Time for an About-Face for Shirking

The main interest I’ve (we’ve) maintained throughout all the covid stress and election drama has been a continual attention to the health of the ocean, nature, and especially whales. There are some bright spots here:

I declare I do think some people have minds like traps…something gets in it and it doesn’t go away. Once again I’ve been caught.

Here’s some facts I’ve been called on:

In September I declared I would row 500 miles before the end of the year. Didn’t quite get there – actually I was a long way from 500 miles. Try 189. Well, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak! Besides, the north ramp at Lake Pleasant was closed and that is the BEST, most scenic area for rowing, kayaking, and swimming.

And I’ve been asked where JOT has disappeared to and what’s going on with it…It’s been so long since I’ve talked about JOT (Just One Thing) that I’m embarrassed to say I’ve done little to nothing in recent months. I think the pandemic wore me out. I was too busy reading Fox News and the New York Times email articles to pay attention to much else.

For those with short memories, JOT (Just One Thing) is a grassroots alliance encouraging people to forego one single-use plastic item to help with plastic pollution and wastage. There are a number of people who have signed up to participate in the JOT movement, however, but I’ve failed to do much communication since I failed to keep their email addresses. Again…likely a pandemic fault. However, JOT is alive and well and will be energized again…Care to join? Send me your name and I’ll add you to our list. No fees or dues or donations ever. Just a commitment on your part to yourself.

The main interest I’ve (we’ve) maintained throughout all the covid stress and election drama has been a continual attention to the health of the ocean, nature, and especially whales. There are some bright spots here:

A new pod of Blue Whales has been discovered in the Indian Ocean. In addition, Blue Whales are once again being detected in the Georgia Island area (north of Antarctica) after 50-years of absence. These whales were hunted almost to the very brink of extinction by money-driven cretins. (Please don’t tell the Japanese or the Norwegians since they have a penchant for slaughtering whales.)

And, there have been numerous sightings of the northwest’s Southern Resident pod of orcas this fall and winter…likely this is because there are far fewer boaters plowing through the waters disturbing them.

So…I’m seriously back to work even though I don’t plan to publish anything this year. Despite having become a bit of a hermit, I aim to live with gratitude and enthusiasm. No more shirking, procrastinating, and negativity. I’m tired of that.

 Besides promoting JOT and trying to sell books, I’ll  be blogging about the NRDC and their successes in sustaining the environment (like helping defeat the Pebble  mine in Bristol Bay), along with the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition and their efforts to revive wild salmon stocks (yes, more bridges are now being torn down), as well as other marine and nature organizations issues (like closing Marine World and getting those poor whales out of swimming pools!). I’ll be heading to Washington State in February for a month of resuscitation. I know I’ll come back fired up – and probably be yearning to move north…again. 

Check out Saving Our Oceans or any of our other scintillating titles!

ENOUGH DOOM AND GLOOM

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.” Chief Seattle

I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had it with the doom and gloom that Covid has gifted us, and I’m more than ready to move on despite the escalation of the pandemic.

I think we all need a dose of good news! Here it is…

GOOD NEWS #1

For those who are environmentally aware – or involved – or interested, hang on to your hats. The Army Corps of Engineers has at long last denied the application for a permit to operate the Pebble Mine, located in the pristine Bristol Bay of Alaska.

Exquisite Bristol Bay Saved

Earlier in 2020 the Corps denied the project as it was then planned and required a new mitigation plan. Most opponents to the dam worried that the Corps might buckle to the big money group wanting to create an open pit copper-magnesium mine. Most locals were gravely concerned about the impact of such a disastrous enterprise on the salmon run in the area, the world’s largest run. But salmon weren’t all that was at stake – other fisheries and numerous wildlife and the health of people in the area were also at extreme risk. The Corps finally agreed that “the mine would cause significant degradation and significant adverse effects to the waters and fisheries of Bristol Bay.” The icing on the cake for this decision may have come with the release of “The Pebble Tapes,” secretly recorded in a meeting and released to the Corps.

Over the years, literally thousands of people have petitioned and donated money to organizations fighting this catastrophic proposal. Ultimately it became clear that the Corps did not have confidence in the Pebble Mine plan to mitigate the damage that would be done to nearly 200 miles of streams, 4500 acres of impacted waters and wetlands. 

I think an important take-away of this decision is the fact that for once money  did not prevail and influence the final decision. Anymore this is breathtakingly rare.

GOOD NEWS #2

Dam Removal showing success already!

Another win for the environment is the removal of the dam on the Pilchuck River. The dam was removed in August, and already an increased number of salmon have been seen in the river. According to Matt Puley, a project coordinator, they’ve even seen chinook salmon navigating the river. 

