Nitrates, fecal coliform from dairies linked to tainted shellfish, tap water -KOMO News

As the work continues to craft a Critical Areas Ordinance in our county, one of the key new issues is including Agriculture in it. (they were exempted in previous versions due to political pressure as mentioned in this report). This quick report highlights the concerns of those in the environmental community for crafting buffers from streams that work. Our county has been a leader in cooperative work between the farmers and those trying to restore streams such as Chimicum Creek. Hopefully we can leverage that work into something even more productive, without being heavy handed. But we also can’t just “give away the farm” so to speak. Here’s why:

Shellfish, swimming beaches, and the tap water for thousands of people in certain areas of Washington state are being contaminated by pollutants running off farms, and critics say dairy cows are the chief culprit, according to a KOMO 4 Problem Solvers investigation. Government regulators are failing to halt that pollution largely because of insufficient laws, pressure from the agriculture industry and too little enforcement, the Problem Solvers review found. Voluntary compliance and good intentions from many dairy farmers have not been enough to prevent dangerous contaminates generated by manure from getting into waters of Washington state. Only one percent of Washington’s roughly 700 dairy farms – some with thousands of cows at one facility – have a permit to pollute, say state agencies. Jeff Burnside reports. (KOMO)

County files restraining order against developer – Port Townsend Leader

The Leader covers a story of a shoreline landowner along Hood Canal, who has been the subject of years of requests by the County to stop work and satisfy basic development conditions, such as landslide prevention, drainage systems, shoreline protection, etc. The landowner in question, has avoided the sheriff, and fled whenever they have approached. The land in question is covered by the current Shoreline Master Program protections and the Critical Areas Ordinance. (CAO). It’s just astonishing that the county has taken over 9 years to actually act against this guy, who’s neighbors are complaining that they are concerned that he is destabilizing both their banks as well as his.

Read the whole story here:

Whidbey landslide: ‘Where I had been standing was no longer there’ – Seattle Times and various

UPDATE: Deparment of Natural Resources Blog describes the slide, both in scientific and layman’s terms. Good read:

Thanks to Joe Breskin for forwarding me the link.

During the last ten years, many people here in Jefferson and Clallam County have struggled to craft an updated set of rules to help protect homeowners, ourselves and the environment around us. Part of that job was to set limits on development, which included buffers around dangerous places or those that we want to protect from exploitation. Some of those included buffers from development along shorelines. These teams of people decided, after long debate, to expand those buffers, because of newer science. As the public found out about them, the meetings where these new rules were brought for debate, were filled with angry people. Many shouted that who were these people to decide if they could or couldn’t build in a certain place.

Yesterday, nature gave a lesson to all of us on bluff ecology. And perhaps now we can silence the critics that say that we should not put large buffers around shorelines. For many on Whidbey, their lives will never be same, as apparently there is no insurance for this kind of thing happening to your home. Luckily for some, it was their vacation home. For others, it likely represented the bulk of their wealth, perhaps money they were hoping would help them in their old age. Many of the homes did not look like mansions but smaller places like in a subdivision of the 70s.

The positive part of this, is that bluff erosion is a pretty well known science now, and it explains shoreline buildup along certain places, such as the beaches at the Port Townsend Fort Worden lighthouse. The sluffing bluffs replenish sand and dirt into the Sound. By doing a little Google Search (Or Bing if you are so inclined) you can find out more.

Looking at the aerial shots, it’s clear that the people living on these bluffs chose to plant grass, rather than native plants. Also you can see black pipes used to drain water off the slope. These are the kind of things that add weight and water to the slope, and can actually help cause the very thing that people are trying to avoid.

There is no “blame” in this situation. The Counties are usually doing a much better job of buffer setting these days, and most of these kinds of houses are grandfathered. The hope is that the bank won’t sluff. However it was clear that these homeowners might have benefited from better education on the issue, as it is easy to see the grass lawns that extend out to the bluff edge. This is not a recommended idea, and can actually make the situation worse as grass retains water, needs more water (that can overload the bluff) and also often gets lawn poisons put on it that end up in the water below, killing fish. These days, the recommendation is to plant native plants that live on bluff edges, and that need less water.

Here in Jefferson County, if you live on a bluff, and want to find out what the *right* way to plant to avoid this kind of debacle (and even then, you might not, as an earthquake triggered sluff of the bank could be greater than any prevention), you can go to the newly installed County Watershed Stewardship Resource Center, and get educational information on issues such as this. Check out their website.


It is a part of the Puget Sound geology, a legacy of the glacier that formed this area: Massive chunks of shoreline hillsides just slide off. Early Wednesday morning, just such a 1000-foot-wide swath fell off in the Ledgewood Beach development on the west side of this island. The slide was so powerful, it pushed one home at the bottom of the cliff some 200 feet out into the water, said Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin, and it took out 300 to 400 feet of Driftwood Way, the road that led to the shoreline. Erik Lacitis reports.

Whidbey landslide: ‘Where I had been standing was no longer there’

Workshop on understanding environmental buffers along your property – April 4 – Port Ludlow

Last Chance to ‘Live on the Edge’

The last in a series of workshops on critical areas and buffer management will be held Thursday, April 4 in Port Ludlow. The free workshop called “Living on the Edge – Protection for People, Property, and Habitat” workshop will be from 12:30 to 4:30pm at the Ludlow Community Center (Grace Christian Center) and will include a local fieldtrip.

The first two workshops in the series were held in Quilcene and Chimacum and were well attended. Content for all three workshops is similar but the field trips are different. The workshops are designed for homeowners or landowners who have property on or near a shoreline, bluff, wetland or creek.

Attendees will learn about different types of critical areas and how to best manage the buffers around them. Topics covered include how to use your buffer area without harming it or yourself, the role of native plants, tips on removing noxious weeds, how to enhance or restore a buffer, how to encourage birds and wildlife, and what resources are available to homeowners.

“Critical Areas” have important functions in nature; filtering and cleaning water, delivering sand to the beach, providing fish and wildlife habitat, or supplying our drinking water. Some areas may pose a potential danger including flooded creeks, eroding bluffs, and slopes prone to landslides. Areas called “buffers” are designated to ensure everyone’s safety, protect property from damage, and to keep these important places healthy. Buffers can be enjoyed, maintained, and even enhanced by the people who own them for better function, property values and aesthetics.

The Ludlow Community Center (Grace Christian Center) is located at 200 Olympic Pl. in Port Ludlow. This event is open to the public. Please reserve a space by emailing or calling 360/379-5610 x222.

The workshop is hosted by Jefferson County Extension, the Jefferson County Weed Board and the Watershed Stewardship Resource Center.

Jefferson County found to be in compliance with growth mgmt – PDN

7/24 Peninsula Daily News Jefferson County in compliance with growth management, board rules By Jeff Chew Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County is in compliance with the Growth Management Act and Olympic Stewardship Foundation has failed to prove its challenge of the county’s critical areas ordinance, Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board concluded. “The compliance order finds the county to be in full compliance with the GMA and closes the case,” county Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor David Alvarez said Thursday.

Read the whole story at

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