Salmon-killing tires get congressional hearing – KUOW

This is a must needed first step towards changing the equation to what may prove to be one of the root causes of our loss of salmon. Worth noting that no Washington State representatives are on this committee (why? I don’t know). It also appears that it is populated by far more Republicans than Democrats. Again. Why? I don’t know.


A study that pinpointed a chemical from car tires as the cause of salmon die-offs in West Coast creeks has prompted a congressional hearing. The toxic effects of tire dust and skid marks on coho salmon were the subject of a U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee hearing Thursday. Washington State University researcher Jenifer McIntyre said 6PPD-quinone, a chemical recently discovered in used tires, has been washing off roadways and killing coho salmon. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

Salmon-killing tires get congressional hearing

With rollback of Trump proposal, new Biden plan cuts just 2% of spotted owl protections -OPB

Good news as the Biden Administration works to reverse the damage done by Trump.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to withdraw the previous administration’s rule that slashed millions of acres of critical habitat protections for the northern spotted owl. The proposed new rule would reduce the protected habitat area in Oregon by 200,000 acres — leaving far more land protected for the threatened owl than called for by the Trump administration. This comes after the Biden administration’s U.S Interior Department delayed and reviewed the Trump administration’s Jan. 15 rollback of 3.4 million acres of designated critical habitat protections for the imperiled species in Washington, Oregon and California. Monica Samayoa reports. (OPB)

With rollback of Trump proposal, new Biden plan cuts just 2% of spotted owl protections

How healthy is the Salish Sea? Canada-U.S. study tracks ecosystem decline – Coast Reporter

We hear from our Puget Sound Partnership that things are doing “better” from their indicators. However, this new study sheds another perspective on the issue. I’m wondering after the recent heat wave, whether shellfish are going to remain a “positive” indicator.


A joint Canada-U.S. report on the health of the Salish Sea has found either an overwhelming decline or stable trend in nine out of 10 environmental indicators tracked by researchers. The only positive? Shellfish. Stefan Labbe reports. (Coast Reporter)

How healthy is the Salish Sea? Canada-U.S. study tracks ecosystem decline

and read the whole EPA report here:
Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report | US EPA

Solar rooftops fight solar farms in Infrastructure bill.Seattle Times

Interesting take on a battle for the future of energy transmission. Note that solar rooftops provided a small but significant amount of California’s electricity when needed during the wildfire electrical outages.

More power lines, or rooftop solar panels? The fight over energy’s future.

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/more-power-lines-or-rooftop-solar-panels-the-fight-over-energys-future/

Seabed mining opponents off WA Coast find win in legislature – Public News Service

Finally we have a ban on seabed mining off the coast. Thanks to everyone who pushed this bill. Sad it took a Democratically controlled legislature to pass it. This article explains why it’s a good thing.


Gov. Jay Inslee signed a seabed mining ban into law Monday. The measure prohibits mineral extraction within three miles of Washington’s coastline. It received nearly unanimous support in the Legislature, except for two “no” votes in the House. Lee First, co-founder of Twin Harbors Waterkeeper, helped mobilize businesses and conservation organizations to support the ban. Eric Tegethoff reports. (Public News Service)

Seabed Mining Opponents Off WA Coast Find Win in Legislature

Crosscut tracks bills in current session – Crosscut

A good look at the bills that matter being tracked by Crosscut. 

The bills we’re tracking in the 2021 Washington state Legislature
Pandemic relief, climate change, police accountability, taxes and more — here’s what we’re watching halfway into the session. Mohammed Kloub reports. (Crosscut)

https://crosscut.com/politics/2021/03/bills-were-tracking-2021-washington-state-legislature

Amid climate crisis, a proposal to save Washington state forests for carbon storage, not logging – Seattle Times

This is a good idea. Glad that Franz is in this role. She is doing a great job of looking into new ways to envision the public forestlands. 

