Tribe calls for NOAA to help rescue two ailing orcas, but scientists sent home during government shutdown – Seattle Times

How does the Federal shutdown affect Orca recovery?

The Lummi Nation urged federal officials Wednesday to launch an emergency response to help two ailing southern-resident killer whales — but how do you call for help? The unprecedented government shutdown, continuing into its fourth week, has stymied any attempt by the tribe or veterinarians ready to help killer whales K25 and J17, among the 75 remaining southern residents that frequent Puget Sound. The policy makers and scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who would approve and coordinate any such response, such as for the emergency rescue plan for J50 last summer, are unavailable during the shutdown. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Read the whole story here.

Navy dumps hazardous substances including copper, zinc into Puget Sound, Washington state AG says – Seattle Times

More on what it means when the Trump Administration wants to roll back environmental protection. Here it is, come home to roost. Kudos to the AG who once again is out to protect us and our environment from the consequences of this disastrous president. Is this what Making America Great Again is all about?

The U.S. Navy dumped the equivalent of 50 dump truck loads of solid material, including copper and zinc, into Puget Sound and must be stopped before it does so again, according to Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The Navy provides dock space at Naval Base Kitsap for decommissioned, nonoperational vessels to be dismantled, recycled and disposed of. While cleaning the ship Independence at the yard in January 2017 before shipment to Texas for disposal, the Navy dumped the scraped-off paint into Sinclair Inlet, in violation of state and federal laws, according to a news release issued by Ferguson….Ferguson’s office notified the Navy on Thursday of the state’s intent to join a suit in federal court to ask the Navy to clean up the mess and to require the Navy to stop scraping ships at Navy Base Kitsap and dumping the material in Sinclair Inlet. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/navy-dumps-equivalent-of-50-truckloads-of-hazardous-material-into-puget-sound-state-ag-says/?utm_source=referral&utm_medium=mobile-app&utm_campaign=ios

After 20 years and $1 billion spent on Washington state salmon programs, fish still declining, new report says – Seattle Times

Yes, but as the article says, it isn’t all bad news. Our county NGOs and the Tribes have been responsible for helping turn the tide on this issue locally. But as it has been for decades, Puget Sound growth is rampant, we don’t get the funding needed and we are not protecting our salmon habitat from development effects too close to their banks. The concerns we should have about this development was even evident  when  our newly elected County Commissioner Greg Brotherton was mysteriously quoted when asked about the Growth Management Act just this week in the PT Leader as saying, “I think that our growth management is out of balance, but I think that growth management is important.”  Not sure how to read that. Is he in favor of what the GMA has done or not? If not why not? If so, what would he change to make it “in balance?” Meanwhile, the situation is in general, pointing to more losses around the Salish Sea. One area that has been a focus of some groups, is the mismanagement of shoreline habitat by the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). They continue to allow shoreline development with not a complete understanding of forage fish spawning habitat, especially favoring wealthy shoreline developers over gathering the evidence needed to make a scientific based decision. And the beat goes on.

After 20 years and nearly $1 billion spent on Washington state salmon recovery programs, most salmon are still in decline, a state report has found. The 2018 State of the Salmon report by the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office is a sobering read: Across the state, and in its jewel, Puget Sound, salmon are struggling to survive despite efforts of every kind to prevent extinction. The news isn’t all bad: some runs, such as summer chum on the Hood Canal and fall chinook in the Snake River are doing better and near their recovery goals. And habitat restoration, from taking out dikes to fixing highway culverts that block salmon migration boosts salmon populations, the report found. The problem is that more habitat is being destroyed, more quickly than it can be fixed as the state continues a turbocharged growth spurt that is chewing up salmon habitat with roads, pavement, housing and commercial development. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/after-20-years-and-1-billion-spent-on-washington-state-salmon-programs-fish-still-declining-new-report-says/?utm_source=referral&utm_medium=mobile-app&utm_campaign=ios

 

Phil Johnson walks on..

This is one of the hardest obituaries I’ve ever written. I knew a small piece of Phil Johnson. I never knew him as he grew up in Port Townsend, on the farm just north of the county fairgrounds. Nor did I know him as he went off to college, and then became a salmon fisherman. Nor when he married the love of his life, Sandy.  Nor the daughter that they had, Maia. I didn’t know him when he became a property owner in downtown PT, nor when he helped a young guy named Rocky buy and restore the Rose Theater.  I didn’t know him as he built homes, and then ran for County Commissioner. But then I got to know Phil when he and I bumped into each other fighting for environmental protections in Jefferson County, first on the Shoreline Master Program, to write in rules to better regulate aquaculture and then to work to ban Atlantic salmon raised in net pens in the Salish Sea. Then on the Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee.

It was hard work. Industry spokespeople verbally trashed us and undermined our work.  Angry citizens that couldn’t understand why the government should do more regulation screamed at public meetings. They are still out there doing that at every opportunity.  It’s not spin. It’s lies or at best a misunderstanding of the issues. A lack of taking the time to understand the issue.  Heads of state agencies patiently listened to Phil’s cogent arguments, then they ignored him. Including heads of agencies still in office today.

Phil didn’t care. He had the creds. He had been here, salmon fishing, and watching the fish vanish. Watching the destruction by boats losing nets, his included. Watched as all sorts of things happened to destroy the fish runs. The growth of non native fish in huge farm lots called net pens. He knew how bad it was, first hand. It was clear that the runs were almost gone, that the Orcas were only indicators of a much wider problem that was much farther along than the pols and business spokespeople wanted to admit. The loss of habitat, the lack of monitoring and enforcement, especially in rural poorer counties like ours hampers our ability to act even when the will is there. There is still a  lack of real funding and enforcement to fix the problems.

