FEMA prepares for Cascadia Subduction Zone 2016 Earthquake and Tsunami Exercise

Federal Emergency Management Agency staff, and emergency responders from around the state met in Ocean Shores last week to get the public involved in a major exercise planned for 2016.
Chuck Wallace with the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Agency said on Thursday it’s all to prepare the public and private sectors for a mock 9.0 Earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a major fault line that runs through the county.

The Cascadia subduction zone (also referred to as the Cascadia fault) is a subduction zone, a type of convergent plate boundary that stretches from northern Vancouver Island to northern California.
The Cascadia subduction zone (also referred to as the Cascadia fault) is a subduction zone, a type of convergent plate boundary that stretches from northern Vancouver Island to northern California.

“How prepared are you today, to handle this? What do you believe will happen once this occures? And what kind of help do you need to get back in service? Because if this happens to our county, this impacts everybody.
Wallace said besides a tsunami, a CSZ earthquake will take out infrastructure “You’re going to feel the ground shake, you’re going to rattle and roll for a couple of minutes. You’re going to have some liquefaction where the ground becomes unstable, maybe water comes up through the ground [where] you normally wouldn’t think of. There’s some subsidence where they believe that the coastal area is going to drop about 4 to 6 feet and that will go probably almost to the county line before it levels out again.

The Exercise is from some of the same FEMA Region 10 crew that brought us The Great Washington Shake Out – registration for which just opened online by the way. Expect to hear more in the coming years about the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) 2016 Earthquake and Tsunami Exercise.

DNR puts geoduck tract off-limits, pending further testing

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced several measures to address China’s action on shellfish imports and to ensure the safety of shellfish from Washington’s waters.


On December 5, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) notified the state that China had banned imports of all “molluscan” shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels and scallops) from much of the North American west coast. China stated it had detected paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) and arsenic in geoducks from “Area 67,” which covers the west coast from Alaska to northern California.


Effective immediately, DNR has closed the Redondo tract, a 135-acre area of state-owned aquatic lands in Puget Sound managed by DNR, to commercial harvest of geoducks, and the Puyallup Tribe has concurred. The Redondo tract was identified as the source of China’s concern about high arsenic levels in imported geoducks.


“Out of respect for China’s recent action, DNR is working with sister agencies, including the State Department of Health and NOAA, as well as tribal and industry partners, to investigate China’s concerns,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “We know this has been a hardship on our state’s shellfish industry, and we will work diligently to find resolution as quickly as possible. While state and federal testing results to date have not raised any health concerns, we take these steps out of an abundance of caution.”


Goldmark continued, “We also commend the swift action of the Puyallup Tribe to suspend indefinitely their usual and accustomed harvesting on the Redondo tract. Together with DNR’s action today, this means that no geoducks from the area at issue can enter the stream of commerce, domestically or internationally.”


More information about geoduck safety is available on the Department of Health website: http://1.usa.gov/JQw9GQ.


Background regarding DNR’s Wild Stock Geoduck Program can be found here: http://bit.ly/dnr_wild_geoduck.


DNR’s Wild Stock Geoduck Program
DNR is the manager and steward of more than 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands, including submerged lands that are home to wild stock geoducks. DNR sells the right to private contractors to harvest geoducks at public auctions several times a year. Half of revenue from these auctions helps pay for managing and restoring state-owned aquatic lands and resources. Wild stock geoducks are harvested by commercial divers between minus 18 and minus 70 feet. Commercial geoduck harvests take place during specific harvest periods and on selected tracts throughout the year.


Media Contact: Peter Lavallee, DNR Communications and Outreach Director, 360-902-1023 (office), (360) 870-3853 (mobile) peter.lavallee@dnr.wa.gov.

Feds to start shooting barred owls

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to start dispatching hunters into Northwest forests this fall to start a last-ditch effort to save the threatened northern spotted owl from extinction.

The agency on Tuesday released a final environmental review of an experiment to see if killing more than 3,000 barred owls in four study areas in Oregon, Washington and Northern California will help spotted owls – a threatened species – recover. Final approval is due in a month.

If it works – and there are other studies indicating it will – a regular program to reduce barred owl populations would be considered.

Barred owls are a bigger, more aggressive cousin of the spotted owl. They are less picky about food and forests, and they threaten the spotted owl’s survival.

DNR firefighter Albert Kassel receives Pacific Northwest Excellence in Dispatching Award for 2008

Joe Shramek, currently Acting Resource Protection Division Manager, and Kassel’s supervisor until January of this year, added his congratulations. “Albert is an outstanding example of everything I look for in a DNR firefighter. This award reflects commitment above and beyond; taking initiative to identify and resolve problems, to take care of staff and other DNR firefighters, and to work effectively with DNR’s firefighting partner agencies.”

Kassel came to work for DNR as a seasonal firefighter in June of 1990, while still in high school. In 1998, he graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Natural Resources Sciences, and joined DNR as a Forester 1. “I am truly honored,” said Kassel, noting the irony that he had nominated a colleague for the award.

Gerry A. Day, Manager of the Northwest Wildfire Coordinating Center which includes Washington and Oregon, submitted the nomination, which will now be entered for the national award. The agencies of the center are:  DNR, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Patrol, and Oregon Department of Forestry.

Day cited professional excellence in technical  performance, contribution to regional initiatives, and participation in the national efforts in Northern and Southern California during the past year. In addition, Day listed personal characteristics among Kassel’s winning attributes, such as,  positive attitude, customer service, persistence, determination, and follow-through.

In the nomination letter, Day wrote: “Albert sets himself apart from the pack by accepting challenges and making a personal commitment to seeing something through to completion. The staff at NWCC frequently remarked during the fire season that Albert was always available to solve a problem, answer a question or make a call to ensure a necessary action was executed. In one particular instance I phoned Albert and caught him with his kids in the car at the grocery store. It was a critical call with essential information that was needed by folks in northern California. He took the necessary action and later checked in to make sure the job was completed.”

Kassel describes his job as “moving our resources and allocating them to the best of my ability to support our DNR regions and our partner agencies.” He finds his work deeply satisfying, and credits the family atmosphere of teamwork and respect with the success for which he is being recognized.

DNR’s wildfire missionDNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 12.7 million acres of private and state-owned forestland. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department, with hundreds of people trained and available to be dispatched to fires when needed. During fire season, this includes several hundred DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency, about 375 seasonal workers, and about 500 Department of Corrections’ inmates who also participate in suppressing wildfires. DNR also participates in Washington’s interagency approach to wildland firefighting and relies on private sector contractors for certain firefighting resources.     

Peter Goldmark  is the 13th Commissioner of Public Lands since statehood in 1889, and the first from Eastern Washington.