Event: Northern Elephant Seals in the Pacific Northwest virtual program

Northern Elephant Seals in the Pacific Northwest virtual program on January 25th@7pm

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/northern-elephant-seals-in-the-pacific-northwest-tickets-483953085707

Please join the Friends of Fort Flagler to learn more about Northern elephant seal natural history and distribution. We will also discuss common causes of stranding in Northern elephant seals, field assessments and our recent hospital cases.

Presenters:

Casey Mclean has over 12 years’ experience working with marine animals, and is the Executive Director of SR3, Washington’s first dedicated marine animal hospital.  SR3 is a nonprofit organization that focuses on response, rehabilitation and research of local marine wildlife. The hospital opened the summer of 2021 and immediately started helping harbor seals. is fall they will be opening a marine animal hospital in the Des Moines marina, just south of Seattle. To learn more about SR3, visit https://www.sealifer3.org/

Michelle Rivard is the veterinarian for SR3.  Dr. Michelle Rivard is an aquatic animal veterinarian focused on clinical medicine, pathology, and health of free-ranging marine mammals. In her role at SR³, Michelle provides medical management and care of stranded aquatic wildlife, performs postmortem examinations, and participates in ongoing research projects.  Michelle attended veterinary school at Michigan State University. 

Friends of Fort Flagler is a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoring, preserving and protecting the natural and historic resources of Fort Flagler State Park. Please support our state park by becoming a member, volunteering or donating to our organization. To learn more, visithttps://friendsoffortflagler.org/.

Port Townsend City Council recognizes rights of whales in WA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release from the Earth Law Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#         #         #

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Event: Birding in the Park: Fort Flagler

Birding and nature tours are now being held on the 4th Saturday of each month. Wear sturdy footwear and dress for changeable weather. bring binoculars and your own water.

Registration: Please send Bev an email, subject: Birdwatching Walk to Bevybirds53@gmail.com and she will plan directly with you. Please note this program is dependent on good weather.

Presenter: Beverly McNeil, Admiralty Audubon trip leader and photographer, has been conducting bird walks at Fort Flagler. Beverly’s photographs are displayed at the Port Townsend Gallery: http://porttownsendgallery.com/artists/beverly-mcneil/.

Friends of Fort Flagler is a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoring, preserving and protecting the natural and historic resources of Fort Flagler State Park. Please support our state park by becoming a member, volunteering or donating to our organization. To learn more, visit https://friendsoffortflagler.org/.

Port Townsend Paper Mill Acquired by Atlas Holdings

The parent company of Port Townsend Paper Mill, Crown Paper, has been acquired by a holding company out of Greenwich, Connecticut named Atlas Corporation. Atlas is a holding company that owns many natural resource companies, including recent acquisition of Foster Farms chicken processing. They also own and operate a diversified group of manufacturing and distribution businesses around the world. Many of these businesses are paper mills and many more operate in related industries, such as packaging, printing, and receipts and labels.

With Crown, Atlas now owns and operates 26 manufacturing and distribution businesses with approximately 50,000 associates across more than 300 global locations. While Atlas was founded in 2002, many of their companies have been in business for more than 100 years and are pillars of their local communities.

From their press release:

“Atlas has a long and established track record of investing in the pulp, paper and packaging industries, partnering with exceptional leadership teams to revitalize and strengthen companies for the long term. We’ve invested significant resources and partnered with companies at an inflection point in their journey, and we view Crown as another opportunity to put this experience to work. Today, these companies, including Finch Paper, Iconex, Marcal, Millar Western Forest Products and Twin Rivers Paper Company, are leaders in their markets,” added Atlas Partner Sam Astor.

“Atlas has owned and operated businesses that have similar operations and footprints as Crown, including paper mills, packaging manufacturers and wood products leaders with operations in the U.S. and Canada. In each case, these companies have been strong economic engines in their local economies. As such, we bring a unique set of capabilities and relevant experience to our partnership with Randy and the Crown Team,” said Janet O’Neil, Senior Vice President at Atlas Holdings.

Atlas also announced the appointment of paper and packaging industry executive Randy Nebel as Chairman of the Crown Board of Directors. Nebel has extensive experience in the sector, having previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Verso Corporation (NYSE: VRS), a leading North American producer of graphic, specialty and packaging paper and market pulp, and President of Longview Paper & Packaging, a leading manufacturer of high-quality containerboard, corrugated products and other specialty papers.

Port Townsend Paper Corporation is a leading provider of high-quality recycled and virgin kraft containerboard, kraft pulp and specialty products in Port Townsend, Washington. The two converting facilities, known as Crown Packaging and Boxmaster, operate with extensive customer reach and distribution capabilities throughout British Columbia and Alberta. 

$1B up for grabs to help salmon get to where they’re going – KUOW

Continued funding of efforts to reverse 100+ years of destruction of our salmon streams. Removal of culverts is critical to any hope of restoring wild salmon. These are real jobs for blue collar people on the Peninsula. Much better use of our federal funds than funding many other non critical issues.


