Governor Jay Inslee “Open letter to President Donald Trump on the role of climate change in historic wildfires”

The Governor tells the President a few facts about wildfires and their prevention.

September 14, 2020

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Mr. President,

I hope you had an enlightening trip to the West Coast, where your refusal to address climate change — and your active steps to enable even more carbon pollution — will accelerate devastating wildfires like those you’re seeing today. I implore you to recognize the science behind this destruction and stop your path of distortion and deception.

Rapid climate change driven by human activity has created a fusion of natural risk and man-made catalysts to accelerate these unnatural disasters. Study after study confirm the close connection between climate change and intensifying wildfires. Your reckless statements that climate change is a hoax and your gutting of environmental policies benefit no one but fossil fuel companies.

These willful denials are harming our nation and our people. Today, you said about the climate: “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.” That is false. This abandonment of leadership has once again left the states on their own to fight this existential threat to our people.

The knowledge and tools are at your disposal to be a leader if you choose. Every day, climate experts are showing us ways to reduce carbon pollution while helping our health and economy.

Wildfires are not new in the Western states, yet the 21st century is quickly laying claim to the worst levels of devastation we have ever seen. It took five days for 2020 to become our state’s second-worst fire season on record with more than 600,000 acres burned, eclipsed only by the 1.1 million acres burned in 2015. Worse events in California and Oregon have sent historic levels of smoke to the Puget Sound region, forcing millions of Washingtonians indoors until it passes.

Mr. President, our temperatures are consistently rising while moisture is increasingly evaporating. Forest management is merely one piece of the puzzle — something our own firefighters would be quick to remind you. Since 2009, our state has spent more than $130 million for forest health and fire preparedness. These events still overwhelm our residents and resources, because these fires are unlike anything people have seen before.

You have worked to distract from our country’s most critical driver of long-term risk in favor of a more politically convenient target — state forest management. This shows an utter lack of understanding about the robust forest management plans our states already have in place, as well as the need for our federal partners to work more collaboratively with us on forest health issues.

Your comments also betray ignorance of the very sources and locations of these wildfires. They don’t just happen in the forests; the fire that burned 80 percent of the buildings in Malden, Washington, was a grass and brush fire. These fires could not be prevented by thinning timber because there is no timber to thin.

As Dana Skelly, a fuels program manager for the U.S. Forest Service in Portland, told the Washington Post last week: “The systems that people rely on to help them get through these events are completely maxed out.”

To Stefan Doerr, a geographer at Swansea University in Wales and a chief editor of the International Journal of Wildland Fire, it’s basic physics: “If we have higher temp[eratures], we have a greater probability of fire starting, fire spreading, and fire intensifying.”

The federal government produced a rigorous, comprehensive report, the National Climate Assessment, that concluded “the annual area burned in the western United States could increase 2–6 times from the present” if current trends continue, due to human-caused climate change.

Research by the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington shows our region is dealing with higher temperatures and less frost, which is both affecting our water reclamation efforts and heightening conditions for fires throughout our diverse ecosystems, not just forests. The group projects temperatures will rise rapidly throughout this century, making conditions ripe for longer fire seasons and more challenging circumstances for trying to mitigate them.

Climate change is doing more damage to our communities faster than anyone thought. Hotter temperatures are drawing more moisture out of soils, grasses, bushes and trees — which evolved over thousands of years to withstand less severe fires — turning them into the perfect fuel for ignition.

I would urge you to abandon your half-baked theories and engage in good faith about the obvious relationship between climate change and wildfires.

The rules of fighting wildfires are changing because our climate is changing. There is no fire suppression plan on this planet that does anyone any good if it doesn’t even acknowledge the role of climate change. Deliberate and decisive action must be taken on a global scale, with the United States in the lead.

It is time to abandon the disastrous course that now envelops us in smoke and ash. A new approach could slow or turn around the damage done by climate change, all while building a more robust and more sustainable future for all 50 states.

The states are willing and eager to work in partnership with the federal government to protect all Americans from the ravages of climate change. Washingtonians in places such as Malden, Bonney Lake, Bridgeport and Graham — which have all begun long roads to recovery from the fires of recent days — deserve as much.

Sincerely,

Gov. Jay Inslee

Huge Smoke Cloud heading down the Strait

This in this morning. Port Angeles is already experiencing bad air.

To check on your specific air quality, go to the following link

https://enviwa.ecology.wa.gov/home/map

There is a super massive cloud of smoke outside of California and Oregon. The wind is changing direction and it’s coming this way today.

You should prepare. Let your family and friends know.
▶️Get supplies and create a box fan that filters the air around you. This video shows you how to make it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qr1Aj6D… Or, invest in a professional filtering device.
▶️Go shopping for any essentials today.
▶️If you don’t have to go out tomorrow, stay home.
▶️See air quality forecasts at http://wasmoke.blogspot.com
▶️More information to protect yourself from smoke at http://doh.wa.gov/smokefromfires

Comments sought on Cooke Aquaculture permit – Skagit Valley Herald

Yes, this is still an issue. Join in and put your input into Ecology if you care.


