Puget Sound & Pacific improving railroad crossings at entrances to Olympic Gateway Plaza in Aberdeen

A construction project to improve six railroad crossings at the East Wishkah Street/Olympic Highway/U.S. 12 entrances to the Olympic Gateway Plaza in Aberdeen is planned for Monday, July 21, through Wednesday, July 23, from 7 a.m. until approximately 5 p.m. each day.
Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad plans to close and completely rebuild each crossing, raising it back to the level of the streets. Two crossings per day are scheduled to be completed. To minimize inconvenience to shoppers and businesses at the plaza, no more than two crossings will be closed at any time during the project. Each rebuilt crossing will be reopened prior to the closure of any additional crossings.
“We understand that this creates some inconvenience for local business owners and shoppers, but when the last crossing is reopened on Thursday morning, people will have a significantly improved experience entering and exiting the plaza via the new crossings,” says Joel Haka, Puget Sound & Pacific president. “The project doesn’t add any capacity to the railroad but is being done to enhance safety at the crossings and improve quality of life for people utilizing them.”
The rebuild process consists of crews closing and removing the railroad track, tamping the railroad bed, replacing the wooden ties as needed, resurfacing and paving and reinstalling the rail.
Puget Sound & Pacific has invested more than $4.3 million in track upgrades since being acquired 18 months ago by Genesee & Wyoming, which owns 112 short line and regional freight railroads. After a highly unusual series of low-speed derailments two months ago, Puget Sound & Pacific plans to spend another $4.6 million on its track in the next 18 months.

About Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad (PSAP) transports freight over 108 miles of track in Northwest Washington, interchanging with BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. Major commodities include lumber, automobiles, agricultural products, waste, food and kindred products, and chemicals for pulp and paper mills.
PSAP provides the vital link between the Port of Grays Harbor and the national rail freight network. PSAP employees live and work in the same communities they serve and are committed to safely and efficiently supporting the growth that they help bring to the region.
PSAP was acquired in 2012 by Genesee & Wyoming, North America’s largest owner of short line and regional freight railroads and a safety leader in the industry.
See www.gwrr.com/psap

Board of Natural Resources approves land purchase on Olympic Peninsula for Common School Trust

OLYMPIA – The Board of Natural Resources today authorized the purchase of an 80-acre parcel of forestland on the Olympic Peninsula. The parcel, which is zoned as commercial forest, will be purchased from a private seller for $250,000. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will manage the acreage for plant and wildlife habitat and as a working forest to produce long-term revenue for the Common School Trust, which supports public school construction statewide.


Known as the West Siebert Creek parcel, the new acquisition is adjacent to a larger block of state trust land that also is managed by DNR. Funds for the purchase will come from previous sales of other state trust lands that no longer met DNR’s revenue and habitat management goals.


Sustainable harvest calculation discussed

Also at today’s meeting, Board members discussed the Western Washington Sustainable Harvest Calculation, which determines the level of future timber harvests on more than one million acres of state trust lands west of the Cascade Mountains. Board members expressed their desire for public input and thorough environmental review of the calculation. The Sustainable Harvest Calculation is designed to ensure sustainable revenue is produced from trust lands while sustaining healthy forest ecosystems and habitat for threatened and endangered species.


Board of Geographic Names
During today’s meeting, the Board briefly adjourned to meet as the state Board on Geographic Names, a function assigned to it by the state legislature, to consider proposals from the public. The new official geographic names and locations are:


Meyer Creek in Pierce County (Township: 21N, Range 1E, Section 2): This previously unnamed 0.5-mile-long stream flows into Lay Inlet at the town of Rosedale, 2.5 miles west of the City of Gig Harbor.  The name commemorates R. B. Meyer, who purchased a 49-acre parcel in 1928 to establish a dairy farm.


Golden Point in San Juan County (Township: 34N, Range 3E, Section 11): This previously unnamed 8-acre cape is located along the southern coast of San Juan Island, just inside the boundary of San Juan Island National Park, and on the east side of Eagle Cove. The name is intended to describe how the point looks at sunset.


