FOLLOWUP: Fauntleroy’s fall Recycle Roundup nets nine tons

October 3, 2015 at 12:30 am | In Environment, Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | No Comments

Were you part of last Sunday’s Recycle Roundup at Fauntleroy Church? Another big turnout – someone new every minute! – and big haul, reports Judy Pickens:

The Sept. 27 Recycle Roundup relieved 360 West Seattle households of 9 tons of appliances, electronics, and all manner of other stuff for responsible recycling. The 12 roundups sponsored by Fauntleroy Church since 2010 have returned at least 142 tons to the resource stream. We’ll do it again in April.

The date will be in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar as soon as it’s announced. If you absolutely have to get something recycled before then, check here to see what you can do with it.

BEACH DRIVE STENCH: Not us, says King County Wastewater Treatment Division

October 1, 2015 at 9:04 am | In Environment, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | 20 Comments

(Right-center, Doug Marsano from KC Wastewater Treatment District, talking with residents)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Beautiful view.

Ugly smell.

The latter is what some Beach Drive-area residents say they’re still dealing with, and some find it difficult to believe it’s just rotting sea lettuce. So they’ve been talking to the King County Wastewater Treatment Division, which sent reps out Wednesday afternoon to talk with neighbors.

KCWTD took the complaints seriously enough to run tests in its system, looking for a telltale gas that would be present if something was getting out of the system and into the air. They didn’t find it, they told the neighbors:

The tests were conducted by King County odor investigators using gauges installed inside four manholes near your homes that detect the presence of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas. H2S gas smells like rotten eggs and is usually what causes people to notice odors coming from the sewer. If the sewer system was creating odors, the gauges would detect extended periods of time when heavy concentrations of H2S were present in the manhole that could escape to the environment.

Testing began on Thursday, September 24 and continued through Sunday, September 27. County odor investigators reviewed data from the gauges Monday, September 28. There are no indications that increased levels of H2S gas were present at any of the four manholes during the four-day testing period.

That wasn’t much consolation – some say the stink is worse than anything they’ve experienced in years, even decades along/near the shore. “It was unbearable this morning,” said one neighbor.

Joining KCWTD community liaison Doug Marsano for the gathering along the sidewalk across from Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, in the late afternoon sunshine, was marine biologist Kim Stark, who works on water-quality issues with the county Department of Natural Resources.

She said this area’s not alone in the smelly siege – areas north of Elliott Bay have been dealing with it too, including Carkeek.

While skeptical neighbors wondered how it could continue through high tides and low, stormy weather and sunshine, Stark explained that the water is warmer this year, and that’s fueled the sea lettuce’s growth.

It’s not just pieces of sea lettuce on the shore, she added – mats of decaying sea lettuce, kelp, and other marine matter have been floating offshore, creating literal hotbeds of odor generation.

So what can we do about it? one neighbor asked.

Right now, the county reps said, not much. State permits would be needed to remove what’s rotting. And those would take a while. They mentioned the community of Dumas Bay in South King County, where the city of Federal Way got involved. And, as Beach Drive Blog (whose owners were also at the meeting) reminded readers, Fauntleroy Cove dealt with this for years, too, though we haven’t heard much lately.

In the WSB archives, we found a 2008 mention of a company that was expecting to remove sea lettuce in Fauntleroy and Dumas, to turn into biofuels.


(Published on WSB, September 2008: State Ecology Department photo of test sea-lettuce removal in Dumas Bay)
Our further research revealed that the company, Blue Marble, has long since changed its focus and moved to Montana, so it’s not an option now.

The neighbors vowed to organize and see what they can do about ensuring removal is an option next year – researching and applying for permits, for starters. In the short run, cooler weather – and most importantly, cooler water – seems to be their main hope of relief from the nose-wrinkling nuisance, but that might take another month.

VIDEO: Summer-long ‘Swim Duwamish’ wraps up in West Seattle

September 30, 2015 at 1:20 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 1 Comment

It’s been a big year for milestone swims. Today, another one: That’s Mark Powell, on the last leg of his summer-long “Swim Duwamish” tour, incrementally traveling 55 miles, along the full length of the Green and Duwamish Rivers, to call attention to how vital it is to our region, and yet how fragile, after decades of abuse. As he swam to Seacrest, he didn’t arrive alone:

The Blue Heron Canoeescorted him in; Duwamish Tribe member Ken Workman spoke traditional words of welcome. See and hear for yourself (you’ll also hear what Powell said about his journey):

And then, celebratory cupcakes:

Powell said he set out to find “the heart of the Duwamish” and was glad to see the waters thick with salmon in some places:

His swims were chronicled on this website, where you can also see videos such as this one showing some of the salmon he saw:

Powell emphasized that you can take small steps to make a difference in the future of the river and all who live in it and by it and who depend on it (here’s one good place to learn “7 simple solutions”).

