Friday, May 28, 2010

The Gooey Politics of Geoduck Aquaculture: A Day in the Life of a Shellfish Farmer

Above: Matt Smith, left, and Jim Woodfin harvest geoducks on Eld Inlet this week.

By Janine Gates

Matt Smith, 39, owner and operator of Trident Marine Services, calls himself a farmer. “I’ve been doing this for 29 years,” said Smith, his voice filled with passion. But Smith is not a farmer slopping manure out of the barn or raising acres of grain. He and his employee, Jim Woodfin, harvest geoducks.

Geoduck aquaculture is farming on privately owned tidelands, where salt water tides ebb and flow, to cultivate large geoduck clams. Geoducks are considered a delicacy, particularly in Asia.

Smith, who received a masters degree in Shellfish Aquaculture from Oregon State University in 1996, and holds an undergraduate degree in Marine Fisheries from Humboldt University, has worked with geoduck clams for over 13 years with the state, tribes, and private landowners.

Smith is clearly enthusiastic about his work.

“I was raised in a shellfish family. My dad was a PhD marine biologist and commercial diver cultivating mussels in southern California on offshore oil platforms. I learned to dive at age 11, and in addition to helping my mom with selling shellfish at Farmer’s Markets, I also harvested product early in my high school days."

"My dad taught me to love and respect the ocean. I learned not only science, but good husbandry practices and how to compliment and work with Mother Nature. I have always had a real conservationist outlook with regard to farming shellfish and making sure the environment is not impacted,” says Smith.

On this particular day, I watched for several hours as he and Woodfin harvested geoducks that had been planted five years ago on private, waterfront property off of Steamboat Island Road on Eld Inlet in Olympia.

The property owner, Sandy Sinclair, 82, is leasing his tideland for geoduck farming with another shellfish farmer, and Smith contracts with that farmer to harvest the geoducks. Sinclair says he's doing this because it’s a way to try to recoup his property taxes. Sinclair says he receives about 10% of what Trident makes, and receives a monthly check.

“Every little bit helps,” says Sinclair.

“Making sure the landowner is happy is very important to me,” says Smith.

It doesn‘t always work out good financially for Smith, though. “I have had beaches where I lost 20,000 seed in the exact same spot two years in a row. It was due to unexpected torrential rains we had here in Shelton two years in a row. Lots of bivalves and intertidal life were affected by those huge rains. But you have to take some negative with the positive, and hopefully come out ahead.”

Sinclair, a retired North Thurston School District teacher, is well aware of the controversy around geoduck farming, admits some environmental concerns have merit, and is open-minded to learning more about the concerns of the industry. He plans to allow the replanting of another cycle of geoducks after this one is harvested.

“I consider it to be my garden,” says Sinclair. Sinclair says his favorite author is Antoine De Saint Exupery, who wrote a book called, “Wind, Sand and Stars.”

“It explains a little bit of my philosophy. There’s a quote in there that I think is real appropriate to this situation: “No matter how little we own, someone will try to take it away. Nomads will defend to the death their empty desert sands.”

“As I would, my beach tidelands,” says Sinclair.

About 33,000 geoducks were planted on about 1/3 of an acre on Sinclair’s property five years ago, three in each PVC pipe, which prevents the geoducks from being washed away. The pipes stay in the tide flats for about a year.

Above: PVC pipes contain young geoducks. The pipes are covered with nets, either hair-net sized nets or canopy nets, to protect the geoducks from floating away when young, or being eaten by predators.

“That’s the ugly part,” Sinclair admitted.

He also admits that some pipes occasionally get dislodged and float away. When the tubes are taken out, you can’t tell that the property has been planted. Not all geoducks survive.

Sinclair’s PVC pipes, and those of his neighbors, who are also leasing their tide flats for geoduck farming, use individual hair-net sized nets secured by rubber bands, to cover each pipe.

Smith and Woodfin first watch the area for telltale squirts, which indicate where the geoducks were and stick thin markers that look like kabob skewers into the sand to note their location. Then, with a hose attached to their nearby boat, Smith uses sea water to pressure wash the location precisely where the geoduck was seen squirting. Not a shovel was in sight.