U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announce a $1 billion program to help save the region’s salmon while visiting Washington state Thursday…Salmon need to travel up rivers to spawn. A lot of them don’t make it because culverts get in the way. Culverts are like tunnels that let streams pass under roadways. Many were installed decades ago. While they allow water to pass through, they don’t work as well for salmon. The new program will help pay to improve or replace culverts in the region. A total of $1 billion is available over five years thanks to the “National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration-Culvert Aquatic Organism Passage Program.” Applications are open for tribal, state, and local governments. David Hyde reports. 

(KUOW) 

Over-the-counter pesticides found in islands’ forage fish-San Juan Journal

Very troubling findings in a recent research on pesticides found in Sand Lance which are fish eaten by many higher level predators. Please do not use pesticide sprays like this for carpenter ants and other insects. You likely are poisoning yourself and the environment.

An intriguing sidelight of the Kwiaht study is a finding that sand lances collected closest to Admiralty Inlet, the entrance to Puget Sound, were on average twice as contaminated with pyrethroid pesticides as sand lances collected on the north side of San Juan County closest to the Fraser River plume.

https://www.sanjuanjournal.com/news/over-the-counter-pesticides-found-in-islands-forage-fish/

Study raises questions about using ‘woody debris’ to restore streams -Salish Currents

Some of the woody debris projects work, some don’t. The reasons why are not yet known.


“Efforts to improve salmon streams damaged by past logging and other human activities commonly include the addition of carefully placed logs, tree roots or “woody debris” to mimic this natural system. But a new report raises questions about the value of adding wood to streams — at least in the way it has been done in many restoration projects.”. Chris Dunagan reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

Job Opening: Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Position Description: Enviro. Education & Stewardship Specialist. The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary AmeriCorps member will support education and outreach for Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, including planning, implementing and evaluating K-12 ocean science education programs based on Ocean Literacy Principles and best practices for NOAA B-WET “meaningful watershed educational experiences”.

AmeriCorps members will also assist sanctuary staff, in partnership with Washington CoastSavers, to plan and coordinate beach cleanups. Additionally, members will conduct public outreach with local service and interest groups and at prioritized community events such as Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival, Beachcombers Fun Fair, Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival and regional career fairs.

The position is based out of Port Angeles, WA, and will take place from Oct 2022 – Aug 2023.

Apply at:

https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=74731&fromSearch=true

Pleasant Harbor opponents ask State AG and Federal Consumer Protection Bureau for investigation into sales activities

Since 2006 a Master Planned Residential Resort (MPR) has been in the planning stage by the Canadian Stateman Group, on what is known as Black Point in southern Jefferson County along the Hood Canal. The MPR, 15 miles south of the Hood Canal Bridge, was proposed as an approximate 256-acre destination resort with golf course. The county granted (against much opposition) a land use designation in 2008, and in 2018 approved new zoning and a “Development Agreement”. Despite the go ahead from the county, the Statesman Group has only recently logged the land and has now been marketing the not yet built development. The Brinnon Group, which was formed in opposition to the proposed development, has now asked the State Attorney General and Federal Consumer Protection Bureau to investigate the sales and marketing efforts.

Black Point aka Pleasant Harbor Master Planned Residential Resort – left and center of Peninsula stretching over to marina on upper right. Logged area for golf course can be seen in mid center. Photo courtesy of The Brinnon Group.

The Brinnon Group points out several points of concern.

The county amended their development agreement with Statesman under court order, due to an appeal by Statesman of the original zoning and agreement. The amendment required each phase of development to “contain adequate infrastructure, open space, recreational facilities, landscaping” and other conditions “to stand alone if no subsequent phases are developed.”

Further, the Development Agreement requires ten features of combined infrastructure and resort/recreational amenities be developed before residential units can be built and sold. However, as of this date, none of these infrastructure/amenities have been constructed; the Brinnon Group state that no permit applications have even been filed for necessary features of Phase 1 of the proposal. No water/sewer district has been formed and no sewer treatment plant or water system has been permitted, constructed or installed. No permits have been filed for construction of the staff quarters. No road system has been constructed and no improvements made to the intersection of Black Point Road and Highway 101, the only entrance to the project.

