All posts by Andy Walgamott

Long Beach Featured In Next Washington Coast Razor Clam Dig

THE FOLLOWING IS A WDFW PRESS RELEASE

The next round of evening razor-clam digs is set to begin Thursday, Dec. 20, just in time to take home some clams for the winter holidays.

RAZOR CLAMMERS WORK THE BEACH DURING AN EARLY 2010 SEASON. (JASON BAUER)

State shellfish managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the dig on evening low tides after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat. No digging will be allowed on any beach before noon.

The upcoming dig is approved on the following beaches, dates, and evening low tides:

  • Dec. 20, Thursday, 4:51 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Dec. 21, Friday, 5:35 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Dec. 22, Saturday, 6:20 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Dec. 23, Sunday, 7:05 p.m.; -1.6 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, recommends that diggers hit the beach about an hour or two before low tide for the best results.

“We are opening Long Beach to give visitors a chance at some clams for the holidays, but diggers should expect some smaller clams in their catch,” said Ayres.

Long Beach has been closed for much of the season to give the high number of juvenile razor clams a chance to grow.

Diggers want to be sure to come prepared with good lighting devices and always keep an eye on the surf, particularly at this time of year when the best low tides come after dark, he added.

WDFW is also announcing tentative digs through February, beginning with a proposed five day dig starting Jan. 2. Proposed razor clam digs are listed below, along with evening low tides and beaches:

  • Jan. 2, Wednesday; 4:22 p.m.; 0.2 feet; Twin Harbors
  • Jan. 3, Thursday; 5:06 p.m.; -0.2 feet; Twin Harbors
  • Jan. 4, Friday; 5:46 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Jan. 5, Saturday; 6:23 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Jan. 6, Sunday; 6:59 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

For a complete list of proposed digs, please visit WDFW’s recreational razor clam website athttps://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2018-19 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

Governor’s Budget Proposal Includes ‘Unprecedented’ $1.1B For Orcas, Salmon

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is touting an “unprecedented investment” of $1.1 billion to recover orcas and their key feedstock — Chinook — in his just-released 2019-21 budget proposal.

A PUGET SOUND ADULT CHINOOK SALMON SWIMS THROUGH THE BALLARD LOCKS. (NMFS)

It includes $12 million for WDFW to maximize hatchery production to rear and release an additional 18.6 million salmon smolts to increase returns by 186,000 fish, potentially a key bridge for starving orcas — and fishermen — as habitat work comes on line in the coming years and decades.

“Salmon hatcheries can play an important role in increasing prey abundance for Southern Resident orcas in the near term,” the next three to 10 years, a statement from Inslee’s office on Medium states.

Besides increasing SRKWs’ prey base, the governor’s multipronged approach includes a whopping $205 million boost for DOT to improve fish passage beneath state roads, opening up more salmon habitat as well as to abide by this year’s Supreme Court decision to let a lower court’s ruling on fixing culverts to stand.

There’s a much-needed $75.7 million to improve the state’s hatcheries, $17.8 million to incentivize voluntary habitat work by landowners and $4.7 million to “collect additional population information and develop management options for pinnipeds in Puget Sound and to increase management actions in the Columbia River.”

This week, Congress sent President Trump a bill that helps on the latter waterway, giving states and tribes more leeway to remove sea lions in parts of the big river and its tribs.

Another line mentions reducing salmonid predation by nonnative fish.

The budget also calls on DOE to allow more spill at dams in the Columbia Basin to aid outmigrating Chinook and other smolts.

“Increased spill will speed travel of smolts out to the ocean and help cool the water,” the governor’s Medium page story states.

Inslee’s also calling for go-slow zones around J, K and L Pods and a three-year moratorium on watching those particular whales.

Those and many of the other proposals unveiled today came out of the SRKW Task Force that the governor formed last March in response to decreasing numbers of southern residents. Since 1996’s high point, their population has dropped 24 percent to 74 animals, with several recent high-profile deaths spurring things on.

Of course there’s far, far more to Inslee’s proposed budget, including proposed fishing and hunting license fee increases.

And it all must first be passed or modified by state lawmakers during next year’s session.

But today’s rollout was a start to a better focus on the health of salmon runs, orcas and our fisheries and waters.

Huge Oregon ‘Archery’ Buck Actually Killed With A Rifle; Shooter Sentenced

A ginormous Southern Oregon mule deer buck that a Lane County resident said he arrowed was actually killed with a rifle, according to state police who say that last month he was convicted and sentenced for the offense.