The state Department of Ecology is accepting comments on a draft permit that would allow Cooke Aquaculture to raise steelhead trout in four net pens in Puget Sound, including one near Hope Island in Skagit County. An online hearing Oct. 14 will allow the public an opportunity to learn about and comment on the draft water quality permit. Comment will be taken through Oct. 26. All documents and hearing information can be found [ecology.wa.gov/NetPenPermit]here, and comments can be submitted online. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Comments sought on Cooke Aquaculture permit

Life and Death in a Maine Mill Town

A powerful story that resonates here in our world of paper mills.

Yet it’s almost impossible to draw a straight line from our mill to cancer. Someone leaves town. They get cancer. Some people never leave. They get cancer. Or vice versa. My grandmother smoked.. She didn’t get cancer. You work in a paper mill like my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, you get cancer. Some people do not. At least not yet. There are long delays between environmental exposures and cancer, too long to calculate, and each cancer comes with individual risk factors, symptoms, causes. If you think your town contains a cancer cluster, consider the criteria: clusters require a greater-than-expected number of cancers in a narrowly defined group, i.e., the people must have the same type of cancer, in a limited geographic area, over a limited period of time, and all these factors have factors, including the limitations of science itself. In addition, if several family members get cancer, it doesn’t count toward the cluster evidence you need. Ordinary cancers don’t count either. And it doesn’t appear the CDC analyzes how individual bodies respond to specific environmental factors. And even if a cancer cluster is found in your neighborhood, they may not be able to determine the exact cause or do anything about it. One in three people develop cancer over their lifetime, so maybe the question is, when will we get cancer?

Friends of Fort Worden launches ‘Nix the Nox!’ campaign

Friends of Fort Worden State Park is launching a “Nix the Nox!” fundraising campaign to raise $25,000 for restoring natural habitat and increasing safety for park visitors.

“Our focus for the funds will be controlling noxious invasive plant species,” said Janine Anderson, a member of the Friends board who prefers to promote native Northwest plants. “We’re giving special emphasis to poison hemlock.”

Poison hemlock is highly toxic to the touch and can be fatal if ingested, Anderson said. It has spread widely in the past five to 10 years, and its presence in the most-visited parts of the park is a significant health hazard.

“You can see it along many trails and in hillside campsites and beach areas,” she said.

Donations to the Friends Challenge Grant will be combined with $5,000 from an anonymous donor. The funds will support efforts of volunteers, two AmeriCorps positions already funded by the Friends, and professional services for noxious weed control.

To make a tax-deductible donation, people can visit the Friends website at fwfriends.org. If you have questions, send an email to contact@fwfriends.org.

“Our Nix the Nox campaign is our largest multiyear commitment to restoring the natural habitat of the park,” Anderson said. “Donations will help keep Fort Worden one of Washington’s magical treasures.

The project is contingent on our success in raising the needed funds and final board approval of the funding, she said.

Friends of Fort Worden is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that strives to preserve and enhance the state park as a recreational, historical, educational, and natural resource. It works closely with park management and 14 other partner organizations in the park to provide help where and when we can.

“The Friends bring so much support to Fort Worden,” said Park Manager Brian Hageman. “They contribute to great park improvements that enhance the experience of our park patrons.”

WA Dept of Ecology approves expansion of Navy war games activity with conditions

The Washington State Dept of Ecology has allowed the Navy to continue harrassing marine animals as they have for decades. Is it any real wonder why our Orcas are in serious decline? The death of a thousand cuts. Won’t it be a great day when we value our environment more than our military industrial complex? As if we weren’t outspending all other countries. Let’s quickly review before reviewing what the state has allowed:

The U.S. spends more than 144 other countries combined. And the U.S. spends more than the next seven countries combined.

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/blog/2019/07/18/us-spends-more-its-military-176-countries-combined/

And what does the Navy wants to do in the areas where the dwindling number of Orcas live?

• Torpedo Exercise (non-explosive; Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Training)
• At-Sea Sonar Testing
• Mine Countermeasure and Neutralization Testing
• Propulsion Testing
• Undersea Warfare Testing
• Vessel Signature Evaluation
• Acoustic and Oceanographic Research
• Radar and Other Systems Testing;
• Simulant Testing – Dispertion of chemical warfare simulation.
• Intelligence Surveillance, Reconnaissance/Electronic Warfare Triton Testing

And what does Ecology want them to do to “mitigate the possible ‘taking’ (meaning harrassment or otherwise disturbing) of 51 Orcas’ which is what the Navy themselves says might happen? Here is a partial section of the document.

Any marine mammals exposed to sonar or other acoustic effects outside of the coastal zone are not likely to remain affected if the animal were to return to the coastal zone, because the vast majority of predicted effects are temporary effects to behavior, which would no longer be present when the animal is in the coastal zone.

Active sonar is required for this activity and may result in a wide range of effects from injury to behavioral changes to loss of hearing, and depends on the frequency and duration of the source, the physical characteristics of the environment, and the species (among other complex factors).

Explosives are required for this activity. The use of explosives could result in a disturbance to behavior, or lethal or non-lethal injuries (quantitative analysis done for this activity did not predict any lethal injuries for marine mammals). Most explosives would occur in the water column, minimizing effects to habitat.

