In efforts to keep anyone visiting local beaches healthy as they head to the shore this summer, environmental group Heal the Bay will be issuing water quality grades for over 200 beach monitoring locations in Washington and Oregon throughout the beach season.
So far, Grays Harbor beaches have ranked an A+ rating. 9 beach access areas on the South Beach have been tested so far, all receiving an A+.
Ocean users in the Northwest generally enjoy very good water quality, according to Heal the Bay’s online Beach Report Card, which grades shorelines along the entire western coast of the United States each week based on levels of bacterial pollution. However, troubling pockets of pollution still dot the coastline throughout the year.
Beachgoers can check updated weekly grades each Friday at beachreportcard.org. Heal the Bay provides this online database as a free public service. You can find out which beaches are safe and unsafe, check recent water quality history and look up details on beach closures.
In the latest weekly report, all Washington monitoring locations are earning A grades during dry weather. However, there are 10 monitoring locations at three beaches in the state closed due to pollution-related issues: a sewage spill, dairy waste discharge to a creek, and one unknown cause of elevated bacteria in marine waters.
None of these closures impact Grays Harbor or Pacific County.
The full annual report on Oregon and Washington beach water quality can be found at:http://www.healthebay.org/sites/default/files/pdf/BRC_2014_WEB_.pdf
The Recreation and Conservation Office announced more than $1.3 million in grants will go to fix and restore trails to 31 projects that spans 17 counties. This includes $20,530 for Grays Harbor to maintain the Straddleline ORV Park Trails and Campground.
“These grants help get trails ready for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, off-road vehicle riders, and others in the summer” said Kaleen Cottingham, RCO director. “Without these grants many trails would be closed because of fallen trees and hazardous conditions.”
Grays Harbor will use this grant to maintain 15 miles of trails and handle backlogged maintenance issues on about 50 acres of the campground. The County will clear trails, remove overgrown brush, repair water drainage, fix trail surfaces, and install signs during the next 2 years. The County will also use the grant to buy a mini excavator and other equipment. The 155-acre park serves about 25,000 motorized vehicle users annually.
Grays Harbor County will contribute $52,500 in donated labor from the Seattle Motorcycle Club, Gallerdo Dirt Maffia, and Puget Sound Enduro Riders.
The trail grants are from the federally-funded Recreational Trails Program, as well as projects to educate trail users about protecting the environment and having a safe experience. Funding comes from federal gasoline taxes attributed to recreational, non-highway uses.
“The competition for these grants is very high,” Cottingham said. “That means that only the best projects get funded.”
For more information on the agency or its grant programs, visit the Web site: http://www.rco.wa.gov.
Fish hatchery crews will be stocking 10,000 one-and-a half pound triploid rainbow trout into 20 lakes just before this weekend for Father’s Day. In Grays Harbor, that means another 100 fish in Vance Creek Pond #2.
“This is the third straight year we’ve stocked triploid trout before Father’s Day,” said Chris Donley, inland fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Young people and fishing go together,” adds Donley. “Whether or not you can take your father, and whether or not you have a kid of your own, this Father’s Day weekend is a terrific time to catch a memory – and a huge trout.”
Hundreds of other Washington lakes have been stocked with millions of trout over the past year. Almost 31,000 trout have been placed in local waters since March.
Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the annual stocking plan on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/.
The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office will be participating in Operation Dry Water June 27-29, as part of a nationally coordinated effort to reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to boating under the influence.
During the three-day weekend, officers will be on the water reminding boaters about the dangers of boating under the influence and detecting boaters who are impaired.
Sheriff Rick Scott told KXRO that this program is not new to the area, and so far it has made an influence.
Boating under the influence continues to be major problem nationwide. The leading factor in boater deaths is alcohol use while boating.
Scott says that while it is a familiar sight to see someone drinking while out on local waters, and they are hoping to curb that practice.
