Tag Archives: grays harbor county

18 WDFW Fish, Wildlife, Recreation Acquisition Proposals Out For Comment

Washington land managers have their eyes on nearly 7,000 acres across the state for fish and wildlife habitat, angling, hunting and other recreational uses and are asking for comment on them.

The 18 proposals range from padding wildlife areas and purchasing inholdings in Eastern Washington to conserving and restoring Puget Sound estuaries to strategic partnerships with counties and improved access to salmon streams.

ATTENDEES AT THE DEDICATION OF THE 4-O RANCH UNIT OF THE CHIEF JOSEPH WILDLIFE AREA IN MAY 2017 LOOK TOWARDS A 770-ACRE PARCEL OWNED BY THE 4-0 CATTLE COMPANY THAT WDFW WOULD NOW LIKE TO PURCHASE. OWNERS TYPICALLY APPROACH THE STATE ABOUT BUYING THEIR LAND; WDFW WHICH IS REQUIRED TO ONLY PAY MARKET VALUE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

“Our goal is to protect land and water for people and wildlife throughout the state while preserving natural and cultural heritage,” said WDFW lands manager Cynthia Wilkerson in a press release.

They’re all far from done deals. Public input over the next three weeks will help determine which will move forward to be competitively ranked against other agencies’, cities’, counties’ and organizations’ proposals. Funding would be sought through state and federal grants for recreation, habitat and endangered species.

WDFW’s 2020 wish list is more than twice as long as last year’s and it’s notable for several proposals.

A 420-acre property in the lower Methow valley would not only protect “crucial sagebrush steppe habitat” for mule deer and other species, but help “(cultivate) a critical partnership with Okanogan County.”

That county is one of the last best places to do big things in terms of wildlife habitat, but local commissioners and residents have also bristled about state land buys and their impacts to tax rolls.

Buying the ground on top of a bench above the tiny town of Methow would allow WDFW to “partner with the county and facilitate their access to additional rock sources for public works projects.”

The project has the support of Okanogan County, the agency notes.

(WDFW)

Other big acquisitions include a quartet in extreme Southeast Washington.

The largest is 1,650 acres on Harlow Ridge, which includes a series of flats and timbered draws between upper South Fork Asotin and George Creeks west of Anatone.

Adjacent to the Asotin Creek Wildlife Area, it would protect elk winter range and calving areas, as well as “rare and imperiled remnant prairie habitats and endemic plants.”

“Department staff have been responding to elk damage in the Cloverland area and the purchase of this property would help to alleviate damage issues by providing alternate forage,” WDFW adds.

It has support from the Asotin County Sportsmen’s Association and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The 643-acre Green Gulch buy would link sections of the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area on the west side of the divide between Hells Canyon and Joseph Creek, “providing connectivity for mule deer, Rocky Mountain elk and other species” and “a great deal of recreational opportunity such as, hunting, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and bird watching.”

RMEF, the sportsmen’s association and the Asotin County Lands Committee all support it.

The pro-hunting and -elk organization also gives the thumbs up to adding another 770 acres to the spectacular 4-O Wildlife Area, purchased in chunks earlier this decade from rancher Mike Odom. If approved it would bring the unit along and above the Grande Ronde River to 11,234 acres, or 17.5 square miles.

A bit further west is a 720-acre patch that butts up against the Umatilla National Forest and which WDFW would like to add to the Grouse Flats Wildlife Area.

“The property is heavily used by elk, deer, bears, cougars, and wolves with many non-game species present. Numerous springs, wetlands, and Bear Creek on the property will continue to provide quality riparian habitat that should improve over time in public ownership,” WDFW states.

Recent pics from a site evaluation show it might need some cleaning up. RMEF supports the buy.

(WDFW)

In Yakima County is a 1,105-acre parcel on the west side of Wenas Lake that WDFW is looking at for as a habitat conservation easement and Wenas Wildlife Area headquarters.

It’s supported by birders and a conservancy.

In Grays Harbor, the agency would like to add as much as 416 acres in three parcels to the Davis Creek Wildlife Area, a former dairy farm, along the Chehalis River just downstream of Oakville. It has support from Ducks Unlimited and would protect the floodplain.

WDFW would also like to resecure access to popular Chapman Lake in western Spokane County following the closure of a resort with the only launch in 2011, as well as acqiure surrounding uplands. The lake is noted for kokanee and largemouth fishing, and the parklike lands and ponds above it look gamey.

