Seafood Industry struggling to stay afloat amid outbreak – AP

Seafood industry struggling to stay afloat amid outbreak
The seafood industry has been upended by the spread of the coronavirus, which has halted sales in restaurants and sent fishermen and dealers scrambling for new markets. Seafood is a global industry that relies on a complex network of fishermen, processors, buyers and distributors, all of which have been affected by the virus. A lack of demand has sent prices tumbling and led some fishermen to tie up their boats until the outbreak subsides. Patrick Whittle reports. (Associated Press) See also: Coronavirus Devastates Geoduck Industry  Sara Thompson reports. (Key Peninsula News)

Mussels fetched from Kitsap waters give insight into contamination – Kitsap Sun

For many years Mussel Watch has been the method by which we have been able to monitor the water quality  throughout Puget Sound by  looking at the contaminants in our shellfish. During my time on the Jefferson County Marine Resources committee we petitioned and got a muscle watch station in Discovery Bay and other locations during the cycle that ended in 2017.

Work being done by this program is absolutely critical in understanding both where we are now and whether or not we’re making progress in making the waters of the Salish Sea cleaner. The findings are concerning, and should be of particular concern to feeding large amounts of shellfish to children. Much more research needs to be done to better understand what the levels found in these results actually mean to long term ingestion of them.

“Results from the last cycle — in 2017 — showed that Puget Sound has particles from fuel and laundry detergent, and 100% of sites tested showed a presence of antibiotics used for livestock. All sites also tested positive for antidepressant medication, said Mariko Langness, WDFW fish and wildlife biologist.”

Kitsap Sun

https://www.kitsapsun.com/story/news/2020/03/04/mussels-fetched-kitsap-waters-give-insight-into-contamination/4925353002/

 

Lobby Day (again!)

After our snow canceled the Environmental Lobby Day events last month, it’s been rescheduled this week. (ironic, isn’t it?) This is an excellent way to meet your legislators on their ground and let them know what is important environmentally. Mad about the net pens? Oyster farms in our National Wildlife Refuge? Believe me,the folks from Seattle aren’t fighting that.

Or want to support one of the great bills being promoted by the Coalition for Environmental Priorities?

So get out from behind Facebook and Next Door and get a group together to car pool to Olympia and participate! You get to schmooze with the best of them while you watch high paid and  well dressed lobbyists argue that environmental rules are too expensive! What could be funnier than that!

And while you are there, just to show that I’m not a total bummer of a date, where does one eat? My favorite place for lunch or dinner is Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar They have superb clam chowder and lots of other great eats. You can pretend you are one of them being plucked by a walrus and carpenter. But no, I’m serious, this is one of the finest restaurants in the state IMHO. Just go. You are on a field trip.

Also try Wagner’s European Bakery And Cafe for great lunches. More budget oriented. Or pack your own bag of goodies! Actually if you sign up you get a healthy lunch.

What bills are being supported? Take a look at my right hand top tab, where I’ve conveniently cut and pasted the Coalition Priorities. Or go to the URL listed a few paragraphs up above.

So sign up, read up on the bills being promoted, and learn how to effectively lobby your elected officials! It’s fun and is far better than watching an impeachment any day!


Date: Thursday, January 30, 2020 Time: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm Location: Temple Beth Hatfiloh, 201 8th Ave. SE, Olympia, WA 98501

Join the Environmental Priorities Coalition and hundreds of activists to push for key environmental legislation in Olympia on January 30th!

During lobby day, you will team up with other activists to speak up for the environment and gain the skills to be a persuasive constituent. You’ll have the opportunity to attend issue briefings, learn how to lobby, hear from environmental champions, attend breakout sessions, and meet face-to-face with your elected officials to advance the Environmental Priorities Coalition’s 2020 priorities.

For the 2020 legislative session, we have adopted four priorities essential for healthy communities and a thriving environment: Clean Fuels Now, Healthy Habitat Healthy Orcas, Climate Pollution Limits, and Reduce Plastic Pollution.

Registration required. Schedule TBA.

Check out the video from 2019 Environmental Lobby Day!

Puget Sound Partnership releases “State of the Sound” 2019

Let’s just let the Press Release speak for itself. Really, not good news after being chartered to solve this problem last decade. My comments are the highlighted bits.

NEWS RELEASE
December 2, 2019

MEDIA CONTACT: Jon Bridgman, 206.276.5309, jon.bridgman@psp.wa.gov

2019 State of the Sound Report issues a Call to Action for Puget Sound Recovery

The latest biennial State of the Sound Report, released this week, stresses that “…we can still recover Puget Sound, but only if we act boldly now.” This is the scientifically informed assessment of the Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency leading the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound.

