Friday, September 30, 2011

Interview About PNW Six Gill Sharks

Dr. Chris Harvey-Clark from the University of British Columbia has made a video about new findings on the six gill sharks in our waters and their relationship to the rat fish. This shark is also the preferred meal for the off-shore orcas.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rare Ginger Seal Rescued

A very rare Ginger Fur Seal pup was rescued on Tyuleniy Island, Russia, by a photographer who found the pup hiding under some logs. While the pup isn't completely an albino, it does suffer from partial blindness and would not be able to survive on its own.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

National Conservation Area (NCA) Status for BLM Lands: Important Update

A press release today from U.S. Representative Rick Larson's office in DC announced that Legislation has been introduced into both the House and Senate to create a National Conservation Area to protect in perpetuity the 1000 beautiful and unique acres of Bureau of Land Management lands in the islands. Read the details in the article in the San Juan Islander: The companion bills will be referred to House and Senate sub-committees, and Larson is hoping they will make their way back to the floor for a vote later in the year. Stay tuned - members of the grass-roots SJI committee that started the ball rolling on this important project have said that there will be a call in the near future for letters to members of the Congressional sub-committees.

Elwha Dam Removal and River Restoration Begins This Weekend.

From the Olympic National Park website:

A full slate of educational activities, entertainment events and more are being planned for Celebrate Elwha! Sept. 15-18 to mark the start of the three-year dam removal phase of the Elwha River Restoration project.

The multi-day restoration festival includes the Elwha River Science Symposium, a commemorative ceremony at the Elwha Dam, a tribal gala dinner, guest speakers, Elwha-inspired artwork and photography and musical performances. Visit for more information.

Fresh Water: How Can We Protect This Critical and Threatened Asset?

The subject of water has been appearing frequently in the news this year. In addition to the devastation caused by tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, and drought, a number of water-related issues have been on the County's agenda: stormwater runoff in Friday Harbor, the ongoing and often contentious dialog about how to protect wetlands and shorelines, as well as the County's consideration of allowing desalination plants as a primary water source for new homes in the islands, thus opening more waterfront and other critical areas for development that were previously limited by a lack of water. How well do we as citizens and voters understand these various issues and their importance? How can we better educate ourselves?

Here is some suggested reading as a starting point:

Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It, by Robert Glennon
(He's the author mentioned in the email.)
Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization, by Stephen Solomon
The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, by Charles Fishman
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, by Marc Reisner.

We can also stay up to date on proposed policy or legislative changes in the islands, and make our views known to our officials.

A group of Beach Watchers and other Lopez residents have started a discussion group titled: "Watersheds of the Puget Sound," (i.e. the Salish Sea,) that will meet weekly on Lopez until near the end of October. This online course is sponsored by WSU Extension, and is modeled after similar neighborhood-level study circles started by the Northwest Earth Institute. Members of the group will do about 20 pages of online reading during each week, and then meet to discuss the readings and consider what further study or actions they might want to pursue. Additional groups could be formed at any time in the islands - this website gives you all the information needed: Check it out, and consider forming your own group with neighbors and friends. It's both fun and informative.

What Is Your Vision for the Future for the County's Shorelines?

You've no doubt heard about the upcoming Shoreline Master Plan workshops to be held on the 3 major islands. Please try to attend one of these important meetings!
San Juan Island: Tue. Sept. 20, Grange, 1-4 pm and 5-8 pm
Orcas: Wed. Sept. 21, Orcas Center, 5-8 pm
Lopez: Thu. Sept. 22, Lopez Community Center, 5-8 pm.

Here are links to more detailed articles on the subject: and This is our best opportunity to let the County hear our "Vision" for what we would like our shorelines to be like 25 years from now.

The County would also like us to send shoreline photos that we think represent our hope for the future, and also photos of things we don't want to see more of in the future. Photos should be emailed to:

How many times as a Beach Watcher have you been asked something like: "Have you watched any good beaches lately?" And in addition to all the research and stewardship projects we do, yes, we also notice what is happening on our beaches. We now have a great opportunity to let the County know what we're seeing, and what we would like to see in the future, by sending photos, and participating in one of the meetings.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Indian Island Fall Planning Meeting

Mark your calendars for Thursday, September 22nd from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Orcas Island Library. The meeting will cover processing data from Indian Island and planning the fall public information event "Celebrate the Bay" scheduled for November 18th at the Orcas Center. In addition, an update on federal legislation to re-classify Indian Island and other BLM archipelago property as a new National Conservation Area will be provided. After the meeting field work plans for monitoring Cascade Creek will be developed. Anyone interested in this project may wish to remain a few extra minutes.

Cascade Creek Monitoring Framework

At the Cascade Creek Potluck on August 21st Russel Barsh provided information on the progress of the new bridge being constructed over Cascade Creek and outlined a framework addressing restoration of the area. The framework included: geomorphology, vegetation change, tidal influence, and fish utilization. Russel will meet with anyone interested in the restoration of Cascade Creek after the meeting on September 22nd. (See "Indian Island Fall Planning Meeting" blog for more details.