Orca Network News - July, 2005

News, updates and events about
the Southern Resident orcas,
orcas worldwide, and their habitats
July 1, 2005 through July 31, 2005.

State bans cutting of trust old-growth timber
July 30, 2005 (Seattle Times) Washington will ban harvesting of old-growth timber from state trust lands in Western Washington, mostly on the Olympic Peninsula.
The state Board of Natural Resources informally agreed yesterday that preservation of the trees will be part of the Policy for Sustainable Forests that will be adopted in the fall.
The decision covers an estimated 88,000 acres. Nearly all of the old-growth stock already is off limits to logging due to habitat and conservation agreements and various regulations, said spokeswoman Patty Henson. Timber on about 1,000 acres will be protected for the first time, she said.
The significance of the board's decision is to enshrine the protection of old-growth forests into official state policy.

The 2005 Broughton LICE-CAPADES
July 29, 2005 (Friends of Wild Salmon) I [Alexandra Morton] am writing you because I am watching a collection of unsubstantiated remarks from the DFO build an illusion that Pacific Wild Salmon stocks are unaffected by the marine feedlots trying to rear synthetic, salmon. Once a highly respected scientific agency, I find the DFO no longer makes sense.
The DFO blame sticklebacks for spreading sea lice, though no one has shown this is even possible. They claim Broughton Wild Pink Salmon have no migration route, making them unique among all stocks of salmon. They suggest the young Broughton Pink Salmon starved, while at the same time reporting those same fish were fat and healthy. They suggest high salinity caused the lice epidemics, while at the same time suggesting low salinity prevented Broughton Salmon from thriving.
Two years ago DFO recognized a migration route, and the farmed Atlantic fish were removed from that route in the Pink Salmon Action Plan. Lice numbers plummeted and Wild Broughton Pink Salmon increased. You might think this would have been recognized as a solution, but no. Today, DFO denies both the existence of the migration route and that the fallow ever happened.
Dont be fooled. Wild Pink Salmon in the Broughton are in serious jeopardy and these marine feedlots are affecting other BC stocks as well. The tough part for me is telling you that I am failing to protect the Wild Broughton Salmon. Despite the science, collapsing salmon runs, election indicators, the efforts of our top environmentalists, this insatiable industry is demanding expansion in the Broughton and access to the waters off the Skeena River. Every last man, woman and child who thinks they might someday want Wild Pacific Salmon must peacefully, but resolutely make it known in any way that comes to you that it is not OK with you that we loose the Pacific Wild Salmon.

Tracking acid in gorge
July 29, 2005 (Oregonian) The towering walls of the Columbia Gorge concentrate wind-borne pollutants from both east and west.
The Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, beloved by Northwest residents for breathtaking scenery and vigorous recreation, has long withstood air and water pollutants from urban Portland to the west.
Now, however, pollution from the east infiltrates the gorge, adding to its unfortunate status as one of the most polluted natural areas in the American West. Ammonia and fossil fuel exhaust full of nitrogen and sulfur mar views and douse rock and plant surfaces with acid fog and rain.
The damaging acid phenomenon was discovered earlier this year by researchers for the U.S. Forest Service and has officials scouring for causes. While they've reached few definitive conclusions, two likely contributors to the pollution have emerged: an aging Portland General Electric coal-burning power plant, which belches nitrogen and sulfur; and a mammoth dairy complex, where 52,300 cows produce a ton of manure a minute that spews ammonia into the atmosphere.
Both operate legally. But both are exempt from modern air quality rules.

Oil spill response called lacking
July 28, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) If the San Juan Islands were threatened by a large oil spill, there wouldn't be enough response boats available to protect them, according to a state-funded study released yesterday.
But the response could be improved by enlisting commercial fishing boats and their crews in the case of emergencies, the Ecology Department study found.
"I think it makes great sense," said Ecology Director Jay Manning. "We have to be fully prepared to respond to a spill. Not being prepared is not an option."
A "dream team" response would require 38 vessels of varying sizes, but the current resources available in the area amount to 23 commercial cleanup boats.
"That scenario is really spooky," said Mike Sato, education director for People for Puget Sound, an environmental group.
Sato wondered how realistic it was to get a significant number of fishing boats to respond to spills in a timely manner. While he supported the examination of this spill-response resource, he hoped it wouldn't take money and attention away from preventing the spills in the first place.

Luna's rough love takes toll of Nootka boats
July 27, 2005 (Victoria Times Colonist) Hopes that Luna the lonely orca is losing his fascination with boats faded Friday.
The five-year-old whale, apparently attracted by the summer influx of boats in Nootka Sound, spent much of the day dismantling parts of vessels.
"He came into the marina here and spent about two hours beating up boats," said Cameron Forbes, owner of Critter Cove Marina on Tlupana Inlet. "He broke three boats. He's ripped the brackets off the kicker motors."
Forbes said he tried unsuccessfully for two hours to get help from the coast guard's rapid response boat at Friendly Cove and from the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation.
Eventually, Luna was lured from Critter Cove by the MV Uchuck--one of his favorite vessels--which was on a regular run.
The Mowachaht/Muchalaht has asked the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to pay for a band vessel on the water constantly during fishing season to steer Luna away from trouble.
However, negotiations for the "stewardship" agreement are moving slowly. In the meantime, the Mowachaht/Muchalaht say they are already doing the patrols that they are funding themselves.

Sound gets federal muscle
July 27, 2005 (Tacoma News Tribune) A significant federal role in the cleanup of Puget Sound emerged Tuesday from negotiations on the final version of a $26 billion Interior appropriation bill.
Under the language pushed by one of the negotiators, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair), the federal Environmental Protection Agency would be required to develop a comprehensive program to clean up Puget Sound.
The measure would initially provide $2 million for the effort, though supporters expect that amount to grow significantly once the federal involvement has begun.
The program would be modeled on those already in place for the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay. It would involve federal, state and local authorities in developing a plan to address the "health of the entire marine environment" in western Washington.
Dicks described the initial $2 million in funding as simply a start, and said he expected the program eventually would involve significant amounts from both the federal and state governments
Dicks' move could add further momentum to Gov. Christine Gregoire's Puget Sound cleanup initiative announced earlier this month.
Both Dicks and Gregoire say that after nearly a quarter century of studies, plans and actual cleanup, Puget Sound continues to be faced with mounting pollution problems that threaten water quality and such marine life as salmon and killer whales.

