Earth Day in Clallam County

Clallam TogetherIn Clallam County, Earth Day is coming to a home, neighborhood, and screen near you.

April 22 will mark the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, and as it approaches, a coalition of community activists, neighborhoods, organizations and businesses in Clallam County are joining as #ClallamTogether to observe “Earth Week” – Monday, April 20 to Sunday, April 26 – in creative ways adapted to the unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves.

The central bulletin board for these activities will be Olympic Climate Action’s website, olyclimate.org, where updates will be continuously posted.

The urgent, evolving challenges of the coronavirus pandemic call on people everywhere to respond to one another and to our shifting circumstances with courage, resolution, ingenuity and open hearts. And though our ways of connecting with one another have shifted, Earth itself remains our constant home, and we are reminded more than ever that we are and will always be intimately connected with it.

Instead of the variety of community events originally planned for Earth Week, we offer a suite of activities people can safely do from home or outdoors on their own or with their family unit, such as:

  • “Challenge of 50s”:  Individuals, groups or families choose an “Act of 50” that supports the healing of our Earth.

 

  • “Life Hacks”:  Submit and view short videos demonstrating simple earth-stewarding actions.

 

  • “Earth-Care Art”: Submit earth-related art to our virtual gallery or participate in a virtual group banner.

 

  • Clallam Tree Alliance offers free shrubs and trees for delivery or pickup, and neighborhood plant/seed sharing is planned.

 

People are also encouraged to create their own activities and promote them to olyclimate@olyclimate.org, to be posted on OCA’s website.

A few events are planned, including:

**April 19:  Ms. Earth Week 2020:  Nominate your earth hero; the winner will receive a SisterLand Farms gift box

**April 22:  Flower bouquets delivered to your earth heroes by volunteers on bicycles (in the Port Angeles area)

**April 22:  Earth Evening bell-ringing, 7 pm.

**April 23:  Webinar on the Border Wall and its violations of environmental laws and human rights, 7 pm

**TBA:  Presentation on connections between the coronavirus and climate change.

 

In Jefferson County, the Local 2020 organization has postponed most of their planned Earth Week efforts, except for an Earth Day beach cleanup; to check on Jefferson County plans, see https://l2020.org/earth2020/.

 

The #ClallamTogether organizing committee includes:

Hilary Powers, Compassion Clallam County

Marilyn O’Neill-Eash, Interfaith Community of Clallam County

Arleen Jenson, SisterLand Farms

Elizabeth Christian, Interfaith Earthcare Coalition

Christeal Milburn, Clallam Tree Alliance

Michael Clemens, Jodi Riverstone, Julia Smith, & Ed Chadd, Olympic Climate Action

Olympic Climate Action

North Olympic Peninsula residents working to stem climate disruption

Washington State, U.S.A.

Territories of the chalá·at (Hoh), kʷoʔlí·yot’ (Quileute), qʷidiččaʔa·tx̌ (Makah), nəxʷsƛ̕áy̕əm̕  (Klallam), & t͡ʃə́mqəm (Chimacum) peoples

Cooke Aquaculture pays 2.75 Million dollar fine for net pen collapse

The company responsible for the net pen collapse that released large numbers of Atlantic Salmon into Puget Sound has settled out of court in advance of a Monday court date.

Cooke Aquaculture has reached a settlement to pay $2.75 million in legal fees and to fund Puget Sound restoration projects, putting an end to a Clean Water Act lawsuit that followed the 2017 collapse of one of the fish-farming company’s net-pen structures. – Seattle Times. Read the full article here and consider subscribing to the Times and keeping local reporters working.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/cooke-aquaculture-settles-lawsuit-with-wild-fish-advocates-over-net-pen-collapse/

These funds will go to help pay legal expenses, and the rest of the funds will go to the Rose Foundation to fund environmental projects to protect wild salmon and killer whales in Puget Sound, as well as WFC’s litigation expenses. Cooke also agreed to change their practices and address additional dangers identified in the course of the lawsuit, according to Wild Fish Conservancy, who brought the lawsuit.

“This is truly a victory for the future of our sound,” said Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy. “Open water net pen aquaculture is a risky business, and thanks to this settlement we are one step closer to getting this dirty industry out of Puget Sound once and for all. This was long in coming. Last year, the public demanded an end to Atlantic salmon net pens. Just last week, thousands of people spoke out against switching these farms to different species. Now a federal judge ruled that Cooke broke the law. It’s time for this industry to leave Puget Sound.”

Cooke’s operations continue to put wild salmon and the health of Puget Sound at risk. Just weeks ago, one of the Bainbridge Island net pens began sinking due to a hole in a flotation pontoon; luckily, the damaged portion was not stocked with Atlantic salmon at the time but may have resulted in an escape were the pens occupied. Marine engineer Tobias Dewhurst, an independent expert testifying on behalf of Wild Fish Conservancy, reviewed conditions at each farm site and determined “conditions at each of its eight sites exceeded the maximum rated conditions specified by the net pen manufacturer,” and that as a result “pens and cages operated by Cooke were at risk of failure.” Even given subsequent changes, Dewhurst concluded, “certain remaining sites appear to be operating in conditions that exceed those specified by the net pen system manufacturers,” and therefore “may be at risk of partial or catastrophic failure.”

http://www.wildfishconservancy.org/cooke-aquaculture-to-pay-2.75-million-ending-wfc-lawsuit-over-net-pen-collapse-1

