Washington court: Fish and Wildlife can regulate land to protect fish – Capital Press

An extremely important ruling has come down at the Washington State Supreme Court on Thursday. The  unanimous ruling affirmed the right of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to regulate construction on dry land above the normal tide lines in order to protect fish. This enormously expands the scope of the Hydraulic Permit Code and will likely have great consequences for Governor Inslee’s hand in making policy decisions for protecting additional salmon habitat for Orca recovery. I’m sure that the plaintiffs might wish they had never brought this before the Supreme Court. But there’s also caution for environmental organizations that may celebrate the ruling.

From the case itself. It offers a good basic understanding of what these Hydraulic Permit Applications are and when they are required.

This case asks us to determine the geographic scope of permitting authority delegated to the State of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife  (Department) over hydraulic projects. A “hydraulic project” is defined as “the  construction or performance of work that will use, divert, obstruct, or change the natural flow or bed of any of the salt or fresh waters of the state.” RC_W 77.55.011(11).
Entities seeking to undertake hydraulic projects must apply for and obtain permits from the  Department before commencing work. RCW 77.55.021. In this case, a coalition of  Washington State counties (Counties) challenge the Department’s statutory authority to regulate the construction or performance of work that will occur exclusively above the ordinary high-water line.
The Hydraulic Code requires anyone planning to undertake a hydraulic project to obtain a preconstruction approval permit from the Department to ensure “the adequacy of the means proposed for the protection of fish life.” RCW 77.55.021(1).
The Department can deny or condition a permit only for the purpose of protecting fish life. RCW 77.55.021(7)(a). The Department’s regulatory authority encompasses hydraulic projects, which are defined based on their effects on waters of the state rather than their location relative to those waters. See RCW 77.55.011(11).
An HPA [hydraulic project approval] is required for all construction or repair/replacement of any structure that crosses a stream, river, or other water body regardless of the location of the proposed work relative to the [ ordinary high-water level] of state waters.
An HPA is also required for bridge painting and other maintenance where there is potential for paint, sandblasting material, sediments, or bridge parts to fall into the water.
ISSUE
Did the legislature intend to limit the Department’s permitting and regulatory authority to cover only projects that take place at least partially at or below the ordinary high-water line?
CONCLUSION
We hold that under the plain language of RCW 77.55.021, the Department’s jurisdictional grant of permitting authority includes upland projects that meet the effects test set forth in RCW 77.55.011(11). We further hold that the effects test requires reasonable certainty, not absolute certainty. Finally, we defer to the expertise of the Department to determine which upland activities meet the effects test. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s order.
The findings are that WDFW has authority to require HPAs for upland projects that fit the scope of the legal codes. That the requirements can be done by reasonable certainty and not a strict legal finding of certainty,  which gives much greater leeway for WDFW to issue requirements for an HPA. Lastly, the Supreme Court defers to the expertise of the Department  to determine which activities meet the requirements.
This last finding may be a double edge sword. What if the Department is wrong in a finding, siding with a developer who has huge resources and proposes enormous or highly unusual trade offs for the idea of “no net loss”?  What if they don’t decide to force an HPA (or agree with a developer intent on massive environmental change) and an environmental organization challenges that? The ruling here seems to give much greater leeway to excesses of the Department in both directions. That may not be as positive a win for environmental organizations as it appears. It requires close oversight to make sure that the law is narrowly applied to appropriate projects, while also ensuring that bureaucrats are not simply rubber stamping inappropriate and possibly habitat destructive projects.
Here’s a link to the ruling:

Read the Capital Press story here:

https://www.capitalpress.com/ag_sectors/water/washington-court-fish-and-wildlife-can-regulate-land-to-protect/article_ea1e014c-f97a-11e8-859d-7f550b7b3843.html

 

 

 

Senator Ranker chosen to chair new Senate Environment & Tourism Committee and lead on environmental budget

This will be an important position in the upcoming legislative session.


OLYMPIA – Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) was selected by his peers in the Senate Democratic Caucus to chair the new Environment & Tourism Committee in the 2019 Legislative Session.

“From our Salish Sea to our orcas to plastic pollution to community health and climate change, our environment and our children’s future has never been at greater risk,” said Ranker. “While the federal administration denies science and institutes reckless policies, Washingtonians want to protect and sustain the incredible quality of life in our communities. I am honored to help lead a powerful environmental agenda in both this new committee as well as our capital and operating budgets to make sure that we don’t just survive the next two years, but put in place incredible environmental policies that protect our environment and our future for generations.”

