Washington State seeks to purchase forest conservation easements

Landowners with threatened species habitat on their property may apply

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking landowners who wish to apply for permanent conservation easements through its Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program (RHOSP). Since 2002, the state of Washington has invested $3.9 million to purchase easements through the program.

“The program is about finding ways to achieve endangered species protections in partnership with economically viable forest management,” said Washington State Forester Aaron Everett. “This year’s program funds will be targeted in areas where recent science shows us that Northern spotted owls can benefit from strategic habitat protection.”

This year marks the first time funding has been provided by the state legislature since RHOSP was revised in 2013 to include habitat for species protected by the state as threatened or endangered. RHOSP also allows DNR to purchase easements from willing sellers whose property includes areas where a river’s active channel meanders – known as channel migration zones. These islands of timber have high ecological value to species like salmon and steelhead.

Interested landowners must apply by 5 p.m. on September 30, 2014.

Qualifications and priorities

To qualify for a conservation easement purchase through RHOSP, a property must be:

  • Located on forestland with critical habitat for state threatened or endangered species designated by the state Forest Practices Board, or include a channel migration zone;
  • Identified as either “designated forest land” (Chapter 84.33 RCW) or “current use forest land” (Chapter 84.34 RCW) on county assessor records; and
  • Free of unacceptable liabilities such as hazardous substances or other site conditions that may jeopardize the fisheries or environmental quality of the project area.

Applications will be prioritized for funding based on each property’s unique values, such as:

  • Ecological value to strategic Northern spotted owl emphasis areas, with special priority on the I-90 corridor and Klickitat County;
  • Habitat quality, biological characteristics, and significance;
  • Connectivity to other protected lands and areas with conservation agreements; and
  • Viability for conservation management.

 

Instructions and applications have been prepared for both the channel migration zone and critical habitat categories and are available on DNR’s RHOSP web page: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/BusinessPermits/Topics/OtherIndustryLandownerResources/Pages/riparian_open_space_program.aspx

Properties accepted into the program are ranked in priority for funding. Landowners whose easements are not purchased during the 2013-2015 state budgeting biennium will be offered the opportunity to be considered when future funding becomes available. RHOSP also accepts donations of conservation easements.

Landowners who wish to learn more about the program may reach Dan Pomerenk, RHOSP director, at 360-902-1427 or by email at dan.pomerenk@dnr.wa.gov

Washington State to set guidance for reclaiming wastewater

The state Department of Ecology is developing guidance for local governments so they have an approved, standardized approach to reclaim water.

 

“Water is our most precious natural resource and is declining in many parts of our state” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon. “If we can be more efficient, it will help us balance competing needs – providing water for people while protecting stream flows for fish.”

 

Reclaimed water is treated by sewer plants to ensure it’s safe for non-drinking uses, such as irrigating crops, flushing toilets or even controlling dust.

 

Reclaimed water can also be a resource to create, restore and enhance wetlands, recharge underground water supplies, and increase flows in our rivers.

 

Work that was paused in 2010 during the economic recession now picks up where the state left off. Ecology has “restarted the clock” on the official rule-making process, going back to the beginning of that formal process, but not on the development and writing of the rule.

 

The completed rule will provide technical standards and a predictable and efficient regulatory review and permitting process for local governments to reclaim water.

 

Ecology’s goal is for greater regulatory certainty when facilities want to reclaim water.

 

Ecology will begin the reclaimed water rule-making process by hosting a statewide videoconference workshop from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on July 14. Details are on Ecology’s website.

 

Ecology will reinstate a Rule Advisory Committee to address lingering issues or questions with the rule as needed.

 

To ask questions or learn more about opportunities to participate in the rule development process, contact Dennis McDonald at 360-407-6321 or email reclaimedwater@ecy.gov.

Department of Natural Resources launches derelict vessel “turn-in” program

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has developed a Vessel Turn-in Program (VTIP) to dismantle vessels that do not yet satisfy the legal definition of “derelict” or “abandoned,” but are likely to become derelict or abandoned in the near future, which could harm water quality and/or threaten public safety.

