The Choctaw v climate change: ‘The earth is speaking’

In the US, members of the Choctaw nation fight to reclaim their relationship with the land in a world without seasons.

 

Wilson Roberts, an elder member of the Choctaw nation, believes the earth is out of balance [Nicholas

Wilson Roberts, an elder member of the Choctaw nation, believes the earth is out of balance [Nicholas Linn/Al Jazeera

By Emily Crane Linn, Al Jazeera

 

Durant, Oklahoma – It’s nearly June. Every day, the Earth brings Darryl “Grey Eagle” Brown closer to the Sun, to heaven, to the Creator. That means it’s nearly time for the Eagle Sun Dance ceremony, a 12-day communal gathering of fasting, thanksgiving and prayer that takes place around the summer solstice, when the Creator is especially near.

Fifty-six-year-old Brown is a member of the Choctaw tribe of Oklahoma and a spiritual leader for a band of tribal members seeking to practise their indigenous religion. He learned the Sun Dance from another Choctaw elder who learned it from a tribe in the northern Great Plains. It is a pan-Indian dance – a blend of traditions and historic knowledge passed between the tribes of the Great Plains.

Brown has held this ceremony on his family’s land outside Durant, Oklahoma, each summer for 20 years. Every year, it seems to get hotter, he says, and the weather less predictable. Some years, they dance on parched ground under a cloudless sky. At other times, they’re nearly blown away by hot, angry winds. Last year, they were drenched in torrential floods. But regardless of what the weather holds, Brown must dance anyway because he feels the Choctaw – and the earth – needs him to.

 “Our ceremonies help keep life in balance,” he says.

‘The earth is speaking, but man won’t listen’

 

Brown believes that both his people and the earth they inhabit are deeply out of balance, damaging one another as a result. “Man’s pollution has altered the earth,” he says. “The earth is speaking now, but man won’t listen.”

In Oklahoma, the earth seems to be shouting. From 2010 to 2015, the land plunged the state into a punishing drought, bringing the Choctaw nation to the brink of a water crisis. In 2011, it was the second-hottest summer on record, with more than 35 consecutive days of temperatures above 37 degrees Celsius. Then last summer, the missing rains arrived, but in devastating 30cm deluges. The seemingly incessant floods tore through the state all summer long, destroying houses and wiping out crops.

Brown knows the outside world has a term for these catastrophic weather shifts: climate change. He knows there have been summits and debates and policies on the matter. But here in Choctaw nation, Brown doesn’t place much stock in what the federal government or the United Nations have to say. The earth is speaking – speaking through thunderous rains, violent tornadoes and scrambled seasons.

“The seasons aren’t in order any more,” Brown says. “I remember winter in Oklahoma. I remember the ponds freezing up and staying that way for months. Now, we get a few days of cold, but no real winter.”

 

Volunteers gather their wild gardening tools to cut back and clear out other plant species that are currently out-competing with the fragile river cane for resources [Nicholas Linn/Al Jazeera]

Volunteers gather their wild gardening tools to cut back and clear out other plant species that are currently out-competing with the fragile river cane for resources [Nicholas Linn/Al Jazeera]

Historically, the Choctaw have proved to be adaptive to whatever nature has given them, says Scott Ketchum, a Choctaw member and PhD candidate studying Choctaw cultural history at the University of Oklahoma. “But now, you have a thunderstorm in January that normally marks the change of a growing cycle, and then the next week, you have a snow storm. What do you do with that?”

The earth is out of balance, Brown says, and his people are partly to blame. “It’s written in our teachings, the knowledge of how to take care of the earth,” he says. “We’re out of balance with that teaching.”

The Choctaw cultural identity has always hinged on an intimate connection with the environment, says Wilson Roberts, a tribal elder and spiritual teacher. “In my mother’s teaching, I was always taught that all animals and life-bearing things are just like us,” he says. “We’re a part of them, they’re a part of us. We’re supposed to take care of each other and look out for each other.”

The Choctaw have forgotten this, Roberts says. And what’s worse, they’ve failed to impart their knowledge to the settlers who now control much of their ancestral homeland. The Choctaw were forcibly removed to Oklahoma from their lands in Alabama and Mississippi in 1831. Twenty-five percent of the population died during the journey, and those who remained were converted to Christianity. “The government came in and took away everything,” Roberts says. “I’m talking about everything …. They burned our pipes and whatever we had that they thought might have some sort of ‘energy’, anything that was sacred to us.”

For Roberts, 76, this isn’t some far-flung part of his history – these are his grandparents’ stories.

The removal marked the beginning of the imbalance, Roberts says. “I always tell people that our downfall as a Choctaw nation is that we gave up what the Creator gave us,” he says. “We didn’t fight hard enough to keep it, and because of that, we’ve lost our continuity with the Creator.”

Healing the earth

 

Roberts and Brown believe that the only way to bring healing to both the earth and their tribe is for the Choctaw to reclaim their traditional relationship to their environment – and then spread those teachings to the rest of the US.

In a modest trailer that serves as a government office building, Ryan Spring labours to do just that. As the director of historic preservation for the Choctaw nation, it is Spring’s job to study his tribe’s past, relearn its traditions and help people like Roberts and Brown pass it on.

“The more culture and heritage we give back, the more we become whole again,” Spring says.

For Spring, a good place to start is by re-teaching traditional gardening. Historically, the Choctaw were adept farmers whose ceremonies and gatherings revolved around the growing cycles. Since their removal, however, they’ve become highly dependent on processed foods handed out through state welfare programmes. A return to traditional gardening will help members regain independence from state handouts, reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke brought on from the unhealthy foods they are given – and reduce their imprint on the environment.

