When do more fish = fewer fish? Author Dylan Tomine tells the steelhead saga at West Seattle’s Emerald Water AnglersDecember 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 9 Comments
(Photo by Dave McCoy)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
This week, the state closed the Nooksack River to fishing.
The explanation for the closure mirrored words of warning spoken here in West Seattle days earlier – many miles from the river, but close to many hearts.
(This photo & next by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
He spoke of a threat to Washington’s official state fish, wild steelhead – posed, Tomine said, by the state’s hatchery system – a system you pay for, a system involved in the new Nooksack closure, ordered because of a shortage of “eggs from returning hatchery winter steelhead (needed) to meet basin production goals.”
Sound simple? Anything but, explained Tomine, who began: “Are you guys ready to get pissed off? Because I’m pissed about this. The more I’ve found digging deeper and deeper, the more upset I get.”
What he has found, and spoke of at EWA that night, includes the tale of the fish that cost taxpayers $70,000, and much more.
(WSB photo from Thursday – part of the tank pit’s new slab)
The big pour is over, but two more notable pours are on the way for the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project million-gallon-storage-tank site across from Lowman Beach. The 17-foot-thick slab that will hold the tank is now in place; the county’s update today says two smaller pours are set for December 23rd and 29th, with 10 trucks an hour, half the volume of the three-day slab pour last Friday and this past Tuesday and Wednesday. The county also wants people in the area to know that there will be Saturday work on December 20th, for rebar installation and form-building to shape the bottom of the tank. The project will be idle on Christmas and New Year’s Day, according to the calendar on its main webpage. The project continues to have a 24-hour hotline for problems/concerns: 206-205-9186.
(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
Just back from checking out the next big phase of work at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Project site across from Lowman Beach – the first of three days of pouring concrete for the 17-foot-thick base on which the million-gallon storage tank will sit. King County Wastewater Treatment was not exaggerating when it warned of ~20 trucks an hour – we spent about 15 minutes at the site, and counted seven trucks arriving in the span of five of those minutes as we waited to cross Lincoln Park Way back to our car.
Two big pump trucks are continuously pouring what those trucks are bringing (here’s a bit of video via Instagram) – scheduled to continue until about 6 pm today, and then again on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, 7 am to 6 pm or until done. As mentioned in the alert, there are extra parking restrictions in the area until this is over. The entire facility is on a timeline for completion in mid-2016. The excavation that preceded the foundation pour took two months and removed what the county described as enough dirt to fill nearby Colman Pool twice.
Since the big 3-day concrete pour at the excavation for the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project didn’t happen before the Thanksgiving holiday after all, we checked with the county today to ask about an official start date. It was just set today, according to Doug Marsano:
The first concrete pour is scheduled for this Friday, December 5. The last 2 pours are scheduled to occur next week on Tuesday, December 9 and Wednesday, December 10.
Work will occur from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. on each day. The entire area will be extremely busy on those three days, and additional flaggers will be on site to ease congestion around the site. Local and emergency access on Beach Drive S.W. will be maintained throughout.
Starting tomorrow, Thursday December 4, no parking will be available on weekdays along Lincoln Park Way SW between Murray Avenue SW and Beach Drive SW, or on Beach Drive SW between the work site and Lowman Beach Park until the pour is complete.
As reported here two weeks ago, that pour will involve 20 trucks an hour.
New leader for West Seattle-based Nature Consortium: Meet incoming executive director Merica WhitehallDecember 2, 2014 at 2:52 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 4 Comments
(Photo courtesy Nature Consortium)
Big news today from West Seattle-headquartered Nature Consortium, which focuses on forest restoration and environmental arts for youth: A successor to founder/executive director Nancy Whitlock. Meet (above left, with Whitlock) Merica Whitehall, who becomes NC’s new executive director on December 15th, a year and a half after Whitlock announced she planned to step back. Ahead, messages from both:
Alert for Genesee Hill residents – cleanup work starts tomorrow at the former Dakota Substation. This is one of the “surplus” ex-substation sites whose fate has yet to be decided. Here’s the official announcement we received:
Seattle City Light will start work this week to cleanup the former substation located at 4918 SW Dakota Street. The work is expected to take approximately 2-3 weeks to complete. Planned work will remove soil, debris and some vegetation due to contamination. Pesticide contamination at the site is many times higher than the state’s required cleanup level. This work will not involve planned electrical outages.
