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

How Indigenous Sea Gardens Produced Massive Amounts of Food for Millennia -Hakai

By focusing on reciprocity and the common good—both for the community and the environment—sea gardening created bountiful food without putting populations at risk of collapse.

https://hakaimagazine.com/news/how-indigenous-sea-gardens-produced-massive-amounts-of-food-for-millennia/

Navy SEAL use of state parks appears over – Seattle Times – Update

The attempt to turn our state parks into training grounds for the military is over for now. The lack of concern by many citizens, including those in roles who’s charters clearly gave them authority to simply speak out against it, like our Port Commissioners and Marine Resources Committee members back in 2016, showed a lack of will to take a stand when needed. Luckily, others came forward to write the Parks Commissioners and fight it in court. Eventually, organizations like the MRC did come around and issue letters of concern.

Not wanting to rock the boat on issues like this, is no excuse for inaction. Thanks to those who did the right thing to challenge this.

Navy SEAL use of state parks appears over as state declines to appeal judge’s decision

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/navy-seal-use-of-state-parks-appears-over-as-state-declines-to-appeal-judges-decision/

I also received this email today.

“In your Olympic Peninsula Environmental News post today titled “Navy SEAL use of state parks appears over,” you implied that the Jefferson County MRC was silent on the issue of naval special operations training in our State Parks. To the contrary, the MRC did write an advisory letter in January 2021 to the Board of County Commissioners, who forwarded our concerns to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Our letter may be found on the Jefferson MRC website at https://www.jeffersonmrc.org/media/20315/jcmrc_letter-re-navaltraining_1152021-signed.pdf.  It would be helpful if you would correct this for the record in your newsletter.

I’m happy to hear that the Jefferson MRC finally did take a stand on this issue. I was a member of the MRC from 2010 to 2019, and during the time of my being chair and beyond, I did attempt to raise this issue and seek a letter taking a stand. At that time, with the membership it had, there was no interest in doing that. Now, with a somewhat different set of members, it appears that they have accomplished it. I am supportive of the MRC following it’s charter to seek to protect the waters and shoreline of Jefferson County.

The Hatchery Crutch: How We Got Here – Hakai Magazine

Hakai Magazine has published an excellent overview of the issue of hatchery salmon. Author Jude Isabella has dove deep into the history of hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest. This is part of a larger project called The Paradox of Salmon Hatcheries. The work is also available in audio format. I highly recommend this to anyone that thinks they know that hatcheries are a “good thing” The history just doesn’t support it.

From their beginnings in the late 19th century, salmon hatcheries have gone from cure to band-aid to crutch. Now, we can’t live without manufactured fish.

The Power of Denial

Today in the New York Times, a story about the washing away of homes on the Carolina Outer Banks. The article points out that some of these homeowners, climate change believers bought their homes as recently as last fall! What kind of denial needs to exist to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in homes within yards of the ocean? What kind of denial are all of us in regarding the effects of climate change?

Here on the Olympic Peninsula, we all suffer from denial. For the majority of us, the denial of a major earthquake of such magnitude that only struck here 322 years ago, is our biggest. Then, tsunamis 33 feet high wiped out many native villages on the shore. Many modern Olympic Peninsula people were woke to this issue for the first time when the New Yorker published a sobering article about just how unprepared we are for this. The Seattle Times followed up with this piece a few years later.

As humans, we all live with denial. Denial that our health will not hold long into older age is one that many of our old population is familiar with and engaged in on a daily basis. And here on the Peninsula, as climate change wreaks havoc across the globe, we deny we are at risk. Let’s count the ways:

  • Forest Fire – Clearly, living on a tree farm with most of us at close proximity to timber, this is the most likely short term issue. We have seen the east side of the Cascades burn in massive wildfires, as well as B.C., Oregon and California. How many years do we have before the forests around us are on fire?
  • Sea Level Rise – Cities, from what I’ve seen, are simply kicking this can down the road. PA and PT especially are at sea level. Water Street is at, yes water level. Are there any serious plans to the business district uptown. Nope. Are there mitigation plans at work? Not that I’ve seen.
    • At Point Hudson, there are houses literally at sea level. A good friend owned one that faced out to the Strait, until they woke up to waves crashing on their front window panes. They sold and now live high on the hill above the Fort.
    • Beckett Point – A disaster waiting to happen, Beckett Point will likely be the first place you see houses washed away as in the NY Times article above.
    • Cliff dwellers like Seaview Drive – Our county development foolishly allowed houses to be built within 50 feet of the cliff edge in the 70s and 80s. Even trying to change this rule has been a struggle with home and land owners fighting being pushed back from the cliffs even 50 feet for future construction to be a very hard issue to convince them of supporting. Unfortunately, we have seen cliffs sluff over 100 feet back on Whidbey Island. The bottom line is that scientifically, cliffs sluff. That is the nature of a cliff. Putting thousands of pounds of concrete weight, water in the form of lawn watering, and septic tanks only helps destabilize the cliff more. Want to see a cliff sluff in action? Walk from North Beach to the Fort on the beach. That is an active sluffing cliff.
  • River course change – The Dungeness has reclaimed many homes over the decades from folks denying the ability of the river to do that. Now the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribe and Clallam County are working to give the river the room to “breathe” as one biologist once called it. The floodplains, he said, “are the lungs of the river. If you dyke them, you give them emphysema.”
  • That certain business activity won’t destroy our natural resources – The DNR decision to allow a commercial aquaculture farm inside a wildlife refuge is another case of denial that your decisions won’t destroy what you claim you love.

