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Nevada organization calls for greater Latino engagement in politics; Gov. Gavin Newsom appears to change course on transgender rights; Nebraska Tribal College builds opportunity 'pipelines,' STEM workforce.'

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House Republicans deadlock over funding days before the government shuts down, a New Deal-style jobs training program aims to ease the impacts of climate change, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas appeared at donor events for the right-wing Koch network.

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An Indigenous project in South Dakota seeks to protect tribal data sovereignty, advocates in North Carolina are pushing back against attacks on public schools, and Arkansas wants the hungriest to have access to more fruits and veggies.

WA DNR Seeks Input on Kelp, Eelgrass Conservation

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Wednesday, March 8, 2023   

Kelp and eelgrass are in trouble, and Washington state wants help from the public identifying where these marine plant species should be saved.

In 2022, lawmakers passed a measure directing the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to create a plan to conserve and recover at least 10,000 acres of kelp forest and eelgrass meadow habitat by 2040.

Max Showalter, policy adviser for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, said the species are in decline for a number of reasons.

"There's a number of physical stressors, like increasing water temperatures with climate change. There's biological stressors, like invasive species or declining water quality. There's also human stressors," Showalter outlined. "Development leads to loss of kelp and eelgrass."

Showalter pointed out as much as 90% of some kelp beds have been lost, and declines are greatest in Puget Sound. His agency is holding four workshops to get input on where to conserve the species. It will focus on Puget Sound at its virtual March 14 meeting, and an in-person March 23 meeting in Mukilteo. The coast will be the focus of a meeting in Hoquiam on March 16, and a virtual meeting on March 21.

Showalter emphasized healthy kelp and eelgrass provide a number of benefits, such as habitat for salmon and clean water. They also have cultural value for Northwest tribes. He hopes people will get engaged in the plan to save these species.

"This is something that DNR can't do alone, and so our hope is that we create a plan that is reflective of everyone's values for kelp and eelgrass," Showalter explained. "Because we need as much help as we can get to help our kelp forests eelgrass meadows, and we want everybody to be on board."

He added kelp and eelgrass are important in the fight against climate change, as they help store carbon which would otherwise go into the atmosphere.

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


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