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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Years Eve!

It's Of Paramount Importance
that you have a Happy New Year's Eve! 

Great Blue Heron poses at Thornton Creek Park #6
The world will have to wait while we celebrate making it through the last decade of floods, earthquakes, tidal waves, terrorists, wars, famine, environmental disasters, election nightmares and what all! We deserve a night off! 

Welcome 2011! 
Old Fashioned Rose at Shoreline Historical Museum Garden

While things need doing, so does celebration now and then!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How Does the Tax Deal Passed by Congress Affect Solar for Your Home?

MNN (Mother Nature Network) has the story -

What the tax deal means for your home

You have to dig for it, but there's a deal for those who want to make their homes more energy-efficient. Here are four things you should know.
Andrew Schenckel

So what’s in the tax compromise for clean energy? Well, one clean energy proponent says there’s some good things to come — but there could have been more.Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, said in a statement that she’s happy some new tax incentives are in the package but adds, “We’re sorely disappointed that Congress did not see fit to make the incentives more generous. That would have increased their use by consumers, to the benefit of our economy, energy security and environment.”
This is just one of the latest in a series of lukewarm endorsements of the tax plan, which probably proves that the compromise was fair but certainly not perfect — no matter how you define perfect.
Here's a list of four of the green energy provisions buried in H.R. 4853, otherwise known as the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010.
1. Extension of the new homes tax credit for homebuilders
This simple rule extends existing tax credits for any new home that's built to use 50 percent or less energy for heating and cooling purposes. Of course, you have to prove this to be eligible, but the credit system remains in place and is more attractive than just a deduction.
2. A return to pre-stimulus incentives for improving existing homes
The federal government has agreed to keep a federal tax credit capped at $500 to any homeowner who makes approved energy-efficiency improvements. But there's a catch. The types of improvements are categorized and capped within the overall $500 cap. For instance, there is a limit on “building envelope” improvements like insulation, better roofs or better windows. You can deduct 10 percent of the cost of all of these improvements, but the credit cap for these dedications is $200, which can be exceeded pretty darned quickly.
3. Efficient heating systems of all kinds can be tax deductions
H.R. 4853 has something for everyone when it comes to upgrades for home heating and water systems. A $150 credit can be obtained for installing pre-approved natural gas and oil furnaces. The same can be said for propane and hot water boilers. 
4. Energy-efficient building properties
A $300 credit is available for a category called the “energy efficient building property.” Of course the devil is the details in terms of why systems qualify and all that jazz, but the skinny is that the credit comes for homes that are heated by approved electric heating pumps, natural gas systems, propane systems, oil systems, central air systems and biomass heating and water heating systems. To find what systems fit into this category, I suggest you begin your research with a tax specialist before you charge a $20,000 biomass heating system on your MasterCard.
So, that's the scoop on how the new tax deal can help you make your home more efficient. It’s easy to see that more could have been done, but this how deal played out. As for taking advantage of the extended credits, the form for doing that can be found here, but remember: do your research before you buy.
Besides, nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a new biomass heating system under the tree.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Shoreline Area!

Paramount Park "Upper Pond" in November Snow
Photo credit - Janet Way
Best Wishes for a Wonderful Christmas Day! Peace to All!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Some Good Environmental News for 2010 Holiday Season!

