OUTDOORS: Turbulent times call for direct action on environment

LOST AMID THE hue and cry in the other Washington, some stark facts are emerging for those concerned about the environment.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to get into a political discussion in this column.

But many environmental protections and restoration projects are at risk nationwide, including the cleanup of Puget Sound.

The Seattle Times reported recently that the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding for restoring Puget Sound would be almost wiped out under a proposed agency budget, according to a leaked memorandum documenting the cuts obtained by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.

“Under the proposal the EPA funding would be slashed by 93 percent, dropping from nearly $28 million in the current fiscal year to $2 million. The money, in years past, has been used to help finance a wide range of projects to help restore the Sound, such as purchasing farmland to convert to wetlands, restoring floodplains and removing fish passage blockage.”

Cuts for cleanup efforts in Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes also are part of that overall agency budget proposal.

Protect the Peninsula

The severe nature of the budget cuts are troubling. But they may also provide motivation for some grassroots, local level action.

It reminds me of my childhood when I would see “Think globally, act locally” bumper stickers plastered on a myriad of Volvo station wagons around Port Townsend.

And a couple of opportunities exist to do something good for water quality and the elimination of marine debris right here on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Streamkeepers, Clallam County’s watershed citizen science program, is looking for help collecting water samples in the Port Angeles area as part of the city’s efforts to find and remediate sources of pollution.

Sampling occurs monthly on weekdays, usually from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. You’ll need to be able to traverse ravines, muddy paths, and there is a minimal amount of stream wading involved.

For more information on that program, phone Ed Chadd at 360-417-2281 or email Streamkeepers@co.clallam.wa.us.

In Port Townsend, a Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team training session for the University of Washington-housed marine debris program is planned at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s Orca Exhibit Classroom from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 8.

Volunteers survey area beaches to collect data on the makeup and location of debris.

That data will be used to map and transport pathways of debris — and potential harm for people, wildlife and coastal ecosystems.

Organizers like beach surveyors to work in groups, so bring a partner or be ready to join and search with others.

To RSVP, email coasst@uw.edu or phone 206-221-6893.

Kid’s fishing derby

Save the date of Saturday, April 8 for the annual Kid’s Fishing Derby at the Lincoln Park Ponds in Port Angeles.

The event will start at 8 a.m. and end at 10:30 a.m.

Age-group winners will receive new rods and reels.

Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishers Club President Jerry Bouyear said the ponds will be stocked with 1,500 trout, including 100 jumbo-sized fish.

The event is sponsored by Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishers, the city of Port Angeles, Kiwanis Club of Port Angeles, Re/Max Evergreen Realty, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and and individual donors.

Auction tickets

The Olympic Peninsula Halibut and Salmon Coalition is holding a raffle for more than $1,200 in prizes to support its halibut fishery lobbying efforts.

The public can purchase $5 raffle tickets through April 15 at Swain’s in Port Angeles.

Prizes include a $250 Rainshadow Downrigger rod, a wood carving of a fish, a fishing trip on the Columbia River and a number of gift certificates to restaurants and businesses.

The items and list of gift certificates is on display in the sporting goods section of Swain’s.

Clam size change

An increase in the minimum size limit for clam harvesters at the Quilcene Bay Tidelands will go in effect on Saturday, April 1.

The minimum size limit for Manila, native littleneck, cockle or butter clams taken for personal use from public tidelands on the west side of Quilcene Bay north of the county boat ramp is increased from 1 1/4 inches to 1 1/2 inches measured across the longest dimension of the shell.

The smaller minimum size of 1 1/4 inches was in place because of a historical precedent for this tideland.

Clams on the public tidelands in Quilcene Bay tended to be stunted and did not often reach the standard minimum harvest size of 1 1/2 inches.

Changing ecology, likely related to a decrease in oyster biomass on the Quilcene Bay Tidelands, has resulted in more normal growth patterns for Manila clams at this location.

State and tribal co-managers have agreed that the smaller minimum size restriction for clam harvest on the west side of Quilcene Bay, north of the boat ramp, is no longer necessary. This change in the minimum legal size is implemented for both state and treaty fisheries.