HAPPENING NOW: ‘Recycle Roundup’ kicks off fall cleaning season, until 3

September 27, 2015 at 12:58 pm | In Environment, Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Two more hours to get your recycle on – the stuff you can’t just put out in the bin – at the Fauntleroy Church Green Committee‘s fall “Recycle Roundup.” Check this “what they will and won’t take” list and then head to the parking lot at 9140 California SW for easy dropoff, with help from the 1 Green Planet crew, who were filling up two trucks when we stopped by at midmorning.

RECYCLING TOMORROW? Here’s the best time to take your stuff to Fauntleroy ‘Roundup’

September 26, 2015 at 11:25 am | In Environment, Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

9 am-3 pm tomorrow, it’s the twice-a-year event that gives you the chance to recycle, for free, what you can’t just put out at the curb – the annual Fauntleroy Church Green Committee-presented “Recycle Roundup.” If you haven’t already checked the list and sorted your stuff, take a look:

Every Recycle Roundup brings in tons of recyclables. That means hundreds of people. Organizers have one BIG word of advice to get your dropoff done in the least amount of time – GO EARLY. There tends to be a rush toward the end, so if you can get there in the first few hours instead, you’ll save time and be able to get going with the rest of your Sunday. The church is at 9140 California SW; here’s a map.

HAPPENING NOW: Raingarden tours in Sunrise Heights and Westwood as King County marks completion of its first ‘green stormwater infrastructure’ project

September 20, 2015 at 1:44 pm | In Environment, Sunrise Heights, West Seattle news, Westwood | 1 Comment

1:44 PM: Looking for something to do this afternoon? After King County Councilmember Joe McDermott and project manager Mary Wohleb ceremonially cut a big yellow ribbon, raingarden tours are under way in Sunrise Heights and Westwood until 4 pm – find the map here. It’s all to celebrate the completion of 91 roadside raingardens in planting strips spread across 15 blocks in those two neighborhoods, to keep stormwater out of the combined-sewer system and, in turn, keep untreated wastewater from overflowing into Puget Sound when the Barton Pump Station in Fauntleroy is overwhelmed. This is one of two King County Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) reduction projects in West Seattle that date back to early public meetings in 2009, and it was the county’s first-ever project of this type (the other project is the million-gallon Murray CSO storage tank being built across from Lowman Beach Park).

ADDED 3:24 PM: First, our video of the short round of speeches that began the event – Kristine Cramer from the KC Wastewater Treatment Division spoke first, then Councilmember McDermott and Wohleb.

As McDermott pointed out, “Neighbors spoke up, and the county listened.” That hinted at the pre-construction controversy for both West Seattle CSO projects. After early meetings dating back to 2007, three options for reducing the Barton basin (map) overflow were presented in 2010, and this was one of them; the other two involved stormwater-storage facilities on the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse back lot, or under upper Fauntleroy Way across from the ferry dock, which generated much opposition, given the historic unofficial park status of the area.

Once the “green stormwater infrastructure” plan was announced in late 2010, that too generated skepticism – the city had tried it in Ballard and that did not go well, to say the least. In 2011, the county tried to calm the most common concerns with a special meeting to address them.

Before today’s ceremony, we talked with project manager Wohleb, who said none of the fears had borne out, so far. No ponding, for example – if anything, she said, the bioswales are draining water more quickly than expected. While this coming fall/winter will be the first rainy season post-completion, some raingardens were done before last winter, so we asked if they have any data. Not so far, in part because the Barton Pump Station itself has been out of commission for construction, too, KCWTD says.

Wohleb also had words of praise for the entire project team, including the contractors >Goodfellow Brothers and designers SVR. Also mentioned today: The copious amount of communication with neighbors (look at all the block-by-block updates on this page, just as an example).

WHAT’S NEXT: If the county needs more stormwater to be taken out of the system, four more blocks could get raingardens – shown in the project map above as “delayed”; they were designed and permitted, just in case. If you’re in the project area and interested in a home raingarden or cistern, the rebate program through RainWise is funded through next year; check it out to see if you’re eligible.

And note that projects like this are in the works for Highland Park and South Park – here’s the county project page for that.

Something to say about the Barton CSO project? The county has set up an online survey – just go here.

SUNDAY: Celebrate completion of Barton CSO roadside-raingarden project in Sunrise Heights, Westwood

September 17, 2015 at 11:56 am | In Environment, Sunrise Heights, West Seattle news, Westwood | No Comments

The rain falling right now reminds us of what’s coming up Sunday afternoon in the Sunrise Heights and Westwood neighborhoods – the King County Wastewater Treatment Division‘s celebration of the completion of the Barton Combined Sewer Overflow Control project. 15 blocks now have roadside raingardens after two seasons of construction; a ceremonial ribbon-cutting is planned at 1 pm Sunday at 32nd SW and SW Kenyon, and then from 1:30-4 pm, tours will be offered of “three recently planted blocks.” It’s also a chance to get updated information about the project, including the ongoing RainWise program, offering incentives for people in the target area to install rain gardens and/or cisterns. This project has been much-discussed, going all the way back to early meetings six years ago, so now that it’s done – whether you’re coming to the celebration or not – the county’s offering a survey for feedback – find it here.

