Action Alert for Tonight: Waterfront Wildlife and Habitat Threatened

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Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 11:43 am  //  Wendy Harris

Previously, I discussed the problem with the habitat assessment needed for the Waterfront District before waterfront development occurs. http://www.nwcitizen.com/entry/action-alert-for-tonight-waterfront-wildlife-and-habitat-not-being-protecte

Prior to the enactment of the Water District Subarea Plan, the public and the city council requested that a wildlife and habitat assessment be conducted, and issues of habitat connectivity were emphasized. This includes connectivity from the nearshore to the shoreline and the uplands.

After fighting any attempt to do a habitat assessment, something that should have been done as part of the EIS for the Water District, but was ignored due to fancy maneuvering by the port, the Mayor was stuck.  The council had enough votes on the habitat issue to withhold approval of the waterfront plan.  And it is noteworthy that this is the only issue where this situation existed.

The Mayor agreed to the habitat assessment and moreover, stated that the administration would fund it from its existing budget.  This was a big red flag, but it was ignored. Ted Carlson, from Public Works, drafted the resolution for council approval and it was enacted along with the Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan. 

Fast forward a few months and staff represented an update to the council regarding the status of a $50,000 “habitat connectivity” project.  Ever vigilant North Sound Baykeeper Wendy Steffensen asked for a copy of the RFP, (Request for Proposal, issued to solicit bids from contractors.)  Turns out, the city administration has a limited concept of habitat connectivity, which involves only the nearshore of the waterfront. 

When I questioned the staff about this, I was told that they were simply following the council’s directives. I was advised that the council only asked for a nearshore assessment.  Since I had followed the waterfront planning session, including the council work sessions, fairly closely, particularly on habitat issues, this was contrary to everything that I had heard.  After a little investigation, it was revealed that the resolution, drafted by Ted Carlson, contained the restricted language for the habitat review, and in the rush and confusion of getting the waterfront plan enacted under the mayor’s fabricated deadlines, this simply was not noticed.

I immediately brought this to the council’s attention during an open session, and to their great credit, they did not automatically endorse the approach reflected in the RFP. Rather, they forwarded this matter to the Lake Whatcom and Natural Resources Committee to review the scope of the habitat assessment and determine if it was adequate.

That committee meeting is today at 1:10 PM and I will be unable to attend.  I hope to attend the open session at tonight’s meeting and will need additional support from the general public to ensure that we are literally not cheated out of the deal made by the council, in response to strong public advocacy, by the city administration.  The problem is that by now, everyone has gone home. No one is focused on waterfront issues anymore.  No one is aware of this abuse of power and this attempt to undermine the public’s will.

Why is this being done?….the same motivation that justified all of the waterfront plan… profits.  Fish, nearshore and in stream, do not reduce the city’s developable land base, and therefore, the city’s potential source of income.  The waterfront is the city’s “golden egg”, and they are unwilling to give up one square inch of profitable development rights to mitigate for wildlife and habitat. The motivation is understandable, but it is not the law, nor is it the will of city residents. 

If you can, please show up tonight and speak at open session.  Thank the city council for their actions in support of habitat and wildlife protection, and public input, and ask them to require a full wildlife and habitat assessment and analysis, both nearshore and upland, to determine local species, habitat and connectivity.  We need to ensure that waterfront developers are mitigating any loss in ecological function.  Here are some talking points:

1. Large data gaps in the city’s information regarding waterfront species and habitat are well documented in the city’s habitat and wildlife plan from 1995 and 2003, and were reconfirmed in a consultant review by Environmental Science Associates, (ESA) only a year ago.  In particular, the city has little information regarding terrestrial species and habitat.  This needs to be addressed.

2. And the information we do have is a cause for alarm. We have a plummeting population of seabirds. Recently, an alarming decline in biodiversity in the Bay, and possible association with different forms of toxic contamination and possibly, a moving wood slurry, were document by the Department of Ecology. 

3. Since the last outdated EIS was completed, 3 new species of rockfish have been added to the endangered species list for Bellingham Bay. This is not documented for consideration during waterfront development.

