Port Townsend Event: Testify against military use of our parks 1/27

This is an update on the meeting happening on Thursday to get citizen feedback on allowing the State to have military training operations in our State parks. Just say no. Sent out by the local group No Park Warfare. Olyopen is not a member of this group but supports their stance.


PARK MEETING THURSDAY 1-27-22

TIME TO ADVOCATE FOR OUR PARKS!

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will be holding their next public meeting in person at Ft. Worden State Park in Port Townsend on Thursday, Jan. 27 this month. Please attend this meeting and continue to advocate for our State Parks!

Military training in State Parks is an issue that will be raised. One year ago in a single, virtual public hearing, the Commission voted 4 to 3 to allow military warfare training in our parks in spite of overwhelming opposition from the public, Jefferson County, the City of Port Townsend and other Puget Sound communities and groups.

This controversial decision granted permission for the military to conduct covert warfare surveillance trainings in our State Parks, using submersible vehicles, “fake” weapons, and unsuspecting park visitors as proxy enemies. Right now the trainings are being planned by park staff for Fort Worden, Fort Flagler, and other parks.

Soon after last year’s decision, a lawsuit was filed against the Commission by Washington taxpayers — the actual owners of the parks — who want continued protection for natural park environments, and for the peaceful recreation of the people.

A Citizens’ Complaint Letter signed by hundreds of concerned park users was filed with the Commission as well. To date, no response from Washington State Park Commissioners has been received.

The Commission usually meets from 9am to 5pm with a designated time for public input around 11am. This allows local residents—like YOU—to speak. Simply fill out a comment card at the sign-in table and the Chair will call on you at the appropriate time. Come early if at all possible.

Written comments can be handed to staff at the meeting with a request they be read aloud by Commissioners. We also encourage people to submit written comments by snail mail or email to Commission@parks.wa.gov.

For more meeting or lawsuit details go to: https://notinourparks.org/.


Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission

January 27, 2022 Fort Worden State Park, 200 Battery Way, Port

Townsend, WA 98368, Commons Conference Space

If Possible, please:

  •  Come at 8:30 am and stay until noon. (The Café is open from 7:30am until 2pm – very good coffee, food, inside/outside seating.)
  •  Bring friends.
  •  Bring signs (Parks Are for People, Octopus, Relaxation, Peace).
  •  Bring cell phones and take lots of photos (signs, crowds, etc.)
  •  Wear a name tag – name and group if you belong to one.
  •  Wear masks inside and observe Covid precautions.
  • Sign in to speak at entry desk.
  • Give written comments to staff (if you are not going to speak, ask that Commissioners read your comments aloud).
  •  Warfare training in parks is not on the agenda, but we may all bring this up during the ‘open public comment’ period around 10 or 11am.
  • Use Compassionate Communication in interactions. Focus on what we do want – our parks for play, relaxation, enjoyment of nature, healing, celebrations. Not everyone present may be on our same page. Be prepared to speak peacefully and walk away immediately from antagonism.

Peace, and see you there!

No Park Warfare

noparkwarfare.wordpress.com; notinourparks.org

_____________________

Tiny Holes Drilled into Bricks Provide Miniature Homes for Solitary Bees – Colossal

I’m sure many of you follow Colossal, a collection of wonderful art and other new ideas. Since so many of us are backyard farmers, I thought I would post this “feel good” story of a new use of bricks in houses in the UK for mason bees and other early pollinators.

An innovative creation of Cornwall-based Green&Blue, Bee Bricks are designed to establish homes within homes. The architectural building blocks can be layered with more typical materials and feature holes of various sizes that allow the fuzzy, winged insects a space for nesting. These multi-purpose bricks are especially crucial as bee populations dwindle due to habitat loss and a changing climate.

https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2022/01/green-and-blue-bee-bricks/

Governor Jay Inslee Fills All Vacant Seats on Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission

This just in from Washington Wildlife First. I am using this press release and not the Governor’s because this does a good job of putting the nominations in perspective.



New Appointees Will Bring Impressive Scientific and Legal Credentials to the Commission

Washington Wildlife First commends Governor Jay Inslee for making three new
appointments to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

These appointments will finally fill all of the vacant and expired seats on the Commission, some
of which have stood open for more than a year. Washington Wildlife First has long advocated for
Governor Inslee to fill these seats , including through a December 17, 2021 letter joined by 2 9 other
fish, wildlife, and environmental organizations, which asked the Governor to immediately appoint
Commissioners who “ understand and value science, who support [the Governor’s] agenda to conserve and protect our environment, and who will focus on bringing critically needed reforms to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.”


“We applaud Governor Inslee for finally bringing the Commission back up to full strength, and for selecting three qualified candidates with substantial expertise in fish and wildlife management,” said Samantha Bruegger, executive director of Washington Wildlife First.

