Despite this morning’s light rain, with the recent heat wave increasing fire danger throughout the state, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources is expanding the burn ban from DNR-protected lands to include Western Washington. The burn ban will run from today through September 30, 2014. It applies to all forestlands under DNR fire protection.
“Washington is experiencing high heat and very low humidity, which is creating a dangerous situation,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “We are asking everyone to take extra care to avoid any risk of causing a fire.”
This fire season, there have already been 265 fires on DNR-protected lands, with the majority caused by humans. DNR protects about 13 million acres throughout the state and operates the state’s largest fire-fighting force, with more than 1,000 trained staff ready to be deployed where needed.
Hot and dry conditions increase the potential for wildfire over the next several weeks on both sides of the Cascades. With the current heat wave projected to last into next week, DNR is urging people to be extra vigilant.
All outdoor burning on DNR-protected forestlands is prohibited during the ban, with two exceptions. Recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds, and gas or propane stoves/barbeque grills are allowed. DNR-approved prescribed fires for ecological purposes may be permitted if expressly approved by the Commissioner of Public Lands.
Fireworks and incendiary devices, such as exploding targets, sky lanterns, or tracer ammunition, are illegal on all DNR-protected forestlands. Charcoal briquettes are not allowed.
Gov. Jay Inslee wants to toughen the state’s clean water rules by increasing the estimate of how much fish Washington residents eat. On Wednesday he announced his proposed update to the state’s water quality standards, saying that he found a solution that “advanced the values of human, environmental and economic health.”
How much fish people eat is part of a complicated formula that determines how clean waters should be. A higher rate theoretically would mean fewer toxic chemicals would be allowed in waters and tougher permitting rules for facilities that discharge pollutants into state waters.
Current standards assume Washingtonians eat 6.5 grams of fish per day, or about one serving per month. There is widespread agreement that many people in the state consume much more fish than this, but disagreement about whether the new rule should account for the highest-consumers, such as Native Americans or those who fish for recreation. The higher the fish consumption rate, the more stringent water quality rules become for businesses and local governments.
Inslee’s proposal updates Washington’s water quality standards to be more protective of those who consume 175 grams of fish per day — an increase from one serving per month to one serving per day. Of the 96 chemicals regulated under the rule, about 70 percent will have new, more protective standards.
“Many people have seen the mandate to update our water quality standards as a choice between protecting human health or protecting the economy. I reject that choice because both values are essential to our future,” Inslee said.
Business such as Boeing and others had worried too-stringent rules would hurt jobs and economic growth because costly technologies would be required to keep certain levels of toxic chemicals out of state waters.
Washington’s current standards were set in 1992 and focus on controlling pollution coming out of large pipes from large facilities. Inslee said the standards are out of date and the federal approach to clean water is inadequate to address today’s threats to clean water.
A separate approach will be used for arsenic, a naturally occurring element in waters throughout the state. Because the current standard for arsenic is set below levels that occur naturally, the governor proposes using the federal drinking water standard for arsenic.
The Natural Resources Defense Council have named beaches across the county as “Superstars” and in Washington that beach is Westhaven.
NRDC dubbed these 35 beaches around the country as Superstars out of a list of hundreds of beaches nationwide developed over several years in consultation with state officials.
NRDC’s Superstar Beaches are those that did not exceed the previous national standard for bacteria 2009-2012 by more than 2%, and also did not exceed the EPA’s new, more protective water quality threshold, the Beach Action Value, by more than 2% in 2013.
Rates in 2009-2012 are based on the national standard for 104 types of bacteria. Rates for 2013 are based on the new Beach Action Value. Beaches with fewer than 12 monitoring samples reported during the year are excluded from this list.
For the past 5 years, NRDC said that Westhaven has consistently shown a 0.0% rate of bacteria.
As the August election approaches, candidates and their supporters are reminded by the Washington State Department of Transportation that campaign signs are not allowed in the state highway right of way.
Because it’s not always easy to know the boundaries of a right of way, there are a few clues:
- Utility poles are typically located inside the right of way; so no signs between the pole and the state highway.
- Many locations also have a fence line separating the right of way from private property. Signs are not allowed between the fence and the state highway.
That means that many signs placed on power poles or fences go against state law.
Under the Washington Administrative Code, political signs are allowed on private property visible from state highways. However, the property owner must consent and the sign must comply with the law, as well as any local regulations.
Local cities may have additional regulations, which could differ from city to city and county to county.
For questions determining the boundary lines for a state highway right of way, contact WSDOT Outdoor Advertising Specialist Pat O’Leary at OLearyP@wsdot.wa.gov or by calling 360-705-7296.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is now accepting proposals for changes in state hunting rules during the 2015-17 seasons.
Hunters and other members of the public can post their proposals on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/seasonsetting/, which includes a timetable for rule development.
The department is also hosting public meetings around the state to discuss options for the state’s draft game management plan 2015-2021. The closest local meeting is tomorrow from 7-9 pm at the Red Lion in Olympia.