Gray Whale Found Dead Under Pier
July 26, 2005 (KOMO TV) Researchers were on a beach in Pierce County Tuesday evening, trying to figure out what killed a young gray whale. It was found caught under a pier -- the second time that's happened in the last few months.
The marine researchers tell us it appears to be a young gray whale -- a male juvenile about 24-feet long. It's on the beach at Chambers Creek now after being towed here by members of Cascadia Research Cooperative.
The researchers say the whale was not weakened by starvation. That's been a problem for the whale population recently. There's a possibility that it was hit by a vessel, attacked by a killer whale, or died from a disease.

Appeals court upholds Washington, Oregon dam spills
July 26, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower court order demanding that the government spill water through five Northwest hydroelectric dams to help young salmon migrating to the Pacific.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was forced to allow substantial flows to bypass energy generating turbines following a June 20 order by U.S. District Judge James Redden of Portland. Redden ruled that the salmon were imperiled when swimming through those dams' turbines as they headed to the sea hundreds of miles away.
The Bush administration called the order an "untested experiment," and "micromanaging the Columbia river" while urging the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse Redden's order.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled unanimously that the judge "did not abuse" his discretion in ordering the increased water flows, which are to last through August.
The Bonneville Power Administration, which sells the electricity generated by the dams, estimated spilling the water rather than running it through turbines will cost $67 million in lost revenue, which could be saddled on utility customers in Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington.
At the request of salmon advocates, fishermen and Indian tribes, Redden ruled that "As currently operated, I find that the dams strongly contributed to the endangerment of the listed species and irreparable injury will result if changes are not made."

Bush proposal calls for drilling offshore
July 26, 2005 (Anchorage Daily News) The Bush administration has proposed to end the federal freeze on oil development offshore of Alaska's Bristol Bay, home of the world's largest red salmon fishery.
The White House proposal, a suggested addition to the pending national energy bill, would require a federal lease sale in Bristol Bay, as well as others in the Gulf of Mexico.
The specific proposal, which also includes a revenue-sharing plan with the states, was dead on arrival in Congress last week, where House and Senate negotiators are in the final stages of working on the energy bill, said Chuck Kleeschulte, an aide to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Murkowski is on the bill negotiating committee.

Whale researcher publishes guide to 'resident' gray whales
July 23, 2005 (Newport News Times) The Oregon coast offers travelers a chance to catch a glimpse of one of the Pacific Ocean's most mammoth and majestic creatures - the venerable gray whale.
Every year thousands of visitors flock to the Oregon coast in March and December to participate in a whale watching adventure as thousands of gray whales follow a 10,000-mile round trip migratory path between their winter haven and breeding grounds in Baja, Calif., and their summer playing and feeding grounds in the Arctic. Many of those folks don't realize or simply overlook the fact that some of those gray whales - about 250 - drop out of the migration groups to become summer "residents" at several locations off the Northwest coast from southern Oregon to central British Columbia, including Newport and Depoe Bay.
"For whales to be known as residents, they must stay around a certain area for at least two days, exhibit feeding behavior, and return in succeeding years," says marine biologist, teacher, and researcher Carrie Newell, who has more than 20 years of teaching and research expertise, and has studied local "resident" grays since 1999. Initially part of her doctorate program at Oregon State University under advisor Tim Cowles, Newell's research efforts have now shifted in focus from teaching in a formal college classroom setting to "having people experience the whales while in a boat on the ocean." More at: Whale Research Excursions

Killer whales spotted off Point Reyes (California)
July 21, 2005 (Point Reyes Light) A pod of orcas reportedly made a playground of the waters off Point Reyes National Seashore's North Beach last Sunday. San Anselmo resident Mahriah Blackwolf on Monday told The Light she sighted at least eight killer whales swimming close to shore. Blackwolf said she has visited the beach for many years, but had never seen Orcas before Sunday.
"Two jumped clear out of the water," she said. Blackwolf added that she could plainly see the whales, which were not much more than 200 yards from shore. "They were there from about 1:30 a.m. until I left at about 4 p.m." she said.
Inverness resident David Wimpfheimer is a naturalist and a friend of Blackwolf's who leads whale watching expeditions. Wimpfheimer said that Orcas tend to stay in deeper waters, but occasionally alter that behavior. "Its moderately uncommon seeing them [that] close to shore" he said. Wimpfheimer also said that Killer Whales are "fairly playful" animals, and that Orca "play" can include the whales' tossing the dismembered carcass of their prey, to and fro, amongst themselves. By Blackwolf's account, however, these whales were engaged in less gory activities.

No Orca Reports Lately in Hood Canal
July 21, 2005 (Kitsap Sun) This time it looks like the Hood Canal orcas really are gone.
The six seal-eating transients seem to be nowhere in sight, despite large numbers of whale-watchers who live along the shoreline. No sightings have been reported since last Thursday, when a motorist on the Hood Canal Bridge told Orca Network that he spotted the whales approaching the bridge from the south.
Killer whale experts, including Graeme Ellis of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, are amazed that the orcas stayed so long in Hood Canal, given that transients rarely visit any one place more than a few days. If the whales had stayed until Sunday, it would have marked the sixth month of their arrival.
Judy Dicksion, a volunteer who has closely observed the "slippery six" as she calls them, said it probably was time for them to go. In recent weeks, the younger animals seemed to be showing independence, staying a greater distance from their mothers. Also the group two females, each with two offspring was spending more and more time near the Hood Canal Bridge, as if getting ready to go.
Ellis said there is no way to tell where the whales may go next. They are frequently seen in June in Glacier Bay, where whale researcher Dena Matkin is watching for them. They may go into remote areas along the West Coast where they may not be seen for months, Ellis said.

