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

Jefferson County Dems Endorsements for 2020

For your voting choice. I support all of these endorsements. They are people we know will support environmental protection.

President/Vice President – Joe R. Biden and Kamala D. Harris

Governor – Jay Inslee
Lieutenant Governor – Denny Heck
Secretary of State – Gael Tarleton
State Treasurer – Mike Pellicciotti
State Auditor – Pat (Patrice) McCarthy
Attorney General – Bob Ferguson
Commissioner of Public Lands – Hilary Franz
Superintendent of Public Instruction – Chris Reykdal
Insurance Commissioner – Mike Kreidler

Congressional District 6 – Derek Kilmer
State Representative Position 1 – Mike Chapman
State Representative Position 2 – Steve Tharinger
State Senator – Kevin Van de Wege

State Supreme Court Position 3 – Raquel Montoya-Lewis
State Supreme Court Position 4 – Charles Johnson
State Supreme Court Position 6 – G Helen Whitener
State Supreme Court Position 7 – Debra Stephens

Jefferson County Commissioner District 1 – Kate Dean
Jefferson County Commissioner District 2 – dual endorsement of Heidi Eisenhour and Lorna Smith. Both are long time Democratic supporters who support environmental protection. Differences will be covered in an upcoming post.

I am personally supporting Lorna Smith, who has many more years in government than Heidi does.

Referendum Measure 90 – APPROVE
Advisory Votes 32, 33, 34, and 35 – MAINTAIN
Senate Joint Resolution 8212 – APPROVE

The Elwha dams are gone and chinook are surging back, but why are so few reaching the upper river? – Seattle Times

Good update on the return of the river.


They were the king of kings in Puget Sound, the biggest chinook of them all, strong enough to muscle up the falls at the Goblin Gates and power on all the way through nearly 4 miles of chutes and falls in the Grand Canyon of the Elwha….Scientists have been tracking nature’s response. Some of what they are finding is surprising, even to them. Summer steelhead, nearly extinct in the Elwha, have come booming back to the river, all on their own. Once locked up behind the dams, rainbow trout are re-expressing their ability to go to sea as steelhead. Adult chinook returns to the river since dam removal are the highest since the late 1980s, with more than 7,600 estimated in the 2019 count. While that’s still a modest number, the Elwha represents one of the only watersheds in Puget Sound with such an uptick in population, said Sam Brenkman, chief fisheries biologist for the Olympic National Park, in an email. Colonization of the lower and middle river has been steady. But fewer chinook are reaching the deliciously cold, uppermost reaches of the watershed. Why? It’s a puzzle scientists are working on. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

The Elwha dams are gone and chinook are surging back, but why are so few reaching the upper river?

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

Dead humpback found in Strait suffered blunt force trauma

We need to slow down ships through the Strait. Work has been going on to get this done, but apparently not in time for this young whale.


A young humpback whale who was found dead in the Strait of Juan de Fuca last week was in good health but appears to have been struck in the head before it died, a necropsy has revealed. The dead animal, which has been identified as a male known as Hawkeye or MMX0094, was first spotted on Sept. 27, according to the Pacific Whale Watch Association. (CBC)

Dead humpback found in West Coast waters suffered blunt force trauma, researchers say

Wind Turbine Blades Can’t Be Recycled, So They’re Piling Up in Landfills – Bloomberg Green

There are so many unintended consequences to any technology. This one mirrors the problems we have with disposing of fiberglass sailboats. Any solutions? Got a unique idea of how these will be recycled or reused?

Companies are searching for ways to deal with the tens of thousands of blades that have reached the end of their lives.

A wind turbine’s blades can be longer than a Boeing 747 wing, so at the end of their lifespan they can’t just be hauled away. First, you need to saw through the lissome fiberglass using a diamond-encrusted industrial saw to create three pieces small enough to be strapped to a tractor-trailer.

Bloomberg Green

Here’s a one minute video on the issue.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2020-02-06/why-thousands-of-wind-turbine-blades-wind-up-in-landfills-video

Can’t Be Recycled, So They’re Piling Up in Landfills

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-05/wind-turbine-blades-can-t-be-recycled-so-they-re-piling-up-in-landfills?fbclid=IwAR2rl-bk4sbGj8fqsH3ZU8rpuwpXDC8ST_RO1nNYPqE9BEBqw5RvyL5HIO0

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

Do we know enough to do anything about the sea lions of Puget Sound? -PSI


Chris Dunagan writes: “Scientists have known for years that Chinook salmon are important to southern resident orcas, but Chinook are not the only fish the whales eat. At the moment, chum salmon are returning to Puget Sound, and recent orca sightings suggest that the whales may now be feeding on chum. Harbor seals also eat Chinook salmon, but also chum, coho and other fish. They seem fond of smaller fish like herring and juvenile salmon. Oh, what a tangled food web we weave… Southern resident orcas are considered endangered. Puget Sound Chinook and steelhead are threatened. Harbor seals seem to be everywhere, hardly struggling to find food, at least as far as anyone can tell. So is it time to bring the powerful influence of humans into the equation by forcefully reducing the harbor seal population in Puget Sound? It’s a question that people have been pondering for years, but I’m not sure we’re much closer to an answer…” (Puget Sound Institute)

Do we know enough to do anything about all the seals and sea lions in Puget Sound?

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

Governor Jay Inslee “Open letter to President Donald Trump on the role of climate change in historic wildfires”

The Governor tells the President a few facts about wildfires and their prevention.

September 14, 2020

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Mr. President,

I hope you had an enlightening trip to the West Coast, where your refusal to address climate change — and your active steps to enable even more carbon pollution — will accelerate devastating wildfires like those you’re seeing today. I implore you to recognize the science behind this destruction and stop your path of distortion and deception.

Rapid climate change driven by human activity has created a fusion of natural risk and man-made catalysts to accelerate these unnatural disasters. Study after study confirm the close connection between climate change and intensifying wildfires. Your reckless statements that climate change is a hoax and your gutting of environmental policies benefit no one but fossil fuel companies.

These willful denials are harming our nation and our people. Today, you said about the climate: “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.” That is false. This abandonment of leadership has once again left the states on their own to fight this existential threat to our people.

The knowledge and tools are at your disposal to be a leader if you choose. Every day, climate experts are showing us ways to reduce carbon pollution while helping our health and economy.

Wildfires are not new in the Western states, yet the 21st century is quickly laying claim to the worst levels of devastation we have ever seen. It took five days for 2020 to become our state’s second-worst fire season on record with more than 600,000 acres burned, eclipsed only by the 1.1 million acres burned in 2015. Worse events in California and Oregon have sent historic levels of smoke to the Puget Sound region, forcing millions of Washingtonians indoors until it passes.

Mr. President, our temperatures are consistently rising while moisture is increasingly evaporating. Forest management is merely one piece of the puzzle — something our own firefighters would be quick to remind you. Since 2009, our state has spent more than $130 million for forest health and fire preparedness. These events still overwhelm our residents and resources, because these fires are unlike anything people have seen before.

You have worked to distract from our country’s most critical driver of long-term risk in favor of a more politically convenient target — state forest management. This shows an utter lack of understanding about the robust forest management plans our states already have in place, as well as the need for our federal partners to work more collaboratively with us on forest health issues.

Your comments also betray ignorance of the very sources and locations of these wildfires. They don’t just happen in the forests; the fire that burned 80 percent of the buildings in Malden, Washington, was a grass and brush fire. These fires could not be prevented by thinning timber because there is no timber to thin.

As Dana Skelly, a fuels program manager for the U.S. Forest Service in Portland, told the Washington Post last week: “The systems that people rely on to help them get through these events are completely maxed out.”

To Stefan Doerr, a geographer at Swansea University in Wales and a chief editor of the International Journal of Wildland Fire, it’s basic physics: “If we have higher temp[eratures], we have a greater probability of fire starting, fire spreading, and fire intensifying.”

The federal government produced a rigorous, comprehensive report, the National Climate Assessment, that concluded “the annual area burned in the western United States could increase 2–6 times from the present” if current trends continue, due to human-caused climate change.

Research by the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington shows our region is dealing with higher temperatures and less frost, which is both affecting our water reclamation efforts and heightening conditions for fires throughout our diverse ecosystems, not just forests. The group projects temperatures will rise rapidly throughout this century, making conditions ripe for longer fire seasons and more challenging circumstances for trying to mitigate them.

Climate change is doing more damage to our communities faster than anyone thought. Hotter temperatures are drawing more moisture out of soils, grasses, bushes and trees — which evolved over thousands of years to withstand less severe fires — turning them into the perfect fuel for ignition.

I would urge you to abandon your half-baked theories and engage in good faith about the obvious relationship between climate change and wildfires.

The rules of fighting wildfires are changing because our climate is changing. There is no fire suppression plan on this planet that does anyone any good if it doesn’t even acknowledge the role of climate change. Deliberate and decisive action must be taken on a global scale, with the United States in the lead.

It is time to abandon the disastrous course that now envelops us in smoke and ash. A new approach could slow or turn around the damage done by climate change, all while building a more robust and more sustainable future for all 50 states.

The states are willing and eager to work in partnership with the federal government to protect all Americans from the ravages of climate change. Washingtonians in places such as Malden, Bonney Lake, Bridgeport and Graham — which have all begun long roads to recovery from the fires of recent days — deserve as much.

Sincerely,

Gov. Jay Inslee

Huge Smoke Cloud heading down the Strait

This in this morning. Port Angeles is already experiencing bad air.

To check on your specific air quality, go to the following link

https://enviwa.ecology.wa.gov/home/map

There is a super massive cloud of smoke outside of California and Oregon. The wind is changing direction and it’s coming this way today.

You should prepare. Let your family and friends know.
▶️Get supplies and create a box fan that filters the air around you. This video shows you how to make it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qr1Aj6D… Or, invest in a professional filtering device.
▶️Go shopping for any essentials today.
▶️If you don’t have to go out tomorrow, stay home.
▶️See air quality forecasts at http://wasmoke.blogspot.com
▶️More information to protect yourself from smoke at http://doh.wa.gov/smokefromfires

Comments sought on Cooke Aquaculture permit – Skagit Valley Herald

Yes, this is still an issue. Join in and put your input into Ecology if you care.


The state Department of Ecology is accepting comments on a draft permit that would allow Cooke Aquaculture to raise steelhead trout in four net pens in Puget Sound, including one near Hope Island in Skagit County. An online hearing Oct. 14 will allow the public an opportunity to learn about and comment on the draft water quality permit. Comment will be taken through Oct. 26. All documents and hearing information can be found [ecology.wa.gov/NetPenPermit]here, and comments can be submitted online. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Comments sought on Cooke Aquaculture permit

Life and Death in a Maine Mill Town

A powerful story that resonates here in our world of paper mills.

Yet it’s almost impossible to draw a straight line from our mill to cancer. Someone leaves town. They get cancer. Some people never leave. They get cancer. Or vice versa. My grandmother smoked.. She didn’t get cancer. You work in a paper mill like my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, you get cancer. Some people do not. At least not yet. There are long delays between environmental exposures and cancer, too long to calculate, and each cancer comes with individual risk factors, symptoms, causes. If you think your town contains a cancer cluster, consider the criteria: clusters require a greater-than-expected number of cancers in a narrowly defined group, i.e., the people must have the same type of cancer, in a limited geographic area, over a limited period of time, and all these factors have factors, including the limitations of science itself. In addition, if several family members get cancer, it doesn’t count toward the cluster evidence you need. Ordinary cancers don’t count either. And it doesn’t appear the CDC analyzes how individual bodies respond to specific environmental factors. And even if a cancer cluster is found in your neighborhood, they may not be able to determine the exact cause or do anything about it. One in three people develop cancer over their lifetime, so maybe the question is, when will we get cancer?

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.”

WA Dept of Ecology approves expansion of Navy war games activity with conditions

The Washington State Dept of Ecology has allowed the Navy to continue harrassing marine animals as they have for decades. Is it any real wonder why our Orcas are in serious decline? The death of a thousand cuts. Won’t it be a great day when we value our environment more than our military industrial complex? As if we weren’t outspending all other countries. Let’s quickly review before reviewing what the state has allowed:

The U.S. spends more than 144 other countries combined. And the U.S. spends more than the next seven countries combined.

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/blog/2019/07/18/us-spends-more-its-military-176-countries-combined/

And what does the Navy wants to do in the areas where the dwindling number of Orcas live?

• Torpedo Exercise (non-explosive; Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Training)
• At-Sea Sonar Testing
• Mine Countermeasure and Neutralization Testing
• Propulsion Testing
• Undersea Warfare Testing
• Vessel Signature Evaluation
• Acoustic and Oceanographic Research
• Radar and Other Systems Testing;
• Simulant Testing – Dispertion of chemical warfare simulation.
• Intelligence Surveillance, Reconnaissance/Electronic Warfare Triton Testing

And what does Ecology want them to do to “mitigate the possible ‘taking’ (meaning harrassment or otherwise disturbing) of 51 Orcas’ which is what the Navy themselves says might happen? Here is a partial section of the document.

Any marine mammals exposed to sonar or other acoustic effects outside of the coastal zone are not likely to remain affected if the animal were to return to the coastal zone, because the vast majority of predicted effects are temporary effects to behavior, which would no longer be present when the animal is in the coastal zone.

Active sonar is required for this activity and may result in a wide range of effects from injury to behavioral changes to loss of hearing, and depends on the frequency and duration of the source, the physical characteristics of the environment, and the species (among other complex factors).

Explosives are required for this activity. The use of explosives could result in a disturbance to behavior, or lethal or non-lethal injuries (quantitative analysis done for this activity did not predict any lethal injuries for marine mammals). Most explosives would occur in the water column, minimizing effects to habitat.

Ecology and other Washington State officials and resource agencies are concerned that, without Ecology’s conditions, the Navy’s activities will have significant long-term effects on Washington coastal resources. Given the numerous marine animals and other resources that are likely to suffer the effects from the Navy’s new activities compounded by previously authorized activities,

Ecology is highlighting the effects to the Southern Resident orcas and other large cetaceans. As described in the CD, the Navy’s
mitigation measures are insufficient to provide necessary protections to the vulnerable, declining populations of key marine mammals, particularly Southern Resident orcas, of Washington’s coastal zone and lead to the conclusion that conditions are necessary to alleviate adverse effects.
Ongoing Naval exercises in the air and water around Washington pose a serious threat to Southern Resident orcas, and the impact of new and expanded activities will further threaten this vulnerable
population. Ecology’s conditions will help minimize the threats to these animals. An icon of the Pacific Northwest, Southern Resident orcas have captured the hearts of Washington’s residents, citizens, and
visitors and hold significant cultural value for Washington’s tribes. With the apparent loss of three whales last summer 2019, Southern Resident orcas appear to have a population of just 73 whales—the lowest population level in more than 40 years. Given this declining population, the loss of even one more whale could greatly undermine recovery efforts for decades. The most up-to-date information on the Southern Resident orca population, must be relied on, and assessments of impacts must be based on current data, which projects the existing population of 73 whales. Thus, the potential harm of the Navy’s activities on this vulnerable population
has been underestimated. With such a small and shrinking population, the impact of each take is amplified within the population.


The Navy’s actions could result in a total of 51 annual “takes” a year of Southern Resident orcas in the form of Level B harassment. Given the imperiled nature of this population, this number of takes threatens a significant impact on the population from the Navy’s training and testing activities.

Furthermore, these take numbers do not account for the fact that Southern Resident orcas generally travel in pods and thus likely underestimate the potential adverse impact to this precarious population since activities could impact multiple animals at once. Additionally, three orcas appear to be carrying young, which makes them more vulnerable, as well as their future calves.

The cumulative impact of repeated exposures to the same whales over time needs to be seriously considered, and Ecology’s conditions can address these impacts. The Navy’s testing and training activities have already been authorized twice before, and are likely to continue into the future.
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Due to the longevity of Southern Resident orcas and the estimated percentage of take for the population [being] so high (68%), the effects of take will be compounded over time and may have cumulative effects, such as behavioral abandonment of key foraging areas and adverse, long term effects on hearing and echolocation.”

Instances of temporary hearing loss, such as the Temporary Threshold Shifts (TTS) can be cumulative and lead to long-term hearing loss. This could have a significant impact on Southern Resident orcas,
which rely on hearing for communication, feeding, and ship avoidance.

In addition, Level B Harassment can disrupt “migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered,” all behaviors critical to survival of the Southern Resident orcas. Given the many stresses already faced by
this endangered population, repeated harassment on this scale could be significant and even lead to mortality.


The Navy’s use of mid-frequency sonar can impact wildlife within 2,000 square miles and mine explosives can cause death or injury. Although these activities may affect a wide range of marinemammals, the potential impact of these activities on endangered Southern Resident orcas is of
particular concern, given their dangerously low population size. This is the third consecutiveauthorization period during which the Navy may be approved for such testing and training exercises andthese or similar activities are likely to continue for decades. For long-lived marine species, the effects oftake will be compounded over time and may have cumulative effects, such as behavioral abandonment of key foraging areas and adverse, long-term effects on hearing and echolocation. Again, the Navy finds
these effects of minor significance, a finding with which Ecology disagrees.
Gray whales are currently undergoing an unexplained die-off leading to 352 strandings between January 2019 and July 2020, including 44 strandings along the coast of Washington alone. NOAA is investigating the die-off as an Unusual Mortality Event. While it is not clear what specifically is driving this event, many animals show signs of “poor to thin body condition.”

Because the cause of the Unusual Mortality Event is unknown, the Navy cannot cite an increasing population and then assert that its activities for a
seven-year period are insignificant because the health of the gray whale population could decline.


For several species, including harbor seals, Dall’s porpoise, and harbor porpoise, the Navy’s near constant harassment every year for a seven–year period could significantly damage the population of those species. For example, the Navy’s proposal could lead to a take 30 times the abundance of the Hood Canal population of harbor seals every year, 3,084 percent of population abundance, and similarly authorizes high levels of takes for Southern Puget Sound harbor seals (168 percent of population
abundance). This high level of take could lead to interruptions in foraging that could lead to reproductive loss for female harbor seals. However, there is no analysis regarding how this harassment and loss of reproduction could affect the population as a whole, beyond an assertion that these impacts “would not be expected to adversely affect the stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.”


The rates of take for populations of Dall’s porpoises (131 percent of population abundance) and the populations of harbor porpoises on the Northern OR/WA Coast (244 percent of population abundance)
and in Washington Inland Waters (265 percent of population abundance) are also exceptionally high.

