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Wild Fish Runs
News and Updates from Washington Trout
In This Issue:
Wild Fish Runs is a bi-monthly publication for WT members and supporters to provide program updates and networking assistance. WT is a conservation-ecology organization dedicated to the preservation and recovery of Washington’s wild fish and the habitat they depend on. Since 1989, WT 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
Island County Watershed Restoration Planning
Over the past year, Washington Trout has been collecting data to guide restoration planning in two Island County watersheds; Maxwelton Creek on Whidbey Island, and Chapman Creek on Camano Island. The field-intensive portion of the project has been completed and the data from the fish distribution surveys, spawning surveys, instream and riparian habitat reconnaissance, water quality assessment, and fish passage inventory are being entered and error-checked.
WT Project Manager/Field Biologist Mary Lou White holding an identification flag at the stem-pipe inlet of a culvert of Chapman Creek in Camano Island. (2/9/04)
The field data will be represented in an
interactive web-based GIS being created by Joseph Yacker, Washington Trout’s
GIS Specialist. The interactive web page for the Island County survey data will
represent an advance over previous Washington Trout web pages. Due to intensive
survey effort associated with this project, the web page will enable visitors,
the general public and agency staff alike, to view detailed information and
photographs about all the information that was collected during the course of the
project. The web page will also allow users to select which background layers
they would like to view; options include county and private roads, topography,
and aerial photographs. In this way, the detailed information collected over
the course of hundreds of hours of effort will be accessible to all, not filed
in a binder on a bookshelf.
Concurrently, Washington Trout’s Field Manager Mary Lou White is synthesizing the field data, historical information, and information provided by streamside landowners to provide restoration recommendations for the two watersheds at both reach-level and watershed scales. The recommendations and interactive web page will be presented to the Island County residents within both watersheds in mid-May. Project funding was made available by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board through Island County, and the Maxwelton Salmon Adventure and Snohomish Conservation District are key project partners.
Coho Pre Spawning Mortality Study
Since October 2003, Washington Trout crews have been surveying a subsample of 33 stream reaches in the Snohomish watershed, looking for dead or dying fish. The spawning success of every coho carcass that was encountered (2,243 in total) was evaluated; additional notes were collected on each fish’s sex, length, the presence or absence of the adipose fin, signs of predation or scavenging, signs of fin-wear, and any other clues that point towards a natural or unnatural cause of death. Think “Crime Scene Investigators (CSI)”, for dead salmon.
The fieldwork and data entry now complete, the next step entails analyzing the data and comparing trends in the abundance of coho that died, before spawning and for no apparent reason, to trends in the characteristics of the watersheds that were surveyed. Because of its extensiveness and level of detail, this data set is unique in Puget Sound drainages. Consequently, detailed information about run-timing, sex ratios, hatchery (adipose fin-clipped) and wild (unclipped) proportions, and size distribution will also be analyzed. Stay tuned for the results.
WT Board President Bill McMillan conducting pre-spawn mortality surveys (2/12/04)
South King County Watertyping Project:
Washington Trout is pleased to announce the completion of our South King County Watertyping Project. During seven weeks in Spring 2003 we conducted field surveys of 25 watersheds that drain into Puget Sound between Seattle and Tacoma. Our crews surveyed over 38 miles of streams, and collected more than a thousand datapoints and photographs to characterize fish and fish habitat distribution in each of the watersheds. The water type classification of almost every stream that was surveyed was found to have been incorrect, and our fieldcrews “found” 17.7 miles of streams previously not on the state-approved maps. To view the exciting project results in our interactive web-based GIS and learn more about the process called water typing, click here. WT has conducted similar watertyping projects and created interactive GIS for Port Ludlow, Vashon Island, and has projects planned or pending with Island County and Orcas Island. To view all of WT’s interactive maps, visit www.washingtontrout.org/maps.shtml.
Coastal cutthroat trout found during watertyping surveys
WA and OR Propose Raising Impacts on Threatened Steelhead
The Washington and Oregon Departments of Fish and Wildlife, acting under the Columbia River Compact, have sent a request to NOAA Fisheries to raise the allowable harvest-impact rate for Lower Columbia River steelhead to 6% from the current level of 2%. LCR steelhead have been listed as Threatened under the ESA since 1999, and the 2% impact limit has been in effect since 2000. On January 2, the compact submitted a Biological Assessment (BA)to NOAA Fisheries, proposing the increase. Washington Trout has joined other wild-fish advocates in opposing the proposal.
