On a clear, winter afternoon, George Dyson enjoys the view overlooking beautiful Bellingham Bay through his office window on West Holly Street. As he writes his book or works on his kayak designs, he hears more than the soothing sounds of Bellingham Bay breezes through his opened door.
Dyson has a front row view of an intersection that has recently caused interest among many people in the community, including himself. Every day he hears the roaring sounds of Georgia-Pacific's semi-trucks, which have caused a serious traffic safety issue since the building of Georgia Pacific's warehouse.
A new proposal may help solve the problem, but some local residents said it could hinder plans of the Whatcom Creek Waterfront Action Program to restore Bellingham's historic waterfront, now mostly owned by Georgia Pacific.
Dyson is one of many local business owners and community members who are concerned a proposed ramp from Georgia Pacific property to the intersection of Roeder and Central avenues will interfere with goals of city plans to make the waterway a pedestrian and tourist-friendly area. The ramp would be used by Georgia Pacific trucks to transport tissue paper from Georgia Pacific's mill to its warehouse on the waterfront between Whatcom and I and J waterways.
The Bellingham Shoreline Committee, the City Planning Commission and Georgia Pacific met March 8 to discuss plans for the ramp. The shoreline committee will meet again April 20 for a possible consensus and a solution to the proposal.
The issue runs deeper than just the building of the ramp. Proposed changes include tearing down the historic co-op granary building at the southwest corner of the intersection; creating a pedestrian-only area on the shoreline at Central Avenue west of Roeder; and adding traffic and pedestrian crossing lights at the intersection.
Sheila Hardy, special projects manager for city planning and community development, said residents are concerned the removal of the building will negatively impact the local neighborhood by increasing noise and removing a piece of Bellingham's history. If the destruction of the building wasn't a factor this would be an easier project for people to swallow, she added.
It is a historic building from the point of view of the history of Old Town, Hardy said. It is one of the older buildings in the Old Town area, so people are feeling bad that it will come down if the ramp is built.
It's a big building and it really shields this neighborhood from the Georgia Pacific plant, she said. People have visions about that building eventually becoming some kind of market down on the waterfront.
Currently, the intersection, which is crossed by a railroad track, only has stop signs to control traffic. If the ramp is built, Georgia Pacific will pay for signalization of the intersection, including pedestrian timed crossings.
Under present circumstances part of me thinks the ramp should be built immediately, Dyson said Every day there's a near accident. As a safety issue it's inexcusable.
We haven't had a major head-on accident yet, but we may, and for that reason the plan to put in traffic lights is great, Dyson said.
Dyson also said he opposes the ramp because of Georgia Pacific's lack of consultation with the public and their lack of a shoreline hearing when building its quarter-of-a-million-square-foot warehouse. He said a lot of what the public is fighting now is the battle they didn't get to fight about the warehouse.
Georgia Pacific built the largest building north of Everett without much planning and with no plans on how they would transport their tissue, he said. This is what angered the community so much, he added. I'm strongly against it (the ramp) just because of the procedure they followed in doing it, Dyson said. There was no consultation with the local business community or the local groups that have been planning for 10 or 20 years how to revive our waterfront. That's the key to every other waterfront city that has decayed and come back, he said. They've done it by bringing their waterfront back.
Waterfront visions include bringing back docks, fishing boats and a possible fish market to Bellingham's marina, he said. None of the business people want GP out, but they would prefer that it didn't grow and take over the entire waterfront, which is what has happened, he added.
The city owns approximately 320 feet of land on Roeder Avenue and Georgia Pacific owns the remaining majority of the waterfront. One possible solution is to transport the tissue in smaller, normal sized trucks, which would help solve safety and traffic issues, Dyson said.
There are a whole lot of solutions to this problem that they (Georgia Pacific) will not look at because it costs a slight amount of more money, Dyson said.
Mike Kimmich, the president of Old Town Business Association and co-owner of Pacific Marine Exchange Gallery, said he opposes the proposal to build the ramp.
Over the last almost 100 years basically, Old Town has been in need of development, he said. What the community would like to see in terms of Old Town redevelopment is the Maritime Heritage Park and the connection to the waterfront.
There are a number of alternatives, but they're not as cost effective, Kimmich said. That was the bottom line and they strategized with the least amount of input from the public as to how they could get that entryway to their plant.
Another alternative would be to have the intersection and entryway at Bay Street and E. Chestnut instead of Central and Roeder, which would alleviate the traffic problems at Bay Street and make it a safer intersection, Kimmich said.
It's more expensive, he said. There's no question about it, but if it's a question of paying the shareholders more money or taking care of the citizens of Whatcom County, citizens need to be considered every time.
Orman Darby, public relations director for Georgia Pacific, said it is working with the city to make its dreams of reviving the waterfront come true. We are the ones paying for it, Darby said. The city wants it. They want the pedestrian walkway, and it responds to our needs.
Trucks will continue to haul past this intersection whether this ramp is built or not, and there won't be any difference, he said. The city knows what a plus this is, he said. The city wants to do this. Georgia Pacific can go either way and the city has more to lose from it than Georgia Pacific has to gain.
Darby said that there are no other alternatives to the ramp and that local groups are wrong in saying the ramp will disrupt the waterfront. Georgia Pacific's desire is to have less traffic, a city light at the intersection and possibly build park benches to add to the landscape.
We thought the public was going to be very happy that we were paying for the light and the boardwalk, he said. We felt like we were offering up a lot of money. We can live without it. There is no perfect solution for that intersection, but right now it is the only solution.
Sheila Hardy, special projects manager for the City of Bellingham, said the ramp solution gives the most chance of meeting the objectives of the Whatcom Creek Waterfront Action Program, which is to bring people safely to the waterfront. Georgia Pacific would put in a light at the intersection and vacate the Central Avenue bridge, which would provide a bigger pedestrian area and would provide a park-like setting down at the waterfront.
At this point the waterfront and Georgia Pacific have to coexist, Hardy said. The industries that are there and operating have a right to continue to be there and operate. Yet at the same time, the Whatcom Creek Waterfront Action Program is trying to revitalize the Old Town and allow good access for people to the waterway, but also recognizes that this is a working waterfront, she added.
So it's kind of a case of trying to find the best solution to a situation that doesn't have an ideal solution, Hardy said. It's just one of those situations where there's going to be a compromise no matter what. You can't, for example, save the building and have the ramp.
Dyson will continue to meet with other members of the Old Town Business Association, the planning committee and Georgia Pacific for this slow-moving process.
I'm not against Georgia Pacific, he added. I'm just against the way this thing was planned, nor am I against the city.
Dyson spoke bluntly about his dislike for the truck noise as he looked out over the bay and at Georgia Pacific's warehouse. He said the warehouse has trashed his view of the bay and has ruined the view of Bellingham for people on their boats.
With the building of Georgia Pacific's warehouse, what's done is done, but the new ramp is still unbuilt and its full impact on Bellingham's waterfront development is still to be seen.
In January public testimony was accepted by both the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County governments on whether public access television is a viable option for our community. Many people came to the council chambers and addressed the benefits of such a venture. Almost everyone that listened to those who spoke did not object to the merit of their words.
