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

WA Legislators prepare for long list of climate change bills – Crosscut and others

As we start the 2022 legislative session, there’s a lot of new bills to follow.

Lawmakers could look at more than a dozen climate proposals addressing carbon reduction and other environmental issues

https://crosscut.com/politics/2022/01/wa-legislators-prepare-long-list-climate-change-bills

Also there is a parallel and somewhat overlapping set of bills followed by the Environmental Environmental Priorities Coalition. They are a coalition of over twenty leading environmental groups who lobby in Olympia on a regular basis and organize around a set of priority bills each legislative session.  They established four to be their highest priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session, they are listed below.  As in the past, they will be sending out a weekly “Hot List” to assist in your efforts to promote this common agenda.

The key priorities for the environmental caucus, as defined by the Washington Environmental Council and other allies:

2022 Priorities

Lorraine Loomis Act for Salmon Recovery (SB 5727 / HB 1838): Across the state, salmon are on the brink of extinction. Some Puget Sound salmon species have declined by 90% compared to historical populations. In the Columbia River basin, returns are as little as 2% of historical levels. The Governor is proposing habitat legislation as a tribute to Lorraine Loomis (Swinomish Tribe, and Chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission) longtime champion for the salmon. The Act requires tree buffers tall and wide enough to shade rivers and streams. The Act also requires shifting to a standard of improving ecological conditions rather than habitat loss mitigation.

Transportation for All: We need to fund a transportation system that reduces pollution and can support a range of transportation solutions including improving multimodal transportation choices, such as biking, driving, and public transit. Transportation dollars must be used in ways that deliver the best investments possible to help build a more efficient, affordable, and clean transportation system for all.

GMA Sprawl Loophole (SB 5042): The current sprawl loophole undermines the intent of the Growth Management Act (GMA) by allowing counties to subvert the Growth Management Hearing Board (GMHB) appeals process to illegally build sprawling developments that devours farmlands, forests, and critical habitats. The loophole locks in outdated rules, and puts a financial strain on jurisdictions to provide adequate infrastructure, facilities, and services to new developments.

RENEW Act (SB 5697): All across Washington, plastic waste litters Washington’s shorelines and waterways, filling landfills to capacity, and harming wildlife. Our recycling system needs to be modernized so packaging can actually be recycled, composted, or reused. The Renew Recycling Act addresses this waste by creating a set of graduated fees on packaging manufacturers based on how readily reusable, compostable, or recyclable their products are. These fees will be used to fund improvements in infrastructure, uniform access for residents across the state, and a clear list of what people can recycle. This bill will have the added benefit of shifting recycling costs away from ratepayers and onto the manufacturers.

The Puget Sound Partnership Agenda

Buy Clean & Buy Fair (HB 1103 / SB 5366): Washington has an important role to play through investing in locally sourced materials, manufactured in facilities with high labor standards and minor environmental impact. The policy creates a reporting system with vital information on the environmental and labor impacts of structural materials used in state-funded infrastructure projects. During the 2021 session, the legislature funded the creation of a publicly accessible database to enable reporting and promote transparency. Passing Buy Clean and Buy Fair legislation sends a clear market signal of the growing demand for ethically-made low-carbon goods. (Partner: Blue Green Alliance)

Energy for All (HB 1490): Secure access to energy is crucial to keeping Washington residents healthy, safe, learning, working, and thriving, and will facilitate a Just Transition to clean energy. The Governor and Utilities and Transportation Commission moratoriums on shut-offs helped sustain residential energy service in Washington and protected the public. But these protections are temporary and utilities are already seeking to collect on debt. This legislation establishes access to home energy as a basic need and an essential resource that should be accessed in full dignity without uncertainty about affordability and threats of disconnection. (Partner: Front & Centered)

Also, you can track environmental bills here:

and here:

The Northwest Spotted-Owl Wars: No Happily Ever After – CrossCut

NW Environmental writer Dan Chasen puts together a good look at the Spotted Owl controversy and what is in store for the endangered bird.