The Report is clear that Puget Sound remains in grave trouble. The damaging effects of pollution, habitat degradation and disturbance persist. Southern Resident orcas, Chinook salmon, steelhead, and many other species are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Human well being is also affected, for example, by reducing fishing opportunities and threatening human health. Climate change impacts and continued population growth stand to increase pressures on an ecosystem already in peril.

The Report highlights the gravity of our current situation, but also emphasizes the outstanding work of our partners in recovery that has resulted in improvements in the condition of Puget Sound. As the Partnership’s Executive Director, Laura Blackmore states, “while this situation at times seems impossibly bleak, the thousands of passionate people who are devoted to seeing the return of a healthy and resilient Puget Sound give us hope.” This hope is exemplified with three inspiring stories of local communities coming together to advance recovery. The stories address 1) a project to pull up unnecessary pavement by hand at a Tacoma school, 2) a volunteer led effort to locate salmon blocking culverts in Clallam County, and 3) successful collaboration between fish, farm and flood interests in Snohomish County. Together they make a strong statement about how human well being and Puget Sound health are inextricably connected, and mutually reinforcing.

Sufficient funding for the priorities described in the Action Agenda for Puget Sound remains the biggest barrier to recovery. However, the Report’s Call to Action outlines many activities that governments and a range of other partners can do now, without additional funding. The recommendations in the Call to Action highlight how each of us must play our part, to bring the day closer when our rivers once again run clean and teem with salmon, and our shellfish are safe to harvest throughout Puget Sound.

The Report provides the latest information on the condition of the ecosystem—the Puget Sound Vital Sign indicators, made possible by the work of dozens of monitoring programs around the region—as well as statements from the Partnership’s Leadership Council and Science Panel. The Vital Sign indicators show that progress has been reported for 10 of the 52 indicators; however, only 4 indicators are currently meeting their 2020 targets.

This year’s Report also offers an enhanced website with a greater depth of content and data tools. A downloadable version includes both content from the website and further information on funding, legislative and policy developments, and other Puget Sound recovery management updates.

About the State of the Sound

The biennial State of the Sound report is intended to help our partners and decision makers better understand: (1) how well the recovery effort is going, (2) ecosystem health and progress toward Puget Sound recovery goals, and (3) the role each partner can play in achieving Puget Sound recovery. It also responds specifically to state statute (RCW 90.71.370(3)). This report reflects the work accomplished by hundreds of groups throughout the Puget Sound region, including governments, tribes, nonprofits, communities, scientists, and businesses. See www.stateofthesound.wa.gov.

About the Puget Sound Partnership

The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency leading the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. The Puget Sound Partnership brings together hundreds of partners to mobilize partner action around a common agenda (Action Agenda for Puget Sound), advance sound investments, and advance priority actions by supporting partners. For more information see www.psp.wa.gov.

Army Corps of Engineers loses another court case. This time affecting bulkheads and more.

Another major but little noticed lawsuit has been concluded with the Army Corps of Engineers. This time, a lawsuit brought by a coalition of environmental groups, including Sound Action, Friends of the San Juans, Washington Environmental Council (WEC) and Earthjustice argued that because the corps arbitrarily decided to determine that the high water mark was closer to the water than in other jurisdictions over which it has authority, that this was a capricious rule. The judge agreed.

This will mean that the Army will have to spend more time determining environmental issues before issuing a bulkhead permit. It will also likely mean a lot less bulkheads being permitted.

According to an article by the Spokane News Review, “Rock or concrete walls have been erected along about one-quarter of Puget Sound’s 2,500 miles of shorelines. Nearly a mile of Puget Sound shoreline is built up each year. ”

“The Corps has known for years that its high tide line marker in Puget Sound is unlawfully low,” Anna Sewell, Earthjustice attorney for the groups, said in a statement.

The groups say that if the Corps, which regulates structures or work in U.S. navigable waters, used the true high tide line, more shoreline armoring projects would come under its review.

The lawsuit notes that an interagency workgroup that included the Army Corp’s Seattle District and two other federal agencies recommended changing the Corps’ tidal jurisdiction. That change would have brought about 8,600 acres of shoreline habitat under the Corps jurisdiction.”

The Earthjustice overview of this case stated:

The Corps is required by law to review proposed armoring projects up to the “high tide line,” which is generally the line at which land meets the water. But the Corps’ Seattle District uses a much lower tidal marker (known as the “mean higher high water” mark). As a result, the Seattle District does not review the majority of armoring projects in Puget Sound.

