Tag Archives: public comment

Chance To Comment On Orca Recommendations

You have two weeks to submit comments on potential proposals that Washington’s southern resident killer whale task force‘s three working groups rolled out yesterday.

The task force as a whole will review the public’s submissions in mid-October and send a final report with its agreed-to recommendations to Governor Jay Inslee in mid-November.

AN ORCA BREACHES IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS. (BLM)

Some of the ideas that will catch the eyes of fishermen include:

  • Boost hatchery Chinook production: There are three proposals, with 1A calling for increased releases, 1B for pilot projects and 1C, a combination of both along with habitat improvements. Upping production would require funding for more infrastructure and to complete scientific reviews;
  • Fund habitat purchases and restoration projects benefiting key Chinook stocks;
  • Develop a system to be able to close sport and commercial fisheries when orcas are in key feeding zones. This could go into effect by next spring and would appear to be dependent on setting up more hydrophones to better track SRKW movements, which is another potential recommendation;
  • Ask fishermen and boaters to switch their fish- and depthfinders from 50 kHz to 200 kHz within half a mile of orcas;
  • Buyout nontreaty commercial licenses and work with the tribes to consider the feasibility of doing so with treaty fishermen or switching to gear with lower impacts on Chinook;
  • Establish a half-mile-wide, 7-knots-or-less go-slow zone around orcas;
  • Create new no-go zones on the west side of San Juan Island and elsewhere in the islands and Strait of Juan de Fuca;
  • Continue studying the problem of pinniped predation on Chinook or begin a pilot program to immediately start removing the haul-outs of salmon-eating harbor seals, or both, as well as continue pushing the federal government for more management options to deal with sea lions in the Columbia and its tribs;
  • Reclassify walleye and bass as invasive, which would remove the “game fish” designation and subsequent rules against wastage;
  • Study whether altering the McNary Pool’s elevation would reduce the numbers of salmonid smolt-eating fish in the reservoir;
  • Develop a better understanding of Puget Sound forage fish populations;
  • Support Chinook reintroduction into the Upper Columbia and prioritize removing fish passage barriers that would benefit stocks elsewhere;
  • And continue to be involved in the conversation surrounding what to do with the four dams on the lower Snake River to varying degrees.

A HARBOR SEAL STEALS A CHINOOK OFF THE END OF AN ANGLER’S LINE IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS. (HUGH ALLEN)

There are many more, including potential recommendations addressing habitat, hydropower operations, contaminants and marine vessels.

The task force was convened earlier this year when the governor signed an executive order directing state agencies to begin doing what they could to help out the orcas, which are struggling due to lack of Chinook and other factors.

WDFW STAFFER EDWARD ELEAZER PARTICIPATED IN A TRIAL TO SEE WHETHER IT WAS POSSIBLE TO FEED AILING ORCA J50, NOW PRESUMED DEAD. A LACK OF CHINOOK IS STARVING LOCAL PODS. (KATY FOSTER/NOAA/FLICKR)

Since members of the panel — which includes Puget Sound Anglers’ Ron Garner, the Northwest Marine Trade Association’s George Harris, Long Live the Kings’ Jacques White, WDFW’s Brad Smith and Amy Windrope, tribal members and legislators Rep. Brian Blake and Sen. Kevin Ranker — began meeting two whales have died, including a newborn and a three-year-old adding urgency to the mission.

Some ideas did not make the cut from the working groups, but near the end of the public survey a question asks if they would otherwise be part of your top five strategies.

Those include further reducing fishing time in the Straits and San Juans in summer; coming up with a limited-entry recreational fishing permit system for key orca foraging areas; increasing WDFW’s hydraulic code enforcement budget; working with the Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroad on habitat work along the tracks as they run up Puget Sound; and pushing for the Corps of Engineers to quit the four dams on the lower Snake and then take them out, among others.

WDFW Tweaking North Cascades Elk Management Plan, Looking For Input

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is accepting public comments through Sept. 7 on a draft plan for future management of the North Cascades elk herd, the northernmost herd in Western Washington.