You can help! Volunteer for salmon survey in West Seattle’s Longfellow Creek

September 16, 2015 at 10:57 am | In Delridge, Environment, West Seattle news, Wildlife | No Comments

(WSB photo from November 2014)

Last November, we reported on Puget Soundkeeper Alliance‘s project to track what happens to salmon in Longfellow Creek – which has much more of a toxic-runoff problem than West Seattle’s other urban salmon creek in Fauntleroy. This year, we have advance word that they’re looking for volunteer help, with an orientation event coming up in two weeks, so this is your chance to get involved:

Join Soundkeeper as we investigate the health of our local salmon runs at Longfellow Creek this fall! Volunteers will assess the effects of urban runoff on wildlife by conducting a pre-spawn mortality survey of Coho salmon. Volunteers needed for weekly surveys from October to early December.

Volunteer Orientation in West Seattle:
Thursday, October 1, 2015
6 pm-7:30 pm
Chaco Canyon Café
3770 SW Alaska St.


As Soundkeeper noted in this update last year, federal scientists have discovered a pre-spawn death rate of up to 80 percent in urban creeks – compared to one percent in rural creeks. The results of this work, including what you can do as a volunteer, will help support more cleanups, education, and enforcement to help clear the waters and save salmon.

From the ‘in case you wondered’ file: About that smell

September 14, 2015 at 9:54 am | In Environment, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

At least once a day, someone asks us about a sewer-ish stink in the Beach Drive vicinity or upslope. While busy with other stories this past week-plus, we’ve been replying by pointing them to Beach Drive Blog‘s explanation – but it’s time, while we have a moment, to mention it here for anyone else who wondered but hasn’t inquired. BDB says it’s the rotting sea lettuce that turns up every so often, more notoriously a ways further south at Fauntleroy Cove. This isn’t unique to West Seattle, nor even to Washington, nor even to the U.S. – a Google search for the term “rotting sea lettuce” turns up reports from other nations including Canada, China, and the UK.

Congratulations! ‘Diver Laura’ James honored as ‘Sea Hero’

September 7, 2015 at 11:15 am | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 3 Comments

From just-hatched octopus babies to an iridescent nudibranch, the sea life in the video above comprise just a tiny corner of the window on the undersea world that “Diver Laura” James has provided to so many in recent years. And it’s an adjunct to what else she and fellow volunteers have done in local waters – cleanups and environmental education, too. That all made her Scuba Diving magazine’s monthly “Sea Hero” for August, one of what the magazine describes as “everyday divers who make an extraordinary difference.” In case you haven’t seen it in the print edition, the story is now online – read it here. Her videos are part of what she talks about in the interview:

People protect what they love, but they must know it to love it. I remind myself of this when the weather is cold and the visibility is low. All the creatures, great and small, are worth filming and sharing, and that next bit of video I shoot may make the difference for one elected official, or inspire one little kid.

She also talks about the toxic-runoff-reduction campaign – take a look at 7 things you can do, especially important as winter (and inevitably more rain) approaches, washing what’s on the streets and in your yards right into Puget Sound.

Get creative! Nature Consortium launching ‘EcoARTs’ classes

September 6, 2015 at 10:26 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, WS culture/arts | Comments Off

The photo and announcement are from West Seattle-based nonprofit Nature Consortium:

Have you ever wanted to take a painting, mosaic, or paper making class? Now you can! Unleash your creative side in classes that explore the intersection of art and nature. Nature Consortium’s affordable new EcoARTs classes for beginning-level students begin on September 14th. Classes are taught by professional artists and no prior arts experience is necessary. Register today! Take one class, a whole series, or mix and match. Art supplies included. Open to students of all ages.

Dates: September 14 – November 30
Class Sessions: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays at 4 pm – 5:30 pm or 6 pm – 7:30 pm

Mondays: Painting, Instructor: Aramis Hamer
Tuesdays: Mosaic, Instructor: Yeggy Michael
Wednesdays: Paper Making, Instructor: Carrie Ziegler

Cost: $25 per class. Supplies included.

Classes are at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW), where Nature Consortium is headquartered. You can register online, here.

Fall cleaning this weekend? What to save for Fauntleroy UCC’s upcoming ‘Recycle Roundup’

September 5, 2015 at 11:18 am | In Environment, Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

(WSB photo from 2014)

Staying home this holiday weekend and doing a little (pre-)fall cleaning? Reminder: Next edition of the popular twice-yearly Recycle Roundup at Fauntleroy UCC Church is only three weeks away: Sunday, September 27th, 9 am-3 pm (9140 California SW). Each spring and fall, 1 Green Planet takes away tons of recyclables via this free-to-all dropoff event. You can plan ahead because, thanks to Judy Pickens, we have the list of what will be accepted (free dropoffs!) this time around – see it here.

Make West Seattle greener with ‘free’ trees! City has conifers, if you have places to plant them

August 25, 2015 at 8:59 am | In Environment, Gardening, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Once again this year, the city has trees in search of homes – maybe even your neighborhood. From Katie Gibbons:

Could your yard use a beautiful new tree? You’re in luck! Through the City of Seattle’s Trees for Neighborhoods project, Seattle residents can apply for up to 4 free trees for their yard or planting strip. Participants receive free trees, water bags, mulch, and planting and care instruction.

While many of this year’s small ornamentals have sold out, you can still apply for 1 of 5 gorgeous conifers that will add beauty and grace to your yard. If you have the space, consider planting one of three native conifers we’re offering this year: the grand fir, the western hemlock, or the western red cedar. For small, narrow spaces, plant the graceful Serbian spruce. Consider the deciduous bald cypress and enjoy its changing color and soft beautiful foliage. Bald cypresses are excellent urban trees because of their adaptability, even winning the Society of Municipal Arborists’ Tree of the Year award!

To learn more about this year’s species, space requirement, and to apply, go here.

Port neighbors seek full environmental review of Terminal 5 project, while city re-opens time for comments after losing some

August 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm | In Environment, Port of Seattle, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

You’ve probably seen those signs around Admiral and east Alki. They’re not for a political campaign – they’re for the citizen-advocacy campaign to get the Port of Seattle to change its mind about part of the process leading up to its planned modernization of Terminal 5; the web address on the signs points you to this online petition.

Though Terminal 5 has made headlines in the past several months for the short-term lease that brought in part of Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet, this isn’t related to that. This has to do with the port’s long-term plan for the sprawling terminal in northeast West Seattle, as reported here more than a year ago – the plan to make it “big-ship ready,” as the phrase goes. Not that the ships that called at Terminal 5 until its closure a year ago weren’t big – but they weren’t as big as the ones that are expected to dominate the business in the years ahead.

Right now, the port says it doesn’t need a full environmental review for the proposal, because ultimately, it contends, the volume won’t be any larger – it’ll just come on bigger, and fewer, ships. Port reps defended that contention when they spoke at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s meeting last month (WSB coverage here, including first mention of the neighbors’ petition campaign). Nearby residents cited multiple reasons why they believe a full environmental review – which includes issues such as traffic and noise, not just ecological effects – is warranted.

A new twist since that meeting: The city reopened the comment period on a certain part of the process – the “shoreline substantial development application” – because it lost a month’s worth of citizen comments sent in via the Department of Planning and Development‘s online system. DPD spokesperson Wendy Shark confirmed this to us when we inquired via e-mail:

An upgrade to the Land Use Information Bulletin (LUIB) application was made on June 29. Before the upgrade, comments sent via the link posted in the LUIB were forwarded directly to the Public Resource Center. That didn’t happen after the upgrade. The issue was brought to our attention by members of the public when they noticed that their comments had not been uploaded to our electronic library. We corrected the problem on July 29.

Here’s the revised official notice – if you used the form attached to the previous notice to send in a comment after June 29th, you’ll want to send it again. And if you haven’t commented on it yet, neighbors point out that unless there’s a turnabout on the environmental-impact review issue, it could be your only chance to comment on those impacts. The notice summarizes the project as:

Shoreline Substantial Development Application to allow improvements to existing container cargo facility (Terminal 5). Project includes removal and replacement of portions of pier structure, including crane rails, decking and piling, dredging of approximately 29,800 cu. yds. of sediment, and under pier shoreline stabilization. Project also includes installation of an electrical substation and utility upgrades. Determination of NonSignificance prepared by the Port of Seattle.

That last part is what the neighbors take most issue with – that’s the declaration (read it here, and read the “environmental checklist” here) that they don’t think a full environmental impact review is needed. Even if the terminal’s container volume is the same as before, or even less, many other factors have changed, they point out – population and traffic, for example, and that’s why they think a study is merited.

For now, September 4th is the new deadline for comments on the modernization project – via this form, or via e-mail at

VIDEO: Where some of Friday’s rain went, after it fell

August 16, 2015 at 5:52 am | In Environment, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

From “Diver Laura” James – the underwater view of Friday’s inch-plus rainstorm. That’s the outfall near the popular diving area off West Seattle’s Seacrest Park, and it’s a reminder that toxic urban runoff is a major pollution problem for Puget Sound. Here’s some of what you can do to make it less toxic.

West Seattle scene: Tsunami-debris barge has arrived

August 6, 2015 at 10:03 am | In Environment, Seen at sea, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Last night, we mentioned a barge full of trash including tsunami debris was expected at Waste Management Northwest‘s South Park dock in time for a media event tomorrow morning. Looks like it’ll be there in plenty of time:

Steve just sent these photos from the low bridge as a barge matching the WMNW photos went through, headed southbound on the Duwamish River:

Here’s more backstory – including some details we didn’t have in last night’s story – the barge is the Dioskouroi.

TRAFFIC ALERT: ‘Intense’ work ahead on Beach Drive for Murray CSO project

August 3, 2015 at 5:52 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 3 Comments

Near the south end of Beach Drive SW, along Lowman Beach Park, an “intense” phase of work for the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project is about to start, according to this alert:

King County contractors will begin installing a five-foot wide pipe under Beach Drive SW this month. The pipe will connect the new tank to the Lowman Beach Pump Station. The work will take about three months to finish.

Construction activity in the 7000 block of Beach Drive SW will be intense during this work. Road surface conditions will vary due to saw cutting, temporary patches and steel plates on the roadway. To ensure public safety, the following safety precautions are in effect around the work area:

• Flaggers and signs direct all traffic around the work site
• Pedestrians detoured to western Beach Dr. S.W. sidewalk
• Vehicle access will be available to local, service and emergency vehicles only
• Bicyclists will be asked to walk their bike past the work area

Wells have also been installed in Lowman Beach Park to control groundwater for this phase of the project. The wells are supported by generators and air compressors, which may increase noise from the project area.

Small concrete pours for the underground storage tank will continue while the road work is underway. Concrete trucks will continue to use the designated haul route to access the site.

What to expect:

• Work on weekdays from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays
• Crews working on the 7000 block of Beach Dr. SW and inside the underground storage tank area
• Increased noise, truck traffic, congestion on streets near the project site • Flaggers and signs to direct traffic around the work area – delays of up to 15 minutes may occur
• Parking restrictions, sidewalk closures, and pedestrian detours
• Bicyclists asked to walk their bikes through the work area
• One lane of Beach Dr. S.W. available at all times for local, service and emergency vehicles only
• Steel sheets on Beach Dr. S.W. after hours – bicyclists should use extreme caution

When the project is done, the county expects fewer combined-sewer overflows into Puget Sound, as the potential overflow during major rainstorms instead will be held in the new million-gallon tank. Work has been under way for almost a year and a half, and has about one more year to go, according to the county’s online timeline.

Attack of The Blob: State scientists observing effects of warm water as well as warm air

July 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

(Photo by Long Bach Nguyen)
No, the micro-organisms in the photo aren’t The Blob – that’s what scientists are calling a pool of warmer-than-normal water that’s enabling effects such as more-extensive-than-usual algae blooms. The state Ecology Department gathered reporters today to talk about what they’re seeing, and followed it up with this news release:

Washington is feeling the heat this summer, and Puget Sound is no exception. It’s been hot and dry, with all kinds of weather records being set. The unusually hot temperatures don’t end at the water’s edge; record-breaking temperatures are being in recorded in Puget Sound, too.

Scientists noted warming temperatures as “the Blob” from the Pacific Ocean migrated in to Puget Sound. And concerns about warmer-than-normal temperatures have only increased as the drought continues to heat up and dry out the state.

“We’re measuring water temperatures in the Sound 4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal from our past 25 years of record keeping,” said Christopher Krembs, Ecology senior oceanographer. “We’re seeing warm water everywhere, from Olympia to Bellingham.”

Monitoring work by the Washington Department of Ecology and other scientific partners in county, state and federal agencies suggests that these warm conditions are causing negative side effects on the Puget Sound marine environment.

There has been an increase in harmful algae blooms, shellfish closures, lower dissolved oxygen levels, and unfavorable conditions for salmon and other cold-loving marine species.

Scientists are keenly interested in the unusual conditions and how they impact Puget Sound. It is important to understand the impacts of warm water and weather. Warm water inherently holds less oxygen and fosters disease. By collaborating to better understand the Blob and drought, monitor and improve water quality, and track marine life, the state can better prepare for climate change.

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond said, “The overall weather conditions of the last year or so are expected to occur much more commonly in the future decades. The present short-term climate event therefore provides an opportunity to better understand how the region will be impacted by global climate change, and the potential adaptations that could be undertaken to reduce its deleterious effects.”

Lead Ecology computer modeling scientist Mindy Roberts added, “Our computer modeling team has found that warmer ocean water and lower summer river flows decrease the amount of oxygen available throughout Puget Sound, which is not good news for fish. We should learn as much as we can this year to be better prepared for the future.”

Not only are rivers low, but they are also warm, with 80 percent of monitored streams running less than the 25th percentile of usual. “We’ve been seeing flows for months that mimic typical flows for September,” said Jim Shedd, Ecology surface water hydrologist.

“It’s proving difficult to push the Blob out of Puget Sound with these low-flowing, warm rivers caused by drought. We’re not getting enough estuarine circulation. Without circulation, whatever gets into Puget Sound, be it warm water or pollution, is going to stick around,” Shedd said.

This summer’s Duwamish River kayak-tour series starts this week

July 27, 2015 at 1:14 pm | In Environment, Fun stuff to do, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(WSB file photo)
Get out on the water and experience Seattle’s “river for all” firsthand – this summer’s series of Duwamish River community kayak tours is about to start. First one is at 6 pm this Wednesday night (July 29th), focusing on the river’s birds, fish, and other wildlife. Here’s how to RSVP – when you do, you’ll get details including whether they’re launching from West Seattle or South Park.

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency opens public-comment period on Nucor air permit and emission-calculation change

July 23, 2015 at 9:27 am | In Environment, West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

A month-long public-comment period is now open for two matters related to Nucor, the steel mill in North Delridge – renewal of its Air Operating Permit and also a proposed Order of Approval for a change in the way it “determines the amount of sulfur dioxide” that it’s releasing. While the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency says these involve NO change to what Nucor is, and is allowed to, emit, they want to hear from you if you have something to say, so we’re republishing the notice that just arrived in our inbox:

Click to read the rest of Puget Sound Clean Air Agency opens public-comment period on Nucor air permit and emission-calculation change…

Don’t ignore what’s on the floor! New Lincoln Park signs to remind you

July 15, 2015 at 2:51 am | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 8 Comments

Thanks to Mark Ahlness of Friends of Lincoln Park for the photo of one of two new signs installed at the park, “part of an effort to raise awareness that the forest floor is alive, that the habitat (home to many creatures and essential to our well being) is in the process of being restored by Friends of Lincoln Park volunteers, and that it needs protection and ongoing maintenance.” He says FLP worked with the Seattle Nature Alliance, whose initial membership drive funded the signs, installed by Seattle Parks, as were two similar signs placed in Schmitz Preserve Park last September. (For more on why staying on the trails matters, see this story we reported and published last March, about a student researcher’s work with FLP on the issue.)

Celebrating West Seattle salmon and stewardship, at streetside as well as creekside: Troop 40255′s project

July 12, 2015 at 7:08 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, Westwood, WS culture/arts | 1 Comment

A ribbon-cutting today celebrated West Seattle’s newest public art – created by Brownie Girl Scout Troop 40255 at the bus-stop shelter on northbound 35th SW at Cloverdale. It tells the story of salmon, and shows our state’s terrain.

From left in the photo are Molly Gazewood, Marley Strackhouse Parks, Alana Bass, Tannée Heinen, Natalie Aguilar Fox. While inviting us to the event, Marcia Strackhouse explained that it was both a celebration of the art itself and of the people who inspired it:

Most of these young people have grown up along the Fauntleroy Creek Watershed, and in their schools, preschools and day care centers, Judy Pickens (and husband Phil Sweetland) have been there to ensure our youth understood their impact on the environment and our salmon. … As Troop Leaders, we were so impressed with their knowledge at ages 8 and 9. They know the cycle of Salmon, understand the importance of maintaining and
keeping our creeks, rivers, and ocean clean, as do many of our West Seattle youth. They have become environmental stewards.

Judy was there for the ribbon-cutting celebration, and accepted a bouquet:

Judy and Phil have kept the Salmon in the Schools program going locally, from egg deliveries to the creekside events at which fry are released each year.

West Seattle 4th of July aftermath: The mess left behind

July 5, 2015 at 7:06 pm | In Environment, Holidays, Safety, West Seattle news | 38 Comments

ORIGINAL REPORT, 7:06 PM SUNDAY: Still a few hours of light left … so if you haven’t been out patroling your neighborhood, and/or your nearest park, consider this:

Karen Allan made sent that, explaining:

When my kiddo was little, I used to say “In this town, what’s on the ground is swept into the Sound.” So if you see bits and pieces of the things that went bang, pop, and KABOOM on your block, please consider sweeping them up. Grab a bucket, broom and perhaps a neighbor and make a little outing out of it.

Here’s some of what Karen found near 29th and Othello:

She added, “Unfortunately, there is a lot more fireworks debris in the storm drains that I can’t
get to. It will all end up in the Sound with the next big rainfall.”

Some of the holiday-leftover trash and debris was already near the Sound in the first place: . We also heard from Chris Porter, who lives near Lincoln Park and spent time there this morning to help clean up. It wasn’t just fireworks debris he found:

The spectacular fireworks last night are only secondary to the enormous disaster of trash left behind the next day. I spent this morning picking up as much fireworks debris and trash as I could. I have forgotten about what happens to parks after summer holidays.

