Acceleration of mountain glacier melt could impact Pacific NW water supplies – AGU 100 Earth and Space Science

This study should be a wake up call for our local politicians. We need to be contemplating how we are going to get water for this city when the mountains are unable to sustain us. It’s not too soon to have a plan and begin looking for funding sources as they become available.

The model showed that summer melt from some lower elevation glaciers is already declining, and summer melt from some higher elevation glaciers is expected to begin declining by 2050, according to the study.

https://blogs.agu.org/geospace/2018/08/16/acceleration-of-mountain-glacier-melt-could-impact-pacific-northwest-water-supplies/

Dems maintain control in Peninsula primaries

If there was any question about whether the Democrats (and Democratic incumbents at that) would maintain control of offices here on the Olympic Peninsula, that was pretty much laid to rest with the outcome of the primaries.

Senator Maria Cantwell (against a vast array of challengers), U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer,  State Representatives Tharinger and Chapman, all easily shook off the opposition, by very large percentages. In the hotly contested 5th District of Spokane, the race against the incumbent Republican Sally McMorris Rogers against newcomer Lisa Brown is in a virtual dead heat. Democrats from across the state have converged on Spokane to get out the vote, and they obviously succeeded. The November race will be one of the most closely watched in the country, along with likely being one of the most expensive as both parties will pour the money in to hold or win the seat. Obviously, the shenanigans in the White House and Congress did not help Ms. Rogers.

The 8th district is going to be tough. Dino Rossi easily overcame any opposition, and the Dems are going to have to coalesce behind their candidate, who at this moment appears to be Pediatrician Kim Schrier. However that race is too close to call at this moment.

In the usually Republican safe district 3,Jaime Herrera Beutler ran against the two Democratic opponents, Carolyn Long who brought in 36.1% of the votes and David McDevitt won 8.1% of the vote. If the Democrats can iron out their differences and show up to vote as a block in November, they should win.

Clallam County, which went for the President in the last election, decidedly shifted back to blue with the primary.  Republican candidates did very poorly in voter turnout. Democratic incumbents easily crushed Republican numbers.

In Jefferson County’s third district, the south part of the county, Greg Brotherton, a well liked owner of businesses, won over Ryan McCallister for the chance to run against Jon Cooke, the Republican challenger.

The Jefferson County Democratic faction called the “Progressives” did not succeed in their attempt to take over the  Jefferson County Democrats, as a majority of  the “Back on Track” Democratic Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) won the precincts that they needed to win by approximately 21 to 38 (some are still too close to call).  The “Back on Track” faction is primarily those Democrats who have successfully destroyed Republican candidates for a decade, delivered Jefferson County to Obama twice, Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and then successfully delivered the county to Hilary Clinton, which angers some of the Bernie supporters, who felt that because they had won the primary in 2016 and Hillary lost (although she won the popular vote both in WA and nationwide, only losing in a few states that had nothing to do with the local Dems), that they were entitled to take control of the local party. That’s the backstory of why you saw more PCO candidates this year than ever before in the history of the county.

The tactics of the “progressives” appeared to turn off a lot of Democratic voters. Having been at a few Democratic meetings, the take no prisoners attitude and lack of decorum shown at the monthly meetings by some of their supporters seemed better suited to the rough and tumble world of Seattle politics, rather than the laid back nature of Jefferson County.  Hopefully both  factions will  hold hands in a circle and sing  “Kumbaya” at the annual Fish Fry.  Sitting back and not participating because your candidate didn’t win is not an option.  All hands are needed on deck in November to ensure that environmental and human rights protections are retained in WA DC, against the onslaught of the current administration. There is  no time left to stop man made global warming. The goal now is to start to understand how to live with it, along with how to help the climate refugees of Puerto Rico, Redding,  Santa Rosa, and many other locations burning up in this country.  For all we know, we may be next. The Republicans would do well to own up to global warming destroying the lives and homes of their constituents (Redding went heavily for Rs in the last election, including the President). Why not create a war on carbon based global warming? We’ve crushed ISIS. We are in an endless war on terror. The next endless war should be with anything involved in using the internal combustion engine or coal. That will last a lifetime or two.