To reach Smith and Woodfin, Sinclair and I walked on countless sand dollars and sea life. Watching Smith and Woodfin use the pressure washer hose, I wondered if this method doesn’t tend to remove everything in its path, including native species.

“It’s actually a low pressure, high volume jet that loosens the substrate in order to extract the geoduck. Only a small fraction of the fine or silty sediment is actually suspended and removed. Any rocks, gravel, sand, finer sand and so on, settle back down to the bottom very quickly and flatten out as water moves across the beach, restoring it to normal looking conditions. This mixing can actually be healthy for the soil,” says Smith.

Woodfin sticks his arm down into the mud to his shoulder blade and pulls up a very large geoduck.

Eagles, seagulls and crows flew low overhead, looking for a quick snack.

“This one is worth about $30,” said Smith. High quality geoducks are sold for about $15 a pound.

Above: Matt Smith holds a high quality geoduck.

According to the state Department of Natural Resources, geoduck farming has become common throughout Puget Sound during the past decade, with about 200 acres of private tidelands cultivated.

The cumulative effect of harvesting operations is being researched. The increasing demand for shellfish and new aquaculture operations raises concerns about the sustainability of ecosystems that support this use.

Smaller inlets and bays that have traditionally been used for personal, recreational uses throughout the Puget Sound are especially vulnerable to the industry.

“This is a unique beach,” says Smith. “Each site is very specific and individual with regard to currents, waves and tides, but this beach is so swift that the current really keeps it clean.” Smith says he has harvested a total of about 25,000 pounds from Sinclair’s and his two neighbor's properties so far.

“These are going to China tonight,” Smith said, lifting up a large, two pound geoduck. “It only takes about a day for them to get shipped over there. They’re kept cold, and when they arrive, they put them in live tanks to revive them, Smith said.

Above: Matt Smith with a geoduck on Eld Inlet this week.

The demand for geoducks in Asia has increased dramatically since the 1970’s. A plate of geoduck there now sells for around one hundred dollars. Geoduck is primarily sold to Asia's upper classes. One single, live geoduck can sell for $228 or more.

Sinclair picked out a whopper of a geoduck and asked if he could take it home. Smith balked. "Well, Sandy, that one's worth about $30, how about this one," picking out a tiny one. “This one is only worth about $7,” Smith said, giving it to Sinclair so his wife could make it into soup. The tiny geoduck was a recruit.

“A recruit is one who grew here on its own - it wasn’t planted,” said Smith. It was a tiny native, compared to the two-pounders Woodfin had been pulling up.

Above: A recruit. Smith demonstrated how you can see how old a geoduck is by counting the rings on its shell, like a tree. Geoducks can live over 100 years, but the average age of a wild geoduck is 46 years old. The oldest known living geoduck is 168 years old.

Above: Matt Smith, left, and Jim Woodfin this week on Eld Inlet.

Addressing questions about the unknown, long term implications of harvesting, Smith said, “I think the long term implications could best be extrapolated by looking at the impacts of State harvest of geoduck for the last 30 years. I used to be a biologist for the Nisqually Tribe, which, like other tribes, co-manages the naturally occurring geoduck resource in Washington state for their particular or in-common fishing areas.”

"The state rotates the beds. Some individual beds are well over 200 acres. Once product is jetted out of an area, usually taking several months, it is left to rest for years and periodically checked for recruitment densities. When the density is sufficient to support another commercial harvest, the bed will be re-introduced into the harvest plan. I would think that if there were long term effects on the environment, geoducks wouldn't re-populate the same areas, which they do.”

Time was slipping away, and by 2:00 p.m., the tide was coming in, fast. Smith and Woodfin called it a day and motored away, to come back tomorrow.

Above: Sandy Sinclair calls it a day too, and heads back up to his house on Eld Inlet, geoduck in hand.

The Gooey Politics of Geoduck Aquaculture: Rulemaking

Above: Geoducks harvested from Eld Inlet this week.

By Janine Gates

In mid May, the Washington Department of Ecology released a pre-draft version of Shoreline Management Act rules relating to the siting and permitting of commercial geoduck aquaculture.

Geoduck aquaculture is farming on privately owned tidelands, where salt water tides ebb and flow, to cultivate large geoduck clams. They are considered a delicacy, particularly in Asia.