There is a growing interest in learning traditional gardening, Spring says, but climate change poses a formidable challenge.

 
Volunteers join Cain for a day of 'wild gardening' in the Sequoya National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Oklahoma [Nicholas Linn/Al Jazeera]

Volunteers join Cain for a day of ‘wild gardening’ in the Sequoya National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Oklahoma [Nicholas Linn/Al Jazeera]

“The growing seasons are getting more and more unpredictable,” Spring says. “We’ll have longer cold snaps or six-year droughts. There’s no average.”

Spring teaches members to keep small gardens that are easier to manage, regardless of the weather. Brown has one, and he has learned to shift his planting and harvesting year-to-year and season-to-season, depending on what the weather appears to be doing. He can’t depend on regular, consistent cycles like his grandfather taught him to do, but by paying close attention to the weather – by listening to the earth – he can grow his food anyway.

Likewise, he has learned to perform his ceremonies not according to the seasons but according to the cycles of the Sun and Moon. This too is a departure from the Choctaw’s ancestral ways, Ketchum says, which revolved entirely around growing cycles. “You used to know to start a particular ceremony in June when a certain plant bloomed,” he says. “But now, it might be June and the plant won’t bloom at all or maybe it will have bloomed early.”

This sort of creativity and adaptability is a good thing, though, Brown says – perhaps even a divine thing.

“The weather will do what it does and we have to be adaptable,” he says. “We have to get creative, we have to find new ways to keep [ceremonial items] dry, which normally would already be dry or to hold a sweat lodge even when it’s chilly outside. But creativity is part of the [Creator], we have that creativity in us.”

Creativity is an essential feature of religious ceremonies like the one Brown is preparing to host. In preparation for such a ceremony, traditional families would historically have spent weeks weaving beautiful, brightly-coloured baskets to hold food for the dancers and sacrifices for the Creator. There will be no baskets this year, however: climate change and industrial agriculture have all but wiped out river cane, the plant used to make the baskets.

 
Roger Cain is one of a handful of academics studying river cane. A Cherokee, Cain is working on a project to map what remains of the river cane on Cherokee land [Nicholas Linn/Al Jazeera]

Roger Cain is one of a handful of academics studying river cane. A Cherokee, Cain is working on a project to map what remains of the river cane on Cherokee land [Nicholas Linn/Al Jazeera]

The bamboo-like plant used to cover Oklahoma, growing in kilometre-wide swaths called “cane breaks”. Now, as much as 98 percent of it is gone, says Roger Cain, a river cane specialist from the nearby Cherokee Nation. “We had a massive die-off in 2011,” he explains. “We had two weeks in February where it was below [-17C]. I haven’t seen that kind of weather in my whole life.”

Flooding in 2015 further emaciated the river cane population. “We had floods wipe out entire cane breaks,” Spring said. “It’s grown back some since then; it’s surviving, but not on the level where we can use it to make baskets.”

Cain has worked with the Cherokee nation to declare river cane a culturally-protected plant species and has begun a project to map what populations remain in an attempt to preserve them. He holds regular “wild gardening” sessions where he visits these cane breaks and weeds out any invasive species that pose a threat to the plants. He is hopeful that with time and care, he will be able to restore these cane breaks to a level where tribes can resume regular large-scale basket weaving.

As Brown prepares to host the Sun Dance ceremony, he is keenly aware that everything he is doing is different from the ways of his ancestors. So much has changed. So much has been lost. But he will dance anyway. He will dance with what he has. “[Because] our ceremonies are helping,” he says. “They’re helping the cycles, they’re helping the earth.”

Funding for this article was provided in part by the Earth Journalism Network.

Low levels of oil pollution harm herring, salmon, study finds

Researchers find oil can harm herring and salmon at much lower levels than once thought. The work raises questions about Puget Sound pollution.

 

By  Hal Bernton, Seattle Times 

Federal scientists based in Seattle and Alaska have found that oil — by impairing heart functions — can cause serious harm to herring and pink salmon at far lower concentrations than previously documented.

The research, published Tuesday online in Nature’s Scientific Reports, could help unravel the mystery of why herring stocks in Prince William Sound collapsed after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Their work also has implications about the effects of low levels of chronic oil pollution in Puget Sound and elsewhere in the world.

“What this study shows is that in very, very low concentration of oil, embryonic fish … get born with a mild heart defect,” said John Incardona, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration toxicologist at a Seattle fisheries science center. He is one of 10 co-authors of the study.

Those fish may look OK on the outside, but the heart defect makes them less fit, so they can’t swim as fast. They may succumb to predators at higher rates than other fish and may be more vulnerable to infections, according to Incardona.

The findings reflect years of studies that explored the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, compounds released by crude oil spills, but also contained in many other forms of fossil-fuel pollution such as tailpipe emissions from Puget Sound motorists that condense and are carried into the water by runoff.

The research examined the effects on fast-growing zebrafish, and then replicated the heart damage in more complex experiments that exposed embryonic herring and pink salmon to oil.

The researchers found that oil’s effects are greatest in cold-water environments, where fish embryos are less able to metabolize the pollutants. And herring, with much smaller eggs than the pink salmon, suffered the most severe effects from the polycyclic aromatics.

In the aftermath of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill that dumped nearly 11 million gallons of crude in Prince William Sound, Alaska became the first — and so far only state — to create a water-pollution limit for the polycyclic aromatics, according to Incardona.

That Alaska state limit is 10 parts per billion, but the researchers found herring embryos could be affected at levels 10 to 50 times lower than that. At those levels, herring that returned to spawn in Prince William Sound in 1989 as well as subsequent years could have produced offsprings with damaged hearts.

