All posts by Andy Walgamott

Yes, Smelt Are In; No, Not Enough ‘To Justify A Fishery,’ But Still A Good Sign

THE FOLLOWING IS PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF NO FUN

Smelt are running up the Cowlitz River, but not in substantial enough numbers to justify a fishery this year, according to state fish managers.

SMELT DIPPERS AND OBSERVERS GATHER ALONG THE LOWER COWLITZ ON FEBRUARY 25, 2017, DURING A FIVE-HOUR OPENER THAT WAS DESCRIBED AS “PRETTY MUCH A BUST” WHEN FEW CAUGHT ANY. (OLAF LANGNESS, WDFW)

In late January, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) projected a poor 2019 smelt return, which would not likely support a fishery.

“The delayed run, which didn’t begin entering the river until early March, has not changed the assessment,” said Laura Heironimus, a WDFW fish manager. “People get excited when they see fish running up the river, but the monitoring data we have indicates the run is not strong enough to support harvest.”

“Though still a low run, more fish are returning than did last year, which may indicate a positive shift in ocean conditions for smelt” Heironimus said. “This may bode well for future years.”

Smelt along the Pacific Coast were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2010. Since then, WDFW has opened limited recreational dip-net fishing in the Cowlitz River for smelt – also known as eulachon – four of those years when returns have been strong.

Buttons The Elk Can’t Cut It In The Wild, So It’s Off To Woodland Park Zoo

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

Despite Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) managers’ best efforts to give “Buttons” the elk a chance at a life among other wild elk, she is now on the way to a new home at Woodland Park Zoo.

BUTTONS THE ELK. (WDFW)

Habituated to humans from a young age, the elk was a common visitor to rural homes and ranches in Cle Elum, achieving celebrity status in the community.

“People petted her, hand fed her, put children on her back,” said Scott McCorquodale, WDFW regional wildlife program manager.

While the story may seem heartwarming to some, the results of taming Buttons were far from good for the elk or for the public.

“There are untold ways a situation like this can end badly, and it usually does,” said McCorquodale.

After reports of damaged property, signs of aggression toward people and pets, and a garden hose wrapped around the animal’s neck, WDFW personnel immobilized and moved the elk to the Mellotte Feeding Station near Selah on Feb. 1 to see if she would integrate with the wild herd there.

This is not an uncommon story. “Each spring, the Department works to make sure people leave fawns, elk calves and other wildlife alone if found in the wild,” said McCorquodale.

After five weeks, the attempt to re-wild the elk failed, with Buttons ignoring the herd and preferring to gravitate toward human settlements and all the potential for trouble that necessitated the move.

“People’s intentions were good, but the sad truth is that this elk lost its chance to be wild,” said McCorquodale. “We wanted to see her interact more with elk and less with people for her own good and for public safety,” he added.

Often the mother of an animal presumed orphaned is off feeding and soon to return, said McCorquodale. “Even when the public is certain the animal is orphaned, taming is never a good option,” he said.

Instead McCorquodale recommends a call to a regional WDFW office, or a licensed wildlife rehabilitation expert (https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/rehabilitation/how_to_find.html).

“Licensed rehabbers have the facilities and know the techniques to raise an orphaned animal, without creating unnatural dependence on humans,” said McCorquodale.

As it stands, it’s very hard to find a place that will take a tame elk.

“We were so lucky to benefit from the goodwill of Woodland Park Zoo,” said McCorquodale. “It is exceedingly rare that we would be able to find a place for a habituated deer or elk.  Organizations we called rejected our offer, and placing a tame elk at a zoo is simply not an option in the vast majority of cases.”

Woodland Park Zoo currently has a herd of elk consisting of two females and one male.

Introductions for all new animals require a careful, deliberate process and patience, said Jennifer Pramuk, an animal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.

“As with all introductions, we will follow the cues of Buttons and the other elk,” said Pramuk. “Our animal care staff is very experienced so we’re hopeful we can socially integrate Buttons with our herd,” she added.

“While it’s unfortunate she became habituated to humans, having Buttons at the zoo will allow our staff to talk with guests about her situation and the downside to taming animals found in their natural range,” said Pramuk.