So what's holding things up? The issues haven't changed since the councils delayed inclusion of public access in the cable franchise agreement four years ago. The questions they faced then have not since changed.Their questions remain:
As Whatcom County ponders these technological and theological complexities, is the information age leaving Whatcom County in the dust? Olympia's public access, Thurston Community Television, is an excellent example of community broadcast and commitment.
Today, their public access channels have an interactive video page. The viewer can actually choose exactly what public or government access program they would like to view and they can choose what time they wish to view that particular program.
As an example, you would like to watch the Whatcom County Council meeting that was recorded on Tuesday night. It would be convenient for you to view it at 10:30 p.m. Thursday night after your children are in bed. You would call the number that has been shown on your Cable access channel and place your request. A list would appear on the screen and you would make your selection of the community program. They have over 25 hours per week of locally produced programming.
In Whatcom County our public access channel is very limited. Today there is only a handful of locally produced programs, perhaps an average of 10 hours per week. This figure includes approximately three hours per week of government programming.
This month citizen-produced programming includes the Humane Society, Teletech 2000, Fitness Zone, Harmony of Art, a barnyard series, First Christ Reform Church, and the Baha'i Faith. Government programming includes Whatcom County Council, Bellingham City Council, Bellingham Planning and Water Wise.
Our local community has a lot more to offer: a lot to say and a lot of potential programming. Is this an affordable luxury to watch our son's high school football game, a presentation from Western Washington University, or a neighbor's performance in a community play?
The need for local video programming becomes more and more apparent as communication technology evolves. It becomes a very fundamental way of creating community dialog, informing and updating local communities and allowing an access for expression by individuals in our community to its greater parts (us).
Cable television programming may seem like a simple thing to provide over the air. In truth it requires training and an availability of equipment. Quality video programming requires training in both viewing content and technical expertise. Training in setting up video equipment and its use are important aspects of obtaining good technical video quality.
Additional training in video composition and storytelling adds to the conceptual quality of any broadcast production. No one wants to produce video programming that looks like home movies. It distracts from the subject of the video and the viewers lose interest in watching the channel.
In addition, editing equipment is complicated and training is essential. Yet as we seek better quality television from Public Access Channel 10, the public's access to equipment and training has always been an issue.
Soon, these and other issues will become even more acute this July. June 31st is the date when our local cable company, AT&T (formally TCI) will no longer offer public access training and equipment to the citizens of Bellingham.
According to the city's franchise agreement with AT&T Cable, Public Access Television Channel 10 will be run by the city or a designated non-profit third party. This arrangement takes place when the fiber optic rebuild is completed in Bellingham this April.
Recent developments from the city and county councils forbid Bellingham from temporarily greenhousing public access for a couple of years while developing a smooth transition to a third party non-profit.
Selection for a designated non-profit third party has been terminated over a year ago when the third-party process hit a snag. The snag: allowing any non-profit third party access to designated dollars from the franchise revenue earned by the city and county from AT&T Cable.
It was at this point that the City of Bellingham offered its Office of Information Technology Services to act as a temporary conduit to establish and finance public access in Bellingham and Whatcom County. Whatcom County does not face the same contract limitations. Their contract states that the county will tell AT&T when it wants to take over operation of Public Access Channel 10.
However, AT&T will be relocating to new headquarters in which the premises will be secured and inaccessible to the general public. This is not good news. Access to equipment has always been difficult, but now it will not even be an option.
The community has set access equipment for exclusive use. It is still available to the community but there is no location to house the equipment for access to the public. The governments are trying to work out a solution before the July deadline.
One such option is to temporarily eliminate public access from the federally mandated Public, Education and Government (PEG) stipulation for cable companies to operate in local communities. At a reduced operating budget, Channel 10 would only broadcast the government broadcasts and only those programs deemed as educational.
The issue of funding public access has been a key stumbling block in the transfer of public access from AT&T Cable to our local community. The Federal Communications Commission has established funding guidelines for operating access facilities.
A mechanism of franchise fees, has been built into cable companies' subscriber billing. Franchise fees were intended to be used for funding operational costs by public access providers.
Currently Whatcom County receives four percent of AT&T's gross revenue (the franchise fee) which goes into the general fund. The amount Whatcom county received the last quarter of 1999 was $55,030. The City of Bellingham receives three percent, and was unable to disclose the dollar amount. Their fees also augment their general funds.
The general fund helps pay for such services as road repair, transportation, etc. and are certainly useful and important in our community. However, zero amounts go towards the operation of public access from either general fund.
Municipalities can, by FCC regulations, receive up to five percent of cable companies' gross revenue. But the city and county are not willing to increase the franchise fee to this limit, nor are they willing to use franchise fees currently collected and placed in the general fund. Therefore, there are no funds available to operate a public access facility.
Fees that the municipalities collect are passed down to the cable subscribers. Your billing statement shows that amount as franchise fee. The amount differs with each subscriber depending on what level of service you receive from AT&T.
So the questions are these. Should subscribers (not the general public) pay an additional fee to our government's tax base?
Should the money go towards funding public access television? Or should the money be left in our pockets?
The community has much to gain by providing its members with access to television programming. Some of the more likely kinds of programs the community could air include local sporting events, educational courses, civic events, performances, presentations, and government meetings. Of course there will be individuals who would like to exercise their creative concepts and that too is important. Once again the FCC regulates content to an extent, but the community determines guidelines. Any segment of our community should not tolerate the censorship of ideas. We have in place first amendment rights that must be honored. We should question authority (the local governments) when they talk about how people should be prevented from viewing their opinions over the airwaves.
The issue of operating a facility does not need to be complex, but the governments have made it so. Nationally, about half of the access facilities are operated by non-profit organizations, one quarter by educational institutions, and the remainder by government.
Whatcom and Bellingham governments have established a Cable Television Administrative Board as directed by the franchise agreement signed with TCI (now AT&T). The Cable Television Administrative Board oversees AT&T's compliance with the franchise agreement.
One of their directives is to oversee and implement section 6, the public access section of the cable franchise agreement. Section 6 was suspended in 1996 when both councils approved the cable renewal agreement.
The Cable Television Administrative Board meets monthly to work on the issues related to the cable franchise agreement, public access among them. In the summer of 1998, the Cable Television Administrative Board solicited a request for qualifications for submission by potential access providers.
Three organizations responded. None was selected, reason unknown. So the City of Bellingham came up with a plan to operate the facility themselves. But county government was not amenable to that. In addition, no educational institution is interested in taking on the task. This leaves the issue in a stalemate.
Computer and interactive services and other technologies must be included in public access communications. Having one to three channels given to us by FCC mandate is a gift that should not be squandered. Channels are a valuable asset and must be coveted and used wisely.
Whatcom Community Television and Communication was one of the non-profit organizations submitting a proposal to Bellingham in the request for qualification process. We have been working on public access issues with TCI since 1988. We are continuing to work on them.
Given the amount of television viewing we do as a society, there can not be a better use of these franchise fees than giving each and every community member a chance to produce programs or view programming created by another member of their community.
