West Seattle Blog... » Environment http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 08:21:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Congratulations! Award shared by Highland Park Improvement Club, Nature Consortium, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/congratulations-awards-for-highland-park-improvement-club-nature-consortium-duwamish-river-cleanup-coalition/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/congratulations-awards-for-highland-park-improvement-club-nature-consortium-duwamish-river-cleanup-coalition/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 05:25:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=299251

That’s historic Highland Park Improvement Club, honored along with two other local organizations, the Nature Consortium and Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition in the annual Sustainable Seattle Awards. The three organizations share this year’s “Transforming Spaces” award; HPIC has been adding sustainability features to its almost-a-century-old site at 12th/Holden, including “depaving” part of its parking lot, replacing it with a raingarden and permeable pavement. The Nature Consortium, also West Seattle-based, continues to restore the West Duwamish Greenbelt; and DRCC continues to advocate for the river running along much of West Seattle’s eastern edge to be restored and used as A River for All.” DRCC founder BJ Cummings also was honored as this year’s Sustainable Hero. The full list of awards, announced at a Friday night event at MOHAI on South Lake Union, is here.

P.S. If you’ve never been to HPIC, it has big events ahead in the next few weeks including a Super Bowl tailgate potluck next Sunday and the WSB-presented District 1 First Look candidates’ forum on February 5th. Nature Consortium, meantime, has at least two volunteer events you can check out every week. And DRCC is currently focused on helping people learn about the EPA’s Record of Decision about cleaning the river, and what more can be done – check out two events coming up, including one in West Seattle.

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West Seattle brothers join in youth-led ‘State of the Planet’ event http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/west-seattle-brothers-join-in-youth-led-state-of-the-planet-event/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/west-seattle-brothers-join-in-youth-led-state-of-the-planet-event/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 06:03:56 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=299186

(Photos by Andy Clark, courtesy 350 Seattle)
Last year they sang downtown at a rally of concern about exploding oil trains; today, West Seattle brothers Aji and Adonis Piper were part of the State of the Planet” event at City Hall. Though City Councilmember Mike O’Brien was on hand, this event was led by young sustainability ambassadors, campaigning for two initiatives – first, the Billion-Tree Challenge:

According to the young advocates supported by 350 Seattle, if each person in our state planted 150 trees, that would add up to a billion new ones, creating, advocates say, a “carbon bank” to get through the rest of this century. The other proposal discussed today: Climate-change-warning labels on gas-pump nozzles in Seattle, something like this:

The Northern California city of Berkeley passed an ordinance last November approving that type of label; San Francisco is reported to be considering it. Those who attended today’s event heard from Rob Shirkey, who has been campaigning for the pump labels in Canada. There is no formal proposal pending in Seattle yet.

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Update: County says no power-outage-triggered overflow after all http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/another-effect-of-early-morning-west-seattle-power-outage-19000-gallons-of-wastewater-overflow-at-lowman-beach/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/another-effect-of-early-morning-west-seattle-power-outage-19000-gallons-of-wastewater-overflow-at-lowman-beach/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 18:10:27 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=298913 ORIGINAL REPORT, 10:10 AM THURSDAY: As relatively brief as this morning’s Fauntleroy/Arbor Heights/vicinity power outage was, it still had environmental effects, the county just disclosed:

King County sewer utility crews quickly stopped an overflow at the Murray Pump Station that was caused by an early-morning power failure in West Seattle.

The overflow lasted about 3-5 minutes, spilling an estimated 19,000 gallons of wastewater into Puget Sound near Lowman Beach Park. Crews engaged a mobile generator currently staged at the site and quickly restored normal operation.

King County notified health and regulatory agencies about the overflow, took water quality samples, and posted signs warning people to avoid contact with the water.

King County is currently investing $26 million to upgrade Murray Pump Station as part of a long-term project to control overflows of stormwater and sewage that occur during heavy rains. Improvements include the installation of a permanent back-up electrical system to provide power during outages and other emergencies.

The aforementioned project is separate from, but being done in conjunction with, the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project million-gallon-tank construction across the street.

UPDATE, 5:27 PM FRIDAY: From King County spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson:

I just want to offer some updated information about the Murray overflow we reported yesterday. After additional investigation, our operations staff concluded that we did NOT experience an overflow from the pump station.

The operations crews first took data from a sensor that initially indicated that water level in the pump station overflowed the weir, but a sensor further down the system in an outfall pipe and visual inspections indicated that no wastewater left the pump station.

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Some Puget Sound seabird species ‘may be turning the corner’ in a good way, 7-year analysis suggests http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/some-puget-sound-seabird-species-may-be-turning-the-corner-in-a-good-way-7-year-analysis-suggests/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/some-puget-sound-seabird-species-may-be-turning-the-corner-in-a-good-way-7-year-analysis-suggests/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 00:38:31 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=298738

(All photos in this story are by Mark Wangerin. Above, rhinoceros auklet)
A glimmer of good news about the health of Puget Sound and some of its wildlife. This news release arrived via NOAA, but much of the work was done by volunteers:

A new analysis of seven years of bird sightings by volunteer birdwatchers from the Seattle Audubon Society has found positive trends in several Puget Sound seabird species that had been in historic decline.

(Common loon)
The study tracked the occurrence of 18 seabird species at 62 sites around Puget Sound and found increased presence of 14 species, including cormorants, loons, rhinoceros auklets, and harlequin ducks. It also documented local hotspots for certain species, which may reflect especially important habitat or prey the birds depend on.

(Harlequin duck)
“This means that all other things being equal, if someone goes out now they’re more likely to see these birds than they would have been seven years ago,” said Eric Ward, an ecologist at NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and lead author of the research.

Many seabird species are thought to have declined around Puget Sound since the 1960s and 1970s but the new results suggest the trends have turned up for many species.

The Puget Sound Partnership lists some of the species as barometers of the health of Puget Sound.

“Seeing positive trends here is good news,” said Scott Pearson, a seabird research scientist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and a coauthor of the research. “What we may be seeing is that a number of species may be turning the corner.”

The research published in the peer-reviewed online journal PeerJ is unusual because it’s based on “citizen science,” specifically Seattle Audubon’s Puget Sound Seabird Survey that began in 2007. Researchers noted that the new analysis offers a model for how citizen observations can provide important data for wildlife agencies with limited budgets to collect it themselves.

Several of the research authors helped develop the Seabird Survey, which assesses the presence of seabirds during the winter when many species are most abundant. More than 250 experienced volunteers have participated in the survey, returning to the same sites on the first Saturday of each month from October to April. They identify birds and collect details such as how long they spent searching for birds and the bearing and distance to each bird, which helps calculate the density of each species.

“The beauty of working with birds is that there are so many people who love birding and who are very skilled at it,” said Toby Ross, Science Manager at Seattle Audubon and a coauthor of the study. “You could never do this with staff people. You’d never have the budget to send out this many people so consistently for so many years, but volunteers make it possible.”

The analysis focused on 18 seabird species that are indicators of the environmental health of Puget Sound because they are relatively abundant and depend on Puget Sound for food and habitat. It examined their presence over time at 62 public sites such as parks and piers from the northern end of Whidbey Island south to Olympia. Researchers used statistical models to translate observations by Seabird Survey volunteers into trends in the presence of each of the 18 species.

Of the 18 species, 14 demonstrated positive trends since the survey began in 2007. They include marbled murrelet, rhinoceros auklets, loons and bufflehead and harlequin ducks. The results dovetail with other recent results, such as nesting surveys that have also found increases in rhinoceros auklets. However researchers cautioned that positive trends in sightings do not necessarily reflect increasing populations. For example, federally listed marbled murrelet populations continue to decline across Washington. The Seabird Survey will continue tracking bird sightings.

“Every year we add more data and we can do more analyses and we’ll see if the trends continue,” Ross said.

(Above, white-winged scoter; below, western grebe)

The study found declines in four species: white-winged scoter, brant, western grebe and red-necked grebe.

(Red-necked grebe)
Researchers suggested the declines might result from geographical shifts or prey declines in Puget Sound or the Salish Sea or environmental threats to their nesting grounds elsewhere. Similar citizen-science data from other areas have indicated that western grebes appear to have shifted to the south, out of the Puget Sound region.

Funding for the Puget Sound Seabird Survey was provided by Boeing, Sustainable Path Foundation, Russell Family Foundation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Patagonia. The authors concluded that the survey approach and other citizen-science efforts could help collect many kinds of data, including indications of harmful algal blooms and ocean acidification.

For more information on the Puget Sound Seabird Survey, visit www.seabirdsurvey.org

Thanks again to Mark Wangerin for providing photos of many of the birds mentioned.

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MLK Day of Service in West Seattle: Nature Consortium in Riverview http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/mlk-day-of-service-in-west-seattle-nature-consortium-in-riverview/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/mlk-day-of-service-in-west-seattle-nature-consortium-in-riverview/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 20:43:56 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=298595

(First two photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
Nature Consortium‘s new executive director Merica Whitehall (above right) been on the job just a few weeks, and today she’s out with a legion of volunteers, including Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas (above left), for NC’s MLK Day of Service event in the West Duwamish Greenbelt east of Riverview Playfield. Mayor Ed Murray was on the way after a big MLK Day event at Garfield High School. Here’s another VIP we caught on her way up from the work site:

If you don’t know her already, that’s newly crowned Miss Seattle Taryn Smith, a West Seattle High School senior. The West Duwamish Greenbelt, Seattle’s largest contiguous forest, is the focus of Nature Consortium’s restoration work, planting trees and removing tree-killing invasives so that the forest can survive and thrive into the future. We expect to add a few more photos later.

1:56 PM: From the NC Instagram feed – first, a short video clip including something they’re famous for, providing music while volunteers work:

Volunteers formed a fire line to deliver mulch to our newly planted trees

A video posted by Nature Consortium (@natureconsortium) on

If you didn’t get to sign up for today’s event – Nature Consortium has many others, at least once a week – check naturec.org for opportunities.

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Clearing the waters in Longfellow Creek: Construction soon for two projects to reduce combined-sewer overflows http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/clearing-the-waters-in-longfellow-creek-construction-soon-for-two-projects-to-reduce-combined-sewer-overflows/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/clearing-the-waters-in-longfellow-creek-construction-soon-for-two-projects-to-reduce-combined-sewer-overflows/#comments Sun, 18 Jan 2015 04:50:16 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=298434

Two projects to reduce combined-sewer overflows into Longfellow Creek are about to get under way, and the city plans two meetings near the project sites, two weeks from today, to let neighbors know what to expect when construction begins, and to answer questions. These are both projects to improve existing facilities, rather than build brand-new ones; for the one known simply as CSO 2, the meeting will be 10:30 am-noon January 31st at the southeast corner of Delridge/Orchard, and for CSO 3, it’s 1-2:30 pm January 31st on the west side of the Barton Place/Henderson intersection. You can read more about both projects on this city webpage (which includes links to technical and environmental documents, if you’re looking for the fine print).

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You can help! Students cleaning up Lincoln Park beach Saturday afternoon welcome community support http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/you-can-help-students-cleaning-up-lincoln-park-beach-saturday-afternoon-welcome-community-support/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/you-can-help-students-cleaning-up-lincoln-park-beach-saturday-afternoon-welcome-community-support/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 05:05:06 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=298068 Chief Sealth International High School ninth-grader Jessica e-mailed to say she and a group of classmates plan a beach cleanup on Saturday afternoon, and that your help is welcome:

For my Language Arts class, we are working on ways to spread awareness about ocean plastic pollution. My group chose to pick up trash at the beach in Lincoln Park. We’ll be there on January 17th around 12 to 4 pm. … We’d love to get help and have the community get involved! We’ll be by the picnic shelter north of the bathrooms.

Jessica, Alyssa, Hamdi, ZamZam, and Nathalie (Chief Sealth students)

If you’d like to share their invitation, remember that hovering over the “ShareThis” icon below any WSB stories gives you options for social-media sharing on a wide variety of services or even just e-mailing the link (click the three-dot icon).

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West Seattle traffic alert: Dozens of trucks again tomorrow for Murray CSO project pour http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/west-seattle-traffic-alert-dozens-of-trucks-again-tomorrow-for-murray-cso-project-pour/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/west-seattle-traffic-alert-dozens-of-trucks-again-tomorrow-for-murray-cso-project-pour/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 01:44:16 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=298056 After big concrete-pour days on Friday and Monday, the King County Wastewater Treatment Division has just announced another one is coming up tomorrow at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project site across from Lowman Beach. Spokesperson Doug Marsano says it’ll work the same way as those two recent days – starting around 7 am, with up to 10 trucks an hour throughout the day bringing concrete to finish the base of the under-construction million-gallon tank.

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West Seattle scene: Lowman Beach pit pour, phase 2 http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/west-seattle-scene-lowman-beach-pit-pour-phase-2/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/west-seattle-scene-lowman-beach-pit-pour-phase-2/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 22:58:41 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=297532

2:58 PM: Once the sun came out, we went over to the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project across from Lowman Beach for a look into the million-gallon storage-tank pit, during the second phase of big concrete pours. We’re checking with the county to see if they’ve set a second pour date yet, since this is a postponement from last month, and the second date also was originally in December. (If you’d like a slightly wider, though lower-resolution, view of today’s work in the pit, we have one on Instagram.)

5:06 PM UPDATE: Doug Marsano from King County says that while no date is firmed up yet, “the contractor wants to pour early next week.” So we won’t know any sooner than tomorrow (if not later) when the next big pour will be.

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West Seattle salmon: Egg-delivery day at local schools http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/west-seattle-salmon-egg-delivery-day-at-local-schools/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/west-seattle-salmon-egg-delivery-day-at-local-schools/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 23:06:02 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=297369

Before local students show up at Fauntleroy Creek in the spring to set salmon fry free, they spend months tending to and studying in-school aquariums – and today’s the day it all begins anew. Volunteers Judy Pickens and Phil Sweetland have spent the day ferrying more than a thousand salmon eggs from a regional hatchery to 10 schools in West Seattle and South Park. We caught them at the first one they visited, Our Lady of Guadalupe:

As they made each delivery, disinfecting the eggs in an iodine bath before they could be placed in their hatching tanks, they talked with students, who were fascinated to see what would eventually hatch into coho:

From OLG, they went to nearby West Seattle Elementary, where their visit was shorter, since they volunteer at WSES regularly. But this school has something extra-special – a tank and ornate base, courtesy of Phil:

We had to photograph it before the students crowded around, so you could see the art.

Judy and Phil live on Fauntleroy Creek, and have a deep devotion to this program – almost four years ago, we reported on their resolve to keep it going despite state budget cuts. As explained at the time, it’s not that this is making a big dent in the salmon population, but it is helping keep fish and creeks top of mind every year for a new group of students who will grow into the adults on whose actions the fish’s fate will rise and fall. Meantime, these eggs will hatch soon, and the fish will grow for a few months in the tanks in school hallways and classrooms, before creek releases in spring.

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1st community meeting of the year: Seattle Green Spaces Coalition, on Sunday afternoon http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/1st-community-meeting-of-the-year-seattle-green-spaces-coalition-on-sunday-afternoon/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/1st-community-meeting-of-the-year-seattle-green-spaces-coalition-on-sunday-afternoon/#comments Sun, 04 Jan 2015 04:40:28 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=297063

(WSB photo of Dakota substation site last month, as cleanup was beginning)
West Seattle’s first community-group meeting of 2015 is tomorrow, as the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition continues strategizing how to preserve some if not all of the greenspaces currently known as surplus substations. All are welcome at 3 pm Sunday at High Point Branch Library (35th/Raymond). The coalition started out focusing on the surplus substations in West Seattle, whose future has been on the line for more than a year now, and then expanded to a citywide focus, with a lengthening list of sites of concern so far, including at least 10 ex-substations from Ballard to Delridge. As a result of their efforts, the city is studying the possibility of an “Open Space Opportunity Fund,” but that might not come soon enough; the announcement of tomorrow’s meeting says, “We have a short window for action and really need your help!”