Those offspring would have hatched, but few may have survived long enough to reach spawning age. That could be a big reason spawning stocks of Prince William Sound herring crashed four years after the 1989 spill.

“The thresholds for developmental cardiotoxicity were remarkably low, suggesting that the scale of the Exxon Valdez impact in shoreline spawning habitats was much greater than previously appreciated,” the researchers wrote.

In the more than quarter century since the Exxon Valdez spill, Prince William Sound herring stocks have failed to recover even as oil pollution has declined to levels unlikely to affect them.

The study published Tuesday does not try to explain the herrings’ current problems, although Incardona says once fish stocks get knocked to a very low level, recovery can be very difficult.

The situation is very different in Puget Sound, which has the highest levels of polycyclic aromatics of any estuary due to ongoing chronic pollution, according to Incardona. The Puget Sound levels are not that far below those found to have effects in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez, and raise questions about whether this pollution is harming Puget Sound’s struggling herring stocks.

Incardona, who said that federal researchers hope to work with Washington state biologists to try to answer that question.

Who wants to eat contaminated seafood?

The Sugawara family from Mill Creek fish at Cottage Lake in Woodinville in 2014. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

The Sugawara family from Mill Creek fish at Cottage Lake in Woodinville in 2014. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

By  Kevin Davis and Julie Kramis Hearne, Seattle Times 

In many ways, Washington state is a shining example of a local and sustainable food system. Heirloom vegetables, heritage livestock breeds and sustainable seafood all find their way to farmers markets, local grocers and restaurant plates. Our citizens have a proud legacy of growing their own vegetables, raising their own chickens, catching their own fish and harvesting their own shellfish from local waters. It makes our state a great place to live, especially if you love food.

We have a problem, however. Generations of manufacturing industries built up the economy of our state, especially the Puget Sound region, in a time before many pollutants were adequately regulated. These industries left a legacy of pollution. Despite significant improvements in recent years, unsafe pollution continues to this day, and we still have a long way to go. Long-lasting toxics, including PCBs, arsenic, mercury and many others, persist for years and find their way into our fish and shellfish.

As longtime restaurateurs, sports anglers, sustainable food advocates and concerned parents here in the Pacific Northwest, we understand exactly how much people in this region value local fish and shellfish. Whether on the Washington coast, in the Puget Sound region, Hood Canal or Columbia River Basin, fishing, crabbing, clamming and harvesting oysters are ways of life and part of the heritage that makes life in Washington so rich and special. It is also one of the reasons why we are so concerned with the quality of our state’s streams, rivers and other water bodies.

The state Department of Ecology has an opportunity right now to better protect those resources and the health of everyone in Washington who eats local fish and shellfish. Last year, the department proposed a long-overdue update to Washington’s water-quality standards. The current rule is inadequate and out of date, lagging behind our neighbors in Oregon, despite our strong fishing economy and culture.

We want to know that when we harvest salmon or Dungeness crab from the Sound, collect oysters on Hood Canal or catch sturgeon on the Columbia River, that these are safe to feed to our friends and family.”

But the Department of Ecology’s current proposal would fail to sufficiently improve protections because of loopholes that would allow “acceptable” levels of many toxic chemicals in our waters, including PCBs, mercury and arsenic, to remain exactly the same. The new rule would address the unreasonably low daily fish-consumption rate, increasing it to 175 grams from 6.5 grams. The increased consumption rate better would reflect how much fish Washington residents eat. However, the proposed rule would also include a 10-fold increase in the allowable cancer-risk rate. This second change would effectively negate most, if not all, of the important protections that these regulations are meant to provide.

The Clean Water Act requires that states maintain “water quality criteria sufficient to protect the most sensitive of the uses.” Consumption of seafood is one of the most sensitive uses. Many Washington residents, especially tribal members, Pacific Islanders, commercial and recreational fishermen, eat large amounts of fish and seafood from these waters. Our children eat seafood, and are much more sensitive to pollutants. The Department of Ecology’s own research shows that at least 29,000 Washington children eat more than 190 grams of fish — about one fillet — every day.

It’s time for our state officials to fix our water-quality standards. We want to know that when we harvest salmon or Dungeness crab from the Sound, collect oysters on Hood Canal or catch sturgeon on the Columbia River, that these are safe to feed to our friends and family. The state has the authority and responsibility to regulate pollution and clean up our waters. The question is: will it?

 

Kevin Davis is the co-owner and executive chef at Steelhead Diner and Blueacre Seafood. Julie Kramis Hearne is a cookbook author and former restaurant owner living on Hood Canal.

 

Pollution partially closes nearly 500 acres of Portage Bay shellfish beds

Ralph Solomon holds clams at the sea sea pond on the Lummi Reservation in this 2003 photo, shortly before the tribe reopened shellfish beds that were closed in 1996 due to poor water quality.THE BELLINGHAM HERALD


Ralph Solomon holds clams at the sea sea pond on the Lummi Reservation in this 2003 photo, shortly before the tribe reopened shellfish beds that were closed in 1996 due to poor water quality.
THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

 

By Kie Relyea, Bellingham Herald

 

LUMMI RESERVATION — Commercial shellfish harvesting is being banned on nearly 500 acres of Portage Bay for about half the year because of worsening water quality caused by fecal coliform bacteria, the Washington state Department of Health announced Tuesday, March 24.

Portage Bay is home to Lummi Nation’s ceremonial, subsistence and commercial shellfish beds.

State health officials last week changed the classification of nearly 500 of the 1,300 commercial shellfish harvesting acres in the bay from “approved” to “conditionally approved” because of water quality. That means harvesting in the conditionally approved area will be closed each year April through June and again October through December.