The three new Commissioners have varied backgrounds, but each has a long track record of working with issues of fish and wildlife management:

Dr. John Lehmkuhl from Chelan County will fill the eastern Washington position that has been vacant for over a year. Dr. Lehmkuhl is a lifelong hunter and angler and a retired research biologist with the U.S. Forest Service, who has spent 25 years working with Washington wildlife. He has a Ph.D. in forest science and an M.S. in wildlife ecology.
Melanie Rowland from Okanogan County will fill the at-large seat vacated by Commissioner Fred Koontz in December. Ms. Rowland is a retired environmental attorney, who spent 15 years as a senior attorney for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, working on issues related to fisheries, marine mammals, and endangered species.
Dr. Tim Ragen from Skagit County will fill the seat currently held by Larry Carpenter, whose appointment expired on October 31, 2020. Dr. Ragen is the retired director of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission. He has a Ph.D., in oceanography, and since his retirement has continued his work to conserve endangered marine species, including southern resident killer whales.

“We welcome the fresh perspective and deep base of knowledge that these new Commissioners
will bring to their positions,” Bruegger said. “With the current challenges facing the Department,
they will have their work cut out for them.”

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been plagued by scandal over the past year,
including, most recently:
• An unprecedented public attack by Commissioner Kim Thorburn on research that the
Department’s preeminent team of carnivore biologists published on state cougar densities.
Thorburn’s voiced her critique in a letter published in a wildlife journal this month, putting
the researchers in the uncomfortable position of having to publicly rebuke the
Commissioner for her inaccurate statements and poor understanding of scientific concepts.
• The resignation of Commissioner Fred Koontz in December, who left after he was targeted
by extremist groups and his own colleagues, including Commissioner Thorburn.
Commissioner Koontz’s resignation letter described a Commission that has “largely lost
the ability to have civil public conversations.”
• A devastating 2021 report by the state auditor, revealing a Department in which unethical
and illegal activity is common, bullying and discrimination are rampant, supervisors are
not held accountable, management frequently makes political decisions that ignore
science, and leadership retaliates against employees who report wrongdoing.
• Recent poaching charges filed against one of the Department’s regional directors, who
admitted to the charge, but remains in office without any disciplinary action.


“We hope these three new appointees will bring much needed dignity, decorum, and integrity to
the Commission, along with a commitment to Department reform,” Bruegger said. “For too long,
many of the Department’s dedicated biologists, enforcement officers, and other employees have
struggled to do their jobs under intolerable conditions. This situation must be corrected
immediately, not only for the sake of those employees, but for our state’s fish and wildlife.”

Fight WA Senate Bills 5721 & HB 2027 now! Bad for the Environment!

Washington State Senators Van de Wege (D) and Salomon (D -32) have put forward a bill (SB 5721) along with Representatives Chapman (D) and Tharinger (D) (HB2027) to either consolidate or study the idea of consolidating the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Parks Department into the Department of Natural Resources and give the current head of DNR, Commissioner of Public Lands (CPL) Hilary Franz, total control over our parks, fish and wildlife as well as DNR.

How did this bill get put out into the legislature? What was the impetus for this? ( In the past, sometimes these efforts were snuck in so as to get new proposals by the leadership into the public view.) Who actually is behind getting these bills to rural Democratic legislators? Why did they support this without consulting with environmental organizations and their members that contribute to their campaigns? Why has there been zero coverage on an issue of this magnitude in the Olympia and Seattle press? There are far more questions than answers.

The House bill, to be clear, it’s not advocating the same thing as the Senate Bill, but calls for a task force to look into the possibility of changing the structure of WDFW. While it is not technically a companion bill it opens the door to some kind of compromise that might start the process if they sneak out of committee.

Some of what this may be about, could be the legislature attempting to insert itself into the ongoing controversy at the wildlife commission and WDFW in specific. This news outlet has reported about that controversy in the last month.

DNR exists to make money off our forests for public schools, fights fires, and leases our shorelines to aquaculture. Currently out of 78% of timber sales, DNR only funnels a small fraction for school construction. Hilary Franz has done a very good job of fighting fires in the last two years, but has done a terrible job at leasing public shorelines. Just in the last year, she allowed a commercial aquaculture business to lease and expand into the Dungeness National Refuge, a move opposed by environmentalists (and the Refuge management) here on the Peninsula. Her leases to aquaculture have lost in court battles in the last two years, as environmental groups have successfully fought to show that the leases were made without a clear understanding of the damage being done to the shoreline. DNR is currently being sued by prominent environmental organizations. When a reporter asked her about the Dungeness lease, she claimed she did not even know what he was talking about. Is this the kind of oversight that we want for our Parks and Fish and Wildlife department? While there is plenty to criticize in WDFW and also many dedicated employees and programs that do good works, this proposal seems to be something to kill before it gets to be a bigger problem.

The hearing on the Senate bill is Tuesday at 1:30. You can weigh in yourself right now, at the following link.

Here’s the link to sign up:   https://app.leg.wa.gov/CSI/Senate
When you get to the page, select the first committee “Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks”.  Then select January 25th and then SB 5721. Unless you want to testify as an individual, select “I would like my position noted for the legislative record” – when you click on that link, it will take you to the page to select your position “Pro, Con, Other” and then type in your name, address, etc.

The hearing on the House Bill is on Wednesday the 26th at 10 AM. This is sponsored by Representative Tharinger and Chapman. The link to weigh in is also on the state website.

