Bad bill on watersheds needs your input.

Oddly, Senator Kevin Van de Wege is promoting a terrible bill, (SB5517) which would dramatically alter the issue of the instream flow rule. Eastern Washington has been trying for years to get something like this through but the Dems have been not been willing to support it. Now, with Van de Wege co-sponsoring this bill, it seems possible. Below you will find a Sierra Club overview of the problems with this bill. I am surprised if the Tribes support this. My guess is that the farmers of the Dungeness valley are behind this and getting Kevin to promote it. With only two sponsors my experience tells me it’s just a straw dog that Kevin did for them. We encountered this same kind of bill a few years ago regarding gravel bed “management” by farmers down on the Chehalis River. The tribes killed the bill. But it’s not to say that there ought to be a solid showing of dislike for this.

Please contact Kevin’s office and also put your comments in down at the State web site.

. Quick action – sign in “CON”

  1. Go to the SB 5517 Sign-In webpage. (this is a direct link to the SB 5517 specific sign on)
  2. Choose CON as your position
  3. Fill in the remaining boxes: First name, Last name, Email, Address, and Phone
  4. Leave Organization blank
  5. Check the box “I’m not a robot
  6. Finally, hit submit!

Briefing: Legislative Priorities Lobby Days

From the newly named Washington Conservation Action organization.

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

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

RSVP here to receive Zoom meeting link and login details 

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

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

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

Ken Balcomb walks on

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

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

He will be missed.

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

kcb | CWR (whaleresearch.com)

Port Townsend City Council recognizes rights of whales in WA

On Monday night, the Port Townsend mayor and city council took the step to declare that the Southern Resident Orcas have inherent rights. Port Townsend is the first county in Washington State to take this step, in a growing movement known as the Rights of Nature. The “Rights of Nature” framework is the recognition that Nature is a living being and rights-bearing entity. Rights recognition takes Nature out of the realm of property.

Mayor David Faber, Patrick Johnson of QUUF and members of the North Olympic Orca Pod

Patrick Johnson of the Green Sanctuary Environmental Action Team from Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship read the following:

On behalf of Legal Rights for the Salish Sea, Earth Law Center, and our friends and supporters at the Green Sanctuary Environmental Action Team from Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and the North Olympic Orca Pod, we’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Mayor Faber and the members of the Port Townsend City Council for supporting this proclamation recognizing the inherent rights of the Southern Resident Orcas. We have been asking our decision makers to take BOLD action to save these unique and critically endangered orcas, and tonight YOU have done that! Your leadership and compassion for Nature will be a model for other city/county councils to follow. This is historic! 

Central to a “Rights of Nature” framework is the recognition that Nature is a living being and rights-bearing entity. Rights recognition takes Nature out of the realm of property. It reflects an inseparable human-Nature relationship rooted in mutual enhancement and holism rather than dominion, subjugation, and exploitation. Rights of Nature, therefore, offers a framework in line with natural law and science, allowing us to properly respect and value Nature (intrinsic values) as decision making occurs. Over twenty countries already embrace Rights of Nature concepts at some level of government.

In 2018, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (comprised of American Indians/ Alaska Natives and tribes in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Northern California, and Alaska) passed Resolution #18-32 recognizing a sacred obligation to the Southern Resident Orcas, “our relatives under the waves.” The Resolution explains that the sacred obligation “to ensure all our relations are treated in a dignified manner that reflects tribal cultural values that have been passed down for countless generations” is to be understood in the context of “an inherent right and a treaty right, and in terms of indigenous ways of knowing the natural law” as embodied in their relationship to the Southern Residents. 

At a more fundamental level, recognizing the Southern Residents’ inherent rights shows that we as a society value them as living beings. It shows that when we say we want to prevent their extinction, we mean it. This will undoubtedly require changes in the way we do business; opening space for innovations so that we can have a future with clean rivers, ocean and seas, and healthy habitats for humans, animals and plants alike. 

