Washington Department of Ecology seeks comment on updated oil spill plan for Nisqually River

The number of trains carrying crude oil along Washington rivers is increasing rapidly. To keep up with this trend and other changes in how oil is transported, the Washington Department of Ecology is updating contingency response plans in case of an oil spill. The most recently updated plan outlines strategies for responding to oil spills near the Nisqually River.

The Nisqually plan, first published in 1998, covers 42 miles of the lower river from the Nisqually Delta upstream to the La Grande Dam in Thurston and Pierce counties. It focuses on protecting public health, public safety and the environment, and is available for public review and comment now through May 20, 2015.

Potential risks to the Nisqually River come from oil transported by rail, highways and pipelines. The majority of oil transported by rail into Washington and Oregon enters Washington at the border with Idaho near Spokane. The oil is transported west along the Columbia River to Vancouver, then crosses Interstate 5 and the Nisqually River on its way to refineries in Anacortes and Ferndale.

The plan considers several sensitive and cultural resources, such as the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, which is located at the mouth of the river and serves as a preserve for hundreds of species of birds and other animals.

The Nisqually River plan is one of eight geographic response plans Ecology aims to complete before June 30, using special funding the Washington Legislature dedicated to help the state prepare for oil spills.

Comments on the plan can be emailed to grps@ecy.wa.gov, or mailed to:

Washington Department of Ecology

Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (NR-GRP)

P.O. Box 47600

Olympia, WA 98504-7600

Nisqually Plan

Nisqually River

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plans additional razor clam digs at Mocrocks

Razor clam diggers will have another beach to consider in May, thanks to a decision today by state shellfish managers to add Mocrocks to the list of tentatively scheduled openings.

Updated harvest estimates for Mocrocks show that beach has sufficient clams to support additional digs, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“We have reviewed our harvest levels to date and are excited to offer additional dates to round out a great razor clam season at Mocrocks,” Ayres said.

Final approval on upcoming digs will be announced after marine-toxin test results confirm the clams are safe to eat. For additional information about upcoming razor clam digs, see WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

Proposed digs are tentatively scheduled on the following dates, beaches and low tides (newly added digs are in bold):

 

  • May 2, Saturday; 6:23 a.m., 0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • May 3, Sunday; 6:59 a.m., -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

 

  • May 7, Thursday; 9:30 a.m., -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • May 8, Friday; 10:14 a.m., -0.7 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • May 9, Saturday; 11:03 a.m., -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • May 10, Sunday; 11:58 a.m., -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

 

  • May 15, Friday; 4:58 a.m., -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • May 16, Saturday; 5:50 a.m., -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • May 17, Sunday; 6:38 a.m., -1.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

 

  • May 22, Friday; 10:18 a.m., -0.8 feet; Mocrocks
  • May 23, Saturday; 11:03 a.m., -0.2 feet; Mocrocks
  • May 24, Sunday; 11:51 a.m., 0.3 feet; Mocrocks

Under state law, diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2015-16 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

Deadline to apply for special hunting permits in Washington State is May 20th

Hunters have through May 20 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington state.

Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in late June. The special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

To apply for a special permit, hunters planning to hunt for deer or elk must purchase an application and hunting license for those species and then submit their application.

Applications and licenses are available from license vendors statewide or on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/special_permits.html . Applications must be submitted on that website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free.

Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age.

The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any bighorn sheep ram and any moose, and “quality” categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

Instructions and details on applying for special-permit hunts are described on pages 12-13 of the 2015 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet, available at WDFW offices, license vendors, and online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations . Additional information is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/permits/faq.html .

Mick Cope, WDFW game division manager, reminds hunters to update their phone numbers, email and mailing addresses when purchasing their special hunting permit applications and licenses. Each year, hundreds of special hunting permits are returned due to invalid addresses.

Results of the special-permit drawing will be available online by the end of June at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wa/specialhuntlookup/ . Winners will be notified by mail or email by mid-July.

Fire fatality numbers down in Washington State for Third consecutive year

The 2014 Washington State Fire Fatality Report is now available on the web at www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/firemars.htm.  Considering 89% of fire fatalities occurred in residential occupancies last year, knowing how to protect yourself in the event of a house fire can save your life.

“In as little as two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening.  We want to raise awareness about the dangers and frequency of home fire deaths.  How we and our communities fare in a fire emergency depends heavily on the planning and preparation that we put into practice,” says State Fire Marshal Chuck Duffy.

For the third consecutive year, Washington State has continued to see a decrease in fire-related fatalities, with a total of 45 fatalities reported in 2014. Fire-related fatality figures in 2013 were 54 and in 2012 were 63. To learn how you can prevent home fires, visit the U.S. Fire Administration website at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/index.html.

The data used for this report was received from fire and law enforcement agencies throughout Washington State.  It was then collected into a centralized database for analysis and report development in accordance with the Revised Code of Washington 43.44.060.