Those are the months when tests show the bay is affected by polluted runoff from the Nooksack River carrying higher levels of bacteria into the shellfish harvesting area, the state said.

The partial closure will remain until water quality improves, said Scott Berbells, manager of the growing area section for the department’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

The state’s action follows one taken by Lummi Nation in September, when the tribe closed 335 acres in Portage Bay to shellfish harvesting.

The tribe consulted with the state Department of Health and volunteered to do so Sept. 3 after levels exceeded federal standards for commercial shellfish harvest.

Those 335 acres are within the 500 acres downgraded by the state.

“This closure is devastating for the approximately 200 families on the Lummi Reservation who make their living harvesting shellfish,” Lummi Nation Chairman Timothy Ballew II said in a news release.

Fecal coliform bacteria come from human and animal feces. The bacteria enter Whatcom County’s waterways in several ways — horse and cow manure, pet and wildlife waste, and failing septic systems — and indicate there could be pathogens absorbed by the shellfish that may sicken people who eat them.

This isn’t the first time the tribe has closed its shellfish beds in Portage Bay because of fecal coliform pollution. It did so in 1996 because of high levels of fecal coliform in the Nooksack River and streams that empty into Portage Bay.

At that time, the state Department of Ecology and the Environmental Protection Agency led a cleanup plan using state legislation approved in 1998 that required dairy farms to undergo routine inspections and create written plans for how they would contain manure and prevent it from washing into public waterways. Before 1998, dairy farms were inspected only if a complaint was made about a farmer.

Failing septic systems and municipal sewage systems also were addressed.

The effort cleaned up the Nooksack River and its tributaries and allowed 625 acres of tribal shellfish beds to reopen in 2003, and the last 115 acres to reopen three years later.

“During the last 10-year closure, the tribal community lost jobs and millions in revenue. Ultimately, the closure affects all Lummi people because this shellfish area is sacred to our people and critical to our way of life,” Ballew said.

In recent years, the Lummis have expressed concern about water quality once again degrading because cuts to budgets and enforcement created regulatory gaps.

State officials also have been warning about worsening water quality.

“We’ve seen declining water quality in Portage Bay since about 2008. A number of stations have been steadily getting worse,” Barbells said.

Cleanup efforts are once again underway in the watershed.

In 2014, Whatcom County received funding from the EPA to strengthen a locally led effort to identify and clean up pollution sources.

Lummi Natural Resources, Whatcom Conservation District, and the state departments of Health, Agriculture and Ecology are working with Whatcom County and the Portage Bay Shellfish Protection District on the Portage Bay cleanup.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/03/24/4204838_pollution-partially-closes-nearly.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Bellingham council could weigh in on state fish consumption, pollution rules

State officials may increase the average amount of fish, such as this sockeye salmon, each person eats per day. Raising that number would mean more stringent controls on pollution, because if people are eating more fish, they could be consuming more toxins.THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

State officials may increase the average amount of fish, such as this sockeye salmon, each person eats per day. Raising that number would mean more stringent controls on pollution, because if people are eating more fish, they could be consuming more toxins.
THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

 

BY SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL, The Bellingham Herald

 

BELLINGHAM — Bellingham City Council is considering asking the state for tighter pollution rules protecting water and the fish people eat.

On Monday, March 23, the council will discuss signing a letter to the Department of Ecology that would request tighter water quality standards than what the department is currently proposing as part of a years-long update process.

That would go against the grain of many other cities around the state that support the plan from Ecology and Gov. Jay Inslee as a compromise on health standards and strict pollution guidelines that affect wastewater treatment plants.

Ecology is looking at increasing the average amount of fish that state rules assume each person eats from 6.5 grams per day, about one 7-ounce meal per month, to 175 grams per day, about 6 ounces per day, to closer match the amount of fish folks in the Pacific Northwest actually eat.

Raising that number would mean more stringent controls on pollution, because if people are eating more fish, they could be consuming more toxins.

Under the proposal, Ecology also would lower the acceptable risk of getting cancer from the current rate of one in 1 million if someone were to eat the average amount every day for 70 years, to one in 100,000 for many of the toxins.

Those two measures fall under the umbrella of what are called human health criteria, which dictate exactly how much pollution is allowed into the state’s waterways. The current levels were set in a 1992 federal rule applying to 14 states that had failed to meet the requirements of the 1972 Clean Water Act.

For some, including Bellingham City Council members Roxanne Murphy and Michael Lilliquist, lowering the cancer risk rate seems like taking a step backwards.

“Primarily my concern is that Native Americans and Asian communities, for example, can often consume 10 times the amount of seafood that other communities might take in,” Murphy said. “I really want to bring light to how a higher cancer risk will affect everybody. I don’t think it’s the right approach for everybody’s well being.”

Lilliquist said the state shouldn’t downsize the cancer guidelines currently in place, even though it might cost more.

“There’s been some resistance to tighten the rules from city governments,” Lilliquist said. “No one’s against clean water, but if we have to redo all of our stormwater drains, prevent more water pollution, it would be quite expensive. My hope is that state officials will see that strong water quality standards are not up for debate.”

Even with lowering the cancer risk tenfold, the new standards would be more protective for about 70 percent of toxins, and in cases where it would be less protective, the state will maintain the stricter standard, as explained in a policy brief from the governor’s office.

Still, increasing the acceptable risk rate above the current one in 1 million is shocking to Dr. Frank James, medical officer for the Nooksack Indian Tribe, health officer for San Juan County and an assistant professor of public health at University of Washington.