Since the 1970s, the Seattle District of the Corps (“Seattle District”) has defined its Clean Water Act (“CWA”)  jurisdiction in the Puget Sound region to extend only up to the“mean higher high water” mark, which is an average of the higher of the two high water marks each tidal day observed over a nineteen-year period.Under the CWA’s implementing regulations, however, the Corps’ jurisdiction extends to the “high tide line.” Approximately one quarter of high tides in the Seattle District exceed the mean higher high water mark, meaning the Seattle District’s CWA jurisdictional marker is significantly below the high tide line.

The Corps’ failure to assert jurisdiction means there has been no federal oversight of whether most armoring projects in the Sound meet the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act or any other federal requirement.

The original lawsuit can be found here.

Click to access 01_Enviro_Complaint_05-21-2018.pdf

 

We will continue to cover this story as it evolves with the Corps implementation of this ruling.

 

 

How climate change threatens our health in the Pacific Northwest -Seattle Times

Ongoing coverage this week of the effects of the emerging Climate Emergency.

“I’m seeing things that I did not think would happen until 2050,” said Dr. Kristie Ebi, a professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. “Climate change is coming at us much faster, and the speed of change and how that’s going to affect extreme events is going to be very problematic.” Heat waves and floods are becoming more frequent and intense sooner than expected, she said.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/how-climate-change-threatens-our-health-in-the-pacific-northwest/?utm_source=referral&utm_medium=mobile-app&utm_campaign=ios

Simulation shows how fast tsunamis could move through Puget Sound after ‘The Big One’ – The Olympian

Good new information on the danger of a tsunamis to us in the Salish Sea. This clarifies that you *have* to get to higher ground quickly, even if you think you are safe. Think about Kai Tai Lagoon and San Juan Avenue in Port Townsend. A fast moving 10 foot wave could easily swamp San Juan from both the North Beach side and the Port Townsend Bay side, coming at people from both directions as they were fleeing down San Juan. Don’t think it’s possible? Review the videos from survivors of the Japanese tsunamis.

The simulation shows 10-foot-tall waves or higher moving through Hood Canal.

Governor Inslee Signs Slew of Orca Protection Bills – Seattle Times and others

This week saw the signing of a variety of bills that came out of the Orca Task Force, put together by Governor Inslee to identify issues that could theoretically help save the resident Orca pod from extinction. While these bills are not the radical (yet realistic) idea of breaching the Snake River dams as many (including this blog) would like to see, they do address a group of problems that are facing recovery and protection of the Salish Sea.

Senate Bill 5135 was written to allow Department of Ecology to ban certain PCBs and PFAs which cause cancer and are found in high amounts in Orca bodies. They may be hampering the ability for them to have healthy  offspring and also may impact their health. Toxic-Free Future was a champion of this bill. Congratulations to them and their supporters. This has been a long hard fight for many years.

Senate Bill 5577 pushes boats farther away from whales, mandating 300 yard exclusion zones. This is not as far as many in the Orca task force wanted, but is at least better than it is currently. There is huge pressure from whale scientists to push back even further, but the whale watch industry is too powerful for Inslee to override.

The bills digest is as follows:

Finds a person guilty of a natural resource infraction if the person causes a vessel or other object to: (1) Approach within four hundred yards of a southern resident orca whale; or(2) Exceed a speed greater than seven knots over ground at any point located within one-half nautical mile of the whales.

Prohibits commercial whale watching operators from approaching or intercepting within six hundred fifty yards in the direction of the whales.

Requires a commercial whale watching license for businesses engaged in commercial whale watching activities.Requires the department of fish and wildlife to implement a limited-entry whale watching license program for the inland waters of the state for all whale species.

What you don’t see is an implementation of even greater enforcement in this bill. It is understood though that Fish and Wildlife may be getting a bigger budget do that.

House Bill 1578 – This bill strengthens our oil-spill prevention portfolio. As some may remember, this author and many dozens of other environmentalists helped push through the rescue tug at Neah Bay in the last decade, with the help of then Representative Van de Wege. This time, Representative Tharinger was part of the sponsors of the new bill. It’s digest reads:

Creates new requirements designed to reduce the current, acute risk from existing infrastructure and activities of an oil spill that could: (1) Eradicate our southern resident killer whales;(2) Violate the treaty fishing rights of federally recognized Indian tribes;(3) Damage commercial fishing prospects;(4) Undercut many aspects of the economy that depend on the Salish Sea; and(5) Harm the health and well-being of residents.

Declares an intent to spur international discussions among federal, state, provincial, and industry leaders in the United States and Canada to develop an agreement for the shared funding of an emergency rescue tug available to vessels in distress in the narrow Straits of the San Juan Islands and other boundary waters.

Currently tankers bigger than 125k dead weight tons are forbidden inside the Strait, past Dungeness Lighthouse. Tankers from 40 to125K tons dead weight are allowed to operate with tug escort. Currently a huge threat is to tugs towing bunker and other fuels. Some have sunk, such as the barge that spilled out on the coast near Neah Bay some years back.

