‘We Have a Monument!’ Islanders and Coast Salish Tribes Celebrate President Obama Establishing San Juan Islands National Monument by Proclamation

Iceberg Point Shoreline, Lopez Island. Photo by Tom Reeve.
Iceberg Point Shoreline, Lopez Island. Photo by Tom Reeve.

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

On March 25, President Obama established the San Juan Islands National Monument by proclamation. The Islands, a stunningly beautiful archipelago off the coast of Washington state and home to abundant wildlife, will now enjoy the benefits of being a National Monument. The Coast Salish peoples, for which the islands are traditional and hereditary lands, are celebrating Obama’s move.

Patos Island (photo by Linda Hudson)
Patos Island (photo by Linda Hudson)


According to the National Park Service, San Juan Island has been a magnet for human habitation. Its location at the crossroads of three great waterways, plus sheltered harbors, open prairie and secluded woodlands, drew people wanting to stake a life, or find rest and relaxation amid an abundant food source.

The ancestors of today’s Northern Straits Coast Salish people began to appear in the wake of the continental ice sheet that started to recede 11,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence suggests that the island supported hunting and gathering between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago. The marine culture encountered by the first Europeans to the area developed about 2,500 years ago, and traces of its once thriving villages remain in the shell middens found along the shoreline of American and English camps and throughout the San Juan Islands.


Patos Island sunset (photo by Linda Hudson
Patos Island sunset (photo by Linda Hudson


By early historic times, the indigenous people of the San Juan Islands and nearby mainland areas were primarily members of six Central Coast Salish Tribes who spoke the Northern Straits language: Sooke, Saanich, Songhee, Lummi, Samish and Semiahmoo. Another Central Coast Salish tribe that entered the Northern Straits country spoke the closely related Klallam (or Clallam) language.

In addition to sharing these languages, the Central Coast Salish tribes shared a culture and way of life through which they used a wide range of marine, riverine, and terrestrial resources. They followed patterns of seasonal movement between islands and the mainland and from large winter villages to smaller resource collection camps occupied in the other seasons. Because of the exposure to severe winter winds and storms of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, those sites found within the Cattle Point-Mount Finlayson-South Beach were considered to be more likely seasonal subsistence and resource collection and processing camps, rather than permanent settlements.

The Lummi are one of the Coast Salish peoples whose ancestors lived in the San Juan Islands.


Patos Island Lighthouse (photo by Tom Reeve)
Patos Island Lighthouse (photo by Tom Reeve)


The San Juan Islands National Monument will encompass approximately 75 Bureau of Land Management sites totaling about 1,000 acres in San Juan, Whatcom and Skagit counties. Designation as a National Monument removes these lands from possible sale or development by the Bureau and engages the local community in developing and carrying out a management plan for these lands. Under permanent protection will be dozens of small islands in the San Juans, like Indian Island near the town of Eastsound, that provide breeding grounds for birds and safe refuges for everything from harbor seal pups to rare plants.These lands include ancient fishing sites and camas gardens that are important to Native American culture, and historically important lighthouses on Patos Island and Turn Point.

Also to be protected are popular recreation destinations in the islands like Iceberg Point and Watmough Bay on Lopez Island, Patos Island and Cattle Point on San Juan Island.


Watmough Bight (photo by Steve Horn)
Watmough Bight (photo by Steve Horn)


Here is the text of Obama’s proclamation, and visit the monument’s website: SanJuanIslandsNca.org.

Presidential Proclamation — San Juan Islands National Monument


– – – – – – –



Within Washington State’s Puget Sound lies an archipelago of over 450 islands, rocks, and pinnacles known as the San Juan Islands. These islands form an unmatched landscape of contrasts, where forests seem to spring from gray rock and distant, snow-capped peaks provide the backdrop for sandy beaches. Numerous wildlife species can be found here, thriving in the diverse habitats supported by the islands. The presence of archeological sites, historic lighthouses, and a few tight-knit communities testifies that humans have navigated this rugged landscape for thousands of years. These lands are a refuge of scientific and historic treasures and a classroom for generations of Americans.