We believe the proposal fails to appropriately balance the interests of commercial fishing against the recovery needs of listed Lower Columbia River steelhead. For the last several years, WDFW and ODFW have attempted to prosecute a “demonstration” commercial fishery for hatchery spring chinook in the lower Columbia River utilizing so-called “selective” fishery-gear, tangle-nets and recovery boxes. The smaller-mesh tangle-nets and the recovery boxes (aerated tanks of water) are intended to reduce mortality and allow the release of non-target fish, in this case Threatened wild spring chinook and Threatened LCR steelhead. The request to raise allowable impacts on LCR steelhead is driven by a need to accommodate the fishery. Unfortunately the “tangle-net” fishery has so far not been able to provide a productive fishery for hatchery chinook without exceeding the existing impact limits on either wild chinook or LCR steelhead.
In 2002 the fishery killed nearly 15% of the total 2002 LCR steelhead run. To harvest approximately 15,000 hatchery chinook, the fishery had to release almost 15,000 wild chinook and over 20,000 LCR steelhead, killing as many as half. In 2003, responding to advocacy from Washington Trout and other organizations, NOAA Fisheries imposed more responsible management guidelines on the fishery. Managers were forced to close the fishery after only three days because impact limits on wild chinook were exceeded, and mortality on LCR steelhead was approaching the limit imposed on the fishery of 1.8%.
Unable to hold the fishery within established guidelines, managers are now requesting that the guidelines be relaxed. On February 11, WT sent a memorandum to NOAA Fisheries, to register its concerns and opposition regarding the proposal and submit our analysis of the January 2 BA.
We found the proposal and the line of reasoning and evidence used to justify it controversial at best. The BA relies on faulty assumptions, unsupported assertions, and overly optimistic (if not selective) analyses of available data to make a case for increasing allowable impact-rates for LCR steelhead. Considerable controversy attaches to the steelhead-stock data presented and analyzed in the BA. WDFW and ODFW staff members with responsibilities for relevant listed steelhead stocks disagree with or were not given opportunity to review the details of the stock assessments. Several lines of evidence suggest the proposal could even risk the extirpation of some individual populations within the LCR steelhead ESU.
We recommended that NOAA Fisheries reject the Jan 2 BA, and direct the Compact Managers not to submit a revised BA until all relevant staff of WDFW and ODFW have given input and have reviewed the analyses reported in the revised BA. Given the high stakeholder-interest in this proposal and its controversial nature, we also recommended that either the Compact or NOAA Fisheries subject the proposal to full public review and input before final approval. WT has been cooperating in this effort with many organizations advocating for wild-fish conservation, including Oregon Trout, the Native Fish Society, Trout Unlimited, and the Wild Steelhead Coalition.
Responding to NOAA Fisheries’ request, the Compact submitted a revised BA on Feb 13. The revised document appears to contain more detail and some correction on stock assessments, but still fails to provide adequate justification that the populations can or will tolerate any increased impacts, or appropriate detail on how the fishery will be conducted and monitored to stay within any established impact-levels.
WT fully supports the development of selective fishery techniques to effectively allow the sustainable harvest of relatively healthy salmon stocks while minimizing impacts to listed and other at-risk populations. However, the data from 2003, 2002, and previous test fisheries strongly reinforce the suggestion that tangle-nets used with recovery boxes are not effectively non-lethal fishing gear, and may not be appropriate for conducting truly selective fisheries. Increasing risks on listed steelhead in order to accommodate this fishery is simply inappropriate. WT will continue to press NOAA Fisheries to reject this unsound proposal.
Conservationists Call on Fish & Wildlife Service to Protect West
Coast Lamprey Populations
Washington Trout has joined eleven other conservation organizations in Oregon and California in filing a 60 day notice of intent to sue the US Fish & Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act, over the agency’s failure to take federally required steps to protect four species of lampreys as threatened or endangered.
In January 2003, the coalition of conservation organizations – concerned about recent, severe declines in population numbers for Pacific lamprey, river lamprey, western brook lamprey, and Kern brook lamprey -- petitioned the Service to list the species as threatened or endangered. To date, the USFWS has failed to make the legally required 90-day and 12-month findings on the petition, most recently informing the petitioners that the agency does not “anticipate making a finding in Fiscal Year 2004.”