Lee Island in San Juan County (Township: 34N, Range 3W, Section 4): A previously unnamed island located at the mouth of False Bay, San Juan Island. The name commemorates Emelia “Lee” Bave, an active community member who owned the property across from this island from the early 1950s until her death in 2008 at age 97.


Dickenson Cove in Thurston County (Township: 19N, Range 1W, Section 6): A previously unnamed cove, east of Dickenson Point, three miles northeast of the community of Boston Harbor. The name commemorates Thomas Dickenson who was a carpenter’s mate on an 1841 United State exploration expedition to the area.


Greenfield Creek in Thurston County (Township: 19N, Range 1W): A previously unnamed three-quarter-mile-long stream that flows into Puget Sound, northeast of the community of Boston Harbor. The name refers to location of the creek’s headwaters at a home site known informally as Greenfield Farm.


Longs Pond in Thurston County Township: (18N, Range 1W, Sections 15 & 22): A previously unnamed lake of approximately 11 acres in Woodland Creek Community Park in the city of Lacey. The name designation, which was requested by the City of Lacey Parks and Recreation Department, fulfills a verbal commitment the city made to honor the family of the property’s previous owner, Gil Long.


Washington State Board on Geographic Names
The State Board on Geographic Names is authorized by state law to establish the official names for lakes, mountains, streams, places, towns, and other geographic features of Washington State. Names approved by the Board are published in the Washington Administrative Code and forwarded to the United States Board on Geographic Names for federal consideration.

Lady Washington & Hawaiian Chieftain seek crew for special Canadian film charter July 13-17

Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain have immediate needs for crew during a special Canadian film charter July 13-17, 2014. Due to confidentiality, we can’t tell you the name of the production, but it’s happening in BC waters.
Both boats need licensed and unlicensed crew at all levels who have valid passports or enhanced Washington State drivers licenses and can travel into and out of Canada. You’ll join the ship in Anacortes, Wash., on July 12 and return to Anacortes on July 17. You’ll come home with a great story to tell. You may be able to stay with the boats longer if the need arises.
For details, please contact Roxie Underwood,runderwood@historicalseaport.org, 800-200-5239 today. Sailing experience preferred.
If you can’t join us for this charter, Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain need experienced crew during the rest of summer season in Puget Sound. A full listing of available paid positions on Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain is available on the Jobs page of our website.

PSnP, Genesee & Wyoming respond to recent derailments with plans to invest in local line

We’re sorry, embarrassed, and fixing our recent purchase. That was the sentiment from Puget Sound and Pacific this week to Commissioners at the Port of Grays Harbor, after recent slow-speed derailments in Grays Harbor.
“We’re in the business of moving freight, and we know that there is a lack of confidence in us to successfully move freight, and that’s what we do for a living.” Joel Haka, Senior VP of the Pacific Region railroads for Genesee & Wyoming, told Port Commissioners this week that the recent derailments are unusual, and unacceptable. “We don’t like to see derailments, and unfortunately we’ve had 3 pretty good sized derailments in the last month. We had a real small fourth one in Centralia about three weeks ago, in which nothing tipped over but it did leave the tracks and we had another issue.”
Haka said the first two derailments in Aberdeen were caused by mud spots, where he said mud pushed through stone underneath the railroad ties, the third derailment, behind Central Park, was caused by a thermal misalignment of the rail or “sun kinks.”
They purchased the local line from Rail America 18 months ago, Haka said they should have kicked the tires a little more, but “We believe in this railroad, we don’t have a lot of history with it quite frankly. We did not realize the state of the railroad and what it was , and now to insure that we don’t have any further derailments we have a real comprehensive 3-year plan.” Haka said the company plans to spend over 4.3 million this year, and nearly as much again next year on improvements to the line “That’s about three times the amount of money that Rail America put into this property. [in the two years prior]” The Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad operates about 150 miles of track from Centralia to the coast.

