Scientists seek to understand increase in grey whale deaths on West Coast – CBC

The latest whale die-off on our coast continues with no end in sight. Malnourishment seems to be the root cause, but it is still unclear. 

The recent sighting of an emaciated grey whale off Vancouver Island and the discovery of a dead whale washed up on a B.C. beach highlights concerns that the marine mammals are dying in increasing numbers…Officials have not released a cause of death, but they say dead grey whales on the West Coast of Canada have been increasing in number since 2018. (CBC)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/increase-grey-whale-deaths-west-coast-1.6019051

Dabob Bay Public Hearing canceled. New date to come.

Friends of Dabob Bay,
DNR announced today that the Public Hearing scheduled for tomorrow May 13 in Quilcene has been canceled and will be rescheduled:

DNR has received requests to include remote internet access for this meeting due to concerns regarding COVID-19. DNR is rescheduling this meeting in order to address this request, and will send out new notice when the date and time have been chosen.

The public hearing will likely be rescheduled in July or later, because DNR will need time to provide public notice.

For those of you who have already submitted comments of support – THANK YOU – they are showing DNR and our County Commissioners that there is a lot of support for Dabob Bay conservation – but consider it a draft run. You will need to resubmit comments when the public hearing is rescheduled. If you have not yet submitted comments – save your energy! I will keep you posted!

Southern resident orcas celebrate 3 healthy calves as researchers find J pod in best overall condition in a decade – Seattle Times

Good news on the Orca front. 

The three J pod calves are doing well. In fact, the whole southern resident pod is looking better than in a decade, according to researchers out with the orcas. “We hope it continues and these calves can thrive,” researcher John Durban says. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/southern-resident-orcas-celebrate-3-healthy-calves-as-researchers-find-j-pod-in-best-overall-condition-in-a-decade/

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

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


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

Seabed Mining Opponents Off WA Coast Find Win in Legislature

Puget Sound Days on the Hill -Puget Sound Partnership

We’d like to remind you to register by 1:59 p.m. Pacific Time tomorrow, Thursday, May 6, for the third of this year’s virtual Puget Sound Days on the Hill sessions, which will be held on Friday, May 7, from 1:00–2:00 p.m. Pacific Time, hosted by the Puget Sound Partnership and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

Please click here to register for the May 7 session. The confirmation email will provide the unique Zoom link for the session. 

At this session, we’ll discuss Puget Sound restoration and protection, salmon recovery efforts, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and infrastructure, among other topics, with Representative Dan Newhouse. We will also host a panel discussion, “What’s Happening in D.C.?,” with Morgan Wilson, director of Governor Inslee’s office in Washington, D.C., and Rich Innes of the Meridian Institute. Wilson and Innes will discuss the appropriations process and give an overview of potential upcoming legislation, such as the infrastructure package.

Representative Newhouse will speak for about 25 minutes, including a Q&A component, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Advance registration is required.

We will send regular announcements with confirmed speakers for the week as well as a registration link for each event. You can also check https://www.psdoth.org for the latest information.


Week 3:

Friday, May 7, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time

With Representative Dan Newhouse and panelists Morgan Wilson (Governor Inslee) and Rich Innes 

The Good News: Puget Sound Herring

Good primer and update on herring stocks in the Salish Sea. By my friends at the Rainshadow Journal.

New survey offers a glimmer of hope for declining native bee populations – WaPost

I know I’ve seen questions about a lack of bees lately. Thought you might appreciate this.

The tribulations of the honeybee are well-known, even if the origins of the mysterious colony collapse disorder that wiped out hives a few years ago are not easily explained. Then came our awareness of the afflictions of the bumblebee. Of more than 40 species of this beloved creature in North America, half are said to be in decline. One of the most vexing developments is the near disappearance of the once ubiquitous rusty-patched bumblebee over the past 25 years. Adrian Higgins reports. (Washington Post)

New survey offers a glimmer of hope for declining native bee populations

Kurt Grinnell, ” A tower of strength for the Jamestown S’klallam tribe” dies in car crash

In perhaps the most shocking death in a year of death and illness, Jamestown S’Klallam tribal council member Kurt Grinnell, died in a single car crash on Mount Pleasant road outside of Port Angeles. He was heading home at the time.