Ecology was directed to add language to Shoreline Master Program guidelines about commercial geoduck aquaculture under House Bill 2220, which passed in 2007.

There is a meeting on Wednesday, June 2 of the Shellfish Aquaculture Regulatory Committee (SARC) at the state Department of Ecology in Lacey from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. which will review the pre-draft rulemaking language.

The public is welcome to attend presentations and the SARC discussions, but public comment will not be taken. According to Cedar Bouta, Ecology’s project lead for the rulemaking, questions from the public will be taken after the close of the SARC meeting by Ecology staff. SARC members may or may not be in attendance during that time.

For about two hours, SARC members will hear the latest science from the University of Washington’s SeaGrant on geoduck research. Other topics will include permitting requirements and the rulemaking process.

Ecology expects to issue the draft rule on August 18, with a public comment period on the rule tentatively set for early September to mid-October. At that time, there will be four public hearings. Exact public comment dates and hearing locations will be announced when the draft rule is published.

According to Ecology, HB 2220 allows geoduck aquaculture to continue and expand based on current scientific understanding, provides for scientific research related to potential impacts of geoduck aquaculture, and applies what is learned as new science becomes available.

Ecology also took into consideration the work of the SARC, which met for two years from 2007 to 2009 and submitted a report to the Legislature in January 2009.

Above: PVC pipes that contain young geoduck. Shoreline homeowners, tribes, growers and environmentalists have long expressed concerns with geoduck farming related to aesthetics and view, noise, debris management, the use of artificial light from night operations, litter, navigation and access, and hours of operation. These factors, with ideas for possible guidelines, were included in the work of the SARC.

The most significant proposed change is the requirement of a conditional use permit for commercial aquaculture in critical saltwater habitats, renewable every five years.

“Conditional use permits are reviewed by Ecology and will provide an opportunity for state-level integration of current science, especially the results of SeaGrant’s research currently underway,” says Bouta.

Geoduck aquaculture is a water-dependent use and the early draft of the proposed rule includes language that directs local governments with intertidal habitat to inventory, identify and classify suitable areas for commercial geoduck aquaculture.

Over 250 towns, cities and counties are underway in their updates of their shoreline management programs.

“Ecology wants to minimize the burden this puts on local governments in the middle of updating their shoreline programs,” says Bouta. “When the rule changes take effect in mid-January, we’ll work closely with local governments on the day-to-day implementation of the rule, including guidance on commercial geoduck aquaculture best management practices.”

Thurston County is one of several counties with shellfish growing areas and operations, according to the state Department of Health.

Rule Language Concerns

Robin Downey, Pacific Shellfish Growers Association executive director, said her organization is still in the process of reviewing the rule. “We have some concerns, but we think Ecology has done a good job of involving stakeholders,” she said.

Several others have already reviewed the rule and are skeptical about the proposed language.

Laura Hendricks, a member of the SARC committee and chair of the Shorelines and Aquaculture Sub-committee for the Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club says, “So far, Ecology has not said a word about industry destroying native species or the shellfish industry's new aquatic pest management strategic plan for bivalves in Oregon and Washington.”

The plan was produced by the shellfish industry as the first aquatic crop "pest" plan in the United States. The Sierra Club remains concerned that numerous citizens have witnessed native aquatic species being systematically removed or destroyed as “pests” and essential plant life being scraped off as "weeds.”

Hendricks says she has sent Ecology a list of 18 questions that she would like answered before she submits the Sierra Club's geoduck rulemaking comment letter.

“We are just finishing a draft fish habitat paper that includes documentation of the aquaculture impacts on fish and habitat, especially endangered salmon. This will be provided to Ecology with our final comments by June 5,” says Hendricks.

Curt Puddicombe, on behalf of the Case Inlet Shoreline Association and the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, has also weighed in on Ecology’s pre-draft rule language. Case Inlet is the boundary between Pierce County and Mason County.

He says the draft overview lays the groundwork for changing certain language in the Shoreline Management Act (SMA) with several statements “that are misinterpretations and overstatements of HB 2220 and the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) guidelines.”

“HB 2220 only requires Ecology to develop guidelines with the advice of the SARC for the appropriate siting and operation of geoduck aquaculture to be included in local master programs. There is no implication or explicit language in the bill that geoduck aquaculture expansion must move forward,” says Puddicombe.