Public invited to weigh in on Washington state marine parks use and fees

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is asking the boating public to help the agency better understand how boaters use state marine parks and provide their views on possible changes to fees and policies for next year.

Boaters are invited to take an online survey at: www.parks.wa.gov/165/Boating-Fees. The 30-question confidential survey takes about 5 to 15 minutes to complete. The deadline to complete the survey is June 15. A summary of results will be posted on the same web page in July.

State Parks manages more than 40 marine parks, located primarily in Puget Sound. These parks are accessible only by boat and often feature floats or buoys for overnight moorage. Since 2009, the agency has lost almost 80 percent of its tax support, and moorage fees are well below market rates. Results from the survey will help guide State Parks in developing a sustainable funding structure as it takes a more market-based approach to managing all of its facilities.

Web survey boating

Maps showing marine park locations are available on the internet atwww.parks.wa.gov/648/Moorage. For more information about current boating-related fees for state marine parks, visit: www.parks.wa.gov/165/Boating-Fees. For more information about the survey, call (360) 902-8667.

Stay connected to your state parks by following Washington State Parks

at www.facebook.com/WashingtonStateParkswww.twitter.com/WaStatePks andwww.youtube.com/WashingtonStateParks. Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks blog site at www.AdventureAwaits.com.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 state parks and recreation programs, including long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.

Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visitwww.discoverpass.wa.gov.

Catch trout, salmon, crab across Washington during Free Fishing Weekend

Some of the most popular fishing opportunities are available for anglers in the coming weeks, including trout in hundreds of rivers, crab in south Puget Sound, chinook in the Columbia River and salmon in ocean waters along the coast.

Sound like fun? Prospective anglers who are interested in fishing but don’t have a fishing license can get in on the action during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 7-8.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. In addition, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required that weekend to park at any of the 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, thinking about taking it up or looking to introduce a friend or family member to fishing,” said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as season closures, size restrictions and bag limits will still be in effect.

In addition, all anglers will be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead or halibut they catch that weekend. They also must fill out a catch record card for crab, which is open only in South Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) during Free Fishing Weekend.

Catch record cards and WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state.

Of course, this month’s fishing opportunities don’t begin and end with Free Fishing Weekend. Other key dates for anglers include:

  • May 31 – Selective fisheries for hatchery chinook salmon open in marine areas 1-4.
  • June 1 – Crab fishing opens in Marine Area 13 south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
  • June 7 – Trout fishing opens in hundreds of rivers across the state.
  • June 14 – Traditional recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho get under way in marine areas 1-4.
  • June 16 – Fishing for summer chinook and sockeye salmon opens on the Columbia River from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.
  • July 3 – Crab fisheries open in most areas of Puget Sound, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available this month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/weekender/ . These reports are updated throughout the month to provide up-to-date information about recreational opportunities around the state.

Grays Harbor Community Foundation Announces Scholarships

The Grays Harbor Community Foundation announced the selection of the 2014 Scholarship winners earlier this month.  This year the Community Foundation received 387 applications and awarded 334 scholarships and renewals totaling over $535,000.

All scholarship winners, their families, school principals, counselors, and donors are invited to an Awards Breakfast at the Simpson Plaza in Hoquiam, Wednesday, May 28th at 8:00 a.m.  A continental breakfast will be served and the scholarship recipients, donors, and Board members are encouraged to meet each other. The students will receive certificates of award during a brief ceremony.

Cassie Lentz, Program Officer, says:  “This year was full of exciting milestones for our Scholarship Program. The percentage of students who successfully renewed their Scholarship awards was the highest it has ever been.  We also were excited to be able to offer seven new Scholarships in 2014: the Ardine Lewis Memorial Scholarship, the American Veteran’s Home Association Scholarship, Dr. John F. and Ella Mae Daly Memorial Scholarship, Edd and Annie Hodges Memorial Scholarship, Lou Messmer Scholarship, North River CommunityScholarships, andthe Scott Weatherwax University of Puget Sound Memorial Scholarship.  Our community has been extremely generous and it is because of them that our Scholarship program has continued to address the need of funding a quality education for those in our community.”

