U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reopens comment period on proposal to list West Coast Fisher populations

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has reopened the comment period on a proposal to list the West Coast population of fisher as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service has also extended its deadline to make a final decision whether to list the species to April 7, 2016.

The Service is opening a 30-day public comment period to solicit additional information to more fully inform the final listing decision. Specifically, the agency is seeking additional information on threats to the fisher population.

The fisher is a large, stocky, dark brown member of the weasel family, and is related to the mink, otter and marten. About the size of a house cat, the fisher has a long bushy tail, short rounded ears, short legs, and a low-to-the-ground appearance.

During the reopened comment period, the Service seeks information related to toxicants and rodenticides used at marijuana grow sites, including law enforcement information on the scope and severity of this problem, and trend data related to the use of toxicants/rodenticides. Previously submitted comments are in the record and they do not need to be resubmitted.

The Service is also seeking additional information for West Coast fisher population surveys, which will help assess fisher distribution and population trends. The Service is particularly interested in the surveys in which no fishers were found.

Additional guidance on submitting public comments can be found in the Federal Register notice at https://www.federalregister.gov (search for key word “fisher”), or on the agency website at: http://www.fws.gov/cno/es/fisher/.

Comments and information can be submitted by one of the following methods:

• Electronically at http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R8–ES–2014–0041.  You may submit information by clicking on “Comment Now.”

• Paper copy, via the U.S. mail or hand delivery, to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2014–0041. Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/cno. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to Review Northern Spotted Owl Endangered Species Act Status

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is commencing an evaluation of the status of the northern spotted owl, as required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
This review is the result of a petition to change the status of the owl from threatened to endangered. The review will also serve as the five-year review of the species as required under the ESA, and which was last completed in 2011. A five-year status review evaluates whether a federally protected species should remain listed, or if it meets the criteria for reclassification.

A petition from the Environmental Protection Information Center requested the northern spotted owl be reclassified from threatened to endangered under the ESA. The ensuing 90-day finding, which will publish in the Federal Register on April 10, determined the petition included substantial information that warrants further review, which automatically triggers a 12-month species review  The Service will not make any finding as to whether the status of the species has changed until after that review.

The population of the northern spotted owl, which is currently listed as threatened, is declining across most of the species’ range. The most recent available data on the owl report a 2.9 percent range-wide population decline per year, although declines as high as 5.9 percent per year have been observed in some areas.

The two main threats to the survival of the northern spotted owl are habitat loss and competition from barred owls.  Barred owls have spread westward, encroaching on spotted owl territories and out-competing them. While the Northwest Forest Plan has helped reduce habitat loss on federal lands since 1994, the threat from barred owls has intensified. Preliminary results from an experiment testing the effects of removing barred owls from select areas of northern spotted owl habitat show promise in benefitting northern spotted owls and will help inform this review.

“The best tools we have to prevent spotted owls from going extinct are continued habitat protection and barred owl management, both of which are recommended in the recovery plan,” said Paul Henson, Oregon State Supervisor for the Service. “On a positive note, the experimental removal of barred owls is showing real promise, with early reports indicating that spotted owl populations rebound when barred owl populations are reduced. Our review of the spotted owl will tell us whether current efforts to address threats are sufficient.”

The Service will use the best available scientific and commercial information, including data from the barred owl removal experiment, in the review. To assist in the review, the Service is requesting input from the public and scientific community, including information on biology, possible threats, population trends and habitat conditions for the species. Information can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov, or by U.S. mail or hand delivery at Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R1–ES–2014–0061, Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Va. 22041-3803.

For more information on the northern spotted owl, visit http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=B08B.

WorkSource has a new VA Benefits Service Officer

Veteran’s Affairs Benefits Assistance has returned to the WorkSource Grays Harbor office in Aberdeen. Office co-manager Ron Schmidt tells us from 9am to 3pm every Friday, JC will be on hand to help with disability compensation, vet and survivor pensions, as well as aid and attendance access.
To schedule an appointment, call JC at (253) 961-9965
The Worksource Grays Harbor Office id located at 511 West Heron Street in Aberdeen.

U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hold public discussions on the future of America’s waterways

The U.S. Coast Guard, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will hold nationwide public discussions on navigational aid technology and how it will affect the future of America’s waterways.

The Future of Navigation-21st Century Waterways public listening sessions will be held in several locations across the country and will provide venues for open communications between various federal agencies and U.S. Maritime Transportation System stakeholders to discuss the joint federal agency initiative to use modern technology to support a safer, more efficient, more secure and environmentally-sound Marine Transportation System.

These listening sessions will provide the maritime community — both professional and recreational mariners — and waterways stakeholders an opportunity beyond traditional venues to express their emerging needs for navigational information and service delivery systems necessary to improve the safety and efficiency of transits on the nation’s waterways.

Scheduled 2014 sessions are listed below:

  • May 1: Prospector Hotel, Juneau, Alaska
  • May 7: 1350 Port of New Orleans Place, New Orleans, La.
  • May 19: Harborview Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • May 22: Renaissance Hotel & Waterfront Conference Center, Portsmouth, Va.
  • May 22: Embassy Suites, 110 SE 17th St., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
  • June 3: Seattle Public Library, Seattle, Wash.
  • June 3: Volpe Center, Cambridge, Mass.
  • June 10: U.S. Customs House, New York City, N.Y.
  • June 12: DoubleTree Hotel, Port Huron, Mich.