Top 10 Reasons for Holiday Cheer for 
Our Environment at End of 2010
So "Of Paramount Importance" is happy to report a few pieces of good news and progress this year, even though there is never any shortage of things to be concerned and appalled about the in state of our environment.  Let's look at the bright side this Christmas Eve!
• 1 - Good News on Climate and Clean Air from Environmental Defense Fund
• 2 - US Senate Approves START Treaty
• 3 - WA State Regulates Copper Brake Pads - Good News for Salmon and Streams 
• 4 - Food Safety Bill Passes Congress 
• 5 - Electric Cars Are on the Market and Cities are Creating Electric Plug in Networks
• 6 - Bureau of Land (BLM) Management Announces  New 'Wild Lands' policy protects BLM potential wilderness!
• 7 - Safe Baby Bottle Act Signed by Governor Gregoire - Bisphenol A banned in WA State! 
• 8 -  Shoreline Begins Installation of Largest "Silva Cell" Tree Project in State on Aurora Phase II Project
• 9 -  Shoreline's Backyard Wildlife Project Achieves SUCCESS!
• 10 - City of Shoreline Requires Mitigation on Aurora Rents project to include signage to commemorate Shoreline Pioneer Judge JT Ronald and meaning of Ronald Place!
Entry Path to Paramount Park
at 12th NE, November 2010
photo creek - Janet Way
Good News on Climate and Clean Air from 
Environmental Defense Fund -
Environmental Protection Agencyended years of delay and announced it would commit to a schedule for establishing legal limits on global warming pollution from new and existing coal-fired and other fossil fuel power plants.

The EPA will issue draft emission standards by July 2011and then a final rule by May of 2012.
The announcement comes as a response to a 2006 lawsuit filed by EDF along with numerous states,Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club.

Polar Bear Cubs Floating on Ice
Polar Bears on Ice Flow -
photo credit- EDF
#2 - US Senate Approves START Treaty - Story from NPR 
and certainly a small step for peace in this time of seemingly endless wars!
US Senate Speech from Sen Robert Byrd a few years ago
#3 - WA State Regulates Copper Brake Pads - Good News for Salmon and Streams 
Adopt-A-Stream Logo
#4 - Food Safety Bill Passes Congress - 
Story from ABC News 

Back from the Dead: Food Safety Bill Passes Senate in 

Unexpected Last-Minute Move

While it may not be perfect, most experts believe that the passage of this food safety bill is a big improvement over the alternative, which was doing nothing.
Lake City Farmers Market - Billy's Produce Stand
photo credit-Janet Way
#5 -  Electric Cars Are on the Market and Cities are Creating Electric Plug-in Networks -
Well it's taken a long time, but finally there are choices available on Electric Vehicles! 

Leading the Pack is the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt.  - Story from  Hybrid Cars 

Electric Cars: A Definitive Guide

Some other offerings which are coming on the market in near future are: BMW Megacity, 
BYD E6 (from CHINA!), CODA Electric Sedan, Ford Focus, Mercedes BlueZero, 
MINI E (from Mini Cooper), Mitsubishi iMiEV and many more.

Shoreline has joined this network via the new City Hall Parking Garage and its policies to comply with WA State legislation (WAC). The garage hook-ups are ready, but need to be made more available to actual electric vehicles to charge. 

#6 - Bureau of Land (BLM) Management Announces 
New 'Wild Lands' policy protects BLM potential wilderness!
Biodiversity Conservation Alliance Med Bow Peak Panorama

In a press conference yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a new federal policy that requires the Bureau of Land Management to take a fresh look at lands with wilderness characteristics, and set them aside as 'Wild Lands' to protect those characteristics.

The Biodiversity Conservation Alliance works on public lands protection issues in the Wyoming area and their efforts have been beneficial to wilderness protection advocates
#7 - Safe Baby Bottle Act Signed by Governor Gregoire - Bisphenol A is banned in WA State! 
WA Toxics Coaliton Blog has the story -

Surrounded by supporters, Gov. Chris Gregoire returned home Monday to sign key legislation into law. - Robert Whale/Reporter

Surrounded by supporters, Gov. Chris Gregoire returned home Monday to sign key legislation into law.

# 8 - Shoreline Begins Installation of Largest "Silva Cell" Tree Project in State on Aurora Phase II Project
Silva Cell elements installed on Shoreline's Aurora Phase II
to provide part of the "natural drainage systems"
required by project as approved by City Council
in 2007

# 9 - Shoreline's Backyard Wildlife Project Achieves SUCCESS! Shoreline is a Certified Backyard Wildlife City! 
Congratulations to Sustainable Shoreline, WOWTA, SCWHP and all the partners who achieved this goal! WELL DONE!