Public comments being accepted for Nisqually River oil spill response plan

The draft oil spill response plan for the Nisqually River (called the Nisqually River Geographic Response Plan) is completed and available for review and comment: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/preparedness/GRP/NisquallyRiver/NisquallyRiver.htm. This is an update to an existing planning area.

Your review and comments are important and are part of the GRP update and development process. All comments are considered as the department works to develop the final version of the plan. Comments received will be included in a responsiveness summary that will be published immediately after the release of the final version of this Nisqually River Geographic Response Plan – due out before June 30th, 2015.

Sidewalk project temporarily reduces parking at Elma Safety Rest Area

A sidewalk repair project at the Elma Safety Rest Area on State Route 8 will lead to temporary parking changes. From Monday, April 20 through Thursday, April 23, all vehicles will use the semi-truck parking area.

During the maintenance project, the men’s restroom will be closed and portable toilets will be available. The women’s restroom will remain open. The work is occurring in advance of the busy summer travel season.

The Washington State Department of Transportation operates numerous Safety Rest Areas across the state to give travelers a place to rest before continuing on their journey.

Drivers can learn of traffic impacts by visiting WSDOT’s travel alerts and construction update webpages.

Hyperlinks within the news release:

  • WSDOT Safety Rest Areas

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/safety/restareas

  • Washington State Travel Alerts

http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts/

Wildfire season in Washington State begins today

Wildfire season officially begins April 15, as specified by state law, and already the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has had more than 60 forest fires reported this year on lands protected by the agency.

“This year, we have ominous predictions for a hot, dry summer,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “While we work hard to prepare for what could be a challenging season, there are some things property owners can and should do to prepare.”

Property owners can reduce fire risk to their homes and lands by keeping dead vegetation off roofs and away from buildings. The Firewise program explains how to use these techniques and offers incentives to communities who follow Firewise principles.

Prediction for this summer’s weather is available from the National Weather Service. The risk of wildfires can change rapidly during the spring when warmer, dryer weather increases. Among other things, that means people working in the woods or clearing land need to have fire prevention equipment on hand.

Already, above average temperatures and low snowpack have created dry grassland and forests. On March 13, Governor Inslee declared a drought in three Washington regions – the Olympic Peninsula, east slopes of the Central Cascades and Walla Walla.

Last year, more than 315,000 acres of DNR-protected lands were consumed by about 900 wildfires, in the state’s worst ever fire season.  Even though Washington experienced more lightning strikes than normal, 75 percent of the fires were human-caused.

Starting April 22, DNR will offer a series of wildfire preparedness meetings across eastern Washington aimed at helping residents in fire-prone areas of the state prepare for wildfire season.

The agency is also current requesting additional resources from the legislature to increase wildland firefighters and equipment, and to improve the health and fire resistance of Washington forests.

Washington’s summer fire rules

Washington’s “summer fire rules” are in effect April 15 through October 15. These rules apply to the 13 million acres of private and state forestlands protected from wildfire by DNR.

These regulations affect loggers, firewood cutters, land clearers, road builders, heavy equipment operators, off-road motorcyclists, and others. During fire season, people using motorized equipment in the woods must have approved spark arresters and follow fire safety precautions. In addition, those working in the woods must have fire prevention and extinguishing equipment in good working order at the job site and workers trained in proper use.

The rules are intended to prevent forest fires and to extinguish small fires before they spread. Those same rules restrict cigarette smoking in forested areas on roads, gravels pits, or other clearings. They also prohibit lighting fireworks on forestland.

Stay connected during wildfire season
Daily fire risk ratings available by phone and Internet

Industrial Fire Precaution Levels (IFPL) may change daily and classify varying levels of potential fire hazard in different parts of the state. People who work in the woods must observe the IFPL. More information is available from the following sources:

precaution levels, a map of current shutdown zones, and a copy of DNR’s Industrial Fire Precaution Level Bulletin.

  • DNR’s toll-free business line at 1-800-527-3305 plays a message identifying daily

industrial fire precaution levels, which are listed by geographical region. The hearing

impaired can phone Telephone Device for the Deaf at 1-800-833-6388.

  • Email DNR at RPD@dnr.wa.gov. Ask questions or request a copy of DNR’s Industrial

Fire Precaution Level Bulletin or additional information on safe outdoor burning of forest debris and safe recreational campfire tips.

DNR’s wildfire mission

Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 13 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department, with over 1,100 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes over 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 400 seasonal employees hired for firefighting duties. Additionally, Department of Corrections’ adult offenders and Department of Social and Health Services-Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration juvenile offenders support firefighting efforts through DNR’s Correctional Camps Program. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.