Rich Vroman, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee said, “We are proud of the growth our donors have allowed us to experience, this year that growth was exponential. We continue to receive new support from donors in all interest areas and are proud that our Scholarships cover a wide range of college, university and vocational technical support for students pursuing all types of careers.”

The Grays Harbor Community Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit with a mission:  “To improve the quality of life in the communities throughout Grays Harbor County.”  This is accomplished by many projects and processes, and by working through or supporting other non-profit organizations.

If you would like to learn more about the scholarship program or other programs, information is available on the Foundation website:  www.gh-cf.org, or you may contact:  Cassie Lentz at 532-1600 or by e-mail at:  info@gh-cf.org.  The address is:  Grays Harbor Community Foundation, P.O. Box 615, 705 J Street, Hoquiam, WA 98550.

Fish without a license during Washington’s Free Fishing Weekend June 7-8

Each year, thousands of Washingtonians go fishing – legally – without a license. How? By taking advantage of ‘Free Fishing Weekend,’ scheduled for June 7-8.


During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).


Anglers will not need a Two Pole Endorsement to fish with two poles on selected waters where two pole fishing is permitted. Anglers will also not need a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement, otherwise required to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries.


“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, have not taken up a rod and reel in years, or want to introduce a friend or young family member to the sport,” said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager.


Anglers have been catching daily limits of trout at lakes for the past month, and many rivers will open to trout fishing June 7 throughout the state. Other options available on Free Fishing Weekend include:


  • Hatchery chinook salmon in Washington’s ocean waters.
  • Lingcod on the coast and Puget Sound.
  • Bass, crappie, perch and other warmwater fish biting in lakes throughout eastern Washington.
  • Shad on the Columbia River.
  • Spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River.
  • Hatchery steelhead on the mainstem Columbia River and on rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.


WDFW has been working to expand Internet-based resources to suit anglers of all skill levels, said Donley, who encourages anglers to check the “Fish Washington” feature at the department’s homepage wdfw.wa.gov for details on fishing opportunities. The map-based webpage includes fishing information by county, lake and fish species throughout the state.


And, for those who prefer the show-and-tell approach, Donley recommends the department’s YouTube page http://www.youtube.com/thewdfw, with “how to” fishing videos designed to introduce techniques for both new and seasoned anglers.


While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as size limits, bag limits and closures will still be in effect. Anglers will also be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon or steelhead they catch.


Catch record cards and 2014/2015 sportfishing rules pamphlets are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/  on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer.


The sportfishing rules pamphlet also is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

WDFW cautions boaters to steer clear of killer whales

With summer approaching, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is reminding recreational boaters to give killer whales and other marine mammals a wide berth.

State and federal law requires boaters to stay at least 200 yards away from southern resident orcas and to avoid positioning their vessels in the path of oncoming whales. Boaters who inadvertently find themselves in violation of the 200 yard proximity are required to stop immediately and allow the whale to pass.

These regulations apply to a variety of small watercraft, including tour boats, private powerboats, commercial fishing boats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes and personal watercraft.

WDFW is preparing for a busy boating and whale-watching season, said Mike Cenci, WDFW’s deputy police chief.

“Boaters have a responsibility to keep their distance from these animals,” he said. “To make sure this happens, the department is increasing the number of enforcement patrols dedicated to monitoring boaters and their interactions with whales.”

WDFW issued 13 citations and dozens of warnings to recreational boaters last year. Federal law also includes broad restrictions against disturbing or harassing any marine mammal. Violating the state law can result in a fine of up to $1,025. The maximum fine under federal law is $10,000.

Human disturbances, including boat traffic, may interfere with the whales’ ability to feed, communicate with one another and care for their young, said Gary Wiles, WDFW wildlife biologist.

