San Juan County Marine Resources Committee minutes: January 9, 2013
Mike Kaill said that he has been frustrated in the fight against stormwater pollution that doesn’t seem to get anywhere; he has written a letter to the Journal and approached various people with no results. He said that turbidity at the Spring Street stormwater outfall was recently measured at about 20 times over background (5 parts over background, measured 100 parts); the plume at the Spring Street dock was brown. He intends to file a report with the state Department of Ecology and asked the MRC to consider possible consequences regarding the Spring Street raingarden.
Tina Whitman said that the raingarden was not designed to solve the entire problem and that it filters stormwater runoff from First Street, not Spring Street; she added that monitoring needs to be continued and the issue is well documented but has not yet been addressed.
Linda Lyshall said the raingarden was recently evaluated by an expert, resulting in anticipated modifications.
Kit Rawson said that information needs to be collected and made public; the important issue is what happens to the marine environment!
Rene Beliveau said the Spring Street raingarden (not in County jurisdiction) is a demonstration garden and was not designed to remediate all of the stormwater pollution entering the bay.
Brian Goodremont said that he is interested in being on the MRC group that will put together a broad framework recommendation on NOAA’s workshop no-go zone proposal for presentation to the Council in January. There was discussion about how he and other stakeholders could be made aware of such meetings.
John Aschoff said the ad hoc group will meet today at 2:15 pm and the public is always invited; he welcomed Brian to join in. John clarified that Lynn Barre’s proposal was to hold a community workshop involving stakeholders and she asked for help with that (eg. a steering committee made up of state, local, tribal members). Is San Juan County willing to participate in, plan, and promote such a workshop? John added that today’s meeting will discuss how to approach the Council on the topic.
Steve Revella pointed out that this situation (of stakeholders not knowing about today’s ad hoc group’s meeting) is an unintended consequence that appears to suggest the lack of transparency. There was discussion on how the MRC (and all other advisory committees) could address the problem.
Jim Slocomb said that the UW’s Municipal Research and Services Center could provide an excellent presentation on legal requirements on transparency.
Laura Arnold suggested that the executive subcommittee discuss, and put in writing, what the protocol is for meeting notices.
Meeting Minutes: Minutes of the 12/19/12 meeting were approved as amended.
Science subcommittee report: Barbara Bentley said the group met last month and developed a draft action plan. She reported that the Marine Specimen Bank handbook has been completed for use in training citizen volunteers; it includes a science background on collection, sampling and storage protocols. A one-day training workshop is being planned. Data management was discussed and San Juan County will be contacted to request use of its database; Barbara said that Greg Sutherland of the county’s GIS team is on board. She noted that Dan Doty said that sites for sediment samples should be from soft shore sites with the process being easier if they allow public access (especially for sampling after an event like an oil spill). Jim Slocomb has created GIS maps that identify softshores on public property; Barbara then used these and Google maps to narrow down the site choices. Barbara pointed out that there are three major vessel routes to consider (Rosario, Boundary Pass, Haro Straits), as well as the ferry routes. She will email a draft site map to the MRC for comments and additions. Barbara said sampling requires funding and she will write a proposal to establish baseline data for the Marine Specimen Bank.
Northwest Straits Commission (NWS): Steve Revella said that the next meeting will be on January 25th and there will be a landowner seminar this Friday on shoreline processes, intervention and armoring.
Policy subcommittee report: Tina Whitman said the group is awaiting the next phase of the Shoreline Master Program update. Jim asked Rene about the state of the DOE checklist.
Staff report: Linda said that the NWS staff and MRC Chairs met last week in Padilla Bay. Carolyn Gibson is planning to do a large-scale proposal on restoration opportunities (e.g. kelp, eelgrass). The Mussel Watch Program will attempt to remove cages set out in November to gather information at the three SJC sites. The contents will be flown to Olympia (depending on weather/fog) for chemical analysis. Linda said this pilot project provides SJC with practice and is part of a regional effort.
Linda announced that Susan Key has been hired as a new SJC Community Development and Planning (CDP) employee; she will be reporting to Rene and will work on the Green Shores and other nearshore projects.
Chair report: John said that that the focus of the upcoming Marine Managers Workshop will be a panel discussion on ocean acidification. He asked if the panel could be presented on Orcas and Lopez Islands as well as San Juan Island. He noted that the NWS monthly newsletter has good distribution and might be used for outreach. Robyn Dupre, Executive Director of the Northwest Straits Foundation, will speak here in the near future. John suggested resuming the discussion on participation in Sound IQ.