So, where does this leave us? The most prominent environmental battle of the late 20th century; the most ambitious ecosystem management plan ever attempted; the most acres of critical habitat for a listed species; the only environmental conflict that has been the subject of a conference led by the President and attended by a good deal of the Cabinet; a species in a steep, scientifically-acknowledged and widely-reported decline — even with all those factors the FWS can’t find time to boost its status from “threatened” to “endangered?” This is bizarre. But hardly surprising.

https://www.postalley.org/2021/12/17/the-northwest-spotted-owl-wars-no-happily-ever-after/

Event: 2022 Environmental Lobby Day

WHEN: January 25th, 26th and 27th

WHERE: ONLINE

https://www.facebook.com/events/223059966492649/?active_tab=discussion

Join the 350 WA Network, Our Climate, Re-Sources, Climate Reality Project, Environmental Priorities Coalition and hundreds of activists to push for key environmental health and justice legislation in 2022. During lobby days, you will team up with other activists from your district to speak up for the environmental health and justice and gain the skills to be a persuasive constituent. You’ll have the opportunity to attend online issue briefings, learn how to lobby, hear from environmental champions, and meet virtually with your elected officials to advance important environmental legislation. Stay tuned for more details and pre-register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/…/tZItce…
Email kat@wcvoters.org with questions

A Second Court Rejects Cooke Aquaculture’s Challenge Over Termination of Port Angeles Net Pen Lease

Port Angeles Netpen managed by Cook Aquaculture – Photo provided by Wild Fish Conservancy

Cook loses another one. Very good news.

Media Contacts: Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director, kurt@wildfishconservancy.org

DECEMBER 17, 2021—In another legal defeat for Cooke Aquaculture, a second Washington state court has rejected efforts by the seafood giant to sue Washington state over the termination of the company’s lease for their Port Angeles netpen operation. On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming a lower court ruling upholding the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) decision to terminate the lease.

The Court’s decision represents another major step forward in the public’s hard-fought efforts to remove this dirty industry from Puget Sound waters,” says Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director. “I applaud the Courts for putting our natural resources and the interest of the public ahead of this powerful corporate interest.”

The court said:

We hold that the superior court properly applied the arbitrary and capricious standard of
review because DNR’s decision to terminate the lease was administrative, and that DNR’s decision to terminate the lease was not arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, we affirm the superior court’s final order upholding DNR’s lease termination decision.

This week’s decision concludes a nearly four-year appeal process that began in early 2018 when Cooke filed suit against DNR, arguing the agency had wrongfully terminated the lease ahead of the 2025 expiration date. In 2020, a Thurston County Superior Court Judge rejected Cooke’s challenge and the company appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals which issued the opinion this week.

DNR terminated the lease in December 2017 after an investigation revealed various violations at the Port Angeles facility,including operating outside of its boundaries, failure to pay rent timely, and not operating the facility in a safe condition.Shortly following the termination, the net pens were completely removed from Port Angeles Harbor.This week the Court overwhelming rejected Cooke’s opinion that the decision to terminate the lease was arbitrary and capricious, finding DNR’s decision “was based on facts supported by substantial evidence, pursuant to plain terms of the contract, was well reasoned and made with due regard to the facts and circumstances.”Cooke is also suing DNR in a separate ongoing lawsuit over the early termination of the company’s Cypress Island lease.The lease was terminated following the 2017 catastrophic collapse of a Cooke net pen that released over 260,000 nonnative Atlantic salmon infected with an exotic virus into Puget Sound. A comprehensive investigation by Washington agencies found Cooke at fault for the collapse and Cooke was also required to pay $2.75 million in Clean Water Act violations in a lawsuit brought by Wild Fish Conservancy. The collapse also resulted in Washington passing a landmark and widely celebrated law banning all nonnative Atlantic salmon finfish aquaculture, Cooke’s only enterprise at the time.“I hope the public will join me in thanking Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and her department for their unwavering commitment to protecting Puget Sound in the face of Cooke’s meritless, costly, and time-consuming lawsuits,” says Beardslee. “Under Commissioner Franz’s leadership, DNR has a proven record as the only regulatory agency in Washington willing to take bold action to hold this dangerous industry accountable.”In a controversial decision, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife permitted Cooke in 2020 to begin rearing steelhead in their Puget Sound net pens where the company holds valid leases. With the Cypress Island and Port Angeles leases terminated by DNR, Cooke only holds valid leases for two net pen sites in Puget Sound. Both leases will expire next year and Cooke will need to apply and secure new leases from DNR to continue operating in Washington. In a letter to Cooke earlier this year, DNR warned the company that the agency has not yet decided if they will issue Cooke new leases.“This week’s Court decision could not have come at a more important time. With Cooke’s only existing leases set to expire next year, DNR is in a critical decision-making period that will determine the future of this industry in Puget Sound,” says Beardslee. “

The Court’s decision removes any opportunity for Cooke to try and recover millions in lost revenue from DNR, which would have provided Cooke important leverage to potentially negotiate their future and new leases in our public waters.”