If the franchise fee were increased to five percent, cable subscribers would pay an additional fee of between 30 to 60 cents a month, the cost of a candy bar. The funds raised from this increase could operate a Public, Education and Government access center. Are you willing to trade your child's package of M & Ms for their opportunity to access a powerful media resource now and in the future?
Woe is me! What kind of a mess have we gotten ourselves into this time???
The Center for Disease Control director is calling for national prevention efforts as the obesity epidemic increases dramatically in the United States.
The American lifestyle of convenience and inactivity has had a devastating toll on every segment of society, particularly on children! Community health experts think that, through cars, escalators and other labor-saving machinery, America has engineered out its ability to get activity in.
The American Lung Association estimates that medical costs from gasoline fumes alone are 40 to 50 cents per gallon. Over 42,000 Americans die yearly in car crashes, which is also the leading cause of child and teen death nationwide.
The Northwest Air Pollution Authority tells us that the personal automobile is the leading source of air pollution in our area. Statewide, the number of vehicles on the road and the miles they travel continue to increase at a rate nearly three times faster than population growth.
Jane Holtz Kay, author of Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back, maintains that our country has become so dependent on the automobile that our lives and landscape (are being) strangled by the umbilical cord of the car.
The United States puts 45 percent of its total energy into vehicles: to make them, run them, and clear a right of way for them. Two hundred and fifty million American citizens consume more fuel than is used by 1,300 million Chinese and Indians for all purposes.
It costs each one of us $6,000 to $6,500 a year just to run a car. The typical American male devotes more than 1,600 hours a year to his car: sitting in it, parking it, earning money to pay for it. He spends four of his 16 waking hours on the road or gathering his resources for it.
Roads through habitat are the primary killer of species. What's a vanishing species worth? Cars directly kill some one quarter billion creatures (wild and domestic) a yearfar surpassing hunting and vivisection combined.
Alan Durning names the bicycle as the number one choice in his list of the 7 Sustainable Wonders of the World. Bicycles are the most thermodynamically efficient transportation device ever created and the most widely used private vehicle in the world. H.G.Wells once said, When I see an adult on a bicycle I have hope for the human race. Many health experts world-wide advise that the best exercise is moderate, regular, and integrated into daily life. Since no one has time to exercise, bicycling to work and to get things done is a perfect solution.
Bicycling saves time, money, personal and community health, and the environment!
Washington State's Commuter Trip Reduction Smart Commuter program states, By driving less you help us all enjoy a quieter pace of life here in Whatcom Countyless traffic, fewer accidents and a safer environment. Your transportation choice decreases air and water pollution giving us all clearer views of our beautiful county and healthier lakes and salmon streams.
And why not give bicycling a try??? May is National Bike Month and Friday May 19th, Bike to Work/School Day! Be one less car and bicycle commute: to work, shop, church, school, library, errands... even once a week, or once a month! Every little bit helps personal, community, and environmental health! Please join us in being part of the solution!
Watch for our information booth at the May 13th Saturday Farmers' Market.
Mark your calendar for Friday, May 19th, Bike to School/Work Day!
Stop by one of our support stations on your morning bicycle commute for free refreshments, souvenirs, and bicycle information.
For information/support on route finding or getting started, call Donna or Ron: 650-0515.
Bird feeders are like automobiles in that no single choice is always best. Where you live and what you do determine what is best for you. If you live in an urban environment and have problems caused by aggressive birds, the chances are that these two bird feeders might be good for you. There is one difference from cars, though; you yourself probably would have to build these feeders.
If starlings dominate your suet feeder but you want a chance to see chickadees, nuthatches, bushtits, downy woodpeckers, and flickers, then this suet feeder would be a good choice. If the cost of suet eaten by starlings is emptying your wallet, this suet feeder will bring relief.
If house sparrows and finches dominate your sunflower feeder but you want chickadees and nuthatches, then this sunflower feeder is for you. If you'd like to feed sunflowers but don't because of the mess of spilled seeds and hulls on the ground, then use this feeder. Tube-type feeders are notorious for food spillage; however, spillage from this sunflower feeder is about 90 percent less.
Do you sometimes wish you didn't need pesticides on your trees and shrubs? Then use these feeders to attract into your yard species of birds that eat insects and reduce the need for pesticide use.
Starlings do not eat sunflower seeds and sparrows and finches do not eat enough suet to be a problem. These feeders make eating their choice of food difficult for nuisance birds while maintaining free access to it for others. To achieve that goal the feeders make use of how individual bird species perch and cling.
Starling feeding frenzies at my traditional rectangular wire mesh suet feeder kept other birds away. Noting that starlings always clung to horizontal wires, this suet feeder was designed to allow no possibility for starlings to eat suet without clinging to vertical poles.Materials
The back, base, suet tray, and hinged cover area are solid finger pine. The 3/8 inch dowels are set on one inch centers, six in front and two on each side. The suet tray is attached only to the back of the feeder and slopes forward. The front of the suet tray is six and a half inches above the base of the feeders and there is a half inch gap between the tray and the poles. These last two dimensions are important to ensure that starlings do not have a horizontal surface to stand on.
At my home the feeder is hung on a wire bail with the front oriented toward the picture window at the breakfast bar, my most common observation post.
This starling-proof suet feeder was an immediate success and has been in operation for two years. The first year one young starling learned to use the feeder but no mature starlings learned. The second year no young starlings learned but one mature starling occasionally uses the feeder. One might hazard a guess that the mature starling is that first year young starling now one year older.
Coming to the feeder this winter were chickadees, a female nuthatch, flocks of bushtits, downy woodpeckers, and both yellow-shafted and red-shafted flickers. Occasionally Stellar's jays, song and house sparrows, and juncos also visited it. The feeder makes no mess at all.
A bird collecting a sunflower seed must cling to the access slot.
Sparrows tend to approach a perch from above and the bill above the access slot prevents that. Chickadees and nuthatches readily approach from below.
An internal baffle to reduce spillage directs the flow of seeds downward in the tube on the side opposite the access slot.
Chickadees and nuthatches can enter an 11/16 inch hole to reach seeds inside; house sparrows can't get their shoulders through a slot that wide.
House finches love sunflower seeds but have not tried to use this feeder.Materials
The access slot is 11/16 inch wide, one and 7/8 inches long, and with rounded ends. The slot bottom is 7/8 inch above the base of the plastic tube. The 11/16 inch width should be precise because there is a small difference between the size of a hole that chickadees will enter and sparrows cannot. I suggest that amateurs without sophisticated equipment consider drilling 5/8-inch holes and finishing the slot with a fine-toothed rasp.
The curved bill slanting downward above the access slot is made of three inch plastic pipe cut to fit. The bill projects two inches from the tube and extends three inches from side to side at the tube. The tip of the bill is level with the top of the access slot and the base is 7/8 inch above. The bill is cemented to the tube.
The internal baffle was cut from an internal three inch bull plug. It is half moon shaped, one and 7/8 inches wide at the access slot, and tapers to ends at the tube one and 1/2 inches from the center. It is 3/8 inch above the top of the access slot. It is cemented to the tube and was manually held in place long enough for fast-drying epoxy to begin to set.
