Category Archive: Posts

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Military Control Over Public Adjacent Lands Stopped

OFCO Board Member Karen Sullivan, co-founder of the West Coast Action Alliance (WCAA), led OFCO advocacy to stop a bill that would have turned land use control and incompatibility decision-making authority over to the military, on public and private lands that not only are adjacent to military bases but also throughout the state. Sullivan and others said, “By outlawing all land uses that may be incompatible with present or future missions of United States military installations, the bill presents an ‘inverse condemnation’ of property, where the government takes property without compensating for it. This bill violates Article 1, Section 18, of the Washington State Constitution. It would have enormous consequences for Washington and for conservation.” The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kristine Reeves, who is also the DOD-paid executive director of the Washington Military Alliance, did not pass. A companion Senate bill also failed. Sullivan, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist, has led WCAA and OFCO’s work to ensure that military operations on the Olympic Peninsula and associated marine waters do not further endanger species like the Marbled Murrelet, orcas and salmon.

Karen was recently featured in a movie about the impacts of the Navy Growler jets in our area, Plane Truths. WCAA and OFCO are encouraging you also to comment on an open EA allowing the Navy to expand military training to 65 Washington state parks and 265 miles of shoreline, much of which is private land. Comments are due March 23; see WCAA model comment letter and how to commentSee Karen’s Op Ed in The Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader on the plan.

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Legislative Wrap-up

Salmon Net Pen Ban Won!

Washington’s fin fish net pen ban is on the Governor’s desk for signature after a roller coaster legislative effort by Olympic Peninsula conservation groups and elected representatives. See article below.

OFCO President Connie Gallant with Rep. Mike Chapman
celebrating good news

Marbled Murrelet Protections and
Rural Communities Legislation Wins

Rep. Mike Chapman sponsored a bill, HB 2285 – 2017-18, to support protections for Marbled Murrelets and implementation of the Endangered Species Act, through reporting on economic impacts to rural communities. The bill asks the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to report to the Legislature on possible economic impacts and solutions for revenue losses related to conservation. DNR will establish an advisory committee to work with local government, conservation groups, and timber community stakeholders to find solutions for conservation and revenues for basic services funded by state-managed timber revenues to trustees. The bill supports Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz’s “Solutions Table” process. OFCO and the Marbled Murrelet Survival Coalition asked CPL Franz to consider developing other sources of revenue for essential services impacted by conservation through a multi-stakeholder process, especially protecting essential services. The Coalition members, Washington Environmental Council (WEC), Washington Forest Law Center (WFLC), Audubon chapters, Conservation Northwest (CNW), Defenders of Wildlife, and grassroots conservation groups like OFCO, worked hard to turn out calls and comments to legislators to help shape the bill. Governor Inslee has the bill on his desk to sign.

Of concern, Sen. Kevin Van De Wege submitted a budget proviso late in the session that, if passed, would have circumvented the several years’ process to develop the Long-Term Conservation Strategy for Marbled Murrelets underway by DNR. The Strategy is a requirement of the “incidental take permit” issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife for the state-managed timber harvests. The proviso asked that “Alternative B,” the most timber harvest and least protections for Marbled Murrelets, be brought forward as a “preferred alternative,” even after the Board of Natural Resources chose a different preferred alternative. Efforts by the conservation community to show concern over the constitutionality of the proviso, and its one-sided promotion of the timber industry interests over conservation, succeeded in stopping the effect of the proviso in the budget process. Lawyers Peter Goldman of the Washington Forest Law Center, assisted by Wyatt Golding of Chestnut Ziontz, drafted the legal analysis on the budget proviso constitutionality, which helped decision makers shift the emphasis, and may help in the future if back-door budget efforts are used again to weaken conservation efforts. WEC and CNW staffers worked tirelessly to provide information.

Great appreciation to Rep. Chapman, OFCO members for their calls and comments, and WEC, CNW and WFLC for their leadership on saving the Marbled Murrelet and OP rural communities.

Gray Wolf (Canis Lupus) ~Western Wildlife Outreach

Cascade Wolf Transfers to the OP Stopped—for Now

Rep. Kretz, 7th District (Eastern Washington), sponsored a bill in the House that called for the preparation of a plan to capture and translocate wolves from Eastern Washington to the Olympic Peninsula/Southwest Washington recovery area, undermining the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan which was adopted by the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in 2011. Lorna Smith, OFCO Vice President and Executive Director of Western Wildlife Outreach, said, “According to WDFW biologists, gray wolf recovery is on track as called for in the Wolf Plan. The adopted plan is science based and peer reviewed. The plan population and recovery model projects that wolves will move naturally onto the Olympic Peninsula. This bill would cause disruptions to Washington’s wolf population and put translocated wolves at risk. Wolves moved from their home range and habitat are more likely to get into trouble because they don’t know the area and are not part of a pack. Many translocated wolves attempt to return to their former territories. Whereas wolf translocation was successfully used in the recovery of Yellowstone wolves, it was employed only after natural dispersal from packs in Canada did not work. OFCO members and supporters are concerned about the translocation project before natural dispersal is given a chance. While the bill did not pass, some of the language was lifted and included as a budget proviso which DID pass. The proviso requires a SEPA study on the translocation proposal, without the proposal being vetted by established procedures for modifying the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, ignoring the science. OFCO is tracking developments.”