In July 2020, Wild Fish Conservancy submitted official applications to DNR requesting to lease all of the sites used by Cooke for commercial net pen aquaculture. This alternative proposal, the Taking Back Our Sound Restoration Project,seeks to hold these waters in public trust for the sole purposes of restoring these polluted sites to their natural state and restoring the public’s access to over 130 acres of Puget Sound that have been restricted for private profit for over three decades. This proposal is supported by a broad-based coalition of over 100 businesses and organizations and over 6,000 individuals who have signed onto an ongoing petition to Commissioner Franz calling on DNR to not extend, renew, or reissue leases for commercial net pen aquaculture in Puget Sound and to instead lease these waters for this unprecedented restoration project.“The expiration of these leases comes only once in a decade and offers the public a rare opportunity to work together to take back our sound from the net pen industry, “says Beardslee. “Cooke’s first lease will expire in March 2022, there foreit’s critical at this time that we continue to work together to call on DNR to make the right decision for wild fish and the health of Puget Sound.

EVENT: Science Panel to discuss Puget Sound Recovery issues Dec 16

If you are following the recovery efforts of the Puget Sound Partnership and care about what the next steps in the long running restoration of the Sound are going to be for 2022, this is likely one of the most important meetings of the year.


MEDIA CONTACT: Kevin Hyde, kevin.hyde@psp.wa.gov 

The Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel will meet on Thursday, December 16, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the December 16 Science Panel meeting will be a virtual Zoom meeting for all participants and the public.

Zoom instructions are included in the meeting agenda, which is available through our board meetings page: https://psp.wa.gov/board_meetings.php

Meeting highlights include:

  • A presentation for discussion about legislative and budget priorities for the 2022 Washington State legislative session. This session will include a presentation of the Partnership staff’s ranking of 2022 supplemental budget requests, Project Olga legislative recommendations, and input received from boards and advisory groups. Presentation by Don Gourlie, legislative policy director at the Puget Sound Partnership.
  • A presentation for discussion about the Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS) study on Net Ecological Gain. WSAS is advising the state legislature on a net ecological gain standard for state land use, development, and environmental laws to achieve a goal of better statewide performance on ecological health and endangered species recovery. Presentation by Ron Thom, member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, staff scientist emeritus at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and senior science advisor for the Puget Sound Partnership. 
  • A presentation for discussion on cumulative effects evaluation and case study application to Puget Sound recovery. A cumulative effects evaluation is a tool to evaluate recovery progress and effectiveness by analyzing the cumulative benefits of recovery actions across large spatial and temporal scales. This presentation will include discussion of how the peer-reviewed methodology for a cumulative effects evaluation can be applied in Puget Sound. Presentation by Elene Trujillo, effectiveness monitoring analyst at the Puget Sound Partnership, Annelise Del Rio, monitoring performance analyst/salmon scientist at the Puget Sound Partnership, Ron Thom, staff scientist emeritus at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and senior science advisor for the Puget Sound Partnership, and Gary Johnson, retired research scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • A presentation and discussion about the Science Panel’s 2022 work plan and the shared priorities of the Partnership’s boards. This session will include discussion of existing topics and new topics for the Science Panel’s 2022 work plan and a review of the board’s 2021 priorities. Presentation by Jillian Reitz, boards policy advisor at the Puget Sound Partnership.
  • A presentation and discussion about identifying actions to include in the 2022-2026 Action Agenda. Partnership staff will update the Panel on the process to identify actions to include in the 2022-2026 Action Agenda update. Partnership staff will also invite the Panel to continue discussing its role in implementing this Action Agenda. Presentation by Dan Stonington, planning manager at the Puget Sound Partnership.
  • A presentation for discussion about the application of econometric cost models to fish passage barriers. This session will include an overview of a report on using econometric and machine learning methods to project the restoration costs for 27,000 barrier culverts documented in state inventories. Presentation by Braeden Van Deynze, postdoctoral research associate with the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, and Robby Fonner, economist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center. 


The full Science Panel agenda and meeting materials are available through our board meetings page at: https://psp.wa.gov/board_meetings.php.

If you need special accommodations to participate in this meeting, please notify Boards Policy Advisor Jillian Reitz at 360.742.2936.


About the Science Panel

The Science Panel’s expertise and advice are critical to the Puget Sound Partnership’s efforts to develop a comprehensive, science-based plan to restore Puget Sound. The members, appointed by the Leadership Council, are chosen from the top scientists in Washington State.

About the Puget Sound Partnership

The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency formed to lead the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. Working with hundreds of government agencies, tribes, scientists, businesses, and nonprofits, the Partnership mobilizes partner action around a common agenda, advances Sound investments, and tracks progress to optimize recovery.

For more information, go to www.psp.wa.gov.

Navy loses court battle with Whidbey Island environmental organizations and Washington State.

