Olympia Transportation Workshop – April 13

The City of Olympia is holding it’s 2nd Annual Transportation Workshop in mid-April. While it’s promoted largely whithin city limits, Griffin area residents will want to be heard as the big city folks come together to seek new approaches to meeting the Olympia Comprehensive Plan goals. All of us travel to Olympia, particularly to the congested west side, where congestion on Black Lake and along Henderson is only liable to get worse.

2nd Annual Transportation Workshop
Monday, April 13, 2009
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
The Olympia Center, Columbia Street & Olympia Avenue

Among the concepts that will be presented are:

  • Primary bus corridors: Work with Intercity Transit to develop streets with high-quality bus services.
  • Connectivity: Continue to develop a gridded street network, as well as bicycle and walking paths.
  • Complete streets: Build streets that support all modes and contribute to a sense of place.
  • Financing: Examine new funding sources for walking, biking, bus and motor-vehicle improvements.

Come share your thoughts. Whether you walk, bike, ride the bus, or drive a motor vehicle, your ideas about the future of transportation in Olympia are sought.

Click here for more information or contact Sophie Stimson at (360) 753-8497 or sstimson@ci.olympia.wa.us.

Karen Valenzuela Campaign Kickoff

As you are probably already aware, there is special election, this August and November, to fill the seat of Thurston County Commissioner for District 3. Karen Valenzuela was appointed to fill the vacancy created when Bob McLeod resigned. Valenzuela has filed to run for the position. The primary election is in August, the general election is in November.

Karen Valenzuela’s Campaign Kickoff
Thursday, April 2nd
5:30 – 7:30 PM
River’s Edge Restaurant at Tumwater Valley Golf Course

Donations gratefully accepted to People to Elect Karen Valenzuela
120 State Ave. NE #135, Olympia, WA 98501

Valenzuela is already being endorsed by:

Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero
State Representative Sam Hunt
Tumwater Mayor Ralph Osgood
Tumwater City Councilmember Joan Cathey
Tumwater City Councilmember Pete Kmet
Tumwater City Councilmember Ed Stanley
Former Olympia Mayor Mark Foutch
Former Olympia Mayor Bob Jacobs
Olympia City Councilmember Joe Hyer
Olympia City Councilmember Jeff Kingsbury
Olympia City Councilmember Joan Machlis
Olympia City Councilmember Karen Messmer
Olympia City Councilmember Rhenda Iris Strub
Tenino Mayor Ken Jones
Tenino City Councilmember Dawna Kelley
and Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock

Free Eld Inlet Heritage Meeting and Workshop Series Begins March 29

Area residents are invited to participate in a free Eld Inlet Heritage Meeting and Workshop Series, beginning March 29th.

This is a special series of workshops designed specifically for shoreline landowners and featuring a variety of speakers, workshops, history, food and fun!

This series of workshops is a new program aimed at helping shoreline landowners along Eld Inlet to attain the best and most sustainable practices for managing their shoreline and providing them with assistance to do just that. Participants that live on the shoreline of the Eld will also have the opportunity during these workshops to apply for a scientist to assess their property and may receive free plants, labor and other assistance.

March 29th
1:30 to 4 p.m.
“Rain Gardens – Your Key to managing Drainage & Protecting South Sound”
Native Plant Salvage – Erica Guttman
Mason County Public Works
W. 100 Public Works Drive
Shelton, WA 98584

Participation is free, but seating is limited.
Please call Karin at (360) 427-9436 x 22 (Mason Conservation District) for more information and to sign up.

The workshop will begin at 1:30 p.m. They anticipate that the program will be full, so please make every effort to arrive a little early so you can get checked in before hand, allowing them to start on time.

What to bring: This workshop will be as hands-on as possible. They encourage everyone to bring: A soil sample or soil samples from an area or areas in your yard that you are considering turning into a rain garden. Make sure you are planning at least 10 feet away from any structures and at least 50 feet away if you are uphill of a septic system, or at least 15 feet away from septic a septic tank or drain field in flat terrain.

To take the soil sample: carefully remove your top vegetation in a small area, then dig down about 12 to 18 inches; place a few cups of soil from this level in a plastic bag and label its location and depth. If you can go deeper (up to 24 inches), that provides additional helpful information about your underlying soils. Put a few cups of this lower level of soil in a plastic bag; label its location and depth. Refill your hole and replace your plants. If you are thinking about making more than one rain garden, or you have different sites you are considering, then bring additional soil samples if the different areas aren’t near each other in your yard.

If you want more information about what rain gardens do, please check this link. We will also discuss this with you at the workshop.

Potluck and Eld Inlet Heritage meeting
April 17
6 to 8 p.m.
Olympia Community School
4346 Sunset Beach Dr NW.