The islands are part of the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. Native people first used the area near the end of the last glacial period, about 12,000 years ago. However, permanent settlements were relatively uncommon until the last several hundred years. The Coast Salish people often lived in villages of wooden-plank houses and used numerous smaller sites for fishing and harvesting shellfish. In addition to collecting edible plants, and hunting various birds and mammals, native people used fire to maintain meadows of the nutritionally rich great camas. Archaeological remains of the villages, camps, and processing sites are located throughout these lands, including shell middens, reef net locations, and burial sites. Wood-working tools, such as antler wedges, along with bone barbs used for fishing hooks and projectile points, are also found on the islands. Scientists working in the San Juan Islands have uncovered a unique array of fossils and other evidence of long-vanished species. Ancient bison skeletons (10,000-12,000 years old) have been found in several areas, indicating that these islands were an historic mammal dispersal corridor. Butcher marks on some of these bones suggest that the earliest human inhabitants hunted these large animals.

The first Europeans explored the narrows of the San Juan Islands in the late 18th century, and many of their names for the islands are still in use. These early explorers led the way for 19th century European and American traders and trappers. By 1852, American settlers had established homesteads on the San Juan Islands, some of which remain today. In the late 19th century, the Federal Government built several structures to aid in maritime navigation. Two light stations and their associated buildings are located on lands administered by the

Bureau of Land Management (BLM): Patos Island Light Station (National Register of Historic Places, 1977) and Turn Point Light Station (Washington State Register of Historic Places, 1978).

The lands on Patos Island, Stuart Island, Lopez Island, and neighboring islands constitute some of the most scientifically interesting lands in the San Juan Islands. These lands contain a dramatic and unusual diversity of habitats, with forests, woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands intermixed with rocky balds, bluffs, inter-tidal areas, and sandy beaches. The stands of forests and open woodlands, some of which are several hundred years old, include a majestic assemblage of trees, such as Douglas fir, red cedar, western hemlock, Oregon maple, Garry oak, and Pacific madrone. The fire-dependent grasslands, which are also susceptible to invasive species, are home to chick lupine, historically significant great camas, brittle cactus, and the threatened golden paintbrush. Rocky balds and bluffs are home to over 200 species of moss that are extremely sensitive to disturbance and trampling. In an area with limited fresh water, two wetlands on Lopez Island and one on Patos Island are the most significant freshwater habitats in the San Juan Islands.

The diversity of habitats in the San Juan Islands is critical to supporting an equally varied collection of wildlife. Marine mammals, including orcas, seals, and porpoises, attract a regular stream of wildlife watchers. Native, terrestrial mammals include black-tail deer, river otter, mink, several bats, and the Shaw Island vole. Raptors, such as bald eagles and peregrine falcons, are commonly observed soaring above the islands. Varied seabirds and terrestrial birds can also be found here, including the threatened marbled murrelet and the recently reintroduced western bluebird. The island marble butterfly, once thought to be extinct, is currently limited to a small population in the San Juan Islands.

The protection of these lands in the San Juan Islands will maintain their historical and cultural significance and enhance their unique and varied natural and scientific resources, for the benefit of all Americans.

WHEREAS section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431) (the “Antiquities Act”), authorizes the President, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and to reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected;

WHEREAS it is in the public interest to preserve the objects of scientific and historic interest on the lands of the San Juan Islands;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Antiquities Act, hereby proclaim the objects identified above that are situated upon lands and interests in

lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be the San Juan Islands National Monument (monument), and, for the purpose of protecting those objects, reserve as a part thereof all lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States and administered by the Department of the Interior through the BLM, including all unappropriated or unreserved islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles above mean high tide, within the boundaries described on the accompanying map, which is attached to and forms a part of this proclamation. These reserved Federal lands and interests in lands encompass approximately 970 acres, which is the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of the monument administered by the Department of the Interior through the BLM are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from all forms of entry, location, selection, sale, leasing, or other disposition under the public land laws, including withdrawal from location, entry, and patent under the mining laws, and from disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing, other than by exchange that furthers the protective purposes of this proclamation.

The establishment of the monument is subject to valid existing rights. Lands and interests in lands within the monument boundaries not owned or controlled by the Government of the United States shall be reserved as a part of the monument upon acquisition of ownership or control by the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) on behalf of the United States.