In a dramatic conclusion to a long running court battle over the expansion of the Whidbey Island Naval Base, the District Court of Washington Judge Richard Creatura has forced the Navy to sit down with State’s Attorney General office and the environmental groups led by Citizen’s of the Ebey’s Reserve (COER) and Paula Spina, to forge an agreement to satisfy some of the issues raised by the environmental groups. The judge was scathing in his findings against the Navy’s work in their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). His language could not be more clear,”the Navy appears to have used certain statistics “‘much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.’ “

Whidbey Island Naval Base

While the groups did not win all their demands, they won what likely will be the most critical issues. Here is a condensed version of the judge’s findings. I cannot improve on his language.

Plaintiffs challenge the Navy’s 2018 final environmental impact statement (“FEIS”) and 2019 record of decision authorizing t he expansion of EA-18G “Growler” aircraft operations at the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (“NASWI”) under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”), These statutes mandate a procedure that an agency must follow before taking an action as significant as the Growler expansion at NASWI.

Under NEPA and the APA, the Navy’s decision may be overturned if the Navy acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” and failed to take a “hard look” at the consequences of the proposed action.

Here, despite a gargantuan administrative record, covering nearly 200,000 pages of studies, reports, comments, and the like, the Navy selected methods of evaluating the data that supported its goal of increasing Growler operations. The Navy did this at the expense of the public and the environment, turning a blind eye to data that would not support this intended result. Or, to borrow the words of noted sports analyst Vin Scully, the Navy appears to have used certain statistics “much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”


When reporting on the environmental impact of Growler fuel emissions, the Navy underreported the true amount of Growler fuel emissions and failed to disclose that it was not including any emissions for flights above 3,000 feet. Even after receiving a comment on the issue, the Navy failed to disclose its underreporting and dismissed the issue with broad generalities.


With respect to the impact of this increased operation on childhood learning, the Navy acknowledged numerous studies that concluded that aircraft noise would measurably impact learning but then arbitrarily concluded that because it could not quantify exactly how the increased operations would interfere with childhood learning, no further analysis was necessary.

As to the impact of increased jet noise on various bird species, the Navy repeatedly stated that increased noise would have species-specific impacts on the many bird species in the affected area but then failed to conduct a species-specific analysis to determine if some species would be more affected than others. Instead, the Navy simply concluded that certain species were not adversely affected and then extrapolated that all the other species would not be affected, either.


Regarding evaluating reasonable alternatives to the Growler expansion at NASWI, which the Navy was required to do, the Navy rejected moving the Growler operations to El Centro, California out of hand, summarily concluding that such a move would cost too much and that moving the operation to that location would have its own environmental challenges. The Navy’s cursory rationale was arbitrary and capricious and does not provide a valid basis to reject the El Centro alternative.


For these reasons, the Court recommends that the District Court find the FEIS violated the NEPA and grant all summary judgment motions in part and deny them in part. Also, the Court grants plaintiffs leave to submit extra record evidence to address certain issues. Assuming the District Court follows this recommendation, it should order supplemental briefing regarding the appropriate remedy for the NEPA violations described herein.

This blog has argued for years that the only way to stop environmental degradation is with lawsuits. Once again, as we have seen against the aquaculture industry and the Army Corps of Engineers, the legal system continues to be the last bastion of hope against the flood of money, hubris, greed and incompetence that continue to attempt (and sometimes succeed) and permeate many of our public funded agencies. Our politicians so rarely step up and stand up to these agencies, leaving it up to us to fund and fight them. To those supporters of the Navy base, including both Democrats and Republicans, it’s clear that the Navy did not do it’s job, nor did it consider moving the base, which the judge said should have been considered. The environmental argument is not anti-navy, it’s pro environment.

Thanks to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for taking a very hard stand against a very large foe. And thanks to COER for their never ending optimism in this battle. They have not won the war, but a significant battle for protection of our environment.

The actual judge’s findings are here:

https://citizensofebeysreserve.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=bb176b9f46ee71c04272e9f33&id=44766c27d8&e=cc55e62a2d

Ecuador’s Constitutional Court Applies “Rights of Nature”to Safeguard Protected Forest

What could this have to do with the Olympic Peninsula? Well, just a few months ago, our Department of Natural Resources decided that putting 80,000 bags of oysters inside a National Wildlife Reserve was a good idea, regardless of the scientific opinions of the biologists at the Reserve. Perhaps a court challenge could call into affect the “Rights of Nature” to safeguard the Spit from commercial exploitation?


QUITO, ECUADOR— In an unprecedented ruling, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador has applied Ecuador’s constitutional provision on the “Rights of Nature” to safeguard Los Cedros Protected Forest from mining concessions. The Court voted 7 in favor and 2 abstentions.