Ecology and other Washington State officials and resource agencies are concerned that, without Ecology’s conditions, the Navy’s activities will have significant long-term effects on Washington coastal resources. Given the numerous marine animals and other resources that are likely to suffer the effects from the Navy’s new activities compounded by previously authorized activities,

Ecology is highlighting the effects to the Southern Resident orcas and other large cetaceans. As described in the CD, the Navy’s
mitigation measures are insufficient to provide necessary protections to the vulnerable, declining populations of key marine mammals, particularly Southern Resident orcas, of Washington’s coastal zone and lead to the conclusion that conditions are necessary to alleviate adverse effects.
Ongoing Naval exercises in the air and water around Washington pose a serious threat to Southern Resident orcas, and the impact of new and expanded activities will further threaten this vulnerable
population. Ecology’s conditions will help minimize the threats to these animals. An icon of the Pacific Northwest, Southern Resident orcas have captured the hearts of Washington’s residents, citizens, and
visitors and hold significant cultural value for Washington’s tribes. With the apparent loss of three whales last summer 2019, Southern Resident orcas appear to have a population of just 73 whales—the lowest population level in more than 40 years. Given this declining population, the loss of even one more whale could greatly undermine recovery efforts for decades. The most up-to-date information on the Southern Resident orca population, must be relied on, and assessments of impacts must be based on current data, which projects the existing population of 73 whales. Thus, the potential harm of the Navy’s activities on this vulnerable population
has been underestimated. With such a small and shrinking population, the impact of each take is amplified within the population.


The Navy’s actions could result in a total of 51 annual “takes” a year of Southern Resident orcas in the form of Level B harassment. Given the imperiled nature of this population, this number of takes threatens a significant impact on the population from the Navy’s training and testing activities.

Furthermore, these take numbers do not account for the fact that Southern Resident orcas generally travel in pods and thus likely underestimate the potential adverse impact to this precarious population since activities could impact multiple animals at once. Additionally, three orcas appear to be carrying young, which makes them more vulnerable, as well as their future calves.

The cumulative impact of repeated exposures to the same whales over time needs to be seriously considered, and Ecology’s conditions can address these impacts. The Navy’s testing and training activities have already been authorized twice before, and are likely to continue into the future.
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Due to the longevity of Southern Resident orcas and the estimated percentage of take for the population [being] so high (68%), the effects of take will be compounded over time and may have cumulative effects, such as behavioral abandonment of key foraging areas and adverse, long term effects on hearing and echolocation.”

Instances of temporary hearing loss, such as the Temporary Threshold Shifts (TTS) can be cumulative and lead to long-term hearing loss. This could have a significant impact on Southern Resident orcas,
which rely on hearing for communication, feeding, and ship avoidance.

In addition, Level B Harassment can disrupt “migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered,” all behaviors critical to survival of the Southern Resident orcas. Given the many stresses already faced by
this endangered population, repeated harassment on this scale could be significant and even lead to mortality.


The Navy’s use of mid-frequency sonar can impact wildlife within 2,000 square miles and mine explosives can cause death or injury. Although these activities may affect a wide range of marinemammals, the potential impact of these activities on endangered Southern Resident orcas is of
particular concern, given their dangerously low population size. This is the third consecutiveauthorization period during which the Navy may be approved for such testing and training exercises andthese or similar activities are likely to continue for decades. For long-lived marine species, the effects oftake will be compounded over time and may have cumulative effects, such as behavioral abandonment of key foraging areas and adverse, long-term effects on hearing and echolocation. Again, the Navy finds
these effects of minor significance, a finding with which Ecology disagrees.
Gray whales are currently undergoing an unexplained die-off leading to 352 strandings between January 2019 and July 2020, including 44 strandings along the coast of Washington alone. NOAA is investigating the die-off as an Unusual Mortality Event. While it is not clear what specifically is driving this event, many animals show signs of “poor to thin body condition.”

Because the cause of the Unusual Mortality Event is unknown, the Navy cannot cite an increasing population and then assert that its activities for a
seven-year period are insignificant because the health of the gray whale population could decline.


For several species, including harbor seals, Dall’s porpoise, and harbor porpoise, the Navy’s near constant harassment every year for a seven–year period could significantly damage the population of those species. For example, the Navy’s proposal could lead to a take 30 times the abundance of the Hood Canal population of harbor seals every year, 3,084 percent of population abundance, and similarly authorizes high levels of takes for Southern Puget Sound harbor seals (168 percent of population
abundance). This high level of take could lead to interruptions in foraging that could lead to reproductive loss for female harbor seals. However, there is no analysis regarding how this harassment and loss of reproduction could affect the population as a whole, beyond an assertion that these impacts “would not be expected to adversely affect the stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.”


The rates of take for populations of Dall’s porpoises (131 percent of population abundance) and the populations of harbor porpoises on the Northern OR/WA Coast (244 percent of population abundance)
and in Washington Inland Waters (265 percent of population abundance) are also exceptionally high.

These porpoises are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of anthropogenic sound. This level of take could also lead to reproductive loss.
The leatherback turtle is classified as endangered under the ESA and has Critical Habitat designated within the Study Area. The western Pacific leatherback sea turtle populations are particularly at risk, and
the SEIS states that (the effort to analyze population structure and distribution by distinct population segment…) is critical to focus efforts to protect the species, because the status of individual stocks varies
widely across the world. Western Pacific leatherbacks have declined more than 80 percent and eastern Pacific leatherbacks have declined by more than 97 percent since the 1980s. Because the threats to these subpopulations have not ceased, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has predicted a decline of 96 percent for the western Pacific subpopulation.”

https://apps.ecology.wa.gov/aquatics/decisions/

Pebble Mine Alaska- Army Corps denies permit

The Army Corps of Engineers just denied the permit for Pebble Mine! The proposed mine threatens Bristol Bay, Alaska — home of one of the last great wild salmon runs and Indigenous communities who rely on it.