AN OREGON STATE FISH AND WILDLIFE TROOPER POSES WITH THE EIGHT-POINT BUCK. (OSP)

The story began in 2015 when Kevin H. Noel reported killing the eight-pointer in the Steens Mountain Unit on an archery tag during the bowhunting season.

Afterwards he took it to one of the winter sportsmen’s show to get it measured and ended up placing first in the nontypical category for the species.

The 218 5/8-inch rack also scored as the eighth biggest of all time taken in the Beaver State by a bowman.

But according to the Oregon State Police, this past spring as they investigated Noel for unspecified “other crimes” they learned that he may not have used a bow and arrow to down the trophy after all, but a rifle instead.

That violated his tag and sparked wildlife troopers to take a closer look, and they eventually seized the mount and arrested Noel.

That led to a jury trial and a guilty verdict during a trial in Lane County last month, according to OSP.

OSP reports that last week, Lane County Circuit Court Judge Debra Velure sentenced Noel to pay a $6,250 fine, gave him 15 days in jail, suspended his hunting license for three years and put him on probation for three years while also forfeiting the buck.

And according to OSP, Velure also said Noel couldn’t “participate in any hunting excursions for the next three years.”

Inslee Proposes $115 Million For Habitat, Recreation In 2019-21 Budget

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON WILDLIFE & RECREATION COALITION

Today, Governor Inslee released his budget, which includes $115 million in funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). His proposal is a huge step toward meeting the outdoor recreation and conservation needs of our growing state. The WWRP, funded through the capital construction budget, is the state’s premier grant program for habitat conservation and outdoor recreation opportunities. The program has played a significant role in our state’s landscape and quality of life, investing over $1.4 billion into state and local parks, trails, wildlife habitat, working lands, and other community priorities across the state.

A $4 MILLION PROJECT IN WESTERN YAKIMA COUNTY’S COWICHE WATERSHED WAS THE HIGHEST RANKED IN THE WASHINGTON WILDLIFE AND RECREATION PROGRAM’S CRITICAL HABITAT CATEGORY. IT WOULD BENEFIT FISH AND WILDLIFE. (WDFW)

“In funding the WWRP at $115 million, Governor Inslee has set a legacy level for this critical program,” said Christine Mahler, Executive Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “The Governor recognizes our beautiful places will be lost for the next generation if we don’t act now. A true champion of Washington’s outdoors, he recognizes the importance of this program to communities from Chehalis to the Colville Reservation. The Legislature should, at minimum, match the Governor’s level for the WWRP.”

Robust funding for the WWRP is more important than ever as our state’s population growth has accelerated in recent years. WWRP projects mitigate the impacts of rapid population growth, create outdoor opportunities for families across the state, preserve wildlife habitat, and protect working lands.

The WWRP does all this while also investing in our economy and fueling job growth. Outdoor recreational lands generate more than $26.2 billion in consumer spending annually and help support 201,000 jobs in our state. Additionally, WWRP projects simultaneously address numerous other state priorities, including mental and physical health, childhood development and school performance, and salmon and orca recovery.

This year alone, over 120 different local, state, tribal, and non-profit groups from across the state submitted 273 applications for funding in the next biennium. The Coalition is collecting signatures from across the state in support of $130 million for the WWRP. More than 100 organizations and opinion leaders and over 800 individuals have signed the letter of support to date, demonstrating how important this program is to Washingtonians across our beautiful state.

With the start of the legislative session approaching, we respectfully urge the Legislature to fund this vital program at $130 million. In doing so, they will support our state’s growing recreation economy, fulfill local community needs, and preserve Washington’s natural heritage for future generations.

For more information on project rankings, click here.

NMFS Touts Economic Boost, Expected Catches From Rebuilding West Coast Groundfish Stocks

THE FOLLOWING IS A NEWS STORY FROM THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE

The successful rebuilding of several West Coast groundfish stocks that declined precipitously nearly three decades ago is now opening the way for increasing recreational and commercial fishing opportunities for many of the West Coast’s most delicious and nutritious fish species.

