Briefing: Legislative Priorities Lobby Days

From the newly named Washington Conservation Action organization.

Join us at Washington Conservation Action for our first, action-packed virtual briefing of 2023! 

What: Insider Briefing: Legislative Priorities, Lobby Days & our New Brand
When: Friday, February 10th, 1-2PM
How to Join: Via Zoom 

RSVP here to receive Zoom meeting link and login details 

As of January 1st, our former organizations Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters have joined forces to become Washington Conservation Action! We’ll kick off this briefing with a short update from Communications Director Zachary Pullin, who will share the latest about our new name and brand and answer your questions. From that point, we’ll dive right in and provide you with an insider peek on the work at hand.

With the 2023 legislative session in full swing, our Government Affairs Director, Darcy Nonemacher, will talk about our priorities in this long legislative session, how they build on previous environmental wins in the last few sessions and share her insights. Then they’ll provide an overview and sneak peek of Environmental Lobby Days 2023, which will be held on February 14-16th. They’ll share why this annual coming together of activists and advocates concerned about Washington’s environment is so important, provide a preview into the online sessions we’ll be offering, and offer thoughts on why you should get involved. Zachary, Darcy and I are excited to give you the inside scoop, so please join us! 

Kat  
Kat Holmes (she/her) 
Field Director
Washington Conservation Action
Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters are now Washington Conservation Action.

SeaDoc Society calls for proposals.

The transboundary SeaDoc Society is once again calling for proposals that will support improved Salish Sea health or management. This year there are two grant opportunities: an Open RFP with an initial Letter of Intent (LOI) step, and a second RFP for Tribes & First Nations that does not require an LOI (deadline . The ceiling for all awards is $50K. Open RFP LOIs due Feb 1; the full proposal deadline for both RFPs is March 15. (SeaDoc Society)

The battle of sea lice and salmon goes on

An update on the battle to remove fish farms from Canada. The industry denies it’s a problem here, 100 miles south…

  • Increased sea lice infestations, scientists say are caused by salmon farms, threaten the already-vulnerable wild Pacific salmon populations in western Canada, worrying conservationists and First Nations.
  • Three First Nations in the region are now deciding on the future of open net pen Atlantic salmon farms dotting the channels and waterways in and around their territories. They hope their decisions will pave the way to protect wild salmon, a culturally important species.
  • So far, ten farms have been closed and the future of seven farms are to be decided this year, in 2023.
  • The impact of the closure of the farms on sea lice and wild salmon populations is still unclear, say scientists, and more time to monitor the data is needed.

As sea lice feast away on dwindling salmon, First Nations decide the fate of salmon farms (mongabay.com)

Swelling school of seaweed farmers looking to anchor in Northwest waters – Salish Current

There is so much more to this issue. Are we really wanting to trade off our waters for animal feed or fertilizer? Better speak up now.


Prospective kelp growers who want to join the handful of existing commercial seaweed farms in the Pacific Northwest are having to contend with a lengthy permitting process. It’s gotten contentious in a few cases, but even so, at least a couple of new seaweed farms stand on the cusp of approval. Their harvests could be sold for human food, animal feed or fertilizer. Tom Banse reports. (NW News Network)  

See also: Can kelp farming help save our marine environment? Richard Arlin Walker reports.

(Salish Current, 10/7/22) 

Ken Balcomb walks on

“It is not enough to have compassion. You must act.” Tenzin Gyatso 14th Dalai Lama

Incredibly sad news this morning that Ken Balcomb, the founder and senior scientist of the Center for Whale Research has passed. His influence on the protection of orcas in the Pacific Northwest cannot be underestimated. He was a giant in the world of whale research and environmental protection. While others may choose to work only on restoration, he was involved in restoration and protection. He didn’t just have compassion for the orca. He acted on it. All too few these days are really acting for protection of our natural world. Ken’s life is an example for all of us.

He will be missed.

Rather than write an obit, here is where you can read about his life and career.

kcb | CWR (whaleresearch.com)

How much of orca decline is in their DNA? – Salish Current

Interesting new study out..