Puddicombe also challenges Ecology’s assertion that the SMP Guidelines are clear that commercial aquaculture is an important and economically valuable water-dependent use. “That’s hyperbole and follows a longstanding, institutional bias that Ecology traditionally has bestowed on the shellfish industry.”

Puddicombe also questions why the pre-draft language compels local governments to classify appropriate areas for commercial geoduck aquaculture.

“Why is Ecology mandating that Puget Sound counties set aside specific areas for geoduck aquaculture? What about counties such as Mason and Thurston that have already grandfathered in these sites? Will there be pressure on property owners to lease private tidelands specifically for geoduck aquaculture? What about private tideland owners that do not want to be a part of Ecology’s geoduck aquaculture reserves? Is there a way for property owners or a community to opt-out of Ecology’s geoduck aquaculture reserves?”

“What is clear is that the SMA and the guidelines did not intend for the shorelines of Puget Sound to be summarily handed over for the commercial production of geoducks to benefit a handful of private companies. What is also clear is that the vast majority of citizens that have been witnessing the largely unregulated expansion of geoduck aquaculture are opposed to it,” says Puddicombe.

For more information on attending the June 2 SARC meeting, contact Cedar Bouta, Washington State Department of Ecology, at or (360) 407-6406.

For more information about rulemaking, go to Ecology’s Rule website:

SARC Committee website (not updated) -

Historical meeting minutes and 2009 report to the legislature:
Research reports:

For more information about the Washington SeaGrant:

Sierra Club website aquaculture page at:

For more information about Case Inlet Shoreline Association and the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat go to:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Synergy Conference at Evergreen Brings Sustainable Community Together

Above: Mistaya Madrone, 2, was inspired to dance while Dana Lyons sings at the Synergy conference at The Evergreen State College yesterday. Madrone is the daughter of Dani Madrone, who organized the conference. Dani Madrone considered the event successful and said she would start organizing earlier next year. She was also relieved that the rain held off during today's Creative Community Festival on Red Square.

Lyons, of Bellingham, later gave a lecture about how students and parents are making their schools and communities sustainable by banning pesticides on school playing fields and city parks, converting community centers to using 100% recycled paper & reusable dishes, adopting water ways for habitat restoration and organizing to pass local laws mandating sustainable practices.

by Janine Gates

The week-long Synergy conference culminated at The Evergreen State College yesterday with a community festival, bringing together a wide range of speakers, businesses, local non-profits and organizations working toward sustainable practices.

Above: Joe Lambrix, center, of Plug In Olympia, shows off his electric car at the Synergy conference yesterday. Electric vehicles, on average, have a 40 mile range per full charge. There are several locations to plug in an electric car in Olympia. For more information, go to

Other organizations participating at the conference include: Intercity Transit, Olympia Food Coop, 3 Degrees: PSE's Green Power Program, South Puget Environmental Education Clearinghouse (SPEECH), Thurston Energy, The Student Green Energy Association, Building Revolution By Increasing Community Knowledge (BRICK), Circle Hawk Farm, Marigold Fair Trade, Olympia Seed Exchange, Planned Parenthood, Salvage Boards, Olykraut, Works In Progress, Last Word Books, Piel de Miel, Plug In Olympia, Furniture Works, TCProNet, Old Hoh Plateau, Bombus Bikes, Elemental Painting, South of the Sound Community Farmland Trust, People for Puget Sound, Terra Commons, Thurston County Food Bank, Native Plant Salvage, Stonewall Youth, Waste Reduction and Sustainable Purchasing Work Group, ION Ecobuilding, Community Sustaining Fund, Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater Treatment, TESC Master of Environmental Studies Program, Gateways for Incarcerated Youth, Moonlighting, Eco Earth Manor, Middle East Mirror, and Transition Olympia.

Above: A volunteer with the Community Sustaining Fund of Thurston County shows off her organization's brochures.

For more information about any of these groups or how to get involved with next year's conference, contact Dani Madrone at

Above: Gail Sheikhizadeh, Vice-President of the South Puget Environmental Education Clearinghouse (SPEECH) speaks with Mike Biskey of University Place. Biskey said he came to the Synergy conference to hear Bellingham singer Dana Lyons.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Greg Mortenson in Olympia: "Having Met The Students Here, I Know That The World Is In Good Hands...."

