Senate Passes Extension of Cantwell-Championed Rural Schools, Roads Program

Secure Rural Schools program invested over $400,000 in Grays Harbor County in 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate passed an extension of a key program championed by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) that is critical for roads and schools in Washington state’s forest-dependent counties. The bill, as amended by the Senate and approved on Thursday by a 97-2 margin, would extend the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program.

 

Cantwell called for the program’s extension during a March committee hearing and has long been a leader on continuing SRS payments to rural counties across Washington state and the nation.

 

SRS helps compensate counties for revenue lost from declining U.S. Forest Service timber harvests on federal lands near forest communities. The Senate bill would extend SRS for one year and invest $263 million into the program. The legislation now heads to the House for a vote. Unless the House acts, counties will not receive any support from SRS this calendar year.

State disciplines health care providers

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington State Department of Health has taken disciplinary actions or withdrawn charges against health care providers in our state.

The department’s Health Systems Quality Assurance Division works with boards, commissions, and advisory committees to set licensing standards for more than 80 health care professions (e.g., medical doctors, nurses, counselors).

Information about health care providers is on the agency website. Click on “Look up a healthcare provider license” in the “How Do I?” section of the Department of Health website (doh.wa.gov). The site includes information about a health care provider’s license status, the expiration and renewal date of their credential, disciplinary actions and copies of legal documents issued after July 1998. This information is also available by calling 360-236-4700. Consumers who think a health care provider acted unprofessionally are encouraged to call and report their complaint.

Anglers Enjoy Big Trout, Nice Weather on Opening Day of Lowland Lakes Season

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Good weather and big trout helped to boost catch rates on opening day of this year’s lowland lakes fishing season.

Based on creel checks conducted at 112 lakes around the state, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) estimates that anglers caught an average of 3.99 trout on opening day Saturday, April 28.

The weather was good and so was the fishing, we saw a lot of limits taken at lakes around the state. - Chris Donley, WDFW’s Inland Fish manager

For most lakes, the daily limit is five fish. Donley said the 5,129 anglers contacted by WDFW on opening day retained an average of 2.6 trout - up from 2.3 fish in recent years. The rest were released.

One reason for the higher retention rate may be that three million of the "catchable-size" trout WDFW planted before the opener averaged 11-13 inches, about a third larger than before. Many lakes were also stocked with thousands of triploids, broodstock and other large trout weighing up to 11 pounds apiece.

Lots of folks noticed those larger fish, with bigger fish and cool but sunny weather, it was all in all a good opener. - Mark Downen, a WDFW fish biologist for Mason and Kitsap counties

Samish Bay Closure Leads to Commercial Shellfish Recall

OLYMPIA, Wash. - State health officials closed Samish Bay to shellfish harvest due to pollution for the second time this month and recalled shellfish harvested from the area since Tuesday.

The closure was imposed after high levels of fecal bacteria were found in the Samish River by Skagit County. The Department of Health protocols require that when fecal bacteria levels are high in the river, the bay must be closed to assure that contaminated shellfish are not marketed.

Shellfish harvested from Samish Bay on Tuesday and Wednesday have been successfully recalled. All of the shellfish harvested on those days have been accounted for and kept out of retail markets and restaurants.

This closure is unusual because it wasn’t triggered by heavy rains or high water flow as were the recent pollution closures on March 10 and April 5. The bay is closed until further notice. The source of the pollution is under investigation.

WSDOT puts surplus lands up for public auction

OLYMPIA - The Washington State Department of Transportation will auction its surplus property Tuesday, April 28. WSDOT is selling 18 parcels of land across the state varying in size from a small piece of land adjacent to a highway to larger view lots in Puget Sound.

The Washington State Legislature has asked WSDOT to review its inventory of unused land and sell what is no longer needed for highway purposes. Disposing of the property reduces WSDOT’s liability and upkeep of the parcels, as well as generating revenues for the motor vehicle fund.

WSDOT has the ability to use the auction process to sell its surplus properties on the open market.  This auction is the first of two WSDOT will conduct this year, with the potential for more within the next four years.

Shellfish update: fewer growing areas threatened with closure in 2010

OLYMPIA ¾ About 10 percent of Washington’s commercial shellfish growing areas are threatened with closure this year because of pollution, a dramatic drop from previous years. The Department of Health is closing part of one area.

“We’ve seen improvement in water quality in many shellfish growing areas over the past year,” said Bob Woolrich, growing area manager for the agency. “Nevertheless, in 10 shellfish growing areas, the livelihoods of shellfish farmers are threatened by pollution closures.”

Sixteen growing areas were listed as threatened areas in 2009. The 10 areas listed this year is among the lowest since the department began its annual listing in 1997. A portion of Burley Lagoon in Pierce County is being closed because of poor marine water quality.

Capitol State Forest closed to off-road riding until May 1

OLYMPIA – Even though the weather is warming up, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to remind off-road vehicle (ORV) riders that Capitol State Forest is closed to ORVs for the season and will re-open May 1.

“We have received reports from people who have witnessed ORV riding in areas that are clearly marked as closed for the season,” said Larry Raedel, chief law enforcement officer for DNR. “Riding on these trails too early in the season can cause damage to natural resources.”

Capitol State Forest is closed to ORV riding during the winter and early spring months, because the clay-based soils are still saturated and can’t support the weight and constant wear and tear from motorized vehicles. Additionally, ORV riding on muddy trails can cause sediment to enter nearby streams. DNR provides recreational access to the public on state trust lands, but it must also manage the lands sustainably to protect these areas’ natural resources and be in compliance with clean water laws.

Grays Harbor County organizations get salmon recovery grants from state

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board today announced the awarding of $42.8 million in grants to protect and restore salmon populations to communities across Washington.
“Salmon are an important part of Washington’s economy and culture. These grants are helping us reverse the decline in salmon populations we’ve seen over the past two decades,” said Steve Tharinger, chairman of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “These grants are not only good for salmon, the environment and the people of Washington, but they are good for the economy because much of this money will be awarded to local organizations to do restoration work in their local communities.”
The grants in the Puget Sound area also work toward implementing Governor Chris Gregoire’s initiative to restore Puget Sound.

Westport to Receive Ecology Funds to Prevent Flood Damage

WESTPORT, Wash. - The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is providing nearly $1.4 million to help 12 Washington communities fund projects to prevent future damages from floods.

During the 2009 legislative session, state lawmakers created a special account to help local towns, cities and counties fund targeted flood damage prevention activities.

The Legislature directed Ecology to give priority to communities least able to fund flood mitigation projects and those projects most ready to proceed.

Budget realities force DNR to reduce services at many recreation facilities across Washington

OLYMPIA - As the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants the public to know that it will be reducing services to many facilities at DNR-managed recreation sites.

DNR begins reducing services this week. A list of recreation sites affected by reductions in service is available at: www.dnr.wa.gov/Publications/amr_rec_sites_list_reduced_services_063009.pdf. A map of these sites is at www.dnr.wa.gov/Publications/amr_rec_sites_reduced_services063009.pdf (1.9 MB PDF file).

The public can still recreate on state trust lands that have reduced services; however, there will not be any amenities such as outhouses, picnic tables, signs, or garbage service at these sites. In addition, gates to some of these sites may be locked and the only way in may be on foot. DNR asks that people visiting these areas pack out whatever they pack in and observe other principles of outdoor stewardship such as ‘Leave No Trace'. (http://www.lnt.org/programs/principles.php)