The ten features the agreement states for Phase 1 “required that substantial resort infrastructure and recreational facilities be constructed as follows:

  • Clearing and construction of the golf course.
  • Construction of the road network.
  • Road improvements at Highway 101 and Black Point Road.
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  • Water Storage Tank and distribution piping.
  • Sanitary Sewer Pump Stations.
  • Begin Implementation of Vegetation Management Plan.
  • Construction of Community/Recreation Center, with 208 short term hotel rooms, spa services, pool, water slides, commercial space and sports courts.
  • Construct residential units with 52 units of staff quarters for those working at the facility.
  • Form a water and sewer district.”
    • Only if these amenities and infrastructure elements are completed can the developer construct and sell approximately 252 units of residential housing.
    • As of this month, according to the Brinnon Group’s letter, none of these infrastructure/amenities have been constructed. (emphasis in original email from Brinnon Group.)
  • Additionally, the planned 208 room hotel, complete with premised water slides, spa services, commercial space and sports courts is not constructed, and no building permit applications have been filed.
  • The only progress on Phase 1 is logging (and timber sale) for golf course fairway areas
  • Construction of any sewer and water facilities requires approval of the State Department of Health (DOH). Though application materials were sent to DOH, they were incomplete, as described in a letter from DOH dated September 22, 2020. A recent inquiry to DOH by the Brinnon Group shows no additional material submitted by Statesman.
  • The Brinnon group points out that despite the issues listed above, the Statesman Group have begun marketing efforts.
    • They have constructed a web site.
    • They have put a 6 minute sales video out.
    • Sent out a mass mailer in the Seattle area.

The Brinnon Group points out that both the website and the “Seattle Signal” mass mailing contain multiple inaccuracies and statements which are not – and will not be – accurate within any reasonable time. The five numbered items in the mailing,  “Vista Lots, Sea View Villas, Terraced Lofts, the Inn by the Sea and the Maritime Village” are all described for purchase or lease real estate interests. There is no indication, according to the Brinnon Group,  that these facilities are permitted or constructed, and the brochure does not explain the ten elements of Phase 1 of the PHMPR that must be constructed before the real estate interests can be sold. There is apparently no opportunity offered for prospective buyers to inspect the property.

Additionally, the marketing mailing states that, “While some are golfing or enjoying REJUV-Health, others benefit from the Recreation Center’s indoor pools, skating and hockey rink, indoor soccer, racquetball and numerous training facilities for league sport, as well as the Family Fun Center,”  

However, this recreation center is not constructed and there are apparently no permit applications with Jefferson County, nor even basic plans for the facility, according to the Brinnon Group letter.

The website claimed that “Our Health Center includes an approved surgical operatory for various endoscopic day procedures such as those related to ear-nose-throat procedures, general surgeries, plastic surgery plus urology & gynecology and minor orthopedic procedures.” The Brinnon Group could find no plans nor permits for construction of such a facility.

The Brinnon Group goes on to state, “Even Phase 1 of the PHMPR involves a very expensive proposal with a multi-year permitting and construction program. However, substantially no progress has been made on moving this project forward in the three years since the Development Agreement was approved, after modifications required by the Superior Court. There is every indication that Statesman lacks the financial wherewithal to complete this venture, much less even initiate it.”

A question also is raised by the Brinnon Group as to whether the Statesman Group has the financial resources needed to build this development. Their concern comes from a 2016 proposal made by the Statesman Group that said, “In order to finance this community resource, Pleasant Harbor Marina & Golf Resort LLP (PHM) will be seeking County and State of Washington support, where the stakeholders would all benefit from the increased attraction in the community.”

The proposal included requesting a $2,000,000 grant from Jefferson County and a $9,250,000 grant from the State of Washington from “the Washington State Utility Trust, a Recreational Community Grant . . .” Statesman further proposed that the State “would sponsor through the Federal Government a Tax Exempt Municipal Improvement Bond for $26.5 million dollars at a loan to PHM.” Given the non-existent financial arrangements proposed, neither the State nor Jefferson County advanced any funds, much less the $37,750,000 requested. Indeed, Statesman asked local governments in British Columbia to provide similar financial support in the amount of about $40 million for the recreational center at its Pine Ridge resort, which unsurprisingly was declined by Canadian officials.

The Brinnon Group concludes in their letter, “Statesman, though creating the PHMPR in name, has made no progress toward the completion of facilities necessary to meet the standards of a Master Planned resort, even the basics of water and sewer services. It appears that Statesman lacks the financial resources even to build the infrastructure and amenities required by its Development Agreement. This however does not deter Statesman from wild promises and misrepresentations concerning its proposal, as found in its promotional materials and advertising, all in an apparent attempt to solicit sales of real estate interests in this proposal. The mismatch between development reality and description provided in the promotional materials is substantial. The partial development of an underfunded and half-finished resort has consequences for the community. In summary, the Brinnon Group requests that there be a full investigation of the public solicitation for the sale of interests in the Pleasant Harbor MPR and appropriate actions taken.”

We will continue to follow this story as it unfolds.

Causeway removal meant big jump in juvenile salmon – AP

Good news from the work done by North Olympic Salmon Coalition (NOSC) and the State.

Only six juvenile salmon were found during seining in the five years before the bridge opened. During this year’s seining, over two days in May, volunteers netted close to 1,000 juvenile salmon

https://www.knkx.org/environment/2022-06-06/causeway-removal-meant-big-jump-in-juvenile-salmon

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.

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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

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