Earlier in 2020 a dam was removed from the Nooksak River, and the Nelson Dam is scheduled to be removed in 2021. Other dams are being considered for removal too.

Elwha River Dam Removal. Photo by Seattle Times

Washington State is certainly not new to dam removal.The Elwha and Glines Canyon dams were built in the early 1900s. Of course, the dams blocked salmon from migrating upstream to spawn and disrupted the flow of sediment. It also flooded homes and cultural sites. However, in 1992 Congress passed the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act, authorizing the removal of the Elwha Dam and then the Glines Canyon Dam.  The removal of the Elwha started in 2011 and was followed by the Glines Dam in 2014. Once again, the Elwha is a free-flowing river!

GOOD NEWS #3

And, not to be overlooked, according to the Capital Press, “Plans to remove four hydroelectric dams along the lower Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California are back on track, with possible demolition happening in 2023. The removal of these dams will open about 400 miles of stream habitat for coho and steelhead, both threatened species. AND, if successful, “…it would be the largest dam removal and river restoration project in U.S. History.

The agreement was negotiated and signed by the states of California and Oregon, PacifiCorp, KRRC and the Yirok and Karuk tribes. According to Governor Kate Brown, “We are taking an incredibly important step forward toward restorative justice for people of the Klamath River. The agreement is about far more than the removal of four dams. It is a stop toward righting historic injustices.

More importantly, Joseph James of the Yurok Trive said the project “is about healing and restoration for the river, for the salmon, and for our people…we want to emphasize that the Yurok Tribe will never rest until the dams are out and the river is healed.”

GOOD NEWS #4

The Southern Resident Pod has two new babies that have joined their dwindling numbers. Perhaps there is yet hope for this REMARKABLE species to survive.

Why is all of this so important?

In the words of Chief Seattle:

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.”

Major Changes to Publishing House

Three primary areas have become the publisher’s center of attention: The Ocean; Whales; and the Rights of Nature.

Becky on her mule, Reba Peru.

It’s become apparent to many of Moonlight Mesa’s blog followers and customers, that the publishing house is no longer the same company that used to avidly only promote western books and authors. “There is no question that we’re on a different path,” admitted publisher Becky Coffield. “The change is a difficult, time-consuming, uphill struggle, and one we’ve been trying to win using emotional appeal – not tactics. It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it’d be. Somehow that’s got to change.”

It’s tempting to say that the biggest cause of struggle is Moonlight Mesa’s rural location – being housed on the borderline of a dinky seasonal community and a small cowboy town. This hurts, but it’s not the only issue. Not being a coastal state, Arizonans generally tend to be indifferent to the issues that Moonlight Mesa’s publisher finds to be a priority. “This is to be expected, I suppose. Arizona has issues and problems of its own to deal with that are troublesome: drought and potential water shortage; rapid growth due to a massive influx of newcomers; and border issues to name a few. Expected, but disappointing,” Coffield said.

So, what is the pubisher’s focus? Three primary areas have become the publisher’s center of attention: the Ocean; Whales; and The Rights of Nature. That is, of course, a simplification, but it generally sums it up.  Coffield is also a supporter of NRDC, CELDEF, and GARN.*

For starters, as chairperson of the JUST ONE THING Alliance, Coffield decided to house the small, grass-roots movement on Moonlight Mesa’s website as its own domain. (www.justonething.life) She has also recently added Moonlight Mesa’s publication, Saving Our Oceans. (www.saving-our-oceans.com) as a domain on the website.

“Though the addition of these two domains to Moonlight Mesa’s website does not in any way help book sales or the company, the fact is it’s a step in going where I have to go,” Coffield said.

Coffield became an ocean/whale devotee after spending six years blue-water sailing on a Cal 2-34, traveling around 25,000 miles, then living on the Oregon Coast for many years. Originally from the Northwest, Coffield has spent years boating in the San Juan Islands and traveling the Inside Passage to the Broughton Islands and S.E. Alaska. “I’ve had fantastic whale encounters in S.E. Alaska,” Coffield recalled. “And, of course, a person can’t help but love the Southern Resident Pod that hangs out in the San Juans.” Coffield is currently endeavoring to complete a Marine Naturalist Certification.

It’s become apparent to all who know the publisher that she (and her husband) are  fish out of water living in Arizona – The big question is “for how much longer?” She’s choosing not say at this time –

Meanwhile, look for the saving-our-oceans.blog in the very near future.

*CELDEF: Community Environmental Defense Fund

NRDC – Nature Resource Defense Council

GARN – Global Alliance for Rights of Nature

Blog submitted by Renee Witty

The JUST ONE THING Alliance is now a domain!