Removal of soils in treed areas of the property is necessary; however, City Light plans to preserve the trees in these areas. To protect tree roots, City Light will use vactor trucks to remove the contaminated soil. The vactoring technique has been successful at each of the sites in which City Light has used it, including the Fauntleroy site in West Seattle. The utility has received recognition and thanks from community members for the successful protection of the trees on the Fauntleroy site.
Work will include operation of heavy equipment such as backhoes, dump trucks and vactor trucks. This vactor soil removal process will result in louder noise levels than conventional methods of excavation. Noise studies have been performed on this type of work and have indicated that sound levels are considered safe for residents near the work site.
A communications rep for the project tells WSB that notices have been circulated to neighbors already via e-mail, and that door-hanger notification is under way too. The Seattle Green Spaces Coalition, which began as a West Seattle-based group but has expanded to a citywide focus, has been working to find ways to keep sites like this one saved as open space.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is lifting the King County burn ban as of noon, so fireplace and woodstove use will be OK again (as will outdoor fires where approved, including the fire rings at Alki Beach).
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has announced a Stage 1 burn ban for King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties starting at 1 pm today and continuing until further notice. That means no use of fireplaces or uncertified woodstoves, unless you have a “previously approved ‘No Other Adequate Source of Heat’ designation from PSCAA,” and no outdoor fires of any kind.
Dozens of people gathered outside a Harbor Island office this afternoon to demonstrate in support of hundreds who are protesting almost 200 miles away, on Burnaby Mountain, east of Vancouver, B.C. The Harbor Island office belongs to Kinder Morgan, which wants to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby to carry tar-sands oil.
The expansion would bring hundreds more oil tankers into Northwest waters to receive that oil. While today’s Harbor Island rally was uneventful – though Port of Seattle police were visible nearby – the protest in Canada has resulted in dozens of arrests since Kinder Morgan obtained an injunction to prevent opponents from interfering with their preparatory work, which currently involves drilling. The pipeline-expansion decision is in the hands of Canada’s National Energy Board, which has an infopage about it here.)
Big dig done: Excavation ends at million-gallon-tank Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project site by Lowman BeachNovember 19, 2014 at 5:20 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 6 Comments
Not long after we took that photo last week, excavation concluded at the site of the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Project‘s future million-gallon tank. After a reader mentioned seeing a big excavator on a truck heading eastbound, we checked the project’s status today with Doug Marsano from King County Wastewater Treatment. He confirmed the conclusion of the 60-foot-deep excavation, which started two months ago, and said the next big job will be a three-day concrete pour for the 17-foot base on which the tank will rest – no dates set yet, but they hope to get it done before Thanksgiving. It’ll mean:
About 20 trucks an hour will deliver concrete to the site to pour the base. Two concrete pump trucks will be located on the east side of Beach Drive SW to pump the concrete into the hole. Trucks will enter the site from Lincoln Park Way SW and exit using 48th Ave SW. Trucks waiting to pour will park on Fauntleroy Way SW and Lincoln Park Way SW. Flaggers will direct traffic around the site. To maintain local vehicle access, no parking will be available from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 7000 block of Beach Dr. S.W. and on Lincoln Park Way from Murray Ave. to Beach Dr. on pour days.
That’s from the official construction update, which you can see here. In case you missed it in our early excavation coverage, here’s how much dirt was removed and where it went.
As of noon, a Stage 2 burn ban is in effect in King County, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency expects to keep it in effect until 6 am tomorrow. It cites “continued weather conditions and air-pollution levels. Here’s what this level of burn ban means:
During a Stage 2 burn ban:
* No burning is allowed in any wood-burning fireplaces, certified or uncertified wood stoves or fireplace inserts. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled.
* The only exception is if the homeowner has a previously approved ‘No Other Adequate Source of Heat’ designation from the Clean Air Agency
* No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.
* Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.
It is OK to use natural gas and propane stoves or inserts during a Stage 2 burn ban.
Rain is expected to return early tomorrow.
1 1/2 months until mandatory food-waste composting: City asks about your ‘most compostable’ holiday dishNovember 17, 2014 at 6:02 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle online | 21 Comments
On New Year’s Day, the new city rules about food-waste composting kick in. To keep that top-of-mind, Seattle Public Utilities just launched a mini-survey with an incentive – asking what food you’re most likely to compost this holiday season. 14 options (or write in your own) on one page, with a chance to win a kitchen compost bin if you choose to include your e-mail address. Friday’s the deadline.
(Photo courtesy Cindi Barker: Some of the plants that await you!)
Four West Seattle sites are part of the citywide Green Seattle Day workparty-a-thon tomorrow – but just one comes with the added notation “Needs some love” on the signup list: Orchard Street Ravine in the Gatewood/Morgan area. Organizers say it’s “a big effort (that) can use lots of willing hands”:
We are finishing some clearing and have 150 plants that need to get into the ground. After planting we will be laying burlap and bark down in preparation for the winter. So there are tasks of all kinds, please come for some or all of the time, tools will be provided, just bring your own gloves.
They’ll be working 9 am-1 pm, but even if you can only be there for part of that time, that would still be a BIG help. Directions are on this page, which is where you also can RSVP right now, to let organizers know help is on the way!
The Whale Trail’s Orca Talks: Southern Resident Killer Whales’ status next time; protection-zone proposal last timeNovember 5, 2014 at 10:16 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 5 Comments
(2012 photo by Rick Rasmussen)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Ten years after they were formally listed as endangered, what do we really know about Puget Sound’s endangered orcas, formally known as the Southern Resident Killer Whales?
One of the focal points of her research is how boat traffic affects the whales. And that was at the heart of The Whale Trail’s first Orca Talk of the season, last Thursday at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor).
During that event, Bruce Stedman of Orca Relief talked about his organization’s proposal of a zone in the San Juans where boats would have to keep a greater distance from whales than they do now. He said it’s not the only action that’s needed to help them – but it’s the one that could make a difference the quickest. Pointedly, he noted that the recovery plan originally envisioned up to 115 Southern Resident Killer Whales by 2015, but that is at this point beyond impossible … that’s three dozen more than the current population, which has had only one birth in the past two years, the calf that is now missing and presumed dead.
Coho season continues on 2 local creeks:
Thanks to Josh for sharing that quick clip of one of more than 20 salmon he spotted during a visit to Longfellow Creek: “There are a ton of fish near the bonefish bridge, and we recommend people check it out!” (It’s a short distance down the trail from the Dragonfly Pavilion area just south of 26th/Yancy.)
Meantime, from Fauntleroy Creek, Judy Pickens and Dennis Hinton report more than 90 human visitors during their three-hour “open creek” sessions Saturday and Sunday afternoons. No new coho sightings over the weekend, though, so the total remains at 19. But as Judy puts it, visits are worthwhile, fish or no fish, enabling visitors “to experience spawning season very close to home and to learn a lot about salmon and habitat protection.” (Find out ways you can make a difference, here.) Volunteers will continue their watch in Fauntleroy for at least another week.
West Seattle windstorm aftermath: Lowman Beach cleared to reopen after sewage overflow during power outageOctober 29, 2014 at 1:53 pm | In Environment, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | 5 Comments
(WSB photo: Excavation site at midday today)
As the excavation continues at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project site across from Lowman Beach Park, another reminder of what the future million-gallon tank is for – King County announced that Saturday night’s windstorm led to a power outage and another overflow from Murray Pump Station, into Puget Sound.
We’re still waiting to hear the amount of sewage that (updated) 200,000 gallons of sewage overflowed; county Wastewater Treatment spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson says bacteria levels “were never elevated,” but the beach was closed “as a precaution” and has since reopened. The county brought in a mobile generator to get the pump station back online and stop Saturday night’s overflow; once the entire Murray project is complete, that shouldn’t be necessary either, since the pump station itself is getting a “permanent back-up electrical system” in addition to the huge tank to hold overflows. Right now, the overflow tank site is more than two-thirds of the way into the 60-foot-deep excavation that’s planned for the $26 million project, which is designed to bring the county into compliance with orders to limit overflows to no more than one per year; currently, this pump station averages five.
The salmon homecoming continues! Above, another coho from Fauntleroy Creek; on Monday afternoon, Dennis Hinton reported, he and Judy Pickens “saw four new coho come through the culvert and shoot up the creek. Three were females, 4-5-pounds. One was a red-sided male, about 7 or 8 pounds. The big male did something I’ve never seen before in all my years of watching at Fauntleroy Creek. It leaped entirely out of the water over weir #6, into the next pool. Spectacular sight. Just like you’ve seen in the movies.” The photo above shows that red-sided male, one of nine counted in the creek as of last night (if we get an update for today, we’ll add it). Find out more about Fauntleroy Creek here. (**ADDED 8:58 PM** As Dennis notes in comments, 4 more today – 13 total in 3 days.)
(back to original report) And we’ve heard a couple reports of salmon back in Longfellow Creek, too – John sent a photo:
He “counted at least five around and under the salmon bone bridge” during a visit on Monday morning. You can find out more about Longfellow Creek (and its Legacy Trail) on this city webpage.
(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand)
As neighbors drummed and sang tonight in the annual gathering to welcome Fauntleroy Creek‘s coho spawners, steward Judy Pickens (above) had an update: Five seen so far. Definitely within earshot of tonight’s welcoming party!
Last year, the coho were a no-show, but the year before, it was a record run. Some of tonight’s participants at the Fauntleroy Creek overlook across from the ferry dock made decorations in honor of the salmon’s return.
Jamie Shilling led the songs and chants once again:
This time of year is one of two key peak periods of attention for Fauntleroy Creek; the other is springtime, when hundreds of schoolchildren visit to release classroom-raised salmon fry. Meantime, with Judy’s help, we’ll continue updating this year’s coho watch; you are welcome to watch down by the creek (off SW Director just east of the overlook) when volunteer watchers are on duty in the days ahead.
P.S. Clean water is vital to the salmon’s health. Reducing runoff – which ends up in creeks and Puget Sound – is a big step you can take. It’s not too difficult; try these seven simple steps featured at tox-ick.org.
P.P.S. See this year’s first two arriving spawners here.
From West Seattle to Tukwila, hundreds of volunteers teamed up today for another productive Duwamish Alive! multi-site work party. In the West Duwamish Greenbelt at Pigeon Point Park, Nature Consortium and EarthCorps led the way – volunteers we saw there included NC founder Nancy Whitlock:
The 100-plus people at work at this site alone also included Green River Community College students. And we even met Harriet the helpful Corgi:
Eleven sites were on the list for Duwamish Alive! today. Watch duwamishalive.org for word of next spring’s edition. And watch WSB for other opportunities to help with cleanups and planting parties around the community just about EVERY weekend (for example – North Delridge could use your help one week from today!).
(Murray CSO storage-tank-site excavation, photographed Monday by Richard)
An alert for Lowman Beach-area residents: The contractor for King County’s Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project plans four hours of late-night work tomorrow night. The county sent the notification this afternoon; the work involves pipe inspections that have to be done under certain tidal and pipe-use conditions, and those conditions happen 11 pm Friday night until about 3 am Saturday. Workers will be inspecting pipes beneath two manholes, one on the south side of Lowman Beach Park, one alongside the CSO project site on Lincoln Park Way. A map is part of the notification document you can see here (PDF). The county says neighbors are being notified, and reminds anyone with questions/concerns that they can call the 24-hour project hotline at 206-205-9186.