The new law forces these tankers and tug towing barges to have escort tugs starting in 2020. If the tug or tanker is empty,  they do not need an escort tug.

The bill also strengthens the existing work being done on oil spill preparedness and establishes a new oil spill emergency response system with coordination between the State, U.S. Federal, Tribal and Canadian agencies. While there has been coordination before, this system is new.

There is a new reporting regime for oil processing facilities receiving crude oil shipments by rail, which will require them to report to the state these shipments and their routes. This may end up getting taken into court by the oil industry, as it’s unclear to this author whether the State has authority to require this under current Federal law.

Bill 1579 – While part of this bill allows greater catch limits on predator fish:

The commission shall adopt rules to liberalize bag limits for bass, walleye, and channel catfish in all anadromous waters of the14state in order to reduce the predation risk to salmon smolts.

The real teeth in this bill is the work done by Sound Action and other environmental and tribal lobbyists, along with the Department of Natural Resources to implement much stronger rules and penalties for implementing bulk heads along the nearshore of the Sound.  (full disclosure: this author is Board President of Sound Action as of this writing).

The conversion of shoreline to bulkheads  has been going on with little scientific understanding of the scope of damage to the spawning habitat of forage fish. Forage fish are food for salmon and other larger fish. Sound Action has existed specifically to challenge improper or incomplete Hydraulic Permit Applications (HPAs) from DNR that affect this habitat.

UPDATE BASED ON GOVERNOR’S VETO OF ONE SECTION: While The bill was also helped through by a section on a series of three ‘demonstration’ projects inserted by Senator Van de Wege on behalf of farmers coping with flood plain issues in Watcom, Snohomish and Gray’s Harbor County. Governor Inslee decided that these projects did not come out of the Orca Task force recommendations and were not in alignment with the needs of protecting fish habitat, but rather protecting farm land and exploiting river gravel. His veto of that section was in alignment with the opposition  by environmentalists and Tribes because of the stated intention of the backers of the language to ‘extract gravel’ from these rivers. What is needed in the future to address these problems should involve something similar to  a version of the highly successful Dungeness River Management Team, which brought together all the stakeholders on that river for the last 20 years to identify and then come up with appropriate solutions rather than leap to conclusions not based on science.

Anyone wanting to understand the work that the Dungeness River Management Team has done can view the short video I did for them a few years ago, on their 20th Anniversary.

 

The language that the proponents of Senator Van de Wege’s bill wanted, was to simply move to solution, based on assumptions and not science. They need, as the governor pointed out in his veto to at least have to go through the process to create a team of stakeholders, not just from the farm community, but from individuals and state scientists to come up with appropriate solutions.

So all in all, congratulations to the organizations that spent hundreds of hours in the Orca Task Force, and thanks to Governor Inslee for getting this done and helping drive these key bills into law! We still have a long way to go to save the resident pod, and there is no guarantee any of these bills will actually turn the tide to restore them to health.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/gov-inslee-signs-range-of-bills-aimed-at-helping-endangered-orcas/

After decades of debate, Victoria is building a sewage treatment plant -CBC

Amazing. Finally actually breaking ground.It’s long past due.

Along the rocky south coast of Vancouver Island, hundreds of construction workers are building a nearly $800 million dollar wastewater treatment facility — a project that has been debated for decades and described as long overdue by some, and completely unnecessary by others…. Wastewater facilities don’t typically stoke civic pride, but the project and its history is unique because most of the Victoria area has never treated its sewage. Currently, it is screened and anything larger than 6mm is blocked. The rest flows into two separate outfall pipes, and is then discharged into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The region is the last major coastal community in North America to dispose of untreated sewage into the marine environment, according to the local government. Briar Stewart reports. (CBC)

After decades of debate, Victoria is building a sewage treatment plant

Legal battles continue over dumping human waste in Puget Sound – KING

Like a tug coming up channel in the middle of the night, this could be seen coming a mile away. When the state, with the support of many environmental organzations, moved to ban all human waste from being dumped in Puget Sound, representatives came and presented to the Jefferson County Marine Resources committee (MRC) on what they proposed. The presenter, a very earnest younger person, discussed banning tugs from dumping waste overboard, and mentioned that they were hoping to grant a waiver extension for them to give them a few more years to revamp the tugs waste storage (which is essentially non existant as I’ve heard), I wondered whether or not they were really going to get support from the industry. It appears they haven’t.