Follow the instructions for the Senate bill above.

The Clallam County Democrats are holding a “Let’s Talk” meeting on Wednesday evening. Part of this is meeting is to discuss re-electing Democrats. This would likely be a very good time to bring this issue up. Sign up by checking back here for the Zoom link: http://www.clallamdemocrats.org/calendar.html

The Jefferson County Democrats meet on Thursday night at 6PM. It would be an appropriate time to make your voice heard there as well.

This is very poor timing because the governor will be appointing 3 new commissioners on Monday – all three are very conservation-minded. Unfortunately, the Senate can take up to a year to approve the appointments (for instance, several appointees on the commission have still not been approved by the Senate, even though they sit on the committee and have already made decisions on behalf of the department/state). In addition, it is a very bad precedent to consolidate these agencies. If this bill goes through, CPL Hilary Franz would appoint the director of WDFW/Parks and also the commissioners, who would then serve in an “advisory” roles. It would give way too much power to current and future CPL. Can you imagine what would happen if Republicans take back the position of DNR (an elected position) and put in someone who has an agenda to commercialize the Parks? Given her background in giving up the Refuge to aquaculture, could we rule out that Hilary would not do such a thing either?

This newsletter is not alone in it’s point of view. Long time Olympic Forest Coalition board president Connie Gallant, who has promoted the highly popular Wild Olympics legislation, is strongly opposed to this move.According to Connie, the board of OFCO has also taken an official stance against the bill. We have also been told that the Washington Environmental Council has also decided to take a stand against the bill(s) and will be adding this to their “Hot List” this week.

Sallie Harrison a long time local environmentalist, summed it up as follows:

“DNR cannot even do their own job correctly. Most all of their logging projects result in short-term disasters ( landslides, habitat loss in both land and aquatic settings) and long-term produce a shocking amount of problems with ecosystem degradation and associated wildlife demise. There is no way such a plan (i.e. the Senate Bill) could result in anything but a gigantic, moribund State Agency with no coherent means of carrying out the missions of the two absorbed agencies mentioned, yet alone correct it’s own long-standing deficiencies.


If reform is felt to be needed at WDFW and/or the State Parks, then the State Leg and the Gov’s office can deal with those existing agencies. DNR has it’s own desperately needed reform issues, as current lawsuits against it illustrate. “

Thanks to Connie Gallant for her initial work on bringing this issue to our attention and others who have sent in information clarifying these bills in the last few hours.

Olympic Audubon bird count report

The report is out for the Christmas Audubon Bird Count. This annual event is extremely important in monitoring the birds of our area. There are a few surprises and also some birds that were missing from the count that had been there over the decades. Read up and join up if you like to get out and enjoy birds and the outdoors!

olympicpeninsulaaudubon.org/blog/2021-christmas-bird-count-results

No shortage of questions to be answered for regions shrinking Orca population – Skagit Valley Herald

The money has been spent on the studies, now we need to save the fish that they eat. That, will be incredibly harder. We are in a race against time.


While scientists, wildlife managers and others continue to untangle the complex web of fish, boat and water quality issues that affect the health of Southern Resident orca whales, the population remains endangered — and continues to shrink. The National Marine Fisheries Service published a five-year review of the species on Jan. 4 in which it recommended the orca’s status under the federal Endangered Species Act remain unchanged. The species uses West Coast and Salish Sea habitat and eats the region’s salmon. Despite billions of dollars spent and dozens of studies authored since the Southern Resident orca was listed as endangered in 2005, there are now 15 fewer whales than there were in 2005. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

“No shortage of questions to be answered” for region’s shrinking orca population 

Hearing today on HB 1661:  Conserving and restoring kelp forests and eelgrass meadows in Washington state.

If you want to participate or weigh in with written comments, now is the time.

https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1661&Year=2021&Initiative=false

·         Directs DNR to develop a kelp forest and eelgrass health and conservation plan, which the agency should do with Tribal Nations and other agencies like WDFW.

·         Kelp forests and eelgrass meadows provide important habitat for juvenile salmon and other aquatic species.

Event: Sierra Club Conversation with OFCO Staff

January 20th, 7:00 PM

OFCO’s president Connie Gallant and Executive Director Patricia Jones will discuss the historic “All the People” case (Conservation Northwest, Washington Environmental Council, Olympic Forest Coalition, et. al. v. Franz), now before the Washington Supreme Court. The case challenges DNR’s narrow interpretation of Washington’s Constitution and federal law in managing trust forest lands. Central to this is whether DNR’s sole fiduciary responsibility is to generate revenue from timber sales or whether it has other obligations to Washington citizens not now being met (e.g., mitigating the adverse effects of climate change).

Register here.

https://act.sierraclub.org/events/details?formcampaignid=7013q000002GMDwAAO

Hottest ocean temperatures in history recorded last year – The Guardian

Not great news for those hoping to protect our oceans from the ravages of humankind. Sixth consecutive year. Whatever can be done to slow this must. While we are a small island of calm in the midst of this, nevertheless we cannot escape it. Forest fires, smoke, heat waves like last summer, acidifying oceans affecting sea food output etc. are all ahead.