A fully sequenced SRKW genome might also give scientists a look at the genetic variations and immune system genes that are important for the whales’ survival, and offer a better understanding of the population’s history and size prior to European colonization, Ford added. The information could also verify current pedigrees and aid scientists in comparing Southern Residents with Northern Residents and other similar populations that are thriving, to determine what factors are setting them apart.

How much of orca decline is in their DNA? – Salish Current (salish-current.org)

Net Pen Aquaculture Industry Targets DNR’s Hilary Franz

In a series of articles across multiple platforms, the net pen aquaculture industry and their allies have targeted Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Hilary Franz for attack and lawsuits after her controversial decision to end net pen aquaculture of Atlantic salmon in Puget Sound and Hood Canal.

Posts on LinkedIn (which does not allow critical rebuttal) by Jeanne McKnight, a PR specialist that works for the aquaculture industry, along with articles in SeaWestNews about the benefits of net pen aquaculture point to a new attack on Franz by the industry. Past Chairman of the Pacific Aquaculture Caucus Peter Becker also weighs in with his opinion in a long reply to McKnight’s original post.

The articles and posts point out that Franz came from a law degree background and not the “fisheries science industry”, so as not to be capable of deciding for an industry that has long been in the driver’s seat regarding influencing the regulators charged with regulating them. Cooke did an excellent job in the past of dividing to conquer the regulators by helping legislate multiple agencies to regulate multiple aspects of each farm, ending in a fiasco of collapsing nets due to poor maintenance and escaped fish. Franz rightly decided that Cooke should be banned from the near shore waters and shorelines of the State because of that incompetence. Her agency is charged with protecting those wild stock resources (along with other agencies).

The articles also raise smear tactics based on her decision by saying she ‘cherry picked’ the tribes in support of her decision (not even notifying the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe who are partnering with Cooke Aquaculture for a sable fish net pen in Port Angeles harbor). This blog believes that Franz will exempt the Jamestown in the near future and allow them to create net pens for black cod as long as Cooke is not part of the business model.

All these are desperate tactics by an industry under attack both here and in Canada. The long-time work of Dr. Alexandra Morton in Canada, raised scientifically valid hypothesis and proofs over and over again that the industry is partially if not fully responsible for the collapse of wild stocks in many rivers in Western British Columbia while the industry takes credit for 97% of Canadian salmon produced being farm raised (as reported in an article in the industry journal SeaWestNews.) That statistic can also be read to mean that since farmed salmon have arrived 97% of wild salmon have vanished. The question is why is that statistic true? Alexandra Mortons’ research, among others such as Dr. Lawrence Dill, point to the reasons that the industry would rather ignore. Viruses from the farms as well as sea lice coming from the pens that are co-located in passages that the wild salmon have to traverse. The industry here claims that sea lice are not the problem that they are in B.C.

The reality is that this issue is not over yet, though Commissioner Franz’ decision (political though it may be) is not without the possibility of challenge in the courts. Washington State Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (not DNR) having lost a limited case ruling in the Washington State Supreme Court in a unanimous decision that only dealt with whether or not the permit for Cooke had met SEPA standards, the industry believes DNR may not be on the most solid ground to uphold this new decision. Can they argue that the decision was arbitrary and capricious? The industry also sees this as a test to save the geoduck aquaculture industry from a similar fate, as many of the same issues raised in this case could be applied by environmentalists to the near shore. Actually, they already have been but have not yet found the political support to stop the ongoing destruction of our shorelines by geoduck aquaculture illegally supported by both DNR and the Army Corps of Engineers (as decided in recent court battles lost by both agencies. )

Don’t go popping champagne bottles just yet, as we have not seen the end of the industry as it relates to this issue. The arc of justice may be finally bending in the way of environmental protection as it relates to the problems of net pen aquaculture, but the industry will do its best to bend it back to profit over wild stocks.

Dept. of Nat. Resources Bans Future Net Pen Aquaculture – Major Win for Environmentalists, Tribes, Salmon & Orcas.

Today, Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz made history when she announced a new groundbreaking executive order that will prohibit commercial net pen aquaculture in Washington state marine waters. During the press conference, a question about the net pen proposed by the joint business venture of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and Cooke Aquaculture to create a net pen to farm Black Cod (Sablefish) was deflected with a mention that Commissioner Franz had been in discussions with them on this issue. It was not clear whether they were not going to be allowed to put the pen in under the Tribe’s name or not. Franz also mentioned that upland farming of salmon would likely be approved by DNR. The industry has long stated that this method is not commercially viable at this time.