“I think if the public understood, maybe they wouldn’t agree that that’s a good idea,” James said. “It’s the most common standard in federal regulation and in all state regulation. Us varying from that is a very odd thing.”

Council will consider signing its letter and submitting it on the last day Ecology is  taking public comment on the proposed rule.

A draft of the letter states that the council is in support of the governor’s comprehensive approach to improving water quality, but there are concerns about loosening the allowable cancer risk rate.

The letter also states that Bellingham council is aware that stronger standards will make it harder for the city to comply with pollution and stormwater controls, and that serious conversations about financial assistance are needed at the state level.

Those concerns are part of the reason the Association of Washington Cities, a nonprofit that lobbies for Washington cities and towns at the state level, supports the compromise presented by the governor.

Carl Schroeder, government relations advocate for the association, said it has looked at the issue and worked with the governor’s office and Ecology to set achievable goals.

The concern for some toxins is that changing the standards to a rate lower than what is already found in the waters of the state would mean that anyone discharging into that water, such as a municipal wastewater treatment plant, would need to meet the “ultra low standard right at the end of the pipe,” Schroeder said. The technology doesn’t exist to meet some of those low rates, he said.

“If you put a new standard out there that ratchets it down, and there’s no technology to do it, you drive a bunch of expense and utility rates go through the roof to put on the newest technology that doesn’t even meet the standard,” Schroeder said. “That’s been addressed largely on this risk rate discussion, which does increase the protections for 70 percent of the toxins. It doesn’t roll anything back, it just moderates the stringency.”

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/03/21/4197262_bellingham-council-could-weigh.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

 

Snohomish County medication “take back” locations

Submitted by Lori Hartelius M.S.  LMHC  MHP, Tulalip Family Services

What’s wrong with throwing my medicines in the garbage or flushing them down the toilet?

About 30 percent of medicines are not used. Flushing waste medicines pollutes the environment. Medicines are now found in our surface and ground water, as well as drinking water supplies. Wastewater treatment facilities do not remove most medicines. Throwing medicines in the garbage – especially controlled substances like OxyContin and other pain relievers – is not safe because the drugs can be found and used by others. Medicines thrown in the trash can also get into the environment.  Leaving them in your medicine cabinets at home can also be dangerous and get into the wrong hands.  Taking any unused medication to a “take back” location is easier than ever.  There are numerous locations all around the county including most Bartell Drug stores and local police stations.

Med_Take_back_graphic

 

Stillaguamish Tribal Police 22714 6th Ave. NE, Arlington WA 98223  Mon-Fri, 8am – 10pm Accepts controlled substances  360-654-0645

Arlington Police Station 110 E. Third St., Arlington WA 98223-1300     Mon-Fri 9am-4pmAccepts controlled substances   360-403-3400

Bothell Police Department 18410 101st Ave. NE, Bothell WA 98011    Mon-Fri, 7am-4pm   Accepts controlled substances   425-388-3199

Bartell Drugs, Bothell – Canyon Park 22833 Bothell-Everett Hwy , 98021     No controlled substances      425-485-3525

Brier Police Station 2901 228th St. SW, Brier WA 98036 Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm Accepts controlled substances    425-388-3199

Darrington Police 1115 Seeman St., Darrington WA 98241  Monday-Friday, 9:30am-12pm and 1:30pm-5pm  Accepts controlled substances   425-388-3199

Bartell Drugs, Edmonds Pharmacy 23028 100th Ave. W, Edmonds WA 98020      Mon-Fri 9am-9pm; Sat 9am-6pm; Sun 10am-6pm  No controlled substances425-774-4916

Edmonds Police 250 Fifth Ave. N, Edmonds WA 98020 Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm Accepts controlled substances425-388-3199

Snohomish County Sheriff – Jail 3025 Oakes Ave., Everett WA 98201  Monday-Friday, 8am-10pm Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Bartell Drugs, Everett – Silver Lake     11020 19th Ave , Everett WA 98208  No controlled substances   425-379-5390

Bartell Drugs, Everett – Broadway 1825 Broadway, Everett WA 98201 No controlled substances. 425-303-2583

Bartell Drugs, Everett – Seattle Hill Road 5006 132nd Street SE Bldg. A, Everett WA   No controlled substances    425-357-6129

Everett Police – North Precinct 3002 Wetmore Ave., Everett WA 98201   Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm Accepts controlled substances     425-257-8400

Everett Police – South Precinct 1121 SE Everett Mall Way, Everett WA 98208   Monday-Thursday, 10am-5pm Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Group Health Cooperative, Everett Medical Center Pharmacy 2930 Maple St., Everett WA 98201 – Mon-Fri 8:30am-9pm; Sat 9am-3:30pm; Sun 9am-12:30pm  No controlled substances    425-261-1560     425-388-3199

NCIS – Naval Station Everett 2000 W Marine View Dr., Bldg. 2000, Rm 234, Everett WA 98201   Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Snohomish County Sheriff – Courthouse 4th Floor Courthouse; 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett WA 98201  Mon-Fri, 9:30am-4:30pm Accepts controlled substances    425-388-3199

Gold Bar Police 107 Fifth St., Gold Bar WA 98251 Monday-Friday, 10am-12pm & 1pm-4pm Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Granite Falls Police 205 S Granite Ave., Granite Falls WA 98252  Monday-Friday, 9am-12pm & 1pm-5pm   Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Pharm-A-Save 207 E Stanley St #A, Granite Falls WA 98252   Monday-Friday 9am-7pm, Saturday 9am-6pm   No controlled substances     360-691-7778

Bartell Drugs Frontier Village Pharmacy 621 SR9 NE, Lake Stevens WA 98258    Mon-Fri 8am-9pm; Sat 9am-6pm; Sun 10am-6pm  No controlled substances     425-334-8410

