Northwest Straits MRC Conference Begins

NWSTRAITS 2019 Collage 1

The Northwest Straits Commission, which since 1998 has run the nationally-recognized conservation initiative, the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative has opened it’s 2019 conference. The conference brings together scientists and  community volunteers in seven counties in northwest Washington. Due to space limitations it was a limited audience but they will be publishing Powerpoints & Audio taping of many of these sessions.

During this conference, the participants get to share their expertise and projects, restoring and educating county citizens and politicians  in their local locales.

The conference attendees will participate in field trips, roundtable worksessions, PCHO3230

The Northwest Straits Initiative’s unique and innovative approach combines sound science and ecosystem perspective together with citizen energy and entrepreneurship to improve efforts to save Puget Sound.

This was the agenda.

Friday, November 15  
9:30 AM – 10:30 AM Field trip: Howarth Park (optional)
Hosted by the Snohomish MRC, led by Bob Hillman
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Northwest Straits 101 (optional)

Dr. Lucas Hart, Director, Northwest Straits Commission

Don Hunger, Executive Director, Northwest Straits Foundation

12:30 PM – 1:00 PM Welcome and opening remarks

Alan Clark, Chair, Northwest Straits Commission

Anne Murphy, President, Northwest Straits Foundation

Sarah Brown, Chair, Snohomish MRC
Executive Dave Somers, Snohomish County

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Tying it all together: the impact of our collective actions

Dr. Tessa Francis, Puget Sound Institute

Dr. Ron Thom, Northwest Straits Commission

Dr. Tom Mumford, Marine Agronomics

Moderator: Dana Oster, Northwest Straits Commission staff

2:30 PM – 3:00 PM Room check-in and break
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Musings on habitat loss and restoration in Puget Sound

Dr. Tish Conway-Cranos, WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Moderator: Lisa Kaufman, Northwest Straits Foundation staff

 
4:00 PM – 4:15 PM Lessons learned from painting Fishes of the Salish Sea

Ray Troll, Artist

4:15 PM – 4:30 PM Remarks from Senator Liz Lovelett
Introduced by Tom Cowan, Northwest Straits Commission
4:30 PM  
 
5:00 PM – 6:30 PM Reception and networking

Podcast: OCTOPOD – Open Communications for The Ocean

Raye Evrard and Allie Brown

 

Book signing: Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline
Dr. Kirk Johnson and Ray Troll

 
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM Dinner and Keynote Speaker

Welcome – Chairman Shawn Yanity, Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians

Environmental Leadership Award

Deep Time and the Salish Sea
Dr. Kirk Johnson, Sant Director, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

 

 

 

Saturday, November 16

Location: Courtyard by Marriott Ballroom

 
8:45 AM – 9:00 AM Tying it all together – summary results

Dr. Tessa Francis, Puget Sound Institute

 
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Building community connections

Cheryl Lowe, Jefferson MRC staff

Rebecca Benjamin, North Olympic Salmon Coalition

Dr. Julia Parrish, UW Coastal Observation & Seabird Survey Team

Moderator: Sasha Horst, Northwest Straits Commission staff

10:30 AM – 10:40 AM Remarks from Representative Debra Lekanoff
Introduced by Tom Cowan, Northwest Straits Commission
 
10:40AM – 10:50 AM Break
 
10:50 AM – 11:50 AM Climate change and the blue carbon revolution

Dr. John Rybczyk, Western Washington University
Moderator: Dr. Ron Thom, Northwest Straits Commission

11:50 AM – 12:00 PM Remarks from US Representative Suzan DelBene

Introduced by Christina Koons, San Juan MRC and Northwest Straits Commission

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM Lunch – buffet
1:15 PM – 2:15 PM Transboundary cooperation in killer whale conservation

Dr. Rob Williams, Oceans Initiative

Moderator: Ginny Broadhurst, Salish Sea Institute

Day 2: continued on next page
2:15 PM – 2:45 PM MRC Awards

Presented by:

Nan McKay, Northwest Straits Commission/Foundation

Anne Murphy, President, Northwest Straits Foundation

 
2:45 PM – 3:00 PM Closing announcements
 

 

 

 

Senator Ranker chosen to chair new Senate Environment & Tourism Committee and lead on environmental budget

This will be an important position in the upcoming legislative session.


OLYMPIA – Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) was selected by his peers in the Senate Democratic Caucus to chair the new Environment & Tourism Committee in the 2019 Legislative Session.

“From our Salish Sea to our orcas to plastic pollution to community health and climate change, our environment and our children’s future has never been at greater risk,” said Ranker. “While the federal administration denies science and institutes reckless policies, Washingtonians want to protect and sustain the incredible quality of life in our communities. I am honored to help lead a powerful environmental agenda in both this new committee as well as our capital and operating budgets to make sure that we don’t just survive the next two years, but put in place incredible environmental policies that protect our environment and our future for generations.”

Recognizing the incredible environmental opportunities before us, the Senate is restructuring environmental oversight by establishing a new committee with general oversight of environmental protection and policies. The committee members will also work to boost our state’s tourism industry. A 2015 study showed that Washington’s outdoor recreation industry generates more than $20 billion annually.

Ranker will also serve as vice-chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee for the environment for both the capital and operating budgets where he will play a leadership role in the development of the critical environmental and natural resources budgets.

 

First EPA chief accuses Republicans of ignoring science for political gain – The Guardian

William Ruckelshaus, who this week will receive the presidential medal of freedom, says candidates are harming US’s reputation ahead of Paris climate talks

The man considered the father figure of environmental protection in the US has attacked Republicans for “going through all the stages of denial” over climate change, accusing leading presidential contenders Donald Trump and Marco Rubio of ignoring science for political gain.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/23/epa-william-ruckelshaus-republicans-climate-change?

Washington Tribe Confronts Climate Change, Sea Level Rise – Earthfix KUOW

Climate change adaptation strikes home here on the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula. The Quinault Indian Nation is struggling sea level rise and the loss of the Anderson Glacier, which feeds the Quinault River.

TAHOLAH, Wash. – A big question will confront international leaders in the next round of climate talks in Paris: How do they help poor, island and coastal nations threatened by rising oceans, extreme weather and other climate change-related risks?

In the Northwest, sea-level rise is forcing a Native American tribe to consider abandoning lands it has inhabited for thousands of years. – Ashley Ahearn reports.

http://kuow.org/post/washington-tribe-confronts-climate-change-sea-level-rise?utm_source=Sightline%20Institute&utm_medium=web-email&utm_campaign=Sightline%20News%20Selections

State invites comments on fishing, hunting, rec programs and policies 

The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking input from citizens on it’s policies and procedures. They also want thoughts on what could be improved. You can go to the Department’s web site directly here to fill out a form to give them input.

http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildfuture/

Washington’s Wild Future
A Partnership for Fish and Wildlife

Since I joined WDFW in January 2015, I have been asking people, “If you could tell the director of Fish and Wildlife one thing, what would you say?” Well now is the time for people all across the state to do just that. I want to hear about what we are doing right, where we need to improve, and where we should focus our efforts and our funding over the next five to 10 to 20 years.

This opportunity is part of our new multi-year initiative, Washington’s Wild Future: A Partnership for Fish and Wildlife.

We are embarking on this effort to strengthen the department’s relationships with communities, increase support for conservation and outdoor recreation, and help ensure WDFW programs and services meet the public’s needs.

The comments and proposals we receive will help determine priorities for conserving and managing Washington’s fish and wildlife in the coming years.

We will summarize the comments and suggestions from the public, as well as input from outdoor organizations and the department’s advisory groups, later this year (2015). That information will be used to help identify potential changes in WDFW’s operations and services, and to develop future policy, budget and fee proposals.

We face major management challenges over the next several years, and for us to be successful we need the public’s support and assistance. That’s what this initiative is all about – listening and working with you to build a stronger and more effective Fish and Wildlife.

Public Meetings

Six regional public forums are scheduled for September and October. Each meeting will begin with a brief presentation from WDFW about the importance of fish and wildlife management to Washington’s quality of life and the economies of local communities throughout the state. Participants will then be invited to talk with representatives of the department’s Fish, Wildlife, Enforcement, Licensing, and Habitat programs, as well as Unsworth and his immediate staff.

The meetings are scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. at the following dates and locations:

  • Sept. 10 – Selah Civic Center, 216 1st St., Selah.
  • Sept. 30 – Center Place, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley.
  • Oct. 6 – WDFW Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd, Mill Creek.
  • Oct. 8 – Saint Martin’s University, Norman Worthington Conference Center, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey.
  • Oct. 14 – Water Resources Education Center, 4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver.
  • Oct. 20 – Port of Chelan County Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Center Way, Wenatchee.

We want to hear from you!

A few random thoughts about reporting and environmental science – Chris Dunagan

Chris shares his thoughts on 35 years of environmental reporting. I know that he has been an inspiration to my work on this blog since I started it in 2007.

Christopher Dunagan, who retired from daily reporting at the Kitsap Sun and now blogs, wrote of his 35 years of reporting: … “I grew up believing that science was a particular set of facts that explained the workings of nature. For the longest time, I failed to see that the most important thing about science was formulating the right questions about things we don’t know….While there is much work to do, we’re at a point where we can expect Puget Sound residents to limit their damage to the ecosystem and become part of the restoration effort.” (Watching Our Water Ways)

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2015/07/25/a-few-random-thoughts-about-reporting-and-environmental-science/

New Jefferson County Republican Leader Rages Against the Environmental “Machine” – PT Leader

Just picked up the Port Townsend Leader today, and read the interview with Gene Farr, the new head of the Republican Party for Jefferson County. Beyond asking why anyone would want such a job, which the Leader did, Farr was allowed a lot of ink to rant against the environmental machine, which he claims is destroying the county. He also took off after the United Nations on the Agenda 21, which is a typical conspiracy theory floated by some of Fox News folks. Gene went on to denounced climate change and environmental protection while he was at it.

It’s really sort of sad where the Republican Party has ended up. More and more they seem like the Goldwater lunatic fringe of the 60s, rather than the party that ran this State in the late 60s through 70s.  It was a Republican Governor,Dan Evans, who worked collaboratively with the the voters of King County to  get Metro off the ground in it’s efforts to clean up Lake Washington. It was Republican Dan Evans who formed the first Department of Ecology at the State level in the US.  Republican Secretary of State Ralph Munro, out on his boat on the Sound, witnessed first hand an Orca capture for the likes of a show much like the one documented in the recent movie “Blackfish”. Ralph was so upset by what he saw that he came back, called his friend Republican Slade Gordon and Governor Evans and pushed to outlaw the practice, thus beginning the long protection of these beautiful animals we share here in the  Salish Sea. It was Republican Richard Nixon who, at popular request, and the urging of the Ash Council, supported the notion of the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and named William Ruckelshaus, a Republican, to run it. Mr. Ruckelshaus has lived in the Seattle area since the 80s, and has been very much involved in helping with the Northwest Straits Initiative, and the founding of the Puget Sound Partnership. He’s still considered a pillar in the environmental community. Closer to home, there are Republicans in Clallam County that I’ve met that are moderate folks who are willing to admit that there are environmental problems worth solving collaboratively, and reasonably come to the table to work on them. They may not agree with Democratic points of view, they might be at odds with some in the environmental community there, but they seem less polarized about it than some I’ve met.

The point of this,is that the keys to success of the Republican Party are not to rant and rail against what many people understand to be positive steps towards protecting our air, water and shorelines. These decisions are difficult, and many of us have volunteered hundreds if not thousands of hours to help formulate regulations that are workable to most. And more importantly, have been found to be legal when challenged to our State Supreme Court. The Shoreline Master Program, the Critical Areas Ordinance and other regulations by the State, which we are allowed to participate in rather than be handed down to us to implement, are legal documents based on rules and regulations that are developed in meetings all over this State. It’s not a cabal, you get invited to them, and can ask to be included. There were distinctly Republican supporters at the meetings I attended, so this wasn’t done in a vacuum. The voters of this county have returned the commissioners who put forward those regulations to office. Something is in alignment I’d venture.

We look forward to Mr Farr putting away his conspiracy theory books, turning off the TV and actually rolling up his sleeves and getting involved in the processes he is so adamantly opposed to. By participation, he is more likely to come face to face with his neighbors, and understand that we are all working to make this a better place. We’re willing to debate different points of view, but to paint us as villains  is just counterproductive. He might just succeed in getting his agenda better integrated into the whole. The history of his party shows that they have been leaders before, and we are anxiously awaiting them to become so again.

Event:”Ocean acidification in WA State” June 15th in Port Townsend

“Ocean acidification in WA State: An exploration of its chemical, biological, and societal impacts”
PTMSC presents this lecture by NOAA Research Ecologist Shallin Busch. Busch helped develop NOAA’s Northwest Center state-of-the-art lab for studying the impacts of ocean acidification, hypoxia, and temperature change on coastal marine organisms. She conducts experiments on economically and ecologically important species and uses this research to explore potential impacts of ocean acidification on entire food webs and fisheries. In 2012, Busch served as a member of the WA State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. The lecture is this Saturday, June 15th at 4pm in the Fort Worden State Park JFK Building.  No park pass necessary (note: PTMSC is paying in advance so audience doesn’t have to buy a pass, but if you already have one, please bring and display it on your dash). Admission is $7 adults/$5 adult members/$3 youth/$2 youth members

June 8th is World Oceans Day

While this is sponsored by NOAA, the UN and many other agencies, it is oddly not celebrated here in the Salish Sea. Only a couple of minor events are happening, according to their event calendar. Given the huge amount of work being done here, maybe next year we can see a greater uptake in public awareness on this event.

Want to do something to celebrate? Here’s a short list.

  • Take a child to the Port Townsend Marine Science Center
  • Take a child to the Feiro Marine Life Center in Port Angeles.
  • Go to any beach with a bag and collect garbage. You’ll find some.

http://worldoceansday.org/

Heck, Kilmer launch new caucus to support Puget Sound priorities

It’s gratifying to see that newly elected Derek Kilmer (who represents the Peninsula in the House), has stepped up and is attempting to take on the mantle of serious oversight on Puget Sound issues. Given the recent findings that sediment in the Central Sound has been getting more polluted rather than less, it’s time to aggressively change the game plan. Having met with Representative Kilmer at length not long ago, it was my impression that he is a ‘wonk’ very able to understand the complexities of issues. We will find out how much ability he has to deliver solutions, especially in a deeply divided and uncompromising House in WA DC.
Press Release from the Puget Sound Partnership
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Reps. Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer stepped up as Puget Sound protectors yesterday by announcing that they are co-founding the Congressional Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, devoted exclusively to promoting Puget Sound cleanup efforts. For the immediate future, the caucus work will focus on promoting the three recovery priorities, as identified in the Puget Sound Action Agenda: preventing pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds. Reps. Jim McDermott, Adam Smith, Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene have signed up as charter members. We appreciate the leadership and support these Members of Congress are providing for addressing the region’s highest priorities to restore and protect the Sound.
Kilmer’s news release: http://1.usa.gov/11iYDuhhttp://
Heck’s news release: http://1.usa.gov/1b18biehttp://

Snowpack for Olympics is great going into summer

The snowpack depth in the Olympic Peninsula as we head into summer is excellent. On May 1st, the last month until next November  that the snowpack is measured, showed that we were 103% of normal for  the year. This is still below last years snowpack but dramatically above the snowpack experienced in 2005, when the pack was only at 25% of normal. In 2006, the Makah Tribe ran very low on water supplies in their reservoirs  All measurements for the Cascades are also above normal. This is in contrast with drought conditions continuing across approx 60% of the country and especially  the southwest and central Rockies. Severe to execptionally severe drought (the highest level measured), continues to plague key farming areas from California to the Central Plains. Costs last year to farming were estimated to be between $50 and 200 B, which is higher than the estimated damage of Hurricane Sandy, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting

Given concerns about global warming, the understanding is that many areas will continue to experience wild weather swings,  storms with increased strength (as Oklahoma hurricanes  and Hurricane Sandy have shown recently, along with historic flooding in Texas) and prolongued drought. The drought of last year was epic, on a scale of the Dustbowl of the Great Depression. This year is expected to be close if not worse.

In the Northwest, we seem to be beneficiares of a pocket of ‘good’ weather. As global temperatures continure to rise, with little sign of a downturn in the trend (the trend is variable, as are most trends).

New Local Food Group of Sequim joins our network

Had a chat this morning with Gerry Christensen who is helping Carol Hull and others with the North Olympic Peninsula Local Food Access Network (L-FAN). (I’ve added their link to the NGO section of the left hand front page if you need to find it in the future).

http://localfoodaccessnetwork.wordpress.com/

In their words:

Our primary focus is North Peninsula local food ecosystems with an emphasis on developing and supporting increased and sustainable capacity for production, distribution, and consumption locally.

Our high-level goals are to educate, act, and facilitate the positive actions of others regarding local food related issues within the North Olympic Peninsula area of Washington. We will strive to do this in harmony with businesses, organizations, and citizens within the area.  Our goal is to communicate with all, seek cooperation when possible, and collaborate or partner with various entities concerned with local food.