This ends a long history of industry “spokespeople”, who have been involved with Marine Resources Committees both in Clallam and Jefferson Counties, touting the benefits of these pens and disrupting anyone coming forward to raise concerns, such as when Professor Dill, a researcher from a distinguished Canadian University came to Port Angeles a few years ago to discuss his scientifically based concerns and was shouted down by industry representatives.

While Commissioner Franz’ concerns about ending destruction of the near shore by these farms could easily be carried over to the nearshore beach destruction by industrial geoduck operations over thousands of acres of beaches throughout the Sound and Hood Canal, there was no discussion of that issue today.

This blog has been a long time critic of Commissioner Franz, due to her seemingly lack of concern over industrial aquaculture in our waters. We welcome and thank her for finally taking strong legal action on this issue. It has been viewed both here on the West Coast, nationally and internationally as a major step towards recovering and protecting our waters.

Press Release from the Wild Fish Conservancy, the major group working to end this policy.



“This new policy was announced earlier today by Commissioner Franz at a press conference on Bainbridge Island overlooking the Rich Passage net pens alongside leaders from Wild Fish Conservancy and Suquamish Tribe. The news comes on the heels of another long-awaited and widely-supported decision announced earlier this week by Commissioner Franz that DNR has refused new decade-long leases to global seafood giant Cooke Aquaculture to continue operating commercial net pens in Puget Sound.

“After the incredible news announced earlier this week, it is almost impossible to believe we are now celebrating an even bigger, groundbreaking victory for our wild salmon, orcas, and the health of Puget Sound,” said Emma Helverson, Executive Director of Wild Fish Conservancy. “By denying new leases to Cooke and bringing forward this comprehensive, bold new policy to prevent commercial net pens from ever operating in Washington marine waters again, Commissioner Franz is ensuring Puget Sound will be protected, not just now, but far into the future for the benefit of generations to come.”

Together, the lease denial and executive order will require Cooke to remove all of their net pen facilities from Puget Sound before the end of year, marking the end of the commercial net pen industry that has operated in Washington state for over 40 years. The benefits of these actions for the recovery of wild fish, water quality, and the greater health of Puget Sound cannot be overstated. Immediately, this action will cease chronic untreated pollution that has been discharged daily at these aquatic sites for over forty years. Finally, these heavily polluted and degraded sites will have the opportunity to heal and begin the process of natural restoration as part of the largest passive restoration project in Washington State.

The decision will also eliminate many major risk factors that harm the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead, including ending the risk of exposure to viruses, parasites, and diseases that are amplified and spread at unnatural levels by massive densities of farmed fish and the risk of future catastrophic escape events in which farmed fish could compete with, attempt to interbreed, or spread pathogens to threatened and endangered wild fish.


DNR’s decision will also restore the public and Tribal access to over 130 acres of Puget Sound that have been restricted by this industry for over forty years. More broadly, Washington’s decision will unite the entire U.S. Pacific Coast in excluding this industry from marine waters. Combined with Canada’s recent commitment to transition open water net pens out of British Columbia waters, this decision also has the potential to eliminate a major limiting factor to wild Pacific salmon recovery at a coastwide, international scale.


“After the news earlier this week, we’ve heard from colleagues all around the world in places like Chile, Tasmania, Scotland, and so many others working to protect their own public waters from the environmental harm of commercial net pen aquaculture,” says Helverson. “Today’s historic decision is setting a new standard that will serve as a model and rallying cry to bolster the efforts of communities and governments around the world working toward this same end and we stand committed to leveraging our massive success to support their efforts.”


Cooke is the same company found at fault for the catastrophic 2017 Cypress Island net pen collapse that released over 260,000 nonnative and viral-infected Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound. Cooke purchased all of Washington’s net pen facilities in 2016 with plans to expand exponentially in Washington waters.

In response to this expansion plan, Wild Fish Conservancy launched the Our Sound, Our Salmon (OSOS) campaign in April 2017 to raise public awareness about the environmental impacts of commercial net pen aquaculture. In 2018, a coalition of over 10,000 individuals and hundreds of businesses and organizations under the banner of OSOS, worked in concert with Tribal efforts, to advocate for Washington’s landmark law banning nonnative Atlantic salmon aquaculture.