Watershed Management RFP: Linda announced a new grant opportunity through the Department of Ecology and the Department of Commerce; she suggested that SJC submit a proposal to sample nearshore areas for pollution from watersheds using new data. The San Juan Islands Conservation District would be the lead on this with the MRC helping with implementation. Linda will be attending SJC Stormwater Citizens Advisory Committee meetings.
MRC 2012 Annual Report: Linda distributed copies of her summary of 2012 accomplishments and activities as well as a list of 2013 meeting agenda topics. Tina commented that these documents are a good tool for communication of what the MRC does; she suggested that the list be sent to the email list of interested parties. John said he sees it as an internal spreadsheet for the Work Plan, which will also include identification of which member of other person will lead each item.
MRC 2012 and 2013Work Plans: The 2012 Work Plan and draft 2013 Work Plan were distributed; Linda noted that the 2013draft uses NWS grant language and the MRC has funding through the end of the year. Kit said the draft provides good direction to move forward on the Action Agenda strategies. Laura suggested that the 2009 Milestones be used as a model to augment the Annual Report and Work Plan to provide context. There was discussion on the timeline and process for the draft plan to be presented to the County Council before submitting to NWS. John asked that the executive subcommittee and other members comment on the draft of MRC 2013 meeting agenda topics which provides suggestions for presentations as well. John led a review of subcommittee meeting schedules.
Linda reported that Ken Sebens is on sabbatical until the end of April. She introduced and welcomed Billy Swalla as Ken's replacement on the MRC. Billy said that she is the Acting Director of Friday Harbor Labs (FHL) and is a biology professor at the University of Washington (UW), teaching and researching since 1999 at FHL; she has laboratories at FHL and UW and has been studying marine animals for 25 years with a current focus on communication and genome studies (genes for regeneration). Billy noted that FHL is now part of the new UW College of the Environment.
Council Relations: Rich Peterson, acting as Council liaison to the MRC, said the Council will attempt to have one of them present at each MRC meeting. He said that the link between the Council and the MRC is important. Three of the current six-person Council (Patty Miller, Mark Forlenza, Rich Peterson) are interested in meeting with the MRC executive subcommittee to clarify roles (NWS, MRC, County Council) and to try to remove any confusion in their overlapping interests; Rich will work with John to set a date for the conversation.
Rich said he and the Council had issue with the word “revise” used in the MRC letter recently sent to the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). The follow-up letter from DFW, he said, seems to respond to the request for a change in work windows; Rich said such a request should have come from the Council, not the MRC. The Council wants to know all the implications of the letters' contents (such as possible issues around work done at ferry docks). Members of the MRC responded that the MRC letter, as discussed at the last meeting, meant to send the message that “here is the data, please accept it and acknowledge accordingly;” the use of the word “request” was an oversight and should have been “review,” not “request” or “revise.” Barbara Rosenkotter added that DFW's proposed timing suggests opening the work windows when salmon presence is peaking here. Kit said that in hindsight the MRC letter should have addressed the issue by asking that DFW evaluation come back to the MRC for discussion of factors other than data provided by the MRC. John said the letter's intent was to ask the agency to consider its policy in light of the new data. Rich reiterated that the Council needs to meet with the executive subcommittee to clarify this. Tina pointed out that DFW is reviewing all of its Hydraulic Permit Approval criteria.
Rich pointed out that the last bullet under “Advisory” role in the draft MRC activities summary suggests that the MRC wrote salmon policy letters, which is a Council role. Linda responded that she used the language from the NWS grant agreement, which was approved by the Council before being sent out.
Citizen Comments: John Van Lund said that he is now project manager for Marine Structures Engineering, Inc.; projects often have a limited time for completion, which represents people's jobs. He pointed out there are serious implications of work windows being shortened, adding that “we are all supportive of fish!”
Jack Cory noted that the MRC letter to WDFW was a hot topic at the last MRC meeting. He asked why the draft was not sent to the Council for approval before being sent out.
Mike Kaill said that he is designing a free course for Skagit Valley College (San Juan Island campus) in marine biology for interested kids and adults. He said he would enjoy partnering with the MRC in developing the course as an outreach effort.
Sharon Kivisto said the DFW letter is important because policy could affect many businesses; she emphasized that transparency is at issue.
Kit introduced Todd Zackey who is the “go-to guy” on nearshore matters at Tulalip tribes and is a member of the Island County MRC. Todd will soon be replacing Kit on the Salmon Recovery Technical Advisory Group when he retires.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:25am.
Submitted by Helen Venada