“Meanwhile, lamprey populations, and their stream and river habitats continue to decline without the benefit of any ESA protection," said Penny Lind, executive director of Umpqua Watersheds, one of the principal organizations behind the petition and 60-day notice.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to follow straightforward procedural requirements of the Endangered Species Act," said Amy Atwood, of the Western Environmental Law Center, representing the petitioners. "This coalition of conservationists is giving the Service one last chance to meet its responsibilities before they will hold it accountable.”
Lampreys superficially resemble eels, but they are an ancient type of fish, jawless and without paired fins. The four species are distributed throughout the west coast, and stable lamprey populations indicate and contribute to the ecological health of Pacific rivers and streams. Historically, lampreys have been an important component of marine and riverine food webs--in one study, making up 11% of Columbia River harbor seals’ diets.
Lamprey scarcity became a conservation concern in the early 1990s when
tribal fish managers, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and other
researchers noted that populations of Pacific lamprey were declining to
perilously low numbers. Similar to Pacific salmon declines, Pacific lamprey
show a dramatic declining trend throughout their range from California to the
Columbia River portions of their range.
Counts of Pacific lamprey on the Snake River declined from 50,000 in the early 1960s to less than a thousand during the 1990s. Counts in Oregon on the North Umpqua River declined from 46,785 in 1966 to less than 50 annually since 1995. Counts on the Rogue River ranged from 155 to 2,370 since 1993, but abundance is believed to be far below historic numbers.
All west coast lamprey species' populations have been heavily impacted by water developments, poor agricultural and forestland management practices, and rapid urbanization of many watersheds. Lamprey are vulnerable to habitat losses due to reduced river flows, water diversions, dredging, streambed scouring, channelization, inadequate protection of stream side vegetation, chemical pollution, and impeded passage due to dams and poorly designed road culverts. Introduction of exotic fish predators, such as smallmouth bass, has also been a factor in the decline of lamprey.
“The declines are dramatic, widespread, and troubling, and human impacts to lamprey freshwater habitats have been severe and cumulative," said Rich Nawa, Ecologist for Siskiyou Regional Education Project.
Pacific and river lamprey are primarily concentrated in medium and large sized, slower flowing Pacific streams. Western brook lampreys, from the Sacramento River basin northward into British Columbia, prefer the small tributaries. These fish spend most (or all) of their life in a broad distribution of Pacific coast rivers and streams, except for Kern brook lamprey which are limited to a small portion of the San Joaquin River Basin of California.
The organizations joined by WT in filing the notice of intent to sue are: Umpqua Watersheds, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Friends of the Eel River, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Native Fish Society, Northcoast Environmental Center, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Siskiyou Regional Education Project, Steamboaters, and the Umpqua Valley Audubon Society.
WT Participates in West Coast Steelhead-Management Conference:
On March 9, 10, and 11, WT Resource Analyst Nick Gayeski chaired two sessions of the 2004 Pacific Coast Steelhead Management Meeting in Pt Townsend, WA. The ninth biannual workshop, co-sponsored by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, was attended by managers and researchers from state, provincial, and federal steelhead-management agencies in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Representatives from steelhead-advocacy organizations, including the Wild Salmon Center, Long Live the Kings, the Wild Steelhead Coalition, and Washington Trout also attended several sessions over the three-day workshop.
Gayeski chaired the session on Steelhead Life History and presented preliminary findings on “Reproductive Effort of Steelhead and Life History Diversity of O. Mykiss in Kamchatka,” from data he has been collecting in the pristine river basins on the west coast of Kamchatka since 2001, research conducted in cooperation with the Wild Salmon Center and the Flathead Lake Biological Station, University of Montana. Gayeski also co-chaired the session on Steelhead Escapement Considerations.
WT Resource Analyst Nick Gayeski presenting at the Pacific Coast Steelhead Management Meeting
was the first time that a wild-fish activist organization, or any non-agency
organization, had actually chaired any of the workshop sessions. Washington
Trout’s resource-focused perspective was reflected in the sessions chaired by
Gayeski, which included presentations from: John McMillan of the Wild Salmon
Center on the mating structure and dynamics of steelhead and resident rainbow
populations on the Olympic Peninsula; Nate Mantua, University of Washington, on
incorporating variable ocean conditions in steelhead management; and Robert
Behnke, Professor Emeritus at Colorado State University, and author of Trout
and Salmon of North America, on the evolution of anadromy in O. mykiss. These issues will be central
in how ESA-listed and other at-risk steelhead populations will be managed for
recovery over the coming decades.