As I know some of our readers are involved in this area of environmental activism, I recommend that you contact Gerry and introduce yourself and your organization. Gerry and his family are somewhat new to the Peninsula having come out from Colorado, so I’m sure he’d appreciate getting to know more of you that are working in the area of the local food movement.

His contact info is

Gerry Christensen <gerry.christensen@gmail.com>

 

State Still Ignores Fish-Blocking Culverts -Billie Frank Jr.

Habitat is the key to salmon recovery, but ongoing loss and damage of salmon habitat is driving down salmon populations across western Washington and threatening tribal treaty rights. No matter how well we manage harvest and hatcheries, if there is no habitat, both the salmon and our treaty-reserved rights are lost.

Unfortunately, the state of Washington continues to ignore its obligation to enforce one of the first laws on its books that requires fish passage at culverts under roads. The state has been ignoring that obligation for more than 100 years. Today, hundreds of state-owned culverts block fish passage throughout western Washington. Meanwhile, the state has been unwilling to hold its own agencies accountable, refusing to enforce its own environmental laws.

Read the rest of the story at:
http://nwifc.org/2012/09/state-still-ignores-fish-blocking-culverts/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nwifc+%28NWIFC+News%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Derelict Fishing Gear Funding Received – NW Straits Foundation News

The Northwest Straits Foundation received $660,000 to finish the job of removing derelict fishing nets from shallow subtidal waters of Puget Sound. The Foundation estimates there are 500 shallow water derelict nets left to remove. The Foundation is aiming to complete the work by December 31, 2013. Funding comes from the US Environmental Protection Agency through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This funding will be combined with current and pledged funding from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, NOAA Marine Debris Program, ConocoPhillips Migratory Bird Fund, US Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Lucky Seven Foundation, Tulalip Tribes and private donations.

The new funding also pays for a new response and retrieval program designed to prevent future re-accumulations of derelict nets by responding to reports of newly lost nets immediately. The Foundation will be developing this new program in close coordination with the Puget Sound fisheries co-managers.

June 4th: Silence is not an option in Canada

Things are not going well for environmental protection on the north side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Since Canadian voters elected a majority conservative government and PM, an all out slashing of social and environmental programs is underway. Programs that have long supported environmental protection and science are falling away. The most immediate concern for those of us on this side of the Strait, is the removal of tanker monitoring to somewhere near Ottawa. This would be like moving our Coast Guard monitoring to Chicago. When governments let their guards down, is usually when mistakes happen, and get compounded. Given the ease by which oil spreads on water. We must be helping our friends on the other side to restore these disastrous cuts before we are cleaning up a mess that will be “our” mess too. Letting federal officials, like Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, and others, know that you are concerned about this, would be a good start. On June 4th, Canadian environmental groups and others are planning a ‘black out’ day to alert the public to the threat.
_____________________________________________

Georgia Strait Alliance writes: ‘In recent memory, there has never been such an open attack by our federal government on our environment and the civil society that is its voice. And that is why there has never been a more important time for us to speak up. So on June 4th Georgia Strait Alliance is joining organizations, businesses, unions, bloggers and individuals from across the country to “Black Out, Speak Out”.’

http://georgiastraitalliance.blogspot.ca/2012/05/june-4th-silence-is-not-option.html

Fisheries Act changes introduced amid debate over new law’s intent

Canada’s new conservative government continues to strip away environmental protections…
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The Harper government unveiled a massive omnibus budget implementation bill Thursday that includes Fisheries Act amendments that will strip the term “habitat” from the most crucial section of the law. The government’s intent, according to a spokeswoman, to assist “everyday Canadians” in their dealings with federal fisheries bureaucrats.

http://www.vancouversun.com/life/environment/Fisheries+changes+introduced+amid+debate+over+intent/6525454/story.html

Jefferson County Draft SMP released

The latest version of the Jefferson County Draft Shoreline Management Plan was released Tuesday. It appears, at first glance, that many of the protections put in by the working science and citizens advisory groups were gutted. Included in the gutting were buffers beyond 50 feet in Shoreline Residential areas, and geoduck expansion concerns. Public comment period is now open. Assume that there will be considerable comment on this. The document is located at:

http://www.co.jefferson.wa.us/commdevelopment/Shoreline_PCRevisedDraft.htm

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