The problem appears that most tugs were never designed with significant holding tanks, as many were built in the era when dumping overboard was the standard. Asking them to redesign what little room exists in order to build in larger holding tanks, if it’s even possible, was a big ask. I argued then, and argue now, that an exemption for existing working tugs should be found, and that new tugs should be designed for standard holding tanks.  If there are some arguements I’m not understanding in this debate, then please write and let me know. This seems like fighting over a very small issue in the larger scheme of things, and we have much larger fish to fry in saving Puget Sound and the Salish Sea.

Tug boat companies are suing the EPA to stop a Washington state ruling that bans the dumping of raw sewage in Puget Sound area waterways. Now, several environmental activism groups are getting involved in the legal fight. Last year, the Washington Department of Ecology created the Northwest’s first no discharge zone (NDZ), which would span 2,300 square miles from the Canadian border to the Discovery Island Lighthouse and waters east of the New Dungeness Lighthouse. It also would include Lake Washington, Lake Union, and connecting waters to Puget Sound…. Puget Soundkeeper is now one of several groups fighting back against a lawsuit that tugboat companies have filed against the EPA, which ruled that Puget Sound has enough pump-out stations to accommodate Ecology’s decision. They have joined the EPA as intervenors, along with the Washington Environmental Council and Friends of the Earth. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Legal battles continue over dumping human waste in Puget Sound

Sewage Treatment Appeal Filed in State Court to Protect Puget Sound

This has been a known problem and long running battle at the State level by environmental organizations since the early 90s. Standard excuses, too expensive to do, etc.  As stated to me by a knowledgeable friend, “Muni sewage plants and industrial facilities directly discharging to the Sound are supposed to have permits re-written every five years to “rachet down” on discharge pollutants as new technologies became available. EPA didn’t make the state do much more than some minor cosmetic remedies because municipalities said they’d have to raise rates and industries said the costs wouldn’t be worth the amount of pollution reduction of secondary.”  Who was running Department of Ecology in 1991 when that happened? The environmental champion, Christine Gregoire. And so it goes. The death from a thousand cuts.

“Olympia (WA) – An environmental group sued the Washington Department of Ecology in state court today in its bid to modernize pollution removal at Puget Sound sewage treatment plants. In January, Ecology refused to update its rules that allow dischargers to use 100-year-old pollution control technology while Puget Sound faces emergency levels of toxic and nutrient pollution.
“It’s well past time for the Department of Ecology to stop relying on 100-year old technology to protect Puget Sound,” said Nina Bell, Executive Director of Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA). “We’re not driving around in Ford Model T’s so why are we still using sewage treatment technology from that era? Modern sewage treatment would help clean up Puget Sound and protect struggling populations of Chinook salmon and orca whales,” she added.
NWEA sought a change in the 31-year old rules that Ecology uses to define modern technology by filing a petition with the agency on November 14, 2018. Ecology denied the petition on January 11, 2019. NWEA appealed the denial to Governor Inslee on January 30, 2019; he has 45 days in which to respond.
The petition explains that although Ecology has identified sewage discharges as the primary cause of some of Puget Sound’s biggest pollution problems, it has taken no action. Inadequate treatment of sewage is causing widespread algal blooms, low levels of dissolved oxygen, wholesale food web changes, ocean acidification, and toxic threats to orca whales, salmon, and crab according to Ecology’s own studies.
The petition is based on state law that requires pollution sources to use the best available treatment technology. The 74-year old Washington law, referred to as “AKART,” requires the use of “All Known, Available, and Reasonable Treatment” for pollution prior to its discharge.
NWEA’s petition details the widespread use of modern sewage treatment in the United States. For example, sewage treatment plants discharging to Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound have cut their nutrient pollution by almost 60 percent. In contrast, very few cities in the Puget Sound area have modern technology, and Ecology has only required one to do so—the LOTT treatment plant in Olympia.
Today’s lawsuit was filed in Thurston County Superior Court on behalf of NWEA by Andrew Hawl y, of the Western Environmental Law Center, and Bryan Telegin, of Bricklin & Newman, LLP.”

West Coast’s biggest starfish vanishing amid disease, warming oceans, study finds – Seattle Times

Not good news from the starfish front. As most of you know, the starfish wasting disease decimated our native starfish. Whether they ever return to previous numbers is in doubt. Here’s why.

A new study reveals the recent widespread die-off of starfish — linked to climate change, warming oceans and a disease epidemic — imperils the biggest starfish of all, the sunflower star.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/starfish-slaughter-along-west-coast-imperils-biggest-starfish-of-all-as-oceans-warm/

Scientific study on issues of intertidal structures that cross water

This 2017 scientific study on the issues of intertidal structures just was sent to us. Worth listing her for future reference.  Thinking about the Hood Canal Bridge here, among others.

