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.

After a decade of litigation, NOAA Fisheries and EPA will prepare a biological opinion on harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens

From the Wild Fish Conservancy Press Release this morning. It’s unfortunate that those of us concerned about this issue needed to spend 10 years trying to force them to get to this simple issue. NOAA Fisheries have been one of the biggest boosters of net pen Atlantic salmon, never studying the wider effects of pens beyond a few hundred yards away from them. There has never been a wholistic approach to studying the effects of fish waste, food waste, chemicals added to the water, fish escapement, nor the issue that wild fish are attracted to the pens by food. What we learned from the net pen collapse last fall, was that the claims of the industry, repeated by spokesmen for Taylor Shellfish (who support net pens), that there was no way that Atlantic salmon would survive after escapement, were nothing but wishful thinking. Atlantic salmon from the pens were found far up the Skagit River basin and along the north outer shore of Vancouver Island. The misinformation campaigns of these industries that put profit ahead of environment are stunning in their audacity.


After a decade of litigation, NOAA Fisheries and EPA make the 11th hour decision to prepare a biological opinion on harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens to ESA- listed salmon and steelhead.

The agencies have finally begun formal consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to evaluate the potential harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound October 11th, 2018

Duvall, WA – On the eve of court proceedings over a legal battle Wild Fish Conservancy initiated in 2015, NOAA Fisheries and EPA have entered into formal consultation under the Endangered Species Act, consultation that will lead to the issuance of a biological opinion.

Under the Endangered Species Act, a biological opinion evaluates the extent of harm a proposed action will have on threatened or endangered species and whether such harm could jeopardize the continued existence of the species. Biological opinions also include conditions for monitoring and reducing harmful impacts to protected species.

Considering the abundant scientific evidence that open-water Atlantic salmon aquaculture may harm threatened and endangered salmonid species, Wild Fish Conservancy first argued that formal consultation and a biological opinion was necessary back in 2008, when we argued against the agencies’ decision that Atlantic salmon net pens were ‘not likely to adversely affect’ threatened and endangered species. We won that case in 2010, with the court ruling that NOAA and EPA had failed to use the best available science when making their decision and must reconsider whether a biological opinion is necessary.

Less than one year later, after a brief consultation, NOAA and EPA again decided that a biological opinion was unnecessary. This decision was shortly followed by a large-scale disease outbreak in Atlantic salmon net pens off the coast in Bainbridge Island in 2012, which killed over 1 million pounds of farmed Atlantic salmon during a time when juvenile wild salmon were out-migrating through Puget Sound.

Wild Fish Conservancy again challenged the agencies’ decision to avoid a biological opinion in 2015, a case that prompted NOAA and EPA last week to announce their intention to re-initiate consultation and finally prepare a biological opinion. That decision came only after the Court soundly rejected the agencies’ efforts to dismiss the case and ruled that the duty under the Endangered Species Act to re-initiate consultation does apply to EPA’s underlying action.

Since the case was filed in 2015, we have learned far more about the potential for harm the Atlantic salmon net pen industry presents to wild salmon and steelhead. In 2017, a collapsed net pen off the coast of Cypress Island released over 260,000 farmed Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound, nearly all of which are estimated to have been infected with Piscine Reovorius, a highly contagious and potentially lethal virus that may infect wild salmon. A study in 2018

demonstrated that PRV leads to debilitating disease in Chinook salmon, the primary food source of endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

This case comes at a time when key provisions of the Endangered Species Act are under threat in the United States Congress and underscores the monumental importance of the ESA, an act that has been critical in providing key protections to over one thousand threatened and endangered species across the country.

“While it shouldn’t have taken ten years of litigation for our agencies to realize the necessity of a biological opinion,” said Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy’s Executive Director, “I am glad to hear they have decided to change course, and I am hopeful that a biological opinion will lead to conditions and terms that will limit and monitor the harm caused by net pens to ESA-listed salmon and steelhead.

“Taking the utmost precaution is necessary to avoid the extinction of imperiled Pacific salmon and steelhead species, especially when considering the dire plight of Chinook salmon and the Southern Resident killer whales that are starving due to their struggling population.”

Contact

Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director, 425.788.1167/kurt@wildfishconservancy.org

About

Wild Fish Conservancy is a science & research conservation non-profit dedicated to the preservation, protection & restoration of wild fish ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. We are headquartered in Duvall, WA. Learn more at wildfishconservancy.org

Wild Fish Conservancy is represented in this matter by the law firm of Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC, with offices in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

Harbour seals are easy scapegoats in Chinook salmon decline – Vancouver Sun

Once again, the knee jerk reaction to ‘solving’ a problem is balanced by the scientists who actually study the problem. There has been a call for culling harbour seals, with ‘everyone’ knowing that they see a lot of them and they are eating a lot of salmon, apparently. Well, here’s the alternative point of view, rather than fake news.

It’s partly out of concern for the latter sparking recent calls for a cull of harbour seals, with those in favour citing a recent explosion in the seal population as principal cause of the decline of Chinook salmon. “Explosion?” Yikes. This is serious, and we had better respond. But, hold on a minute — there has been virtually no change in seal numbers in B.C. in more than 20 years. But for the whales — which face additional threats that include vessel strikes, pollution, underwater noise, and a shrinking gene pool — the problem is, as usual, us humans.

Dr. Peter Ross is the vice-president of research, and Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard is director of the Cetacean Research Program at Ocean Wise.

Read the whole story at:

Opinion: Harbour seals are easy scapegoats in Chinook salmon decline

Support your local newspaper, no matter how lame it is. Blogs don’t replace reporters who are paid a living wage to take the time to get the news and boil it down to something we can understand. Fight those that constantly refer to the press as the ‘enemy of the people’ and ‘fake news’. Those voices are demagogues who are only working to promote their own point of view to their own profit.

 

Tribal elders see dreams coming true in canoe journey as pullers reach Port Townsend – PDN

This incredible sight has been going on for a number of years now. It is the Tribe’s way of helping their teens to reignite their heritage and find a future without drugs and alcohol, the scurge that our ancestors brought to their world. For thousands of years these people lived in harmony with this land. It is an honor to have the canoe journey back again in Port Townsend. We need their voices now more than ever.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/tribal-elders-see-dreams-coming-true-in-canoe-journey-as-pullers-reach-port-townsend/

State denies request to move juvenile Atlantic salmon to Bainbridge net pens -AP & various

Well, this is likely the end of the line for Atlantic net pen raised salmon in Puget Sound. Good news for wild fish and the benthic layer in those locations.

Washington state fish managers have denied a request by Cooke Aquaculture to move thousands of juvenile Atlantic salmon from its hatchery to marine net pens in Kitsap County. The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday it rejected the company’s application because the move would increase the risk of fish disease transmission both within and outside the pens…. Tests taken from samples of fish that would have been transported showed they had a form of the fish virus PRV that has not been known to occur in Washington waters. WDFW fish health manager Ken Warheit called it an “exotic strain” that differs from the variety that had been present in the eastern Pacific Ocean, creating an “unknown risk that made it unacceptable.” (Associated Press)

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