With the ruling, published on December 1st, the Constitutional Court ordered that activities that threaten the Rights of Nature should not be carried out within Los Cedros Protected Forest, thereby prohibiting mining and all types of extractive activities. Water and environmental permits to mining companies will now also be denied. 

Two-thirds of the reserve is covered by mining concessions granted to the Ecuadorian state mining company, ENAMI, and its Canadian partner, Cornerstone Capital Resources. The Constitutional Court agreed to hear the case in May 2020.

The Court’s decision also imposes a series of orders on the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition to comply with the decision. These include orders for the Ministry to help construct a participatory plan for managing the Los Cedros Protected Forest and to ensure respect for the Rights of Nature and the right to a healthy environment. The Court also ordered the government to adopt regulations so that the future issuance of environmental records and licenses and the use of water for extractive activities avoid violating the Rights of Nature, as in the case of Los Cedros.

Overall, this decision clearly details the effects of the Rights of Nature for administrative authorities in a way that was unprecedented.

“This case is emblematic not only for Ecuador but also for the international community,” said Alejandro Olivera, senior scientist and Mexico representative at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This progressing and innovative ruling protects the imperiled wildlife, such as the endangered brown-headed spider monkeys and endangered spectacled bears, from mining companies.”

In September 2020, Earth Law Center, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, the Center for Biological Diversity, International Rivers, and the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center (“Coalition”) filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief (Spanish; English) before the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court. The brief asked the Court to protect Los Cedros and robustly enforce constitutional provisions that establish the Rights of Nature, or “Pachamama,” including the rights to exist, to restoration, and the unique rights of rivers, especially the Magdalena River.

“This is a historic victory in favor of Nature. The Constitutional Court states that no activity that threatens the Rights of Nature can be developed within the ecosystem of Los Cedros Protected Forest, including mining and any other extractive activity. Mining is now banned within this amazing and unique protected forest. This sets a great juridical precedent to continue with other threatened Protected Forests. Today, the endangered frogs, the spectacled bears, the spider monkey, the birds, and Nature as a whole have won an unprecedented battle”, says Natalia Greene from the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. 

“It is undoubtedly good news, but the situation of Los Cedros Protected Forest is not an isolated event in Ecuador,” said Constanza Prieto Figelist, Latin American Legal Director at Earth Law Center. “This is a problem of the forests throughout the country. In recent years, many mining concessions that overlap with Protective Forests have been awarded.”

The brown-headed spider monkey, found in Los Cedros, has lost more than 80% of its original area of distribution in northwest Ecuador. In 2005, it was estimated that there were fewer than 250 brown-headed spider monkeys globally, granting the species a place among the top 25 most endangered primates in the world.

The groups note that the case is of great significance, both for Ecuador and the world, because it has the potential to establish important and influential “Earth jurisprudence” that will help guide humanity to be a benefit rather than a destructive presence within the community of life. The proposed mining is unlawful, the Coalition say, because it violates the rights of the Los Cedros Protected Forest as an ecosystem as well as the rights of the many members of that living community.

# # #

Earth Law Center (https://www.earthlawcenter.org) is a non-governmental organization based in the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada that promotes the application of the Rights of Nature at the local and international levels. The organization creates alliances with local organizations to recognize and promulgate laws that recognize the inherent rights of rivers, oceans, and coastal and terrestrial ecosystems. Thus, it seeks to make a paradigm shift, fighting for the formal recognition of the rights of nature to exist, prosper and evolve. Earth Law Center aims to grant ecosystems the same rights recognized to people and corporations, allowing them to defend their rights before national and international courts, not only for the benefit of people but also for nature itself.

Climate on Tap: “What Happened in Glasgow?”

Wed, Dec 1st at Finn River

Join guest speakers Jessica Plumb (award winning filmmaker, “Return of the River”) and Rachel Cardone (international water issues researcher at Stanford) who attended COP26. They observed firsthand all the nations of the world convening in Glasgow, Scotland to agree on policies and plans to ensure for a sustainable future for this planet. Come hear the outcomes and plan what we can do to join in the good work.

Open to Climate on Tap only in the open air Pavilion with socially-distanced tables. Vaccinations and ID required. Food and beverages available including hot cider! Overhead heaters make it cozy!  Co-sponsored by Local 20/20 Climate Action, Jefferson County Public Health, and FinnRiver Cidery. This is not a lecture series, but a discussion format with a focus on action taking. For further information email Laura Tucker or call 360-379-4491.
Time: 7-8:30pm | LocationFinnRiver Cidery

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