 

You may be eligible for the program if:

  • you are a Washington resident,
  • you own a boat that is 45-feet or less in length,
  • your boat is in poor condition or no longer functional, and
  • you want to dispose of your boat safely and legally but do not have the resources to do so.

 

DNR will accept and review applications for the VTIP on an ongoing basis and will conduct disposals quarterly. DNR will be working with various contractors and boatyards throughout the state. Public response will help determine dates and locations for disposals. Check the web page (http://1.usa.gov/1o488ds) for details or contact the VITP program at: dvrp@dnr.wa.gov or

360-902-BOAT (2628).

 

Since this is a pilot program, DNR will evaluate vessel applications quarterly on a first-come, first-served basis. If there is high demand or if funding becomes an issue, DNR will rate each vessel based on the application criteria (i.e., vessel age, condition and location). DNR will take vessels that are at a higher risk of becoming derelict or abandoned and will evaluate the “best value” removals for the state. If all other vessels are equal in scoring, DNR will use a lottery to determine which vessels will be accepted.

 

DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program
DNR manages over 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands. DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program administers the VTIP, as well as providing funding and expertise to authorized public agencies to assist with the removal of abandoned and derelict vessels from these aquatic lands. At any given time, there are about 200 derelict vessels on the rivers, lakes, and estuaries of Washington. Primary funding for the program comes from a $3 surcharge placed on annual vessel registration fees and an additional $5 charge added to non-resident vessel fees.

 

For more information about DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program, visit: http://bit.ly/dnr_dvrp.

Hoquiam turns on the spray park, Weather Service warns of cold rivers in hot weather

The city of Hoquiam has energized the spray park for the next couple days so kids can enjoy some early summer.  The park will be active from about 12-7 today and tomorrow, and will re-open again around Memorial Day weekend.

Pacific Northwest residents are being warned to be careful around rivers and lakes as temperatures rise into the 70s and 80s today and tomorrow. The National Weather Service says rivers fed by melting snow are around 45-to-50 degrees. People who jump or fall in could be immobilized by cold water shock or suffer from hypothermia. They also could be swept away in fast-moving currents. Warming has raised the avalanche danger for the west slopes of the Washington Cascades and the Mount Hood area.

Public input sought on potential habitat restoration project near Astoria

Portland, Ore. – The Bonneville Power Administration is seeking public input and comment on potential environmental impacts from a proposed project to restore a tidal marsh in Clatsop County, Ore., to benefit salmon and steelhead. An open house describing the proposed work will be held Jan. 14, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Oregon Department of Forestry in Astoria.
The Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project proposes to modify a levee to inundate historic wetlands on a 221-acre property at the confluence of the Wallooskee and Youngs rivers some five miles from the Columbia River. The restoration would include the creation of a network of tidal channels and the re-establishment of native vegetation. The project would enhance rearing and estuary habitat for juvenile salmon and steelhead as well as provide habitat for wildlife such as deer, elk and river otter.
BPA is considering funding the project to help mitigate for the impacts of the construction and operation of federal dams on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers, collectively referred to as the Federal Columbia River Power System. The work is being done by Astoria Wetlands, an environmental resources company.
After the restoration efforts, Astoria Wetlands would turn the property over to the Cowlitz Indian Tribe for long-term stewardship. BPA would maintain a conservation easement to ensure permanent protection of the property’s conservation values. To understand the potential environmental impacts of this proposal, BPA will prepare an environmental assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be a cooperating agency in the development of the assessment in their role as a permitting agency for levee modification and wetland work.

Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project Open House
Date: 4-7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14
Where: Nehalem Room, Oregon Department of Forestry, 92219 Highway 202, Astoria,
Ore.

At the meeting, there will be no formal presentation. Instead, members of the public can review displays and other materials. Representatives from BPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Astoria Wetlands will be on hand to answer questions. Public comments will be accepted at the meeting.
Additionally, comments will be accepted through Jan. 27 online at www.bpa.gov/goto/WallooskeeYoungs as well as the following venues:
Mail: Bonneville Power Administration, Public Affairs – DKE, P.O. Box 14428,
Portland, OR 97291-4428
Fax: 503-230-4019
Email: comments@bpa.gov
Phone: 800-622-4519 (toll-free)
Please refer to Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project when leaving a comment.

