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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stormwater Visionary Tom Holz Has an Opinion on Proposed Regulations

Tom Holz is an engineer.
For decades he's been promoting the concept of "Zero Impact Design" to educate the stormwater community about the destructive impacts of stormwater runoff to our ecosystems and especially to Puget Sound. He was among a group called the "14 Scientists"  that crafted a letter to Department of Ecology, that ended up rocking their world. The group was sounding the alarm to that the Northwest ecosystem was crashing into serious decline, with salmon and other iconic wildlife listed as "Threatened Species" by the ESA.

Tom Holz is a Board Member for
People for Puget Sound
To make a long story short, that letter and Tom's testimony in a case brought by People for  Puget Sound and Earthjustice to the Pollution Control Hearings Board, ended up drastically changing the Stormwater Regulations for Cities.  In the Boards ruling in 2009, cities were required to implement "Low-Impact Development" techniques. PCHB’s so-called Phase II stormwater ruling
The Board concludes the (Washington Department of) Ecology must modify the permit to require permittees to identify barriers to the implementation of (low-impact development) and identify actions taken to remove those barriers, to establish goals for the future use of (low-impact development), and to require other specific actions on reasonable and flexible time frames, both during this permit cycle and in anticipation of future permits.
In other words, cities must clean up their acts!

Now Tom Holz is raising the alarm again. The Department of Ecology is again asking for comments on their latest round of regulations. People for Puget Sound is urging citizens to submit comments by Friday to DOE to

Stop polluted runoff and save our Sound

Tom Holz says they are still not getting it.


Washington State Department of Ecology Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington, 2012 Update
Thomas W. Holz
The manual is based on deeply flawed assumptions.  Stormwater management depends on a computer program (WWHM) to impose a standard for development.  Although the program is derived from HSPF, a venerable and reasonably reliable stream flow simulation program, it was modified (originally by King County) to become a pond-sizing program for development projects.  The assumptions made in coding the pond-sizing program are unjustified, and the program is thus invalid for the purpose of serving as a test for acceptability of a development project. 
For example, it is assumed in the coding of ECY’s program, that a stream flow model (HSPF), which requires calibration to two years of stream flow to be valid, can somehow be converted to model runoff on discrete sites.  On such sites, stream flow data is non-existent and, more often than not, there is no stream to calibrate to.  The most egregious and invalid assumption buried in the WWHM model is that predevelopment overland flow is defined as the sum of predevelopment surface overland flow (near zero) plus groundwater flow.  This totally invalid assumption allows the developer to collect all precipitation on a site and route it as overland flow to the nearest stream (with catastrophic results on streams and aquatic life).
If WWHM is to continue to serve as the standard for development, it must be converted to a water balance model.  The water balance model would recognize the predevelopment fate of precipitation that falls on most discrete sites in a watershed:
1.    Evapotranspiration (ET) comprises about 18 inches per year (Beyerlein, 1999).  Maintenance of ET is critically important to a healthy watershed.
2.    Precipitation exceeding the volume evapotranspired is infiltrated (usually up to the 100-year storm event).
3.    Overland flow runoff in a typical watershed is less than 1% of stream flow.
Thus the water balance model would provide the developer with the tools to assess whether the practices employed on his project will maintain a water balance in close approximation to predevelopment water balance.  It is clear that, in this paradigm, evapotranspiration is the important parameter and its decline must be severely limited.
Without this change, and others that tend to reinforce low impact development practices, Puget Sound and its watersheds will continue on a path of steep decline.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Citizen Action Works! NWF Caves!!

In a Stunning Reversal the National Wildlife Federation ENDED their misguided action to "partner with Scott's/Miraclegrow/Monsanto!!! 

This was after a long few days since the original partnership was announced in which hundreds of members and supporters joined forces, creating a petition and additional Facebook Pages, with Boycotts and Refund demands underway. The petition had garnered nearly 500 signatures thus far.

On the NWF Facebook Page today is the following statement:
After learning of Scotts’ pending legal settlement, we've agreed to end the partnership. 

