Posts Tagged ‘puget sound’

According to recent articles in the Seattle Times and EcoGeek, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington are considering a plan that would allow motorists travelling along U.S. Interstate 5 to charge or change electric-vehicle batteries, or to fill fuel tanks with biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen or compressed natural gas when they stop at rest stops offering alternative fuelling stations.

(The governors are calling this a green highway, but unless we figure out to fuel cars with the trash dropped by drivers daily, I-5 won’t have quite earned that title.)

Apparently, Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington hopes to begin work in her state as early as this summer. Oregon and California are not likely to start on their sections of the project as early. One of the hurdles to the entire project will be to get approval from the federal government for commercial development alongside an interstate.

The National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) and national gasoline distribution groups oppose the project, which they say provides unfair competition. I confess, I don’t see how they can call it competition unless they start offering alternative fuelling stations of their own, and in sufficient numbers and distribution to provide an equivalent service.

I-5 stretches about 1,380 from Tijuana, Baja California to White Rock, British Columbia. Traffic volume varies along the long ribbon of asphalt, reaching 353,000 vehicles/day in San Diego, 598,000 in Los Angeles, 388,000 in Sacramento, 145,000 near Portland, and 274,000 in Seattle.

There already are dozens of alternative fuelling stations offering compressed natural gas, ethanol or biodiesel in Washington, Oregon and California, but the closest hydrogen station is right here at Humboldt State University.


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[Reprinted from EcoGeek.]

When one considers the myriad of things becoming hybrid, tugboats are not one of those which immediately come to mind. But in southern California (where else?) the world’s first true hybrid tug was recently unveiled.

The Carolyn Dorothy, displayed before a large crowd in the Long Beach, California area on January 23, was built by Seattle, Washington-based Foss Maritime. This tug joins a fleet of existing standard tugboats servicing the needs of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

This hybrid tug, partially built with funds contributed from both ports, is expected to “significantly reduce emissions” compared to its conventional siblings. The design seems to have made the EPA happy, as the governmental agency gave it an award of excellence last year.

So what exactly makes this “Green Assist” tug a hybrid? Foss first detailed this project back in 2007. In place of a traditional tugboat engine, this boat is powered by two 670 horsepower battery packs coupled with two 335 horsepower diesel generators.

The company added that although the main engines in the hybrid tug will have lower horsepower than the existing Dolphin engines, overall the tug will have the same total horsepower as its sister tugs. A key features to the implementation of this design is a specialized power management system, which helps lower fuel consumption and reduce emissions.

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mpj043877000001No big post today — I’m in training.  I’m taking the A/E/C Project Management Bootcamp from PSMJ Resources, Inc.; all project managers at my company, SHN Consulting, undergo this training.  (A/E/C stands for “architect, engineer and contractor.”)

I’m happy that there is basic training and common ground so that we can all have common information.  I specialized in project management during my bachelor’s in civil engineering, but I can use a refresher. And, wow, the brochure promises me that I will foster innovation, increase productivity, and elevate responsiveness to my clients’ objectives and my firm’s bottom line (and we all love a firm bottom line.)

Besides, the training is in Seattle, which gives me a chance to see my friends very briefly!

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I picked up a couple of good books at Tin Can Mailman last week.

rainforests book coverFirst, I picked up The Rain Forests of Home, which talks about the coastal temperate rain forests ecoregion stretching from the San Francisco Bay Area in California to the Cooke Inlet in Alaska. This is a chance for me to explore the ties between several different places and issues I have some personal knowledge of.

I love books that tie many different aspects together to provide a comprehensive picture. And fortunately for me, the book appears to be used as a textbook at Humboldt State University, resulting in multiple cheap copies in the local used book stores.

Selfishly, I could wish for even more maps, particularly colour ones, but the book seems very interesting so far.

cadillac deserts coverThe second book I picked up is considered a classic and even an oldie, but I decided it was time I re-read Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert after I attended Tom Stokely’s presentation last week, “The Trinity River, the Peripheral Canal, and the Future of Water in California“.

A book over 20 years old, Cadillac Desert remains very topical as it examines the role water development has played in every aspect of the history of the American West, particularly of California. A fascinating summary of the California Water Wars was published in the San Francisco Chronicle three year ago, providing some of the more recent news. As I mentioned in a recent post, water resources is a hot topic in California and even in this time of recession, there are a lot of jobs for water professionals.