The Secretary shall manage the monument through the BLM as a unit of the National Landscape Conservation System, pursuant to applicable legal authorities, to implement the purposes of this proclamation, except that if the Secretary hereafter acquires on behalf of the United States ownership or control of any lands or interests in lands within the monument boundaries not owned or controlled by the United States, the Secretary shall determine whether such lands and interests in lands will be administered by the BLM as a unit of the National Landscape Conservation System or by another component of the Department of the Interior, consistent with applicable legal authorities.

For purposes of protecting and restoring the objects identified above, the Secretary, through the BLM, shall prepare and maintain a management plan for the monument and shall establish an advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) to provide information and advice regarding the development of such plan.

Except for emergency, Federal law enforcement, or authorized administrative purposes, motorized vehicle use in the monument shall be permitted only on designated roads, and non-motorized mechanized vehicle use in the monument shall be permitted only on designated roads and trails.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to enlarge or diminish the rights of any Indian tribe. The Secretary shall, in consultation with Indian tribes, ensure the protection of religious and cultural sites in the monument and provide access to the sites by members of Indian tribes for traditional cultural and customary uses, consistent with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (42 U.S.C. 1996) and Executive Order 13007 of May 24, 1996 (Indian Sacred Sites).

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to enlarge or diminish the jurisdiction or authority of the State of Washington or the United States over submerged or other lands within the territorial waters off the coast of Washington.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to enlarge or diminish the jurisdiction of the State of Washington with respect to fish and wildlife management.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to limit the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security to engage in search and rescue operations, or to use Patos Island Light Station, Turn Point Light Station, or other aids to navigation for navigational or national security purposes.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to revoke any existing withdrawal, reservation, or appropriation; however, the monument shall be the dominant reservation.

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to restrict safe and efficient aircraft operations, including activities and exercises of the Armed Forces and the United States Coast Guard, in the vicinity of the monument.

Warning is hereby given to all unauthorized persons not to appropriate, injure, destroy, or remove any feature of the monument and not to locate or settle upon any of the lands thereof.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/03/26/we-have-monument-islanders-and-coast-salish-tribes-celebrate-president-obama-establishing

It’s not gender of parents, but quality of care, researchers say

Research into the effects of same-sex parenting shows that the sexual orientation of parents is not a major determinant in how well children fare. What matters more, researchers found, is the quality of parenting and the family’s economic well-being.

By Sandhya Somashekhar, The Washington Post

From left, the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, partner Maggie George and their daughter Shannon Voelkel take part in a demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday as justices heard arguments on the California Proposition 8 appeal. Win McNamee / Getty Images
From left, the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, partner Maggie George and their daughter Shannon Voelkel take part in a demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday as justices heard arguments on the California Proposition 8 appeal. Win McNamee / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Amid the legal arguments at Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing on same-sex marriage, there loomed a social-science question: How well do children turn out when they are raised by gay parents?

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is widely considered the swing vote, called the topic “uncharted waters.” Conservative Justice Samuel Alito Jr. wryly asked, “You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cellphones or the Internet?”

Indeed, gay marriage is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States. It has only been legal since 2004, when Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Eight more states and Washington have legalized same-sex nuptials since then, but they have been banned in 35 states.

Researchers have been delving into the effects of same-sex parenting only since the 1980s and 1990s. Most of the studies involve relatively small samples because of the rarity of such families.

Still, there is a growing consensus among experts that the sexual orientation of parents is not a major determinant in how well children fare in school, on cognitive tests and in terms of their emotional development.

What matters more, researchers found, is the quality of parenting and the family’s economic well-being.

“I can tell you we’re never going to get the perfect science, but what you have right now is good-enough science,” said Benjamin Siegel, a professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. “The data we have right now are good enough to know what’s good for kids.”

Siegel co-authored a report issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics last week when it came out in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The group looked at dozens of studies conducted over 30 years and concluded that legalizing same-sex marriage would strengthen families and benefit children.

The best study, Siegel said, is the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, which began in 1986 with 154 lesbian mothers who conceived children through artificial insemination. A recent look at 78 offspring found that the children did fine — better, even, than children in a similar study involving more diverse families.

Many opponents of same-sex marriage argue that the academy’s conclusions are premature. They point to some recent studies, including one from Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor from the University of Texas at Austin.

Regnerus, who could not be reached for this article, found that adults who reported being raised by a person who had a homosexual experience were more likely to be on welfare or experience sexual abuse.