These porpoises are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of anthropogenic sound. This level of take could also lead to reproductive loss.
The leatherback turtle is classified as endangered under the ESA and has Critical Habitat designated within the Study Area. The western Pacific leatherback sea turtle populations are particularly at risk, and
the SEIS states that (the effort to analyze population structure and distribution by distinct population segment…) is critical to focus efforts to protect the species, because the status of individual stocks varies
widely across the world. Western Pacific leatherbacks have declined more than 80 percent and eastern Pacific leatherbacks have declined by more than 97 percent since the 1980s. Because the threats to these subpopulations have not ceased, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has predicted a decline of 96 percent for the western Pacific subpopulation.”

https://apps.ecology.wa.gov/aquatics/decisions/

Pebble Mine Alaska- Army Corps denies permit

The Army Corps of Engineers just denied the permit for Pebble Mine! The proposed mine threatens Bristol Bay, Alaska — home of one of the last great wild salmon runs and Indigenous communities who rely on it.

The Army Corps of Engineers found that the mine would likely result in significant degradation of the environment. So it officially rejected the permit under section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

This is a huge victory for communities near Bristol Bay, the salmon fisheries, our environment, and our climate. It sends a message loud and clear to corporate polluters that they cannot destroy our pristine wild places.  It does not end the project, but is a serious setback for it, easily carrying the decision over to a new President Biden if Trump is not re-elected.

If the mine is built, it could generate more than 10 billion tons of dangerous waste, wipe out 90 miles of salmon streams, and pollute more than 5,000 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes. It would likely decimate the local salmon populations — in turn impacting the local communities that depend on them.

More than 65 percent of Alaskans, and 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents — including Native people — strongly oppose the mine. The only ones who would benefit are Pebble Limited Partnership and their affiliates. Together, we stood up to the powerful advocates for the mine — and we won.

The Pebble Mine fight isn’t over yet. The EPA could still advance the project. But this victory is a huge step in the right direction — proving that people power works and we can stop polluters from harming the planet.

JOB Opportunity: Education Program Coordinator

From The North Olympic Salmon Coalition:

We are excited to announce an opportunity for a talented individual to join our team here at the North Olympic Salmon Coalition (NOSC)!  NOSC has a reputation as a leader in salmon habitat restoration, education and volunteer programs on the North Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.  Please share the attached job description and announcement below via your usual avenues and with any qualified individuals who might be interested. 

Position name:      Education Program Coordinator

Position location:This is a remote position that will engage virtually and in person (for filming as needed) with NOSC staff and volunteers located in the Port Angeles and Port Townsend areas of the North Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.

Anticipated start:            Mid- to late September 2020

Application deadline:     All applications are due by email by 12PM PST – Tuesday September 8, 2020

Education Program Coordinator:NOSC is seeking proposals from qualified applicants with experience in online curriculum development and virtual instruction to assist with the adaptation of its Real Learning, Real Work education curriculum to a virtual platform and to execute the online curriculum with students from school districts on the North Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. The Real Learning, Real Work education program teaches middle school students the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills necessary to envision, design, and implement their own salmon habitat restoration projects. Taking on the role of a restoration professional, students learn how to use new tools, take field notes, and practice adaptive management. They also connect with professionals in the fields of science, engineering and natural resource management so they can envision themselves in STEM careers. For more information, visit: https://nosc.org/join-our-team/. Many thanks for helping us get the word out about this exciting opportunity!  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Yours sincerely, Catherine MarzyckMembership & Office AdministratorNorth Olympic Salmon Coalition205 W. Patison St. Suite BPort Hadlock, WA 98339Office: (360) 379-8051Web: www.nosc.org

Endangered Species Act protections sought for a Northwest freshwater mussel -OPB

Another species needing urgent protection here in our State. While this is specific to Central Oregon I assume that these are found in our waters as well.

A 2017 analysis that looked at historic versus recent distributing areas of the species and found that the populations have declined by almost 50% of its historic range and it has been accelerating in recent years.

A nonprofit conservation group has filed a petition for Endangered Species Act protections for a unique species of mussel that is vanishing from rivers and streams in the Pacific Northwest.

https://www.opb.org/article/2020/08/20/endangered-species-act-protections-sought-for-a-northwest-freshwater-mussel/

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