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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

WA kelp, eelgrass recovery plan tackles big losses in marine habitat

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Monday, December 11, 2023   

Bull Kelp in South and Central Puget Sound has declined more than 90% over the last 150 years - and eelgrass meadows severely declined as well, according to a new report just delivered to lawmakers.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources' new plan aims to reverse the losses.

The DNR's Co-lead on the Kelp and Eelgrass Health and Conservation Plan Cynthia Harbison said the goal is to conserve and recover at least 10,000 acres of kelp and eelgrass habitat by 2040.

"So, we're at the beginning of this process," said Harbison. "In the next few years, we are going to be working to gather local knowledge and identify specific conservation and recovery sites."

Three general areas will host pilot projects: Grays Harbor, South Puget Sound, and the eastern strait of Juan de Fuca.

The DNR will convene public stakeholder meetings early next year - go to their website to sign up to be notified by email for details.

Harbison said eelgrass and kelp are crucial habitat for many species, especially juvenile salmon and Dungeness crab, and can help in the fight against climate change.

"Eelgrass is really good at storing carbon," said Harbison, "and it can also provide some physical shoreline stabilization with the sediment and also ways reduction when there's big storm events coming in. Kelp can also do that as well."

Eelgrass and kelp are under stress from rising water temperatures due to climate change, as well as invasive species, water pollution and shoreline development.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.




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