Dave Ware, WDFW game program manager, said changes proposed by the public will play an important role in shaping hunting seasons and hunting regulations.
“We want to hear people’s comments and concerns, especially those that address a significant conservation or management issue,” Ware said. “We don’t implement every proposal we receive, but we do take a close look at all of them and incorporate a lot of those ideas into the state’s hunting rules.”
The public can also comment on key aspects of the six-year plan via an on-line survey, available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/gmpobjectives through July 18.
Key issues considered in the draft plan include:
- Maintaining hunter access to timberlands;
- Promoting hunter recruitment and retention;
- Managing predator/prey relationships;
- Managing wolves after they are no longer classified as an endangered species; and
- Possible new rules requiring the use of non-toxic shot.
Final recommendations for the six-year plan will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for a public hearing in August and adoption in September. Final rules for the 2015-17 hunting seasons will be submitted to the commission next spring.
Following an increase in local Roosevelt Elk with hoof disease, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will be conducting a broad-based survey this summer of elk in southwest Washington and will likely euthanize those with severe symptoms of the crippling ailment.
To help with the survey, state wildlife managers plan to enlist dozens of volunteers to assist them in assessing the disease in the Willapa Hills and St. Helens elk herds.
To minimize the spread of the disease, WDFW is also proposing new regulations requiring hunters to leave the hooves of any elk taken in the affected area on site.
WDFW announced its plan two weeks after a scientific panel agreed that the disease most likely involves a type of bacterial infection that leaves elk with missing or misshapen hooves.
Members of the panel, composed of veterinarians and researchers throughout the state, agreed that the disease closely resembles contagious ovine digital dermatitis in sheep.
Dr. Kristin Mansfield, WDFW epidemiologist, said bacteria has been linked to an increase of hoof disease in sheep and cattle in many parts of the world, but have never before been documented in elk or other wildlife.
Nate Pamplin, director of WDFW’s Wildlife Program, said the diagnosis limits the department’s management options, because there is no vaccine for the disease and no proven options for treating it in the field.
“At this point, we don’t know whether we can contain this disease,” Pamplin said, “but we do know that assessing its impacts and putting severely crippled animals out of their misery is the right thing to do.”
Since 2008, WDFW has received increasing reports of elk with misshapen hooves in Grays Harbor, Pacific, Cowlitz, Lewis, Clark, and Wahkiakum counties, all within the range of the two herds.
Scientists believe the animals pick up and transmit the disease through wet soil, characteristic of the lowlands of southwest Washington.
“There is no evidence that the bacteria are harmful to humans, and tests have shown that the disease does not affect the animals’ meat or organs,” Mansfield said. “But treating infected animals has posed a real challenge for the livestock industry for nearly 30 years.”
Some livestock producers bathe the hooves of infected sheep and cattle in an antibiotic solution, but many become re-infected and are ultimately sent to market, Mansfield said.
“In any case, daily footbaths are not a realistic solution when you’re dealing with thousands of free-roaming elk,” she said.
The primary focus of WDFW’s work this summer will be to assess the spread of the disease and the proportion of the herd that is affected, Pamplin said. The department will enlist the help of volunteers to run survey routes and report their observations.
Information gathered from the survey will be compared against sightings of diseased elk reported by the public since 2010 using WDFW’s online reporting system, he said. Reports can be filed at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/hoof_disease/reporting/.
Next winter, WDFW will capture and fit elk with radio-collars to determine how the disease is affecting area elk populations, survival rates and calving. Wildlife managers will likely remove elk showing severe symptoms of hoof disease to end their suffering, Pamplin said.
In a separate measure, the department has proposed new regulations requiring hunters to leave the hooves of any elk taken in the affected area on site. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to hear public comments and take action on that proposal in August.
Pamplin noted that hoof disease is one of a number of illnesses without a cure affecting wildlife throughout the nation. Chronic wasting disease, epizootic hemorrhagic disease and tuberculosis all take their toll on elk and deer each year in other states.
“Bacterial hoof disease in elk presents a huge challenge for all of us,” Pamplin said. “We will continue to work with scientists, hunters and local communities to assess its toll on area elk herds and determine our course of action.”
Weyerhaeuser permits went on sale last night, and less than 25% have been sold so far.
Despite just over 350 permits being sold as of this morning, almost $49,000 has been paid to Weyerhaeuser for access to lands that are currently free to use. If all 8310 permits sell, Weyerhaeuser would make $666,500.
As of August 1st, almost 187,000 acres of Weyerhaeuser land will be closed to everyone who do does not purchase a permit.
Grays Harbor County Commissioner Wes Cormier announced he will introduce an ordinance on Monday that will restrict “fee for access” to certain timber lands, saying that they need to decide if they are timber or recreational land.
Weyerhaeuser spokesman Anthony Chavez told KXRO this week that they believe Cormier’s ordinance is not valid.
As of 8 am, only 361 of the 8310 permits have been sold.