“Last year saw a heat record for the top 2,000 meters of all oceans around the world, despite an ongoing La Niña event, a periodic climatic feature that cools waters in the Pacific. The 2021 record tops a stretch of modern record-keeping that goes back to 1955. The second hottest year for oceans was 2020, while the third hottest was 2019.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/11/oceans-hottest-temperatures-research-climate-crisis

Return of the Fish Farming Zombies

Though a stake was driven through the heart of the Cooke Aquaculture zombie a few years ago (with the help of the same tribe that now is in a joint venture with them!) they have returned and managed to get the State Supreme Court to side with them, with the help of the State Department of Fish and Wildlife (who neglected to properly monitor their pens that collapsed) allowing them to open for business again in the Port Angeles harbor and over near Cyprus Island. (and I would assume elsewhere).

From the Skagit Valley Herald:
The state Supreme Court published a unanimous decision by its nine judges Thursday to uphold the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s approval of steelhead farming in Puget Sound. The environment groups Wild Fish Conservancy, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and Friends of the Earth have been fighting the state’s decision to allow steelhead farming since early 2020. At issue is the plan of international seafood company Cooke Aquaculture to switch from raising nonnative Atlantic salmon at net pens in the region to raising native steelhead trout at the facilities. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

https://www.goskagit.com/news/environment/state-supreme-court-oks-steelhead-farming/article_2d16762e-56b6-5906-8b01-63ca1b534e67.html

But… let’s look at the details, that the wider press did not address. Here is the summary from the State Supreme Court website.

The Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) challenged the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) approval of a permit that allowed Cooke Aquaculture Pacific LLC to change fish species to commercially farm steelhead trout in Puget Sound. The WFC alleged: (1) WDFW’s conclusion that an environmental impact statement (EIS) was not required was clearly erroneous; and (2) WDFW violated the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) by failing to consider and disclose appropriate alternatives to the proposal under RCW 43.21C.030(2)(e). The WFC asked the Washington Supreme Court to reverse the permit approval and order WDFW to complete an EIS. The superior court found WDFW’s SEPA analysis was not clearly erroneous and the steelhead permit application did not trigger RCW 43.21C.030(2)(e). Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed.

What the courts have confirmed were:

  • The EIS not being required was a correct decision.
    • This just means that the EIS was not required for reestablishing a fish farm. I personally disagree with this part of the ruling, but it does not seem to say that if you start a new fish farm, that you do not have to do an EIS.
  • That WDFW did not violate the SEPA.
    • That part was open to interpretation, clearly.

There are still places to fight Cooke, at the local and county levels. But given that farming steelhead is a net new industry, I can see some possible openings moving forward. Any notion that the lack of proper monitoring of the failed pens by WDFW would lead to greater oversite by them seems to have gone out the window with this decision. They weren’t even willing to demand an EIS… It’s ironic, that given the battle that Tribes have made for eating wild salmon, that Jamestown S’Klallam and others are willing to back fish farming locally. What do you make of that?

Bottom line, we cannot trust the Dept of Fish and Wildlife, nor some Tribes, to protect us from commercialization of the Sound for profit. if you don’t like the notion of eating farmed fish, with their feedlot like use of mass feeding and the impact to the bottom by having tens of thousands of fish congregated together, then boycott eating them and demand that your local fish markets do too. The impact to the wider community of wildlife in the Salish Sea will need to be seen as they reopen these destructive fish pens.

By the way, if you want to know how bad it can get here, just look at Chile. They are in the process of reviewing and possibly moving hundreds of salmon farms that have been allowed to proliferate off their coasts. The 270 applications are in addition to the hundreds that already exist. This was helped by the election of a young socialist candidate that has said he is going to help the indigenous people regain their ocean.

According to the presentation, made in the senate by Subpesca Head of the Aquaculture Division Eugenio Zamorano, Subpesca estimates that some 500 salmon concessions should be relocated, out of a total of 1,320 that the industry operates, with plans to merge some farming centers. (emphasis is mine)

https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/aquaculture/chile-s-subpesca-plans-to-relocate-500-salmon-concessions-as-questions-continue-over-sector-sustainability

Are we going to end up with hundreds of farms all over the Sound? It’s up to you.

WA legislators pondering kelp protection

Kelp is a critical part of the marine habitat. Kelp has been in decline across the Salish Sea, with few exceptions. Now, after a number of years monitoring the kelp beds (some done by the local volunteers of the Marine Resources Committees) a new bill has been put forward to the legislature this year to protect it. Worth weighing in with your support at the State web site. https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5619&Year=2021&Initiative=false

Marine Resources Volunteer surveying kelp bed. Photo by Al Bergstein

It’s Senate Bill 5619 (sponsored by Senators Lovelett, Conway, Das, Hasegawa, Nobles, Pedersen, Randall, Rolfes, Saldaña, Stanford, Van De Wege, and C. Wilson; by request of Department of Natural Resources.

House bill is 1661 sponsored by Representatives Shewmake, Ryu, Berry, Fitzgibbon, Ramel, Springer, Duerr, Walen, Callan, Goodman, Paul, Peterson, Ramos, Rule, Simmons, Slatter, Tharinger, Kloba, Pollet, and Harris-Talley; by request of Department of Natural Resources

Here’s an edited version of the bill.