# 10 -  City of Shoreline Requires Mitigation on Aurora Rents project to include signage to commemorate Shoreline Pioneer Judge JT Ronald and meaning of Ronald Place!
Shoreline's Ronald Place (Red Brick Road) eligible
for listing by National Trust for Historic Places
See article from Preserving Shoreline Blog.

Some might ask why we've included this in our "Top Ten" list.  The reason is that it is significant for Shoreline to recognize it's history in conjunction with a development process.  The history of the Ronald Place is vital to our development of our new Town Center, which will also be significant to our local economy. Sustainable development must recognize historical elements. In fact the SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) requires this recognition in it's SEPA Checklist. 

For the City of Shoreline to make this point, requiring a plaque marking a vital piece of our history is very important. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Solstice!

Bringing Back the Light!
Moon in the early morning
photo credit-Janet Way

Emerging from one of the darkest "economic winters" of our era, we are glad to have the "light" start to creep back. While we still have a long way to go in this new economy, and facing all the challenges to our earth, we can celebrate the return of the sunlight to our lives.

And celebrate the beautiful moonlight.
Professional Photographer, Steve Schneider offers this description of the eclipse on solstice.
Steve Schneider, Ridgecrest resident and
professional photographer captured this image of
the elusive eclipse last night

2010 Winter Solstice Eclipse
To all who missed the very rare Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse last nite, here is a photo of it. The clouds came and went for most of the beginning of it. Then during totality it was clear. Right after totality, the clouds came back and stayed. Thank you Mother Nature for parting of the clouds. I hope 2011 brings you PEACE and happiness!!

Thanks to Steve for having more patience than some of us, who only waited till 11:30 pm. 

Happy Solstice to ALL!



Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice Total Lunar Eclipse TONITE!

Total Lunar Eclipse as seen on Aol News. site

Heribert Proepper, AP
The moon appears totally covered by shadow as the Earth passes between the 
moon and the sun during a lunar eclipse in January 2001.
Tonite's Total Lunar Eclipse will be the first to happen on the Winter Solstice in hundreds of years!

AOL.News has the story -

Unlike a solar eclipse, eclipses of the moon can usually be observed anywhere in the hemisphere where the moon is above the horizon.

This particular lunar eclipse also may be seen in totality from northern and western Europe, some of northeast Asia, Hawaii and New Zealand, according to In total, some 1.5 billion people may have a chance to see the full eclipse, the website reported.

Total lunar eclipses during winter in the northern hemisphere are fairly common, 
NASA says. However, a lunar eclipse falling precisely on the date of the solstice is quite rare.

Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years for NASA.

"Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638 DEC 21," Chester said, according to NASA. "Fortunately we won't have to wait 372 years for the next one ... that will be on 2094 DEC 21."

This year's event will take 3 hours and 38 minutes. The eclipse begins on Tuesday at 1:33 a.m. ET, when the Earth's dark-red shadow will turn up on the edge of the moon, according to NASA. It will take about an hour for the shadow to cover the entire moon. Totality begins at 2:41 a.m. and lasts for 72 minutes. 

If you only have time for a quick look, NASA recommends that you take a peek 3:17 a.m. ET. That's when the moon will be fully covered in an amber light. 

This puts the Lunar Eclipse event timing for us in Pacific Time Zone beginning at approximately 11pm.
Unfortunately, we may be still engulfed in clouds in our Northwest winter weather tonite. But, we can always hope for a break in the clouds, and it is certainly worth a look at 11pm to see if the weather might cooperate. If you have kids, it is worth staying up late this one time to have a look.

I have a memory from long ago about this phenomenon. When I was about 10 years old, I remember my dad waking my sister and I up at about 2am to sit and look out the window one night at a lunar eclipse. 
It was a special little moment that helped us appreciate the world of science and space. This was just about the time when America was transfixed by the space flight mania which was about to begin. Ironically, my Dad and Mom are coming for a visit tonite from back east. 

So, give your kids and grandkids an event to put in their memory banks. How cool that it is happening on the Winter Solstice? 