The base is normally cemented permanently in place, but the base is removable on the demonstration model to allow inspection of the internal construction of the feeder.Results
This feeder has been in operation for a full season and neither sparrows nor finches use it. On the contrary, when a flock of chickadees comes, a chickadee collects and flies off with a seed about every five seconds. I thank architect Harry Skinner for improving the design of the sunflower feeder bill and installing it on the working model. The seeds have remained dry and free of mold because rain cannot enter.
The Ferndale Park and Recreation Department is conducting an Earth Day 2000 Bird Feeder/Bird House contest. Entries will be put on display between April 15 and April 21, in a city park yet to be designated. For further information on the contest, please call 384-0792.
Conservation and animal protection organizations have launched the Yes! on I-713 campaign, a Washington state ballot initiative to ban inhumane and indiscriminate traps and poisons. Volunteers must gather 235,000 signatures to place this measure on the November, 2000 ballot.
In the last two years, more than 35,000 wild animals, including otters, bobcats and beavers, were killed by commercial and recreational trappers in Washington state. That's more than 35,000 animals who struggled and suffered prolonged, painful deaths after being caught in steel-jawed and padded leghold traps, Conibear traps, and leg or neck snares.
In reality, the number of trapped animals was even higher because traps are indiscriminate and severely injure and kill thousands of non target animals, including family pets, songbirds, birds of prey, deer, and even threatened and endangered species. Trappers refer to these animals as trash animals and are not required to record their deaths. Even trappers admit that between two and three non target animals are trapped for every target animal.
Trappers in Washington state are legally allowed to wait between two or three days in most areas to check traps after they have been set. This means that trapped animals can remain trapped with extensive injuries for up to 72 hours, with no protection from the elements or predators.
In desperation, a trapped animal will often chew her foot off to escape from the trap. When trappers eventually do return to their traps days later, they use routine methods to kill trapped animals that are found alive. These methods include stomping, bludgeoning, drowning, neck breaking and gun shots.
Poisons used to kill fur-bearing predators such as coyotes are equally indiscriminate. Secondary deaths can result when other animals (including family pets and threatened or endangered species) feed on the remains of poisoned victims. Studies indicate that as high as 90 percent of poisoned animals are not recovered. These poisons do not degrade readily and can remain in the environment, posing threats to wildlife and domestic pets.
Your Help Is Needed to gather the thousands of signatures needed in order to place this initiative on the November 2000 ballot. This measure would ban all body-gripping traps including steel-jawed and padded leghold traps, Conibear traps, leg and neck snares and two types of poisons (Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide).
It allows exceptions for individuals to use some body-gripping traps, including padded leghold traps and Conibear traps, to protect public safety, private property and threatened and endangered species after non-lethal means have been exhausted.
If you are interested in gathering signatures (April through June) and would like to be put in touch with local volunteers, please contact:
Yes! on I-713
Protect Pets and Wildlife
5200 University Way NE #201
Seattle, WA 98105
Phone: (206)526-0949 Fax: (206)526-0989
Terry L. Anderson, environmental advisor to George W. Bush Jr., has proposed to auction off all 600 million acres of federal public lands in the U.S. over the next 20-40 years. This not only includes every National Forest, National Wildlife Refuge, and BLM District; it also includes every National Park and Monument.
Under his proposal, non-profit environmental groups could bid on the free market against the likes of Exxon to obtain the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or against Weyerhouser to obtain Yellowstone National Park, or against Phelps Dodge to obtain Grand Canyon National Park. Any bets on how the bidding will go?
Anderson is closely associated with several conservative think tanks pushing for the privatization and/or commercialization of public lands. He is the director of the Political Economy Research Center, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. PERC's website links to the Thoreau Institute which has proposed, among other nonsense, to privatize ownership of endangered species. Anderson's proposal was published by the CATO Institute and can be viewed at www.cato.org
Anderson freely admits that his corporate take-over agenda would be wildly unpopular with the American public. In an interview with the National Journal (10-23-99) he said that Bush is watching the polls and will not likely announce any radical public land agendas during the campaign. But after????
The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska is the world's largest temperate rainforest.
In the recently published The Taking of the Tongass, forester and whistle-blower Bill Shoaf tells the inside story of the looting of Southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest. It may be that the mismanagement of the Tongass is an extreme case, but the steady decline of the timber inventory in Northwest timberlands tells us that we too have a problem.
If you wonder how the forest liquidation that is taking place in our local hills could ever be called forestry and aren't encouraged by the few crumbs the industry and its regulators leave for all purposes other than more-timber-right-now, then Bill Shoaf's engaging story of his transformation from a self-described timber beast to a passionate conservation forester will inform and nourish your doubts. If you want to read a good story, The Taking of the Tongass works for that too.
The Taking of the Tongass begins with the life and times of a National Forest forester in the West through the eighties. For the foresters, the National Forest and all the equipment they needed to explore and study it were as good as theirs. They had a great time, so long as they did what was expected.
Here is Shoaf in the crystal wilderness of an Idaho winter.
That winter, lunch time would usually find us on snowshoes in eight feet of snow on some mountainside. We'd look for a pitch snag and torch it off for a lunch fire. The first couple of lunch fires scared the bejeebers out of me, because hell's bells, we'd have flames 70 feet in the air. This didn't seem like the kinda thing Smokey would approve. But Dave finally convinced me that the fire couldn't possibly go anywhere, and I guess he was right, cause none ever did any damage. But they would burn for several days, and would allow us to gauge our progress for the week, by observing the smoke of the previous day's lunch fire.
What they were expected to do in the National Forest was to get out the cut, especially the big firs of the Oregon Coast.
Overall, the ranger station was a madhouse. It worked like this. Timber sale planners did the advance field reconnaissance for determining which areas were going to be logged next. Then the planners wrote environmental assessments, which were lengthy documents which stated that there were no negative environmental effects from logging, and that everyone was going to make a whole bunch of money. Then the engineers surveyed the road locations. Next my presale crew laid out the cutting unit boundaries on the ground, making corrections as needed, to facilitate the logging of the timber and subsequent burning of the logging slash (debris). Immediately after layout, my crew cruised the units, i.e., determined a statistically credible estimate of the volume and grade of the included timber.
After all fieldwork was completed, my appraisal shop valued the timber and prepared the logging contract. When the timber was auctioned off to the highest bidder, the timber sale administrators oversaw the logging (what I used to do in Emmett). When the logging was complete, fire control burned the bejeebers out of the unit, getting rid of all slash. Then finally, silviculture replanted the freshly burned unit back to Douglas-fir and monitored the new seedlings' growth and survival, so that the cycle could be repeated.
If this suggested an assembly line, then I am getting my point across. When a department finished doing its thing for a given timber sale, the next timber sale should be in front of them on the conveyor belt. God help anyone who gummed up the works, as a lot was at stake. While many Forest Service regions actually lost money on their timber sale programs, at Mapleton, we were rolling in it. When I arrived in 1981, stumpage values were approximately $500/mbf, which made each log truck load worth about $2500, and each individual tree worth $700.