In July 2020, in response to Cooke avoiding the ban by transitioning to native species, the OSOS campaign launched a new initiative, Taking Back Our Sound, with the goal of preventing Cooke from receiving new leases. Through this effort, 9,000 individuals and 127 business and organizations called on DNR’s Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz through a petition and direct actions, which included a Bainbridge Island city resolution, to deny new leases to Cooke and to restore Puget Sound for the benefit and use of all. In making her decision over Cooke’s lease request, DNR was required by statute to issue a decision in the best interest of the public.
“It’s clear this victory for wild salmon, orcas, and Puget Sound belongs to no one person or group. Without the separate actions of thousands of individuals, Washington’s Tribal Nations, businesses, organizations, chefs, fishing groups, scientists, elected officials, and so many others working together over the last five years, this would never have been possible,” says Helverson. “It is truly inspiring to see what is possible when the public unifies their voices and works together with the law and science on their side toward the shared goal of a healthier Puget Sound.”

Researchers, growers face the challenge of acidic ocean water -Salish Current

Things are getting worse as it relates to ocean acidification. But as the article points out, we are on the leading edge of trying to find a way forward to save our shellfish. This is global warming in your backyard. There is no time to waste.

Salish Sea waters are acidifying faster than ever before, but researchers in Washington are leading the world in addressing the looming disaster. Rena Kingery reports. (Salish Current)

Enforce Sen. Magnuson’s ‘little amendment’ to protect Salish Sea – Seattle Times

One of the best things that Magnuson ever did was to get this amendment passed. Since the 70s, we have minimized our risks with this law. As the article points out, environmental groups like Friends of the Earth and Friends of the San Juans have been fighting hard for years over the lack of enforcement by the Army Corps of Engineers and others. The Corps, as long-time readers of this blog know, are hell bent to do whatever industry asks of them, including hiding key documents in lawsuits and not upholding the laws when it suits industry. They have proven themselves unworthy of public trust.

A good article that summarizes where we are at with the Magnuson Act some 45 years later.

Enforce Sen. Magnuson’s ‘little amendment’ to protect Salish Sea | The Seattle Times

With cash boost from government, Cascadia Seaweed dives into cattle feed – Times Colonist

As expected, the “environmentally friendly” new industry of seaweed farming that is being promoted for Puget Sound is apparently being used in Canada for, wait for it, producing feed for cattle. No joke. This has got to be one of the worst tradeoffs possible for turning our Salish Sea into a seaweed farm, on top of the never-ending conversion of beaches for aquaculture, etc. If you want to weight in, take this article and write to your state congresspeople, DNR and others and tell them that this is not what we expected in moving into seaweed farming


Sidney-based Cascadia Seaweed has been given $4.3 million by the federal government to establish a 100-hectare seaweed farm and agri-feed processing facility close to Prince Rupert. Cascadia, which combines cultivation expertise, First Nations partnerships and brand development, currently has about 26 hectares of seaweed under cultivation in waters off the province’s coast. Andrew Duffy reports. (Times Colonist)

West Coast gray whale population continues to decline but scientists remain cautiously optimistic -KNKX

The story points out the possibility of this being part of a natural population swing, but…they aren’t sure.


U.S. researchers say the number of gray whales off western North America has continued to fall over the last two years, a decline that resembles previous population swings over the past several decades. According to an assessment by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries released Friday, the most recent count put the population at 16,650 whales — down 38% from its peak in 2015-16. Associated Press and Bellamy Pailthorp report. (KNKX)

West Coast gray whale population continues to decline but scientists remain cautiously optimistic | KNKX Public Radio

New Research Shows Innovative Commercial Fishing Technique Can Aid Wild Salmon Recovery & Support Sustainable Fisheries – Wild Fish Conservancy

Very good news.

OCTOBER 6, 2022— A new study evaluating alternative commercial fishing techniques further demonstrates the critical role commercial fish traps can play in recovering wild salmon and steelhead, improving fisheries management, and providing new sustainable fishing opportunities for coastal fishing communities. The publication confirms the ability of fish traps (or pound nets) to nearly eliminate unintended mortality of threatened salmon and steelhead encountered in commercial salmon fisheries of the Columbia River.