From, a handy list of TOP TEN LUNAR ECLIPSE FACTS!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Memorial to a Creek Steward

Brian Bodenbach Shares some photos he's taken at the event
with Carrie MacArthur and son. Carrie now works as an environmental consultant
so you might say that Steve's values were passed on to his descendants.
A hardy group met today at Thornton Creek Park #2 in Victory Heights Neighborhood to commemorate
the lifetime of stewardship of North seattle Resident, Steve MacArthur.

Steve passed away a few months ago and today Thornton Creek Alliance, Family and Friends met to
plant some trees and install a small memorial plaque in Steve's memory.

Steve was a watchdog for Thornton Creek, because his family home was on the North Branch near Lake City.  He was one of the founding members of Thornton Creek Alliance and a member of the Thornton Creek Watershed Oversight Committee.

Family members and friends shared how Steve was fiercely protective of the creek and would ensure that anyone who violated it, heard from him. They also shared his great sense of humor and fun.
The night the creek overflowed on New Years 1996, he called other creek stewards together and everyone kept an eye on it, while sharing beer and stories.
Steve MacArthur's Grandchildren "helping" out with
tree planting

Today though was about planting some native trees and installing a lovely memorial plaque near Thornton Creek's southbranch at TC Park #2.
Steve's Memorial Plaque
And Thornton Creek rolls on below, splashing and gurgling towards Lake Washington. The urban creek still has it's problems, but it also has people like Steve MacArthur who care.
Thornton Creek at Park #2

Sustainability IS the Goal, but the Journey is also the Point

Interpretive Signage at Cromwell Park

Shoreline and many cities in the northwest are making sincere attempts at sustainability. Let's give ourselves credit for the work we've done.

• Sustainability Strategy Adopted by Shoreline City Council 2008

Councilmembers meet with Congressman Jim McDermott
at his Wash DC office, discussing projects including
Solar applications, photo credit-Steve Schneider
• Green City Hall

Solar Array at City Hall created in partnership with Shoreline Solar Project
Spring 2010
• Four new Parks.  Southwoods, KruckebergOff-leash Dog Parks and Kayu Kayu Ac and major restorations at Cromwell and Richmond Beach Saltwater Park.
Southwoods Park dedication plaque

Cromwell Park Restored Wetland

Worker sorts "Silva Cells" for tree pit installations

"Silva Cells" Technology being installed on Aurora Project
to provide a better natural drainage strategy

• Green Street Project
17th Ave NE is transformed into a "Green Street
with pervious sidewalks and bioswales
Shoreline's Community Backyard Wildlife Project

Shoreline's Backyard Wildlife Project Certified this year
And great work being done in the private and non-profit sectors
North King County Green Business Conference 2008
sponsored by Shoreline Chamber and City of Shoreline
at Shoreline Community College

We still have much work to do clearly, but we are making a serious attempt to 
address sustainability.  Tree Preservation is one area that LFP has made great progress on and
Shoreline needs to catch up.

Street Trees Were Removed on 15th NE this Spring
Before Working with Neighborhood
And Historical PRESERVATION is clearly an area needing better work! 
Ronald School at risk now due to SSD Plans
But we have very active citizens who want Sustainability to be our "Watchword"! 
Let's focus the energy of these citizens and get to work on the challenges we face! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thornton Creek Park Six Selected for Seattle Parks Opportunity Fund

Some big changes may be underway soon for Thornton Creek Park Six next to Northgate. 
Two Wood Ducks and a Beaver Swims By
photo credit-Don MacCall

Thornton Creek Alliance has applied for a major grant with the Seattle Parks Opportunity Fund and it appears they are poised to proceed with the proposed project. It will include some major improvements to the Creek Channel itself

A recent article from Seattle PI's Larry Lange has some details:

An oversight committee for Seattle's 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy has approved spending $500,000 to improve a seven-acre park along the creek east of the Northgate Mall. The work, which must still be approved by the mayor and City Council, will rechannel the creek and re-work the bank to create more fish-friendly habitat and reduce flooding and bank erosion.
"I'm really looking forward to this," said Ruth Williams, a Thornton Creek Alliance board member who spearheaded the effort to get the project. "It'll be a lovely thing for the neighborhood and the habitat."