Regnerus has been the subject of intense criticism from mainstream researchers and pro-gay marriage activists. But opponents of same-sex marriage say his work should provide a note of caution on an issue that has yet to be studied in adequate depth.

“What the social science makes clear, and it has for several decades, is that children tend to do best when they’re raised by their married biological parents,” said Jennifer Marshall, director of domestic policy studies for the conservative Heritage Institute. “In the case of same-sex households, there is not yet evidence that (children) are going to be the same. There’s every reason to believe that different family structures will have different outcomes.”

Susan Brown, a professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio who studies family structures, said it is true that decades of research show that children turn out slightly better when they are raised by their biological parents compared with those reared by single parents or in “step” households.

But children raised in committed same-sex couple-led households do not appear to do statistically worse, she said.

“One thing we’re finding that’s very important for children is stability in their family life,” Brown said.

“To the extent that marriage is a vehicle through which children can achieve stability,” she said, “It only follows that marriage is something that would be beneficial to children.”

Eagles on the mend after scavenging euthanized horses

Seven eagles poisoned nearly to death after feeding on carcasses of euthanized horses in Lewis County should be well enough for release from wildlife shelters this week.


By Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times

A volunteer at the West Sound Wildlife Shelter on Bainbridge Island nurses one of the eagles sickened by eating carcasses of euthanized horses. Photo: Dottie Tison
A volunteer at the West Sound Wildlife Shelter on Bainbridge Island nurses one of the eagles sickened by eating carcasses of euthanized horses. Photo: Dottie Tison


Seven eagles poisoned nearly to death after feeding on euthanized horse carcasses are expected to be released this week.

The eagles are alert, getting feisty and are being moved to outdoor cages, said Mike Pratt, wildlife director at the West Sound Wildlife Shelter on Bainbridge Island, which cared for six of the eagles. The shelter, funded by donations, takes in wild animals of all sorts that have been injured or orphaned.

The shelter started getting calls over the weekend about first one eagle, then a second found nearly dead on private property in Winlock, Lewis County. By the time shelter staffers arrived to pick up the birds on Sunday, four more had become sick, Pratt said. The six birds — five juveniles and an adult — were so ill they were convulsing, vomiting, and could not stand. Two were comatose.

Back at the shelter, volunteers and two veterinarians were waiting. They administered a charcoal purgative around the clock and, by Tuesday morning, even the sickest birds had revived. They may be released by the end of the week, right back where they came from, Pratt said.

A seventh poisoned eagle had been taken to the wildlife shelter at the Audubon Society of Portland on Friday. That eagle, a first-year male, looks excellent and will be released Wednesday, said Lacy Campbell, operations manager at the wildlife center.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the incident, said spokeswoman Joan Jewett. It is a federal offense to poison an eagle, even accidentally.

It all started with horses, euthanized and left by their owner in a field, said Jewett, who added that the carcasses have since been buried.

Stephanie Estrella, director and wildlife rehabilitator of Raindancer Wild Bird Rescue in Olympia, which cared for the birds before the larger Bainbridge shelter could come collect them, said this was the first time she had encountered raptors poisoned by tainted carcasses.

Most of the raptors she has cared for were victims of car strikes, or torn up in fights with other raptors.

She got the first call from Sharon Thomas, a Winlock resident who saw an eagle acting strangely in a field in front of her house.

“It flopped and flew, and flopped and flew. It crashed several times,” Thomas said. “Then it came right to me, it sat right at my feet as if it had come for help.”

Thomas took the eagle to her house, put it in a kennel, took photos of it, and put them on Facebook asking for help. Ultimately, it was Estrella from Raindancer who came to collect the eagle.

Little did Thomas know she was in for a long weekend of more of the same, as she and her neighbors walked and drove the area, on the alert for more animals in distress. “It was heart-wrenching,” Thomas said. “Seeing a large, majestic bird falling over on its head is very sad. Picking them up, seeing them unresponsive and lethargic. Picking up the two others that seemed dead, their eyes were not open, they were barely breathing.”

Eventually, she and the neighbors walking the field and thickets found two horse carcasses, with eagles feeding on them. “I picked an adult off one of the horses. He was covered in rotten meat and blood and so was I,” Thomas said.