AN ACT Relating to conserving and restoring kelp forests and eelgrass meadows in Washington state; adding a new section to chapter 79.135 RCW; and creating a new section.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1. (1) The legislature finds that coastal ecosystems and marine vegetation provide an array of valuable ecosystem goods and services to deep water and nearshore environments in Puget Sound and along the coastline. In particular, kelp forests and eelgrass meadows act as three dimensional foundations for diverse and productive nearshore ecosystems, supporting food webs and providing important habitat for a wide array of marine life, including orcas and threatened and endangered salmon and salmonid species. These marine forests and meadows play an important role in climate mitigation and adaptation by sequestering carbon and relieving ocean acidification. Marine vegetation can sequester up to 20 times more carbon than terrestrial forests, and therefore represent a critical tool in the fight against climate change.(2) Washington state is home to 22 species of kelp and is a global hotspot for kelp diversity. However, these kelp forests are under threat and have declined in recent decades.

A 2018 study conducted by the Samish Indian Nation on the bull kelp beds in the San Juan Islands found a 305-acre loss of kelp beds from 2006 to 2016, a 36 percent decline in one decade. A statewide study published in 2021 by the department of natural resources found that compared to the earliest baseline in 1878, the amount of bull kelp in 2017 had decreased by 63 percent in south Puget Sound, with individual areas showing up to 96 percent loss.(3) The legislature also finds that kelp and eelgrass have important cultural value to northwest tribal nations and have provided diverse marine resources that have sustained and inspired indigenous traditions over generations. In particular, bull kelp has played a prominent role in traditional knowledge and technology and is used in fishing, hunting, and food preparation and storage.

Decline in kelp forests threatens these uses, and the cultural livelihoods of coast Salish peoples.(4) Washington state’s eelgrass meadows also provide vital habitat for many organisms, including nursery habitat for juvenile salmon and feeder fish. Eelgrass also helps prevent erosion and maintain shoreline stability by anchoring seafloor sediment with its spreading roots and rhizomes. Eelgrass is used as an indicator of estuary health, because of its fast response to changes in water quality.

Examples of rapid eelgrass loss include Westcott Bay in San Juan county, where in 2000 there were 37 acres of eelgrass meadows and 20 years later less than one acre remains. Changes in the abundance or distribution of this resource are likely to reflect changes in environmental conditions and therefore are key species to monitor and protect to ensure marine ecosystem health.

Kelp forests and eelgrass meadows also provide and enhance diverse recreational opportunities, including productive fishing and picturesque kayaking and diving. These activities are important for local economies and for promoting strong senses of place and overall human well-being in communities. There is a need for greater education and outreach to communities to promote sustainable recreational practices in and near kelp forests and eelgrass meadows.

Existing regional plans for conservation of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows, including the Puget Sound kelp conservation and recovery plan (2020) and the Puget Sound eelgrass recovery strategy (2015), identify the need to prioritize areas for conservation and restoration based on historical and current distributions.

The legislature further finds that our terrestrial and marine ecosystems are interlinked and the state must be proactive in conserving our resources from trees to seas by protecting and restoring our marine forests and meadows in concert with conservation and reforestation of terrestrial forests. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to conserve and restore 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows by

2040.NEW SECTION.  

Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 79.135 RCW to read as follows:

(1) The department shall, consistent with this section, and subject to available funding, work with partners to establish a kelp forest and eelgrass meadow health and conservation plan that endeavors to, by the year 2040, conserve and restore at least 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows. The plan should proactively and systematically address:(a) The potential loss of kelp forest and eelgrass meadow habitat throughout Puget Sound and along the Washington state coastline; and(b) Potential current and future stressors related to the decline of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows.

(2) The department shall develop the plan, in collaboration with partners, to assess and prioritize areas for coordinated conservation and restoration actions. The plan must consist of the following elements: Assessment and prioritization; identifying coordinated actions and success measures; monitoring; and reporting.(a) The department shall, together with partners, develop a framework to identify and prioritize kelp forest areas in greatest need of conservation or restoration. The framework must incorporate:(i) Conservation of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows. Utilize and build on existing research to map and prioritize areas of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows throughout Puget Sound and along the coast that are at highest risk of permanent loss, or contribute significant environmental, economic, and cultural benefits to tribal nations and local communities, including salmon recovery and water quality, and where opportunities for partnership and collaboration can accelerate progress towards the goal, and develop criteria by which an acre of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows can be considered to be conserved or restored;(ii) Map and prioritize kelp forest and eelgrass meadow areas throughout Puget Sound and along the coast where they were historically present, identifying priority locations for restoration, and where opportunities for partnership and collaboration exist that will accelerate progress towards the goal. This should include identification of sites where restoration may be possible and would most benefit nearshore ecosystem function, including where restoration could also support healthy kelp forests and eelgrass meadows, salmon recovery, water quality, and other ecosystem benefits;(iii) Identify potential stressors impacting the health and vitality of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows in prioritized areas in order to specifically address them in conservation and restoration efforts.(b) The department shall collaborate with impacted tribal nations, and other local and regional partners, to address conservation and restoration needs in the priority areas and the appropriate tools and partnerships to address them. In developing coordinated actions and success measures, the department shall:(i) Conduct an assessment and inventory of existing tools relevant to conserving and restoring kelp forests and eelgrass meadows and reducing stressors related to their decline;(ii) Identify new or amended tools that would support the goals of the plan created under this section; and(iii) Identify success measures to track progress toward the conservation and restoration goal.