Something did gum up the works; The National Wildlife Federation filed a successful lawsuit against the timber practices in the Siuslaw National Forest, citing the damage done by landslides. The injunction was a disaster for the local district but what was just as hard for those in the Forest Service to take was the fact that The National Wildlife Federation was backed up by forester Andy Stahl, who used his professional knowledge to put a stop to the assembly line. Shoaf couldn't conceive of a forester turning on his brethren yet it was here, in his post-injunction job that he began to see the timber sale program with his own eyes.
Career counselors told us that foresters were a dime a dozen and to look for something else. Some do-gooder looked at my record and saw I knew how to program computers. The next thing I knew, I was detailed into doing some industrial strength FORTRAN programming in support of the forest silviculture program. I was a little rusty, but got up to speed pretty quickly.
The saving grace of this assignment was that I was able to wheedle my way into becoming the Siuslaw Forest's aerial photographer. This was a ball! We fabricated a special door which would fit a Cessna 185 and house a top-end Hasselbladt 70 mm camera. The program was to overfly recent clearcuts and take high-quality photos to be used for silvicultural purposes. I knew where the recent clearcuts were, as I had laid them out and burned them.
What amazed me, though, was getting a bird's eye view of the district. When I was laying out sales, I was so focused on each individual sale that I didn't notice how close the current sale sat to existing clearcuts, or to the next sale scheduled to appear on the assembly line. Now I could clearly see how close the clearcuts lay to each other. Sure, there was a lot of standing timber left, but at the rate we were going through it, there was no way it was going to last until the plantations were ready to be logged. I was shocked.
When I was a presale forester, you didn't want to get between me and the timber. I was abjectly fixated on getting the cut out, and never considered the overall landscape. This was a literal example of the old can't-see-the-forest-because-of-the-trees adage. One day I caught up with one of my former crew foremen and told him what I'd seen in the air. He just looked at me and said, Billy, everyone knew that. It just couldn't last forever. This shook me because the whole precept of timber forestry is that it DAMN WELL BETTER last forever.
Shoaf's programming skills landed him a job at the Pacific Northwest experiment station in Corvallis where he met people whose education gave them a longer view than the assembly line timber sale planners.
I wasn't particularly thrilled about programming in a little room by myself, but I did enjoy listening to the forest geneticists at lunch breaks. These men were all PhDs, and I respected them immensely. One thing I remember them telling me, because I found it so shocking.... It is biologically impossible to increase the inherent productivity of a forest. While it is possible to grow the same amount of fiber more quickly, the amount itself may not be increased. Furthermore, there has never been a forest, anywhere on the planet, that yielded as much timber volume in the third rotation as it did on the first. Never. Site productivity simply decreases. This was in direct contradiction to every Forest Service analysis of timber supply I ever read.
He had a knack for data analysis and was sent to Washington DC, which was about the last place he wanted to go but it was a step up on a rising career track and included a promise of his choice of his next assignment. Shoaf loved the Forest Service and believed in what it said it stood for but in Washington his insistence on upholding those ideals led to some awkward moments when Shoaf wouldn't let politics overrule science.
I remember one particular meeting where our staff director, Tom Mills, was making a presentation to George Leonard, the Associate Chief, i.e., the second in command of the entire Forest Service. George was a big, hulking, ill-tempered career bureaucrat with a decided timber bias. Our director was at the point of his presentation where he showed how his ace computer analyst, (Shoaf), had summed up all the individual national forest plans and got a composite logging level of something like 9.2 billion board feet. Leonard exploded, glowered at me, and shouted that I damned well better recalculate it into double digits...no, make that at least 10.1 mbf. Leonard didn't impress me, so I shot back that my responsibility ended with accurately adding up the logging levels and had no wherewithal to change the input.
For just an instant the world stopped. Then everyone pounced on me to shut me up to and assured George Leonard that what I really meant to say was that the problem could be corrected by more judicious rounding algorithms. Not liking to be shut up, I managed to insert, 'Yeah, like rounding 0.3 up to 1.0, eh?' Geez, I was hustled out of there in a hurry, amid much hand-wringing and head-shaking. Didn't I know that it was suicide to piss off someone like Leonard and to embarrass our director? I said that if that's all the logs the individual national forests themselves thought they could produce, then who were we to up that number from the non-forested halls of the Washington Office. No one even had a clue what I was talking about and looked at me like I was nuts.
His endless two years in Washington DC finally ended and In 1990 Shoaf got off the Alaska ferry in Ketchikan, ready to take on his new job as interdisciplinary team leader for a timber sale of one billion board feet on Prince of Wales Island in the Tongass National Forest. Shoaf refused to participate in the rampant corruption that sustained the timber sale program in the Tongass. He still believed in the Forest Service, and would not, as they said in the Ketchikan offices, drink the water, that is, do the bidding of the Alaska Congressional delegation and Ketchikan Pulp Company irrespective of the law and the principles of forestry.
A few years later he was out of a job, divorced, had lost his big waterfront home and was living in a shack near the pulp mill waiting for a bunch a vigilantes to break down his door.
Along the way he sued his own timber sale, took up gillnetting, was betrayed by an environmental group, and traveled back to Washington, D.C., to accept the Cavallo award for moral courage. His tales of the places and people of the Tongass, commercial salmon fishing, and the drama within the Ketchikan offices of the Forest Service animate his descriptions of forest politics.
Throughout Shoaf's story and in spite of the corruption he describes, you are left with the notion that there is such a thing as good forestry, and that we as citizens have the right to demand it.
Shoaf's insistence on an honest appraisal of what is happening on the ground in our forests is an inspiration and an example for those of us who don't want to see our forests sacrificed to political expediency.
Have you seen the snow leopard? No! Isn't that wonderful?
from The Snow Leopard, by Peter Mathiessen
Earth Day, 2000 is just around the corner. Somehow, this one seems to have a special significance, perhaps because it is the first Earth Day of the new millenium. It carries with it all those associated feelings of a fresh start, a chance to begin anew, a clean slate.
For those of us who care about wildlife and the environment, and for those of us who work to foster awareness, understanding and involvement in environmental issues, there are often times when we wish we could start over, begin fresh or go back to a simpler time. Back to a time when problems were not as complex. A time when human activity did not so consistently test the limits of how much systems (environmental and economic) could take before they would falter or collapse. With respect to these issues, I think we all often ask ourselves: are we getting anywhere?
Many years ago my life was greatly enriched by two books which have continued to serve as guides and inspiration to me in the effort to protect wildlife and natural systems: Peter Matthiessen's, The Snow Leopard, and Annie Dillard's, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
These two works embrace a philosophy of nature that is simple, reverent and energizing. Matthiessen's work chronicles the journey and work of himself and zoologist George Shaller as they surveyed and studied wild sheep and goats in the remote ranges of the Himalayas in the early 1970s. The trip became for Matthiessen, a pilgrimagea spiritual quest across forbidding landscapes, forgotten cultures, and modern time itself.