She and other neighbors collected six sick eagles, and drove off others trying to feed on the carcasses. “It was very hard to drive away from the work Monday morning,” Thomas said. “I don’t know what other wildlife may have been affected.”

The Longview Daily News reported Monday that the horses’ owner, Debra Dwelly, said she had no idea she had created a hazard until federal wildlife agents, alerted by the animal-shelter operators to the eagles’ plight, showed up at her home on Sunday, after cruising the area in a small plane and spotting the carcasses.

Dwelly told the Daily News the poisoning was an honest mistake that occurred because a friend’s backhoe had broken down, delaying burial of the horses she had put down earlier last week.

Washington state law requires the owners of animals or owners of land on which animal carcasses are found to bury or incinerate carcasses within 72 hours so they do not become a hazard.

Attempts by The Seattle Times to reach Dwelly were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Meanwhile, all seven eagles were getting stronger by the hour. Thomas said she is eager to seeing them released.

“I look forward to them returning and behaving as an eagle should,” Thomas said. “They should be aggressive. You shouldn’t be holding them in your arms.”

Elwha gnaws away at a century of sediment

There’s more sediment and more wood than expected coming out of the Elwha River as the Elwha dams are taken down — causing more than a few surprises.

By Lynda V. Mapes, Seattle Times

Greg Gilbert / The Seattle TimesGlines Canyon Dam is two-thirds down, with the Elwha River pouring through the gap. Elwha Dam, 8.6 miles downstream, is already gone.
Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times
Glines Canyon Dam is two-thirds down, with the Elwha River pouring through the gap. Elwha Dam, 8.6 miles downstream, is already gone.

A mother lode of mud is making its way down the Elwha River, and with it, an armada of floating and waterlogged debris.

Contractors are taking two dams out of the Elwha River as part of a watershed and fishery recovery project that is the largest of its type ever in the world. The first, Elwha Dam, came out a year ago. Glines Canyon dam is about two-thirds gone.

Scientists recently learned there was about 41 percent more sediment trapped behind the dams than originally thought — and that the river is transporting more mud and wood than they expected.

As the river, dammed for 100 years, comes back to life, the other surprise is a forest of waterlogged wood and other organic debris the Elwha is muscling out of the former lake beds of the reservoirs.

All that wood is interacting with the sediment in the river with unpredictable results, said Andy Ritchie, restoration hydrologist for the National Park Service, which is running the Elwha recovery project. He was surprised this winter to see the river building fences and jams of wood that trapped sediment in places where it wasn’t expected, such as at Elwha Campground, or causing erosion in others, such as at the historic Elwha ranger district.

There have been other surprises.

Dam removal was put on hold last October until contractors make more than $1.4 million in emergency retrofits to the new $71.5 million Elwha Water Facilities plant.

It was built as part of the dam-removal project, to clean sediment from the water supply to an industrial pulp and paper plant, a fish-rearing channel and a hatchery. But the plant failed during the first fall rains last October, when fish screens and pumps became clogged with leaves, twigs, branches and sediment.

What the total cost to the project of the breakdown will be — on a plant that was already the single most expensive piece of the $325 million Elwha restoration — and what caused it to fail are still being sorted out, said Barb Maynes, spokeswoman for the park service.

The agency hopes to get contractors back at work taking down Glines Canyon Dam by mid-April. Meanwhile, taxpayers are paying $245,000 to contractor Barnard Construction for the project delay (on top of the repair costs, paid to contractor Macnac Construction of Lakewood) while the water plant is fixed.

Contractors are taking the rest of Glines Canyon Dam down ten feet at a time, and only three whacks remain. The park service still expects to complete dam removal by September 2014, as originally planned.

But even with dam removal on hold, restoration is not standing still.

After a 100-year hiatus, the Elwha is back at work moving sediment, carrying some of it all the way to the river mouth, where a whole new world is emerging.

Surveys both by airplane and by an underwater video camera show a kelp armageddon is under way. The amount of floating kelp at the river mouth and east to the Ediz Hook has already been reduced by 44 percent in the year since dam removal began, said Helen Berry, marine ecologist at the state Department of Natural Resources.

Underwater video also shows a dramatic shift on the sea floor, with a transition in one year from lush pastures of seafloor plants to a war zone of tattered vegetation and large areas nearly denuded.

