PAS Conservation Committee Report
Allen Gibbs, Chair, Conservation Committee
Snohomish Salmon Recovery Forum – Forum staff presented to the Forum board on May 2nd a 3-year work plan to be submitted to the Puget Sound Partnership by May 15, 2013. With suggested revisions, the Forum approved the plan. PAS (Allen Gibbs) is a member of the forum.
Stillaguamish Watershed Council – The Council’s technical review team, on April 25th, accompanied some SRF Board (Salmon Recovery Funding Board) members on field visits to sites where salmon recovery/protection projects are proposed by various NGO groups and the Stillaguamish Tribe.
Applicants had previously submitted applications for SRFB funds. The Council reviews and decides whether to recommend them for funding. Applicants gave presentations at their respective project sites. On May 1st, technical team members met to discuss the applications and information gained on the fieldtrip. The team will rate projects and make final recommendations in the next two weeks to the Council, which will in turn forward to the SRF Board. Allen Gibbs is PAS’ representative on the technical review team and the Council.
Sustainable Roads Cadre
Pilchuck Audubon has been invited to send a representative to a meeting on May 16th in Seattle, where area conservation, recreation and preservation group representatives, and elected officials will discuss how to provide public comment to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest on its upcoming Sustainable Roads Analysis project. All national forests are required to prepare reports by 2015 on their road systems, to include current conditions and uses, and ability to maintain roads in compliance with public safety and stewardship goals and objectives. Congressional appropriations have been in steep decline to maintain the road systems, and that situation will not likely change. Public engagement processes will be discussed. President Snyder has asked Allen Gibbs to represent PAS.
A Special Session has been called by Governor Jay Inslee, to start on May 13th. It can convene for up to 30 calendar days. Presumably, the focus will be upon passing a biennial budget with appropriations.
Many thanks to PAS members who have contacted their legislators! Some legislators are more responsive than others in replying to your comments. PAS members who want to receive these alerts to contact their legislators during the Special Session should contact Allen Gibbs. email@example.com
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife manages Leque Island for fishing, hunting, fish and wildlife habitat, and wildlife viewing. It has been a popular birding area and for about three months out of the year is popular for water fowl hunting. Management is for activities occurring since WDFW began acquiring ownership of parcels on the island about 10-15 years ago. It is now sole owner of the island.
The island is located east of Camano Island, north and south of State Route 532 between Stanwood and Camano Island, and accessible by Eide Road on the south side of SR 532.
A management plan was proposed in 2003-2004 for the parcels then owned by WDFW. In the course of plan development, with public meetings, there was opposition to various aspects of a proposed plan, later followed by litigation. PAS did comment in favor of the original plan in 2008. In particular, PAS supported the island being managed for hunting, fishing, wildlife and fish habitat improvement, and non-hunting recreation such as birding.
Key opposition was and is by the Juniper Beach Water District which has wells on Camano Island near Leque Island. The district asserted WDFW had not sufficiently considered the possibility of dike removals and estuary development on the south third of the island, which might allow salt water intrusion into the wells. Federal law requires study, so, EPA directed that a groundwater study be conducted by WDFW.
WDFW issued its study in December 2012. EPA is reviewing the study, and intended to issue findings on April 30, 2013, but delayed release to May 31st.
It appears that if EPA finds the WDFW groundwater study sufficient, and unlikely to contaminate the water district wells, WDFW can initiate a new management plan process with public consultation. If EPA finds the study is not sufficient and needs further work, or finds the original plan still on the shelf to contaminate the wells, WDFW will consider other management options for the island, and seek public comment.
Regardless of EPA findings, one issue from the beginning for some interests is whether hunting should be allowed on the island. PAS in 2008 supported hunting. Pilchuck Audubon has recently been asked to sign letters to oppose hunting, and some elected officials have been asked to oppose hunting.
The Conservation Committee will monitor what follows from EPA’s announcement, and will advise the PAS board of activities related to Leque Island issues.
NEPA Basics Workshop – The Mountaineers and Washington Trails Association will hold a “basics course” about the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in Everett on June 12th. Location and time not yet decided, it will be open to the public. Focus will be upon NEPA processes used by the Forest Service and other federal land management agencies in our region with their respective projects. Also covered will be joint federal-state-county projects where both NEPA and the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) are required.