To glimpse the near-mythical Snow Leopard that inhabits this region became for Matthiessen an illusive goal, which, if attained, might provide an explanation of where wildness stands in the world today and where modern man, and we as individuals, stand in relationship to it. The book is a spellbinding account of nature, longing, and the human spirit.
Dillard's work is about all that is miraculous and wondrous in the natural world, even if it is just in your own back yard. It provides a map for making intimate connections with nature through wonder, observation and reflection.
She writes of seeing and stalking elements of the natural world, and illuminates a path for connecting with nature that begins with awe and moves through observation and reflection and ultimately leads to an intimate union with the natural world. All along the way, she dazzles the reader with mind-boggling details of the complexity and mystery of nature, from the life of barnacles and eels to thistledown and monarch butterflies.
Both works speak to personal relationships with the natural world and stimulate consideration of our own connections, and those of collective humanity. When I assess the visions of these two writers against where we stand today, as a species on our planet, and particularly, when I view the map our culture (and much of the developing world) seems to be following for our future, I sense a gulf of immense proportion.
This is arguably the richest time in our nation's history. The United States' economy grew by greater than five percent in 1999 and showed a remarkable 6.2 percent jump in the fourth quarter. Never before have we had such economic means to address our most challenging environmental problems.
And yet, at times it seems we are fighting just to hang on to, or to make functional, the protection we thought we had already secured. Examples abound: the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act on the national level; Growth Management law, and the Shoreline Management Act on the state level.
And locally, we are embroiled in complicated struggles to provide adequate protection to our municipal water supply, insure that industries operate in a manner which protects the environment and public health, and institute ecosystem-wide measures which will aid in the recovery of the threatened Chinook salmon. Desperate straits? You bet. Throw in the towel? Not on your life!
There is every bit as much room and evidence for optimism as pessimism. Our biggest obstacle lies in simply fostering the willingness to participate in the solutions. It is one of life's richest pleasures to experience the beauty and wonder of the natural world on its own terms, and one of our greatest challenges and responsibilities to involve ourselves in securing its future.
Here in Bellingham and the Pacific Northwest, there is still so much to celebrate. The natural systems which delight us aesthetically, recreationally, economically, and spiritually are still functioning at a relatively high level. Living glaciers, old growth forests, wild rivers, and abundant and diverse wildlife, from Orca whales to peregrine falcons, grace this region.
We are also blessed with a wealth of non-profit organizations, environmental leaders and volunteers who are committed to natural resource conservation and environmental protection. Organizations like the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, Re Sources and the Whatcom County Land Trust. The Clean Water Alliance, Sardis and Nisqually Wildlife Centers, and the Sierra Club - Mt. Baker chapter. This list could go on and on, and these are just the local groups. Together we are making a difference.
With the vernal equinox, hope springs eternal. Besides, what is the alternative? For Matthiessen, it is not the attainment of his goal that is most important; it is the pursuing of it. You need not actually see the Snow Leopard. To know it is there and actively seek it is enough. For Dillard, to simply sit still and be the calm, flat water that the winds of nature make their impression upon is to experience life in a most exquisite and meaningful way.
These two visions offer much hope and inspiration for the work necessary for us to strike a proper balance between human activity and sustainability with respect to natural systems and the environment. As we move into the new millenium, it is time to recommit ourselves: celebrate and participate. Every day is earth day!
We are so fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest with its unique bio-diversity and vast array of beautiful native plant species to incorporate into our gardens. Over the years, I have learned a great deal by seeing the interactions of species in mature second growth forests while working with native plants in their natural habitats. I have observed growth habits, soil preferences, preferred environments and transferred that information into understanding their cultural needs. The basic rule when using natives in your landscape is to know your plant and its natural habitat and meet those needs in the garden.
Woodland groundcovers that grow under the canopy of mature trees adapt well to shady gardens around tall buildings and at the base of existing trees and shrubs. The problem occurs when we try to plant them directly in ordinary garden soil without ample organic matter. They don't like their feet deep in dense soil. What I have observed is they like to grow horizontally between the hard tree roots and compacted soil of the forest and the layer of humus (duff and leaf mold).
Plant them on top of the soil, after you have spaded and loosened the top crust, and then add a layer of two to four inches of leaf mold, bark, wood chips or other organic matter. This makes it easier for the roots to spread. It also makes it easier to plant near those close-to-the-surface tree roots.
Mix peat in the soil to lower the pH and sand into heavy dense clay soils to aid the spreading of fine roots on top of the soil layer. Many of these plants like growing with the natural fungi in the soil so never spray fungicides around them. They are all drought resistant and have adapted to our wet winters and dry summer conditions.
Here are a few of my favorite woodland shade-loving species:
Twin Flower, Linnaea borealis
This is one of my favorite evergreen low growing perennial ground covers. It forms delicate creeping mats one to three inches high with one inch glossy evergreen leaves. The spreading runners are non-invasive and easily encouraged to spread where needed. The flowers bloom May-August. They are delicately fragrant and grow in pairs of small, one third inch, white to pinkish trumpet shaped, nodding flowers, on three to six inch stems. They like shady locations with slightly acidic dry soils or sunny locations with moderately moist sandy soil. Mulch growing areas with organic matter to encourage rooting of spreading runners which root at the nodes. Habitat: Open to dense forests, shrub thickets or open rocky shore lines.
Pacific or Western Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa
This sweet herbaceous, one to one and a half foot, flowering deciduous perennial ground cover has many branching underground rhizomes. It has delicate fern-like foliage with three fourth inch pink to purplish (and sometimes white) heart-shaped drooping flowers that bloom spring to early summer. It likes shade to part sun, slightly acid, moderately moist humus rich soil with a thick layer of humus and or leaf mold mulch. Habitat: Open conifer or dense deciduous forests, moist ravines and along streams.
Bunch Berry-Dwarf Dogwood,
(the East Coast variety is: Cornus canadensis)
This exquisite semi-evergreen low-rowing perennial ground cover grows in mats three to seven inches high. It has three to six light green leaves in a terminal whorl two to three inches long. The flowers (which are actually the leaves) are white and some times tinged with purple. In the fall, the center of the clusters (the flower) turns into bright red berries that stay on the plant most of the winter. It likes shade to part sun with acidic dry to moderate moist soils (or cool moist soils in sunny locations) with lots of leaf mold, rotten wood or other loose organic matter to encourage spreading. Habitat: moist, dense to open coniferous forests, road edges and open meadows.
Vanilla Plant. Deer foot, Achlys triphylla
This is a wonderful perennial deciduous ground cover that forms a colony of underground creeping rhizomes. The fan-shaped asymmetrical leaflets have three lobes and can be three to six inches across and six to ten inches tall. They add texture and a light green color to the garden. Numerous small delicate white flowers dance in clusters on top of a stalk that sticks up above the leaves. It likes shade to partially sunny locations, acidic (pH 5.5 - 6.5) humus rich, moderately moist to dry soils, with a leaf mold mulch to encourage spreading runners. Habitat: moist to dry shady forest glades, openings and edges, stream banks. The dried foliage has a vanilla scent and is used as a perfume and insect repellent.