(3)(a) By December 1, 2022, the department must submit a report in compliance with RCW 43.01.036 to the office of financial management and the appropriate committees of the legislature, that includes a map and justification of identified priority areas, determines an approach to monitoring the kelp forest and eelgrass meadow areas that are meeting the criteria for conservation or restoration established in the plan, and describe activities to be undertaken consistent with the plan. The kelp forest and eelgrass meadow health and conservation plan must be finalized and submitted to the office of financial management and the appropriate committees of the legislature by December 1, 2023.(b) Subsequently, each biennium, the department shall continue to monitor the distributions and trends of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows to inform adaptive management of the plan and coordinated partner actions. The department shall submit a report to the legislature that describes the kelp forest and eelgrass meadow conservation priority areas, and monitoring approaches and findings, including success measures established in the plan. Beginning December 1, 2024, and by December 1st of each even-numbered year thereafter, the department shall provide the appropriate committees of the legislature and the office of financial management with:(i) An updated map of distributions and trends, and summary of success measures and findings, including relevant information from the prioritization process;(ii) An updated list summarizing potential stressors, prioritized areas, and corresponding coordinated actions and success measures. The summary must include any barriers to plan implementation and legislative or administrative recommendations to address those barriers;(iii) An update on the number of acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows conserved by region, including restoration or loss in priority areas; and(iv) An update on consultation with impacted tribal nations and local communities by region.

(4) In developing the plan, the department shall:(a) Consult impacted communities using the community engagement plan developed under RCW 70A.02.050; and(b) Invite input from federally recognized tribal nations on kelp forests and eelgrass meadows with important cultural and ecological values that are threatened by urbanization or other disturbances.

Ediz Hook enhanced for salmon, public use – NWTTM

Here’s an update on the work at Ediz Hook in Port Angeles by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. They have been removing debris from the shore and planting eel grass to renew the nearshore habitat for fish and other species.

Below the surface, the tribe and partners Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Washington Sea Grant have been restoring eelgrass beds on the sand spit’s south shore for the past four years, with greater success than expected

Northwest Treaty Tribes January 2022

Read the whole story here. https://nwtreatytribes.org/publications/magazine/

Good news, bad news for whale sightings in 2021

Reports in from Pacific Whale Watch Association that whale sightings were up was reported in The Canadian press, (CBC), as good news. It is, in totality of sightings for Biggs and humpbacks. But if you read the details, you find that Southern Resident Orcas sightings are actually down. Let’s take what we can of the positive but not be fooled into thinking we have turned around the issue of local residents. As mentioned in the article, the Biggs eat seals and sea lions, which have been overpopulating the area and eating vast amounts of food that competes with the resident southerns. (another way to think of this is that because we have depleted the salmon runs there are fewer fish to feed all the mammals that eat them). This may help balance out the food chain, but we won’t know for a number of years.

… it’s a different story for the endangered Southern Resident whales — the other principal killer whale found in the region — as their sightings dropped to a record low last year. The salmon-eating mammals were documented on just 103 days, or 28 per cent of the year.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/record-whale-sightings-2021-1.6311282

Read the whole story here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/record-whale-sightings-2021-1.6311282

How do we stop tire debris from killing coho? NWTTM

Over the last decade science done at the UW has identified a chemical in our tires that leaches out as we drive and ends up killing salmon when it runs off into the lakes, rivers and bays of Puget Sound. This issue will require billions of dollars to fix, just as the culvert problem, created over the last 100 years of road building has done. But it must be done if we are to save coho in our waters.

This article, in the Northwest Treaty Tribes magazine does a good job of updating us on the issue and what is being done about it now.

We need to deal with these impacts immediately by filtering 6PPD-Q from
stormwater before it enters the water. The Nisqually Tribe is working with McIntyre, Long Live the Kings and the state Department of Transportation to develop a compostable biofiltration system on
Highway 7 where it crosses Ohop Creek. If we are successful, similar systems could be retrofitted along all roadways to remove this lethal, toxic chemical.

Northwest Treaty Tribes Magazine -2022 January

Read the whole story here: https://nwtreatytribes.org/publications/magazine/

WA Legislators prepare for long list of climate change bills – Crosscut and others

As we start the 2022 legislative session, there’s a lot of new bills to follow.

Lawmakers could look at more than a dozen climate proposals addressing carbon reduction and other environmental issues

https://crosscut.com/politics/2022/01/wa-legislators-prepare-long-list-climate-change-bills

Also there is a parallel and somewhat overlapping set of bills followed by the Environmental Environmental Priorities Coalition. They are a coalition of over twenty leading environmental groups who lobby in Olympia on a regular basis and organize around a set of priority bills each legislative session.  They established four to be their highest priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session, they are listed below.  As in the past, they will be sending out a weekly “Hot List” to assist in your efforts to promote this common agenda.

