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Wild Fish Runs, July 2003

News and updates from Washington Trout

To subscribe or unsubscribe, please reply to wildfish@washingtontrout.org

For more information on any of these topics, please check out our website at www.washingtontrout.org.

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JULY 2003 ISSUE

Habitat Restoration, Research and Program Development:

Wild Salmon Recovery Initiative:

Education & Outreach

Events and Volunteer Opportunities:

Other News:

 

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Wild Fish Runs is a bi-monthly publication for Washington Trout’s members and supporters to provide program updates and networking assistance. Washington Trout is a conservation-ecology organization dedicated to the preservation and recovery of Washington’s wild fish and the habitat they depend on. Since 1989, Washington Trout has sought to improve conditions for all of Washington’s wild fish through research, advocacy, and habitat restoration. Washington Trout is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

 

PO Box 402 * 15629 Main St NE * Duvall, WA 98019 * Phone 425-788-1167 * Fax 425-788-9634

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RESEARCH AND RESTORATION:

 

NFWF Evaluations:

            Washington Trout’s Director of Science and Research Jamie Glasgow and Conservation Biologist Micah Wait recently returned from California where they commenced site visits of National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) funded culvert removal and replacement projects. NFWF has contracted WT to provide a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the effectiveness of the NFWF’s support of culvert removal projects intended to improve fish habitat through the removal of barriers to fish passage, and the replacement of culverts contributing to elevated stream sedimentation. While in California, Glasgow and Wait saw a variety of projects intended to benefit ESA listed steelhead, coho and chinook, and coastal cutthroat trout at the southern extent of their range. The fieldwork began in the San Francisco Bay Area and the two evaluated the conservation benefits afforded by projects in Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte Counties as they worked their way north. Highlights included exploring a multitude of fish passage issues in the redwood forests of the Lagunitas watershed, which harbor one of the best remaining populations of California coho, and learning about the latest techniques in reducing road related sedimentation in the oak savannah of the Russian River wine country in Mendocino County. The next round of site visits will be conducted by Wait and Mary Lou White, Washington Trout’s Projects Manager/Field Biologist, in Oregon this July.

 

WT Conservation Biologist Micah Wait taking measurements at a NFWF-funded fish passage project in Northern California.

 

Fish Distribution Surveys:

            Washington Trout crews have spent much of the past two months documenting fish species composition and distribution data in 28 watersheds draining into Puget Sound between Seattle and Tacoma.  Fish species observed include cutthroat and rainbow trout, coho, chum, and chinook salmon, sculpin, stickleback, and several non-native warm water species.  Despite the pervasion of urbanization throughout this region, WT crews were impressed with the variety and range of fish observed – true testimony to their resiliency. 

            Similar surveys were conducted in the Maxwelton watershed on Whidbey Island and the Chapman watershed on Camano Island, both in Island County.  Coho salmon, sculpin, and stickleback were observed in Maxwelton Creek, and cutthroat trout were found in both Maxwelton and Chapman Creeks.  Water temperature loggers were installed throughout both watersheds, and water quality measurements were collected at representative sites in both watersheds.  Instream habitat surveys will be conducted later this summer.

            The field data are being transcribed from field books into an interactive geographic information system, to be available on the internet as a link from the Washington Trout website later this year.

 

Bear Creek Mussel Study:

            Phase 2 of the Washington Trout Bear Creek mussel study is complete. This spring Washington Trout researchers re-examined a subsample of mussel beds in upper Bear Creek, surveyed for juvenile mussels in and around the adult mussel beds, and established an infrared trail monitor linked to a camera in order to document mussel predation. The results of the mussel bed re-surveys indicate that the population in upper Bear Creek is likely stable on a short term basis but that careful monitoring in the future is required. On a less positive note, the search for juvenile age classes yielded very few individuals, suggesting that the population has not successfully recruited for at least 10-15 years. Juvenile mussels are more sensitive to decreases in water quality than adults are, and their absence may indicate that the health of the Bear Creek watershed is deteriorating. The next phase of WT’s Bear Creek mussel research will include partnering on the placement of caged mussels at strategic locations in the Bear Creek system. This will allow us to conduct tissue sample analyses that will shed light on which pollutants the Bear Creek mussels are bioaccumulating.

