Tag Archives: Environment

Stream bugs offer clues to health of Bainbridge waters

Caddisfly casings cling to a rock pulled from Bainbridge’s Cooper Creek on Wednesday. (Below) a frog keeps a wary eye on its surroundings. (Tad Sooter photos)

When fly fishermen approach a stream they watch for a few familiar bugs. A flurry of mayflies, caddisflies or stoneflies tell an experienced angler what food fish are rising for.

When water quality specialists approach a stream they look for the same insects for different reasons. To the trained eye, those water-dwelling macro invertebrates offer clues to the overall health of a creek.

I received a crash course on stream bugs Wednesday as I tagged along with volunteers from the city’s Water Quality and Flow Monitoring Program, in preparation for a story on the city’s State of the Island’s Waters report, which was released with little fanfare earlier this summer.

Five years of data gathered from all 12 Bainbridge watersheds and around the island’s shoreline went into the report. It’s the first comprehensive study of island water health the city has completed. The report confirmed that many island streams still struggle with high levels of harmful bacteria and nutrients, and low dissolved oxygen.

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Kayaking congressman seeks federal boost for marine trail

The island’s own kayaking congressman wants to raise the profile of Puget Sound’s Cascadia Marine Trail, a 150-mile long network of campsites for human and wind-powered boats.

The Washington Water Trails Association, the group that established and oversees the trail, says the federal designation that Congressman Jay Inslee seeks could have special meaning for Kitsap County. In June, the WWTA had to remove three Kitsap sites from the trail after county officials made it known that no camping – even the bare bones, low-impact kind the water trail users adhere to – is allowed in county parks.

Federal designation could give boost funding, protections and clout necessary to expand the network closer to the WWTA’s goal of over 150 sites.

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A wave of shoreline regulation news

Lots of news on island shoreline protections at the tail end of last week.

The prospect of new development restrictions along waterfront properties brought out the largest crowd I’ve ever seen at City Hall (and I’ve been covering City Hall for over four years) last Wednesday.

Based on the applause during public testimony, the room (and the throng spilling out the door) was pretty evenly divided between waterfront property owners opposed to the new regs and residents (some of whom also live on the water) who want tougher shoreline habitat and water quality protections. That’s the crowd pictured above.

Read my story on that event here.

A day later, on Thursday, the state Supreme Court issued a decision that, in island marine habitat specialist Jim Brennan words, “sent a shock wave across Puget Sound.” The ruling effectively halted the city’s update of its shoreline regs, and may delay their implementation until 2011. Environmentalists booed. Many waterfront property owners cheered.

Read my story on the court’s ruling impact on Bainbridge here.

And for even more on the ruling’s wider implications, check out this story.

Gov. Gregoire storms island beach

Gov. Chris Gregoire sunk her feet in Waterfront Park’s gravel beach on Friday to give a campaign speech awash in the politics of Puget Sound.

“Four million folks live around Puget Sound,” she said, speaking to about 45 people sitting along the beach banks. “When people ask me who is responsible for Puget Sound, I tell them it’s four million folks. It’s every one of us.”

Running for re-election against Republican Dino Rossi, Gregoire’s noontime stop on Bainbridge was part of a boat tour of the Sound. Other stops on Friday included Bremerton and Twanoh State Park in Mason County.

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