Other news is that Joe Nole trounced Sheriff Stanko. This was perhaps the surprise of the election.  His common sense approach to tackling the issues of the sheriff’s department and concerns of collusion between the sheriff’s office and ICE was on the minds of voters.

Kennedy beat Haas for prosecutor’s office.  Kennedy very successfully pointed out that he had quit the office and went to work for Clallam County (while still living in Jefferson) and wanted to bring back what he considered better management of the office. Apparently voters agreed.

Kudos need to go out to State Democratic chairperson Tina Podlowski, who tirelessly hammered away at Washington Democrats to donate and get out the vote. Locally, the Democratic party at many levels, both “Progressives”and  the “Back on Track” people all did huge efforts to get out the vote for their candidates, which helped overall turnout. While some lost and some won, democracy was affirmed by the large voter turnout in Jefferson County. It is hard to say you didn’t have someone to vote for that could affirm your point of view, whatever it was. And a reminder that some of the greatest politicians our country has ever seen, from many political perspectives, were losers at least once. Losing in politics only means that your tactics and timing were off. Maybe next time they will align. No hard feelings. This is politics. Someone always loses. Figure out why. Then fix it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawsuit seeks more review of projects that ‘armor’ Puget Sound shoreline – Seattle Times

Good independent overview of the lawsuit filed yesterday  by Sound Action, Friends of the San Juans and Washington Environmental Council (WEC).

Restoring the natural shoreline at the Elwha River where it meets the sea is part of an ongoing battle to heal Puget Sound — along with a lawsuit to achieve better environmental review of new shoreline projects.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/lawsuit-seeks-more-review-of-projects-that-armor-puget-sound-shoreline/?utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Morning+Brief+5-22-18_5_22_2018

Clallam County withdraws Finding of Non Significance for Dungeness Spit aquaculture project

As some of you may know, there has been a proposal to put a oyster farm with approx. 150,000 bags of oysters in an approx. 34 acre section of the nearshore inside Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is closed to virtually all human activity other than walking on the Spit. It is illegal to fly a kite there or throw a Frisbee.  The application for the farm to go in, drew widespread condemnation from a wide range of citizens, including a very detailed letter of concerns from the project leader of the Wildlife Refuge, which was detailed in an earlier article on this news site. https://olyopen.com/2018/04/10/concerns-raised-over-dungeness-spit-oyster-farm-application/

The project has raised questions from many about the appropriateness of allowing commercial aquaculture inside a national wildlife reserve. Similar issues are being raised across the country as Scott Pruitt, the head of the Department of Interior continues  “opening new mineral and oil and gas leasing opportunities in protected lands, easing drilling regulations, and rolling back habitat protections for endangered species” (National Geographic 2/2/2018) including Bears Ears National Monument, which includes sacred locations of a number of tribes.

The Clallam County Department of Community Development has announced the withdrawal of  the Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) issued on February 23, 2018 for the preparation of a site specific Environmental Assessment to address the impacts to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and other issues raised.

The Army Corps of Engineers also weighed in, stating that the project would be evaluated as a “Standard Individual Permit” so not eligible for a nationwide permit, which would have allowed the county to proceed on a DNS. The Corp stated that the impacts would be “more than minimal”.

A six month continuance was approved for the preparation of this document.

DCD will reopen the comment period when it is completed.

The full announcement is here:

20180511103337 Dungeness Spit

 

EVENT:The Battle Against Light Pollution – Thursday, May 17 at 6 PM

The Battle Against Light Pollution will be held on  Thursday, May 17 at 6 PM in the Port Angeles Library Carver Meeting Room, 2210 South Peabody Street.  It is being hosted by the Sierra Club North Olympic Group as part of its free series of public programs.

Come peer through the lens of the International Dark-Sky Association — its efforts to combat light pollution and recognize Dark Sky Preserves.

Explore light pollution causes, effects on wildlife and human health, and its carbon footprint.

Learn some astronomy and about our connection to the night sky.

Hear how to effectively fight and eliminate light pollution.

It’s a fight we can win, if we have the will, say David W. Ingram, Chapter Leader of Dark Skies Northwest (DSNW and John L. Goar, Astronomy Outreach Volunteer for Olympic National Park and member of the International Dark-Sky Association. (IDA)

The IDA is a non-profit organization based in Tucson, AZ.  It is dedicated to preserving the natural nighttime environment by educating policymakers and the public about night sky conservation and promoting environmentally friendly methods to provide minimally intrusive outdoor lighting.