East to west, north to south, many other West Seattle neighbors were also out today, cleaning up the mess somebody else left behind. Travis Houston sent photos from Riverview Playfield:

We also stopped by Riverview before neighbors were done with their herculean cleanup:

Crossing the peninsula over to Alki, Kim sent the next photo, saying this was what just one small part of Bar-S Playfields looked like before she got to it with her broom:

Even in the unincorporated area where fireworks are legal on the 4th of July, the “legal” time period expired 18+ hours ago … but we’re still hearing dispatches on the scanner, including a fireworks call at Highland Park Elementary a short time ago and “brush fire” calls around the city (see photos in earlier reports here, here, and here).

ADDED MONDAY MORNING: Just sent by Chris:

I picked up a box full of spent fireworks debris on the playground at Gatewood Elementary this morning. The haul included one live mortar. Glad I found it and not some kids.

Care about the Duwamish River and its watershed? Be at Camp Long on Tuesday

June 28, 2015 at 10:03 am | In Environment, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

This Tuesday in West Seattle, you’re invited to an open house about the Duwamish River watershed – the next step in an umbrella strategy announced by the county and city last year. Here’s the invitation:

People with an interest in enhancing and revitalizing the Green/Duwamish Watershed are invited to share their ideas at a series of upcoming open houses hosted by King County, City of Seattle and the University of Washington’s Green Futures Lab.

King County, the City of Seattle and the University of Washington’s Green Futures Lab seek input on a strategy to create a healthy, prosperous future in the Green/Duwamish Watershed.

Public participation is vital. It will lead to greater understanding of current projects, priorities and plans in the watershed. Input will also help foster development of a framework to support better outcomes for local cities, forests, farms, rivers, diverse communities, and Washington State’s industrial core. The focus of the strategy is protecting, preserving and enhancing the watershed’s air, land and water.

Each meeting will focus on a specific section of the watershed. Meetings take place from 5 to 7 p.m. (The first one is the only one in West Seattle, as follows:)

Tuesday, June 30
Duwamish River and Nearshore Communities
Camp Long (West Seattle)
Environmental Learning Center – Main Hall
5200 35th Ave SW

Short presentations at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. will ensure everyone gets an overview of this exciting opportunity. Participants will be able to visit several information stations, and meet one-on-one with strategy representatives to ask questions and share feedback:

· What priorities are not currently represented in our maps and fact sheets?
· What are aspirations for the Green/Duwamish Watershed communities?
· What are the threats to healthy air, water, land and people in the Watershed?
· Where and what are the opportunities for the Green/Duwamish Watershed Strategy to create a robust, connected open space system?

For more backstory, check out this page on the county website.

Interfaith service at Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates Pope’s call to ‘care for our common home’

June 19, 2015 at 4:09 am | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle religion | 20 Comments

By Patrick Sand and Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

We are here not to walk on the water, but to walk on the Earth.

That was the heart of a quotation offered by Our Lady of Guadalupe pastor Father Jack Walmesley as he welcomed more than 150 people to an interfaith gathering last night, “Praised Be,” celebrating the encyclical letter on the environment, “Laudato Si,” issued earlier in the day by Pope Francis, which begins:

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.[1]

2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. …

Underscoring that the Earth should be cared for on behalf of future generations as well as ours – it is described in the encyclical’s subtitle as “our common home” – a copy of the Pope’s message was carried into the church by OLG sixth-grader Emily Amesquita (top photo).

OLG parishioners Dan and Robyn Campbell, introduced as committed environmentalists, talked about losing a tree in their yard and having to answer their three-year-old’s question about where the squirrels would live.

They built a little house for the squirrels, they explained, saying it was a “teaching moment,” helping them to instill in their children a reverence for the Earth and how we must all take care of it.

Father Walmesley also spoke of understanding “the breath of God,” not just how it is experienced on Earth but how scientists have seen through the Hubble Telescope and in other ways that it is alive in the galaxies and stars whose light reaches us now from across seemingly endless space. We’re here, he said, to understand the complexity of the world that St. Francis of Assisi understood and that Pope Francis has called all people to understand now.

Those in attendance also heard from Dr. Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, director of the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture at Seattle University.

She spoke about the theology of the encyclical and how it applies to daily life.

And a closing prayer, the Chinook Blessing, was offered by Sister Pat Eley from the Sisters of Providence, also a member of the Duwamish Tribe:

Then Emily carried the encyclical out of the church, as people followed, invited to stay and learn more about living sustainably

Before the service, visitors were invited to see and consider the sustainability-focused features of OLG’s 3-year-old Parish Life Center.