Researchers at Wild Fish Conservancy, alongside Dr. John Skalski of the University of Washington Columbia Basin Research Lab, published a new open access paper in the international journal of Fisheries Research evaluating survival of wild adult salmon after being released from two commercial fish trap sites in the lower Columbia River. The results demonstrated post-release survival at or near 100% for spring and summer-run Chinook salmon and coho salmon released from passively operated fish traps between 2019 and 2021.

“The new publication provides the most clear-cut and irrefutable evidence to date that fish traps can nearly eliminate unintended mortality of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead during harvest, allowing for sustainable and resilient commercial fisheries that can enjoyed for generations to come,” says Emma Helverson, Executive Director of the Wild Fish Conservancy. “It is rare to find a win-win solution with such widespread benefits for wild fish, orcas, resource managers, and coastal fishing communities.”

In conventional fisheries, a major barrier impeding recovery is the accidental harvest and mortality of threatened and endangered populations by fishers targeting other wild or hatchery fish. Using ancient fish traps as a basic model, Wild Fish Conservancy biologists began evaluating contemporary fish traps in 2016 in efforts to develop a sustainable, alternative fishing practice to conventional gillnetting. The goal was to safely release wild salmon and steelhead in need of recovery, while allowing fishers to selectively harvest those healthier, abundant runs, such as the Columbia River’s hatchery fish. Passively operated traps are engineered to allow fish to remain free-swimming at all times and to eliminate mortality effects commonly associated with conventional fishing methods, including injury from nets, overcrowding, human-handling, and air exposure.

The new publication builds on and validates the results of previous studies evaluating passively operated fish traps on the Columbia River that have consistently shown survival near 100% for adult fall-run Chinook salmon, coho salmon, sockeye salmon, and summer-run steelhead released as bycatch. No other commercial fishing method studied on the Columbia River has demonstrated survival results as encouraging for wild salmon recovery and fish traps are the only gear to be rigorously evaluated through the scientific peer-review process.

The results of this new study also corroborate growing scientific consensus demonstrating that the most sustainable commercial salmon fisheries are those that occur in or near rivers where wild salmon return and use selective fishing techniques like fish traps that are proven to limit or eliminate harm to threatened and endangered bycatch.

“Our research team was completely blown away. When we analyzed the genetic and tag datasets for upriver populations of Chinook salmon heading to spawning grounds or hatcheries above Bonneville Dam, literally every adult Chinook passively captured and released from the fish trap survived the 167 km, 7-day journey to the dam,” said Wild Fish Conservancy biologist Adrian Tuohy. “The study was straightforward and the findings are irrefutable.” 

In comparison to results for the fish trap, the commercial gillnet—the primary tool for harvest on the Columbia River—is known to cause ~49% mortality of threatened wild Chinook salmon encountered in the fishery. The lethal effects of the gillnet are also known to be severe for other fish species that become entangled as fishers target hatchery Chinook salmon, however the true impact of the gillnet to these other threatened salmonid stocks in the Columbia River remains unknown as no post-release mortality data have been collected by state or federal management agencies.

“Few data, if any, have been collected for the gillnet and other alternative salmon fishing methods to understand post-release mortality of bycatch… and hardly any of this work has undergone scientific peer-review,” says Tuohy. “Given the information that is available, it is clear that no other salmon fishing gear has come remotely close to achieving the peer-reviewed results we’ve seen for fish traps when it comes to releasing wild salmon unharmed and allowing for selective harvest of hatchery fish in Columbia River fisheries.”

Findings from this new publication are expected to help guide the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) as the agency establishes rules for the alternative gear commercial fishery that will legalize fish traps at a localized scale on the lower Columbia River. In 2021, both the Governors of Washington and Oregon made policy and funding commitments to advance selective harvest practices like fish traps as alternatives to nontribal gill nets in the Columbia River. Washington state is currently implementing a voluntary gillnet license buyback program with the objective of redirecting those allocation impacts to alternative gears like fish traps or wild fish escapement.