Remember the goal of JUST ONE THING: if every person eliminates JUST ONE form of plastic use from their life, JUST ONE, it can make an astounding difference in the amount of plastic pollution in this country and its coastal and inland waters.

The fledgling JUST ONE THING Alliance is now alive on the web. Or let’s say it’s now at least a domain. The rest of the input and information will be forthcoming in a few days.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, Moonlight Mesa Associates is “hosting” the JUST ONE THING Alliance. Finally the alliance has been added as a domain to the website. Just google justonething.life and you’ll find it on the Moonlight Mesa Associates, Westerns Whales and Oceans website.

Now, more than ever, people need to think of something besides Covid-19 and all the hardships this has caused every single person (with the possible exception of Nancy Pelosi). Many people have lost interest in everything except Covid, the riots in major cities, and the upcoming elections. Even at Moonlight Mesa we find ourselves bemoaning the pandemic and neglecting the JUST ONE THING Alliance, the Southern Resident Pod of Orcas, Plastic Pollution clogging the oceans and filling the air, and the brutal killing and captivity of dolphins and whales and, of course, the apparent climate change, which is getting very difficult to deny. Sometimes it all becomes too overwhelming and depressing. But, we can do our part – SMALL THINGS ADD UP!

Remember the goal of JUST ONE THING: if every person eliminates JUST ONE form of plastic use from their life (preferably single-use plastic), JUST ONE, it can make an astounding difference in the amount of plastic pollution in this country and its coastal and inland waters.

Second, it will send a message to the hundreds of plastic producers who yearly spew out billions of plastic products and take no responsibility for the devastation their products cause to the environment or the health of the ocean, and all waterways, animals, and people. Plastic bottles are among the chief offenders. Trevor Nace in Science claims that “We’re at a Million Plastic Bottles per minute – 91% of which are not recycled.” Worse, “it is estimated that over half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold in 2020.” (Chapter 3, “Plastic Bottles,” Saving Our Oceans.)

Third, if at all possible, buy items from companies crafting their products from recycled materials. An increasing number of companies making clothes and many other items from plastic can be found on the web.

If you’d like to be part of this effort, send me your name, or your company’s name, and we’ll add you to our growing list of participants who want to eliminate a single-use plastic item. Our list includes the International Whaling Commission, the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, the Friday Harbor Whale Museum, Jeff Bridges, the Five Gyres Institute, and many others. You can contact us at this email address.

Where Are the Whales? Where are the Salmon?

It’s painfully simple: between dams, climate change,  an over abundance of seals, and the fishing industry, there are basically no Chinook Salmon this year for the Southern Resident Pod of Orcas.

1d0cc-orca2bphoto   The highly-loved Southern Resident Pod of Orcas apparently may not be calling the Salish Sea (specifically the Puget Sound area) home anymore it seems. Their lack of prompt appearance last summer couldn’t be denied and caused some consternation. The whales showed up late and left quickly, spending most of their time on the outer coast of Vancouver Island. Instead, transient orcas from the northern reaches of the Inside Passage were more often seen. The transient pod dines more on seals which are plentiful in the area.

So what gives? It’s painfully simple: between dams, climate change,  an over abundance of seals, and the fishing industry, there are basically no Chinook Salmon this year, and Chinook are the Southern Resident Pod’s main, preferred, and greatly needed food.

If one wants to play the blame game, point first to the Lower Snake River dams  and Governor Inslee’s inability, and unwillingness, to take affirmative action in removing these dams despite that action being the most voted on as high priority by concerned citizens. The Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, spearheaded by Joseph Bogaard, puts the removal of dams as an extremely high priority for saving wild salmon runs.

Indeed, even Oregon’s Bonneville Dam is a disaster for the salmon runs, which use to number in the thousands. Allowing a bit of extra water spill to “cool” the river doesn’t cut it.

Besides blaming the dams, there is no doubt that climate change has taken its toll on the Chinook, and no matter how one feels about it, climate change can no longer be denied. The Fraser River is very low (due to water withdrawal for agriculture) and it’s now too warm. The test fishery didn’t catch any Chinook in May, and only three in June. Hundreds used to be caught.

Finally, and not often considered, is the massive number of fish (including salmon) that seals and sea lions eat. Since these pinnipeds became “protected” some years ago, their numbers have exploded, and they all have healthy appetites.

3167e-SOOpc2B2Bjpeg

Of course there is the never-ending issue of plastic and chemical pollution and sewage spills that can sicken and kill all aquatic life, including whales.