Lake Stevens Police 2211 Grade Rd., Lake Stevens WA 98258  Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Bartell Drugs Lynnwood Pharmacy     17633 Highway 99, Lynnwood WA 98037  Mon-Fri 9am-9pm; Sat. 9am-6pm; Sun 10am-6pm  No controlled substances     425-743-1136

Lynnwood Police 19321 44th Ave. W, Lynnwood WA 98036  Monday-Sunday, 8am-5pm   Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Marysville Police 1635 Grove St., Marysville WA 98270   Monday-Friday, 8am-3pm   Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Snohomish County Sheriff– North Precinct 15100 40th Ave. NE, Marysville WA 98271 Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Washington State Patrol – Marysville 2700 116th St. NE, Marysville WA 98271  Monday-Friday, 9am-12pm & 1pm-5pm  Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Bartell Drugs, Marysville  6602 64th St NE , Marysville WA 98270   No controlled substances     360-658-6218

Mill Creek Police15728 Main St., Mill Creek WA 98012  Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Snohomish County Sheriff– South Precinct 15928 Mill Creek Boulevard, Mill Creek WA 98012 – Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm Accepts controlled substances   425-388-3199

Monroe Police 818 W Main St., Monroe WA 98272 Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm  Accepts controlled substances     425-388-3199

Mountlake Terrace Police 5906 232nd St. SW, Mountlake Terrace WA 98043  Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm   Accepts controlled substances   425-388-3199

Bartell Drugs, Mountlake Terrace 22803 44th Ave W, Mountlake Terrace WA 98043  No controlled substances   425-771-3835

Mukilteo Police 10500 47th Pl. W, Mukilteo WA 98275  Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm    Accepts controlled substances   425-388-3199

Snohomish Police 230 Maple Ave., Snohomish WA 98290  Monday-Friday, 10am-3pm  Accepts controlled substances    425-388-3199

Bartell Drugs, Snohomish  1115 13th St, Snohomish WA 98290 No controlled substances    360-568-4153

Stanwood Police 8727 271st St. NW, Stanwood WA 98292 – NOTE: Stanwood Police Department medicine take-back location is temporarily closed from December 10 through March 10,2015   Accepts controlled substances425-388-3199

Bartell Drugs, Stanwood 7205 267th St NW, Stanwood WA 98292   No controlled substances   360-939-2188

Sultan Police 515 Main St., Sultan WA 98294 Mon-Thurs, 10am-12pm and 1pm-4pm Accepts controlled substances425-388-3199

Dairy Farm Pollution Costs Lummi Nation

An aerial photo shows a manure lagoon at a dairy farm adjacent to the Nooksack River. Courtesy of Kim Koon.

An aerial photo shows a manure lagoon at a dairy farm adjacent to the Nooksack River. Courtesy of Kim Koon.

By Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission 

 

Whatcom County’s booming dairy and agricultural industry has cost Lummi Nation shellfish harvesters millions of dollars already, and a recent closure of shellfish beds in Portage Bay is adding to the tally.

Manure from dairy cows is discharged either directly or indirectly into the Nooksack River, which flows into Portage Bay. In September, the tribe closed 335 acres of Portage Bay shellfish beds to harvest because of high fecal coliform levels that exceeded National Shellfish Sanitation Program standards. Continued poor water quality led to the closure of two additional areas in December, bringing the total to nearly 500 acres of shellfish beds that are unsafe to harvest. More areas may have to be closed in the coming months if conditions are not improved.

Lummi shellfish harvesters lost an estimated $8 million in revenue from 1996 to 2006, when 180 acres of Portage Bay shellfish beds were closed for the same reason. The Lummi Nation is pressing state and federal agencies to do a better job of keeping dairy farm manure out of the Nooksack River.

“The tribe has been working since 2005 to avoid this very situation from occurring,” said Merle Jefferson, Lummi Natural Resources director. “We do not have jurisdiction to enforce county, state and federal laws in the watershed so we must rely on Whatcom County, the Washington Department of Ecology, the Washington Department of Agriculture and the EPA to act. The federal agencies have a trust responsibility to ensure that the Lummi people can exercise their treaty rights to harvest shellfish in our usual and accustomed areas.”

Whatcom County is home to about 46,500 adult dairy cows, which can each generate 120 pounds of manure per day. Dairies store the waste in unlined lagoons that can leak 900 gallons of manure into the ground every day, according to a recent ruling under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) – defined as industrial-sized livestock operations that confine animals to barns or feed lots – are required by the federal Clean Water Act to have National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits that regulate how much waste they release into the water.

However, none of the dairy farms in Whatcom County have an NPDES permit.

Smaller farms don’t meet the definition of a CAFO unless they have a documented discharge. Most claim not to spill manure into the water supply, said Andrea Rodgers Harris, a lawyer with the Western Environmental Law Center. Nevertheless, manure is being discharged into the Nooksack River and the groundwater. The Sumas-Blaine aquifer in Whatcom County is the most contaminated aquifer in the state.

“Ecology has concluded that the high nitrate pollution in the aquifer is largely due to manure pollution from dairy farms,” Harris said.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with the state Department of Ecology, which administers the permits, to enforce the Clean Water Act to “the fullest extent possible using available resources,” said Dennis McLerran, EPA Region 10 administrator, in a Dec. 9 letter to the Lummi Nation.

McLerran said that a farm that contributes significantly to pollution, even if it does not meet the definition of a “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation,” can be required to get an NPDES permit. Animal feeding operations that are not significant polluters are covered under Clean Water Act provisions relating to nonpoint sources.

“We will continue to work with Ecology to take appropriate enforcement actions to bring such facilities into compliance with the NPDES general permit,” McLerran added.