The Army Corps of Engineers found that the mine would likely result in significant degradation of the environment. So it officially rejected the permit under section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

This is a huge victory for communities near Bristol Bay, the salmon fisheries, our environment, and our climate. It sends a message loud and clear to corporate polluters that they cannot destroy our pristine wild places.  It does not end the project, but is a serious setback for it, easily carrying the decision over to a new President Biden if Trump is not re-elected.

If the mine is built, it could generate more than 10 billion tons of dangerous waste, wipe out 90 miles of salmon streams, and pollute more than 5,000 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes. It would likely decimate the local salmon populations — in turn impacting the local communities that depend on them.

More than 65 percent of Alaskans, and 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents — including Native people — strongly oppose the mine. The only ones who would benefit are Pebble Limited Partnership and their affiliates. Together, we stood up to the powerful advocates for the mine — and we won.

The Pebble Mine fight isn’t over yet. The EPA could still advance the project. But this victory is a huge step in the right direction — proving that people power works and we can stop polluters from harming the planet.

JOB Opportunity: Education Program Coordinator

From The North Olympic Salmon Coalition:

We are excited to announce an opportunity for a talented individual to join our team here at the North Olympic Salmon Coalition (NOSC)!  NOSC has a reputation as a leader in salmon habitat restoration, education and volunteer programs on the North Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.  Please share the attached job description and announcement below via your usual avenues and with any qualified individuals who might be interested. 

Position name:      Education Program Coordinator

Position location:This is a remote position that will engage virtually and in person (for filming as needed) with NOSC staff and volunteers located in the Port Angeles and Port Townsend areas of the North Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.

Anticipated start:            Mid- to late September 2020

Application deadline:     All applications are due by email by 12PM PST – Tuesday September 8, 2020

Education Program Coordinator:NOSC is seeking proposals from qualified applicants with experience in online curriculum development and virtual instruction to assist with the adaptation of its Real Learning, Real Work education curriculum to a virtual platform and to execute the online curriculum with students from school districts on the North Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. The Real Learning, Real Work education program teaches middle school students the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills necessary to envision, design, and implement their own salmon habitat restoration projects. Taking on the role of a restoration professional, students learn how to use new tools, take field notes, and practice adaptive management. They also connect with professionals in the fields of science, engineering and natural resource management so they can envision themselves in STEM careers. For more information, visit: https://nosc.org/join-our-team/. Many thanks for helping us get the word out about this exciting opportunity!  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Yours sincerely, Catherine MarzyckMembership & Office AdministratorNorth Olympic Salmon Coalition205 W. Patison St. Suite BPort Hadlock, WA 98339Office: (360) 379-8051Web: www.nosc.org

Endangered Species Act protections sought for a Northwest freshwater mussel -OPB

Another species needing urgent protection here in our State. While this is specific to Central Oregon I assume that these are found in our waters as well.

A 2017 analysis that looked at historic versus recent distributing areas of the species and found that the populations have declined by almost 50% of its historic range and it has been accelerating in recent years.

A nonprofit conservation group has filed a petition for Endangered Species Act protections for a unique species of mussel that is vanishing from rivers and streams in the Pacific Northwest.

https://www.opb.org/article/2020/08/20/endangered-species-act-protections-sought-for-a-northwest-freshwater-mussel/

Trump to withdraw polarizing nominee to lead Bureau Of Land Management -NPR

Public pressure works.


Amid pressure from Democrats and some Republicans, the Trump administration is planning to withdraw its controversial nominee to head the federal Bureau of Land Management. The sprawling public lands agency, which manages roughly a tenth of the landmass of the United States, has not had a permanent, Senate-confirmed director for the entire Trump era. The nominee, William Perry Pendley, has been leading the agency since last August through a series of controversial continued appointment extensions. Prior to coming to Washington, D.C., the Wyoming native had spent much of his career at the conservative Mountain States Legal Foundation challenging the very agency he now leads. Kirk Siegler reports. (NPR)

Trump to withdraw polarizing nominee to lead Bureau Of Land Management

Updates on Crabbing, Clamming from Washington, Oregon Coast

For those who love crabbing and clamming along either the Washington coast or the Oregon coast, there’s mostly good news. An area between Washington and British Columbia will open up to crabbing a little bit later, while the southern Oregon coast resumes razor clamming. (Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Updates on Crabbing, Clamming from Washington, Oregon Coast

Art contests help to carry the clean-water message

Chris Dunagan writes: “I’m impressed with artists who combine their passion for nature with a message about protecting the environment and how we all have a role to play. This week, I’d like to share winning artwork from two recent contests. One is a poster competition inspired by the “We are Puget Sound” (Water Ways) book and campaign. The other is a project that involves placing whimsical pictures of sea life on storm drains in Kitsap County. (Puget Sound Institute)

Art contests help to carry the clean-water message to people around Puget Sound

Bulk Kelp Declines Continue

As bull kelp declines continue, collaboration is key
Efforts to understand what affects the health of bull kelp in the Salish Sea continue, with the recent publication of a recovery plan, the launch of annual kayak surveys and plans by the Samish Indian Nation to expand its research. Many are interested in kelp because of its connection with culturally and economically important wildlife including crab, rockfish, salmon and orcas. It provides refuge for some wildlife and food for others… Little is known about this palm tree-like algae beyond its role in the ecosystem and the fact that is has disappeared from some areas — including a recently noted decline near a local island. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Army Corps of Engineers ends aquaculture activities under court order