Do not overlook the impact of sport and commercial fishing ventures. Ship strikes and a plethora of boaters may also be contributing factors to the whales’ demise.

The Southern Resident Pod has lived in the Puget Sound area for thousands of years. Their numbers diminished greatly decades ago, however, because of the rampant brutal  capture and sale of these magnificent creatures by uncaring, greedy, self-serving owners of  aquatic parks that tragically decimated their numbers. (Obviously, they did not believe in the Rights of Nature.) Few captured whales live beyond 30 years of age due to abuse and the stress of being held captive in a swimming pool. In their natural habitat these whales can live as long as 90 years.

One can only hope, and pray, that these much-loved whales, in their quest for food, will avoid the rapacious Japanese and Norwegian whale hunters.

dead whales copy
Wanton slaughter of whales

Too Much Noise

Too much noise. There is simply too much noise for people to think clearly and calmly.

I’m not talking about honking horns, sirens, and social media conflicts. I’m talking about the social upheaval and unrest that’s descended not just in this country, but around the globe. Some is justified. Some not. I’m not going there, however. We’re all living in the midst of this terrible social angst and no one needs yet another voice from the wilderness dishing out unsought opinions. I’ll keep my thoughts about George Floyd and his untimely, unnecessary death to myself. I’ll refrain from railing about the lawless looting, vandalism and destruction of so many people’s dreams. Commentary on the innocent dead left in the wake of the massive and brutal uprising will not be discussed. And most certainly Covid-19 is not going to rear its ugly head here.

Despite the brouhaha raging in cities across America, I find it odd that I’m still mostly oiled birdjust concerned about plastic pollution, the Southern Resident Pod of Orcas, diminishing salmon runs, and the continuous destruction of nature and our earthly habitat.

I’m still plugging for the Rights of Nature. I recently renewed my membership to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), and I’m applauding CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) for providing invaluable assistance to those fighting for the right to live in communities that aren’t damaged by greedy developers and industrial chemical tycoons.

However, I must confess that I’m a bit conflicted (is that a real word?) that I still eat red meat a few times a week. I love cows. I used to own a small herd of Texas Long Horns. I never butchered them except for one who was very mean and surly. Okay, I did eat her. I found wonderful homes for the other beautiful animals when we moved though.

I feel a bit bad that I no longer have any interest in being a political activist. Been there done that back in the Viet Nam days. I feel even worse that I’m not busting my ass getting more businesses and people involved in the JUST ONE THING Alliance. My thinking is that people have too many other things to deal with right now to be concerned about plastic pollution, captive whales held in swimming pools, the Rights of Nature, growing dead zones around the globe, aquifers worldwide drying up, the JUST ONE THING Alliance – and the list goes on.

Perhaps it’s my job to keep these things remembered until the noise stops.

whale-postcard3127275067734833074.jpg

 

 

Too Many Predators

Between net fisheries, sports fishermen, and seals and sea lions, the

dwindling number of Southern Resident Pod of orcas wavers on the brink of extinction.

There are simply too many Chinook salmon predators for the orcas to compete with, and the Chinook is the primary food source for the Southern Resident pod. Add ship strikes, whale watching intrusiveness and toxins and the odds against another two decades of survival for the pod is a safe bet.

Net fisheries need to be abolished for the benefit and sustainability of all ocean species. These nets can be up to two miles long and collect every life form in the net’s path as it’s towed along. Most of the by-catch is thrown away – it’s already dead.

Even gill netting is catastrophic. The Columbia River, a massive river between Oregon and Washington, is a prime example. This river used to have a magnificent salmon run until a crowd of gill netters and a series of dams along with a booming population of seals has all but decimated the runs.

40 years ago seals were deemed an endangered species due to fishermen shooting them for stealing salmon. In the past 40 years the population of seals has greatly expanded. Seals can now be seen snagging salmon with insolent ease as the salmon struggle to climb the stupid fish ladders at the dam to return to their spawning grounds. If they manage to make it up the Bonneville dam ladder, they have four Snake River dams still to go.

Sports fishermen have taken their fair share of Chinook also, although both Washington State and Canada curtailed the salmon sport fishing season this year (2019). It should have been suspended for several years.

This year San Juan Islanders were bemoaning the fact that the orcas had only showed up twice. News came that the whales were staying on the outside of Vancouver Island where it was reported that there were more salmon and a lot less boat traffic to contend with.

The orcas need to stay there. If they return to Puget Sound and the Salish Sea they will only be starved and pestered to death.

Governor Inslee has apparently given up his quest for the White House. He needs to get back to his job. If the orcas die off on his watch it will be the end of his political life for certain. A sad, inexcusable legacy.