_____________________________________________

Hilary Franz, state commissioner of public lands, is kicking off an examination over the next three to four months of all older forests on DNR lands west of the Cascades not already in conservation status — about 10,000 acres –to evaluate alternative uses to logging, including biodiversity, carbon storage, water quality and recreation. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/amid-climate-crisis-a-proposal-to-save-washington-state-forests-for-carbon-storage-not-logging/

Scramble to re-issue permits for area shellfish farms underway following lawsuit -Skagit Valley Herald

The State is working to grant updated operating permits after the fiasco of the Army Corps of Engineers losing a major lawsuit last year under appeal. It will be interesting to see how, since the judge found that the existing permits had not taken long term harm ot the environment into consideration, as to how the state will not get sued again since I don’t understand at this point what they changed about determining long term environmental damage. More to follow on this.

Shellfish farms in the state and the agencies that issue them operating permits are scrambling to complete farm-by-farm paperwork following litigation over whether a former permitting system ensured adequate protections for the marine environment…State Department of Ecology spokesperson Curt Hart said the agency has received 446 applications for shellfish farm permits and has issued public notices for decisions on about 150 of them under Clean Water Act requirements. A public notice was issued this week for one of 16 applications for shellfish growers in Skagit County. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Scramble to re-issue permits for area shellfish farms underway following lawsuit 

EVENT: WDFW hosts online meeting to hear public input on fish passage and screening rule

February 16, 2021
Contact: 
Gabrielle Stilwater, fishpassagerules@dfw.wa.gov

WDFW hosts online meeting to hear public input on fish passage and screening rule

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is working to create new rules surrounding fish passage and screening improvement work. The public is invited to an online meeting on Thursday, Feb. 25 from 1 to 2 p.m. to learn more about the topic and provide input. No registration is required to attend.

The rulemaking effort is rooted in recommendations from Gov. Inslee’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force. In 2018, the task force published its report identifying lack of prey as a key threat to Southern Resident Orcas. Recommendation three of the report endorsed agencies to apply and enforce laws that protect salmon habitat.

The task force specifically noted that WDFW should develop rules to fully implement Chapter 77.57 Revised Code of Washington (RCW), better known as the fishways, flow, and screening statutes.  

“Barriers that block fish from swimming upstream or fish movement instream, such as deteriorating culverts, outdated bridges, and diversion dams undermine the state’s salmon recovery efforts and impact other aquatic species,” said Margen Carlson, Habitat Program Director at WDFW. “We want to help landowners protect fish by creating rules that provide clear guidance.”

WDFW has drafted the first version of rules for comment. For more information, visit wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/habitat-recovery/fish-passage/rule-making.

People with limited internet access can call the Habitat Program at 360-902-2534 to learn how to participate by phone and request print materials.

Although fish passage and screening requirements for new construction has been codified through Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) rules, rulemaking for fish passage and screening will focus on compliance standards used for current and future fish passage and screening improvement projects, such as climate adapted water crossings. New rules are anticipated to go into effect in 2022.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

Federal Judge George Boldt issues historic ruling affirming Native American treaty fishing rights on February 12, 1974

On this day, history for both the NW Tribes and all Tribes across this country changed for the better. One of the most important rulings in the history of U.S.< > Tribal relations, no matter which side of this you may have been on. For the Tribes, it showed that the legal system could work for them. For non-natives, it showed that their dominance of the fisheries and other resources was over and that “honoring the treaties” was a not just a hollow phrase. Nothing would be the same again. It also represents the only way forward if we are going to continue to build a coalition that can effectively restore the salmon runs. The Tribes have been the most effective partners in doing this work, as shown by the Jamestown, Elwa and Port Gamble S’Klallam peoples. We raise our hands in thanks for this day. We have little time left to save the runs, and the small incremental progress being made needs to accelerate.