The Army Corps of Engineers has issued a ruling to stop much of the commercial aquaculture farming in Puget Sound. This draconian move is the outcome of decades of the local Army Corps of Engineers ignoring their own nationwide rules. This didn’t need to happen if they followed those rules. Instead, it took a court case that they and Taylor Shellfish lost due in part to the findings during discovery that there had been significant scientific information written finding destruction of the shoreline by these activities that was never published by the Corps. This web site at the time said that the findings were a fiasco for the Corps, and undermined any statements they made saying that they had the environment at the top of the priorities. They simply wanted to rubber stamp as much aquaculture as possible, and turn as much of our shorelines into factory farms for Chinese bound geoducks. This hurts the industry at the worse possible time. This industry includes many small farmers and Tribes who relied on that small income stream. The industry should not be blaming the environmentalists that brought this suit, they should be blaming the Corps. This whole shameful situation will not bring back the shorelines and virgin bays of the South Sound that have been destroyed. But it will set an example that the law can still come through. The next battle is coming next year, especially if Trump is not beaten in November. The whole permitting process is under attack, egged on by some of the industry actors we know so well and their contributions to the Trump administration.


SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE AND 2017 NATIONWIDE PERMIT 48
On June 11, 2020, the District Court for the Western District of Washington issued final orders (Order) invalidating authorizations for commercial shellfish aquaculture operations under the 2017 Nationwide Permit (NWP) 48, Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Activities, in the state of Washington. In accordance with that Order, beginning on August 11, 2020, activities currently authorized under 2017 NWP 48 will no longer be authorized.

However, for those with verifications under the 2017 NWP 48, the Order allows certain activities to occur if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District (Corps) receives a new permit application for the project by December 11, 2020. Specifically, 2017 NWP 48 verification holders, who submit a new permit application by December 11, 2020, may:

a. Continue seeding and planting new shellfish crops until December 11, 2020 in areas of the project that do not contain mature native eelgrass beds; and
b. Until the expiration of their current 2017 NWP 48 verification, continue maintenance and harvest activities for shellfish planted or seeded on or before December 11, 2020.
c. Commercial shellfish aquaculture verified under 2017 NWP 48 that provides treaty harvest in furtherance of adjudicated treaty rights, may continue in accordance with the terms of the verification, provided that a request for authorization is submitted to the Corps by December 11, 2020.

At this time, the Seattle District is processing shellfish applications as individual permits and will continue to process such applications as expeditiously as possible. Some growers are combining multiple NWP 48 actions into one individual permit application, depending on the specific circumstances. Operators should reach out to their Corps Project Manager if they have questions about whether combining previously verified operations would be appropriate. On your individual permit application please include your Corps permit reference number should have a previous NWP 48 verification. For ease of application, we have developed procedures for applicants to electronically submit permit application materials. Please see our web page for instructions.

The Seattle District established an Aquaculture Permitting web page to answer frequently asked questions and provide updated information as it is developed. The link to this web page is:
https://www.nws.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Regulatory/Shellfish-Aquaculture/
The Seattle District will periodically update the information on this web page as more questions are received and future special public notices are published. Should you have questions not listed on the FAQ, please submit them via the “Contact Us” link on the left side of this web page.

President Trump signs bill permanently funding Land and Water Conservation Fund

This is huge. And I want to thank Representative Derek Kilmer for having fought hard for this. We have covered this issue in the past on this website. A huge win during a bad time for environmental protection. Smart of Trump and the Republicans to strip away as many of our environmental protections and then turn around and back a bill like this just before the election to burnish their environmental creds. Happens all the time in politics. But good for Kilmer to recognize the opportunity and run with it. He worked in a bi-partisan way to get the job done. Now it’s time to focus on ousting the President and ending this nightmare of selling the environment to the highest bidder.

A landmark bill committing $900 million a year for land conservation and a one-time $9.5 billion boost to help catch up over the next five years on maintenance needs at national parks was signed into law by President Donald Trump Monday.The Great American Outdoors Act, S. 3422, will increase by two or three times the historic average amount of money spent by Congress for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The program, used to fund acquisitions from willing sellers for federal, state and local open space and outdoor recreation, is paid for from royalties earned on oil and natural gas leases on public lands. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

www.seattletimes.com

 

Cliff Mass out at KNKX

University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, and well known global warming skeptic Cliff Mass has been terminated from his part time weather discussions on KNKX in Seattle.

But it wasn’t his web site rants against the ‘establishment’ science community and how they have bought into climate change without all the facts. No, he apparently went after the recent protesters in no uncertain terms. This was sent to KNKX supporters today.

At KNKX, we value high-quality, factual information in our news programming and we aim to present an array of voices that reflect our region.

We turn to our regular commentators for their expertise and points-of-view when it comes to sports, food and the weather. But if a commentator, even on his own independent platform, delivers rhetoric that is offensive and inaccurate, we cannot support it.