McCorquodale is only one of a small cadre of agency employees that has spent more than a month trying to extend this elk’s life and keep her out of trouble.

“I know this elk will get great care at Woodland Park Zoo, and she will live with a small number of her own kind, said McCorquodale. “Beyond that one bit of good, I hope her story results in more commitment for people not to let this happen again.”

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.

Here’s What NOAA Says About Why It Approved IDFG Steelhead Fishery

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RLEASE FROM THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINSTRATION’S FISHERIES SERVICE

NOAA Fisheries has determined that Idaho’s Fishery Management and Evaluation Plan (FMEP) for their recreational steelhead fishery provides necessary protections for salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  NOAA fisheries has approved Idaho’s plan under section 4(d) Rule.

AN ANGLER ADMIRES A WILD STEELHEAD CAUGHT DURING A DERBY HELD OUT OF LEWISTON, IDAHO, SEVERAL YEARS AGO. (BRIAN LULL)

Under section 4(d), NOAA Fisheries can specify how an activity can be exempt from additional ESA regulations. This applies particularly to “take,” which can include any act that kills or injures fish, and may include habitat modification. The ESA prohibits any take of species listed as endangered, but some take of threatened species that does not interfere with survival and recovery may be allowed.

“Idaho has developed a plan that provides continuing recreational fishing opportunities while ensuring that ESA-listed salmon and steelhead have the protection they need to recover,” said Allyson Purcell, Branch Chief in NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region.

Idaho’s plan came together through collaboration with fishery managers across the Snake River Basin and includes a new basin-wide framework designed to limit total impacts on steelhead from all fisheries in the Snake River Basin.  Under Idaho’s plan, fishermen will continue to be required to release any wild steelhead they encounter.

The plan will also limit impacts of Idaho’s steelhead fishery on other ESA-listed species, such as Snake River sockeye and Snake River fall Chinook salmon. Furthermore, Idaho will be implementing new low-abundance thresholds that will trigger implementation of additional conservation measures when natural-origin steelhead abundance is projected to fall below threshold levels.

“The framework is responsive to changing conditions, and it will provide additional protections when the abundance of wild steelhead falls below critical abundance levels,” Purcell said. “We received over 1000 letters from fishing groups, environmental groups, government officials, and interested citizens during our public comment period on Idaho’s proposed plan.  This level of involvement demonstrates how important these fish are to the Pacific Northwest communities.”

More information:

Idaho Steelheading To Stay Open As Fish And Game Receives NOAA Permit

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Idaho Fish and Game on March 15 received federal reauthorization for its steelhead fishing season, so fishing will continue uninterrupted, and the two areas currently closed will reopen immediately.

STEELHEADERS CAN CONTINUE  ANGLING THE NORTH FORK CLEARWATER, WHERE KELLY COLLITON CAUGHT THIS BIG B-RUN, AND OTHER IDAHO RIVERS AS STATE MANAGERS RECEIVED A NEW FEDERAL PERMIT JUST IN TIME TO KEEP FISHERIES OPEN THROUGH THE END OF APRIL. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Steelhead fishing resumes in the following locations:

  • The Main Salmon River between Warren Creek and the Copper Mine Boat Ramp.
  • South Fork of Clearwater River upstream of the Mount Idaho Grade Bridge.

Per Fish and Game director’s order, bag limits for steelhead anglers will remain as follows:

  • One steelhead daily in the Mainstem Clearwater, North Fork Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater, Salmon, and Little Salmon rivers, and the Snake River from the Washington state line upstream to the Dug Bar Boat Ramp.
  • Two steelhead daily in the South Fork Clearwater River and Snake River from the Dug Bar Boat Ramp to Hells Canyon Dam.

The federal agency that authorizes Idaho’s steelhead fishing, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, had up until the fall of 2018 allowed Fish and Game to hold fishing seasons for nearly a decade while a permit application was pending.

However, several groups threatened to sue NOAA over the lack of a permit, which prompted to the Fish and Game Commission to order a suspension of the season in December. But Fish and Game officials and the groups reached a settlement that allowed most steelhead fishing to continue while NOAA officials processed the permit.