We would not be here without the pioneering work and commitment to Ocean Rights by Michelle Bender and Elizabeth Dunne at the Earth Law Center. Many thanks to our friends at the Center for Whale Research, especially Ken Balcomb; Dr. Debra Giles at Wild Orca; and Howard Garrett, Susan Berta and Cindy Hansen, and everyone at the Orca Network. 

The following is the proclamation of the city of Port Townsend:

Press Release from the Earth Law Center

Port Townsend, WA (December 6th, 2022)—Yesterday evening, Port Townsend’s Mayor David J. Faber signed a Proclamation describing the City of Port Townsend’s support for action by local, state, federal and tribal governments that secure and effectuate the rights of the Southern Resident Orcas.

The Southern Resident Orcas (“the Orcas) are culturally, spiritually, and economically important to the people of Washington State and the world. However, despite federal legal protections for nearly two decades, the population continues to decline and is critically endangered, with only 73 individuals left in the wild.

The Proclamation states that the Southern Resident Orcas possess the inherent rights to: “life, autonomy, culture, free and safe passage, adequate food supply from naturally occurring sources, and freedom from conditions causing physical, emotional, or mental harm, including a habitat degraded by noise, pollution and contamination.”

Kriss Kevorkian of Legal Rights for the Salish Sea (LRSS), with the help of Patrick Johnson, of the Green Sanctuary Environmental Action Team from Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, introduced the idea of the Proclamation. “We are so grateful to the Mayor and City Council of Port Townsend for taking bold action to save these unique and critically endangered Orcas.” says Kriss Kevorkian, founder of LRSS.

Legal Rights for the Salish Sea partnered with Earth Law Center (ELC) in 2018 and are working to educate local communities on a new legal tool to protect Nature and communities – Rights of Nature. Together, they are leading a campaign to gain support for recognizing the rights of the Orcas at the local and Washington State level, and to take immediate actions to protect and restore the Orcas’ rights by addressing their main threats to survival.  “Recognizing the Southern Residents’ legal rights means that we must consider their wellbeing and needs in addition to human interests in decision making, and that they will have a voice in a variety of forums, including courts. Through their human guardians acting on their behalf and in their best interests, the Orcas will be able to express what they need to exist, thrive, and evolve,” explained Elizabeth Dunne, ELC’s Director of Legal Advocacy. “When structures such as the lower Snake River dams interfere with the Southern Residents’ ability to obtain prey (salmon) crucial for their survival, then to realize their rights we must find solutions to remedy the problem,” said Dunne. 

Legal rights for species and their habitats is not new. Hundreds of Rights of Nature laws exist in approximately 30 countries. Both San Francisco and Malibu passed resolutions protecting the rights of whales and dolphins in their coastal waters in 2014; New Zealand’s Government legally recognizes animals as ‘sentient’ beings; the Uttarakhand High Court of India ruled that the entire animal kingdom are legal entities with rights; and the United Kingdom now recognizes lobsters, crabs, and octopus as sentient beings.

Howard Garrett, co-founder of the Orca Network, supports this effort because he sees recognizing the Southern Residents’ inherent rights as “essential to the orcas’ survival and well-being. Without this recognition, people will continue to put economic and self-interest above the Southern Residents’ very survival.”

“Over the past few years, we have continued to see the population decline, and actions to recover the population have been slow and piecemeal. Business as usual is not working” says Michelle Bender. “We thank the leadership of Port Townsend and hope more local communities support a call for policies that give the Orcas, and all Nature, a voice in decision making and a seat at the table.”

This effort is also supported by an online change.org petition and declaration of understanding, of which over 10 organizations have signed onto.

Earth Law Center created a toolkit to help advocates introduce a resolution to their local communities, share the campaign on social media and other helpful talking points. You can take action and view the toolkit here.

#         #         #

Earth Law Center (www.earthlawcenter.org) works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. ELC partners with frontline indigenous people, communities and organizations to challenge the overarching legal and economic systems that reward environmental harm, and advance governance systems that maximize social and ecological well-being.