Ecological alarm bell is on our porch
July 20, 2005 (Daily Astorian editorial) Ocean upwelling is the foundation of life as we know it in the North Pacific
The silly and overblown but visually interesting 2004 climate catastrophe movie The Day After Tomorrow revolved around the shut-down of the Atlantic Ocean's Gulf Stream. Now we may be in the midst of experiencing what happens when Pacific Ocean circulation patterns are upset by global warming, which is an all-too-real ecological disaster.
Stories last week in the San Francisco Chronicle and Seattle Times broke news of scientific alarm over the disappearance of oceanic plankton from waters off Oregon, Washington and Northern California, caused by an unheard-of weakening of the phenomenon called "upwelling," the seasonal movement of cold, nutrient-rich offshore water into areas near shore.
This cold water that ordinarily discourages all but the most intrepid human swimmers is the very foundation of life as we know it in the North Pacific. One of the planet's simplest life forms, plankton, blooms in breath-taking abundance during time of strong upwelling. In turn, this plankton feeds other creatures including tiny shrimp-like crustaceans called krill and even our coast's beloved razor clams.
Without an upwelling and the unbelievable quantity of nutrients it produces at the base of the ocean food chain, starvation swiftly becomes a substantial probability. This is leading to a troubling die-off of seabirds and may be a factor in juvenile rockfish numbers also being way down along portions of the coastline. So far at least, sardines and other bait fish that are crucial to the survival of larger species including salmon are not experiencing a population crash. But there are some highly troubling signs.

Orcas leave dilemma in their wake
July 20, 2005 (Port Townsend Leader) The six transient orcas visiting Hood Canal since late January have presented scientists with a question: If orcas feed mainly on harbor seals, why are so many seals still in Hood Canal?
"Our observations and computer modeling suggest that they could have consumed as many as 900 seals," said Josh London, a doctoral student at the University of Washington who has studied harbor seal behavior since 1998. "We're kind of puzzled as to why we haven't seen a decline already."
Every fall, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife does an aerial survey of Hood Canal seals. Estimates have put the seal population at just over 1,000, but the method of counting could be faulty.
"When we do the aerial surveys or ground counts, you can count only the number of seals hauled out," London said. "Not all the population is going to be hauled out at the same time."
The arrival of the transient orca pod provided scientists with what seemed to be a perfect situation to determine how much the whales actually eat and their impact on the seal population.
But it didn't work out that way.
"There's a bit of a conundrum," said Paul Wade, a researcher with the National Marine Mammal Laboratory. "Either the whales don't need as much food or harbor seals are moving in quickly to replace the ones being eaten. That doesn't sound like typical harbor seal behavior to us."

Is Global Warming Leading to Extinction?
July 20, 2005 (ABC News) All over the planet, hundreds of scientists are finding plants and animals suddenly scattering, withering or outright disappearing as our world approaches sustained temperatures higher than today's species ever evolved to be able to survive in.
The new heat wave is attacking in many ways — from melting the sea-ice that polar bears need for hunting to bringing tropical rains two months too early, so plants blossom too soon to feed the animals that depend on them.
Three separate scientific survey studies, which pull together hundreds of field studies from around the world, add to the same picture. The increase in the average global temperature is causing havoc in many ecosystems — and on a scale that's hard, at first, even to imagine.
One study by 19 established scientists on five continents, predicts "on the basis of mid-range climate warming scenarios, for 2050, that 15 [percent] to 37 percent of species in our sample will be committed to extinction."

In Our View: Problem is Here
July 19, 2005 (Vancouver Columbian editorial) Ominous changes in the natural rhythm of the Earth are showing up all around us, and signs point to global warming as the culprit.
Those signs aren't just in the Arctic inhabited largely by polar bears affected by melting ice or other remote locations, but here at home.
Global warming is a deadly byproduct in part of our industrial society. Emissions of cars and plants that burn fossil fuels create "greenhouse gases" that capture and hold heat in our atmosphere. ABC's "Nightline" featured global warming last Thursday night in a televised program titled "Extinction."
Host Ted Koppel said the program would not argue whether there is such a problem, but discuss its effects. Scientific studies all over the globe have confirmed warming temperatures and their devastation on plants and animals.
One scientist predicted half the world's species of plants and animals will be wiped out by the end of this century. Another said "15 to 30 percent" of the species "are committed to extinction."
Sockeye salmon headed for Lake Washington diminished from 298,000 in 2000 to 30,195 this year through July 7 because, as the newspaper put it, "they are swimming an ever-more tropical gauntlet" from Ballard Locks to the lake. Scientists concluded global warming is the chief cause.
On the coastline, there has been concern over the record number of dead seabirds washing up on beaches from northern California to British Columbia. Ocean temperatures are 2 to 5 degrees above normal, according to an Associated Press story. Marine biologists reported there was no "upwelling," in which cold, nutrient-rich water is brought to the surface.
Elsewhere, the Audubon Society worries about the diminished number of red finches. And in Vancouver Lake, warming weather, usually in late July or August, has turned waters a slimy, putrid green the past couple of summers.
This is a time to act, not deny, a serious problem that affects our planet our home.

Sockeye are returning to the Baker River in low numbers, raising concerns among state and tribal fisheries managers
July 18, 2005 (Skagit Valley Herald) As the Baker sockeye fishery's July 17 midpoint approaches, the boat launch on the river's east bank should be bustling with recreational anglers or tribal fishermen.
Instead, it has been cloaked in stony silence, absent the usual sounds of whirring reels and sputtering boat motors.
Missing too are several thousand sockeye salmon that fisheries scientists expected would be returning to the river by now.
Of a predicted return of nearly 18,000 fish, fewer than 1,500 sockeye had come back to the Baker earlier this week.
Sockeye runs around the Northwest have all come in much smaller than predicted. Most notably, the Lake Washington sockeye run — the largest sockeye sport fishery in the state — was reduced to such a degree that the fishery most likely won't open this year.
Before the season began, about 398,000 sockeye were predicted to return to Lake Washington, according to a statement from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Now, fishery managers predict only 71,000 fish will return to the lake, and some expect that number to fall even further as the season progresses.
While the cause of the poor returns is still unknown, Schuyler said he expects ocean conditions are to blame for the region-wide slump.