The reason is sediment. It is blocking light in the water column, and smothering the rocky seafloor with soft mounds of fine material transported by the Elwha, making it unsuitable for the holdfasts which kelp species need to affix themselves to the seafloor.

But scientists think the kelp’s demise is a gain for other species, in a reset of the nearshore ecology to a more normal state. Old maps show no kelp at the river mouth and east to the Ediz Hook.

The accretion of soft sediment is expected to provide habitat for sea grasses that nurture salmon, said Anne Shaffer of the Coastal Watershed Institute in Port Angeles. Soft, sandy beaches also could provide spawning grounds for a chrome tide of sea smelt and sand lance.

“I see it as a return to how things are supposed to be,” Shaffer said. “And we are only at the beginning of these ecological effects.”

Closest to the river mouth, the resumption of the river’s delivery of sediment is also hoped to slow erosion that has claimed up to 100 feet a year in some parts of the tribe’s reservation, east of the river.

Just how much of a difference will be made long term isn’t known, especially when, in about 10 years, the amount of sediment the Elwha delivers annually resumes to its new normal.

But for now, at the river mouth the results are dramatic as the river plays catch-up, gnawing at 100 years of entrapped sediment, and moving it out to sea.

Jonathan Warrick, a scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center at Santa Cruz, Calif., is helping to map a new sand spit that has formed at the west side of the river mouth. It’s already about one-third of a mile long, and growing.

“I thought it would happen this year,” Warrick said. “But I am a little blown away at how big the bar is.”

Climate change a top concern for Gov. Inslee

Washington governor’s focus on the issue goes beyond ordinary politics. He says finding solutions is both a moral obligation and an economic opportunity.

By Andrew Garber, Seattle Times Olympia Bureau

OLYMPIA — There was a telling moment just before Gov. Jay Inslee raised his right hand and took the oath of office.

He was introduced as a politician who sees climate change as “an existential threat that transcends politics.”

“More than any other president or governor before him, Jay has an electoral mandate on this issue,” Denis Hayes, organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970, told a packed audience in the rotunda two months ago.

If lawmakers did not grasp the significance of those remarks then, they do now.

Inslee talks about climate change all the time. He discussed it in his inaugural address, during most of his news conferences, when introducing a bill on the issue in the state House and Senate, even in announcing his choice for transportation secretary.

“This is about pollution with a capital P,” he said, testifying before the House Environment Committee this month on climate-change legislation. “It’s about reducing a pollutant, namely carbon dioxide, which has very, very significant impacts on Washington state, on our health, on our well-being and on our economy.”

Hayes, who is president of the Bullitt Foundation, said no one should be surprised by all this.

Inslee established himself as an authority on climate change and renewable energy in Congress. He co-authored a book, “Apollo’s Fire,” touting the potential benefits of a clean-energy economy. And when running for office, “it was the core of his campaign,” Hayes said. “He constantly referenced his … book. People knew what they were getting.”

Still, not everyone was expecting so much, so soon.

“I think there are greater, more pressing priorities at the moment,” said Senate Deputy Republican Leader Don Benton, R-Vancouver. “I think we need to look long term, and do little things that add up over time that will benefit and help the climate-change situation and the environment. But they are long-term strategies.”

Inslee, in an interview, said there’s no time to waste.

“If you have a huge problem that becomes worse over time, it doesn’t mean you should start later, it means you should start earlier,” he said. “This is not something that we just have to worry with our grandchildren. It’s happening today.”

No shortage of issues

To be sure, climate change isn’t the only thing on Inslee’s plate.

The governor is working on a budget. He’s pressuring the federal government to clean up radioactive waste at Hanford. He’s lobbied lawmakers to approve universal background checks for gun purchases. He’s looking for ways to implement the voter-approved legalization of recreational marijuana use.

Inslee is also pushing the Legislature to come up with more money for the state’s transportation system and K-12 education.

Yet there’s little doubt Inslee spends far more time talking about climate change than his predecessors, former Govs. Gary Locke and Chris Gregoire.

“I’ve had more time with him in the last three months on these issues than I had with Locke and Gregoire combined over the past 16 years,” said Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, chairman of the House Technology & Economic Development Committee.

Inslee introduced a climate-change bill in the House and Senate aimed at developing ways to reduce state greenhouse-gas emissions and meet targets set by the Legislature in 2008. The measure creates a work group that’s supposed to come up with recommendations by the end of the year.