This is the case today with Cliff Mass. His post on his personal blog compares recent events in Seattle to Kristallnacht, the 1938 pogrom carried out by Nazi Germany and draws distorted, offensive parallels between protesters and Nazi Brownshirts. We abhor the comparison and find it sensationalized and misleading—it does not reflect who we are and what we stand for at KNKX.

The segment Weather with Cliff Mass will no longer air on KNKX.

Sincerely,

Joey Cohn
General Manager

This is the second time he has been ousted from a radio job. In 2011 he was kicked off KUOW, as reported in the Seattle Times,

Mass said the station was particularly peeved over his occasional forays into math education and the controversy over which textbooks to use in local schools. But the final straw came last month, when Mass weighed in to defend and clarify UW’s admission policies after The Seattle Times reported some straight-A local students were being rejected in favor of higher-paying out-of-state applicants.

I was somewhat surprised then when KNKX decided to pick him up. It showed poor judgement on their part.

I’m just surprised that it took this diatribe for KNKX to oust him, rather than one where he challenged that we are not in a crisis situation with global warming. This one he can’t explain away. Let’s be clear, there are a lot of other regional weather meteorologists that can be of as much help as Cliff has been. I have followed Cliff for many years, and even discussed his lack of support for climate change/global warming issues on his blog once. He is the darling of the global warming skeptics crowd.

Goodbye Cliff, you have done your bit to tell people that we are not in any danger of global warming, as the forests of Siberia burn with temperatures 20 degrees over normal, and Paradise is now a real place known to have burned to the ground rather than a mythical nirvana. You have done your damage, and now it’s caught up to you. Bye.

The Esselen Tribe of Big Sur regain some of their land -The Optimist Daily and other sources

This is not about our Peninsula, nor the Pacific NW. But the story how this tiny West Coast tribe, almost wiped out and by most people, assumed dead and gone, have revived themselves and their lands, is a story worth telling. As many of you know, there is a famous “new age” retreat here, primarily by and for wealthy white people, (I only reference the images on their web site that are almost uniformly white) called the Esselen Institute. There is no mention on their web site that their name is derived from the native tribe who’s land they sit on. No honor to the tribe at all.

 

The coast here is supremely rugged, and the people who chose to live here must also have been very experienced in living in this unique environment. They were, by all accounts, a gentle and peaceful people. Not a warrior tribe. They unfortunately apparently trusted the Spanish who turned against them quite quickly.

Anyone who has visited the coast of Monterey and south, can only imagine what it must have been like being able to subsist off vast amounts of seafood, shellfish and rivers teaming with salmon, along with acorns, camas, and other flora further inland . The rivers there held runs (and still do) of steelhead. According to the Western Rivers Conservancy, who bought the land and donated it to the tribe, “The ranch’s ridgetop grasslands and giant redwoods are ideal feeding and nesting habitat for California condor, and wildlife biologists predict the land will become part of the expanding range of recovery for this endangered bird”

All of this in one of the most hospitable climates outside of Italy. In my mind, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and an astonishingly welcome place for human habitation. It is no wonder why these people settled here. Now, a small correction to the incomparable suffering of these people over the last couple of hundred years, as they were driven out of their homes to be enslaved by Spaniards, beaten by priests, and ignored and murdered by whites, looking to settle their land, is being righted.

According to Wikipedia: “About 460 individuals have identified themselves as descendants of the original Esselen people and banded together to form a tribe.” After an extended battle for the ability to be accepted as a tribe, due to the work of the Western Rivers Conservancy, land along the Little Sur river have been bought for them.

We are living in an age of recovery. While recovery of natural habitats is important, as important is the recovery of native peoples to the lands they lived on, in a balance with nature, for thousands of years. Their struggle and their true love of their lands continues to be a guidepost for those of us moving from a culture of imperialism, war, racism and conquest, to one of balance, cultural diversity and peace. The work has barely begun and has a long time before it can be called, “complete”. If ever.

View of Adler Ranch, Big Sur, California Photo by Doug Steakley

 


The story below would be more accurate if it had said, “…were forcibly removed from their lands and enslaved in Spanish missions.” That is the truth of the matter.

After 250 years, the Esselen tribe has reclaimed their homelands

In 1770, the people of the Esselen Tribe of northern California were forcibly removed from their lands and brought to Spanish missions. But now, after more than 250 years, the Esselen tribe is landless no more.

This week, the Esselen tribe finalized the purchase of a 1,200-acre ranch near Big Sur, along California’s north-central coast, as part of a $4.5 million acquisition that involved the state and an Oregon-based environmental group. The deal signifies a return to their ancestral homelands. It is also a big win for environmentalists as the tribe will conserve old-growth redwoods and endangered wildlife such as the California condor and red-legged frog, as well as protect the Little Sur River, an important spawning stream for the imperiled steelhead trout.

 

https://www.optimistdaily.com/2020/07/after-250-years-the-esselen-tribe-has-reclaimed-their-homelands/

and

http://www.westernrivers.org/blog/entry/protectingacriticalstreamintheheartofbigsur

 

 

 

 

Seeing Sea Stacks – By Jerry Gorsline

Sea Stacks located along Olympic coast and western reaches of the Strait of Juan
de Fuca are remnants of headlands that remain after erosion of cliffs by wave action. Erosion of headlands creates caves, and then arches that eventually collapse to form stand-alone large or small sea stacks that lie close to the shore, and
offshore by as much as three miles. Flat-topped rocks standing at an approximate
elevation of 100 feet represent the horizontal surface of an elevated wave-cut
platform, raised by vertical movement owing to post-glacial rebound and uplift
from movement on the Cascadia subduction zone.