Gregoire announces new focus on Puget Sound's health
July 18, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Citing years of studies and plans that have failed to turn the tide of environmental decline in Puget Sound, Gov. Christine Gregoire is launching what she calls a "bold and aggressive" effort to rescue the region's signature body of water.
Last week Gregoire's lieutenants and others began hammering out a plan to ramp up the rescue. Significantly, the Democratic governor has tapped Republican and two-time U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head William Ruckelshaus of Seattle to spearhead the campaign.
Working with the region's congressional representatives, Gregoire and Ruckelshaus hope to make restoring Puget Sound a top national environmental priority, much as the Everglades, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay have seen big infusions of federal aid in recent years.
"Puget Sound desperately needs our help," Gregoire said in an interview Friday. "Well-intentioned plans have not brought about the results that everyone hoped they would.
"We have plans that could fill up a bookshelf, and a lot of hard work has gone into that, but the latest report card says that ... we're falling behind in some areas."
Naki Stevens, programs director for the environmental group People for Puget Sound, said Gregoire's push "is hugely significant because it shows the high-level leadership we've lacked."
The signs that Puget Sound's health continues to flag are many: Sewage-treatment plants are overloaded. Thousands of septic tanks are thought to be failing. More than 30,000 acres of shellfish beds are closed by pollution. Every decent rain flushes oil, pet waste, fertilizers and other pollutants into the Sound and the streams that feed it.
Meanwhile, some fish stocks hit hard by overfishing have never recovered. Orcas appear to be having trouble reproducing because of long-lived contaminants in their bodies -- pollutants that remain buried in the sands below thousands of acres in the Sound, with a heavy concentration around Seattle.

Boats head out to sea for salmon, bring back tuna
July 15, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Fishermen headed out to catch salmon came back with a far different type of fish, rarely seen near the Washington coast.
Instead of salmon, some charter boats were returning with tuna earlier this week, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said.
The tuna were caught only a few miles off the coast, brought close to shore by warm waters in the Pacific Ocean, spokesman Tim Flint said. Typically, blue-water tuna do not come that close, especially this time of year, he said.
"The blue-water really came in close, and we saw lots of tuna," said Kevin Marks, skipper of the Tally Ho charter boat. "They were out about 12 miles from Westport, and the last time this happened was in 1979, I think."

'Frisky' orca bumps whale-watching boat
July 15, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) The National Marine Fisheries Service said yesterday that it will investigate reports of an orca injured in a collision with a whale-watching boat off San Juan Island last week.
Tourists on the Eagle Wing were watching whales July 3 in Andrews Bay, south of Snug Harbor, when their boat was bumped, according to a report in the San Juan Journal this week.
"The frisky little critter was a little too curious that day," the boat's skipper, Brett Soberg, told The Associated Press by cell phone yesterday as he led another tour away from a pier in Victoria, B.C.
Soberg said he didn't see the whale make contact with the boat, but saw it "dive, then shift under the stern. Then that caused the boat to lift up."
Voluntary guidelines set by the Whale Watch Operators Association Northwest require boats not to cross an orca's path and to stop their engines within 100 yards of a whale.
Harold Benischek, owner of Eagle Wing Tours, told the paper his boat was following guidelines and that his skipper and passengers were surprised when the whale "touched the boat."
The orca was most likely a member of the K or L pod, two of three killer whale groups that spend much of the year near Washington's San Juan Islands, said Ken Balcomb, an orca expert with the Friday Harbor-based Center for Whale Research. The whales had been following salmon in the area when the incident happened.
"I was sitting on my porch videotaping all the boats and the whales," Balcomb told the AP. He reviewed the tape but didn't capture the collision. "I did see whales very close to the boat that was struck."

Scientists Raise Alarm About Ocean Health
July 14, 2005 (Environmental News Network) With a record number of dead seabirds washing up on West Coast beaches from Central California to British Columbia, marine biologists are raising the alarm about rising ocean temperatures and dwindling plankton populations.
"Something big is going on out there," said Julia Parrish, an associate professor in the School of Aquatic Fisheries and Sciences at the University of Washington. "I'm left with no obvious smoking gun, but birds are a good signal because they feed high up on the food chain."
Coastal ocean temperatures are 2 to 5 degrees above normal, which may be related to a lack of updwelling, in which cold, nutrient-rich water is brought to the surface.
Updwelling is fueled by northerly winds that sweep out near-shore waters and bring cold water to the surface. The process starts the marine food chain, fueling algae and shrimplike krill populations that feed small fish, which then provide a source of food for a variety of sea life from salmon to sea birds and marine mammals.
"In 50 years, this has never happened," said Bill Peterson, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Newport, Ore. "If this continues, we will have a food chain that is basically impoverished from the very lowest levels."

Global Warming: Time for clear goals
July 14, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer Editorial) President Bush has acknowledged that human activities play a role in global warming. That's progress, even if the gain is of a very modest sort.
While the president used last week's G-8 economic summit to join the overwhelming scientific consensus, he still refused to be drawn into concerted international goals for lowering the rate of increase in temperatures. That's unfortunate. Action delayed is likely to become survival denied to many species and ecosystems.
U.S. leadership would go a long way toward creating an opportunity for the world to develop productive solutions. Despite British Prime Minister Tony Blair's earnest efforts, that kind of transformation certainly failed to take place in Scotland. The White House made sure that the summit's final statement included no call to action along the lines of the Kyoto Accords.
Nevertheless, there are at least some emerging glimmers of hope in the administration's policies on global warming. The administration has put considerable money into scientific research on the climate. Research is both a global need and a local one, as studies of Lake Washington's temperatures suggest.
After deliberately trying to confuse the issues and overstate the scientific doubts, which are genuine if limited, the White House has become somewhat more forthright about the apparent climate changes. That evolution in thinking seems to have been capped by the president's agreeing that global warming does involve human factors and can be addressed, perhaps increasingly so as science provides more definitive guidance.

Herbicide use in waterways to be limited
July 14, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) An agreement announced this week between environmental groups and the state Department of Agriculture will more closely regulate the use of herbicides on local waterways.
"We think putting these pesticides in the lakes where we swim and the fish feed should be done as a last resort," said Erika Schreder, staff scientist with the Washington Toxics Coalition. "This agreement assures that safer methods are considered."
The groups had challenged the procedure for allowing applicators to use the chemicals under an Agriculture Department permit. The agreement will also affect herbicide use in Puget Sound and other marine waters.
"We are delighted to have come to an agreement," said Mary Toohey, the Agriculture Department's assistant director for plant protection.
The agreement -- the result of a threatened lawsuit against the state from Washington Toxics and People for Puget Sound -- was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

