Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

Living in a maritime fishing village in Southwest Washington state on Willapa Bay

Daily Astorian wins 2007 Dolly Connelly Award for series on climate change impact on Pacific NW

Posted by pallix on November 13, 2007

I have also posted this as front page story on Washblog.

The Daily Astorian has won the 2007 Dolly Connelly Award for excellence in environmental journalism for a series of articles on how global warming stands to impact the Pacific Northwest and its living creatures.

Established in 1998, the Connelly Award is given out annually by the association. It was established by Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly in memory of his mother, who worked as a freelance journalist and correspondent for Time-Life.

I learned today in Salem, Oregon Statesman Journal publishing a Seattle AP report. Hey, the Daily Astorian is our neck of the woods – out here in Bay Center, in Pacific County. So I followed the link and found a fantastic resource in the collection of articles for this special report featured in the Daily Astorian.

An award wining special report as provided by a collaborating collection of 22 writers, seven photographers, seven editors, six page designers and two logo creators from The Daily Astorian.

There are 71 articles from March 2006 to the most recent one in Sept 2007. I will be reading them over the weeks ahead and I’ve already read through several of the articles. I can see some grave relevance, not only for our immediate region on coastal Southwest WA, but along the WA coastline and those Puget Sound bodies of water.

I’m struck by how the articles reference two of the nearby towns of South Bend and Raymond in the region where we live as the ‘canaries in a coal mine’.

from one of the articles ‘What you would see here would be a hell of a mess’

Not only would the coastline change, but there is no question there would be a corresponding rise in the water table, said Douglas Canning, recently retired from the Washington Department of Ecology’s Shorelands Program and affiliated with the University of Washington’s Climate Impact Group.

A rise in the table water would cause low-lying inland lakes to expand. Areas that are now wetlands could have standing water year-round, or become small lakes. New wetlands could form on previously dry ground. Freshwater marshes could become inundated with saltwater.

Because Raymond and South Bend are feeling the symptoms, Canning suggests county leaders consider them their canaries in a coal mine.

“Those are my poster children,” for demonstrating the dangers of the long-term effects of rising ocean levels, he said. Any unanticipated consequences of climate change and a rise in the ocean level should manifest there first.

I’m also struck by the specific article on Bay Center (where we live) becoming an island. We already are an ‘island’ technically, but the article isn’t talking about the mere channel of water that separates us now from the mainland where a small bridge is our way in and out.

from one of the articles ‘Maps reveal extent of worries for Bay Center, Oysterville’

Washington’s Pacific County covers 928 square miles, but by 2100, based on predictions of ocean level rise caused by global climate change, the county could lose 20 square miles to the ocean.

A Geographic Information System analysis of Pacific County was done using a projected rise in ocean level of 3.4 feet by 2100. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates an approximate rise in ocean level of three feet by 2100, and a Canadian study suggests the Pacific Northwest may experience half as much again again as the global average.

Bay Center, bracketed by Willapa Bay and a river, will become a virtual island at high tide.

Of course, those are immediate concerns to those of us who live in Pacific County, however, I don’t think the effects are limited to Southwest Washington as much as The Daily Astorian chose to do a very comprehensive and scientific analytical report, giving me reason to be very proud of the reporting in our region from what is considered to be a small town newspaper in The Daily Astorian.

Astoria, Oregon, on Highway 101, is a Megler Bridge away from us in Pacific County, so we consider it very much part of our region. The Megler Astoria Bridge spans the mouth of the Columbia River where the river meets the Pacific Ocean.

I wonder if the newspapers to the north of us in the larger cities along western Washington coast have invested this kind of time in reporting? And if not, why not?

By pointing to the concerns we face in our region, I think the smorgasboard of articles points to larger concerns beyond just our immediate region. For example:

Will fishing cool down as the oceans warm up?


Bananas growing in Oregon?


Northwest water supplies rely on storage and conservation


It’s like a freight train coming and no one can stop it
Salmon are hardy – but can they survive warmer water? It may be hard to believe that chinook salmon or steelhead could be bothered or hurt by a few degrees warmer water

Invasive species hurting lifestyles on Long Beach Peninsula

Forests and crops struggle to beat the heat

Cranberry crop on the Peninsula may be vulnerable to climate change


Along with drier landscape comes another problem – more weeds
SPOKANE, Wash. – Bigger weeds. Weeds that go further up mountainsides. Weeds that take advantage, not only of warmer temperatures, but higher carbon dioxide levels that will accompany global climate change.


Sea birds, insects and other critters suffer amid changing climate


Growers around the Northwest point to evidence of more pests


Forests encounter new pest problems in the age of global warming


Effects on bird species bring climate change into focus
Bird count shows some new species are appearing here


Climate change activists converge in Skamakowa
(my note; Skamokawa is a tiny town in Wahkiakum County, the next county over and south from us in Pacific County. A tiny town like that taking a lead in climate change — I’m mightily impressed!)

Climate change team

This installment of the climate change series is produced by the East Oregonian Publishing Group, whose member newspapers include The Daily Astorian in Astoria, Ore., The East Oregonian in Pendleton, Ore., The Capital Press in Salem, Ore., (covering four states); the Blue Mountain Eagle in John Day, Ore., The Wallowa Chieftain in Enterprise, Ore., and the Chinook Observer in Long Beach, Wash.

I seem to have gravitated to a place where I find the focus of my attention on quite hefty and heavy topics, between activism regarding Iraq war (wars in Middle East) and concerns with climate warming. At least I feel like with the climate warming there are some things I can do (we can do, each and every one of us) that might make some difference to the greater sum in effort to work to reduce impacts. And in each little step I find I can take, I feel a small but empowered sense that this is something where we can have a unifying commonality and work together in building communities and work towards life-giving purposes.

Oh, but with Iraq war, I feel like I have failed despite my best efforts after 5 years of focused activism. I feel the failure acutely as my son-in-law leaves at the end of this week for his second deployment to Iraq. I really find myself feeling awkward in knowing what to say to him, and I can’t shake the feeling of having failed him and his wife and children when I am with them. I realize it is in the hands of Congress now, and am coming to the sad realization that there is nothing Congress will do to shift the course of Iraq war for the remainder of this President’s term. I’m not so sure Congress will do much even when (if) a new President takes on the Commander-in-Chief role in Jan 2009.

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