Executive Summary
For hundreds of years, people have built water crossing structures to enable the transportation of people, livestock, vehicles, and materials across rivers and other bodies of water. These structures have often created barriers to fish passage, an issue which has recently drawn intense scrutiny due to concerns over impacts to anadromous fish. While much work has focused on the impacts of freshwater crossing structures, inter-tidal structures have received less attention. This may be due to the importance of passage for adult anadromous fish in freshwater, and that bidirectional flows in intertidal environments complicate interpretation of structures as barriers. Intertidal water crossing structures likely have adverse impacts on juvenile life stages of fish due not only to impacts to passage, but also to impacts to estuarine habitats extensively used by these species as rearing environments. Examining the impacts of intertidal water crossing structures only through the lens of fish passage therefore misses key aspects to how these structures can affect fish.
In this report we review literature on intertidal water crossing structures and how they affect fish that depend on intertidal habitats for passage during migration or for extended rearing during early life stages. Our findings are important for establishing fish passage criteria, providing design guidelines, and identifying key data gaps for future research of intertidal water crossing structures.

 

greene-et-al.-2017-review-on-intertidal-water-crossing-structures-and-fish-1

Tidal forests offer hope for salmon – Puget Sound Institute

Wonderful short article that highlights a goal we can (and actually are in many places) work towards, which is estuary restoration. Small fish hang out in these places. There are just these kind of places on the Dungeness and other rivers here on the Peninsula. Not so much on the Elwha. Give it a read.

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/is/tidal-forests

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Phil Johnson walks on..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Washington court: Fish and Wildlife can regulate land to protect fish – Capital Press

An extremely important ruling has come down at the Washington State Supreme Court on Thursday. The  unanimous ruling affirmed the right of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to regulate construction on dry land above the normal tide lines in order to protect fish. This enormously expands the scope of the Hydraulic Permit Code and will likely have great consequences for Governor Inslee’s hand in making policy decisions for protecting additional salmon habitat for Orca recovery. I’m sure that the plaintiffs might wish they had never brought this before the Supreme Court. But there’s also caution for environmental organizations that may celebrate the ruling.

From the case itself. It offers a good basic understanding of what these Hydraulic Permit Applications are and when they are required.

This case asks us to determine the geographic scope of permitting authority delegated to the State of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife  (Department) over hydraulic projects. A “hydraulic project” is defined as “the  construction or performance of work that will use, divert, obstruct, or change the natural flow or bed of any of the salt or fresh waters of the state.” RC_W 77.55.011(11).
Entities seeking to undertake hydraulic projects must apply for and obtain permits from the  Department before commencing work. RCW 77.55.021. In this case, a coalition of  Washington State counties (Counties) challenge the Department’s statutory authority to regulate the construction or performance of work that will occur exclusively above the ordinary high-water line.
The Hydraulic Code requires anyone planning to undertake a hydraulic project to obtain a preconstruction approval permit from the Department to ensure “the adequacy of the means proposed for the protection of fish life.” RCW 77.55.021(1).
The Department can deny or condition a permit only for the purpose of protecting fish life. RCW 77.55.021(7)(a). The Department’s regulatory authority encompasses hydraulic projects, which are defined based on their effects on waters of the state rather than their location relative to those waters. See RCW 77.55.011(11).
An HPA [hydraulic project approval] is required for all construction or repair/replacement of any structure that crosses a stream, river, or other water body regardless of the location of the proposed work relative to the [ ordinary high-water level] of state waters.
An HPA is also required for bridge painting and other maintenance where there is potential for paint, sandblasting material, sediments, or bridge parts to fall into the water.
ISSUE
Did the legislature intend to limit the Department’s permitting and regulatory authority to cover only projects that take place at least partially at or below the ordinary high-water line?
CONCLUSION
We hold that under the plain language of RCW 77.55.021, the Department’s jurisdictional grant of permitting authority includes upland projects that meet the effects test set forth in RCW 77.55.011(11). We further hold that the effects test requires reasonable certainty, not absolute certainty. Finally, we defer to the expertise of the Department to determine which upland activities meet the effects test. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s order.
The findings are that WDFW has authority to require HPAs for upland projects that fit the scope of the legal codes. That the requirements can be done by reasonable certainty and not a strict legal finding of certainty,  which gives much greater leeway for WDFW to issue requirements for an HPA. Lastly, the Supreme Court defers to the expertise of the Department  to determine which activities meet the requirements.
This last finding may be a double edge sword. What if the Department is wrong in a finding, siding with a developer who has huge resources and proposes enormous or highly unusual trade offs for the idea of “no net loss”?  What if they don’t decide to force an HPA (or agree with a developer intent on massive environmental change) and an environmental organization challenges that? The ruling here seems to give much greater leeway to excesses of the Department in both directions. That may not be as positive a win for environmental organizations as it appears. It requires close oversight to make sure that the law is narrowly applied to appropriate projects, while also ensuring that bureaucrats are not simply rubber stamping inappropriate and possibly habitat destructive projects.
Here’s a link to the ruling:

Read the Capital Press story here:

https://www.capitalpress.com/ag_sectors/water/washington-court-fish-and-wildlife-can-regulate-land-to-protect/article_ea1e014c-f97a-11e8-859d-7f550b7b3843.html

 

 

 

The Russell Family Foundation Awards $2.3 Million in Grants

Congratulations to all the reciepients of the Russel Family Foundation Grants!