FEDERAL FISHERY OVERSEERS SAY THAT MANAGEMENT AND COLLABORATION HAS LED WEST COAST GROUNDFISH STOCKS TO REBUILD FASTER THAN EXPECTED, LEADING TO INCREASED ANGLING OPPORTUNITIES. (NMFS)

NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region published a new rule this week that increases catch limits and eases fishing restrictions for many West Coast groundfish, including rockfish, such as Pacific Ocean perch; flatfish, such as petrale sole; and roundfish, such as Pacific cod and sablefish. Groundfish represent one of the West Coast’s most important recreational and commercial fisheries, earning some $140 million annually for commercial fishermen who catch them with a variety of gear, including trawls, longlines, pots (traps), and baited hooks.

West Coast communities will see an increase of about 900 jobs and $60 million in income in 2019, according to an economic analysis of the new harvest rule. Recreational anglers will take about 219,000 more fishing trips, most of them in southern California with some in Oregon and Washington.

The collapse of several West Coast groundfish in the late 1990s led to severe fishing cutbacks so these stocks could rebuild, greatly curtailing a mainstay of the coastal economy. The groundfish fleet had to limit fishing even for the other more abundant groundfish stocks to avoid unintentional catch of the overfished stocks.

Through careful science-based management and collaboration among fishermen, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, tribes, West Coast states, and NOAA Fisheries, many stocks, including canary rockfish, bocaccio, darkblotched rockfish, and Pacific Ocean perch, rebounded faster than expected and are now fully rebuilt. Research and stock assessments by NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers documented the resurgence, opening the way for more harvest opportunities. Others, such as cowcod and yelloweye rockfish, have been found to be rebuilding much faster than anticipated.

AN ODFW DIVER FILMS A CANARY ROCKFISH OFF OREGON. (ODFW)

Those continued collaborative and scientific efforts made higher annual catch limits possible for many groundfish species for 2019 and 2020. This will increase recreational and commercial fishing for bocaccio, darkblotched rockfish, Pacific Ocean perch, lingcod north of the California/Oregon border, and California scorpionfish. The new rule also reduces depth restrictions for recreational fishing and increases trip limits for fixed-gear fishermen.

The changes are expected to boost commercial and recreational fishing revenues, with sport anglers expected to take thousands more fishing trips off the West Coast as a result. Their spending on motels, meals, charter trips, and more is expected to boost recreational fishing income coast-wide by about $55 million, with the largest increases in California.

The harvest rule changes also promote quota trading among fishermen in the Shore-based Individual Fishing Quota Program, also known as the Groundfish Catch Share Program, which will help them make the most of the new fishing opportunities. The changes will also allow increased catches of underutilized species, such as yellowtail rockfish, lingcod, chilipepper rockfish, and Pacific cod.

Although the bycatch of Chinook salmon in the groundfish fishery is low and is expected to remain low, this new rule adds tools for NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council to respond quickly to address any unexpected changes in the amount of bycatch.

All of this good news for fishermen is also good news for fans of healthy and delicious fish. Groundfish provide lean protein and are a good source of omega-3s. West Coast groundfish, including Dover sole, sablefish, and lingcod are versatile fish available year-round that lend themselves well to a variety of preparations.

$7,500 Reward, Guided Hunt Now Offered For Info On Oregon Moose Poaching

Editor’s note: The following post has been updated (12-12-18, 8:50 a.m.) with a press release (at top) from the Oregon Hunters Association.

THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM THE OREGON HUNTERS ASSOCIATION AND OREGON STATE POLICE

The Oregon Hunters Association’s Union-Wallowa Chapter has pledged $500 toward the reward for information leading to an arrest in the case of a bull moose poached in Wallowa County, bringing the total reward offered to $7,500. Area landowners are offering a Landowner Preference bull elk tag as part of the reward.

(ODFW)

Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Troopers are asking for the public’s assistance in locating and apprehending whoever is responsible for shooting a bull moose sometime between Nov. 8 and Nov. 11 (the last couple of days of the second Bull Elk Season) in Wallowa County.

OHA offers a $1,000 reward from the Turn In Poachers fund, and 11 OHA chapters (Union/Wallowa, Emerald Valley, Yamhill, Clatsop, Josephine County, Capitol, Ochoco, Bend, Columbia County, Umpqua, Rogue Valley, Tualatin Valley and Hoodview) pledged $500 each.

“The poaching of a moose is a tragic thing,” said OHA Conservation Director Jim Akenson, who resides in Wallowa County. “Especially because our moose population is low – fewer than 70 in Oregon. For perspective, gray wolves already number more than twice that many in Oregon, so moose should deserve at least equal management protection.”