Above: Greg Mortenson with Olympia High School (OHS) community service club members.

by Janine Gates

Author, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greg Mortenson had a busy day in Olympia today, thanks to the efforts of Olympia High School (OHS) students Kaycee Keegan and Teasha Feldman.

Many local organizations and individuals helped the day go off without a hitch, including local Rotary clubs and The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound.

Above: Mortenson on stage at Olympia High School today.

Their efforts, along with Olympia High School’s junior Rotary group, Interact, raised the necessary $25,000 honorarium to bring Mortenson to Olympia for a full day of activities. The money goes towards Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute to build schools for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mortenson is the author of Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School At a Time, which has sold over 3.5 million copies and published in 39 countries. His latest book is Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mortenson’s visit in Olympia started at Olympia High School with two half-hour assemblies. Mortenson had lunch with representatives of eight area Rotary groups, attended a rally at the Capitol Steps on the Capitol Campus, and finished the day at St. Martin’s Pavilion with an evening talk and slideshow for the public with about 3,000 in attendance. Everywhere he went, he signed books and spoke with each person without being hurried.

At the end of his presentation at Olympia High School, Mortenson spontaneously asked how many students and staff there were. Principal Matt Grant said about 1,850. Mortenson said he would donate 1,850 copies of his new book, “Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Last year, OHS English teacher Todd McDougall had his students read Mortenson’s first book, Three Cups of Tea. After writing Mortenson a letter, Mortenson’s publishing company sent 150 copies of the book to McDougall, and that began Kaycee Keegan's interest in having Mortenson come to Olympia.

Mortenson was clearly impressed with the community service efforts of the Olympia High School students and mentioned several of them specifically throughout the day.

After hearing the students describe their club activities and individual projects, such as writing our troops throughout the world, organizing clothing and food drives, raising money for cancer research, maintaining trails, planting native species, building gardens for low-income people, painting faces for children at Lakefair and more, Mortenson said, “I visit 140 schools a year, and having met the students here, I know that the world is in good hands.”

Above: Olympia High School community service club students spoke about their clubs and activities. Alex Arbogast, 17, speaking, and Caitlin Cusack, 18, spoke about the blood drive they coordinated in cooperation with the Puget Sound Blood Bank, for their senior project. “We had 120 participants and saved 330 lives,” said Arbogast. Their all-day blood drive was held in March at the school.

Above: Mortenson signs a book for Cameron Landry, 16, at Olympia High School. Landry videotaped Mortenson's talk for Olympia High School's Olympia News Network. Mortenson asked Landry to send him a copy of the tape.

Senator Karen Fraser attended the Rotary luncheon, the rally at the Capitol, and the evening talk at St. Martin's University, saying she bought several of his books for herself and her granddaughters. "(At the luncheon), he was very complimentary about our community here - he said he can see that the students here are highly engaged - way more than in other areas of the country. He says we're a model," said Fraser.

Above: Greg Mortenson speaks at a rally for education at the Capitol steps in Olympia today. Mortenson met students at Stevens Field at Lincoln Elementary for a walk to the Capitol Steps. Once there, speakers addressed the crowd, the Centennial Elementary Choir sang and several children presented their school collections to donate to Mortenson's Pennies for Peace program.

Above: Jade Taylor, 10, and Jordan Taylor, 9, show off a check they presented to Mortenson at the Capitol steps today, representing $3,862.90 collected by students for Pennies for Peace at Centennial Elementary School. Several local schools also collected funds to donate to Mortenson's Pennies for Peace organization including Lincoln Elementary, Alki, Pioneer and Waldorf.

Above: Kaycee Keegan is interviewed by KGY announcer Nathan Lee today near the Capitol Building.

Relating to students throughout the day on a personal level, Mortenson touched on the subjects of education, bullying, overpopulation, child slavery, and poverty, emphasizing that education is the key to solving many of these problems.

Asked if he feels like he is in any danger doing what he does, Mortenson admitted that he gets a lot of hate mail for promoting the education of girls. “Ignorance breeds hatred,” and said the Taliban are just being bullies. “It’s a big problem in this country too. Bullies are the most insecure of all.”