On February 12, 1974, Federal Judge George Boldt (1903-1984) issues an historic ruling reaffirming the rights of Washington’s Indian tribes to fish in accustomed places. The “Boldt Decision” allocates 50 percent of the annual catch to treaty tribes, which enrages other fishermen. At the same time Judge Boldt denies landless tribes — among them the Samish, Snoqualmie, Steilacoom, and Duwamish — federal recognition and treaty rights. Western Washington tribes had been assured the right to fish at “usual and accustomed grounds and stations” by Federal treaties signed in 1854 and 1855, but during the next 50 years Euro-American immigrants — armed with larger boats, modern technology, and the regulatory muscle of the state — gradually displaced them. The campaign to reassert Native American fishing rights began in 1964 with “fish-ins” on the Puyallup River led by Robert Satiacum (1929-1991) and Billy Frank Jr. (1931-2014), who defied Washington state attempts to regulate their fishing. (History Link)

Federal Judge George Boldt issues historic ruling affirming Native American treaty fishing rights on February 12, 1974

Puget Sound Partnership proposing “Desired Outcomes” for ongoing ecosystem recovery – PSI

New from the Partnership, which is tasked with recovery of Puget Sound. Recovery is not going well. So they are tuning their goal setting. Probably a good thing. But reading the following from the article I worry about the words, “reduce the ongoing costs of recovery”. This comes across as another change of direction that is more worried about costs than results. But I hope I’m wrong.

The Partnership has been a mixed bag over the years. It has mainly been an organization helping large scale projects find the funding and political support they need, narrowing the group attending to what seems to be project managers and government officials. They have always lacked a serious budget to educate the population about the issues that need to change to fix the Sound. It has been underfunded to achieve the goals that it was created to solve. Many of its’ most useful pieces oddly are the monitoring it does to help identify baselines which illustrate it’s lack of progress. Certainly an agency like this is needed, but many of us wonder just how useful this particular version is to the people spending vast amounts of volunteer time attending it’s meetings. So many people have shown up with good intentions only to fade away because of what’s perceived as a lack of progress and inability to really help them achieve their goals. Could there be a better way to achieve the goals of Puget Sound Recovery? As someone who has attended many of their meetings and closely monitored their efforts since they day they were formed, I’m not being critical so much as asking the question, “when will we see real progress at saving the species at risk, and making the Sound more “swimmable, fishable and healthy?” When will we see real efforts at educating the public about this, rather than just assume that everyone is on board for making the hard choices to fix the Sound? The sad reality seems to have been that the deeper we dig into the science, the more monumental are the problems. A good case in point is the finding that road runoff may be a major contributor to the decline of salmon in the Sound. That is not an easy thing to fix quickly. . The declining populations of salmon won’t wait on a bunch of meetings to survive or not. When the Partnership set goals in 2007 to 2010, (and reset them and reset them) they were simple. Do we really need to take time to re-calibrate when the answers have been pretty clear from the beginning? Educate the public for buy in. Identify the projects needed, fund them, measure the results. Recalibrate. The goal should not be to reduce the cost of ongoing recovery. That may be impossible. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to reverse the decline. If we saw runs of salmon returning in ever increasing numbers, we would be cheering the Partnership on. But we aren’t seeing the fish after 13 years of concentrated efforts. In fact, a recent report I reported on just in the last month discussed that we are losing the battle. What is the Partnership going to do to solve that issue?

If planners can agree on these general directions, the next step will be to develop individual strategies to improve the ecosystem in ways that improve the efficiency and reduce the ongoing costs of recovery. The final step is to identify individual actions in line with the strategies.



Puget Sound Action Agenda, often referred to as Puget Sound Partnership’s blueprint for ecological recovery, continues to evolve. The next Action Agenda — scheduled to go into effect a year from now — will incorporate an expanded long-range vision for Puget Sound, complete with broad-based strategies, not just near-term actions. “Desired Outcomes,” the first major component of the next Action Agenda, will be unveiled…(Thursday) before the Ecosystem Coordination Board, the wide-ranging, 27-member committee that advises the Leadership Council in its recovery oversight and strategic planning. A live video of the discussion can been viewed online, as described in the meeting agenda. “Desired Outcomes are statements that describe what we intend to accomplish — the positive change we want to see in Puget Sound,” states a fact sheet describing the next Action Agenda update. The idea is that near-term actions proposed over four years should fit into a larger vision leading to “transformational change and bold progress toward Puget Sound recovery.” Chris Dunagan reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Puget Sound Partnership proposing ‘Desired Outcomes’ for ongoing ecosystem recovery

REPAIRS OF BULKHEADS, DOCKS AND OTHER STRUCTURES NOW INVOLVE HABITAT ASSESSMENT – PSI

This is a huge change to the proposal, hopefully for the good. However, in reading this article I find that it may cause more problems than it solves. While I applaud the idea, the implementation seems problematic. I urge those of you interested in seeing this implemented or those seeing issues with the implementation to attend this meeting. Now is the time to tweak the process so that it helps people do the right thing.