Evergreen Violet, Viola sempervirins
This little perennial violet ground cover forms a lovely evergreen mat 3-5 inches high that is non-invasive like other small violets. It has small evergreen heart-shaped leaves that are lovely in their own right. The small flowers are pale yellow with purple stripes, one fourth to one third inch across and bloom in the spring and fall. It likes shade to part sun, acidic dry to moderately moist soils. Habitat: Dense to open moist forests.
Red Huckleberry, Vaccinium parvifolium
This incredibly beautiful fruit-bearing three to twelve foot deciduous shrub has light green leaves, and tiny angular green twigs with many branched stems that add fine texture and year round beauty to any garden. In the spring, the pink buds on the tips of the light green twigs are very striking. In the summer, the edible deliciously tart pink-red to salmon colored berries are a treat for birds and people alike. In the fall the leaves and sometimes the stems turn a brilliant bronze-red when exposed to some sun. It likes shade to partly sunny locations. Dig a hole at least 6 inches larger than the root ball and work in acidic decayed wood, peat or humus into the soil and plant with a three to six inch layer of mulch of the same material. They like dry to seasonally moist conditions and are very drought tolerant. Habitat: Dense to open coniferous forests and canopy openings.
Plant description reference (and excellent native plant resource): Plants Of The Pacific Northwest Coast, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska, Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon, Lone Pine Publishing, 1994.
Wanda Cucinotta is the owner of Forest Flôr Recovery Nursery, a wholesale native plant nursery. They have a specialized forest products contract with the Department of Natural Resources. Their recovery program harvests and cultivates native plants, trees, shrubs and mosses prior to logging operations and road construction on Department of Natural Resources timber sale lands in Whatcom and Skagit counties. They use ecologically conscious harvesting techniques and have proper permits and licenses. Forest Flôr Recovery Nursery has an annual plant sale for retail sales on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Forest Flôr Recovery Nursery
Ethically Sound Pacific NW Native Botanicals
PO. Box 89, Lummi Island, WA, 98262
(360) 758-2778, E-mail: email@example.com
Maiden Hair Fern Adiantum aleuticum (was A. Pedatum)
Lady Fern Athyrium filix-femina var. Cyclosorum
Deer Fern Blechnum spicant
Oak Fern Gymnocarpium dryopteris
Licorice Fern Polypodium glycyrrhiza
Western Sword Fern Polystichum munitum
Shield or Wood Fern Dryopteris expansa
Hooker's Fairybells Disporum hookeri
Tiger lily Lilium columbianum
False Lily of the Valley Maianthemum dilatatum
Large Solomon's Plume Maiathemum racemosa ssp. amplexicaulis (Smilacina r.)
Star Flowered Solomon's-Seal Smilacina stellata
Twisted stalks Streptopus species
Trillium, Wake Robin Trillium ovatum ssp. Ovatum
Bane Berry Actaea rubra
Goat's Beard Aruncus dioicus
Wild Ginger Asrum caudatum
Woodland Strawberry Fragaria vesca
Wild Strawberry Fragaria virginiana
Rattle Snake Plantain (orchid) Goodyera oblongifolia
Water Leaf Hydrophllum tenuipes
Foam Flower Tiarella trifoliata
Piggy Back Plant Tolmiea menziesii
Western Starflower Trientalis latifolia
Yellow Wood Violet Viola glabella
Grand Fir Abies grandis
Vine Maple Acer circinatum
Salal Gaultheria shallon
Mock Azalea, Fools Huckleberry Menziesia ferruginea
Oregon Grape/low growing Mahonia nervosa (Berberis n.)
Devil's Club (with care) Oplopanax horridus (O. Horridum)
Indian Plum Oemleria cerasiformis
Mock Orange Philadelphus lewisii var. Gordonianus
Cascara Rhamnus purshiana
Black Gooseberry Ribes lacustre
Wild Baldhip Rose Rosa gymnocarpa var. Gymnocarpa
Trailing Raspberry Rubus pedatus
Sitca Mountain-Ash Sorbus sitchensis
Snowberry Symphorocarpus albas var. Laevigatus
Creeping Snowberry Symphorocarpus mollis
Pacific Yew Taxus brevifolia
Western Red Cedar Thuja plicata
Western Hemlock Tsuga heterophylla
Oval Leaved Blueberry Vaccinium ovalifolium
The majority of Whatcom County residents greatly appreciate Governor Locke's insight and courage in vetoing Senate Bill 6062 in the face of strong pressure from pork barrelling politicians and lobbyists. It would have granted a 24 million dollar tax break to the 400 million dollar Sumas-2, 660 megawatt, gas-fired electrical generating plant in Whatcom County on the Canadian border. Power plants are notorious for the few jobs per unit invested, and that would have been one million dollars per job. Now Senator Georgia Gardner says she will attempt to override the veto. Stay turned.
Sumas-2 issues are environmental, economic, and political. Environmental issues can be addressed to some extent through the process controlled by the Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC). The council was set up to render ineffective, environmental objections by the public, originally to nuclear power plants. And the Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council has never turned down a permit!
This short article attempts to clarify the maze of political controls of the economics of electrical power: supply, demand, and price.
The United States' deregulation policy controls the price you pay for electricity, but only if you are able to build your own powerline. If not, you will need a supplier, and in our area that would be Puget Sound Energy. Add to that the United States Public Utility Regulation Policy Act (PURPA). It sometimes can require a supplier to accept electricity at a price above the deregulated price, for example, from a cogeneration power plant.
The state legislature controls state taxes, but their authority is subject to veto by the governor.
Some power lines in Whatcom County are regulated by the county itself, as the result of an initiative passed by votes in 1990. Power lines not in existing high voltage corridors are limited to 115 kv. The initiative was passed in spite of money on the order of thirty to one spent to defeat it. Neighbors Opposing Powerline Encroachment (NOPE) was the driving force behind the initiative, and the members remain a viable force in Whatcom County.
Some of our state legislators are attempting to find a way through that political maze by using the only authority they have, taxes, and without an educated, holistic appraisal. Others are blindly porkbarrelling. On the other had, Governor Locke's veto says a lot about him. His is an intelligent man who cares.
Under deregulation, electrical energy is shared according to demand through a 14-state grid. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana are in the north; California and the other states in the south. In summer, electric power flows south; in winter, it flows north. Only under the most unlikely winter scenario would there be a temporary electricity shortage.
There are some 13 unbuilt electrical power plants including Sumas-2 in our four-state grid area because under deregulation there is no demand for the higher priced electricity from them. Why is National Energy Systems Company (NESC) so anxious to build Sumas-2 when so many other companies find it unprofitable to build? Does National Energy Systems Company have a plan to circumvent deregulated prices? It already has the cogeneration plant in Sumas. After permit approval of Sumas-2, does National Energy Systems Company plan to convert it to a cogeneration plant?
Would home owners have to pay higher electricity prices because under the U.S. Public Utitlity Regulation Policy Act, Puget Sound Energy has to accept electricty at higher than deregulated prices? Would growth of family-wage jobs be curtailed in our region by non-competitive energy prices?