The state is considering legislation, drafted at the direction of Gov. Inslee, to require all applicators of manure to be certified and licensed by the state

Another concern is pollution from Canadian dairy farms in British Columbia. A Vancouver Sun investigation learned that extremely high levels of fecal coliform bacteria are traveling across the border into Whatcom County via streams from the Fraser Valley.

In December, McLerran and EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Michelle Pirzadeh met with their counterparts in Canada to discuss updating a statement of cooperation between EPA and Environment Canada.

“During our meeting I stated the high priority EPA places on recovery of shellfish beds in Puget Sound, and specifically identified water quality problems and shellfish bed closures near the border as one of EPA Region 10’s highest priorities for our agencies to focus on in the coming year,” McLerran said.

In addition to working with EPA and Ecology, the Lummi Nation participates in the Whatcom Clean Water Program and the Whatcom County Portage Bay Shellfish Protection District, and is working to raise awareness about waste management practices.

Lummi also is seeking relief for fishermen affected by the closure. About 200 Lummi families make their living harvesting shellfish, and as many as 5,000 community members rely on the shellfish beds for ceremonial and subsistence purposes.

 

Inslee warns of ‘malarkey’ and ‘assault by polluting industries’

By Joel Connelly, Seattle PI

Washington is going to witness “an assault by polluting industries” against efforts to reduce carbon pollution and retool the state’s economy around growth of clean energy, Gov. Jay Inslee warned a supportive Seattle audience on Friday.

 

Inslee

Inslee:  The polluters are coming, the polluters are coming

 

Inslee is preparing a four-day “agendathon” next week in which he will unveil education, transportation, pollution and tax proposals.  He previewed his proposal, in populist tones, to a Washington Budget and Policy Center Conference.

The polluters — he didn’t name names — will “try to convince low income people that asthma is not a problem, that ocean acidification is not a problem,” Inslee charged.  He warned that arguments by greenhouse gas emitters, perfected in California, will be deployed up the coast.

“The polluting industries are going to spend unlimited resources, unlimited dollars to convince you that unlimited pollution is a good idea,” Inslee exclaimed.  ”You’re going to read the op-eds. You’re going to see the television commercials. It’s a bunch of malarkey.”

The governor’s remarks offered a prelude to what might become the state’s second seminal public battle over pollution and protecting its environment.

Republican Gov. Dan Evans went on a statewide television hookup in 1970, appealing over the heads of Republican and Democratic legislators who were blocking a package of laws that created the Washington Department of Ecology.  Evans won the face off.

Four decades later, the state Republican Party is demonizing Inslee’s carbon-reduction program before it is even introduced.  The GOP has raised the prospect of $1-a-gallon gasoline price increases. Such a gas price hike “is not going to happen,” Inslee said Friday.

The governor said his carbon reduction/energy program, which he will outline at REI’s Seattle store next Wednesday, is not just “happy granola.”

He will, said Inslee,  present a program to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. “It is the law of this state that we reduce carbon pollution to 1990 levels by the year 2020,” Inslee said.

The program will include not-yet-specified incentives to “grow our economy, grow jobs and reduce economic inequality” in Inslee’s words.  He has, as candidate, book coauthor (“Apollo’s Fire”) and governor touted clean energy industries as the 21st century’s path to economic growth.

Inslee talked of a recent meeting with inner city school students who live along the Duwamish Waterway, next to an industrial Superfund site and close by a freeway.

“What these students were showing was that there is an incredible increase in asthma the closer you get to the freeway,” Inslee said.

 

The Duwamish River, pictured from the air. Due to industrial contamination, the lower five miles of the Duwamish was designated as a superfund site by the United States Environmental Agency. Photo: Paul Joseph Brown, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“We don’t find many high tech millionaires living next to freeways and large industrial areas” — Gov. Inslee. The Duwamish River, an EPA Superfund site, pictured from the air. Photo by Paul Joseph Brown, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

 

The governor argued that all forms of pollution hit hardest at low-income residents. “We don’t find many high tech millionaires living next to freeways and large industrial areas,” said Inslee.

The governor even evoked forest fires — increasing in scope and intensity with global warming — as a source of pollution that hurts the poor. He made specific reference to the 230,000-acre Carelton Complex fire in north-central Washington last summer.

“You know who is really suffering in the Okanogan Valley right now?  It’s the low-income folk,” said Inslee.

(Several of the governor’s most prominent “green” contributors have summer homes in the Methow Valley upriver from the scene of the fires.)

The passion in Inslee is genuine, a conservationist ethic that began when his biology teacher father took him to Carkeek Park and explained the life cycle of a clam.  The governor has warned of ocean acidification and its danger to the state’s $300 million-a-year shellfish industry.

At the same time, however, a Republican-controlled state Senate will have great influence over his agenda. The “green” color of Seattle-area technology firms is balanced by refineries, railroads, industrial ports and resource industries.

 

Baumgartner

Republican State Sen. Baumgartner: Warns against tax, revenue proposals that would disrupt economic recovery.

 

Just before Inslee went on, state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, warned the liberal audience that the state faces difficult choices and flagged opposition to any proposals that would hurt the state’s business climate.

Inslee can take hope in results of a new statewide business poll, conducted for Gallatin Public Affairs and the Downtown Seattle Association.

A majority of likely voters, at 53.7 percent, said it would support a tax on carbon if the levy is offset by lower sales and business taxes, with only 32.6 percent opposed.

A California-style cap and trade approach, a “free enterprise” solution once lauded by Republicans — but now decried as “cap and tax” by such figures as Sarah Palin — was favored by 51.4 percent of those surveyed.

