Puget Sound Partnership E-Clips, March 19, 2017: Trump’s EPA budget cuts an insult to Puget Sound; After environmental restoration, quiet has returned to Port Gamble

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March 19, 2017

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Editorial: Trump’s EPA budget cuts an insult to Puget Sound (Everett Herald)
Today’s not-so-trivial trivia question: On which has the federal government spent more — one Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier or cleanup and habitat restoration projects throughout Puget Sound and other Western Washington coastal waters? It’s not even close. One new aircraft carrier runs the government $12 billion. Last year, the federal government through the Environmental Protection Agency provided $28 million for projects in the Puget Sound region and southern waters of the Salish Sea. It would take about 428 years of federal support for Puget Sound restoration projects to equal one new carrier.
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See also:
Harsh new climate for Puget Sound Partnership (Tacoma News Tribune | Opinion)
Trump’s proposed budget cuts funding Puget Sound cleanup efforts (KGMI news)
Puget Sound hits bottom in Trump EPA budget proposal: zero  (KUOW)
Proposed EPA Cuts Could Pose Big Problems For Tribes (OPB |EarthFix)
What Trump cut in his budget (Washington Post)
Trump’s first budget plan would hit Washington state hard, top Democrats say (The Olympian)
Trump budget would gut science, environment programs (Seattle Times | Associated Press)
Trump proposes budget to hobble the EPA (Bellingham Herald)

E-Clip Topics

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Protect and Restore Habitat

After environmental restoration, quiet has returned to Port Gamble (Kitsap Sun | Watching Our Water Ways blog)
Twenty-five years ago, I stood and watched as a screaming buzz saw tossed clouds of sawdust into the air while slicing through thick logs of Douglas fir at the Pope & Talbot sawmill in Port Gamble. Last week, I walked across the vacant site of the old mill, which was torn down years ago. Along the edge of Port Gamble Bay, I could hear nothing but the sound of the wind and an occasional call of a seagull. I came back to the old mill site to see how things looked following completion of the $20-million-plus cleanup of Port Gamble Bay.
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Ecology expects tests of fluid at Port Angeles log yard by mid-April (Peninsula Daily News)
The state Department of Ecology will complete its testing of soil and water at the Port of Port Angeles’ Merrill &Ring log yard by mid-April. Ecology officials said they launched their investigation in response to an area resident’s assertion that the company was dumping 50 gallons of hydraulic fluid daily on the Port of Port Angeles’ property at William R. Fairchild International Airport west of Port Angeles.
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BC LNG: Delta plant says public safety paramount amid $400m expansion (Vancouver Sun)
The risks at the FortisBC liquefied-natural gas facility at Tilbury Island in Delta are so real that visitors are ordered not to take photos or even turn on their cellphones during a tour as a way to minimize the chance of electrical sparks creating an ignition source. Yet Doug Stout, the company’s vice-president of market development, insists that the plant’s excellent safety record to date will continue into the future during an ongoing $400-million expansion that will increase production capacity sevenfold…. Expansion of the Tilbury facility would have LNG ships travelling alongside residential communities such as Steveston in Richmond.
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Viva Farms adds more farmland (Skagit Valley Herald)
Viva Farms Executive Director Michael Frazier stood near his organization's small offices last week, looking out over its 33 acres of farmland. Viva Farms, which helps train new farmers, ran out of space this year. Twelve small farms are renting all of Viva Farms' available land, an issue that will soon be fixed by the recent purchase of 45 acres of nearby farmland.
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Species and Food Web

Hope is alive for restoration of Puget Sound shellfish beds (Kitsap Sun | Watching Our Water Ways blog)
Officials in Washington state’s Shellfish Program have identified a clear pathway to meet a state goal of restoring 10,800 net acres of shellfish beds to a harvestable condition by 2020. The 10,800-acre target, established by the Puget Sound Partnership, was considered overly ambitious by many people when the goal was approved in 2011. Many still believe that the shellfish restoration effort will go down in flames, along with other goals, such as increasing chinook salmon and killer whale populations by 2020.
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Lots of spring shellfish gathering options in Puget Sound for clams and oysters (Seattle Times)
Shellfish gathering has become a popular outdoor activity on Puget Sound and Hood Canal, and spring is one of the better times of the year to hit the beaches for clams and oysters. The recreational clam digging seasons on several beaches have been adjusted based on results from population, harvest and effort assessments taken by state Fish and Wildlife. Clam populations have increased allowing for longer seasons at Indian Island County Park, Potlatch State Park, Potlatch Department of Natural Resource (DNR) tidelands, Port Gamble Heritage Park and Twanoh State Park.
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Deadly disease diagnosed in B.C. salmon (Vancouver Sun)
A deadly disease has been diagnosed in B.C. farmed salmon and linked to a widespread virus. The study, published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, is the first to find heart and skeletal muscle inflammation, or HSMI, in salmon at B.C. fish farms. The disease can wipe out up to 20 per cent of a farmed population. Researchers also showed a correlation between HSMI and piscine reo-virus, suggesting the two might be linked. Emiliano Di Cicco, co-author of the study, said the findings could have negative consequences for B.C.’s salmon farming industry, which had an estimated net value after marketing costs of $476 million in 2013. 
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Searching for the little red fish in local streams (Redmond Reporter)
The student braces himself with a branch, as he slides his worn sneakers across the top of a log jam. Swamp Creek pools below him on one side, and on the other it skates, spinning and arching around gravel and debris caught up on the toppled tree. The disturbance is perfect for Kokanee salmon, says Scott Miller, a biology major at the University of Washington’s Bothell campus, while surveying the little creek. The jam slows the pace of the river, he says, and provides inlets for reprieve from the current. This time of year and a century ago, the creek was painted with the “Little Red Fish,” which came from their home in north Lake Washington to spawn in numbers that still impress today’s biologists. Now, those same scientists contend whether or not the Lake Washington Kokanee have gone extinct.
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How Traffic Is Drowning Out Frogs' Mating Calls (NWPR | EarthFix)
Chances are you’ve heard the Pacific chorus frogs’ call before. Its classic “rib-bit” is featured in basically any movie that needs frog noise. The Pacific chorus frogs’ call is ubiquitous in the Northwest. But the amphibians are having more and more trouble hearing themselves. Traffic is drowning them out. 
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Ottawa's recovery plan for West Coast's endangered orcas criticized as too weak (Times Colonist)
The federal government has released a recovery plan for an endangered population of killer whales likely to be in the path of increased oil tanker traffic off British Columbia's southern coast. But environmental groups say the plan doesn't have enough concrete measures to bring orca numbers in the southern Georgia Strait back to healthy levels. "There needs to be a real sense of urgency," said David Miller, head of the World Wildlife Fund Canada. "Just because we need more science doesn't mean we shouldn't act."
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Mysterious 'whale wave' observed in humpbacks on B.C. Coast (CBC News)
A decade of observation in a fjord on B.C.'s North Coast has uncovered an intriguing pattern among the thriving humpback whales that feed there each summer. Researchers call it a "whale wave," in a peer-reviewed study published this week in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. Each year, as hundreds of humpbacks arrive in the Kitimat fjord system, near Hartley Bay, B.C., they follow a seasonal pattern, as observed in visual surveys by the Gitga'at First Nation and North Coast Cetacean Society. The whales start in outer waters and move into the inlet and Douglas Channel — but it's not clear why.
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Canadians produce mariner’s guide to whales; can U.S. follow? (Kitsap Sun | Watching Our Water Ways blog)
If knowledge is power, officials in British Columbia have taken a strong step to protect whales by producing a booklet that can help ship captains reduce the threats to marine mammals. The “Mariner’s Guide to Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises of Western Canada” was compiled and published by the Coastal Ocean Research Institute, a branch of the Vancouver Aquarium. Financial support came from nearby ports. 
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Gray whales return to Puget Sound (KING 5 News)
Things just got a little grayer in Seattle, but not in the way many would expect. This past weekend marks the start of the gray whale migration to Puget Sound. Sarah Hank with the whale tour company Puget Sound Express says the beloved whales are now in the Puget Sound, feeding on ghost shrimp off the Snohomish Delta near Everett in very shallow water, about 10 feet deep.
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Sea lion necropsy unearths surprising cancer finding (Peninsula Daily News)
Old age beached a Steller sea lion that was euthanized after it was found dying on shore in January, but a finding during the animal’s necropsy has led researchers into another investigation. A cancer of the penal sheath found in the animal is the first reported case in a Steller sea lion, according to Dyanna Lambourn, marine mammal research biologist and the lead investigator into the case of the sea lion found dying on a beach at the Nippon Paper Industries USA mill near Ediz Hook. The animal, which had been beached for a week, was euthanized Jan. 14.
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Pacific great blue herons return to nest in Stanley Park (CBC News)
The heron cam at Vancouver's Stanley Park is buzzing with activity as the park's majestic Pacific great blue herons have come back to nest for the summer. The birds have claimed nests in their chosen spot above the parking lot at 2099 Beach Avenue. This year. the herons arrived March 11, three weeks later than last year. Greg Hart, a biologist with the Stanley Park Ecological Society, says that's largely due to the colder weather.
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Safe havens for species mapped in 3 Northwest states (Seattle Times)
A conservation group has created maps identifying key landscapes in three Western states most likely to sustain native species amid climate change, and is distributing money to protect private lands in those areas through use-limiting easements or outright purchases. The Nature Conservancy says it has $6 million from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation that it’s now distributing among land trusts, which must come up with five times the amount in matching funds for approved easements or acquisitions.
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Water Quality

Sludge bugs: Sewage-eating microbes in peril at crippled West Point plant (Seattle Times)
A mighty river of brown, raw sewage and stormwater makes a plume offshore at Discovery Park, plainly seen from the air. It’s from the West Point Treatment plant, gushing untreated wastewater into Puget Sound.... The plant’s deep-water outfall, in fast-moving water far offshore, reduces the environmental hit. Tests show high bacteria counts after emergency bypasses quickly dissipated in the powerful currents. Beaches are back open after a brief closure right after the flood. And it’s a time of year when few people are swimming and boating in the open water. But the plant is in violation of its permit, falling far below the required standard for water treatment.
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See also:
What caused sewage plant's huge mess? King County Council launches its own look (Seattle Times)
Silence reigns as sewage spews into Puget Sound. Here’s why. (Seattle Times)
Regulators Take On Dual Roles Dealing King County’s Broken Wastewater Treatment Plant (KNKX)

$700-million wastewater treatment plant to be built in North Vancouver (Vancouver Sun)
Metro Vancouver announced Saturday it has received joint funding for a new $700-million wastewater treatment plant on the North Shore. The new Lions Gate Secondary Wastewater Treatment Plant will be constructed by 2020 on a 3.5-hectare site owned by Metro in the District of North Vancouver, while the plant currently operating at Squamish Nation, built in 1961, will be decommissioned in 2021. It aims to contribute to cleaner waterways across the region by enhancing secondary wastewater treatment and resource recovery, and is being designed in a way that will allow flexibility for any future upgrades or expansion, according to Metro.
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Sewage spill closes Port Orchard waterfront, Ross Creek (Kitsap Sun)
Kitsap Public Health District issued a no-contact advisory Tuesday for the Port Orchard waterfront and Ross Creek following a sewage spill. The city reported the spill occurred Tuesday morning at a lift station off Old Clifton Road, near the Highway 16 interchange, according to a news release. The spill was estimated at 27,500 gallons. The seven-day advisory covers the shore of Sinclair Inlet, from Anderson Creek to the end of Rockwell Street in downtown, and Ross Creek from Old Clifton Road north.
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Golf course has role in north Everett stormwater system fixes (Everett Herald)
The city of Everett’s ongoing work to prevent sewer backups in its north end is now moving onto the golf course. Everett plans to incorporate the water hazards at Legion Memorial Golf Course into a wider stormwater detention system. Everett’s combined sewer and stormwater system in the north end has been problematic during heavy rainfall. On several occasions, most recently in 2013, the system reached capacity and sewers backed up into basements and streets.
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Thurston County wants to know what you think of septic fees — again (The Olympian)
Thurston County officials took steps Tuesday to flush away a controversial plan that includes $10 annual fee for about 42,000 property owners with septic systems. The county’s Board of Health met Tuesday and scheduled an April 11 hearing at which Thurston County residents can tell the board what they think about an ordinance to repeal the fee.
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WA lawmakers asked to fund manure-into-water technology (Capital Press)
An engineer told Washington lawmakers Tuesday that public funding would spur technology to distill cow manure into dry fertilizer and clean water, making polluted runoff from dairies a problem of the past.... The Washington State Dairy Federation arranged back-to-back presentations to the House and Senate agriculture committees by Peter Janicki, CEO of Janicki Bioenergy in Sedro-Woolley, Wash. Janicki has worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to convert sewage into drinking water in developing countries. A YouTube video viewed 3.2 million times shows Janicki in 2015 in Africa serving Bill Gates water that five minutes earlier had been human waste. Janicki said that he could use the experience and knowledge that he’s gained to create new technology for distilling cow manure.
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‘We need to do more to clean Puget Sound’ | Kitsap Weekly feature (Kitsap Sun | Lorraine Loomis)
The health of Puget Sound is getting some much-needed help from efforts to reduce polluted stormwater runoff and a proposed new law that would prohibit sewage discharge from boats. Polluted stormwater runoff from urban areas is the number one source of pollution entering Puget Sound. When it rains, pollutants such as brake-pad dust, oil and other toxics are washed from our roadways into the sound.
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Water Quantity

