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“The Impact”: Invasive Mussels, Murder Hornets, Sunburn Plant, Sunshine Week  

Mike McClanahan profile by Mike McClanahan

Video: “The Impact”: Invasive Mussels, Murder Hornets, Sunburn Plant, Sunshine Week  

The recent discovery of invasive zebra mussels hiding in retail aquarium products in Seattle reveals another possible route to ruinous infestation.

Washington has a proactive boat inspection program designed to keep zebra mussels and quagga mussels from gaining a foothold in the state. The little filter feeders have wreaked havoc on hydroelectric equipment and the ecosystem in the great lakes and the Mississippi River Basin.  That’s why state wildlife management agencies are so alarmed about the discovery of live  zebra mussels in aquarium moss balls for sale at a Seattle pet store which led to a much wider investigation.

“They were found in pet stores across the state of Washington. We then learned that it was a regional problem and so the world has shifted in a lot of ways,” said Justin Bush, Executive Coordinator, Washington Invasive Species Council.

Within a week zebra mussel infested aquarium products were reported in at least thirty-two other states. Both PetSmart and Petco announced they were proactively pulling the products nationwide, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.   Any aquarium owners who bought the products are urged to properly dispose of the moss balls and disinfect their tanks to avoid releasing the mussels into state waterways. Bush says public awareness and involvement are a critical part of the state’s efforts to keep destructive species out.

“We have a huge problem to protect our state from hitchhikers on watercraft, but we now have this new unanticipated issue of potentially having infested marimo moss balls at different pet stores throughout Washington and the United States,” said Bush. “To say that we’re very concerned is probably an understatement.”

Once established the little shellfish reproduce by the millions encrusting natural and artificial structures alike. They can clog critical parts of hydroelectric dam systems that weren’t designed to be easily cleared and could cost Washington at least $100 million a year, according to Bush.

“Essentially the mussels grow on top of each other with one generation’s shells growing on top of the next, on top of the next,” said Bush. “If you picture a fish ladder for example, fish are jumping up the facility, moving through the water column, if those were covered in razor sharp shells it’s going to become a Cuisinart for some of our endangered species.”

As the weather gets warmer Asian giant hornet queens will ultimately emerge from an unknown number of nests in Washington and British Columbia. The so-called ‘murder hornets’ are the largest species of hornet in the world. They target and wipe out entire honeybee hives.  They can also sting right through your clothes even if you’re wearing a beekeeper suit.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture announced its 2021 Asian giant hornet trapping plans with partner agencies in the federal government and Canada this week. (LINK )  Volunteer citizen trappers will be needed to help the state get a handle on where the hornets have spread to give state entomologists a shot at finding and destroying the nests.

“We’ve got one opportunity to eradicate these things, “said Bush.

Another species to watch out for has already put down roots in the state. A nightmarish weed with little white blossoms and a toxic secret inside.

“Giant hogweed is an especially large plant. The sap inside of it reacts to the sun and actually will burn your skin,” said Bush. “Third degree burns.”

For more information about how to identify and report invasive species check out


Sunshine Week

TVW went live more than twenty five years ago bringing  gavel to gavel coverage of the state legislature, the state supreme court and more recently,- the courts of appeals to millions of homes across Washington.

You can go back and find out how your representative or senator voted or which questions justices asked in major cases.

A quarter century of  House and Senate floor speeches, oral arguments in major cases, the testimony from business leaders,  farmers, activists, loggers ,teachers and citizens from every walk of life is available live and online.

This is Sunshine Week, a time when news outlets around the country focus on open government.

We reached out to a political reporter, an editor turned college instructor and lawmaker turned judge about the impact of having cameras in the House and Senate chambers, committee rooms, and the Temple of Justice.

Judge Marlin Appelwick, Court of Appeals Division 1, former State Representative and House Minority Leader: 

“I think when the legislature was contemplating TVW it was really in search of transparency. Trying to make sure the public did have a good window on what was going on in their government.

There was a fair amount of angst about whether the cameras would change how we did business. Would people get up and make more heroic speeches? Would they pan to the cameras? And would it make the legislature look bad in the sense that it might create expectations that we’re always in our chairs and sitting erect and facing forward?   As opposed to scurrying around doing the things that have to be done to get amendments prepared and consult with other legislators and your chair would be empty at times.

Those things didn’t happen. Business didn’t change. Members’ speeches continued to be what members’ speeches had been and the member activity continued to be what it had been before. So, I think it really gave the public a great look not only in the floor sessions, but committee activities and a real sense of how much effort was going into making good legislation.

The entrance into the supreme court was really probably more striking because I don’t think anyone had particularly paid attention to arguments before the supreme court.

Certainly there is room for people to gather and listen to the arguments, but that was really an eye opener. And I found from my legislative constituents commenting that it was striking to see what went on and how much reverence was given in the courtroom. And frankly, I think it gives people confidence.

To this day I’m shocked by how many people tell me they actually watch the supreme court on TVW.”

Jim Camden – The Spokesman-Review:

“What’s available for the public is pretty amazing, pretty vast in Washington state. And if you’re interested in an issue whether it’s taxes or voting rights or police reform, you can watch debate over the legislation that involves those things basically from beginning to end, from the time its first described in its first committee hearing to the committee vote, to the floor in one chamber then as it switches to the other chamber and you can watch it change as it goes along. One thing that you can’t do, however, is you can’t watch the reconciliation for tough issues after they’ve passed both chambers. That’s closed. And so you don’t actually see some of the big deals and compromises that are made in order to get, say the budget through both chambers of the legislature in the final days of the session. But it is much better than just trusting what your legislator tells you in their newsletter.”

“In the courtrooms. I think it’s really important to remember that some big trials can gather a lot of public attention, but most courtroom procedures are pretty dry It can be long and tedious and so I’m not sure many people watch many trials from gavel to gavel but it is important to have that going on and back up so when you get to the state supreme court so those the arguments are covered on TVW every time. I think that’s really important because that is the court that decides what does the law mean.”

George Erb, Journalism Instructor, Western Washington University, Former Editor of the Puget Sound Business Journal, Board member, Washington Coalition for Open Government:

“I can assure you there were no cameras when the founders wrote the U.S. Constitution. For that matter, there were no cameras, anywhere, until the early 1800s. But the innovators who devised our form of government would be very comfortable with using cameras to let citizens see their government at work. The founders who rebelled against King George III wanted to give succeeding generations a lasting alternative to autocrats. And so they devised a democratic republic in which the highest political authority was … the citizens.

It stands to reason that citizens need to be able to see what their government is doing. Citizens can’t tell whether the government is acting wisely on their behalf unless they can see their public officials at work.

Most of the founders did not live long enough to see the advent of photography. But they would absolutely approve of citizens watching their government at work through the technology of live and archived video. Thanks to video technology, Washington residents from Walla Walla to Port Angeles can watch lawmakers at work in the state Legislature, and justices at work in the state Supreme Court.

Our state archives all of this video, which makes it easier for citizens to watch at their convenience. We can also use archived video to hold our public officials to account.

I doubt America’s founders could even begin to imagine the video technology we use today. But the video record of our state Legislature and Supreme Court is a perfect fit for the form of government envisioned by the founders, and devised more than 230 years ago.”

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