Would a tax cut granted by the state legislature simply subsidize consumers in California on the backs of Washington State taxpayers? That should not happen. To stop it we need to work with the U.S. Government and the other 14 states in our electrical grid and not take unilateral action at our taxpayers' expense. Ask your legislators and Governor Lock to work on that .
Why is planning poles for power lines suitable for 230 kv from Sumas-2, while Whatcom County law limits the voltage to 115 kv? Russ Van Buren retired from Puget Sound Energy and now works for the Chamber of Commerce. Here is what he said:
The 660 megawatt capacity of Sumas-2 is equal to the total electrical consumption in Whatcom County including Intalco. You will not move it out [electricty from Sumas-2] at 115 kv. It takes four 115 kv lines to equal one 230 kv line. B.C. Hydro uses 500 kv lines. (The relationship is not a linear function).
We can get our state and county governments to protect the best interests of our citizens if we work on it. Ask the elected officials to address the broad situation before acting unilaterally at our taxpayers' expense.
The last four issues of Whatcom Watch contained a report on global warming published by Climate Solutions in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, the Washington State University Energy Program, and the Northwest Council on Climate Change with support from the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation.Part Five
The signature forests of the Northwest are known by their longevityThey're old growth. They are survivors, having long endured droughts, drenchings and windstorms. They have taken repeated hits from fire, disease and pests. As JISAO'S Ed Miles notes, Mature trees tend to be long-lived and can survive long periods of marginal climate.67
As Northwest forests face global warming, Responses will be slow and muted, especially for older forests, because they are relatively tolerant to change and can adapt somewhat to new environments, pioneering ancient forest scientist Jerry Franklin says.68
Old forests not only absorb climate change betterNorthwest old growth forests also sequester immense amounts of carbon. Some hold more carbon per acre than any other ecosystem on earth. Cutting forests on a short-rotation basis actually puts more carbon into the atmosphere than leaving the equivalent acreage in old growth.69
Global warming is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of disturbances such as pest and disease outbreaks, and wildfires. This is where climate change is expected to have the greatest impact on Northwest forests, young and old.70 During such disturbances the normal, slow pace of forest change drastically accelerates. Forests that otherwise might remain the same for centuries undergo dramatic shifts. Whole, new species communities can take root. Scientists studying pollen embedded in geologic layers have detected radical reordering of forest communities, brought on by catastrophic events that took place as climate was shifting. This is the likely scenario for future species shifts.
With warming temperatures, forests will become generally drier during summers because increased evaporation will wring out soils. Dryness will help promote fires. In a warming world, forest fires can be expected to burn more frequently and with greater intensity. For instance, large stand-replacing fires have come to the Central Washington Cascades every four centuries. Under global warming, they can be anticipated every century.71 One hundred years of suppressing natural fires adds to the danger. Many Northwest forests are choked with thick growth just waiting for a spark. A climate swinging between extremes sets up further troubles. Heavy rainfalls feed growth of underbrush. Then warm, dry spells turn that underbrush into a tinderbox.
A hotter climate will be more friendly for insects which infest tree stands. Some insect species might be able to birth more generations each year. Aphids could climb to elevations currently too cold for them, to attack trees with little resistance such as subalpine fir.72 And trees in general, when stressed by thirst and heat, are more susceptible to pests and disease.
In many Northwest forests, such as those on the Olympic Peninsula, severe windstorms are the prime stand-replacing catastrophes. Northwesterners remember the Columbus Day 1962 windstorm as an event that downed millions of trees. Scientists as yet cannot say if global warming will promote such fierce windstorms in the region. But the southeast Alaska coast has seen gale-force wind days double in number during the warming of the past 20 years.73
Every forest reflects its own particular place. Each is an adaptation to a certain pattern of temperature and precipitation. With warmer temperatures moving north, forests will find themselves in places where conditions are unlike those in which they originally grew. Tree species already living on the fringes of their range, facing global warming's added stress and disturbances, are expected to decline or disappear across wide areas. The more dry, southern and inland the forest is, the more susceptible it will be to change.
Both Washington and Oregon could lose 15-25 percent of total forest cover, mostly conifers on the drying lower east slopes of the Cascades.74 They would be replaced by sagebrush steppe and grassland. For instance, one scenario shows the eastside Central Oregon Cascades, now 60 percent forested, losing half that cover in a 4.5 deg F warming.75 The east slopes of the Washington Cascades are also projected to lose half their forests in a 5 deg F. warming.76 Those temperature increases are expected around 2050-80.
However, University of Oregon climate researcher Patrick Bartlein says, The loss of forests east of the Cascades may not be a foregone conclusion. That is due to the fertilizing effect of increased atmospheric CO2 on tree growth, he explains. Newer models that better account of this effect are giving forests stronger odds, Bartlein says.77
Temperature alone is expected to impact a major Northwest tree species. Douglas fir, which requires a winter chilling, will likely vanish from the Coast Range of Southern Oregon and Northern California under expected warming.78
As the geography of climate changes, forests will attempt to follow. But tree species typically migrate six-tenths of a mile each year. Climate will be moving twice as fast or faster.79 Forests will often be blocked by human developments. Changing ecosystems will need new kinds of seedlings, but prospective parents will be left behind. Some species adapted to special conditions, such as the Port Orford cedar, might go extinct. Forest ecosystems are not expected to shift as intact communities,. notes Miles.80
Trees could find new habitat at higher elevations that are now covered by snowpack and alpine meadows. But the flowered meadows Northwesterners have come to love in places such as Paradise on Mount Rainier are at risk. Subalpine forest is already invading meadows in the Cascades and Olympics, and threatens to entirely displace them from the westside of the Cascades in Oregon.81
Even though trees will find some new places to grow, the net effect of global warming in the Northwest could be forests diminished in extent, outrun by a climate changing faster than their ability to adapt.
Human beings are no more exempt from global warming impacts than forests, fish and birds. A number of potential threats face us.
For urban areas, hotter temperatures mean more of those smoggy skies Seattle, Portland and other cities often encounter during hot summer days. Bright sunlight and high temperatures feed creation of ground-level ozone, a key component of smog which inflames lungs and worsens respiratory illnesses. More ozone will not only push cities further over the lineIt also will hurt crops and wild plants.82
Drier summers could elevate pollen counts, making life more miserable for asthma and hay fever sufferers. An increase in summer heat waves, already observed in recent decades across the U.S., poses dangers to vulnerable populations such as the elderly.83
Warmer temperatures also encourages growth of disease-carrying insect populations. Lyme disease carried by ticks could increase in Oregon and forms of mosquito-born encephalitis could spread north from California.84 Both diseases cause long-term damage to the human nervous system.
All along the coast, warmer water could also mean an increase in health threats such as disease carrying algal blooms, red tides. They appeared in Washington state waters in 1989, '90 and '91. Algal blooms, which are already reaching epidemic status around the world, cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. Ocean warming potentially menaces Northwest shellfish fisheries, particularly the valuable oyster farms of the Willapa Bay, and the people who eat their products.
Next MonthPart Six
Where the Ocean Meets the Land
Footnotes67Miles and Hamlet, p28