The draft plan for the herd, also known as the Nooksack herd, can be found on WDFW’s website at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01916/

NORTH CASCADES HERD BULL ELK. (WDFW)

In addition to the public comment period, state wildlife managers plan to hold a public meeting on Aug. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sedro-Woolley Community Center.

Written comments can be submitted online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RDCSVVM or mailed to North Cascades Elk Herd Plan, Wildlife Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, PO Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504.

The North Cascades elk herd is spread out over a large area of Skagit and Whatcom counties. Since the last herd management plan was adopted in 2002, the population of the herd – the smallest that WDFW manages – has rebounded from just a few hundred animals to more than 1,200 elk within the recent survey area.

But a growing elk population also comes with increased potential for elk/human interactions and conflicts. The new draft plan includes several strategies to address those concerns and other management issues.

Key goals of the proposed plan include:

Reducing elk/human conflicts, including minimizing elk damage on private property and elk-vehicle collisions along a stretch of State Route 20;

Offering sustainable hunting opportunities, including an increase of at least 100 square miles available for hunting on private and public lands;

Coordinating and cooperating with the Point Elliott Treaty Tribes on herd management and setting hunting seasons;

Increasing elk viewing and photography opportunities.

WDFW will consider comments received online, in writing, and during the public meeting in drafting the final version of the plan.

Comments Sought On Fishtrap, Hog Canyon Rotenoning Proposal

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

State fishery managers will host five public meetings in mid-July to discuss plans to treat several lakes and two streams in eastern Washington with rotenone, a naturally occurring pesticide commonly used to remove undesirable and illegally stocked fish species from lakes and streams.

HOG CANYON AND FISHTRAP LAKES ARE POPULAR WINTER FISHERIES FOR SPOKANE-AREA ANGLERS, BUT WDFW SAYS THEY’RE AMONG FAR EASTERN WASHINGTON WATERS THAT NEED TO BE REHABBED TO GET RID OF UNWANTED SPECIES LOWERING THE FISHERIES’ PRODUCTIVITY. (WDFW)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is proposing to treat Rigley, Rocky and Williams lakes in Stevens County; Hog and Fishtrap lakes in Spokane County and Ephrata Lake in Grant County. The lakes will be treated in the fall to remove species ranging from bass and bullhead to stunted panfish.

WDFW is also proposing to treat a 5-mile section of Smalle Creek and a half-mile of Highline Creek in Pend Oreille County.

“The goal is to restore trout populations by removing competing species that have essentially taken over these waters,” said Bruce Bolding, WDFW warmwater fish program manager. “Illegally stocked fish compete with trout fry for food and prey upon them, rendering efforts to stock trout ineffective.”

Bolding said the proposed treatments would help foraging waterfowl and their young at Ephrata Lake, where the birds compete with fish for food. The lake is managed for waterfowl habitat and is currently closed to fishing.

At Smalle and Highline creeks, WDFW is proposing to remove non-native eastern brook trout in order to restore a population of native westslope cutthroat, he said.

WDFW has scheduled public meetings to discuss the planned lake and stream treatments as follows:

Colville: 6:30 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 12, in the WDFW District 1 Office, 755 S. Main Street.
Ephrata: 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 12, at the WDFW Region 2 Office, 1550 Alder Street NW.
Olympia: 6 to 7 p.m., Thursday, July 13, in Room 175 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street.
Spokane: 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, July 13, in the WDFW Region 1 Office, 2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley.
Cusick: 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thursday, July 13, in the Cusick Community Center, 107 1st Avenue.

In addition to input received at the public meetings, WDFW will consider written comments received through July 21. Comments should be addressed to Bruce Bolding, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

A decision on whether to proceed with the planned treatments will be made by the WDFW director in late July.

Rotenone is an organic substance derived from the roots of tropical plants, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved for use as a fish pesticide. It has been used by WDFW in lake and stream rehabilitations for more than 70 years, and is commonly used by other fish and wildlife management agencies nationwide.