kitsap Sun requires a subscription to view.

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/local-news/navy-easement-on-hold-until-lawsuit-settled_95679823

Proposal for Hood Canal geoduck farm dropped – PDN

This is not as simple as it sounds. Mr. Kimmel, from sources that I talked to, had figured that if he simply planted the farm that the county would, if challenged, just give him the permit. Unfortunately for him, it angered neighbors who alerted some activists that are not in favor of geoduck farm expansion, and a number of other environmental groups in that county also joined in.

For those unaware of the issue, with the value of geoducks skyrocketing due to Chinese demand, there is enormous pressure to turn as many possible good beach locations into farms as possible. The South Sound has been a hotbed of angry legal battles from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, who’s chapter there  has made it the only thing it apparently fights. Taylor Shellfish, who are the leading, but not only company in that area, are the ones that get many of the lawsuits.

The problems that these geoduck farms cause are not easily apparent. Everyone loves shellfish and many consumers in urban areas are not aware of the problems that people living along the shore face. People who moved down into these beautiful bays, may have assumed a peaceful quiet location far from urban activity. In the winter, when the harvest of geoducks is in full swing (due to Chinese end of year festivities) the low tides are often late at night. Homeowners can be kept awake for many hours from the diesel generator activity as the divers and beach workers blast the sand away to get at the geoducks.  There is also wide spread netting of the beaches in the startup phase (the farms rotate a five year crop, planting successive beach areas, so they are planting and harvesting every year), sometimes in front of homeowners beaches, as the farms can sometimes be licensed in the tidal zone that is often legally in the state’s legal jurisdiction, due to our unusual State Constitution, that defined aquaculture as fundamental to the State. There is much concern about environmental destruction of the beaches from repeated geoduck farming and harvest, but a 7 year study by Washington Sea Grant, supported by some environmental organizations, did not find long term problems that would cause enough concern to ban the farming. It did ask for more research on the issues they raised, but that was not supported by the shellfish industry, which funds many of these efforts. Since the collapse of People For Puget Sound, which was the most effective organization in working on these issues with the shellfish industry, the industry has pretty much had run of the legislature, and left their opposition to fighting the battle only in the courts. They have had some limited success in suing, but it has not really stopped or even slowed the expansion of geoduck farming, as new farms are being put in on the Dungeness river estuary, and off the east side of Indian Island. Tribes have been farming and harvesting geoducks as well, as is their right. This issue described below is more about non-tribal farm expansion.

———————————————
A controversial proposal for a geoduck and oyster farm on Hood Canal is being pulled. The Kitsap Sun reported that according to Kitsap County planners, Scott Kimmel, the owner of New Day Fisheries, has decided not to pursue permit applications for the project.(Associated Press)

Read the short story at the PDN.

 http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20141228/NEWS/312289945/proposal-for-hood-canal-geoduck-farm-dropped

Raw oysters sicken 12, prompt shellfish harvest closure and recall – Seattle Times

Oops. Apparently a leaking septic system was to blame. This affects a wide range of fresh oysters in many states. Read the article for more information. Environmental organizations have pushed for well over a decade to get counties to force mandatory inspections of septic systems. However, public outcry against doing it, especially in counties like Mason, have forced voluntary programs. And this is the kind of outcome that happens. Haven been made sick from oysters myself, I can tell you it isn’t fun. I spent almost a week in bed once from the experience, and really felt like I was dying.

Washington state health officials have ordered an emergency harvest closure and a multistate recall of all shellfish from a portion of Mason County’s Hammersley Inlet after at least a dozen people who ate raw oysters became ill. (Seattle Times)

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2025219127_shellfishrecallxml.html

Killer whales expected to head south any day now- Kitsap Sun

Chris Dunagan at Watching Our Water Ways blogs: “As chum salmon swim back to their home streams in Puget Sound this fall, three killer whale pods — the Southern Residents — can be expected to follow, making their way south along the eastern shoreline of the Kitsap Peninsula. These forays into Central and South Puget Sound could begin any day now and continue until the chum runs decline in November or December. The Southern Residents, which typically hang out in the San Juan Islands in summer, have not been spotted for several days, so they are likely somewhere in the ocean at the moment, according to Howard Garrett of Orca Network. (Kitsap Sun)

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2014/10/01/killer-whales-expected-to-head-south-any-day-now/#axzz3EsDVWuTD

Project manager: New state, Navy conservation easement for areas of Hood Canal won’t halt pit-to-pier – PDN

If nothing else, this is likely to stall the Pit To Pier project for the next decade while it goes through the courts. Thanks to Charlie and the PDN for covering the story.

A conservation easement between the state Department of Natural Resources and the Navy that prohibits industrial development along areas of Hood Canal won’t stop a gravel-moving facility nicknamed the “pit-to-pier,” the project manager said. …Charlie Bermant reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140710/NEWS/307109987/project-manager-new-state-navy-conservation-easement-for-areas-of

When the stars go out all along the coast – Crosscut

Another update on the mysterious and very destructive sea star wasting disease. Apparently there is a scientific paper out soon that might start to answer some of the questions on what and why.

Sea stars, the original “keystone species,” are melting into mush even on local shores where they previously seemed safe, leaving scientists puzzled… and worried.

http://crosscut.com/2014/06/30/puget-sound/120763/when-stars-go-out-all-along-coast/

 

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