Legal Rights for the Salish Sea (LRSS- http://legalrightsforthesalishsea.org/) is a local community group based in Gig Harbor, WA, founded by Dr. Kriss Kevorkian, educating people to recognize the inherent rights of the Southern Resident Orcas. Under our current legal system humans and corporations have legal standing but animals and ecosystems don’t. We believe that animals and ecosystems should also have legal rights, not just protections that can be changed by different administrations.

What you should know about Industrial Raised Shellfish Aquaculture: An overview

Kristina Sinclair gave a presentation to the Protect the Peninsula’s Future’s (PPF) meeting last night. I share her presentation with you with her permission. The questions that this presentation raises are many. What is the limit to these operations on our beaches? How much of the Sound and Hood Canal do we the people of this State want to see turned into the images in this presentation? Since 2000 the State has engaged in a promotion of commercial geoduck aquaculture for the profit of a small number of companies selling almost entirely to China. Do we want this to continue unabated? Can we expect local state and federal legislators who receive significant political contributions from these businesses to make changes on our behalf? Without considerable public outcry this will continue. Watch this slideshow, look at the map and you make up your mind.


Kristina Sinclair is an Associate Attorney at the Center for Food Safety (CFS), where she focuses on environmental cases challenging industrial agriculture, including commercial shellfish.

Kristina earned her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. While in law school, Kristina was an Articles Editor for the California Law Review. She also participated in the Environmental Law Clinic, served on the steering committee for Students for Economic and Environmental Justice, and worked as a teaching assistant for Appellate Advocacy. Upon graduation, she received recognition for her pro bono work and a Certificate of Specialization in Environmental Law.

Since joining CFS, Kristina has been working on a lawsuit challenging highly disruptive industrial shellfish operations in Washington. In this case, CFS and Coalition to Protect Puget Sound allege that the U.S. Army Corps (USACE) failed to properly consider the potential risks before reissuing the nationwide permit for commercial shellfish activities in January 2021, in violation of the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Endangered Species Act. In addition, USACE has authorized over 400 commercial shellfish operations without any public notice or environment review. Consequently, these operations have significant adverse effects on Washington’s local environment and wildlife.  In this presentation Kristina provides an overview of USACE’s shellfish permitting requirements, as well as the ongoing litigation challenging USACE’s unlawful shellfish permitting actions. She also shares some insights from this legal work and potential opportunities for future advocacy.  

  • Background on USACE’s Permitting Requirements
  • History of USACE’s Unlawful Permitting Actions in Washington
  • Previous Case
  • Current Case
  • Future Opportunities

Interactive map of Industrial Shellfish Aquaculture in Puget Sound & Hood Canal.

Below is the PDF of the Slideshow. It is over 4MBs so it might load slow on a slow link.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

EVENT: Join Protect the Peninsula’s Future for its 49th Year Celebration (Virtual) 

The PPF has been spearheading environmental challenges to the most difficult problems we have faced: a nuclear power plant on Miller Peninsula, Northern Tier pipeline that would have gone in right off Protection Island, and more recently, the ever-growing industrial shellfish industry and their often illegally permitted farms, as proven in a court case against the Army Corps of Engineers.

Thursday, November 17, 7:00 PM        RSVP to PPF@olympus.net to receive the Zoom connection*

Our featured speaker this year is Kristina Sinclair, Associate Attorney at the Center for Food Safety

Topic: “What You Should Know About Industrial Raised Shellfish

*Space is limited to 100.

Kristina Sinclair is an Associate Attorney at the Center for Food Safety (CFS), where she focuses on environmental cases challenging industrial agriculture, including commercial shellfish.

Kristina earned her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. While in law school, Kristina was an Articles Editor for the California Law Review. She also participated in the Environmental Law Clinic, served on the steering committee for Students for Economic and Environmental Justice, and worked as a teaching assistant for Appellate Advocacy. Upon graduation, she received recognition for her pro bono work and a Certificate of Specialization in Environmental Law.

