Archive for July 2012

Paint The Corridor Kicks Off With WET PAINT

Paul Stritmatter, a local attorney, offered the idea for the program and has been a major donor since its inception. “I love this community and want us to put our best face forward for those of us who work, live, and visit Grays Harbor County,” said Stritmatter. “It is a matter of pride in our place.”

“We have Teams representing banks and businesses, churches and non-profit organizations; it is a real community effort,” says Dave Murnen, Director of NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor.

Opportunities are still available if you would like to lend a hand to prep and paint homes. For more information on how you can help, please contact NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor at 360-533-7828.

Copalis Crossing Couple Located in Clallam County

COPALIS CROSSING, Wash. – The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Department has cancelled the attempt to locate Roy and Bonnie Buchanan, the couple was located in Clallam County this morning.
Chief Criminal Deputy Dave Pimentel tells us Roy and Bonnie Buchanan went missing yesterday evening, after asking for directions 5 miles from their home.
Pimentel said after the couple were seen in Copalis Crossing around 5 last night asking for directions to their home, their vehicle was seen once more in Hoquiam, around 6pm.

Westport To Open For Daily Salmon Fishing

Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season, and announce any other changes on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ .

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum size limits and area catch guidelines, is available in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

Army Corps. of Engineers to Rebuild Willapa Dune

During dredging, crews will trawl the borrow site to determine Dungeness crab population density. Crews will return to the area next year and add empty oyster shells to the subsurface as a mitigation measure to create habitat and help repopulate the area more quickly.

Once the berm is reconstructed, the crest and landward side will be planted with American dune grass as an erosion control measure.

This portion of the two-phase dune restoration project is expected to be complete by late October. The next phase, ecosystem restoration, is scheduled to begin in 2014, allowing time for earthwork to settle.

“We want to give the area a couple of years to settle in, see how things change behind the berm, what processes take over, and then we’ll look at what we want to do for the restoration effort,” Jackson said. In addition, the berm will need to be renourished about every five years, dependent upon storm damage.

The Corps consulted with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on critical habitat needs for plover. Throughout the planning process, the Corps also coordinated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Natural Resources.

WDFW Seeks Input on Pocket Gophers


Schirato said any new findings will be reflected in a recovery plan for the species that WDFW has scheduled for completion by the end of the year. The department also plans to share its findings with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is expected to announce in September whether it will propose listing pocket gophers under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“In both cases, the findings of this updated survey could affect the future management of Mazama pocket gophers in our state,” Schirato said. “We want to make sure we have a thorough understanding of the species’ status to ensure that future management is consistent with both the species’ biology and landowners’ interests.”

Carrying clipboards and GPS units, the survey teams will look for mounds and other evidence of gophers at hundreds of sites in Thurston, Mason, Pierce, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Clark, Clallam and Wahkiakum counties. New range expansions will be verified by live-trapping the animals.

As part of the investigation, WDFW will seek permission from private landowners in some areas to look for gophers on their property, said Schirato, noting that about half of all known gopher populations are on private lands.
“We need to survey some of those lands to truly understand the species distribution,” he said. “We’re especially interested in private timberlands, where we’ve had some unexpected gopher sightings in recent years.”

Scientists have never considered timberlands prime pocket gopher habitat. WDFW’s initial status review of the species conducted in 2005 describes the Mazama pocket gopher as “a creature of the south Puget Sound prairie landscape.” Two of the state’s largest known gopher populations are at the Olympia Airport and the Shelton Airport.

According to that review, “habitat loss to succession, agriculture and development has eliminated most of the prairie vegetation, and habitat continues to be lost to residential development.” With the state’s remaining pocket gopher population estimated “in the low thousands,” the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to list the species for state protection in 2006.

Since then, however, gopher mounds have been reported in areas and terrain quite different from the South Sound prairies, Schirato said. Two such areas are the Capitol Forest in Thurston County and forestlands in Mason County – primarily in clear-cut areas, near roadways, and along power line easements.

“We conducted an exploratory survey in forested areas of Mason County last August and confirmed the presence of pocket gophers at several sites through live-trapping,” Schirato said. “Now we’re taking a closer look at those sites and others in Western Washington to update our status report for this species.”

Finding new gopher populations is just one step in determining whether pocket gophers require special protection, Schirato said. Distribution, survival rates and the availability of suitable habitat are also important factors in assessing the future viability of the species, he said.

“This survey isn’t just about finding gopher mounds,” Schirato said. “If we find a significant gopher presence in disturbed forested areas, we have to consider what happens when the trees grow up and the conditions change. We know how these animals use the prairies, but can they survive long-term in other habitats?”

Historically, pocket gophers have played an important role in the ecology of the open meadows, prairies and grasslands at the southern end of Puget Sound, according to the 2005 status report and a number of independent studies. Through their burrowing, they turn the soil, increase plant diversity and provide refuge for smaller animals, according to a range of scientific studies. They are also an important prey species for hawks, owls and other predators.

