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Washington Legislative Update: Murrelets, Trust Land Transfer, Ghost Shrimp, Wolves

The Washington State 66th Legislature, 2019 Regular Session, is considering several bills which impact the Olympic Peninsula forests and associated marine waters, endangered species, and habitat conservation. Bills may be introduced up to February 22. Thus far, OFCO has commented and testified on a few key bills, and encourages members to track these bills and consider submitting your support or opposition.

SB 5547 / HB 1546 Will Undermine Long-Term Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet and Allow Harvest in Habitat Midway in Process

SB 5547 and HB 1546

SB 5547 and the companion House bill, HB 1546, will allow timber harvests inside alternatives currently under consideration for the Long-Term Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet, duplicate economic analysis already underway via a bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Chapman last year (HB 2285 – see 2018 report to the Legislature here), and undermine the multi-stakeholder Solutions Table convened by Commissioner Hilary Franz. The Marbled Murrelet Coalition letter lays out the problematic legal, scientific and policy implications of SB 5547 and HB 1546. Please consider writing your elected officials and asking that the Senate and House committees and members support the process underway at the Solutions Table. Click here to view the Committee hearing before the Senate—testimony at 1:28 into the hearing.

Trust Lands Transfer Program to Support Conservation Lands on the Olympic Peninsula

Commissioner Hilary Franz, Executive for the Department of Natural Resources for Washington state, submitted a Capital Budget request for funding the Trust Lands Transfer Program for 30 million dollars. This funding will support two important conservation projects in Jefferson County on the Olympic Peninsula—Dabob Bay and Devils Lake. OFCO has supported conservation lands for several years and funding is needed now (see lead partner Northwest Watershed Institute’s efforts to conserve Dabob Bay and Devils Lake). The funding allows trust beneficiaries to transfer timber lands into conservation in exchange for working timber lands that will generate revenue for important services. See OFCO’s letter of support for the Capital Budget Request. Please consider supporting the Trust Lands Transfer Program Capital Budget request. Write a brief message of support to Rep. Tharinger and track the Capital Budget through the process this session.

The Honorable Steve Tharinger, Chair
House Capital Budget Committee
Washington State Legislature
PO Box 40600
Olympia WA 98504-0600

Ghost Shrimp Pesticide Use Authorization May Have Lasting Effects for Other Olympic Peninsula Fisheries

Ghost shrimp are natural inhabitants of Northwest bays and coastal waters. The problem with pesticide application to remove ghost shrimp arises because the non-native oyster, which much of the industry uses, is larger and heavier than the native oyster, sinking the oyster and making it more vulnerable to ghost-shrimp burrowing. However, the burrows of ghost shrimp are home to a number of benthic inhabitants. Poisoning ghost shrimp with a neonic pesticide will also kill their guests, the zooplankton and ichthyoplankton in the waters moving across the tidelands. These are food sources for other fisheries that are commercially important, including some salmon species, sturgeon and Dungeness crab, which feed on the ghost shrimp and other zooplankton.

SB 5626 and companion bill HB 1611 will circumvent the environmental protections and procedures regulating environmental impacts for all fisheries. The Department of Ecology denied the application (Final Supplementary EIS, pg. 869, and references) of similar pesticides based on compelling research that indicated serious environmental effects in aquatic systems. The denial was not a political decision; rather it was based on serious scientific review of current information. For the past 30 years, the shellfish industry had used a similar pesticide until 2012/2013, when legal action prevented it from continuing its use. That pesticide has now been removed from the market altogether. A neonicotinoid with indications of serious toxicity that has already been banned in Europe and Canada is now proposed to be used in the same way.

Consider tracking this bill and voicing your opposition on the grounds that the impacts to other fisheries are not being well enough understood. See OFCO’s opposition to SB 5626 / HB 1611 authorizing the use of imidabloprid pesticide in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

Wolf Recovery in Washington State

OFCO supports HB 2097, a bill regarding gray wolf recovery, only with amendments that will shape wolf recovery for the state, including the Olympic Peninsula. OFCO does not support premature delisting of wolves before the wolves have recovered. Please consider following wolf policy and lending your support as needed this session. Click here to read OFCO’s letter.

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