4. A valid habitat and wildlife assessment must incorporate the entire waterfront district, and incorporate all species.  It must identify the specific impacts from waterfront development on wildlife and habitat, such as increased marine traffic, increased intensity of human use, conflicting land uses, inadequate habitat buffers, tall buildings with glass windows within a bird migration route, roads and utilities that fragment habitat and create barriers to wildlife movement.

5. It must discuss whether or not mitigation can off-set these impacts, and if not, whether the development should be permitted, or whether the city and port will provided compensatory habitat (provide or protect new habitat somewhere else.)

6.  A current, quantifiable baseline standard must be established in order to determine whether or not waterfront development results in a loss of ecological function and requires mitigation.  A baseline standard must be measurable and monitored to enforce the requirements of the law.

Thank you,everyone.  Unfortunately, retaining control over local government requires constant vigilance.

Action Alert for Tonight: Waterfront Wildlife and Habitat Threatened

Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 11:43 am  //  Wendy Harris

The public needs to support city council and request that a waterfront habitat assessment include terrestrial species and habitat connectivity.

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Reid Boiler Works Burns Down

Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 10:13 am  //  John Servais

The old empty Reid Boiler Works industrial building in Fairhaven burned to the ground Saturday night.

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Village Books

In historic Fairhaven. Take Exit 250 from I-5.

Port’s Alternative Marina Analysis a Scam

Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 3:19 pm  //  Guest writer

Do we actually need to say that we, as citizens, want accurate information from government officials?

1 comments; last on Jan 14, 2014

Port Memo Addresses Marina Fraud Allegations

Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 4:56 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A Port of Bellingham internal memo tries, but fails, to justify changes in cost estimates for alternative marina sites.

5 comments; last on Dec 22, 2013

On Monday, City Council Votes “third and final” Approval of Waterfront Plan

Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 1:33 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Local activist calls on Bellingham City Council to table the unpopular waterfront plans and engage in meaningful public process

2 comments; last on Dec 08, 2013

Video Exposes City Council Dysfunction on Waterfront Plan

Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 12:58 pm  //  John Servais

The Political Junkie has posted a 3 minute video showing Bellingham City Council members explaining their idiocy for all of us to watch.

2 comments; last on Dec 06, 2013

Cascadia Weekly Blasts Waterfront Plan

Wed, Dec 04, 2013, 11:53 am  //  John Servais

Bellingham City Council and Port of Bellingham finalize the waterfront plan. In his weekly Gristle, Tim Johnson blasts the corrupt public process.

4 comments; last on Dec 05, 2013

Boulevard Park Reopens

Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 8:36 pm  //  John Servais

Beach reconstruction is done at Boulevard Park on the Bellingham waterfront. Paths along shore are again open - and it looks good.

6 comments; last on Nov 01, 2013

Treaty Rights and Public Rights Ignored In Overwater Walkway

Tue, Oct 08, 2013, 3:22 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The city staff considers the overwater walkway a done deal before official approval or resolution of treaty right conflicts

4 comments; last on Oct 16, 2013

Wildlife Impacts Missing In COB Waterfront District EIS

Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 6:05 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The city and port have not addressed wildlife impacts from waterfront development and this should be done before a waterfront plan is enacted.

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Sen. Doug Ericksen Co-opts rather than Cooperate

Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 7:29 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley Sweeney examines Sen. Ericksen's legislative methods

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Waterfront “Planned Action Ordinance” Limits Restoration and Public Input

Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 9:59 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The City Planning Department has included a technical document in the waterfront proposal without disclosing important impacts.

1 comments; last on Mar 30, 2013

Valuable Article in the Whatcom Watch

Sun, Mar 17, 2013, 9:42 pm  //  John Servais

Wendy Harris writes about the proposed $8 million concrete bridge along the Bellingham waterfront - using Greenways funds to build.

3 comments; last on Mar 20, 2013

Waterfront EIS Revised Without Public Process

Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 10:40 pm  //  Wendy Harris

An "Updated Preferred Alternative" reduces the number of waterfront jobs and expands the boundary of the waterfront district.

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Efforts to save the Granary building

Sat, Aug 04, 2012, 12:18 am  //  John Servais

Graphics projected on building each night in effort to bring attention to threatened building

3 comments; last on Aug 11, 2012

Motivated Reasoning Yields Useless Planning

Mon, Jul 23, 2012, 7:05 pm  //  John Servais

Where a planning staff desire for view corridors in the Fairhaven plan yields a view corridor that does nothing for views.