South Park gets microscopic scrutiny for big PCB cleanup
July 13, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Although the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls in the streets of Flaherty's South Park neighborhood startled city officials, it shouldn't have come as a surprise. A railroad tanker car holding Seattle City Light waste oil that almost certainly contained PCBs was buried for decades just yards away.
When the PCBs turned up in a dirt road there last winter, the city responded by paving the street to keep contaminated dust from spreading. This summer, contaminated dirt was excavated from the front of the two homes -- later replaced by lush lawns.
PCBs were used heavily to help fireproof electrical equipment such as capacitors and transformers, as well as myriad other industrial equipment, before the chemicals were banned in the late 1970s as an environmental hazard.
With its long history of shoreside industry and military installations, Puget Sound numbers among the water bodies most heavily polluted by PCBs. Scientists say the long-lived chemicals have worked their way far up the food chain to orcas, whose reproduction and other critical functions are harmed.
"They hadn't done the basic science to find out where the PCBs are," said BJ Cummings, coordinator of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, which is monitoring the cleanup on behalf of the neighborhood.
The port recently conducted more tests, boring down as deep as 15 feet to get soil samples. Results aren't available yet. "This is fundamental to the issue to know where the hottest levels of PCBs are," said Heather Trim, urban bays coordinator for the environmental group People for Puget Sound. "Why is the EPA approving this plan before we have this final testing done?"
David Schaefer, a port spokesman, said it was common practice back in the days before strict environmental regulations for businesses to use old railroad tanker cars as fuel tanks. The one at Malarkey was partially buried. Because water infiltrated such tanks, it was common to poke holes in the bottom to let the water drain out, he said.

Mowachaht/Muchalaht Stewardship Updates:
July 13, 2005 (West Coast Vancouver Island Aquatic Management Board) Great News! Last night we received some good news from the DFO staff working with us on the Mowachaht/Muchalaht Stewardship Program. The DFO Pacific Region has been directed by the Minister to provide funding to Mowachaht/Muchalaht to make the project work. They also wish to develop and sign a Stewardship Agreement for the 2005 Luna Stewardship Project based on the proposal MMFN put forward. We have not been informed of how much funding was allocated by the Minister and how much will be delivered to MMFN to assist the Stewardship Program.
"The Stewardship Program is up and running at the Muchalaht Marine, the Observation Post and oversight patrols. Thank you from Mowachaht/Muchalaht to all those people who wrote letters to the Ministers supporting the 2005 Mowachaht/Muchalaht Luna Stewardship Program."

Warmer oceans may be killing West Coast marine life
July 13, 2005 (Seattle Times) Scientists suspect that rising ocean temperatures and dwindling plankton populations are behind a growing number of seabird deaths, reports of fewer salmon and other anomalies along the West Coast.
Coastal ocean temperatures are 2 to 5 degrees above normal, apparently caused by a lack of upwelling — a process that brings cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface and jump-starts the marine food chain.
Upwelling fuels algae and shrimplike krill populations that feed small fish, which provide an important food source for a variety of sea life, from salmon to sea birds and marine mammals.
"Something big is going on out there," said Julia Parrish, an associate professor in the School of Aquatic Fisheries and Sciences at the University of Washington. "I'm left with no obvious smoking gun, but birds are a good signal because they feed high up on the food chain."
NOAA's June and July surveys of juvenile salmon off the coasts of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia indicate a 20 to 30 percent drop in populations, compared with surveys from 1998-2004, especially coho and chinook.
Mantua, the UW research scientist, tracks ocean temperatures and climate conditions to understand changes in currents and wind patterns. This year he found temperatures 2 to 5 degrees above normal — readings typically seen during an El Niño. But this is not an El Niño year, he said.
The trend toward warmer temperatures began in fall 2002, said Peterson, the NOAA oceanographer. No one is pointing to one direct cause for the warmer waters, but many scientists suspect climate change may be involved.

Sea life in peril -- plankton vanishing Usual seasonal influx of cold water isn't happening
July 12, 2005 (San Francisco Chronicle) Oceanic plankton have largely disappeared from the waters off Northern California, Oregon and Washington, mystifying scientists, stressing fisheries and causing widespread seabird mortality.
The phenomenon could have long-term implications if it continues: a general decline in near-shore oceanic life, with far fewer fish, birds and marine mammals. No one is certain how long the condition will last. But even a short duration could severely affect seabird populations because of drastically reduced nesting success, scientists say.
The plankton disappearance is caused by a slackening of what is known as "upwelling:" the seasonal movement of cold, nutrient-rich offshore water into areas near shore.
This cold water sustains vast quantities of phytoplankton and zooplankton, which are the basis of the marine food web. During periods of vigorous upwelling and consequent plankton "blooms," everything from salmon to blue whales fattens and thrives on the continental shelf of the West Coast.
The larger fish and baleen whales eat mostly krill: free-floating, shrimp-like crustaceans ranging from one to two inches, the upper size limit of the zooplankton realm.
When the water is cold, krill swarm off the Northern California coast by the tens of thousands of tons. Now that they are largely absent, fisheries and wildlife are feeling the effects.
In perhaps the most ominous development, seabird nesting has dropped significantly on the Farallon Islands off San Francisco, the largest Pacific Coast seabird rookery south of Alaska.

Eagle Harbor may cost $200 million to clean up
July 12, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) BAINBRIDGE ISLAND -- Cleaning up Eagle Harbor ultimately could cost more than twice the $100 million already spent to remove gooey toxins from the ground and water around a former wood-treatment plant.
Millions of gallons of groundwater have been treated since the area was first proposed as a federal Superfund site 20 years ago. The work continues and long-term solutions are expected to cost between $30 million and $150 million more, said Mary Jane Nearman, an Environmental Protection Agency site manager.
The wood-treatment plant that operated at the site from 1903 to 1988 leaked an oily residue of creosote and other dangerous chemicals deep into the ground and Eagle Harbor. Scientists in the early 1980s discovered that much of the harbor's bottom was lifeless, with tumors in the organs of bottomfish that remained. The area was proposed for the federal Superfund list in 1985.

Lake Washington's ecosystem in trouble
July 11, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Rise in water temperature having profound effects
No longer limited to glaciers melting in the Arctic, imperiled islands in the Pacific or even slushy ski slopes in the Cascades, evidence of global warming is turning up in Seattle's back yard.
Scientists from the University of Washington, tribes and state and federal agencies are documenting how the lake is changing in slight but potentially profound ways. The entire ecosystem is at risk: from zooplankton to prized salmon that use the lake as a summer home before heading upstream to spawn.
People can be affected, too. Climate change may be contributing to algal blooms, including a toxic variety that can trigger health warnings and beach closures.