Mr. Stokely, a Director of the California Water Impact Network, will be speaking again on this topic next week when he gives the keynote presentation at the Sixth Annual Berkeley River Restoration Symposium. He is extremely knowledgeable and passionate, although in truth I wish his talk had been better organized. I felt a strong urge to grab the PowerPoint presentation and whip it into shape for him!

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A large aquatic habitat restoration project has been announced for the mouth of the Nisqually River; it will provide habitat for South Sound chinook salmon, a federally-listed threatened species as well as a state candidate species. Some 762 acres (308 hectares) of saltwater estuary habitat will be restored by removing the old levees isolating them from the Puget Sound and opening them to tidal action; more than 21 miles of tidal sloughs and channels will be returned to their natural condition.

The project is a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Nisqually Indian Tribe, and Ducks Unlimited. The three partners have worked together before on extensive salt marsh restoration in areas adjacent to the project limits. Other funding comes from Washington state salmon recovery and Puget Sound restoration funds.

Estuaries provide feeding grounds and resting areas for young chinook and chum salmon. Ecodiversity is extremely high in these zones, where the fresh water from rivers meets the salt water of ocean bodies, providing good food sources. Streams slow down as they widen, meander and split upon reaching marine bodies, providing twists and turns for young salmon to take cover and rest. Salmonid species are genetically conditioned to live at different salinity levels as they change life stages; this means that at certain periods of their life cycle, if there is insufficient habitat of that particular type available, a significant number of young salmon will not be able to make it to the next phase of their life and will therefore never return to spawn another generation of salmon. Mudflats in estuarine areas area also a formidable breeding ground for the small prey favoured by shore birds.

Sadly for bird-watchers and other nature lovers, the restoration will necessitate the removal of the 5.5-mile (8.9 km) trail that currently tops the old levee. However, new trails and boardwalk will be created to provide visitor access by 2010. This is a good reason for visitors to go hike or bike the existing loop trail while it’s accessible; there is extremely good birding to be done there. Watch out for American bitterns, double-crested cormorants, several species of mergansers, and the ubiquitous great blue herons.

The articles I read did not offer a discussion of potential changes in flood storage capacity. This is always a sensitive issue when removing old dikes and levees. During extreme flood conditions, the Nisqually River overtops its banks upstream of the Refuge, on the south side of the I-5 bridge. The Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (CCP/EIS) prepared for the project states that the alternatives which restored the majority of the diked area and eliminated cross-dikes along the McAllister Creek side of the Refuge also reduced flood impacts to the Refuge. These alternatives allowed flood waters from the McAllister Creek overflow channel to empty unimpeded into the McAllister Creek tidal system, instead of emptying inside of diked habitat. However, diked areas in all alternatives were still flooded by flows from the overflow channel at the southeast corner of the Refuge.


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Canoe Journey 2006 - Copyright Sophie Lagacé, 2006

Canoe Journey 2006

Every year since 1993, dozens of Native tribes and First Nations from the Pacific Northwest, from British Columbia to Washington, gather for the Tribal Canoe Journey. This year, a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey and the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council will result in five of the hundred or so canoes participating in the Journey being equipped with water-quality recording equipment.

Not only are the gliding canoes far less disruptive than motor boats when recording water parameters, but this will also provide direct, real-time, real-place data on the waters that are of high concern to Native nations living on, in, and from the Puget Sound.

Every year, a different tribe hosts the Journey’s end.  This year’s Canoe Journey is hosted by the Cowichan First Nation in Duncan, British Columbia.  I was at the arrival and potlatch for the 2006 edition, hosted by the Muckleshoot Tribe; it was a wonderful event.  I was sorry to miss last year’s arrival at Lummi Island but my husband did go.  The 2009 event will be hosted by the Suquamish Tribe and the 2010 by the Makah.  I hope to see these arrival ceremonies!  If you have a chance to see the canoes as the pass a nearby coastal town, seize it; it doesn’t last long and it’s beautiful.

And this year, it even provides data.


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On Wednesday, as I flew out for an interview in California, our plane was assigned a flight path that took it closer to Mount Rainier than I had ever been. The weather was glorious and the mountain stretched immense next to our plane, looming and seemingly close enough for our wingtips to brush off the snow. It was breathtaking.

Yesterday, on the way back, we had nice views of Mt. Shasta, Crater Lake, the Three Sisters, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainer, and more. They were very beautiful, but it was still that close pass on Wednesday that was the very best sight. And Northern California was spectacularly beautiful, though I shouldn’t let anyone know for fear it will become crowded…

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