In Washington, boaters whose blood alcohol content level exceeds the state limit of 0.08 or have a THC blood concentration of 5.00 nanograms or are impaired and can expect to be arrested for BUI and face other penalties including having your vessel impounded, payment of fines, jail time or both fines and jail time.
Operation Dry Water patrols will include increased patrols, as well as boater education and outreach.
For more information on Operation Dry Water, please visit operationdrywater.org.
The Olympic National Forest will be hosting open houses in Grays Harbor and throughout the area, asking the public to share the areas and roads they use within the Forest. This will help identify a financially sustainable road system that meets access needs, minimizes environmental harm, and is scaled to available resources.
“Your participation will help us understand your access needs,” said Forest Supervisor Reta Laford. “It would be particularly helpful to know what areas you use on the Forest and what roads you use to get there.”
The open houses will be held around the Olympic Peninsula during the summer of 2014.
The first meetings will be held in the Upper Peninsula starting this month. On July 30, a meeting will be held in Quinault at the Ranger Station, and on August 21 a meeting is scheduled for the Rotary Log Pavilion in Aberdeen.
|June 17||4:00 – 7:00 p.m.||Port Angeles – Clallam County Courthouse, County Commissioner’s Meeting Room • 223 E 4th St.|
|June 19||4:00 – 7:00 p.m.||Forks – Olympic Natural Resources Center, Hemlock Forest Conference Room • 1455 S Forks Ave.|
|June 25||4:00 – 7:00 p.m.||Quilcene – Quilcene School, Multi-purpose Room •
294715 U.S. 101
|July 17||4:30 – 7:30 p.m.||Port Townsend – Port Townsend Community Center •
620 Tyler St.
|July 30||4:00 – 7:00 p.m.||Quinault – Olympic National Forest, Quinault Ranger Station • 353 South Shore Rd.|
|August 19||4:00 – 7:00 p.m.||Shelton – Shelton Civic Center • 525 West Cota St.|
|August 21||4:00 – 7:00 p.m.||Aberdeen – Rotary Log Pavilion • 1401 Sargent Blvd.|
|August 27||4:00 – 7:00 p.m.||Olympia – Olympic National Forest, Supervisor’s Office •
1835 Black Lake Blvd. SW
In addition to the open houses, the public can comment online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/olympic/sustainableroads.
Comments will be taken until August 31, 2014.
Three small fishing boats washed ashore in Pacific County in the last weeks of May. All three were covered in gooseneck barnacles according to Pacific County Emergency Management. This has led to speculation that they may be tsunami debris from Japan.
The boats were taken to a Washington State Parks facility in Ilwaco where they will be inspected for serial numbers or other identifying marks. The hope of PCEMA is that these boats could be traced back to their original owners.
Since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, numerous boats and other confirmed debris have washed ashore in Grays Harbor and Pacific County. The last confirmed tsunami debris, according to the Department of Ecology, was the boat found in January in Westport.
The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has turned to the public to find a way to save the Enchanted Valley Chalet.
The Olympic National Park recently issued an expedited environmental assessment to temporarily move the chalet away from the bank of the East Quinault, currently eroding the land below and exposing the historic building to a risk of falling into the river.
A proposal to move the chalet approximately 50-100 feet from the bank and remove the remaining foundation would avoid the imminent collapse of the chalet to allow for more time to find a permanent solution.
The state department is now asking for residents to comment on the assessment, due by June 5. They say that comments should highlight 3 points.
- Thanking ONP officials for taking action to protect both the river and for allowing time to evaluate long-term protection for the chalet.
- Note that the river threatened the chalet about 10 years ago, and in 2005 low-impact measures were taken resulting in protection to the chalet for the past 8 years. Highlight that low-impact solutions do exist.
- Mention that the chalet has served as a back country ranger station and a four season emergency shelter for the past 60 years.
In 2014, the Washington Trust included the Enchanted Valley Chalet in on their Most Endangered Historic Properties List. In 2013, the Electric Building in Aberdeen was also on that list.
Comments can be submitted online.