Helping students appreciate living in Olympia, Mortenson said, "The Taliban destroy schools. Why are they so terrified of a girl going to school? Imagine coming to school tomorrow and finding it in rubble...."

Speaking of child slavery, Mortenson asked children to look closely at a soccer ball. "If it says it's Made in Pakistan, who do you think made it? There's small leather felt patches on it. It's made by a child because their hands can do those small stitches...."

In his evening talk to 3,000 people at St. Martin's University in Lacey, Mortenson told many stories from both his books that have now become famous worldwide.

In her moving introduction of Mortenson, Keegan, 18, said, "When I started this, I had no idea there would be so much interest. It seemed surreal that he would accept the invitation, but he did and here he is! What started as a great idea is now a reality. I am often asked why we are sending so much money to Afghanistan and Pakistan when we have so many needs in our community. Well, when I read Three Cups of Tea, I was so inspired, I started volunteering at the Salvation Army. After tonight, you too will want to be a better person and see what things you can do in this community."

Mortenson thanked Keegan for her tenacity, saying there was no way he could say no to her invitation.

In a brief video played of Admiral Mike Muller, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Muller said, "When men in our profession talk about great men, we usually talk about men of war, rarely a man of peace. one of the greatest men of peace I know...."

Mortenson again repeated several community service projects accomplished by the students at Olympia High School, and said he ranked their level of community service as number one in the country, followed by students in Topeka, Kansas and Tyler, Texas.

Audience member Rick Panowicz, with his dogeared, newly signed copy of Three Cups of Tea, said, "I hope he wins the Nobel Peace Prize next time."

Above: Mortenson speaks with Colonel Michael Kolodziej, center, Deputy Commander of the Joint Task Force Medical East of the 344th Combat Support Hospital. Part of his mission is to help the local nationals in Afghanistan improve their health care system. His wife, Major Pamela Kolodziej, of the 75th Training Division of Ft. Dix, New Jersey, says her husband has made Mortenson's books required reading by members of his unit.

For more information about the Central Asia Institute, go to

For more information about Pennies for Peace, go to

For more stories by Janine Gates about the efforts by Olympia High School students Kaycee Keegan and Teasha Feldman to bring Mortenson to Olympia, see other stories on this blog at

Above: Mortenson with Olympia High School students Teasha Feldman and Kaycee Keegan today.

Friday, May 7, 2010

"We're Here to Honor The Best of Us...."

Above: Governor Chris Gregoire hugs Sergeant Nicholas J. Hausner of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department after he received the Medal of Honor for Serious Injury. Hausner responded to a call of a domestic disturbance on December 21, 2009 with Deputy W. Kent Mundell, Jr. when he and Mundell were shot at the scene. Mundell died of his injuries on December 28, 2009.

by Janine Gates

A ceremony today at the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial in Olympia honored 16 men and women: nine fallen officers, three who received serious injury and four who distinguished themselves for meritorious conduct, all in the line of duty. Governor Christine Gregoire bestowed medals of honor on receipients and their families.

Above: In her remarks, Governor Gregoire said that the loss of four Lakewood Police Department officers on November 29, 2009 is recognized by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund as one of the deadliest days in law enforcement history.

This has been the most deadly year for law enforcement in more than 70 years. More than 290 Washington law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty since 1889.

Chief Chandra Brady of the Lewis County Sheriff's Office is serving as a family liaison to the family of Deputy Stephen (Mike) Gallagher, Jr., who died in August of 2009. Describing the aftermath of the loss of a husband or wife, father or mother, she said, "...until we have lived it, we have no idea what it is like...." Speaking of the Gallagher family, Brady says she "stands in awe of their strength and for all you have taught us how to be a family...." Lewis County Deputy Mike Gallagher succumbed to injuries sustained when his patrol car collided with an elk on Highway 12, leaving behind a wife and two small children.

Above: Paul Griswold, husband of Officer Tina Griswold, makes a rubbing of her name after the ceremony at the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial.

Above: The Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial site on the Capitol Campus was chosen specifically for its view toward Budd Inlet.

Above: Friends, families and officers make rubbings of the fallen officer's names on the wall of the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial today.