The key priorities for the environmental caucus, as defined by the Washington Environmental Council and other allies:

2022 Priorities

Lorraine Loomis Act for Salmon Recovery (SB 5727 / HB 1838): Across the state, salmon are on the brink of extinction. Some Puget Sound salmon species have declined by 90% compared to historical populations. In the Columbia River basin, returns are as little as 2% of historical levels. The Governor is proposing habitat legislation as a tribute to Lorraine Loomis (Swinomish Tribe, and Chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission) longtime champion for the salmon. The Act requires tree buffers tall and wide enough to shade rivers and streams. The Act also requires shifting to a standard of improving ecological conditions rather than habitat loss mitigation.

Transportation for All: We need to fund a transportation system that reduces pollution and can support a range of transportation solutions including improving multimodal transportation choices, such as biking, driving, and public transit. Transportation dollars must be used in ways that deliver the best investments possible to help build a more efficient, affordable, and clean transportation system for all.

GMA Sprawl Loophole (SB 5042): The current sprawl loophole undermines the intent of the Growth Management Act (GMA) by allowing counties to subvert the Growth Management Hearing Board (GMHB) appeals process to illegally build sprawling developments that devours farmlands, forests, and critical habitats. The loophole locks in outdated rules, and puts a financial strain on jurisdictions to provide adequate infrastructure, facilities, and services to new developments.

RENEW Act (SB 5697): All across Washington, plastic waste litters Washington’s shorelines and waterways, filling landfills to capacity, and harming wildlife. Our recycling system needs to be modernized so packaging can actually be recycled, composted, or reused. The Renew Recycling Act addresses this waste by creating a set of graduated fees on packaging manufacturers based on how readily reusable, compostable, or recyclable their products are. These fees will be used to fund improvements in infrastructure, uniform access for residents across the state, and a clear list of what people can recycle. This bill will have the added benefit of shifting recycling costs away from ratepayers and onto the manufacturers.

The Puget Sound Partnership Agenda

Buy Clean & Buy Fair (HB 1103 / SB 5366): Washington has an important role to play through investing in locally sourced materials, manufactured in facilities with high labor standards and minor environmental impact. The policy creates a reporting system with vital information on the environmental and labor impacts of structural materials used in state-funded infrastructure projects. During the 2021 session, the legislature funded the creation of a publicly accessible database to enable reporting and promote transparency. Passing Buy Clean and Buy Fair legislation sends a clear market signal of the growing demand for ethically-made low-carbon goods. (Partner: Blue Green Alliance)

Energy for All (HB 1490): Secure access to energy is crucial to keeping Washington residents healthy, safe, learning, working, and thriving, and will facilitate a Just Transition to clean energy. The Governor and Utilities and Transportation Commission moratoriums on shut-offs helped sustain residential energy service in Washington and protected the public. But these protections are temporary and utilities are already seeking to collect on debt. This legislation establishes access to home energy as a basic need and an essential resource that should be accessed in full dignity without uncertainty about affordability and threats of disconnection. (Partner: Front & Centered)

Also, you can track environmental bills here:

and here:

Extreme Weather Threatens Salmon Recovery – NWTT Newsletter

More data coming in on the toll on salmon of last summer’s record hot weather.

After last summer’s record high temperatures and low water flow, Lummi Natural Resources staff discovered about 2,500 dead adult chinook in the South Fork Nooksack River.

Northwest Treaty Tribes Winter 2002

The NWTT newsletter is a great resource for stories on salmon recovery and other Salish Sea marine issues. This month, they include:

  • How do we stop tire debris from killing salmon?
  • Tribal Hatchery story
  • European Green Crab update
  • How beach restoration benefits Salmon and the Public
  • And the article on Climate Change Threatens Salmon Recovery

Check it out and sign up to get it yourself! Or keep reading here on the Olympic Peninsula Environmental News and we’ll give you the short story.

Welcome to 2022 – King tides takes out shoreline homes and businesses in the Salish Sea

In a grand “Climate Change” welcome to 2022 King tides moved into the Salish Sea along with a major storm front. The outcome was widespread destruction across a huge swath of the shorelines, from the South Sound up through British Columbia. This is just a taste of what’s ahead, as we await the break off of a huge glacier in Antarctica, and it’s subsequent melt down, which will add to sea level rise. If you have a home or business on the shoreline, now is a good time to reconsider your long term options.

Let’s do a quick overview. If there is only one thing to see, watch this video that was posted by a homeowner from Blaine on Twitter.

And KUOW coverage opens with a scary photo of a neighborhood built on the “wrong side of the tracks”.

KUOW – Sea level on steroids: Record tides flood Washington coastlines

The CBC covered the British Columbia story.

B.C. coastal communities assess damage, look to future after king tides, extreme weather wreak havoc | CBC News

This does not even begin to cover the amount of businesses that have docks that may have been destroyed, nor the simple flooding that may have occurred.