The southern resident orca population has declined to 80 whales, down from 98 in 1995. The population is classified as “endangered” by both the state of Washington and the federal government.

These whales, which mostly travel the waters of northern Puget Sound and the outer coast, account for the majority of orca whales found in Washington from early spring to late fall, Wiles said. Major threats to their survival include the declining abundance of chinook salmon, exposure to pollutants and disruptions from vessels.

Under state law, it is unlawful to:

  • Approach or cause a vessel to approach within 200 yards of a killer whale.
  • Position a vessel in the path of an orca at any point located within 400 yards of the whale. This includes intercepting a killer whale by positioning a vessel so that the prevailing wind or water current carries the vessel within 400 yards of the whale.
  • Fail to disengage the transmission of a vessel that is within 200 yards of an orca.
  • Feed a killer whale.

WDFW partners with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to enforce these laws.

To report violators, contact:

  • NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement at 1-800-853-1964.
  • During business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Monday through Friday, contact WDFW Police at 1-360-902-2936.
  • After hours, on weekends, and holidays, contact the local Washington State Patrol office for your area.

Additional information about the state law is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/orca. Whale-watching guidelines are available at http://www.bewhalewise.org.


WDFW schedules public meetings on plans to survey public and private beaches

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will host meetings in June to discuss plans to survey public and private beaches around south Puget Sound for forage fish habitat.

Beginning in June 2014, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to survey public and private beaches around south Puget Sound to document the spawning areas of forage fish.

The surveys are designed to determine where and when forage fish, such as surf smelt and Pacific sand lance, spawn in southern Puget Sound, said Phillip Dionne, WDFW research scientist.

In all, state marine biologists plan to survey 450 miles of public and private shoreline west of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, and Thurston counties. Volunteers from Puget SoundCorps will help crews look for eggs – some the size of a grain of sand, to mark spawning areas.

Landowners who want to deny access to their beach properties can opt out of the surveys by filling out this online form or by calling (360) 902-2552. Anyone who chooses to opt out will need to provide his or her name, property address and parcel number.


“Forage fish play a critical role in the food web, providing nutrients for marine mammals, seabirds, salmon and even people,” Dionne said. “We want to let landowners and beach-goers know our crews will be out on shorelines beginning in June, conducting research on forage fish for the next few years.”

WDFW has scheduled two public meetings on June 2 to discuss the beach surveys. The first meeting will begin at 10 a.m., the second at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be held in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia.

Landowners who don’t want their properties to be included in the beach surveys can opt out by calling (360) 902-2552 or by filling out a form online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/research/projects/marine_beach_spawning/opt-out.html .

During the beach surveys, WDFW crews will collect sediment samples to test for fish spawn, photograph beach conditions and take measurements at beaches in Thurston, Mason and Pierce counties. Beach surveys generally take no more than one hour per location.

In all, state marine biologists plan to survey 450 miles of shoreline west of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge with the help of volunteers from Puget SoundCorps. Crews will cover 1,000-foot beach sections and conduct their work by boat and on foot.

“At the end of the project, WDFW will have a better understanding of what makes good habitat for forage fish,” Dionne said.

He noted that an egg from a surf smelt or sand lance is about the size of a grain of sand, making it difficult for anyone to spot a spawning area with the naked eye.

For that reason, private landowners wouldn’t necessarily know if their beaches are being used by forage fish to spawn.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about forage fish and spawning habitat can visit WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/research/projects/marine_beach_spawning/.

Twelve Puget SoundCorps volunteers will participate in the beach survey project. A part of the Washington Conservation Corps, Puget SoundCorps employs young adults and military veterans, who dedicate up to two years to work on projects designed to restore and protect Puget Sound.

Corps members receive job skills and experience while earning money to pay student loans or continue their education. For more on Puget SoundCorps, visit http://www.ecy.wa.gov/wcc/psc.html .