1 comments; last on Jul 25, 2012

Scott Walker asks for Charlie Sheldon’s resignation

Wed, Oct 19, 2011, 1:13 am  //  John Servais

Bellingham Port Commissioner Scott Walker motioned for the port to ask Executive Director Charlie Sheldon to resign.

5 comments; last on Oct 20, 2011

From the Political Junkie: A Petree-Eye View of Downtown

Tue, Aug 09, 2011, 5:44 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley interviews Clayton Petree about his view of Downtown Bellingham

6 comments; last on Aug 12, 2011

Problems with SEPA review of Cornwall Landfill

Thu, Jun 23, 2011, 8:30 am  //  Wendy Harris

Time is running out for public comment on the Port's proposal to use toxic waste as a cap at waterfront re-development site.

5 comments; last on Jul 02, 2011

Port punts on commercial moorage rates

Thu, Feb 17, 2011, 7:30 pm  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Doug Karlberg follows up with report from Tuesday's Port Commission meeting

7 comments; last on Feb 20, 2011

Showdown at the Port of Bellingham

Mon, Feb 14, 2011, 7:35 pm  //  Guest writer

Why the price of moorage matters to all Whatcom County. A guest article by Doug Karlberg.

5 comments; last on Jun 30, 2011

Is Boulevard Park/Cornwall Landfill Overwater Walkway A Toxic Trail?

Wed, Dec 15, 2010, 10:07 pm  //  Guest writer

Wendy Harris writes about a multi million dollar planned city of Bellingham project.

9 comments; last on Dec 18, 2010

Bellingham! It’s The Mercury!

Wed, Mar 10, 2010, 9:42 pm  //  Kamalla Rose Kaur

Maybe NOAA knows the truth about our waterfront. Our Port of Bellingham pretends it is not toxic. But it is criminally toxic.

2 comments; last on Mar 16, 2010

The Way I See It - Los Angeles Resurrected

Wed, Nov 25, 2009, 9:00 am  //  Ham Hayes


I’ve been to Los Angeles many times. I even remember the Red and Yellow electric street cars that served the city from after World War II until…

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The Port of Chmelik

Tue, Nov 24, 2009, 6:12 am  //  John Servais

Seems like the offices of Frank Chmelik, the attorney for the Port of Bellingham, are becoming our defacto Port offices. Instead of conferences and meetings at the Port,…

2 comments; last on Nov 25, 2009

The Mayor’s Statement in the Herald

Sun, Apr 26, 2009, 12:19 pm  //  John Servais

Dan Pike's guest editorial in Sunday's Herald is a direct result of an article on NwCitizen earlier this week. Indeed, on Wednesday, after the article had only been…

3 comments; last on May 21, 2009

Port of Bellingham gave millions to AIG

Sat, Mar 21, 2009, 10:19 am  //  John Servais

We local taxpayers have contributed $20 million of our own tax dollars to AIG's executives. Remember? A couple years ago the Port bought an insurance policy from AIG…

3 comments; last on Mar 23, 2009

Fairhaven Shipyard to gain larger drydock

Fri, Jan 02, 2009, 7:23 pm  //  John Servais

Coming to our Fairhaven waterfront - this magnificent floating drydock. The above aerial photo is of the Fairhaven Shipyard with the new drydock placed as a computer image…

1 comments; last on Jan 03, 2009

New Library ideas

Wed, Jun 25, 2008, 5:20 pm  //  John Servais

Tired of looking at a photo of geese when you check here? So am I. We have nine writers for this site but it has been rather slack…

10 comments; last on Aug 04, 2008

What you can’t see, won’t kill ya - a lesson in TBL

Fri, Feb 22, 2008, 1:24 pm  //  Ham Hayes

TBL, or Triple Bottom Line, is a nifty concept that says we want to be evaluating and measuring projects on the basis not only of economic, but environmental…

5 comments; last on Feb 25, 2008

When Is Less More?

