Local Current Issues

ALERT – Your Comments Needed on Long Term Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet

The RDEIS (Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement) has been released. The public comment period began on September 7th and will end November 6th. This is the last time for public comment on this fifty-year plan to protect the Marbled Murrelet and the state-owned forests in SW Washington that it breeds in. 

Public meetings to provide more information will be held: 

October 9, 2018 - Forks

Rainforest Arts Center
35 North Forks Avenue
6:00 - 8:00 pm   

October 15, 2018 - Seattle

Ballard Library Meeting Room
5614 22nd Avenue NW
5:00 - 7:00 pm

October 11, 2018 - Cathlamet

River Street Meeting Room
25 River Street
6:00 - 8:00 pm

October 17, 2018 - Burlington

Burlington Public Library Rotary Community Meeting Room
820 East Washington Avenue
6:30 - 8:30 pm

The current timeline for completion of the Long Term Conservation Strategy is for Washington State agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to review the public comments and consider any new research before issuing a final EIS in about September 2019. At that point, the Washington Board of Natural Resources will vote to approve or disapprove the final plan. 

For background information on this plan to protect the Marbled Murrelet, see Maria Ruth’s article here

For help in writing your comments, we'll provide much more information in the coming weeks. Stay tuned to the WHAS website, or you can go to this Facebook page for posts from the Marbled Murrelet Survival Project.

Your voice counts! Save this endangered species and protect your public lands.

The Marbled Murrelets Need You This Fall

By Maria M. Ruth, Black Hills Audubon Society

Marbled Murrelet
Marbled Murrelet

Next month, Washington State will be seeking public input on important decisions on the fate of this endangered seabird. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will release its Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RDEIS) for the Long Term Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet. This strategy will be implemented on 1.4 million acres of state forest for the next 50 years.

This is a critical time for the endangered seabird whose population in Washington has declined 44% since 2001. DNR manages 213,000 acres of land in western Washington where mature and old-growth coastal forests provide the murrelet’s preferred nesting trees. These forests are public lands and you have a voice in how they are managed.

Many of you submitted comments on the previous draft of the Environmental Impact Statement in early 2017. Your comments sent a strong message to DNR that it was not doing enough to protect the murrelets on our state lands. For that we thank you!

Now we need your help again. There will be a 60-day public comment period this fall that follows the release of the RDEIS. Our goal is to guide DNR to select an alternative that makes a significant contribution to the recovery of the endangered murrelet.

The Marbled Murrelet Coalition will be analyzing the RDEIS, and will provide background information and issue talking points—scientific, legal, and economic—for you to consider including in your public comments. We’ll also provide you with press releases, action alerts, short articles, images, and graphics you can use in your newsletters, social media, and other outreach to your membership.

Your voice. Your public land. Your trees. Your wildlife.

Follow Murrelet Survival Project on Facebook for news and updates. Check this website later for an announcement about the RDEIS as soon as it is published.

The Marbled Murrelet Coalition includes Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, Olympic Forest Coalition, Seattle Audubon Society, Washington Environmental Council, and Washington Forest Law Center.

March Conservation Update

By Charlotte Persons

Mount St. Helens

USFS Decision to Permit Exploratory Drilling—Please see What You Can Do Today to Prevent Mining at Mount St. Helens for more info on mining on the Goat Mountain on the northeastern boundary of the MSH National Monument.

Pollution into the Green River--Good news! Cascade Forest Conservancy was previously unsuccessful in tracking what happened to the report last October about Acid Mine Drainage in a tributary to the Green River near the proposed Goat Mountain mining site (see Winter 2017 issue of the Whistler). The original report to WA DOE was sent to the federal EPA, and we could not trace it further. On January 25 MSH National Volcanic Monument Manager Ted Huffman told me that the EPA passed the obligation to respond to the report to him. He stated that the U.S. Forest Service will send a team to investigate in the spring when the roads are passable. 

Spirit Lake Access–Another version of the EA will soon appear, perhaps with a new lake tunnel maintenance route proposed by scientists studying the Pumice Plain.

Port Westward Expansion

In 2014, Port Westward proposed doubling its area by converting 837 acres from farmland to industrial uses. Columbia County approved the re-zone. However, Columbia Riverkeeper appealed, and the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals denied the re-zone. Now the Port has initiated the same action again, and on November 29, 2017, Columbia County approved it. In January the County appropriated funds to fight an appeal, but Envision Columbia County has raised funds for that appeal, helped by a generous donation from WHAS. We hope the outcome will repeat that of 2014!

Kalama Methanol Plant

Following the successful appeal of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) by Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, and Earthjustice, Cowlitz County and the Port of Kalama are now writing a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). The FEIS only considered the greenhouse gas emissions of the methanol production process; the draft SEIS will consider life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, from fracking in Montana to arrival by ship in China. Comments on the scope of that draft SEIS will be accepted Jan. 30, 2018, to March 1, 2018. See http://kalamamfgfacilitysepa.com/. You can also help by sending an email or call to Gov. Inslee, who will be the final arbiter for this project. For talking points, go to Columbia Riverkeeper’s webpage at http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50797/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=24033

Long Term Conservation Strategy for Marbled Murrelet

In the Fall 2017 issue of the Whistler I explained some of the next steps in creating the FEIS for this 50-year habitat plan. One proposal by Commissioner Hillary Franz was a Solutions Table, a task force to advise on how to protect MAMU and not negatively affect rural counties’ timber revenue from state trust lands. As of Feb. 8, the state legislature is considering HB 2285 that creates such a task force. It has passed through committees and will next have a floor vote. More about this bill is at http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=2285&Year=2017

Skookumchuck Wind Energy Project

There is no news about when the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for this project in Lewis/Thurston Counties will be published. The Trump administration has issued a “legal opinion” that accidental take of migrating birds is not a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This may affect whether the project’s design will protect migrating eagles and other raptors, but fortunately Marbled Murrelet in nearby habitat will be protected by their federal listing as threatened and state listing as endangered. This article, despite its misleading title, explains more about the project and the concerns of WHAS and other conservation groups:


Other Conservation Issues:

We are still waiting for further developments on two proposals:  Millennium Coal Terminal in Longview and Pacific Coast Fertilizer Gas-to-Ammonia Plant in Longview.

What You Can Do Today to Prevent Mining at Mount St. Helens

By Charlotte Persons

The USDA Forest Service published on February 8, 2018, its decision approving Ascot Resources' application for two permits for exploratory drilling for mining at Goat Rock on the edge of the Mt. Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument. The USFWS’s role was to advise the Bureau of Land Management on whether to issue the permits.

Next will be a decision from the BLM to issue the permits. Unfortunately, once the permits are issued and the company assays the mineral value, the only way to stop mining will be a withdrawal of the Green River Valley from the jurisdiction of federal mining laws.

Please call your federal representatives and tell them how disappointed you are in the USFS's decision, and that you want to see the Green River Valley protected from mining.

The most important person to call is Rep. Herrera-Beutler, who represents the 19th District. Without her support a legislative withdrawal has no chance. Contact information is given at the end of this article.

For background information on this mining issue, read on...

Read more: What You Can Do Today to Prevent Mining at Mount St. Helens