“The intent is to purchase road access and a small lakefront footprint with exsisting grant funds and pursue funding for a land exchange or purchase of the remaining property in this section,” the agency explains.

Supporters include county commissioners and at least one local fly fishing club.

Another key access proposal is on the lower Samish River, up which plentiful hatchery fall Chinook return but getting to them can be difficult. Last year, anglers built a freelance boardwalk out of pallets to get to good spots — but which were also laid down on private land and had to be removed.

(WDFW)

Buying the 109-acre property “will contribute significantly to improving fishing access that is in high demand,” according to WDFW.

A levee does bisect the land and is marked with signs barring access, so conversations would need to occur with the local diking district, according to Skagit Wildlife Manager Belinda Rotton.

Still, she’s excited about the proposal, as it could help expand waterfowl hunting opportunities and access to harvestable salmon.

“When we heard it was available, ‘Oh my goodness,’ this will be a good property for us,” she said.

Skagit County supports the proposal.

Other proposals target the Union River and Discovery Bay estuaries, land surrounding a holding pool for summer steelhead on the East Fork Lewis River, a Skamania County bat cave, a 50-acre addition to the Ebey Island Wildlife Area, 2.5 acres around the Modrow Bridge launch on the Kalama, an acre at the old Peshastin Mill for a parking lot for a trail, and inholdings or parcels adjacent to the Rendezvous Wildlife Area of the upper Methow Valley and Quincy Lakes Wildlife Area west of Ephrata.

Following public review, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind would sign off on a list of projects for seeking funding. Typical sources include the state Capital Budget disbursed through the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office and from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s various granting mechanisms, including for endangered species.

WDFW owns and/or manages more than a million acres across Washington for fish, wildlife and recreation.

Comments are being taken from today till Jan. 3. Send them via email to lands@dfw.wa.gov or via the Post Office to Real Estate Services, PO Box 43158, Olympia, WA 98504.

WDFW Outlines New Draft Wynoochee, Satsop Coho, Winter-run Dam Mitigation Plan; FERC Approval Needed

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

State and tribal leaders have agreed to a plan that will enhance coho salmon and steelhead populations diminished by the Wynoochee Dam in Grays Harbor County.

A public meeting on the plan is scheduled at 6 p.m., Sept. 24, at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) regional office, located at 48 Devonshire Road in Montesano.

MORE FIN-CLIPPED COHO WOULD BE AVAILABLE ON THE SATSOP RIVER, WHERE RYAN BROOKS HEFTED A PAIR IN FALL 2013, UNDER A NEW PLAN TO MITIGATE THE IMPACTS OF WYNOOCHEE DAM IN THE CHEHALIS RIVER WATERSHED. IF FORWARDED BY TACOMA POWER TO THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION AND APPROVED, ENHANCED RELEASES WOULD OCCUR AS EARLY AS 2021. (JASON BROOKS)

Under the agreement between WDFW and the Quinault Indian Nation, roughly 500,000 coho salmon and 60,000 winter steelhead will be released annually as mitigation for the Wynoochee dam.

“This historic agreement benefits both wild fish populations as well as state and tribal fishers,” said Ron Warren, fish policy lead for WDFW. “Despite some obstacles along the way, the state and tribe have worked collaboratively over the years to find a path forward for fish in the Wynoochee basin.”

Under the agreement, WDFW annually will release:

  • 100,000 coho into the Wynoochee River;
  • 400,000 coho into the Satsop River;
  • 60,000 winter steelhead into the Wynoochee River.

The 60,000 winter steelhead to be released in the Wynoochee and the 400,000 coho bound for the Satsop River will all be marked with clipped adipose fins, making them available for anglers to retain during years when sufficient numbers of fish are forecast to return.

The 100,000 coho released into the Wynoochee River will be tagged with a coded wire but will not be marked (with clipped adipose fins) for the first five years of the plan. As unmarked fish, these coho have a better chance of making it back to the spawning grounds in the Wynoochee River since the retention of unmarked coho is prohibited except in years when high numbers of wild fish are expected to return, Warren said.

“The intent of this plan is to re-establish a healthy coho population in the Wynoochee River while providing coho and steelhead fishing opportunities within the basin,” Warren said.