Thoughts by Jerry Gorsline. Photo by Olympic National Park Website.

 

Court of Appeals Retains Protection for Washington’s Iconic Coastlines and Wildlife from Industrial Shellfish Aquaculture 

Court Denies Stay of Decision Setting Aside Unlawful Permit for Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture

Seattle, WA — Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied shellfish growers’ motion to stay the recent district court decision nullifying the defective Nationwide Permit 48 (NWP 48) covering tens of thousands of acres of shellfish aquaculture activities in Washington. On June 11, 2020, the District Court for the Western District of Washington set aside the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ unlawful permit, in response to lawsuits brought by Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat (Coalition). The court also partially stayed that order to allow some harvest and planting activities to continue pending issuance of new, lawful permits. The Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA), an intervenor in the case, appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit on June 18, 2020 and sought a stay to allow all activities on all acres in both 2020 and 2021.

 

The initial ruling on the merits was in October 2019, when the court ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ commercial shellfish aquaculture general permit was unlawful, based on the agency’s failure to adequately consider the impacts—including cumulative—of commercial shellfish aquaculture to Washington shorelines and wildlife habitat when it issued the permit. Today the court issued a ruling on the remedy that was needed to address the unlawful actions by the Corps.

 

“The Court’s decision ensures protection for Washington’s iconic wildlife and special places from the largely ignored impacts of industrial shellfish aquaculture pending the growers’ meritless appeal,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at CFS, based out of its Pacific Northwest office. “The district court’s partial vacatur was already a major compromise, allowing some shellfish aquaculture activities to go forward despite the Corps’ serious errors of law when adopting the permit and failure to protect Washington’s environment and the public interest, and we are pleased the permit will remain null and void.”

 

Activities that may continue pending new permits include: harvest of shellfish planted before today’s Order; limited seeding and planting of shellfish for the 2020 season but only in areas without mature native eelgrass; maintenance activities for the same; and shellfish activities conducted pursuant to and to provide treaty harvest in furtherance of treaty rights, all conducted in accordance with the conservation measures applicable under the NWP 48 and the 2016 Endangered Species Act programmatic consultation. These limited activities may only go forward if the growers apply for new permits within six months of the order. The court further ordered the Army Corps to process new permits as expeditiously as possible, but made it clear the Corps could only do so in accordance with Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act requirements that the court had outlined in its October 2019 Order finding NWP 48 unlawful.

 

Coalition Executive Director Laura Hendricks said: “This is good news for Puget Sound and it’s marine environment. We are pleased the Ninth Circuit saw fit to put an end to ‘business as usual’ for the destructive practices of the commercial shellfish industry during the industry’s appeal of Judge Lasnik’s extraordinarily thorough decision.”

 

Background on NWP 48 and the court decision ruling it unlawful:

 

For over two decades, Washington State agencies and most counties have ignored citizens’ concerns, as shellfish aquaculture lobbying paved the way for the unlimited proliferation of this industrial conversion of Washington shorelines. NWP 48, issued by the Trump administration in 2017, would have allowed an enormous expansion of an over $100 million dollar-a-year industry without sufficient marine wildlife or water quality protections for these unique and sensitive ecosystems. Industrial aquaculture already threatens Washington’s iconic, invaluable shorelines and bays, which are home to numerous marine species including endangered salmon. Without any proper cumulative impact analysis of the existing tens of thousands of acres of industrial shellfish aquaculture, the 2017 NWP 48 opened the door to doubling that acreage—to an estimated 72,300 acres or a third of all Washington shorelines—including critical spawning and feeding grounds for forage fish, birds, invertebrates like Dungeness crab, and finfish like salmon and green sturgeon.

 

As the evidence before the Army Corps showed, many of these species rely on eelgrass and other aquatic vegetation. Eelgrass also helps to mitigate the effects of climate change on oceans. Industrial shellfish aquaculture is known to reduce or eliminate eelgrass, including through the industry’s intentional the use of pesticides. Yet the new permit did not place any restrictions on impacts to eelgrass, through pesticide use or otherwise. The permit also failed to restrict the enormous use of plastics by the industry, like the 42,000 PVC tubes per acre that are covered in plastic netting and used to grow geoducks (a type of clam grown almost exclusively for the luxury export market). Netting can trap and entangle wildlife, and the plastics break down into microplastics that are hazardous to marine organisms, including the very shellfish being grown for human consumption.

 

In its October 2019 Order granting summary judgment to CFS and the Coalition, the court found that “the Corps acknowledged that reissuance of NWP 48 would have foreseeable environmental impacts on the biotic and abiotic components of coastal waters, the intertidal and subtidal habitats of fish, eelgrass, and birds, the marine substrate, the balance between native and non-native species, pollution, and water quality, chemistry, and structure, but failed to describe, much less quantify, these consequences.” But because the Corps refused to evaluate these various impacts—and their cumulative impact—at the outset, and relied on cherry-picked data to support its minimal impact determination, its adoption of NWP 48 in Washington was unlawful under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act.