National Wildlife Federation and ScottsMiracle-Gro Partnership

Joint Statement from ScottsMiracle-Gro and National Wildlife Federation

January 29, 2012
The National Wildlife Federation has worked together with ScottsMiracle-Gro over the past two years on programs to educate gardeners about global warming, connect children to the outdoors and help restore habitat following the Gulf oil disaster. Both parties recently announced plans for an even broader partnership that was based on our common interests.
Since that time, Scotts announced a pending legal settlement related to events in 2008 that predate our partnership, which has made it clear that the partnership is not viable. Therefore, NWF and Scotts will work together to end the partnership in a friendly and mutually beneficial way.

BUT..... NWF is still not entirely getting it. They are still trying to split hairs even as they first claim they're ending the partnership.  In the latest chapter:
National Wildlife Federation For further clarification: this decision is about the recently announced settlement about the legal case – not about the philosophy about whether or not we should be working with companies like Scotts.

Stay tuned.........

Saturday, January 28, 2012

National Wildlife Federation Deal with Scott's/Monsanto Leaves Supporters Angry and Grief Stricken

"This makes me ill" said local garden expert Jennifer Rotermund.

Hundreds of shocked supporters of NWF lit up their Facebook Page in the last three days to complain, quit, and ask for refunds.  Many local supporters posted their objections.  NWF's self inflicted PR nightmare is going viral.

CEO of National Wildlife, Larry Schweiger held a webchat and stated they made the deal, a "partnership" and were trying to "help" Scotts' become more eco-friendly. 
National Wildlife Federation and The ScottsMiracle-Gro Company are working together to help families reconnect with nature by using yards, parks and other green spaces as a starting point for outdoor play and nature discovery.
But most supporters were having none of it. Some pointed out that NWF had trouble with fundraising and needed the money. Apparently, there was a payment of $50k to NWF from Scott's. 

A supporter named Ken complained,
I have been a member of the NWF since 1977. This whole story about NWF and Scotts makes me sick. This isn't the organization I joined 35 years ago. I can no longer in good conscience remain a part of an entity that has obviously corrupted it's original vision. I have a feeling I won't be the only one leaving.
The reasons for the ire became clearer, when articles surfaced yesterday. Scott's, a lawn chemical supply company had apparently been fined $4.5 million and plead guilty of lying in court records and selling 73 million units of "tainted bird seed".

Then a page on the NWF website proclaimed the "Save the Songbirds Selections" brand of birdseed was announced.  This further enraged the NWF "ex" supporters. They could not believe the cynical and obviously well timed move on the part of a supposed "environmental advocacy" organization and the chemical giant. 

Shoreline is among a number local communities that had enthusiastically and sincerely recruited over 300 new members to "certify" their yards as "Backyard Habitats", by replanting and creating special habitat areas to qualify. Several schools and businesses also participated. People here were proud of the accomplishment.

One angry former supporter has organized a nationwide petition to object. Over 400 signatures were gathered in just over 2 days.   Anyone who is upset at this "partnership" is encouraged to sign. 
Signers said:
"I cannot imagine what NWF was thinking. They have received their last donation from me and I plan to tell everyone I know about this situation" while another says "NWF should be ashamed to even consider such a partnership. Supporting Scotts and Monsanto when you claim to be for the long term protection of our wildlife and wild-lands. Ridiculous."

From the point of view of our blog, this is one of the most cynical cases of "astro-turfing" we've ever seen.  It's also known as "greenwashing" and shows a contempt for the intelligence and trust so many sincere wildlife lovers had placed in this internationally known organization. 
It's obvious they've been bought out and their reputation will probably never recover.

An article from the blog "SafeLawns" has the story on the guilty plea by Scott's.
The company, many folks believe, must have known this ruling in federal court was coming down for several months. The timing of the sponsorship with the National Wildlife Federation, announced by NWF on Jan. 18, was clearly designed to draw attention away from what is believed to be the largest fine ever levied on a pesticide company.

Amidst Wildlife Federation Firestorm, Scotts Miracle Gro Fined $4.5 Million for Toxic Bird Seed, Falsifying Records

Fri, Jan 27, 2012
UPDATE: Petition Asks NWF to Say No to Scotts’ Sponsorship:
On the same week Scotts Miracle Gro tried to buy an image upgrade by sponsoring the National Wildlife Federation, word has come out of a federal court that the company will pay millions of dollars in fines for selling bird seed it knew was tainted with pesticides toxic to birds.
Though the company had no comment yesterday, it pleaded guilty to charges that it sold 73 MILLION UNITS of tainted bird seed from 2005 to 2008. According to an article in today’s Columbus, Ohio, newspaper, the company continued to sell the bird seed “despite warnings in the summer and fall of 2007 from a pesticide chemist and an ornithologist, both of whom worked for the company.”
The company also pleaded guilty yesterday to falsifying documents with the Environmental Protection Agency so that it could rush new weed ‘n feed and ant killing products to market back in 2006. When Scotts’ fallacy was revealed — after the products containing cancer-causing agents had already been on the market for two years — the company blamed the actions on a single female employee, who was abruptly fired after years with the com

More Trees at Shorecrest at Risk

Two More Trees at Shorecrest HS are slated for removal in site plans!

