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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:

http://www.chronline.com/black-hills-audubon-society-backs-skookumchuck-wind-turbine-project-notes/article_0c0fc53c-f829-11e7-846d-37551c5c8283.html

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

Update: Marbled Murrelet Long Term Conservation Strategy

By Charlotte Persons

On Thursday and Friday, August 17 and 18, 2017, four members of WHAS Conservation Committee attended the Board of Natural Resources’ special meeting in Cathlamet, WA.  Larry Brandt, WHAS president, was able to go on the BNR field trip on Thursday to many different sites in rural Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties. The goal of the field trip was to learn about different kinds of habitat and how they support now, or could in the future, Marbled Murrelet (MAMU) for breeding success.

As you probably know, MAMU are endangered in its entire range from California to Alaska, but numbers have been declining at 3-4% per year for over a decade in Washington State, especially in southwest Washington. Studies have shown that while ocean conditions are important, the principle factor in their disappearance is logging of the old growth forests that MAMU use for breeding.

Read more: Update: Marbled Murrelet Long Term Conservation Strategy

Action Alert:  Oppose Mining at Mt. St. Helens

To learn about the Goat Mountain area that would be affected by Ascot Resources’ proposed mine, watch this video:

Because of current mining laws, once a company can show a mine’s economic viability, it is very difficult to stop a mine on federal land. NOW is the time for you to act.

Go to this link https://cascadeforest.org/get-involved/action-item-2/ and sign the petition against the mine.  

To learn more about the work of Cascade Forest Conservancy, the sponsor of this petition, go to https://cascadeforest.org/our-work/mining/

Approval of this mining project would set terrible precedents. The mining lease area borders a national monument, and the land was bought with Land and Conservation Fund dollars for outdoor recreation and conservation.

Read more: Action Alert:  Oppose Mining at Mt. St. Helens

Dep. of Natural Resources Denies Lease for Millennium’s Coal Export Terminal in Longview

On January 3, 2017, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Peter Goldmark denied Millennium Bulk Terminal’s Ltd.’s for lease of public aquatic land that would be part of the proposed coal export terminal in Longview, Washington. It is highly unlikely that Millennium can proceed without this permit. 

This is a victory for the Tribes, Washington’s Audubon chapters, other environmental organizations, and thousands of people who staunchly opposed this project for six years. Thank you to all who wrote comments, signed petitions, rallied, marched, wrote letters, gave public testimony, and lobbied our elected representatives. Your voices were heard.

At the same time, Commissioner Goldmark expanded Puget Sound’s Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve north of Bellingham, adding 45 acres previously considered for a large coal export terminal.

For more, see newspaper accounts or go to http://www.dnr.wa.gov/news/dnr-expands-puget-sound-columbia-river-protection