Other sessions tentatively scheduled are:

  • Alameda, Calif., and St. Louis, Mo. (dates to be determined)

VA Mobile Vet Center to visit Olympic Peninsula

VA uses Mobile Outreach Teams as a way to increase access to counseling services for Veterans and their families in rural and underserved communities across the country. If you are a Veteran or active duty servicemember who has served in a combat zone in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Persian Gulf, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq or Afghanistan,  you may be eligible for free counseling.  If you find yourself to be easily angered or startled, have lost interest in activities you used to enjoy, find yourself re-experiencing traumatic events, or avoiding things that remind you of those events, having difficulty in concentration or memory, or feel that you are emotionally numb towards others, please come and talk to a counselor to determine if you could benefit from counseling.  VA benefits and referrals are available to all qualifying Veterans regardless of combat service status.

VA has 300 Vet Centers serving communities across the country, offering individual and group counseling for Veterans and their families, family counseling for military related issues, bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death, military sexual trauma counseling and referral, outreach and education, VA benefits explanation and referral, and screening and referral for medical issues including traumatic brain injury and depression.  For more information on services provided visit www.vetcenter.va.gov

Veteran’s Affairs Mobile Vet Center scheduled to come to Ocean Shores

 If you find yourself to be easily angered or startled, have lost interest in activities you used to enjoy, find yourself re-experiencing traumatic events, or avoiding things that remind you of those events, having difficulty in concentration or memory, or feel that you are emotionally numb towards others, come and talk to a counselor to determine if you could benefit from counseling.  VA benefits and referrals are available to all qualifying veterans regardless of combat service status.

VA has 300 Vet Centers serving communities across the country, offering individual and group counseling for Veterans and their families, family counseling for military related issues, bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death, military sexual trauma counseling and referral, outreach and education, VA benefits explanation and referral, and screening and referral for medical issues including traumatic brain injury and depression.  For more information on services provided visit www.vetcenter.va.gov.

For more information on this event, please contact Brandon Jones, Jason Scott, or Mark Buckler at (253) 565-7038.

VA Mobile Vet Center scheduled to visit Aberdeen

If you find yourself to be easily angered or startled, have lost interest in activities you used to enjoy, find yourself re-experiencing traumatic events, or avoiding things that remind you of those events, having difficulty in concentration or memory, or feel that you are emotionally numb towards others, come and talk to a counselor to determine if you could benefit from counseling. VA benefits and referrals are available to all qualifying veterans regardless of combat service status.
VA has 300 Vet Centers serving communities across the country, offering individual and group counseling for Veterans and their families, family counseling for military related issues, bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death, military sexual trauma counseling and referral, outreach and education, VA benefits explanation and referral, and screening and referral for medical issues including traumatic brain injury and depression. For more information on services provided visit www.vetcenter.va.gov. 
For more information on this event, please contact Brandon Jones, Jason Scott, or Mark Buckler at (253) 565-7038.

Aberdeen VFW to Close For Building Repairs

A little over two years ago, members and employees of the post began to notice cracks in the ceiling in the “great hall” where the post hosts public dinners, events, and twice weekly bingo.  After some investigation, it was found that some of the rafters had split and the toe-nail joints had begun to pull apart.  It was believed that the damage was the result of the December 2007 wind storm, so an insurance claim was submitted.

After some initial research, the insurance company sent a “forensic engineer” to evaluate the 1908 Bijou Theater building that was converted by the VFW, after the 1999 fire that destroyed their building that stood in the current parking lot next to the Kaufman Scroggs Home Furnishings store.  This engineer determined that much of the damage had years of age and that some modifications had been made over the years that compromised the building structure.  They denied the claim.

So, the Post will receive no insurance money to repair the damage.  The officers of the Post and the Auxiliary have been trying to figure out how to make the repairs since.  Long time Post Quartermaster, Terry Holderman, says:  “We have been watching the ceiling cracks spread and grow, with mounting safety concerns.  It is now time to close, so that no one gets hurt.”

The 40 et 8 has graciously agreed to allow the Post and Auxiliary to hold their meetings on the first Tuesday of the month in their meeting room.  The Ladies Auxiliary will meet at 6:30 p.m. and the Post membership will meet at 7:30 p.m. following the Auxiliary.  The Aberdeen Eagles have agreed host the Aberdeen VFW Bingo games on Monday and Wednesday evenings. 

Our Service Officer will continue to meet with Veterans and their family members at WorkSource, when he returns from a medical absence and the VA Medical Services Van will continue to visit Aberdeen, Wednesday through Friday during the second week of the month, for the remainder of the year.

“Most post functions will continue,” says Commander Daly.  “We are just sorry that we must discontinue our lounge and dinner operations.”

He said:  “We have had several local contractors, a local architect, and an engineer in to look at the project, but have not yet developed a complete repair plan.  We hope that in the next couple of weeks we can get a structural engineer to develop the plans we need to get some estimates, get funding, and get the repair work under way.  We would like to be back in operation in the fall.”

“We have been working with Anchor Bank to develop the necessary financing.  The public may even make donations in support of the Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars Building Program, at any branch of Anchor Bank,” says Quartermaster Holderman.

Ladies Auxiliary President, Nell Todd, says:  “We will find it difficult to accomplish our community service projects for veterans, their families, and the kids of Grays Harbor without a building.  We always look forward to serving our community with our Aberdeen Downtown Trick or Treat, Thanksgiving Food Baskets, Christmas Food and Present Baskets, the Annual Fishing Derby, and much more.”

Commander Daly said:  “We will also miss hosting the pool leagues and the many fundraising event that other nonprofits hold in our facility.  But we look forward to reopening and seeing all our friends again, in our house.”