I have watched with disbelief over the last decades as more and more luxury homes have been built on spits in Puget Sound. Some examples? Three Tree Point in South King County. A more recent one in is Miller Bay near Indianola. Let’s look! These houses are really expensive and right at sea level!

Image by Google Earth

Or how about our own Beckett Point in Jefferson County?

Image by Google Earth

Beckett Point is no stranger to flooding. It was wiped out in the 1930s by a massive wind storm. Back then it was just fishing shacks but those were replaced by homes. Bottom line, these people are living on a sandspit, at sea level, and likely their home owners insurance is provided by the Federal Government because there is no way they could afford to pay for private insurance, even if it’s available. Choosing to live here, while incredibly beautiful and usually no problem, is and will continue to be challenging.

Want to add your own and track more vulnerable communities on the Sound? Go to my little project on Google Earth. https://earth.google.com/earth/d/1ZiX9tu1nnWs16-Lwnm4CORazbgPMJJ5H?usp=sharing

It is worth remembering that these homeowners get federal insurance to live here, so our tax dollars go to help continue this behavior. Please make sure that you let our elected officials know that with rising costs due to sea level rise, we cannot continue to subsidize everyone who lives on the shore. Now is the time to end this practice and let these homeowners bear the full cost of their decision (and it is also the decision of the local land use officials and county officials).

I’ve left out the massive flooding all over western Washington and British Columbia in the last 60 days, along with wildfires in December in Colorado, and massive super tornadoes in Kentucky (can you picture a tornado 250 miles long? with winds of 94 MPH sustained over four hours and 24 minutes?). Global warming is upon us and our best situation is to begin making changes to issues like insurance and infrastructure to mitigate the worse that is yet to come in future decades.

China’s Surprisingly Robust System of Marine Protection -Hakai Magazine

Very important story out of Canada about the publication of news that China has quietly implemented a large number Marine Sanctuaries along the coasts. Given their over-fishing of most if not all their available stocks this might be a sign of a significant effort to reverse that destruction.

China, as the world’s largest producer and consumer of seafood, is well known for its voracious international fishing fleet. But a comprehensive understanding of the country’s efforts on marine protection, at least in its domestic waters, has remained elusive—even to many experts within China. Now, an international group of researchers has compiled the first database of marine conservation efforts in the country, and it is more extensive than many expected.

https://hakaimagazine.com/news/chinas-surprisingly-robust-system-of-marine-protection/

Event: WA DOE air monitoring listening session on Jan 20th- Sign up now.

There is an upcoming listening session that the Washington State Department of Ecology is holding. As part of the recently passed “Climate Commitment Act,” Ecology is looking to promote environmental justice and equity. One way we are looking to do this is by expanding air quality monitoring in overburdened communities. There will be two steps in this process:

1)      Identifying a set of overburdened communities.

2)      Installing new air quality monitors in those communities.

Ecology will be holding a listening session to hear from communities on January 20th starting at 6 PM. More information regarding this listening session and a link to register can be found here:https://ecology.wa.gov/Blog/Posts/December-2021/Clearer-skies-ahead.

You can read up more about the Climate Commitment Act here (there is a short discussion on the environmental justice piece): https://ecology.wa.gov/Air-Climate/Climate-change/Reducing-greenhouse-gases/Climate-Commitment-Act.

Please forward along to anyone who may have interest.

Shingo Yamazaki

Washington State Department of Ecology

Solid Waste Management Program, Industrial Section

PO Box 47600

Olympia, Washington 98504

syam461@ECY.WA.GOV

Congress Authorizes PFAS Testing at Military Facilities Throughout US -Whidbey Naval Base Included- MartenLaw.com

This has been an known ongoing issue with the Navy base, poisoning water supplies on Whidbey Island. The $500 million should help identify where this is happening and what can be done about it. The hidden costs of our “sound of freedom” as some promoters of the base would like to call it, creates poisoned ecosystems, ear splitting noise even inside insulated classrooms for children, and many other costs. Another sound of freedom is also the roll call in Congress to fund this activity.



By Jonah Brown

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (“FY22 NDAA”),
signed by the President on December 27, 2021, directs the Department of
Defense (“DoD”) to test for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (also
known as “PFAS”) at military sites throughout the country. A map of
formerly used defense sites can be found here: Former Sites
https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Formerly-Used-Defense-Sites/FUDS-GIS/.
A map of current military installations can be found here: Active Sites
https://militarybases.com/. DoD must begin its assessment with a report to
Congress on the status of 50 priority current and former sites within 60 days
of the effective date, meaning the end of February. A map showing the
locations of these sites can be viewed at the end of this article.

Groundwater contamination from use of PFAS-containing aqueous film-forming
foam (“AFFF”) has already been discovered at hundreds of current and
former DoD facilities, including military airports, National Guard bases, and
installations controlled by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The
FY22 NDAA provides $500 million in funding to DoD to fulfill Congress’
direction to test for PFAS.
Read More

https://www.martenlaw.com/news-and-insights/congress-authorizes-pfas-testing-at-military-facilities-throughout-us
%d bloggers like this: