Farewell to John Cambalik!

Since the mid 2000s John Cambalik has been the coordinator for the Puget Sound Partnership’s local Strait Ecosystem Recovery Network. This group, meeting quarterly at the beautiful Red Cedar hall of the Jamestown S’Klallam (and on Zoom since the pandemic), has been the place where local governments, tribes, NGO’s and citizens could convene to discuss restoration projects and their funding needs. The results would be rolled up to the Puget Sound Partnership’s ongoing efforts to fund these activities both here and around the Sound.

John has done a great job of managing this very large (28 people at the last meeting) and diverse group of representatives. Some, given their governmental roles, cannot take stands on political issues, and others, like the Tribes have large financial stakes in the outcomes, given that they often manage the restoration projects. Much of John’s time has been in getting consensus on prioritization along with education of the participants on the issues.

While these meetings are often marathons of obscure but needed work, I want to take a minute to thank John for his great work at shepherding this group over the years. Kara Cardinal will be taking over John’s role. Her email is coordinator@straitern.org

John will still be around in the area, hopefully in happy retirement or tackling shorter term projects. Thanks for your all your hard work over the years John!

Latest Puget Sound Partnership Straits Meeting

The quarterly meeting of local ecosystem recovery groups sponsored by the The Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) was held on Friday May 16th in Blyn. The PSP helps fund these  quarterly planning meetings with all the various groups that exist to protect and restore ecosystems, in order to disseminate information and to gather planning information for future funding efforts.  Our Strait of Juan de Fuca group is called the Strait ERN (for Ecosystem Recovery Network).

Some good news was that the extensive planning meetings that had helped us to identify and prioritize the vast array of projects (which can exist from something as large as the Elwha Dam removal to the restoration of one small locale, like the bulkhead removal at Fort Townsend), had shown that we had the largest list of projects from all the various ERN’s around the Sound.

These will be rolled back up to the planning efforts over the summer that the PSP is going to do in order to help seek funding in the next federal budget year, starting later this year.

Additionally, we heard information about sewage sludge, it’s collection and uses, including newly emerging concerns of it’s toxicity. A few short takeaways included that while King County routinely spreads it’s sludge on vast amounts of the forests above the East Side, where it is clearly leaching back into the water sheds and Puget Sound,  our two counties are composting it and reusing it. Compost with sludge in it is called “biosolids” and you should not be adding this compost to your family garden. It is more appropriate to flower gardens and other areas where you are unlikely to ingest it. Also, biosolid based compost cannot be used on organic food production.

Short term, we need more extensive testing to identify the vast array of chemicals that are not being treated in biosolids. The laws covering this were created decades ago, long before we were aware of the dangers of pass through drugs from our bodies. Better consumer knowledge is needed, and that is a federal and state issue.

Long term, it is likely we will need to incinerate our biosolids, in order to keep out the hazards of chemical contamination of our waters and food. Incineration is the only way to fully destroy these elements. It apparently reduces the waste stream to a very small amount, comparatively speaking.

It has been my contention that the continued dumping of our sewage into the Salish Sea is likely to be shown to be a root cause of the destruction of the waters, and this is another clear data point that this assumption is probably correct. The ability to incinerate our wastes, and remove storm water runoff would likely be a huge factor in restoring water quality.

Earth Economics – A new way of valuing ecosystems

David Batker of Earth Economics

David Batker of Earth Economics presents their analysis of Clallam County ecosystems.

The Quarterly meeting of the Strait Environmental Recovery Network (ERN) met on Friday in Port Angeles. The ERN is chartered by the Puget Sound Partnership to get organizations together to prioritize work on recovery projects along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This month, we had David Batker, chief economist and Executive Director, of Earth Economics report on their work done for Clallam County. EE created a report called “Policy Implications of the Economic Benefits of Feeder Bluffs and 12 other Ecosystems” as part of the SMP. Sound boring? Think again…

EE has formed some new models to help understand the economic benefits of these ecosystems and their recovery. This is really revolutionary analysis. Constantly, opposition to environmental programs  rail about how fixing the environment is “too expensive” and “costs jobs”. This analysis turns that on it’s head. It makes it very hard to argue that it isn’t the *right thing* to fix the environment, from a purely economic perspective.

EE has done work around the world, and this is really ground breaking stuff. You can find more about them at http://www.eartheconomics.org.

The entire talk can be downloaded or listened to at:

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