 

Cherry Valley Feasibility Study:

            Elevation surveys in Cherry Valley have been completed.  The elevation data has been processed, and combined with flood stage measurements made this winter by Washington Trout crews.  Using this data we have been able to create a animated model of a flood event that occurred in Cherry Valley from January 30 through February 6, 2003.  Furthermore, we can use this model to visually describe the effect of solutions that will be proposed by the engineering consultant (R2 Inc.)  The flood animations can be viewed from the Washington Trout web site.  The animations were created from two different viewing aspects:  Looking South, at the Cherry Creek side of the floodgate (http://www.washingtontrout.org/vidcherryfloodgate.shtml), and looking at Cherry Valley and Snoqualmie Valley from directly above (http://www.washingtontrout.org/vidcherryfloodmap.shtml).

 

           

            In late June, Washington Trout hosted a meeting to report preliminary Cherry Valley hydrologic modeling results to representatives from Drainage District #7, NMFS, WDFW, and the Snohomish Conservation District.  Washington Trout and partners are currently developing restoration alternatives to be modeled in an effort to determine which restoration options will provide the most benefit for fish and farmers. Washington Trout personnel are continuing to work with consultants, landowners, and affected parties to finalize design criteria for the Cherry Valley feasibility study.

 

Schoolhouse Creek Restoration Project:

            In late June, Washington Trout presented a project update at a Schoolhouse Creek Public Meeting in Washougal, organized by the Lower Columbia Fish Enhancement Group.  The meeting was attended by the project partners, affected landowners, and representatives from the Cape Horne-Skye and Canyon Creek Schools.  Project designs are being developed with assistance from R2 Resource Consultants, and will be submitted for permitting late summer 2003.

 

Tolt River Surveys:

 

WT Conservation Biologist Micah Wait using underwater video technology to document fish species composition and relative densities in the lower Tolt River near Carnation.

 

            For the second year, Washington Trout is performing underwater videography surveys to document fish species composition, habitat preferences of juvenile salmonids, and relative densities of the species in those habitats, in the lower Tolt River.  The 2003 video surveys targeted juvenile chinook, so were conducted in the spring when juvenile chinook were likely to be present, at those sites documented to support chinook during the 2002 surveys. This project, also funded by the City of Seattle, will provide valuable information regarding how fish use the lower Tolt River, and what kinds of habitats should be prioritized for protection or enhancement there. 

 

Threespine stickleback in Olympia’s Capitol Lake

 

Environmental Disaster or Natural Process?

            In early July 2003 a Washington Trout member observed what he believed was an extensive fish kill in Olympia’s Capital Lake.  Washington Trout’s rapid field reconnaissance of the lake confirmed that thousands of dead threespined stickleback were lining the down-wind shore of the lake – most likely the end result of their successful spawning.

            Threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus Linnaeus, are one of the most widely distributed fishes in the world.  They are found in the salt, brackish, and freshwaters of North America, Europe, and Asia.  In Washington they are found in many of the state’s inland lakes and streams, as well as in Puget Sound’s estuarine and saltwater environments.

            As a result of their tolerance for a wide variety of environmental conditions and their complex social and mating behavior, threespine stickleback are well-studied by fishery biologists and behaviorists.  In Washington, most live for only one year, and die shortly after spawning.  They primarily feed on zooplankton and aquatic insect larvae, but during their breeding season, males will eat the eggs of other males in their territory.  Because of their size, habits, and habitats, threespine stickleback are prey for many piscivorous fishes including rainbow and coastal cutthroat trout.

            The species usually spawns in freshwater from May through July. Male fish develop brilliant dark green and orange-red spawning coloration as early as March, when the water temperatures reach about 12-15 C. As the spawning period approaches the male fish builds a nest with an opening at each end, or just a simple pad with a hollow sandy pit below the pad. Nests are constructed using a combination of plant fragments and glue-like renal secretions from their kidneys. After an elaborate courtship ritual, the female fish deposits her eggs in the nest and then is driven away by the male. The male then enters the nest, fertilizes the eggs and loosens the top of the nest to enhance ventilation. In addition to guarding the nest from predators, the male often assumes a head-stand posture at one end of the nest and circulates water over the eggs by fanning his pectoral fins.  After about seven days, when the eggs are near hatching, the male tears down the nest and scatters the eggs. The male will continue to guard his brood of approximately 200 for several days, until the school disperses.

            While the thousands of dead adult stickleback in Capital Lake were the natural culmination of that population’s life history, many observed fish kills are the result of point and non-point source pollutants.  Washington Trout appreciates the vigilance of its members, and encourages all to promptly report perceived “fish kills” to Washington Trout and to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

 

Threespine stickleback

 

 
WILD SALMON RECOVERY INITIATIVE:

 

HGMP Public Comment Period Ends July 18:

Friday, July 18 marks the end of a 30-day public comment period for Puget Sound Hatchery Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) submitted to NOAA Fisheries for ESA authorization. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the public comment period in the June 18 issue of the Washington State Register, which is part of an agreement negotiated between Washington Trout, the Native Fish Society, and WDFW to settle lawsuits brought by the two environmental groups over WDFW’s Puget Sound salmon hatchery operations.

The public is invited to review the plans and submit comments to WDFW. WDFW will respond to all comments in writing, and forward the comments and responses to NOAA Fisheries for review with the HGMPS.

The department submitted HGMPs for its Puget Sound hatcheries in late 2002 and earlier this year, and is in the process of preparing others for submission to NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency charged with enforcing ESA rules for listed salmon and steelhead populations. NOAA Fisheries requires HGMPs for any hatchery operation with the potential to impact a listed salmon or steelhead population. Washington State has 13 salmon and steelhead populations with federal ESA protection. Many HGMPs are still overdue a January 2001 deadline.

Washington Trout and Native Fish Society charged that WDFW’s Puget Sound hatchery operations were harming and killing wild chinook, through competition for food and habitat, displacement, predation, and harmful genetic interactions. During settlement negotiations, WT proposed the comment and response process as a way to make hatchery management more transparent, engage the public, and influence improvements in current hatchery practices.

Typically, NOAA Fisheries would seek public review and comment on HGMPs during its own review and approval process. WDFW will now augment that process by soliciting public input on the hatchery plans prior to NOAA Fisheries’ review.

The State Register Notice, the full text of the HGMPs, and instructions for submitting comments can be found on the WDFW website at: http://www.wa.gov/wdfw/hat/hgmp/ .

Washington Trout encourages all interested parties to review any or all of the Puget Sound HGMPs and submit appropriate comments. This is an opportunity to become meaningfully involved in this important process, to influence improvements in WDFW hatchery practices, and to help ensure the effective recovery of federally listed Puget Sound chinook salmon.

Those interested in hatchery reform processes can review these operational hatchery plans for consistency with acknowledged reform needs, and with recommendations from the Hatchery Science Review Group and other independent science panels.

WT is posting two document to our website to assist individuals and organizations in writing their own reviews and comments. They are “Draft General Comments on Chinook HGMPs” and “Draft Comments on Wallace Summer Fingerling Chinook Program HGMP”, written by WT Communications Director Ramon Vanden Brulle and WT Resource Analyst Nick Gayeski. There will be a link to the documents from the website homepage – www.washingtontrout.org. If you would like more detailed information, please contact the office at 425-788-1167 or wildfish@washingtontrout.org.

 

 

EDUCATION & OUTREACH:

 

Fox News Interviews Washington Trout Executive Director:

On June 9, Fox News interviewed WT’s Executive Director Kurt Beardslee (aired June 11th) on endocrine disrupters and the possible impact they may have on salmon recovery. An endocrine disrupter is an external chemical compound that mimics, and can interfere with, natural hormones in the body responsible for the maintenance, reproduction, development, and/or behavior of an organism (definition from the U.S. Geological Survey). Synthetic hormones, such as the synthetic estrogen found in oral contraceptives like birth control pills, act as endocrine disrupters in fish and other aquatic animals and are being found at potentially harmful levels in waterways around the nation and Puget Sound.

The impetus for the Fox News interview was a June 3rd article by Lisa Stiffler in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Birth control may be harming state’s salmon.” The article highlights a recent study by the Battelle Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim on the effects of synthetic estrogen, specifically ethynylestradiol or EE2, on the fertility of male rainbow trout. The results are staggering. Sexually mature males were exposed to EE2 at various levels for 62 days, semen and blood samples were taken from each fish, and the semen was used to fertilize a non-exposed female. After 28 days of incubating, even those males exposed to the lowest level of EE2 experienced a 50% reduction in fertility when compared to a non-exposed male. Levels of synthetic estrogen found in the wild are 80 times higher than the lowest level used in the Battelle study.

Endocrine disrupters is an issue that WT has been working on for some time, encouraging agencies to address the issue in such operations as the new Brightwater wastewater treatment plant, which will be discharging into Puget Sound. Brightwater is the largest of the new water treatment facilities that are discharging into salmon-bearing waters. Currently, water treatment plants do not monitor for synthetic hormones, nor are there any standards for levels that can be released in sewage and wastewater. In the Fox News interview, Beardslee emphasized that the implications of endocrine disruption are very concerning and that it is an area that needs to be prioritized for research. WT will continue raising this as an issue that needs to be addressed.