NOAA Fisheries will hold online public workshops on Jan. 26 and Jan. 28 to explain the conservation calculator that the agency developed to assess the value of nearshore habitat. Both workshops will run from 9 to 11 a.m. Details will be posted on the webpage Puget Sound Nearshore Habitat Conservation Calculator.

Conservation common thread for new members of Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission -PDN

Michael Carmen writes of his interview with new Fish and Wildlife’s Commissioners, Lorna Smith and Fred Koontz. These two long time environmental conservationists bring years of experience to the job. These folks will help make things better if possible. They are up against giant bureaucracies that have been very resistant to change in the past.

Read the whole story at the Peninsula Daily News and subscribe while you are there. Support local journalism on the Olympic Peninsula.

Sea otter reintroduction to more of the Pacific Coast gets a nudge from Congress – KNKX

Some good environmental news! Tom Banse writes about the successful efforts to get money inserted into the newly passed budget to help continue the reintroduction of sea otters to the west coast. Info on Washington counts of sea otters also in this story.

“I’m very pleased. This is very timely,” Bailey said in an interview. “It will definitely help U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service develop a strategic approach for how best to conserve and protect sea otters on the Pacific Coast.”

https://www.knkx.org/post/sea-otter-reintroduction-more-pacific-coast-gets-nudge-congress

How Trump tried, but largely failed, to derail America’s top climate report – NY Times

More fallout of the destructive force of Hurricane Trump. In this instance, scientists managed to hold off his flunkies from essentially gutting the report. As he leaves we can only look forward to rebuilding this nation’s science credibility world wide. Why is this important? Because the output of this report guides decision making for years to come.

EPA Finalizes rule to limit science behind public health standards – WA Post

As the Trump Administration burns all it’s bridges behind them in a scorched earth environmental policy, the latest outrage is the long anticipated culling of real science behind future decisions to protect our food, water or air. Or perhaps you would rather ignore the findings of scientists that don’t agree with your company’s toxic product. Wonder how they will do it? Read the article referenced below. The Biden administration will have it’s work cut out for it reversing these disastrous acts.


The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a rule to limit what research it can use to craft public health protections, a move opponents argue is aimed at crippling the agency’s ability to more aggressively regulate the nation’s air and water. The “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rule, which the administration began pursuing early in President Trump’s term, would require researchers to disclose the raw data involved in their public health studies before the agency could rely upon their conclusions. It will apply this new set of standards to “dose-response studies,” which evaluate how much a person’s exposure to a substance increases the risk of harm. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report. (Washington Post)

EPA finalizes rule to limit science behind public health safeguards

Puget Sound Partnership Legislative Agenda

A good way to follow and perhaps participate in the upcoming legislative session.