Beyond the Columbia River, this research is also serving as an important working model to inspire other Pacific Northwest communities seeking sustainable harvest solutions. Wild Fish Cosnervancy is currently partnering with First Nations in British Columbia where the Canadian government has implemented unprecedented fishery closures in 2021 and 2022 out of conservation concerns.

“The situation facing the Columbia River is not unique. Throughout the Pacific Northwest coastal communities and resource managers are facing difficult decisions whether to close or further limit commercial fishing opportunities in order to protect our region’s most imperiled wild salmon,” says Helverson. “These new results could not have come at a better time and we are proud to play a role in advancing much needed solutions that we hope will benefit communities and recovery efforts coastwide.”

More at

What’s at stake if the Columbia River Treaty were to end

Under the Trump administration, this agreement was at risk. Now, less so. An important treaty, you likely never knew existed.

In the mid-20th century, Canada and the U.S. collaborated together to form the Columbia River Treaty. This agreement meant both countries would jointly develop, manage and regulate the Columbia River. The treaty was intended to last for 60 years which means it expires in 2024. Earlier this month, 32 Pacific Northwest groups sent a letter to U.S. officials urging them to modernize this treaty as that deadline approaches. Rolando Hernandez reports. (OPB)

New study finds chemical contaminants in Salish Sea seaweed

A new study raises concerns about levels of chemical contaminants in edible seaweed in the Salish Sea. As mentioned in “The Fish Site”

A new study just published by researchers at Western Washington University (WWU) reports concentrations of up to 162 chemical contaminants in three species of edible seaweeds gathered in the Salish Sea.

From the article’s abstract:

Despite growing interest in edible seaweeds, there is limited information on seaweed chemical contaminant levels in the Salish Sea. Without this knowledge, health-based consumption advisories can not be determined for consumers that include Tribes and First Nations, Asian and Pacific Islander community members, and recreational harvesters. We measured contaminant concentrations in edible seaweeds (Fucus distichusFspiralis, and Nereocystis luetkeana) from 43 locations in the Salish Sea. Metals were analyzed in all samples, and 94 persistent organic pollutants (POPs) (i.e. 40 PCBs, 15 PBDEs, 17 PCDD/Fs, and 22 organochlorine pesticides) and 51 PAHs were analyzed in Fucus spp.

We compared concentrations of contaminants to human health-based screening levels calculated from the USEPA and to international limits. We then worked with six focal contaminants that either exceeded screening levels or international limits (Cd, total Hg, Pb, benzo[a]pyrene [BaP], and PCBs) or are of regional interest (total As). USEPA cancer-based screening levels were exceeded in 30 samples for the PCBs and two samples for BaP. Cadmium concentrations did not exceed the USEPA noncancer-based screening level but did exceed international limits at all sites. Lead exceeded international limits at three sites. While seaweed was the focus, we did not consider contaminant exposure from consuming other foods. Other chemicals, such as contaminants of emerging concern (e.g., PFAS, pharmaceuticals and personal care products), should also be considered.

The whole study can be found here:

Chemical contaminant levels in edible seaweeds of the Salish Sea and implications for their consumption | PLOS ONE

Study raises questions about using ‘woody debris’ to restore streams -Salish Currents

Some of the woody debris projects work, some don’t. The reasons why are not yet known.


“Efforts to improve salmon streams damaged by past logging and other human activities commonly include the addition of carefully placed logs, tree roots or “woody debris” to mimic this natural system. But a new report raises questions about the value of adding wood to streams — at least in the way it has been done in many restoration projects.”. Chris Dunagan reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

138K green crabs pulled from Washington waters … so far in 2022 – KUOW

The battle to rid our waters of the invasive European green crabs is making some headway. Losing this battle could mean the end of Dungeness Crab and many other creatures in the Salish Sea. Luckily the State and Tribes are taking this very seriously, as they should.


So far this year, Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife says more than 138,000 European green crabs have been removed from Washington waters. It’s a considerable increase in green crabs captured locally than previously reported this year. A total of 85,000 were captured near Bellingham last year. (KUOW) 

Four years after Tahlequah’s journey, the legal and ethical debates over orca protection continue to evolve

Salish Sea Currents looks back and forward on the game changing plight of Tahlequah, the mother who lost her young orca.