Webinar: Since joining CFS, Kristina has been working on a lawsuit challenging highly disruptive industrial shellfish operations in Washington. In this case, CFS and Coalition to Protect Puget Sound allege that the U.S. Army Corps (USACE) failed to properly consider the potential risks before reissuing the nationwide permit for commercial shellfish activities in January 2021, in violation of the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Endangered Species Act. In addition, USACE has authorized over 400 commercial shellfish operations without any public notice or environment review. Consequently, these operations have significant adverse, effects on Washington’s local environment and wildlife.  In this webinar, Kristina will provide an overview of USACE’s shellfish permitting requirements, as well as the ongoing litigation challenging USACE’s unlawful shellfish permitting actions. She will also share some insights from this legal work and potential opportunities for future advocacy.  

  • Background on USACE’s Permitting Requirements
  • History of USACE’s Unlawful Permitting Actions in Washington
  • Previous Case
  • Current Case
  • Future Opportunities

Do Protests Actually Help Climate Action?

Fascinating 30 minute audio segment on the BBC about whether mass protests help promote the public to action on climate change. Answer? Not likely. Why? Politics and our modern social media are altering the very reality of people. Political hallucination as I would call it. Check it out.

“As pandemic restrictions ease in many places, street protests are starting up again. But what happens when the public takes climate action into their own hands, from sticking themselves to diggers to bunking off school? Mass protests and demonstrations can be an effective way to gain media attention but do they lead to lasting change?”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct3kjk

Event: Forest Defense is Climate Defense – Port Townsend 9-17

Please join Center for Sustainable EconomyCenter for Responsible Forestry, and the Emergency Conservation Committee PNW on September 17th, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM at the Port Townsend Community Center (right next to Farmers Market)  for a panel discussion on the climate impacts of industrial logging activities and what decision makers at the federal, state, and local level can do to scale up climate smart alternatives that represent a win-win-win for climate, communities, and workers. More information about the event can be found here. Please share the event on Facebook here. The panel will feature former Commissioner of Public Lands (2009-2017) Peter Goldmark, Dr. John Talberth, and Jessica Randall speaking about the scientific and economic case for protecting Olympic forests for their climate benefits and what strategies are in play to accomplish that goal. A lively discussion will follow, so please be prepared to share ideas on what you think needs to happen. See you then!

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

WA Supreme Court landmark decision on forestlands

This is an incredibly important ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court. Why? Because it opens up the real possibility of better timber management to protect old growth along with looking at harvest and its effect on global warming by DNR.

The basis of the lawsuit was this: Article 16, Sec on 1 of the Washington State Constitution states “all the public lands granted to the state are held in trust for all the people.”

Read on. Joint press release from Conservation Northwest, Washington Environmental Council, and Olympic Forest Coalition. Below it is DNR head, Hilary Franz’s response.


Washington State Supreme Court Rules in Conservation Northwest v Commissioner of Public Lands
In an unanimous decision, Court recognizes State’s authority to manage forestlands for public benefit.

OLYMPIA, WA— Today, the Washington State Supreme Court confirms that the state has a constitutional mandate and broad authority to serve “all the people” of Washington and the public interest when managing state lands. This unanimous decision in the case of Conservation Northwest, et al. v. Commissioner of Public Lands, et al . , recognizes that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) can integrate the many diverse public benefits of forests into the management of state forestlands, beyond maximizing revenue genera on from timber harvests.


DNR has historically managed forestlands in ways that maximize revenue from logging, even at the expense of other public interests and benefits. This decision recognizes that the agency, Commissioner of Public Lands, Board of Natural Resources, and State of Washington have the power to manage public lands in ways that truly reflect and support our state’s evolving environmental, economic, and social needs.


The court’s decision states that DNR’s need to serve identified beneficiaries and DNR’s requirement under the State constitution to serve the public interest “should be construed in harmony.” As the Court explained, “[t]here appear to be myriad ways DNR could choose to generate revenue from the state and forest board lands or otherwise put them to use for the benefit of the enumerated beneficiaries.”