Also offered as part of the reward for information leading to an arrest is a Landowner Preference bull elk tag for the Krebs Ranch in the Chesnimnus Unit for the second bull season in 2019. The tag, arranged by Wallowa County resident Jim Zacharias, must be purchased from ODFW by the recipient.

The moose was shot and partially cut up off of the USFS 46 Road between Teepee Pond and mile marker 35 in the Chesnimnus Unit. The suspect(s) accessed the moose carcass from a campsite on the north side of the USFS 46 Road. Additionally, a side-by-side UTV was used to haul the moose meat and parts from the kill site back to the campsite.

Anyone with information that will help identify the suspect(s), is asked to call the TIP line at (800) 452-7888, *OSP (677) or Senior Trooper Mark Knapp at (541) 426-3049.

Informants providing information leading to an arrest in the case could be eligible for 5 big game preference points in lieu of the standard $1,000 TIP reward for a moose case. Callers may remain anonymous and still collect a reward.

In 2017, OHA (www.oregonhunters.org) increased the TIP reward amounts and paid a record $24,200 to informants in fish and wildlife violation cases.

……………………………………….

OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE

Pledges from OHA chapters across the state have poured in thus increasing the cash reward amount to $7,500 for information leading to the issuance of a citation or arrest for the bull moose unlawfully killed in the Chesnimnus unit.

In addition to the cash reward the Krebs Ranch, located near the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve in the Chesnimnus unit, notified the Oregon Hunters Association, that they are also offering a guided bull elk hunt valued at $3,500, to the person that provides the information.

“The poaching of a moose is a tragic thing,” said OHA Conservation Director Jim Akenson, who resides in Wallowa County. “Especially because our moose population is low with fewer than 70 in Oregon.”

U.S. House Passes Senate’s Sea Lion Bill; Next Stop: White House

The U.S. House today passed the Senate’s Columbia sea lion bill and it now heads to President Trump’s desk for his signature, according to Northwest lawmakers.

A SEA LION LOAFS ON AN ASTORIA DOCK. (BENJAMIN STANDFORD, NOAA-FISHERIES)

The bipartisan Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act, which gives states and tribes more leeway to manage the predatory pinnipeds feasting on ESA-listed Chinook and steelhead as well as other stocks in the river and its tributaries, was approved by unanimous consent, just as it was in the upper chamber last week.

“I suspect many would wish the times were different and this legislation wasn’t necessary,” said Jaime Pinkham, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “But the reality is that this legislation has become necessary. Tribal and state fisheries co-managers collaborated to explore and implement alternatives for over a decade and the imbalance shifted the greatest risks to the salmon and steelhead, and we remember how the story ended at Ballard Locks. I’m grateful Congress worked in a bipartisan manner to give us the local flexibility to protect the tribal treaty resources we share with others in the Columbia and Willamette rivers.”

S.3119, as the bill is known, was cosponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Jim Risch (R-ID).

“Today’s passage of our bill to control sea lions was a hard-fought victory – it’s a personal victory for each of us who treasure our Northwest salmon runs and want to see them preserved for generations to come,” said Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-3) in a joint press release with Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-5). “I’m grateful for the partnership of my colleague Kurt Schrader, and for Senators Risch and Cantwell for shepherding this through the Senate. I’m so pleased we are able to give Northwest fish managers this critical tool to help save our salmon and steelhead runs.”

Herrera Beutler, a Republican, and Schrader, a Democrat, represent communities on either side of the Lower Columbia.

Schrader said it was a problem he’d worked on since first coming to Congress.

“Ratepayers and my constituents are paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually towards the largest mitigation program in the country for threatened and endangered salmon. These sea lions, whose population has become totally inconsistent with their historic range, have been undoing all of that work by feasting on the endangered species. Our legislation will provide a great step forward in eliminating this threat to our iconic Oregon salmon that are struggling to survive once and for all,” he said in a press release.

In another quickly issued press release, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Yakima Valley) applauded the “bipartisan effort to improve management of pinnipeds threatening salmon” in both chambers of Congress.

“We really appreciate our state’s Congressional delegation’s leadership and support to pass this legislation,” added Nate Pamplin, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s policy director. “The sea lion population in the Lower Columbia River has increased dramatically in recent years, presenting a greater threat to wild salmon and steelhead runs than ever before.”

He said the bill, which had widespread support not just in the aisles of Congress but among stakeholders, would “provide us and co-managers with the tools needed to protect these vulnerable fish populations.”

Rodmaker Gary Loomis of Coastal Conservation Association said “CCA was proud to be part of this coalition effort and is thankful of the years of efforts by our members in support of this legislation.”

The news actually came as state salmon managers and sportfishing industry officials were meeting in Clackamas to review the 2019 Columbia spring Chinook forecast, which is roughly just one-half of the 10-year average.

That is due in part to very poor ocean conditions in recent years, but in 2014, the loss of 40 percent of the year’s first Columbia salmon run — an estimated 104,333 fish — was attributed to sea lion predation.

So when the bill came before federal lawmakers in Washington DC this afternoon, NSIA’s Liz Hamilton says that ODFW staffers paused the run forecast meeting to watch on the big screen.

“Applause all around,” she said of the room’s reaction to the House’s move, “combined with optimism for the future of Willamette wild winter steelhead and hope for other stocks deeply impacted by pinniped predation, including sturgeon.”

Earlier this fall federal overseers granted ODFW a permit to remove up to 93 sea lions around Willamette Falls after state officials estimated that there was a 90 percent chance one of the Oregon trib’s steelhead runs would go extinct if nothing was done.

The states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho have had federal permission to remove specific animals gathered at Bonneville Dam since March 2008.

This bill, which amends the Marine Mammal Protection Act for five years, extends that authority to the Yakama, Nez Perce, Umatilla and Warm Springs Tribes and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

It allows for the lethal removal of sea lions in the Columbia from the dam down to River Mile 112 and upstream to McNary Dam, as well as in the river’s tributaries with ESA-listed salmonids.

2019 Columbia Spring And Summer Chinook, Sockeye Forecasts Out

One of 2019’s first Northwest salmon forecasts was quietly posted late last week, a not-so-stellar prediction for Columbia spring and summer Chinook as well as sockeye.

According to ODFW and WDFW, the big river will see an overall run of 157,500 springers, 35,900 summer kings, and 99,300 of the red salmon.

A COLUMBIA RIVER ANGLER SIZES UP HIS SPRING CHINOOK DURING 2016’S RUN. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

All of those figures are well below 10-year averages but should come as no surprise given recent ocean conditions.

Expectations for next year’s first salmon runs of the year were essentially set all the way back in 2017 when federal fishery overseers warned that that spring’s offshore survey of juvenile Columbia salmon foresoothed poor 2018 returns continuing into 2019.

Still, some individual stocks are expected to hold steady or even improve slightly this coming season.

And things may improve down the road as 2018’s spring ocean sampling did find above-average numbers of coho and average to just slightly below average numbers of Chinook. That might translate into better silver fishing this summer and for springers and summer kings in 2020.

“Stay hopeful” was Liz Hamilton’s reaction last Friday when asked about this year’s adult numbers.

The executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association pointed to a linkage between spring spill down the Columbia hydropower system to benefit outmigrating smolts and subsequent increased adult spring returns in past years.

“The ocean isn’t as quite as good as it was then, and the high waters of the last two springs weren’t quite as high, but we do have a court order for spill that we didn’t have then combined with more fish to start with. And if we win our battle for more spring spill, you’ll see even better smolt to adult returns, as much as two to three times improved!” she said.

Hamilton is among the state fishery managers and industry officials who are meeting today at 1 p.m. in Clackamas to go over 2019’s figures, the first steps as we move towards setting the seasons in midwinter.

As for the forecasts, those are:

Columbia springers (all runs, SAFE to Central Idaho): 157,500, down 91,000 from the overall 2018 forecast and 20,000 fewer than the actual return; just over half of the 10-year average and would be the lowest since 2007 if it returns as predicted

Willamette: 40,200, one of the lowest forecasts in 10 years but above 2018’s actual return; 10-year average is 64,900

Sandy: 5,500, slightly more than 2018’s forecast and more than actually came back last year

Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis: 4,300 (1,300, 1,400, 1,600), the lowest forecast this millennium; 10-year average is 15,300

Mid-Columbia (Wind, Drano, Hood, Klickitat, Yakima, Umatilla): 40,000, slightly up from 2018 and 5,000-plus fish more than actually returned