If you are interested in learning more about endocrine disrupters, please follow the links below or contact the Washington Trout office at wildfish@washingtontrout.org or (425) 788-1167.

 

Lisa Stiffler’s June 3rd Seattle P-I article:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/124939_estrogen04.html.

 

“Investigations of Endocrine Disruption in Aquatic Systems Associated with the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program, USGS: http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/FS/FS-081-98/index.html

 

The Battelle Marine Sciences Laboratory study, “Short-Term Exposure to 17"-Ethynylestradiol Decreases the Fertility of Sexually Maturing Male Rainbow Trout,” was published in the June issue of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and is available for purchase online at  http://www.infotrieve.com/.

 

Longfellow Creek Historical Ecology Project:

            Last December, Seattle Public Utilities contracted WT Outreach Coordinator Leah Hausman to conduct oral history interviews as part of SPU’s Historical Ecology Project. Twenty-five interviews were conducted with long-time residents of the Longfellow Creek watershed and persons who have played important roles in restoration efforts, service industries and the community were interviewed for the project. Collecting oral data about the past physical, cultural, and social conditions and practices is being increasingly recognized as an important source of historical information. The Longfellow Creek interviews, completed earlier this spring, have indeed already proven extremely helpful by providing information on historical fish use of Longfellow Creek, the historical ecology of the watershed, and on the relationship between Longfellow Creek and the surrounding community.

            On Sunday June 1st, a Thank You Tea and Tour was held for participants in the Longfellow Creek Historical Ecology Project. Many participants and their families came to the event, hosted by WT’s Hausman, Longfellow Creek Watershed Specialist Sheryl Shapiro, and Seattle Public Utilities’ Environmental Biologist Katherine Lynch. Attendees went on a van and walking tour of two restoration sites on Longfellow Creek, followed by a reception and presentations by Hausman, Shapiro, and Lynch on the Longfellow Creek watershed and the success of the oral history interviews within the Historical Ecology Project.       

            A second thank you event was held Wednesday, July 9 at the Daystar Retirement Village for participants in the Historical Ecology Project who were unable to attend the first event and for the larger residential community at Daystar. Hausman, Shapiro, and Lynch gave similar presentations to the twenty residents in attendance. Daystar Retirement Village is located right next to Roxhill Park, where the headwaters of Longfellow Creek begins in the Roxhill peat bog.

            All participants in the oral history interviews received a draft compilation of interview summaries written by Hausman during the course of the interviews. Participants were given the opportunity to review and revise their summaries before the compilations were made. WT and Seattle Public Utilities plan to generate materials and presentations from the Longfellow Creek interview information and use them to help secure funding to conduct oral history interviews in other urban creek watersheds in Seattle.

 

 

(Clockwise from top left): Katherine Lynch and Sheryl Shapiro (center) speak to attendees of the June Thank You Tea & Tour on a van/walking tour about restoration work that has been done in Longfellow Creek; Dave Tharp gets a closer look at Longfellow Creek;

 

The State of the Fisheries

            The past few months have seen an increase in media coverage on the issues of overharvest and the state of fisheries in the US and around the world. Overharvest is an on-going issue of concern that was brought to the national spotlight with the release of the Pew Oceans Commission report on June 4th. The Pew report and a study published in Nature have sparked a great deal of discussion in newspapers, magazine, radio, and internet news sources.

            The Pew Oceans Commission is an independent group of scientists, fishermen, conservationists, business leaders, and elected officials. The Pew report, titled “America's Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Sea Change”, is the result of a three-year, nationwide study of the oceans. The 144-page report is the first of its kind in more than 30 years. Among the report’s findings and solutions, the Pew Commission calls for Congress and the Bush Administration to pass a National Ocean Policy Act and for the establishment of an independent oceans agency, regional ecosystem councils, and a national network of marine reserves. The full report and summaries are available online at www.pewoceans.org.

            Another major report on the state of our nation’s fisheries is expected later this year by the US Commission on Ocean Policy. The US Commission was mandated by the Oceans Act of 2000, is authorized by Congress, and consists of a 16-person commission appointed by the President to address a broad range of issues and make recommendations to the President and Congress for a coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy. Also this year, a National Conference on Marine Fishery Management will be held November 13-15 in Washington DC.

 

Pew Oceans Commission report, June 4, 2003 – http://www.pewoceans.org/oceans/oceans_report.asp.

 

Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Press Release, June 5, 2003 - http://www.pcouncil.org/events/2003/pewres0603.pdf.

 

“Rapid Worldwide Depletion of Predatory Fish Communities”, by Ransom Myers and Boris Worm, May 2003 issue of Naturehttp://fish.dal.ca/~myers/.