Kurt was the CEO of Jamestown Seafoods, and chaired the tribe’s natural resources committee, as well as represented the Jamestown S’Klallam on the Point No Point Treaty Council and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

I worked with Kurt on a number of tribal video projects in the last decade. I also talked to him during the battle to shut down Atlantic net pen salmon operations in the state after the disaster of a net pen failure. While he and the Tribe supported the end of Atlantic Salmon net pens, they had their own plans to run native fish in net pens. It raised the hackles of some in the environmental movement that wanted an end to all net pens. But Kurt’s perspective helped end the practice of using Atlantic salmon in pens here. I supported his position. It was a workable compromise to achieve a needed goal. And I knew that if he and the Tribe backed that position, it would prevail in Olympia.

Kurt Grinnell – Photo by Al Bergstein – © 2010 & 2021 by Al Bergstein and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

Kurt was a man who would always say hello when we we ran into each other in some event. I was clearly aware of how he was a mentor to many and a gentle and thoughtful voice on the tribal council and in the meetings where I presented projects and asked for feedback. He was at the center of many of the Tribes work in aquaculture, and fishing issues. He and other members of the council, Rochelle Blankenship, his daughter Loni Greninger, and Theresa Lehman seemed to be a great next generation of leadership for the tribe, in addition to the long standing leadership of Ron Allen, the elected Tribal Council Chairman.

As stated on the Tribal Council web site: Kurt was elected to the Tribal Council in October, 2004. He served on the Hunting and Fishing Committee for 33 years. He was the Tribe’s Aquaculture Manager. He served as Tribal Policy Liaison for the Tribe’s Natural Resource Department and Chair of the Natural Resource Committee. In 1981 he became a gill-net fisher, and then began attending fin-fish negotiation meetings with the Makah and Point Elliot Treaty Tribes. In the early 90’s he served as the Indian Child Welfare Case Worker, Chemical Dependency Counselor and Social Worker, and since that time he has also served the Tribe in the areas of education, housing and culture. In 1995, he became a commercial geoduck diver.

I cannot begin to understand the depth of sorrow that the tribe must feel over this loss. I felt a hole in my heart hearing this news because people like Kurt are few and far between. I can honestly say he was one of the finest men I have ever met and I do not say that lightly. He was a leader that led by example. He had the skill, too rare in this time, of actually making you feel that he was listening to you. He looked you in the eye as he talked and listened. The words, trustworthy, soft spoken, dedicated and integrity, are words I would use to describe him. During one of our video sessions, he related to me how he would lay in bed late into the night with a laptop in front of him, negotiating with China over the price of geoduck. He was incredibly devoted to his family, his people and their needs. I send my heartfelt sympathy to his wife Terri, his children Loni Greninger and Jaiden Bosick, his mother, the legendary storyteller, Elaine Grinnell, his father Fred, along with his entire tribe in this time of their grief.

Comments and ratings have been disabled for this post in honor of Kurt’s family.

Weather or Not from Al Latham

Our monthly report from Al Latham here in Jefferson County. Always a fun and interesting read! 

_______________________________________

Greetings and happy La Nina spring from http://www.cocorahs.org station WA-JF-1 located 5.1 miles south of the Chimacum metropolis.

As Mark Twain said “In spring I have counted 136
kinds of weather inside of 24 hours”…   That pretty well describes the past March.

We recorded 2.42″ rain here with 3.8″ average.
For the water year so far we accumulated 23.84″ with 25.2″ being our average.

La Nina means cooler/wetter winter/spring.  It has
definitely been cooler around here but we haven’t experience more
rainfall – except for January of course, but that’s ancient history.