 

After additional briefing and oral argument on the appropriate remedy, the court found the Army Corps’ legal errors went to the heart of the federal laws protecting our water and environment. The court further found the environmental impacts of commercial shellfish aquaculture outweigh any economic consequences from vacating the permit, given that the Corps cannot issue the same permit again. Rather than allow the industry to “conduct shellfish operations under a defective, unlawful permit regardless of the environmental impacts for an unspecified period of time,” the court partially stayed the vacatur for limited harvesting and seeding activities according to suggestions from plaintiffs, including the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and Amici tribes.

 

CFS was represented in the case by Amy van Saun and George Kimbrell. The Coalition was represented in the case by Karl G. Anuta and Thane Tienson.

 

https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/6097/court-of-appeals-retains-protection-for-washingtons-iconic-coastlines-and-wildlife-from-industrial-shellfish-aquaculture

Conservation and Food Safety Groups Winning Over Washington’s Shellfish Industry and Army Corps of Engineers

The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat and the Center for Food Safety won another step in their case to stop a flawed nation-wide permit for the shellfish industry in Washington’s waters. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the shellfish industry’s attempt to stop a lower court decision from taking effect while the Circuit considers an appeal of a lower court decision.

As discussed in this blog in 2016, this case is one of the most serious attempts to slow the growth of the shellfish (and primarily the geoduck) industry from converting almost all our remaining beaches that can grow geoduck into industrial farms forever.  This reporter reached out to Taylor Shellfish for comment, but they did not get back to me before publication.

What is at stake: NWP 48 – the 2017 “nation-wide permit” granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to commercial shellfish aquaculture to intensify operations including authorizing “discharges, structures and works” in Washington’s coastal marine habitat. The NWP 48 was issued in 2017, and in just two years, 898 shellfish industry projects impacting 35,800 acres of marine habitats were greenlighted in Washington State.

The Court’s decision in October 2019 was a scathing rebuke of the U.S. Amy Corps Engineers process issuing NWP 48 without “adequate” (or any) scientific review of impacts. The Court found that the U.S. Army Corps had no basis to determine that NWP 48 would have “minimal impact” to marine habitat.

The Court rejected the Corps conclusion that the shellfish industry impacts are “no more than minimal, however, (a) when considered on a landscape rather than a site-by-site scale, (b) because the relevant ecosystems are resilient, and (c) because the impacts are “relatively mild” in comparison “to the disturbances and degradation caused by coastal development, pollution, and other human activities in coastal areas.” The Corps argued that when you make the landscape big enough, the operations would have ‘minimal’ impact, that the waters are so resilient that they would fix themselves, and that there is already pollution by other human activities and these additional impacts are minimal by comparison. The Court bluntly stated that “Noting that a particular environmental resource is degraded is not an excuse or justification for further degradation…The record is devoid of any indication [emphasis added] that the Corps considered regional data, catalogued the species in and characteristics of the aquatic environments in which commercial shellfish aquaculture activities occur, considered the myriad techniques, equipment, and materials used in shellfish aquaculture, attempted to quantify the impacts the permitted activity would likely have on the identified species and characteristics, or evaluated the impacts of the as-yet-unknown regional conditions.”

 

The Court also did not agree with the shellfish industry and the U.S. Corps argument that because the impacts of the various types of waters, habitats, and operations were so disparate across the country, that a nation-wide permit should stand based on allowing local district engineers to evaluate the impacts on a case by case basis. At face value that may seem reasonable and even desirable – that local offices would know more and be able to evaluate impacts and operations: “Faced with incredible diversity, the Corps effectively threw up its hands and turned over impacts analysis to district engineers.” The Court said the agency violated both the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) by its action issuing NWP 48. The Court then could vacate the permit, which would essentially revoke Washington shellfish industry permits that were granted as a result of NWP 48. Interesting, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, having made extensive efforts to ensure its shellfish operations were carried out in an environmentally sound manner unlike other operations, had also challenged NWP 48 but asked the Court to consider not completely vacating NWP 48.

 

In June 2020, the Court vacated the NWP 48, but stayed the effect of its decision and gave the Corps and the shellfish industry 60 days to appeal to the 9th Circuit. Noting how serious the action to vacate NWP 48 is – affecting the 898 projects in Washington State alone permitted under NWP 48, impacting 35,800 acres of Washington’s marine waters, the Court looked carefully at the district engineers impacts analysis.  In one instance, the Court found that “the Corps’ failure to take a hard look at the environmental impacts of shellfish aquaculture (other than, arguably, the potential impacts to endangered or threatened species under the ESA) was not corrected at the District level. In fact, the District declined to require any mitigation for the expected loss of eelgrass because the Corps permitted, on a nationwide basis, operations affecting submerged aquatic vegetation as long as the area had previously been used for commercial shellfish aquaculture.”  The Corps allowed operations where shellfish activity had occurred at any time in the previous 100 years. The shellfish industry asked that the Court not take any action, and to allow NWP 48 to stay in place and not disrupt business until the Corps could correct its errors. The Corps said it could not correct its errors until 2022, which is the next time when the Corps would issue a new NWP in any course. The Court said no but allowed some activities to continue while the case is under appeal. The shellfish industry tried to stop even the limited effects of the Court’s decision. The 9th Circuit rejected their motion while it considers the appeal. The case is not over – one could ask what has been the role of the Washington Dept. of Ecology? The Court was equally not impressed with Ecology’s role in remedying the defects of NWP 48. The parties have until October 2020 to submit briefs on the appeal.

 

 

 

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