Orcas Still in Hood Canal
July 9, 2005 (Kitsap Sun) If a group of six orcas left Hood Canal on Wednesday night, as one observer reported, they were back on Thursday and Friday.
On Friday morning, Mason County resident Cindy Sund spotted at least three orcas crossing southern Hood Canal north of Potlatch. Other sightings of up to five animals were reported to Orca Network, which keeps tracks of whale movements.
"I guess the 'slippery six' have tricked us again," noted Susan Berta, who runs the network.
The six seal-eating transient orcas have been traveling around Hood Canal since Jan. 25, an unprecedented length of time for any group of killer whales.
In all reports from whale experts, the animals have been healthy and hunting successfully.

Life's good in the Hood for six visiting orcas
July 9, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) The "slippery six," a half-dozen transient killer whales whose home range is out on the Pacific Coast, are still feasting on harbor seals in the Puget Sound inlet of Hood Canal five months after their arrival — an unprecedented stint, biologists say.
They'd been reported gone Wednesday, but were sighted again yesterday.
"We're all calling back and forth," said volunteer observer Judy Dicksion, who lives near Seabeck, Kitsap County, along 60-mile-long Hood Canal. "Everybody's like — oh, yeah!"
Before yesterday's sightings, state biologist Steve Jeffries was prepared to declare the orcas gone. These transients usually head for Southeast Alaska by this time of year for the summer social season, he said.
And they've probably reduced Hood Canal's seal population of about 1,200 by more than half. But the orcas — two females with two calves each — can't seem to tear themselves away from the seal smorgasbord that runs the length of the deep and narrow channel.
The transients are among a population of hundreds along the coast, from Alaska to California. They tend to hunt marine mammals in groups of four to six, and appear less social than the resident orca populations that feed on fish in the region's inland waters.
"It's amazing to see them hunt," Jeffries said. "They're able to kill seals without any effort at all. They'll be swimming along, and then they just go down and pick up a seal."

Hood Canal Orcas Move Out
July 8, 2005 (Kitsap Sun) The six killer whales were last spotted Wednesday swimming toward the Hood Canal Bridge.
Dicksion, who has developed a network of shoreside whale-watchers, said the "slippery six," as she calls them, were nowhere to be seen in Hood Canal all day Thursday.
The seal-eating transients - two females, each with two offspring - stayed in Hood Canal more than five months, an unprecedented period of time that amazed killer whale experts. Many wondered whether something was wrong. Yet most agreed that the orcas were fat and happy and frequently feasting on seals. The whales probably consumed more than half of all the seals in Hood Canal, by some estimates.
Volker Deeke, a killer whale expert at the University of British Columbia in Canada, had predicted in early June that the whales would move back to their home waters of Southeast Alaska in early July for greater social interaction, if they stayed that long. His guess may have been better than anyone's.
Dicksion said she has collected wonderful memories of seeing the whales in all kinds of situations - from high-powered breaching to aggressive hunting to an almost ethereal touching between mother and calf. She said she also met an incredible number of people who love wildlife, as she does.

Love of 'Magic Skagit' beats out animosity
July 8, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Joe Connelly) Shared emotion, and five years of sharing the table, have managed to bring these and other decades-long rivals together in a draft Puget Sound salmon recovery plan. The plan was turned over to federal officials yesterday at a Seattle ceremony.
It covers the "Magic Skagit" -- home to a large natural salmon population and three Seattle City Light dams -- and 13 other watersheds over an area ranging from Neah Bay to the Canadian border to Mount Rainier.
The plan is not merely a strategy for hanging onto a remnant, but envisions restoring once-great chinook salmon runs to a robustness fitting a fish that helps define our region.
"It IS the Pacific Northwest, it IS Puget Sound," Gov. Christine Gregoire told the ceremony. "It is an indicator of our human health, not just the health of salmon."
Irrigators, transportation interests and federal power managers on the Snake River have mounted a massive-resistance strategy against even modest steps to assure survival of imperiled salmon.
Idaho's Cro-Magnon Sen. Larry Craig is trying to delete money to the small science agency that tracks salmon populations and analyzes data essential to recovery.
On Icicle Creek, just outside Leavenworth, federal hatchery managers have blocked an effort by local residents to remove weirs and restore a mile of natural spawning habitat in the diverted creek.
An outfit called Shared Strategy with a total staff of just five -- consider the Seattle Monorail Project by comparison -- has midwifed a remarkable tale of cooperation.
In the Snohomish River watershed, for instance, a 38-member group labored to produce a recovery plan: It was co-chaired by the Tulalip Tribes, the Pilchuck Audubon Society and the Master Builders.
It's particularly vital in the "Magic Skagit," home to the healthiest remaining wild salmon in the Puget Sound region. Upstream, Seattle City Light, The Nature Conservancy and other groups have bought up thousands of acres to protect habitat. City Light has regulated water levels below its dams so as not to leave spawning beds high and dry.
Gregoire is a quick study. At the dais, moments later, she declared: "If we had as much money as they have in Chesapeake Bay, we would have cleaned up Puget Sound."

Gregoire pushes Puget Sound plan
July 8, 2005 (The Olympian) The Puget Sound salmon recovery plan should be used to kick-start a new initiative to clean and protect Puget Sound, Gov. Christine Gregoire told community leaders gathering here Thursday.
Despite 20 years of studies, plans and cleanup efforts, Puget Sound water quality and marine life keep declining, the governor noted.
"We need a bold new plan to clean up Puget Sound, using the salmon plan as the foundation," the governor said.
Her remarks came as the nonprofit group called Shared Strategy, spearheaded by Ruckelshaus, Nisqually Indian leader Billy Frank Jr. and others handed over the Puget Sound chinook recovery plan to federal government officials.
Kathy Fletcher, director of the conservation group People for Puget Sound, said the governor's desire to ramp up action, political will and resources to repair the Puget Sound ecosystem is welcome news.
"It's the most encouraging thing we've heard in 20 years," Fletcher said. "For the first time in a long time, things are looking up."
And local governments must adopt stricter land-use laws to pull development back from the shores of Puget Sound and salmon-bearing rivers and streams, Masonis said.
"Land use needs to help recover salmon, not make the problem worse," said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Billion-Dollar Salmon Recovery Plan For Puget Sound July 7, 2005 (NW Fishletter)
Salmon Recovery Plan