Recently, Cooke has partnered with the Jamestown S’Klallam to reopen the net pens in Port Angeles to raise native, but genetically modified steelhead. While the danger of these fish escaping and somehow altering native stocks is dramatically lessened, there is still the issue raised by Wild Fish Conservancy, of destruction of the environment in and around the feeding pens, along with possible affects of raising large quantities of fish in a small enclose. Virus and parasites are traditionally the concern, yet the Tribe has claimed that they are working on mitigation techniques. The Tribe has been researching raising these steelhead at the NOAA research facility at Manchester for the last few years. Their goal is to do this as environmentally responsibly as possible giving current scientific best practices. Many in the environmental community remain unconvinced that this won’t become another problem.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued a mitigated determination of non-significance, which allowed only  a 21-day comment period. This requires neither a full environmental assessment nor environmental impact statement under the State Environmental Policy Act. Such an assessment would have considered the risks of diseases, pollution, further escapes and collapses, and the potential harm to federally-listed native steelhead. Kurt Beardsley of Wild Fish Conservancy said of the lack of EIS, “The 2017 collapse revealed that these pens are dramatically under-built for conditions in Puget Sound, and that Cooke’s recovery plan in the event of escapes was woefully inadequate. More escapes would directly threaten our wild salmon, steelhead trout, and endangered killer whales. Without a full EIS, the state cannot address the evidence from their investigations and WFC’s.

The Tribe at least brings a local group that has a a track record of being  concerned with long term viability of the resource, and is not going to be moving operations like many international corporations do.

Just to the north, on the Canadian Coast, a long running battle over farmed fish has pitted environmental scientist and activist Alexandra Morton against the fish farming industry. She has been working with the local tribes in documenting a horribly destructive virus that has appeared from Norway in both the local wild fish and the farm raised fish.

While Washington state passed legislation banning PRV-infected farm salmon, it is still an unknown as to whether the virus is affecting the ever decreasing numbers of wild chinook that are the primary food of the resident orcas. Reopening net pens here could provide a vector for fish carrying the disease that could be passing through the infected waters to the north on their way here.

(more on this story at The Georgia Straight News)

In October, Cooke paid another large fine in Maine for multiple violations of their laws for fish farming.  https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/aquaculture/cooke-to-pay-fine-for-overstocking-maine-salmon-farms-not-conducting-environmental-testing

In April, Cooke paid over $300,000 for water quality violations here in Washington.

Feds seek expanded habitat protection as salmon, orcas battle climate change, habitat degradation – Seattle Times

While this is very welcome and overdue, it does, of course, exempt the military from this designation. So the Orcas can be protected against everything, except our military running secret experimental bombing, which by their own admission in their environmental review documents, will lead to death of wildlife. We consistently do not hold the military to the same environmental standards that we hold all other citizens.  Without doing that, this is just more of the same, fiddling while nature burns.

The designation requires review of federal actions within the areas that could affect southern resident killer whales, providing additional oversight by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/feds-seek-expanded-habitat-protection-as-salmon-orcas-battle-climate-change-habitat-degradation/?utm_source=referral&utm_medium=mobile-app&utm_campaign=ios

Funds approved for economic study of murrelet plan – PDN

Funds approved for economic study of murrelet plan
The Clallam County commissioners have agreed to give $7,500 to the Washington State Association of Counties to conduct an economic impact study of the Long-Term Conservation Strategy for the marbled murrelet and how it would affect junior taxing districts. The commissioners agreed to send a letter to the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) informing it of the county’s support Tuesday. WSAC sent a letter to the county in August requesting the funds so that it can conduct a detailed economic impact analysis on county taxing district revenues if the preferred alternative in the Department of Natural Resources’ Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Long-term Conservation Strategy for the marbled murrelet is implemented. Clallam County, which has 93,301 acres of county trust lands — more than any other county in the state — was asked to provide $7,500 for the study. As of Aug. 13, DNR had committed $20,000 toward the study. Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe seeks to rename clamming beach – PDN

It’s great news that the Tribe is working to change the name of this location from the “Log Yard” (a reference to the years when logs were skidded and stored there), to Littleneck Beach, which describes the traditional use of the beach for thousands of years, and it’s current use by Tribal Elder Marlin Holden.

The tribe filed paperwork with the state Department of Natural Resources to rename the beach to Littleneck Beach, a name it said honors the generations of S’Klallam ancestors who have gathered clams at that location.

Read the whole story at

https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/jamestown-sklallam-tribe-seeks-to-rename-clamming-beach/

Subscribe to local newspapers to continue to help them thrive!

 

EVENT: Industrial Aquaculture Discussion – Sat Oct 13th 3 to 5 PM

aquaculturepanelposterprintpdf

Aquaculture MEDIA RELEASE – 2 October 2018

MEDIA RELEASE – 2 October 2018

CONTACT:         Darlene Schanfald, Vice-Chair

Sierra Club North Olympic Group

360-681-7565    darlenes@olympus.net

INDUSTRIAL AQUACULTURE  

FOOD or FOLLY?   LOSING THE WILD?

Saturday    13 October 2018     3–5 PM

Historic Dungeness Schoolhouse 

2781 Towne Rd, Just off E. Anderson Road

The Sierra Club’s North Olympic Group and the Sierra Club Chapter Water Salmon Committee invites the public to join them for this important forum about how our oceans are being commercialized for the few and the losses that follow.

We are pleased to have the following speakers present their work from years of experience.

Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director, Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC)

The Success of the Our Sound, Our Salmon Campaign: Phasing Out Atlantic Salmon Aquaculture in Puget Sound. 

Kurt Beardslee is the executive director and co-founder of the Wild Fish Conservancy. For over a decade Kurt and his science staff have investigated the substantial risk open-water Atlantic salmon aquaculture places on the Pacific Northwest’s wild salmon.

In spring of 2017, WFC launched the Our Sound, Our Salmon (OSOS) campaign with the goal of phasing out Atlantic salmon net pens from Puget Sound.  The OSOS campaign was fundamental to the passage of Washington’s recent net pen legislation marking the largest legislative removal of Atlantic salmon net pens in the world.

Following the 2017 Cypress Island collapse of Cooke Aquaculture pens that released 260,000 penned Atlantic salmon into the wild, WFC staff collected tissue samples from the escapees for that revealed 100% positive test results for Piscine Reovirus (PRV), a highly contagious and debilitating salmonid disease. Genetic sequencing revealed the virus to be of Icelandic origin marking the first time this foreign strain of the virus was found in Pacific waters.

In his talk, Kurt will discuss the numerous risks posed by farming Atlantic salmon in open-water net pens as well as potential land-based closed containment solutions for this industry. He will give a brief overview of WFC’s current litigation to hold Cooke Aquaculture accountable under the Clean Water Act for releasing 260,000 non-native Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound.  He will also discuss WFC’s ongoing Endangered Species Act (ESA) suit against the federal government for its failure to adequately protect ESA-listed species from the harm caused by industrial Atlantic salmon net pens.

 

Laura Hendricks, Founding Director Coalition To Protect Puget Sound.

Shellfish and Disappearing Beaches

Over the last 11 years, Laura Hendricks’s Coalition has educated the public and regulators on shellfish aquaculture’s harm to WA State’s marine life. Hendricks represented citizens against the shellfish industry at a hearing before the Washington State Shorelines Hearings Board and won the case to protect eelgrass, a WA State Appeals Court precedent-setting case.

Hendricks will give an update about pending legal action by the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, Protect Zangle Cove, and Wild Fish Conservancy filed against the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).  That suit demands an end to WDFW’s exemption of industrial shellfish aquaculture projects from Hydraulic Project Approvals (HPA).  HPAs are state standards designed and required to protect fish and marine habitats.

“With threatened Southern Resident killer whales and endangered native salmon at extreme risk, our state agencies have failed to implement the environmental protections that are critical to the broad scale ecological recovery of Puget Sound,” says Patrick Townsend, president of Protect Zangle Cove. “The action we are taking today is one important step toward restoring sanity to the recovery process. We must protect the tidelands from further loss of ecological function or we will see the loss of iconic species so important to the people of Washington State.”

Alfredo Quarto, Co-director and Co-founder of Mangrove Action Project (MAP)

Question Your Shrimp, A consumer Awareness Campaign

For twenty-five years, Alfredo Quarto has worked with indigenous cultures around the world helping them restore their mangrove forests and way of life, prior to corporations having destroyed their ecosystems to industrialize the raising of shrimp. He will have a short video about these villages and mangrove trees.

Quarto is a veteran campaigner with over 40 years of experience in organizing and writing on the environment and human rights issues.  Formerly an aerospace engineer, his experiences range over many countries and several environmental organizations, with a long-term focus on ocean issues, forestry, indigenous cultures, and human rights.  Prior to MAP, he was the executive director of the Ancient Forest Chautauqua, a multimedia traveling forum with events in 30 West Coast cities on behalf of old-growth forests and indigenous dwellers.

Anne Mosness, Go Wild Campaign

Current and Pending Efforts of the Federal Government to Raise Penned Fish

Anne Mosness has been tracking the federal NOAA Department of Commerce in its push to raise penned salmon in offshore waters, beyond jurisdictions and regulations of states.  She will speak on the current pending efforts, and losses, of such government efforts.  The public will hear about the recent Center For Food Safety legal win for fishing and public interest groups that challenged the Department of Commerce’s rules permitting industrial aquaculture offshore in U.S. federal waters.

Anne Mosness is a fisherwoman that fished Copper River and Bristol Bay, Alaska for decades, a multi-general family profession.  She secured a position with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and founded the Go Wild Campaign. She has worked for several other national environmental and food organizations, received a fellowship from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, represented US fisheries at UN forums and Slow Food/Slow Fish conferences in Italy, and other global and national events focused on sustainable foods and fishing, seafood labeling, organic certification, marine ecosystem health. Anne has been a long time contributor to the Puget Consumer Coop’s Sound Consumer magazine.  Her latest article in the PCC magazine is entitled,  “Wild salmon, killer whales and us” published July, 2018.

Cosponsoring the event are Friends of Miller Peninsula State Park, Olympic Environmental Coalition, Olympic Forest Coalition. and Protect Peninsula’s Future.

The October 13 event is free.  Handouts from the sponsoring and presenting organizations will be available.  Coffee and tea will be served.

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Acceleration of mountain glacier melt could impact Pacific NW water supplies – AGU 100 Earth and Space Science

This study should be a wake up call for our local politicians. We need to be contemplating how we are going to get water for this city when the mountains are unable to sustain us. It’s not too soon to have a plan and begin looking for funding sources as they become available.

The model showed that summer melt from some lower elevation glaciers is already declining, and summer melt from some higher elevation glaciers is expected to begin declining by 2050, according to the study.

https://blogs.agu.org/geospace/2018/08/16/acceleration-of-mountain-glacier-melt-could-impact-pacific-northwest-water-supplies/

Dems maintain control in Peninsula primaries

If there was any question about whether the Democrats (and Democratic incumbents at that) would maintain control of offices here on the Olympic Peninsula, that was pretty much laid to rest with the outcome of the primaries.

Senator Maria Cantwell (against a vast array of challengers), U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer,  State Representatives Tharinger and Chapman, all easily shook off the opposition, by very large percentages. In the hotly contested 5th District of Spokane, the race against the incumbent Republican Sally McMorris Rogers against newcomer Lisa Brown is in a virtual dead heat. Democrats from across the state have converged on Spokane to get out the vote, and they obviously succeeded. The November race will be one of the most closely watched in the country, along with likely being one of the most expensive as both parties will pour the money in to hold or win the seat. Obviously, the shenanigans in the White House and Congress did not help Ms. Rogers.

The 8th district is going to be tough. Dino Rossi easily overcame any opposition, and the Dems are going to have to coalesce behind their candidate, who at this moment appears to be Pediatrician Kim Schrier. However that race is too close to call at this moment.

In the usually Republican safe district 3,Jaime Herrera Beutler ran against the two Democratic opponents, Carolyn Long who brought in 36.1% of the votes and David McDevitt won 8.1% of the vote. If the Democrats can iron out their differences and show up to vote as a block in November, they should win.

Clallam County, which went for the President in the last election, decidedly shifted back to blue with the primary.  Republican candidates did very poorly in voter turnout. Democratic incumbents easily crushed Republican numbers.

In Jefferson County’s third district, the south part of the county, Greg Brotherton, a well liked owner of businesses, won over Ryan McCallister for the chance to run against Jon Cooke, the Republican challenger.

The Jefferson County Democratic faction called the “Progressives” did not succeed in their attempt to take over the  Jefferson County Democrats, as a majority of  the “Back on Track” Democratic Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) won the precincts that they needed to win by approximately 21 to 38 (some are still too close to call).  The “Back on Track” faction is primarily those Democrats who have successfully destroyed Republican candidates for a decade, delivered Jefferson County to Obama twice, Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and then successfully delivered the county to Hilary Clinton, which angers some of the Bernie supporters, who felt that because they had won the primary in 2016 and Hillary lost (although she won the popular vote both in WA and nationwide, only losing in a few states that had nothing to do with the local Dems), that they were entitled to take control of the local party. That’s the backstory of why you saw more PCO candidates this year than ever before in the history of the county.

The tactics of the “progressives” appeared to turn off a lot of Democratic voters. Having been at a few Democratic meetings, the take no prisoners attitude and lack of decorum shown at the monthly meetings by some of their supporters seemed better suited to the rough and tumble world of Seattle politics, rather than the laid back nature of Jefferson County.  Hopefully both  factions will  hold hands in a circle and sing  “Kumbaya” at the annual Fish Fry.  Sitting back and not participating because your candidate didn’t win is not an option.  All hands are needed on deck in November to ensure that environmental and human rights protections are retained in WA DC, against the onslaught of the current administration. There is  no time left to stop man made global warming. The goal now is to start to understand how to live with it, along with how to help the climate refugees of Puerto Rico, Redding,  Santa Rosa, and many other locations burning up in this country.  For all we know, we may be next. The Republicans would do well to own up to global warming destroying the lives and homes of their constituents (Redding went heavily for Rs in the last election, including the President). Why not create a war on carbon based global warming? We’ve crushed ISIS. We are in an endless war on terror. The next endless war should be with anything involved in using the internal combustion engine or coal. That will last a lifetime or two.

Other news is that Joe Nole trounced Sheriff Stanko. This was perhaps the surprise of the election.  His common sense approach to tackling the issues of the sheriff’s department and concerns of collusion between the sheriff’s office and ICE was on the minds of voters.

Kennedy beat Haas for prosecutor’s office.  Kennedy very successfully pointed out that he had quit the office and went to work for Clallam County (while still living in Jefferson) and wanted to bring back what he considered better management of the office. Apparently voters agreed.

Kudos need to go out to State Democratic chairperson Tina Podlowski, who tirelessly hammered away at Washington Democrats to donate and get out the vote. Locally, the Democratic party at many levels, both “Progressives”and  the “Back on Track” people all did huge efforts to get out the vote for their candidates, which helped overall turnout. While some lost and some won, democracy was affirmed by the large voter turnout in Jefferson County. It is hard to say you didn’t have someone to vote for that could affirm your point of view, whatever it was. And a reminder that some of the greatest politicians our country has ever seen, from many political perspectives, were losers at least once. Losing in politics only means that your tactics and timing were off. Maybe next time they will align. No hard feelings. This is politics. Someone always loses. Figure out why. Then fix it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clallam County withdraws Finding of Non Significance for Dungeness Spit aquaculture project

As some of you may know, there has been a proposal to put a oyster farm with approx. 150,000 bags of oysters in an approx. 34 acre section of the nearshore inside Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is closed to virtually all human activity other than walking on the Spit. It is illegal to fly a kite there or throw a Frisbee.  The application for the farm to go in, drew widespread condemnation from a wide range of citizens, including a very detailed letter of concerns from the project leader of the Wildlife Refuge, which was detailed in an earlier article on this news site. https://olyopen.com/2018/04/10/concerns-raised-over-dungeness-spit-oyster-farm-application/

The project has raised questions from many about the appropriateness of allowing commercial aquaculture inside a national wildlife reserve. Similar issues are being raised across the country as Scott Pruitt, the head of the Department of Interior continues  “opening new mineral and oil and gas leasing opportunities in protected lands, easing drilling regulations, and rolling back habitat protections for endangered species” (National Geographic 2/2/2018) including Bears Ears National Monument, which includes sacred locations of a number of tribes.

The Clallam County Department of Community Development has announced the withdrawal of  the Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) issued on February 23, 2018 for the preparation of a site specific Environmental Assessment to address the impacts to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and other issues raised.

The Army Corps of Engineers also weighed in, stating that the project would be evaluated as a “Standard Individual Permit” so not eligible for a nationwide permit, which would have allowed the county to proceed on a DNS. The Corp stated that the impacts would be “more than minimal”.

A six month continuance was approved for the preparation of this document.

DCD will reopen the comment period when it is completed.

The full announcement is here:

20180511103337 Dungeness Spit

 

Concerns raised over Dungeness Spit oyster farm application

New concerns over the possible permitting of an oyster aquaculture farm within the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge have been raised by the Department of the Interior, which manages the refuge. In a letter written to Steve Gray, the Clallam County Deputy Director and Planning Manager, Jennifer Brown-Scott, the Project Leader for the Department of the Interior,has raised significant questions about issues concerning the application.

Of concern to the Department are a number of issues relating to wildlife in the refuge.The applicants have asked for permission to place approx. 150,000 of “on bottom” oysters bags on the central west side of the bay, in approximately 34 acres of the tide flats 1141 acres of the the inner spit. This appears to be approx. 3.35% the inner bay area.  The applicants propose to raise non-native oysters. To be clear, a significant amount of cultivated oysters in the Salish Sea are non-native, so this is not a surprise.

The area in question was farmed prior to the 1950s, by a series of private owners. In 1953 the first lease was granted and non-native species were introduced. The Jamestown S’Klallam bought the oyster operations in 1990, and continued harvesting oysters until the State closed down the waters due to deteriorating water quality in the bay.  The Jamestown have continued leasing the site, 50 acres in size, where this current proposal is located. Since the middle of the last decade,efforts at improving the water quality of the bay continued, with the Jamestown in a lead role, helping to get scientific studies of the water flow and quality done on behalf of themselves and the county. Now the State has upgraded 688 acres to Approved status, allowing the Jamestown to apply for reopening the site to aquaculture. The presence of eelgrass beds in the location reduce it to 34 usable acres.

The Dungeness Bay Wildlife Refuge was created by Executive Order in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson. The order directs the area to be set aside as a “refuge, preserve and breeding ground for native birds and prohibits any disturbance of the birds within the reserve.” (Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe -Dungeness Bay Bathymetry, Circulation and Fecal Coliform Studies 2003)). The front page of the Refuge web site states: “Pets, bicycles, kite flying, Frisbees, ball-playing, camping, and fires are not permitted on the Refuge as they are a disturbance for the many migrating birds and other wildlife taking solitude on the Refuge.”

Within the area of the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge are federally listed species that are protected or have environmental listings of concern. They include but aren’t limited to: Bull Trout, Marbled Murrelet, Puget Sound Chinook and Hood Canal Summer Chum. Also within the area is significant state listed wildlife habitat. Of somewhat lesser concern is the impact on the public to the scenic beauty of the wildlife preserve, which is one of the main reasons most visitors go to the area in the first place.

As stated by the Department of Interior letter, “The shores and tidelands in this area provide some of the most important wildlife habitat and supports the highest density of waterfowl and shorebirds within the refuge….These shorelines also support one of the largest Brandt haul out sites in the state of Washington….Shorebird densities are highest within the action area and the adjacent lagoon on Graveyard Spit.”

“Human-caused wildlife disturbance and habitat loss are two of the most pervasive threats to shorebird and waterfowl use of the Salish Sea….very little information is available on entrapment resulting from aquaculture structures.”

The letter also referenced that, “In 2016, a die-off of approximately 1000 Rhinoceros Auklets on Protection Island coincided with a significant reduction in the abundance of sand lance in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.” This reporter, who has been covering the Straits since 2007, was unaware of the scope of the die off in 2016 at Protection Island though a well publicized die off due to starvation was happening from Alaska to California. The extent of the local impact was not widely known and even a search of Google cannot find a specific reference to those numbers referenced in the letter.

While the specific habitat of the Dungeness Spit was not identified as the sole source of the lack of sand lance, the implication that this area is sand lance breeding habitat means that converting its use to aquaculture could continue the downward spiral of shorebirds and their food sources.

Herring also spawn at the west end of Dungeness Harbor and the Department of Interior raised questions about protecting Strait of Juan de Fuca herring, which have been designated  “critical” (as in critically low).  Sand Lance and Surf Smelt spawning grounds are also found in the area of the application. These species have been identified as “Washington Species of Greatest Conservation Need within the State Wildlife Action Plan (WDFW 2015). A worry related to this is that these spawning fish will be competing with the oysters for plankton. A failure to find enough food could lead to a significant reduction in the survival rates. There is no know mitigation for this, other than limiting the size and scope of the project.

Additionally, Interior pointed out that a 1996 scientific study found that some shorebirds significantly avoided areas used for aquaculture in a California bay.

The area just to the east of the proposed site is the location of the highest infestation of European Green Crabs in the Salish Sea. Another concern is that the proposed oyster bags may provide habitat for green crabs, allowing them to be moved to other areas outside the Spit the bags are transported. The State still does not have a Green Crab management plan.

This shoreline has been designated “Natural” in the Critical Areas Ordinance, as far back as 1976. That designation limits activities to those that preserve the national features unchanged. One would assume that the tidelands are also part of that designation.

An issue not addressed in the application was whether or not mechanized methods such as mechanical leveling and harrowing would be used. The letter said that this was of  great concern to the Dept of Interior and it could damage or kill benthic layer animals and vegetation. Placement of these 150,000 oyster bags may also change water flow and nearshore transport of sediment, with unknown consequences. It does not appear that the applicant is going to use these methods.

A further issue that has been the reason for the inner bay to be closed to aquaculture for over a decade is that of fecal coliform (FC) bacteria. While the applicants and the State have worked for decades to identify and remove sources of FC, and current counts allow for shellfish harvest to be done, it is important to note that the applicants themselves have noted in a 2003 report that “wild birds are the second most important source of FC on a year round basis. It is especially important in winter, when their load approaches 1/2 of the measured marine water input.” It would seem to the average person that putting aquaculture into a bird reserve is by it’s very nature going to create a tension between the animals that are present and creating the problem and the desire to harvest.

Studies done by the applicants in 2003 show also that tidal turnover is not ideal in the inner bay. Their finding that states that approximately 45% of the water that leaves the inner harbor returns to the inner harbor. The study states that this “slows the effective flushing of water from the Inner Bay and leads to water quality properties that differ greatly from those observed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is unclear as to whether there has been a more recent study to understand if the effects of 15 years of work have improved on the findings of this earlier study.

The Salish Sea has been used for commercial aquaculture since the founding of the State, but in the last twenty years, with China becoming more middle class, along with a more sophisticated palate here in States, the demands for geoduck and other shellfish have exploded. Much of the lower reaches of the Sound have been converted into aquaculture.  The shoreline public has been upset with much of this conversion, with lawsuits against aquaculture being rather routine.  The State has never really asked the question of “how much is too much? When do we decide we have leased out enough shoreline to aquaculture?”

There is precedent for this question, in the permitting of bulkheads. At one point the State saw no problem with turning vast amounts of shoreline into concrete. As our understanding of the use of the shore for forage fish and beach creation, among other natural processes, we decided to limit bulkhead conversion and opt to look at natural ways to protect the shoreline from erosion. Some, such as a conversion to natural shoreline was done about 15 years ago just east of the mouth of the Dungeness River, in a subdivision along the shore.

NOAA and other government agencies have studied just enough of the issue to deem aquaculture ‘safe’ yet hold out no significant long term studies of the possible ill effects of the conversion to single species farming.  The NOAA science and subsequent scientific studies by Sea Grant, were of limited time frame and called for further study, which does not appear to have been done.  In fact, this very location offers a good example of the need to look at what the substrate is like, both at the site, which once was extensively farmed, and the surrounding bottom layers. It should be able to tell us how much recovery could be anticipated if the farm does go in and eventually is removed. It is interesting to note that eel grass is present around the site, but apparently not in the very location of the previous aquaculture operation.

It is certainly reasonable for the applicants to want to return to aquaculture in the Bay, however the scale is being significantly increased. Science has learned a lot about the environment since the time when the State allowed the use in this location. In many other locations we have decided that the trade off of commercial activity is outweighed by a newer appreciation of the value of the natural landscape for a variety of species.  It is up to all of us to question our elected officials and bureaucrats, not the applicants, as to why they believe that this is in all our best interests, when we so clearly have set this aside this location for wildlife protection and enhancement.

  • If you want to comment on this application, you have until April 27.
  • Responses to those comments must be in by May 18.
  • The last public hearing will be held June 7 at 1 PM.

Send comments to gballard@co.clallam.wa.us and be sure to ask for an email confirmation of having received your comment. If you don’t get one within 24 hours, call Greg Ballard at 360.565.2616 to ask if he received it.

A final note to consider is from the web site of the Dungeness National Refuge:

Recognizing the importance of the fertile habitats, President Woodrow Wilson established the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge on January 20, 1915 as a refuge, preserve, and breeding ground for native birds. Today the graceful arch of Dungeness Spit continues to protect nutrient-rich tide-flats for migrating shorebirds in spring and fall; a quiet bay with calm waters for wintering waterfowl; an isolated beach for harbor seals and their pups; and abundant eelgrass beds for young salmon and steelhead nurseries.

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public year-round. Hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography are popular activities on the Refuge. Some portions are closed seasonally or permanently to protect sensitive species. To ensure that wildlife continue to have a peaceful place to rest and feed, certain recreational activities such as swimming, jogging, and other beach activities are allowed only in selected areas during certain times of the year. Pets, bicycles, kite flying, Frisbees, ball-playing, camping, and fires are not permitted on the Refuge as they are a disturbance for the many migrating birds and other wildlife taking solitude on the Refuge.

 

 

 

 

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe aims to re-establish oyster farm in Dungeness refuge – PDN

The Jamestown S’Klallam look to expand operations beyond the oyster beds currently being farmed in Sequim Bay. While this project is being opposed by two of the environmental organizations on the Peninsula, it is not being opposed by the Clallam Marine Resources Committee, which has representation of the Tribes on it, and they are actually working collaboratively with the Jamestown staff to find the existing eel grass beds and work around them. The tribe has been doing a lot of aquaculture  in Sequim Bay over the last 10 years, with an oyster farm and other activity. This has been positive, in that beyond just the job opportunities for the Tribe, it has made the Tribe extremely sensitive to cleaning up any pollution that might enter the Bay near Blyn. Their ongoing efforts to restore  chum salmon to JimmyComeLately Creek have been very successful.  The Tribe also regularly fishes and crabs at Cline Spit, the boat launch site for smaller boats in that bay on the east side of the Spit. It is unclear of whether an EIS, Hydraulic Permit Application (HPA) or other permits beyond standard State permits is needed. More on that in a later post.