Hoquiam to Celebrate First First Thursday

The Polson Museum

The museum will be providing free admission to the main museum as well as our Railroad Camp shop. Come by to enter the “Red Wrangler Raffle” with tickets available for $20 each to win a 2012 Jeep Wrangler 4×4. We only sell 2,500 tickets and all proceeds help support museum operations. The Jeep will, of course, be right out front for folks to sit in and check out.

Six Rivers Gallery

Gray’s General Store
Hosting artist Sativa Miller. Stop in and get your photo taken with friends in our photo booth after you create your own props in our craft studio! Shop the store or check out the Stella and Dot Jewelry and Pollen Cosmetics special displays in store.

McHugh’s Furniture

Levee Feed

Tully’s Coffee

Parker & Winkelman Law

Jackson Street Books On 7th

Pure Clothing
Hosting visual artist Matt Coyle and live music from local musician Ericka Corban.

The Oriole
Offering $2 off any dinner entree between 5pm and 8pm

Ace Electric

Corporate Image

8th Street Ale House
Free fresh chips & salsa with a drink purchase between 5:00 and 8:00

Cosmopolis to Draft Resolution Against Wild Olympics Proposal

COSMOPOLIS, Wash. – The city of Cosmopolis could be next in line to make a stand on the Wild Olympics campaign, Mayor Vickie Raines said last night that Councilman Frank Chestnut requested a resolution in opposition be drafted and presented to the council at their June meeting, Hoquiam this week made a similar request. Aberdeen adopted a resolution last year opposing the campaign that seeks to place more control over Forest lands and rivers on the Olympic Penninsula.

Humptulips Fish Hatchery to Hire Clipping Crew

HUMPTULIPS, Wash. – The Humptulips Fish Hatchery will seek funding for a fish clipping crew, due to low volunteer turnout to get the coho and Chinook fry marked prior to their release. With 500-thousand of each, Ken Isaksson from the Department of Fish and Wildlife was hoping to clip 35,000 fish per day. Isakson said after the first two days he saw only 27,000 total clipped and was forced to resort to the more conventional, expensive method of hiring a crew.
Isaksson tells us severe budget cuts at the fishery have limited their ability to fund the mass marking, which is the removal of the adipose fin from each hatchery fish.
Volunteers are working against time, as the markings have to be completed before water temperatures reach 60 degrees. If the fish are not marked, they cannot be released into Washington rivers.

Some in GOP Push for Conservation Causes

The Alpine Lakes bill (HR 608) had its last subcommittee hearing in October. The group is urging Speaker Boehner to take up the package of conservation bills as quickly as possible.

The group’s mission, says DiPeso, is to move the GOP more to the ideological center when it comes to conservation. He points out that some of the nation’s major environmental decisions were made by Republican presidents, from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan, and says current efforts do not have to be so contentious.

“As former Gov. Dan Evans liked to say, there are no Republican rivers and there are no Democratic mountains. All these lands are for all Americans, for all time.”

In a recent hearing, House Natural Resources Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said designating more wilderness could restrict access for job-creating activities like logging and mining. But DiPeso’s group points out that plenty of public land exists for multiple use, and wilderness also brings economic benefits to an area.

More information is available at www.rep.org

NW Eulachon: A Little Fish with a Big Problem

NOAA lists numerous threats to eulachon in its proposal, including climate change, dams, dredging, and pollution. However, since the plan excludes the Pacific Ocean, it does not mention commercial fishing. Enticknap says trawling for pink shrimp off the coast also jeopardizes eulachon survival. He sees the NOAA plan as a good first step, but notes that eulachon spend most of their lives in the ocean, not the rivers.

“They’re not proposing any marine waters to be designated as critical, which we think is a major shortcoming in this proposal. We think that they do have enough information to identify those areas.”

NOAA’s plan mentions the importance of near-shore habitat, because that’s where the juvenile fish feed and grow, but says it does not have enough information about the eulachon’s ocean distribution to protect its habitat there.

Background on the species and a link to the proposal can be found at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/fish/pacificeulachon.htm. Comments about the plan can be made in writing to NOAA through March 7.