According to http://www.cliffmass.blogspot.com “Most of western Washington, Oregon, California, and the southwest states were more than 2F cooler than normal.   Chilling statistics”.
NOAA Climate Prediction Center is forecasting cooler
temps for the next 3 months but they are on the fence about weather it will be wetter, drier or normal rain wise.
So that’s it for now – enjoy whatever weather we get, but don’t put those tomatoes out too soon!  Al
 
“April’s air stirs in
Willow leaves…a butterfly
Floats and balances”         Basho
 
What do you call it when you get mugged on the vernal equinox?
The first robbin of spring!
 
When all the world appears to be in tumult, and
nature itself is feeling the assault of climate change, the seasons
retain their essential rhythm.
Yes, fall gives us a premonition of winter,
but the, winter, will be forced to relent,
once again
to the new beginnings of soft greens, longer light, and the sweet air of spring!      Madeline M. Kunin

Group sues US over inaction to protect threatened species – OPB

Another day, another environmental lawsuit over the former administrations attacks on environmental protections. We’ll be seeing these for some time to come. 

Decisions by the Trump administration to withhold endangered-species protections for the northern spotted owl, monarch butterflies and other imperiled wildlife and plants could be set aside. That’s the goal of a conservation group’s lawsuit Thursday, challenging inaction on petitions to extend Endangered Species Act protections for several species that warranted them. Monica Samayoa reports. (OPB)

https://www.opb.org/article/2021/04/02/group-sues-us-over-inaction-to-protect-threatened-species/

Conservationists sue to save spotted owl logging protections -AP

So we are back in court again. The never ending battle by the timber industry to cut the last of the old growth on the Olympic Peninsula continues. Got news for the industry, overturning the protection of the Spotted Owl, which was impacted by rampant clear cutting of the Peninsula for raw logs to send to Japan and China is not going to save your jobs. The last “one log truck” left a mill in the early 70s, long before the Spotted Owl issue was decided. 

Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to preserve protections for 3.4 million acres (1.4 million hectares) of northern spotted owl habitat from the US-Canada border to northern California, the latest salvo in a legal battle over logging in federal old-growth forests that are key nesting grounds for the imperiled species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cut the amount of protected federal old-growth forest by one-third in the final days of President Donald Trump’s administration, a move that was cheered by the timber industry. Gillian Flaccus reports. (Associated Press)

https://www.opb.org/article/2021/03/24/conservationists-sue-to-save-spotted-owl-logging-protections/

Washington’s Crabby New Resident

Good overview of the current situation on the fight against the latest invasive species, the Green Crab. 

Researchers, tribes and volunteers work to fight the rising tide of European green crabs on Washington shores.
Morgan MacIntryre reports. (The Planet Magazine)

https://theplanetmagazine.net/washingtons-crabby-new-resident-a669170b819e

Crosscut tracks bills in current session – Crosscut

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

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

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

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

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

_____________________________________________

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

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

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/

NW scientist taps into personalities, diets to help sunflower sea stars shine again – KNKX

In December, sunflower sea stars were declared critically endangered by an international union of scientists…But there is hope. Pockets of healthy populations of sunflower sea stars still exist in parts of the Salish Sea. And a scientist working at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island is pioneering new techniques to breed them in captivity. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Job Opening: District Manager Clallam County Conservation District

Job Announcement
District Manager

Open Until Filled – application reviews begin April 6

The Clallam Conservation District (District), an organization dedicated to the conservation and restoration of
natural resources, is seeking to fill their District Manager position. This is a half- to full-time, at-will, exempt,
non-union position. The Manager manages the operations of the District and performs executive level
leadership, personnel, administrative and management work. The Manager assists and supports the District
Board of Supervisors with the planning, directing and reviewing of all District activities. The Manager
implements policies and procedures in the areas of human resources, risk management, facilities
management, technical services, general operations, financial services and public relations to meet the
District mission. The Manager acts on behalf of and reports to the Board of Supervisors.
The Manager will work to provide consistent authority, direction and supervision of staff. The Manager
requires skills not only in managing employees, but also in relating with community volunteers, local
government officials, business and corporate representatives, and service providers. The Manager must have a
high level of knowledge, skills and abilities in:
a) human relations, organizational behavior, and management principles and practices (e.g., planning,
organizing, directing, motivating, decision making, and prioritizing to promote District mission);
b) analysis and policy development;
c) communication (verbal and written);
d) originating and implementing a broad range of proposed programs and initiatives that start as a
vision or concept;
e) negotiating various levels of participation by business leaders in partnerships with the District;
f) creating a high level of support and participation by state and local government officials, community
leaders and the public.
Strong applicants will also have a thorough understanding of natural resource programs and conservation
practices.