In our photo under some of the center’s solar panels are, from left, visiting Father Thomas J. Marti; LeeAnne Beres of Earth Ministry; the center’s architect Richard Glasman; OLG pastoral assistant Frank Handler; and Jessie Dye of Earth Ministry, who also had spoken during the service. (Earth Ministry’s mission is “inspiring and mobilizing the religious community to play a leadership role in building a just and sustainable future.”)

WHAT NOW? The back of the event program offered advice for “taking action on Laudato Si,” listing simple lifestyle changes such as:

Eating lower on the food chain
Walking or taking the bus more often
Changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs
Insulating or installing solar on our homes and parishes
Purchasing used items
Not buying toxic cleaning or lawn products
Generally using fewer resources

P.S. The encyclical, the second by Pope Francis, was written in Italian but can be read in English here.

THURSDAY: Our Lady of Guadalupe to host Seattle-wide followup to Pope’s environmental encyclical

June 17, 2015 at 1:39 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle religion | Comments Off

Tomorrow, worldwide news will be made by a major statement expected from Pope Francis, about the environment and climate change (some of it’s already been leaked). Then tomorrow night, Seattle-area Catholics will follow it up with an event here in West Seattle. The announcement:

Pope Francis’ much anticipated encyclical on the environment will be celebrated at a 7 p.m. service Thursday, June 18, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 7100 35th Ave. SW.

All are invited to the 7 p.m. service to gather with local Catholic, ecumenical, and environmental leaders to honor Pope Francis’ call to protect the Earth. Speakers include:

· Fr. Jack Walmesley, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Parish

· Dr. Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, director of the Institute of Catholic Thought and Culture at Seattle University

· Dan and Robyn Campbell, parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe

· Jessie Dye, program & outreach director of Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light

There will also be the opportunity for a tour of the parish grounds, which feature solar panels, a children’s solar kiosk, a rain garden, a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat peace garden, green buildings, and other energy-saving measures that have made the parish a leader in environmental sustainability.

Background: On the morning of June 18 in Rome, the Vatican will release the first comprehensive Catholic moral statement on caring for creation in the face of climate change. The pope’s encyclical, titled “Praised Be” (or Laudato Sii in Latin), is expected to make three key points: 1) Catholic teaching calls for protecting God’s creation; 2) humans cause climate change, which is a serious moral issue; and 3) the time to act is now – specific personal and public policy measures are needed to address global warming.

The encyclical will explicitly name climate change as one of the greatest threats to life on Earth, which poses particular challenges here in the Pacific Northwest where glaciers are melting, drought and forest fires are intensifying, and fossil fuel projects threaten Native American and other communities.

“’Praised Be,’ a call from Pope Francis to inspire us to care for creation, will resonate with Catholics throughout the region,” predicts Father Jack Walmesley, Our Lady of Guadalupe pastor.

All are invited to the event at OLG – more info here.

FOLLOWUP: Blocks, cable removed from West Seattle diving zone

June 16, 2015 at 12:03 am | In Environment, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

Thanks to “Diver Laura” James for the video, showing the cleanup we previewed here on Sunday – the blocks and cable left behind (deliberately, by agreement of all those concerned) when the “Solar Pioneer” protest barge moved west after first dropping them in the popular Cove 2 dive zone. The official post-cleanup news release from GUE Seattle declares it “a complete success”:

Two teams of GUE Seattle SCUBA divers entered the water (Monday) at 7:00 AM and located the debris field consisting of concrete blocks and steel cables.

(Photos courtesy GUE Seattle)
The five GUE Seattle divers attached mooring line and buoys so a commercial salvage operation could easily locate and remove the debris. At approximately 9:00 AM, a commercial dive team from Global Diving & Salvage arrived on site and deployed surface-supplied divers into the water.

After approximately three hours of work, the Global Diving & Salvage dive team had safely successfully removed all debris without causing any further damage to the dive park.

On Monday, May 19th, 2015, an environmental activist group moored a barge known as the Solar Pioneer in Alki Seacrest Park in protest of Shell’s Polar Pioneer Arctic drilling rig housed at Seattle’s Harbor Island Terminal 5. In the process of mooring, the activist group dropped concrete blocks and thick steel mooring cables and inadvertently damaged a popular underwater park known as Alki Cove 2. As the barge rose and fell with the tides, the steel mooring cables swept the area underneath, causing additional collateral damage to the marine environment as well as endangering recreational divers. Today, the Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) Seattle cleanup project was successfully completed and all concrete blocks and the steel mooring cables were recovered and properly disposed of.

We would like to sincerely thank Royal Dutch Shell, Foss Maritime, and John Sellers (the operator of the Solar Pioneer), for financially contributing to the cleanup effort and future restoration work; Laura James for her assistance in video documentation; and Global Diving & Salvage for their skillful work in removing the debris without causing any additional environmental damage.

The Polar Pioneer, as reported here early Monday morning, has left Seattle, headed north; the Solar Pioneer was still off Don Armeni as of sunset.

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