Sockeye run spawns mystery
July 8, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Scientists study why so few fish are returning to locks
Two years ago, millions of ocean-bound juvenile sockeye passed the locks in Ballard. The numbers were promising -- delighting both anglers and biologists.
This week, when the fish should be returning in force, observers were distressed. Tourists frequently outnumbered salmon passing through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.
"We should be getting 10,000, 20,000 fish a day, and we're getting 1,000 to 2,000," said Mike Mahovlich, a fish biologist with the Muckleshoot Tribe. "We've lost 90 percent of our fish in the marine area."
The tribe and state officials had predicted nearly 400,000 sockeye would return to the locks -- and ultimately find their way back to rivers and streams to spawn.
As of Wednesday -- a day shy of the traditional halfway point for the returns -- fewer than 30,000 had made it. Today, officials will release their revised return predictions.
It's clear that something went terribly wrong for the fish in the two years they were eating and growing in the Pacific Ocean. What's murky is exactly what that was.
The prime suspect is an influx of warm water flowing north to Canada and Alaska, bringing with it hungry tuna and mackerel that may have gobbled up the salmon. Those conditions could be related to climate patterns, such as shorter-term El Niño warming events or the longer-lasting Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
Other local sockeye stocks and Canada's Fraser River are showing poor returns, said Jim Ames, a salmon manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. "Everything before they went to the ocean was very positive. This is a fundamental breakdown in marine survival."

3 Babies Good Sign for Orca Population
July 7, 2005 (Kitsap Sun) Three new orca babies, confirmed by the Center for Whale Research, boosts the Puget Sound orca population to 90 animals, continuing a favorable trend.
The population had dropped from 99 in 1995 to 78 in 2000, triggering a wave of national attention and pressuring the federal government to list the three Puget Sound pods as a threatened species.
The newborns two in L Pod and one in J Pod seem to be healthy and thriving, according to Stefan Jacobs of the Center for Whale Research in the San Juan Islands. Still, getting past the first year is always the greatest challenge.
Howard Garrett of Orca Network said the "baby boom" over the past two years is encouraging.
"I think it gives us some hope that they may be coming back," Garrett said, "but it's only a glimmer of hope. They need to become reproductive for them to contribute to the community."
On the Web: Center for Whale Research
Orca Network

Puget Sound Salmon: Swimming upstream
July 7, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer Editorial) Cooperation, hard work and a good deal of money have kept the state of Puget Sound salmon from becoming a regional tragedy. Reviving the fish runs will require more of the same, plus broad public involvement and time -- perhaps 50 years.
Today, regional leaders are celebrating completion of a locally developed strategy for recovery of salmon in the entire Puget Sound. It's a uniquely grass-roots plan for meeting the mandates of the federal Endangered Species Act, right in the middle of one of the country's most dynamic urban centers.
The National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now will review the plans. Federal officials have expressed pleasure with the planning for recovery of the threatened Puget Sound wild chinook. But the plan remains a work in progress.
Recovery will require new ways of gardening, greater water conservation and better land-use decisions. Spending for land acquisitions, restoration of tidal estuaries and other salmon-protection measures is expected to double to $120 million a year.

Volunteers embrace Earth stewardship
July 6, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Community stewardship is in full swing, with numerous public restoration projects under way this weekend and beyond at parks, wetlands, riverbanks and the Mountains to Sound Greenway -- the Interstate 90 corridor of public lands protected by federal, state and local governments.
On Friday, King County project volunteers, from corporate employee teams to about 400 youths attending a Western states church conference, will work under the theme of Earth stewardship.
REI employees will clip blackberries and plant native species along the Green River, while the church youth group will be mobilized at Marymoor Park, the Green River and along trails on Cougar and Taylor mountains, said Tina Miller, volunteer and restoration coordinator for the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.
Non-profit groups hosting restoration events Saturday include the Mountains to Sound Greenway (Gardiner Creek in the upper Snoqualmie Valley) and EarthCorps (Licton Springs).
The Washington Trails Association, which specializes in building and restoring trails, and planting vegetation to stop erosion, will hold a "TrailsFest" event July 16 at Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend.
Because of ongoing needs, tight budgets and seasonal growth spurts of invasive plants such as blackberries, much help is needed, project coordinators say.

Sagging sockeye run magnifies a mystery
July 6, 2005 (Seattle Times) Scientists had expected about 398,000 sockeye to return from the ocean this season. But with the run nearly half over, they say they will be lucky if 100,000 fish make it back.
Last year, elevated water temperature in the freshwater Lake Washington Ship Canal was the prime suspect when roughly half of an estimated 400,000 fish that made it through the Locks disappeared. Salmon are sensitive to high temperatures, and water in the canal was unusually warm in 2004.
But this year, the Pacific Ocean is the focus. The salmon are not returning from the salt water where most have spent the past two years, since leaving the fresh waters of the Lake Washington watershed where they were born.
Sockeye biologists expected a bumper crop of salmon in Lake Washington this year, based on their counts of the young, ocean-bound sockeye that left the lake for the ocean in early 2003.
Even if the return reaches 100,000, it would be the lowest ocean-survival rate recorded for the sockeye, Ames said.
The mystery mirrors what happened earlier this year on the Columbia River, where less than half the expected spring chinooks returned to spawn. The fishing season on the river was canceled, and fisheries managers were left wondering where the fish had gone.
There are some early indications other sockeye runs this year may fall short. The earliest run on the Fraser River in British Columbia is on course to be less than half what it was supposed to be. But it's too soon to make predictions about the main runs on the Fraser, which come later.
Other Northwest salmon runs, however, aren't following the same path. The sockeye runs in Alaska's Bristol Bay are as expected and could reach more than 32 million returning fish. And unlike the spring chinooks on the Columbia, the summer chinooks are plentiful enough that a fishing season opened for the first time in decades.
Many factors, including shifts in ocean currents, a decline in a major food source or the spread of animals that eat salmon, can influence how salmon fare in the ocean, said Pete Lawson, a Newport, Ore., fisheries biologist for the federal Northwest Fisheries Science Center.

Bush says he won't change position on global warming
July 5, 2005 (Seattle Times) Reiterating his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol that mandates targets for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, Bush told Britain's ITV1 television that he would reject any measures that "look like Kyoto." Although the U.S. is the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, Bush has rejected the treaty because its provisions, he said, would "wreck the U.S. economy."