Recognizing the incredible environmental opportunities before us, the Senate is restructuring environmental oversight by establishing a new committee with general oversight of environmental protection and policies. The committee members will also work to boost our state’s tourism industry. A 2015 study showed that Washington’s outdoor recreation industry generates more than $20 billion annually.

Ranker will also serve as vice-chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee for the environment for both the capital and operating budgets where he will play a leadership role in the development of the critical environmental and natural resources budgets.

 

Tarboo Ridge Coalition issues letter of concern to county commissioners

The Tarboo Ridge Coalition sums up the last year of debate over the proposed Tarboo Lake gun range proposal. Printed here for your information. The letter speaks for itself.


What’s Fair -What’s Not?

46 weeks have passed since Jefferson County agreed to mediation with Fort Discovery Inc., about a moratorium on new gun ranges and owner Joe D’Amico’s complaints about Jefferson County land use rules. Tarboo Ridge Coalition, which opposes Mr. D’Amico’s plans to build seven gun ranges at Tarboo Lake, asked to observe the mediation. State law allows citizen participation, but the County and Mr. D’Amico’s attorney denied our request.

A day after agreeing to “mediation”, Fort Discovery’s attorney and the County began regular weekly meetings. These meetings extended throughout the 16 weeks during which a committee helped the County create a new ordinance expanding the size, scope and intensity of allowed gun range activities. Mr. D’Amico was a member of this committee.

If the County Commissioners approve this new ordinance, gun ranges could be permitted to train corporate security organizations, military units, paramilitary groups and soldiers of fortune. The owner of the Fort Discovery Corporation said of the ordinance, “I think it’s fair.”

After nearly a year of meetings and communication between the County and Fort Discovery, they have not met with or appeared before a mediator. By definition no mediation has occurred. Nonetheless, whatever took place in those many meetings remains a secret because the County has redacted (blacked out) page after page of communications TRC obtained through public records requests.

What went on in those meetings should not be hidden from the public. What influence those secret meetings had on the content of this “fair” ordinance is unknown. TRC believes the County Commissioners should not finalize the new shooting range ordinance without fully allowing the public to know what went on behind closed doors. Openness, transparency, and trust in government demand no less.

Peter Newland, Board President

Tarboo Ridge Coalition

Plastic Oceans Plastic Bags State Kicks off Campaign for a Statewide Reusable Bag Bill – PRX and others

Washington State Lawmakers are poised to work with environmental groups to push for a ban on plastic non resuseable or recycleable plastic bags this year. Australia just announced that they have reduced plastic bag use (think those white bags used at grocery stores for casual shopping) by 80% for the year. Given how much plastics we are finding in *all* our waters, as well as in our fish, this is a small but critical thing *everyone* can do. Let’s just do it!

According to the Washington State Environmental Coalition:

Thin plastic bags are used for only a few minutes and discarded. Only 6% of these bags are ever recycled. Plastic bags blow into our waterways and the ocean, clog the stomachs of wildlife, and break down into smaller pieces that also get eaten. Plastic bags also clog recycling equipment – costing money because they have to be extracted – and are the major contaminant in our commercial compost. The Reusable Bag Act would eliminate thin carry-home plastic bags at all retail establishments and include a pass-through charge to motivate people to bring their own reusable bags and help cover the stores’ cost of more expensive bags.

and from PRX

The campaign for a reusable statewide bag bill kicked off this month. Environmental organizations and their legislative allies hope to build off existing 23 local ordinances already in place in Washington and introduce the bill in the 2019 legislative session. Proponents say there are more than 86 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans with the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline spilling into oceans annually. Martha Baskin reports. (PRX)

Plastic Oceans Plastic Bags State Kicks off Campaign for a Statewide Reusable Bag Bill

 

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe seeks to rename clamming beach – PDN

It’s great news that the Tribe is working to change the name of this location from the “Log Yard” (a reference to the years when logs were skidded and stored there), to Littleneck Beach, which describes the traditional use of the beach for thousands of years, and it’s current use by Tribal Elder Marlin Holden.

The tribe filed paperwork with the state Department of Natural Resources to rename the beach to Littleneck Beach, a name it said honors the generations of S’Klallam ancestors who have gathered clams at that location.