The court also states that DNR is not required to generate revenue specifically from timber harvests on state lands, but may elect to do so because of their discretion as trust managers. The agency is also not required to prioritize revenue maximization on in their land management.


“The battle we’ve been fighting is to achieve a fair balance. We have argued that the management of these lands has historically been pushed to maximize revenue. We have never fought to end all timber harvest on state lands,” said Peter Goldman, Director, Washington Forest Law Center and co-counsel for plaintiffs, “This decision confirms instead that the agency, Commissioner of Public Lands, Board of Natural Resources, and State of Washington does not have to maximize timber harvest or revenue generation, and have broad discretion on to balance revenue genera on for identified beneficiaries with management for the broader public interest. DNR and the Legislature now can design 21st Century forest management that meets the challenges we face today.”


Environmental organizations Conservation Northwest, Washington Environmental Council, and Olympic
Forest Coalition, as well as eight community members, brought forth the lawsuit arguing that the state constitution requires that the federally-granted public forestlands managed by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are “held in trust for all the people.” There are approximately 2 million acres of “state trust lands” that were granted to the state by the federal government upon statehood, including almost 1.5 million acres that are forested.


“The court issued a monumental conservation ruling. Over coming years and decades, this ruling will be cited in support of nature-protection policies made by the legislature and the DNR. In short, the nature of this trust is that the state has the discretion to protect the public’s resources,” said Mitch Friedman, Executive Director of Conservation Northwest.

“We are encouraged to see that the Washington State Supreme Court has recognized the power and broad discretion the State has to manage public lands for the benefit of all the people, and not just for maximum timber revenue. Our state’s forests provide immense benefits to all of us–people, trees, animals, and our futures. Washingtonians should not be forced to choose between harvesting timber for funding and having healthy forests to protect our air, water, habitat, and public health,” said Alyssa Macy, CEO of Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. “This decision opens the door for the Department of Natural Resources to manage our public lands toward a healthy, equitable future for generations to come.”


“We are now seeing unprecedented changes in our state forests, habitats, and watersheds from climate disruption”, said Connie Gallant, President of the Olympic Forest Coalition , “We can no longer afford to mine our forests only for short term revenues, assuming without scientific evidence that they will continue to grow back indefinitely. We simply cannot blindly sacrifice the environment any more. The Court recognized that DNR and the Legislature must balance the interests of all the people , not only maximize revenue from timber harvests. This case has clearly put the responsibility on the Commissioner of Public Lands and the Legislature to resolve the policy differences, balance our interests and find a clear path forward. DNR has the discretion – their hands are no longer ed. We can manage for carbon, for science, for revenues, for all our interests. We literally have some of the most important forests in the world to either mi gate climate disruption or add to it. We shall see if the Commissioner of Public Lands and our elected officials take up the baton the Washington Supreme Court has passed to them and protect these forests.”


Article 16, Sec on 1 of the Washington State Constitution states “all the public lands granted to the state are held in trust for all the people.” Conservation NW et al. v. Commissioner of Public Lands et al. asked the court to interpret this constitutional language to require that the agency must consider both generating revenue and the multitude of other ecological benefits of state forestlands.


Upon Washington’s statehood in 1889, the federal government granted Washington 3 million acres of land through the Enabling Act to be held for the public and to support public institutions, including K-12 school construction and state universities. The Board of Natural Resources (BNR) sets policies for management of state trust lands, and management is carried out by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).


The environmental organizations and individuals in this case were represented by the Ziontz Chestnut law firm and the Washington Forest Law Center.


###


“Keeping the Northwest wild” since 1989, Conservation Northwest is a regional non-profit organization that protects, connects and restores wildlands and wildlife from the Washington Coast to the British Columbia Rockies. Staff operate in local communities and rural areas around Washington and into southern B.C., using dialogue to find common ground and collaborative solutions for challenging issues including habitat corridors, wilderness conservation, forest restoration and endangered species recovery.
The Olympic Forest Coalition (OFCO) promotes the protection, conservation and restoration of natural forest ecosystems and their processes on the Olympic Peninsula. This mission includes monitoring and caring for the public forests, watersheds and bays of the Peninsula. OFCO’s approach integrates science-based solutions that protect and restore natural ecosystems, threatened and endangered species, and healthy rural communities. OFCO incorporates the climate crisis and mitigating its impacts on the Olympic Peninsula as foundational for all of its work.