Neighbors were shocked to see four Giant Sequoias were cut last month by contractors in the Shorecrest remodel. They were permitted for removal as part of the driveway access project. They were not next to the new buildings.

Two Pines in front of
Remaining Sequoias at Shorecrest HS North Entry

Briacrest resident, Charlie Brown discovered the removal plans when studying the approved site plans.
The two pine trees, while not as large and iconic as Sequoias, are still significant. They are beautiful, probably the same age and make the entryway attractive. They are conifers, which makes them extra valuable for the services they provide.

One of two pine trees slated to be cut
at Shorecrest
One would hope that Shoreline School District would not want to double down on their needless treecutting action, when taxpayers are already upset. 
Two Pines at front of North Entry to Shorecrest HS,
in front of Theater.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Snowy Owl!! In Edmonds!

The year of the Snowy Owl -

Snowy Owl in Edmonds, WA
ph credit - Maggie Fimia

Across North America, the Snowy Owls have been popping up nearly everywhere across the Northernmost part of the US.

Maggie Fimia (former KC Councilmember and Dep Mayor of Shoreline) spotted this owl near her home.
She said there was a big commotion of crows in her backyard. And there was the owl in the tree. He stayed there all day until dusk and then flew off. What a thrill!

The Cornell Lab  of Ornitholgy has a great site for information on all North American Birds, and particularly on this magnificent bird.

Watch this cool video of the Snowy Owls story on Youtube.

The Journeys of Snowy Owls

Snowy Owls are nomads; their arctic journeys can span continents as they search for food. This winter, bird watchers are reporting an exceptional influx of Snowy Owls from coast to coast in the Lower 48 states.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thornton Creek Alliance General Meeting - Thursday


Natural Area Restoration, Volunteers, Crime & Personal Safety

Public Welcome!

Bring your ideas to an open discussion! Participate in brainstorming sessions with neighbors and community leaders.  Hear from others working to create better neighborhoods by integrating community interests.

January 26th Thursday 7pm – 9pm
Meadowbrook Community Center,  10517 35th Ave. NE, Seattle 98125

Sally Bagshaw           Seattle City Council Chair of Parks Committee 
Terrie Johnston          SPD Community Liaison
Joanna Nelson de Flores          Green Seattle Partnership Project Manager
Chris Saleeba            Seattle Greenways
Emily Lofstedt            Seattle Parks and Recreation        

Blockwatch + Educators + Park Stewards + Parks Department + Tree Ambassador Program + Community Activists: Maple Leaf, Pinehurst, Shoreline,..
Anyone who wants to explore how we nurture our natural areas while enhancing our personal safety in and around them.

The spring meeting is March 22.  Call Judy Olson at 206-523-4384 with comments or post a message at or write: TCA, PO BOX 25690, Seattle, WA 98165.  All meetings are free and open to the public.

Agenda for Jan 26, 2012, General Meeting

Meadowbrook Community Center
10517 35th Ave. NE, Seattle 98125

7 to 9 p.m.

7:00 1. Announcements

7:04 2. Agenda Review

7:05 3. Program: Greenways & Urban Forests - Natural Area Restoration, Volunteers, Crime and Personal Safety  

City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw
Seattle Parks’ Emily Lofstedt
Seattle Greenways Rep Chris Saleeba
SPD Community Liaison Terrie Johnston
Green Seattle Partnership’s Joanna Nelson de Flores

--Judy Olson, Program Vice President

8:40 4. Business meeting
Review minutes - Tom Cunningham
Membership report - Ruth Williams
Web Page update - Dan Mahler/Doug Bostrom
Facebook update - Brad Johnson
Treasurer's report - Gary Olson
Other issues as time allows
8:55 5. A  9:55 5.  Adjourn
9:00 6. Room is empty! 