The money will come from the six-year, $146 million Parks and Green Space Levy approved by voters two years ago. The Levy Citizens Oversight Committee approved the Thornton Creek project along with 14 others totaling nearly $7 million in costs. The work will probably begin next year, after City Council members consider approving the projects.
The creek has been the object of long-standing attempts to restore it after having been largely diverted into drainage pipes over the decades by Interstate 5 and other developments.
The area included in the new project lies east of Northgate Mall and Fifth Avenue Northeast and is known as Park Six. Unlike some parts of the creek it has remained "daylighted," flowing in its traditional streambed.
The new grant will complete new channel work between the Northeast 103rd Street/Fifth Avenue Northeast intersection and Northeast 107th Street at Roosevelt Way.
Williams said the channel will be altered in a couple of areas to eliminate sharp erosion-prone bends and pull back banks, adding woody debris to slow the current, create more fish-friendly space in the water and more readily retain flood water.
She said the project also will improve trails and public-access points into the park, and will remove "invasive" vegetation such as ivy and knotweed that crowd out native trees, and replace them with native plants.
She called the project "one more step, consistent with the city's goals, in restoring the natural functions of the creek."
In recent years beaver have begun moving upstream and are creating potentially fish-friendly ponds by building dams, though occasionally they have to be moved away from areas near homes that the ponds could flood, Williams said.
"Northgate really needs a natural area," said Williams, who lives nearby.. "It is so built up and so developed that it needs a counter-balance."

The oversight committee received 100 project applications, toured 33 of them and winnowed the final list to 14 receive money and be completed. The list can be viewed here.

Two-thirds of the proposals were for development projects like the one on Thornton Creek, the other third for land acquisitions, said Susanne Rockwell of city parks planning staff.
Rockwell said the new Thornton Creek project isn't the last to be done on the creek but "it's quite substantial." City Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw, chairwoman of the City Council's Parks & Seattle Center Committee, said she expects the council to consider the proposals during the first quarter of next year.
Projects paid for by the park and space levy are considered separately from the city general-fund budget, which the council approved for 2011 in late November. Bagshaw, through an aide, said she doesn't foresee a problem approving the list

Park #6 Area Map
because the oversight committee did "an incredible job of vetting these projects."
Thornton Creek advocates have worked for years to rescue the stream, a 15-mile-long, waterway whose main forks rise in Shoreline and near North Seattle Community College and converge near Meadowbrook Pond before flowing into Lake Washington at Matthews Beach.
Another major victory came after the city spent $9.5 million to create a new creek waterway channel through the 6-acre Thornton Place development, south of Northgate M mall., that included nearly 400 apartments and condominiums, retail space and a retirement community.

The creek, along its entire course, cuts through several hundred residential properties and drains a watershed where some 76,000 people lived, according to a 1998 estimate included in the city's watershed action plan for the creek. 
Great Blue Heron Fishing at Park Six
this spring; Photo Credit- Janet Way

Thornton Creek Park Six has benefitted from grant funding and projects many times before. Also, Seattle has increased the size of the park recently to remove housing from the floodplain.  But the beavers seem to have the last word. They have changed the landscape quite significantly and created an incredible wildlife habitat over the last few years. Now the Great Blue Herons, wooducks, racoons and thousands of fish can be spotted, along with many songbirds.

The section at 105th and 8th NE is now a bonafide wetland, engulfed because of the beavers dams. You can see the beaver's lodge in the center of the pond, but you will have to be very patient to ever spot the little critters.

Seattle Parks and SPU have cooperated on helping fence some of the larger trees to prevent the beaver's amazing ability to fell huge trees.
Beaver's handiwork and Great Blue Heron
 at Thornton Creek Park Six
photo credit-Janet Way