Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eurasian watermilfoil: A Truly Noxious Plant

The local news outlets are filled with reports of a young Everett man who drowned in the Columbia after becoming entangled in milfoil. While there are native milfoils in Washington, the invasive Eurasian species is a major problem in the state. The Department of Ecology has a useful fact sheet online. Quoting:
"Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) is an attractive plant with feathery underwater foliage. It was once commonly sold as an aquarium plant. Eurasian watermilfoil, hereafter called milfoil, originates from Europe and Asia, but was introduced to North America many years ago and is now found over much of the United States. This plant was introduced to the eastern United States at least as long ago as the 1940s, but it may have arrived as early as the late 1800s. The first known herbarium specimen of milfoil in Washington was collected from Lake Meridian near Seattle in 1965. By the mid 1970s it was also found in Lake Washington. During this same time period milfoil became established in central British Columbia and traveled downstream to Lake Osoyoos and the Okanogan River in central Washington. Now milfoil is found in the Columbia, Okanogan, Snake, and Pend Oreille Rivers and in many nearby lakes. In western Washington, the distribution of milfoil closely follows the Interstate 5 corridor (follow this link to see where it is located in Washington). It is very apparent that milfoil has been spread from lake to lake on boat trailers."

And this warning:
"Because it is widely distributed and difficult to control, milfoil is considered to be the most problematic plant in Washington. The introduction of milfoil can drastically alter a waterbody's ecology. Milfoil forms very dense mats of vegetation on the surface of the water. These mats interfere with recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, water skiing, and boating. In eastern Washington milfoil interferes with power generation and irrigation by clogging water intakes."

And it is nearly impossible to get rid of.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Google at the Columbia

John Foley of Google Blog - InformationWeek reports on his visit to Google's server farm in The Dalles:
"Google's computer infrastructure is sucking up so much power and casting off so much heat that power consumption and cooling have, of necessity, become an obsession at the company. Massive air-cooling systems rise above two data center buildings, which are so close to The Dalles' dam you can almost hear the water roar. An industrial-strength power grid connects the dam to Google's energy-sucking, heat-spewing Linux servers."

Be sure to see the gallery of photos he links. Here is my photo of the Columbia a few miles downstream.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Importance of the Hanford Reach

On my other blog, Environmental Law in Washington State, I have often linked to matters concerning the Hanford Site cleanup. I am particularly concerned that contaminants from that site not be allowed to migrate to the Columbia River. The free-flowing reach of the river bordering the site is a national treasure that must be preserved. One aspect of its importance is well explained in this AP article from the Seattle Times about the Tribes' sale of fall chinook:
"Charles Hudson of the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission said today the fall run on the Columbia is the only one now that can support a commercial Indian fishery. ... He said the fall chinook run is unusually hardy run with spawning grounds in the Hanford Reach, a rare free-flowing stretch of the river from below Washington's Priest Rapids dam to the Columbia's confluence with the Snake River. Hudson said the conditions of spawning grounds in the Hanford Reach has kept the run robust. It is the most reliable of the Columbia's salmon runs, Hudson said."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"They ain't going to do anything about those damn sea lions"

The Longview Daily News reports on the case of an Oregon man who shot a sea lion that allegedly grabbed a salmon off his fishing buddy's line. The article goes on to describe efforts by Congressmen Brian Baird, D-Wash., and Doc Hastings, R-Wash., to make "it easier to kill the most aggressive of the sea lions." In spite of this bipartisan effort, the convicted gentleman from Oregon quoted in the headline doesn't hold out much hope for the proposed legislation.