The Fallen Officers

Control Officer Joseph B. Modlin
Washington State Patrol
End of Watch: 08-15-1974

Deputy Stephen (Mike) Gallagher, Jr.
Lewis County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: 08-18-2009

Officer Timothy Q. Brenton
Seattle Police Department
End of Watch: 10-31-2009

Sergeant Mark J. Renninger
Lakewood Police Department
End of Watch: 11-29-2009

Officer Tina G. Griswold
Lakewood Police Department
End of Watch: 11-29-2009

Officer Ronald W. Owens II
Lakewood Police Department
End of Watch: 11-29-2009

Officer Gregory J. Richards
Lakewood Police Department
End of Watch: 11-29-2009

Deputy W. Kent Mundell, Jr.
Pierce County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: 12-28-2009

Deputy John Bernard
Grant County Sheriff’s Office
End of Watch: 01-03-2010

For more information about the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial and the officers honored, see other articles on this blog at

For more information about the Behind the Badge Foundation, go to or call (425) 747-7523.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Above: Olympia High School students Lindsay Judge, 15, and Jonah Barrett, 15, interview Allen Pleus, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife late this afternoon. The students were interviewing Pleus for the school's Olympia News Network (ONN) show, which also airs on Thurston Community Television.

by Janine Gates

The committee charged with making a recommendation to the state on the future of Capitol Lake was formally suspended this week by Governor Chris Gregoire.

After more than 10 years of extensive scientific, cultural, social and economic studies, the group, comprised of various state agency, tribal, county, port and regional city representatives, recently recommended that Capitol Lake return to being an estuary.

In a proviso of the 2010 supplemental capital budget signed by the Governor, funding for the Capitol Lake Adaptive Management Plan (CLAMP) Steering Committee was cut, one of 70 different state commissions and committees that the Legislature and the Governor chose to end.

The Legislature did include authorization for the General Administration (GA) to spend a remaining $50,000 for the rest of the current biennium to deal with invasive species at the lake. This includes the New Zealand mud snail.

This morning, new GA director Joyce Turner, who has been on the job for three weeks, greeted CLAMP committee members as they held their regularly scheduled, last meeting in a GA second floor conference room.

CLAMP members and others in attendance were Neil McClanahan, CLAMP chair and Tumwater City Councilmember, Stephen Buxbaum, City of Olympia councilmember, Karen Valenzuela, Thurston County Commissioner, and Lydia Wagner and Perry Lund of the state Department of Ecology. Nathaniel Jones, GA staff, also sat in on the meeting.

The news that their work was shut down came as a shock to some CLAMP members, and they spent time processing the news.

"I'm embarrassed...I missed totally caught me by surprise," said Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela. "What does this mean for water quality? What form does that take?" she questioned.

McClanahan said that he did not get a heads-up by GA, but found out about the proposed cut about a week before phone calls were made to individual committee members.

"There still has to be a (GA) recommendation to the State Capitol's my feeling that we're at a crossroads, and this group, personally, we have a hell of a group. We have a lot of talent - we play together well, and we have good minds," consoled McClanahan.

While the previous General Administration director had a self-imposed June deadline to decide the fate of Capitol Lake, the new director, Joyce Turner, has said she doesn't know if that can be achieved.

When the director does make her decision, it will go to the State Capitol Committee, which is comprised of the Governor, the Lt. Governor, the Secretary of State, and the Commissioner of Public Lands. The State Capitol Committee will then direct the GA to make a budget request to the Legislature, in line with the recommendation of the State Capitol committee.

CLAMP committee members moved quickly through their stages of grief by reviewing their successes, discussing the biggest contributors to the watershed's water quality problems and reviewing the reasons for their recommendation to restore the lake to an estuary. They assessed their strengths and developed a strategy on their next steps.

Buxbaum said that there is a lot of mutual interest between the jurisdictions to continue talking.

"I have difficulty separating the lake and the whole system. It would be helpful to talk about how we manage the whole stretch. How can we establish clear districting with appropriate roles and responsibilities? How do we operate and maintain this dynamic system in an equitable way and ensure everyone has a seat at the table?"

Lydia Wagner, Ecology's Deschutes Water Cleanup Plan Coordinator, suggested that the Deschutes TMDL Advisory Group, which is comprised of many of the same members as the CLAMP group, could assist in filling in the gaps. TMDL stands for Total Maximum Daily Load. Wagner chairs the group.