You can do your bit, by asking yourself “what am I in denial over?” Are there direct things you can do now to protect yourself from being the next to find that “you can’t fool Mother Nature.” That may mean much harder decisions than you ever thought. Just ask the folks on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Arlington electric aircraft maker logs order for 75 planes- Everett Herald

The future is coming whether we accept it or not. On the same day that the Biden Administration announced it is planning to give $6B to support the economically failed world of nuclear power, the next generation planes are being ordered. While many red state politicians want you to continue our massive taxpayer funded subsidies to fossil fuels, it would be great to see continued investment in this technology that will fuel the second half of this century airplanes.

ARLINGTON — Eviation Aircraft, the Arlington company that has built a fully electric commuter airplane, got a hefty boost this week when one of the nation’s largest commuter airlines, Cape Air, signed a letter of intent to buy 75 of the Eviation Alice model.

https://www.heraldnet.com/business/arlington-electric-aircraft-maker-logs-a-hefty-order/

Trouble on the Half Shell

Scientists have discovered a mystery parasite—what will it mean for the future of Washington’s oysters?

Interesting article that features the Jamestown S’Klallam and their efforts to restore Olympia Oysters, and scientists trying to better understand the history of this mysterious parasite.

Gussman to receive land trusts outstanding honor – PDN

Local photographer/filmmaker John Gussman (who’s work has been featured in this blog) is about to be honored for his work. Couldn’t be a better choice. Congratulations to John.


The North Olympic Land Trust’s spotlight this year falls on a photographer and videographer accustomed to putting the spotlight on the beauty of the North Olympic Peninsula and documenting the community’s conservation efforts. The land trust will honor the efforts of John Gussman, along with award-winning author Dr. Robert Michael Pyle, at the organization’s 14th annual Conservation Breakfast, slated for 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. April 22, online. Michael Dashiell reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Gussman to receive Land Trust’s ‘Out Standing’ honor

New data could help scientists worldwide studying fish passage through dams – NW News Network

More good research being done.


Tiny devices, smaller than a couple grains of rice, help provide reams of data as researchers track salmon around Northwest dams. Scientists hope this data from juvenile Chinook salmon could help broaden the understanding of fish behavior and survival in an inexpensive and effective way at other dams around the world. Courtney Flatt reports. (NW News Network)

 https://www.opb.org/article/2022/03/15/data-fish-tracking-salmon-dams/

Killer Whale Scars Tell A Story – Hakai Magazine

Interesting new research


By counting their scars and when they got them, scientists are unlocking new insights on killer whale social dynamics. Marina Wang reports. (Hakai Magazine)

http://Killer whales scars tell a story

A 30-year long Fishing Dispute Fizzles Out – Hakai Magazine

Interesting that a regional court with no native tribal peoples on it should have the last word on a treaty definition. I was under the opinion that only Congress could define treaties.


With the United States Supreme Court declining to hear the case, a protracted legal battle between two Indigenous communities has nowhere to go. ….For the past 30 years two groups, the Lummi Nation and the S’Klallam nations—represented today by the Jamestown S’Klallam, Port Gamble S’Klallam, and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribes—have been fighting in the courts about a contested slice of the Salish Sea: the waters west of Whidbey Island in northwestern Washington. Involved in this dizzying dispute are no fewer than four tribes, two treaties, and four appellate court decisions. The issue was recently brought to the United States Supreme Court for consideration, though the court declined to hear the case, leaving the Lummi and S’Klallam without an obvious legal path forward. Ashley Braun reports. (Hakai Magazine)

A 30-Year-Long Fishing Dispute Fizzles Out https://hakaimagazine.com/news/a-30-year-long-fishing-dispute-fizzles-out/

First Fed Gives $1M to NW Maritime Center to Expand Access

Strengthening our shoreline businesses and the efforts to continue their work.


First Fed Bank, subsidiary of First Northwest Bancorp (FNWB), pledged $1 million to Northwest Maritime Center (NWMC) to expand access to maritime education. The funding will be spread evenly across 10 years. “The maritime industry is vital to our region. First Fed is dedicated to helping the Northwest Maritime Center achieve its goal of doubling program participants by 2025,” stated Matt Deines, CEO of First Fed and FNWB. NWMC served 2,950 program participants in 2019 and plans to reach 6,000 annually by 2025. (Globe Newswire)

First Fed Gives $1M to Northwest Maritime Center to Expand Access

EVENT: Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Schedule

The premiere conference on the science of the Salish Sea.


Check out the program schedule for the three-day virtual conference Apr. 16, 27, 28. Registration deadline April 20.

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference schedule

Model of heatwave ‘blob’ shows unexpected effects in the Salish Sea – Salish Sea Currents

Science on the 2013 Pacific Ocean heatwave.


The marine heatwave that struck the Pacific Ocean in late 2013 also caused large changes in temperature in the Salish Sea, but scientists are still puzzling over the impacts of those changes on Puget Sound’s food web. The so-called “blob” of warmer than average water was thought to have increased the production of plankton, which potentially benefits creatures like herring and salmon that feed on the tiny organisms. A new paper in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science calls that interpretation into question pointing to a computer model that links the cause to higher than normal river flows in the region. Eric Wagner reports. (Salish Sea Currents Magazine)

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/salish-sea-model-the-blob

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