The first release of these fish into the basin could take place as early as 2021. Anglers could then expect to see coho and steelhead returning as soon as the fall of 2022.

The steelhead and coho slated for release into the Wynoochee will be raised at WDFW’s Lake Aberdeen Hatchery while the coho planned for release into the Satsop will be raised at the Bingham Creek facility.

The most recent licensing agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 1991 required mitigation for damage to fish populations as result of the Wynoochee Dam, owned by the city of Aberdeen. A new hatchery was planned but not constructed, due to site location difficulties. Funds intended for the new hatchery were put into a trust now held by Tacoma Power, which operates a powerhouse near the dam.

Without a new facility on the Wynoochee, there is limited capacity to raise more fish for release into the Wynoochee River, said Larry Phillips, WDFW regional director.

“Releasing more coho into the Wynoochee will help offset years when natural production is low and could ultimately lead to more opportunities for anglers,” Phillips said. “In the meantime, anglers can look forward to what’s sure to be improved coho and steelhead fishing within the entire basin in the next few years.”

The state and tribe have sent the signed draft agreement to Tacoma Power for review before the utility forwards it to FERC for consideration. If approved by FERC, the mitigation plan will run through 2037, when the dam’s federal license is up for renewal.

WDFW estimates the cost of implementing the plan over the next 18 years (until 2037) is about $2.6 million, which is the amount in the trust fund.

$25 Million In Grants Aim To Ease Washington Fish Passage In 20 Counties

THE FOLLOWING IS A JOINT PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE AND THE WASHINGTON RECREATION AND CONSERVATION OFFICE

Migrating fish will soon have access to more than 82 miles of streams in Washington, thanks to $25 million in grants from the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board.

THERE’S A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL FOR FISH PASSAGE, THANKS TO THE AWARDING OF $25 MILLION TO COUNTIES, TRIBES AND OTHER ENTITIES TO REMEDY OLD CULVERTS AND OTHER STREAM CROSSINGS THROUGHOUT WASHINGTON. THIS IS A SKAGIT COUNTY PROJECT THAT’S IN THE DESIGN PHASE AND WILL OPEN 6.31 MILES OF HABITAT FOR E.S.A.-LISTED CHINOOK AND STEELHEAD. (RCO)

The board will fund more than 50 projects in 20 counties to remove fish passage barriers that block salmon and steelhead from swimming upstream to their spawning areas. The most common barriers to fish passage are culverts, which are large pipes or other structures that carry streams under roads. Culverts can be too high for fish to reach, too small to handle high water flows, or too steep for fish to navigate.

“These projects build on previous fish passage investments by the Washington State Department of Transportation, forest land owners, and local governments,” said Tom Jameson, WDFW fish passage manager and chair of the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board. “We’re excited that several projects will focus on watersheds that are particularly good habitat for chinook salmon, which are the main food source for southern resident killer whales (orcas). We appreciate the Legislature’s support so we can continue contributing to salmon and orca recovery.”

A LOW-FLOW FISH BARRIER IN LEWIS COUNTY’S SCAMMON CREEK. (RCO)

Created by the Legislature in 2014, the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board coordinates the removal of fish passage barriers on state, local, tribal, and private land that block salmon and steelhead access to prime spawning and rearing habitat. Funding comes from the sale of state bonds.

“This board represents an incredible partnership that ultimately helps us open entire watersheds where we can make the biggest impact for fish,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “A coordinated approach is key to helping fish reach the ocean, return home to spawn, and get to healthy habitats to feed, grow, and transition from saltwater to freshwater.”

ANOTHER FISH BARRIER IN LEWIS COUNTY THAT WILL BE CORRECTED, OPENING UP HABITAT ON THE MIDDLE FORK NEWAUKUM RIVER. (RCO)

Selected projects went through a technical review committee, which evaluated project proposals based on their coordination with nearby fish passage projects, benefit to salmon and steelhead populations listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and cost-effectiveness. The committee also evaluated projects based on the severity of the barrier and its location in the watershed, prioritizing downstream barriers first.

The grant program is administered as a partnership between the board, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. The board is named after Brian Abbott, who was a life-long fisherman, avid salmon recovery leader, and spearheaded creation of the board while serving as executive coordinator of the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office.