Other groups mentioned were the South Puget Sound Core Group of the Puget Sound Partnership and the Budd Inlet Restoration Partnership, a group of local governments working on Budd Inlet cleanup. "As far as the pollutants go, the TMDL will be addressing that and assigning responsibilities for the whole watershed," said Wagner.

McClanahan said that he hoped that CLAMP's experiences will inform the TMDL to come to decisions and have an end product that leads to action. "Unless we get mindful of this, we'll have all the right people at the table but not change. We have to come to agreements and change behavior so we have a functioning watershed."

Buxbaum suggested moving forward to develop a plan that brings forward revenue solutions, such as the creation of lake districts. He also urged that the group continue to point out to GA that there are financial consequences to each of the choices now before GA. "We need to figure out what those are and how to address any negative outcomes for each option," said Buxbaum.

In the most simplest terms, the four choices on what to do with Capitol Lake as determined by CLAMP are to: 1) do nothing, 2) actively manage it as a lake, 3) restore the estuary, or 4) create a dual basin. Capitol Lake has been a lake since the Fifth Avenue dam was constructed in 1951.

Buxbaum said that the group needs to know how the New Zealand mud snail issue is going to be managed. "Short term solutions are needed - we have consequences daily with it - we're shut down," he said. A 400 foot long fence is around a portion of the lake, which is technically closed. Buxbaum also expressed concern that the invasive snail may be in other bodies of water, such as Black Lake, Ward Lake, or Percival Creek. "Who's going to find out, and by when?" Buxbaum asked.

Next Steps

Nathaniel Jones said it was important to him to recognize what brought CLAMP together - "The motivation is still there - we've had many accomplishments and those need to be celebrated. We've matured. This committee was formed in fire around various issues and we've moved beyond that - we've allowed the science to lead...that is nowhere near where we started."

Jones also acknowledged the Shoreline Master Plan update as "critical" work, and emphasized the importance that other groups maintain their focus, but also help identify what remaining CLAMP issues "need a home."

Valenzuela agreed, saying that this has been an emotional personal journey to understand the CLAMP issues so deeply.

Lund asked an important question: "Where do we meet? We can't use this room anymore." Valenzuela offered a meeting room at the county courthouse.

McClanahan then asked, "Well, what do we want to call ourselves?"

"CLAMP Redux" said Valenzuela.

"CLAMPS" for "Capitol Lake Adaptive Management Plan Suspended," offered Buxbaum.


"How about CLAMPED?" offered Buxbaum again. It stuck.

It seemed clear by all present that while the committee is formally suspended, everyone's enthusiasm for finding solutions to the problems wasn't diminished. The date for a future CLAMPED meeting was not set.

To learn more about CLAMP go to for more information or contact Nathaniel Jones, Senior Manager, General Administration, at (360) 902-0944 or

To learn more about the Deschutes TMDL, go to or contact Lydia Wagner, Washington State Department of Ecology, (360) 407-6329 or The TMDL group's next meeting is Thursday, May 20, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon at the Tumwater Fire Department, 311 Israel Rd. SW, Tumwater.

Above: Allen Pleus, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife risks getting a skin rash and who knows what else to find New Zealand mud snails to show Olympia High School students Lindsay Judge and Jonah Barrett.

Above: Three New Zealand mud snails. Pleus says "these things are mostly all female and clone themselves. He says the Yellowstone River, for example, has 500,000 New Zealand mud snails per square meter. Capitol Lake has 20,000 per square meter. I asked him Olympia City Councilmember Stephen Buxbaum's question about whether or not the snail has invaded other waters. Pleus said they have surveyed Percival Creek, and did not find any.

"Eradication will be very difficult...We have a Capitol Lake response group that meets. We meet again next week. Scientifically, it's all a learning experience. Freezing them would have helped, but we only had one freeze. This summer, we'll drain the lake and try to expose them to heat but that brings a host of other problems, since other species such as birds, bats and fish rely on the water supply."

Asked how this problem impacts the pending lake/estuary issue, Pleus said, "Anything that we do would benefit either option, but it appears at this point that we need to deal with them (the mud snails) before you address those options."