Washington Environmental Council is a nonprofit, statewide advocacy organization on that has been driving positive change to solve Washington’s most critical environmental challenges since 1967. Our mission is to protect, restore, and sustain Washington’s environment for all.


Commissioner Franz Statement in Response to Washington Supreme Court Ruling

OLYMPIA – Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, head of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), released the following statement in response to the Washington Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Conservation Northwest, et al. v. Commissioner of Public Lands et al., regarding the interpretation of the state Constitution’s policy on management of state trust lands:

“I believe strongly in our mission to protect public lands, support healthy forests, and provide essential benefits to the people of Washington.

“Today’s ruling affirms DNR’s position that it has discretion under the constitutional and legislative mandate to manage public lands on behalf of the communities we serve and ensure our public lands are providing the greatest environmental, social, and economic good.

“I also recognize that in the face of a rapidly changing climate, we must do everything we can to safeguard public lands and protect our forests. This is why DNR has made climate resilience and long-term sustainable land use a core part of our work, including being a nationwide leader in efforts to restore forest health and conserve forestland and critical habitat across our state.

“I look forward to our continued work to ensure Washington state’s public lands are healthy, support our communities, and are protected for generations to come.”

NWI: Purchase protects Discovery Creek headwaters – PDN and others

A little behind on this news. Congratulations to Northwest Watershed Institute and everyone else who helped pull this off!

Ninety-one acres of forest and streams at the headwaters of Discovery Creek, a major tributary to Dabob Bay in East Jefferson County, have been acquired by Northwest Watershed Institute from Rayonier. The project completes preservation of nearly the entirety of Discovery Creek, which is the second largest freshwater source to Tarboo-Dabob Bay.

PDN & NWI

Microsoft Word – Discovery Ck acquisition May 27 2022.docx (nwwatershed.org)

Beyond Pesticides Launches Campaign to Save Dungeness Spit from Aquaculture

Beyond Pesticides (BP) has apparently recently learned of the ongoing battle to save Dungeness Spit from an aquaculture farm, supported by Commissioner Hilary Franz and others in our local and state governments. While BP is late to this issue, we welcome their efforts to stop this while we still have a small chance.


In spite of the known harm to migratory and residential birds, salmon, forage fish, other wildlife and their primary feeding areas, and a recommendation by the National Marine Fisheries Service that “an alternative site be identified in a location that results in less potential impacts to wildlife that is more appropriate for aquaculture and meets the goals of the tribe,” permitting agencies approved permits and a lease for a 50-acre industrial oyster farm for private financial gain inside the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. This decision, which is in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, must be reversed.

Agencies are well aware of the potential damage to the lands it is their mission to protect.

>>Tell the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the Dungeness National Wildlife lease must be rescinded.

The Dungeness Bay Wildlife Refuge was created by Executive Order in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson, directing the area to be set aside as a “refuge, preserve and breeding ground for native birds and prohibits any disturbance of the birds within the reserve.” The Refuge provides habitat, a preserve and breeding grounds for more than 250 species of birds and 41 species of land animals. 

The front page of the Refuge website states: “Pets, bicycles, kite flying, Frisbees, ball-playing, camping, and fires are not permitted on the Refuge as they are a disturbance for the many migrating birds and other wildlife taking solitude on the Refuge.” With this level of concern, it is counterintuitive to allow destructive industrial aquaculture. 