Meeting attendees participated in five sessions over the three days of the conference: the Steelhead Stock Status Review session, chaired by Roger Harding of Alaska Dept of Fish and Game, featured updates on steelhead populations in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia, and Alaska; the Steelhead Life History session focused on the mating relationship of anadromous and resident rainbows; the session on Steelhead Escapement, co-chaired by Gayeski and Bob Leland of WDFW, explored the factors that impact steelhead escapement and how to analyze and manage those impacts; the session on Intergraded and Segregated Steelhead Management dealt with hatchery management issues; the final session included the presentation of research papers from researchers at Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife, Idaho Dept of Fish and Game, the US Forest Service, and the BC Ministry of Water, Land & Air Protection.
The biannual workshops present managers from around the region the opportunity to discuss in an informal setting the issues, challenges, and opportunities facing wild steelhead populations throughout the Northwest, to compare notes, and to learn from the successes and missteps of their colleagues. A summary of the 2004 meeting and abstracts from the session presentations are being compiled and will be available soon on the PSMFC website: www.psmfc.org/publications. Planning is already underway for the 2006 meeting, which will likely take place in Oregon or lower BC.
Introducing Major Changes to WT’s Membership Program!
Washington Trout has recently revised our membership program to make it easier and more convenient to join WT in a way that is personally meaningful and affordable. WT deeply appreciates each and every gift we receive from our members. From the smallest to the most generous of contributions, you made a decision to part with your hard-earned money and support WT. Of course we appreciate the donations, but the sentiments behind them mean just as much. So we’re introducing a brand-new Monthly Giving Program and a revised annual membership program.
Either way you go, there is no minimum to join; you choose how much and how often you want to contribute to WT. Members of the Monthly Giving Program pledge to make a monthly donation to WT, which WT can process automatically on your credit card. And of course, there is the annual program if you prefer to give once a year.
We know many of you consider yourself a member in spirit because you believe in what Washington Trout does. We need you to stand up and show your support. There is strength in numbers and now more than ever, WT needs you at our back. If money was the hurdle that kept you from making the jump from supporter to member, we have removed that hurdle and you now have the opportunity to officially add your name to our list of members and join us in the fight to protect wild fish in Washington.
As a member, you will receive a subscription to our semi-annual newsletter "The Washington Trout Report," bi-monthly email newsletter "Wild Fish Runs," and invitations to special events including our annual Wild Fish Soiree & Benefit Auction. Members of the Monthly Giving Program receive additional membership benefits, details are listed on the website. More information about the Monthly Giving Program, annual memberships, and membership benefits are available on our website: www.washingtontrout.org.
And for added convenience, Washington Trout can now accept donations and memberships through a secure, online server. You can even join the Monthly Giving Program online. Click here to join online now or visit our website www.washingtontrout.org and follow the links!
The success of the effort to protect and restore our wild fish will take the combined resources of a strong, diverse, and engaged base of people caring and giving at all levels. Please join or renew your membership with Washington Trout today and help us create a future for wild fish.
WT Attends AFP International Conference on Fundraising
WT Outreach Coordinator Leah Hausman attended the Association for Fundraising Professionals’ 2004 Conference on Fundraising in Seattle, held March 14-17. The AFP Conference is the largest gathering of fundraisers and has become the premier resource for fundraisers to network, learn, and discover new products and services. The 2004 conference featured nearly 200 educational sessions ranging from building better relationships with donors and volunteers, enhancing communications, incorporating the internet, and of course, building an organization’s internal capacity through both innovative and tried-and-true development strategies. Hausman came away from the conference eager to implement what she learned and we are excited about the new directions and possibilities that lie ahead.
Hausman was able to attend the 2004 AFP Conference thanks to the generosity and quick response of Jennifer Aspittle, Mike Harves, Jim Karr, Hugh Lewis & Lynn Peterson, Rob Masonis, Ed Morrison, Larry Payne, Lorraine Read, Dick Rieman, Ruth Schaefer, Arny Stonkus, Steven Winder, and Victoria Woods. Thank you all for your support and commitment to Washington Trout.