The Russell Family Foundation has announced its year-end grants totaling more than $2.3 million to 25 nonprofits serving the Pacific Northwest region. These grants focus on providing more access for youth to experience the outdoor environment, supporting local groups pursuing systemic change for the Puget Sound and empowering various local communities through leadership development.

As part of the grants, the foundation is awarding $1,049,055 to the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation to support the independent nonprofit, the Puyallup Watershed Initiative and its Communities of Interest. It is also granting $750,000 directly to the Puyallup Watershed Initiative 501(c)3. The Initiative, which formerly was a special program of The Russell Family Foundation, will celebrate its first year as an independent organization next month.

The Puyallup Watershed Initiative focuses on addressing issues facing the region through six Communities of Interest including active transportation, agriculture, environmental education, forests, just and healthy food systems and stormwater. The grant supports its collective efforts to enhance the quality of life in the region, which comprises of more than 1,000 square miles from Mount Rainier to Commencement Bay in Tacoma, Washington.

Additional grants focus on the advancement of The Russell Family Foundation’s collective efforts to improve quality of life in the Puget Sound area including conservation efforts for the Salish Sea/Puget Sound and leadership development for environmental equity and sustainability, among others.

The Russell Family Foundation seeks to promote meaningful and lasting change by contributing to a sustainable and peaceful world for people, places and communities. Each of the grants further this mission by expanding opportunities for community-driven organizations to be catalysts for change, collaboration and continued learning.

“These organizations are a part of the fabric of our community working to create a socially just and environmentally conscious world,” said Richard Woo, Chief Executive Officer at The Russell Family Foundation. “With efforts rooted in community, these locally-based groups are able to generate positive impacts while advocating for solutions to the most pressing issues facing our communities across Puget Sound.”

Details for the additional grants are as follows:

  • Rural Community Leadership Program in Pierce County, Rural Development Initiatives: $60,000 (multi-year)

Rural Development Initiatives strengthens rural people, places and economies in the Pacific Northwest. The grant will support the launch of a Pierce County Leadership Cohort designed to provide a diverse group of individuals in rural areas of the county with tools to be more effective community leaders.

  • Environmental Leadership, Environmental Science Center: $50,000 (multi-year)

Environmental Science Center increases environmental stewardship and watershed knowledge for youth through field studies in salmon habitat, training the next generation of environmental leaders and restoring Puget Sound. The grant will support educational programming, hands-on training for students, student internships and more.

  • REACH Housing 4 Success, Tacoma Community House: $50,000 (multi-year)

REACH provides support for employment, education and other resources, including housing for young people experiencing homelessness through its Housing 4 Success program. The grant will support the program in its work with youth ages 16-24, who are experiencing homelessness. It will assist them on an individual basis and will work to place each person into housing. From there it works with these individuals by helping set them on a path to success in life.

  • College Completion 2020, Foundation for Tacoma Students: $40,000

Foundation for Tacoma Students is the backbone organization for the Graduate Tacoma movement, a partnership of more than 268 community organizations and citizens that work toward the goal of increasing high school and college completion rates for Tacoma students. The grant supports its College Completion 2020 project, which seeks to close gaps in access and ultimately increase graduation rates by 50 percent by the Class of 2020.

  • Nature Connections, Young Women Empowered (Y-WE): $40,000

Y-WE empowers young women leaders from diverse backgrounds through mentorship and programs to equip them with confidence, resiliency and planning skills. The grant supports its Nature Connections program, serving young females within the ages of 13-18, connecting them with adult mentors and engaging them in environmental learning and stewardship activities.

  • Sustainable Community Funders (SCF), Seattle Foundation: $30,000

SCF works to mobilize investments in the Puget Sound region in the intersection of environment, economy and equity. The grant will go toward SCF’s coordinated philanthropic efforts to fund projects that have high potential for advancing sustainability and equity in the region.

  • LatinX Movement Building for Environmental and Climate Justice, Latino Community Fund: $30,000

The Latino Community Fund empowers cultural and community-based non-profits as well as new leaders. The grant will support the expansion of a project of the Alianza Network to train youth leaders, strengthen their voices and advocacy skills and engaging them in issues around environmental justice policies.