He also brought up the issue in relation to another bill he introduced dealing with long-term plans to improve water supplies in Central Washington, saying warming will reduce snowpacks, making it “absolutely necessary that we increase the water storage and water efficiency … in the Yakima River Basin because of climate change.”

(Watch Inslee speak about improving water supplies in Central Washington.)

And when he hired a new secretary of transportation, Lynn Peterson, he noted that motor vehicles are the state’s largest producer of greenhouse gases. “Lynn is very committed as I am in finding better options for people to get to and from work and reduce carbon pollution,” he said.

The governor’s staff says this is just the start of a deeper conversation on climate change.

Cliff Traisman, state lobbyist for Washington Conservation Voters and the Washington Environmental Council, said Inslee “is clearly not taking a play out of any political consultant’s playbook. That is for sure. And yes, people are surprised because he’s running against the grain. He is tackling the issue because he feels it’s a moral obligation to do so and an opportunity.”

It’s worth paying attention to that phrasing — a “moral obligation” and an “opportunity.”

That is the core of Inslee’s argument around climate change.

Moral principle

The governor uses homilies to get his points across. During testimony on his climate-change bill, House Bill 1915, he talked about watching his 4-year-old grandson play on the beach and “just seeing his face light up when he sees a crab or critter” coming up from underneath a rock.

“I can tell you with a high degree of assurance that unless you and I and other people in our state embrace a commitment that we’re going to see to it that our grandkids have that experience, they’re not going to have it. And the simple reason is the water will be too acidic to support those life-forms,” he said.

(Watch part of Inslee’s testimony on his climate-change bill.)

Richard Feely, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle and an acidification expert, said the governor was probably accurate when it comes to the Pacific oyster, but the science isn’t clear yet on other species such as crabs.

When GOP Rep. Shelly Short, of Addy, Stevens County, noted any reduction in Washington state carbon emissions would be minuscule compared to what China pumps out, Inslee responded it doesn’t change the state’s moral obligation.

“I know you’re not going to roll down the window and throw anything out the window tonight worried that somebody in another district won’t follow your ethical behavior,” Inslee said. “I think that is the best answer to this issue.”

(Watch Inslee’s exchange with Rep. Shelly Short.)

Climate-change jobs

The carrot the governor uses when discussing climate change is the prospect of jobs.

When he rolled out a jobs package last month, Inslee talked about how the state can be “an example to the world of how a clean-energy, climate-change-reduction strategy is a winning proposition economically. The reason we believe this, is this is something perfectly built for the skill set of the state of Washington.”

“We will not be passive while our state is ravaged by forest fires, by the loss of our shellfish industry due to ocean acidification, by the loss of irrigation water due to the loss of snowpack,” he said. “We are better than that, and we will not accept defeat.”

Inslee has talked about spurring the development of biofuels at a commercial scale, using biofuel blends at major state ferry and vehicle-fueling centers, helping business develop technologies to produce and consume “clean energy,” and creating a Clean Energy Fund to leverage investments in clean-energy technologies, among other things.

There are few specific proposals at this point. One example he’s discussed is using the Clean Energy Fund to provide funds to utilities to develop ways to store electricity from wind farms when the power is not needed.

Inslee’s office said more ideas will be fleshed out when the governor presents a budget proposal later this month.

One purpose of Inslee’s climate-change bill is to identify job opportunities that go along with helping the state reduce carbon emissions.

“This is an economic race and an economic imperative as much as it is an environmental one,” Inslee said in an interview. “We are competing with other countries for the first launch of these new technologies. … We don’t want to finish second or third.”

Skeptics in Legislature

It’s not clear how the governor’s proposals will fare this session.

Republicans, who control the Senate, say the state’s focus should be on jobs, education and the economy. Some even question that carbon emissions are causing climate change.

“Whenever you speak in absolutes about the science being concluded, history is replete with people being proven wrong,” said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, chairman of the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee.

The Senate last week did pass Inslee’s climate-change bill, but Ericksen’s committee removed language talking about problems associated with global warming.

That was a major bone of contention in the Senate — how definitive the state should be in saying there is a climate-change problem, said Ted Sturdevant, the governor’s legislative-affairs director.

