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Safe hiking and other outdoors activities could improve mental health in pandemic

Outside seems to be the answer, in more ways than one. Virologists tell us that, aside from isolation, we are less likely to be infected with COVID-19 if we go outdoors and stay away from crowds. Psychologists have known for decades that getting out in nature can improve our mental health, something that many of …

BPA debate rages, while state program seeks safer chemicals for many common products

Ongoing findings about the chemical Bisphenol A has further inflamed a debate about whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is adequately protecting people’s health when it comes to products containing BPA. Meanwhile, a year-old state program, called Safer Products for Washington, may avoid some of the regulatory pitfalls people are seeing at the FDA …

‘Outdoors Act’ would repair national parks, protect land and address recreation needs

UPDATE: July 23 The Great American Outdoors Act passed the House yesterday on a 310-107 vote. See Associated Press and news release from U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor. —– It appears that the political stars are lining up for what some people are calling the most significant environmental legislation in decades. Billions of dollars …

Absent orcas: Most of the whales simply are not around to be counted at this time

UPDATE, JULY 3: Two new reports worth checking out: Center for Whale Research Encounter #31 Orca Network Whale Sighting Report, July 2 —– “So far, no new babies to report.” That’s the latest word from Ken Balcomb regarding the southern resident orcas, the three pods of endangered whales that once frequented Puget Sound but lately …

State officials scramble to protect streams and wetlands in wake of federal rule

Federal protections for millions of small streams and wetlands across the country were eliminated on Monday, following an unsuccessful legal effort to block new regulations that redefine “waters of the United States.” Officials with the Washington Department of Ecology are scrambling to make sure that nobody proceeds to fill wetlands or damage waterways, now protected …

Everything counts when helping young salmon survive their risky journey to the sea

When considering the amazing migration of salmon, we often talk about their long journey from the ocean, guided by smell, to the very stream where they first emerged from the gravel. But if we’re talking about salmon recovery — such as avoiding extinction for Puget Sound Chinook — we must focus equally on the first …

Funding for Puget Sound projects envisioned as part of a national stimulus package

Puget Sound recovery efforts could get a boost from a newly proposed five-year, $494-billion economic stimulus package, according to U.S. Reps. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, and Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor. The two Washington congressmen, known for their efforts to help restore the Puget Sound ecosystem, spoke online Friday to more than 160 people during the first …

Hornets, crabs and rodents: setting traps to locate and contain invasive species

While media reports were raising alarms about an invasion of dangerous “murder hornets,” Washington state entomologists were quietly planning a trapping program, which will mark the beginning of a search-and-destroy mission against the Asian giant hornets. Trapping has become a primary tool in the early detection of invasive species. Traps are often used to control …

‘Days on the Hill’ will go online this year, widening audience for Puget Sound talks

Folks who care about salmon, killer whales and the Puget Sound ecosystem will get a chance to participate in the annual discussion known as Puget Sound Day on the Hill. But this year the event will be called “2020 Virtual Puget Sound Days on the Hill,” as the talks go online. Online meetings with Washington’s …

Western Washington wildfire: What are we facing this year and beyond?

Trying to predict the likelihood that Western Washington will be scorched with severe forest fires this summer must be an overwhelming job for our region’s meteorologists. In the midst of a pandemic, fire managers and fire crews desperately would like to know what kinds of fire conditions they will face this year, not only in …

New steelhead strategy would include increased fishing and more hatcheries

Strategies to keep steelhead fishing alive while restoring steelhead populations to rivers in Puget Sound are spelled out in the “Quicksilver Portfolio” (PDF 2.3 mb), a document unveiled today before the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. After three years of study, the Puget Sound Steelhead Advisory Group announced that it was ready to solicit public …

Young artists show creativity in a plea to reduce harmful trash in the ocean

Student artists from across the country are calling attention to the hazards of human trash that washes into the ocean, killing sea creatures large and small. Each year, hundreds of young artists submit colorful drawings and paintings in the annual Marine Debris Art Contest, sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program. …