It has been four summers since a mother orca’s dramatic vigil brought worldwide attention to the plight of Puget Sound’s southern resident killer whales. A recent gathering of legal experts, conservationists, and academic scholars looked at how perceptions of the whales have changed since then and whether laws and policies should reflect new thinking about ethical responsibilities to orcas and other animals. Sarah DeWeerdt reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

Salish Sea Currents

Seattle Audubon Society dropping “Audubon” from its name – KNKX

In another move to cleanse this country of honoring people who owned and supported slavery, along with reaching out to communities of color to be more inclusive, the Seattle Audubon has taken the somewhat radical step of dropping the name of the foremost bird naturalist, John James Audubon. It is worth mentioning that while some may want to say that Audubon was just a “man of his times” there were many in this country at that time that opposed slavery. He made a choice.

Coming to grips with the real history of this country is clearly a painful task. With Republican news outlets and politicians making political hay from the idea that this is all a minority plot to dishonor our history, it is good to see organizations such as the Audubon Society take a controversial stand such as this. It clearly is in the tradition of Hazel Wolf, the woman who led the organization for years, and never backed down from a controversial position. Hazel was a fighter for women’s rights and indigenous rights along with being a most dynamic environmentalist. Not just a “restorationist” but an environmentalist. There are too few of those anymore in this country. It’s not a “politically correct” position in many forums where avoidance of conflict and funding for restoration projects trumps actual hard decisions for protection of the environment.

The Society will choose a new name this fall. This idea has also been spreading through other chapters in the rest of the states. An article in Audubon Magazine in fall of 2020 called into question the notion of honoring Audubon. Revealing the Past to Create the Future | Audubon

There was no immediate word from the National Audubon Society whether they will continue to support the Seattle Chapter. My guess is that other chapters will follow suit soon. It likely will cause a rethinking at the national level to keep all the chapters together. This groundswell can’t be contained.


The Seattle chapter of the Audubon Society announced that it is dropping “Audubon” from its name because of its association with white supremacy. There are hundreds of state and local chapters of the National Audubon Society, the nonprofit dedicated to protecting birds and their habitats, but Seattle Audubon is one of the largest in the country. Earlier this month, the board voted to change the chapter’s name because the man the organization is named after – illustrator, painter and bird lover John James Audubon, author of the seminal work “The Birds of America” – owned enslaved people and opposed abolition. Lilly Ana Fowler reports. (KNKX)

Seattle chapter of the Audubon Society dropping “Audubon” from its name to be more inclusive

Native American Environmental Legend Terry Williams Walks On

News out today that Tulalip Tribes Treaty Rights Commissioner and defacto leader of the Northwest environmental community has passed.

The bolo tie-wearing elder shaped state and national environmental policy. He was both soft-spoken and a powerful advocate.

Everett Herald

Terry Williams, Tulalip’s ‘champion of climate issues,’ dies at 74 | HeraldNet.com

Terry was always a presence at gatherings of environmental and restoration leadership for decades.

In the 1980s, Williams helped draw up the first Timber/Fish/Wildlife Agreement, a 57-page document outlining plans for a more ethical future for forestry. The accord, crafted through 60 meetings between tribes, timber companies and state agencies, provided the blueprint for negotiating regulations to protect old growth, fish-bearing streams and resolving disputes out of court.

Everett Herald

Always working with Billy Frank Jr. the two helped the tribes in Puget Sound to forge alliances after the Boldt Decision. I attended many meetings where he held the floor and gave focused discussions on what needed to be done to help return salmon to our waters. He dedicated his life to it. But it wasn’t just that dedication but the calm centered person he brought to the discussions. When he spoke, everyone listened.

“He really taught me to not get down and upset when you’re dealing with difficult issues,” Miller said. “I used to watch him having those conversations and I would be upset. I’d be so mad about it. And Terry would be so calm.”

There are people who are impossible to replace, given their history and dedication to a cause. Terry was one of those people. He always played the long game.

The Everett Herald has an excellent obituary on this giant of a man whose work will be felt eight generations from now, as the Tribes so eloquently state.

Terry Williams, Tulalip’s ‘champion of climate issues,’ dies at 74 | HeraldNet.com

%d bloggers like this: