Hood Canal Coordinating Council is calling on Gov. Jay Inslee to
drop a proposal for major budget cuts to the George Adams and
Hoodsport hatcheries in southern Hood Canal.
“The economic loss to our HCCC member counties and tribes does
not justify the small savings that would be afforded to the state
budget,” wrote Council Chairman Jeromy Sullivan in a letter to the
The governor’s budget
(PDF 134 kb) includes hatchery reductions proposed by the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which was trying to
meet the governor’s call for a 15-percent reduction in General Fund
Hatcheries proposed for outright closure include Minter
Creek Hatchery near Gig Harbor, 6.5 million chum, coho and
fall chinook; Naselle Hatchery on Willapa Bay, 2.5
million coho, chum and fall chinook plus 19,000 trout and 75,000
steelhead; Nemah Hatchery near Willapa Bay, 3.3
million fall chinook and chum; and Samish Hatchery
near Bellingham, 4 million fall chinook. For details, check out
Under the plan, the Hoodsport Hatchery would
save $132,000 by reducing production of fall chinook salmon by
800,000 fry and eliminating production of 12 million chum and
500,000 pink salmon. George Adams Hatchery would
save $87,000 by eliminating production of 2.1 million chum.
Kelly Cunningham, deputy assistant director of WDFW in charge of
the Fish Program, forwarded me the department’s economic analysis
of the hatchery reduction.
For the Hoodsport Hatchery, the estimated loss
in personal income by businesses associated with commercial and
sport fishing would be about $4.15 million, according to state
estimates. For the George Adams Hatchery, the loss
would be more than $900,000.
In other words, for a savings of $219,000 in the state budget,
workers in the fishing industry would lose more than $5 million.
And that does not include the economic value related to harvests
outside of Washington state, Kelly Cunningham told me.
Decisions about which hatcheries to cut included considerations
of court orders, tribal agreements and hatchery-reform
recommendations, as well as economic benefit, Kelly explained. But
he wasn’t specific about whether the hatchery cuts aligned with any
identified ecological benefits.
The state and tribes have been under pressure from the National
Marine Fisheries Service to reduce the unintended harvest of wild
chinook, a threatened species, caused by large numbers of hatchery
chinook coming into the Skokomish River at the same time. Another
concern has been stray chinook bypassing Purdy Creek (where the
George Adams Hatchery is located) and interacting with wild stocks
in the Skokomish River. See my story in the
Kitsap Sun, Oct. 26, 2013.
“HCCC members appreciate the difficult budget climate that you
and the state Legislature are facing. We urge you, however, to be
forward-looking and recognize that stronger local economies will,
in the long term, contribute significantly to a strong state budget
and financial situation.”
Sullivan was authorized to send the letter during a recent
meeting of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council, whose members are
county commissioners from Kitsap, Mason and Jefferson counties
along with leaders from the Skokomish and Port Gamble S’Klallam
tribes. Sullivan is chairman of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal
The Army Corps of Engineers is moving forward on a $40-million
restoration program along the Skokomish River, as I mentioned in
Water Ways last week.
According to Rachel Mesko of the Army Corps of Engineers, two
major projects have been dropped from the “tentatively selected
plan” for the Skokomish, which flows into the south end of Hood
Canal. That leaves five major projects to advance forward for a
likely recommendation to Congress.
It’s hard to remember how long I’ve been writing about the Army
Corps of Engineers’ involvement in the Skokomish. So I looked it
up. The agency completed a flood analysis in 1988, considered
dredging options in 1995 and began work on the current “general
investigation” in 2000.
Before I talk about the projects being proposed, I’d like to
recall what is at stake in the Skokomish, often cited as the most
frequently flooded river in Washington state. Many people believe
that the restoration of Hood Canal, a gem of an ecosystem, cannot
be successful without first fixing the Skokomish, where individual
restoration projects have been underway for years.
“High sediment load, reduced flows and encroachment on the
floodplain by man-made structures are causing continued degradation
of natural ecosystem structures, functions, and processes necessary
to support critical fish and wildlife habitat throughout the
“The decline in populations has resulted in the listing of four
anadromous fish species under the Endangered Species Act — chinook
salmon, chum salmon, steelhead, and bull trout — that use the river
as their primary habitat.
“The impaired ecosystem has adversely affected riverine,
wetland, and estuarine habitats that are critical to these and
other important fish and wildlife species such as bears, bald
eagles and river otters to name a few.”
Let me list some of the specific problems:
Historical removal of large woody debris has simplified the
stream, wiping out pools, eliminating places for young fish to hide
and reducing nutrients, which feed aquatic insects and support an
entire food web.
Logging along the river has eliminated the supply of large
woody debris, the shade to cool the stream and the overhanging
vegetation, a key part of the food web. Logging also has increased
erosion which prevents new vegetation from taking hold, smothers
salmon eggs and fills in pools, where salmon can rest.
Levees built to protect farmland from flooding halted the
natural movement of the river, known as channel migration, and
prevented the formation of new habitats.
Logging upstream in the South Fork of the Skokomish River and
Vance Creek increased erosion and movement of sediment into the
lower river, cutting off fish access to side channels, wetlands and
other aquatic habitats.
The Cushman Dam Project blocked 25 percent of the mainstem
habitat and 18 percent of tributary habitat available for salmon in
the North Fork of the Skokomish River. Reduced flows below the dam
increased sedimentation in the lower Skokomish. As a result, about
a mile of the river dries up about two months each summer, blocking
Highways 101 and 106 disrupted natural floodplains that can be
used by fish to find food and to escape high flows and then find
their way back to the river.
Five projects designed to reduce these problems are being
proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers:
Car body levee removal: This levee was built
with old cars at the confluence where the North Fork flows into the
mainstem of the Skokomish. Some 5,000 feet of the levee would be
removed. A small channel would be created to allow water from the
mainstem to flow into the North Fork and return at the existing
confluence. Large woody debris would help direct water into the
channel. Estimated cost: $7.5 million.
Large woody debris: Upstream of the confluence
with the North Fork, large woody debris would be installed. Large
clusters of trees with root wads, as well as some single trees,
would be placed between river mile 9 and 11, as measured from the
estuary in Hood Canal. Estimated cost: $3.2 million.
Setback levee at river mile 9: The existing
levee would be breached in four locations, and a new levee would be
built some 200 to 300 feet farther away. The levee would allow for
minor over-topping but would not increase the flood risk. Estimated
cost: $2.4 million.
Grange levee: Larger breeches are planned for
the levee near the Grange hall at river mile 7.5 to 8, compared to
the levee at river mile 9. A new levee, up to 10 feet tall and
2,900 feet long, would be constructed 1,200 feet farther back with
no increase in flood risk. Locations are still under discussion.
Estimate cost $3.3 million.
Side channel connection near Highway 101: An
old remnant channel between river mile 4 and 5.6 would be restored
to take water from the mainstem at high flows. Woody debris would
help define the inlet and outlet to the channel, which would become
a ponded wetland at low flows. Estimated cost: $3.1 million.
The costs above were taken from the feasibility study and do not
include design, planning and related costs.
You might note that the River Mile 9 levee and the Grange levee
fit the concept of “Floodplains by Design,” an idea supported by
The Nature Conservancy and funded by the Washington Legislature
with $44 million. Check out the
Associated Press story.
After discussions with nearby property owners, two projects were
removed from the preliminary list. They involve excavation work on
both Hunter and Weaver creeks to restore the tributaries to more
Rich Geiger, engineer for Mason Conservation District, said the
Skokomish restoration program seems to have wide support among
landowners in the Skokomish Valley as well as among interest
groups, including the Skokomish Watershed Action Team. As a result,
he expects that the project will maintain momentum all the way to
“It is fairly rare to have a watershed working together,” Rich
said at the SWAT meeting. “The ones that are difficult are when you
have two parties, one saying ‘yes’ and other saying, ‘Don’t you
“There is support (for the Skok project) through the Corps chain
of command and all the way up to the national level,” he added.
If things go well, a final plan for the Skokomish could be ready
by late next summer, according to Rachel Mesko.
By the way, I would like to publicly thank the SWAT for the
“certificate of appreciation” I was given for my reporting on
Skokomish River through the years. It’s an honor to be associated
with this group of men and women who are fully committed to seeing
the Skokomish River restored to a healthy ecosystem.
Inspired by a book called
“Gifts of Unknown Things,” British artist Bruce Munro created
colorful towers made of water bottles, in which the colors shift
and change in response to the music emanating from within.
In his book, author Lyall Watson tells about meeting a young
maiden on an Indonesian island. She possesses the magical gift of
seeing sounds in color. Watson also describes a natural pulse of
the Earth, resonating at 69 beats per day, which is why Munro chose
to construct exactly 69 of his towers, as a tribute to the author.
Munro’s artwork was first put on display in 2010 at Salisbury
Cathedral, Wiltshire, England.
The six-foot towers, shown in the first video, are each made
from more than 200 water bottles stacked in a uniform array and
illuminated by optical fibers. Music is played on speakers within
the towers with a soundtrack created to show the musical diversity
of people throughout the world. You must watch these full-screen
for maximum effect.
Munro, 55, has embraced light as an art form, developing a
special knowledge of fiber optics and other technology. For nearly
20 years, he has taken his art to new levels, reflecting the
character of the world he sees around him and drawing inspiration
from music, literature and science.
shows off his work, from large-scale installations to small lighted
sculptures. His YouTube
chapter reveals many of the installations — including how they
are set up — in a video format.
In the second video on this page, Munro talks about his work in
relation to a 2013 exhibit at Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville. The
interview became part of the Creators’ Project, a
forum that celebrates the combination of art and technology. See
more images on the Creators
A shorter interview was conducted for the Virginia Pilot
when Munro opened an exhibit in October at the Hermitage Museum
& Gardens in Norfolk.
The video below is called “Field of Light,” which Munro has
changed several times for specific locations. This one was at
Holburne Museum, Bath, Somerset, England.
Big money is beginning to come together for planning,
engineering and design of major restoration projects along the
Skokomish River. If approved by Congress, the cost of construction
could exceed $40 million — a lot of money to you and me, but maybe
not so much for the Army Corps of Engineers.
Last week, the state’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board approved
grants for more than 100 projects in 29 counties throughout the
state. The total, from state and federal sources, was about $18
million for this round of funding.
Mason County was one of the big winners this time, receiving
$1.25 million for seven projects, including a $360,000 contribution
to planning and engineering for transformative projects on the
Skokomish. The total cost for a “35-percent level of design” is
expected to be $2.45 million, mostly from the Corps of Engineers.
That level of design is needed to give top officials in the Corps
and members of Congress a good idea of cost before they commit to
the massive undertaking along the Skok.
I’ll address the specific Skokomish River projects, along with
new information from the Corps, in a separate blog post to come.
For now, I’d like to describe other projects approved in the latest
round of SRF Board funding.
In addition to the design work on the Skokomish, the Mason
Conservation District will move ahead with the construction of 21
man-made logjams in the Holman Flats area along the South Fork of
the Skokomish. That is an area that was logged and cleared in
preparation for a dam that was never built.
The clearing destabilized the river and degraded salmon habitat
for more than a mile downstream. The logjams will add structure to
the river and create places for fish to hide and rest, ultimately
improving the channel itself. The $362,000 from the SRF Board will
be supplemented with another $900,000 in grants.
Beards Cove, $297,000: This project, outside of
Belfair on Hood Canal, will remove fill, structures and invasive
plants and restore the grade to the way it was before development
in 1973. The project will restore about a quarter-mile of natural
shoreline and seven acres of tidal marsh. Along with a separate
seven-acre land-preservation agreement and other efforts, about 1.7
miles of Hood Canal shoreline will be preserved forever. Great
Peninsula Conservancy will use a separate $491,000 grant from the
state’s Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program.
Allyn Shoreline, $14,000: Mason Conservation
District will complete final designs to enhance 480 feet of
shoreline along Case Inlet in Allyn, including removal of about 120
feet of bulkhead.
Likes Creek, $85,000: South Puget Sound Salmon
Enhancement Group will remove a culvert under the Simpson railroad
that blocks salmon migration on Likes Creek, a major tributary of
Goldsborough Creek. Another grant will provide $43,000 for the
project, and Mason County will assist with removal of another
Goldsborough Creek, $111,000: Capitol Land
Trust will buy 420 acres on the North Fork of Goldsborough Creek
near Shelton. The property provides habitat for endangered salmon
and steelhead. The land trust will contribute $20,000 in donated
Oakland Bay, $24,000: Capitol Land Trust will
use the money to remove invasive and dead vegetation and maintain
12 acres of shoreline plantings on Deer, Cranberry and Malaney
creeks. About $5,000 in donations will be added.
Three projects were funded in Kitsap County:
Springbrook Creek, $62,000: Bainbridge Island
Land Trust will assess the creek’s watershed and design five
salmon-habitat projects for one of the island’s most productive
streams. The land trust will contribute $11,000 in donations of
Curley Creek, $33,000: Great Peninsula
Conservancy will assess how to protect salmon habitat in Curley
Creek in South Kitsap, one of the largest salmon and steelhead
streams in the area. The conservancy will contribute $6,000 in
donations of labor.
Steelhead assessment, $50,000: Kitsap County
will analyze existing information on steelhead habitat in the East
Kitsap region, south to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, to help with a
recovery plan for the threatened fish. The county will contribute
Other notable projects include the following in King,
Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom counties:
Mill Creek, $327,000: The city of Kent will
built a floodplain wetland off Mill Creek near the confluence with
the Green River, an important stream for chinook salmon and
steelhead as well as coho, chum and pink salmon and cutthroat
trout. The project includes the construction of 1,000 feet of new
off-channel habitat, where salmon can find refuge and food during
floods, and 43 log structures. Work also will restore seven acres
of native vegetation. A local grant will provide $1.4 million.
Stillaguamish River floodplain, $402,000: The
Stillaguamish Tribe will purchase 200 acres on the North Fork and
main stem of the river, remove invasive plants and restore about 25
acres of riverbank with native vegetation.
Black River wetland, $90,000: Capitol Land
Trust Grant will buy 54 acres to conserve a rare wetland unique to
the Black River and protect 1.3 miles of side channel. The property
is adjacent to 75 acres already protected by the land trust in the
Black River Sub-basin, one of the largest remaining wetland systems
in Western Washington.
Nooksack River logjams: The Nooksack Tribe will
receive $320,000 for logjams in the South Fork Nooksack and
$283,000 for the North Fork Nooksack. Eight logjams in each stream
will slow the river and provide resting pools for salmon. Federal
grants will add $56,000 in the South Fork and $60,000 in the North
In announcing the $18 million in salmon-restoration grants
statewide, Gov. Jay Inslee commented:
“Salmon are important to Washington because they support
thousands of jobs in Washington — fishing, seafood-processing, boat
sales and repair, tourism, and more. When we restore land and water
for salmon, we also are helping our communities. We get less
flooding, cleaner water and better beaches. We also make sure that
our grandchildren will be able to catch a fish or enjoy watching
the return of wild salmon.”
Funding for the grants comes from the sale of state bonds
approved by the Legislature along with the Pacific Coastal Salmon
Recovery Fund, approved by Congress and administered by the
National Marine Fisheries Service.
David Trout, who chairs the SRF Board, said the restoration
projects are a lifeline for salmon:
“Without these grants that fund incredible projects, we wouldn’t
have any salmon. That’s unacceptable. We’ve seen these grants make
a difference. They create jobs, support local communities and their
involvement in salmon recovery, and most importantly the projects
are helping bring back the fish.
“After more than a decade of work, we’ve seen that in many areas
of the state, salmon populations are increasing or staying the
same. At the same time, we still have some important areas where
fish populations are continuing to decline. We can’t get
discouraged and must continue working at this. It’s too important
to stop now.”
Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research has written an
excellent report about the recent death of J-32, the Southern
Resident orca that died with an unborn and decomposing offspring
Ken’s report talks not only about his observations of the
necropsy, which I reported in
Water Ways on Saturday, but it also includes his observations
as he watched the young whale grow up:
“The decade around the millennium was a difficult time for the
J10 matriline – J32’s mom (J20) died at the age of seventeen in
1998 when J32 was only two years old; her grandmother (J10), who
took over her care, died at the age of thirty-seven in 1999, when
J32 was only three years old; and her uncle (J18) died at the age
of 23 in 2000. All died young relative to the average lifespan of
50+ for females and 29 for males in this species.
“Fortunately, auntie J22 at age thirteen gave birth to a baby
(J34) in 1998, and provided orphaned J32 the required nurturing of
a ‘mom’. With that nurturing from grandmother and auntie, including
perhaps a little milk, J32 made it through her infancy and into her
teens to be a very vivacious young whale, full of energy.”
Ken writes eloquently about his concerns regarding the high
levels of toxic contaminants carried in the blubber of the Southern
Resident orcas. The contaminants are known to cause problems with
the immune and reproductive systems. They also can cause brain
deficits that can lead to behavior disorders. He writes:
“These pollutants are released to circulate in the bloodstream
when the whales’ blubber fats are metabolized for energy when fresh
food is scarce. It is like having a freezer full of tainted and
freezer-burned food that you never have to eat unless there is
nothing in the grocery store. When nothing else is available the
bad stuff is taken out of storage and circulated for body
Ken also repeats his plea for people to take action in the face
of ongoing disaster for the local killer whale population —
including this sudden death of a young mother known as Rhapsody and
her unborn offspring.
“This is a very ugly situation for the population of Southern
Resident killer whales – our beloved orca. I think we must restore
abundant healthy prey resources ASAP if these whales are to have
any chance of avoiding extinction. The critical point for their
recovery may already have passed. I hope not, but it will soon pass
if we do not take immediate action.”
Photos taken recently on Mars are exciting, to say the least, as
the Curiosity rover sends back pictures of layered canyon walls
like you might see near a river or lake on planet Earth.
A leading interpretation is that a 3-mile-high mountain known as
Mount Sharp was formed by sediments deposited in a massive lake
over millions of years.
Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s deputy project scientist, suggested
press release that this is a new way of thinking about the
“If our hypothesis for Mount Sharp holds up, it challenges the
notion that warm and wet conditions were transient, local, or only
underground on Mars. A more radical explanation is that Mars’
ancient, thicker atmosphere raised temperatures above freezing
globally, but so far we don’t know how the atmosphere did
The rock layers likely were the result of repeated filling and
evaporation of the lake in Gale Crater, nearly 100 miles across. As
some sediments hardened into rock, winds carved away material
between the edge of the crater and what is now the edge of the
mountain, project scientists speculate.
Curiosity is exploring the lower portion of Mount Sharp, a
500-foot section of rock known as the Murray Formation. As
Curiosity moves up the slope, it may seem as if the rover is
traveling through time, observing changes in sediment composition
Already, on the five-mile journey from its landing site in Gale
Crater, Curiosity has sent back data about how the crater floor was
changed during its lake period. Sanjeev Gupta of Imperial College
in London, a member of Curiosity’s science team, noted:
“We found sedimentary rocks suggestive of small, ancient deltas
stacked on top of one another. Curiosity crossed a boundary from an
environment dominated by rivers to an environment dominated by
Marc Kaufmann, author of the book “Mars Up Close,” pointed out
that NASA scientists studying the Red Planet have now identified
the key elements for life: standing water that persists; a
continuing source of energy; the elements carbon, oxygen, hydrogen,
phosphorus and nitrogen; and lots of time. See article in the
New York Times.
Orbiting satellites have found evidence of dried-up lakes, which
certainly does not prove that life existed, but it suggests that
the stage was set. Kaufmann quoted John Grotzinger of Caltech, the
project scientist for Curiosity:
“As a science team, Mars is looking very attractive to us as a
habitable planet. Not just sections of Gale Crater and not just a
handful of locations, but at different times around the globe.”
Curiosity is not equipped to discover life per se, but it was
able to find some simple organic chemicals. A news conference has
been scheduled for Sunday at the annual meeting of the American
Geophysical Union to present some new information. Kaufman quoted
Daniel P. Glavin of the Goddard Spaceflight Center, who has been
studying the data:
“Our original interpretation — that there was a good chance the
organics we were seeing are Martian — hasn’t changed. This
interpretation will be expanded on at A.G.U.”
Curiosity, which landed on Mars Aug. 6, 2012, has been
collecting data about climate and geology to better understand the
natural history of the planet and help prepare for a human space
mission to the planet.
Below is a video about these new findings by Newsy, a video news
They call them “intellectual” jokes, because you must have
special knowledge about science, literature, language, art,
religion, philosophy or some other field for the jokes to make any
You can find these jokes scattered across the Internet. At
first, they may leave you annoyed, especially when you can’t figure
them out and the author has not bothered to explain them.
On the other hand, they can be an opportunity to learn something
new. Wikipedia can be a great place to jump into any of these
inside jokes and add to your overall knowledge. And if you
understand these jokes without any help, you may feel just a little
smarter than the average joe.
I’ll share 10 of my favorite intellectual jokes with you. Please
let me know what you think — either in the comment section below or
to my email. Your
comments will help me decide whether I should ever offer this brand
of humor again.
I’ve put what I hope are reasonable explanations for each joke
at the bottom of this post, in case you can’t figure them out.
1. Two men walk into a bar. The first orders H2O. The second
says, “I’ll have H2O, too!” The second man dies.
2. Three logicians walk into a bar. The bartended asks, “Do all
of you want a drink?”
The first logician says, “I don’t know.”
The second logician says, “I don’t know.”
The third logician says, “Yes!”
3. Q: Why do engineers confuse Halloween and Christmas?
A: Because Oct 31 = Dec 25
4. A Buddhist monk approaches a hotdog stand and says, “Make me
one with everything.”
5. Did you hear about the man who got cooled to absolute
He’s 0K now.
6. An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The
first orders a beer; the second orders half a beer; the third
orders a quarter of a beer; and so on.
After the seventh order, the bartender pours two beers and says,
“You fellas ought to know your limits.”
7. Pavlov is sitting at a bar when the phone rings. “Oh, no,” he
said. “I forgot to feed the dog.”
8. Heisenberg was speeding down the highway. A cop pulls him
over and says “Do you have any idea how fast you were going back
there?” Heisenberg says, “No, but I knew where I was.”
9 . Einstein, Newton and Pascal are playing hide and seek.
Einstein covers his eyes and starts counting. Pascal runs off and
hides. Newton stands in front of Einstein and draws a square on the
ground, one meter on each side. Newton then steps into the middle
of the square. Einstein reaches 10 and uncovers his eyes. He spots
Newton and exclaims, “Newton! I found you! You’re it!”
Newton smiles and says, “You didn’t find me; you found
10. The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick
up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.
Like many people, I was shocked and saddened by the death of
J-32, an 18-year-old female orca who had offered an avenue of hope
for the recovery of the endangered killer whale population in Puget
We now know from yesterday’s necropsy, that Rhapsody, as she is
called, was pregnant at the time of her death.
“Yes, she was pregnant, near-term, 80 percent or plus,” Ken
Balcomb told me last light after participating in the examination
of the body near Courtenay, B.C.
The actual cause of death is not yet certain, but it is likely
that the fetus died in the uterus, resulting in a necrotic
condition that eventually broke down the mother’s tissues,
according to Ken, founder of the Center for Whale Research. There
were no signs of trauma that would suggest injury of any kind, he
Dr. Stephen Raverty, a veterinary pathologist in charge of the
necropsy, removed J-32’s uterus with the intact fetus inside. Dr.
Rafferty told me that he plans to take images of the fetus in utero
tomorrow before continuing the examination. He said he would be
unable to provide any information until he receives approval from
his client, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
As in other post-mortem examinations of killer whales, experts
will examine tissues, blood and body fluids in multiple ways to
gauge the general health of the animal as well as the cause of
death. The Southern Resident pods — J, K and L — are known to carry
some of the highest loads of toxic chemicals of any marine mammals
in the world. The whales may also undergo nutritional stress
because of a shortage of their primary prey, chinook salmon.
The last sighting of the animal was Nov. 29. Her body was found
floating near Courtenay on Thursday, Dec. 4. She was a “remarkably
small” killer whale, about 15 feet long, Ken said. Females normally
grow to between 16 and 23 feet.
Rhapsody was born in 1996. Her mother, J-20 or Ewok, died when
she was 2 years old. The young whale was then raised by her Aunt,
J-22 or Oreo. Rhapsody is survived by her aunt and two cousins.
Orca Network’s news release about the death.)
At age 18, she was at the beginning of her reproductive life,
with a potential to add several babies to the dwindling population
of Southern Residents, now at 77 animals. J pod is down to 24
orcas, with only a few reproductive females at this time.
Ken Balcomb said he hopes Saturday’s necropsy will reveal
whether J-32 had ever been pregnant before, since killer whales
typically become fertile around age 12 and often give birth by age
15. Her mother was 13 when she was born, Ken noted.
When the ovaries expel an egg, it leaves a little white scar
tissue behind. If the egg is fertilized and grows, the scar tissue
is notably larger, Ken explained.
An average female gives birth every five years, Ken said. That
rate should be adding three or four calves to the Southern Resident
population each year.
“Three years ago, I predicted that they should be having 19
babies by now,” Ken said.
Instead, the population is declining, with no surviving calves
born last year or this year. A baby born to L-86 in September of
this year was reporting missing a little more than a month
Rhapsody was the third adult to die this year. Also missing and
presumed dead are L-53, a 37-year-old female known as Lulu, and
L-100, a 13-year-old male known as Indigo.
Howard Garrett and Susan Berta of
Orca Network may have spoken for many of us with this comment:
“We cannot express how tragic this loss is for this struggling,
precariously small, family of resident orcas of the Salish
Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club has decided against undertaking a
formal environmental cleanup of its property on Seabeck Highway —
at least not any time soon, according to club officials.
The property is listed as a “hazardous site” by the Washington
Department of Ecology, mostly because of lead and metals associated
with shooting activities. The club had entered into the state’s
Voluntary Cleanup Program — which puts a property owner in charge
of the cleanup — but then withdrew from the program in late
Marcus Carter, executive officer for KRRC, told me that the club
had been assured by state officials that if it entered the
Volunteer Cleanup Program, it would not be placed on the state’s
Hazardous Sites List.
“But they went ahead and ranked us anyway,” he said.
I wrote about that ranking in the
Kitsap Sun in January of 2013. The gun range was rated a “2” on
a scale from 1 to 5, with “1” being the worst. I noted in the story
that many sites ranked a “2” go without action for years. KRRC
later disputed the ranking, saying available evidence should place
it no higher than a “3.”
A letter written in October by Bruce
Danielson (PDF 889 kb), attorney for the club, explained why
KRRC was withdrawing from the program. He also noted, “Our
voluntary participation has been an unacceptable drain on valuable
resources that KRRC can no long afford to expend for no
As an example of wasteful spending, Danielson cited a charge for
a “fraudulent” phone call from the state Attorney General’s Office
related to the site. The unwarranted billing was dropped, he noted,
but only after significant effort by club officials.
Marcus Carter said he realizes that the shooting range could get
stuck on the “Hazardous Sites List” for many years, similar to the
situation with the Navy’s Camp Wesley Harris. The abandoned
shooting range on Navy property also was ranked a “2.” Other than
an initial cleanup, the Navy has taken no steps to get the property
removed from the list. For a full list of hazardous sites, download
Hazardous Sites List (PDF 535 kb).
Marcus said the club initiated an extensive recycling program
years ago to regularly remove lead and other contaminants from
earthen berms that stop the bullets. The only contamination outside
the range itself are small amounts of materials where shooting took
place years ago, he said.
“Nothing is leaving our property,” Marcus insisted. “There have
been no suggestions from DOE to make our operations more efficient
or to do anything differently.”
As described in a
Kitsap Sun story in April of 2012, the gun club has been
following an approach generally accepted by the federal
Environmental Protection Agency:
“The club has relied on using EPA’s ‘best management practices’
to avoid being deemed a hazardous waste site subject to cleanup.
State law does not include such provisions, but Ecology endorses
EPA’s suggested practices, which are outlined in a 1997 letter
written by Jeff Hannapel in EPA’s Office of Solid Waste.”
I then quoted from the Hannapel’s letter:
“The agency has taken the position that the discharge of
ammunition or lead shot does not constitute hazardous waste
disposal, because the agency does not consider the rounds from the
weapons to be ‘discarded.’ Furthermore, the lead shot has not been
‘discarded’ by virtue of its discharge at the shooting range,
because the discharge is within the normal and expected use pattern
of the manufactured product. Accordingly, lead shot would be
considered scrap metal for regulatory purposes.”
Ecology officials admit that they don’t have enough money to
force property owners to clean up the most-contaminated sites, let
alone those lower on list.
For several years, the group CK Safe and Quiet, which includes
residents living near the shooting range, has been urging Ecology
to get the site cleaned up. The group has expressed concerns about
contamination leaving the site and getting into nearby
In 2011, the organization filed a notice saying it would sue for
cleanup under the federal Clean Water Act, which allows
citizen-initiated lawsuits. I mentioned the claims in a
Kitsap Sun article at the time.
The group never filed the federal case, pending legal action
against the club by Kitsap County, which focused on land-use and
noise issues. A ruling in the county’s case was recently handed
down by the Washington State Court of Appeals. See
Kitsap Sun story by reporter Josh Farley.
Some members of CK Safe and Quiet say they are now considering a
renewal of their Clean Water Act claims. Ryan Vancil, an attorney
who wrote the
2011 letter (PDF 134 kb), no longer represents the group, but
members are consulting with a new lawyer.
Some of the best photographers in the world contribute to
National Geographic magazine. So it’s no wonder that a photo
contest sponsored each year by the publication draws in some
Last year, more than 7,000 entries were submitted by amateur and
professional photographers from 150 countries, and I would expect
an equal number this year. The deadline has passed for submissions
in 2014, and the winner of the $10,000 grand prize plus several
runners-up will be announced later this month.