SEQUIM — The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe seeks to re-establish an oyster farm in Dungeness Bay and will have its proposal heard by the Clallam County Hearing Examiner on Thursday.

The tribe’s oyster farm would be on 50 acres of leased Department of Natural Resources tideland within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, said Ron Allen, tribal chairman. The farm would be in the bay about 4,000 feet north of Cline Spit.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/jamestown-sklallam-tribe-aims-to-re-establish-oyster-farm-in-dungeness-refuge/

Nurse to run against Chapman – PDN

So a self described supporter of Donald Trump (“he has grown on me”), pro NRA, against helping house low income people in our community, against supporting more money for education, against environmental protections, and against lowering property taxes (which was done by the Democrats after the Republicans, when in power, raised them radically which was one good reason that the low income  housing initiative failed), is going to challenge Mike Chapman. Should be an interesting race.

I don’t think that the Democrats should underestimate this woman’s ability to run against Rep. Chapman. Clallam county is a mixed bag when it comes to voting and could very likely go for Ms. Wilke. Her politics won’t play in Port Townsend, but might in the central and south county.

Port Townsend Republican Jodi Wilke said Monday she opposes the one-term Democratic incumbent’s yes vote on using the rainy-day surplus to pay for education and for property tax relief.

Wilke, 58, also is against additional gun regulations on assault-style rifles and bump stocks, a rifle-firepower accessory, and says the state Department of Natural Resources has overstepped its authority on rules setting aside marbled murrelet habitat, claiming the state Legislature should have more say in setting policy.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/politics/nurse-to-challenge-chapman-for-district-state-rep-seat/

Fish recolonizing areas upriver of former dam sites on Elwha River – PDN

More good news from the Elwha.

Josh Geffre has watched with awe as salmon return to the uppermost reaches of the Elwha River. Geffre, a fisheries technician for Olympic National Park, started monitoring the fish for the park in 2014 and has marveled as he’s seen most species swim upstream of the former Glines Canyon Dam. “It’s very satisfying to know the fish are recolonizing into areas upriver of the former dam sites,” he said during a recent trip to collect data on the fish. “It’s exciting to watch them.” Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/fish-recolonizing-areas-upriver-of-former-dam-sites-on-elwha-river/

See also: Elwha fish by the numbers http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/elwha-fish-by-the-numbers/ (Peninsula Daily News)

 

Net Pen Application & Public Hearing scheduled for Clallam County

So here we go folks. Your waters, your voice. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to save and restore wild salmon, now we are expected to trade off the known downsides of net pens for our wild salmon. Net pens are disease vectors, they pollute the waters with feces of millions of fish, and the anti-biotics and other drugs that are needed to protect the herded fish from disease. They are a breeding ground for sea lice which then attach themselves to migrating fish from the entire Sound that will passing by the pens. This is an incredibly bad idea that will only profit a small shareholder class and the tiny number of workers employed by them. Is this really what we want? This is your chance to speak out. It’s not happening, “somewhere else.”  This is here in our waters right offshore.

From Peninsula Daily News Classified

Description
NOTICE OF APPLICATION AND PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, pursuant to Section 26.10.410 & 430 CCC, that the Clallam County Department of Community Development has scheduled a public hearing before the Clallam County Hearings Examiner for September 7, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 160 of the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 East Fourth Street, Port Angeles, WA 98362. The purpose of the hearing is to review public testimony regarding the Shoreline Substantial Permit for the Cooke Aquaculture Pacific LLC (CAP) proposal to move their existing Atlantic salmon net pen operation from within Port Angeles Harbor (Ediz Hook) to an open water area in the Strait of Juan de Fuca that is located over 1.5 miles offshore and 3.8 miles east of terminus of Ediz Hook: Proposal: (SHR 2016-00002) The proposal would be comprised of fourteen (14) floating high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic pipe circular net pens, which are designed for open water conditions. Each net pen will be 126 feet in diameter, 45 feet deep, and in approximately 100 foot deep water. The proposal also includes a 40 foot wide by 100 foot long feed barge. The height of the feed barge will be approximately 19 feet above the water level when empty and 14 feet when is fully loaded with about 350 tons of fish feed. The pens would be comprised of two rows of 7 pens each with a feed barge at the eastern end of the array. Each of the net pens and the feed barge would be located 72 feet apart from each other, and would be held in place by up to sixty 4,000 to 8,000 mooring anchor, anchor lines, chains, and hardware. This proposal would encompass 9.7 acres of water surface area and require a 52 acre Aquatic lease from the WA State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Location of the Proposal: The CAP new aquaculture net pen facility is proposed to be located approximately 3.8 miles east of Ediz Hook, 1.8 miles north of Morse Creek, and approximately 1.5 miles north of Green Point, within Section 10, Township 30 North, Range 5 West, W.M. Information & Studies Submitted: A Joint Aquatic Resource Application (JARPA) with attachments, SEPA Environmental Checklist with attachments, Biological Evaluation, Current and Wave Report prepared by RPS Evans-Hamilton, Sediment Report prepared by RPS Evans-Hamilton, Mooring Analysis Report – Grid System prepared by Aqua Knowledge, and Visual Analysis Report (January 2016) were submitted with the application. Permits Required & Studies Submitted: Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Waste Discharge Permit and Coastal Zone Management Compliance Determination through the Washington Department of Ecology; Fin Fish Aquaculture Permit, Fin Fish Transport Permit, and Aquatic Farm Registration through Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Aquatic Use Authorization through DNR; Private Aids to Navigation with the United States Coast Guard; and Section 10 Permit Authorization with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which will include ESA Section 7 Consultation with National Marine Fisheries Services and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA): Clallam County is lead agency and a SEPA environmental checklist (ECL 2016-03) has been submitted for the proposal. After review of the completed environmental checklist, the SEPA Memo dated July 5, 2017, and other information on file with the agency, the Clallam County Responsible Official has determined that a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) should be issued for this proposal. The MDNS for this proposal was issued July 6, 2017, and the comment period for this threshold determination ends on July 24, 2017. Unless the Responsible Official withdraws the threshold determination pursuant to WAC 197-11-340(3)(a), the threshold determination shall be final at the end of the comment period. The Hearing Examiner will consider the adequacy of the Threshold Determination at the open record public hearing. Public hearing and comment deadlines: Any interested person may submit written or oral comments on the proposal and the threshold determination of a MDNS prior to the close of the open record hearing. The staff report will be available seven days before the hearing. Any person may also submit a written request to DCD to receive a notice of the decision once it is made. The application and above referenced material is available at DCD On-Line Permit System web site or at our offices at 223 E. 4th St., Suite 5, Port Angeles, WA 98362, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Please contact Greg Ballard, Project Planner at (360) 565-2616, or by email at gballard@co.clallam.wa.us if you have any questions. Pub: July 9, 16, 2017 Legal No.766276

 

 

 

EVENT:The Man Who Built the Sierra Club: A Life of David Brower

Sierra Club Robert Wyss June 2017

EVENT: Day of Science in Port Angeles – APRIL 22nd.

Science Celebration Flyer final

Elwha Roaring Back to Life – Seattle Times

Great aerial photography of the new Elwha river and a wonderful story with illustrations. While the jury is still out on the long term viability of the returning salmon runs, it does appear, at this early point, that the project is a success. But we won’t know for sure for probably at least 30 years. In the meantime, enjoy the view, and give thanks to the Lower Elwha Tribe, and the individuals and politicians of both parties here on the Peninsula that supported this effort, funded it, and are helping to restore it. The whole world is really watching this one.

 

ELWHA RIVER — The Elwha watershed is booming with new life, after the world’s largest dam removal.

The first concrete went flying in September 2011, and Elwha Dam was out the following March. Glines Canyon Dam upriver tumbled for good in September 2014. Today the river roars through the tight rock canyon once plugged by Elwha Dam, and surges past the bald, rocky hill where the powerhouse stood. The hum of the generators is replaced by the river singing in full voice, shrugging off a century of confinement like it never happened. Nature’s resurgence is visible everywhere.

http://projects.seattletimes.com/2016/elwha/

Controversial Olympic Peninsula Timber Sale Pits Environment Against Education – Earthfix

The battle to protect remaining stands of timber, that are home to the endangered marbled murrelet, continues. The State has decided to log off the stand, which are home to some pairs. A lawsuit is imminent. This is another good example of the environmental battle that happens as resources dwindle and we don’t have a proper modern taxing mechanism to fund our schools. The idea of cutting timber to fund schools was once a simple one, but now, it’s become a trade off of rare species vs. schools. It will take a brave legislator(s) to really end this practice and come up with a funding mechanism that properly funds our schools. It’s ironic, because the very district (Jefferson County) that probably thought this was a great idea once a 160 or so years ago, now is the one that brought the lawsuit demanding proper funding. And we are one of the most environmentally supportive counties in the state. I don’t see any legislators of the calibre to offer a new way forward. In fact, in conversations with them, they feel like they are unwilling to do anything more for the schools than they already have. Would love to be proven wrong.

SEATTLE — The Washington Board of Natural Resources voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the sale of 200 acres of the Olympic Peninsula that are home to the threatened marbled murrelet. The money from the timber sale will go to the University of Washington.

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/controversial-olympic-peninsula-timber-sale-pits-e/

Enrollment now open for environmental project work for high school to 21 year olds

imageThe Skills Center Natural Resources program gets you outside doing real work in the environment.  We offer project-based classes to high school-aged students (up to 21 years old without a diploma) across the North Olympic Peninsula.  All classes include hands-on field work, offer high school and college credit, and help students transition to the next step of internship, college or career.

Enrollment is open now for second semester, which starts at the end of January.

Classes in Port Angeles include the new ‘Cultural and Natural Resources 1’ class, which meets after lunch daily, and 5 different ‘Natural Resources Options’ that meet after school one day per week.  Sequim and Forks each have three different ‘Natural Resources Options’ that meet after school one day per week.

For more information or to enroll, please contact teacher Dan Lieberman at 360-565-1892, dlieberman@portangelesschools.org, or www.nopsc.org/naturalresources.

 

image

Peninsula salmon projects get $4.5 million – PDN

Lots of good projects that are going to give jobs to folks here on the Peninsula, and help restore salmon habitat. The work is far from being completed, but it’s good to see these projects and land purchases get funded. Tying this together with the work described by Earth Economics over the weekend on this site, it’s worth it to note that there is value in these ecosystem renewal projects. Slowing the rivers by putting in log jams, for example, do not just provide scientifically proven habitat for salmon (especially young salmon migrating downstream), but they also aide in flood protection among other benefits. Flood plain protection is a value that lowers the cost to repairing damage from floods over multiple decades.

The state has awarded $4.5 million in grants for new salmon restoration projects on the North Olympic Peninsula. ….

Rob Ollikainen reports.

There’s quite a bit more to the story at:

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131208/NEWS/312089997/peninsula-salmon-projects-get-45-million

 

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