Keep in touch with Thornton Creek Alliance! You can reach us at:
Frank Backus, Pres. -
Dan Mahler, 1st VP -
Ruth Williams,  Membership VP -  
Judy Olson, Program VP -
Gary Olson, Treas.  –
Tom Cunningham, Sec. -
Also find Thornton Creek Alliance on Facebook!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Power of an Image

According to a blog called "Open Spaces" published by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the image below was one of the main inspirations for President Theodore Roosevelt to create the first refuge west of the Mississippi in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Finley and Bohlman's Three Arch Rocks photograph that later helped
Three Arch Rocks become the west coast's first bird refuge in 1907.
This shows the incredible power for change that an image can provide. This photo of Three Arch Rocks in Oregon was created by nature photographers William L Finley and Herman Bohlman  in a series. The images were transformed into meticulously hand colored glass slides. Finley was disturbed that the plumage from birds such as picture in these photos was being used for womens hats and bird populations were being decimated. The skill and "daring-do" of these photographers is amazing, considering the equipment at the time. Also, the skill of "hand coloring" a slide is virtually unused any more, but it give the images a uniquely beautiful quality.

But President Theodore Roosevelt was apparently very moved by this photograph and the plight of the birds being affected. He was inspired in 1903 to create the very first refuge at Pelican Island, Fla. He apparently did this with amazing speed. The United States now has 553 Refuges in it's system.

President Theodore Roosevelt said, 
“There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.”

Looking Back: William L. Finley

Dramatic photography, captivating lectures, memorable movie scripts and magazine articles – William L. Finley used them all to convince the American public that it was time to give birds a home of their own.

Finley, who was born to a pioneer family in California in 1876, and his boyhood friend Herman Bohlman hauled cumbersome camera equipment up cliffs and into marshes and trees along the Oregon coast. They used block and tackle to raise their equipment onto ledges. They followed the development of hawks, eagles, herons, murres and cormorants from egg to fledgling.
In a history of the Audubon Society of Portland, Tom McAllister wrote that Bohlman and Finley spent four months photographing a California condor nest.
“Bohlman was the reserved and skilled photographer … Finley was the clean-shaven extrovert who spread a message across the land of the need to save habitat as well as pass protective bird legislation. Their derring-do and the results captivated audiences and readers nationwide. Finley packed the lecture halls.”

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Are We Shoreline, Innis Arden or Shorelinnisarden?

A local resident with very deep roots here has christened us "Shorelinnisarden" and designed us a new logo for the City of Shorelinnisarden! 

This inspired perhaps by a disturbing trend here. It seems we may be all forced to march to the Innis Arden Board Rules, if we are not careful. The upcoming discussions at the council to make Shoreline a "Tree City, USA" by instituting a tree cutting policy to suit the Innis Arden Board, will be something to pay attention to.

Maybe we already are?

Shoreline City Council is scheduled to take up the matter soon. But many are asking, really what would be the environmental impact of this proposal. Many are asking for a SEPA Review, to better understand what the impact would be. If you establish a Tree Board, with a pre-existing "Tree Management Plan" already in place, and a "Recommended Tree List" already established, how would this impact our whole Urban Forest Canopy? Especially if there are no conifers and most of the existing street trees not on the list?
Is it really better to have a Tree Board and a Tree City USA status, when having that moniker would really mean the Urban Forest would be diminished? Really?

Scene at Innis Arden's Bear Reserve where 46 significant trees
have been cut to please the "view conscious"

If so ................ All hail "Shorelinnisarden!" $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More Snow, Ice and a Little Color

And Snowmageddon Continues......

Ice -
Icy Rivulets on Back Porch Screen

National Weather Service issued an ominous emergency warning today.

1039 AM PST THU JAN 19 2012


1039 AM PST THU JAN 19 2012



But, on the fun side..........

Snowmen - 
Double Snow People in Paramount Park
Meadow. About 4-5" Wednesday.
And more beautiful scenes.......

Littles Creek in Paramount Park
And more snow.....
Upper Pond at Paramount Park with Fabulous
Winter Style
Wetland color.....
Upper Wetland area has streaks of "peat color".
It is a true wetland that does it's job of retaining and cleaning
huge amounts of groundwater.
And a little more color.......
"High Bush Cranberry" in Paramount Park
wetland walk area.