 

Eight days of morning razor clam digs approved, starting April 17 on Long Beach, Twin Harbors, and Mocrocks

Razor clam diggers can return to coastal beaches starting Friday, April 17, state shellfish managers announced today.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the digs after marine toxin tests showed the clams on those beaches are safe to eat. All of the digs are scheduled on morning tides. No digging will be allowed on any beach after noon.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, noted that the upcoming dig coincides with the Long Beach Razor Clam Festival, scheduled April 18-19 in Long Beach. Festival events range from free clam-digging lessons to a fritter cook-off. More information is available at http://longbeachrazorclamfestival.com/

Under state law, diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

The upcoming dig is scheduled on the following dates, beaches, and low tides:

  • April 17, Friday, 6:03 a.m.; -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks 
  • April 18, Saturday, 6:52 a.m.; -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis 
  • April 19, Sunday, 7:39 a.m.; -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis 
  • April 20, Monday, 8:25 a.m.; -1.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors 
  • April 21, Tuesday, 9:11 a.m.; -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors 
  • April 22, Wednesday, 9:57 a.m.; -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors 
  • April 23, Thursday, 10:46 a.m.; -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors 
  • April 24, Friday, 11:38 a.m.; 0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors

WDFW has also proposed additional digs in May, pending the results of future marine toxin tests. Tentative dates for those digs are posted on the department’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

Beaches in Washington with razor clam fisheries include: Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point. Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor. Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas. Mocrocks Beach, which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Seabrook, Pacific Beach and Moclips. Kalaloch Beach, which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown’s Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park. (This beach is closed to harvest until further notice)
Beaches in Washington with razor clam fisheries include:
Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.
Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
Mocrocks Beach, which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Seabrook, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
Kalaloch Beach, which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown’s Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park. (This beach is closed to harvest until further notice)

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2015-16 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

During all upcoming digs, state wildlife managers urge clam diggers to avoid disturbing snowy plovers and streaked horned larks. Both species nest in the soft, dry sand at Leadbetter Point on the Long Beach Peninsula, and on a section of Twin Harbors beach.

The snowy plover is a small bird with gray wings and a white breast. The lark is a small bird with a pale yellow breast and brown back. Male larks have a black mask, breast band and “horns.”

To protect these birds, the department asks that clam diggers avoid the dunes and areas of the beach with soft, dry sand. When driving to a clam-digging area, diggers should enter the beach only at designated access points and stay on the hard-packed sand near or below the high tide line.

Wildlife Commission lists tufted puffins as state endangered species

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted new big game hunting rules for the upcoming season and an interim policy for Willapa Bay salmon fisheries during a public meeting April 9-10 in Tumwater.

The commission, a citizen panel that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also agreed to place tufted puffins on the state’s endangered species list and remove Steller sea lions from the state’s threatened list.

New hunting rules approved by the commission will expand hunting opportunities for virtually every big game species and gear type. New regulations will:

  • Add two more days to the modern firearm season for mule deer.
  • Shift archery elk season to start the Saturday after Labor Day to provide better opportunity for hunters in cooler weather.
  • Double the amount of spring bear permits available in northeast Washington.
  • Allow elk hunters using muzzleloaders to hunt in more game management units (GMUs).
  • Increase moose permits to 170 from 136 in the northeast part of the state, where moose populations are near an all-time high.

 

The commission did not adopt a proposal to restrict the use of bait when hunting for deer and elk. Instead, the commission directed WDFW to work with stakeholders to bring forward new options for consideration next year.

 

All of the hunting rules approved by the commission will be included in the 2015 Big Game Hunting pamphlet, which will be available later this spring on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/, in sporting goods stores, and at other license vendors throughout the state.

Tufted Puffin colony occupancyIn other business, the commission added tufted puffins to the state’s endangered species list to provide them with additional protection. Tufted puffins are native seabirds once considered common in parts of Washington. In recent decades, however, the population has significantly declined. WDFW will develop a plan outlining actions necessary for the species’ recovery in the state.

Steller sea lions, on the other hand, have rebounded in recent years, prompting the commission to remove the species from the state’s list of threatened species. The federal government has also delisted Steller sea lions. The species will remain as state protected wildlife and will still receive protection under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

After receiving a briefing from state fishery managers on a long-term salmon-management policy for Willapa Bay, the commission adopted an interim plan that will be in effect through 2015. The interim policy is designed to accelerate the recovery of natural-origin chinook salmon by reducing the incidental catch of wild fish while encouraging the harvest of hatchery chinook.

 

WDFW will work with stakeholders in the coming weeks to designate the 2015 salmon fishing dates in Willapa Bay, based on the new interim plan. The interim plan is posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/willapa_bay_salmon/.

The commission also took public comments on a proposal to reopen recreational fishing for flounder, sole and other flatfish – except halibut – in Quilcene Bay and the northern portion of Dabob Bay in Hood Canal. A separate public hearing was held on management of Columbia River sturgeon.

In other news, April’s meeting was attended by fishing columnist Dave Graybill and retired public health physician Kim Thorburn, who were appointed to the commission by the governor last month.

Joan Brewster – Director, Grays Harbor County Public Health & Social Services

The health of our community, and what the Public Health Department does to improve that. Joan also talks about Tobacco, and Marijuana use locally. This year’s numbers show a slight decrease for tobacco use. Are “E-cigarettes” off-setting those numbers?

Substance abuse and mental health issues in Grays Harbor youth.

Joan Brewster
jbrewster@co.grays-harbor.wa.us
(360) 500-4062