Ingram’s leadership covers Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.  His work as an IDA chapter leader includes education and public outreach presentations and support and empowerment to private citizens, conservation and environmental organizations, schools, local, state and national organizations.

Ingram retired from the Boeing Company after a 34-year career in aviation and space technology.  His personal focus on science, the night sky and amateur astronomy began in Indiana during his high school years in the mid-1960s.  Over the past decades, he has joined numerous astronomy societies and related organizations and now serves as the Boeing Employees’ Astronomical Society President, the Seattle Astronomical Society Vice President of Education, and the IDA/Dark Skies Northwest (DKNW) representative to a number of astronomy societies in the Puget Sound area.  In addition to his IDA chapter leader duties with

DKNW, Ingram provides volunteer time to the summer astronomy program at Glacier National Park in Montana.  Learn more at  <www.darksky.org>

John L. Goar teaches high school science at North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo WA. In addition to being the Astronomy Outreach Volunteer for Olympic National Park, and winning the 2016 George and Helen Hartzog Volunteer National Park Service Award, Goar is an officer of the Olympic Astronomical Society and the Astronomical League (Binocular Messier Program Coordinator and Asteroid Observing Program Coordinator), as well as Secretary of the Olympic Astronomical Society, Bremerton, WA.

Goar is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley.  As a student project, he built a 12.5 inch Dobsonian telescope, and later built a 20 inch diameter mirror scope.  Goar has been an amateur astronomer since 2000, and is passionate about preserving dark night skies.  He has led free public telescope programs at Hurricane Ridge for eight summers, while also leading full moon hikes to Hurricane Hill.

Goar is a certified master observer with the Astronomical League, a confederation of astronomy clubs in the US. Hwas also awarded the Presidential Lifetime Service Award in 2017 by President Barack Obama.

Information and a schedule for summer astronomy programs in 2018 can be found at his website: <www.olympictelescope.com>

David W. Ingram                            John L. Goar

https://sierraclub.org/washington/north-olympic

MEDIA RELEASE

Contact:  Darlene Schanfald

Sierra Club North Olympic Group

360-681-7565

 

 

Concerns raised over Dungeness Spit oyster farm application

New concerns over the possible permitting of an oyster aquaculture farm within the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge have been raised by the Department of the Interior, which manages the refuge. In a letter written to Steve Gray, the Clallam County Deputy Director and Planning Manager, Jennifer Brown-Scott, the Project Leader for the Department of the Interior,has raised significant questions about issues concerning the application.

Of concern to the Department are a number of issues relating to wildlife in the refuge.The applicants have asked for permission to place approx. 150,000 of “on bottom” oysters bags on the central west side of the bay, in approximately 34 acres of the tide flats 1141 acres of the the inner spit. This appears to be approx. 3.35% the inner bay area.  The applicants propose to raise non-native oysters. To be clear, a significant amount of cultivated oysters in the Salish Sea are non-native, so this is not a surprise.

The area in question was farmed prior to the 1950s, by a series of private owners. In 1953 the first lease was granted and non-native species were introduced. The Jamestown S’Klallam bought the oyster operations in 1990, and continued harvesting oysters until the State closed down the waters due to deteriorating water quality in the bay.  The Jamestown have continued leasing the site, 50 acres in size, where this current proposal is located. Since the middle of the last decade,efforts at improving the water quality of the bay continued, with the Jamestown in a lead role, helping to get scientific studies of the water flow and quality done on behalf of themselves and the county. Now the State has upgraded 688 acres to Approved status, allowing the Jamestown to apply for reopening the site to aquaculture. The presence of eelgrass beds in the location reduce it to 34 usable acres.

The Dungeness Bay Wildlife Refuge was created by Executive Order in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson. The order directs 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.” (Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe -Dungeness Bay Bathymetry, Circulation and Fecal Coliform Studies 2003)). The front page of the Refuge web site 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.”

Within the area of the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge are federally listed species that are protected or have environmental listings of concern. They include but aren’t limited to: Bull Trout, Marbled Murrelet, Puget Sound Chinook and Hood Canal Summer Chum. Also within the area is significant state listed wildlife habitat. Of somewhat lesser concern is the impact on the public to the scenic beauty of the wildlife preserve, which is one of the main reasons most visitors go to the area in the first place.

As stated by the Department of Interior letter, “The shores and tidelands in this area provide some of the most important wildlife habitat and supports the highest density of waterfowl and shorebirds within the refuge….These shorelines also support one of the largest Brandt haul out sites in the state of Washington….Shorebird densities are highest within the action area and the adjacent lagoon on Graveyard Spit.”

“Human-caused wildlife disturbance and habitat loss are two of the most pervasive threats to shorebird and waterfowl use of the Salish Sea….very little information is available on entrapment resulting from aquaculture structures.”

The letter also referenced that, “In 2016, a die-off of approximately 1000 Rhinoceros Auklets on Protection Island coincided with a significant reduction in the abundance of sand lance in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.” This reporter, who has been covering the Straits since 2007, was unaware of the scope of the die off in 2016 at Protection Island though a well publicized die off due to starvation was happening from Alaska to California. The extent of the local impact was not widely known and even a search of Google cannot find a specific reference to those numbers referenced in the letter.

While the specific habitat of the Dungeness Spit was not identified as the sole source of the lack of sand lance, the implication that this area is sand lance breeding habitat means that converting its use to aquaculture could continue the downward spiral of shorebirds and their food sources.

Herring also spawn at the west end of Dungeness Harbor and the Department of Interior raised questions about protecting Strait of Juan de Fuca herring, which have been designated  “critical” (as in critically low).  Sand Lance and Surf Smelt spawning grounds are also found in the area of the application. These species have been identified as “Washington Species of Greatest Conservation Need within the State Wildlife Action Plan (WDFW 2015). A worry related to this is that these spawning fish will be competing with the oysters for plankton. A failure to find enough food could lead to a significant reduction in the survival rates. There is no know mitigation for this, other than limiting the size and scope of the project.

Additionally, Interior pointed out that a 1996 scientific study found that some shorebirds significantly avoided areas used for aquaculture in a California bay.

The area just to the east of the proposed site is the location of the highest infestation of European Green Crabs in the Salish Sea. Another concern is that the proposed oyster bags may provide habitat for green crabs, allowing them to be moved to other areas outside the Spit the bags are transported. The State still does not have a Green Crab management plan.

This shoreline has been designated “Natural” in the Critical Areas Ordinance, as far back as 1976. That designation limits activities to those that preserve the national features unchanged. One would assume that the tidelands are also part of that designation.

An issue not addressed in the application was whether or not mechanized methods such as mechanical leveling and harrowing would be used. The letter said that this was of  great concern to the Dept of Interior and it could damage or kill benthic layer animals and vegetation. Placement of these 150,000 oyster bags may also change water flow and nearshore transport of sediment, with unknown consequences. It does not appear that the applicant is going to use these methods.

A further issue that has been the reason for the inner bay to be closed to aquaculture for over a decade is that of fecal coliform (FC) bacteria. While the applicants and the State have worked for decades to identify and remove sources of FC, and current counts allow for shellfish harvest to be done, it is important to note that the applicants themselves have noted in a 2003 report that “wild birds are the second most important source of FC on a year round basis. It is especially important in winter, when their load approaches 1/2 of the measured marine water input.” It would seem to the average person that putting aquaculture into a bird reserve is by it’s very nature going to create a tension between the animals that are present and creating the problem and the desire to harvest.

Studies done by the applicants in 2003 show also that tidal turnover is not ideal in the inner bay. Their finding that states that approximately 45% of the water that leaves the inner harbor returns to the inner harbor. The study states that this “slows the effective flushing of water from the Inner Bay and leads to water quality properties that differ greatly from those observed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is unclear as to whether there has been a more recent study to understand if the effects of 15 years of work have improved on the findings of this earlier study.

The Salish Sea has been used for commercial aquaculture since the founding of the State, but in the last twenty years, with China becoming more middle class, along with a more sophisticated palate here in States, the demands for geoduck and other shellfish have exploded. Much of the lower reaches of the Sound have been converted into aquaculture.  The shoreline public has been upset with much of this conversion, with lawsuits against aquaculture being rather routine.  The State has never really asked the question of “how much is too much? When do we decide we have leased out enough shoreline to aquaculture?”

There is precedent for this question, in the permitting of bulkheads. At one point the State saw no problem with turning vast amounts of shoreline into concrete. As our understanding of the use of the shore for forage fish and beach creation, among other natural processes, we decided to limit bulkhead conversion and opt to look at natural ways to protect the shoreline from erosion. Some, such as a conversion to natural shoreline was done about 15 years ago just east of the mouth of the Dungeness River, in a subdivision along the shore.

NOAA and other government agencies have studied just enough of the issue to deem aquaculture ‘safe’ yet hold out no significant long term studies of the possible ill effects of the conversion to single species farming.  The NOAA science and subsequent scientific studies by Sea Grant, were of limited time frame and called for further study, which does not appear to have been done.  In fact, this very location offers a good example of the need to look at what the substrate is like, both at the site, which once was extensively farmed, and the surrounding bottom layers. It should be able to tell us how much recovery could be anticipated if the farm does go in and eventually is removed. It is interesting to note that eel grass is present around the site, but apparently not in the very location of the previous aquaculture operation.

It is certainly reasonable for the applicants to want to return to aquaculture in the Bay, however the scale is being significantly increased. Science has learned a lot about the environment since the time when the State allowed the use in this location. In many other locations we have decided that the trade off of commercial activity is outweighed by a newer appreciation of the value of the natural landscape for a variety of species.  It is up to all of us to question our elected officials and bureaucrats, not the applicants, as to why they believe that this is in all our best interests, when we so clearly have set this aside this location for wildlife protection and enhancement.

  • If you want to comment on this application, you have until April 27.
  • Responses to those comments must be in by May 18.
  • The last public hearing will be held June 7 at 1 PM.

Send comments to gballard@co.clallam.wa.us and be sure to ask for an email confirmation of having received your comment. If you don’t get one within 24 hours, call Greg Ballard at 360.565.2616 to ask if he received it.

A final note to consider is from the web site of the Dungeness National Refuge:

Recognizing the importance of the fertile habitats, President Woodrow Wilson established the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge on January 20, 1915 as a refuge, preserve, and breeding ground for native birds. Today the graceful arch of Dungeness Spit continues to protect nutrient-rich tide-flats for migrating shorebirds in spring and fall; a quiet bay with calm waters for wintering waterfowl; an isolated beach for harbor seals and their pups; and abundant eelgrass beds for young salmon and steelhead nurseries.

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public year-round. Hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography are popular activities on the Refuge. Some portions are closed seasonally or permanently to protect sensitive species. To ensure that wildlife continue to have a peaceful place to rest and feed, certain recreational activities such as swimming, jogging, and other beach activities are allowed only in selected areas during certain times of the year. 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.

 

 

 

 

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe aims to re-establish oyster farm in Dungeness refuge – PDN

The Jamestown S’Klallam look to expand operations beyond the oyster beds currently being farmed in Sequim Bay. While this project is being opposed by two of the environmental organizations on the Peninsula, it is not being opposed by the Clallam Marine Resources Committee, which has representation of the Tribes on it, and they are actually working collaboratively with the Jamestown staff to find the existing eel grass beds and work around them. The tribe has been doing a lot of aquaculture  in Sequim Bay over the last 10 years, with an oyster farm and other activity. This has been positive, in that beyond just the job opportunities for the Tribe, it has made the Tribe extremely sensitive to cleaning up any pollution that might enter the Bay near Blyn. Their ongoing efforts to restore  chum salmon to JimmyComeLately Creek have been very successful.  The Tribe also regularly fishes and crabs at Cline Spit, the boat launch site for smaller boats in that bay on the east side of the Spit. It is unclear of whether an EIS, Hydraulic Permit Application (HPA) or other permits beyond standard State permits is needed. More on that in a later post.

SEQUIM — The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe seeks to re-establish an oyster farm in Dungeness Bay and will have its proposal heard by the Clallam County Hearing Examiner on Thursday.

The tribe’s oyster farm would be on 50 acres of leased Department of Natural Resources tideland within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, said Ron Allen, tribal chairman. The farm would be in the bay about 4,000 feet north of Cline Spit.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/jamestown-sklallam-tribe-aims-to-re-establish-oyster-farm-in-dungeness-refuge/

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