Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lopez Meeting with Prospective Beach Watchers

Shann and a few Beach Watchers met at the Lopez Library today for an informational meeting about Beach Watchers and the 2010 class. Eight interested Lopez residents dropped by for tea and cookies during the afternoon, and had a chance to learn more about the program and ask questions. There was quite a bit of interest shown by the visitors, as Shann gave a synopsis of the activities we've been involved in this year, and a couple of the attendees seemed ready to apply by the end of the meeting. Geneva Mottet, Beverly Zapalac and Susan Muckle were able to share some of their enthusiasm for the program, and Ulanah McCoy also came by and had a chance to talk about some of her activities. Shann hopes to have one or two similar meetings on Lopez later in the winter, as well as on other islands. If you know of any SJ islanders you think might be interested, please share contact info with Shann. Susan and Bev are very excited at the prospect of additional Beach Watchers on Lopez!

The 2010 class will begin on March 25 and continue till May 13, and as in 2009, sessions will rotate between SJI, Orcas, Lopez, (and maybe even Shaw!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beach Planting at Shoal Bay on Lopez: Final Step in Beach Restoration Process

In Mid-October Friends of the San Juans oversaw the removal of a tidegate that had partially blocked the entrance channel to the Shoal Bay Lagoon since the 1980s. More than 15 truckloads of concrete, steel and fill were removed from the site over a period of several days, the channel was deepened, and the banks on either side were re-shaped to more natural and sustainable contours.

On a beautiful November 11 morning, Tina Whitman and Jana Marks from "Friends," and Beach Watcher Susan Muckle, completed the final stage of the project by planting about 700 plugs of native plants and grasses on both sides of the bank. In addition to these new plants, which will help hold the banks in place, Tina was encouraged to note how many other grass seedlings were already sprouting in the area. Established plants from further down the beach will also spread seeds and rhizomes into the newly graded area.

The lagoon is home to Jones Family Farm's shellfish beds, and owner Nick Jones stated how pleased he was with the outcome of the project. The lagoon is still adapting to the changes, and will continue to do so for awhile, but it "has a more natural feeling to it now," according to Nick.

A lot of behind the scenes engineering and environmental preparation by Friends' staff preceded the actual removal of the tidegate, and the organization will continue to monitor the beach and lagoon on an ongoing basis. But all indications are that this project has been a big improvement to the Shoal Bay ecosystem.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Extended Deadline for Comments to NOAA on Vessel Regs

NOAA has now extended the deadline for comments to January 15, 2010.

Comments may be submitted by:
Email: orca.plan@noaa.gov
Federal e-rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov/
Mail: Asst. Regional Administrator
Protected Resources Division
Northwest Regional Office
National Marine Fisheries Service
7600 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115

Further information can be obtained from Lynne Barre, NW Regional office, 206-526-5745; or Trevor Spradlin, Office of Protected Resources, 301-713-2322.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Big Step Forward. We now live in the Salish Sea!

On Friday, October 30, the State Board of Geographic Names voted 5 to 1 in favor of adding "Salish Sea" as one of the approved names for the body of water that includes Puget Sound, Strait of Georgia, and Strait of San Juan de Fuca. The existing names will not be replaced, but Salish Sea will be an added "umbrella" designation to refer collectively to all of these ecologically-vital waters.

This is not the end of the process, as the name still awaits approval by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, as well as its Canadian counterpart. But this could come as early as next month.

The salmon and orcas know no geographic names nor national boundaries for the waters they migrate through. If we are to have any success in restoring their endangered habitat, it is critical that we all come to view these waters as one unified sea, and work collectively across borders and cultures to protect it.

Putting this new name on the map is a welcome first step. No longer will we have to describe ourselves as located between Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia. Instead, we can tell people that our beautiful islands are the heart of the Salish Sea!