WALLA WALLA’S TRI-STATE STEELHEADERS SECURED ONE OF THE LARGEST GRANTS AWARDED, NEARLY $1.7 MILLION TO IMPROVE FISH ACCESS ON MILL CREEK. (RCO)

Other board members include representatives from the Washington Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources, Washington State Association of Counties, Association of Washington Cities, the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, the Confederated Tribe and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and Council of Regions.

Below is a list of fish passage projects funded in each county. For project details, visit https://rco.wa.gov/documents/press/2019/FBRBGrantsDescriptions2019.pdf.

Asotin County……………………. $445,300
Chelan County…………………… $982,885
Clallam County………………….. $699,859
Clark County……………………… $155,200
Cowlitz County………………… $1,095,293
Grays Harbor County………….. $590,408
Island County…………………….. $544,718
Jefferson County………………… $397,163
King County……………………. $4,053,264
Kitsap County…………………. $2,561,337
Kittitas County…………………. $2,652,910
Lewis County………………….. $1,606,571
Mason County…………………. $1,180,395
Okanogan County……………. $2,265,251
Pierce County……………………… $90,000
Skagit County……………………. $378,500
Snohomish County……………… $653,483
Thurston County……………… $1,700,000
Walla Walla County………….. $1,785,641
Whatcom County……………….. $889,768

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DU, WDFW Teaming Up To Buy 1,700 acres Near Westport For Hunting, More

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

In close partnership with Ducks Unlimited, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recently finalized the purchase of 1,100 acres of land near Westport in Grays Harbor County. WDFW will manage the new property as an addition to the Elk River Unit of the Johns River Wildlife Area for the benefit of wildlife and people. A second phase to purchase an additional 600 acres is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.

A WDFW MAP FROM A FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION PRESENTATION EARLIER THIS YEAR SHOWS THE 1,100 ACRES RECENTLY PURCHASED (“PROPOSED ACQUISITION”) AND THE 600 ACRES (“ADDITIONAL GRAYLAND PARCELS”) THAT ARE EXPECTED TO BE CLOSED ON BY THE END OF THE YEAR. (WDFW)

The new property features diverse natural resources, including large freshwater and saltwater wetland areas and old-growth Sitka spruce trees. A variety of wildlife use the area for year-round habitat, including several species of waterfowl, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, and black bears.

The site will also provide additional recreation opportunities, including hiking, birding, and big-game and waterfowl hunting. Public access will initially be on a walk-in basis from the perimeter of the property, as plans to improve access are ongoing.

“This purchase wouldn’t have been possible without the strong support of Ducks Unlimited,” said Larry Phillips, WDFW’s coastal regional director. “We are excited to explore potential opportunities for habitat restoration on this property that would further benefit waterfowl and other wildlife.”

DIGNITARIES AT A RIBBON CUTTING INCLUDED STATE REP. BRIAN BLAKE (FAR LEFT), WDFW DIRECTOR KELLY SUSEWIND (IN BLUE SHIRT WITH SCISSORS), AND STATE RECREATION AND CONSERVATION OFFICE DIRECTOR KALEEN CUNNINGHAM (TO SUSEWIND’S RIGHT). (WDFW)

The process to purchase the property began three years ago with the intention to buy a total of 1,750 acres. Ducks Unlimited and WDFW secured funding for the first phase to purchase 1,100 acres last year. Partners have secured additional funding for the remaining 600 acres through a grant application to the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. The finalized transaction for the second phase of the purchase is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

“The new addition to the Elk River Unit is one of those truly special properties,” said Greg Green, Ducks Unlimited manager of conservation programs. “The opportunity to purchase and protect a large property near the coast with such ecological and recreational diversity is unique. Ducks Unlimited is pleased to have provided a major supporting role for WDFW on this effort, and we look forward to future restoration and public use planning.”

WDFW purchased the property with about $1.5 million from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant Program and $500,000 from the Washington Coastal Restoration Initiative, which the Washington State Department of Ecology administers. Ducks Unlimited also provided in-kind matching funds to coordinate negotiations and closing.

WDFW manages approximately 1 million acres of land and over 600 water access sites across the state that provide fish and wildlife habitat, as well as fishing, hunting, wildlife-viewing, and other outdoor activities for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors every year.

Ducks Unlimited conserves, restores, and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl with the intent to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people. Ducks Unlimited has worked for over 30 years in the state of Washington, completing more than 300 on-the-ground projects and spending more than $73 million.

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