Senate bill would reverse court decision regarding water-well drilling (Kitsap Daily News)
A state Senate-approved bill that would allow local governments to approve development using Department of Ecology water rules awaits action in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. It passed the Republican-controlled state Senate Feb. 28 on a 28-21 vote. It is now assigned to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and awaits a public hearing.... Opponents worry the bill will infringe on senior water rights and harm in-stream flow — water available in streams and rivers. The bill allows permits to be mitigated, or offset, in ways not requiring water replacement, such as improving stream habitats.
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Climate Change

House carbon tax bill sees hours of supportive, critical public testimony (Washington State Wire)
A bill that would introduce a statewide carbon tax was heard in the House Environment committee and was met with about two hours of testimony, both in support and against the bill, from about 65 members of the public Tuesday. “I think this bill is our best shot at starting to reduce our emissions to a safe level in this legislative session,” said Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, at the hearing.
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See also:
Washington Businesses Slam Carbon Tax (Northwest News)
Carbon Tax Floated As Possible Replacement To Inslee's 'Clean Air Rule' (KUOW)

A Spark Of Hope For Climate Change Reality (KUOW | Opinion)
When it comes to facing the reality of climate change, the Republican Party, now led by the Trump Administration, has been slipping ever farther from its roots as a champion of American science. Last week brought further evidence of this disconnect — but it also held out a glimmer of hope that the party's turn away from the U.S. effort in science is not universal.
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See also:
Trump is poised to issue a sweeping order dismantling Obama’s climate plan this week (Washington Post)
Trump budget would torpedo Obama climate-change programs (Everett Herald | Washington Post)

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at the fastest rate ever recorded (Washington Post)
For the second year in a row, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have climbed at a record pace. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, carbon dioxide levels jumped by three parts per million in both 2015 and 2016 and now rest at about 405 parts per million. It’s the biggest jump ever observed at the agency’s Mauna Loa Baseline Atmospheric Observatory in Hawaii, where the measurements were recorded.
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Human Quality of Life

As the water level rises, so does the cost of living on the coast (Tacoma News Tribune)
When Julia Lundblad lies in bed at night in her Titlow Beach home, she can hear the water sloshing up under her house. It took some getting used to, but she loves it. And she said her neighbors are used to a little water flooding into their kitchens when conditions are right. ... Because the small community lies in such intimate proximity to the Puget Sound, homeowners with mortgages have to carry flood insurance. But the cost of that insurance, if you can get it, can be exorbitant. Some homeowners said they’ve been told to expect their monthly premiums to see huge spikes over the next several years.
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I Want To Eat Fish Responsibly. But The Seafood Guides Are So Confusing! (KNKX)
This month, I ventured to ask the man behind the counter at a Whole Foods Market what kind of shrimp he was selling. "I don't know," he replied. "I think they're just normal shrimp." I glanced at the sustainable seafood guide on my phone. There were 80 entries for shrimp, none of them listed "normal."  What about the cod? Was it Atlantic or Pacific? Atlantic. How was it caught? I asked. "I'm not sure," he said, looking doubtfully at a creamy fish slab. "With nets, I think. Not with harpoons."
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How is the Puget Sound ecosystem doing?

The 2015 State of the Sound reports on the current state of the ecosystem and the status of regional recovery actions. Learn more at www.psp.wa.gov/sos.

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