This is going to be a potluck and Eld Inlet Heritage meeting (bring a dish to share and get to know your shoreline neighbors) with guest speaker historian Drew Crooks.

For more information about the Potluck and Eld Inlet Heritage meeting, contact Gabby Byrne, Education and Involvement Coordinator, People For Puget Sound, at (360) 754-9177 or click this link to email.

We’ll pass along whatever information we receive, about additional events in this series.

Land Conservation Efforts by Private Land Owners on the Rise

In an article appearing in the Olympian last week, John Dodge, wrote that “South Sound land conservation groups are busier than ever, despite an economic downturn that cuts across the landscape.”

Click here to read the article.

In the article, John Dodge reports that, “In the past month, Capitol Land Trust has closed three deals to protect more than 130 acres of special habitat in Thurston and Mason counties, bringing its conserved land base in South Sound to more than 3,000 acres.” Eric Erler, the executive director of the Trust, is quoted as saying they “have another 2,500 acres in the works.”

Despite the economic slowdown – or maybe because of it – people have become interested in learning about alternatives to selling or developing land they own.

Capitol Land Trust “seeks to maintain the coexistence of people, wildlife and the natural habitats that sustain us all, by working with groups and individuals at the local level to protect and conserve important lands.”

Our work is guided by four strategic conservation goals. Our efforts are community based, locally supported and economically beneficial. By working cooperatively, and with support from its members and the community, Capitol Land Trust protects the natural environment by offering landowners non-regulatory alternatives.

The Trust conserves important wildlife habitat and natural areas by accepting donations of conservation easements and gifts of land, or by working with partners to purchase lands. The Trust also meets with and counsels landowners on these and other conservation techniques.

Readers of this blog will recall that we’ve already written about the “tremendous expansion of the federal conservation tax incentive for conservation easement donations” approved by Congress in 2006. At that time that piece was written, Congress had only planned to extend particularly attractive taxing incentives to easements established in Tax Years 2006 and 2007. However, folks went to work and have been successful at extending those through 2009.

The Land Trust Alliance is an excellent resource regarding tax policy, as it applies to conservation easements. Their web page at http://www.landtrustalliance.org/policy/taxincentives/tax-policy is a good place to start. There’s even an opportunity to join their campaign to make the tax changes permanent.

If you are interested in discussing the advantages of a preserving land you own, a call to the Capitol Land Trust is a great place to start. All inquiries to Capitol Land Trust are without obligation and completely confidential.

What’s Your Water Footprint?

We’ve probably all heard and are now familiar with the term “carbon footprint.” But, there’s another concept that’s emerging into public consciousness: the water footprint. The Wikipedia defines “water footprint” as “an indicator of water use that includes both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business.”

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we may take water for granted; many of us might not realize just how fragile are our water resources. Personally, my family’s well is very shallow (less than 50 feet) and there are shoreline residents who in recent years have experienced salt water intrusion into their freshwater supply. Thurston County simply doesn’t know what the freshwater carrying capacity of the Steamboat Island peninsula is; it’s not part of the equation, when applications for development are approved. There are many reasons why individuals and corporations should pay attention to the quantity of water resources they are using.

For example, Levis recently accounted for the water use associated with the lifespan of a single pair of their jeans. They found about 900 gallons of water were consumed from the production cycle, all the way back to the cotton plants, through to the owner’s wash cycles. As a consequence of thsi work, Levis is actually telling their customers to think twice, before they wash their pants!

That cup of coffee you might have had, this morning? An estimated 37 gallons of water are behind that (the amount of diesel fuel consumed is beyond the scope of this little article).

A hamburger? 634 gallons. Beef production is very water-intensive. One pound of ground beef takes an estimated 1500 gallons of water.

A glass of wine? 31 gallons of water.

The folks at Good have put together a reference page which describes common products or activities during a normal day. It reports on both “direct” water use – that is, the water you actually use, and “virtual” use, which is the water that helped to make the things you use. Click here to see that page.

In the next months and years, we’re going to hear more and more about issues related to the availability and control of freshwater resources on the planet. “Water footprint” is going to be an increasingly important factor, both for individuals and for the corporations that expect to survive in a future of fragile natural resources.

Click here for more information regarding water footprint.

Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool Open House – March 23 – 27 and 28th

Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool invites interested parents to join them at their Open House the week of March 23rd – 27th and on Saturday, March 28th from 10 AM to 12 noon.


  • Low child-adult ratios
  • Safe, nurturing environment with a country setting
  • Parental involvement leads to a child’s future success in school
  • Parents and children make lifelong friends
  • Parents gain and increased understanding of child development
  • Parents gain valuable skills
  • Affiliated with South Puget Sound Community College

SICP is located at 6240 – 41st Ave. NW. Call them at 866-1819, for more information.