Melting ice will wreck polar bear populations
July 5, 2005 (Anchorage Daily News) If warming Arctic climate continues to erode sea ice, as predicted by many climate scientists, the expert panel says, the iconic white carnivores will be driven ashore or onto increasingly smaller floes in their endless feast-or-famine hunt for seals to eat.
Many animals will then sicken and starve. Populations will die out.
The 40 members of the polar bear specialist group of the World Conservation Union warned last week that the population of the Arctic's top predator could crash by 30 percent over the next 35 to 50 years and should now be rated as vulnerable on an international "Red List" of threatened species.
Politicians who could do something about reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are at least partly responsible for heating the earth have been reluctant to act. While the U.S. Senate passed a nonbinding resolution last week acknowledging the role of human-generated greenhouse gases in causing the climate to warm and suggesting that U.S. emissions should be cut back, Alaska Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski voted against a measure that would have imposed limits on those emissions.

Future of Salmon Leads to Dispute Over Federal Dams
July 4, 2005 (Washington Post) In Portland, Redden has tossed out as "legally flawed" the administration's 2004 biological opinion for the Columbia and Snake. He declared that it "ignored the reality of past, present and future effects" of dams on 12 species of endangered fish. Before the dams were built, these rivers were conduits for the world's premier salmon run.
To that end, he supported a request from the National Wildlife Federation and other salmon advocates, ordering that water be spilled over Little Goose Dam and other dams in the lower Snake. The spill started June 20. Spilling water over dams keeps migrating juvenile fish in the river, while keeping them out of turbines that often kill them. When less water goes through its turbines, though, Little Goose produces less electricity. Through the end of August, this dam will spill water that would be worth $267,288 a day, if it had been fed into turbines to generate electricity, said Carl Knaak, operations manager at the dam.
Dams kill juvenile salmon in a number of ways: in turbines; in the slow-moving, relatively warm reservoirs between dams; and by stunning them in a way that makes them vulnerable to predators.
If the government does not win its appeal, Disheroon said, it might invoke a rarely used provision of the Endangered Species Act, which would convene a Cabinet-level committee informally called the "God Squad." After a lengthy public process, the committee could decide that economic concerns justify the extinction of endangered fish.
"The science is clear. If we want to bring the salmon back, we have to be willing to make the hydrosystem work more like a natural river," said Todd True, a staff attorney for Earthjustice. "The Bonneville Power Administration thinks it owns the river, and they don't want to give it up -- not one drop."
Environmental groups, some state fish agencies and many salmon biologists argue that removing the dams is the only possible way to prevent wholesale extinction of Snake River salmon. It is an argument that dates back six decades -- well before Little Goose and its sister dams were built in the 1960s and '70s.

Sonar used too close to orcas again
July 1, 2005 (KING-5 TV) Sonar is blamed for causing injuries, even death to marine mammals and now Northwest whale advocates say the military is again using sonar too close to orcas. This time, the Canadian Navy is getting the blame.
According to whale protection groups, a Canadian Naval ship, looking peaceful on the surface in the San Juan Islands, was raising a dangerous ruckus with sonar captured on underwater microphones.
"At this time of year it is littered with killer whales. We have all three pods in town these days," said Fred Felleman, Ocean Advocates.
Whale researchers were able to photograph members of one of those pods swimming near the ship in Haro Strait – the main waterway between Vancouver Island and the San Juans.
In one recording, the researchers say, you can hear the high-pitched sonar and orcas communicating in the background.
Two years ago, a U.S. Navy ship was recorded using its sonar in the same place. Days later, dead porpoises were found, but scientists could not link their deaths to the sonar.
"It seems to me, unbelievable, that the Canadian government, who's listed these killer whales as endangered, U.S. is going to list them as threatened, that we couldn't get some uniform protection for this very threatened population," said Felleman.
Both the Canadian and U.S. Navies have vowed to protect marine species whenever possible, but both also value the unique geology of Haro Strait for testing sonar.
There have been no reports of any orcas or other marine mammals injured by this latest testing.

More flushed pharmaceuticals turning up in our waterways
July 1, 2005 (Seattle Times) Academics, state officials and environmental advocates are starting to question whether massive amounts of discarded pharmaceuticals, which are often flushed down the drain, pose a threat to the nation's aquatic life and possibly to people.
In waterways from the Potomac to the Brazos River in Texas, researchers have found fish laden with estrogen and antidepressants, and many show evidence of major neurological or physiological changes.
No one has seen evidence of effects on human health, but a number are asking publicly why the federal government is not taking a more aggressive approach to what they see as a looming problem.
In October 2002, Maine's Department of Environmental Protection asked federal scientists to analyze water samples to determine to what extent prescription drugs had seeped into the state's waterways. Worried that discarded birth-control pills, antidepressants and other drugs could affect the state's fishing industry and public health, the department's Ann Pistell hoped the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Northeast regional office could give her a speedy answer.
It was 2 ½ years before she received a partial report identifying drugs in the water without a detailed explanation — it came two weeks ago — and she said she's still waiting for a full breakdown.

Creative plan aims to save chinook salmon
July 1, 2005 (Seattle Times) What will it take to save Puget Sound's beloved chinook salmon?
About $1.5 billion in the first 10 years, tinkering with various rivers and estuaries, retooling hatcheries and dams, and a lot of scientific research.
And figuring out how to fit in more than a million additional residents without pushing the fish over the brink.
At least, that's according to a plan sent to the federal government last night from a coalition of regional policy-makers and interest groups who have spent three years drawing up a way to rescue the region's chinook from extinction.
It's described as an innovative approach that has built new political alliances needed for such an expensive and ambitious plan. But even the plan's authors acknowledge there are serious gaps, and that going from paper to reality will be a leap.
The chinook that swim into Puget Sound have dwindled from 390,000 or more in the past to little more than 30,000 wild fish today, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. That has prompted their listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The plan submitted yesterday calls for growing salmon populations to as much as 270,000 fish over the next half century. To do that, some salmon runs would have to increase tenfold.
"I think it will be a big challenge to get the money. I think it will be a big challenge both to make the hard decisions to implement the plan, and people changing their lifestyles."
Area's salmon strategy wins praise July 1, 2005 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

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