WT Presentations or Articles for Your Organization
Washington Trout would like to share the knowledge and expertise we’ve gained through our research, restoration and advocacy projects with interested groups and organizations. Timely issue-, research-, or action-oriented presentations can help educate and motivate your organization on the issues surrounding wild fish and habitat recovery. WT has several presentations we can give to your club or organization on topics ranging from the Coho Pre Spawning Mortality Study to current projects and issues addressed by Habitat Lost & Found. WT can also provide brief articles on these topics to include in your group’s newsletter. If you are interested in having a WT presentation or article for your organization, please contact our office at 425-788-1167 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations Eliot and Kelly!
Washington Trout would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Eliot Drucker, our Director of Science & Research (Physiology), and his wife Kelly on the birth of their beautiful son Quentin on March 8, 2004.
2004 Washington Trout Wild Fish Soiree & Benefit Auction:
Washington Trout is in full-swing preparing for the Thirteenth Annual Wild Fish Soiree & Benefit Auction, which will be held Sunday May 16th. We are looking for volunteers to help solicit donations, follow-up with contributors, sell tickets/tables to the event, set-up on the day of the Auction, and staff various tasks throughout the event! Volunteer involvement helps ensure that the Wild Fish Soiree & Benefit Auction runs smoothly and is an overall success.
The 2004 Soiree promises to be a wonderful event. The Soiree is being catered by Lowell-Hunt Catering, who have generously donated use of their beautiful dining and entertainment facilities located on Lake Union in downtown Seattle. WT has already received a number of excellent donations, including several feature auction items. Current feature auction items include a week of fishing for two anglers on the banks of the famed River Dee in Scotland, a fly-fishing expedition package from Southern Chile Expeditions, and Steelhead Camp: Lowell-Hunt Style – a unique twist on Lowell-Hunt Catering’s signature wilderness dining experience. For more information about the 2004 Soiree and featured auction items, please visit our website at www.washingtontrout.org.
To volunteer or to make a tax-deductible donation for the live or silent auction, please contact WT Outreach Coordinator Leah Hausman at (425) 788-1167 or email email@example.com.
Environmental Discovery Program – Volunteers Needed!
This May and June, Washington Trout will coordinate the Environmental Discovery Program, a hands-on classroom and field-based environmental education program. Four 4th grade classes from Seattle and the Snoqualmie Valley are participating this season. As part of the program, students take a full day field trip to Oxbow Farms, an organic farm located between Duvall and Carnation on SR 203. On the field trip 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 scheduled to take place May 25, 26, 27, and 28. 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 comfort with the lessons, activities, and site. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact WT Outreach Coordinator Leah Hausman at 425-788-1167 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org by May 1st. More information about volunteering with the EDP this season will be available soon on our website at www.washingtontrout.org.
WT Outreach Coordinator Leah Hausman leading students around “The Journey Home” obstacle course, one of the field trip activities on the Environmental Discovery Program.
April 1st: Unlocking the Mystery of Puget Sound Coho Pre Spawn
Mortality; a presentation by WT Director of Science & Research Jamie
On Thursday, April 1st, WT Director of Science & Research Jamie Glasgow will give a free presentation on WT’s Coho Pre Spawn Mortality Study. The presentation is sponsored by the Snohomish County Surface Water Management and will be held at the Snohomish County Hearing Examiner’s Office at 2802 Wetmore Ave, Suite 200 in Everett (corner of Wetmore and California in the Cogswell College Building). Glasgow’s presentation will run from 6:30 to 8:30pm.
For the last three years, biologists in several Puget Sound cities have observed a high percentage of coho salmon dying before they begin to spawn. The cause of this pre-spawn mortality is unknown.
In some urban streams, almost all of the adult coho returning to spawn died before spawning. In most instances, other species, including chinook, sockeye, chum, and cutthroat trout, were present in the same stream sections without exhibiting similar high levels of pre-spawning mortality. Juvenile coho and cutthroat trout were often observed in the streams during the periods of adult coho mortality but did not appear to be affected.
In an effort to better understand the phenomenon of pre-spawning mortality, its implications, and its relationship to watershed characteristics, Washington Trout, a local non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Washington’s native fish, studied coho salmon spawning success throughout the Snohomish River watershed in fall 2003.
Learn about this strange and disturbing phenomenon and the results of Washington Trout’s study, by attending this free presentation – no registration is required. For more information, please contact Suzi Wong Swint at Snohomish County Surface Water Management, (425) 388-6476 or email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an event you would like mentioned in Wild Fish Runsor on the website!
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; 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. Check out some of our store items online at www.washingtontrout.org/store.shtml.
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 email@example.com.