  leg-update

January 4, 2021
Greetings, friends of Puget Sound!   The 2021 State Legislative session will begin January 11, 2021 and run 105 consecutive days. This email contains helpful resources to navigate this unique session and opportunities to engage with the Partnership during session.    
A COVID-19 Session Here are a few helpful resources prepared by the legislature to help you navigate this unique session due to COVID-19 restrictions. Click here to download a fact sheet that describes remote access for this session. Click here to download the House COVID-19 Sessions Operation Plan. Click here for the Senate session guidelines. As always, the legislature’s website is rich with additional information to help you navigate session.    
Opportunities to engage with the Partnership During the 2021 Legislative Session, the Partnership will offer multiple opportunities to help you (and us!) stay informed about legislative activities that affect Puget Sound protection and recovery efforts.
Legislative Updates. Sent via email and posted to our website periodically during session, the Update summarizes the priority topics we’re following.
Legislative Calendar. Sent via email and posted to our website every Thursday, the Calendar lists upcoming committee meetings involving legislation and information about issues that affect Puget Sound protection and recovery. Calendars will include public hearings where testimony may be offered. Legislative Information Call-In. Jeff Parsons, our Legislative Policy Director, will conduct a call-in meeting on Fridays, from 11:30 a.m. to no later than 12:30 p.m., to review the most important legislative issues we’re following, answer questions, and discuss partner perspectives. The first call will take place this Friday, January 8, 2021. Attendees will receive an agenda each week in advance of the call, usually on Friday mornings. If you are receiving this email, you are already signed up to receive updates by email on one or more of the above topics. If you would like to verify/update your subscriptions (each of the above opportunities has a separate subscription), please click here and follow the prompts. To participate and receive agendas for the weekly calls, please send an email to Don Gourlie at don.gourlie@psp.wa.gov. (If you signed up for this last year, you are already on the list and will receive the call-in instructions and agenda before our first call). If you have questions or concerns about the legislative priorities for the Puget Sound Partnership, please contact: Jeff Parsons, Legislative Policy Director, 360.999.3803. jeff.parsons@psp.wa.gov

Thank you for your contributions to help recover and protect Puget Sound. Connect with the Puget Sound Partnership for breaking news and other events affecting Puget Sound on Twitter and Facebook.  

Puget Sound Partnership Legislative Agenda The Partnership’s Legislative Agenda supports implementation of the 2018-2022 Action Agenda for Puget Sound and reflects priorities that were established in collaboration with our partners, as well as aligning with the Governor’s operating and capital budget requests and the findings and recommendations of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force.      

Climate Action for Christmas? Omnibus bill includes biggest policy shift in years.

Good news being reported by NPR. This blog will check into the details and come back with a more comprehensive overview later.

“The massive spending package just passed by Congress includes the most significant climate legislation in more than a decade, along with significant changes in energy policy. It was easy to miss, nestled among pandemic relief payments, the annual spending bill, new Smithsonian museums and protection from surprise medical billing. But pull out the energy provisions alone, and the bill is remarkable: It includes $35 billion in funding for basic research, extensions of tax credits for renewable energy companies, and a long-delayed mandate to reduce the use of a particularly damaging greenhouse gas. The fact that Congress managed to pass climate legislation at all is noteworthy in and of itself. For years, thanks to gridlock and an administration actively hostile to climate action, legislators have struggled to set new climate policy, even on measures that enjoy widespread bipartisan support. Camila Domonoske & Jeff Brady report. (NPR)”


Climate Action For Christmas? Omnibus Bill Includes Biggest Policy Shift In Years

Inslee proposes his latest climate-change budget. Seattle Times

Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday unveiled a new climate-change package that includes a renewed push for a clean fuels standard and capping some greenhouse-gas emissions. Other proposals would further electrify Washington’s ferry fleet and reduce the carbon footprint of buildings, according to Inslee, and bring equity into environmental policy.Inslee’s plan comes as part of his new two-year budget proposal, and as lawmakers prepare to convene in January for the 2021 legislative session. Joseph O’Sullivan reports. (Seattle Times)

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/inslee-proposes-his-latest-climate-change-package-as-part-of-washington-budget-proposal/

Statewide plastic-bag ban faces likely delay due to COVID-19, supply chain issues. – KNKX


A statewide ban on single-use plastic bags is supposed to take effect on Jan. 1. But proponents are asking for a six-month delay. In a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, they cite supply-chain issues and health concerns related to COVID-19. Seven groups who supported the law have signed on to the request. Restaurants say that going ahead with the ban would be an additional burden, when they’re figuring out how to remain in business doing mostly take-out orders. And grocery stores say they’ve had trouble getting enough of the thicker plastic and paper bags they would need under the new law. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Statewide plastic-bag ban faces likely delay due to COVID-19, supply-chain issues

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