Read the whole story at

https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/jamestown-sklallam-tribe-seeks-to-rename-clamming-beach/

Subscribe to local newspapers to continue to help them thrive!

 

The Russell Family Foundation Awards $2.3 Million in Grants

Congratulations to all the reciepients of the Russel Family Foundation Grants!

The Russell Family Foundation has announced its year-end grants totaling more than $2.3 million to 25 nonprofits serving the Pacific Northwest region. These grants focus on providing more access for youth to experience the outdoor environment, supporting local groups pursuing systemic change for the Puget Sound and empowering various local communities through leadership development.

As part of the grants, the foundation is awarding $1,049,055 to the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation to support the independent nonprofit, the Puyallup Watershed Initiative and its Communities of Interest. It is also granting $750,000 directly to the Puyallup Watershed Initiative 501(c)3. The Initiative, which formerly was a special program of The Russell Family Foundation, will celebrate its first year as an independent organization next month.

The Puyallup Watershed Initiative focuses on addressing issues facing the region through six Communities of Interest including active transportation, agriculture, environmental education, forests, just and healthy food systems and stormwater. The grant supports its collective efforts to enhance the quality of life in the region, which comprises of more than 1,000 square miles from Mount Rainier to Commencement Bay in Tacoma, Washington.

Additional grants focus on the advancement of The Russell Family Foundation’s collective efforts to improve quality of life in the Puget Sound area including conservation efforts for the Salish Sea/Puget Sound and leadership development for environmental equity and sustainability, among others.

The Russell Family Foundation seeks to promote meaningful and lasting change by contributing to a sustainable and peaceful world for people, places and communities. Each of the grants further this mission by expanding opportunities for community-driven organizations to be catalysts for change, collaboration and continued learning.

“These organizations are a part of the fabric of our community working to create a socially just and environmentally conscious world,” said Richard Woo, Chief Executive Officer at The Russell Family Foundation. “With efforts rooted in community, these locally-based groups are able to generate positive impacts while advocating for solutions to the most pressing issues facing our communities across Puget Sound.”

Details for the additional grants are as follows:

  • Rural Community Leadership Program in Pierce County, Rural Development Initiatives: $60,000 (multi-year)

Rural Development Initiatives strengthens rural people, places and economies in the Pacific Northwest. The grant will support the launch of a Pierce County Leadership Cohort designed to provide a diverse group of individuals in rural areas of the county with tools to be more effective community leaders.

  • Environmental Leadership, Environmental Science Center: $50,000 (multi-year)

Environmental Science Center increases environmental stewardship and watershed knowledge for youth through field studies in salmon habitat, training the next generation of environmental leaders and restoring Puget Sound. The grant will support educational programming, hands-on training for students, student internships and more.

  • REACH Housing 4 Success, Tacoma Community House: $50,000 (multi-year)

REACH provides support for employment, education and other resources, including housing for young people experiencing homelessness through its Housing 4 Success program. The grant will support the program in its work with youth ages 16-24, who are experiencing homelessness. It will assist them on an individual basis and will work to place each person into housing. From there it works with these individuals by helping set them on a path to success in life.

  • College Completion 2020, Foundation for Tacoma Students: $40,000

Foundation for Tacoma Students is the backbone organization for the Graduate Tacoma movement, a partnership of more than 268 community organizations and citizens that work toward the goal of increasing high school and college completion rates for Tacoma students. The grant supports its College Completion 2020 project, which seeks to close gaps in access and ultimately increase graduation rates by 50 percent by the Class of 2020.

  • Nature Connections, Young Women Empowered (Y-WE): $40,000

Y-WE empowers young women leaders from diverse backgrounds through mentorship and programs to equip them with confidence, resiliency and planning skills. The grant supports its Nature Connections program, serving young females within the ages of 13-18, connecting them with adult mentors and engaging them in environmental learning and stewardship activities.

  • Sustainable Community Funders (SCF), Seattle Foundation: $30,000

SCF works to mobilize investments in the Puget Sound region in the intersection of environment, economy and equity. The grant will go toward SCF’s coordinated philanthropic efforts to fund projects that have high potential for advancing sustainability and equity in the region.