 

United States Commission on Ocean Policy (report expected late summer 2003) - http://www.oceancommission.gov/.

 

 

EVENTS/VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:

 

Volunteers Needed For Environmental Education!

             This fall, WT will need volunteers to help staff its first semester as the coordinating organization for the Environmental Discovery Program. The EDP is a hands-on, classroom and field-based program originally developed by Stewardship Partners that brings students from Seattle and the surrounding areas out to Oxbow Farms, an organic farm located between Duvall and Carnation on SR 203. As part of the program, students take a full day field trip to the farm where they explore the surrounding environment and learn about the importance of native plants, animals, and ecosystems. Volunteers are needed to staff the field trips, which are tentatively scheduled to take place during school days the week of September 29 – October 3. Five classes will be participating in the program this fall and you can volunteer for as many (or as few) of the classes as you like. All volunteers will receive plenty of personalized and group instruction to ensure your teaching comfort.

            Also from September 18-21, WT will be at the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival in Leavenworth, WA. WT’s booth will be the 2003 Wild Salmon Homecoming Poster Contest, an event that has proved its popularity with students, parents and volunteers several times over. The theme for the contest is how happy wild fish will be when they can finally go home again. Construction begins this fall to remove several structures at the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery (2 dams and 3 weirs) that have blocked passage for listed chinook, steelhead, and bull trout to over 21 miles of mainstream and 20 miles of side channel spawning and rearing habitat on upper Icicle Creek for 64 years. WT NE Regional Board Member Dick Rieman is a member of the Icicle Creek Watershed Council, who has partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct this work. The festival runs from 9-3 on September 18th & 19th, and from 10-5 on September 20th and 21st. Volunteers would be asked to be there for the full day and WT may be able to help provide overnight accommodations on a case-by-case basis.

            Please contact Leah Hausman at leah@washingtontrout.org or 425-788-1167 if you are interested in volunteering with either the Environmental Discovery Program or at the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival!

 

WT Outreach Coordinator Leah Hausman teaching 4th grade students in the Environmental Discovery Program.

 

WT’s Wild Salmon Poster Contest at the 2002 Wenatchee River Salmon Festival.

 

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Want to get more involved with Washington Trout? WT appreciates your support and can use your volunteer help in a number of ways including the annual WT auction, educational programs, mailing and office assistance, staffing booths at public events, and participating in membership campaigns and other special events. Check out the website for more information on volunteer opportunities and our calendar, which lists upcoming WT and other organizations’ events, meetings, classes, etc. Please contact Leah Hausman at leah@washingtontrout.org if you have an event you would like mentioned in Wild Fish Runs or on the website!

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OTHER NEWS:

 

Shop the WT Store and Support Salmon Recovery:

            The WT Store is a fun way to open up the front of our office and make a space where people can come in, learn about Washington Trout, and buy something with the knowledge that all proceeds go to support WT. We have been trying to expand our inventory, bringing in new items and product lines that we think you and your family will enjoy.

            We have a wide variety of items to appeal to adults, kids, and kids-at-heart: puppets; stuffed animals; scientific games and kits; bug collection boxes, hand magnifying lenses, and tools to explore the outdoors; books to educate and entertain all age levels; Burt’s Bees and Bunny’s Bath personal products; art prints by Joseph Tomelleri, Tanya Hill, Jean Ferrier and original pastels by Tim Harris; chocolate; candles; computer map programs; cards; calendars; treats and gifts for your dog or cat; and of course, WT logo hats, fleece and travel coffee mugs.    

            The WT Store is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am-5pm. We are located on SR 203 at 15629 Main St NE in Duvall, WA. If you need directions to the store, please call 425-788-1167 or email wildfish@washingtontrout.org.

 

Shopping Online?

You can do your usual online shopping and help support Washington Trout by shopping through the WT shopping village at GreaterGood.com. Choose from more than 100 brand name retailers like eBay, Amazon.com, PetsMart, The Disney Store, Dell, Lands’ End and many more. Up to 15% of everything you buy benefits Washington Trout. To go directly to the WT shopping village, visit http://www.greatergood.com/partner/washingtontrout.

WellSpent.Org is another great source for online shopping. WellSpent.org has thousands of products - including electronics, software, computers, tools, appliances, camping gear and much more - available at discount prices. Every purchase you make generates a donation for the non-profit cause of your choice. So visit http://www.wellspent.org/, search for Washington Trout, and help yourself to some great gifts - you'll be helping us, too!