“During this difficult period, we greatly appreciate the patience of anglers, outfitters and guides, and other businesses and communities that rely on steelhead fishing,” said Fish and Game’s Fisheries Bureau Chief Jim Fredericks. “While it was NOAA’s inaction that created this situation, we appreciate NOAA staff working diligently to expedite this permit in a valid and legally defensible way and completing it when promised, despite a federal government shutdown that lasted more than a month.”

Skagit Wildlife Area Open House Coming Up As New 10-year Plan Development Begins

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will hold a public open house March 28 to kick off a planning process for the Skagit Wildlife Area, which includes critical estuary and other habitat valuable to species such as waterfowl, shorebirds, and juvenile salmon.

SKAGIT WILDLIFE AREA DUCK HUNTERS WILL WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN DISCUSSIONS SETTING THE MANAGEMENT PATH OF THE POPULAR NORTH SOUND WATERFOWL HUNTING AREA THAT IS ALSO KEY HABITAT FOR YOUNG SALMONIDS. (ANDY WAlGAMOTT)

The wildlife area consists of 17,000 acres in Skagit, Snohomish, Island and San Juan counties. A huge portion – about 12,000 acres – of the wildlife area is estuary in Skagit County. The wildlife area contains wetlands, agricultural habitat, and natural areas managed for the protection of sensitive species.

The open house is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, at the Padilla Bay Visitor Center at 10441 Bayview Edison Rd, Mount Vernon. There will be stations set up to showcase the different wildlife area.

The Skagit plan will propose actions for the management of the wildlife area over the next 10 years. The Skagit Wildlife Area is managed to preserve fish, wildlife and their habitats, and to provide access for hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, said Belinda Rotton, wildlife area manager.

At the upcoming open house, the public will be able to talk to individual WDFW staff members about wildlife area history, current management, recreational activities, and the planning process, Rotton said.

“We want to hear from the public about how people use this area and what recreation and natural resource values are important to them,” she said. “We’re also looking for interested citizens to sit on the wildlife area advisory committee.”

WDFW is seeking advisors to represent diverse interests including wildlife area neighbors, the agricultural community, and various recreational user groups such as wildlife watchers and hunters.

The Skagit Wildlife Area advisory committee will guide development of the wildlife area plan and ongoing management activities, Rotton said. Those interested in serving should contact her at 360-445-4441 or Belinda.Rotton@dfw.wa.gov.

Rotton said the public will have several opportunities to comment on the plan over the next year as a draft is developed.

She noted that the March 28 meeting will focus on management planning for the entire wildlife area, not specific actions at a specific location.

Information on the wildlife area is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/skagit/.

The department is revising management plans for all of its 33 wildlife areas to reflect current conditions and identify new priorities.

Lower 48 Gray Wolf Delisting Proposal Going Out For Comment

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to delist gray wolves in the rest of the Lower 48 will go out for comment tomorrow when it is officially posted on the Federal Register.

TWO WOLVES ROAM ACROSS A SNOWY EASTERN WASHINGTON LANDSCAPE. (UW)

“While wolves in the gray wolf entity currently occupy only a portion of wolf historical range, the best available information indicates that the gray wolf entity is recovered and is not now, nor likely in the foreseeable future, to be negatively affected by past, current, and potential future threats such that the entity is in danger of extinction,” reads a portion of the 158-page document now available for previewing.

USFWS says that species don’t have to be recovered throughout their former range — essentially impossible with all the development since their large-scale extirpation — to be delisted from the Endangered Species Act, but that it would continue to monitor populations for five years, like it did with the Northern Rockies wolves and which have continued to thrive under state management.

The agency says that delisting will let it focus on species that still need help.

“Every species kept on the Endangered Species List beyond its point of recovery takes valuable resources away from those species still in need of the act’s protections,” USFWS said in a press release officially announcing the proposal.

Word first came out last week from Department of Interior Acting Secretary David Bernhardt that it was pending.

There are now more than 6,000 wolves in the Lower 48, primarily in the Northern Rockies and Western Great Lakes, but those populations are spreading out.

Just last week it became clear that there was likely a wolf or wolves within miles of the Pacific in Southern Oregon after state managers there reported one was probably to blame for a large-scale sheep depredation near Cape Blanco.

Gray wolves were delisted in Idaho, Montana and the eastern thirds of Oregon and Washington in 2011. This new proposal would extend that the western two-thirds of both states and elsewhere, if it is approved. A similar bid in 2013 was challenged in court and the effort was derailed, but quietly began again last June.

“Our deepest gratitude goes to all our conservation partners in this victory, particularly the states and tribes who are committed to wolf conservation and will continue this legacy forward,” said USFWS Principal Deputy Director Margaret Everson in the press release.

ODFW and WDFW last week reiterated that they’re ready to take over management of gray wolves across their respective states. It would level the playing field, per se, in dealing with depredations, but would not mean an immediate free-fire zone as the species would remain under state protections for the time being.

Publication on the Federal Register starts a 60-day comment period.

SW WA, Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools Fishing Report (3-13-19)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

The first spring Chinook was counted at Bonneville Dam March 11, 2019.

2019 2018 10-yr Avg
Dam Date Adult Jack   Adult Jack   Adult Jack
BON 3/11/19 1 0 3 0 24 0

 

Salmon/Steelhead:

Lower Columbia mainstem from Warrior Rock line to Bonneville Dam– 55 salmonid boats and 28 Washington bank rods were tallied during last Saturdays flight count.

WINTER STEELHEADING ON THE COWLITZ RIVER IS PICKING UP AS THE LATE-TIMED STOCK BEGINS TO ARRIVE IN BETTER NUMBERS. JASON BROOKS TOOK THIS PIC AT BLUE CREEK SEVERAL RUNS AGO. (JASON BROOKS)

Lower Columbia Washington only creel checks:

  • Sec 3 (I-5 area) bank – 5 salmonid bank anglers had no catch.
  • Sec 3 boat – 5 boats/14 salmonid anglers had no catch.
  • Sec 4 (Vancouver) bank – 22 salmonid anglers had no catch.
  • Sec 4 boat – 31 boats/ 65 salmonid anglers had no catch.

Sturgeon:

Bonneville Pool- 7 bank anglers had no catch.  5 boats/14 rods kept 3 legal sturgeon and released 51 sublegal sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool- Closed for retention.  No report.

John Day Pool- 15 bank anglers had no catch.  2 boats/6 rods had no catch.

Walleye:

Bonneville Pool- 3 boats/6 rods kept 20 walleye.

The Dalles Pool- No anglers sampled.

John Day Pool- 11 boats/23 rods kept 26 walleye and released 3 walleye.

Bass:

John Day Pool- 1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

Elochoman River – 2 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.  1 boat/3 rods released 1 steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 60 bank rods kept 1 steelhead.  4 boats/5 rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br:  17 bank rods released 3 steelhead.  31 boats/106 rods kept 22 steelhead and released 4 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered two winter-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

All of the fish collected last week were held at the hatchery for broodstock needs.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,160 cubic feet per second on Monday, March 11. Water visibility is 10 feet and the water temperature is 41 F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – 32 bank anglers had no catch.

Lewis River – 5 bank anglers had no catch.

East Fork Lewis River – 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Salmon Creek – 9 bank anglers had no catch.

 

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

 

Catchable Trout Plants:

Lake/Pond                           Date Species Number    Fish/lb Hatchery

LEWIS CO PRK PD-s (LEWI)    Mar 07, 2019 Rainbow 2,000           2.5 MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

KlineLine PD (CLAR)                Mar 05, 2019 Rainbow 1,500          2.3 VANCOUVER HATCHERY

Lacamas LK (CLAR)                  Mar 04, 2019 Rainbow 4,000          1.9 VANCOUVER HATCHERY

Kretz Washington Wolf Status Review Bill Passes House, Now In Senate

Even as WDFW begins a status checkup of gray wolves in Washington, state lawmakers are giving hard deadlines for the agency to complete it and for the Fish and Wildlife Commission to decide whether to update the species’ listing.

REP. JOEL KRETZ SPEAKS DURING DEBATE ON THE FLOOR OF WASHINGTON’S HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES EARLIER THIS WEEK. (STATE LEGISLATURE)

“We need the department to take this step to officially document how the wolves are faring,” said prime sponsor Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda) in a press release yesterday. “I know how my ranchers and communities are faring, and it’s not good. Despite honest efforts on both sides of this issue, folks back in my district are desperate. The state needs to show that it’s listening, it hears them, and is going to start taking their concerns to heart.”

HB 2097, which passed out of the House on Monday, requires the review to be based on statewide wolf numbers and scientific data to determine if the “population is no longer in danger of failing, declining, or no longer vulnerable to limited numbers, disease, predation, habitat loss or change, or exploitation.”

The bill must still pass the Senate, where this morning it was introduced and referred to the natural resources committee, and be signed by Governor Inslee, but under it WDFW’s work would have to be finalized by the end of next February and its citizen oversight panel need to reconsider the state endangered status of wolves by August 31, 2020.

A status review is one of two ways under the Washington Administrative Codes’ “delisting criteria” that a species can be taken off state ESA lists.

WAC 220-610-110

Endangered, threatened, and sensitive wildlife species classification.

Delisting criteria
4.1
The commission shall delist a wildlife species from endangered, threatened, or sensitive solely on the basis of the biological status of the species being considered, based on the preponderance of scientific data available.
4.2
A species may be delisted from endangered, threatened, or sensitive only when populations are no longer in danger of failing, declining, are no longer vulnerable, pursuant to section 3.3, or meet recovery plan goals, and when it no longer meets the definitions in sections 2.4, 2.5, or 2.6.

The other is by meeting benchmarks set by the Fish and Wildlife Commission. With wolves, that 2011’s management plan, approved before recovery really got going. Under it, there needs to be either 15 or 18 successful breeding pairs in various parts of the state for certain periods of time.

WDFW has been estimating that that would occur somewhere around 2021, give or take.

Where the latter criteria is essentially a “measuring stick” for how close wolves are to reaching the wolf plan’s predetermined numerical figures, the former considers the “robustness” of the actual population. The most recent annual count did find nearly 15 breeding pairs, though almost all were in one single recovery region.

Indeed, there can be no doubt that pack goals have been reached in Kretz’s district — Pend Oreille, Stevens and Ferry Counties and northeast Okanogan County — but his initial bill’s possible regional delisting wording was stripped out as it moved through the legislature’s lower chamber after its Feb. 19 introduction.

Still, the unanimous 98-0 vote was a good sign for ranchers, hunters and others concerned about growing wolf numbers.

The bill also includes provisions for WDFW to study how wolf recovery in the state’s federally delisted eastern third is affecting recolonization elsewhere.

While a fringe out-of-state pro-wolf blog is already claiming the goal posts are being moved, page 68 of the wolf plan also states that if 2011’s population models turn out to be wrong, “Incorporating wolf demographic data specific to Washington will allow WDFW to update predictions of population persistence during wolf recovery phases and to revise the recovery objectives, if needed.”

And the bill would continue efforts in Ferry and Stevens Counties to deal with wolf-livestock conflicts, and create a grant program for using nonlethal deterrents in all of Eastern Washington.

“In many ways, the state has drug its feet in addressing my constituents’ concerns regarding the wolf issue,” said Kretz in the press release. “The state needs to step up financially and assist with the problems it has created, or at the very least, neglected.”

Paula Swedeen of Conservation Northwest said she appreciated lawmakers commitments to recovering wolves and providing enough funding for wolf-livestock conflict avoidance work, what she called “a significant positive step for both wolves and ranchers.”

“This allows for more social tolerance to be fostered across the state, including in the rural areas where wolves are already abundant. There is robust discussion about increasing the effort to promote coexistence in areas where livelihoods are affected by wolf recovery,” she said in a statement.

It all comes as US Interior Department Acting Secretary David Bernhardt last week said that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would soon propose removing gray wolves from ESA protections in the western two-thirds of Washington and elsewhere in the Lower 48.

WDFW has long maintained it is ready take over managing wolves across the state.

Kretz has introduced numerous wolf bills in the state legislature, some more serious than others. It appears this latest one has a good head of steam and could pass.

Big Bump In Possible Washington Coast Coho Quota, But Chinook Could Be Similar To 2018

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

Fish managers have developed options for Washington’s ocean salmon fisheries that reflect concerns over chinook stocks and optimism about improved returns of coho projected this year.

The three options for ocean salmon fisheries were approved Tuesday for public review by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), which establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.

JENN STAHL SHOWS OFF A COHO SHE CAUGHT OUT OF WESTPORT WHILE FISHING WITH JOHN KEIZER. (SALTPATROL.COM)

The three alternatives are designed to protect the low numbers of chinook expected to return to the Columbia River and Washington’s ocean waters this year, said Kyle Adicks, salmon fisheries policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“With these alternatives in hand, we will work with stakeholders to develop a final fishing package for Washington’s coastal and inside waters that meets our conservation objectives for wild salmon,” Adicks said. “Anglers can expect improved opportunities to fish for coho salmon compared to recent years while fishing opportunities for chinook likely will be similar to last year.”

Similar to 2018, this year’s forecast for Columbia River fall chinook is down roughly 50 percent from the 10-year average. About 100,500 hatchery chinook are expected to return to the lower Columbia River. Those fish – known as “tules” – are the backbone of the recreational ocean fishery.

Meanwhile, fishery managers estimate 905,800 coho will return to the Columbia River this year, up 619,600 fish from the 2018 forecast. A significant portion of the Columbia River run of coho contributes to the ocean fishery.

State fishery managers are working with tribal co-managers and NOAA Fisheries to take into account the dietary needs of southern resident orcas while developing salmon fishing seasons. The declining availability of salmon – southern resident orcas’ main source of prey – and disruptions from boating traffic have been linked to a downturn in the region’s orca population over the past 30 years.

“We will continue to assess the effects of fisheries on southern resident killer whales as we move towards setting our final fishing seasons in April,” Adicks said.

The options include the following quotas for recreational fisheries off the Washington coast:

Option 1: 32,500 chinook and 172,200 coho. Marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) would open June 15 while marine areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport) would open June 22. All four areas would be open daily and La Push would have a late-season fishery under this option.

Option 2: 27,500 chinook and 159,600 coho. Marine areas 1, 3, and 4 would open daily beginning June 22 while Marine Area 2 would open daily beginning June 29. There would be no late-season fishery in Marine Area 3.

Option 3: 22,500 chinook and 94,400 coho. Marine areas 1, 3, and 4 would open daily beginning June 29 while Marine Area 2 would be open five days per week (Sunday through Thursday) beginning June 16. There would be no late-season fishery in Marine Area 3.

Fisheries may close early if quotas have been met. For more details about the options, visit PFMC’s webpage at https://www.pcouncil.org/blog/, where information can be found about a March 25 public meeting in Westport on the three alternatives for ocean salmon fisheries.

Last year, the PFMC adopted recreational ocean fishing quotas of 27,500 chinook and 42,000 coho.

Chinook and coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of a comprehensive 2019 salmon-fishing package, which includes marine and freshwater fisheries throughout Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington’s coastal areas. State and tribal co-managers are currently developing those other fisheries.

State and tribal co-managers will complete the final 2019 salmon fisheries package in conjunction with PFMC during its April meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif.

Several additional public meetings are scheduled in March and April to discuss regional fisheries issues. The public will also soon be able to comment on proposed salmon fisheries through WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/, where a list of scheduled public meetings can be found.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.

Huge Federal Public Lands Bill Signed, Applauded By Hunters, Anglers, Others

THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM BACKCOUNTRY HUNTERS AND ANGLERS, U.S. SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES RANKING MEMBER SEN. JOE MANCHIN, AND CASCADIA WILDLANDS

BHA

Public lands sportsmen and women are celebrating a significant victory following the president’s signing a massive package of conservation and access bills into the law of the land.

THE LANDS BILL WITHDRAWS FEDERAL NONWILDERNESS LAND IN THE UPPER METHOW VALLEY FROM POTENTIAL MINING. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund; conservation of valuable habitat in Montana, Oregon, Washington and California; and establishment of wilderness areas in New Mexico, along with reauthorization of key federal resources programs, are among the wins in S. 47, renamed the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act in honor of the long-serving member of Congress who died last month.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members consistently and enthusiastically advocated for S. 47, particularly the permanent reauthorization of LWCF, and BHA President and CEO Land Tawney lauded the bill’s passage into law.

“Together, the public lands grassroots nation rose up to ensure the passage of this historic bill,” said Tawney. “We wrote letters, we made phone calls, we met with our elected officials and we traveled from across the country to Washington, D.C., and together we made our voices heard. Today we can celebrate a victory that has been years in the making.

“Every victory starts with a vision, and it is carried forward by champions whose resolve never wavers, even in the face of tremendous adversity,” Tawney continued. “Our allies in Congress helped assure that this important legislation advanced, and in doing so they heeded the will of a citizenry and a conservation legacy set in motion by our forefathers. President Trump, hopefully, woke up this morning and asked himself, ‘What would Theodore Roosevelt do?’ before signing this momentous package of bills into law. Our thanks go to the president, Congress and the countless individuals who stepped up to make this happen. We the people are just getting started and have the mandate to do more!”

Passage of S. 47 was made possible by a bipartisan group of congressional leaders, including Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), former Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT). S. 47 passed the Senate on Feb. 12 in an overwhelming 92-8 vote and advanced through the House on Feb. 26 in a vote of 363-62.

BHA grassroots members from across the country spoke up in support of S. 47.

“This bill is an important final step in protecting key lands used by generations of hunters and anglers in both southern and northern New Mexico,” said Joel Gay, BHA New Mexico chapter policy coordinator, who lives in Albuquerque. “The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act will provide permanent protection for critical habitat for mule deer, elk and bighorn sheep and for streams that harbor our state fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The New Mexico chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers applauds Congress for its bipartisan effort on behalf of sportsmen and women.”

“Sportsmen and women from across the Northwest have long treasured the Methow Valley for its vast and wild public lands,” said Ryan Los, a Washington BHA chapter board member, who lives in Wenatchee. “I grew up driving over four hours between my dad’s and grandpa’s houses to the Methow and its tributaries every fall. I shot my first deer in one of those drainages. I applaud Senator Cantwell and others in our state for their bipartisan leadership work to permanently protect the headwaters of the Methow and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”

“Montanans feed our families and our souls thanks to the public lands and waters within our state and therefore support robust conservation funding to bolster our fish and wildlife and outdoor traditions,” said Christian Appel, a member of BHA’s Montana chapter board who lives in Bozeman. “We’re proud that all of our congressional delegates voted the right way on S. 47. In particular, the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act permanently removes more than 30,000 acres of public lands from mineral exploration and extraction. This land, situated just outside of Yellowstone National Park, provides some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the state. Montanans everywhere should feel relief that these acres – and the outdoor activities they provide – now are conserved for future generations.”

“We’re thrilled to see some of our most critical Southern California desert habitat gain designation as wilderness with the passage of S. 47,” said Justin Bubenik, co-chair of BHA’s California chapter, from Pasadena. “These newly minted wilderness areas will provide additional protections to critical habitat of our local wildlife – from our state bird, the California quail, to the desert bighorn sheep – and promises to benefit all recreational users. We thank our representatives in the Senate and House and our partner groups for their efforts in passing this critical legislation.”

“The Oregon chapter of BHA is committed to the conservation of North America’s native species,” said Ian Isaacson, co-chair of BHA’s Oregon chapter board and a resident of Bend. “This is why we are excited about the passage of the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary Act. The passage of this bill is a culmination of a multi-year collaborative effort, which will result in the conservation of 100,000 acres of the most critical and pristine wild steelhead habitat in the Pacific Northwest. While we all take this moment to celebrate, know that the Oregon chapter will not stand idle as we continue to identify other opportunities around this state to secure similar victories for fish and game species iconic to the American west.”

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SEN. MANCHIN’S OFFICE

Today, U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) attended the White House’s Presidential bill-signing ceremony at which President Trump signed the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act into law. The legislation, which permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, passed the U.S. Senate with a vote of 92-8 on February 12th and passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 363-62 on February 26th.

“I was proud to join Senator Murkowski and my colleagues at the White House today as President Trump signed the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act into law. This legislation is an important reminder that when we work in a bipartisan way, the American people come out on top. This public lands bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, increases access to public lands for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting, and it significantly expands our recreation and conservation areas. West Virginians take great pride in our outdoor heritage and I’m especially proud we were able to finally designate the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area in 18 counties in West Virginia and Maryland as a National Heritage Area,” Senator Manchin said. “Roughly 47 million Americans hunt and fish every year which provides an economic benefit of more than of $201.4 billion per year and supports 1.5 million jobs. For West Virginians, our love of the great outdoors is a part of who we are and we take great pride in sharing that with our friends and neighbors. More than 350,000 hunters explore our woods every year. That sporting contributes almost $270 million to our economy and supports 5,000 jobs. This public lands bill expands our access to the lands we cherish and that is great news for West Virginia.”

LWCF is a conservation tool that ensures states and federal public land management agencies are able to protect and conserve our natural resources without relying on taxpayer dollars. The program puts royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and natural gas in the Outer Continental Shelf into a fund in the U.S. Treasury to be allocated to states and the Federal government for the purpose of protecting, conserving and improving our public spaces. Since 1965, about $19 billion of LWCF funds have been appropriated.  LWCF expired in September 2018 after a brief 3-year extension in 2015.

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act also includes significant wins for America’s sportsmen and sportswomen. The legislation will increase access to federal lands for hunting and fishing, and includes a clear Congressional declaration for all federal departments and agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands. The bill establishes a national “open unless closed” standard for hunting and fishing on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands, and it requires land management agencies to listen to local, public input before they can close any lands to hunting or shooting. The legislation authorizes two additional days to the current duck hunting season, specifically for veterans and youth.

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act also:

  • Adds over 621 miles of rivers to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System
  • Adds over 2,600 miles of new trails to the National Trails System
  • Designates 700,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas
  • Increases the size of our National Parks by over 42,000 acres
  • Creates four new national monuments
  • Provides direction to all federal departments and agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands

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CASCADIA WILDLANDS

Today, President Donald Trump signed into law a sweeping public lands package that passed the US House and Senate in February. Included in the nation-wide legislation is the Oregon Wildlands Act, the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Designation Act, the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and many other public lands bills. The legislation was the first for Oregon to protect Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers in nearly 10 years.

A FLY ANGLER WORKS THE NORTH UMPQUA (BLM, FLICKR, CC 2.0)

Representative Peter DeFazio and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley championed the conservation legislation for years. The passage was lauded by business owners, conservationists and public lands enthusiasts across the country.

“Protected wildlands and waterways in Oregon are good for business, critical for great craft beer, and are part of our identity as Oregonians,” says Jamie Floyd, co-founder of Ninkasi Brewing Company. “That’s why we are ecstatic about the passage of the Oregon Wildlands Act, which will forever safeguard special places like Devil’s Staircase, the Rogue, Elk, and Chetco Rivers and other Oregon treasures.”

Today’s authorization will designate the approximately 30,500-acre Devil’s Staircase Wilderness in the Oregon Coast Range northeast of Reedsport and safeguard 303 miles of rivers, including nearly 256 miles as Wild and Scenic Rivers, including the Molalla and Elk Rivers and tributaries to the lower Rogue River. The bill will also permanently withdraw portions of the salmon-rich Chetco River, the drinking water source for the City of Brookings, from mining claims. The legislation also creates the 100,000-acre Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area on the North Umpqua River, named after two legendary fish and wildlands advocates of the area.

“Oregon’s inventory of protected wildlands and waterways just got a huge boost, and is a testament to the conservation passion of Oregonians,” says Josh Laughlin, Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands. “These are storybook landscapes that will be forever safeguarded from industrialization and will continue to provide clean water, recreation, carbon storage, and critical salmon and wildlife habitat at a time it is so desperately needed.”

Left out of the legislation during earlier negotiations was the 56,000-acre addition to the Wild Rogue Wilderness in the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon and the creation of the Rogue Canyon and Molalla Recreation Areas. Conservation organizations continue to work with elected officials, business owners and community members to ensure these permanent protections are included in future legislation.