Powerline 2 Fire

The Powerline 2 Fire has burned the riparian buffer on the north side of Johns Creek and around the cold water tributary just upstream of the old hatchery.  Will investigate in the field this week and report back.

2012 South Sound Science Symposium Announced

The next South Sound Science Symposium will be held on October 30th at the Squaxin Island Tribe’s Events Center.  It will be moderated by former congressman Brian Baird and feature a keynote by Millie Judge, author of the 2011 “Implementation Status Assessment” for Puget Sound Chinook.  Registration will open in August!  See you there.

Coho Fry Released in Upper Deschutes

The Squaxin Island Tribe in cooperation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife released about 100,000 coho fry in the upper Deschutes yesterday.   The purpose was not necessarily to increase the number of smolts leaving the system next year, but to identify key locations where the fry rear over the summer.  The information will be used to prioritize habitat protection and restoration actions.  The last time such a study was reported was in 1987, and the river has changed considerably since then.

Coho Fry Release



Supreme Court Acts to Protect Senior Water Rights Including Instream Flows

The Supreme Court upheld an important Thurston Superior Court decision yesterday.  The court majority decided that new subdivisions must secure water supplies during the planning stages–that step to determine water adequacy cannot wait until houses are actually built.

This ruling makes logical sense.  It eliminates the possibility that developers might make significant upfront investments and suddenly find when it comes time to actually build houses, that no water is available.   The early timing of the determination eliminates potential conflicts between multiple water users, and between water users and instream flows.

The ruling will serve as a powerful new tool to protect our water resources from further over-appropriation.  This is especially true when this ruling is coupled with another recent decision from Kittitas County.  In that latter case, the Supreme Court ruled that securing a water supply involves more than determining how productive a well is.   The evaluation must also include a legal determination that senior water rights will not be impaired.

In sum:  when planning a subdivision, an early decision that water is legally available must be made.  The early and legal nature of the decision will protect both the financial investments of the developers and senior water rights including instream flows.

The decision in Knight v. City of Yelm can be found here.

The Kittitas decision can be found here (pdf file).

Budd/Deschutes Environmental Stewardship Coalition Update

UPDATE:  Lacey City Council unanimously passed a resolution to sign the MOU last night.  That means all have agreed and the signing ceremony on Nov. 29th is on.

The Olympia City Council voted unanimously to approve signing the MOU forming the Budd/Deschutes Environmental Stewardship Coalition tonight.  The City of Yelm and the Squaxin Island Tribal Council unanimously voted in favor last week.  If the City of Lacey approves the MOU this Thursday, there will be a signing ceremony at the Squaxin Museum on Nov. 29th at 3:30pm.

Here’s the video from that portion of last night’s meeting.

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Relationship between new Deschutes Coalition and Capitol Lake

A couple of people have inquired about how the new coalition between the cities and tribe will address Capitol Lake issues. Well, the short answer is it won’t — at least not in the near future.

The fate of Capital Lake is an issue much larger than the coalition. The coalition has been set up to get things done, not plan or debate. We are focused on funding and taking priority actions in the watershed where the implementation can begin immediately–like the mouth of Lake Lawrence which the Ecology TMDL technical report identified as a hot spot for summer water temperatures and the Cities of Olympia, Lacey and Yelm have purchased for mitigation and restoration. Once the fate of Capitol Lake is clear, the coalition will evaluate if and how it can contribute.

While no government policy positions have changed as a result of the formation of the coalition, it is important to remember that the science still says that fixing the environmental issues in the upper watershed will not fix the problems in Capitol Lake!