Wage and Salary Range
$30.81 to $46.87 per hour. Compensation will be awarded based on education, experience, and demonstrated
capabilities.

For complete job description, more information about the Clallam Conservation District, or to apply for this
position please follow this link or contact the District by phone at 360-775-3747×4 or emailemployment@clallamcd.org.

Clean fuel legislation could be blocked again by one WA Democrat – Investigate West

The power of the oil industry continues to contaminate our state legislators, even with Dems in control. Can they push this through, around the objections of a Democrat who apparently doesn’t get the issue of climate change yet? 

“The annual push in Olympia to promote electric vehicles and biofuels at the expense of gasoline and “dinosaur” diesel has again failed to woo a key senator who killed the bill twice before. But whether that will matter this time is an open question…This year’s bill, House Bill 1091, cleared the state House of Representatives, 52-46, and passed a Senate committee hearing Tuesday morning. While boosters celebrate the bill’s progress, it may yet land before the Senate Transportation Committee — the place where the idea stalled in 2019 and 2020. The Transportation Committee chairman, Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, declined to put the legislation up for a vote both years, and still isn’t smitten with it. “Levi Pulkkinen reports. (InvestigateWest)

The future is arriving, and it’s not cheap

This New York Times article documents the increasingly difficult position coastal communities are being put in as man-made climate change heats the planet and raises the oceans. One can continue to pretend that it’s not happening, that it’s all a hoax, but it’s very real to these people in North Carolina.

www.nytimes.com/2021/03/14/climate/outer-banks-tax-climate-change.html

Endangered predators and endangered prey: Seasonal diet of Southern Resident killer whales – PLOS One

New research out regarding Southern Resident killer whales and their needs for chinook. Very good research here, based on scat samples over long periods of time.

Abstract

Understanding diet is critical for conservation of endangered predators. Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) (Orcinus orca) are an endangered population occurring primarily along the outer coast and inland waters of Washington and British Columbia. Insufficient prey has been identified as a factor limiting their recovery, so a clear understanding of their seasonal diet is a high conservation priority. Previous studies have shown that their summer diet in inland waters consists primarily of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), despite that species’ rarity compared to some other salmonids. During other times of the year, when occurrence patterns include other portions of their range, their diet remains largely unknown. To address this data gap, we collected feces and prey remains from October to May 2004–2017 in both the Salish Sea and outer coast waters. Using visual and genetic species identification for prey remains and genetic approaches for fecal samples, we characterized the diet of the SRKWs in fall, winter, and spring. Chinook salmon were identified as an important prey item year-round, averaging ~50% of their diet in the fall, increasing to 70–80% in the mid-winter/early spring, and increasing to nearly 100% in the spring. Other salmon species and non-salmonid fishes, also made substantial dietary contributions. The relatively high species diversity in winter suggested a possible lack of Chinook salmon, probably due to seasonally lower densities, based on SRKW’s proclivity to selectively consume this species in other seasons. A wide diversity of Chinook salmon stocks were consumed, many of which are also at risk. Although outer coast Chinook samples included 14 stocks, four rivers systems accounted for over 90% of samples, predominantly the Columbia River. Increasing the abundance of Chinook salmon stocks that inhabit the whales’ winter range may be an effective conservation strategy for this population.

Read the whole research paper here.

Endangered predators and endangered prey: Seasonal diet of Southern Resident killer whales (plos.org)

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