Inslee is set on framing the statewide debate.

At one point Friday, he declared:  “What we can’t tell these (low-income) kids is they are going to have to swallow asthma.”

Stealing Fish To Study Seabirds

Scientists are snatching fish from Rhinoceros Auklets to find out how much pollution they're exposed to in their diets. Seabird populations in Puget Sound have declined since the 1970s. | credit: Peter Hodum

Scientists are snatching fish from Rhinoceros Auklets to find out how much pollution they’re exposed to in their diets. Seabird populations in Puget Sound have declined since the 1970s. | credit: Peter Hodum

 

By Ashley Ahearn, KUOW

SEATTLE — Seabird populations in Puget Sound have declined since the 1970s and scientists believe pollution is partially to blame.

But how do you prove that? Study what the seabirds are eating. A new paper published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin found that seabirds in Puget Sound are eating fish that are two to four times more contaminated than fish on Washington’s outer coast.

To gather the data, scientists camped out on three remote islands – one in Puget Sound and the other two on Washington’s outer coast – that are nesting spots for Rhinoceros Auklets, a small dark seabird shaped “like a football,” said Tom Good, the lead author of the study and a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle.

Good and his team waited in the dark for the mom and dad auklets to fly home with beaks full of fish for their chicks. Then, when the birds landed, the scientists flashed on their headlamps, startling the birds so they would drop their fish.

Watch: Rhinoceros Auklets landing at a remote island as scientists wait.

“It’s called spotlighting,” Good explained.

“It sounds worse than it is,” Good said, “but yeah, we’re stealing food from the mouths of babes, basically.”

Good didn’t harm any birds in his research. And the confiscated fish provided an immense amount of data.

Chinook salmon, sandlance and herring were the main items on the auklet menu. The top three pollutants found in the fish were PCBs, DDT and flame retardants.

Salmon samples taken from auklets on Tatoosh Island, near the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, had the lowest levels of contaminants, when compared to salmon caught at the other two islands in Puget Sound and along Washington’s outer coast.

Lummi Nation closes shellfish harvesting in part of Portage Bay because of pollution

Ralph Solomon holds clams at the sea sea pond on the Lummi Reservation in this 2003 photo, shortly before the tribe reopened shellfish beds closed in 1997 due to poor water quality. Fecal coliform contamination has again led Lummi Nation to close 335 acres of shellfish beds in September 2014.THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Ralph Solomon holds clams at the sea sea pond on the Lummi Reservation in this 2003 photo, shortly before the tribe reopened shellfish beds closed in 1997 due to poor water quality. Fecal coliform contamination has again led Lummi Nation to close 335 acres of shellfish beds in September 2014.
THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

 

By: Bellingham Herald

LUMMI RESERVATION — Lummi Nation has closed 335 acres in Portage Bay to shellfish harvesting because of worsening water quality caused by fecal coliform bacteria.

The tribe consulted with the state Department of Health and volunteered to do so Sept. 3 after levels exceeded federal standards for commercial shellfish harvest.

Portage Bay is home to Lummi Nation’s ceremonial, subsistence and commercial shellfish beds.

Fecal coliform bacteria come from human and animal feces. The bacteria enter Whatcom County’s waterways in several ways — horse and cow manure, pet and wildlife waste, and failing septic systems — and indicate there could be pathogens absorbed by the shellfish that may sicken people who eat them.

The closure affects about 200 families on Lummi Reservation who make a living harvesting shellfish and as many as 5,000 tribal members who rely on Portage Bay shellfish for ceremonial and subsistence needs, according to the tribe.

This isn’t the first time the tribe has closed its shellfish beds in Portage Bay because of fecal coliform pollution. They did so in 1996 because of high levels of fecal coliform in the Nooksack River and streams that empty into Portage Bay.

At that time, the state Department of Ecology and the Environmental Protection Agency led a cleanup plan using state legislation approved in 1998 that required dairy farms to undergo routine inspections and create written plans for how they would contain manure and prevent it from washing into public waterways. Before 1998, dairy farms were inspected only if a complaint was made about a farmer.

Failing septic systems and municipal sewage systems also were addressed.

The effort cleaned up the Nooksack River and its tributaries and allowed 625 acres of tribal shellfish beds to reopen in 2003, and the last 115 acres to reopen three years later.

That decade cost the tribal community about $8.5 million in revenue, Lummi Nation said in a news release.

But in recent years, the Lummis have expressed concern about water quality once again degrading because cuts to budgets and enforcement created regulatory gaps.

“Everybody knows the reason that this is happening is there’s a lack of compliance and a lack of enforcement,” said Merle Jefferson, director of Lummi Natural Resources Department.

Lummi Tribal Chairman Timothy Ballew II echoed those concerns.

“Failure of our upstream partners to follow the policies developed to respond to the last closure has led to this disaster,” Ballew said in a news release. “Immediate actions are needed to right the problem. We are committed to doing the work required that will reopen the shellfish beds.”

Multiple agencies at the federal, state, local and tribal level are once again coordinating their efforts to lower fecal coliform in Whatcom County’s waterways, with county officials saying that the levels in the Nooksack River and Portage Bay have increased in the past five years.

That push includes a proposal for the County Council to create a locally driven, and ongoing, effort called the Whatcom County Pollution Identification and Correction Program. It goes before the County Council on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

“We feel like we’re making progress,” said Doug Allen, manager of Ecology’s Bellingham field office. “I’m still confident that we’re going to turn this around. It’s going to take all of us working really hard to do it.”

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/09/26/3879712_lummi-nation-closes-shellfish.html?sp=/99/100/&rh=1#storylink=cpy