Upriver (Upper Columbia, Snake springs and summers): 99,300, 60 percent of last year’s preseason forecast and 16,000 fewer than actually returned; would be the fewest since 2007; 10-year average is 204,500

Upper Columbia summer Chinook: 35,900, down from the 2018 forecast of 67,300 and actual return of 42,120; would be lowest since 2000

Columbia, Snake sockeye: 94,400, down somewhat from 2018’s forecast; includes 74,500 to the Okanogan/Okanagan and 18,300 to Lake Wenatchee; overall, less than a third of the 10-year average

The caveat to that last one is that sockeye have proven somewhat tough to reliably forecast. Last year’s prediction didn’t allow for Columbia fisheries, but when the run came in twice as large, managers were able to open a season.

Columbia spring Chinook seasons are typically set by late February, usually with a 30 percent upriver runsize buffer to guard against an unexpectedly low return. Managers can add additional fishing time if angling is slower than expected or the midseason update is better than expected.

SW WA Fishing Report (12-10-18)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 3 bank anglers released 1 coho.

Skamokawa Creek – No anglers sampled.

Elochoman River – 35 bank anglers kept 5 steelhead and released 7 coho jacks.  1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Abernathy Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Mill Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Germany Creek – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 5 bank rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br:  12 bank rods released 1 coho jack.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 691 coho adults, 273 coho jacks, 26 cutthroat trout, three fall Chinook adults and four summer-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 106 coho adults and 45 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle and they released 179 coho adults, 61 coho jacks and one cutthroat trout into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

Tacoma Power released 34 coho adults and 44 coho jacks at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood and they released 189 coho adults, 119 coho jacks, one fall Chinook adult and five cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,740 cubic feet per second on Monday, Dec. 3. Water visibility is 11 feet and the water temperature is 49.8 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – 8 bank anglers had no catch.  1 boat/2 rods released 2 coho.

Lewis River – 12 bank rods had no catch.

East Fork Lewis River – 15 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.

Salmon Creek – 31 bank anglers had no catch.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat River –No anglers sampled.

$18 Million Awarded For Washington Salmon Habitat Restoration Projects

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON RECREATION AND CONSERVATION OFFICE

The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board today announced the award of nearly $18 million in grants for projects to restore salmon habitat in an effort to bring the iconic fish back from the brink of extinction. An estimated 75 percent of the funded projects will benefit Chinook salmon, which make up a large part of the southern resident orca whale diet.

EXAMPLES OF PROJECTS FUNDED BY THE WASHINGTON SALMON RECOVERY FUNDING BOARD INCLUDE RECONSTRUCTING A WHIDBEY ISLAND STREAM AT ITS ESTUARY … (RCO)

The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board today announced the award of nearly $18 million in grants for projects to restore salmon habitat in an effort to bring the iconic fish back from the brink of extinction. An estimated 75 percent of the funded projects will benefit Chinook salmon, which make up a large part of the southern resident orca whale diet.

… ADDING SCREENED WATER INTAKES TO PREVENT FISH FROM GETTING SUCKED INTO FARM FIELDS IN THE CHEHALIS VALLEY … (RCO)

“This funding helps protect one of our most beloved legacies,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Together we’re taking a step forward for salmon, and in turn dwindling southern resident orca whales, while also looking back to ensure we’re preserving historic tribal cultural traditions and upholding promises made more than a century ago.”

… ADDING STREAM COMPLEXITY TO BOTH THE WALLA WALLA … (RCO)

Since the creation of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board in 1999, the board has awarded more than $700 million in state and federal funds to more than 2,650 projects across the state. With matching funds provided by grant recipients, the amount invested in board-funded salmon recovery projects is $987 million.

… AND TUCANNON RIVERS … (RCO)

The Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded grants to organizations for 95 projects in 30 of the state’s 39 counties. Grant recipients will use this funding to remove barriers that prevent salmon from migrating, increase the types and amount of salmon habitat, conserve pristine areas and replant riverbanks to increase places for salmon to spawn, feed, rest, hide from predators and transition from freshwater to saltwater and back again.