He traveled everywhere to share his thoughts with others wanting to listen. And finally, by accident, we had the issue cornered, because of a monstrous breach that couldn’t be covered up by industry PR and bombastic paid spokespeople at public forums interrupting Phil and others. They brought it on themselves by buying the regulatory bodies in the state government that could have told them that they needed to do better. Phil saw the opportunity and wanted to make sure it got accomplished. But he was running out of time.

There was a meeting in Blyn last year, to debate the rules that were about to be legislated into being to stop the rearing of Atlantic salmon and net pens. Phil really wanted to go. I had a van with a bed in the back and we discussed the logistics. We had a plan, but by then, it was too late. Phil was having too many problems with his health to go. So he told me what to say on his behalf.

I was attacked by the industry mouthpiece in the meeting but I  said Phil’s words and held him in my thoughts. In the end it was just one meeting, but additional momentum carried the day in Olympia and Atlantic salmon in net pens were banned. A huge surge of political will, momentum from all sides including many Tribes, who brought great ideas to the table and environmentalists willing to bend and give a little to get it done pushed it through.  But Phil knew that vigilance was necessary and we talked about what to expect next from that industry. He knew it was a long game to be played.

Now he’s gone. He left a legacy of the kind of politics we don’t see much of anymore. Whether it’s the hard core left or right that doesn’t want to compromise but doesn’t understand how to work the system to get things done, to the middle of the road pols that want to please everyone but accomplish nothing that really matters, Phil stood out. He did the hard work. Those of us that managed to catch a bit of that spirit understood. Many of us, myself included, just don’t have the stamina, nor the creds or temperament  that Phil had, to do what Phil did. Maybe at some point we will. But we will carry on. We are all a loose coalition of various people and organizations, often fighting for the same donated dollar, and sometimes at odds with ourselves. But when focused things do change. Phil knew that.

I’m including a short 1.5 minute video here I shot at a day a few years ago, celebrating the work of the Northwest Straits Initiative at the completion of the derelict nets project. Phil left a derelict net down in the Sound once. He knew where it was, knew it was expensive and he didn’t want to lose it but he did, and he also knew it had been recovered. He was grateful. Both for the project and the organization that got it done. Take a few minutes and listen to the late, great Phil Johnson, then go out tomorrow, next week and next year and gather your courage and fight for what you value. There’s plenty to fight for. See you out there.

 

 

 

EVENT: Environmental Lobby Day 1/29 Olympia

In the 2019 legislative session, we have the best chance in over a decade to make real change to protect and sustain Washington’s environment!

Join the Environmental Priorities Coalition and hundreds of activists to push for key environmental legislation in Olympia on January 29.

For the 2019 legislative session, the coalition has adopted four priorities essential for healthy communities and a thriving environment:

Attend Lobby Day
  • 100% Clean Electricity
  • Orca Emergency Response
  • Oil Spill Prevention
  • Reducing Plastic Pollution

During lobby day, you will team up with other activists to speak up for the environment and gain the skills to be a persuasive constituent. You’ll have the opportunity to attend issue briefings, learn how to lobby, hear from environmental champions, and meet face-to-face with your elected officials to advance the Environmental Priorities Coalitions 2019 priorities.

What: Environmental Priorities Coalition Lobby Day
When: Tuesday, January 29, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Where: United Churches of Olympia, 110 11th Ave SE, Olympia
Register now during general admission to save your spot!

Ticket Rates:

We offer several rates of tickets to accommodate different financial needs. All tickets include a small breakfast, coffee, materials, and legislative activist training as well as contribute to funding the Lobby Day venue and materials. A boxed lunch can be purchased for an additional cost.

Scholarship tickets are available. The Environmental Priorities Coalition strives to be welcoming and accessible for all Washington residents. To request a scholarship ticket please email Kat at kat@nwenergy.org.

Transportation: Find a carpool with other attendees in your area.

Let me know if you have any other questions, and I look forward to lobbying with you on January 29!

Tony Ivey
Field Organizer

Whale researcher predicts two more orca deaths this year – Seattle Times

As I’ve stated before in this column, there is not much time left for the resident Orca pod. The Governor’s ideas from the task force are a nice batch of projects, but likely the only hope, and it’s slim at best, seems to be to do all he wants, but go beyond it and breach the Snake River dams this year. It’s possible to do, but would be politically very hard. But there is no other way to get enough smolts out to see quickly. The numbers are just not there. The discussion should be started at once to get the issue on the table in a serious way.  Even if it means Jay killing off his chance at President. Because that is what it would likely do.

Two more orcas are ailing and probably will be dead by summer, according to the region’s expert on the demographics of the critically endangered southern residents. Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research, said photos taken of J17 on New Year’s Eve showed the 42-year-old female has so-called peanut head, a misshapen head and neck caused by starvation. In addition K25, a 27-year-old male, is failing, also from lack of sufficient food. He lost his mother, K13, in 2017 and is not successfully foraging on his own…. The southern resident population is at a 35-year low after three deaths this past year in four months. There are only 74 left. “I am going to stop counting at 70,” Balcomb said. “What is the point?” Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Two more Puget Sound orcas predicted to die in critically endangered population

EVENT: SeaDoc Society debuts video series about the Salish Sea Jan. 9

Highly recommended! Available on Youtube.

Explore the Pacific Northwest’s most amazing ecosystem with wildlife veterinarian Joe Gaydos and Team SeaDoc in their new video series “Salish Sea Wild”. The series begins this month on YouTube.

 

https://sanjuanislander.com/news-articles/environment-science-whales/environment/28586/seadoc-society-debuts-video-series-about-the-salish-sea

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