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Burn ban lifted, announces Puget Sound Clean Air Agency http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/burn-ban-lifted-says-puget-sound-clean-air-agency/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/burn-ban-lifted-says-puget-sound-clean-air-agency/#comments Sat, 03 Jan 2015 20:39:00 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=297038 Update from Puget Sound Clean Air Agency:

Effective immediately, all burn bans are being lifted in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, as well as Darrington. With the help of rain and wind, air pollution levels everywhere dropped to GOOD or lower Moderate last night.

While agency forecasters do expect only light winds during the day today and into tonight, an approaching weather system should increase winds and rain late tonight and into Sunday. This will again help disperse our air pollution and keep levels low for the next 2-3 days.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency would like to thank everyone who switched to alternative sources of heat instead of burning wood during these bans. Children, the elderly, and people with chronic respiratory health problems especially appreciate your efforts.

The now-over burn ban had been in effect for two days.

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So, it’s January, and you have to recycle your food waste. Are you ready (if you weren’t doing it already)? http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/so-its-january-and-you-have-to-recycle-your-food-waste-are-you-ready-if-you-werent-doing-it-already/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/so-its-january-and-you-have-to-recycle-your-food-waste-are-you-ready-if-you-werent-doing-it-already/#comments Fri, 02 Jan 2015 19:34:40 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=296978 We’ve had three months’ warning (actually longer, but until September, it was just a line somewhere in a long-range plan), and now, it’s time. In case you missed the Christmastime publicity blitz in citywide media … as the holiday season ends, we’re pointing to the new recycling rules – food waste goes in the yard-waste bin (if you haven’t been putting it there already). And that doesn’t just mean fruit/vegetable scraps. From the city’s “what do I do with THIS?” flyer:

As noted last fall, while the new rules are in effect as of yesterday, this is the start of a six-month ramp-up period, to give everyone a chance to get used to it and figure out how to do it. And even when enforcement starts in July, this isn’t set up as a moneymaker for the city – the residential fine is a buck, for example. The point is that the city is hoping to get to its goal of recycling 60 percent of the waste stream. You’ll be considered to be in compliance if you have less than “10% recyclables or food waste” in your trash can. To get them from kitchen to bin, you can use paper or compostable bags, or get a covered compost pail to keep in the kitchen.

SIDE NOTE – SO WHAT ABOUT THE IN-SINK DISPOSER? In previous discussions, some have declared they’ll just keep using this rather than diverting food waste to the yard-waste bin. We’ve looked around for info on that; general consensus (in reports such as this) seems to be, while it’s greener than just throwing food waste in the trash, it’s not as green as composting. And best thing of all is to just figure out how to waste less food, period.

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‘Stagnant weather’ brings Stage 1 burn ban for King County http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/stagnant-weather-brings-stage-1-burn-ban-for-king-county/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/stagnant-weather-brings-stage-1-burn-ban-for-king-county/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 2015 21:01:59 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=296902 Our area and the rest of King County is now under a Stage 1 burn ban, announced by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency because of “stagnant weather conditions and rising air pollution,” expected to continue at least until tomorrow. Here’s what a Stage 1 burn ban means:

* No burning is allowed in wood-burning fireplaces, 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 1 burn ban.

We’ll publish an update whenever the burn ban is lifted.

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Another postponement for next big pour at Murray CSO project http://westseattleblog.com/2014/12/another-postponement-for-next-big-pour-at-murray-cso-project/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/12/another-postponement-for-next-big-pour-at-murray-cso-project/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 01:26:16 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=296618

(WSB photo, December 5th)
In case you’re keeping track – King County Wastewater Treatment has just changed the dates again for the next big pour at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control Project across from Lowman Beach. It’s now set for Monday and Thursday of next week, January 5 and 8th, exactly one month after the first big pour, which brought about 20 trucks an hour to the site – twice the amount expected for this one. The county also notes that crews will not be working at the site New Year’s Day. Here’s the full update (PDF) the county sent late today.

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