The Salmon Recovery Funding Board funded projects in the counties below. Click below to see details on each project:

Asotin County…………………………. $77,535

Chelan County………………….. $1,006,716

Clallam County…………………….. $762,420

Clark County…………………………. $689,142

Columbia County………………….. $857,484

Cowlitz County……………………… $988,691

Garfield County………………………. $61,450

Grays Harbor County……………. $437,633

Island County……………………….. $217,645

Jefferson County………………….. $475,220

King County………………………….. $645,895

Kitsap County……………………….. $531,047

Kittitas County……………………. $1,172,830

Klickitat County…………………….. $445,035

Lewis County………………………… $964,520
Mason County………………………. $783,956

Okanogan County………………… $849,084

Pacific County………………………. $899,521

Pend Oreille County……………… $342,000

Pierce County……………………. $1,050,095

San Juan County…………………. $277,742

Skagit County…………………….. $1,326,168

Skamania County…………………. $249,916

Snohomish County……………. $1,052,178

Thurston County…………………… $308,390

Wahkiakum County………………. $424,045

Walla Walla County………………. $480,936

Whatcom County………………….. $437,611

Whitman County…………………….. $41,795

Yakima County……………………… $125,715

“We are committed to restoring salmon populations back to levels that support communities and support people,” said David Troutt, chair of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “This funding enables local communities to restore the places salmon live, while also initiating a cascade of other benefits, from less flooding to better water quality, more water in rivers for salmon and other fish, and a boost to our statewide economy.”

Recent studies show that every $1 million spent on watershed restoration results in between 15.7 and 23.8 jobs and up to $2.5 million in total economic activity. The funds awarded this week are estimated to provide up to 470 jobs during the next 4 years and up to nearly $50 million in economic activity. These new grants will put contractors, consultants and field crews to work designing and building projects and restoring rivers and shorelines. It is estimated that about 80 percent of these funds stay in the county where the project is located.

AND ASSESSING THE PURCHASE OF A NEW WILDLIFE AREA IN SOUTHERN WILLAPA BAY, ALL OF WHICH ARE PROJECTS THAT SHOULD BENEFIT CHINOOK AND OTHER SALMON. (RCO)

Some of the projects approved by the board this week include the following:

·         A Tulalip Tribes project to remove the Pilchuck River diversion dam will open up 37 miles of habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead.

·         A Cascadia Conservation District project near Wenatchee that will create nearly 6 acres of wetland, add nearly 1 mile of side channel and create more places for fish to rest, hide from predators and spawn in the middle Entiat River.

·         A Lewis Conservation District project near Chehalis will help keep fish out of agricultural irrigation intakes in the Chehalis River basin, directly improving the survival of young coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead.

·         A Nez Perce Tribe project in southeastern Washington will remove barriers to steelhead in Buford Creek, opening up nearly 5 miles of potential habitat, 2 miles of which are designated critical habitat.

The board also approved ranked lists of Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration program projects to submit to the Legislature for funding consideration. The project requests totaled nearly $21 million with another $46 million requested for larger projects.

The Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration program is a state capital bond-funded program focused on Puget Sound and Hood Canal, jointly administered by the Recreation and Conservation Office and the Puget Sound Partnership.

“Salmon are the heart of nature’s system in Puget Sound,” said Sheida Sahandy, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. The Partnership’s Leadership Council is the regional salmon recovery organization for most of Puget Sound’s salmon species. “They feed our orca, and they also nourish people. They provide cultural, economic and physical well-being to the entire system. These projects help fulfill our responsibility to sustain the salmon that sustain us.”

How Projects are Chosen

Projects are selected by lead entities, which are watershed-based groups that include tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations and citizens. Lead entities recruit projects and sponsors, vet projects based on federally approved regional salmon recovery plans and prioritize which projects to submit to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for funding. Regional salmon recovery organizations and the board review each project for cost-effectiveness and to ensure they will benefit salmon.

“With steady checks and balances throughout the process, this bottom-up approach is the backbone of our efforts to ensure a thriving future not only for salmon, but for orcas, other wildlife and ultimately—us,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “It consistently produces projects with widespread support that are rooted in our local communities.”

Why Save Salmon?

Washington state salmon populations have been declining for generations. As Washington grew and built its cities and towns, it destroyed many of the places salmon need to live. In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon as endangered.

By the end of that decade, salmon populations had dwindled so much that salmon, steelhead and bull trout were listed as threatened or endangered in three-quarters of the state.

Those listings set off the formation of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to oversee state and federally funded investments in salmon recovery.

Grant funding comes from the Legislature-authorized sale of state bonds and from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, which National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service administers.

Information about the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Recreation and Conservation Office is available online at www.rco.wa.gov.