Specifically at issue is whether the Legislature should say that “Washington state is facing negative impacts from climate change,” Sturdevant said. “That’s where there is a divide here in terms of their comfort level in saying that, and the governor’s desire to say that.”

The distinction is important, he said, because Inslee feels “that responding to climate change here is both seizing an opportunity and responding to a problem. The governor wants to make sure this conversation acknowledges both of those things.”

In the end, the governor’s office agreed to take the language out. It has not yet decided whether to ask House Democrats to put it back in.

Major state gun proposal may go to voters

By Mike Baker, Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Washington voters may get the final say on whether the state expands background checks on gun sales, as proponents said Tuesday a public vote was necessary to move the idea forward.

Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said the referendum proposal was necessary in order to secure enough votes to pass the measure out of his chamber. If the measure is approved in both chambers, Pedersen said he expects the National Rifle Association leads an effort to stop it.

“I feel a pretty good amount of confidence that it works and that we can defend it at the ballot box,” Pedersen said.

Gun buyers currently must undergo a background check when they purchase a weapon from a federally licensed firearms dealer. Pedersen’s proposal, crafted in conjunction with Republican Rep. Mike Hope, would extend background checks to cover private gun transactions.

Under the bill, people who already have proper law enforcement credentials or a valid concealed pistol license would already have the proof needed to complete a private gun purchase. Those who don’t have such documentation could go to a licensed gun dealer or local law enforcement agency, then pay a fee and get a background check.

Hope, a Seattle police officer, has expressed concern that criminals are bypassing the current system of background checks and acquiring guns through private transactions. He said the proposal won’t stop gun violence but would make it harder for criminals to get weapons.

The state House is expected to take up the plan Tuesday afternoon. It would then have to get through the state Senate, including a committee controlled by gun-friendly lawmakers.

Spring Planting is Near: Join the Arbor Day Foundation in February and Receive 10 Free Redbud Trees

Press Release, Arbor Day Foundation, http://www.arborday.org

Joining the Arbor Day Foundation is an ideal way to get in the mood for spring planting. Anyone from Washington who joins the Foundation in February 2013 will receive 10 free Eastern redbud trees to plant when the weather turns warm.

The free trees are part of the nonprofit Foundation’s Trees for America campaign

“Redbuds will help beautify Washington for many years to come,” said John Rosenow, founder and chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “They will also add to the proud heritage of Washington’s existing Tree City USA communities.”

The Tree City USA program has supported community forestry throughout the country for more than 35 years.

The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting, between March 1 and May 31, with enclosed planting instructions. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow, or they will be replaced free of charge.

Members also receive a subscription to the Foundation’s colorful bimonthly publication, Arbor Day, and The Tree Book, which contains information about planting and care.

To become a member of the Foundation and receive the free trees, send a $10 contribution to TEN FREE EASTERN REDBUD TREES, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410, by February 28, 2013, or visit arborday.org/february.


States want to arm Teachers

By Monica Brown, Tulalip News staff

In light of the mass shootings having taken place many states are taking action. States are either reviewing gun control policies or choosing more proactive ways to protect themselves. While Oregon, the location of the Clackamas Town Center shooting, is divided on whether or not they are pro-gun and Washington has recently offered a Gun buyback program part of a gun safety initiative in order to reduce gun violence, Alaska is definitely pro-gun.

As stated in the Anchorage Daily News, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich stated that he had no current interest in a ban on sales of assault weapons in this country. Begich said decision-makers can’t “jump to the clamor of emotion” and create legislation that they think will be the “magic solution” to gun violence. He says there’s a broader issue of violence and a need for improved mental health services that need to be looked at.

The Alaska State Legislature will consider House Bill 55 sponsored by Republican Rep. Bob Lynn,

“An Act allowing school districts and private schools to adopt a policy authorizing one or more permanent employees to possess one or more firearms on school grounds under certain conditions.”

Alaska is not the only state mulling around the idea of arming their teachers, other states such as Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Alabama are also taking to the idea of arming teachers and school personnel.

Seattle’s first buyback will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 in downtown Seattle in the parking lot underneath Interstate 5 between Cherry and James Streets. The Seattle Police Department will monitor the buyback.


Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2013/01/10/2748491/begich-warns-against-knee-jerk.html#storylink=cpy