Sat, Feb 02, 2008, 4:55 pm  //  Tip Johnson

When Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) are prepared, more than one development model might be evaluated. But a no-action alternative is always required as a baseline reference. Convention

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Public hearing started well after 9 pm

Tue, Jul 17, 2007, 5:33 pm  //  Site Management

It is not bad enough that the city council schedules the public hearing on our future Shoreline Master Plan for the middle of July - a plan many…

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Forums and blogging and pits, oh my!

Thu, Jul 12, 2007, 5:59 pm  //  Site Management

The Herald does not even follow its own mandates. On Sunday, the editorial said the candidates "...must address 6 big issues." Must. Then they sent out their own…

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Only a government agency would do this.

Mon, Jul 09, 2007, 6:17 pm  //  Site Management

The Herald ran an ad for the State Department of Ecology informing us of the web site where we could find the Draft Consent Decree for our waterfront…

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Last Chance - Steal this Waterfront!

Thu, May 10, 2007, 4:51 pm  //  Tip Johnson

In a Bellingham Herald article dated May 4, Interim Mayor Tim Douglas "said it's

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The Port’s Plan to Poison

Thu, Apr 26, 2007, 12:02 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Why the Log Pond cap won't work

An article in a recent Bellingham Business Journal detailed the debate over whether the toxic muck in the Whatcom Waterway ought to…

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The So-called News

Mon, Apr 23, 2007, 4:24 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Independent media? Freedom of the press? Peoples friend, tyrants foe? It was a good idea while it lasted, educating the electorate and forming a mainstay of our democracy.…

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Poisoning the Public - A treacherous legacy

Wed, Apr 18, 2007, 4:49 pm  //  Tip Johnson

According to the Bellingham Herald, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has recently approved leaving tons of mercury buried in Bellingham Bay. The documents are not yet…

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Your Waterfront - Up for grabs

Wed, Apr 18, 2007, 4:34 pm  //  Tip Johnson

New Whatcom Redevelopment Project - The City and Port of Bellingham will hold public information a meeting. Bellingham Cruise Terminal. 355 Harris Ave., Bellingham. WA Times: 6:00 PM.

Also,…

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Response to Bellingham Herald editorial

Thu, Jan 25, 2007, 6:18 pm  //  John Servais

Today's Bellingham Herald editorial invites an answer. The editorial is good in that it reflects on past bad practices, like allowing GP to dump mercury into Bellingham Bay,…

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Moving Target

Mon, Dec 11, 2006, 3:32 pm  //  Tip Johnson

One of the more momentous public hearings in Bellingham's history appears to be ready to pass with more than the ordinary confusion. We wrote about some of the…

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Public meeting & hearing rescheduled

Thu, Nov 30, 2006, 2:56 pm  //  John Servais

Notice:

Relative to the last post:

Ecology has rescheduled the public meeting for:
December 7th, 6:30 p.m. ñ 8:30 p.m., Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue, Bell

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Public Process - Lots of it (kind of),

Mon, Nov 27, 2006, 6:15 pm  //  Tip Johnson

or I lied (sort of!)

In the previous post I complained that the biggest rip-off in Whatcom County history was happening without even being discussed or making it into…

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Sun, Nov 26, 2006, 5:21 pm  //  Tip Johnson

The good? We are no longer spewing forty+ pounds of mercury vapor every day into the local atmosphere. We are no longer dumping 20 to 40 tons of…

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Traffic and Western Washington University

Mon, Mar 01, 2004, 8:20 pm  //  John Servais

If WWU gets their way, $20 million in state taxes will be spent on jack-hammering out good roads and building new ones a hundred yards away. No increase…

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The Port Commissioner campaign is getting hot

Wed, Aug 27, 2003, 4:57 pm  //  John Servais

Ginny Benton, seeking her third term as commissioner, stated this evening at the Rome Grange that she will not respond to the "mud slinging" being done against her.…

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Web site to check out

Mon, May 12, 2003, 7:08 pm  //  John Servais

Waterfront Futures for Bellingham - nothing here. This is one of those processes t

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Tis time to focus on local issues

Thu, May 01, 2003, 7:40 pm  //  John Servais

Elections this fall could bring positive change to Whatcom County and Bellingham. In particular, we need a new Mayor and we need a new Port Commissioner. The challenge…

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