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Salmon Net Pen Ban Won in Legislature!

Washington’s non-native fin fish net pen ban bill, which will phase out Atlantic salmon in-water pens, is on the Governor’s desk for signature after a roller coaster legislative effort. The Olympic Forest Coalition and other Peninsula environmental groups were a big part of the push to get the bill passed, as part of the umbrella “Our Sound, Our Salmon” coalition. At the head of the effort to get the bill passed in the House were Representatives Mike Chapman and Kris Lytton. In the Senate, Senators Kevin Ranker and Kevin Van De Wege deserve major credit for final passage of the bill.

HB 2957 – 2017-18 includes an immediate ban of new net pens and phasing out of existing net pens. The bill requires the State to establish a program and guidelines for disease inspection and control for the remainder of the life of the existing leases. The bill is on Governor Inslee’s desk. He has until the end of March to sign it. Governor Inslee has gone on the record supporting the net pen ban.

OFCO Vice President Lorna Smith coordinated OFCO’s efforts in the “Our Sound, Our Salmon” coalition to win the ban on the conservation side. Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest was the lead organization in the coalition, providing key science and policy direction. “The Wild Fish Conservancy helped to build one of the best coalition’s I have worked with in many years, with their science and reasonable policy solutions, ” said Smith. “Our Sound, Our Salmon was a joy to work with. Thanks to OFCO members for responding with last-minute phone calls and comments on the bill.”

Vice President Lorna Smith on the right, with friend, at the flotilla protest during the campaign

Of concern still is the presence of the Norwegian-derived PRV virus (Orthoreovirus) now found in wild salmon in Washington waters. Wild Fish Conservancy had an independent lab conduct testing of recovered Atlantic salmon after the escape of thousands of them into the Salish Sea. All 20 fish sampled were infected with PRV. The Conservancy is suing Cooke Aquaculture in a citizens suit about the Clean Water Act violations. Renowned scientist and activist Alexandra Morton has been researching salmon net pen diseases and working to ban the operations in Canada’s waters. Her work substantiates the risk that PRV poses to wild fish. See her short video on the virus. Washington’s Dept. of Fish and Wildlife refutes Wild Fish Conservancy’s claims, even though the evidence of risk to native fish is now substantial.

Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz has closed the Cypress Island Cooke Aquaculture operations as a result of the investigation begun after the net pen collapse and release of Atlantic salmon last August. That operation, as well as Cooke Aquaculture’s pens in Port Angeles, was closed for being badly out of compliance with permit/lease requirements. The Dept. of Natural Resources is investigating other net pen operations in Washington waters to determine if there is adequate maintenance.

Our sincere gratitude and thanks go to Kurt Beardslee and Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest staff for their leadership and dedication; Representatives Chapman and Lytton and Senators Ranker and Van De Wege for their efforts in the Legislature; and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and staff for their investigation and closure of Cooke Aquaculture’s operations.

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OFCO OPPOSES Trump Administration Offshore Oil-Drilling

Senator Cantwell Gets Interior Secretary Zinke’s Assurances

Washington Is Low Value for Drilling Program

Razor clam digging is one of the popular recreational
activities on the coast that would be threatened
by an oil spill off the Washington coast.

The Olympic Forest Coalition submitted a comment opposing the Administration’s plan to overturn the offshore drilling protections in place. The Plan included one location in the Washington/Oregon planning region. U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the Plan would open 90% of the national continental shelf to drilling, including the Pacific Northwest.

Governor Inslee and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz submitted opposition comments. Senator Maria Cantwell requested an extension of the comment period.

Inslee letter

Franz letter

The Surfrider Foundation opposed the drilling program for the nation and led efforts to oppose the program because of its potential impacts on important habitats and recreational uses. The Surfrider Foundation’s 2015 Recreational Use Study found that the Washington coast attracted 4.1 million trips in a single year, resulting in $481 million from direct expenditures to our state’s coastal economy.

Senator Maria Cantwell, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, pressed Interior Secretary Zinke this week on the offshore oil drilling program. Mr. Zinke said that the West Coast does not have any significant resources. Still at risk are many coastal resources in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

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U.S. Court of Appeals Affirms OFCO’s Clean Water Act Win, Advancing Protections for Hood Canal and Puget Sound

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued their decision in Olympic Forest Coalition v. Coast Seafoods Company on March 9, affirming OFCO’s case. OFCO alleges that Coast Seafoods is violating the federal Clean Water Act by discharging pollutants from an oyster hatchery on Quilcene Bay without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Coast had claimed its oyster hatchery is the world’s largest shellfish hatchery, capable of producing over 45 billion eyed oyster larvae per year. Coast moved to dismiss and lost at the District Court and now at the Court of Appeals.

“The case is very important for Quilcene Bay and perhaps all of Puget Sound,” said Paul Kampmeier the attorney representing Olympic Forest Coalition, “because it clarifies the important legal issues—whether aquatic animal production facilities using ditches, channels, and pipes are point sources that require NPDES permits. The Ninth Circuit ruled today that they do. The case is not over but the decision today should provide greater protection for Hood Canal and Puget Sound.”

See press release here.