They have a web site at http://www.steamboatpreschool.org/

Griffin area parents and children are, I think, pretty lucky. There are good schools right here in the neighborhood. The Griffin School District is recognized for the achievements of its students. According to a recent edition of the “GriffinLink” newsletter:

Griffin made the grade for the Federal ‘Adequate Yearly Progress’ (AYP). Griffin School District is the only district in Thurston County to meet the AYP standard and one of only eight districts of the forty-four in our region (Educational Service District 113) to make the grade.

Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool is an excellent program that’s operated in this area for years.

And, St. Christopher’s Community Preschool is a new program, starting at St. Christopher’ Community Church. The preschool program there has an Open House scheduled for Monday, March 16th. Click here to read the article we’ve written about that event.

Erik Landaas Bows Out of Commissioner Race

Back on March 2, we wrote about how Erik Landaas had thrown his hat in the ring, to challenge appointed Commissioner Karen Valenzuela. Today, the Olympian is reporting he’s dropped out of the race.

The Olympian is reporting that Landaas works for Grays Harbor County government, coordinating chemical-dependency programs. His office receives some federal money and a law called the Hatch Act, which was created to prohibit federal employees from participating in partisan political activity, prevents him from running for the commission.

For One Hour, Switch Off Your Lights, 8:30 PM, March 28

1,760 cities, towns and municipalities in 80 countries have already committed to VOTE EARTH for Earth Hour 2009, as part of the worlds first global election between Earth and global warming.

Switch off your lights for one hour, 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM, local time, Saturday, March 28

On March 28 you can VOTE EARTH by switching off your lights for one hour.

Or you can vote global warming by leaving your lights on.

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. The World Wildlife Federation is urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.

We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.

Click here for more information.

Shellfish in Your Front Yard – Free Workshop, May 23rd

Attend a Washington Sea Grant workshop in Olympia and learn about identifying, cultivating and safely harvesting shellfish on your beach.

Register now for this free workshop:
Saturday, May 23
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Prosperity Grange #315, 3701 Steamboat Island Rd. N.W., Olympia, Washington

Participants will learn about the biology of bivalve shellfish, which shellfish grow best on their beach type, and various methods for enhancing tidelands with clams, oysters and mussels. Each workshop will also focus on ways to protect water quality so that harvested shellfish will be safe to eat.

Workshop instructors include local shellfish farmers and Washington Sea Grant staff. Each workshop will feature classroom and on-the-beach activities.

Bring a sack lunch and your mud boots!

One-on-one technical assistance will also be offered to all participants, as part of the Bivalves for Clean Water program*.

Space is limited, so pre-registration is required. To register or for more information, contact Teri King or Janis McNeal, Washington Sea Grant, at wsgcanal@u.washington.edu or 360-432-3054.

*Funding for the Bivalves for Clean Water program is provided in party through EPA Grant Number C9-00044905 to the Washington Department of Ecology from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Ecology allocates and administers funding for this project.

King5 Investigation Highlights Differences Between Types of Smoke Detectors

Seattle television station King5 recently ran a segment regarding the choice between the more common ionization type smoke detectors and the more rare photoelectric smoke detectors. According to the report, ionization detectors are better at signaling the presence of flaming fires, whereas photoelectric detectors respond better to smoking, low flame kinds of fires.

Click here to read or view the King5 report.

While most detectors sold are the ionization kind, some authorities note that house fires often begin small and smoky, such as those that start in seat cushions or when fabrics contact a baseboard heater. While the television report features statistics about the number of deaths in house fires where operating smoke detectors were present, King5 concluded the report not by advising homeowners to switch from ionization to photoelectric type, but instead they recommended the purchase both kinds of detectors.

The Griffin Fire Department offers free smoke detectors and smoke detector batteries to local residents. Be sure to check with them, though, regarding what type of detectors they are distributing.

Interested in shopping for smoke detectors, online? Purchases at Amazon.com made via the web site of the Griffin Neighborhood Association benefit the GNA at no cost to you.

The First Alert SA302CN detector combines both photoelectric and ionization detectors, in one device. It also has an interesting testing and disabling feature, using your television’s remote control:

First Alert SA302CN Double Sensor Battery-Powered Smoke and Fire Alarm

Kidde produced a dual-sensor detector, too, whose features are worth a look:

Kidde PI9000 Battery-Operated Dual Ionization and Photoelectric Sensor Smoke Alarm

If you are looking for a good photoelectric detector, and not a dual-detector, here’s one that’s well-reviewed. It’s also got an escape light:

First Alert SA720CN Smoke Alarm Photoelectric Sensor with Escape Light

Purchases made using any of these links will benefit the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

Looking for more choices, at Amazon.com? Click on this link to visit the Amazon.com Home Page