More information, including the full environmental assessment, can be accessed at the following website: Enchanted Valley Chalet Environmental Assessment.
Residents will be allowed to access state parks without a Discover Pass for 3 days this month, and get some fishing in. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission allows a limited number of ‘free days’ each year in the parks, and June provides the most of any month.
- June 7 — National Trails Day
- June 7-8 — Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Free Fishing Weekend
- June 14 — National Get Outdoors Day
Free days were included in the legislation that created the Discover Pass. Residents can purchase a $30 annual or $10 one-day permit to enter land throughout Grays Harbor and the state managed by Washington State Parks, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Department of Natural Resources. The free days apply only to day use, not for overnight stays or rented facilities. Overnight visitors are charged fees for camping and other overnight accommodations, and day access is included in the overnight fee. June 7-8 is “Free Fishing Weekend” in the state, when fishing licenses are not required of anyone to fish in Washington. Free Fishing Weekend in Washington is always the first weekend after the first Monday in June. All other rules still apply, including seasons, area and lure or bait restrictions, and size and catch limits.
The Chinese government has lifted the 5 month ban on Washington shellfish.
China imposed a ban in December on the import of clams, oysters, mussels and scallops harvested from Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California after officials detected high levels of inorganic arsenic in geoducks from Puget Sound. They also found paralytic shellfish poisoning in geoducks harvested in Alaska. High levels of inorganic arsenic and paralytic shellfish poisoning have not been found in other areas of the larger region.
U.S. officials had traveled to China in March to discuss lifting the ban, including highlighting new methods for sampling, surveillance and monitoring of inorganic arsenic.
“The lifting of this ban is great news for shellfish growers and businesses in our region,”said Representative Derek Kilmer, “China is a key export market for our region’s shellfish, and this news means greater economic stability for the workers and families in our region. I look forward to working closely with federal, state, local, and tribal stakeholders to ensure that the new testing and monitoring requirements can be swiftly implemented and we can get back to shipping world-famous Washington shellfish to a major market,”
A Chinese letter said the country will send a team of food safety officials to the United States to monitor shellfish testing.
Geoducks can fetch up to $50 a pound in Asian markets. The U.S. exported $68 million worth of geoducks in 2012, mostly from Washington.
Despite the ban, shellfish growers had been able to continue shipping their product to Asia, with the two main destinations being Hong Kong and Vietnam.
Locally, clam digs continue this week with no signs of increased levels of arsenic or paralytic shellfish poisoning detected.
May 28, Wednesday, 7:06 a.m., -1.3 feet, Twin Harbors, Long Beach
May 29, Thursday, 7:45 a.m., -1.4 feet, Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
May 30, Friday, 8:23 a.m., -1.2 feet, Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
May 31, Saturday, 9:00 a.m., -1.0 feet, Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
June 1, Sunday, 9:37 a.m., -0.7 feet, Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
Representatives Derek Kilmer and Jaime Herrera Beutler introduced legislation on Thursday to help fight ocean acidification.
The bill, entitled the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, would for the first time allow federal agencies to use existing funds to design competitions to increase the ability to manage, research, and monitor ocean acidification and its impacts.
In a release, the representatives say that ocean acidification is a rising threat to coastal communities, including recent reports of pteropods dissolving due to the acidification. These pteropods are a key part of the food chain for salmon, herring, and other fish. Local shellfish are made of the same components as pteropods, raising concern about future implications on the species.
“I’ve heard from shellfish and fishing folks up and down the coast in Pacific County about the trends they are seeing and threats their industries are facing due to ocean acidification,” said Jaime. “We need to understand what is happening and find solutions.”
The commercial and recreational fishing industry in Washington alone supports over 67,000 jobs and contributes over $300 million in revenue. Washington leads the nation in producing farmed clams, oysters, and mussels. Growers in Washington contribute more than $250 million to the economy and support more than 3,200 jobs.
The industry in Pacific County alone contributes over $150 million to the local economy, producing 25% of the nation’s oysters.