Washington Gov. Proposes 'Herculean Effort' to Save 74 Remaining Southern Resident Orcas
With only 74 left in the wild, the Southern Resident orca population in Puget Sound needs help now more than ever. That's why on Thursday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's office announced "an unprecedented investment" to help boost the population as well as the Chinook salmon they eat.
"We are undertaking a herculean effort to save these iconic creatures. It will take action at every level of the environment across our entire state," Inslee said in a news release. "We need to restore the ecosystem to one that sustains orcas, salmon and the quality of life for all Washingtonians."
We are undertaking a herculean effort to save these iconic creatures. It will take action at every level of the env… https://t.co/bqhXtek1iq— Governor Jay Inslee (@Governor Jay Inslee)1544744559.0
The population of the beloved killer whales is at a 30-year low. Their plight was underscored this summer when a mother whale Tahlequah, or J35, carried her dead calf for at least seventeen days and 1,000 miles in her heartbreaking "tour of grief" this August.
Then in September, the ailing J50, another member of Tahlequah's pod, was declared missing and presumed dead after a three-day search in the waters between Washington state and Canada.
Inslee's orca recovery plan is part of his 2019–21 state budget, which proposes about $1.1 billion in combined investments to address the main problems faced by the critically endangered killer whales: a lack of salmon; toxic contaminants; and vessel traffic and noise.
#Orca Whale #J50 'Missing and Now Presumed Dead' https://t.co/dLEFpXP6hB @NOAA @CWROrcas @oceana— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1537030830.0
Much of the investment will go towards improving the diets of Southern Resident orcas, which mostly eat Chinook salmon. But the salmon's numbers are down 60 percent and if they continue to decline, the orca population will too.
For that reason, Inslee's proposed budget will provide $363 million in the capital budget for salmon recovery, culvert removal, water quality and water supply projects that will expand and improve salmon survival across the state.
Other proposals include a ban on commercial whale-watching of the Southern Residents for three years, increasing the distance boats must stay away from the orcas from the current federal rules of 200 yards to 400 yards, reducing risks of catastrophic oil spills, and removal and prevention of toxic contaminants in the waters. The money will also go towards scientific research and monitoring efforts.
Inslee's orca recovery plan follows recommendations issued this fall by the governor's Southern Resident Orca Task Force. The task force recommended an initial target of increasing the population to 84 orcas over the next decade.
Tax increases will be needed to pay for Inslee's plan, the The Seattle Times reported.
The Democratic governor, who is "not ruling out" 2020 run for president, is a strong climate and environmental advocate. Saving the orcas will require the sacrifices of the state residents to help the imperiled orcas, he told the Times.
"Everybody is involved in this mission and everyone has to be for it to succeed," Inslee added. "These expenditures have to be done now. There are lots of things in life you can put off for a decade. This is not one of them … This is a one-time shot."
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People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>