These detrimental effects to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge are NOT minimal. Among the negative impacts of this project are: 50% reduction in bird primary feeding grounds;  20,000 – 80,000 toxic plastic oyster bags that exclude the probing shorebird flocks from feeding deeply into the substrate, entrapment of fish and birds, add macro- and micro-plastic bits to the sediment throughout the refuge, and shift the benthic community composition; diminishment of the ecological benefits provided by eelgrass to threatened fish and birds, such as nourishment and cover from predators and, with warming waters, increased toxic algal blooms that will leave a graveyard of dead oysters. Additionally, commercial shellfish operations attract pathogens and non-native species that threaten the area ecosystem and the shellfish. Decision makers should not place financial benefits to the corporation above the long term and cumulative impacts to the refuge.

>>Tell the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the Dungeness National Wildlife lease must be rescinded.

Two Countries, Two Government Officials, Poised to Make One Critical Decision

The Wild Fish Conservancy brings up the impending decisions on net pens that both BC and Washington officials will be making. Given a conversation that I had with Commissioner Franz last year, I hold very little hope of her doing the right thing. She seems either ignorant of the issues, letting staffers make the decisions, or in favor of industry on this topic. But your input now could make a difference. Call her office. 360-902-1000


Volunteers Needed for Seabird Monitoring Program (June – August)

Looking for some fun volunteer opportunities this summer?

Do you enjoy watching wildlife and early morning solitude? If so please consider being a one day per week volunteer monitoring breeding and feeding behavior of Pigeon Guillemots along beach segments in Clallam County (this is part of a regional Salish Sea citizen science program[http://www.pigeonguillemot.org]).

Training (or refresher training) will be provided before surveys begin in early June. Volunteers commit to one morning hour each week for 10 weeks (through August). The Clallam Marine Resources Committee and Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society hope that sufficient numbers of returning and/or new volunteers will allow for substitutes for those taking summer vacations.

If interested, please contact Ed Bowlby (edbowlby2@gmail.com). Thanks for considering being a volunteer and please alert others who might be interested.

Urgent Action: Help appoint Lorna Smith to Fish & Wildlife Commission today

Port Townsend resident Lorna Smith was appointed to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission By Governor Jay Inslee in January of 2021. I’ve known Lorna for many decades, since she helped Eleanor Stopps & Zella Schultz’s efforts to make Protection Island a National Wildlife Refuge. Lorna is an ecologist who served as Snohomish County’s highest level environmental supervisor for 20 years overseeing NEPA, SEPA and ESA implementation for salmon and other listed species and has been a volunteer for many conservation groups and activities here on the Olympic Peninsula (Olympic Forest Coalition, Jefferson Land Trust, Jefferson County Conservation Futures Committee and Jefferson Planning Commission) and state-wide. She has served on many Department of Fish and Wildlife advisory groups. 

She is the only Fish and Wildlife Commissioner from the Olympic Peninsula and the Commission member with the strongest conservation credentials.A Senate confirmation hearing (in Committee) is scheduled for this Thursday, February 24th, 1:30 PM before the Senate Ag and Natural Resources Committee chaired by Senator Van De Wege, who represents the Peninsula and parts of Grays Harbor County.  Lorna Smith deserves and needs  support to continue critical environmental work  on behalf of Washington’s fish, wildlife and habitats.

Today contact Senator Van De Wege and urge that he support her confirmation as a strong conservation candidate and the Peninsula’s own representative to the Commission. Only the Senators on the Committee will be providing testimony, but you can register your comment about Lorna specifically through the following link:  https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/bill/9250

Or via direct email to the following:
Senator Van De Wege email:  Kevin.vandewege@leg.wa.gov
Cc: other key committee members and committee staff:

derek.stanford@leg.wa.gov

christine.rolfes@leg.wa.gov

jesse.salomon@leg.wa.govKaren.epps@leg.wa.gov (staff)

Concerns remain over tribe’s oyster farm in Dungeness Bay – Sequim Gazette

More on the ongoing battle over the Dungeness Spit oyster farm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow the instructions for the Senate bill above.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Event: Sierra Club Conversation with OFCO Staff

January 20th, 7:00 PM

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

Register here.

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

%d bloggers like this: