Science center to open shop in PT

While this story is behind a paywall, worth noting that the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is finally opening their downtown location. Go check it out!

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center will open its doors to the public Friday to show off the completion of the first phase of the nonprofit organization’s move from Fort Worden State Park to downtown. About 50 people attended a crisp outdoor ceremony Wednesday that highlighted the center’s 40-year anniversary and its pledge for conservation and marine stewardship. Brian McLean reports.

(Peninsula Daily News)

Welcome to 2022 – King tides takes out shoreline homes and businesses in the Salish Sea

In a grand “Climate Change” welcome to 2022 King tides moved into the Salish Sea along with a major storm front. The outcome was widespread destruction across a huge swath of the shorelines, from the South Sound up through British Columbia. This is just a taste of what’s ahead, as we await the break off of a huge glacier in Antarctica, and it’s subsequent melt down, which will add to sea level rise. If you have a home or business on the shoreline, now is a good time to reconsider your long term options.

Let’s do a quick overview. If there is only one thing to see, watch this video that was posted by a homeowner from Blaine on Twitter.

And KUOW coverage opens with a scary photo of a neighborhood built on the “wrong side of the tracks”.

KUOW – Sea level on steroids: Record tides flood Washington coastlines

The CBC covered the British Columbia story.

B.C. coastal communities assess damage, look to future after king tides, extreme weather wreak havoc | CBC News

This does not even begin to cover the amount of businesses that have docks that may have been destroyed, nor the simple flooding that may have occurred.

I have watched with disbelief over the last decades as more and more luxury homes have been built on spits in Puget Sound. Some examples? Three Tree Point in South King County. A more recent one in is Miller Bay near Indianola. Let’s look! These houses are really expensive and right at sea level!

Image by Google Earth

Or how about our own Beckett Point in Jefferson County?

Image by Google Earth

Beckett Point is no stranger to flooding. It was wiped out in the 1930s by a massive wind storm. Back then it was just fishing shacks but those were replaced by homes. Bottom line, these people are living on a sandspit, at sea level, and likely their home owners insurance is provided by the Federal Government because there is no way they could afford to pay for private insurance, even if it’s available. Choosing to live here, while incredibly beautiful and usually no problem, is and will continue to be challenging.

Want to add your own and track more vulnerable communities on the Sound? Go to my little project on Google Earth. https://earth.google.com/earth/d/1ZiX9tu1nnWs16-Lwnm4CORazbgPMJJ5H?usp=sharing

It is worth remembering that these homeowners get federal insurance to live here, so our tax dollars go to help continue this behavior. Please make sure that you let our elected officials know that with rising costs due to sea level rise, we cannot continue to subsidize everyone who lives on the shore. Now is the time to end this practice and let these homeowners bear the full cost of their decision (and it is also the decision of the local land use officials and county officials).

I’ve left out the massive flooding all over western Washington and British Columbia in the last 60 days, along with wildfires in December in Colorado, and massive super tornadoes in Kentucky (can you picture a tornado 250 miles long? with winds of 94 MPH sustained over four hours and 24 minutes?). Global warming is upon us and our best situation is to begin making changes to issues like insurance and infrastructure to mitigate the worse that is yet to come in future decades.

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: “We Are Puget Sound” Photo Exhibit at PTMSC

Washington Environmental Council is partnering with the Port Townsend Marine Science Center to bring this exhibit to the north Olympic Peninsula community. The We Are Puget Sound traveling photo exhibit will be on display at the Marine Science Center’s Flagship store in downtown Port Townsend from December 18, 2021 through February 2022.

The photo series explores people, places, and wildlife through extraordinary images, describes human connections in the past and present, and showcases community members engaged in remarkable efforts that benefit Puget Sound and all of us.  

The in-person photo exhibit will inspire and engage people on the Olympic Peninsula to join together and preserve this vital ecosystem and the livelihoods they support by focusing on one action each month from the campaign’s 10 Things You Can Do for Puget Sound.

The exhibit highlights 18 striking images from the book We Are Puget Sound: Discovering and Recovering the Salish Sea (Braided River, 2019). It also features work from  13 regional photographers showcasing individuals who are working to find meaningful solutions to protect the Puget Sound’s waters, wildlife, and the human health and economic prosperity this region supports.

PT City Council Approves Water Contract Update

An update based on the Sierra Club’s Peter Guerrero’s take on this. And also my thoughts at the end.


On Monday, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the new water agreement that includes raises in the cost of water to city residents, along with a new contract with the PT Paper Mill and improvements to the pipeline infrastructure. The agreement incorporates the Sierra Club’s recommendations for charging the mill for water used ($4.5 million/year) and for increasing these charges, over time, to encourage conservation. Unfortunately, the agreement establishes the current mill water usage of 11MGD/day as the baseline without seeking any reductions, resulting in the mill continuing to account for over 91% of all water consumed from the Quilcene watershed.

Both the mill and the city got what they wanted: The mill was assured of being able to continue using up to 11MGD while the city was able to put together a “partnership” that avoided having to go to the bond market and that was of a sufficient duration (20 years), avoiding draconian residential rate increases. It was more important for the city to get the mill to offset the steep capital costs of the Olympic Ground Water System (OGWS) than to achieve the kind of conservation gains the Sierra Club and other environmental activists would have liked to see.


Unfortunately, it is likely to be an unstable agreement given the past economic history of the mill and its aging infrastructure. Both suggest the mill may not be around for the full 20-year term of the agreement, leaving the city having to pay tens of millions for infrastructure improvements anyway. Knowing this, the city also voted last night to unanimously to create an industrial water rate, allowing it to sell water to another entity (industrial, PUD, etc.) if needed.


The next debate will be over increases to residential rates required by the agreement. Residential ratepayers have already expressed concern that they are “paying” for the mill’s excessive water use. Unfortunately the city doesn’t see a viable alternative at this time.


Environmentalists will have a second opportunity come 2025-2029 when the USFS will be reconsidering the city’s special use permit allowing it to withdraw water from the Quilcene Watershed.


I would also like to add that one thing I learned by listening to the discussion and reading the agreement is that we are extremely vulnerable to the impending climate changes that are unfolding around us. One issue that was mentioned was that the city looked into substituting well water for the water coming from the mountains and found that there is not nearly enough to supply our needs, let alone the mill. My personal take on the agreement is that it could have been set to a 10 year renewal, given the changing climate. It was also odd that there is no mention of the impact of our taking of significant water from the rivers, given the efforts to restore salmon in those streams. It certainly was never considered in the original setup of the water system.

It also brings up the issue of growth of the city. As new housing developments continue at the roundabout on Discovery Road and also on Cook Avenue there will be a need for more water for the city. The mill is guaranteed 11 MGD. But if the city increases water use, there is more revenue for the OGWS. This is a perverse reversal of conservation, the built reward to grow the city’s water use by greater development in order to lower water costs for all. But the caveat is that if there’s drought conditions and the water is not at the level needed, and does not replenish the holding lakes, we could be in for greater conservation and higher rates.

The water is stored in two holding lakes and we usually end up shifting to drawing from them exclusively by mid summer. As the planet warms and the snow packs become lessened, we will be drawing on those lakes sooner and sooner in the year. That day is coming in the next two to five years, once those large scale developments are built out. That was not discussed by the City Council. Not even a question on it, unless I missed it.

.  

Pat Neal’s Alternative Universe of Salmon Restoration

An Alternative Universe (NASA)

The following letter (edited to 250 words) was sent to the PDN this morning.

It was dismaying to see the PDN give column space today to the opinions of Pat Neal and his alternative universe of salmon restoration. If I read it right, he offers nothing but criticism of what he calls “The Salmon Restoration Industry” and no actual concrete proposals other than “build and fund more hatcheries” as if this will somehow fix the slow extinction of salmon in our region. It’s so easy to ignore the decades of science, funding and citizen involvement that has brought us to this point of restoration, as well as ignoring the habitat destruction that all of us contributed to over the last 100 years. I guess it’s easy to stand on the river and pretend hatcheries will fix everything.

Virtually all scientists agree on an “All H” method of salmon restoration. This means addressing Habitat, Hydro (dams, rivers, lakes),Hatcheries and Harvest. Increase and restore habitat. Monitor and manage river flows, well densities, fix hydropower issues, or perhaps tear down dams. Increase hatchery size and type. And manage harvest to save runs. The current “salmon restoration industry” as Neal so derisively puts it, has been established *because* of the need to address all four of these issues. If it’s failing, maybe it’s from something other than ongoing support. Like needing even more funding which is substantial but nowhere near enough. Perhaps more enforcement of the regulations on the books. Well, the list of what could be done goes on and on. Easy to pick your favorite solution and say “if only”.

Hatcheries have been given far more importance in budgets over the last 10 years, including large increases proposed by the Governor in his 2019 and 2021 budgets at the behest of sports fishermen and tribes (2020/21 had cuts to everything due to the Pandemic). This despite mounting scientific evidence that hatcheries produce fish that compete for food with wild stock and reduce genetic diversity. Salmon for fishermen and not for whales or the ecosystem at large. Neal uses hatchery numbers from 1961 to supposedly show that these hatchery fish were the reasons we had such a huge amount of salmon in our waters. Given the survival rate of hatchery fish it seems absurd to draw a conclusion like that. It ignores that we had dramatically fewer people, a climate under some semblance of stability, and had yet to finish destroying virtually all old growth forests between here and Juneau. But the signs of impending doom were clear to those that wanted to look.

Neal’s use of the Dungeness River as an example is perfect. It is a perfect example of not understanding history. For my 2010 movie “Voices of the Strait” I interviewed fishermen who were on the Dungeness in the 40s, 50s and 60s and their stories all were the same: they understood but had no way to stop the unrestrained destruction of habitat that they witnessed, including the cutting of irrigation channels into the Dungeness during peak salmon return seasons, leaving millions of fish to die without spawning. They had no environmental vocabulary to describe it,as we do now. They just all said, “what a waste”.The diking of the Dungeness only helped to kill the river by accelerating the river flow and wiping out locations where the fish spawned. It was done for the benefit of farmers and homeowners, not salmon. The late Port Angeles angler Dick Goin actually documented the losses in his unpublished “Roll Call of the Lost” counts of the loss of fish on all our rivers. I have a copy if anyone is interested. He saw it in real time. The hatcheries Neal describes were created to *fix* that problem, and yet the science shows it’s not nearly enough and they are failing to produce significant results. For instance, we now know by scat analysis what Orcas actually eat and it’s not hatchery salmon but fish from the Fraser and Columbia.

Additionally, charter fishermen who I interviewed described to me in vivid detail that there were no limits on sports fishing up until the 1960s, despite their pleas to Fish & Wildlife to not waste the fish. The sports fishermen from Seattle would come out, catch 30 to 40 fish in a day and leave with a few in their coolers. The charter fishermen couldn’t hire enough kids to clean the fish so they would just throw them back in the Strait when the guys from the east side of the Sound left. They knew this was wrong but had no power to stop it and no storage for the fish. Limits on salmon were finally put in, too little too late. Now we are at place where shutting down the season appears as the only way to protect the runs from complete destruction.

Habitat restoration has been funded due to the efforts of the Tribes, the Counties, the Cities, the State, the Feds, sports and commercial fishermen and hundreds of other people who have *volunteered* their time to work on this. They sit in interminably long, boring meetings trying to come to consensus. They debate long lists of priorities. There is not the money for all of the priorities. The results of their work may take decades to show up in any significant numbers. It is like a giant puzzle with the pieces fitting together and finally, near the end, painting a bigger picture.

Pat ignores the history of international fishing fleets with gear so good they could laugh about who would catch the last fish, as one old timer who fished with them told me. Pat ignores our own logging for raw logs right here on the Peninsula to ship to Japan in the 70s & 80s, wiping out entire ecosystems of salmon runs for the quick profit of the few. He ignores that we clearcut over 90% of old growth forests until the Feds put an end to it due to documented losses of species, like salmon and birds. He ignores the enormous build out of suburbs & exurbs around Puget Sound most with little or no efforts back then to protect fish. I watched that happen myself, seeing subdivisions on the East side of Lake Washington build right down to the banks of streams and small lakes. Or ignoring 100 years of culverts put into roads for our benefit that cut off salmon from returning to spawn. And the armoring of shorelines around Puget Sound that is still going on. And of course ignoring a warming climate that could make all these efforts go for naught. All of it nibbling away at the habitat and the fish until there wasn’t enough left. And of course, there was the Boldt Decision, used for propaganda purposes to demonize the very people who have done the most to attempt the restoration. Love them or hate them, they haven’t sat idly by while the fish vanish. They are at the table, working to save them using the best available science today.

Will the efforts to restore runs succeed? We don’t know yet, but some runs on the Elwha are returning, just not yet the chinook in any numbers. As are some runs on Jimmy Come Lately Creek and others. It costs a lot of time, people and money to fix 100 years of destruction.

No one I’ve talked to or read in the last 20 years who is seriously working on this issue, other than Pat Neal, thinks simply making more hatchery fish is some kind of solution. Pat, you have a lot of passion, how about working to help solve the problems rather than ignore the scientists and anglers who have been in the trenches fighting to reverse this ? Your passion might be useful if you are willing to listen and learn.

First-ever water shortage declared on the Colorado River, triggering water cuts for some states in the West – WA Post

While we watch as the megadrought blankets the west this should be a wake up call to those of us up here on the Peninsula that managing our water resources for the next ten years is likely to be a guessing game. Will the snows come again as expected? If not, how will it affect the flows in the rivers we rely on for our drinking water?

Right now, there has been discussions between the Port Townsend Mill and the City, on renewing a long term lease for the right to use our drinking water source for the mill manufacturing, as they have done for a century. My suggestion? Go for a 10 year lease and revisit it then. We seem to be ok for the immediate future. But 10 years from now it could be a very different situation.

22-year drought — the region’s most severe in more than a millennium — and climate change have made that fundamental problem worse. The alpine snowpack that feeds the river has been diminishing and was melting earlier this year. Parched soil soaks up much of it before it even enters rivers and streams. Extreme heat evaporates water in Lake Mead and other reservoirs more quickly and causes evaporation from plants.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/08/16/colorado-river-water-cuts-drought/

Local group opposes military use of state parks

The group “No Park Warfare” has organized to oppose the state allowing the Navy to use state parks as military training sites. Count me in as this is another expansion of the never ending reach of the military here in our area. Have we ever been asked to vote on this? Nope. All done through a board of non-elected officials who apparently ignored thousands of emails in coming to their decision. 

 

“S.O.S. WA STATE PARKS ALERT!
Fellow Park Lovers,
We are challenging the
recent State Parks Commission decision to allow Navy SEAL covert
training in our coastal Washington State Parks.
We are a group of everyday citizens who believe we can stop this horrible plan if we all pull together right now. 
Read & Sign our Citizens’ Complaint Letter Here.
Please sign before March 31 when we will submit this letter.

The letter can be found at:

https://noparkwarfare.wordpress.com/

Democrats urge investigation into removal of owl protections – KNKX

In badminton the thing you hit to the opponent is called the “shuttlecock”. In the game of “blame something for the destruction of Northwest virgin forests and the subsequent loss of the old fashioned timber industry” the shuttlecock has been the indicator species, the Spotted Owl. It’s again back in play this year.

The Trump administration took the side of the rural timber industry, who has blamed the Spotted Owl on their industry’s decline, despite huge amounts of evidence to the contrary (i.e. starting with no real limits on old growth logging for the last 100 years until it was too late, the advent of the chain saw and other high yield mechanical harvesting starting in the 1940s, and the real death knell, the decision of Congress in the 1970s to allow raw logs to be shipped to Japan), the industry continues to believe that if only we allowed this indicator species to die off, we could return to the heyday of one log trucks plying highway 101. That idea flies in the face of the reality that less than 1% of old growth forest in the Pacific NW still exists. So what is the fight about, really?

Eight Democratic lawmakers called Tuesday for an investigation into “potential scientific meddling” by the Trump administration in its rule to remove critical habitat protections for the imperiled northern spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest.

KNKX.ORG

Read the latest Spotted Owl badminton game overview and all it’s sordid details, here.

https://www.knkx.org/post/democrats-urge-investigation-removal-owl-protections

Two forest parcels taken off bidding sheet – PDN

Good news this week from the DNR and the NW Watershed Institute.

Eighty acres of Jefferson County forest land will not be sold to the highest bidder, said Peter Bahls of the Northwest Watershed Institute.

That had been the state Department of Natural Resources plan.

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.

Partnership puts pressure on DNR for expansion of Dabob Bay Natural Area – PT Leader

Trying to finalize the protection of the Toandos Peninsula. This is currently the largest conservation project in East Jefferson County.

Conservation groups, Tribes, community members and shellfish farmers are banding together to press the state to expand the Dabob Bay Natural Area.

If approved, the expansion of the protected lands on the Toandos Peninsula would be the preserve’s third since 2009.   

In a letter addressed to Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the consortium — spearheaded by the Northwest Watershed Institute — called for an expansion of the southern boundary of the Dabob Bay Natural Area to include a series of recently-discovered rare forests. 

Partnership puts pressure on DNR for expansion of Dabob Bay Natural Area | Port Townsend Leader (ptleader.com)

More on ‘murder hornets’ from local entomologist.

I’ve known Norm Baker for the last decade. He always has thoughtful information to share. While this is a comment in another post, I wanted to break it out to share more fully.


I am trained as an entomologist and am aware of the murder hornet and have been for many years. If this hornet becomes established and, that is quite likely, it will be a problem because of anaphylactic shock from the sting. When a hornet or yellowjacket or paper wasp sting, it isn’t a single injection. It is more like five or six injections in a very short row to get the maximum benefit or pain. Anaphylactic shock will be a matter of public safety and it may be necessary to broaden the purview of public safety a bit. I say this because being trained as an entomologist, I have seen two people go into anaphylactic shock after years, many years of working with insects and suddenly becoming susceptible to the sting or other insect protein. In one case, a 50-year-old woman researcher in the lab next to mine at U of M, had a cockroach run up her arm and she developed tiny red marks where the animal ran. A couple of months later, a cockroach escaped a culture cage, she grabbed it and put it back in. 20 minutes later she went into anaphylactic shock and if the lab technician and a couple of students had not been present, she would have died. In another case, a 55-year-old man who had worked with honeybees is entire professional life was so used to being stung, he simply ignored them. Unfortunately, he and a student were in the field and he got that one sting too many and started gasping for breath. If his graduate student had not been there, he would have died. Data on anaphylactic shock from insect stings, shows that 90% of the time, it looks like the person suffered a heart attack.

I read over the paper on where the Asian giant hornet can be expected to live and it is most of the Pacific Northwest. I can also tell from the eradication efforts by the Department of Agriculture, that all of their efforts still do not tell us if it is possible to control this animal. The problem is the fall dispersal of those queen hornets. They go into a kind of hibernation and in the spring, set up housekeeping very quickly and build a nest very quickly. My experience as an entomologist says this will eventually be a low level problem here in Clallam County. But, it will also take some training for EMTs and I can just about guarantee some of you police people are going to get involved indirectly because of the anaphylactic shock.

A lot of press time is devoted to the devastating effects of these hornets on bee colonies. What I have not seen is the use of a screen “excluder” that prevents the hornets from entering a beehive simply because they are much larger in size. It will simply be a matter of time before the nations beekeepers learn how to handle this hornet around their hives. The real concern here is anaphylactic shock that is passed off as a heart attack when no help is present and someone is stung.

But, there is more to the murder hornet then people really realize in this country.

For example take a look at this article; https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/05/world/asia/murder-hornet-japan.html

Or even Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_giant_hornet

Norm Baker, PhD

Minor bridge modifications could help young steelhead escape from Hood Canal – PSI

As this blog has reported for many years, the Hood Canal Floating bridge is a barrier likely the primary issue responsible for the massive decline in salmon in the Canal. An unintended consequence of our putting a floating bridge in rather than one that would be a suspension bridge. Chris Dunagan brings us up to speed on the latest work by engineers to address this mistake.


Help could be on the way for migrating steelhead and salmon in Hood Canal, where many young fish are killed each year by seals and other predators that lie in wait at the Hood Canal floating bridge. As many as 50 percent of the steelhead migrants perish as they arrive at the bridge, where predators pick them off one by one. The bridge is supported by floating concrete pontoons, forming a nearly solid barrier across the waterway. Young steelhead generally swim near the surface, making them especially vulnerable to predation, although some fish will dive under the bridge to get to the other side. Engineers are currently designing minor modifications to a few bridge pontoons to help the fish find their way through existing gaps in the structure. Chris Dunagan reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Minor bridge modifications could help young steelhead escape from Hood Canal

What the pandemic has done to WA’s flagship shellfish industry – Crosscut

A very good article on the state of the shellfish industry in our state. Quotes from people here in the area working in the industry.

The pandemic tanked the shellfish industry, but growers are “tentatively optimistic” that things are looking up.

By Hannah Weinberger
Crosscut Article

Hood Canal nearing a potential ‘first’ for salmon recovery – KIRO News

Hood Canal nearing a potential ‘first’ for salmon recovery.

In the Hood Canal Region there is an ongoing effort to de-list summer chum, a move that would be a “first” nationwide. A number of people who spoke with KIRO 7 believe that could happen within the next two years.

KIRO News 7

https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/hood-canal-nearing-potential-first-salmon-recovery/ZSKKVIDLTNH2LAQTEUTSMKQBUE/

Port of Port Townsend approves grant application for Point Hudson jetty – PDN

As readers of this blog may know, there have been concerns raised about the sea life attached to the old jetty. Some rare species have been found on it. More research will be needed to understand the impact, and the diving community of Jefferson County have weighed in and are following the issue closely.


The Port of Port Townsend commissioners unanimously agreed to resubmit a grant application to the federal Economic Development Administration to assist with reconstruction of the Point Hudson Breakwater jetty. The Economic Development Administration (EDA) initially deferred its decision for the $11.28 million grant the port requested. But now the EDA has said it is open to reconsidering funding the project with about $9.3 million. Zach Jablonski reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula Daily News

Port of Port Townsend approves grant application for Point Hudson jetty

Goodbye isthmus,hello salmon:new bridge, channel restores flow at Kilisut Harbor – Kitsap Sun

The flip side of fighting to protect the environment from exploitation is to restore the environment. One of the leaders in that is NOSC. Here’s the outcome of their latest major project.


Young salmon, twisting and flapping their way from the torrents of the Puget Sound en route to the Pacific Ocean, have endured a manmade detour for the past 75 years.  An earthen causeway at the south end of Kilisut Harbor, installed in the 1940s to connect Marrowstone and Indian islands in Jefferson County, has kept the keystone species from quick access to 2,300 acres of prime habitat in which to rest and forage. “It’s basically a gigantic buffet between the two islands,” said Rebecca Benjamin, executive director of the North Olympic Salmon Coalition. “But the salmon couldn’t get there.” Josh Farley reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Goodbye isthmus, hello salmon: new bridge, channel restores flow at Kilisut Harbor

Jamestown S’Klallam propose a commercial aquaculture operation at Point Hudson

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is proposing a commercial aquaculture operation at Point Hudson. The Tribe is asking the port to allow them to put in a FLUPSY, a device to create an upwelling of water to help young oyster spat.

The meeting with the Port Commissioners to discuss this proposal is online on WEDS. SEPT 23rd at 5:30 PM.

Zoom instructions and agenda are here: https://portofpt.com/event/regular-business-meeting-2-2020-04-22-2020-09-23/

While on the surface this seems benign, it has raised a number of issues that Karen Sullivan, who has a boat in Point Hudson, researched. The following information comes from a letter she wrote the Port Commissioners. The questions are quite intersesting in that they raise issues that many of us might not think to raise. One example is the Wooden Boat Show. Here’s all of the letter. Draw your own conclusions. Zoom in on Wedsnesday if you have comments. Will likely be earlier on the agenda. It’s the first major order of business after the introductory issues.


To:  Port of Port Townsend 

From:  Karen Sullivan and James Heumann, Port tenants 

Date:  September 21, 2020 

Subject: Concerns about proposed commercial aquaculture operations in Point  Hudson Marina 

We are writing to express our concerns about the proposal to establish oyster  aquaculture operations at the Point Hudson Marina. It was surprising to see this potentially controversial item listed so ambiguously on the Port’s agenda for the  September 23 meeting: “Jamestown S’Klallam presentation: FLUPSY and upland use  at Point Hudson.” 

How many of the Port’s constituents would know that a FLUPSY is a Floating  Upweller System, and how many would recognize it as an in-water aquaculture  project? Use of a cute, innocuous-sounding acronym with reference only to upland activity requires readers to know what a FLUPSY is, downplays its potential impacts,  and fails to acknowledge potential public interest. Without public scrutiny, project approval would fail standards of fairness, impartiality, and prevention of conflicts of  interest. The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe said it is working with the Port; now the  Port needs to work with the public.  

Our concerns include environmental, financial, social, procedural and legal  compliance issues. We believe these and other questions and concerns must be fully  answered before the Port can approve such a project. 

1. Size and impact of floats/barges: Currently, an oyster spat-raising operation by  the project proponent exists at the John Wayne Marina. These “floats,” which are  also called barges, are not “small” as is claimed in news accounts. A Google Earth  screen capture shows their placement and size at that marina. They are much larger  than any of the surrounding boats. 

2. Noise/smell: The paddlewheel in the right photo above is the mechanism for  producing upwelling in these barges. We are concerned about levels of noise and/or  smells from operations in close quarters with marina tenants. 

3. Wooden Boat Festival: Point Hudson is a small and very popular harbor  destination, not to mention the home of the Wooden Boat Festival, so the impact of  one or more FLUPSYs on available slip space as well as on the Wooden Boat Festival is likely to be disproportionately large. It also raises more questions: 

Would these barges remain in place during the Wooden Boat Festival? 

If so, how would matters of public safety and liability be handled with the  large crowds we get at the festival? 

What would be the financial and/or other impacts to the festival of lost  berthing space? Have festival organizers been consulted? 

4. Marina/tenant concerns:  

What is the cost-benefit of reducing slip space for boats whose owners  patronize local businesses, for the sake of a commercial tenant whose  operations do not benefit and may even harm the local community?  

What hazard and liability assessments have been done for scenarios in which  a storm breaches the weakened Point Hudson jetty and large waves enter the  marina? What protections are proposed or in place for potential damages? Could the Port be sued for damages by the project operators? 

How often is the spat harvested? It is our understanding that large semi trucks are needed in order to deliver the oyster seed and to transport the  harvested product. What disruptions can be expected to the marina’s docks  and/or parking or walking access? Where does the Port propose to park  these trucks in a marina already squeezed for space?  

It’s our understanding that the tanks are brightly lighted 24/7. How could  this not impact marina tenants and Northwest Maritime Center activities? Residents of Quilcene Bay have complained about glaring night lights from an  oyster operation that have driven herons and eagles from their roosting  trees.  

5. Spat or adult oysters? Another concern is the wording in the Peninsula Daily  News article, “When the oysters are mature enough, they will be relocated to  another facility.” That facility is not named. But because the article also states the  oysters would be sold in the proposed Point Hudson commercial store and bar, it  means they could be raising the oysters here and not relocating them. We are  concerned about the possibility of commercial feed being used if the latter scenario is accurate. Ecosystem effects of raising oysters to maturity, including using  commercial feed in such an enclosed space as Point Hudson harbor, would be far  more impactful. 

6. Consultation with agencies: With the slip-filling size of these semi-permanent  barges comes additional shading of the seabed, something that for dock  construction triggers permits. Being semi-permanent as opposed to the smaller  transient vessels, barge-sized shading impacts to the seabed would be more like  those of docks. Permits generate consultation with state or federal agencies.  Consultation with either one triggers a public process such as an Environmental  Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement under State or Federal  environmental policy laws. Federal funding also triggers this, and according to the  Tribe’s 2017 Report to Tribal Citizens, federal funding was used to purchase FLUPSYs. In cases where the federal nexus is present, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is  obligated to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement or an Environmental  Assessment. A public process with adequate comment periods would be proper and  necessary. 

7. EIS or EA required: Given the wide array of concerns along with the federal  nexus mentioned above, it would appear that this project cannot be said to have no  significant or cumulative impact on the quality of the human environment;  therefore, it would require an Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental  Assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

8. Discharge of waste into water: Washing the tanks after spat is harvested would  discharge waste materials into marina waters. This is a “discharge into waters of the  United States,” meaning that whether or not it falls into the category of point- or  nonpoint source pollution, it would trigger the need for a permit and monitoring  under the Clean Water Act.  

9. Historic Preservation conflict: In February 2020, the Port met with  representatives from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation to discuss  preservation of the historic Point Hudson Marina and its surrounding buildings. The  purpose of a partnership agreement between the two agencies was to “…work  together to maintain Point Hudson’s historic waterfront character.” How do  commercial aquaculture operations fit into such plans for a seaport city with a  National Historic designation that is world-renowned for its traditional maritime  character? Is it worth it for the Port to make such a radical change in community established purposes for Point Hudson? 

10. National Historic Preservation Act issues: In keeping with the  aforementioned concern, there should be a formal consultation under authority of  the National Historic Preservation Act. 

11. Leased building purpose: What is the nature of the proposed leased building  operations beyond an “oyster bar,” and would it include any processing operations and/or storage of equipment, live product, chemicals, hazardous materials, or would  it house non-food-bar related activities? We are concerned that if chemicals are to  be stored on premises and were spilled, that potential environmental non compliance issues could shut down neighboring business such as Sea Marine. 

12. Partners with Cooke Aquaculture: The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is in  business partnership with Cooke Aquaculture, whose operations have been  problematic to the environment and the subject of state shutdowns and litigation.  We are concerned about the possibility of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe running or  expanding its aquaculture operations at Point Hudson in concert with a company  whose stewardship for the environment has been questionable. 

13. Oyster aquaculture not harmless: The negative effects of oyster aquaculture,  including the raising of seed or spat, are well known. Oyster spat operations pull  nutrients from the water including nitrogen; nutrient removal can have a  detrimental effect on eelgrass beds. Port Townsend uses buoy markers to  discourage anchoring in its eelgrass beds. We are concerned about harm to these  ecologically important eelgrass beds. 

14. Paying bills on time? Conversations with the marina manager at John Wayne  reveal that the Tribe has sometimes delayed payment for moorage as much as six or  more months. This seems like a high risk for little benefit.  

Thank you for your attention to these matters. We write because we care about  maintaining the traditional maritime values of Point Hudson and the health of our  marine environment. We cannot see how the proposed project would be compatible with either. 

Sincerely, 

Karen Sullivan and Jim Heumann

Friends of Fort Worden launches ‘Nix the Nox!’ campaign

Friends of Fort Worden State Park is launching a “Nix the Nox!” fundraising campaign to raise $25,000 for restoring natural habitat and increasing safety for park visitors.

“Our focus for the funds will be controlling noxious invasive plant species,” said Janine Anderson, a member of the Friends board who prefers to promote native Northwest plants. “We’re giving special emphasis to poison hemlock.”

Poison hemlock is highly toxic to the touch and can be fatal if ingested, Anderson said. It has spread widely in the past five to 10 years, and its presence in the most-visited parts of the park is a significant health hazard.

“You can see it along many trails and in hillside campsites and beach areas,” she said.

Donations to the Friends Challenge Grant will be combined with $5,000 from an anonymous donor. The funds will support efforts of volunteers, two AmeriCorps positions already funded by the Friends, and professional services for noxious weed control.

To make a tax-deductible donation, people can visit the Friends website at fwfriends.org. If you have questions, send an email to contact@fwfriends.org.

“Our Nix the Nox campaign is our largest multiyear commitment to restoring the natural habitat of the park,” Anderson said. “Donations will help keep Fort Worden one of Washington’s magical treasures.

The project is contingent on our success in raising the needed funds and final board approval of the funding, she said.

Friends of Fort Worden is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that strives to preserve and enhance the state park as a recreational, historical, educational, and natural resource. It works closely with park management and 14 other partner organizations in the park to provide help where and when we can.

“The Friends bring so much support to Fort Worden,” said Park Manager Brian Hageman. “They contribute to great park improvements that enhance the experience of our park patrons.”

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