Also, a reminder: This Saturday is also scheduled to be the first of several Saturdays with extra excavation work, as previously announced.
View Duwamish Alive! 2014 in a larger map
From West Seattle, south along the Duwamish River, and even to a few spots southeast of where our map ends, October 18th is the fall edition of Duwamish Alive! – 11 work parties to help the river, its watershed, and everyone/everything living in/along them. You only need to commit four hours that day – registration is at 9:30, then you’ll be helping out 10 am-2 pm. Here’s where to go to choose your site and sign up.
Followup: What West Seattle’s Lafarge plant is doing, after federal settlement of water-pollution investigationSeptember 30, 2014 at 9:13 am | In Environment, West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 2 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A long-running water-pollution investigation involving the Lafarge plant in West Seattle has ended with a settlement and fine. As first reported Sunday by seattlepi.com, the company was fined $300,000, confirmed operations manager Jonathan Hall in an interview with WSB.
Ready to ride? Denny teachers to lead bilingual community bike tour on Longfellow Creek Trail this SaturdaySeptember 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm | In Delridge, Environment, West Seattle news | 3 Comments
Another quick look ahead to Saturday – this time to make sure you know about a community bicycle ride along the Longfellow Creek Trail, to be guided in Spanish and English by Denny International Middle School teachers Andrew Chase and Ben Evans. Its goal is “to connect students and their families to local ecology” – but everyone, whether connected to a local school or not, is welcome to be part of it. Above, the invitation in English; for the Spanish version, click here. Meet at 9 am Saturday (September 27th) at the baseball fields by Roxhill Elementary (30th/Roxbury).
Despite the sunny weather and afternoon Seahawks game, Sunday’s Recycle Roundup at Fauntleroy Church netted 7.8 tons of recyclables from West Seattle. An estimated 325 vehicles brought everything from water heaters to wire fencing and keyboards. We’ll do it again on April 26.
If you missed the roundup and can’t wait that long – the county website has a directory of who takes what, starting with the search box here. And for items that weren’t accepted on Sunday, the Green Committee has suggestions on this flyer they were offering to participants.
Don’t look at it as a ban on throwing away your food scraps, suggested City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw before this afternoon’s vote – look at it as expanded recycling. And with that, she and the rest of the City Council voted to require recycling of food scraps and compostable paper, starting next year. The enforcement teeth won’t be very sharp – $1 fines, and only after a “massive” informational campaign – but the city believes this is what’s needed to jolt the “stalled” shrinkage of Seattleites’ recycling rate. (Also, as noted on the city website, “Food waste is one third of the residential garbage in Seattle … and is transported by train 300 miles to an Oregon landfill.”) Details of how it would be enforced are in this slide deck from a briefing earlier this month.
That’s the most unusual item we saw during a brief stop at the Fauntleroy Church Green Committee‘s “Recycle Roundup,” under way until 3 pm – someone’s recycling a watercooler. Tons of items (literally) are dropped off during these six-hour, twice-yearly, FREE events – and one-third of the way into today’s roundup, it’s busy:
1 Green Planet‘s team will unload your stuff and get it into their containers. Just make sure what you’re taking is on this list. If you want to recycle something that isn’t, the committee’s “Green Ideas” handout (with other sustainable-living advice) has suggestions.
P.S. The church lot is at 9140 California SW, but don’t try to drive south on the California straightaway to get there – it’s a short section that is best reached by heading west on SW Barton from 35th and following the curves (and name change), or by heading southbound past the ferry dock, and following the eastward curve up toward and just beyond the Endolyne business district.
Twice a year, the Fauntleroy Church Green Committee brings in 1 Green Planet to collect dozens of types of items that are recyclable but not routinely picked up in your curbside service. Tomorrow is this year’s second Recycle Roundup, 9 am-3 pm at the church parking lot (9140 California SW; map). Here’s the list of what you can drop off, with a few notes about what you can’t. As usual, no charge for your dropoff (the Green Committee does accept donations to help cover the cost, if you are so moved; they’ll also be offering a flyer with some green-living tips).
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