  • LatinX Movement Building for Environmental and Climate Justice, Latino Community Fund: $30,000

The Latino Community Fund empowers cultural and community-based non-profits as well as new leaders. The grant will support the expansion of a project of the Alianza Network to train youth leaders, strengthen their voices and advocacy skills and engaging them in issues around environmental justice policies.

  • Looking Upstream – Stormwater Solutions for Sustainable Transportation, Transportation Choices Coalition: $30,000

Transportation Choices Coalition works to bring better transportation choices to the region through policy and advocacy. The grant will help the organization implement the Looking Upstream project to tackle the challenges facing stormwater and transportation through policy development, education for elected officials and other leaders, coalition building, community engagement and equity.

  • Tacoma and South King County Support, Trust for Public Land: $30,000

Trust for Public Land helps create close-to-home parks in and near cities to ensure that every child has easy and safe access to play in nature. The grant supports the expansion of its work in Tacoma and South King County, including stormwater mapping to mitigate runoff, education about stormwater and green infrastructure for the community and training of community health advocates.

  • Act Six Tacoma-Seattle, Degrees of Change: $25,000

Degrees of Change prepares diverse leaders to succeed in college and use their degrees to build more equitable communities. The grant supports its Act Six initiative, a full-tuition and full-need leadership award that connects local faith-based affiliates with faith and social justice-based colleges to equip emerging leaders to engage with their colleges and communities at home.

  • Deep Green Wilderness, The Ocean Foundation: $25,000

Deep Green Wilderness works toward marine wilderness sustainability. The grant will support its environmental and STEM-based education programs aboard its sailing vessel, the Orion, including a multi-week summer intensive program for students from the ages of 14 to 18, on-board classroom voyages and group sails for community partners at reduced or no cost to increase accessibility.

  • Green Pathways Fellowship Program, Rainier Valley Corps: $20,000

Rainier Valley Corps cultivates leaders of color, strengthens organizations led by communities of color and fosters collaboration between diverse communities. The grant will help the organization, and partner Got Green, address the lack of diversity in the environmental movement through a fellowship program that will place fellows of color at environmental organizations to work full-time and build their leadership capacity.

  • SEA Discovery Center, Western Washington University Foundation: $18,000

The SEA Discovery Center works to engage Kitsap County youth in hands-on marine education about the local environment. The grant will help the center expand its curriculum for middle school students, including field immersion, environmental stewardship and scientific investigation focused on the restoration of native Olympia oyster and workshops for teachers.

  • Team Leadership Development and Environmental Equity, Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS): $10,000

ECOSS encourages urban redevelopment and environmental health through education, resources and technical assistance to organizations across the Puget Sound region. The grant will help ECOSS provide professional development opportunities to organizational leaders who are people of color, women, immigrants and refugees; strengthen human resources systems; and increase opportunities for green career paths for employees.

  • Salish Sea Collective Planning Grants to Eight Organizations: $10,000 each ($80,000 total)

The Salish Sea Collective is a collaborative of organizations that work to explore a community-centered approach to Salish Sea Recovery, including Asian Counseling and Referral Service; Community to Community; Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group; Got Green; Latino Community Fund; Mother Africa; Na’ah Illahee Fund; and Puget Sound Sage. The Russell Family Foundation has supported the Collective’s planning and coordination efforts in the past. With grants to each of the eight members listed, these organizations, along with other local partners, will continue developing their vision and work together for community-based efforts to protect and restore the Salish Sea.

For more information about the latest grant release cycle or to learn how you can connect with The Russell Family Foundation, listen to this podcast with CEO Richard Woo.

https://patch.com/washington/gigharbor/russell-family-foundation-awards-2-3m-grants

 

Plastic Oceans Plastic Bag kickoff

“The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things.” With a nod to Mr. Carroll, the time to end plastic bag that are non reuseuseable has come. Our oceans are starting to fill with microplastics, scientists now have the facts, and we are likely eating them all the time. Join this campaign to change consumer behavior for the better. Your children and grandchildren will thank you.And it’s way past time.

Plastic Oceans Plastic Bags State Kicks off Campaign for a Statewide Reusable Bag Bill 
The campaign for a reusable statewide bag bill kicked off this month. Environmental organizations and their legislative allies hope to build off existing 23 local ordinances already in place in Washington and introduce the bill in the 2019 legislative session. Proponents say there are more than 86 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans with the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline spilling into oceans annually. Martha Baskin reports. (PRX)

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