New investments save dynamic coastal wetland habitat – Washington DOE

And more good news. State and local partners secure $5 million in federal conservation grants.

The Department of Ecology is delighted to announce we have secured seven National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grants worth more than $5 million. The 2020 federal grants will help our local partners restore and enhance nearly 500 acres of coastal wetlands and 17,500 feet of marine shoreline in Jefferson, Kitsap, Snohomish, Thurston, and Whatcom counties.

Discovery Bay Acquisitions ($713,268)  —working in partnership with Jefferson Land Trust to acquire and conserve 9 acres of critical wetlands and nearshore habitat in Discovery Bay in Jefferson County, including nearly 2,173 feet of Puget Sound shoreline. The project will conserve degraded and filled estuary and nearshore habitat and preserve a rare intact pocket estuary that provides high-functioning salt marsh habitat in the Discovery Bay area.

Tarboo Creek Wetlands Acquisition and Restoration ($508,000) — in close coordination with the Northwest Watershed Institute we will help permanently protect and restore 14.5 acres of wetlands on three adjoining parcels along Tarboo Creek in Jefferson County that drain directly to Tarboo-Dabob Bay and Puget Sound.

Misery Point Habitat Acquisition ($1 million) — this collaborative project with the Great Peninsula Conservancy will preserve 20.7 acres and approximately 3,500 feet of Hood Canal and barrier lagoon shoreline in Kitsap County. The property contains a 1,600-foot sand spit that shelters a 3-acre tidal lagoon, important refuge habitat for juvenile salmon and waterfowl.

https://ecology.wa.gov/Blog/Posts/April-2020/New-investments-save-dynamic-coastal-wetland-habit

Simulation shows how fast tsunamis could move through Puget Sound after ‘The Big One’ – The Olympian

Good new information on the danger of a tsunamis to us in the Salish Sea. This clarifies that you *have* to get to higher ground quickly, even if you think you are safe. Think about Kai Tai Lagoon and San Juan Avenue in Port Townsend. A fast moving 10 foot wave could easily swamp San Juan from both the North Beach side and the Port Townsend Bay side, coming at people from both directions as they were fleeing down San Juan. Don’t think it’s possible? Review the videos from survivors of the Japanese tsunamis.

The simulation shows 10-foot-tall waves or higher moving through Hood Canal.

Bad news for crabs and birds: Puget Sound hotter than ever – KUOW

The notion of the Hood Canal changing as much as 7 Degrees Celsius in one year is just mind boggling. The story of the frog in the pan of boiling water comes to mind.So when do we reach the tipping point and find the Sound is dead? And what will help you come out to help? A good place to start is at our elections in a few weeks. Voting for the people listed on the front page of this blog, under the tab 2016 Elections, will help ensure that we have leadership that believes in global warming and is willing to work to fix this problem at all levels of city, county, state and national levels. We are running out of time.

There has been a significant change in the waters in Puget Sound, according to a new NOAA Fisheries report. In 2015, the temperatures rose more than any other year in recorded history. Stephanie Moore: “New maximum records were set just about everywhere in Puget Sound in terms of water temperatures.” Biological oceanographer Stephanie Moore headed up the 2015 report by NOAA Fisheries. She says across Puget Sound, shallow and deep water temperatures rose at a record pace above the 10 year mean. Most locations rose by 2 degrees Celsius. In southern Hood Canal it was even higher, 7 degrees. Paige Browning reports. (KUOW)

http://kuow.org/post/bad-news-crabs-and-birds-puget-sound-hotter-ever

Solutions sought for fish-blocking Hood Canal bridge – Kitsap Sun

We have been reporting on this issue since before it was found. When I interviewed old timers in 2010 who had fished the Canal all their lives some told me they believed the bridge was the cause of the salmon’s demise in the Canal. That they had seen a dramatic reduction in fish since the bridge was installed. Now, we are getting real data that validates the “local knowledge” that some scoffed at. While no one is saying that the bridge should be removed, at least at this point, there is new work being done to see if there are some quick fixes that can be done to help the salmon, and the water, flow better.

A cloud of little fish loiters alongside the Hood Canal bridge’s floating lower deck. They don’t go around and they don’t go under. Instead they seem to aimlessly swirl about. Lurking nearby is a plump seal, apparently well-fed on the logjam of fish.

There’s mounting evidence that the bridge is a major fish barrier, blocking a third of migrating steelhead trout from reaching the ocean. The bridge also might hamper water circulation, lowering dissolved oxygen levels and altering the canal’s temperature and chemistry.

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/local/solutions-sought-for-fish-blocking-hood-canal-bridge-3a5d770d-33e6-0957-e053-0100007f1cbd-390637951.html

Olympic Forest Coalition Files Suit Against Coast Seafoods

It will be interesting to see what comes of this new lawsuit. There have been a number of concerns raised by citizens in the area surrounding Coast, as to changes in the Bay waters. We’ll see if we can get more information on the specifics.

Olympic Forest Coalition, based in Quilcene, Washington, has filed a lawsuitagainst Coast Seafoods Company under Section 505 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1365, for alleged Clean Water Act violations. Located on the shorelines of Quilcene Bay, Coast Seafoods claims to have increased its production of spat (baby oysters) from a capacity of approximately 8 billion annually to 40 billion annually over the past 5 years, which is apparently creating much higher levels of effluent, including “oyster poop,” discharged into the bay. The effluent includes excessive amounts of ammonia nitrogen and other solids that appear to OFCO to create problems for fish, shellfish, and pursuit-diving birds such as marbled murrelets, loons, cormorants, and grebes. OFCO believes that Coast Seafoods filters the incoming water from the bay, but does not filter effluent being flushed back into the bay.

The lawsuit claims that Coast Seafoods uses numerous pipes, ditches, channels and other discernible, confined and discrete conveyances to discharge effluent from its indoor, land-based oyster facilities to the adjacent beach, Quilcene Bay and Puget Sound.

Because the facility uses pipes and ditches to discharge to the bay, conveyances the Clean Water Act clearly and unambiguously defines as “point sources,” the lawsuit alleges that discharges of pollutants from the facility are illegal and in violation of Section 30l(a) of the Clean Water Act because they are not authorized by an NPDES permit. The primary goal of the lawsuit is to reduce water pollution to Quilcene Bay.

Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC in Seattle, Washington, represents OFCO in the lawsuit.

Picture of the Day – Squat Lobster

Squat Lobster in shell. Hood Canal. Sund Rock by Bruce Kerwin. DSC_6173 Squat Lobster in Shell - Sund Rock

Photo of the Day – Anemone from Sund Rock in Hood Canal

Diver Bruce Kerwin brought back this fabulous photo of a tube dwelling anemone at Sund Rock dive spot on Hood Canal. A good example of the beauty worth protecting in the waters below us.

From Sund Rock dive site in Hood Canal. Washington State

From Sund Rock dive site in Hood Canal. Washington State

Hood Canal council names winners of environmental awards – Watching Our Waterways

Awards and recognition for citizens getting together to fix environmental problems in their area of Hood Canal. Congratulations people. You are doing good work!

Beards Cove Community Organization and Newberry Hill Heritage Park Stewards are this year’s winners of the Hood Canal Environmental Achievement Awards. The awards, sponsored by the Hood Canal Coordinating Council, recognize people and groups that have taken actions and fostered relationships to improve the health of the Hood Canal environment. Chris Dunagan writes. (Watching Our Water Ways)

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2015/11/01/hood-canal-council-names-winners-of-environmental-awards/

Judge dismisses lawsuit against easement that blocks ‘pit-to-pier’ project on Hood Canal – PDN

And so it goes. The Pit to Pier people never seem to give up, and seem to have an inexhaustible amount of money to spend fighting anything that stands in their way. I wonder if this is the end of the line for them though?

A federal court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the Navy challenging a conservation easement that would block development of a 998-foot pier and gravel-loading project sought by Hood Canal Sand and Gravel. U. S. District Judge Benjamin Settle on Tuesday granted a motion to dismiss, ruling that the Navy did not exceed its authority in granting the 55-year easement on state-owned tidelands along Hood Canal…. The easement is an agreement between the Navy and the state Department of Natural Resources announced in July 2014 that would block development on more than 4,800 acres of state land along Hood Canal, stretching from the Hood Canal Bridge south to just below the border between Jefferson and Mason counties. (Peninsula Daily News)

lhttp://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20150903/NEWS/150909989/judge-dismisses-lawsuit-against-easement-that-blocks-pit-to-pier

Biotoxin infesting part of Hood Canal usually free of it – PDN

Warning for those of you going out to do some shellfish gathering.

…. The Department of Health found high levels of the marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning in Hood Canal early this summer, leading the state to close several beaches in Jefferson and Mason counties to shellfish harvest, many for the first time. Aria Shephard Bull reports. (Kitsap Sun)

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/biotoxin-infesting-part-of-hood-canal-usually-free-of-it_77950401

See also: More shellfish harvest closures in effect in Clallam County; shut areas stretch from Cape Flattery to Jefferson line http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20150816/NEWS/308169987/more-shellfish-harvest-closures-in-effect-in-clallam-county-shut (Peninsula Daily News)

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/

Navy easement on hold until lawsuit settled – Kitsap Sun

Disappointing but not unexpected news. Working piecemeal on this apparently.

The Navy has suspended its application for a restrictive easement along Hood Canal’s Kitsap County shoreline until a lawsuit over a similar easement on the Jefferson County side is settled. Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor applied with the state Department of Natural Resources in August 2013 for an easement from the Hood Canal bridge south to the county line near Holly that would prohibit new commercial wharves, piers, docks and floats. It would comprise a strip of state-owned bedlands from 18 feet below the average low tide to 70 feet down. Ed Friedrich reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Worth noting that the Kitsap Sun requires a subscription to view.

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/local-news/navy-easement-on-hold-until-lawsuit-settled_95679823

Proposal for Hood Canal geoduck farm dropped – PDN

This is not as simple as it sounds. Mr. Kimmel, from sources that I talked to, had figured that if he simply planted the farm that the county would, if challenged, just give him the permit. Unfortunately for him, it angered neighbors who alerted some activists that are not in favor of geoduck farm expansion, and a number of other environmental groups in that county also joined in.

For those unaware of the issue, with the value of geoducks skyrocketing due to Chinese demand, there is enormous pressure to turn as many possible good beach locations into farms as possible. The South Sound has been a hotbed of angry legal battles from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, who’s chapter there  has made it the only thing it apparently fights. Taylor Shellfish, who are the leading, but not only company in that area, are the ones that get many of the lawsuits.

The problems that these geoduck farms cause are not easily apparent. Everyone loves shellfish and many consumers in urban areas are not aware of the problems that people living along the shore face. People who moved down into these beautiful bays, may have assumed a peaceful quiet location far from urban activity. In the winter, when the harvest of geoducks is in full swing (due to Chinese end of year festivities) the low tides are often late at night. Homeowners can be kept awake for many hours from the diesel generator activity as the divers and beach workers blast the sand away to get at the geoducks.  There is also wide spread netting of the beaches in the startup phase (the farms rotate a five year crop, planting successive beach areas, so they are planting and harvesting every year), sometimes in front of homeowners beaches, as the farms can sometimes be licensed in the tidal zone that is often legally in the state’s legal jurisdiction, due to our unusual State Constitution, that defined aquaculture as fundamental to the State. There is much concern about environmental destruction of the beaches from repeated geoduck farming and harvest, but a 7 year study by Washington Sea Grant, supported by some environmental organizations, did not find long term problems that would cause enough concern to ban the farming. It did ask for more research on the issues they raised, but that was not supported by the shellfish industry, which funds many of these efforts. Since the collapse of People For Puget Sound, which was the most effective organization in working on these issues with the shellfish industry, the industry has pretty much had run of the legislature, and left their opposition to fighting the battle only in the courts. They have had some limited success in suing, but it has not really stopped or even slowed the expansion of geoduck farming, as new farms are being put in on the Dungeness river estuary, and off the east side of Indian Island. Tribes have been farming and harvesting geoducks as well, as is their right. This issue described below is more about non-tribal farm expansion.

———————————————
A controversial proposal for a geoduck and oyster farm on Hood Canal is being pulled. The Kitsap Sun reported that according to Kitsap County planners, Scott Kimmel, the owner of New Day Fisheries, has decided not to pursue permit applications for the project.(Associated Press)

Read the short story at the PDN.

 http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20141228/NEWS/312289945/proposal-for-hood-canal-geoduck-farm-dropped

Raw oysters sicken 12, prompt shellfish harvest closure and recall – Seattle Times

Oops. Apparently a leaking septic system was to blame. This affects a wide range of fresh oysters in many states. Read the article for more information. Environmental organizations have pushed for well over a decade to get counties to force mandatory inspections of septic systems. However, public outcry against doing it, especially in counties like Mason, have forced voluntary programs. And this is the kind of outcome that happens. Haven been made sick from oysters myself, I can tell you it isn’t fun. I spent almost a week in bed once from the experience, and really felt like I was dying.

Washington state health officials have ordered an emergency harvest closure and a multistate recall of all shellfish from a portion of Mason County’s Hammersley Inlet after at least a dozen people who ate raw oysters became ill. (Seattle Times)

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2025219127_shellfishrecallxml.html

Killer whales expected to head south any day now- Kitsap Sun

Chris Dunagan at Watching Our Water Ways blogs: “As chum salmon swim back to their home streams in Puget Sound this fall, three killer whale pods — the Southern Residents — can be expected to follow, making their way south along the eastern shoreline of the Kitsap Peninsula. These forays into Central and South Puget Sound could begin any day now and continue until the chum runs decline in November or December. The Southern Residents, which typically hang out in the San Juan Islands in summer, have not been spotted for several days, so they are likely somewhere in the ocean at the moment, according to Howard Garrett of Orca Network. (Kitsap Sun)

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2014/10/01/killer-whales-expected-to-head-south-any-day-now/#axzz3EsDVWuTD

Project manager: New state, Navy conservation easement for areas of Hood Canal won’t halt pit-to-pier – PDN

If nothing else, this is likely to stall the Pit To Pier project for the next decade while it goes through the courts. Thanks to Charlie and the PDN for covering the story.

A conservation easement between the state Department of Natural Resources and the Navy that prohibits industrial development along areas of Hood Canal won’t stop a gravel-moving facility nicknamed the “pit-to-pier,” the project manager said. …Charlie Bermant reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140710/NEWS/307109987/project-manager-new-state-navy-conservation-easement-for-areas-of

When the stars go out all along the coast – Crosscut

Another update on the mysterious and very destructive sea star wasting disease. Apparently there is a scientific paper out soon that might start to answer some of the questions on what and why.

Sea stars, the original “keystone species,” are melting into mush even on local shores where they previously seemed safe, leaving scientists puzzled… and worried.

http://crosscut.com/2014/06/30/puget-sound/120763/when-stars-go-out-all-along-coast/

 

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Starfish Wasting Disease – Update

Laura James reports sea star die-offs in Hood Canal.

Sund rock stars https://www.facebook.com/diverLAuRA/media_set?set=a.10154410435430438.1073741967.760835437&type=1

Meanwhile, Scientists Close In On The Cause Of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/unprecedented-epidemic-in-the-oceans-iconic-sea-st/
Drew Harvell peers into the nooks and crannies along the rocky shoreline of Eastsound on Orcas Island. Purple and orange starfish clutch the rocks, as if hanging on for dear life…. Scientists have been working for months to find out what’s causing the massive die-off and now Harvell and others have evidence that an infectious disease caused by a bacteria or virus, may be at the root of the problem. The disease, they say, could be compounded by warming waters, which put the sea stars under stress, making them more vulnerable to the pathogen… While scientists are reluctant to assign blame to climate change, Harvell explained that as oceans warm, outbreaks like this are more likely to occur. Katie Campbell and Ashley Ahearn report. (EarthFix)

‘Pit-to-pier’ firm appeals Jefferson County’s Shoreline Master Plan- PDN

The Peninsula Daily News reports today that the Thorndyke Resources Project will take a legal challenge on the Shoreline Master Plan to the Growth Management Board. Given what the PDN reports, it seems unlikely to be successful, but hope springs eternal with these folks, and they apparently have the money to hire the lawyers to challenge it. 

Read the whole story here:

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140418/news/304189970/-8216-pit-to-pier-8217-firm-appeals-jefferson-county-8217-s

 

 

Report from the Front: Herring Country Safari – UW Blogs

Herring Country Safari

Puget Sound Institute lead ecosystem ecologist Tessa Francis writes: “Hood Canal never disappoints me. We’re in year 2 of our herring habitat study, asking whether Puget Sound herring populations are limited by the availability of spawning habitat…. Substrate type doesn’t matter. What does matter, we found, is where that substrate occurs. We found greater differences in egg mortality among spawning sites — Elliott Bay versus, say, Hood Canal — than among spawning habitat within sites. This year, we’re looking closely at why herring egg survival varies among spawning sites….”

It all goes to show that more research into the Salish Sea is needed to better understand the processes and root causes of their success or failures.

http://blogs.uw.edu/tessa/2014/03/15/herring-country-safari/

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