Sheldon to lead Hood Canal council

Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) is cautioning his fellow legislators that they may be too quick on the law-making draw to fix the Hood Canal’s low-dissolved oxygen problem.

Sheldon, who was recently named the chairman of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council, said the legislative branch has made the Hood Canal the environmental issue of the day, but the current legislation may do more harm than good.

While the portion of the Hood Canal that runs through Kitsap County is healthy, the south end of the Hood Canal is in trouble and nobody’s sure why.

Its dissolved oxygen levels are at an all-time low, which has caused major fish kills in some areas of the canal.

In a usual year, the oxygen levels are lower in the summer and fall months, then replenish in the winter months. In the last two years, the dissolved oxygen levels, particularly in the southern end of the canal (Mason County) have not replenished.

Earlier this month, four bills regarding the Hood Canal were passed by the House of Representatives. The first bill creates an aquatic rehabilitation zone, which will give the Hood Canal its own identity, allowing legislators to pass laws that will affect only the Hood Canal.

The rehabilitation zone would encompass all the watersheds in the Hood Canal from Tala Point in Jefferson County to Foulweather Bluff in Kitsap County.

A second bill would make the HCCC the lead management agency in fixing the Hood Canal. Other bills involve a survey of geoducks and sea cucumbers in the Hood Canal, the creation of an oral history of the Hood Canal and will deal with on-site sewage treatment.

“The legislature doesn’t manage (environmental) issues very well,” Sheldon said. “I can tell you from experience — I’m there every day. We take a view from 40,000 feet. There isn’t enough science yet to make the decisions they are trying to make.”

Sheldon, who also serves as a Mason County commissioner, said he would like to see the HCCC assume the leadership role rather than have the state legislators deal with the problem.

“If they have adequate knowledge I think that’s fine, but when you have 147 legislators from around the state they are, as a group, woefully misinformed about the issue,” Sheldon said. Fellow Mason County politician Rep. Bill Eickmeyer (D-Belfair) chairs the House’s

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