  • Looking Upstream – Stormwater Solutions for Sustainable Transportation, Transportation Choices Coalition: $30,000

Transportation Choices Coalition works to bring better transportation choices to the region through policy and advocacy. The grant will help the organization implement the Looking Upstream project to tackle the challenges facing stormwater and transportation through policy development, education for elected officials and other leaders, coalition building, community engagement and equity.

  • Tacoma and South King County Support, Trust for Public Land: $30,000

Trust for Public Land helps create close-to-home parks in and near cities to ensure that every child has easy and safe access to play in nature. The grant supports the expansion of its work in Tacoma and South King County, including stormwater mapping to mitigate runoff, education about stormwater and green infrastructure for the community and training of community health advocates.

  • Act Six Tacoma-Seattle, Degrees of Change: $25,000

Degrees of Change prepares diverse leaders to succeed in college and use their degrees to build more equitable communities. The grant supports its Act Six initiative, a full-tuition and full-need leadership award that connects local faith-based affiliates with faith and social justice-based colleges to equip emerging leaders to engage with their colleges and communities at home.

  • Deep Green Wilderness, The Ocean Foundation: $25,000

Deep Green Wilderness works toward marine wilderness sustainability. The grant will support its environmental and STEM-based education programs aboard its sailing vessel, the Orion, including a multi-week summer intensive program for students from the ages of 14 to 18, on-board classroom voyages and group sails for community partners at reduced or no cost to increase accessibility.

  • Green Pathways Fellowship Program, Rainier Valley Corps: $20,000

Rainier Valley Corps cultivates leaders of color, strengthens organizations led by communities of color and fosters collaboration between diverse communities. The grant will help the organization, and partner Got Green, address the lack of diversity in the environmental movement through a fellowship program that will place fellows of color at environmental organizations to work full-time and build their leadership capacity.

  • SEA Discovery Center, Western Washington University Foundation: $18,000

The SEA Discovery Center works to engage Kitsap County youth in hands-on marine education about the local environment. The grant will help the center expand its curriculum for middle school students, including field immersion, environmental stewardship and scientific investigation focused on the restoration of native Olympia oyster and workshops for teachers.

  • Team Leadership Development and Environmental Equity, Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS): $10,000

ECOSS encourages urban redevelopment and environmental health through education, resources and technical assistance to organizations across the Puget Sound region. The grant will help ECOSS provide professional development opportunities to organizational leaders who are people of color, women, immigrants and refugees; strengthen human resources systems; and increase opportunities for green career paths for employees.

  • Salish Sea Collective Planning Grants to Eight Organizations: $10,000 each ($80,000 total)

The Salish Sea Collective is a collaborative of organizations that work to explore a community-centered approach to Salish Sea Recovery, including Asian Counseling and Referral Service; Community to Community; Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group; Got Green; Latino Community Fund; Mother Africa; Na’ah Illahee Fund; and Puget Sound Sage. The Russell Family Foundation has supported the Collective’s planning and coordination efforts in the past. With grants to each of the eight members listed, these organizations, along with other local partners, will continue developing their vision and work together for community-based efforts to protect and restore the Salish Sea.

For more information about the latest grant release cycle or to learn how you can connect with The Russell Family Foundation, listen to this podcast with CEO Richard Woo.

https://patch.com/washington/gigharbor/russell-family-foundation-awards-2-3m-grants

 

Debate Over Water Quality Standards Takes A New Turn – Puget Sound Institute

Christopher Dunagan writes on the issue of the Federal EPA vs. State of Washington EPA, vs. the people of Washington, as the real battle of Trumps reigning in of environmental regulations changes the rules of engagement. The issue is very relevant to all of us in the Salish Sea basin, as it pits a national standard of water quality, established by the EPA under Obama’s era, against an update by the Trump administration. How much cancer causing chemicals can we eat before we get cancer?

The State of Washington EPA fought the original stricter standards, because it would mean more effort by industrial corporations (i.e. Boeing et al) to meet the newer standards, which were put in place partly due to the fact that many of us are eating far more fish than what was originally believed. Now those same corporations are petitioning Trump’s EPA to ease the standards.

It’s not just an academic debate. Cancer causing chemicals effect us and our resident Orcas and more. Read the whole short story on it here. Www.pugetsoundinstitute.org

https://www.pugetsoundinstitute.org/2018/11/debate-over-water-quality-standards-takes-a-new-turn/

Many people thought the issue of regulating toxic chemical discharges into Puget Sound was settled when the federal government forced Washington state to use stricter criteria, but the debate may be underway once again.

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