Sun and Surf Run This Weekend in Ocean Shores

OCEAN SHORES, Wash. – They are already arriving and the sound of engines has been reverberating throughout the afternoon. The annual Sun and Surf Motorcycle Run brings over 90 vendors, bands, bar, beer, a tattoo contest, an auction, a parade, a poker run, a bonfire, bike show, and concerts all benefitting various charities including our North Beach PAWS and food bank.

Executive Director of the North Beach Chamber of Commerce Patricia Wright tells us planners are anticipating over 4500 bikers will attend this event which runs from Thursday to Sunday. The Chuck Williams memorial parade – the parade of motorcycles – is scheduled to leave Hoquiam at 9:15 and will parade through Ocean Shores on their way to the Convention Center.

There is an extensive website laying out the events and the schedule at http://sunandsurfevent.com/printschedule.html. Most bike related activities will be on Chance a la Mer (be aware of street closures) or the Convention Center parking lot. Concerts will be held in the convention center and all events for the entire weekend are included in the $20 price of the wristband donation.

Grays Harbor Officials Eye Suicide Attempt Rates

ABERDEEN, Wash. – Grays Harbor Community Hospital and Mark Reed Emergency Departments, EMS providers, and Public Health are teaming up to monitor suicide attempts among young people. The new reporting system is intended to give public health officials more insight into the suicidal behavior of local young people, and to enable mental health and public health workers to be ready to help youth-serving agencies and individuals understand and respond quickly when local young people may be in distress over such an event.

The system is modeled after a very successful effort in Oregon, some information is already available to us about deaths from suicide, but we really don’t know what is happening with suicide attempts. Understanding all of this better has helped the state of Oregon prevent youth suicides, so we think it is an important and worthwhile effort. - Joan Brewster, Grays Harbor’s Public Health Director

The new reporting requirement, which applies only to hospital emergency rooms, will be in effect for one year so that the effort can be evaluated.  The new reporting system begins on August 1. Reporting will continue after one year only if the effort is shown to provide community benefit.

We are concerned about suicide among our young people and happy to support Public Health in this effort, we want to do whatever we can to help our community prevent youth suicide. - David Quigg, the Director of Public Relations for Grays Harbor Community Hospital

Pontoons to Float From Aberdeen Next Week

In May, cracks developed in an isolated area of a longitudinal pontoon. Additional cracks developed in a different pontoon in June. Repairs made since then were reviewed and endorsed by a panel of construction experts.

“We’re ready to float out these pontoons,” said Julie Meredith, SR 520 program director for the Washington State Department of Transportation. “We’re looking forward to connecting them starting this summer, and people crossing Lake Washington will have a front-row seat as the bridge takes shape.”

At the peak of construction on the first Aberdeen pontoons, nearly 400 workers were building forms, installing steel rebar and pouring concrete. There are five more cycles with 27 more floating bridge pontoons planned for construction in Aberdeen between now and 2014.

“Once the first six pontoons are floated out, we’ll shift gears for another round of construction – and we’ll again be turning to local carpenters, steel workers and concrete workers to help fill this basin with the next six pontoons,” said Phil Wallace, Kiewit-General project director for the pontoon project.

Completed pontoons will be inspected to make sure they are watertight. This summer, they will be towed around the Olympic Peninsula to Lake Washington and the next phase of construction.

The SR 520 Pontoon Construction Project created a casting basin to build 33 pontoons for a replacement SR 520 floating bridge on Lake Washington. Under a $367.3 million contract with WSDOT, Kiewit-General built the basin and is constructing pontoons. Construction began in spring 2011.

Kiewit-General-Manson Joint Venture has a $586.6 million contract with WSDOT to build the floating bridge project – including 44 pontoons in Tacoma and assembly of the floating bridge on Lake Washington. Construction began spring 2012.

The replacement six-lane floating bridge is scheduled to open to traffic by July 2015, but could open as early as December 2014 under the contractor’s aggressive schedule. Project information is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR520Bridge.

North Coast Bottomfish Fishery Will Remain Open Through Labor Day

“Anglers took most of the quota as bycatch during the popular north coast halibut openings in May,” Reed said. “That didn’t leave us any margin for bottomfish seasons off the north coast for the rest of the year.”

Since then, however, the department has learned that the June yelloweye catch was lower than expected, and that yelloweye catch reserved for coastal research projects will be lower than originally anticipated.

“This new information gives us some flexibility to minimize the impacts to our coastal communities and allow our recreational bottomfish fishery to remain open through Labor Day,” Reed said. “We still have to close the fishery early, but not as early as we had thought.”

Reed said the department plans to look for ways to address high yelloweye harvest rates in the early season to avoid the need for early bottomfish closures in future years.

Aberdeen Public Works Director Larry Bledsoe to Retire

ABERDEEN, Wash. – The City of Aberdeen will spend $20-thousand to search for a new Public Works Director. City Councilman Jeff Cook said last night that current Director Larry Bledsoe plans to retire by the end of the year.
Aberdeen Mayor Bill Simpson said Larry was a problem solver on day one, and he continues to his last day, Bledsoe cut his own hours in order to budget for the search.